The pillars of the Earth: web squared a sanity check

August 17, 2010

We all get enlightened ideas, and creative innovative challenges popping up in our minds while being at ease. Not feeling the stress from everyday life, as i.e. being on vacation.

The emerging information shadow of intelligent things, combined with our social fabric will change the perception of everyday life. Augmented Reality has changed the way we look at real things, and get new lenses. Hyped to far reaching crescendos, but still in its fancy! Stepping back into more useful challenges, we realise that the apps we are about to try out do reflect more common grounds, such as shopping helpers to do well informed choices based upon both referral social constructs, as well as pricing and location angles.

This summer, I embarked into a very nice visit to Sicily with family and friends, and while being abroad I realised a few things:

  1. The lack of connectivity, due to stupid roaming deals amongst telecom operators. While at home, you use your mobile device daily to look-up things relevant to where you are, and what you are up to at the moment. Held back by costly data-traffic deals, you feel held back by the opportunity to be connected as a tourist. Trying to locate a WiFi hotspot….. Why can’t one buy a travel-pack from your telecom operator to a specific destination? I would be happy to pay a fixed price for the ease of use….
  2. Shopping, as a nice treat when being a tourist! Ask my wife ;-) How do one compare the things available in the local setting with a global networked manner, to do well informed choices?

Web Squared do hold several options, to bridge smart things and places with mobile devices and the Net with its ever-growing social scene. Who wouldn’t be happy to raise a question about a shopping choice, and get advise from both comparison services and friends!

With all emerging web services, and mobile devices and smart things we have now a scent of what will become a reality sooner than later.  Given that I am ‘trigger happy’ when it comes to early adapter of technology, I recall one of my first mobile video encounters, sharing my experience from Milano at the Dome with the family. Crappy lo-fidelity and high-cost! Second, my first cracked iPhone that my beloved kids nicked at pool site in Turkey viewing YouTube clips from Donald Duck. The result a phone bill from hell. Lastly a recent real scenario: my wife finds a very nice product on site in Sicily, and I realise that I would like to compare both local and other on-line options to compare the product at hand. Challenged by the in-built constraints with both expensive mobile data price models, and a less coherent and seamless, easy to use service pack. My mind started to wander, if this wouldn’t be a perfect mashup social and networked business model? In its simplest incarnation, a bar code scanning app for the iPhone and an SMS-service, while being abroad. At home with fixed mobile data cost, a more seamless app with connections to Google Product Search and social consumer networks.

Coming back to work reading my flooded reader-feed finding a on-spot article, I started to use an app called Bakodo (bar code in Jap.), and it works ;-) Well it have obvious drawbacks given that it still is mainly focused on US, and do not hold a good back-end data raw material. I used my summer reading, Pillars of the Earth and got a quick response.

Bakodo iPhone AppBakodo ScanBakodo iPhone App, result listView Result in Amazon

Other bar codes didn’t match due to the constraints of raw data in the information shadow. Building a Cathedral takes craftsmanship, time, resources and effort, given the book  I read, and the same goes for the information shadow.

Similar, experience with Foursquare, WikiMe and several other location based thingy’s that I use daily. I am thrilled about how this set of services, apps and uses will meld into seamless everyday solutions.

The mashup economy, and future business networks will strengthen the consumers and improve the services, and product we use daily. Buying groceries and get detailed information about how sustainable choices you make daily, to well advised choices being in travel mode.

Our kids take this for granted, and my son (8yrs) who is a knowledge seeker, do expect my iPhone with all the apps, provide him with timely and well-matched knowledge discoveries(i.e. Wolfram Alpha my most expensive app). Drop any subject, and you will get the information handy to answer your kids.

Wolfram Alpha iPhone App

Or as Shazam looks-up new music you hear, since my doughter wants her dad to update his preferences from the Beatles?!, and connect to new vibrant youngster music ;-)


Moving targets: playin’ the networked web governance game

July 13, 2010

The web emerges into most parts of our daily life. In our everyday office hours, information and conversation interplay through the lenses of the web, either internally through the intranet, or externally through all our interactions with web sites and services. Obviously this blurs into our more nomadic urban life, where our mobile devices serve up as our embodied knowledge network expanders. The emerging lifestyle with blurred realities, work, family and friends do stress new ways to govern our enterprise web spaces. Networked conversations in your private and professional life have to be a learning process.

In my research and practice, Web Governance repeats as one unsolved riddle, both for large enterprise portals (read intranet) or external web portals and sites. This governance theme have been heavily debated in communities of practice amongst Internet and intranet professionals, where several really good ideas and practices have been elaborated to find a design pattern that fits for purpose in our networked business environment. The term Web will in this context cover the enterprise information and communication spaces where web technology is the key delivery mechanism, be it enterprise portals / intranet, internet sites or extranet in all modalities stationary/mobile. Inside the corporate wall and outside web governance have different set-up, but when the open and networked everyday life unfolds, things will be very similar.

A few areas that still need to be ironed out are (focus in this blog post on #3):

  1. Intersection between business strategy, decision making, operations and web governance. Who owns the enterprise web platforms when everything becomes web? Depict the areas of responsibilities? Mark Morrell @ BT reveals his tales from the trenches…(being web manager)
  2. Web governance and IT governance, flip side of the coin? or a multi-faceted shadow entity? Since the Web do have heavy implications to the ICT environment for any enterprise
  3. User Adoption, and engagement in the continuous evolving business demand to everyday use of Web platforms.

Pre-condition: Every large web site is a complex adaptive system

A complex system is a dynamic network of agents (which may represent cells, species, individuals, firms, nations) acting in parallel, constantly acting and reacting to what the other agents do, John Holland

Can we govern a series of moving targets?

The control of a complex adaptive system tends to be highly dispersed and decentralised

The overall behaviour of the system is the result of a huge number of decisions made every moment by many individual agents

A networked Web Governance model….

Networked Web Governance

Networked Web Governance

This simple work-flow illustration stretches to the two core implications with User Adoption and conversation and pragmatic steps to make ‘the Web’ space development more transparent, second the ‘builders‘ view. The latter have been pretty detailed over the years with a set of useful good practices and patterns, such as Enterprise Architecture, ITIL, agile methods and other means to deliver new features to the Web.

The core problem, relates to the initial conversation amongst actual end-users, about i.e. their intranet experiences and business demand. Over the years we as practitioners have tried to take ‘hostages‘ through different means of end-user participation methods (i.e. UX), but in most cases I have discovered both in practice and research we end up having’ the ‘developers‘ (web professionals) driving the scene. The developer’s guild will obviously encompass, both ‘content owners’ and communication professionals, and all different pieces of the ICT folks trying to deliver the Web technologies. I know it is pretty unconventional to pair the communication professionals and ICT folks into one coherent group, but in reality they have melded together.

Obviously, as with Intranet Managers, they usually derive from the communications guild, but since they have to cope with a ‘social technology artefact’ being the CMS, Portal, Search or whathaveyou techie stuff, they learn to master the language of the ICT folks to be able to reach for their everyday business demand to deliver a decent working platform to undertake their craftsmanship. Similar to the ICT people working close with the communicators, they sooner than later try to become web communication ‘savvy’, with some difficulty ;-) . Regardless of this, these two Communities of Practices have so far represented the ‘business’ in the lion part of all decision-making bodies to deliver the intranet, enterprise portal or Internet sites. All in all they do represent the Professional Web practices, meaning people working everyday delivering content or technology for the Web.

With the advent of Emerging Social Software Platforms, Andrew McKefee (read web 2.0 technologies) there is a new player to the Web Governance game: the business end-user, who contributes daily through their ‘in-the-flow’ conversations with peers. In IS research, the Diffusion of Technology and Innovation is omnipresent! There are bulk loads of stories/research data from ERP, CRM, CSCW and so forth that show how crucial User Adoption is to reach for real business values, and how often misuse, no-use and so forth diminish the outcome of the investment in any ICT platform.

The ambition with the outlined and proposed (simple) Web Governance Model is to bridge this gap through open-conversation spaces (emerging social software platforms, web 2.0 technologies). To be able to cultivate a vivid, cultivated community that in a highly dispersed and networked manner engage in the development and change of the enterprise Web platforms.

Web Governance, today and cues to the future

As many gurus within intranet and web, have stated there are some commonalities for an i.e. Intranet Strategy and Governance model. Mr Martin White compiled a simple and descriptive model 2007 that still works as good bedrock for our conversation. Lacking in this model is User Adoption and Participation. It has three dimensions: steering, operations, and lastly development. As stated by Martin White , Jane McConnell, Gerry McGovern and others in the ‘guru‘ conversation, there is no one-model-fits-all! The set-up for any given enterprise has some similarities or patterns, but then reality comes in and strikes back. In the best of worlds we all would like our key leaders and managers, such as the CEO, CIO, VP HR, VP Communication etc to become owners of the Web Governance.  Over the years, and in enterprises that have a more matured governance model, they do act in the Web Governance space; in other it is less obvious who will take the lead in all this. It would also be very nice to have the strong leaders/managers from the key areas in the business to take active part in the governance of their enterprise web, such as marketing, sales, supply chain, operations or Research & Development.

Simultaneously with the efforts to bring the managerial resources to the dinner table, there is a need to close the gap to the IT-Governance model. Sometimes these resources do overlap, sometimes not. In several cases that I have written about in my research there is an emerging practice to deal with web governance, but this is continuously interlinked with the means (money): The IT-governance people do act and own the money to invest in the infrastructural pieces that make-do of any Web. Power Relations and politics!!!

Too play any game, as board games like chess, backgammon or why not Monopoly, we all need a set of common rules (standards, policies, operating procedures), but the actual game playing is like a live soap-opera. In the Networked Web Governance model, the main idea is to bring in ‘social constructs’ derived from the open-source movement. If the model is able to cope with different levels of granularity, dispersed open decision making amongst many agents in real-time through Emerging Social Software Platforms  we will be able to boost User Adoption.

The democratisation of the business demand and change conversations from the Web Professionals scene to all users, with a strong focus on Communities, will be the lever. Essential in all this, is that when the developers ‘black box‘ is open, and the conversation flows. The users do not have to cope with professional ‘lingo‘ to express their needs, instead the social fabric of networks will bridge this and make-do of the conversations and translations between practices.

All Artisans, like ICT-folks, Communication pros’ use different means and tools to communicate. A common allegory: When you buy a house you invite several different crafts to both translate your ambitions to what the house should look like, what features and uses you intend to have with this artefact in a social fabric. They all translate this into their descriptive models and simplifications to both make-do of their internal practices communication, but also between practices (carpenter, plumber, electrician, roofers, architects and so forth). You as the forthcoming user of the house will have the opportunity to both compile their detailed schemes and models, but most often you trust their craftsmanship.

Sometimes you as a house buyer have difficulties to express your inner thoughts about the social use of the house, and the artisans deliver a house with a disjoint end-user experience….but if you had the option to tap into ‘all’ house buyers networks, combined with the artesian common place knowledge in their standards and guidelines as well as their internal discussion. You would at least have the option to be able to have a more fluent dialog. And hopefully your house would emerge into something you actually asked for, or want move into!


Panopticon or Beacon revisited: What’s the currency of your digital trails and social graphs?

April 24, 2010

The network society have never been more connected, and intertwined and every day we take gigantic steps into unknown territories and the philosophical appearance of ‘you/me’. In my quest, being researcher within knowledge networking in the era of Internet use, it is truly fascinating to sense this adaptive environment. Two well-known Internet brands (Google and Facebook) compete at the frontiers to learn all about the collective mind, and in their ecologies we see several symbiotic application spaces (Twitter et.al.).

Prior to the event of web 2.0 and social media and more specifically Facebook we have never had the opportunity to connect all our facets of ourselves and the networks we act within. The ease of sharing and contribute, is the main motivation for people being engaged online, since it strengthen our self-esteem, self-manifestation and persona amongst our peers. Recent emerging technologies from either Google (Buzz) and present also Facebook (Open Graph API) stress the privacy issues into new terrain. Before the event of Internet where we expose our everyday life into the digital trails of our information quest, and social networking, we didn’t have to tailor our privacy settings [1]. Some countries use surveillance on their citizens (panopticon)……are we heading the very same path on Internet? Many Internet savvy peers, who question the ‘good’ of letting your digital trails and contributions to become the currency for large brands, will reinvent tools and practices to act under the radar of corporate surveillance, no doubt about it. Whereas the crowd, not being Internet savvy stay put!

Social Mashup- here comes everybody – into one space?

Why, is something we all question in our everyday life online? It feels strange to share conversation space with relatives, peers, co-workers, customers, friends and family (including mother-in-law, and kids… expanded family).  One has to consider who will be presented with your status updates, and sometimes-different networks simply do not comprehend to messages sent. In my case, who is über-social-networked compared to many peers this happens daily.

It isn’t difficult for me being a frequent user of social media; too see these changes as disruptive to the web per se, but also too future business models. Obviously Facebook wants to tap into the knowledge about Us as Google have been doing in a very prosperous way. A snippet of Adsense success and cashflow! 10 reasons why Facebook focus on Facebook and not the open-web ;-) = $!

I really like the idea of making things easy to share, and too network with my peers to connect, and for me the web isn’t the corporate BS stuff that have been flooded since 1995 with indifferent corporate web sites. The frustrating theme in all this is that these emerging standards to do mashup, aren’t interoperable. Open Social and Facebook Connect and Open Graph do not act seamless.

Internet in either modality, stationary or mobile needs to nurture the open arena, open innovative and emerging standardisation efforts to build new application layers upon previous efforts, with no proprietary owner of one protocol. My hope is that Open Social and Open Graph use will merge into a more coherent social networked space. We all need filters to cope with information overload issues, and in that social search and social networking becomes our most tangible use patterns (Search Patterns, Design Patterns for Social Web). RSS, Twitter and future use of Open Graph will evolve in this individual channel and conversation filtering. But it won’t erase my need to embark into different search patterns. My social networks gathered in i.e. Facebook do not always match the everyday needs I have, so I don’t think Facebook will eat the whole cake from Google or similar places.

Facebook Beacon revisited, or a Google Buzz big step-into ‘social-surveillance-shit-creek’ ought to be learning spaces for these innovative brands, but still they sometimes act in such a hyper-speed manner without consideration, reflection and thought through mind-sets. Yes, innovation – but to what cost? In the best of worlds we get crowd sourcing and knowledge networking for the common good, the flip side of the coin is mobs where ignorance shows its ugly face. The ease to lever in the social contribution value chain from viewer, listener, to lastly become curator is a good thing, since the more people share the closer we get in some sense. Smart-mobs taking the means at hand to change the power relations overhaul countries with less transparency and democracy.

Lastly a reflection about the conversation about Enterprise 2.0.

I have been engaged to many different arenas to talk about the change, and what strikes me is the lack of overview perspective. IT-folks do get hooked upon the emerging technologies, but fail to go beyond the developers’ backyard. PR/Media/Marketers gurus do build early adapters networks of in-breed conversations.  But neither of these practices builds cohesive groups with mixed resources, since they have different quests to the business landscape. All reflect early adopters that test and develop the maps in the new human social terrain. Meantime everyday users contribute daily, without tag themselves as social media savvy or gurus. This later mass of people reflects all other areas within our corporations of today.

If leadership want to build future Enterprise 2.0 business, they need all of the corporate clans to collaborate and coordinate their conversations. The problem is that we are living in two different time zones, since change on the Net is in hyperspace speed, whereas internal enterprise change takes much longer time. Still intranet is a poor reflection of Internet behaviour, and usually way behind in ease of use. Mashup of our daily lives will continue, no doubt, but consider the less than zero business model always have a flip side of the coin. Your Privacy – the most tangible asset of our time.


Coaction and apophenia: patterns of the collective mind

March 28, 2010

The act of participation and collaboration is one deeply engraved pattern amongst us human beings. Our brain capacity is far reaching when it comes to adaptation. The senses we use to communicate remains the same, but our tools change as well as our everyday pursuit. Teamwork is a well-researched area, as well as knowledge management but I would like to give some cues to future networked coactions, from two similar but still different experiences. Both cases do reflect the need to coordinate, collaborate with a specific outcome and timeline. Highly time-stamped, as they both represent live events for knowledge creation. Both cases have co-located and distributed networked resources, where the first all participants work at the same enterprise and the second case several actor networks contribute in the collaboration.

Themes on knowledge networking

  1. Intra-organisational
  2. Inter-organisational

When pulling together a teamwork effort, to create any information and knowledge to be shared we all agree that being co-located will the best way to deliver. But one cannot squeeze all resources into one spot, without a great effort and to a high cost, so we daily rely on distributed networks to get things going.

How do we get knowledge flows seamless with different modalities to interaction, prior, during and after an event?

Case I: Intra-organisational. A consultancy firm with a Community of Practice, being experts within enterprise content management.

How does one expand a live event experience into a multichannel knowledge flow?

The setting, 150+ in the CoP and a corporate body with 1300+ in several countries, but mainly Swedes. A two days event off-site and a nice location with invited guest artists with fixed theme. Prior to the event a wave conversation emerged to develop the agenda, shared ideas to our joint outcome after the event. The internal SharePoint collaborative space and a Yammer mixed the channels, but the main contribution in Wave to trial multi-user-wiki experience, and to expand the prior-event conversation to the guests as well.

At the event, a live HD-Video broadcast were set-up to capture and stream the guest artists to everybody not being on-site. Collaboratively participants contributed to the vivid and lively wave conversation, and posting internal tweets using Yammer to get cross talk within the whole corporate body. The idea generation from the event, used a tailored Moderator series, were distributed resources could add questions to the participants, while listening to the video streaming experience and following the simultaneous contribution channels.

Outcome? Well, it took awhile to get all accustomed to Google Wave (well documented drawback), but when 90+ peers work from one highly connected place, in time and space. Things do emerge and new ways of knowledge contribution in a never before seen fluid way, really made the event a success. The distributed approach to invite people to an onsite experience while being away, really worked well and we got several ‘spot-on’ questions in the idea-generation in Moderator that converged well into the stew. Good quality streaming and video/sound and fun new conversational spaces enlightened all participants. The art of community is a social construct, and the digital habitats needs stewardship.

Case II: Intra-organisational. A live Tech Business Case Competition, with students, University and Corporate resources co-located and distributed

Will open-spaces and Internet based (i.e. ‘social media’) collaboration improve knowledge sharing?

The setting, 16 teams from top Universities from all over the world were invited to a 24h race, where they would develop a tech business case and present it to top-corporate management. Winner gets 25 000 USD. The joint taskforce from the corporate world and University, wanted to tap into the collective mind and the stream (‘social media’ use amongst smart MBA students anno 2010), to capture the vivid online conversation. This years quest ‘Navigating the sea of Connectivity‘!

Prior to the event several different means were used to collaborate, Google Apps/Docs, Wave, email, teleconferences, and inside the corporate walls SharePoint spaces. Different means to develop a coherent plan of actions and activities, simply put distributed-teamwork. To engage the students before arrival Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Linkedin, and a Univ. Blog and corporate dot com sites where used. At the event a very distributed team from both the corporate and university worlds acted both co-located at the university site and on the Net. All competing teams were given a twitter accounts, and shared principles for participation and contribution were used. To glue all channels together a social tagging scheme were proposed. Given that the teams managed to aggregate the online conversation regardless of contribution space in a coherent way, using Google Reader, Twingly, Tinker and Yahoo Pipes. This mashup tinkering and pragmatic approach delivered a very comprehensive and easy to use flow. During the 24h race the tweets from the different actor networks melted into one social tag space, and cascaded into live-blog entries and Facebook page updates. The same path emerged from video, sound and picture uploads. The co-located competing teams used many different tools, such as DropBox, Google Docs and Slideshare in their knowledge creation before presenting to top-management.

Post event, the ambition is set to develop a collaborative story telling based upon mashup technologies and i.e. Wave conversation (to be told in future posts)

Apophenia, the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things

Traditional collaborative spaces, i.e. old school Notes used during the 90′ and today’s corporate use of SharePoint have well documented draw backs, so will new emerging technologies in the social media and mashup spaces (Enterprise 2.0) unleash new ways of knowledge sharing internally or externally? Given these two very simple cases, there are some tangible cues:

  1. Mashup, bringing all channels together and all actor networks. Filtering is key, since we all act as individuals in the ecosystem of our everyday life. Simple integration works.
  2. Being social! Well, network effect runs the show! Constraints given the mission impossible to squeeze everybody into one room, will find its remedy using social media tools.
  3. Open collaborative spaces unleash innovation. Serendipity will be a beacon when we all connect. Cross talk inside the corporate walls or on the Net glues the collective mind into an emerging tapestry.
  4. Simplicity rules, low-cost and fast deployment of context specific collaborative spaces. Technical infrastructures and information interoperability between platforms, a modular architecture. Disruptive Technologies runs innovation.

These new tool-kits to undertake teamwork as in both cases; do give us new means to solve the problem. A richer experience! But one obvious warning to all this, it is not about the tools. The social fabric will emerge, and we do not always know which tool kit that will fit for purpose. The answer to the questions raised based upon the experience from these two separate events is:

  • To get knowledge flows seamless, one have focus on simplicity of contribution and integration
  • To expand a live event, one have to have orchestrated and well governed approach, spiced with loads of pragmatism
  • Emerging technologies for collaboration do improve the outcome

Are there any patterns of the collective mind? Yes, make-do and pragmatic tinkering works regardless of technology. We as humans adapt!

A fun notion to all this, is that prior to the events in the two cases, SharePoint worked pretty good to capture the preparation, but ones the event went live the distributed teams needed to mix modalities from being mobile (using Facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube and texting) and stationary producing blog entries, content and presentations. Micro-coordination had to cope with this multitude of channels and modalities. By no means this happened to be workflow, or traditional document management. Having SharePoint on your mobile device yet? think not! but a set of social media tools….future posts will continue these early thoughts.


Silicon Snake Oil / Being Digital: the wheels keep turning

December 7, 2009

In recent quest in my research arena, and in work practice I face the mixed feeling of dejá vu to the internet heydays. Social Media has reached the peak level of exposure, and the examples brought to mind by evangelist (including myself) do realise new ways of connecting the business to the business ecology. In the very same space I also get this picture of ‘true’ and real values, and pumped up storries that never will be able to go through a sanity check in the first place. One of the most tangible and visible proof of evidence is the rush to get a ‘social media’ sign-post in all hubs, like facebook, twitter, flickr and youtube without first asking common sense questions. What will our (corporate brands) conversation in these space be with the people interacting with us? The management get stressed pitched voices realising that their end-user base who used to visit their now very dead corporate sites don’t feel like going there to pay a visit. People connect with people, simple as that!

I recall reading the now famous book Being Digital and getting hooked to the promised land way back in the 90’s, and in the same time reading the very fun counter story Silicon Snake Oil. All of us who got onto the internet bandwagoon first time around, and crashed in early 2000’s will probably get a gut feeling of dejá vu today.

For me the use of Internet has always been a social journey with peers and friends, from early (1989) mailing-lists, newgroups sharing C++ conversations outside the corporate firewall without the corporate bosses knowing about this social interaction. Solving day-to-day things and socialise. Internet has always been a social media for me, so the phrase is really a oxomoron/paradox. The contrast is that unsocial-media? spellt as dead-end no conversation corporate sites and marketing mambo-jambo that the Internet has been digitally landfilled with the last decade or so. Tim Berner-Lee‘s vision of the web still prevails as my ambition to everything I do, and the social fabric of friends, family, coworkers, peers and hangarounds is nowadays almost embodied since the event of mobile internet experiences. Never unconnected?

Social Media with a grain of salt, please! Connect with people, engage in on-going conversations that will make your business and life more prosperous. Another thing that makes me curious, is why it is said to be difficult to measure the business effect of social media use, internally and externally? In all business processes that will be infused by social media, it should be pretty key to set key-performance-indicators. In customer/market related activites, one ought to find brand exposure, e-commerce turn around, and improved customer support. For innovation climate, it falls down to strategic collaboration to improve the pipe-line of products and services with greater speed to deliver, and so forth. All these KPIs will be possible to measure through analytics, since all traces of activity leave raw data to capture and monitor in a pace never ever seen before. Keep an eye on process improvements as always in times of change, and you will find good metrics for Social Media. Get away from the hype-valuation-formulas, since that only distract the actual values. What were the business values for connecting the Internet last time around? or getting a working telephone infrastructure? When people connect and engage in conversations to socialise it will create value. The economy of networking is solid proof.

The future is bright, if not all spaces will be eroded by corporate BS.  Having the on-going Climate conference in Copenhangen in mind. Keep the nature clean, as well as our collective mind ;-)


Festering lumps of postponed embarrasment: will Wave enlighten the CMS world?

October 18, 2009

The work practice amongst many Internet site-owners, intranet managers, content owners and communication’s professionals, tell the very same never ending story, that the prevailing CMS worldview is hampering their daily work practice. Why is this the fact still anno 2009? Independent of ‘brand of choice’ in the web content management sphere. Some better, some are less good, but the outstanding issues won’t go away that easy.

The work practice being a content editor cover three very simple steps: cope with the incoming business triggers that might become content or news [I,II,III], evaluate the story through social networking with peers and involved stakeholders [IV]; Second prepare the actual text, with good wordsmith practice including ‘clean up’ the incoming material from the providers. Usually through email conversations, using attachment and Word file, that needs to be run through the text formatting washing machine prior to entering it to the actual CMS editor environment. Topping this step comes the cumbersome process of putting the content into context with proper meta-data, tagging schemes and cross-linking before shooting it out into publishing mode [V]. Sometimes the techies have also added the workflow publishing purgatory before the editor actually will be able to view the content in context. Some less fortunate lost souls in the communicators/content editors network might even have to use user-unfriendly user-interface that stops them from actually ‘seeing/viewing’ the content before entering the workflow publisher purgatory. Not to mention, that cross-linking might be the content file share from hell quest, rather than easy link-in-context.  Linking is probably one of the most hot-topics to any site owner. Everybody loves a cross-linked web, internally or externally, or if you are a robot from a well know search engine. However, being content editor puts you in a conflict with your own backyard trying to finish your story timely and skip deep linking.

The three main problem domains, in any CMS relate to these steps

  1. Collaboration prior to publishing the content
  2. Putting content in context
  3. Findability, derived from poor information architecture and management practice

New ways/waves of collaboration/conversation

Given the in-built features to Google Wave there are several positive options (when Google Wave will finally will be released, I have only done early trials as all of us in this space). When you work within a large corporate setting the networking amongst your peers is really a problem, even if you work within one and the same CMS. Regardless of CMS backbone, the lack of easy collaboration prior to publishing is always done in environments outside the actual CMS (read email threads and attachments). From the editors position this co-ordination of entries to content and reviews of peers or stakeholders is time consuming to say the least, but the built-in ‘lock-in’ thinking with both the CMS world per se, and email and MS Office document increases the headache. In my research, with in-depth on-site work sitting co-located with editors in global large corporations the last 4-5yrs, this has become one of my main contribution to my forthcoming dissertation. Content or news provision will often be lost in transmission. Obviously there are times when content creation needs to address closed settings, given the sensitive nature of the actual information, but the bulk load of work do not fit into this space. Hence, there is a great opportunity to open up the collaborative environment using Google Wave/Docs tinkering, instead.

The two main contributions to the quality of the content provision relates to decrease of coordination work keeping track of versions of the text circulating in the process. Second, with proven poor deep-linking status to many intranet or Internet sites this will be enforced, since the contributors will be able to add links on the fly in the provision process. When all collaboration and work-in-progress development is set and the editors finally enter the content base into the CMS (preferable through simple integration from the Wave to CMS world).

Lastly the open collaborative environment will make this work more transparent to other peers in the network, which is one core problem. You do not always know who too invite into the provision process. Many stories uncovered in my own publications shows exactly this backdrop to the CMS world. If you have more than 2000+ editors on a global scale it will become impossible to keep social ties in all levels, even if you share the very same work practice. All clusters/networks of editors do serve different parts of the business. In stark contrast to other commentators into this debate, I think the Wave infused CMS world will showcase its best performance in large scale implementations. Not to say that we are going to see 2000+ edits into one and the same Wave, but the flat structure to document creation and the open structure will enforce an much more precise delivery. I dare to say, that if the CMS world don’t reformat the old file share, container document equivalent mind-set they will become obsolete.

Future post into this space will continue the last two hot topics, ‘put in context and my special interest in findability ;-)

I will report on on-site implementations of Wave and CMS integration forthcoming, since several of my clients and research domains do undertake early trials as we speak. Moving away from the traditional CMS space? Why give an ‘old school’ and outdated CMS to so many editors, when all they might actually need sits in simple tools like WordPress or Google Docs/Wave? What is the cost benefit analysis to this? I have worked with the counterpart of BIG brands in the CMS world, and they all fall into the very same snake pit, sadly!


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: augmented reality or death by information overload?

September 7, 2009

Remember a day in life, when ‘triggers’ didn’t disturb your ‘thinking’, and you got the treat to think all through and possibly solve this issue or task at hand? Well,  I rarely do these days, being engaged into new related themes all through my working day. The stark contrast to reality when your iPhone is dead, low on battery, and you do not have any network at hand ;-) Information addicted as anything, yes I confess, this is me.

Well the theme, isn’t by any means a new one, we cary a big load of stored memories and stories easy to retrieve and read, and even act upon, but interseption of ‘friends’ connect is a new one. Who doesn’t like to be friendly and polite, responding to a email within the blink of an eye? The death is the final curtain, so death by information overload might come sooner than you think.

Filters, do matter: this is the simplest coping strategy of them all. Lay down your weapons, and face the fact, you can not address all incoming messages, read all possible rss feeds and be all around educated in all possible angles to life, universe and everything. Cherry picking, and refined and well sought for friendly tweets might be good enough.

When reading the first edition of ‘Smart Mob’ by Howard Rheingold, I got bewildered by the ‘fun experience’ to get augmented reality, and now this is in my hands as we speak. The improved reality if you will, does it make life more beautiful? well I think it surely will help a lot in many spaces, especially spiced with the ‘collective mind’ and the stream we all follow. Obviously the marketers want to tap into your brain to do major brand surgery to this space as well. Refined social filters will still rule the game. Enjoy our new improved reality, with a sanity check ones in awhile. Don’t walk into the information shadow!


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