Social Software Archives

May 8, 2003

Individually Social Software?

A Wonderful article "Smarter, Simpler, Social".  provides a great introduction to social software.

A few perspective sentences that really grabbed me.  

  •  " Enterprise software itself is grounded in out-dated "process thinking".....
  • free online social applications are achieving usage levels and a depth of user engagement that enterprise software purchasers can only dream about....”
  •  the popular model of the value chain is also an engineering concept, derived from expanding the process view to the business as a whole. …
  •   closed networks amplifies predispositions….
  •  Maintain a healthy level of connections between people so that when and where they need to they can connect effectively with others….

The authors also make a nice point about emergent metadata.---- goes beyond syndication toward synchronization.  ….. Manage personal knowledge according to their own individual perspectives.  This all after starting the piece noting busineses face a crisis

It's the individual area I think I'd like to learn more about.  Maybe it is just a suspicion, but smarter, simpler, social seems to miss out an individual element.  Perhaps it is self evident.  Smarter simpler software at the individual level then enables new opportunities to emerge.  Just like mass customization I suspect the individual has a larger role to play. I’d add the individual is also the customer.

Personal knowledge spaces are very real-time. Expanding real-time PKS will enable more innovation though better connectivity.  Some time back I blogged a short piece PKnF – Personal Knowledge networking Friends.  

One paradigm that is missing is the amount of duplication we are all going to be able to have.  The collaborative – collective personal info assets will outweigh the business info assets.  When that’s true, organizations have to compete on their design, sociability, and adaptive capability.  Wealth then is in the creative friction, the touch points between individuals.

A parallel piece --- one that is completely counter-intuitive to most is and what Brit and Flemming are doing.  It’s a new form of knowledge contracting.  It’s time is nearing.  Add to that the capability to hold the library of congress on our key chain, the question may be how we make it much more useful?  

May 9, 2003

History of Social Software

Howard in Smart Mobs - on Social Software.  Great links. 

"note that when a particular group of people uses social software for long enough -- whether it is synchronous or asynchronous, deskbound or mobile, text or graphical -- they establish individual and group social relationships that are different in kind from the more fleeting relationships that emerge from task-oriented group formation"

Something new is happening, truly, in terms of the kinds of software available, and the scale of use. But in many ways, this something new would not be happening if many people over many years had not coded, experimented, socialized, observed, and debated the social relationships and group formation enabled by computer-mediated and Internet-enabled communication media.


May 26, 2003

Collaborative Roadmap

Like most things it turns out Blikis' and BlogWiki's are not new, in fact a few pioneering spirits have been working on this meme for some time. In my last post I mentioned my desire to explore wiki/MT connections.   

See BlogTweaks which should be written as a WikiWord is Chris Dents integration of Purple numbers and his MT blog.  It's not clear to me yet if this has progressed to an MT plug-in. 

Collaboration Roadmap (WebSeitzWiki) Bob Seitz says he's interested in making groups more effective at both thinking and doing.  "Collective Intelligence" is the paradigm I think he's looking for.  I particularly like his "Universal Inbox".  The word "dashboard" is particularly appropriate. 

Martin Fowler's Bliki says "I wanted something that was a cross between a wiki and a blog - which Ward Cunningham immediately dubbed a bliki. Like a blog, it allows me to post short thoughts when I have them. Like a wiki it will build up a body of cross-linked pieces that I hope will still be interesting in a year's time." This later thought could be very powerful in a collaborative blogging environment.

From there I caught a link to SnipSnap  some free and easy to install Weblog and Wiki Software written in Java. I was ready to download that too and try it.  Except the install instructions were on the cryptic side. I wasn't really sure I'd get it to work on my server in just a few minutes.   

Are blogs and wiki's converging?  Are bliki's the future?  There's merits in following this scenario and keeping more than a watching eye. 

May 27, 2003

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. 

What made this post particularly relevant for me it I'm trapped between a set of forums and an online blog discussion.  Not to mention e-mail, IM and Wiki's.  I've been on a mission, both personal and with colleagues to create a more collaborative roadmap for ourselves, while innovatively using many of the lightweight tools that are emerging.  None of us are programmers --- our use and roles is helping to define and prototype how we use them and move future forward while overcoming distance and lack of resources. 

As a group trying to come together to form a new proposition I'm sure we are not alone.  It's an iterative conversational process. However, few would be experimenting concurrently with so many tools.  When conversations get split between e-mails, blogs, forums, IM, wiki's it becomes apparent that improved methods to thread them all together is required. 

For the brainstorming and general freeflowing conversations we've been using a private blog.  We've been stumbling when it comes to forums.  The discussion seems to be whether blog are up to the challenge (note there are differing degrees of forum / blog / other experience in this group):

  • Beat the Forum's structure from the home page though the 4-level nested hieracthy - category, forum, topic, reply (each of which can be referenced with its own URL).   and...
  • Quick Representation - whether there's topic with new content since last visit, the number of topics and posts, date and author of the last post.  and 
  • Access Rights by forums and groups of users

I tend to find forums very hierarchial in their structure and format.  How does one rewrite a business development proposition in a forum?  It's not easy.  In a wiki I'd make additions and the diff key would highlight the amendments for others. Paste is simplified.  Notations are made directly.  With two people problems of version control are easily handled.  When three or more become involved then it becomes more difficult. 

Perhaps that why I'm trying out some of the WikiBlog tools that are emerging.  If someone has one for me I'd be happy to use it and report!  Need a collective set of testers?

After blogging for sometime being able the reach a piece of my personal content that also links to others is a valuable "connectivity" tool easily shared and for both parties creates an intermingling that couldn't have happened otherwise.  On the collective level I'm wondering if the reverse is not true.  If blogs were feeding a wiki and vice versa then the collective repository would become much more valuable overtime.  Similarly, edits and revisions could contain quite a history.  

Of course this post could have been a category 4 summary if Tom and I both both had Purple Numbers .  I could provide a summary linking to each diagram without pasting them in and knowing relevance was retained.  (Now would that create a mess for Google?).  Similarly my comments could be more descrete. Instead go and read it for yourself.   

June 2, 2003


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.




June 18, 2003

Collaborative Spaces - Transforming Innovation Capital

How might the growing interest in linking digital identity, blogging wiki's, RSS feeds etc evolve?  How might the emergent functionalities in these tools benefit our evolution and daily experiences. How will they combine and spiral to augment our collective intelligence? How will they reframe the KM knowledge innovation paradigm? For most companies it's happening more rapidly than they think. 

There's a saying "the future is here  - it is just unevenly distributed" (William Gibson). This couldn't be more true when we start to apply it to emerging lightweight knowledge innovation tools and combine it with what we know about mobility, decentralization, hyperconnectivity, online identity etc. 

Yet using the metaphor "standing in the future" we almost inevitably find ourselves reframing the space we compete in today. 

I facilitated the chart below about three weeks ago before going somewhat silent (at least on my blog) when exploring early ideas for transforming a "systems integration business" into an innovation engine.  As the tools paradigm developed we kept spiraling back to the benefits. Each iteration breaking a new frontier, each new technology providing new functionality.   

It's a WIP (work-in-progress) and making the point that all these technologies are already available they are not just effectively connected yet.  For the most part it will be bloggers reading this.  Some have the curiosity to ask:  Is corporate blogging just noise or part of a greater shift.  What about wiki's and the broader aspects of augmented social networks? Etc. 

For my part I've seen no clear model of where corporate blogging is heading.  Yet I firmly believe that blogs are part of the emerging value creation spiral.  The recent wave on posting on wiki's, forums, corporate blogs reaffirm this interest.  Similarly thoughts keep emerging about creativity and innovaton. The underlying thread is a move from systemic innovation to transformative innovation (about which I will define separately).

A few years ago Tom Stewart wrote "Intellectual Capital" and more recently followed it up with "The Wealth of Knowledge".  I'd suggest if we really think about the chart above -- IC /KC merely set us on a pathway.  The (not new) idea of "Collective Intelligence" is just now beginning to reframe how we think about capital and the types of organizations.  We now know that organizations will increasingly compete through their collaborative networks. While it's not just asking better questions -- it's the capability to capture and harness the hidden ones.  More peer driven, more decentralized; almost certainly. 

It's transforming innovation capital (lets not get hung up on definitions of Capital here) simply because what we are now after is hidden.  It is primarily social and these new tools are helping us to uncover the wealth that was always there, always undisclosed, tacit unless tapped, and too infrequently accessed.  Even a small start would include employee who's thoughts or interests you never before knew, to teams doing collaborative manual building, and spontaneous connections enabled through who we know in trusted networks. 

This is nothing less than the beginning for framing tools and an evolutionary path to a  radical shift in the collective intelligence of teams, communities of practice and organizations.

There could be much more to this post.  A little encouragement and a few questions and I might just get back into writing again. 

A little over a week ago I had the pleasure of listening to Doug Engelbart at the Planetworks conference.  Doug's summed up his life's work for the conference: "As much as possible boost mankinds collective capability for coping with complex urgent problems." 

As he developed his view of the world I realized there were similarities to the chart above  -- originally tracing to conversations I'm in with George Por which started and were furthered in France a few weeks ago.  In Doug's chart the frontier (cloud in mine) is constantly changing.  His concepts which I'm still discovering include... The "Hyperscope", "NIC's" - network improvement communities and "DKR's - dynamic knowledge repositories.  They fit easily within the above. 

One word of caution.  This is a somewhat generic chart.  Organizations wanting to explore this space must develop their own pathways augmenting their current competences and enhancing the culture of their organization.  Then having the "foresight" to take this forward begins with a few small bets or prototypes and a few committed individuals.  The key to motivating individuals to participate is creating the clear need for change and building the excitement for what the future might bring. 

Augmented Social Networks

What’s Coming? --- Augmented Social Networks:

“Could the next generation of online communications strengthen civil society by better connecting people to others with whom they share affinities, so they can more effectively exchange information and self-organize? Could such a system help to revitalize democracy in the 21st century? When networked personal computing was first developed, engineers concentrated on extending creativity among individuals and enhancing collaboration between a few. They did not much consider what social interaction among millions of Internet users would actually entail. It was thought that the Net's technical” architecture need not address the issues of "personal identity" and "trust," since those matters tended to take care of themselves.

This is a clip from the Linktank paper posted as part of the Planetwork conference.  Like the Smarter, Simpler, Social paper referred to earlier on this blog here it is worth reading.  For me together they provide a useful entry point into thinking about where we are going.  For me these two papers are further warning indicators that reaffirm my belief that radical innovation is being redefined by those that use ASN related tools, within their organizations, CoP's and simply with their circles (business, professional, social). 

I also just re-read a post from my earlier blogging days on Radical Strategy Innovation. (One that gave me some concern at the time for mouthing off.)  Looking at it today and thinking about the tools I've become more accustomed to using and participating in I believe the key messages still apply.  Five points for Radical Strategy Innovation.

  1. First organize your lines of inquiry to be network and community centric.
  2. Then collaborate to create compelling friction points that give your community "an innovation voice"!
  3. Seek out "hidden" connections - collaborative responsive highly connective networks are important to framing the fullfillment of unarticulated needs.
  4. Build-in collaborative community skills into facilitating markets - value creation. 
  5. (New / revised) Add to the collective and spiritual values -- without them you will have a system rather than a transformation.


In a world of increasing hyperconnectivity, how will augmented social networks impact on innovation? Is your current dogma for Radical Innovation collaborative and spiritual enough to make a meaningful transformation?  How will your communities best be served -- strategically and through what architecture to facilitate the change?


June 19, 2003

Why CI?

Yesterday I said too little about George Por's role and Collective Intelligence in my post "Collaborative Spaces - Transforming Innovation Capital. He's influenced my thinking lately.  So when this post was picked up it was neat, but it also signals the need for a broader conversation and exploration of the CI community and their work.   

So this post is a little about sharing George.  He's an expert in CI and long time evangelist.  We have different and I believe complementary takes on the diagram and how to use it; sensing there is a new kind of operating system emerging.  I wouldn't have labelled it CI2.0 without a push from him.  I've been keen to understand the emerging tools and the corresponding benefits and provide a synthesis and premise for accelerating innovation and strategy development. I do think CI2.0 frames it.  I'm also a believer that part of very premise (of CI) - is to share and learn together.  So posting / blogging is like testing.. / prototyping. I'm hoping George that you and others will join in and take it to the next level. 

From George's Blog of Collective Intelligence: Cognitive relations, relations of knowledge production  "The main infrastructure concern of today's enterprise is still how to best use technologies for managing data, information, and knowledge, not for augmenting human intelligence, individual and collective. ..."

Separately, this links to George's workshop "Collective Intelligence 2.0" which may provide another line of inquiry and suggest other ways of exploring the path forward.

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. 

Buddy List Envy

 I have to confess... I'm envious of my daughter's (11) buddylist. I'm also fascinated how AIM adoption amongst all her friends in the last year is changing communications patterns.   I don't think I've ever had six or more buddy screens open at the same time.  Yet for her it's common place and I think she loses interest when it is less than three.   Of her list 96% are from her year which means about 50% of the kids in fifth grade are on her list.  Is it the norm?  How would I know. No matter it changes how I communicate with my kids.  IM is great and makes me more accessible. 

So when I saw this link via Many to Many and Clay Shirky.  Social Software How Instant Messaging Augments Conversations I followed it though to Stewart Butterfield.  There are more appropriate references there.  Still in the context of my daughter this helped.

"Part of this is because it is OK to not answer an IM until you are ready—a pause of 30 seconds is perfectly acceptable where it wouldn’t be in voice (and the answerer doesn’t even have to hold the question in their mind while doing something else, but can refer back to it later)."

There is also a great set of comments there.  Despite K's list and visible groups they seldom use a chat room together, according to her it not as much fun.  I'm not sure if this is just time, experience, or gossip. 

Still the italics above are consistent with what I've observed.  The kids are no longer shy or embarassed to "talk to boys" -- they have time to think about their responses.  The old phone paranoia is gone. 

From my own interactions she periodically corrects her short-hand spelling in the next post with a "*word" the asterik meaning correction.  Of course I don't have a technorati on her buddy list (although there is a program that does it from memory). Still this group has their own shorthand. and it's not just "wut u tnk"

Should I be worried? It beats having the phone tied up. 

Buddy List Envy

 I have to confess... I'm envious of my daughter's (11) buddylist. I'm also fascinated how AIM adoption amongst all her friends in the last year is changing communications patterns.   I don't think I've ever had six or more buddy screens open at the same time.  Yet for her it's common place and I think she loses interest when it is less than three.   Of her list 96% are from her year which means about 50% of the kids in fifth grade are on her list.  Is it the norm?  How would I know. No matter it changes how I communicate with my kids.  IM is great and makes me more accessible. 

So when I saw this link via Many to Many and Clay Shirky.  Social Software How Instant Messaging Augments Conversations I followed it though to Stewart Butterfield.  There are more appropriate references there.  Still in the context of my daughter this helped.

"Part of this is because it is OK to not answer an IM until you are ready—a pause of 30 seconds is perfectly acceptable where it wouldn’t be in voice (and the answerer doesn’t even have to hold the question in their mind while doing something else, but can refer back to it later)."

There is also a great set of comments there.  Despite K's list and visible groups they seldom use a chat room together, according to her it not as much fun.  I'm not sure if this is just time, experience, or gossip. 

Still the italics above are consistent with what I've observed.  The kids are no longer shy or embarassed to "talk to boys" -- they have time to think about their responses.  The old phone paranoia is gone. 

From my own interactions she periodically corrects her short-hand spelling in the next post with a "*word" the asterik meaning correction.  Of course I don't have a technorati on her buddy list (although there is a program that does it from memory). Still this group has their own shorthand. and it's not just "wut u tnk"

Should I be worried? It beats having the phone tied up. 

June 23, 2003

Dissecting the ChatRoom

How does one think through new product development for chat? Last October I found this an intriguing question and with a little help developed the exploratory framework below.  Today it is perhaps more relevant to the learning required to enhance collaboration with emerging social software. The target of this chat exploration was focused on determining the consumer frameworks to aid decision-making.

I really appreciated the recent comments to the buddy list envy.  So it seemed natural to step from IM to CHAT.  May also open up some thoughts on IM. Afterall an exercise like this could similarly apply to IM.

Visit chatrooms and one soon realizes how dynamic the conversation is, even if you don't fit in. While many may delight in referring to chatrooms as a waste of time, I have a feeling that they are an emerging world. Perhaps fantasy or a warped reality, yet lump them with broader collaboration tools and new avenues open up for exploration.

So in this post I'm purposely sharing some diagrams (click to expand), without all the words.   Last October when these were done I thought there may be a mulit-client possible in this area.  (There still is - or could be.  I'd be delighted to do it! I'd add this is all inferred it's not from a statistical sample or at an x% confidence level.).

For others the model and segment names will either provide the justification or a few laughs. 

Why do this? What research objectives might you consider? (From a chat perspective).

  • To provide a dynamic framework for understand the chat /IM market, and the various need segments within it.
  • To determine the relative strengths of the various brands, how they are positioned within the market, and how they are positioned to satisfy the needs fo the various segments within it.
  • To identify what opportunities exist in the chat market for new brands / products (Use this for collaboration building, not necessary to restrict it to MSN/AOL and Yahoo!)

Chat is to the digiworld, like the street, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, diners, bingo halls, and the PTA meeting is to the physical world. It why I'm sharing a model with you that draws on my food and beer days.  (This is adapted from the Heylen Model for those in research)

Why is chat interesting

  • Rapid expansion is reaching critical mass. Like IM - CHAT skews younger.
    • Instant messaging: 59 percent of those aged 19 to 34, compared to 49 percent of those aged 35 to 54, and 45 percent of those 55 and over.
    • Chat: 47 percent of those aged 19 to 34; 37 percent of those aged 35 to 54; 31 percent of those 55 and over.
  • Access new business opportunities - growing corporate interest
  • Service not yet a money spinner --- new entrants
  • Rapidly increasing functionality around voice, video and mobility….
  • Emerging promotion and marketing opportunties.
  • Peer to Peer evolving communities… becoming more realtime…
  • And as we know instant messaging is a super e-mail that lets two or more people hold a real-time conversation online.

My temptation is to say more about why chat communities are posed to forever change marketing.  However this post is about disecting the chatroom, what goes on and the bare minimum detail to infer the life inside. 

These are stories framed around a dynamic segmentation.  One size does not fit all.   By dynamic this approach reflects that as a market evolves and chat users become much more sophisticated they may not just have one set of Chat needs solved by CHATTING in a particular situation, but can be motivated quite differently at other times. The guess is that chatters often select and act in different occasions in the same week. They may very well approach this using different brands.

Our Hypothesis There are two fundamental dynamics, which drive consumer CHAT behavior.  (click to enlarge diagrams)

  • First an occassion based dimension around usage, frequency, times etc
  • Second a horizontal based axis around social dynamics and orientation


Two additional elements. Trust / Transparency and Involvement. These provide an inverse interplay around the social dimension which affects our interpretation of usage/frequency occasions

  • First levels and types of Trust and Transparency in groups and between individuals
  • Second the type of involvement be it extroverted or more introverted; telling or listening, controlling or facilitating, testing or supportive…. Etc. >


This enables six segments to be defined.  They are not all equal in size or profit potential.  Approaches to brand, product/services and the needs in each segment are different.  Even where products should be launched, lifecycles etc can be defined.  Typically a chart like this is provided with stories, encounters, (collages help).  Examples would include names from chatrooms.  Much could be said about the use of colour, fonts, size, the impact of music, welcoming rituals, emoticons etc.  


This final chart may encourage a few to really consider the Exploring dimension.  This realm is i'm certain the largest segment --- (American SUV territory, or Bud territory) and biggest opportunity. For online auctions this space is eBay.  If one ever needed to think though the ramifications of social software it is in this realm.  For my two cents this is where "fast trust" and digital identity solutions will really make a difference.  The opportunity exists to enable this within corporate communities. 

Is chat like beer?  I can't be certain. I do believe that chatters can be comfortable in more than one environment. Just like a fancy restaurant serves a long neck beer, in another setting clearly a can or even a mug may be more appropriate.

Traditional chatrooms were limited to words yet today, voice and cam’s are becoming more commonplace. Perhaps more importantly these's a whole world here growing rapidly running 365/7/24. It different to our physical world and yet similar. It’s only now that we can begin to see how people live virtually – and accept that is part of life that we can begin to look at the sheer variety of online exchanges that a person might have. Particularly when we think consumers and traditional entertainment or out of home “friendly connections”. Think for the moment about the venues and exchanges we have day to day… from the coffee shop to RSA, and Nightclubs and Bars, to more passive theatre. Then add in online gaming etc. 

It's late.  I hope you still know where to go for a drink after playing with the Chat Map. They tend to serve them up in room 9.

June 30, 2003

Social Software and CI?

Is the current Social Software meme really just part of something much larger? Will the ideas behind Collective Intelligence shape the future development and direction? Sometimes I look at something and intuitively know there's something relevant but perhaps not ready for transmission or simple to translate into plain english.  I have a suspicion tonight that Britt Blaser, Flemming Funch and Xpertweb may just be an illustration - an early indicator of this style of model. 

From the University of Ottawa and the emerging Collective Intelligence Lab.  The top half of the chart represents our collective Intellectual Capital in the virtual world.  Contrast this with the lower quadrant which more closely represents the collection of structural capital, social capital and process capital found in the physical world. 

I find this model interesting for two reasons. 

  • First there is no real mention of financial or customer capital.  This is a real departure and a major shift re "collective". If delight exists... then it is in the top half...and experienced on a higher plain.  
  • The second, is more an observation.  The debate around social software continues to focus too often on the physical manifestations rather than the virtual - spriitual elements that enable - augment and benefit real collective intelligence.  

Note the following charts can both be found via the link above. 

This second chart suggests for each pole a two way relationships.  While this looks incredibly complex I believe it could be simplified into a short questionnaire and then provided in a radar format as a development tool.   

One item is certain.  Unless they all interplay together --- spiraling value creation is a pipedream.  There is also an underlying thread in these postings.  Pierre Levy talks about informational capitalism which includes; Cooperative competition Competitive advantage to the inventors of the most cooperative games. Well Xpertweb is a cooperative game.  While contrasting this with conscious consumption controlled by a transparent cybermarkets could bring with it unexpected communism.

This is worth following for: Knowledge Innovation, Strategic Foresight, human tools development and the evolution of our desires.

July 17, 2003

KM Stretch

Another brilliant post in the SEVEN SURVIVAL TIPS FOR KNOWLEDGE MANAGERS Kept me up tonight for a few last thoughts.  I really liked it.  levers.gif

Dave describes three new, looser methods to standardize how things get done, shown on the chart. 

I'd like to add a fourth.  Stretch and Learning: Every organization today must be able to to stretch to new futures, and perceive alternate environments in which their decisions may play out.  This requires the capability to embrace uncertainty, complexity, and an element of chaos.  So doing creates the intuition, the creative space where new solutions are found. 

Dave then adds "What does this mean for the struggling, once-hyped discipline of 'knowledge management'? Here's a 7-point strategy for knowledge managers ...."

  1. Focus knowledge and learning systems on 'know-who', not 'know-how'
  2. Introduce new social network enablement software and weblogs to capture the 'know-who'. 
  3. Keep only selected, highly-filtered knowledge in your central repositories. 
  4. Don't overlook the value of plain-old 'data'
  5. The bibliography may be more valuable than the document itself.
  6. Don't wait for people to look for it, send it out, using 'killer' channels.
  7. Create an internal market for your offerings by giving valuable stuff away.

For my final two cents of the night.  My favorites are numbers one and two and five.  In this area more attention must be placed on helping to design personal dashboards.  When connectivity is embedded at the fingertips or at the click of a mouse then richer conversations will evolve.  When we have great dialogues we have great organizations.  Lets not forget the soft skills the CKO needs as organizations seek personalized knowledge in a way that also creates real deep community brands.  When we can all live this way... then we will have organizations that compell people to operate around stategy number 7.  I think it's called the common good!

September 9, 2003

Social Networks & Brands

Emerging Social Networking sites need to think more carefully about their brands. Too much time is spent "engineering" and not enough being conversational telling real stories. Strategic brand positioning is becoming ever more important in this realm. I continue to miss compelling stories on the new sites.

Today I was pushed by a colleague back to take another look at LinkedIn. I've not been growing my network there. My profile lacks detailed documentation. So I found myself playing around there and on Tribes getting a feel for yet another emerging social network. There's also SixDegrees (in beta), and if you are enterprise ready with money you can look at Spoke and Visible Path. also locked in beta. There are others too. Mostly clones.

Ross Mayfield ("The Network is the Market") also provides an excellent technical positioning overview of Tribe and demonstrates the innovative thought going in these offerings. Matt comments here and I'm sure there are others as a vacation means I'm late to the party.

At each one I try and ask myself: "How do we all feel here?" What's the tone? What is the brand trying to convey. Seeing as none of these are yet growing exponentially --- all have failed to get into the millions I suspect core issues remain around branding, functionality and "viral" growth strategies.

For my two cents Tribe is being too structured and planned in its layout and branding. While it is crisp and organized - when I think about my networks I do with feelings, sensations, connections perhaps even trepedations. I also think directory, business cards, phone numbers. If I'm thinking about trading things (something Tribe encourages) then my online experience is dictated by eBay. There's lots of personality in the listings on eBay. That's missing from Tribe. Similarly the book reviews on Amazon are another way of adding color. Ryze does it by using GuestBooks. While guest books aren't endorsements --- they are an informal method of understanding the conversations around people. As such they are useful and can rapidly broker new exchanges.

While I'm on these things... I have a generaly gripe about many of the registration processes. They don't quickly show me while I'm filling things in what others are putting in their boxes. A new registrant is going to be uncomfortable. What are you interests? Many... No be specific..... Human stories - and examples... please!

Then for participation they must be friendly, fun and inviting. If you don't enjoy it --- it won't get done. Tribe might take on Craigslist or take people away from Friendster. I know it still in beta and I bet there are many new functionalities to come. However from what I've seen so far... play, chaos, individuality, is in my view too restrictive.

So I'm going out on a limb.... just before Ryze - rumoured to be readying a relaunch shows its new stripes I'll reinforce that from a brand point of view - Ryze's inelegance is part of it's brand strength. Ryze was clearly created by human hands, the journey of a special person. Its useablity inelegant. Still at Ryze I feel like I own my own page. Ryze's pages often have a chaotic appeal that Tribe in it's current format will never achieve. At Tribe I'm part of a database - the tight pages.. no scrolling. It's an important distinction. Ryze could learn some lessons from Tribe, while Tribe still has to learn some Ryze lessons. Yep they are ostensibly focused at different markets. Still if I was Ryze I'd add their listings functionality.

So... make these brands about people.

Some functional desires in support:

  • a great directory which I don't need to update; including phone numbers etc.
  • to make those new connections and leverage my relationship capital.
  • integrated with my IM systems
  • with levels of disclosure
  • with keys to kill all my spam
  • to not only enable trade... but cooperative buying
  • to arrange meetings
  • accept my newsfeeds
  • be part of an indentity federation
  • integrate with my mail system
  • create consumer power

    Gee I want all these things. Is there a business model in here? That's also a question being asked next week. Get to Vlab and attend Social Networking: Is there Really a Business Model?

  • September 11, 2003

    P2P Telephony Should we SKYPE

    Try SKYPE out. When I've made a few more calls I'll report. If you are thinking about the future of IM, social networks, progressive disclosure, disruptive innovation and thought the founders of Kazaa were smart. This will probably confirm it. Read their Skype discription here. Provides some interesting strategy insights. Wish it would work with my Mac based friends.

    Evan caught this:  Skype.  P2P telephony.  From the Dutch developers of FastTrack (the system that powers KaZaA).  In my opinion, this is the first true legitimate application of P2P technology.  Next step:  a pro version with call waiting, voicemail, etc.   I am going to try it out to see if it does provide the quality level claimed.  If you are on, let me know so we can try it out.  Also, I wish they had skins for this so it won't look bad on my desktop (nobody needs an ugly ICQ-like system on their desktop). [John Robb's Weblog]

    YEP SKYPE - P2P Telephony

    I did a little further checking on Skype this morning. Try this search. Here's another article from InfoWorld With 10000+ users in a week I think it will blow all previous viral records.

    I also looked up Stowe Boyd's Corrante blog on IM to see if it was being reported and then e-mailed him. Within minutes he was calling me. Very cool. I'm easy to find "stuart_henshall". I'll confirm the sound quality was much better than any Yahoo or MSN voice connection I've ever had.

    It also turns IM on its head. It's ring centric. All those adults.. that are failing to understand messaging... understand how to make calls. Yep your PC will soon be ringing. Now what I want to know is:

  • What will the impact be on corporate systems... I'm sure employees will bring this in when they realize they can call anywhere... and not be logged on /via the corporate system? Will this add corporates to the sharing process? Will there be an enterprise package?
  • How will we control spam calls, telemarketing calls etc.
  • Will telemarketers who have been put on a "do not call list" have to comply with this service? Legal Issues?
  • Which blogger will give me an online/offline MT plug-in for my blog.
  • How soon will conference calls be available?
  • What will regulators and the tel co's do to make it illegal?

    We could create a list of questions a mile long with this one. My perception is it is really disruptive. It has element of my "Circles" post in it. Then even Microsoft employees have said this is a forefone conclusion. See Darknet. I'd hope that the communications companies have been thinking about this. If not time to start on some scenarios! This is a consumer centric world. It's small pieces loosely joined.

    I'm also seeing comments about Spyware. I'm less concerned. I don't think that is the business model they are going after. At the moment anyone can call me. I just got a call from a kid in Finland. Clear as anything. However I don't need robo bots on this one.

    Design Media: Usable Digital Media Skype, P2P telephony: A new P2P telephony software, Skype, is offered by the company that brought you Kazaa. One disadvantage is that, no one knows what spyware will come with this installation. But the advantage of p2p telephony offered by skype is, clients that are NATed or are behind firewlls can initiate the calls. Clients on publicly routable IP addresses will be able to proxy to NAT’ed nodes and route calls. Also, call quality is increased by keeping multiple connection paths open and dynamically choosing the one that is best suited at the time.
    You can call me to discuss this post!
  • September 12, 2003

    Skype Accelerates --- Start Tracking Growth.

    There's plenty more out there on Skype today. The number of users online has doubled (from my observations) in a day. Currently there are 10049 users online. This is up from the 4500 approx early yesterday....... I noted yesterday. They claim 160000 downloads. So at this point probably close to 10% of the Skype population is staying online.

    How many users will they need to have more computing power than the traditional switching networks? With 10000 online now.. Only 5% to 10% are actually staying online. I'd guess we can expect this to increase. If not it suggests consumers are using a particular strategy with the system perhaps wary of being connected P2P all the time. Eg... Use a current IM client turn on and switch to Skype for Voice. From a brand point of view the associations with Kazaa are both good and bad and I'm going to address that separately. Why isn't the % participating higher? Well many will have problems with mics and sound. Others won't have got their buddies on yet. Not everyone does it immediately. Easily fixed (get a headset) see the helpful hints below.

    Things that ... make you go hmm

    160,000 Skype downloads in 12 days Skype helpful sound tips
    Here's a Miss Cleo prediction: Skype is going to be huge. Yesterday I tested (while working on a few technical support issues actually), chatting with several folks on both broadband and dialup and I remain very impressed with the sound quality. Remember, it's still beta software, and thus there are some kinks, but it is catching on fast. Here's a few helpful tips:

    Stowe Boyd also reports on his take at Corrante IM I've also received a number of comments and trackback about "Spyware" concerns (any proof anyone?) and comments read the Eula. I've read the Eula - as much as one reads it... What should I be scared of there? Where is Larry Lessig on this? John Robb remains equally enthused.

    Seem worthy to note... that from my perspective this is another one of those "blogging accelerates knowledge sharing" examples. I went to IMPlanet this am. Looking to see what they might be advising. Nothing! There is an IM conference in less than a month. Enterprise focus or not I think they should be hustling to "think outside the box". Bloggers are beating the papers on this one! Combined Skype and blogging demonstrates how viral the "knowledge exchange" really is.

    My rec... keep watching feedster on this one.

    Good Skype Review

    An excellent overview of Skype. Note Robin's comments re Vonage and similar services.

    Please Skype Me: Disruptive P2P VoIP Technology Allows You To Call And Talk Free To Any Windows PC - Robin Good' Sharewood Tidings

    The advantage(s) of this over other similar new services like Vonage and Free World Dialup is that Skype does not rely on a centralized infrastructure to maintain the directory of users and to route each and every call. This means that for those services based on a centralized infrastructure costs scale proportionally with their user base while providing quality and reliability becomes always more difficult to achieve.

    Where I'd disagree with advice later in the article which recommends accepting calls only from friends. I'm happy for example to accept calls from around the world. However I will check the info button before answering. Or I can simply treat it as one to call back. You can't always answer your computer. If I don't know / recognize your name or it is made up.... and there is no country etc. then the caller isn't providing enough info to encourage appropriate courtesy.

    September 22, 2003

    More Skype Talk

    David follows up today with another detailed posting Skype P2P VoIP App: One in a Million?
    "If they don't screw it up with a confusing and overpriced subscription service, Skype could possibly become one of those extremely rare apps that comes along and truly changes communication and networking on the web." David also puts a stick in the ground on pricing. I'm not sure I agree either in the global context or the method. What's important right now is the appropriate business expectations are created. Skype may well have launched with more "noise" than expected.

    What I do want from David is his method for signaling whether Skype is online or offline on my blog. Come on David share! They will want it on Ryze pages and on Ecademy.

    In the early reviews some emerging features are being missed.

  • One-Click Calling: The idea that i finally have my phone book on my desktop and only have to mouse click to call is just great. It's been buried before. Voice vs Chat centric reinvents this for me.
  • Share your contacts feature: In "Tools" - "Send Contacts" you can share connections on your buddy list just like in AIM. Come on bloggers we can connect up quicker. Finding addresses will be much simpler.
  • Languages. The latest update provided languages and reinforces the global nature of this product. I had to go back in an download again to update. Short-term it's the international and long distance calls that you never could justify just making before.
  • Imagining what it's like behind the Skype walls? What's being monitored, number of hits on google. Broadband vs dial-up connections etc. Looking at the slowing toward the end of last week at people on line at 12:00pm suggested to me an increasing number of dial-ups. Yet today I think I saw 42500 online. That's roughly double a week ago.
  • Biggest functional issue: Currently in IM I can't click on a hot-link sent to me. I also seem to have some conflict with my other IM systems. Particularly Yahoo. Not sure if this is my system, firewall etc.

    Some new quotes follow: First asks how do I call my friend of my friend. Well that's part of the profiling opportunity.

    Nowadays Skype becomes one of the most faschinating application over peer to peer communication instead of Kazaa. I love this application but I want one specific function. That is to find a friend of my friends. [Kokoro]

    It's neat that Ecademy and Thomas Power groks it. They have already experimented there with RSS and blogging. Bet they will be the first social/business networking app to incorporate a link. May be the reason enough to activate my profile there.

    The product is amazing I have spoken with 2 Ecademy members already from the UK and Faroes, cost nothing. Kazaa are killing the music business. Will Skype kill the telco business? Thomas Power - Chairman... [Thomas Power]

    Getting your friends to stream in a broadcast..... Not the first time I've heard this desire.

    Best Use of Skype EVAR Alabamas game against Northern Illinois isnt on TV today, so I tried to find a stream of the radio broadcast. Unfortunately, Yahoo seems to have a monopoly on the streaming rights and wants to charge me $5/month, and theres no.. [Refer]

    I'd worry that I've become an advocate for Skype, yet there is support. So come on. Suspend your disbelief, try it and Skype me. It opens a new world for thinking strategic futures.

    This is a link that I would normally post over there in my sidebar in the Cookie Crumbs microblog, but considering I havent really heard any buzz about it at all lately, I wanted to post it in my main blog instead, just to get your attention. Check... [Refer]
  • October 8, 2003

    Skype and Glance

    How do you Skype in a teaching or mentoring mode and enhance the experience? I had just that experience today when introduced to Glance a simple service for instantly showing a live view of your PC screen to anyone you choose.

    I began by introducing Skype functions from sending contacts to sharing further links though text IM. Then Charles began sharing with me exactly what he was seeing on his screen after we both logged into Glance. All of a sudden I could see exactly what he was looking at on his computer. If I had been the instructor it would have been perfect for sharing a presentation or opening a document and pointing to specific points while we talked. I know you can synch what you are looking at in Groove. However, here I didn't have to install anything extra. I just keyed in the simple URL and I was looking at what he was sharing. (I then moved it to my second screen, thus retaining the flexibility to continue the chat and other searches that I was doing.)

    Had I had a Glance account then there is no reason we couldn't have had instant two-way sharing.

    Unfortunately Glance only offers a one day trial. That's not really long enough for me to work out how to commit to $20 to $40 per month. I could easily run one-on-one blog training etc with it. A two way application would be preferred. I'd see a neat opportunity to match this with TDavid's talkback broadcast approach. I'd keep it in mind if I was running an online class. If I got 25-40 to sign up tomorrow for a one hour class on Newsreaders at even $10 per head it could be an interesting proposition. It makes a conference Skype even more interesting.

    Is it too expensive? Depends on your criteria. I'd think this is the type of additional functionality that could be enabled with either a plug-in to Skype or some enterprise version. Surfing together while speaking opens many new doors. Browser to browser is better than text box, hyperlink, open, is he looking???

    Flashtalk or Skype?

    Flashtalk is a new "talking instead of typing" application. It's not Skype and potentially aimed at a different market. I've already discarded it unless someone gives me a real good reason to continue.

    Quickly compared to Skype it doesn't offer a text chat function, is less intuitive and is a little too e-mail centric re adding friends for my liking. I managed one call using their "Find a Friend" function. The voice quality was less than I've experienced on Skype. On the plus side add more search capabilities and the dating sites will have to change their execution. It demonstrates how this would work. There can't be many on it for I'm still waiting to be connected to another friend.


    A person identifying themselves as Stuart Henshall is using an amazing new communications product called FlashTalk, that lets people speak to each other over the Internet, without any per minute or per call cost, much like instant messaging but without any typing.
    Stuart Henshall has defined this email address (xxxxxx ) as their primary email address when using FlashTalk, which allows people within the FlashTalk network to contact Stuart using this email address.

    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 9, 2003

    Wallup / Huminity

    Is Wallup another mix on IM and Huminity? Huminity was a discussion item on the Well reported here back in January Maybe Wallup will solve the "revelation" hierarchy.

    Wired News: Will Microsoft Wallop Friendster?

    Wallop, however, would be open to anyone with Microsoft Instant Messenger. Cheng says building an online network starting with your buddy list makes the networking process more natural. And instead of becoming immersed in a network the size of a city, Wallop would maintain its intimacy by automatically moving friends to the forefront and background of your network based on how often you interact with them.

    November 11, 2003

    What Kind of Social Software Are You?

    If I woke up and unfortunately found myself as Social Software I'd be scattered to the winds in the Blogosphere. "You comment, you trackback, you Google, you technorati. You wish you blogdexed." So to prove a point I pass this on!.

    what kind of social software are you?

    Someone just worked out how to get a lot of hits! Or was this really the lazyweb in action. Thanks to Chris Heathcoteinspired by Tom Smith " invoke the LazyWeb to make me a "Am I Social Software or Not" site... ." When I read Peter Merholtz comments on Epinions last week this was not the result I expected. Now someone just needs to post the Epinions review to close the loop.

    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

    December 1, 2003

    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.,3048,a=113189,00.asp

    David Duval "An Introduction to Weblogs” Personal Blog October 31, 2003 Provides useful definitions and history on weblogs.

    George Siemens. "The Art of Blogging – Part 2" December 6, 2002. 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.

    Katherine Goodwin “B-Blogs Cause a Stir” Febuary 5, 2003 ClickZ. Captures growing interest in B-Blogs or business blogs and K-logs.

    Dave Pollard. Blogs in Business: “The Weblog as as Filing Cabinet” Personal Blog March 3, 2003

    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

    Meg Hourihan. “Using Blogs in Business” John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition August 8, 2002 This link to chapter 8.

    Neil McIntosh. “Why Blogs Could Be Bad For Business” Guardian September 29,2003 Using weblogs in a business setting.,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.

    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.

    David Weinberger. “The 99cent KM solution”. KM World. September 2002

    Sandra Guy. “Weblog has Served Business Function for Chicago Firm” July 16, 2003 How one company is using weblogs as a business tool.

    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.

    John Baggaley “Blogging as a Course Management Tool” July 2003 Benefits of Weblogging for education.

    Mary Harrsch. RSS: The Next Killer App For Education July 2003 Applications of RSS for Educators. Realizing the potential of RSS and blogging.

    Groove Networks “Employee Guideline for Personal Website and Weblogs” Groove’s answer to the corporate – personal trade-off.

    Dennis Mahoney. “How to Write a Better Weblog” Personal Blog February 22, 2002

    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:

    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!)

    Tom Coates “ Discussion and Citation in the Blogosphere” Personal Blog May 25, 2003 Can weblogs garner better discussion than discussion boards?

    Lee Bryant. “Smarter Simpler Social” Headshift April 18, 2003 An introduction to online social software methodology.

    Jan Hauser+ . The Augmented Social Network” LinkTank May 15, 2003

    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!

    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.

    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.

    Ross Mayfield. “Social Software Reader” Personal Blog Novemeber 24, 2003 Some links from above and others on Social Software and Social Networking.

    Denham Grey. "About Wiki" Personal Wiki. Are there dates for wiki's?

    I'm sure there are many more.

    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.

  • 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.

    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 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.

  • January 21, 2004

    The "Online" Distinction

    I'm participating in the current Muckabout. It's going to be a wonderful face to face meeting in early February. Right now the online ramp-up has begun and registration captured wonderful people and kicked off a set great questions there.

    This is a question that just grabbed me tonight.

    "is there a disruptive innovation in "collaborative work/learning/action" in process yet or are we still warming up?"

    Just made me want to ask. Are "online communities" a relevant distinction in the world going forward?

    Online (to me) now means that it is separate from my buddy list, apart from my social networking services, unlikely to connect in real-time and / or involve a voice conversation and for the most part we can forget the flip charts. It often means large lists of brilliant contributions to run though and contributions made in the environment are semi-lost to my personal search engine when my memory fails. It's also a separate destination I must go to.

    By contrast my "always on" buddy lists with their "presence" connect in much more interesting ways. My blog and trackbacks potentially link to others and my newsreader can aggregate all this stuff!

    Is it the tools, is it the time, or is it just me? One thing is certain my online community participation has gone down since I began blogging.

    The above is pretty much as I posted it in the Muckabout forum. I'm adding this little postscript here as it tells an additional story.

    I shared my post with an online buddy, there was no-chat active in the forum. Just wanted to test my thought and check clarity. In a live facilitated session it would be the equivalent of a mini-paired discussion before sharing to the group. In closed online conferences where you don't know everyone you learn caution. I'm intrigued by the fact that as I write this and post --- the more "open" blog world lets me post with less reservation. That's probably because they are in the context of all my posts, rather than an initial or early post on a forum. Here I actually know some of my readers.

    Finally, I'm not being more explicit about the Muckabout right now as "blogging" it has never been discussed and I sense it is "community" work product. Thus I share my little piece.

    January 22, 2004

    Collaboration Spaces

    Robin Good is fired up after a visit to the US on next generation collaboration software. It's a real contrast with how I feel about subjecting myself to Web-crossing which despite upgrades hasn't changed much in years. It's this quote from Robin that got me going today.

    Allow me to extend my desktop to yours. My voice to your ear. My word document to your skilled editing hand. Extend what I already have, know and like. The name of the game is "hide" yourself. Be inobtrusive. Easy. Do not intrude. Be quite, gentle, on the side. Let me call you and fire up the colaboration facilities I need without needing to dress up for a ceremony when only neighbours are coming (meaning, stay-away from elaborate setups that offer you everything and more, like classical conferencing tools do trying to make available every and each possible function desired).

    Carry over from real life what works so well for us, and make it secure, reliable, robust...and fun.
    Robin Good

    I like the personal nature of his words and emphasis on letting me share. I too don't want programs that are invasive rather they must be natural. Be an extension, let us easily dock, and live a set of events together. Don't force me to turn off the music, rather share that connection as well. Let them know my phone is ringing via our always on connection, help me pace that collaboration like the open space in an office. Encourage my use of dual monitors so we can share while we work visible and invisible at the same time. Enable brains to work together, don't allow lapses or formalise the structure so formality dumbs down sponteneity. Make it more than one to one.

    So back to my current participation in an online Muckabout. I like what is happening there. The early signs are encouraging. I just think today that "forums" like this should be obsolete. Many never adopted them, and only a few have thrived in them. I've simply never grown to love them. I've had some good experiences in them, and also learned some lessons. I presume that Forums and Online Communities sort of go together at least the practice thereof. I'm not certain that will be true in five years time.

    Today my forum format gripes are a little different. I'm much more blog - wiki centric than I was a year ago. I need new information in my aggregator. I expect better profiles etc. I'm used to back-channel chat and even having "working-on" Skype conversations. So signing up for a conference with an online forum feels a little backward for gathering introductions and getting topics going.

    I know I shouldn't expect blog centric enthusiam, or IM adoption. A part of my gripe traces to remembering the new url (and having to sign in each time) using web-crossing again, and dealing with forums that are nowhere near as easy as a newsreader to read. Forget about the fun new introductions that could be made. There are no guest books, no Ryze like pages to quickly make aquaintances. No social network that says who already knows who etc. I may be able to sort the posts by author however that function isn't traceable to the list of members. It doesn't dock with linked in or any other program I've made an investment in. So, for the most part why invest time in building a profile there? I predict most won't. They reside elsewhere and it will be over in a matter of weeks. Yes there are a few phone numbers now listed but who wants to be called? I thought about adding Skype and other IM connections yet I know there will be resistance. There is no way currently for this new "conference" circle of connections to gain special access to me for a few weeks without effort despite the fact that is part of what I signed up for. (Others may not want that of course!)

    Robin's quote doubled my frustration as I've been editing scenario documents and it is easy to get problems with version control. We are not using Groove, while Wiki's and blogs are foreign. We aren't connected by IM (for the most part this team doesn't use it) and so I'm using the phone and can't even point to parts of the document I'm suggesting needs changes. I could use Glance maybe next time. This group is important to me and yet pushing forward in one area may require lagging in others. I'm already pushing the boundaries so I am just understanding their work practices and product first. Then the opportunity for a broader conversation may arise.

    I should really draw a conclusion. Another day for I think the Muck may just begin to address the future of collaboration technologies.

    January 25, 2004

    Orkut - Mushrooms

    Orkut launched on Thursday (see CNET) By Saturday morning I had quite a few invites, so I joined up. Is it just another social networking service? Did the implied Google link help? Maybe, but I'm inclined to believe it is more. Here's a taste from Many to Many.

    Observation only.... at this stage... If you are a member of Ryze, Friendster, Tribe, Ecademy, Linkedin or one of the many others you should at least take a look at it.

    First impressions. This one is really viral. It could just be timing and a little competition to see who could get the most names first. Still I think something deeper here touched a chord. I personally simply found myself wanting to be part of it and began adding names and getting responses almost immediately. That is always rewarding. Clearly many bloggers were on last night. After a couple of hours I started inviting people that I've not invited since Ryze days over a year ago and they began joining too this time.

    My suspicion is that Orkut bridges the gap between Ryze (too open) and Linkedin (too closed) without the "everything is for sale" on Tribe. I suspect that those with "Friendster" experience also see it as providing extra functionality. Not all the connections are set up for the instant deal. Most of mine remain blogger and 'online" related. It's user interface is simple and it is quickly giving me the key data that I need to use it as an address book and birthday book etc. I failed to add my Zonkboard to it, thinking that would be neat. Look at Orkut vs Ryze or Ecademy and it's utility as a potential address book is obvious. It's only one click away from my network or my friends page. If I could just export it easily that would be cool!

    The downside? I still don't believe that this system is better than more decentralized peer to peer solutions. Similarly, there is no "presence" indicator. We were all on last night, the numbers and connections just dialing up. However that sharing was all outside Orkut via some IM system or another. IM systems, Skype like, or Humintiy style are much more likely to connect us. Until these things link with voice and text systems they are toys. Of course Google already has every telephone number in it. So Orkut could put Google into the "connect" anywhere business.

    Separately, not everyone is comfortable with the informal connecting and experimentation in these networks. Who are my friends and how do they qualify remains a key issue. Both Ton Zijlstra and Martin Roell comment on the importance of face to face as a sort of credentialing aspect. I'm going to say I find this quite quaint but not the way business or connections are done anymore. It's not to belittle face to face. It would be great to meet both these guy's in a bar and buy them a drink. Lilia picks up on posts here and her Dec 21 post provides a different perspective. I think phone, Skype, lots of blogs, exchanges of work and personal referrals in person from others provides real insight.

    So I thought I'd add a couple of notes on why I'm comfortable adding a person to my friends that I may not have met personally face to face.

  • I believe in all cases I already know someone that knows this person face to face. Perhaps that is just relationship triangulation . I'm also willing to bet that person knows one or two that know me the same way. This may be a weak tie, it is also more likely to result in an interesting connection or a new relationship. If I just want tried and true or a reputation system I'd hope that Xpertweb gets working. It's also a little more than that.

  • Adding as a friend in the context of above means I'm happy to find ways to extend further the relationship. Should someone else in my network want to use me to connect to that person and I'm unsure as whether to go direct then I will simply go to the person closest to me that can answer that question more effectively. I don't mind using some social capital in that way. Frankly that eliminates the stiffness that exists in LinkedIn. It is judgement not a computer that that builds relationships. Help where you can.
  • I've had little time to experiment with the community functions. They were generating very rapidly. I've not seen any numbers for Orkut. However, I'm pretty sure it is already larger than Ryze. I had 7000+ connections last night. If all my invites confirm my direct network on Orkut will be more than twice the size of Ryze and 4 times the size of LinkedIn for just over two hours online. Tribe doesn't really feature in this. I wonder how many others have had the same experience?

    A few "beta" problems have cropped up. As a result Orkut is currently offline.

    February 2, 2004

    Is Orkut Disruptive

    Hate it or love it it is hard to ignore. Drop out of the blogworld for a week and just start ORKUTTING your newsreader. Newsreaders make it so easy to catch up on posts and difficult to quote or capture them. From behavior to security breaches, Orkut growth appears to be continuing.

    What intrigues me is the potential social networking software represents for disruptive innovation. It really clicked today when I saw Dave Winer's comments on Orkut as Google's identity system. Not that I believe that is the end game or the only one. Rather his example perfectly highlights how new value networks can emerge simply because a disruptive innovation is is creating a new context for competition and consumption.

    The interesting thing about all the social networking services so far is they haven't impacted (for the most part) on how business is done. So using Dave's example the ad placement co's, and (add to this) the direct mail companies aren't taking an active role in their development. Similarly, the telephone companies don't see them as new dialing systems, or the spammers a threat to access, or the retailers as a threat to buying power.

    So what's the test for disruptive market potential? Interpreted from Christiansen (The Innovators Solution)
    First people have never before been able to aggregate their information in this type of fashion. So for the most part we've let the retailers do the buying for us, or the telephone company hold the numbers. These services were centralized but that centralization was location based and so is increasingly inconvenient. Information can use global nodes. Christiansen goes on to say that these type of market innovations are competing against "non-consumption" (in this case it wasn't possible before at a price that worked). Then more importantly when critical mass forms they absorb or is it consume what came before. For example could evolved services consume e-mail?

    In the dating area (constantly quoted) I'm pretty sure the overall dollar market has grown. What is disappointing is there are not more comments like Dave's suggesting this is Google's identity play. It may well be and then it might not. The point is not enough effort is going into understanding the disruptive nature of this technology. A year ago I got really excited when I decided to start digging deeper into Ryze, and what was happening with DIgital Identity. My view hasn't really changed. Companies that want to prosper better take a long term view and not just at social software, but expand horizons to include communications and mobility. Frankly that's what scenarios are for.

    Questions remain on how to make money. The problem is primarily perspective. The models to date are typically based on subscriptions, rather than creating power for the emerging value network. Social networks are tied to information asymmetries. Not enough work is being done to identify where rapidly forming social networking services can change information asymmetries. When they do --- their owners will be facilitating markets.

    Dave is speculating on the uses of Orkut. If Orkut (or;any other premium service) provides a way for Google to get credit card information and other personal details (demographic data), it can begin the process of changing adwords to target keywords and user profiles. This would let them charge more for premium click-throughs and serve to differentiate their advertising service from all others. John Robb]
    Scott Rosenberg wonders what's the big deal with href="">Orkut. Lots of people are wondering, me too. Like Scott, this is the first one I've joined, although I've been invited countless times to join Friendster, LinkedIn, etc etc. Like David Weinberger, I'm not impressed. It's a puzzle, why would Google bother with this? Well, first, it doesn't have to be very useful for Google to try it out. They've launched lots of speculative services that have failed to find users. This one is finding users. So what can they do with it? Easy. It's their identity system. At some point they'll add a web services interface so our comment systems can connect to their back-end to validate users. Now you can go to one place to see all your comments. Then it gets better. Give it your credit card info, and then when you go to an Orkut-enabled e-commerce site, you can have one-click ordering (modulo a certain patent). Think about all the relationships Google has with sites that run their ads. Even I run their ads on one of my sites, and it's a pretty good deal, that one site pays for the bandwidth on all my sites. Anyway, that's a ramble. The net-net -- it's Google's identity system, and if you trust them, it can be yours too. Scripting News

    February 10, 2004

    Tom Coates on ETech

    Tom Coates has a great set of posts coming out of ETech. Wish I was there! This is the summary of day one in total. Is it Flickr over Orkut already? I have an account ---not yet enough time to check it out. When will these sites bring voice in???

    So ETCon Proper Day One ends and I'm basically high on some kind of highly emotionally charged intellectual hysteria-generating buzz. So far I've only managed to write about the things that have caused me frustration and irritation - probably because irritation can be easily quantified and described while the enjoyable papers cause an explosion of possibilities that are hard to collate and contain. The papers I've found most stimulating today have been threefold:

    The first two in particular I can't rave enough about and have pushed me into some kind of weird euphoric intellectual trance - but I think it's best that I talk about them later when I'm feeling more centred and can produce a more rational response. The Castranova piece on cyberspace economies intrigued me and stimulated me because of the question-and-answer component rather more than the paper itself - which was more of a bringing-up-to-speed piece for people who haven't been reading Terranova or read Richard Bartle's Designing Virtual Worlds.

    But it was the final talk of the day that was the most heady, but more because of the launched product and the play around it than the talk itself. I'm going to let Cory describe what was launched because - frankly - I'm a bit fried:

    Flikr is a social image-sharing application: it's a mechanism for creating ad-hoc chats, using a drag-and-drop GUI interface that lives inside your browser, and share images from peer-to-peer and within conversational groups.

    I've beta-tested this at various points and at each time I've been struck by Ludicorp's amazing combination of utilitarian, usable interface aesthetic and genuinely witty whimsy. As Ben Ceivgny, a developer on the project, said:

    We collect images with cameraphones and so forth, but we have no good mechanism for advancing them out into the world. Here's a mechanism for batching them into a locked-and-loaded tool for firing them into the world.

    I'm not a Ludicorp adviser, but I have been beta-testing it. It's bloody good fun and I highly recommend it. Much much better than Orkut - introducing Flickr!

    Read the comments


    February 13, 2004

    Go Flickr Go Figure

    Final questions. Could Flickr stimulate a new visual chat language? Will cameraphoneaholics adopt it? Will it change how people share phone pictures? Will it expand and grow the market for chatrooms (they use the word forums)? Will anyone really go beyond looking at the interface and wishing that someone would solve and integrate the "chat " and "presence" problem? Who else thinks that screen space is now at a premium?

    There are days when I want to rave about emerging social software and others when I want to rant. Today I realize I'm just going to have to break up my efforts. I've been playing with both Flickr and Gush side by side this morning. That's probably not a good idea for they are radically different and will serve different audiences. As always each one has a little of what I want and is not really what I want at all. In the end they both leave me feeling a little empty.

    This post is only about Flickr, the emerging story of a small band of programmers launching a new product on the world. They've met their deadline and now shipped (probably) not quite sure what they have unleashed. So lets start with the Flickr announcement by Stewart Butterfield at Etech...

    It is too hard to figure out how to use, even though everything is easy-as-heck drag and drop. But people aren't expecting drag and drop. When I demo it, people REALLY, get it. I worry that the people stumbling in will just stumble out again without understanding what is going on.
    Sylloge: We ship!

    I have to concur. See too Scobleizer . It's still at a stage where personal demonstrations matter. Ross says: "best social software at ETech" and Judith makes a very relevant connection to Greg Elin's Fotonotes It is only this afternoon that I start to get the drag and drop going when experimenting with more pictures and dragging others into conversations. Alan Reiter should introduce this to the camera phone audience. You can e-mail your pics direct to your shoebox in Flickr and then share them with friends.

    The other night I posted Tom Coates entry from ETech. He said it was much better than Orkut. It's actually not a comparison at all. As I've experimented I've come to the realization that it serves a different purpose altogether. Like Gary Lawrence Murphy I'm not sure I can give it rave review.

    The paint isn't quite dry and of course it is getting rave a-lister reviews --- their innofateful share-hook is that real-timeyness ... which seems to mean signing up for yet another disconnected IM. Hard to say other than the caution, "Flickr is built on Ludicorp's platform for messaging and event distribution" and Caterina's comment "today George and I were trying to greet every single person that came in ..." TeledyN: My Friend Flickr

    Then "Where's my mind" see's behind the screen and get's the extra meaning. This post stopped me from abandoning it and drove me forward while eWeek gives it the quick heads up PR overview. Guess I was also lucky to get welcomed to Flickr by Frank Boosman one of their advisors today. Still how many hours should one spend on these things?

    From an end-user viewpoint, Flickr is chat photo sharing social networking. If you think about it from a photo sharing-centric point of view (which is only one way of looking at it), the social networking determines with whom you want to share your photos, while the chat provides a narrative context for them. But it's subtler than that. Is Flickr a photo sharing application? Yes. Is it a chat service? Yes. Is it a social networking tool? Yes.

    From a technical standpoint, Flickr is built on Ludicorp's existing engine technology, which means it's a Flash front end communicating with a J2EE back end using an XML-based protocol. pseudorandom: Flickr Launches

    The thec really did impress me and yet I was instantly frustrated. Almost all the pictures I have on my hard drive were taken on high quality. The system won't upload them at higher than 500mb and I didn't have the time to convert them. An auto converter is mandatory, I'm not going to resize etc them one by one. I wanted to share some MP3's straight away but I'm betting that is not on. I'm not sure what all this photo sharing does for bandwidth and I'd bet the RIAA would have something to say about music sharing. Later I just grabbed images from Google to share. On the other hand Frank doesn't say enough about the forum component. We could see thousands of forums (PictoChat Rooms?) just like you see them on the IM platforms. "Adult" channels may pose a challenge for Flickr.

    There is potential for things to come. When in a chat session with another right clicking on their name provides the typical Macromedia (cam/mic/etc) settings. If you want expansion then "voice" activation will be a must add. These functions already work in other platforms, why not here too? Bandwidth again? Flickr also provides another example of why we increasingly need a multi-screen setup on our desktops. At least it can reside on my second screen (I note Dina's added one too! - I must blog the rationale!). Otherwise it simply takes over my desktop and hides any work I may want to do.....

    The net net is this. I'm not recommending my friends try out Flickr, IMHO it is too difficult and too time consuming to get them to play and little things will get in the way. This is in stark contrast to Orkut where connections are quickly made. Flickr also has a ratcheting up of relationship status. This is frustrating. Really does everyone have to start as an acquaintance?

    If you want to experiment with Flickr I may leave it on for awhile, although I don't think I'll be here in a week. I became frustrated as hell when I first logged in and created a profile around "stuart henshall" then logged out and created one for "stuart" and then deleted it. I wanted "Stuart" instead. Now it won't let me have it (or the old one back) and set up e-mail address conflicts. Concurrently I registered something a little less obvious, but don't know "socially" what it is best to be in under. Frankly some pseudonym seems smarter. Why's that? This is a place where you may begin by sharing many photo's with people you don't know. In such a situation where the norm already appears to be "cryptic names" I think I find my full name too revealing. I'd also say the same about Yahoo chat. This is not a place where I'd want to be taken too seriously.

    Next little gripe would be around "online contacts". There is no double click functionality in Flickr. Instead hold the button and then initiate what you want to do. I find it weird. I want to double click to start a conversation with an online friend. I can right click if I want an alternate. Later you can DRAG someone new into an already going conversation. Seems you can't drag to initiate. The drag and drop the picture in is great! As noted that's a real threat to Yahoo style chats. When people first arrive Flickr should provide a few pictures or make it clear you can select some easily from the public gallery. Possibly some of these pictures will become tomorrow's smileys, more importantly it confirms the intent and the type of behavior they are trying to encourage. That is chat with pictures. Be interesting to watch what sort of visual language that becomes.

    March 16, 2004

    Social Networking is Broken

    This slightly facetious statement: "My social networks are broken... at least I think they are." reflects my conclusion that the social networks I've been playing in are for the most part associative networks. While they have a social element the socializing for the most part takes place by blogs, forums, IM / e-mail, phone and in face to face visits.

    After 18 months of experimenting with formalizing relationship structures through Ryze, Orkut Linkedin etc they are really no more useful to me now than before I found them. Oh Orkut is a wonderful place for assembling connections but recently they really suck. Here I am with all these friends and they expect me to recategorize them. Would you try demoting your friends? Try it - see how they like it.

    So how broken are they? Well which one should I turn to if I want to contact someone through one of them? If they are on more than one, which messaging system should I use? The newest? The one I contacted them on last time?

    So now I have these planetary social networks each with their own orbits spread across the heavens. So while I've visited all these places I can't remember the name of the ship that offloaded me last. That's about as damming conclusion as any user (dare I say consumer) of the SN product can draw. However, lets face facts. For the most part none of these social networks are on my desktop, unless I happen to have their page open. And then with the exceptions of Ecademy, Tribe and Flickr they don't let me know whether any of my friends are online or not. As most of the people I really work with either don't use them or are as sporadic as me I still little chance of finding spontaneity within. They all fail for none of them provide the things I really need.

    I saw a post from Stowe Boyd today, planning a review of enterprise social networking services. It made me curious. The dating ones are excluded. For that matter so is MSN, Yahoo, AIM etc from the list. Skype too isn't included. Some little "scream" at the back of my mind tells me that the bundle of failing social networking services listed in Stowe's may not get to the heart of solving the enterprise problem. He wrote up Xfire just days ago. I made an association with Skype on it yesterday. No it is not enterprise ready. But others have the conferencing linking capability. I also tried to get my 15 year old son using Xfire. He discarded it in seconds, "I can do this stuff already" --- not as neatly I respond, "does it have voice?" --- nope, basically end of discussion. Maybe it is only about associating people. However I hope these services will offer something more. For if that is all they are there will be an upcoming backlash.

    For the life of me... When is IM not a social networking device? (Have you ever seen a 12 year old girl reconnect her buddies after taking a new name?) That looks like social networking to me. When are introductions by e-mail not social networking. Or a speakerphone call? It's time to put a stop to categorizing these "things" as social networks. Call them "Associative Networking Tools" or "Structured Association Tools" or something similar. Then you can create a bucket for them. The reason there is no real business model is they are just part of / or component towards building our capabilities to enhance "presence" and connectivity. Most of the friends I network with in this realm also have IM. But step outside and look at the real world and usage is sporadic at best. If we can't get our friends to adopt one of three messaging systems how can we hope to get them to adopt one of one hundred social networking services? Via Dina this comment from Jenny Levine sums it up.

    It's time to refocus the debate and bring in new functionalities and capabilities. For me that integrates with mobility. There's a program which I don't expect to take off any time soon for Nokia 3650' called Pmatch. pMatch allows 3650 owners to learn of others with similar interests or information, without revealing their own personal, private data. In a similar vein Trepia or AirCQ are using proximity and presence to enhance connections. I know not everyone can make the list. Judith had a list of 100. A readable report can't cover them all.

    What have we learned.

  • We don't socialize rather only associate through the Orkuts while we socialize using messaging, telephone and face to face visits.
  • The opportunity to connecting through friends is much greater than generally understoood. Some successes have been achieved.
  • Virtual connections mean managing ones connections and presence has never been more important.
  • Structured services are creating problems where there were none before. From categories to access. And designating "artificial" forced levels of buddies or friendship.
  • Fragmenting association systems does not enable better connections.
  • Integration on to my desktop (address book / IM systems) at minimum and preferably into my cellphone is required for there are few you can synch with and while one can upload addresses you can seldom download.
  • The sites themselves are seldom responsible for the association, the connective knowledge is broader than the networking sites. eg blogs, blogrolls, online forums etc.

    Judith Meskill has been encouraging me to dive into her posts on autonomic networks. This wonderful post has some great questions, and left me with the question at the beginning of the post.

    If you utilize one or more of the current entrants in this swell of online SNS offerings [such as LinkedIn, Friendster, Orkut, Ryze, and/or Tribe] - what value, if any, do you derive from them? And, harkening back to the citation with which I started this post, has one [or more] of these services assisted in helping you to successfully reduce the 'traffic congestion' at the 'intersections' in your life? And, in closing, any insights, comments, or ponderings on the recent and future blurring of lines between 'wetware,' 'software,' and 'hardware' in an infinitely connected wireless world?
    Judith Meskill

    I see this morning that Heath Row is reporting on a discussion of "The Asthetics of Social Networking" at SXSW. Read Molly Steenson's comments. They may just jell with the above.

  • April 5, 2004


    After a vacation the newsreader is full of posts. I missed out on VON and WTF last week so along with the normal Skype review I keyed in a few Feedster searches. The fragments below reflect some I noted and my method for getting back to blogging quickly this time. They relate to Skype, IM, mobility, presence and change

    Om Malik on VoIP: Why Skype is No Different Then see the chaning codec Skype is using and follow these links from the Skype Forum. They will lead you to Global IP sound whose news releases arrive a few days before Skype updates. Pretty easy to read between the lines re OSX, Linux etc. Global IP Sound - Newsroom - Releases

    Some useful reinforcement from Om Malik on : The Incredible importance of Instant Message clients His links identify MSN IM as the stealth softphone client. While he says: The greatest advantage of these IM clients is that they are already sitting on our desktops, have been built for an IP-everywhere world, and are one upgrade away from becoming phones(my bold). (The real magic needs to happen at the back end!) We should start the clock ticking on Skype! Add Mobile Pipeline | Data & Voice | Microsoft Scores in VoIP Arena. See also Smartphone thoughts

    Fastchat again demonstrates the rapidly accelerating convergence of IM and Mobile phones. The barrier to trial is simply more cost. $30/year and 2 cents per outgoing message. More features than Buzz2Talk , while Aglie Messenger provides the presence and IM integration without the push to talk functionality. See also fastmobile Andy writes it up hereVoIP Watch: Move Over SKYPE here's FASTMOBILE, however these are not the same thing. It will be worth looking into push to talk behaviors vs texting behavior in more detail. "With a FastChat enabled device anyone using FastChat can pretty much Push To Talk to anyone on the Internet. Now that's delivering voice communications ubiquity TODAY".. So if Liz Lawley will pardon my interruption I can only image how frightening this dimension might be to her. I'd also like to come back to interruptions and Dave Pollard's posts separately. If anyone has the appropriate equipment and wants to experiment with me on Buzz2Talk, or FastChat let me know. Push to talk has some specific benefits, as does always on and for some always off.

    Heath Row also made great WTF notes that included TV on cellphones in Korea. See George Gilder's comments

    Korea has 40 times the amount of bandwidth that we do. And they accomplished that in three years. When you have 40 times the amount of bandwidth, that's 75% penetration.
    When you have a true deployment of broadband in a country, including wireless broadband, the whole economy changes. In 2003, there was around $450 billion a year of commercial transactions on the Internet in Korea. A third of their economy was transacted on the Internet. If we had a third of our economy transacted on the Internet, versus our 2%, the business models that were deemed Quixotic and absurd because of the bubble would have succeeded. Grocery transactions are done on the Web all over Korea. Webvan and those other dotcoms would have prevailed there. Fast Company Korea
    There is additional data there about TV on your smart phone. Anyone remember a few years ago the Canadian startup that began rebroadcasting American TV. They were closed down by lawsuits. I tried to watch a TV broadcast today. it's still to slow. There is a real need for sites offering these services to provide a text messaging solution. I'd pay the 2cents or 5 cents just to get the setting in the phone in one click. See:
    The new service of Telefónica Móvil -- live TV on your cell phone -- was introduced in Chile with full print ad pages in major Chilean newspapers. Smart Mobs: Live TV on Your Cell Phone

    I also saw lots of links to Clay Shirky's latest post "Situated Software" a wonderful illustration of how student assignments create real value and insight. The thought seems completely consistent with Nicholass Carr who asked in HBR not so long ago ... "Does IT matter?" The basic systems approaches that Clay outlines and the open non-proprietary methods used to achieve them by the students are the zero-based budget techniques for tomorrow. Lee Bryant also argued this well in Smarter Simpler Social over a year ago.

    April 21, 2004

    The Online Presence Spiral

    - The Online Presence Spiral - an interactive experience that is engaging, accessible, immersive - not just IM indicators but sound quality - active cams, mobility etc. Emergent thoughts that we need a new "Presence Formula".

    This post represents rough notes on how online presence is being redefined by new audio solutions. These are creating a sound spiral and an unexpected tipping point for tel co's and cellular phone providers while redefining consumer / user audio expectations.

    Driven by IM systems we are becoming increasingly accustomed to knowing; available, away, do not disturb, not available, invisible and custom forms thereof. In parallel there has been a growing interest in the social networking sites like Ryze, Linkedin, Orkut, Tribe etc. Most of these haven't had the critical online mass to activate an effective 'presence" indicator yet. They also fail to have the immediacy of an IM buddy list. Learning gained in social networking software will be applied to IM systems in the next generation. In fact ICQ has recently been releasing upgrades. As will more complex access profiles which further refine definitions of availability, access, privacy, security etc. However this focus on presence and "presence management" is limited an IM style focus on smiley faces and social networking that may limit developments. As VoIP and IM systems integrate interaction designers should take a broader view of presence.

    Let's just step back for a second and consider real life examples…. Eg "you felt his/her presence when they entered the room. Or the speaker carried real presence. Take it further and over the years there have been interests in telepresence from science fiction books to research studies. This objective that i found quickly appealed to me. "To design forms of interactive experience that are engaging, accessible, and immersive". I'd like to think about this as presence cubed.

    The IM style is helping with accessible, however the other aspects engaging and immersive still have a way to go. The point is recent posts on "Presence Management" are really missing the broader picture. The post I've seen from Dina, and Dave I think support my point of view. They are looking for a much broader integration of presence. In fact presence management is an oxymoron just like Knowledge Management. Similarly telecoms and VoIP providers that simply believe they can step up with a VoIP IM solution are going to find they are continuing to chase the curve. Using Skype as an illustration, it masters the current state of consumer presence pretty adequately. It also redefines voice presence. Our ears are extremely sensitive to vocal cues. And yet we are accepting. We accept or are forced into landline and cellular systems that clip our voices, reduces our gravitas and thus reduce vocal presence effectiveness. The narrow band spectrums simply doesn't compare favorably with a well connected wide band Skype type call. In fact I was told the other day how different I sounded on Skype. Apparently, I had more presence!

    Now imagine you were part of a larger conference call negotiation. You could hear the other party with brilliant clarity. They were restricted to a mediocre cellphone standard. You could easily position each of the individuals and easily decipher the stress or excitement in their voices. Now which negotiation team has the upper hand? If you are looking at new solutions then thinking about presence in terms of availablity indicators and not audio quality will only will only result in an early replacement as higher quality more efficient sound solutions become available. For conference calls you have to have an audio connection that is equal or better than those your are connected to. For the most part the highest sound quality will result in better conversations. It's pretty self-evident. Just like the e-mail that can be misinterpreted. The brain fills in the blanks in poor quality sound.

    Now I would like to know if any commercial or consumer SIP applications so far have been initiated with a codec comparible to Skype. For it is not SIP that is restraining the voice quality it is the VoIP telecom providers that seem to think current sound codecs are good enough. I have a Vonage line. At no time does it compare to Skype quality. It's better than my cellphone at home, and often doesn't match my landline for quality. Via the Register today, Morpheus launched a VoIP solution. They are in fact just playing off their P2P name and number of users. As far as I can tell it is a standard VoIP solution a little cheaper than Vonage. Other than trying to leverage the Morpheus userbase I'm not sure that there is a P2P relationship in this system although they are claiming that with VoiceBox to VoiceBox you get higher quality.

    With Skype we are only just getting a taste of what's to come. As our understanding of "presence" is broadened by better audio experiences the industry will compete and collaborate to bring even more interesting "presence" experiences. Then the solutions won't stop with sound. There will be a huge awakening in equipment solutions too. Just think what happened when we when from mono to stereo, and then how quickly so many have gone to home theaters. The consumer knows Dolby and 3-D sound. While we may not want a total immersion experience for all calls (you may want to listen in on another simultaneously) we will want the ultimate immersion for some calls. The movie industry has already demonstrated what is possible.

    Skype also shows what happens when increased audio presence is combined with appropriate visual cues. Those black heads don't look very friendly now, still when they become real faces and an inbound call is generated then our connection to the caller will be further enhanced. Photo's are a first step that will aid adoption adoption of real-time web cams.

    Consequently I periodically find myself running updated experiments on the latest online video solutions. It is almost a couple of weeks ago since I tried out various alternative with Dave Pollard. I'd read Dave's post and he was willing to try out his new webcam. We started with Yahoo cam and voice. The voice connection was crap and so we soon closed voice and opened a Skype connection why retaining the Yahoo cam. In this instance there wasn't much of a delay on the cam although 2-3 seconds is not uncommon. Still as a free solution I've personally found little to beat it.

    Next we tried out Sightspeed, The cam was much faster, however the voice connection was not up to Skype quality. We retained it for a period. However by that time we were doing what I think we should be doing. We were sharing http links, and looking at other alternatives. The cam had simply disappeared into the background replaces by texting and browser links. From my perspective this is not unusual.

    Durning this week I also tried out CamFrog. While I didn't try the premium edition the basic one didn't provide me with confidence. While these observations and ongoing trials are fun from time to time I'm yet to find a wow solution. Robin Good in particular has shared some great conferencing solutions with me. They do require some customizing to context. It also takes time to master these tools. So ultimately there won't be hundreds of winners.

    What I've found is I'm not prepared in any of these online sessions to put up with poor voice quality. That simply is a killer.

    Second I dislike screen delays. The update has to be quick. Screen synch between individuals fast. Last year I'd experimented with Glance a product that shares your desktop. More recently Bill Campbell generously got me set up on tightVNC. Many use it for remote access to their computer. It's also perfect for sharing your desktop with multiple users. WIth tightVNC working there is no need for expensive services like MeetingASAP, you can share your desktop at anytime. There are other synch capabiliities that MeetingASAP provides however no matter how beautiful the last time I talked to them they could not confirm that the voice quality was not equal or better than Skype. BTW... if you want a cheap conference where everyone cam is synched on a page and one person is showing a powerpoint. Just cram it all on your screen and then tightVNC. The refresh rates on the cams will be poor for other viewers however it will cost you nothing. Everyone will know who's at their desk and watching the presentation rather than making coffee while wearing their bluetooth headset.

    For working with others expecially new people where you have never had a picture before and never met them an early introduction with a web cam is effective. For family and friends it may be appropriate. However my belief is that sharing pictures is a pretty good substitute right now. The issue is most webcams are effectively passive. They provide a head shot as the person is sitting behind their PC. Usually the cam is not directed very effectively. I really don't believe that web cams will be the big thing until they are "active" cams. By active I mean people using them while on the move, out and about. Thus when we get our PocketSkype+ installed in a UltimateWi-Fi PDA with video capability and users are out roaming we will have a webcam usage that really adds a sense of presence along with the mobility and narrative. It still won't be telepresence although we will be a lot closer.

    Finally from what I've seen and been fed about Skype performance and connectivity, their sound solution still eats up too much computing power. Add to that limitations on uploads and downloads to maintain voice quality and Skype video and Skype file exchanges may break what is good. That may provide some opportunities for others. So while Skype may have brokered new connections for some, and thus encouraged additional experimentation with webcams this user is still looking for better sound first and foremost. In that regard so should you.

    What's more this user has learned that Wi-FI Skyping from HotSpots is better than a Mobile phone when available. Thus the paradigm that threatens the landline system may have more impact on mobility than current projections suggest. Some of you may have seen the recent releases of mobile phones like the Nokia Communicator 9500 that provides the traditional cellphone features along with Wi-FI. So now consider the user experience. When they are in a hotspot sound quality goes way up. When they get home their cellphone automatically becomes the home phone and the cellphone and the quality is way up. It's just possible that the mobile providers are entering a sound spiral as well. Then I also know that despite not being to Skype via my mobile phone to laptop connection Dina has proved to me that she can do it. Looks like the Indian cellular structure is more advanced than the US!. That will make cellular connections a commodity just like the landline in time.

    Good place to close. The Online Presence Spiral. The emerging business experience parameters for communications.

    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

  • June 8, 2004

    Online Presence Spiral Two

    "It is said that the present is pregnant with the future." ~ Voltaire Or similarly.... "the future is all around us we just don't know it yet!" --- a line delivered by many. If you read my last post you know I'm actively pursuing my future and it is all around me. One task I wanted to take care of before sending friends and colleagues to my second blog, and new company affiliation was to have something to send you to. It's a little selfish I know. Keep people in the dark, don't blog for a few weeks and then pour out the details. Then part of my job is to create traffic and interest in DiamondWare. So forgive me for being self-serving. You can help me. Come and visit, subscribe to our syndicated blog.

    This post aims to do a couple of things. Help kick off a new corporate blog and achieve some visibility with enough intrigue for what you may find there. DiamondWare's roots are high performance audio software. The DiamondWare story is here. We are moving from developing the engine (audio media stack) to building the vehicles / applications for next generation communication. The website is a work in progress. For me this is a first iteration. Release and update may present the best way to get feedback and accelerate message development. So blog friends are beta readers for a current marketing department of one. So, now you know and I'll be very receptive to new ideas and honest input. I hope that over time a successful blogging component will outweigh all the static pages created to date. If I'm working towards real-time communication then a blog componet is a key to the way forward.

    Why DiamondWare?
    Beyond the great group of people are core elements for the next generation of VoIP solutions. That was key to attracting me to join the team. Plus the desire to create new answers and leap forward with an "always-on mobile presence communicator". For me this opportunity emerges at the intersection of where new audio processing capabilities, VoIP networks and collboration tools converge. This Online Presence Spiral also includes solutions for social networking, privacy, security and digital identity.

    While this diagram may look static imagine it spinning like a turbine creating an always-on environment that emerges as a conversation accelerator.

    First, leveraging communications is driven by presence that nurtures events. That happens at the front line so to speak on your desktop, with your handset. Presence becomes really interesting when combined with mobility.

    Second, the communications velocity is enhanced when we become better listeners. Telephony today is not for listening it's for telling, contacting, reporting etc. Few calls are made just to listen. Listening is a learning characteristic. The traditional telephone is somewhat restrictive in this regard. It's been hard to do multi-party conference calls. While compared with IM many complain that the telephone is invasive

    Leaders facilitate conversations. We will only spiral the velocity and flow of conversations if we find ways to make encounters more appealing and integrate with the ways that people want to use them. Lets say that the online conversation broker needs an upgrade.

    "Online Presence Spiral Generator"

    The Always-on Presence Communicator

    In the organization it's often the water cooler conversation that is instrumental, or the unexpected connection that create new value. Just one reason open plan offices are effective. Put every one in virtual offices and we need a communication system that more closely mimics the open plan. So far that has been difficult. In fact, asynchonous is a frequent label for online collaboration. By contrast creating more transparency by running multiple conversations concurrently is similar to what many kids (and some of us) do with IM. It's just not integrated with voice. An illustration of what I'm talking about would be a multi-channel Audio IRC. A multi-modal intercom on steroids.

    It seems a lot to ask. I'm sure many will look at the preceeding paragraphs and say I don't want to work in a world like that. However there are some that already do. Traders run multi-lines. Call centers need the capability to bridge and share calls quickly. There's are more thoughts on always-on conferencing here. There we said "A communications format is required that enables enhanced listening and positioning of voices while engaged in the call." Which brings me back to intercoms and audio processing capabilities. Only DiamondWare is in the field with a 3D Hi-Fidelity VoIP solution. This enables the positioning and the mulit-level listening along with other capabilities.

    So in a nutshell technology is enabling an online presence spiral and I am now directly involved in next generation communication solutions. These are brief reasons for my excitement. From the DiamondWare site:

    1. Sound Quality: Hear an audible difference as telephony moves to higher quality audio. There will be a clear perception and audible improvement over the sound of traditional telephones.

    2. Spatial Positioning: Since Stereo first introduced the sound stage, we have increasingly brought the surround sound experience into our lives. Telephony has not kept up. Stereo VoIP technology closes the gap between the online conference and the physical meeting room.

    3. Presence: Online presence reduces the number of failed connections and repetitive messages, and it improves understanding of availability. Presence is only now becoming multi-modal and being integrated from the desktop into other devices.

    4. Communications Centric: IM systems have traditionally been text centric with poor support for voice. Communications-Centric presence platforms are redefining how calls and texting work in tandem as the first step in enhanced collaborative communication.

    5. Always-On: As call costs trend to zero, closing a call (hanging up at the end) resulting in termination may no longer make sense. In an open plan office chatter goes on all the time. In an always-on world of telephony, you may participate in multiple concurrent conferences.

    6. Push to Talk: Push to talk and intercoms may seem like a very old idea. However sometimes a short voice message is appropriate. Look at a money trader example, or any other fast-moving information environment.

    7. Mobility: As devices combine PDA's, mobile phones, tablet PC's and Wi-Fi, solutions are enabling new forms of connectivity and decision-making. We are preparing for a day when every mobile device has the capabilities of today's PBX. Engineering reflects small devices and efficient solutions.

    That is all I will tell you right now.

    June 9, 2004

    Social Tools + Mobility

    Stowe Boyd has a nice post in DarwinMag this month on "The State of Social Tools". I like the tone and was great to learn that Stowe is now at Corante. Congratulations Stowe! There is a nice clear structure and set of points in the article. Let me share a couple of lines before adding my two cents.

    The big story is that the global computer network is an enormous chat room, enabling us to collaborate in unexpected, complex and novel ways. We are experimenting with new social systems, systems that to an unprecedented degree involve software and hardware.

    The State of Social Tools - Darwin Magazine

    My issue is where is the thinking about mobility and conversation velocity. I infer from the article that this convergence will take place on laptops and desktops although I think the real impact will be felt in mobility devices. Current demos show capability and potential for the social revolution to come. How those handheld / wearable devices work with everything will be key.

    The element that bothers me more and more is that the focus in these discussions on social tools without stepping back and looking at the environment in which we work. The State of Social Tools contains a reference to “voice” yet reads text and desktop centric. The most socialized tool in the workspace after the pen and paper is the telephone. Somehow it isn’t mentioned. Then neither is the cellphone. Are we assuming too much or not looking at where the real revolution must start?

    June 30, 2004

    Multi-Dimensional Meeting Space

    Today I became a virtual (graying) avatar sitting at a backgammon table in a rec room with some rock music playing. This was not a fantasy game rather an introduction to a remarkable new collaborative sharing space. Robin Good dressed in black introduced me to it. Leave a comment or ping me and and I'll send you an e-mail invite for a Friday at 9:00 am PST. This picture doesn't tell the full story. If you are interested in online conferences, the future of audio, and virtual environments don't miss this.


    August 18, 2004

    Visiphone Design Insights?

    In a little item on Smart Mobs there is a post that is much more intriguing. Visiphoneuses visual aids to help you and me improve our awareness of each other. It enables a new form of visual communication to support audio and enhance the communication experience. I particularly identified with the graphics below as a monitor for individual or group exchanges.

    Using an audio-only speaker phone to provide a continuous, long-term connection has several drawbacks: in a noisy environment, it is difficult to know whether one's voice has carried or to know to pay attention to new voices emerging from the phone; long periods of silence make it easy to forget the device, which then takes on the unwanted quality of unobtrusive surveillance.

    VisiPhone displays two parallel visualizations, one derived from the local sound reaching the device (input audio) and the other from the sound emanating from it (output audio). We are experimenting with several designs for the visualizations. For example, one basic design depicts filtered frequency with hue, creating bursts of color when someone is speaking. With this display, one is able to see at a glance if someone is speaking at the other end and can tell if one's own voice has carried over the ambient noise to audibly reach the listeners at the other end.

    Representing Speaker A & Speaker B

    Representing both Speakers

    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 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 20, 2004

    Skype + Podcast Recorder = SkypeCasters

    Introducing instructions for SkypeCasting. The front-end solution for podcasters to create great sounding audio recordings from interviews and conference calls using Skype. For the last few days I've been recording podcasts using Skype. As the call ends with a couple of clicks it is converted to mp3 and uploaded to a blog. This is a real bloggers solution providing podcasting in almost real-time without resorting to studios, or fancy gear. Let the New Year ring in with new voices, and new conversations. Audio and podcasting will make a difference. Let's get the thoughts out into the world. Innovate in 2005 --- start podcasting. This post contains my first podcast and the instruction on how (links at the end).

    The SkypeCasters' recipe is simple and we have written it up in detail. Add together Skype, Virtual Audio Cables, Windows Sound Recorder, a simple Wav to mp3 converter MT_Enclosures and iPodder and you can be Podcasting later today! The solution will cost you $40.

    Why podcast? Why record? Where are immediate opportunities.
    There are many situations on the phone or Skype where you would like to be recording. Professional interviews are a prime example. Makes it easier to write up your notes later while you can completely focus your attention on the interview. Then we have the equivalent of "panel" discussions. The mini conference call fueled by good chatter and a great topic. Perhaps you are a budding poet wanting to spread a reading to a small group? Want to send a joint message or birthday greeting where the parties are dispersed, record a Skype conference call and e-mail the mp3. Similarly, finishing up a conference call --- create a simple 5 minute SkypeCast of the key action points. Blog it to your group. An hour in five minutes. It's over to you now. Tell us how you use it.

    Approaching podcasting like this is different to staged professional recording studios, and big production values. We know that if you have a talented studio behind you then mixing and turning out a professional Podcast will be no problem. This is the solution for those with no money who are happy to create SkypeCasts on the fly.

    multiparty recording.jpg

    What we have done: (GET INSTRUCTIONS)

  • A simple Skype recording solution for capturing "great" audio.
  • No extra overhead. It all works on one Windows XP PC.
  • A blog platform - MT- that "reads" for podcasts.
  • A lowcost way to distribute podcasts without running up bandwidth bills (podcasttorrent)
  • Quick and simple to do.

    Here is the recipe. I'd never have completed it without BIll Campbell's help. Our "proof of concept" SkypeCast is here. We are still learning some of the mic and audio tricks. It is converted at 32mbs... although perfectly passable at 16kps it begins to sound more like a telephone... and that might not be the best Skype proof of concept test.

    Looking forward to your feedback. I'll move the recipe details shortly to a wiki so they can be updated. In the meantime let us have your comments and learnings.

    Lastly, unleashing the capability to record Skype calls isn't meant to bypass common courtesy and the smarts of asking permission before you start recording. You could get yourself into trouble sending out a podcast without permission. You may want to get it via IM when you hit record. It's clear to me that recording without permission is going to happen. I'd appreciate getting some more insights in this area. I'd note that one can SkypeOut and record this way without the other party knowing or even the caller ID being identified currently.

    Podcast on SkypeCasting

  • 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.

    November 4, 2006

    Orkut and GTalk Married Up

    No surprises for me here. I've  been an advocate of merging SNS with real-time voice communications. We're finally at that stage with Google apparently ready to blend Orkut with GTalk. Orkut's on fire in India, and Brazil... thought at one time they owned it. Other pointer? Well just see the Match / Jangl announcement for MatchTalk also in Forbes below. It is still very early days. These new marriages will create some new problems --- we will want solutions for.

    Orkut members will be able to text message and voice chat with other members of the community if they choose to communicate in that way. Google believes the new functions might add a sense of immediacy to member interaction on the social networking site. A Google spokeswoman says some of the functionality of the Orkut site will be built into the free standing GTalk client. Orkut "friends" (and their "presence" status and information) will show up on GTalk users' buddy lists. Light Reading

    The system protects privacy by assigning the couple a unique number that they can use to talk to each other without fear of giving away their real telephone number or other personal details. People with caller ID will see the matchTalk number instead of their actual listing.

    May 9, 2007

    SharedCopy - The Next Post-it?

    What happens when you cross a Post-it note with Delicious or Furl? Perhaps a smarter form of bookmarking?

    I got a ping from James Seng last night. I always love knowing what he is working on. SharedCopy seems to be his new thing. I'm impressed. It provides a new form of sharing with notations. A few of the commenter's on his post thought "ThirdVoice" too. I'll add a public shared copy to this post after I post it. I'll need to experiment with this to really get it.

    What is SharedCopy? It is an web application that allows you to annotate & markup any website, made a permanent copy of that page and then share it with your friends. Above all, we do it without any external program or browser plugins, just pure AJAX. :) Check out this link to see how it works. SharedCopy of SharedCopy

    What I like about this is how you can just put a note on a page and send the two together. It's quick and I can see this will create a neat repository. It is somewhere between Furling a page and being a little more active. I'd like to see it with a tags option and tied to an OpenID.I may have to learn a little more on how I can customize it. Example How can I add in contact me or SkypeMe details? I'm sure I could pass that in the same way.

    Where a little user work is required is just a simple visual on how to drag the links to your bookmarks to set it up and get started. It's not yet a very intuitive or obvious instruction. It 's really nice to see something a little different! I can see ways to use it. I'd love to be in on more user stories as they evolve.

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    June 7, 2007

    I love NPR - Causes and Facebook

    Do you believe in causes? I love NPR! Although not as a bumper sticker on the back of my car, or a T-Shirt that I'm wearing. Still I wake up to NPR most mornings. Today, (part of ongoing experimentation on Facebook) I placed that claim in (for me) a very personal place. I put it on my Facebook. I provided a small donation there and let two special people know about the widget that would appreciate it.

    The power in adding a new application to your Facebook page changes everything we ever thought about marketing. It really is a mass distribution mechanism and it reinvents the game. The new app. goes into my Facebook news feed so my friends may see it or later when they visit my page. (You will have to join Facebook to see my page).

    Thus without forcing myself or my views on others they can see what I'm adding and choose to experiment or not. There is little need for me to bother them with spam-like invites. My network may determine the relevance. I can also see immediately on "Causes" who else shares my interest in supporting NPR and follow up if desired.

    The "Causes" plug-in was developed by the team at "Project Agape". It's simple although too some time to load. I have no idea what the "admin" charges are or how effective the donation is. That wasn't clear. It may make more sense to go direct. Still it impressed me enough to want to add the badge I'd first found on Rob Patterson's Facebook page. (Also see Rob's blog on Ken Burns and KETC St Louis.  He describes it as an online Lewis  & Clark's journey. Rob believes freeing the media will renew society. His story re NPR is very much 2.0+)

    Two observations for today:
    1. Facebook provides a new form of infection or infectious behavior (they call it mass distribution). It lowers the cost and risk of sharing new widgets with your friends. With a lower social capital cost it also increases the visibility exponentially. The result is we are also learning faster than we could individually. It may not be pretty. It certainly effective and addictive.

    I used to apply this thought to blogging. I was certain that blogging enabled me to learn faster. That still holds true. Facebook takes it to the next level. I'm looking forward to having even better apps. It's may start a "cambrian explosion" for social apps.

    2. Will it change immediately the way software is prototyped. It will certainly change the way consumer software is prototyped. Why would you build anything today outside of Facebook? Wouldn't you first test it inside. Soon even the targeted audiences will be very clear. Some will come to think of Facebook as a great research engine. Learning the Facebook API or at least what it does will be mandatory.

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    July 17, 2007

    Facebook and Mydentity

    A few years ago (about 2002) there was a meme Mydentity I think first put up by Eric Norlin and others summarized here by Doc Searls which had me writing about Trust Circles.

    Two months ago I considered launching a "Facebook Journal"as I am ready for a new challenge and I'd learnt from Skype Journal what both the advantages and disadvantages of such a strategy are. While it could be done; (there are some "Facebook" Tracking blogs already out there) the thought really traced to Facebook's evolution and the excitement it would generate. Yet it is not the real meme that is exploding here. Under it all is a greater need  for an "Identity solution"

    Then at Supernova I missed seeing much chatter about Facebook (Kevin tried to insert it). The following week we arranged a small Facebook Face-Off - a small group adding applications in an accelerated learning and communications session. I'd recommend this to anyone, even novices who haven't been on any of these networks before. 

    Three memes have recently emerged that are interesting to me.

    • Concentrating SNS on Facebook:
    • Facebook as an Identity Solution
    • Stuart Henshall is Media
    My SNS on Facebook
    I'd already started concentrating my networking efforts onto Facebook. However, it was a note by Jeff Pulver on Facebook yesterday (see his blog) that made the choice I'd already been making explicit. I'll admit that Facebook was the same ah-ha moment for me that accompanied Skype, Paypal, Napster, and eBay. I still dislike its closed nature however it works. It also means I've been inviting and enocouraging others to join. Something I've not done on a social network since Ryze. LinkedIn only existed because it was "approved" of by business types. I never had any fun there. My observation is the threshold to exchange is much lower on Facebook vs LinkedIn. Jeff notes the same re referrals. More importantly the exhaust gas from everyones activities helps to maintain and even strengthen weak ties. Facebook as Scoble notes is set to replace my contact lists.

    Facebook and Identity
    Any large community today can potentially offer an Identity solution. Jeremiah Owyang works of some predictions for Facebook, Identity and Social Networks. He correctly identifies that blog comments  require a better log-in system and his post provides a Books on Campus log-in via Facebook. Which is just another app. I'd be happy to provide this as an option tomorrow on my Blog. I'm still wrestling with the OpenID system in MT4.0. Perhaps a Facebook plug-in would be simpler. However using a Facebook Identity to log-in to other sites is really only half the battle. The question is will Facebook allow us to log-in with an OpenId. I'd like to see one identity for all my communications. I'd still like =stuart to mean something. However, while Facebook is aggregating my directory it is also aggregating micro-content. The power in Facebook is the directory. We don't have 1000+ connections anywhere else. In fact the belief was 150. Facebook overturns that. You cannot move a personal directory of 10000 or more. Scoble already has 3000+. I'm still waiting for an OpenID app for Facebook. It would work around communications access in a channel agnostic fashion and manage access depending on the relationship; an area where Facebook manages poorly. See also Facebook is now the New OpenID

    I am Media:
    I liked this post by Roi Carthy and the pharse "I am Media". He links to Robert Scoble is Media This reinforced the discussion we had yesterday in the Yitan call on Facebook. The discussion started about exhaust gas.

    One of the more interesting aspects of Facebook -- at least to those over 22 years of age, for whom much of today's Net may seem counterintuitive -- is the way it works by routing seemingly insignificant exhaust data to your network of friends.

    Do I really need to know the latest favorite book you posted? That you're now buddies with Sam? Apparently yes.
    Facebook will reward those that share. If you believe like me that the more you share the more you will ultimately get back then Facebook shouldn't be too hard to understand. As a blogger I've learned that the more I blog the more I get back and that is a good reason to get back in the blogging habit. I'm still not using Facebook effectively, and there are many behaviors we will all learn that make it more effective.  I hear the same rejections and same not for business comments that I've heard about other social tools. Get over it. Start experimenting.

    As we learn to share more it will become easier to aggregate information about ourselves. That is where the future is. In the meantime Facebook while interesting still lacks really meaningful controls.

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