Monday 29 June 2009

Moving this blog to Posterous

To quote myself:

"I've been thinking about migrating my original blog off of blogger and on to something like a hosted Wordpress site or something similar. Since moving to a Mac in March, I've also found that blogging without Windows Live Writer just isn't the same either ;-) But then I find myself getting caught up on what theme to use, different widgets and all that complication... and all I really want is something clean and simple (I'm sure most of you only read my RSS feed anyway) where I share news, ideas and other things I've found and have the odd conversation too. I had discovered Posterous a while ago and thought it looked interesting, but then did nothing about it. So, here I am now! Welcome to my new blog."
If you subscribe to my Feedburner RSS feed, I'm pointing that at my new Posterous' feed already.

Well, it looks like Google's Blogger outlasted Posterous (who were acquired by Twitter)... you can find my Posterous archive on at

My most current blog is now self-hosted hosted by, at

Us Now Sydney on 9th July

I know I'm repeating myself, but just a reminder that if you live in Sydney and either haven't watched the Us Now documentary yet or simply would like the chance to discuss it further, then join us on the evening of Thursday 9th July at the Australian Technology Park* for a special community screening.

Its a free event, but you do need to register - and of course, don't forget to tell your friends about it. We're using #usnowsydney as our hashtag.
*We only confirmed this new venue over the weekend and it means we've increased our capacity from 30 to 100 people! :-)

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Tuesday 23 June 2009

If it isn't broken, why fix it? (New patterns in government)

These are the slides from my PublicSphere presentation yesterday:

BTW There is a great column in the UK's Independent newspaper by Headshift's Lee Bryant about "rebooting Britain" that reflects some of the points I made around the need to understand the potential for Government 2.0 from a different viewpoint, which naturally drives us towards a different approach to the way government and the community work together.

UPDATE: You'll find more notes about my presentation on the Headshift Australasia blog. Video recordings from the event are now available too.

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Friday 12 June 2009

Intranets and social computing - first mover disadvantage?

As you may know, in the past I worked at Ernst & Young in their Centre for Business Knowledge, the group who are responsible for the “KWeb” intranet. Outside of the top tier accounting firms (who have always understood they are involved in knowledge work), I’ve yet to find any large organisations with such a cohesive or advanced intranet, so I like to track public case studies and articles about Ernst & Young’s intranet and knowledge management program to see how it is progressing since I left in 2004.

Anyway, I was interested to read on the Intranet Benchmarking Forum’s blog that they had recently attended a leadership conference to provide a briefing on:

the latest trends amongst advance intranets and to parlay that information into a strategic roadmap for a next-generation intranet.
Alas, we don’t hear much about the audience’s reaction to these trends. I wonder how well E&Y’s intranet does benchmark against those trends, because there wasn’t really a lot there that struck me as new. I must admit this actually irritates me slightly - and I’ll apologies if there is a touch of arrogance here - but it really is time that the intranet industry takes a long hard look at itself and admits that its not really a case that some organisations are facing a set of new trends, they are really just catching up with innovation in other organisations that’s been taking place over the last decade or more.

Lets look at this apparently emerging issue about the “conflict between the desire to open up will be tempered by risk management and control”, as by its very nature the KWeb intranet is an open system that runs primarily on user-generated content. While I worked there, E&Y had hundreds of unmoderated, unfiltered discussion forums and thousands of project team databases. I don’t recall any major incidents, although I do remember some of the conversations about e-commerce getting quite heated! The only moderation processes that did exist was for the minority of ‘highly filtered’ knowledgebases, like PowerPacks - however, this moderation was for content quality.

Fast forwarding to the present day, this is only appearing to be a trend now in other less progressive organisations as Web-based collaboration tools (like SharePoint) have started to muscle into the traditional intranet space (e.g. static pages of content pushed at users to eagerly consume).

But its not a trend pointing to the future, its an indicator that you are lagging behind in how you imagine what an intranet should be. On the other hand I suspect Ernst & Young and those like it aren't lacking vision, but they may be struggling to take advantage of new Web 2.0 inspired enterprise technologies because of what’s in place already.

Another former employer, CSC, is a large organisation and presents another interesting case study from this point of view. They have a well established extranet, rather than an intranet, with a portal as a primary front end to multiple Web-based systems and sub-sites. However, while they are in the process of adopting social computing tools they face the challenge of integrating them into that existing Web 1.0-style extranet infrastructure.

I've seen similar situations in other large organisations I've worked with, particulary those that already valued collaboration and that had already deployed first generation Web-based collaboration tools.

From this I think there are in fact two key positions to understand:
  1. Progressive, early adopter organisations may now be at a disadvantage at a technology level, because they have lots of expensive legacy infrastructure to deal with - however, the culture is much better prepared to adopt a social computing-based intranet, so you can use that to your advantage. Luckily social computing can help make that transition in a cost effective way.
  2. Laggard organisations (and smaller organisations that never had access to enterprise groupware in the first place) have a temporary advantage to get ahead of the original early adopters if they can get past the cultural and business political issues that stop them from introducing new collaboration and social computing-based intranets. Its a lot harder to bootstrap culture change, but with a bit of effort you can fly under the radar at the technology level with social computing if you try. But fundamentally, you have to reinvent what the intranet means to your organisation in order to move forward.
So, what’s your organisation - an original early adopter or are a laggard?

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Tuesday 9 June 2009

My Enterprise 2.0 Experts Profile on Enterprise2Open

Martin Koser (aka Frogpond) has posted an experts profile about me on the Enterprise2Open blog. It covers my views on:

  • The core concept of the Enterprise 2.0 idea;
  • The potential of the Enterprise 2.0;
  • Challenges, threads and issues.
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Sunday 7 June 2009

Would the Slow Wide Web still be revolutionary?

Its quite interesting watching someone use some 50 year old IT equipment to connect to the Web - the amazing thing is that it still works and in this case we see words from Wikipedia appear on a text-based browser slowly transmitted as a final step over an antique modem:

But if the Internet was restricted this way today - delivered at the speed of this antique modem - would something like Wikipedia have been able to have such a revolutionary impact as it has today? I wonder.

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Is this the shape of the Wave?

Having cut my collaboration and knowledge management teeth in a heavily Lotus Notes orientated environment, but also at a time when the Web was making its first attempt at coming to power (i.e. the dot com boom) I really want to listen to what someone like Ray Ozzie has to say, but find it hard to take his views as a credible perspective.

For example, there is perhaps a ring of truth about his comments about the overstated potential for Google Wave, reported in the FT's TechBlog:

Wave is just too big and complex a system. Google’s engineers had no choice but to take this approach given the grandeur of their vision, but in the process they have come up with something that will fail to get adopted in the fabric of the Web.
I mean, I think Gmail is the best email application ever. Full stop. I love the Ninja theme :-)

But while it might set the benchmark for email user interfaces, functionality and even changed our view about email quotas, it hasn’t changed the underlying architecture of email.

Google Wave is much more ambitious. But in the long tail of Web innovation, for every uber-developer at Google there is an army of part-time coders tweaking and hacking away at their own vision of next generation [insert application type here]. And in between there are plenty of vendors trying to get a of the corporate wallet share with their own Web-like, but Web 2.0-not products.

Still, I don’t see much from Ozzie these days. I don’t see him online experiencing Web 2.0 much either. The people at Google on the other hand are accessible, active and living Web 2.0.

Maybe its just a changing of guard? People like Ray Ozzie and others I’ve admired like Tom Davenport have helped prepare me for the emergence of Web 2.0 and I don’t want to forget that. But its now up to the new innovators, like Google and many others, who live and work in the Web to actually take us to that next stage.

Regardless of what things like Wave, Twitter, Yahoo! Pipes and all the other wonderful things we've seen emerge eventually become, they will shape the future, if not entirely redefine it in the ways we thought. I think the bigger question about Wave isn't about the technology, but if we are *all* actually ready for this kind of real-time collaboration?

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Saturday 6 June 2009

Taking Government 2.0 to Sydney (BarCampSydney#5, Us Now Sydney and the NSW KM Forum)

On the 22nd June, Sen. Kate Lundy kicks off a Public Sphere event in Canberra that for me is going to be a fortnight or so of Government 2.0 related events in my part of the world. Quite deliberately I’ve been championing a few ideas to bring that Public Sphere conversation in Canberra to Sydney - as result a few events are forming up that should give us that opportunity:

Part of my reason for wanting to bring this Government 2.0 conversation to Sydney is so that people outside of the Federal government sector, such as those working at NSW state and local government level, the local not-profit-sector and other public institutions, can also be involved.

I think its worth explaining a bit about BarCampSydney#5, as we are really piggy backing on the (un)organising efforts of the BarCampSydney crew. However the timing with this next BarCampSydney and the Canberra PublicSphere is too good an opportunity to miss out on! So a big thank you to BarCampSydney for incorporating us into their planning.

This BarCampSydney is also being tagged as the Recession Edition or “the BarCamp we had to have”... a really relevant topic for Government 2.0, as government and other community organisations are both being expected to engage more, but in the current financial environment they need to do more with less. Practicing what we preach, coming together at a BarCamp is a great way to share knowledge and brainstorm solutions.

So, sign up for BarCampSydney#5 and let me know who you are so we make sure we get everyone who wants to talk about Gov 2.0 together on the day. You can introduce yourself here in the comments or join one of the networks for the Aussie Gov 2.0 community (Gov2.0Australia discussion, the Australian community on GovLoop and the Gov2.0Australia Ning group) and say hello there.

BTW If you’re in Australia but can’t make it to any of the Gov 2.0 related events in Canberra or Sydney, why not consider hosting a meet up or something similar yourself? One easy ideas is to simply download the Us Now documentary (or order the DVD version online if you want to project it on to a big screen) and get some people together to discuss!

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