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October 30, 2002

First Week

I've been working though MOVEABLE TYPE for a week. It's still not working like I want. The whole process is becoming a little time consuming, and I fear I lack the programming skills.

I've found the support discussion helpful and fast. My real frustration traces to little things, more like gremlins than anything else. Want additional functionality. Subscribe, etc. Have to work each one out. takes time.

Despite the poor documentation for Radio, I'm going to try and load my Radio blog in here. I like the new subscription service. But have no idea how to do that in MT. Similarly Google news.

November 5, 2002

Are Blogs Really Useful?

"Source ScriptingNews.

Are weblogs legit business tools? Mike Masnick says yes. Mark Hurst says that Mike's company does nothing but blogs, so of course he thinks they're business tools. To Mark I'd say, one day someone said that about phones, and today every company organizes its business on the phone, and using other communication tools such as airplanes, hotels, notepads, whiteboards, email, instant messaging, spreadsheets, conference rooms, etc. Weblogs are a tool, a good one, but that's all they are. We could stop having these debates, imho. [Scripting News]"

A possible problem is weblogs aren't understood yet by those that have the corporate communication roles. The story-telling possibilities just keep expanding for me. Mike good luck with your techdirt venture. I believe a few more marketers need to sit-up and listen.

Does this discussion also reflects that it's still a little too hard? Or are the doubters the same ones that pooh poohed GeoCities? Dave imho, I'd actually advocate more discussion like this. It's a healthy sign and yet I'm still fighting to do what I really want to do with a weblog. I started with Radio (love the news feature) and failed to get enough easy learning to migrate templates and type to my own site. MoveableType's instructions were easier, despite the additional complexity. One day I may work it all out.

November 11, 2002

Collaborative Communities

Participating in online communities is not only growing easier, the results more positive. Kuro5hin is also more than a weblog. It's been around for awhile and yet today I ended up giving it much closer attention as I considered voting on an MLP posting on the Nickel Exchange, was asked for other help with editing, etc.

Various links took me to SCOOP and you learn quickly about the collaborative media application behind Kuro5hin and other communities.

My journey started today looking for methods improve my MT posting and reporting options. I've had in mind the opportunity for a MT based community. Clearly plausible yet not self-organizing. When one compares Smart Mobs with Kuro5hin it becomes clear how obvious this is. I will be looking at Scoop further.

Kuro5hin.org is a community of people who like to think. This is a site for people who want to discuss the world they live in. It's a site for people who are on the ground in the modern world, and who sometimes look around and wonder what they have wrought.

Scoop empowers participants to play a role in the newsmaking. This is not the only application however. My searching located Eric Hanson andShouldExist around ideas;as an idea exchange. Check out their description Eric's list also proved to me how sharing can close and create new links... Some we don't even know. While looking at his "people" section I found myself linked back to Seb's Open Resesearch. who has a great blog going on knowledge sharing, communities and innovation.

Note:"ShouldExist.org is a non-profit website, founded on the belief that individuals are more successful when we work together through open standards, modularity and decentralized control." His project list also includes others. Check it out.

Part of my interest in the first place was driven by the question posed to me. Should the NICKEL EXCHANGE story be posted? I'm going to watch over the next couple of days. We will be revisiting "Nickel Exchange" for I still believe the next frontier is in solving highly decentralised P2P transactions. Frankly... the nickel exchange looks premature, needs consumer friendly content, and a little more to give it legitimacy. I didn't yet try to see if it works.

Then today Movielink launched. This is the site offered by the movie moguls to provide downloadable movies to American broadband connections. Incredibly slow to appear, you would almost think the site is down. Obviously checking out my system for compatibility. I'm waiting for it to be cracked, then Kazaa movies etc might take on a whole new meaning.

Posted by henshall at 09:22 PM

November 15, 2002

BLOGS --- WHY? WHAT?

Articles About Blogging; Anti-Blog Article; Books About Blogging. All in all getting broader recognition than I thought. The last year has been big for blogs. The next year will be bigger.

Sourced from Cynthia Typaldos who wrote 12 Principles of Collaborationa piece I really enjoyed a few years back. She also runs a yahoo group called webcommunities . where I picked up the links below. Running a search on webcommunites provided an interesting list. Will have to talk to Cynthia next week.

Still I wish the post had been blogged! Then I could have just linked it or forwarded it as news. Still I've spent the time and formated it for blogdom. However the real reason is I have a few friends to convert. Out of which I believe something interesting will emerge.

Articles About Blogging
The Blogging Revolution
Blog Nation
Weblogs Make the Web Work for You
Use the blog, Luke

Anti-Blog Article
Secret CIO: Beware The Blog In Your Company's Future

More Articles

Living Reflections : All about blogs
GOOGLE media blogging articles

Essential Blogging Books About Blogging none of which I've read. A quick search and knowing who the authors are points to the Oreilly book Essential Blogging as probably the one to choose. However I'm not buying it. The discussion groups and real-time blog players are moving too fast. We Blog


We Blog, ISBN 0764549626
Blog On, ISBN 0072227125
Blogging, ISBN 0735712999
[Essential Blogging], ISBN 0596003889
The Weblog Handbook, ISBN 073820756X
Weve Got Blog, ISBN 0738207411

May 11, 2003

Blogroll Philosophies

Is the recent change to blogrolls disruptive?  Are new category capabilities worth the small $10 fee? Is such a simple change a disruptive innovation?

A wonderful post dealing with blogging philosopies and links can be found here at Electric Venom:Blogging Thoughts and Philosophies.  Nice descriptions for iso-blogging, extra-blogging, and intra-blogging.

Made me wonder some more about the recent premium service offered by blogrolling.  I rapidly caught on when I saw more readable blogrolls broken into 5 or 6 per group.  So I upgraded and now have a list that only displays the last 24 posts in most recent order.  My blogroll remains much larger.  However, I've yet to see a day where they all update.

While that was an easy change.  I'm now confronted with what to use the other rolls for.  That requires categories, or redefined relationships.  Then I've got the problem that managing my blogroll doesn't manage my newsreader subsciptions.  So I'm yet to figure out what to do with the functionality.  As far as I know I still can't find out via blogrolls who links to me.  Maybe this is a little time saver for something that is fairly static. 

Can Blogrolls please make reciprocal linking easy!  Can you tie it to my newreader? Plus a few example on how to use the extra functionality might be helpful.   

Correction:  I can make recip rolls.  I'll execute it soon.  Thanks Kate for pointing it out.  Was clearly too late.  Apologies  Jason at Blogrolling. 

May 24, 2003

Collective Blogging

One of the outcomes of my trip to France was a renewed desire to build a more collaborative and collective blogging space.  Thus that's what I've been doing for the last week.  More will be forthcoming.  However, it's worth sharing some observations now. 

My objective is to setup a new public site (new business) that embraces emerging conversational tools while trying to create it around a blogging framework.  I've recently observed the impact that trackbacks and visibility have.  They create a form of social credit and strengthen bonds of mutual interest. 

Similarly, I've yet to see a company that blogs product releases in a way that gets comments and trackbacks.  They may well be there but certainly not with the big guys. Are not Trackback like word of mouth marketing?  When you create a release you immediately find your suppliers blogging it with trackbacks and putting their slant on it. 

As we are currently working with 5 team members we thought we'd continue with MT despite it's scalablilty and taxonomy shortcomings (well aware of Drupal / Scoop which have been blogged here earlier.) Using MT to create a public site has taken me on a new journey.  By developing and harnessing the power of categories I can see a lot more can be done with "Category Driven Blogs" and corresponding RSS feeds. 

It's also allowing the creation of new pages.  The first opportunity is to create pages that pull from select categories.  Eg About Us, Product Updates, Press Releases, etc. Of course authored by now becomes relevant.  Last five extracts keeping a profile up to date with no work what so ever. 

One thing I'm missing and would like to have.  Is the ability to easily sort comment and trackbacks received by author.  So far it seems there's no easy MT solution.  I've recently experimented with MTCollate which enables postings, comments trackbacks etc to be organized in a timeline.  Some additional functionality around this would make for an intersting dashboard design.   See MT-Plugins

June 2, 2003

NexistWiki

Interesting to see Jim McGee postings on Wikis Part 2 after finally starting my own PurpleNumbers based one last week. I'd say they still have a way to go to be a whiteboard in a conference room. However once collaborating on a document goes beyond 1 to 1 then group access and edit capability on a Wiki is just common sense.

His earlier posting covers connecting wiki's to blogs and blogs to wikis. But it's more than that. Jim says "I believe Sunir understands Wiki philosophy better than anyone else I know. His contributions to framing the concept and patterns of soft security that underlie the social architecture of Wikis are what made me an early convert to Meatball.

I think there's a lot there.  Better add NexistWiki to the list.  Jack Park writes

"Historically speaking, the NexistWiki experiment centered around something called Augmented Storytelling. A talk given by me at StoryCon 2002 about Augmented Storytelling can be found here.

NexistWiki exists at the intersection of Weblogs, Wikis, and Douglas Engelbart's call for massive improvements in addressability and evolvability of information resources. Each object presented on a Webpage with NexistWiki is followed by two objects:

  • a # (pound sign or hashmark) which reveals the full URL of the object
  • a tiny blue arrow which is a link to a homepage for that object

NexistWiki, thus, provides two kinds of addressability to every information resource, also known as an addressable information resource or AIR.

From the individual homepage given to each AIR, NexistWiki provides for evolvability: the object can be edited by its original creator, and, it can be annotated and linked with other information resources.
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June 18, 2003

Try Blogging

From McGee's Musings "treading Softly with blogs in organisations" Jim pulls a collection of posts from John Patrick, Frank Patrick and Jonathan Peterson and ..... the message is: Get small teams prototyping these tools. Get a time commitment. Success comes from using them. These are not threaded discussions, or forums.

Buried in this is the subtle promise of blogs and RSS aggregation as a tool for knowledge sharing in organizations. The simplicity of the tools allows them to be gently grafted on to existing processes and practices with minimal disruption. The challenge is to let this simplicity work its course. The tempation will be to over-design, over-engineer, and over-control. Resisting that temptation will depend on a strong sensitivity to the dynamics of organizations. We do live in interesting times for helping organizations and knowledge workers make better use of knowledge.

The value of blogging grows exponentially over time.  Still I wonder... do early adopters have a competitive advantage or are they persecuted for changing communications rules.  A lot will depend on the culture and the early activities. 

Will Blogging Emerge in Business

Last week I was involved in briefing a group of knowledge innovators.  In the lead up I found myself creating links and examples.  Rather than just leave them hidden it seems more relevant to just blog them.

There is little doubt that lists help.  The stories that go with them and the ones we pull together.  Start a list and soon you realize that one item leads to another.  So what are some examples of blogs and business?   What are the potential uses for these techniques to provide services, sell products, build brands and communicate with stakeholders. Some starting points.

  • K-logs promise to be inexpensive, lightweight, and valuable knowledge management tools, especially for teams.
  • Community Centric Communications: Steven Lundin portrays a world in which online communities are taking over the role once reserved for PR in his article The fall of PR and the rise of Community-Centric Communications. See a synosis here.
  • BLOGS IN BUSINESS: THE WEBLOG AS FILING CABINET “He says: "Weblogs could be a mechanism to coherently codify and 'publish' in a completely voluntary and personal manner the individual worker's entire filing cabinet, complete with annotations, marginalia, post-its and personal indexing system." 
  • Team Brief - Community Brief This provides a brief contrast between the "Team Brief" and B-Blogs. So far there's been little discussion around blogging and the team brief concept. I suspect there is an opportunity here to combine these concepts and call it the "Community Brief". 
  • Blogs and Forums Tom Coates article "Discussion and Citation in the Blogsphere" is a must read for anyone thinking about the impact of blogging on threaded discusssions. Great diagrams and analysis.

After the first one I realized I had enough in my own blog already to provide links, just demonstrating that blogging becomes more useful over time.  Then I also clipped out one further story. 

Library Look-up was a simple idea. When Jon Udell found himself wondering if he could save a few dollars by getting the book from his local library rather than buying it from Amazon his simple question in just a few days was revolutionizing the local library system. Library Lookup allows you an instant online check of book availability at your local library. What began as an experiment and discussion in the weblog community rapidly demonstrated the disruptive innovative potential of Weblogs, Web services, and digital identity. See also: Can the local library help meet my surging demand for books?

Within this story is a connected community, many who only know it other through their blogs. In real life many of them have never met and yet they are all finding reasons to blog and collaborate. There are many other stories like this around emergent topics, new exchanges and new personal connections. Yet this discussion should not be limited to blogs alone. For there is a whole range of lightweight low cost tools emerging dispensing with the need for large corporate structures.

What stories and example do you have?

June 19, 2003

Weblog Specs

Dave Pollard writes in How to Save the World about business weblogs and five software tools needed for social networking enablement. He makes great points about making it simpler and more transparent and describes the need for the user to determine how and to whom it should be published with each post. I think underlying this is a very decentralized structure that docks with the enterprise while the lifestream is maintained with the user.  There are some very Net Deva like implications to this model.  Similarly the learning from Ryze, and Linkedin etc apply. What am I saying?  I like where this is going, just so far my experience has been that we have to deal with the trust / reciprocity and identity issues.    

I'd like to see Dave's next post around categories.  How are the taxonomy issues resolved?  While a few categories are permanent, we need to structure emergent taxonomy systems.  When fellow workers find they are working on similar questions then they become connected.  I continue to believe that this is topic map related. 

Get these things right and weblogs will be part of the innovation and trust engines that enable social networks. 

Weblog Specs

Dave Pollard writes in How to Save the World about business weblogs and five software tools needed for social networking enablement. He makes great points about making it simpler and more transparent and describes the need for the user to determine how and to whom it should be published with each post. I think underlying this is a very decentralized structure that docks with the enterprise while the lifestream is maintained with the user.  There are some very Net Deva like implications to this model.  Similarly the learning from Ryze, and Linkedin etc apply. What am I saying?  I like where this is going, just so far my experience has been that we have to deal with the trust / reciprocity and identity issues.    

I'd like to see Dave's next post around categories.  How are the taxonomy issues resolved?  While a few categories are permanent, we need to structure emergent taxonomy systems.  When fellow workers find they are working on similar questions then they become connected.  I continue to believe that this is topic map related. 

Get these things right and weblogs will be part of the innovation and trust engines that enable social networks. 

June 24, 2003

More Corporate Blogging

Allan Karl The Digital Tavern  picks up on corporate blogging following the weekend's weak NY Times article.   I hear an underlying cry for retaining  personality in posts through the synthesis rather than cumbersome  staging of the message.  His O'Reilly example reinforces why highly structured corporate blogging is going to destroy creativity and leave posts "flat". 

... corporations need to embrace weblog technologies, methodologies and find a way to create a synergistic relationship with PR, advertising, marketing and internal communications in an effort to leverage and extend the corporate brand while refining and enhancing the voice of the company. Even more, when these blogs can open up the dialog between company and customers, employees and suppliers/partners, then we'll start to see corporate blogs take off.

Let's look to decentralizing the experience.  I'm not sure thinking communications silos will work for corporate blogging.  Rather providing every employee with an RSS feed and enable Kuro5hin type reviews.  Then corporate bloggers build reputation (individually and collectively).  Both are important and reinforce the need for collaboration.  Important posts must not only be projected into the ether (without a corporate rating they are of no consequence) but accelerated around the organization.  Blogs work at the fringe and at the center. 

While the desire is there to take corporate blogging and doing it publically, building brands... I believe in focussing on small team internal blogs first behind firewalls.  Please keep it simple.  Corporates need to crawl first, and the independent blogging by the few will not define "Collective Blogging" or the organization.  Only then will corporate blogging really begin to evolve and embrace "Living the Brand". 

The perceived model for large organization is very different from a smaller private company with 25 to 125 employees.  (Large org  perceptionsmakes the reality harder.) Small operations will "Corporate Blog" first and their speed and stories will build brand equity far faster than the big guys can.  The key difference -- the little entrepreneurs can think dynamic brand communities.  They tell stories and easily adopt a conversational tone. 

June 26, 2003

BlogPaste Wisdom

I had to have a little fun with the title. Allan gets his wisdom teeth pulled for the sake of clarity - The Digital Tavern and then allows me to draw new parallels that suggest "see Corporate Blogging 3" is like pulling teeth. So I've finished on a more serious and practical note. 

 

Actually rather than thinking extraction alone we should think orthodontistry, more art for a smile than techniques to cure infection and disease.  Then there's the odd piece of bridgework required, perhaps a few implants and bingo even corporates will blog with pearly whites.  Then P&G or Colgate will produce some new fangled brightener while OralB puts some bent bristle brushes into action. That could confuse things unless the correct blogging technique is maintained.

 

Still most corporates will be required to lose their "wisdom" teeth. It's affecting their bite and they're leaving no room for growth.  The sooner blogging becomes daily the more rapidly plaque and gum disease will come under control --- not to mention the dreaded halitosis.  There's a stench when corporate communications fail to be transparent. They are not compelling when they lose their smile and character.  Yep we need engineering.  Full plates are not in vogue.  Toothy tattoos may be in.  Possibly every org needs new blogging hygienists and dental technicians.  Yet it's not only hygiene that blogpaste is working on.

 

Like the emerging PictureRolls, with faces, we want real smiles and real people when we dock with an organization. Blogging, like FaceRolls is more transparent.  Organizations that learn to blog well will do more good than evil.  Blogs will also engender more competition, and cooperation.  Those employees that fail to visit the bloggist when their colleagues begin their daily routine will find they get more than their teeth pulled long term. 

 

Really seriously Allan isn’t into dentistry and may be a little concerned about his remaining wisdoms.  I do sense something new in the making.  There’s an opportunity for an agency developing Collaborative Live Brand Communities. There’s a lot from Brand Marketing, Advertising, PR etc that could be merged.

 

From my days leading sales and marketing teams, “good news”, was part of improving both the batting average and raising the team bar.  Start with core groups from brand marketing, key accounts sales and customer service.  A blog a day could really keep the doctor away. 

 

It may be too late to add a serious angle to this post.  Yet I feel I’m challenging myself too.  I know if I was again running a sales marketing organization we would be blogging.  I’d start with some core categories.  These are top of mind. I'm sure in a group discussion and appropriate context we would come up with something better.  

  1. Daily Update (Everyone! How did you build the business today?). A minimum amount of structure. Give those sales guys camera phones and micro keypads. Make it real basic. They have done daily reports for years… this is a minor change. Help them bring their customers and channels into the business.  Marketers, help me build categories, stories elevator pitches.  If there isn’t a business building action /insight per day then the business is in trouble.  Etc.   (Improve the bite!)
  2. Team Brief (a weekly hierarchy driven piece to begin). I’ve written on Team Briefs before.  In the beginning they are top down. I do believe in the end they will be bottom up. If we aren’t encouraging / doing enough appreciating each other in 1 above then start here! Similarly over time weekly summaries will become easy. (Encourage the Smile)
  3. Key Projects (These have corporate wide impact – no more than 4). When they make corporate news daily something happens.  We are back to the boss only has to read it. I’d be looking for good posts, real action, and quality of thinking.  These are win-win blogs.  Their beauty also has to be more than skin deep.  (Enhance Visibility)
  4. Measures / Expectations:  Enable everyone to blog on “our blogging performance”.  I’d start this with names optional. (Routinize - Develop Blogpaste)
  5. Dashboard:  Enable all these pieces to be brought together.  And quickly sorted. Comments and trackbacks need to be very visible.   (Mouth the Results)

The ad agency, the PR co etc are involved from the beginning.  Get them writing some summaries.  Providing some points of view.  Give them access.  Let them comment on competitors, great campaigns, idea, etc.  Get them involved in the design discussion, the dashboard and messaging. At the moment this is all private – behind the firewall. They will begin pressing early on for going public.  Resist this temptation, it’s not worth it and bloggers don’t go public they emerge.  Similarly the agency will try to speak with one voice.  Don't allow it.  You need them from creative to media planner.... visibly impacting involved and sharing on your business.  Get their commitment to your blogging --- make it part of their contract. Blogging should not increase their charges to you! Still I'm yet to see the agency that says "blogging with you is synonomous with our business model.  Yet we are close.

 

If your agency won't go this way they will never take you Corporate Blogging!  So make the decision now.  Get a new agency!  Or hedge your bets short-term... find an agency thatwill take you blogging. I may just know the one.    

 

Frankly this is all much easier than pulling teeth!  

 

 

 

July 3, 2003

More Forums & Blogs

I feel there's a ready interest in making blogs more conversational.  So I find it particularly frustrating when contributing to different forums and then finding myself exhausted and too tired to sum it up for my blog.  At that point I feel like I'm suffering all this information is being posted to separate places - different communities and my retrieval is difficult. 

Mark Carey created an interesting slant on his new blog Web Dawn which contains more than one posting on Blogs vs Forums.  He created a forum view after a threaded discussion.  I quickly experimented with it here.  After reading it and flicking around I've found my self rereading my "Conversational Blogging" Category. The comments from Abe, Marc, Roger and more  on Mark's post here are insightful.

I believe that blogs are not forums and forums should not be blogs, however clearly connecting them up creates additional value. Blogs from time to time do take on the attribute of forums.  There are an interesting set of posting at the Knowledge Board and Dave Pollard recently posted his thoughts on the Communications and Media Forms.  What I like about Dave's post is in this thought:

"I see the weblog becoming a ubiquitous communication medium, a proxy for every individual, where everything you want to know about that individual (which they have given you permission to see) can be called up. The effect of that will be to eliminate many communications whose purpose is simply to get information. The blog will be the main vehicle by which we educate, inform and explain"...

This is another good slant on blogging lifestreams and I agree that integrated voice - video chat is a killer app.  What I think I'm missing in these descriptions is how inbound communications will be handled.  Will blogs also become RSS / newsreader feed centric?  If so I need to be getting updates on the comments that are placed on the blogs I read.  Good posts that I'm interested in in my newsreader should also enable me to track comments and trackbacks to them.  At the moment I don't know how to get this easily....

Then finally as a note to Mark Carey's comments:  MT has a plug-in that can be adapted to work with simple comments called Collate.  However, I've not worked how to provide separate labels for trackbacks and comments yet.  I have experimented with it as part of a personal dashboard.

More Forums & Blogs

I feel there's a ready interest in making blogs more conversational.  So I find it particularly frustrating when contributing to different forums and then finding myself exhausted and too tired to sum it up for my blog.  At that point I feel like I'm suffering all this information is being posted to separate places - different communities and my retrieval is difficult. 

Mark Carey created an interesting slant on his new blog Web Dawn which contains more than one posting on Blogs vs Forums.  He created a forum view after a threaded discussion.  I quickly experimented with it here.  After reading it and flicking around I've found my self rereading my "Conversational Blogging" Category. The comments from Abe, Marc, Roger and more  on Mark's post here are insightful.

I believe that blogs are not forums and forums should not be blogs, however clearly connecting them up creates additional value. Blogs from time to time do take on the attribute of forums.  There are an interesting set of posting at the Knowledge Board and Dave Pollard recently posted his thoughts on the Communications and Media Forms.  What I like about Dave's post is in this thought:

"I see the weblog becoming a ubiquitous communication medium, a proxy for every individual, where everything you want to know about that individual (which they have given you permission to see) can be called up. The effect of that will be to eliminate many communications whose purpose is simply to get information. The blog will be the main vehicle by which we educate, inform and explain"...

This is another good slant on blogging lifestreams and I agree that integrated voice - video chat is a killer app.  What I think I'm missing in these descriptions is how inbound communications will be handled.  Will blogs also become RSS / newsreader feed centric?  If so I need to be getting updates on the comments that are placed on the blogs I read.  Good posts that I'm interested in in my newsreader should also enable me to track comments and trackbacks to them.  At the moment I don't know how to get this easily....

Then finally as a note to Mark Carey's comments:  MT has a plug-in that can be adapted to work with simple comments called Collate.  However, I've not worked how to provide separate labels for trackbacks and comments yet.  I have experimented with it as part of a personal dashboard.

July 8, 2003

Team Blogging

From the New York Times another article on blogging (signs of improvement?) on Blogs in the Workplace.  The real impact will be on creating smarter teams. Some snips:

"People are going to the blogs every day as a source for news," Mr. Jarvis said. But, he added, "I am disappointed in the tool," because the hoped-for exchange of ideas among departments has not spontaneously developed. "You need specific goals," Mr. Jarvis said. Typically, though, such experiments are not expensive to mount. 

Indeed it is not the tools it is how you learn to use them. Establishing the correct learning agenda and context is key.  I remember bringing in Laptops to the salesforce many years ago.  Each one at the time was worth 20% of the salespersons annual salary (very high tax country) and the economic justification was hard.  From my perspective the real payout came in intangibles.  My salesforce learning new tools, image - leading the pack, new interest in presenting data and crunching numbers, and answering my queries at night.  Was still hard to put a value on P-Spend savings or better shelf management and thus share gains.  Still in those days they learnt to use the tools on their time, and longer hours began. Now too many of them are slaves to the system.   

So this time the upgrade expense is not in the equipment and software, the expense will be in finding the right individuals to help facilitate the change. Like Mr. Tang below.... people want to work smarter not longer.  He gets it!

When I want to know something I check the Web log," Mr. Tang said. "It saves me the trouble of e-mailing people or yelling across the room to get a status update." 

Mr Tang is in an IM centric company, hardly typical yet apparently using blogs to get control of his time. 

Corporate Blogging is only just the beginning, the companies that understand the power of a "continuous team briefing process" and enable the grass roots to fuel the exchange will be the organizations that begin learning faster.  It's time to RSSify your org.  The result will be moving work off e-mails and back into community work. My bet is intelligent solutions will quickly emerge just as other examples in the article are showing. 

Of note these new tools are being brought in from the fringe. What makes this really exciting is the potential to create entirely new operating systems.  We already know the hardware is a commodity and the software is cheap or open source.  Corporate Blogging is just the edge of a revolution that will harness the collective intelligence of organizations in new ways. It's time to start thinking about the right people to have on board. 

Hmmm.... check you buddy list.....start your web cam, will your next employee be a blogger?  How long must they have blogged to be considered?  That reminds me of another post I never made on S-Blogs... search-blogs.  Blogs set up by individuals in the job search process.  Perhaps it is time to pull that one out too. 

 

July 10, 2003

Comments Debate

The Venomites are speaking up.  Electric Venom:Blogs Without Comments "And so the debate continues whether a blog needs comments or it's just a website, or whether TrackBack is sufficient."

My recent EV comment: So comments are like sowing seeds... May the Venomites rise up and be heard... front page. Way to go! Makes tripping rather than RSS reading much more fun. Alway enjoy my visits.

So really--- are comments just part of an intimacy gradient? Are trackbacks... just new fences? Territorial boundaries? Perhaps we take it all too seriously. Set fire to the fields or quench the flames.

Comments and trackbacks are important to me.  I don't mind admitting that I don't like blogs that don't have comments. It does tell me something about the who or them behind it.  But here's a request.  At least it may work for the MT crowd that makes all the trackback noise anyways. 

Enable other MT blogs so that when I leave a comment on their blog... it is automatically e-mailed to my blog when I check the right comment box and thus posted (title comment on VK's xxx entry) and saved in a category "comments on other blogs" with sub-categories by blog.  Then I can go commenting and feel I'm adding broader value at the same time.  It would generate more thoughtful comments, and enable me to share both more personally and broadly at the same time. It would also keep a record for me of comments I've made on other blogs.  Something sadly lacking today. 

While we should be happy to give away -- our comments --- those with failing memories might like a record.  Makes it easier to find later. It also makes it easier to make later referrals.  "Ah we connected on that!" See... 

Plus hitting a trackback right now will make it even easier to see how Kate's blog is working! 

Comments Debate

The Venomites are speaking up.  Electric Venom:Blogs Without Comments "And so the debate continues whether a blog needs comments or it's just a website, or whether TrackBack is sufficient."

My recent EV comment: So comments are like sowing seeds... May the Venomites rise up and be heard... front page. Way to go! Makes tripping rather than RSS reading much more fun. Alway enjoy my visits.

So really--- are comments just part of an intimacy gradient? Are trackbacks... just new fences? Territorial boundaries? Perhaps we take it all too seriously. Set fire to the fields or quench the flames.

Comments and trackbacks are important to me.  I don't mind admitting that I don't like blogs that don't have comments. It does tell me something about the who or them behind it.  But here's a request.  At least it may work for the MT crowd that makes all the trackback noise anyways. 

Enable other MT blogs so that when I leave a comment on their blog... it is automatically e-mailed to my blog when I check the right comment box and thus posted (title comment on VK's xxx entry) and saved in a category "comments on other blogs" with sub-categories by blog.  Then I can go commenting and feel I'm adding broader value at the same time.  It would generate more thoughtful comments, and enable me to share both more personally and broadly at the same time. It would also keep a record for me of comments I've made on other blogs.  Something sadly lacking today. 

While we should be happy to give away -- our comments --- those with failing memories might like a record.  Makes it easier to find later. It also makes it easier to make later referrals.  "Ah we connected on that!" See... 

Plus hitting a trackback right now will make it even easier to see how Kate's blog is working! 

July 16, 2003

NewsGator

 I’m posting this entry from NewsGator my new newsreader.  For the most part I’ve used the newsreader that came with my Radio Blog and I used it as a general clipping service.  However it was slow and failed to provide a simple quick way to post to MT.  Similarly I tried Ampheta Desk.  That too had an ugly interface and didn’t eliminate cut’n paste..  I also checkout out NewzCrawler which failed (as far as I could see to offer a simple way to import my subscriptions file.  With 100+ I’m not going to type them in again.  Then there is FeedReader (looks too basic) , netnewswire (Apple Mac only), NewsMonster (requires Netscape – why should I change?).  There is a great list of RSS readers here  from Haiko Hebig

NewsGator made it a relatively painless transition.  It integrates with my Microsoft Outlook – slows it down some – (nothing a new PC wouldn’t fix). 

Note:  This post didn't post as a draft... so was exported before I noted and commented on the issues I have with this solution.  They will be in a follow-up post shortly. 

Read the News Solution

I've been trying to read the news for the last six hours as I've tried every newsreader under the sun. After awhile I remembered a comment from Kate to check out Sharpreader. Guess what it integrates with wBloggar and thus solves most of my issues in a more elegant way. So now I can repost the news... and this is worth reposting:

This just in from David Galbraith.....

One small step for Technorati..

Something interesting is happening in the world of online identities. The end goal is clear - a distributed, decentralized identity system where people have control over their own identity online - a people's 'Passport' or what Marc Canter envisages as a people's DNS. The problem is how to get there. Perhaps it will happen, in part, from the ground up through small steps such as personal data in systems such as Technorati or one line bio's as personal RSS headlines? In fact, in true Dave Sifry style, Technorati seems to already be moving along these lines: see Technorati Profiles and check out the picture.

Over the longer term, this is perhaps as ground breaking as what weblogs have done for web publishing and ultimately will leverage the weblog model to its full potential by creating a parry to content through people's interests and requirements, creating a marketplace for RSS.

[David Galbraith]

It's all happening at the same time. Joi's Identity post, the OpenIdentity usage scenarios and now Technorati's profiles.  All within 24 hours of each other.

[Marc's Voice]

Plus I can add my own comments now using wBloggar. Greg thanks for your quick response it's exemplary. However, I have decided to remove NewsCrawler from my system. I had these issues with it.

  • While it integrated nicely in Outlook it provided only excerpts without a second preview window. Meaning I couldn't really treat it like I would e-mail.
  • Scrolling was incomplete and full posts difficult to get to.
  • It significanly impacted on the speed of Outlook despite resetting so it didn't start on start-up. I'm sure a new PC will cure it, just not today.
  • Then there was that dreaded instant post feature. However more importantly it impacted on my ability to simply post to multiple blogs just like you e-mail from multiple e-mail accounts.
  • I wanted to be able to repost from one newsreader to multiple blogs on different servers. Sharpreader works with wBloggar and solves this problem as multiple accounts are possible.

I think when NewsGator Version 1.3 is ready I may well return and try it.  At the moment it remains in beta. 

July 17, 2003

Storytelling and Blogs

Nice reminder on storytelling from David Gurteen below reminds me again of the storytelling work of Seth Kahan, Stephen Denning and others. You may also want to check out the discussion at WorkingStories

... just people telling short interesting personal stories. And each one uniquely and quite beautifully produced.

Here are their story-telling rules

  • Make it personal. (Use the word "I" or don't write at all.)
  • Be honest. (Only true stories will be accepted.)
  • Keep it under 1000 words. (Please!)
The best submissions balance two goals: personal storytelling and emotional reflection. Don't just tell us a story, tell us why it's important and how it affected you. Remember that your story will end with a question for others to answer, so make sure you answer it, too. Sometimes it helps to think of the question in advance and treat your story as an especially well-prepared answer.

Finally, remember that {fray} is about personal storytelling. That means you should take us back to a moment that mattered to you and tell us all about it, from beginning to end, as if we were going through it ourselves. Your job is to make a stranger feel what you felt.

I love it! But it gets better. In ending each story with a question - you get to answer that question. So having read the story - you can read a whole set of personal answers to the question by other readers. Many of the stories/questions/answers are very moving. I'm sitiing her with tears in my eyes!

[Gurteen Knowledge-Log]
My story. I'm still trying wBloggar and haven't yet solved all the posting issues. I added an HTML editor to my MT some time ago. htmlarea. Perhaps that may be affecting things.

Continuing on NewsReaders

In the storytelling mode this is one of those examples I really like about blogging.  Great, helpful, exchanges that quickly will lead to better products and more passionate customers.  While you will see I'm not yet ready to jump... the fact that Greg Reinacker notices my post and responds is in itself interesting to me.  It demonstrates a powerful way to win people over. I'd be interested to understand his method. 

Greg sent an e-mail from this morning.  Apparently my server is acting up and not accepting comments.  The comment did post and I'm sharing here his comments italics and my responses. 

Just thought I'd take a moment to address your issues here...

  • Excerpts - hmm, not sure what you mean here. NewsGator shows as much content as is available; if the feed only provides excerpts, that's all it will show, but if the feed provides full content you'll see it all. Perhaps you were talking about the NewsPage - 1.2 only shows excerpts there. 1.3 includes an option to view full post content on the NewsPage, so that may help you out. Outside of the NewsPage, everything works exactly like email...and in fact, many folks don't use the NewsPage at all.
    • Right.  The newspage is what I'm talking about.  In Radio's Newsreader I could scroll whole posts, and similarly in amphetadesk.  I note this will be solved in version 1.3.  However I would look at Sharpreader and note the following functions.  The preview pane that enables title scrolling above and quick deletion just like e-mail.  It also enables you to right click and mark all as read.  In NewsGator I am limited to folder my folder, and deletions are a point and click rather than the faster delete key.  Unless of course I read folder to folder.  Even in the folder/preview mode there is still some room for additional functionality.  
  • Scrolling and full posts difficult to get to - I'm guessing you're talking about the NewsPage again...if so, that should be covered in 1.3. If it was something else, can you elaborate?
    • see above
  • Speed - you will notice a slowdown when new posts are being created in Outlook; it should be similar to the slowdown you get when Outlook is storing new mail messages from a POP account. There really shouldn't be any other perceptible performance impact.
    • I'm wondering how many feeds is the average.  My test was my current subscription list, some 120 feeds.  I imported them with my first use, so perspective is driven from there and usage accordingly. What I think is interesting is I believe that I can handle at least 150 feeds and not be overwhelmed.  Whereas e-mail driven lists, I can't keep up with. 
  • wBloggar - a tricky tidbit for you here - the wBlogger plug-in you're using with SharpReader will also work with NewsGator; just copy the plug-in files to \program files\newsgator\plugins. :-)
    • Ah slick.  I see there is also discussion around a standardized .net newsreader plug-in format.  Let's hope some momentum starts.
  • Hope this helps - and please do try 1.3 when it's available!
    • I probably will.  Although I've just discovered the power of the search function in Sharpreader.  Just keyed in "innovation wiki" and it returned 8 posts within the last two weeks.  Cool!

So now what I want on Sharpreader is a quick subscribe button for my Explorer bar.  Plus the capability to link my Micah search function to my current subscription list. 

To close.  I think some speed measures on various newsreaders and their ability to enable individuals to accelerate handling of info are important.  I'm faster already I know it.  Then I'd also like to be able to share newsreader views.  Perhaps that could be done via the new Technorati Profiles?  Now this seems counter-intuitive.  Why share my info list.  Well, frankly it is back to what we learned from Napster.  When I can see your music list as I'm downloading something, then my learning about music accelerates.  It jogs my memory or reminds me about songs forgotten.  Do this with news feeds and it would create some interesting metrics as well.  I'd bet it would be better blogging by core groups.  Something for the blog cooperative?

Bet we've not heard the last on all of this. 

Putting Execs on Blogging Steroids

There is an old joke about how many people it takes to change a light bulb. So.... How many bloggers do you need to change a company? How many newreaders (subscribers in a co) do you need to change information habits?

How do you seed the change? How many should you start training. Who goes in that initial learning to blog team after the blogging briefing... where you said... "Hey that's a great idea!" lets train some bloggers.  How do we start?

Working though newreader solutions was just one thing I wanted to speed up. I can see I'm still getting good input on that score. I wanted better content examples and the capability to answer the "corporate" question. How do we seed the movement? Alternatively, if you are already a blogger in a business how do you determine the tipping point is near? How do you decide that blogging may really be ready to rock your corporate world?

These questions started by following Sharpreader, Feedster, (which provides smart methods to search blogs for information) and Technorati that replenished my memory on particular posts tracing back to posts in late June found again by exploring Marc's post on AOL Journals. Frankly I don't see the direct connection in the article to what I'm writing about here. Still I'm sure AOL will integrate news with both e-mail and IM options (Already begun!). Still something connected and fired some neurons from the above questions to link it to the rules below.

John Patrick reports he's met with "quite a few" senior executives of major corporations in the past week or two "but not one had even heard of blogging. One said, 'blobbing?'..."[Corante: aa Corante on Blogging]

While writing a blog is a whole different area and much is being written about it, i will focus here on how we might get more executives to start reading blogs.  The 'why' is obvious to bloggers - the RSS feed is an amazing tool for aggregating news from sources of your selection and promises to get only better in its width, depth and "user-friendliness".  The benefit - in allowing the reader to stay on the cutting edge of thought and development in his or her area of specialization and interest, due to the real-time online reporting and discussions.  This becomes a more dynamic source, as a result.   The 'how' is the greater challenge, as the 'why' may not be perceived unless experienced first-hand.  [Conversations with Dina]

This reminds me of a rule... 1-9-90 which was recently shared with me, and one other. What I'd call the square root rule. I'd like to know how well these will stand up? Lets set the context and then test them.

RULE ONE 1-9-90. From gaming a variation on the 80/20 type rule. 1% really make it happen in a community being responsible for most of the postings and activity. Group 2 the next 9% are on the active fringe, doing a little more than lurking with infrequent posts and forays. While the final 90% are simply lurkers... along for the ride and information. So the theory goes... that for every person that a Group 1 can convert from Group 2 the expanded community grows by one hundred.

RULE TWO Square Root Rule. To change a company requires the square root of the number of employees involved. So 10 employees can change a company of one hundred, and 32 to change a company of 1000. Clearly it helps to have certain people involved from top to bottom. Still it provides a starting point. In the company of 100 they may not all have to work full time. In the company of 1000 some may have to work full time on the project.

So what might these type of rules mean to blogging and newreaders?

Starting with RULE TWO. In a company of 100 we train 10 people to start blogging. In the larger 1000 person organization we might start by creating a blogging program for some 30 people. In each case these will be enough to change the way information begins flowing. The bloggers will also need some self-help forums and will likely expand this support dimension further. In the 1000 person company that is 3% of the workforce! 

Then applying RULE ONE, we require each blogger to recruit ten subscribers to set them up with a list of internal and external subscriptions to begin.  I'd guess at least 50% internal feeds to begin. The bloggers having done the first training course and begun blogging will now facilitate some simple NewsReader training sessions. No doubt some employees will recruit the same subscribers and others may even resort to some external subscribers. The bloggers will set up an obligation with the subscribers to provide comments to their blogs and they will run some " personal feedback" sessions with their subscribers to build their understanding of what works and what doesn't.

The newsreading subscribers can personalize and add to their feeds at will. They will also have access to the aggregated corporate feed. From an early audit... and discussion some key blogging categories will have been set up and standardized. Now Executives wanting to find out about project X can search their news reader if there is not a direct category for it. A senior exec asking the questions... "What do we know about product X or company y?" (will get not only internal feeds but insights into external feeds that are being watched by employees. Knowing who is tracking what will quickly become more visible from the blog posts.

I'd predict that early subscribers are likely to become bloggers, and the thus it's the exponential impact of the newsreader that will change how information is shared. Those are just the early light bulb moments.

However let's take it one step further.  What happens when rule one is applied to an organization where everyone blogs?  We get the innovative solutions found in beta software from the 9 factor (comments and referrals), and we get the brand commitment factor found in the organizational lurkers.  To put that in context... Every employee is worth 100 advocates for the brand.  Can't think of any businesses that have that sort of reach currently.  Now is that a stretch?

October 12, 2003

MT Comment Spam Solution

James Seng creates a brilliant MT hack that I hope STOPS COMMENT SPAM dead! I've just installed it and it works. Take a test drive with a comment to this post. I particularly want a few fellow sufferers to know....Cal, John Cole, Teresa, Sassy Lawyer, Liz Lawley, Ton Zijlstra, Joseph, Abe, Glen, Dean, and Jay Allen Can someone please compare what Jay is doing vs James Sengs solution?

James Seng's blog: Solution for comments spams

"Apparently, there are some automated bots which has been spamming comments on movabletype blogs. While it is easy to ban the IP and remove the posts, it takes a lot of time and effort to play the cat and mouse game.

To cut the story short, I wrote a plugin to MT that will verify if it is a human before it allows comments to be posted. The idea is pretty simple: Display an image with a Security Code and demand the user to enter a Security Code manually before allowing posting to go through.

To see how it works, try posting some comments on this site.

If you like it, you can download it here. (It is pretty rough since it skip my sleep to do this. But it should work. I hope I have covered most of edge cases...)"

Go now and get the code and instructions from James here. Then let him know with a trackback of thanks.

I'd note these additions to James' ReadMe instructions. You must CHMOD the cgi file and the new temp security directory to 755. If you need a text editor to open your MT/App?Comments.pm then go and get Boxer Otherwise it is a fairly simple install. If you installed MT you can do this. I'd also note it works with the Simple Comments plug-in working.

Gee now I can think about Skype and other things again! Not the preferred way to spend a Sunday I'd add! Good luck with your installs!

October 29, 2003

F2F Blogs and More

Last nights Small World Meetup was a brilliant way to connect face-to-face with people who share similar thoughts and interests. We found out we are all doing our bit towards building something around blogging. It was fun and I'd do it again.

This is the second time in a few weeks that I've found myself experimenting with using blogs and topics to arrange a meetup. There's a little trepidation with these things --- "will anyone turn up?". You need at least one willing partner and an excuse for a good meal. So thanks Dina for being both a willing participant and from coming far enough away that "here now" meant let's do it!!!

When a "plot comes together" there's a neat little story line. I think more deeply we met out of curiosity and the recognition that others are working and using new and emerging tools to both express themselves and get their work done. It's happening around the world as Dina so well illustrates. When bloggers connect in person they are further empowered. I'm envious she has meetups planned in Philidephia and London too.

It's also easy to find things in common. Phil, Dina, Clynton, Denise, Danah, Michelle, we just jumped into conversation. Blog Dinner 102803.jpg

The other story is I introduced Dina to blogging. Somehow (pre Skype) I set Dina up to use Radio via an IM exchange. It took a couple of hours while working on other things. (Even sending early templates through). Yesterday she reminded me that I wrote the title to her first post. Now we know it didn't take her long to get going. Dina's story is neat, probably not unique. Like me and others last night, she's found blogging is letting her meetup with others around the world wonderfully brokering new connections. There was also lots of laughing. Thanks particularly go to Danah!

Blog Dinner 102803 2.jpg
This was a great reminder, for after promoting blogging to Clynton for part of the afternoon (I expect you to blog soon!) I realized again that the best approach is the simple instruction. Download this. write this, and repeat. Keep it really simple. I've also learned that opening blogs for others on my site doesn't provide enough ownership --- it's still an experiment --- rather than a commitment. There are better tools today than just IM --- Skype and Glance. Until they make that first post there is no point in discussing much more.

Blog Dinner 102803 3.jpg

Then it is nice to find others have a discomfort of the public and private issues of blog life, or are simply wresting with how to integrate blogs and social networking tools into their companies. I'm beginning to learn what happens when you meet-up, add-in IM, Skype and all the other tools. Things can and do happen!

The voices of others, the collective thoughts, the willingness to "sense" out or let things emerge. The second wave of bloggers may just be better than the first. The first built a platform for publish publish, tell tell tell, the second wave will not embrace blogging in the same way. They are exploring the collective, they are connecting having never met before, they are designing and integrating blogging into work and life. Thus like a small world meetup it is not the blog but the conversations that matter. Not all are blogged.

I think we will find more value in connecting further. The common bond now is not just text, but sounds, images, laughter. Yet it just fuels a desire for more meetups, more variety, not for entertainment rather because it it puts a more human face on who we are and what we do.

November 3, 2003

TypePad and Mentoring New Bloggers

Are you helping to get colleagues and friends blogging? This morning I came across two pieces by Diego Duval "Introduction to Weblogs" and "Part Two: Syndication". It is nice when someone writes down and captuers a sense of "what a blogger knows". Add to this some recent posts by Lilia on RSS and this one "Deep Thinking by Andrew Grument and the facts are taken care of. However too few posts lay out the stories that emerge from blogging. Maybe it is harder, perhaps it is their anecdotal nature. See also Stories about Blogging"

Before these links I'd already been reflecting on the "hurdle" and "hurdle rate" for new bloggers. For in the last week I introduced a few more to blogging. I'm very much in favor of putting a tool in their hands and then working with them as they ask questions. Maybe this is the Serious Play approach to blogging. This way it moves at their pace and with their interests and needs. It's learning by doing and that makes it real and achievable. I failed to do this on one occassion last week (chasing something bigger with too many assumptions of their knowledge and what they might create) and regretted it afterwards. There's a threshold that must be created to get to the more complex stuff.

There's is also "trust" which is involved in following your choice for the decision right "platform" choices for them. Getting started with the right tool is important. After a short show and tell, I then spent 3-4 hours getting my latest recruit to start with TypePad.

Now this was the first time I'd used TypePad (I'd registered early that morning) setting up previous "independent" personal bloggers on Radio. Radio in the past has always been my choice for its editing and aggregator capabilities however it lacks mulit-user capability, public private blogging options etc. Ultimately it's not a very effective tool for providing some "parallel" mentoring. I've also watched the abandonement of Radio (something I did after two weeks) by many users. It simply has lacked investment. By contrast the MT community out of which TypePad has evolved is vibrant.

So what were my latest learning and reflections?:

Simplicity: New bloggers need simple instructions. We underestimate the hurdle that a new blogging aspirant goes through. From... looking at other posts (writing hurdle) to going public while remaining private. There's a lot happening on day one. Some stories could be inserted into TypePad about new bloggers at Day one... Day 10 etc. Show how their posts and layout evolve over some months. It can't be all learned in a day. Encourage them to start with a "test blog" make posts, copy n paste, check links etc... and then delete the blog when finished. Help them label it a trial space. It helps to create the experimental context.

Complexity: Typepad comes close to being too complex for a first time user. When we want to get posting.. we are confronted with design, photoblogs and typelists. As an MT user I find it generally elegant. Committed users will slowly learn all the functionality. In the meantime I'm going to remain available for my new blogging buddy. I'll also get him to set up a new private blog for questions. Typepad also provides some nice profiling features.

Functionality: Some great posting flexibility. Still it took me a while to find the QuickPost Bookmarket (it was staring me in the face!). I had a harder time trying to figure out the wBloggar posting instructions. I asked the help desk and that solved that. Finally I enjoyed experimenting with the mobile e-mail posting capability. However naming it "mobile settings" ignores how useful it is for forwarding or saving an e-mail from someone. I do wish I had this functionality in MT.

News News News: Integration with a newsaggregator. Blogging without an aggregator no longer makes sense to me. The new blogger is focused on his webpage. It is hard to explain to a new blogger that the majority of your future hits are likely to come to your RSS feed. TypePad doesn't have an integrated newsreader and makes no recommendations. I remain surprised that they don't integrate a simple single pane newsreader. It would make the job of getting someone new started that much easier. Instead I hooked him up to SharpReader with a blogthis and wBloggar link. Probably too much for one afternoon.


November 4, 2003

Corporate Blogging Strategies

John Moore has a neat update on Scoble's Corporate Weblog Manifesto Has Robert changed? Some useful thinking here for corporate blogs! I also remain baffled. Robert's blog remains a radio address, there is no link to Microsoft on it. From my perspective it looks like a personal blog. Or does this just confirms that Microsoft doesn't have a corporate blogging strategy. Few large companies do.

I've been reading Robert Scoble's recent post updating his Corporate Weblog Manifesto. He wrote the Manifesto the day after being offered his current job at Microsoft. His update is posted a few months later. What intrigues me is the contrast between the two. The original manifesto is optimistic, challenging and inspiring...

Compare and contrast with his update, written as a Microsoft employee. Check the full entry to get these quotes in context.....

It's surprising how the whole tone shifts from one of engagement to one of avoidance; from a list of dos to one of don'ts... for me from courage to fear.. [The Ourhouse Weblog]

Externally focused corporate blogs are not easy when you are concerned with what you can report, rules, and review procedures. Yet rather than reinforce danger in corporate blogging I'd suggest creating some "YES LISTS" Yes we should blog that. And that! Where new corporate bloggers are wary and unsure (always had to get Marketing PR approval before) they are now being granted a voice. Not all will want to participate. However, key public blogs (private blogs are separate) will enable certain things to be reported and categorized. Add to this a list of how NEW CONVERSATIONS can help you. Then link and follow some NEW VOICES. Some may be potential clients. Other experts or a simple great piece seen in a newreader. Open yourself up to new suggestions. Make it easy for others to suggest RSS feeds or new categories to you. Blogging should be part of your EMPOWERMENT strategy. If it isn't fun and easy don't worry you employees won't do it anyways.

Still It has to be hard blogging in Microsoft and Robert is not alone. John Pocaro uses TypePad and has a wonderful list of Microsoft bloggers! The Unofficial Official?? Microsoft Bloggers List. So why did Microsoft hire such a well-known blogger in Robert? Many reasons I'm sure. Still was it for their list of buddies? How valuable is the feeds and links such a blogger brings? If I were Microsoft I'd have my bloggers blogging under a Microsoft banner. I'd also make more visible the comments and what people are talking and asking about. Afterall "our people are our filters" and blogging is certainly part of being a better filter. Let's hope the busy corporate blogger pays attention to the exchanges around them.

November 6, 2003

Newsgator / Feedster and the Toggle

As my list of RSS subsciptions increases I've had to introduce new strategies. My habits have also changed. Back in May I was experimenting with NewsReaders and I trialed NewsGator at the time. NewsGator inserts itself into Microsoft Outlook. At the time after evaluating a list of them I selected Sharpreader. It remains my primary newsreader some months later. So why did I install NewsGator today?

I realised I had a new option. Sharpreader is currently handling some 180 feeds. I don't always read them all. I've been adding more and more categories (folders), however the most useful emerging functionality for me is the link to Feedster searches. For example "Skype" or "Social Software". Each of these generate an RSS feed via Feedster. See also Scott Johnson's blog. Naturally everyone should have their own equivalent"Stuart Henshall" Feedster search. If you haven't done this for yourself you should. Plus it would be pretty interesting to have an option in Sharpreader that would toggle between the subscribed RSS feed and a Feedster search. I'd immediately see what others were writing about all those blogger I subscribe to.

Concurrently for some weeks I've been wanting an e-mail posting facility for my MT blogs. Each time I looked the instructions were either complex or it looked like more work than I was prepared to do. That's until I saw how easy it has been implemented into TypePad.

Why do I want it:

  • For simple 'cc's" equivalent to a private blog
  • For quick reposting of e-mail newsletters or similar.
  • Posting direct to blog using the "word editor" in Outlook.
  • For posting from mobile devices, etc.

    So I downloaded NewsGator again, installed the MTPlugin for it and now can post direct from MS Outlook to the selected blog. It's not perfect. Unlike wBloggar it doesn't connect directly to categories. Also all posts are "published" immediately. While it isn't a post to e-mail I can at least post with one click from Outlook. I've also used it to subscribe to those neat "feedster" search topic feeds. Concentrated topics! Thus no more worries about all those subscriptions bulking up my Outlook. Just the newsy topics I care about.

    So in 14 days... Greg may get his $29 unless someone suggests a better solution or an easy way for me to do this. Where is MT Pro? Why can't I just buy the MT / TypePad solution? It is closer to what I really want. In the meantime there is always cutting and pasting.

  • November 7, 2003

    Blogging Under Corporate Umbrella's

    I got picked up by Brian Sullivan-+ in Roberts comments for "So why did Microsoft hire such a well-known blogger in Robert? Many reasons I'm sure."

    Certainly no dis-service meant. People are hired on merit. Robert's blog confirmed by the comments is one of the best examples of the "tension" that exists for the well-know corporate blogger. There's also a way that smart companies could deal with it. I still like the fact that there is a Scoble blog. However, what other strategies does Microsoft or any company have when it employees go blogging. How does the corporate strike a bargain with the employee? Is there a set of unwritten understandings? Perhaps it would be better to agree there is a policy and publish it. I'm sure this must have been talked about before.

    It may be worth exploring a "logo" style program. Eg "Microsoft Blogger"
    which remains legitimate as long as one is employed. Later their might be Microsoft Alumni etc. A simple little database keeps these "association tags" up to date.

    Confirms that the bloggers is employed by the company. Other companies could use the same facility for example for employees making claims on Ryze. There is precedent for this. One only has to look at eBay and for example SquareTrade.

    November 9, 2003

    Feedster - Don't Blog Without it!

    For those of us that can't afford John Peterson's LISA solution then implement this! For your own name, for the name of your blog, for all the things you search for each day.


    The FuzzyBlog

    If you have some topic you follow--if you want your newsreader to keep "pumping" it right to your desk--just do one search for it at Feedster.com. Then, get the rss url of the search itself to transfer into your own newsreader. Awesome. Feedster search rss urls are indicated with these icons:
    -- Gives you the full post
    -- Gives you the summary and headlines
    You don't have to run that search ever again--because your aggregator will do it for you, automatically, and for free.

    November 11, 2003

    Networking Dynamics

    If you are not familiar with this.. try it out on your blog and more.


    TouchGraph provides a hands-on way to visualize networks of interrelated information. Networks are rendered as interactive graphs, which lend themselves to a variety of transformations. By engaging their visual image, a user is able to navigate through large networks, and to explore different ways of arranging the network's components on screen. TG: Technology Overview

    November 13, 2003

    Feedster Twist on RSS!

    Need to feed on a blog without a RSS feed. Scott and the team at Feedster have the solution! Bet there are more uses too. The it is possible some bloggers won't feel comfortable with any RSS. I registered some blogs yesterday as an experiment. They aren't my blogs. When they start appearing in my Feedster I'll let them know. Combine all these subscriptions by others and this might become a pretty interesting list. Then... could this capture all those magazine sites without RSS?


    Check out http://feedster.com/builder.php. Do it now if you want and read the rest of this later. Its actually pretty self explanatory.

    That's right. If you use this approach of creating your RSS feed, Feedster will take on your RSS serving. We view this as an investment in the community.


    View Extended Entry [The FuzzyBlog]

    November 20, 2003

    To Comment or to Blog

    Jim asks an interesting question. To comment or to blog. Comments or Trackbacks. It's an ongoing question. Like Jim I know of no guidelines.

    For that matter, why, or perhaps when, would you choose to post a comment instead of making an entry in your own blog? The technologies are opening up more choices; are there any emerging guidelines or practices to direct my choices. McGee's Musings

    There are both social and technical factors . For example It may depend on whether you know the blogger and how you envision the relationship developing. It is also dependent on the owner and systems behind the target comment or trackback blog.

    Comments as an Introductory Tool:Comments are a good way to introduce yourself and leave a link to your blog, provide a contact e-mail and interest or a point of view.

    Comment Non Blog related:
    The comment is placed by a blogger on another blog in preference to blogging it on his own. This may reflect business vs personal views, lack of "theme" consistency etc.

    Comments for Speed: I was here, saw your post etc. This is also dependent on whether or not the blogger is visiting the site or simply using a newsreader. From a newsreader it may be more efficient to just link and blog a brief note. Assuming the other persons site has a trackback facility I assume they will be notified.

    Trackbacks broaden the conversation. Thus I'm sharing more social capital and potentially driving more of my readers to your site by bringing the "weight" of my blog to your blog. If it is something I'm interested in or feel that it would usefully extend the conversation then "Blog n Ping" is the way to go.

    TrackBacks in the Comment Pool: Assuming trackbacks are integrated into comments then anyone reading the additional posting later can identify those "blogs" that have also taken up the conversation. This may also be seen in Technorati's link cosmos. I know of no evidence to suggest that a trackback vs a comment is any better at driving traffic back to my site. For the most part trackbacks are limited to the first 40 words. Thus a well thought out comment may actually be better than a clipped trackback at generating interest in what I have to say and write. And perhaps that is the key.

    On a blog that regularly get 20 or most comments ---- commenting at the top of the list (first and early) may be better than a long blog and clipped trackback. With such a site the best angle is probably place the comment early, prepare a draft blog post and then post it later when you can see the 30 comments it received. Now your post provides the contextual "extra" that only a reader of that particular site could receive. I don't know where you would find the time to be so devious --- still.

    There are at least two problems with this anecdotal analysis.
    Visit Behavior: From my site data, actual reads of my main blog page are outnumbered 10 to 1 by unique hits to my newsreader which is split 55% Extracts vs 45% Full Post. So questions? What's the impact of my full feed on drawing people to my site? Would I get more comments if I just stuck with extracts? Do I get more trackbacks as a result of providing a full feed?

    Other Trackback Strategies: If my blog was pinged today it is registered on my home page right column. However, it it doesn't track to any particular entry then it is a marketing ping. Dependent on how I value the post depends on the content I was pinged on. This ping could have just as easily been the dreaded comment spam. So far I haven't heard much on trackback spam. (Googled!) It may be just over the horizon.

    What would help!
    Smarter Comment systems: I noted in "Comments Debate" that I'd like to post a comment and have it copied to my site. Be nice if when posting a comment I could check a box that e-mails it with my comment content to by e-mail address!

    More on Blogs vs Forums: There was an earlier debate on Blogs vs Forums. It's remains an important considering the role of comments and our perspective.

    Forget the distinction. This really all goes back to the beginning. Comments, Trackbacks and Pings should be combined. When related to a post and individual archive on this site they are. In other words why make a big deal out of it?


    November 21, 2003

    Waffle on Feedster

    Interview provides more insights into Feedster. If you are a Feedster fan read it.
    Under the Iron is a series of interviews with web designers, yahoos and people. A new interview is published every once in a while.


    Ok. I'm a high tech entrepreneur and software engineer. Hate that pretentious “entre…” word.

    I am also a professional search engine geek and most of my career (16 years) has been spent working with search.

    My current project is Feedster, a search engine for RSS feeds (i.e. blogs, newsfeeds, structured data).

    How does Feedster work, and is it popular?

    Popular. Yes. We've only been around since March 2003 and we've seen a rapidly growing and enthusiastic user base. I've heard people refer to us as infrastructure for blogging and there is definitely some truth to that.

    waffle: under the iron - #9 Scott Johnson

    Blog or E-mail "Status Reports"

    Is e-mail and managing-up the missing links in activating the corporate blog? It's nice to see excitement in posts. Weblogs as Status Reports 2.0 hits a chord. I've advocated Team Briefs for some time, using language that perhaps was too attuned to "down under" (NZ / Australia) and so "Status Reports" just hit a note with me and both Roland and Jim. Blogs are also not easy to introduce. Their comments only briefly linked here are better read on their blogs. They also stimulated another line of inquiry.


    Weblogs as status reports - It can work but the barrier is cultural not technological. (SOURCE:Rands In Repose: Status Reports 2.0 via McGee's Musings)- We've tried over the last 2 years to replace status reports with blogs at a e-commerce company I do consulting for. Success has been mixed. Even though most of the people are engineering staff (i.e. technical people who should have no problem with the 'geekiness' of today's blogging tools), getting them to document in real time what they do has been more difficult than I anticipated. Roland Tanglao


    Jim adds:

    Status reporting should become more about discovering and understanding the implications in those variations. [McGee's Musings]


    There's a hurdle to getting to Roland's more transparent state and solving Jim's creative incentive to write stuff down. Taking the organization forward needs a dedicated blogger to begin with. That blogger must understand categories and the capabilities it creates to repurpose information. So when the new corporate blogger becomes all excited and tries to encourage others to blog he starts showing them the technology. Then the potential co- bloggers go to a new web page (they write almost everything in e-mail now) and are asked to make a post. All of a sudden it becomes hard, they know it is the web, it becomes more transparent (gee everyone will see this) and they feel more vunerable. In addition we probably start asking for html etc. This is a big step. At this point they don't want to learn a new tool. However being pointed to a new "information look-up point" - blog - is much easier to handle.

    I'm sure many bloggers have multiple methods to post to their blogs. I certainly do. So why the tendency to introduce potential new bloggers to weblogs via the blogging tool interface? Let's be realistic. If the format is set up, they are an author on a team or project blog then why introduce them before they are ready. As the manager you need content. You need to make the capture simple, it has to repurpose work that is already done. It also has to be understood that this "blog" is internal vs external.

    How might this solution track?
    Consider introducing your co-bloggers to blogging via e-mail. Give them the remote@typepad.com or equivalent address. Redirect all status reports or what you are trying to capture to the blog e-mail. What's missing here is any capability to add categories. However now a project manager can do that easily converting the posts from drafts to publish status. The new participant can see the updates in the "blog" via the url. In fact confirmations could be posted back to them. Dependent on the blog... either subscribe your new bloggers or alternatively add NewsGator so their RSS feeds become active. It won't be until you are swamped with posts or editing issues that the team needs to become more active and responsible.

    Now we get multiple participants with the blogging manager / owner assigning categories and coaching on posts. In this process there is never anything to stop the new blogger from going direct to the authoring tool. In fact now's the time to start the second blog in parallel that reports on the implementation, enables questions and answers. This is simply a place for learning about blogging. As it is an internal blog, combine it with other easy to navigate features and enable a quick log-in from the home page.

    What's different in this strategy? These initial blogs are more likely to be informative rather than linking blogs. Blogs involved in research and for gathering ideas and spreading memes are more likely to come later or be specific to a particular department. I'd not advocate the above for a research department, however using e-mail to move my reps from e-mail to blogs might well make sense. Similarly with marketing and HR.

    My rule remains that you need the square root of the number of people in the company to really change the culture. Once those up the chain find it is easier, quicker and smarter to access the blog for information you've won. So this brings me back to the old set of questions around you as a manager. As a manager what is your first responsibility? No.... it is not... Your first responsibility is to manage yourself. Now you have that straight, what is your next responsibility? No... it is not!. Now you must manage your peers! So you are being a pretty good manager, your time is controlled, your peers are happy..... Now what must you do? Manage your boss!!! For those that operate in this way will find their reports are already managing them.

    So for my two cents. One of the things we are missing in internal BLOG implementations, is the idea of managing up! We talk about it and see it as a grass roots phenomena. It's why you will really need so few to change the work pattern. When a blog helps you personally manage better, flows more effective information from your department into buckets (categories) that are consistent with what your peers want then you are on the way to winning the blog vs e-mail challenge.

    Using e-mail to initiate blogs starts with tools that people are already comfortable with. Appointing a manager (or two or three) that manage the initial flow helps to build categories and the "managing up" dashboards that blogging pages easily adapt to. Adding subscriptions and RSS keeps people in the loop and yet begins the recategorization process. You copy the blog not CC the world.

    To close I've mentioned before that I'd like to be able to post more easily from Outlook to my MT blog. Even better if it was supported with a plug-in that would enable choice of which blog and the category. When asked today about an upcoming virtual conference, I thought it would be nice to enable all registered attendees to immediately be able to post session comments via e-mail to the blog. Perhaps not so simple. However did wonder if anyone is doing this?

    November 25, 2003

    Imperfect Writing

    Building a list of references last night I randomly came across this gem. My writing is often imperfect although sometimes serious. The context of time is important. So is the flow. At least I can be satisfied I am consistently imperfect.

    But writing imperfectly will let future investigators know that these writings shouldn't be taken as fully formulated expressions of deeply held beliefs. The Net's great transformative power comes from its ability to connect us, but that power is thwarted if our every expression is--or even seems to be--fully formed. We need to see one another's inchoate ideas, the ideas that will turn out to be embarrassingly wrong. Writing them in the perfect prose of the journal article gives them a seriousness they don't deserve, like serving wieners on a silver platter. The informality conveyed by imperfect writing gives us the right metadata . . . and also frees the writer to be wrong in useful ways. www.KMWorld.com Magazine Archives

    John Patrick on Weblogs in Business.

    Bloggings like this. I receive an IM saying read the John Patrick post. I then check my newsreader + Feedster (RSS) to see who's blogged it and again Ross Mayfield is quick off the mark! That's exactly why I don't want to become a link blogger. Roland Tanglao'ss systems pick it up quickly too. There are times when you should let others do the work for you! Like they say. Read this one!

    This CIO Insight interview with John Patrick, former VP of Internet technology at IBM on Blogging in Business is one of the best on the subject yet. John gets bottom-up and translates it well for the the top. Read the whole thing.

    "Knowledge management wasn't overhyped," says Patrick. "It was underdelivered. Blogs can potentially deliver the grassroots discussions and knowledge-sharing that top-down, corporate-sponsored efforts never could."

    ...The goal is to improve the leveraging of the expertise within the department and across the corporation...So where does blogging fit in? It's a way to energize the expertise from the bottom up in other words, to allow people who want to share, who are good at sharing, who know who the experts are, who talk to the experts or who may, in fact, be one of those experts, to participate more fully. We all know somebody in our organization who knows everything that's going on. "Just ask Sally. She'll know." There's always a Sally, and those are the people who become the bloggers. And such people write a blog about, say, customer relationship management, and they're taking the time to find the experts and the links to leverage, to magnify what they're writing about. And from those links people can be led to information and see things in a context they might not have considered before...

    [Ross Mayfield's Weblog]

    December 1, 2003

    KM in Pharma R&D Conference

    I'm participating in my first Metalayer online conference this week Dec 1-5. The platform shows lots of promise for this type of application. The topic is Knowledge Managment in Pharma R&D. I'll be speaking on blogs and social networks. Barry Hardy has also launched his new blog "The Ferryman" concurrently with the launch. I hope his posts become a river!

    Starting 1st December 2003
    Knowledge Management (KM) in Pharma R&D is an international conference to be held on the Internet which brings together researchers to discuss the applications of Knowledge Management methods to Pharma R&D. The program covers:

    * analysing investment issues in KM projects in the pharmaceutical industry, new ROI measures analysed including EVA,
    * remote team management and co-ordination
    * social sciences: how do you understand how people behave? How do you change or react most effectively to that behaviour?
    * understanding management and how implementation of KM can practically enhance productivity
    * community management and monitoring
    * intelligent search agents and expertise location
    * establishing and supporting networks of scientists
    * enabling effective clinical feedback to early-stage R&D teams
    * intellectual capital approaches and business agility
    * use of electronic notebooks and management of R&D data
    * enhancing communication via blogging and augmented social networks

    In addition to talks from BMS, Pfizer, Aventis, UNIC, 3rd Millennium, Rescentris, CambridgeSoft, Partners HealthCare and Leif Edvinsson, we will be interactively exploring blogging and wikis with Stuart Henshall, conducting a workshop on investment analysis with Kevin Cookman and trying out new social software including metalayer's collaboration tools. [The Ferryman]

    Reference Links - Blogging and Social Software

    I began updating a list of references on Blogging and Social Networks last week. As I prepared to post this I begin to realize what I've left out. It started as a list supporting "Jazz in the Blogosphere". It was also meant to provide a range... from introductory to more topical posts. From newspapers and magazines to personal blogs. Additional references would be welcome!

    Time stopped me adding further to the list, and where does a list start and stop. However it makes me realize the need to invest time in developing appropriate "posting categories". Similarly some posts are more worthy of retrieval than others. As I looked back on some of these posts, it also is a shame that trackback is not enabled for so many of them. I'm not going to suggest that a list will bring them back to "current" however trackbacks on older posts are just another way of communicating their continued value and validity.

    Marcia Stepanek. “John Patrick on Weblogs” CIO Insight November 25, 2003 Leading visionary talks about the future. http://www.eweek.com/print_article/0,3048,a=113189,00.asp

    David Duval "An Introduction to Weblogs” Personal Blog October 31, 2003 Provides useful definitions and history on weblogs. http://www.dynamicobjects.com/d2r/archives/002399.html

    George Siemens. "The Art of Blogging – Part 2" December 6, 2002. http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/blogging_part_2.htm See also Part One: Overview, Definitions, Uses, and Implications December 1, 2002.

    John Foley. “Are You Blogging Yet?” July 22, 2002 InfoWorld. Discusses the value of using weblogs in the enterprise. http://www.informationweek.com/story/IWK20020719S0001/1

    Katherine Goodwin “B-Blogs Cause a Stir” Febuary 5, 2003 ClickZ. Captures growing interest in B-Blogs or business blogs and K-logs. http://www.clickz.com/em_mkt/enl_strat/article.php/1579091

    Dave Pollard. Blogs in Business: “The Weblog as as Filing Cabinet” Personal Blog March 3, 2003 http://blogs.salon.com/0002007/2003/03/03.html#a101

    Michael Angeles. “Making Sense of Weblogs in the Intranet” Lucent September 26 2003. A presentation trying to make sense of why people are using them and their use in Knowledge Management http://studioid.com/pg/blogging_in_corporate_america.php

    Meg Hourihan. “Using Blogs in Business” John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition August 8, 2002 This link to chapter 8. http://www.blogroots.com/chapters.blog/id/4

    Neil McIntosh. “Why Blogs Could Be Bad For Business” Guardian September 29,2003 Using weblogs in a business setting.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/comment/story/0,12449,1052072,00.html

    Jim McGee. “If the only tool you have is a hammer….” Personal Blog. June 16, 2003 Blogs will be the predominant KMW = application. http://www.mcgeesmusings.net/2003/06/16.html#a3376

    David Duval An “Introduction to Weblogs, Part Two: Syndication” Personal Blog November 2, 2003 Detailed introduction to Syndication, RSS and the complementary aspect newsreaders play to blogs. http://www.dynamicobjects.com/d2r/archives/002400.html


    David Weinberger. “The 99cent KM solution”. KM World. September 2002 http://www.kmworld.com/publications/magazine/index.cfm?action=readarticle&Article_ID=1337&Publication_ID=76

    Sandra Guy. “Weblog has Served Business Function for Chicago Firm” July 16, 2003 How one company is using weblogs as a business tool. http://www.suntimes.com/output/zinescene/cst-fin-ecol16.html

    Rick Bruner. “Business Weblogs – The Big List” Marketeing Wonk July 18,2003 A list but only a list of business weblogs. They take all forms. http://www.marketingwonk.com/archives/2003/07/18/business_weblogs_the_big_list/

    John Baggaley “Blogging as a Course Management Tool” July 2003 Benefits of Weblogging for education. http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=2011

    Mary Harrsch. RSS: The Next Killer App For Education July 2003 Applications of RSS for Educators. Realizing the potential of RSS and blogging. http://ts.mivu.org/default.asp?show=article&id=2010

    Groove Networks “Employee Guideline for Personal Website and Weblogs” Groove’s answer to the corporate – personal trade-off. http://www.groove.net/weblogpolicy/

    Dennis Mahoney. “How to Write a Better Weblog” Personal Blog February 22, 2002 http://www.alistapart.com/articles/writebetter/

    Robin Athey. “Collaborative Knowledge Networks: Driving Workforce Performance Through Web-enabled Communities” Deloitte

    Steve Lundin. The fall of PR and the rise of Community Centric Communications: http://images.exacttarget.com/members/2101/The%20Death%20of%20PR%20-%20final.doc

    Stuart Henshall “Blog or E-Mail “Status Reports” Personal Blog November 21, 2003 Click through to “ Status Report” and Team Brief. (Had to put at least one link in!) http://www.henshall.com/blog/archives/000609.html

    Tom Coates “ Discussion and Citation in the Blogosphere” Personal Blog May 25, 2003 Can weblogs garner better discussion than discussion boards? http://www.plasticbag.org/archives/2003/05/discussion_and_citation_in_the_blogosphere.shtml

    Lee Bryant. “Smarter Simpler Social” Headshift April 18, 2003 An introduction to online social software methodology. http://www.headshift.com/moments/archive/social%20software%20v1.1%20draft.pdf

    Jan Hauser+ . The Augmented Social Network” LinkTank May 15, 2003 http://collaboratory.planetwork.net/linktank_whitepaper/

    Clay Shirky. Social Software and the Next Big Phase of the Internet GBN Print February 2003 It’s time to tune in to the Internet again! http://www.gbn.org/ArticleDisplayServlet.srv?aid=2800

    Stowe Boyd “Are You Ready for Social Software?” Darwin May 2003 Social software supports the desire of individuals to be pulled into groups to achieve goals. And it's coming your way. http://www.darwinmag.com/read/050103/social.html

    Leslie Walker. “Social Network Websites Growing Rapidly, But Where Is The Money?” Wahington Post, November 17, 2003 Will the emerging social networking sites like Friendster ever make money. New Business Networking sites too. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/11/17/BUGS9332301.DTL&type=printable

    Ross Mayfield. “Social Software Reader” Personal Blog Novemeber 24, 2003 Some links from above and others on Social Software and Social Networking. http://ross.typepad.com/blog/2003/11/social_software.html

    Denham Grey. "About Wiki" Personal Wiki. Are there dates for wiki's? http://www.voght.com/cgi-bin/pywiki?AboutWiki

    I'm sure there are many more.

    December 3, 2003

    Actionable Sense

    There is a little trepidation when a troupe starts exploring whether it can really collaborate and how it can make money. I was serious about both conversational blogging and jazz communities. I reread and reread new posts from overnight, spent time Skyping with Ton and Dina and then resorting to the phone with Ross Mayfield. In the meantime I've sent out yet more messages spoke to Gary this morning and it continues.

    Ross Mayfield made the emerging Actionable Sense Troupe a very generous offer yesterday to aid in community building by offering a SocialText workspace get things started. Having read many thoughtful posts I'm going to start inviting those in that have said they want to participate later today. We will be starting with a blank sheet and that will presents some challenges. I think we all understand the difficulty and the desire not to waste effort. Time is money..

    We need to articulate a process, but it has to be a process that scratches some itch sufficiently that someone will give us their itch to scratch, and thus I think we should begin our sweep-out radar project pitch by identifying who it is we need to ask who might have such an itch and back that offer with a budget and a deadline, Gary

    My own thinking on this at the moment is that the money will come from the consulting work that is generated by the community, not from access to the community itself. John

    The business model is the direct concern, and as Gary says needs to be underpinned by an identifiable need and itch to make it stick. Ton

    Currently I think very much along the lines John, does where hiring one independent actually means hiring the community and thus money will flow from the individual consulting jobs to the community. In recent e-mail conversations with Lilia Efimova and Martin Roell I formulated it that it would be like having part-time colleagues, i.e. on certain topics with certain clients, the community gelling around specific themes and points in time. Ton

    We all make decisions (often subconsciously) about what to blog and what not to blog. For many people (myself included) the most potent area of such decisions is around our relationship to our employer (or clients for the self-employed) Julian

    Where to begin?
    Let's take this discussion into the SocialText workspace. Let's build our thoughts together rather than independently. I jotted down the following based on the comments above. However, realize it is better all stared in the Workspace.

  • The first is formalizing the reference points in a little more detail. These are the strong and weaker ties we carry within the blogosphere. (We have others, however I'm limiting my definition for now to other bloggers I know personally - have ties to etc.). My reference begins with "MAKING ACTIONABLE SENSE OF BLOGGING". It provides a useful preliminary context from my perspective. Independently we can sell leveraging our bloggiing networks however independents seldom manage to achieve the same dollars that the "structured organization" manages for providing less.

  • The second opportunity is to go beyond the listing stage and actually collaborate on resources that enable the collaborators to increase dollars. For Example, separately I'd bet many in this group have both selling materials and presentation components for a "One Day Course on Blogging". Similarly presentations to industry groups etc. Together collaboratively we can create better materials and save time. That provides an edge that many of us currently don't have. The customer pays for results. Large investments in development are hard to recoup individually. Each individual will customize with their own stories and with those of the collective.

  • Taking it to the next level would move us beyond a best practices collaboratory to creating a networked brand. The brand would help us achieve a price premium for the collective capability and reduce risk for others engaging us on a large collective project. An example would be a more complex multi-client that is facilitated by a core group and had commitments from both industry leaders and topic experts. I can imagine a couple of examples in the blogging social software space that would combine research, best practices and planning for the "future". We have to think through our target companies. We might be surprised by what we turn up when the proposition is ready to sell. This might also form a "collective intelligence" at your fingertips type capability. (And that was where my membership type model suggestion was coming from). Such a service might be a GLOBAL "tec chair" type approach which demonstrates a successful business model in this regard.

    Actually to get anywhere we have to start with an exploratory form of one above making some specific commitments in terms of both time, expected rewards and what we are each prepared to commit to. We also need those quick ideas on "ITCH" and "TARGETS". The key consumable is "time". Forming, storming and norming still have to take place.

    I'm taking Ross up on his suggestion and activating the "Actionable Sense" Network (working name for now). If you haven't already and are interested e-mail me. It will prove to be a more effective environment for developing this thread further.


  • December 5, 2003

    Nova Spivack's Metaweb

    Nice summary foretelling what we know. RSS will become the primary transport mechanism for the web. There's more read it.

    "Within 5 years, if RSS grows as I expect, we will see it supplant e-mail as the primary alerting and marketing channel for "B2C" communications. To put it simply, businesses and their customers both benefit from interacting via RSS instead of e-mail for "1-way" interactions such as content publishing, notifications, etc. Based on that, I predict that every medium to large corporate Web site and every major publication and wire service, as well as an increasing number of enterprise applications and services will publish and subscribe to numerous RSS channels.


    ....-- that is still 50 million to 100 million feeds online within 5 years. And that's a growth curve that looks a lot like the first wave of the Web. Just as everyone "had to have" an e-mail account and a Web page, they will also soon need and want to have an RSS reader and their own RSS channel. That's a big opportunity."

    Minding the Planet: The Birth of "The Metaweb" -- The Next Big Thing -- What We are All Really Building

    Get the Keys - Open the Club

    Yesterday I found myself holding the keys to a new "Actionable" jazz club. Thing is I wasn't sure I knew what I'd find in the room. If you have been handed the role of facilitator for an event at the last moment where the room was booked months ago you will know this trepidation. In such a situations in the past I've turned up and found posts in the middle of the room, the room like a corridor with plans to have everyone facing each other like knights at a long table.

    So what? Well all these little things can affect the dynamics. You can plan round them, you can have successful session etc. But for that reason I always like to get there a little before. Just long enough to absorb a sense of how the room is going to feel, how might the stage be set. In those fixed events and workshops there is usually a fixed time and the context is very clear for closure. We know our deliverable, we just have to get everyone there.

    So I'm holding the keys to a "Actionable Sense" on SocialText. Oh I saw some scaffolding and walked the space long before anything got to this stage. Yesterday the walls were up and yet everywhere was bare. So what does one do when presented with a virtual "workspace" for the first time?

    Well I'm trying to share what I did. I had a ready list of individuals who had expressed interest. There is a loose understanding of context between us all and a deeper belief that blogging has brought us to the brink of the next wave.

    On reflection I found myself concerned about four things:

  • Building the Agenda
  • Stimulating Input
  • Hygiene Factors
  • Enough or too much?

    First the beauty of a new club is the people are going to make it beautiful. Heck in the real jazz clubs they turn down the lights and up the smoke. It the music that matters, clatter around in the bar too much and the music stops. So I made some noise before inviting the first wave who are also bringing in and suggesting more contacts. For the agenda idea I fell back on Open Space Technology. The difference here is not everyone is present. So I'm hoping we spend this first period to build the agenda. At the moment the posts / pages can be like post-its. The key agenda categories should emerge. We will have to do some sorting and yet that's exactly what we do we do when brainstorming with post-its.

    So brainstorming is something i wanted to seed. It is really the opening stages, a time to open discussion up and capture the suggestions for what we should be working on and what's important about them. Little examples help as they go up. So, I started the "Brainstorming Blog" hoping to start this quick post-it mentality why the early energy and interest is just forming. Brainstorming is also good to get things started. It's not judgemental There are no wrong posts. New items get recognition and can be mulled over and organized later. So in support I also set up a few categories from business idea to hygiene factors. Go for it group!

    And that was the nub of it. Hygiene. I really spent the majority of the time thinking about encouraging participation. The "workspace" on it own helps to accelerate this particularly when participants start posting from e-mail. We got a few going on that yesterday. makes things happen! Still there is a learning curve. Accelerating contributions in that early stage feel important to me. We also started a ChatRap --- quick e-mail posts to capture sidebar and IM exchanges out of the wiki workspace. Another experiment.

    At the end of the day that just leaves one with the questions... enough or too much? Sometimes you just have to assume it is the right amount. I sense that in this wiki. Like the Open Space calling; those that will come come... etc. Something about this group spells "emergent". This morning things started happening and have done thoughout the course of the day.


  • December 8, 2003

    RSS for Contacts

    Not sure I want to send my contact details out by RSS. Now along comes Card File
    Charles Coxhead comments that CardFile may also explore hosted FOAF files and is then looking to further at the ways to harness these networks. He's had little outside input. So go and give him some!

    There are businesses that would benefit from "contact me" information.


    CardFile is a system for subscribing to the contact information of friends and colleagues. These are delivered to your news aggregator as a single personalised RSS feed, which you can arrange alphabetically or probably more likely in order of most recently updated...in this way CardFile
    Surfarama

    December 16, 2003

    Radio Userland --- New Management

    I'm sure there was a sigh of relief from Radio Users today with the announcement of a new team at Userland. Still I can't help being surprised. The announcement is the usual PR Blurb profiling the new team. This is very disappointing for a company that helped to define blogging and blogging with a human voice.

    I don't know the fellows involved, but they certainly had an opportunity to think about how and when they wanted the changes portrayed. To become CEO and not make the statement that we will lead "blogging" into the next paradigm is almost unthinkable. To not start of with a "blog" even if completely new to it does not bode well for the company or the future.

    Can you imagine taking over a coffee company and not offering an expresso as an act of hospitality? Taking over a blog centric company and not blogging as your first act bothers me. It little signals that change real perspectives and build market momentum. I'm not worried if the new CEO has never blogged, I'm concerned that his first act was not blogging. Why not make your first post one that gets some input and suggests you are listening and learning? It's not hard to get into the heads of radio users and find out what they want improved. However you only have to listen for a moment to TypePad switcher to understand what some of Radio's problems are. Most of them are basic, the equivalent of keeping a dirty rundown store, poorly signed and with out of date stock. Radio still has one real advantage -- the integrated news aggregator. It's also cheaper than TypePad.

    I started my first blog with Radio. After one month I moved to MT and ran them both in parallel for four months. I liked the aggregator. My marketing perspective then was they didn't listen to their customers, the instructions were difficult and confusing. The templates difficult to fiddle with. My perspective now is they still haven't recognized the need for a Marketing function. Maybe that too is on the CEO's agenda! I hope so for I believe that Radio remains a strong little brand.

    Meet the new team at UserLand. Scott Young is CEO. [Scripting News]

    December 19, 2003

    Blogging Break

    I'm taking a blogging break from now until the new year. Actually (like the addict) it is more of a posting break. Rather than feel any need to look at the newsreader, spend time visiting other blogs, I'm just going to use the time for reflection and on what already exists. I figure it may make me a better blogger in the new year. Plus I need a little time off. I'll catch up again in 2004.

    As I started blogging late in 2002, it is a perfect point for me to take a look back and a look forward. I've played around with layouts, categories and various MT plug-ins during that time. I started blogging more as personal creative therapy than with a clear mission in mind. I believed the blog would evolve, that it would become my gyroscope. However I'm personally way past that point. Blogging re-energized me on a number of fronts. It's also created its own set of unexpected wonderful benefits.

    I'm really thankful for the introductions, the new friends, colleagues and connections I've met. Today, this community of bloggers some close - some far away is a group I trust and respect more and more each day. I haven't met them all face to face, although I've met many. We certainly haven't all worked out yet how to earn together and for many that is not the mission. Somewhere within blogging and the emergent communications media lies the future of the consulting services businesses. I'm convinced the skills and practices learned here means "blogging" will open more doors for everyone in 2004.

    There are some things I wished I'd posted this year. There are others that are drafts that still remain dormant. In some cases those are the ones I should have just dumped out there. They are dormant and moribund because I thought they deserved something more. I'm not sure. Instead I've found that sometime it is the strangest posts that get the attention. Blogging needs a Ready, Fire, Aim approach in this regard. Sometimes just write and post and it is easy.

    Then there is that feeling like the builder who's own house is never built or the accountant who's finances never seem to get the same attention as the clients. There is the plumbing, the layout, the mechanics, many things that I can do - in fact must do to make this a better blog. Then there is that fact that for most it is just in a newsreader. A balancing act for some serious thinking on my blog strategy for next year.

    Some questions I have for myself.

  • What kind of blogger are you?

  • Thinking about the blog and the adjectives that others would use to describe it, what five words come to mind? ............. What would you like them to be?

  • Imagine for a moment that you have access to a clairvoyant who can see the future of your blogging exploits. What three questions would you want to ask the clairvoyant?

  • Now please answer your questions, telling me the story of your blogging exploits over the next few years.

  • What is your greatest blogging fear?

  • What do you think is impossible to do today with your blogging that would change everything about the way you blog?

  • What is it about blogging that keeps you awake at night?

  • When your blogging days are done, what words will you find on your blogging epitaph?

    Now answer the questions! I'll take your comments too! That's the sort of thing I might just respond to.

    Finally a very Happy Holidays! Best wishes for peace and happiness where ever you are.


  • March 23, 2004

    Blogging Survey

    Did you ever get into trouble for what you were blogging? Apparently you are not along. This is a summary of findings from an MIT survey. Number that make you think.

    - 76% of bloggers do not limit access (i.e. readership) to their entries in any way

    - 36% of respondents have gotten in trouble because of things they have written on their blogs

    - 34% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in trouble with family and friends

    - 12% of respondents know other bloggers who have gotten in legal or professional problems because of things they wrote on their blogs

    - when blogging about people they know personally: 66% of respondents almost never asked permission to do so; whereas, only 9% said they never blogged about people they knew personally.

    - 83% of respondents characterized their entries as personal ramblings whereas 20% said they mostly publish lists of useful/interesting links (respondents could check multiple options for this answer). This indicates that the nature of blogs might be changing from being mostly lists of links to becoming sites that contain more personal stories and commentaries.

    - the frequency with which a blogger writes highly personal things is positively and significantly correlated to how often they get in trouble because of their postings; (r = 0.3, p < 0.01); generally speaking, people have gotten in trouble both with friends and family as well as employers.

    - there is no correlation between how often a blogger writes about highly personal things and how concerned they are about the persistence of their entries

    - checking one’s access log files isn’t correlated to how well a blogger feels they know their audience

    - despite believing that they are liable for what they publish online (58% of respondents believed they were highly liable), in general, bloggers do not believe people could sue them for what they have written on their blogs.

    Blog Survey: Summary of Findings


    May 1, 2004

    Many Bloggers Make a Better Blog

    Jenny Daley launched the new look Cheskin blog complete with a photoblog this week. It's been a fun project and you can see today how the Cheskin personality and style is emerging in their public blogging. I can't think of many companies that are sharing their stories and integrating their blogs quite like this. This may be an illustration of where writing together creates something much larger.

    Two elements really stand out 1) authors visibility (easy navigation), and 2) a moblog in parallel. Within the cleanly styled company corporate blog there are also individual authors. Each author also has a subscription feed. It's all done using MT. The Topics (categories) are also clearly labeled.

    Over the last couple of months particpation has increased with each new author sharing their stories. This is more than an insight into Cheskin culture, it demonstrates their daily work ethic, passion for what they are doing and how they approach it. It's clear their business is about stories and insights and Cheskin is seeing new ones everyday. Were I looking for services this blog tells me much more than the main website. It's more personal, and more involving. It's also up to date and current.

    There is an old saying "many hands make light work" and after not blogging for a week I could do with some hands. Cheskin solves this by handing out the work and creating something more powerful as a result. Some organizations wouldn't have the trust for this. My belief is extend the trust and not only do you get many hands you get a better product.

    These clips from some recent posts.

    From Fresh Perspectives:

    Soundtrack of Life
    I've just purchased Dell's Digital Jukebox, and I'm a happy camper. Right now I'm sitting on a long plane flight listening to Cassandra Wilson, who has taken me to an alternative reality that I much prefer to the drudgery of a cross country flight
    Lee Shupp

    Toxic Missionaries
    On my way to work this morning, I encountered three men handing out flyers. As I approached them, they stuck their mechanical arms out in front of me hoping to block my passage and be heard. They came within inches of my mid-section and then retracted at the last second
    Lisa Leckie

    Social Networking Buzz
    Every so often, people in the valley start to talk about a new buzzword. Lately, social networking has been the buzzword. The growth and prevalence of social networking sites, such as Friendster and Linkedin, Orkut, and Tribe is generating serious curiosity from many folks in the business community. But are we all talking about the same things? And where does the newness lay?
    Maria Flores Letelier

    Teen Tastes
    I have two daughters born in April (15 years and 3 days apart from each other). Each year, as their birthdays arrive, I begin a frantic search for whatever is new and hip for their age group. With my oldest daughter, I've pretty much given up. She gets money or something she's picked out herself. But the little one is still easy. Want to know what's near and dear to the hearts of pre-teen girls right this second?
    Christopher Ireland

    Concurrenly Cheskin are moblogging in parallel. I've made my enthusiasm for moblogging known in earlier posts and wonderful to see this being taken on. Dina and I recently set up a Project blog for an ethnography project. It just began to demonstrate the value that blogs and moblogs have to the research process. I'm hoping that the infectious success of blogging externally for Cheskin now creates some great new opportunities to revolutionize projects studying life.

    There are some other blogs in the Experience Design space that I look at from time to time. Challis Hodge is one of the best. Similarly Andrew Zoli's blog while infrequent captures interesting insights. Josh Rubin similarly provides a cool blog which really leverages pictures.

    May 4, 2004

    Blogs Going Forward

    Smart innovative decision-makers will get blog pilot up and running. I really liked the title of this article. "Social Computing: Getting Ahead of the Blog"
    Originally published on 29 March I don't know how I missed it until now. It inculdes this useful set of questions, many of which I have wrestled with recently case by case.

    Understanding the different categories enables strategists and decision makers to illustrate multiple solution scenarios. As part of that process, several critical issues need to be examined, including:

  • How do blogs add or detract from the overall business model?
  • How will blogs be positioned versus other communication, collaboration, and information channels?
  • Will users respond to a pull (subscription-based) model?
  • Will a browser model for reading blogs suffice, or will an e-mail client be preferred by users?
  • Will blog proliferation lead to just another source of information overload?
  • To what degree is editorial control and release management required?
  • How will the time devoted to blog-related activities by employees be valued?
  • What leadership, communication plans, and reward/incentive programs are necessary to encourage blog adoption and use?
  • What risk factors do blogs present (e.g., court-ordered discovery, regulatory compliance)?
  • What rights management situations might arise (e.g., copyright)?
  • Will blogs become as credible a resource as other sources of company information?
  • How will blogs be used within business processes as opposed to personal networks?
  • What are the alignment aspects of blogs (e.g., portals, content, learning, and collaboration tools)?
  • How do blogs “fit” into existing infrastructure (directory, security, operational management)?
  • What metrics (e.g., subscription data, page sessions) should be gathered and reported?
  • Are blogs a premium service for certain external activities (e.g., commerce aspects)?
  • Are vendors already on-standard and poised to deliver blog tools, or can they deliver the same benefits within existing technology?
  • What options do emerging vendors, hosted services, or open-source alternatives offer?
  • What are the archival and records management aspects of blogs?
  • What storage implications (e.g., backup/restore) will occur, and what limitations around storage allocation per worker (similar to e-mail inboxes) might have to be established?
  • What content security aspects should be required to protect liability, confidentiality, and intellectual property?
  • How does all this fit into a social computing strategy?
    Social Computing

  • May 14, 2004

    Greed May Kill MT

    Well we now know that MT SixApart or MovableType has really stuffed up. The team that started trackbacks will sink in one storm of their own making. Currently I see 527 trackbacks to this post. In the space of an afternoon I've gone from a 120% avid supporter to a grudging 25% only there because it remains on my server. I paid the donation licenses, and I've done the same for a few companies. I've praised the forums all staffed by voluteers and applauded the plug-in architecture. MT would still be nothing without this community.

    I have 10 blogs behind henshall.com. There are four that are sort of active and public. The others are experiments and development blogs for other projects. Perhaps one would call them a live template library or a demonstration place. They are my repositories for experiments. I'm not a developer although I do know how MT works and what it can do.

    Separately I've executed a couple of multi-author blogs. Those companies could possibly exist within the blog number restriction but not on the authors. 20 authors is nothing. And who in their right mind would set a pricing structure that fails to offer everyone in a company a blog. Note, current MT plug-ins enable you to create additional index templates for sub-blogs by author.

    I don't mind a fee. However, limiting blog by number limits the creativity and number of applications that they can be put to. This is poor economics. If blogs are scarce because they cost money then people will be cautious about setting them up. If authors can't freely experiment whether public or private then the product and the applications will also remain static. This pricing structure will kill an innovative medium. It's not the way I want to let blogs loose in my company. I also don't want a million blogs without purpose.

    A possible simple solution is to set a minimum fee and grant a minimum number of authors. I'd guess about $10 per author is about the right price. No limit to the number of blogs. Thus you probably start at $50 for up to five authors. It's $100 at 10 etc. This means that you will have to sell it to 60 authors to get the $599 they are looking for. Maybe then they will actually integrate "authors" into the database functionality!

    Further limiting blogs to a number is stupid. In a company many will use the same templates. Thus there is no real investment in adding additional blogs. Where they want different looks and feel or changed funtionality then a new custom blog is designed. New template costs time and money although they are relatively easy to set up.

    If I had a research company even the top license for 20 authors wouldn't make sense. It's not the money it the restrictions on blogs and authors. Blogs that involve customers may run for the life of a project. After that they are effectively retired. They may run into an internally syndicated list and thus remain searchable. A new project starts. How long before I'm through 15? And what do I do with my customers in this case? Do they now cost me money to enable them to blog on my platform?

    Finally nothing suggests there is anything really new here. I'm even more bothered now about comment spam. I have to deal with it daily. That apparently is a problem primarily for MT bloggers.

    So bloggers it is probably time to move on. I want a blog-wiki for external communications and a wiki-blog for my internal stuff. My read is MT just created an enormous opportunity for some competitors.

    MT confess you made a mistake. Listen to those that would like to remain customers rather than thinking you should be Oracle.

    July 21, 2004

    My Blog Rules

    After spending the last 10 days with my head applied to strategy in the Arizona desert for DiamondWare, I found that each day was another day where not blogging irked me. In the end my blog rules and both parties are going our separate ways. I found myself in a situation which was effectively taking my blog and voice away from me. That was never my intent, and my interest remains with building innovative new products at the intersection of social software, collaboration, VoIP and mobility.

    I think it is unlikely that I will be at a loose end for long. My blog has already proved that to me on numerous occasions.

    So these are some thoughts for bloggers and companies that are negotiating on blogging. I'm sure there are other possible lessons out there. What is your blog worth to you? If you were blogging and see yourself in a situation where the environments takes you away from it then consider what it means. Less accelerated learning, reduced access to external experts, and reduced profile. Blogs also test companies. Do they want to be closed rather than open? Will they run scared rather than lead? Etc.

    I now know that blogs can take on a life of their own. I titled this post "My Blog Rules" slightly tongue in cheek to write some thoughts on the rules that have to happen for bloggers and companies to work together. I'd add there are enormous benefits for the organization that has the guts to acquire a free thinking dedicated blogger.

    1. You will get someone who is likely to promote the category and the industry.
    2. They will provide expert insights and capture inquiry and information from external sources.
    3. They will 'play' with the thought leaders in the category in a trusted environment. Result - accelerated learning and access that can eventually lead to some level of promotion for the company's products
    4. They bring visibility to the company's products and brands. As an employee you are likely to highlight strengths of your products. Robert Scoble does it so well. It does not stop him from commenting on and learning from other products or brands in the category. Benefit - tease and ease the process of truly communicating your offerings step by step, rather than a one-shot corporate webpage.

    Blog Rules:

  • For blogs to work there must be trust. Let it be a warning to you when an employer is critical of your blog, or implies that they must approve every post you make first.
  • Blogs are strategic, but the messages must be personal. Planning out a blog strategy and topics in advance fails to account for the immediacy of the daily events and the need for responsiveness.
  • Make sure the company is large enough to have "personalities" blogging --- otherwise own the company. The blogger is likely to become an important public face.
  • Think through where the blog should be on what URL. Is it better at blogperson.com or under the corporate banner? What is best to harness the blogger and readers?


    Warnings to other Bloggers:

  • Your blog may be perceived as a personal asset and not a corporate one. You personal blog can become a corporate asset but only if the conditions above apply.
  • Corporate positioning is a must. If the company isn't mature enough or is afraid to enable the blogger to talk about "category" developments then blogging will be difficult.
  • If topics and content are limited then you may lose your friends, lose access to thought leadership and potential partnerships and associates for the company - or even simply good press.
  • If the company fears balanced perspective on other products then you will find life difficult.
  • Blogs require a time commitment, if you are not getting it or there is no time left over for it then it is not valued. My target has always been in the ten hours a week category. That includes the use of my newsreader. Make sure your employer signs off on the time commitment to the blog.
  • If the company asks you when you will transfer your blog URL to the company then they really don't get it.


  • July 23, 2004

    BlogOn Morning

    BlogOn is a conference established to further the ideas behind "Social Media". Blogs, wikis, and social networking focussing on the relationships and the power of individuals to form groups. I gave up on the Wi-Fi although it is clear from a few other blogs that others were online. This was another of those everyone with laptop open types of conferences. They are becoming so "normal" (at least where I hang out :-)) that conferences need to start changing the way people engage. Some of the smartest people I keep finding are in the audience.

  • For example what's the electronic equivalent of a flipchart session? Eg break people into mini-groups electronically and let them have a quick debrief. A singular or central IRC channel may not be effective.
  • Some research tools. Each session could finish with a brief online questionnaire. Some stats and open ended questions would add additional value and discussion.
  • Where are the social networking opportunities? I'm still surprised that none of these conferences seem to associate with Ryze or LinkedIn. LinkedIn even had a booth there but did nothing to accelerate networking as far as I could see.

    At the end of the morning these items that kept me thinking:

    Microsoft & Channel9
    One of the things I like to get out of a conference is case studies. One I've not paid enough attention to over the last few months is the action at Channel9. MS appears to be doing an exemplary job at engaging customers in new conversations. The result is Microsoft is learning faster as an organization. It may seem obvious, but companies get trapped. It becomes difficult to scale a message to the all the groups that depend on your platform.

    Currently Channel 9 has 700000 unique users per month of which 8000 are participating in the registration required forums. I think there are great lessons here for how the organization can balance an open approach, with listening for honest feedback. Video interviews are a key component that is making this successful. Take a look. Note they said it only took 2-3 weeks to get this up and running.

    Social Media and Mobility:
    Mobility wasn't a big topic and yet I believe it is a key driver for the future of Social Media. While there were a few comments on camera phones little was said about moblogging. I have a strong feeling that many of the tools we talked about this morning will only really come into being when they are integrated with mobility. While discussion centered around social media, the media was for the most part print / text centric. There should be more digging into what social mobility means to media and how that changes the conversation..

    I liked this little anecdote -- recently at a meeting invited at the last minute and showed up. Wished I was on a teleconference with these people couldn't use my tools to see more about them.... I realize that I feel like I was in the stoneage... When you become reliant on these new capabilities you feel you have lost something
    .

    Companies PR and Social Media
    In a world of social media the corporation loses control of the timing of when items are released. In a social media context the news about decisions winds up in blogs before it ever reaches corporate headquarters. This is something that bloggers know but many companies are just starting to come to grips with.

    I heard that the average journalist writes 10 stories a month and the number of media jobs is in sharp decline. When confronted with a chart showing Google and Yahoo News with traditional news services it provides an interesting contrast. Neither Google or Yahoo have news editors. This suggest a basic fundamental shift in journalism as it is being replaced by algorithms.


  • August 7, 2004

    My Feedster

    No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster


    August 10, 2004

    Blogs and Quick Links

    Some advice on bloggers and your startup strategy in the news today. Some get it and some don't. Then it is also a reminder to bloggers that real people are behind the startups and there are lots of them who have done their research. So when one is jaded by new launches it is possible to be too dismissive. I'm both dismissive and ready to hear more below.


    Weblogs could help make or break your startup's marketing strategy. Here's how to get them on your side. Red Herring Article

    In the copy camp another Skype competitor emerges. TelTel. (Note I downloaded this, then one friend got crashes each time they loaded and the other couldn't get it to log in to their server and I couldn't log in this morning.. So I don't know whether it works.) As it doesn't claim to be better than Skype and misses many of the features and comes with a name that sounds like the babytalk dressed in baby blue I'm at a loss to get excited. Oh they are prepared to buy some traffic and testers with a free call bribe. You must have at least three friends on the system, and there is no guarantee the calls will go through. There is nothing new here and I can think of others including italk2u and Peerio maybe phonegaim? (still new) which will probably vanish.

    TelTel is telephony with a new perspective. We are not aiming to reproduce the standard phone. We are looking to combine the best of the familiar features of the phone with the rich possibilities of the internet, coupled with the flexibility and power of your PC. TelTel.

    On the emerging companies with blogs and talking to bloggers I got an immediate response to my earlier IM posting yesterday which linked to a post by Stowe Boyd on InterComm. I still haven't tested out the product although I did look at it in more detail. Glenn Reid wrote me and added a few new details.

    I think you hit the nail right on the head with your observation that IM infrastructure is the "fat pipe" on which business applications will be built. This is exactly where we're headed. InterComm is our introductory product, but we have a very rich protocol that we've developed (called XSIP) that's intended for computer-to-human and computer-to-computer conversations that simply aren't possible with the human-language centric protocols that carry most IM traffic today. Imagine a database in your buddy list that pops up a form interface when you double-click it.

    ....we see IM networks as being more structured and involving business-class data transfer, not just human language.


    As you would expect there is a real depth of thinking to InterComm's approach. So if you are an Enterprise I wonder what your current shortlist for enterprise IM clients is? Anyone know of a list? I still believe that voice and mobility should now be part of any "presence / IM" startup strategy. This is Glenn's blog . He's using metaphors Eg "circles" which i like and I hope he keeps blogging away. I'd also like to see some thinking on IRC vs... IM for groups and teams. The trick will be helping to define this emerging category of products. That's a hard thing to do.

    Getting further away, this also reminded me of a friendly note that pointed me to Pangean Technologies. There is no demo to try out although the claims looks interesting. They have announced some "push to talk" features.

    August 15, 2004

    CEOBlogs II

    It was nice to get an idea confirmation. The url www.ceoblogs.com was registered within two hours of my CEO post. There will be many CEOBlogs syndication opportunities in the future. The real opportunities may actually come from companies that already have all the CEO information. Dun&Bradstreet would be an example. Bet they just don't have a field yet for "blogs" in their database.


    Charles Coxhead
    provided a quick review of simple tools to create and manage it. Nancy White asks why limit it to CEO's. And here with the new PR wiki it is working. And more over at Blogdigger. In a twist on names we also have a CEOBlog


    October 18, 2004

    Iterative Blogging: BlogDoc 1.0

    Last week I stumbled across a potential blogging application that I've not entertained or seen used before. The solution jumped out when asked how blogs might be applied to an iterative document. I realized then that the pitch we were making for using blogs as part of a researching tool was ahead of the learning the client needed for an initial blogging project. I think what jumped out was something with viral potential to grow, and also concise enough that only one or two people need really commit to get it going so the benefits can start to emerge.

    For the purposes of this example think business plan or a similar structured document with a fixed number of sections that will require a number of re-writes. At first glance this appeared to be a perfect application for a Wiki. I know others would even advocate forums for such development. In this case the organization had already experimented with wiki's and so far they have failed to become part of their collaborative landscape. So this small team was looking for a new vehicle from which they could update on iterations more effectively, provide a "living" state of the document now, enable both a comment format and enable version control and integrate it more effectively with e-mail and current work practices. Plus create learnings on blogs.

    What we found ourselves suggesting was an Iterative Blog, one that would be designed and laid out to provide:

    Key Iterative Blog Elements:

  • The latest version of the document (template retrieving the last post in each category)
  • Version Control by section (all the posts in that category and associated comments)
  • A lifestream of all updates. (the master blog, a time log of all changes and reissues)
  • Authoring Information (contribution by author and commenter)
  • Comments - Comments by version / section release and comments by time.
  • E-mail notification of updates and RSS / Newsreader integration.
  • Release Notes: Using the "Extract: function" a short release note can be captured and related to each "sectional reissue".

    Extending Functionality with Additional Categories:

  • News: This is news on progress, particular data or investigative findings, thanks for inputs, recognition etc. These are primarily process and planning updates.
  • Scanning: Data that may affect the outcome or provide additional context for the document. This data can also be assigned and associated with the document to enable a live form of footnotes and substantiation.
  • Meetings or Forums. Specific dates and timing reminders.

    Creating additional structure around the document while providing specific responsibilities for sectional content means the latest post in any category / section captures a stream of updates supported with release notes.

    I'm still pondering the advantages of this versus the same document in a wiki. However I think the difference here is the formal assigning of it as a project and the contained format that the assignment of categories provides. Rather than recent changes… this format secures / provides the opportunity for commentary and context. As releases are issued the old discussion is not buried, rather one can see the full development of the document over time.

    I think this is an important distinction for circumstance where the evolution of thinking might later be shared or where one might want to understand the evolution of the document and track down authors and comments. By contrast a wiki makes more sense for a policy or instructional document. Where best practice and a more static and permanent document is desired. It's quite possible that the document created above could be migrated into a wiki at the end of the creation project.

    What I'd hope to learn from implementing a project like the above would include:

  • Did we create new and less foreign avenues for participation (eg lower the bar for a non-blog / non-wiki culture?)
  • Provide additional functionality around the document blog format that enables the blog environment to grow. (For example the Scanning and Reference Function?)
  • Can this approach to the "plan" then lead to additional blogs in support. Particularly Status or team development blogs that may include insights and learnings on the implementation and achievement of the document objectives. Typical headings may include Perfomance, Plans, People and Policy items.

    I'd appreciate it if you have examples of the above, or similar that you ping me or provide me with a reference link. I'd appreciate it.

  • December 14, 2004

    Audio Video Blogging

    Just testing out Userplane's new A/V blogging tool. It's simple and easy to use. I just created a quick "testing" post. It's certainly easy to use. Beyond stop / start there is really no editing capability. Get it right or erase and start again. In this format it could be used as simple briefing and status report updates. When this converges with voice mail.. then it may be a whole lot more personable and persuasive to leave a video mail. The act of just recording a video will probably raise your energy level.

    Summary:
    Neat easy to use tool. I'm trying to insert it in a wikispace I'm working on. I'm also thinking about whether to simply replace the photo on the blog here with a short introductory video. Will have to think about the content. Alternatively it could become a little "this week I'm exploring... or thinking about". With the interests in podcasting it's introduction is timely. To do anything substantial in this area... additional functionality is required. Still the short burst have merits.

    December 18, 2004

    Audio Blogging -- Podcast Feed

    The hottest thing in audio is podcasting. A blogger can't think about podcasting without having a suitable RSS 2.0 feed. I've now added one to this blog. Means podcasts are sure to come. See the top left. Brandon's MT-Enclosures plug-in was one of the simplest I've ever installed.

    Audio blogging is starting to take off. Currently, Movable Type has no support for audio blogs so I decided to whip up a quick plugin to provide the capability. The missing link here is automating the process of adding the special link into your RSS 2.0 feed. That is the job of this plugin. To start audio blogging, you have to do the hard part first — record the audio file. Be interesting. Let’s say you recorded as an MP3 file. Then upload the MP3 file to your web server so that it is available for download. Then create a new blog entry that announces your post and has a link to the MP3. The link should be a standard tag with the HREF pointing to the MP3. Save and rebuild your index files. Your RSS 2.0 index will now have an tag in it pointing to the MP3. You are all done!

    The plugin supports a wide variety of file "types” not just MP3! It handles audio, video, image and other file types.

    If you have Movable Type 3.0, the plugin will also ping audio.weblogs.com for you when you post a new enclosure. Currently, only entries with a category of "Podcasts" will trigger pings. You can change this in the source if you like.

    Brandon Fuller

    December 29, 2004

    Giving Up Traditional Blogging

    As the year closes I've been thinking about my bloging. I've been fairly consistent in my posting, although slightly down in number this year versus last. So it is time to consider where my blogging is going and where blogging itself may be headed.

    I'm seeing signs that blogs are declining in usefulness and utility as they are pushed into activities they are not suited for.

    I'm also ready to give up part of my blogging and move on and forward. There was a time I enjoyed forums, although I found I could never track back to my contributions. In retrospect that was one of the elements that got me blogging, However blogging is also an individual pursuit and repository. It's great for being part of a "tell-em" world, blast it out, maybe you will get noticed, maybe ignored. Don't get me wrong. Going Blogging was one of the most rewarding things I've done in the last few years. It has connected me with wonderful people all over the world. It's brokered many a new introduction. Still I'm planning on giving up my blog in the new year. I'm migrating away from being just a blogger.

    Instead I plan on being a more collaborative contributor. Oh I want to own my own words, and I hope create and nurture new pages to life. However, they shouldn't stop there. For the most part a blog is a static repository while the world is a living organism. I want to breath life into change. Thus I need to open source my approach to writing, sharing, and becoming part of a broader collective intelligence. You simply can't do that with blogs. Oh you can share editing privaledges and blogs are excellent at top down hierarchical communications. So blogs are blasted out into the blogosphere and if you are lucky you are swamped with links and trackbacks. Then posts age and they are forgotten.

    So where am I going:

    To involve myself in platforms that enable a collective intelligence to be applied both from the core collective and by being so open that we can easily be perturbed by others entering the system. It may be too wishful to hope someone will correct my typos, however enabling an environment that is "Yes and!" where conversations can be built on is important to me. I took to blogging when I could see that participation in blogs and newsreaders would simply accelerate my learning. In the beginning I created a blogroll and so long ago often used to manually click back to other blog pages that I'd identified and wanted to read. Newreaders eliminated that need. As my Newreading list expanded I began managing it in new ways. Feedster became a savior, tracking "topics" and concurrently I tried to keep up a link blog --- however even that was too time consuming. Many pages I would have liked to note and save weren't blog ready and frankly putting them in my favorites file was like sticking them in a draw. Which brings me to "social bookmarking" - Furl, del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, etc. (I've generally played with these three and each are slightly different). In these solutions I have yet another way to filter and see what others are looking at. Wonderful for say sharing competitive intelligence. So what's happening? The social connections and the word connections in the data are simply becoming more important to me. Operating in MT doesn't enable me to offer up information like I'd like to.

    I have a pretty good mind for links. Usually I have more links I can recall from memory than may be useful on occassion. (Although Jerry with his "brain" has a repository that goes way beyond what I can remember). Still the lessons above mean that I increasingly see individual blogs through filters and so for some that means I'm further away, and they may pop up from time to time. Thus I've continued to set my scanning for new horizons. It's my conclusion that - that is the problem. Blogs aren't adapting to this new reality. Blogs remain static in structure, they haven't evolved much. On a time basis we are getting smarter by enabling them to notify for new file types (eg podcasts) however that is just smart use of RSS and that I think is RSS evolving.

    I'm not giving up on blogs. It's an infomation medium and format that won't go away, what needs to change is the way blogs are created and used. So long ago I wrote that I wanted a wikiblog and I know I am not alone in reflecting on it. At the time I thought it would be more useful, others could fix those typo's, although I was still coming at it from a blog format and approach. I was starting with the idea of blogging in mind. Rather the need was to go back to basics.

    "It's all about work!" It's about accelerating collaboration and learning. Which tends to happen when heads rub together and where the approach is more collaborative to begin with. The platform and approach I'm exploring and working on now started as a wiki, although in my mind it is not a wiki. It dispenses with categories and yet fulfills taxonomy needs. I'm looking forward to explaining what's different and what's the same. I am giving up on traditional Blogging. it just doesn't suit my needs anymore.

    I learned that the personal blog is not focussed enough. Had I set out to only blog about Skype I would have been much more successful. However, that alone would not be me. By contrast, many of the things I would like to blog about and read are collectively blogged by my friends, peers and others that I admire. I'd much rather be part of that and be able to search their work and where I might have contributed comments myself. (Note I can search my blogroll although I seldom do).

    Some might say that this is a foolish gambit. I've been a blogging regular for well over two years, and at the end of the "the year of the blog" I plan to migrate away. I will draw one comparison. I've been with Skype from the beginning, and it is only just now starting to be recognised. So I'm trusting my gut and moving forward. I've completed some interesting corporate blogging projects however have learned that for the most part as a work method it has not yet infected the heart and soul of the business. I believe that is structural as well as a lack of imagination on the parts of many managers.

    So will you too find a new form of blogging next year? How will your blogging change? I'd be interested to know.


    Blog Archiving: Monthly - Pointless

    On a slight tangent. Most of the blog programs I know have some form of archiving system. Usually by post, month and category. I'd just like to know how many have ever used the monthly archive to find a post. I think the answer is no and never. We use the blog search function, it is far quicker and more efficient. It also beats large categories too. So the real effectiveness in blogs is not in their archiving, in fact the longer you blog the more you discover that the categories you orginally created are worthless and you have too many posts to re categorize. That's the problem again with a static rather than dynamic approach to the taxonomy.

    January 2, 2005

    Traditions... blog and more

    Thank you all for so many comments and trackback recently. I'm simply overwhelmed. I didn't mean to throw away the tradition of thanks and response, nor was it a New Years resolution. I've been buried deeply in two projects reading them to kick off the New Year.

    So I promise to post a portion of my traditional blogging follow-up tomorrow. And Yes! Part of it does involve a wiki, although it's less a wiki than many might think. Behind the scenes on Yi-Tan we have been experimenting with new ways to create an emergent plastic platform. I think the solution is much more dynamic than a blog and many times more adaptable for the corporate environment. For it is not the pages that is really interesting. In the end it is the posts and the collections. Then in different places we've been adding presence and other collaboration methods. I also need to give Ken Tyler at Seedwiki just a little more time.

    On the other front, I'm planning to leverage my passion for Skype in new ways. Right now 2005 the outlook is for amazing change and new action!

    January 3, 2005

    Changing Blogging's Context

    Wow what a response to giving up on "traditional blogging". I'm forced to declare my hand early. For the last couple of months I've been working with Jerry Michalski, and Dina Mehta on creating a new kind of collaborative work space and collective business. We call it Yi-Tan and our blog is "Conversations About Change. One may never be ready for the day when you start that new blog. We're still getting the bugs out and the platform is still being changed. Yet all of us believe in prototyping to the future. I'm personally learning and creating new features as we use it.

    On Yi-Tan today you will see something that looks a lot like a traditional blog. Yet if you look under the hood you will see that it is not a blog, in fact it started as an editable page. Note at this point I am trying to eliminate the work "wiki"! It's superfluous, we are talking pages, posts and collections. Yi-Tan is a collaborative platform for accelerating change. There's some bits we're not showing today, there also remain some ugly URL's soon to disappear. The log-in functions are being worked now. Still we have a working prototype and a current RSS feed. I've written quite enough on the Yi-Tan site today. Much more here would be redundant.

    We encourage you to experiment, comment and add new pages to Yi-Tan. Please don't add them to our Yi-Tan Collection "Conversations About Change" unless invited to. You may create your own collection and we have a "Blog Sandbox" there. You will be surprised at how open our "editor" is. Don't forget that like many wiki's we have a full history.

    Yi-Tan is developing on a collaborative platform that allows us to move into a world of dynamic blogging, new forms of "tagging" collections and new ways of thinking about using RSS. This page discusses what happens when a wiki is fused with a blog context. What is different? How does it make a better product? What are the metaphors that should be used in developing a language for this emergent product?

    The posts that begin here at Yi-Tan have the potential to be very open, dynamic and more conversational. More importantly this approach is more applicable to the way we work in living sytems. When all of us own the blog, we write differently. What's more even after this page is elevated to a post it may be updated during the time someone sends you the link (by someone I don't know) before you access the post. read more... Conversations About Change (Stuart quoting Stuart :-)

    Notes from trackbacks:
    I think collections are better than "topics" although searching may uncover the depth of new topics or early warning signals that can quickly make a collection that can be built on, until too large to manage. "Author" provides some interesting aspects. Multi-Authored will become a norm.

    I see 5 major dimensions that can characterise information sharing: individuals, topics, opinions, things and time.The end of bloggin? Already? | noirExtreme

    Yes we have been experimenting with "presence" information via Skype on Yi-Tan pages. Will make it easy to work and collaborate with other authors or people that are interested. Pages can even been asigned problem solvers... and act like mini-call direction centers for free.

    I also want a way to get more of a dialogue (a la David Bohm). This blog, like many others, easily slides into conversations which are talking or reloading. It's harder to get that spirit of thinking together. Stuart is a big fan of Skype and talks a lot about presence which has much to do with what makes dialogue work. Johnnie Moore's Weblog: Blogs: connection or just "loneliness lite"

    Come and try out Yi-Tan. You don't need a permit for a test drive!. Just help us and add some value!
    So, after reading Johhnie More and then being sent to Stuart Henshall, I started to search for an ASP based implementation of a Wiki that I could start to work with.The only one I could find was JotSpot - I have requested a BETA but they are not automated sieze the day: JOTSPOT - Have you seen this?

    My motivation is less about the positive things that blogs are good at. Well listed here, rather I'm more concerned about the future of how work is shaped. I see simple tools, the cost of which is so disruptive when combined with presence and learning effectiveness, that content management systems are as endangered as telecom.
    I foresee three kinds of blogs forming. There will be the traditional online diaries. Slice of life, something made popular thanks to the Puritans pushing the biography as a form of literature. We just love to read about one another's lives. There will be the News/opinion blogs..... View from the Isle by Larix Consulting :: End of "traditional" blogging?

    I'm not planning on giving up writing. Where I'd like to contrast the difference is that 18 months ago you could create a list of say important blog papers and it would go out and you would get lots of hits. Assembling information individually provided and generated useful dialogue. Today, check Wikipedia for "Podcasting" or "Tsunami", more powerful collections and completed more quickly than I ever could. I'd like to bring that power to what we ultimately do. It's what Guilds were also made of. Concurrently enabling anyone to create a custom RSS feed out of Yi-Tan with their own collection will perturb new systems in new ways. This post is a testament to that.
    I've found when a reader reminds me that some bloggers provide valuable services of information that betters certain parts of our techno world. Eric Rice :: What is traditional blogging?

    Ton's thoughts are a must read. He put the thoughtfulness into something that I orginally dashed of. Thank you Ton.
    One direction is to enhance value on a personal level, creating loads of more context. Not by only being an outlet channel for thoughts, but the on-line hub of my life. This could mean (more) integration with my other personal information tools (think private and public wiki, yasns), providing not only personal intellectual context (books I read etc.), but especially more social context. Ton's Interdependent Thoughts: Blogs as Personal Presence Portal Revisited

    Euan asks whether we can create better friendships. I know I've made a commitment to my colleagues. From my perspective our collective blog has to be better than anything I could write myself. And then I can also run my own blog within the collective environment. I can even run a FlamePool if I want. Our collective blog is both a commitment and the desire to create something more valuable. More value will come too when the posting frequency is closer to 3+ posts per day. Euan, I hope you will come and join us.
    Could I replicate this high level of closeness of intimate friendship online? Could I discuss the stuff that really matters in an environment where passing it on would be as easy as copy and paste? The Obvious?: Blogging as therapy

    If you got this far well done! The prediction for this year is that simple collaborative workspaces will finally catch on. The wiki with difficult editing is doomed. The wiki without an effective structured RSS is doomed. And finally I'm looking for the Google Button like Google desktop for me on Yi-Tan.

    September 17, 2006

    Back to Blogging

    Bloggers Block. I haven't been blogging and I i can't put off blogging any longer. Over the last 18 months I blogged one topic "Skype Journal" more than anything else. For a long time I've wanted more freedom. Thus the return now of Unbound Spiral. It's my personal blog, personal opinions and I've simply missed the opportunity to use it push my thinking.

    I know I have lots to blog about. From why I'm in India (see my Flickr photos) to why I've been so silent on the Skype front. There are many more stories in between and I'm just going to start breaking them out over the next few weeks.

    I've also been encouraged by good friends of mine to get back into it. I'll also have some work to do to reconnect my blog to others. Still that is part of the fun. Engaging and creating new conversations. My themes remain voip, identity, social networking services, mobility and conversational blogging. Still they will emerge with a new slant. As always I'm interested in disruptive innovation.

    I also had to take some action on the blog. You just can't leave a blog to die. However, when I started blogging there was no such thing as tags and the templates that run this blog hadn't really been upgraded for 18 months. So I upgraded to the latest MT3.32 today and swapped all my templates out. Thus a ground zero reset. Now I can get to tagging and installing other features. I can take my time on that. Some navigation enhancements are definitely required. Some data has now disappeared. If anyone has a great three column template they would like to share with me I'd be grateful.

    September 18, 2006

    Open Space - New Realities

    Thank you Rob. Your comment is living proof that blogs work and they shouldn't be ignored. . This was a post I composed some moons ago in April. It was always my intention to blog it. No better time than around your first anniversary of walking in the door at NPR.

    I'm returning from Washington where I've been an elf in an Open Space session led by Rob Paterson and Johnnie Moore. It was the final workshop in a series run for National Public Radio - NPR. This post will just share a few words about NPR and the results of the Open Space session. I've also made some notes on my challenges and observations on the NPR conference site, which is open to the public.

    NPR like many organizations is threatened by the radical changes impacting on broadcasting today. With the evolution of Podcasting, video blogging, and ongoing changes in listening behavior with iPods, PVR etc. the "arrangement" that has held public radio together requires a new common ground and understanding. This was Rob and his team's challenge as they worked with NPR over the last nine months.

    NPR is the last bastion for "authentic American news". The closest thing America has to the BBC, and in my view we need it more than ever. And yet the "fund drives" and the way we get our news is being overtuned by the Internet. Concurrently, many stations lack the resources or the knowledge to "stream media", run a website or engage their community with emergent social media tools. There is also a large disparity between stations dependent on market. In my view, the opportunity exists for NPR to both go global and local with community radio. In the end NPR and the stations must engineer MyNPR.com. For community radio will become part of a multi-modal participatory media experience. Done right, with narrative journalism at its roots and a renewed look at the business model, NPR could well emerge as the media format for the future. MyNPR could be a nice place to be. (This is my speculation although I believe they must prototype it.)

    Open Space was invented by Harrison Owen. It has a simple set of rules and for the most part the approach is "hands off". It's empowering although often seen as a "risky" choice by sponsors as there is no set agenda before hand. The NPR Open Space session took the place of their National conference. It involved almost 300 people, provided each and every attendee with the opportunity to speak and contribute. For me it was the largest Open Space session I've participated in. It was also wildly successful. New initiatives emerged, a new understanding between independent radio stations and NPR emerged. In the end, 47 different session were run with self-organizing groups of 3 to 60 participants. Stations worked with stations. Stations worked with NPR and NPR worked with stations. In the end it was clear that only the "whole system" can create the future and move public radio ahead.

    Quotes from the end... "wonderful process... all have been heard.... really worthwhile...

    I was lucky to be invited to the aftermath dinner with the team from NPR and Renewal Consulting (which included Rob, Johnnie, Jevon, Kash, Dina and myself). As a relative outsider who was just there for this event I'd missed out on the many "New Realities" workshops that had been run over the last 9 months. However, what impressed most was the "human values" and soul searching that has been applied to this project from the beginning. The team correctly determined that the required change was not about technology, rather it was all about people and how to bring them along on a conversation and find a new path forward. The belief and trust established with each other was what ultimately made this Open Space session so successful.

    I will remember one discussion for a long time. I was testing Johnnie asking him where next and what instruction for the next session. I'd used an example I've used before. A few minutes later we shared it with Rob and he responded in the most remarkable fashion. The example is less important than the "values" (which he writes about all the time from his heart) with which he set us straight. Ultimately, it came down to how he wanted them to think and engage their creativity. Still his words at the time were "that's too much like consulting!". I had to agree with him and in this context it wasn't the right way forward. It was also the reason why he's generated so much trust on this project with his client. A trust and set of relationships that has allowed him to do the unthinkable for many. Not much more than a month ago Rob had never met Johnnie, Dina or myself. Johnnie met with Rob just over a month ago for the first time. While for our small roles in this theater we met on Sunday before the kickoff.

    For many that's a risk they wouldn't take. For me, like Rob, it is increasingly one I find myself taking with my blogging buddies. We've read each other often for years, probably Skyped and chatted off and on; perhaps met at a number of conferences. For me this small assignment is just the proof that 1) a new way of working is emerging, and 2) given the chance a few bloggers can often out strategise, out perform, and simply do a better job than the most expensive consulting firms around.

    September 19, 2006

    A Little Blogging Insight

    The value of blogging can really jump out at you when you've left it for awhile. I just left a comment on Rob's blog. Commenting stimulated me to a little personal insight in the closing statement. "Nothing I'm doing today or have done for the last four years would have been possible without my blog." Now that's worth mentioning.

    For many bloggers I know this is true. My number one example is Dina who's "Conversations with Dina" is a thoughtful fantastic and inspiring blog. She's also used it to take real action. It has created a world of opportunity for her. It's also resulted in us doing a number of projects together. I'm also bummed with all my time in India that I missed out on the recent BlogCamp India. The one week I was back Stateside in September. Still I understand the organizers are going to run some more. I hope I'll be at the next one.

    A reminder to me today. When I first got into blogging I spent my time going to blogs rather than streaming them in via a newsreader. In those days I still had Radio Userland and its inbuilt aggregator. Still there was something about building a blogroll; seems almost antiqated today. And yet I can see it is the perfect strategy for getting back into blogging.

    Visiting a page is much more personal than quickly adding it to a newreader. In the comment I wrote today "Blogging for me is a social and conversational media. I'd gotten away from it. For awhile blogging controlled me. Now I hope to simply enjoy blogging again.". I also discovered someone new. That remains an important part of blogging. Let's not forget it.

    November 2, 2006

    FireFox & ClearType

    I downloaded IE7 loaded a page and had an immediate "whoa" moment. I compared IE7 to Firefox and in IE7 the text all rendered in a far superior fashion. I couldn't believe it. The visual impact was as obvious to me as the first call made on Skype with it's added clarity. For about 30 minutes they had me.

    Then I asked a couple of questions. There's plenty of comparison pictures on the web already. The difference was "ClearType" and it turns out that I've not had it enabled on my laptop. It's easy to turn on via your desktop property setting for appearance / advanced. So "whew" I don't have to abondon my Firefox which is better than ever with 2.0. Gizmodo provides the review below. It's balanced and Firefox with all the new bookmark extentions, permancing etc. will keep my loyalty.

    Frankenfight: IE7 Vs. Firefox 2 - Gizmodo

    In one corner we have Internet Explorer 7. After 18 months of development and a shiny new set of tabs, he's in top shape and looking better than his predecessor ever did. That is, before he entered the ring with Firefox 2.0. Now he's just a cripple with fancy RSS reading.


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    December 16, 2006

    Translation & Global Voices

    I've just been reading Ethan's blog and his reference to GlobalVoices translation. IMHO there is only one way to do translation when there are no resources. Rather than some selective services at the moment turn the problem over to the readers.

    Offer translation opportunities to readers. There should be a button next to every post that enables any reader to offer up a translation. This translation would not be immediately verified. It would need to be vetted by others and voted on as correct. A link to the translator should be provided. It's a perfect demonstration to their services and capability. If a translator translates many posts then their credibility should create a rating and capability. As posts become translated the "flags" should just be added to the posts.

    I'd also add that schools and colleges can provide a wonderful opportunity for content translation.

    MediaWiki and Wikipedia have already shown the possibility that are open here.

    Like contributors "GVTranslators" should get high level recognition. For many translation is their business. Translators could also become point people for news and explanations into their own countries. I learnt and have watched many initiatives and exchanges in Skype that have involved both auto chat translation and have encourage the introduction of a translator (via conference call) into the conversation.

    There are clearly some issues of who's content and whether you can
    translate without permission etc. GV can solve that problem with
    appropriate creative commons licenses. This is a fair point.

    I'd like to see all GV posts on the home page in the language they were written. That it is the default. Then  offer me an English view.. but also tell me how much I am missing out on, or how many French, Hindi etc. readers are missing out.


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    August 29, 2007

    Blogger's Posts Launch Mosoci

    I didn't expect to blog today about new ventures and plans. Then in a world of twitter steams, IM exchanges and general old fashion sharing we often get the "push" that accelerates us forward down the path. I found Ken Camp and Dan York this morning blogging and humbling us with what they had found at Mosoci. Mosoci is the new venture that Dina and I have set up to formalize a collaboration that goes back a few years. There's more at Mosoci where we are still very much in the alpha - beta point of working out how to best integrate our lifestreams. Now we get to do it live.  It's exciting and frankly rewarding to live in a time where news and commentary just makes you say... "Oh Wow!".



    We know we would not be doing this without everyone that has read our blogs over the last few years. Social Media built the platform for our collaboration and the sense that our network and community would support, participate with us and help us grow. Now it is beyond an idea and yet it is still being formulated. We certainly don't want to end up as just the two of us. Today though we are happy to feel like we are in a constant state of beta. That's the zone where it is a real rush.

    Thank you for your support, praise and interest. Our blogs and blogging will evolve just like our other social media activities are. For example we are really enjoying bringing our bookmarking into the feed. For now our tweets are there too. That may be overwhelming. Then it may also be helpful. We'll let the readers tell us.

    It would be great if you would jump in on the conversation at Mosoci and add MosociRSS to your reader. We'd love your feedback and suggestions.


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    September 28, 2007

    Brand Champions and the Brand Lifestream

    I had a challenging comment from Dan Woodward on my latest search post. He asks whether these Small Business Owners should take the time to learn it themselves:


    Search - Still the best reason to blog your company (Unbound Spiral)

    But, when it comes to fairly advanced marketing/search engine manipulation, where do they go? Are you suggesting they should take the time to really learn all of this for themselves? Do they hire it out? It's a question that does arise (from those who DO have websites) and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about how to answer them (being no Internet marketer myself).

    My point is directed to the brand owner. If the small business owner is the brand champion then they should have a strategy. I've  been spelling it out for traditional brand managers in consumer products companies recently. Simplistically, traditionally they were only interested in advertising (reach and frequency) and promotion.  If you look at a  Brand plan  there is no line in it to address Search or social media. All media is now social; all brand plans should now address social media; strategy and tactics.

    Recognizing you need a strategy is the first step. Small business owners get it.. just like brand managers do when you suggest they Google their business, google their name, google categories they compete in etc. Concurrently with these searches look at the paid search results. Who's paying and why? Are they competitors? etc.

    On should they do it themselves?
    I'd argue that all brand managers should have some tests they check on. From search engines to buzzmetrics and others. At this stage it is not a science they need. Science and "social media optimization" can come later. At this point its important to accept this is how customers search for your company. This is just part of how internet savvy customers learn about your business. (It goes too far to show them Facebook, or Twitter references at this stage, or introduce additional ways we share information about a business).

    As brand champion one of your tasks is to assemble or enable the monitoring of the "brand lifestream" that exists around your brand. Traditionally this was PR clippings, however the social and accelerated nature of media today means that this action can't wait till the end of the month. The manager today needs it in real time at their fingertips. It's just part of understanding conversational marketing. Time for many to learn new tools!

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    October 8, 2007

    Dina is on Wordpress

    My blog buddy Dina has used a Radio Blog from the very beginning. Sometime after setting her up I went on to MT and we've run projects there over the years. Still, it is hard to change a blog platform once you are wedded to it. In that way it is a little like a bank account... it seems like a lot of hassle to change and then finally you have to bite the bullet. I personally think this is even worse with hosted services which will continue to take your money so you can keep your blog and history there.

    So Dina has a new blog and I will shortly move mine too; again to Wordpress; using many of the plug-ins that we have been experimenting with on Mosoci.

    I will blog separately on the plug-ins, what we've learned works, what new things we can do. I know we are taking our use of these tools to a new level.  Separately, when you have blogged for four years at the same URL; have feeds etc. you have some trepidation about moving to a new location. Despite all the "you can import and export" your content often it isn't easy to retain your URL's and thus a change breaks links. One way we have dealt with this is to create Google custom search engines which merge the search for new and old content.

    Conversations with Dina (old) Conversations with Dina (new)

    New Blog URL - http://dinamehta.com/ Subscribe via RSS 2.0 - http://dinamehta.com/feed/ Subscribe via Atom - http://dinamehta.com/feed/atom/ Comments feed - http://dinamehta.com/comments/
    So update your reader.

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    About Blogging

    This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in the Blogging category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

    Accelerating Innovation is the previous category.

    Brand Futures is the next category.

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

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