Is This Future Shock?

general wibble from a retired technologist

Archive for 2009

What does your website look like to me?

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a blob of Flash

The image above is what the website of Inventory magazine looks like, to me.

Like many others, I generally block Flash using Flashblock. Most Flash is an intrusion, and it slows up my machine and uses resources I could use to keep more tabs open… Yes, I can choose to see what is in Flash. Why does this site not want me to see anything?

If I can’t instantly get something from your site… I’ll likely move on, and any chance of sharing knowledge will have gone.

My attention was drawn to this site via a posting from Paul Downey entitled Polite Comment, about Web Design. He’s started looking at Web Design and is trying to encourage

standards based Web sites which work in any browser and which are truly inspirational and from which we can learn from using view-source

I fully support Paul’s campaign, and encourage others to support this.

As I said in Lessons from Jamie Zawinski

You don’t need stuff to be unreadable to be attractive.

One of Paul Downey‘s erstwhile colleagues, Phil Hawksworth, (@philhawksworth), is a passionate advocate of Unobtrusive Javascript and Progressive Enhancement – and made an explanatory site about this. You can see the site at unobtrusify.com, and read how unobtrusify works.

So, you can make stuff look good and read properly.

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Written by SteveEllwood

November 29th, 2009 at 12:07 am

Twitter Chats for Knowledge Management

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How did a Twitter chat work?

I had a brief meeting today, about Knowledge Management.

I didn’t know where the meeting started; I didn’t know everyone who was there. I didn’t know when the meeting started – and I wasn’t invited.

How did that work then? Basically, I spotted a tweet from someone I follow that was hashtagged with #KMers. Following the link got me to the live search for the hashtag, and I was able to take part in the lively discussion – the bit that particularly interested me was the creative tension between folksonomy and taxonomy.

What’s it all about?

Chasing it up after the event, I found the excellent KMers.org site, where a group of Knowledge Management professionals

aim to use a Social Media tool (Twitter Chat) and a CMS tool (Drupal) to run a site that helps KMers share information about the practice of Knowledge Management

I just lucked into it. I enjoyed the section I was involved in, and I’d recommend future events.

You can see the transcript of the [Pilot Chat] Best Ideas from KM World.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management you should take a look. Maybe I’ll see you there?

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Written by SteveEllwood

November 24th, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Sometimes, what you don’t know is surprising

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Scoble, Longhorn Evangelist
Image via Wikipedia

I’m still trying to find my way through what social media/”Web2.0” actually means to me.

I have accounts on lots of services, and use:
Twitter – a lot
Facebook – a bit
LinkedIn – a bit
I blog – a little

I glance at other services, share some photos on Flickr and follow a few folk on friendfeed. Prolific posters on any of the services, I tend to consume via RSS.

One of these is Robert Scoble, who is hugely well known – in certain circles – and has made a recent career about knowing things in this space.

I was staggered to see in his recent post Twitter’s platform shortcoming

… last week I learned that there are tons of followers who just follow you to get you to follow back

I thought everyone knew that. But then, there’s loads of stuff I don’t even know that I don’t know.

Why do *I* follow people?
I know you, you’re geographically close to me, I liked your blog post, someone I follow has @ replied with something of interest.

If you follow me, and you’re not immediately interesting, or your tweets are pushing links all the time… sorry, I won’t follow you.

I can’t remember ever knowing something before @scobleizer. I did this time.

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Written by SteveEllwood

August 10th, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Homeworking builds teamwork – and communities

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crowded escalator

Homeworking. Good for everyone?

While looking for some reference material the other day, I came upon a 7 year old report on teleworking in BT [PDF from SUSTEL].

I commented in a tweet

I still think teleworking is positive for co. and people

It is quite important to me to share this view, as in parts of the company there is an increasing focus on co-location. For certain roles, for certain teams, for some of the time there is a really good case to be made for co-location.

A colleague, who is a fellow editor of an internal blog, who – coincidentally – I have never met, made the following valid observation.

agree but need to understand intangibles-impact of never meeting your colleagues f2f-need to be able to travel

Is homeworking isolating?

I thought about this a bit, and realised

  • it is well over a year since I’ve seen a member of my team
  • it is over 9 months since I have seen a colleague I am working with

So, why am I not feeling the impact of isolation?

BT equips its homeworkers with good technological support. We use teleconferencing extensively throughout the company, and use a variety of tools in the Unified Communication area to improve working.

Glancing at Office Communicator, for example, I can see if a colleague is in, taking part in a call, or can drop them an instant message. That can be seamlessly converted in to a call using my VOIP client which gives me an internal extension in the company.

Doing that makes it easy to just have a quick chat – and lets someone politely say they’re busy, too.

Don’t I miss the face to face? No, because for years my “watercooler/coffee machine” chat has been on the company’s internal newsgroups, where people can share banter, tips, or even ask for recipes. So, you can glance at that while you’re waiting for a call host to join or some code to compile.

Now, the company’s internal social networking is improving, we have an internal blogging platform where all sorts of individual groups share experience and activities, and even MyBT, which gives an internally and externally visible individual portal into our online world.

So, who are your colleagues?

I can “talk” to far more colleagues than I ever could when I worked in an office nine years ago.

Many of my BT colleagues are visible externally, blogging and tweeting away – BT even publicised the online life of some of our graduate entrants for a while – one of whom now edits another internal blog with me.

This publicly visible face of many of my colleagues means I can build relationships, which foster teamwork, with people I wouldn’t normally meet; I know more about many of them than I would about a colleague at the other end of a building.

I also learn from people in other businesses; some businesses I have worked with, like IBM; some I haven’t like SouthWest Air. This has improved me as an employee of my own company.

What does it cost for homeworkers?

Like all businesses in this downturn, BT is being careful of its expenditure. Business travel costs real money; having your people homeworking *saves* real money, too. The Work Foundation‘s report said

  • The annual cost to support an office-based worker in central London is
    around £18,000. It costs less than £3,000 a year to support a
    homeworker. On average each homeworker saves BT £6000 a year
  • Improved retention saves c£5m a year on recruitment and induction

Do you want to meet your team? Or someone else’s?

Where would I like to travel to? To work with “my” team? No, most of us spend a huge proportion of the day on the phone; I’d like to work somewhere I’ll learn something new.

Next time I do travel to London, and have a morning or afternoon spare, I’ll try and blag some desk space at Osmosoft‘s office space in Westminster Telephone Exchange.

There’s a community I’d like to belong to.

What’s your view of homeworking
?

Image Credit:Jasoon

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Written by SteveEllwood

June 28th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Thinking social media, ID and Facebook names

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Two face

Two face

Having seen all the furore about Facebook names, I got mine.

Originally, it is http://facebook.com/steveellwood.

However, you can also find it – and me – at http://steveellwood.com/facebook.

Similarly, I’m http://twitter.com/steveellwood – but you can find me at http://steveellwood.com/twitter.

What’s interesting – to me in any case –  is how I ended up with my “branded” pages.

I’d seen Paul Downey, @psd, make a comment about facebook names. I’d a while ago added Anil Dash, @anildash to my friendfeed list – to my shame, I’ll admit I’m still learning what I might do with Friendfeed, so I spotted the Facebook names post I blogged about the other day.

In the comments about that, I saw the approach Ross Rader (@rossrader) took, using the link to his domain.

I twittered about this, and a friend and colleague Rob Collingridge, @robcollingridge, took this up, and implemented it on his domain. I’m like “Wow, was that easy to do?”

Rob sticks up some instructions on his Facebook wall. Drat, my domain is hosted on wordpress.com. Maybe I need to selfhost. I’ll ask.

Another twitter friend, @akaSteve, encourages me, and kindly offers assistance. I already have hosting though, so a day later, my domain is moved, my blog is moved and upgraded – and I can point to Twitter and Facebook from my domain.

All because I saw something on Twitter.
Image Credit: larry&flo

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Written by SteveEllwood

June 15th, 2009 at 8:12 am

So, Facebook user names…

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I always liked Chris Brogan’s take on identity and personal brand
I got a real domain name for my blog.

Anil Dash has a lovely take on Facebook user names

Exclusive: The Future of Facebook Usernames – Anil Dash

None of these posts mention that you can also register a real domain name that you can own, instead of just having another URL on Facebook.

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Written by SteveEllwood

June 11th, 2009 at 7:39 am

Posted in Facebook

Tagged with ,

Things in transition

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transition

Back in October, I was reminding people to keep up with their social networks as the recession brought challenges.

While it was hardly prescient, it was brought home to me when my role at work changed; my operating division had what’s called a headcount challenge – basically, they needed less people to run the work – and I was placed in what’s called a transition centre.

Now, for years I’ve worked on an assignment basis – work comes up, I say I’m interested, and if suitable, I get to do the job… which might be for a month, a quarter, or even a year or two. You learn a lot of new skills, get to work with really interesting people and technologies and then move on.

This means moving to a new role is not a surprise, and nor is having to change what I do. Currently, I’ve been asked to manage some folk as they move from one role to another.

Nearly everyone realises as the business environment changes, the work we’re carrying out has to change – and we’ll need to be flexible to do this. What I’m looking forward to is using some tools rather more Enterprise 2.0 than spreadsheets to help people on their journey.

Whatever people like me do to help individuals, their new roles and assignments have to be found by them – and one of the best ways? Through their own networks.

So, I repeat my plea.
Keep up with your social networks.

Image Credit: ruSSeLL hiGGs

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Written by SteveEllwood

May 17th, 2009 at 4:13 pm

What's my blog about?

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Wordle: Steve Ellwood's blog

Image Credit:wordle

Written by SteveEllwood

May 17th, 2009 at 10:12 am

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office – social media experts?

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I’ve just remotely attended a really interesting presentation in London [OK, I attended remotely], by Media Snackers who talked about engaging with the young, through social media and so on.

Couple of things:

The world’s changed, and it’s not turning back

used to be their strapline – but they’re now emphasising

cheaper, quicker, sexier

as what the social media stuff can do. Look at their site to see what they are about.
A couple of the points they raised struck me – the takeup of social media amongst the young is astonishing; they highlighted a Forrester report which segment the social media area into

  • Creators
  • Critics
  • Collectors
  • Joiners
  • Spectators
  • Inactives

and this is segmented by age – with the creatives and critics highly represented in 16-24, with spectators and inactives being preponderantly 50+ (like me!)

perhaps nothing too new for some of us – although there are scary figures about the change in media consumption, but something he said struck a chord. More or less:

… a lot of people seem to be getting into the space; I mean, look at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office – they’re a lot of suits, but they’re on Flickr, on YouTube, on Twitter, they blog… where are you? I mean, c’mon guys…

I thought, that can’t be right, can it?
Hmm…
So, I had a brief look, and found a Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and blog platform presence for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. It may not be exciting, but it looks like they do have a coherent social media strategy.

What are you doing?

If someone looks for you on Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter – what will they find? If they search for a blog presence or social media involvement – what will they see?

If you’re not taking part in the conversation… it will go right on. Without you.

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Written by SteveEllwood

February 5th, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Social Media & Knowledge Management

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scratching head

Social Media in the Enterprise

I wondered about the impact social media tools were making in knowledge management for the enterprise. We have got some very rapid growth in the takeup of the tools in my company; we have loads of wikis, internal blogs – growing use of Twitter.

I wondered about the difference between *Information* Management & *Knowledge* management.

Thanks to a tweet from @elsua I found my way to an excellent presentation on Knowledge Management given by John Bordeaux (@JBordeaux, since you ask).

As with many of these things, what you can take away from it depends to some extent on your organisational culture. I found it very interesting, particularly the view on

Basic information sharing infrastucture – just do it!

    Enterprise search
    Democratic web publishing
    Social media! Everything 2.0
  • Image Credit: I am K.E.B.

  • Written by SteveEllwood

    February 1st, 2009 at 12:20 pm