Is This Future Shock?

general wibble from a retired technologist

Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

Even Demos says allow Facebook at work

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Facebook, Inc.

Image via Wikipedia

In an article on use of social networking sites reported on the BBC, a Demos report states that firms should allow the use of these sites at work.

“Banning Facebook and the like goes against the grain of how people want to interact. Often people are friends with colleagues through these networks and it is how some develop their relationships.”

When even the BBC and Demos are picking up issues @jobsworth was blogging about last year in Facebook and enfranchisement you figure this must be going mainstream.

Now, as long as companies can hold their nerve and not retreat into the comfort zones of “retrench/forbid/ban” – and revert to centralised command & control, maybe some of the innovation at the edges, and the contacts people build will help us get through the recession; if not, at least it will give their people some more human contact and stability in difficult times.

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Written by SteveEllwood

October 29th, 2008 at 9:08 am

The URI is the Thing (TUITT)

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TUITT

Paul Downey – also known as @psd – has done another one of his pen & ink masterpieces conveying the importance of the URI.

I’ll admit to my shame, than it wan’t until I started reading some of Paul’s stuff on Web APIs that I even realised what URIs were.

Of course, I soon learned how to identify a Cool URI thanks to Tim Berners-Lee

This shows shows the perils of ignoring the virtues of the URI…

You can get a clean high-resolution PDF from archive.org, and see the annotated copy at Flickr

read more | digg story

Image Credit: psd
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Written by SteveEllwood

October 7th, 2008 at 11:44 am

How to change someone's view with customer service

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logo

I have a house with 4 dogs running about the place; now while I love them dearly, they do leave hair and sand everywhere. You need a good vacuum cleaner.

Following some recommendations on an internal newsgroup, I winced and bought a Mìele Cat & Dog TT550. They aren’t cheap. But wow, they work really, really well.

Over the last year or so, the vacuum hose started developing kinks. As you moved across the room, suddenly the suction would cut off. I duct taped the biggest kink point. Helpfully, it then started kinking elsewhere. I tried to find a spares supplier and couldn’t identify the part I needed.

Last night inspiration struck. I guessed the website as miele.co.uk – it was – and found an awful web contact form there. Raised my concern and sighed as I saw “We aim to reply within 72 hours”.

They replied by a personalised email within 30 minutes, and told me to ring the service department, giving me the right number to ring. I rang this morning; an easy call gate “Press 1 for vacuum parts”, and I was talking to a helpful named individual. “Yes, this type of failure is unusual. Your vacuum serial number was sent into the retail chain a little over 2 years ago, so you may well have had it less than 2 years. Give me your address, I’ll send you a free replacement hose.”

The vacuum is great. I liked the service attitude and response even better. Would I recommend a Mìele vacuum? I just have.

Written by SteveEllwood

September 17th, 2008 at 10:58 am

How personal is your blog?

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How do you blog?

In my blogging, I tend to post about things that interest me from a work perspective, or changes in social networking. I tend to mention domestic matters in passing to set context, or to explain what’s stimulated me to write.

How do you tweet?

I’m a huge fan of Twitter, the widely used micro-blogging tool. You can usually see my latest posts in the right hand side of my blog. I usually answer the question “What are you doing?”. Sometimes it’s about things at work; quite often what I’m doing at home – maybe a concert I’m going to, or what I’m cooking.

Why do you blog?

I blog partly to clarify my understanding of things, partly to record what I’m learning, and partly to learn more – usually from the comments people leave, but also as I am driven to learn more to talk about…

Why do you tweet?

This is a little more complicated. I am a homeworker, and my office surroundings are 4 walls and my email/IM/phone clients. So, no “water-cooler” chats. An internal newsgroup can provide company scuttlebutt, though this is often rather parochial. Twitter gives me a window into the lives of others; not just their working life, but often what they choose to share about themselves.

I feel this gives a more rounded view of them as people, so in the spirit of reciprocity I tweet about my doings.

I don’t feel this is a case of being good to Momma, but I can’t resist the opportunity to link Queen Latifah…

So, I tweet for connectedness.

How does your family feel about this?

Now we come to the nub of the post. I’m interested in your views about this, following some discussions I’ve had within my own family.

“It feels like we’re living in a goldfish bowl” said one.

I’ve said that my twitter feeds are read by probably no more than 150 people maximum, most of whom may share similar types of things; my blogging tends to be non-domestic; and my Facebook is pretty restricted, too.

My mother has a very closed down Facebook – family only; my wife has no online presence to speak of. Neither of them see why I’d want to share anything publicly; I’ve talked about building trust, developing an authentic voice and so on, but they remain unconvinced.

Obviously, family comes first, and so I will twitter less about anything domestic, but I’d welcome suggestions as to how I can best portray why “What are you doing?”  might be of interest to others – and harmless to your family.

Written by SteveEllwood

July 7th, 2008 at 9:42 am

Weighing Contributions and Participation

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stairs

Should we reward participation?

Is adding useable knowledge to your employer useful? Should it be part of your actual job?

If it was part of your job, how would you measure it? Should you?

To save time, I think the right answers are Yes; Yes; Yes; Various ways; Yes

Why ask the question now?

As my interest in Social media and wikis has risen over the last year or so, I’ve watched JP talk about social software in the enterprise (many links), and recently been delighted when my firm started the nascent internal social networking, announced publicly by my colleague Richard Dennison

There’s a fair amount of wiki use within the firm, and I like them – despite my ongoing discussion with another colleague Sandy Blair.

We’ve now got an excellent WordPress instance running internally – I think I accidentally publicly announced that, shortly before the official announcement. I like that too, particularly how easy it is to search. I’m still amused that Sandy ranks first for “Glitter Glue” within BT.

We have had a BTpedia – an enterprise wide information wiki for some time.

It’s a source of some mild pleasure that I’ve contributed 0.25% of the content (including some of the most edited/updated articles) although I’m .00125% of the workforce.

This stuff is really taking off, internally

Why the fuss about job descriptions/measuring etc?

One reason that is suggested for non-participation in wikis/social media is the “not real work” argument. People express concern that their management will think they are slacking if they add to wikis/blogs.

Make adding to corporate knowledge part of people’s jobs, with some sort of weighting to it, and people *may* be more willing to do it

As far as measuring goes, until we move to a more Deming driven organisation, you have to show what and how you contribute. Measuring something about your contributions might provide that.

What should we measure

As is often the case, I’m again somewhat beaten to the point by Richard, who in his excellent recent post says

Leadership will be a combination of willingness to engage and connect, and the value of those engagements and connections to the community of users and to the complete enterprise ecosystem. Leadership won’t be about power but influence. And, value to the ecosystem will be measured in terms of contribution rather than achievement

he then highlights

Everyone in a enterprise ecosystem will need to understand that while every perception/view is equally valid, they are not of equal importance… Importance will be a combination of that inferred by the enterprise (as currently happens) and that inferred by the community (willingness to connect/engage and value of those connections/engagements as measured by the community).

To me, that suggests a combination of

  • objective measure – perhaps a combination of separate views, incoming links, other citations, and maybe number of comments/edits
  • subjective measures – post ranking/karma awards

What do you think should be measured in Enterprise Social Media?

Picture Credit Capt Kodak

Written by SteveEllwood

June 23rd, 2008 at 1:34 pm

An excellent post about RSS

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Why you should use RSS

I’d talked about this at some length in a previous post – and basically it lets you manage vast streams of data very easily.

But *how* do you use RSS?

I’d talked about that too.

The talented Brian Kelly decided to go not one, but several better. He’s decided to make a publicly available video showing you how to use NetVibes and Google reader.

Nice one Brian.

Written by SteveEllwood

June 20th, 2008 at 9:57 am

Posted in Web 2.0

What's the web changing, and are we helping?ll

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threads on a loom

The internet changes marketing

I’ve recently read with interest Brian’s post on how university marketing departments just don’t get it. Briefly, some have produced promotional videos; an enterprising firm has hosted and promoted copies of these. Rather than being glad about the publicity, there have been take down notices issued. It made me wonder if there are other pockets of resistance to change.

The web – and Webside(TM) working – changes corporate access

I like many ex or soi-disant road warriors have a corporate laptop. I was used to carrying lan cables, phone cables & adapters, mini-switches, I have a locked down laptop which I use over a VPN to access corporate services. We have an IT support organisation that can look after this. My employer is moving to webside working; I still need to chuck up a VPN, but I can do that from my home PC; from an internet cafe – from my little eee PC. I understand some of the senior guys, and some of the software simians (@kerryb ‘s periphrasis of codemonkeys – as he honestly points out via Scott Adams) actually use Macs… This complicates support, because it means that you can no longer rely on folk having standard kit. This means you need better self diagnosis tools, and savvier staff to handle the calls that can’t self clear. It also means we need strong commitment to track down root cause, as it’s no longer (if it ever was) acceptable to say “You shouldn’t be using that software”. It also means that we have to stop some of the nonsense measures. Time to close an incident is irrelevant, if there hasn’t been a clear. But then, we get to targets…

User experience changes perceptions of official software

JP’s talked before about how people are used to using their favourite tools, and how it will ring them into the Enterprise. He’s pushing that… @san1t1 has discussed elsewhere how bizarre it is to have training to use a purchasing system, pointing out he must have missed the training to use Amazon etc.

People are used to intuitive systems, be they from GetSatisfaction.com or 37 Signals. Arcane comands on COTS stuff won’t cut it.

What should we do?

Well, I’m tempted to suggest like Richard Dennison “Proceed until apprehended”. You’re meant to push the envelopes; if you’re not taking risks – and sure, making mistakes, you’re not learning anything.

And…?
If things are causing you a problem and pain – shout long and loud so people can see the pain points – and address them.

Picture Credit Daniel F. Pigatto

Written by SteveEllwood

May 20th, 2008 at 10:27 am

Posted in Web 2.0

How to use social media?

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jigsaw imageHow to deal with multiplicity?
I’m deeply puzzled – not that this is at all unusual.
There are lots of social media tools, and many of them link to each other. Like quite a lot of dabblers, I’ve ended up with a mish-mash of updates appearing in varied places. How best to use the wide variety of social media tools at my disposal? I’m coming to the conclusion I need to list and separate what I use – and how.

What do I use?
I’m trying a fair range of things. A fairly full list is below, sorted more or less in frequency of update.

Do I set my location?
Well, yes. Sort of. When I remember.
Largely I use microformats in twitter, as I indicated in Twitter – what it is, and how I use it.
I’ve also used Plazes.
I’m registered with FireEagle but no-one seems to be using that.

How do I update these?
On the web interfaces, often.
For twitter I’ve used and like both snitter and twhirl
For pownce, I’ve used a similar air client.
I’ve updated via voice on phone using Spinvox and by SMS to twitter. I’ve also used ping.fm both on the web and as a WAP client on my mobile.

Where are they aggregated/streamed?
Often, bits are currently fed one to another – meaning that twitter feeds to jaiku, which feeds to Facebook, which feeds to friendfeed – which is echoed back to Facebook. Which is cluttered, untidy, and very likely the sign of a grasshopper mind.

I currently have some life streaming services I’m playing with at the moment, friendfeed which though I like the interface doesn’t seem to pick up all that’s going on – and onaswarm which gives a nice feel for what’s happening in my area. I’ve also given soup.io a shot but I haven’t made my mind up about that yet.

Which way am I heading?
I think I’m going to bite the bullet and take out all the inter-tool updates, with the probable exception of twitterfeed which lets people know when I’ve blogged.

Then it’ll be twitter for quick “What I’m doing/thinking”; del.icio.us for those important bookmarks; tumblr for future blogging ideas or GTD Someday/Maybe, Facebook for contacts, flickr for photos.
I’ll – eventually – choose an aggregator, probably friendfeed as it seems to be gaining traction…

Maybe, then, people won’t see the same wibble in 4 places from me – and won’t that be an improvement?

What are you doing?
I’d like to find out what others are doing.
Are you more choosy than me?
Am I a grasshopper bouncing from one thing to another?

Please, let me know your solutions.

Partial Inspiration
This is also the first blog post I’ve tried following Chris Brogan’s guidelines to Writing Effective Blog Posts. How was it for you?

Picture Credit place light – on a a project –

Written by SteveEllwood

April 3rd, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Wikis, social networking and Facebook

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Wikis 
I’ve written before about wikis and the intranet, and how I saw advantages in their use.

My colleague Sandy – who has the patience of a saint – sighs, and explains that scalability and control are a bit more of an issue when you have 100k users rather than 30.

I counter with Knowledge Management working better when you have involved Communities of Practice, pointing out that wikis are ideal for those and we go round again.

I was interested to see Abigail Lewis-Bowen’s view at the Intranet Benchmarking Forum which suggests that

“it’s important to provide Wikis and Blogs only after processes for publishing “formal” information channels to the Intranet are well established.  If the right people are publishing to the right place on the Intranet, and there is good editorial workflow and governance, then the Intranet is sturdy enough to add an open, less-structured layer of content.”

Basically, if your intranet functions OK, go for it; require authenticated log-in, provide good how-tos and link the formal stuff to the “under-Web” [lovely coining by Paul Miller in his Trends for 2008]

Social Networking

Still lots of interest at work in:

  •  what this is (yes, I know you know, dear reader, but I’m still working it out; so have patience).
  • what can we get from this – and an interesting term I hadn’t heard before – Social Capital. I mean, I now know it’s been around for years, with the first cite being around 110 *years* ago.
  • how we can facilitate it – what tools, what processes?

I think it’s partly culture, partly tools,  and partly process.

As part of my Personal Development Plan(PDP), I’d decided this was a key area to understand and try and utilise. My company’s culture encourages us to drive robust PDPs. I’d found a range of tools – each new one pointed to by posting on previous tool, and learned from them. The process is the bit that is currently blocking wider acceptance of this; how do you measure the value. As long as nobody starts talking about a business model  I’ll be happy.

Facebook

I’ve had Facebook for a while, but following the irritation I – and a number of other friends – had been feeling with Vampires, “funny” videos, LOLcatz I removed FunWall and SuperWall. I update my status via Twitter  – and so do many others, and am currently using Twitter more – but I still use Facebook.

It’s still a nice application for seeing what your friends/colleagues are doing and provides a way of managing the various contacts – true, I want to be able to escape from the walled garden – but that looks like it’s coming.

I’ve been able to build

  • online relationships with the people I’ve “friended”
  • knowledge of Web2.0
  • understanding of some of the tools
  • links with people I’d never have heard of…

 JP Rangaswami says

“The information that flows through a social network exists in three dimensions. One dimension is time, past, present and future. A second dimension is number, one to many. A third is movement, static to dynamic. When I share my contact details with another person, I am providing static, present, one-to-one information.  When I share what I am intending to do with a whole community, I am providing dynamic, future, one-to-many information.

The motivation to provide information is, at least in part, driven by an expected value of the information coming out of Facebook. And one other thing: the comfort level of providing, to a community, what is essentially private information.

Generation M and their successors are comfortable with sharing their past actions, current state and their future intentions with the community they belong to; they’re comfortable with sharing changes to states and intentions as well. They do this because they believe new value will emerge from that sharing. Collaborative, communal value, shared value.”

I think that’s fair – and I look forward to how we’re going to use “Facebook for the Enterprise” to leverage the social capital we’re looking for.

Written by SteveEllwood

January 18th, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Twitter, tweets, twerps and now twivers

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Doc Searls in another interesting post posits that part of the reason for the success of Twitter is the contrast between live vs. static and light vs. heavy

What makes Twitter so good is that it’s lightweight and not ambitious about running your life. It’s more service than site. It’s part of the live Web, even though you can still find it in the static one…the twin points of live vs. static and light vs. heavy.

I think I agree with that; I can dial up or back my interaction with it. I follow some pretty heavy twerps and don’t find it too hard  – as I turn off my SMS notification for them – but I get to see their funny/clever attention getting stuff online – and focus on the twits more closely.

As an aside, I also *love* how fast the twit/twerp meme has travelled and some of the kickback  it’s received…

… and lots of the fun with twitter is how fast you can check what’s arousing ire by a quick terraminds search.

 I’m still learning with this all the time – but I love it (rather more than my mild regard for Facebook). I haven’t had to unfollow anyone yet…

Written by SteveEllwood

January 8th, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Twitter,Web 2.0