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December 2003 Archives

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]

Skype Doctor Calling

Ross Mayfield blogs on Skype and Estonia. He must have saved a Windows machine in reserve! I too know the little country impact from days in NZ. Adoption is even higher when the solution is created there and the population begins to take on the world. I like his example of the doctor and wonder how many of these calls are being made straight into small offices there? I'm sure many people like bypassing the operator! We want the operator when we want a filter, however when it is our doctor we really don't want an operator at all. Similarly, putting the doctor in a call que is not an efficient use of their time. Giving friends better access to your desktop for messaging, voice, and voice mail makes a lot of sense. Let your computer play operator. The Estonians are finding out quickly how to do it. Those horrible "hello" messaging systems... and number of the extension dial in the name etc. are doomed!

Before long there may be a market for Learning Journeys to Estonia! Skype now claims 3.3 million downloads.

You may know that Skype, the P2P telephony platform that is all the rage in early adopter circles, is being developed in Estonia. You may also know that the little country that could is dear to my heart. But you might not know that in Estonia, Skype adoption has already crossed the chasm.

When something big happens in a little country, word gets around fast. Even my father-in-law is using Skype to call us (instead of our Vonage line). Family doctors are using it to set appointments and communicate with patients. I don't have any country-by-country statistics (do you?), just personal anecdotes that regular people are using Skype in droves instead of calls. People are using it for more than saving money with call quality above standard (better than mobile) -- but because the mode of use differs it is gaining a different culture of use.

[Ross Mayfield's Weblog]

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.

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.

From Conversational Blogging to Jazz Communities

Nowhere is it more apparent to me than in the KM field that "Conversational Blogging" is still looking for some solutions. It also left we with questions the last time I was exploring it . I know the IT guys have done the collaborative dance, played jazz and scored more than ideas that began with weblog posts. Look carefully and you can see the collaborative exchanges taking place. However this isn't limited to blogs. Blogs are just one part of an accelerative learning program that is primarily focused on people.

A Little Background.
Ton Ziljstra made a post on "Making Actionable Sense" + follow-up. It began (I think by) Lilia Effimova "loose ends", Dina Mehta, John Moore (improv) and Gary M whose excellent post spurred me to start writing or trying to share something. That's when it usually get complex.

  • Where to start?
  • What to link to?
  • Hmm... What is my point of view?
  • If I start with a ramble... can I finish succinctly?

    Just looking at the names above and I know many more who are equally interested in emergent blogging - collaboration spaces the key element comes back to a business model. For talking is not action. Action implies that there is enough learning and knowledge to believe that "blogging can pay" for the independent blogger. So far the deliverables for independents are mostly intangible, hard to monetize, with no depth of collective identity. That's not to suggest that no value has been created, just that independently without more structured collaboration there is little chance of it all coming together until someone waves the magic dollar sign.

    From Conversational Blogging to Jazz Communities
    Our Challenge is to link blogs in a way that retains independent thought while creating a jazz community. A blog based info accelerator helps us engage with information, conferences, CoP's in a different way. We can being to face up to the 365/7/24/60/60 world. Our connections help us do it. They are skill that are worth passing along and providing to others.

    Let's consider creating an environment for "paid" membership with a BAND of people that enables them to become better connected, build new relationships and stay on the leading edge of learning even when they simply don't have the time. Blogging is a natural for the "listening post", the early warning radar, and for scanning upstream. I've been able to identify for some time an emergent blogging community that could do this in the KM area. Sales and Marketing topics are less clear, while in the last few weeks I've finally found some additional "futures" blogs.

    A possible solution for enabling an environment in which we can work together is to show "members" or "sponsors" how they can learn faster than traditional companies. It's not the resource rich / big dollar learning journeys of the past, the huge number of conferences, or "guru" answers, it's more pragmatic, more personal and directed at helping executive ask smarter questions. It's also more open space in nature.

    P2P music experiences revealed how communities of customers can learn faster than traditional companies. So as a leader you want to remain ahead of the competition. You know the surprises come from the fringe, and edge of the network. The deep answers seldom come from inside the organization and almost never from where you are today. It's not what's on your agenda that will kill you. It's what's not!

    This type of community is like a great jazz club. Infectious, Ingenious, Interactive, and Integrative, playing in an information rich world that demands elegance, simplicity, transparency and clear notes on the solutions employed. We accept in joining that 'all of us' are better than any one of us in creating new sources of value. Band members would be here to collectively harness our intelligence, collaborate and have some serious fun while doing it.

    This means that no one can grab it, no one person can put their arms around and everyone must nurture it. That makes it Chaordic. You can empathize with us, and appreciate the collective intelligence within. It's collaborative, emergent, with enough structure to encourage self organization but not enough to signal a fixed agenda, or the next topic. We know where we are starting but not where it might lead us. It's about connecting, It is about flows. It is about curiosity. Ultimately it is about better questions and learning faster. Our tools will be conversations and dialogues. …. We begin with a small group, and begin building on it with a global perspective.

    It takes Paying Partners.
    The question here is not the technology, or even the team, it is the willing partners we need to make the above a reality. Who is that audience that wants to harness a network that is proving it 'learns faster" and helps creat better understanding around issues of uncertainty, ambiguity, and complexity.

    This will take a team that has taken the time to understand the needs of the audience and their participation style. It doesn't necessarily require blogs. Although I believe that blogs are a criteria for membership. (Blog for a year... then come and talk to us!) In fact the telephone, the odd live meeting and even e-mail could be engaged. The real challenge is to create the introductions, context and encounters for useful conversations to take place. That means a variety of people. It also requires a network. Blogs help the transparency around that. It might just make it easier to find out where "we" collectively are not looking.

    Who Would We Be?
    At the core is a band that believes they can "connect", "synthesize" and harness the "flow" better than the traditional organizations and structures. In common english that is "learn". I for one know it is possible. In the short term a groups like these are potential insurance policies. What's the cost of a wrong decision when it can cost you millions. The experience you might have once gone to a conference for, or hired in an expert to talk for a day, now is on call, when you want it adapting to your needs and curiosity. If you are a company what is it worth to have this collective thought engine available? I've also posted on Innovation Panels. I believe a bloggers panel around KM would be a great place to start.

    I think this blog community would also become very comment centric. As it is a private members club we will need some numbers to really get it going. In fact it will have to have both public and private aspects. Even the members... can get up and jazz blog, nothing is stopping them. I expect that may just take some time. However other "sharing" mechanisms will be built in and I'd not the more they are integrated with current work patterns the greater the chance of success.

    The core team of band members will make the introductions and provide context for useful conversations and encounters with leading thinkers in a variety of fields. For time compressed people this is the conference and the breaks... year round at your fingertips.

    Input Please!
    Be great to have a a set of core members that are KM leaders in their respective organizations. "Building Jazz Communities"

    It's time to make the Elevator pitch! Comments? Suggestions? Let me know if you are interested in playing.

  • December 2, 2003

    The Computer Becomes the Phone.

    This article in Time examines the world in which the phone becomes a computer, and the computer becomes a phone."Eight years after its introduction, VOIP is having its moment. Indeed, 2004 is sure to be the year in which the technology hits prime time."the author Duff McDonald states.
    Say Hello to the Next Phone War

    [Smart Mobs]

    December 3, 2003

    Red Herring and CNET Updates on Skype

    There is a continued strong indication that Skype product development is going in the right direction! Two recent articles in CNET and Red Herring on Skype. I found the contrast in the two quotes below interesting. Underlying it is a reality that suggests SKYPE is actually growing a new market for communications, fulfilling an unmet and till now unarticulated need. Concurrently their conference calling capability when provided will change an industry.

    By contrast Vonage doesn't' believe that many people will be calling each other using PC's too soon. I wonder if he has worked with full-time live desktop messaging and conferencing applications on his desktop? Please hook this exec to a bluetooth earpiece and enable virtual watercooler conversations to gain visibility. Eg who's talking to who combined with subject etc.

    Skype's VoIP ambitions |CNET.com

    When will you have a gateway to the telephone network?
    We're working on it...It's something that's going to be much later on.

    The interesting thing is that in the feedback we get from users this is not the highest priority. They're more interested in conference calling and voice mail. People are much more comfortable with using the Internet for communications. People are being much more mature with the Internet. They say, "This is my primary way to communicate. The people that I'm calling I'm encouraging them to get on Skype." People are quite happy with that.

    There is plenty of anecdotal evidence already that Skype is enabling new conversations. For those early super users -- someone should be tracking "share of voice minutes" --- the PC must already own the majority of their communications time. However like e-mail much is one to one rather than many to many. A simple desktop conferencing program will enable with point n click something that currently can't be organized in a spontaneous fashion.

    RED HERRING | The Business of Technology

    John Rego, CFO of Vonage, does not think free calling gives Skype an advantage as long as Skype users can call only each other for free. I do not see it as any kind of wide-scale mechanism that will replace the phone system, he says


    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 7, 2003

    Accidental Communities - New Connections

    There is more to Accidental Communities than you might first think. Make the simple installation on your blog and then "feel" how it changes your perspective on "presence" (someone is at the door) and "connects" you with real-time interest. It might just make me a better blogger. A couple of concerns and questions noted in the closing.

    Discovered via Dina --- a Kuro5hin article on Accidental Communities. I became immediately intrigued. I've felt for a long time that I don't spend enough time looking at who is visiting my blog or why they might be visiting. Crawling back over logs is something I never find time for. Instant Gratification is just that. A real time personal communications dashboard component providing IM pings via AIM. I'm running them on my second communicator screen so it is real easy to see what's happening.

    What is really different.? The persistence and desktop visibility makes this valuable. Not because I am concentrating on a stream of hits, rather I'm seeing my Page Titles that are being hit and obtaining the referral or search info. However in just a short period I noticed some of my blogging buddies visited. None that I had immediate IM for which may have freaked them out with a "Just Looking" are we. Similarly I'm getting a much better idea on what and who is referring me. Sure I can't watch this all day. However that is not the point. I'm obtaining real-info on what Google search (Skype Review), Ask Jeeves (What sort of world will your children live in?, etc are finding and listing me.

    Dan Grigsby's instructions are easy to follow. He would also like some linking visibility for his new company. Comments are located here.

    Webloggers and diarists are using Instant Message visitor alerts to build accidental online communities. So I created Instant Gratification about four months ago. Instant Gratification is a free, totally non-commercial service that sends website owners an IM whenever someone visits their page. In the four months since then it's become sorta popular, with about a million messages sent so far.

    On a whim I added a feature to allow the people visiting your site to optionally identify themselves with their name, email, AIM username or blog address. This has had a neat and unexpected result:

    Whenever someone visiting my site provides their Blog address I tend to visit it in real-time while they're visiting my site. The act of them surfing actually causes people to read their site, which they see in the form of an IM traffic alert. It's an odd, almost Pavlovian stimulus-response kinda thing. Very often I'll IM the person too. There must be 20 blogs that I regularly read because their authors happened upon my site.
    kuro5hin.org || Accidental Online Communities

    Help me think a little more about how the data can be used. One element that concerned me and perhaps with advice from everyone I will understand better. Is this not providing my weblog stats to a third party? Many bloggers do the same with Sitemeter, however perhaps they have policies. None are clear here. Separately, could this data provide an interesting sub-layer like "Touchgraph" links blogs or Google searches?

    There is also a parallel program for those views that don't use RSS or would just like an IM notice of a blog update. See the blog change bot. I'm may try this out and think about it later. The application used in a similar way for updates on a wiki might be interesting.

    Anyone else tried these programs? Final for example: I just had a hit on "Plaxo Security" realting to this post on "Sharing Personal Data"". Sort of cool. Makes some of the "stuff" blogged more meaningful in someway. There's more to learn here.

    December 8, 2003

    Wrinkles for Skype Hype

    Thoughts on Skype, Skype Problems, Skype Limitations, Skype Hype, Skype Product Development and Viral Marketing. A few things pushed me towards this post.

  • Continuing comments re the proprietary nature and performance
  • My son's Skype usage
  • Impact of potential Skype conferencing features
  • Continued "phone" perspective.

    Continuing Comments:
    Useful perspective was added by David Beckemeyer advocates taking a broader perspective. This market is changing quickly. There's a lot more in play than just POTS and calling granny. I'll take him up on his challenge to take a look at Free IP Call. So far I've not had much success with these types of services. I've not had the trouble that Robin writes about. I'm happy to try new things. The biggest pain is getting functional buddy lists. In organizations that can be forced. As an independent that just means run them all.

    I want to encourage you to think about employing a SIP-based solution, if not now, please keep it in the back of your mind.

    The advantage of SIP for all of us is that it is an interoperable standard, being embraced and adopted by many vendors. SIP is like the 802.11b of VoIP. It means we can (soon) buy phones at Bestbuy and like email, if we have a SIP address with one provider, we can still make calls to people on other providers.

    Skype, on the other hand, is like Compuserv. It is a proprietary closed system. It might even be that Skype today offers a better overall product experience in practice, so I can understand why people use it. SIP-based products and services have to compete........ (read it)
    Unbound Spiral Comment:

    There is no reason not to SIP. Just the functionality that most SIP phones are giving me are less that what I'm seeing over the horizon on my desktop. Instead concentrate for a moment on what my 15 year old son does.

    He's recently become addicted to playing America's Army. This is not about whether it is good or not it is about the impact that it has. He's found that double teaming with his buddy using Skype increases their chances of success. So he's running the full game sound and listening to his buddy while in the action. I know now that they can't wait until Skype offers a conference capability. The pack mentality of young men on Skype is a scary thought. This won't just apply to America's Army. He plays "Warcraft" etc. The difference is he will be able to choose who is on his team. He's never managed to do that with Socom a PS2 Game.

    In a post on why "Skype Growth is Slowing" I noted that the always on number had slowed while downloads continue apace. Today some 3.5 million downloads.

    Imagine a little scenario for a moment. Skype announces a conferencing capability (see CNET) and provides the first 5 hours free. My son patches in his friends. They win games together. When his five free hours are up his buddy starts the hosting process. Ultimately they will either buy it themselves... or get Mum and Dad to buy it. If as expected this is less than the price of a new game for a year... they will be into it.

    In the theoretical world above, our kids become the first "visible society" members. By staying visible they get called into a game, added to the team. Having persistent identities easily shared within their circles closes the gap between individual PC pursuits and group online action. There is much more Skype could do with games if they would just open up their API. 3-D sound, player positioning etc. That's being promoted by Diamondware who has just won an award for this type of technology. I'm sure they understand player velocities and location. The release confirms tested by the military.

    This little scenario also illustrates the opportunity that exists in the business world. Many of us have adopted headsets for interviewing, and typing away at the PC. Using the Skype interface the conference addition could include conferences that your buddies are in and their topic when not private. There are some neat refinements possible to that solution which really impact on the virtual office. In the physical world I'm used to walking down the hall and we have some peripheral sense of where people are. That's not true in todays virtual world. The Diamondware publication above confirms this belief and opportunity. When conferences become visible then collaboration and project management is almost sure to be accelerated. Note this is different from chatrooms for it is difficult to monitor more than one at once. And the one you are monitoring you are participating in, idle or mute.

    Yesterday's post on Accidental Communities begins to illustrate the power of this peripheral vision in another way. To date it was only in the hands of the smartest site managers and network analysts. No more. Those connections can be pushed to personal desktops and become part of PKM - Personal Knowledge Management. This will enable the smart caller id systems and other RSS transport of content and connection information.

    Phone Thinking:
    On the phone we make "connections". With the exception of a few individuals no-one is really experienced in the multi-connect impact of conference calls that can be done on a whim. The phone paradigm and the IM paradigm is built round 1 to 1 and not many to many. Microsoft can offer an option tomorrow for their IM system. Select "text based" or "phone based", similarly so can the others. However, why add to the central server system to handle conference calling. Advantage Skype and P2P telephony, until MS and AOL adopt a similar approach. Could Passport become the Skype cloud?

    I should be able to do other things too. Like drag and drop invite buddies into conversations. See that other meeting rooms are occupied and see the topic. So I can text in... "when you talk about customer x" pull me in. I'm afraid that the telephone discussion only serves to make the course of action that Skype or its followers take even more disruptive. Let's make it a practical example. I'm using Spoke to ease my way into making a new business contact. Spoke locates my best connection and then waits until the "connector" has approved that they will do a voice introduction. Then when all of us are online together and available... the system initiates a call. This has major benefits. No e-mail requests. No connection, message waiting, an easy "yes lets extend this conversation. This can be extend further when an additional caller comes on line while 3-D sound helps the memory by placing them in a location. That is something I've never had on a phone call and am yet to see. This will make for a nice pictorial circle.

    Communicator Connect:
    Skype may not be the answer for this. However, get their conferencing capability running and enable the "ID Exchange" companies to plug in and they will create a new demand where there was none before. Before you know it social networking software may really have value. Ask yourself. Can Skype plug in Friendster, Tribe, Ryze, Spoke etc? See Skype Social Networks / Yellow Pages. Maybe a deal with Match?

    Viral Pricing:
    I'd like to close with an observation. Many may urge me to make a second post at this point. I won't. I want to suggest a viral aspect for the potential conference calling premium package. I found myself testing Glance the other day. They have a one day trial offer. In fact for me the first trial didn't go all that well. It was too slow. However I wrote them and suggested I was just the type of guy to test this product out. They generously extended the trial and I have had some better experiences with it since. However, I don't really have a regular use for it. So how should you charge to enable the viral aspect to take hold? You simply create a scale. A user that uses it infrequently, maybe two or three times a month remains free, unless the sessions are talking hours. Each time they use it they have the potential to infect others. I'm assuming the real target is "sales presentations, training etc". A new user that become a heavy user quickly will find themselves paying for the service. Make 20 presentation in two days and on the third you will be paying... Make 6 in the first month and then the 10th in the second month... and you start paying.

    What is the learning? Provide conferencing free for limited periods. Those that use it irregularly will infect others and get an even bigger feel good factor. It will make them even less likely to turn it off. Turn conferencing off or make them pay immediately and they simply won't. They have to become comfortable using it first. Watch out WebEx.

  • 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

    Presence Awareness

    PJ Connolly writes that collaboration changes focus in a recent InfoWorld article. The comments back up my assertions in my previous post. I believe the analysis is too light on the implications for voice and cam interactions. Similarly it fails to really define different types of presence awareness. While I searched Google Google I didn't come up with any obvious quick definitions.

    Presence awareness is more than just knowing whether or not another buddy is available to chat. Presence must work with pages, with location, with time, etc. The other aspect of 'presence' that is possibly missing here is the amount of data that is being transferred. The large companies may just want to restrict consumers to exchanging rich profiles and connecting us at the level of a telephone number. If that's the reality, then this future will fail. Systems that increase the flow rather than restrict it will win. Consumers and clients will migrate to the presence tools that most effectively support markets for information exchange and verification. Consumers will employ services to manage their presence and access. In some case that may just be the agent earning a commission on an information exchange.

    All of the Big Three ICE vendors IBM/Lotus, Microsoft, and Novell took advantage of new releases of their flagship collaboration products in the last year to push their interpretation of presence awareness, which involves determining whether a user is immediately reachable or is in a less-available status. Based on IM technology, presence awareness is built into or is about to show up in all sorts of applications, from e-mail and portal products, to CRM and HR applications. Although the potential for misuse of presence features will someday collide with traditional notions of privacy, it's clear that the convenience of presence awareness outweighs the dangers.

    Although it may be too much to ask that the competitors make their IM products transparent to one another, these products do hold some promise for a presence awareness détente. IBM and Microsoft have embraced signaling-based IM industry standards such as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) and SIMPLE (SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leverage Extensions), and Novell is working on building the XML-based XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) into its IM technology.

    Regardless of which protocols win out, it’s likely that in a few years vendors will include gateway features in their IM products that will permit the dispatch of IMs and presence indicators from one vendor’s collaboration platform to another’s as easily as one sends e-mail between systems from different vendors. The only way this will happen, however, is if customers complain loudly enough.

    The Ferryman

    My thanks to Barry Hardy for adding to an interesting Blogging discussion. If you have not seen his blog The Ferryman yet --- check it out. Barry is full-on over two weeks creating a new pulpit for KM in Pharma R&D. I'll be watching to gain more online conference learnings

    Blogs to augmented social software is best thought about by combining two metaphors. Jazz and the jukebox....combine a weblog and RSS feeds and you get more than just the capability to publish frequent updates to a website and similarly aggregate information from other sites. While building context over time you instantly become part of a web of data exchange, one connecting many people who are cross-linking and sharing information. ...It's also important to recognize that a good jazz community isn't only comprised of musicians.....

    Such a Jazz community requires the "innovation Spices" I discussed earlier in the week with Leif Edvinsson. Are blogging tools one of the important Spices to enable a successful community to actually engage in conversation, to really make an online Knowledge Cafe work, to empower the Knowledge Cultivators inside and outside the firm? It appears they hold promise, but will require adaptation for the business world.

    We were joined by Markus Heggi, CEO metalayer, for an interesting discussion that stretched our conversation into the business application of blogging. metalayer itself has many aspects already of a collaborative blogging environment or wiki, in that community and working group members may dynamically and continuously publish to each other within the ongoing context of shared posts, documents and online meetings.

    Together we discussed developments in blogging from the business perspective. I asked how could blogging be adapted to a corporate culture that follows the "need to know" principle. And if we introduce moderation and access levels how is the blogging phenomena affected? How does such a resulting blogosphere turn out and how will companies embrace it?

    [The Ferryman]

    December 9, 2003

    More on Web Presence

    Following last nights web presence posting; a follow-up discussion

    Enterprise collaboration faces a number of challenges in the years to come. IM systems today are where e-mail was back in the late 1980's islands of common use separated by protocols, vendors, and the network itself. Test Center Lead Analyst Jon Udell and Senior Analyst P.J. Connolly debate whether Web services will be the catalyst for the transformation of collaboration, and how......
    InfoWorld: P.J. Connolly and Jon Udell

    December 10, 2003

    Seeing the Future New York Times

    Two pieces on strategic foresight and scenario planning. The first by a former colleague and mentor Jay Ogilvy who's touch clearly graces the pages of "What Strategists Can Learn from Sartre" and the second a contrast in the New York Times.

    .....Suddenly, humanity had a future — in the sense in which existentialists think of the future, as an open-ended, indeterminate field of untried possibilities. For existentialists, existence precedes essence. It’s not that no one or nothing has an essence. It’s just that essence, for free human beings, anyway, is achieved rather than prescribed. You become the results of the decisions you make. You don’t find yourself, as those suffering “identity crises” try to do. You make yourself by making decisions. You’re not just the result of the genes you inherited or the circumstances of your birth. Of course genes and family background make a difference, but what you choose to do with them is subject to existential freedom. ......

    A future filled with new possibilities presents a backdrop for planning that is very different from a future that is a reshuffling of the same old same old. Reshufflings should follow laws that allow for prediction according to rules that cover every possibility. A future filled with genuinely new possibilities might not even be describable using categories and metrics that cover what has occurred before. How could a 19th-century scientist anticipate, much less predict, prime time, venture capital, gigabits-per-second, butterfly ballots, fuel cells, genetic engineering, cellular telephony, and so on?

    Jay Ogilvy "Source"

    Jay's article provides a nice contrast with the short piece in the New York Times advocating broader use of Scenario techniques in government. Jay demonstrates the story-telling capability that must emerge though the process for scenarios to provide the infectious leadership tool that enables change and momentum. We need it in government and the descriptions in the NYT are good. The trick is scenarios is not the "how" but the context of "what". There are millions of scenarios... --- engaging people in a context where they can act is key to creating better futures.

    In this new era of uncertainty, not only must we must accept that simple forecasting is not going to be very useful to us, we must sharpen our skills of forethought. One way will be to augment traditional strategic planning with "scenario planning," a strategy that has long been a staple at the largest multinational corporations. Scenario planning involves the creation of alternative narratives about the future based on different decisions by many players" as each scenario progresses.

    As opposed to the classic strategic method of applying the past to the future — coming up with a single, likeliest story about how things will turn out — scenario planning is about applying the future to the present, creating a learning framework for decisions. The idea is not so much to predict the future as to consider the forces that will push the future along different paths, in order to help leaders recognize new possibilities, assess new threats and make decisions that reach much further into the future.
    Op-Ed Contributor: Seeing the Futures

    December 11, 2003

    Zero Degrees - Social Networking

    Zero Degrees broadens their beta launch. Some interesting aspects versus Linked-in, Spoke, etc. This social - business networking space is getting rather crowded. I'm yet to see any real utility from it. Concurrently it would be nice if Outlook didn't make such a mess of our address books. Integration is required! Individuals certainly won't pay for all of these competing services. Zero Degrees suggests that the cost will be $10 per month. How original is that?

    Unlike some competing systems that are controlled by a supervisor or at the enterprise level, ZDI has put the user in complete control of his or her network development activities, regardless of the size of their network. A user can choose to include any subset of their network -- or simply their own contact information -- and share it only with their closest friends and associates for mutual exploration of common interests. In all cases, the user is in the driver’s seat and is involved in every referral via an automated “accept/decline” option on the requests for introduction.

    ZeroDegrees also provides subscribers with the ability to participate in the service, but still remain unknown or confidential to other subscribers who are connected to them. In addition, no email content is ever accessed or stored, differentiating it from other enterprise-level social networking systems. ZeroDegrees’ privacy policy is such that user data will never be mined or used for commercial purposes without the user’s explicit permission.

    December 12, 2003

    Yes WOMII

    Great post from Patrick Dunn. WOMII --- "What of ME is It?

    So we're ending up at the opposite end of the spectrum from WIIFM. We're now encouraging learners to ask "what of me is in it?" or WOMII. We're also at the other end of the spectrum from the simplistic, stimulus-and-response, behaviourist origins of WIIFM, however nicely it's dressed up in constructivist clothing. We're thoroughly in the situated learning camp. I'd suggest the shift of focus moves through four, thoroughly overlapping stages:

       1. What's in it for me? WIIFM motivation; individualistic learning
       2. What's in it for us? Teamworking; project and goal focussed
       3. What of us is it it? Collaborative learning and production
       4. What of me is it it? WOMII motivation; community and process focussed

    It almost goes without saying that a WOMII philosophy strongly supports the learner's metacognitive processes. The learner is going beyond the goal-orientation characteristic of WIIFM, to asking what of themselves is currently present in the thing they are learning about. What have they contributed? What is the process they are following, and where are they in it?

    December 15, 2003

    Good Interviews: The Future of Web Conferencing

    Robin Good is an important connection that I've made tracing orginally to postings on Skype. Combine with blogging, and a general curiosity between two parties and the layers get peeled away. So I was delighted to respond to his interview questions. I knew they would stimulate my thinking and when open minded often lead in directions I perhaps didn't expect.

    So I really appreciated Robin's comments and introduction to "The Future of Web Conferencing". I'd be uncomfortable dwelling on the interview here, I simply appreciate the opportunity to share for this part of blogging opens up new dialogues, finds new voices, and lends new ears. For those that have read the interview it may capture me in a way that I don't often talk or write to in my blog --- despite knowing the result would be blogged. I liked the conversation that ensued. I've seen little on the "blog" interview genre particularly when applied to other bloggers. As such an interview has the potential to put a number of blogs in play and may be worth further thought. So one lesson for me is to consider interviews as a blogging strategy in the new year.

    Robin's questions also had me thinking more:

  • The first was around running a second monitor as a "communicator screen". The gains to be made from this strategy are not only tangible in easing desktop workflow and notifications. There's also a set of intangibles that reflect the "desktop statement". Give managers a simple story to share and the dual screen works as effective method to introduce new work practices and programs. It provides more than a talking point enabling the introduction of "new" features without taking up current desktop space.

  • Second was beginning to consider the impact on costing practices of advanced knowledge solutions emerging at very low cost. Costing for IT projects that has been corporate centric will be assigned to the individual level. For the vendor that is a different sale. "Full Augmented Network" costing practices will be required.

    One thing I'm still looking for is a web conferencing solution with VoIP that works cross-platforms (ie Mac and Windows) has zero latency globally, enables 4-5 in an unmoderated discussion and can be learned in 15 seconds. It should be free or low cost.... etc.

  • December 16, 2003

    Skype Emoticons and Music

    Skyper wants their own Skype emoticons. I don't design emoticons. I have to have a few strategy suggestons that go beyond the brief below which suggests text based emoticons for the text based message portion of Skype.

    * add a new social dimension to the exchange
    * emoticons must leverage Skype's voice-centric advantage
    * create new functionality for responding to the "ringer"
    * encourage behaviors that encourage longer connections
    * appeal to all age groups

    Possiblilities? Simply enable the emoticon core set to be colored. I'm generally blue today, or I'm orange. Skype could stick to standard yellow or make life more interesting. Yeah, I went orange smile, yellow laugh. blue shades and purple wink.... There's plenty of color tests on the web. Skype would open up a whole new genre of web based psychology just by taking the step and then allowing users to create a program based on Luscher's Color Test.

    While on emoticons a sample of my Trillian master list suggests some emoticons are missing. eg a quick "on the phone", "caller detective"(for more information or profile), "conferencing". "I'm mobile" - as Skype goes portable.... Rather than answering the call it would be nice to have a quick emoticon text reply along with a possible redirect feature.

    Still I can't get too excited when what I really want is to play the music I'm listening to at a lower level to the person on the other end of the line when I answer. Or whenever one party or the other wants to pipe it into the conversation. Like talking in a room with music in the background. Seeing as I can already do this for myself (playing WinAmpat a low volume level and talking) it would be nice to tune in the other person. Playing music for each other then takes on a whole new perspective. It might stimulate some further new emoticons! Conections and potential conference calls will go up exponentially. Shame that is so hard for a phone company to do! Just another reason the phone system is old and tired.

    Are you a budding designer with a burning desire to get world-wide recognition for your work? Skype is offering you that chance with a challenge to create new emoticons (graphical expressions) for the Text Messaging portion of the world's fastest growing Internet telephony program. Skype is looking for submissions for 10 emoticons which will be used by millions of Skype consumers all around the world. We will chose among all entries received before January 15, 2004 (23:59.59 Central European Time) and the winner will be named on the Skype homepage and receive a Skype T-Shirt.

    To see a list of Skyper desires for new features see the list at Public Mind. The obvious ones are all there. Not listed are SkypePages, and Caller Id solutions etc. Looking in the forums today I did see a note that the Skype Business Development team apart from being swamped is beginning to release some API details.

    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 17, 2003

    Faster than you think

    From a recent Meta-Group report, in less than two years look for a dramatic increase in PC telephone applications, new solutions for web-conferencing, and dual-screens in the workplace. This combination will directly impact on collaboration and advanced knowledge practices. Underlying this is a further shift to personal centric KM and productivity enhancement.

    "Although we are skeptical that most users will actually end up combining their trusty telephones with their PCs, there are definite areas for synergy ? particularly in the access to complex voice mail and conferencing features," said Steve Kleynhans, vice president with META Group's Technology Research Services. "We expect PC access to dialing -- as well as integration of voice mail -- and e-mail inboxes to become commonplace by 2006."

    "Web conferencing is an example where multiple monitors could be immediately beneficial to a large number of users," said Kleynhans. "A user often has a presentation displayed on one screen, while taking notes or chatting with participants on another screen. Arranging multiple windows on a single monitor is awkward and limiting, whereas having dual monitors would make it much easier. By 2006, we expect 40% of new information worker environments to include dual monitors."

    "Organizations must begin to take a more holistic view that puts an increased emphasis on the items that surround the PC," said Kleynhans. "They need to look beyond traditional desktop configurations and embrace new options to enable a rich information worker platform." META Group Says Renewed Interest In PC And Telephone Integration

    Link via Robin Good.

    Novel Uses - Camera Phone

    This is a great link to exploring camera phones and the ways they are being used. Textually provides a wonderful summary:

    For Textually 2003 - The Year in Review, here is a round up of the novel ways camera phones have been used this year by individuals and businesses. And as these phones, widely popular, go mainstream, with image quality and picture snapping features improving with the launch of each new model, it is clear we have yet to scratch the surface on how private individuals and businesses will find ways to use them.

    Picturephoning 2003 - The Year in Review

    December 19, 2003

    Finding the eBay of Social Capital

    The blogosphere seems intent on finishing the year on a social note. I'm seeing plenty of posts on LinkedIn, ZeroDegrees, Spoke and continued tirades over what Ryze, Tribe and Friendster provide or don't. Yes it's an area I've read about and have followed closely all year. So in the closing moments I'll say I don't think any of these are real businesses. None of these are the eBbay of social capital. Some may have important functionalities that may add up to a business sometime in the future. However those that use $10 subscription rates for current functionality levels can forget it. They are all too expensive. It's cheaper to get in the Yellow Pages.

    Early in the year I found myself writing about identity and sharing human profiles to thinking through circles of friends and the impact of actions on branding and behavior. I've explored almost every one of these software applications as they have come along. There is not yet one pieces of software from this genre that I get real enjoyment from. Each one I can learn the system and get it to do a small number of things. I can get new introductions, however the people that really count and my long time referees aren't on the system and I've given up trying to get them there. In the end my blog and strategies that I execute around it are a better time investment for networking to new connections.

    Many of the social networking services provide useful functionalities (dating - matching is really separate to my comments here) however none of them provide the type of product / service that is going to be a big time winner. They are high maintenance for the most part and fail to integrate well into the day to day work that we do. Then there is trust too. Upload your outlook address book etc... They are all useful experiments and many of their features will be built into corporate systems. Yet, I believe the majority are barking up the wrong tree.

    Here's some top of mind reasons why.

  • Mobility: These systems are static, don't integrate well with our cellphones and our SMS or what is to come in this arena. PDA's with Pocket Presence etc.
  • Presence: A few like Tribe provide some indication of presence. However have you ever been there where there are more than one or two people that you know online at the same time? Ecademy provides another method. None of these enable quick voice brokering. Although there is an Ecademy group that has experimented with that. IM already does this.
  • Voice: More than half of all knowledge is communicated verbally. These systems aren't adding in the additional cues. (If you want to see a great piece on this read Tom Coates). Skype uses both presence and Voice Quality to really change the game and the location --- integrated with the PC.
  • Conferencing Calling: 2004 will see the introduction of effective VoIP voice conferencing at effectively zero cost. This will have significant impact on knowledge sharing, networking. and getting to the right questions quickly.
  • Buddy Lists: IM is accelerating. IM is displacing e-mail. IM redefines addresses, personas, and access. Expect to see some RSS in with IM. Buddies want to sell a car... just blog it. All your buddies see it. Buddy broadcast. It's already done with SMS messaging.
  • Blogs: Is TypePad not in the Ryze social networking business? From what I've seen everyone there can have a profile / about me section in minutes. Feedster provides another example of networking around content. Just search the blogs for "social software".
  • Search: I think we are going to want to capture the searches that personally network us with people we want to connect with or who are also investigating an area. I'm also surprised that Google doesn't make it easy to link a search that returns a link to a blog to an IM opportunity. Makes even more sense in large corporate databases. Would that make it a decentralized Ask Jeeves?

    So where does that lead? Right bang on the doorstep of the phone system. It's where all the money is, and where the above is likely to be most disruptive. Vonage's new softphone like Skype is just another indicator.

  • 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.

  • About December 2003

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

    November 2003 is the previous archive.

    January 2004 is the next archive.

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

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