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April 2003 Archives

April 1, 2003

Xpertweb Trust Circles

A feel good entry following Friday's telephone conversation with Britt Blaser. I like the direction the Xpertweb discussion is taking.

"...Stuart suggested that finer level, trust, by using an even more Googlish approach. We each develop confidence in others through their blogs and acquaintance and probably by how they handle their transactions. So Stuart suggested that we need to be able to filter ratings by who made them. How do the people in our Identity Trust Circle rate potential vendors? How do other skilled judges rate providers? For instance, what do people who write O'Reilly books think of programmers? ....... ....we might also weight opinions by location. For instance you might want to know–in a hurry–how people in your small census tract rate the local plumbers. In his Identity Trust Circles post, Stuart notes something that Doc has also been alluding to. There are a lot of people working the reputation meme and providing the web services to back up their opinions. ..... This flowering wouldn't be possible if the Net hadn't progressed beyond its basic protocols to the point we've reached: a permission-free zone where anybody with an idea can launch a web service without a preliminary buy-in by existing vested interests. This freedom to innovate is the third leg of the Net's NEA stool: Nobody owns it, Everyone can use it, Anybody can improve it. If the Net's open protocols weren't in place and agreed upon, we could never improve it with the more highly abstracted, software-only, permission-free improvements, social software really, that we can now imagine together."

April 3, 2003

Superficiality

Social Networking Models arrived a couple of days ago. On first pass, superficially I would have agreed with Ross ... It’s a neat chart and it is useful set of descriptors.

(apologies... I can't figure out how to paste it into MT and coding it is creating other issues... the orginal is pretty)

Social Networking Models

Network Type --------------- Connection -------------- Example
Explicit ------------------ Declarative -------------- Ryze
Physical ------------------------ In-person --------------------- Meetup
Conversational -------------- Communication -------------- LiveJournal; Weblogs
Private -------------- Referral -------------- Friendster
© 2003 Ross Mayfield

So why my devil's advocacy? Because these are not the terms that will motivate my mother or my son etc. The descriptors are functional, and not benefit related. Until they are defined in “benefit terms” the tools will stay in the realm of techies and developers.

Example: Ryzedeclarative identity service” On the face of it is. It’s what I want people to see of me. … It’s a little soft, with a business edge. However that’s the format. The story of Ryze is not identity, it is not profiles, rather the connections made by real people. The identity profile a functionality that can be combined with others to create real value.

Example Ryze benefit ladder:
What does Ryze do? Helps me make a web page,
Why important? Have a profile that is really me
Why important? My friends and colleagues can find me
Why important? Helps organize my contacts
Why important? Provides membership to an interesting community
Why important? Because I make new connections
Why important? Meeting people is fun

So my caution in this post is to start thinking about social tools development in pictures. I’ve said it before. Features are facts, benefits tell a story. Consumers can’t draw declarative identity services. If they did they would probably draw “cold calling” scenarios. They can draw meeting people online. These pictures will have human faces!

Here’s a quote from the informal research run round Ryze:

“What's working for ryze today …. is its warmth, is the relative freedom it allows in accessing people you would not have done so easily elsewhere, human connections that may be endearing .. for instance, a top notch IT guy who's so into cats … connects at that level and shares freely with other cat lovers, or a photograph of a top honcho with his little baby in his arms.”

So lets see more words and phrases, “brings me closer”, friendship, socializing, having fun, “everyone at my fingertips”. Etc. It may feel a little uncomfortable…. So can socializing.

That’s almost it for my Soap Box! I can’t help taking it back to recent posts on “circles”. It began with “circles of trust”; without trust there are no circles. While nothing ventured nothing gained. Safe and secure is also relative.

So let’s add that all social networking models are “conversational”. Conversations are the result of the tools and functionalities brought to you by the social networking toolmakers. Fundamentally the dirty secret here is: “It’s not what --- it’s whom!” Google just about has “what” captured. This whole emergent area will disappear if “whom” fails to be personal, human, fun, rewarding, satisfying, friendly, professional, ego boosting, nurturing, etc. AND never forget SAFE n SECURE.

Online social networking will be fueled when “everybody” sees that providing profiles by degrees leads to personal advantage. The perceived advantage will differ from person to person.

Social Tools? Retail?

Adina Levin posts a follow-up on Ross's post.

I find blogs much more interesting to surf than profile databases like Ryze -- you get a much richer picture of a person's interests and personality from their blog.

Actually, this may be a reflection of the profile quality, or it may simply reflect that the first 30 seconds rule applies to blogs and profiles too.

It would be great to be able to navigate from a blog to the person's contact information, add that person to one's list of contacts, and invite them to be your contact (connecting the weblog with Ryze).

Yes! This is really the key starting point. Currently we have "add to my blogroll" or "add to my news subscriptions (RSS)", neither requires a declaration or personal contact. There is also no community spirit. Ryze encourages new members to sign my guestbook. If the blogging community adopted the same type of approach, even if the equivalent of the "rubber stamp" -- read dated.... x. you could always track back to a mini-profile and perhaps for a small fee e-mail them.

She closes with a nice comment "part of the same category". I was forced to think about categories just yesterday. What was once hardware and software are emerging categories for "mobility on the move", "my visual world", "the connected home", the "indulgent techie", and "professional business". Hardware and Software, nothing but nuts and bolts.

So I'm wondering where the Social category fits in. What's it look like? How's it merchandised? Is it worth going back to Miss Manners and reviewing classic social graces, etiquette? How do you shop for it? At the moment it can't be much beyond a flea market.

Are we talking about dressing up for the online exchange? What's the fashion, what are the accessories. Remember when Daytimers became "huge business" or Steven Covey? I'd like to hear from the social toolmakers. What sort of stores are you going to retail it in?

What vs Whom? Knowledge Kitchen.

Having invested yet another couple of hours today in “Attention Economics” and “Live Directories” and the implications for business models the concept discussion returned to the enterprise and KM. Knowledge management has taken the rap for creating information repositories of what is. In Foodie terms; the Freezer model reflects cold and stale prepackaged meals often frozen in time. The proliferation of e-mail and electronic documents has simply added size to the freezer. With disk space vs legal threats, the only other issue is the defrosting policy.

KM has yet to discover the hidden food groups, or get beyond the labeling. If we are lucky we find the authors, while the diet of ingredients the author crossed paths are beyond bibliographies hard to find.

When we what to know something, we search out the person “in the know”. There’s a good chance they’ve learnt something since they last posted. This is the neglected side of knowledge management. Other than the tacit vs. explicit arguments “conversational” KM has never really cut it. Strategic conversations, scenarios, story-telling, are all unofficial ways of creating and transmitting emergent learning. However, they don’t happen unless the right people are there, which seldom happens solely within traditional structures.

So what would a conversational form of knowledge management look like? It won’t follow the freezer model; it’s less interested in what you know, and more interested in whom you are and where to find you. Perhaps “tossed salad”? It a model that’s always looking for people, to broker new trust, to expand networks and create opportunities.

What’s different, you participate not to be “tossed” or frozen. You participate simply as an ingredient. When the enterprise increases access to “ingredients” new recipes will emerge. ----- Now we’re cooking!

April 7, 2003

MT Text Editor

I'm testing out a new WYSIWYG text editor I've just installed.  Just frustrating to have such limited functionality in the base edition.  (Note this only works with Internet Explorer 5.5+ for Windows). 

This post uses the new Wysiwyg editor Colors, bullets, indent, pictures etc.

I also managed the upgrade to 2.62.  I'm still looking for clarification from the help group on why my installation doesn't ping weblogs.com appropriately.  With the upgrade each failure is now noted in my Activity Log.  It's always been a manual ping so far.  I have LWP installed -- from the support groups that seems to be the problem. There isn't a one line solution.   

I've also experimented with other plug-ins etc before.  For the most part I've had little real success and I've learnt that playing around is time consuming.  

Update on the Wysiwyz, is it is not perfect.  Copying a document from word meant that I had an immediate conflict with my CSS stylesheet.  If I'd copied into the extended entry column and then to the top box I'd have been ahead.  Will use for a week.  May not be the solution I'd hoped. 

DON'T DIAL SPRINT

Did you know that a home without an international calling plan is like running around without medical insurance?  You could lose your life savings if you or perhaps an unwitting stranger starts dialing from your Sprint home.

What’s the admin cost of sorting out the mess that telemarketing, regulation, and administrative bureaucracy, have created?

What’s a customer to do?  BLOG it!   Then google “Sprint Rates International DeceptionPlanetfeedback FTC(FTC notes at end) 

I just got off the phone with Sprint my long distance company of the last 3.5 months.  I just received my fourth bill from them.  The bill contained a charge for one international call to France for 97 minutes for $177.51.  This is my home bill!  Total this month $263.56.  An increase from last months bill $11.55

I quickly rang Sprint 1-866-202-4458 had the usual key your number in run around… then got Mark on the phone.  He promptly asked me for my home number again.  I informed Mark of my shock / horror at the cost of this one call to France.  The rate $1.83 per minute.  Total $ 177.51!  This was the only call I’ve made using Sprint internationally during the period.  It is not the only international call.  He located the bill and informed me this charge was because I wasn’t on Sprint’s international plan.  According to Mark the mistake is mine, When transferring from MCI encouraged by United mileage plus (where I had a $4.95 per month international calling plan) and collect miles for calls the Sprint sales rep who read me the policies on the transfer said the new plan would be cheaper.  I had shared that from time to time there were many international calls some of long duration.. I was assured I’d be better off.

Mark offered me a 30% discount to settle.  I said that 30% still meant I was being charged at almost 10 times their normal international rate.  Mark confirmed that if I was on their international $7.95 call plan the rate would have been $.14 per minute and thus the call charge would have been $13.58.  I asked him if he had authority to adjust my account appropriately.  “No.”  Me:  “Please may I talk to your supervisor?”

After a “dead line hold” Peggy came on the line.  I repeated my story.  She again offered 30%.  She also caved in to agreeing with me that even at 30% the revised charge for the call $124.26 was pretty outrageous.  By this time I’d checked though all my records.  Peggy said I would have been notified of my rates.  Well yes I received something that said I was on the California plan.  I also received a terms and condition booklet.  Nowhere in any of this can I see any international rates quoted at all.  (In fact if you go to the website you won’t find these rates either.  Literally, if you fail to take an international plan you cannot check the rates there! I don’t know where they are publically!) However it is easy to check reasonable rates internationally just look up 1010629. 

Peggy again offered 30% (all we are trained to give). I asked to speak with her supervisor.  She said I would have to write to the correspondence department.  I then received the strong arm.  Unlike Mark she asked would I like to accept the 30% off and added you must remain a customer for 90 days in order for this to be granted.  I complained, saying this wasn’t the terms Mark had offered me.  I then became cautious.  I asked that if I accept the 30% now does that mean I’ve accepted the terms.  She said that yes that would then be entered as resolution to the dispute.  So I am now forced to write to Sprint correspondence department.  According to Peggy is will be two to four weeks before I will hear anything from that action. 

 

So crudely the way I figure it Sprint still wants $177, but will settle for $124, for a change that if not misrepresented over four months would have cost me a max of $45.38.  So it looks like I’m out of pocket at least $80 and it could be more cause they want to lock me in.  I despise SPRINT now.  There are no redeeming qualities; there are no ethics, only fine print.  How many can I tell this story to? 

I’ll send my letter to Sprint.  Simply because this has cost me an hour this evening!  May as well start running up their admin bill.  I think these are deceptive trade practices.  I’m sure there are Public Commissions and Watchdogs.  It looks like they are pretty ineffective! It’s also time time time.  There remain other twists in the picture.  My old long distance carrier MCI is still trying to charge me $4.95 per month for my old international calling plan.  That bill and charge were active when Sprint made this claim.  I’ll change my long distance and international company as soon as I can.   Till then I’m almost scared to make a call!

Some FTC notes. 

  • According to the FTC's "Policy Statement on Deception," there exists deception "if there is a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer's detriment."
  • Another relevant statement by the FTC regarding pricing is as follows: "Depending on the circumstances, accurate information in the text may not remedy a false headline because reasonable consumers may glance only at the headline. Written disclosures or fine print may be insufficient to correct misleading representations."
  • The FTC concludes: "The Commission will find an act or practice deceptive if there is a misrepresentation, omission, or other practice that misleads the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer's detriment."


I thought I acted reasonably in changing my account.  I accepted Sprints advice in good faith.  Between the cable companies, the telephone company, the long distance companies, wireless providers (always dropping lines) the satellite companies, the yahoo dsl’s the financial privacy and information sharing agreements, homeland security and who knows what else, there are times… when we may wish we could turn it all off. 

April 8, 2003

Escalating Online Costs

I'm not sure how I feel about this Ruling Backs Anti-Spam Activist (TechNews.com)

"An Internet site that provides personal information about an alleged purveyor of mass e-mail is not harassment and does not need to be removed, a Maryland district court judge ruled yesterday."

I haven't looked at the anti-spam site in detail.  .  While it is on Slashdot too. Francis Uy's (Spamhaus?) personal site is not so  obvious. He says:

"George tried to send me a message, and wanted to make an example of me," he wrote. "Instead I had a message for him: Every time you try to mess with me, I will post it on the 'Net, and more people will learn about you. I don't encourage harassment against you, and I don't need to. The facts speak quite loudly enough. Your best option is to crawl back under a rock and suck it up, or move to some state other than the one I live in."

This solution looks like the makings a larger arms race. I note that John Robb posts today on a McAfee anti-spam product.  How much will that cost?  It's $39.95.   

John says:"Hmmm. I just installed the McAfee anti-spam program.  It seems to work relatively well however, it doesn't seem to be able to force my e-mail program (Outlook Express) to gather new e-mails after it spots a valid e-mail during a check.  Here is a datapoint:  I got 950 spam messages this weekend.   Today I got 2. [John Robb's Radio Weblog]"  

Looks like the consumer costs of being online just keep escalating! It will need a consumer centric solution.  McAfee only makes money on this product as long as spam exists. Don't see them sponsoring Spamhaus! 

Conversational Identity

Mathemagenic: learning and KM insights - : writing about identity and knowledge. Her interpretation:

  1. identity is important to provide context for knowledge flows
  2. identity is built in conversations
  3. weblogs do not provide "proper" conversational ground

"I fully agree with 1 and 2  (and I'm interested to hear more arguments about 1). I do not agree with point 3, especially in this context. We can discuss if weblogs are good for a meaningful dialogue [see previous conversations], but their added value for identity building is more visible. Observing someone thinking, reflecting and participating in several conversations gives better understanding of his/her context than even in-depth discussions in one community. This is especially true for community straddlers who stretch between different communities/contexts."

I'd have to agree. Adding to the conversational context with profiles and exchanges of "contact" information would significantly enrich and accelerate early connection amongst unknown bloggers.  Similarly enabling a "rich profile" exchange would expand the linkings and potential for new introductions as trust builds.

Indirect Sharing of Blogs

Can blogging add value to e-mails? Yes! A conversation generated Idea.  Each time I open my newreader I pick-up those 25 word short extractions of what my friends are thinking about.  Could Outlook forward mine on.... a little like the daily quote!.... thinking about today....???

Seamlessly incorporate it automatically in the signature on an e-mail post that typically includes static information company, phone website etc.  So now my e-mail message finishes with a short postscript pulled from my blog.  Or even from a friends blog or some other news service. 

A static blog link is nowhere near as useful as an active one.  Similarly a "feed" from my blog should require no explanation.

It may have other benefits.  Imagine I'm sending a message across the organization.  I've got a team working on this project.  They are all blogging their progress, rather than copying the world with cc e-mails.  My e-mail now includes short snips from my team.   My personal message now includes a focused "direct" info asset and a current indirect synopsis as a team brief which may also add context.  The reader can check at their option, subscribe to the RSS feeds etc. 

From my perspective, it might reframe my blogging slightly.  However, just like including a useful profile, my current blog would add a little more of me to my message at no real cost to me. 

The answer must already be out there.  Newgator (inbound) and possibly Sam Ruby's experiments are in this realm? 

April 9, 2003

Social Capital

Ross Mayfield provides another interesting model.  It's worth contrasting it with the comments made by Ton Zijlstra " in the Role of Blogs and Lilia's thoughts yesterday. 

Is it a large leap to frame this into social capital?  TOM (top of mind) This presents a static view, while our conversations and connectivity are defined by the perceptions of the moment, our levels of trust and whom and what we are interacting / searching for. 

While "me" centric, social capital exists in the connections; for the most part we personally hold "tacit" understandings based on our exchanges. Explicit capture may be seen as usurping or transferring an individuals social capital.  The potential for "individualism" in this view  should be contrast with a more social autopoiesis (tic?) view. Ie I'm worried that individuals "me" are not reducible to black boxes with inputs and outputs.  Rather they are self-referential systems. 

Social Capital remains in a state of flux, it's not static, and "events" outside the control of individuals or collaboratives may rapidly shift social capital, dependent on the premise it was established around and current needs of the individuals.  (eg rules just re-written for SC in Iraq) We should consider how to disturb systems.  Thus the investment that is required is one that helps with the "scanning".  Clearly many systems are developing for "what" is being said.  Not enough is being done to connect people for what they might say to each other. 

If I must make a claim to "me" or my social capital then I must consider "our" social capital.  I sure there are many different strategies.  Some will bridge many circles, others might heavily invest in one.  I don't know who may help me.  You don't know how much help I need.  I'd like to move forward on a project to increase unknown "resonance" to aid the perturbing of social systems.  Profiles, levels of access, and an exchange mechanism are available.  (Broadcast!)

Sending and receiving is a mechanistic view of communication and exchanges.  Like trust, the value in different exchanges emerges over time.  Every so often a message resonates with us.  We know every social system posesses some level of shared understanding (just look at the jargon around "Power Laws") and social practices which define how we operate.  I suspect the "social practice" of sharing rich profiles could be revolutionized if we realized that listening for "whom" would significantly improve our interactions. 

Open Doors

Remember the "open door".  It's both a metaphor and archetype we carry from our earliest childhood.  In business good managers are encouraged to have an "open door" policy.  There is something about corporate closed doors that imply secrets, lack of willingness to communicate, or just insecurity.  Or maybe infer the manager wants to be alone, don't bother them etc. 

Before e-mail, some managers might just phone, while I suspect there was a lot more face to face contact.  In a world in which it takes more time to write an e-mail than call over the cubical why are e-mail volumes growing? Why are so many happy to remain in their office and type?  We know all the nuances of face to face communciation are important.  It more than just words. Still today we have more global teams, more individuals collaborating with less face to face frequency.  How do we help them? How can they connect on more personal levels? Why is it that walking down the hall can be strange territory?

Meanwhile more in and out bound e-mail means the firewalls and boundaries become more difficult to cross and manage.  Appropriate solicitations from a new supplier less likely to make it though.  While customers find logging feedback even more impersonal.   The organization effectively closing doors.  A collection of trends that can make organizations and their communities less open.

For the most part I believe the majority of organizations want the open door with less risk. The problem is how?  Similarly in a world in which "connectivity" determines competitive advantage, constantly expanding and connecting who and whom becomes more and more important. 

The challenge takes place on more than one level.

  • Individual profiles
  • Personal contact lists
  • Corporate contact lists
  • Attention Economics
  • Security
  • Spam / Unwarranted solicitations

What we need is a solution that is at once

  • more open - enhances sharing - more personalised
  • increases enterprize security, and risk management
  • builds and accelerates trusting exchanges within and across the community. 
  • reduces work, adds efficiency and accuracy,
  • qualifies external connections. 

Is that, open doors, expand circles, make new connections, harness  social capital?  From the enterprise point of view empower attention economics while retaining important connectivity and network links even when an employees become alumni. 

What's the business model for the solution?  We should look to boundary costs, the edge of the network. That where new offers take place, that's where new learning and customers are found.  The doors open --- teleportation (or a simple message) just costs a few cents. In some businesses this agency is a referral fee.  Between friends - an introduction.  Both are legitimate approaches, both increasingly frustrated by current solutions. 

Locking up your coporate employee profiles is not the solution.  To do so shrinks your networks and the hidden social capital that exists beyond the boundary of every company. An intangilbe perhaps, goodwill maybe, a lesson already learned by software companies testing beta versions and getting free R&D.  Value your profiles, value your employees and thus add value to their networks and you will be rewarded.  The connections they make will create new value.  

Smart Conversational Locator

Marc Canter sums up Ross's post --- what if one tool could enable:

  • Personal (private) Networks - are for storing your media, email, IM, your web page and blog and managing your Home LAN. my circle
  • Creative (group) Networks (sometimes also called Community or Village) - are (as Ross points out) ideal for collaboration.  But also that intimate clustering or people that just feels warma nd fuzzy (I personally think this size can go up to 25 people)   our circle
  • Social Networks - which can bloom into Political Networks - are all really part of an open ended public kind of community - are the metaphor for communication, publishing and all things interactive. many circles?

My "red" thinking Identity Circles.  Could it be called my profile? Could I own it? Could it travels in circles approved by me?  Would it is expand and grow cooperatively and collaboratively?  

Would it be a form of SMART CONVERSATIONAL LOCATOR? If so it needs better treatment than my e-mail phone number and home mailbox.  I hope it manages my attention at my command rejecting unwarranted intrusions while constantly nurturing the types of exchanges my friends and I respond to where ever I may be.

April 13, 2003

Polycentric Identity

An excellent article contrasting the needs of consumers, enterprises and governement in  Ends and Means: Identity in Two Worlds

"These facts lead to a simple conclusion: The Net must accommodate more than one form of digital identity. Identity is contextual. It has many aspects. Customer-centrism is only one aspect of the digital identity infrastructure we need. So, it stands to reason that the identity infrastructure will be polycentric: flexible, dynamic and capable of pivoting and changing according to the context. We need both the individual, customer-centric identity that Doc asked for and the tools that allow enterprises to do what we, as customers, want them to do, which is play by the rules. And we'll get the government identities whether we like it or not. Always choose the best tool for the job, and let go of the fantasy that we'll have one ring to rule them all."

Well worth reading.

April 15, 2003

Coordination & Social Networks

I just came across a paper Job Matching, Social Network and Word-of-Mouth Communications.  It's an academic piece.  It analyses the matching between unemployed workers and vacant jobs in a social network context. While my eyes glaze there is a hidden value here.  From the abstract:

"Therefore, introducing word-of-mouth communication among network-related individuals reduces co-ordination failures and alleviates the associated search frictions. In particular, when the network size increases, on average, the unemployed workers hear about more vacancies through their social network but, at the same time, it is more likely that multiple vacancies reach the same unemployed worker. Above a certain critical value, this job overcrowding becomes so important that job matches decrease with network size."

I've been wondering how to put this in plain english.  Searchers for jobs use everything from employment boards to newspapers and personal networks including friends and former colleagues. Almost half of all jobs are filled though contacts, whom mediate opportunities and share through "word of mouth".  This job grapevine is often more effective than the more formal methods.  However, as networks grow in size the likelihood that their friends really understand what they are looking for begins to fade.  The super networker may end up with an overabundance of unsuitable jobs (a coordination error). 

Does this have implications for sites like RYZE or Ecademy? Is the simplicity of the search function creating coordination errors?  How can these networking referrals be improved, made to be more accurate and involve the contacts you know in a way in which the hidden connections uncover important word of mouth connections? From the data it appears the greater the network density the more important this becomes. 

April 17, 2003

Universal Impact

When I find myself keying in to thought pieces with alternate future scenarios I'm always looking for another edge;  a dynamic or systemic change that starts my early warning radar.  

In Are we doomed yet Salon poses an update on the Bill Joy Wired Article which I found far too gloomy. The Salon abstract:

The computer-networked, digital world poses enormous threats to humanity that no government, no matter how totalitarian, can stop. A fully open society is our best chance for survival.

What really caught my eye were these closing sentences:

If we allow our basic attitude toward knowledge to shift -- if we get in the business of criminalizing, censoring, monitoring, and limiting various kinds of knowledge -- I believe we will very quickly slip away from the ideals of universal education, open scientific enquiry, entrepreneurism, equality of opportunity, and the fecundity of creative effort that has made Western democracies so strong during the past two centuries.

I've never thought about the tech changes overturning the ideal of universal education.  I can't imagine my children's world will want that to happen.  Yet a few more Iraq's and literacy could be encouraged round the world to go backward. I hope it not a symbol or early indicator of this.   

The counter to this is the open society that is alluded to.  We won't have it unless we wrestle with the economics in such a way that everyone can be connected to the net. Who's thinking out there on how to connect up everyone with a universal connection? A univeral right!

It's worth the read, even if it just brings you back to using voice recognition software and thinking more about nanobots. 

April 21, 2003

Upcoming Blog Changes

A whole new world just opened up! My frustration with blogging and trying to install various functions traced almost completely to a poor service provider.  For the past few weeks I've thought about conversational blogging (I've been sitting on a post never quite got it how I wanted. Will post next.)

I'm looking for conversation and my blog format doesn't encourage it.  It doesn't yet contain some of the elements I've enjoyed with Ryze, there's no guestbook etc.   So I've been busy trying to change things.  For a long time I've felt that blogging systems are not easy, friendly or particularly helpful when it comes to documentation.  The flood of people still taking up blogs I hope will apply more pressure on suppliers and hosts to come up with better solutions. While I've enjoyed the learning lesson many should be buying a good setup service.  Ah the capabilities I have to start people in blogging today!

So my experience has run the full spectrum in the last few days. From finding a new provider Insider Hosting which has cut my monthly fee in half and more than doubled space and bandwidth.  In addition I can now host my other domains have a nifty control panel and let rip with everything from guestbooks, forums, chat, publishing, to emails and lists.  I'm impressed. I'm also building out my site so it's not transferred yet. I also am just stunned. Before I heard open source.  Trying instant installations of phpwebsite, three different forums etc. The tools are revolutionary and they are hear now. 

Consequently I completed a new installation of MT, moved to MYSQL (whatever that means) and have now almost got to the point where I can move things over.  Today has brought my back to MT template and stylesheets. Something I was meaning to do for ever! In a week when on the new site I should finally get Trackbacks to work! I note pinging from there already does.  Something I've never managed with this current provider.

I put up with the flaws in my MT installation because I really didn't know much better.  There's no website garage for MT that I know of.  I put up with my host provider because I assumed I was getting great everything.  Like the telephone company, you think it is hard to change.  It's a little more than a phone call.  It's still not hard.  In their case I don't think they were interested in the little guy! So much for Hurricane Electric 

PS I'll take all ideas for further improvements.  I found I had to strip some items out of the templates today.  They won't work until I move it over.  I'm most proud that  I worked out how to create drop down boxes in my header.  Took me ages!

Conversational Blogging

For a week I've had "Conversational Blogging" as a point I've wanted to make.  Has it really caught on?  Posted. WIP.....

First problem is how we define conversational blogging.  A nice article in the Guardian Secret of their success said:

The best blogs are written with conversation in mind, writes Steve Bowbrick I've noticed that good blogging is a kind of conversation. Not the literal, verbal conversation of a face-to-face encounter, but the give-and-take of an unconditional and open dialogue.

There's certainly a good degree of truth in it.  My question is for myself as well.  If Conversation Blogging is humming why do I see so few comments on mine or other blogs (except for the real noted ones)? What the reason for the reticence?  Why don't we comment more?  Are we reading them all though newsreaders? 

There have been some wonderful postings recently about blogging by Ton Ziljstra, Lilia Efimova.  So far I think I've seen none about the design and layout of the "Professional Blog". 

Have you really thought about the blog format that you are using today?  Most of us started blogging with standard templates.  So we follow the crowd.  Adding search functions, blogrolling, etc.  There is usually a few site links to a profile or contact details.  Most of these blogs also allow comments.  I don't see them getting many.  For the most part it doesn't go much further.  A quick link to the top 100 will give you a sense of the design practices (layouts) that are most common. 

This seems to be the current "professional blogging" paradigm the design or layout emerging from a "personal publishing" paradigm. This seems in start contrast to blogs I've seen in Live Journal or Blurty where comments on a friends postings are numerous.  Similarly with youth their blogging space provides the capability to add additional comment, communication and guestbook features to a site. 

Examples are: 

Guestmap, SignMyGuestbook, Zonkboard (a blabber board). various Sitemeters, geo sites like Geobytes  and more playfully imood:  (keep in touch with others moods).

I'm really thinking we must look at the "professional blog" formats really demonstrated by the Radio / MT professionals that have taken it up versus the 18/24 year old who has a substantially richer feedback environment and are using them not just to "tell the world". They also have friends and profile components.

Similarly when we thing about Knowlege Innovation I think the concept of value and knowlege flows is very relevant, however, are blog-centric views limiting perspective? Blogs are only one item on the personal dashboard and current conversational instrumentation is too limited. If the publishing projects are part of a personal ecosystems repository then capture, feedback, related comments, conversations can be captured by even non-writers.

For example the CEO asks many questions, others blog answers into his blog.... the CEO is then comment centric, more conversational with perhaps only periodic briefings which are more likely to be performance, policy, people, planning related. Effectively making the organization more transparent. Categorizing the CEO blog eg project categories, promotional announcements etc, competitive activity... (not sure this is right!)

Why toy with this idea? Power people and knowledge people may be different. Both need conversational space. Do blogs focus too much on the object - the post and not enough on the broader environment. If it is the latter then "newsreaders" and feedback are actually more important.

April 22, 2003

Blog Ecology

The mass of statistics, rankings, associations, blogback links, GeoURl references is increasing rapidly.  As you will see from the top right I've formally added links to Blogshares, Blogstreet, GeoURl, Technorati and BlogTree

I've just staked my claim on Blogshares, no time to play. There's also an MT-Plugin for it. Not yet installed.  Take a quick look at the the stats.  Blogstreet's visual map is fantastic although it may take some time to load.  For the first time I can see via Blog Street a listing of who's blogrolling me. A finally if anyone hasn't been watching the changes at Blogrolling then it's time to take another look.  It's becoming a real nice convenience package.  You'll see my Blogroll changing shortly to reflect the new functionality.  

There's just enough mass (numbers) now to fuel a like Cambrian Explosion.  We are entering a relatively short time where the new species emerge.  Best be watching, ratcheting up your learning and ready for the knowledge innovation to follow. 

Musings - Rich Profiles

Tom Portante and I have held many conversations over the last few months, testing them, working them forward.  He's posts a collection of examples today. It's a little long in this format. Note this.   

"An unintended consequence of all of these possibilities -- once you establish a system that allows e-mail recipients to charge for their attention (by way of a token 17-cent 'postage' rate or some other fee structures) ...

...spam goes away."
There are three good example of how the knowledge innovation boundaries will be stretched. 

You will see the common themes.

  • Economics of Attention
  • Relationships, trust, circles,
  • Personal Knowledge Management

Look more closely and you will see the emergent knowledge sharing opportunities, the benefits of rich profiles, and database technology that with redefine connectivity.  If you were a corporate you may see that as KM is individualised the relationships become more personal.  As the number of relationships grow the organization has new opportunities.  Real links with the outside world have always been treasured. The difference is every employee will add 150 and probably more like 1000. Each of those links will add to brand value.  The organization can once again become / have a conversation..... 

The last observation for tonight.  Is certainly one I've been experiencing today.  Websites for companies appear aggregated - centralized.  Well I've got news.  The new tools are decentralizing, not top down, no one controls all of them.  If you just look at this blog.  It's personal, it uses MT,and all the ecology items I just added add functionality.  Some come with a cost.  The KM field failed to centralize knowledge.  At the end of the day it's knowing 'who' to call.    

April 23, 2003

Conversational Blogging II

Two interesting comments emerged on a recent "Conversational Blogging" post. Ton (it's here - obviously my new blog pinged (which this one doesn't) - how to fix? Next week) picked up on my design / layout query and Denham's comments below I'm reposting here and in comments to keep the thread.

"My experience is 'blog' dialog is weak by all accounts:

  • the record is fragmented not easy to follow or aggregated.
  • Bloggers tend to retreat to their enclaves and then reply. This is a very different form of reciprocity to dialog within the same 'container'.
  • Strong personal opinions do not encourage extended dialog - good questions are the key.
  • Most posts are message orientated rather than open exploration - this does not encourage 'conversation' and turn-taking

These strike me as all valid.  I've probably fallen at one time or another for all of these traps too.  Yet if I had not blogged I would'nt have had access to this conversation or point of view today. It's no substitute for face to face and finding real ways to collaborate. 

So Denham when I received your message (e-mail notification), I pushed reply and then considered:

  • Where should the reply go?
  • Assumed public?
  • Checked your wiki; should I respond there?
  • Where might further question best be posed?

This is where metalayer solves this conversational issue.  While looking at the wiki I also noted links to Nancy White, Americ Azevedo, and Carol Tucker all whom I know one way or another.  Two met via Ryze. Not sure any have "real" blogs.  Do check out Carol's PKM space.  So easy to get diverted!

Now for me none of these systems work really effectively. I started blogging because I felt it was important to get writing (See Mitch Radciffe Cogitating) and the focus would emerge.  I think it is. I'll add another category today (wasn't using them before effectively) for conversational blogging

From my perspective blogging's been a lot better than stradling many forums while not ever really finding a home. I also prefer newsfeeds to e-mail lists.  It's more efficient - IMHO.

  • Are there a majority of bloggers uncomfortable (perhaps untrained) in threaded discussions / container forums?
  • Are the time issues (blogging vs forums) such that the broader net cast for a blogger provides more perceived value than the "tight knit" group in the forum space? Is this related to networking vs learning or knowledge seeking?
  • While blogs may not "container" info very effectively it appears to me they project and push snippets very effectively. How can we encourage these dialogues / conversations automatically into better forums, so optimising discovery and accelerating learning?
  • Could trackback have helped us? No compatibility yet. 
  • Last for now.  Aren't blogs better than Wiki's for letting you know what is happening in realtime?  Are pages like Ryze better at sharing human profiles?  

Few aspects that have frustrated my blogging. 

  1. Lack of data to analyse. I'm fixing that by moving my server.  I've also been working all those new blogging tools that report on networks, connections etc.  Frankly I want to know who reads, who links, who I helped to ask a better question. 
  2. My layout, and the functionality that is there. I've only started working on it.  Will be asking around for help.  I'm still sorting trackbacks (working on my new server!),  I want a guestbook, will try moving my posts comments to forums. There is some neat Comment Leader boards etc that are beginning to appear.  Zonkboard and IM capabilities too. 
  3. Community.  I'd like to link co-create my blog as part of a small community where there is more reciprocity in it.  Perhaps it just requries the creation of an offering.

Back to quotes:

"I'm struck by low number of blog posts that have replies - and after something is offerred, not many bloggers take the trouble to reply so the emergent thread dies." 

Sometimes the threads die to the outside world.  Other times they are lost in a phone call.  What struck me was looking at Live Journal and Blurty pages recently.  Many had comments in double digits.  More like Asynchonous IM.  

When you throw a post out there it is nice to get something back.  A big thanks to all recent commenters!

Now I'm still not sure about the correct protocol for answering comments.  In the comments thread?  Somewhere else?  As the "blogging community" is amorphous, there aren't the "cues" that one finds in RYZE or in Live Journal. 

So what "values" would you promote to create a successful small blogging community? Is there an illustration already out there?

I'd also like to know what wiki one should try and why? 

About April 2003

This page contains all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in April 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2003 is the previous archive.

May 2003 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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