We are the People, lets work together….

September 19, 2014

Human nature has given us the great ability to work together and be adaptive to changes in our surrounding environment since the dawn of mankind. Nothing new to this set of capabilities. Also we have been able to form uses of our common tools, so that we together manage to change society.

Citizen Participation

The tools have, and will be the foundation for innovation, and each new tool kit raises new challenges. Where we see new practices emerge, and craftsmanship to master them. In most cases, we have been situated in co-located uses, to form groups. The effort to coordinate that group, using different means to reach the set goals. Have bearing in the way we as humans communicate. Usually with a combination of spoken language and body language. In some boundary object interactions where we don’t have a common lingo. Body language have been a simple way to bridge between different communities. The communication tools used when we can’t see or hear each other have emerged over the years.

Today, our work conditions differ quite, from previous generations dependencies on co-located collaborative work. Due to the immense use of digital communication tools, and shifting focus from bodywork, to knowledge work. We simply engage in endless conversations on all levels, to undertake our daily everyday practices together. Some of these conversations have become routines, where we codify, store and use the outcome. Codified knowledge have been one of the key elements to run a large organisation, since cuneiform. Other conversations are just social-glue, to connect us with peers in order to solve the issues at hand. The problem in all this, is that the focus is more on the tools and means, and less on why we communicate and the need to coordinate our efforts in a group of people.

Trilingual inscription of Xerxes, Van, 1973.JPG
Trilingual inscription of Xerxes, Van, 1973” by John Hill – I took this photo myself using a 300 mm lens with 2X extender on a Pentax camera. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The other issue, is to find other groups of individuals to form emerging networks. Where our social ties are not so tightly knitted. But where the small world group acts in cellular fashion. The organising of resources, as humans working in different groups. The sharing practices, professions, disciplines and processes, is what we commonly call an organisation. With clear boundaries. Hence there are two dimensions to collaboration: in-bound to make the team work together, regardless if they are co-located or not. And second the out-reaching theme, connecting to the ecology where the group work and outcome signals to other parties and herds of people.

Managing the tool-kit

In my daily work practice either as researcher or information strategist I mix these two modalities of collaboration seamlessly. And I juggle around and struggle with a pretty hefty and complex tapestry of digital communication tools, since each facet of group work and context have different agreed upon tools and organising principles of information and data. And topping this, I also chose prefered tools of my own liking, that might divert from the commonly stated platform. Using these means anywhere, anytime and on any device, as stated in most digital strategies I have written or come across.

When organisation fast forward into digitally enhanced collaboration (just separating this for now from traditional group work without digital means), the most common path is to buy what all others have in their garage. “My neighbor just bought a brand new Tesla Car, and he seems to be very happy with his rather expensive choice.” Or just go for what we already have parked inside our corporate walls. Sharepoint is such a simple choice to make. It is a very capable software suite of things, that promise to solve all collaboration themes out-of-the-box. Or any other software vendor’s suite in the same ballpark.

A collaboration framework

Michael Sampson, have in his writing (books, blogs and lectures), pinpointed seven pillars for collaboration:

  1. Shared access to team/group information and data
  2. Location independence
  3. Real-time authoring and editing
  4. Group/team aware calendaring
  5. Social engagement
  6. Group/team task management
  7. Collaboration auto-discovery

The first 6 pillars, rest upon the in-bound teamwork. How to make a tightly knit group of people coordinate, collaborate in a smooth manner, so that they are able to reach their targeted goal. The reason why they start to work together in the first place. Be it a project, organisational bound unit, or learning network as communities of practice.

In a group of people, regardless if they are co-located, distributed or a mix thereof, they share the same goals. Hopefully? The social ties are pretty strong, and in some spaces they know each other in and out. In others they have been pulled together for a specific task, and have to agree on the game rules to work together. In loosely coupled communities of practice or networks, the ties are more related to profession, discipline or shared interest. Hence they might not know each other at all, but still share a common ground why the meet-up and engage in online conversations. For each different facet of in-bound collaboration, there might be nuances to what capabilities they need to become fluent in the use of either digital platform. My fellow researchers have pulled together a very nice recipe book to what ingredients is needed for a sustainable digital habitat, so I do not intend to elaborate more on this here.

My ambition is to further develop some thinking and tinkering around the second theme (seventh pillar), the out-reaching collaboration.

Out-reaching collaboration – Serendipity!

The promise from all visionaries, evangelist within knowledge management. Have always been this Connected Enterprise state. Since T Davenport’s and  Larry Prusak’s book Working Knowledge from 1985.

Serendipity in life, sometimes connects dots between people. I happened to share a taxi to Milan’s airport for 2 hours with Larry Prusak 10 years ago. From a Knowledge Management research conference we both had attended and done talks at. And during this ride we both shared stories from the trenches, and connections to friends and peers. Building the social tapestry, that still unfolds. When I meet people with the same aspiration and passion for communities and networks of practice as myself.

In large organisations, it is difficult to know what is going on, on a daily basis across all places and contexts. And connecting teams and groups separated by organisational boundaries, profession, locations, processes or practices have been the promise and peril for knowledge management. Early on the focus was set on codified knowledge, as record keeping. But the more control put into the stew to get people to codify what they were up to, the less things were then added to the shared spaces. This was simply, because this extra task, diverted them from their everyday work practices. Still 20 years further down the road, this shared view of our tools and technologies persists.

The question then is: What design imperative can we build upon, so that connecting people and serendipity happens, without a steep threshold of manual work of codification?

Some consultancy firms have a culture of sharing and codifying, and this practice is also what they promise to their clients. The problem is that the lego pieces in the box, all artifacts developed by members of staff, reflecting on their observations from the trenches. Taxes lots of resources, and also the half life is pretty short. Storytelling and compelling narrative, is what sticks. This is what I remember from the personal conversation with Larry Prusak. And still after this long time, I am able to reflect on pretty detailed parts of that conversation. Not codified, or recorded.

My own reflection to the out-reaching capabilities using collaborative technologies are:

  1. Profiling
  2. Semantic Enhancements and Links
  3. Auto-suggestions in real-time

Profiling and Personal Data

As users of a multitude of digital communications platforms, we leave a digital trail. In less good circumstance this might be used against our will and intentions e.g. the NSA and other authorities’ surveillance of our digital lives. Or in online services like Facebook and Google, intrusion into our privacy online. We sign a contract with the Devil, without reading the fine print, selling our privacy as the currency for free services.

In the 90’s when I both started my internet consulting firm and research, I came across a fellow researcher at MIT Media Lab,Prof. Patti Maes. She and set of colleagues founded Firefly network inc. Using their agent technologies and collaborative filtering algorithms. They were later bought by Microsoft. One of the foundations of their technology was dynamic profiles and a standard (P3P) to people profiles and segments, and attributes to this. These technologies in different incarnations are now omnipresent, and widely used by Facebook, Linkedin, and Google to name but a few. The main idea, was that the end-user fed the agent his or her profile and preferences. Sometimes it could be a manually-intensive process of record keeping, while at other times the use of any service could add bits and parts of the users behaviour as part of a digital trail – uncovering the “tacit knowledge” of the user, and his or hers networks in doing so. The keeping of user records is sensitive as it was with P3P and the like. It failed to get traction to a larger audience due to conflicts arising from privacy and intrusion issues. It is always a matter of whom you trust. Other technology companies, have tried similar paths, to tap into the tacit knowledge, like Autonomy have with their agent-profiles and so forth. Regardless of the success or not, profiling is key in delivering anything valuable to the end user.

Finding peers and friends (FOAF) through profile records and catalogs, i.e. Active Directory (AD), is probably the most asserted requirement in any digital workplace development. Social and collaborative platforms like Sharepoint, mix both the more structured elements to a user-profile derived from AD, plus the users’ contributions, and digital-trails e.g. connected friends, groups, social-tags and so forth, NB. Office Graph (Oslo).

But in a world where everything is not hosted in one to serve them all platform, and where users depart outside into other shared spaces for their collaborative work. These single platform profiles, are pretty useless. Most organisations try to build compounds and user-profile mashups, using profile segments from a diversity of information systems (i.e HR), and services. The most ambitious efforts combine user-profile records from the inside environment, with external social media profiles,  i.e. the users Linkedin profile.

Users do like to improve their profiles, if the value in doing so is in a direct feedback loop to the use of the platform. Here LinkedIn is a good example. In other online networks, the settings for your profile have become so complex, that users just ignore configuring them at all, i.e. in Facebook.

As with the now forgotten P3P standard, the user needs to be in control of his or hers Personal Data stored in the profile. And the negotiations between the user and the service who want to manage profile-segments have to be dead-simple.

The user-profile is still one of the most underdeveloped data-sets, and the privacy issues are certainly not ironed out. But without a decent profile, all other things will fall apart. It should not be a laborious process for the end-user to keep their records in shape, and the backing set of informations systems must interoperate or else the building blocks won’t match. For online services, they rely upon browser cookies. Where all of them leave identifications and signals to the back-end services. Since the HTTP standard is decentralised and decoupled, contrasting older architectures like client-server. For each service this set-up works, but for a user with many things, devices and spaces. None of these low-level means, build a personal data record that they are able to manage and control. Or connect between services and profile segment. In a easy to use manner.

In a utopian world – profile matching gives us serendipitous experiences and connects us with other people, that we otherwise would never have met or interacted with.  For now we just hope that we are being helped to find the people we know about through FOAF and graph search. Fingers crossed, we will soon get interoperability and new emerging standards, governed by all providers… where the balance of privacy, control and open interop, just work!

Semantic Enhancements and links

In the in-bound conversations for teamwork, the sharing space for collaboration has several well-known patterns. But in many instances, failure is omnipresent, regardless of the supporting platform, be it old CSCW as IBM Lotus Notes in the 90’s and later IBM Connections, or Sharepoint. To a large extent it boils down to the  organising principles for information and data, that all participants will adhere to, and follow, with pragmatic governance, and lifecycle in mind – not forgetting the culture of caring for the users, through adaptation strategies in order to get them into a comfortable mode, actually using the given platform.

The simplest structure, is to answer a set of very obvious questions before starting a teamwork space.

  • Why are we going to participate?
  • Who will be participating and who is welcome to join, and finally, who runs the show? i.e. Information Ownership and stewardship
  • Who will be interested in the outcome from our joint effort? Audience and Coverage
  • What is the general theme for our work? Title, Topics, and brief Description
  • What kinds of artifacts and spaces are we going to use in our daily work? Type
  • For how long will we be hanging out in this collaborative space, and what will happened after we close down the room we share?
  • Relations to other domains (projects, programs or organisations). Linking!

If one uses the inverted pyramid for communications, all these questions will be pretty easy to answer. For those who fail to answer these questions, they shouldn’t be able to start the teamwork at all if there is no targeted goal for participation.

The answers to the questions above will be added as resource descriptions to the collection (metadata). That will be useful patterns for information architecture and search patterns when the amount of collaborative spaces grow. And for connecting the dots? If you also use common standards, like Dublin Core, interoperability will follow. You could have bits of your shared space in SharePoint, Archive and final Documents in a Document repository, tasks and more open collaborative space, as in a enterprise wikis (Atlassian) and jira. Using OneNote, Evernote or whatever you have. And you will still then be able to keep track of findability across spaces, and devices.

When users start to participate and contribute with digital artifacts, the supporting platform will guide them, and auto-suggest both administrative resource descriptions and narrow and targeted vocabularies. Hence the formation of a pragmatic and useful organising model to all data. Without killing the users in their pathway of adding semantics.

A final note, is that the cross-linking and auto-suggested links. Is what we get, supporting the last pillar of the seven pillars for collaboration mentioned above? We are able to add metadata and search driven user-experience and information architecture elements, that connect and link people, content and collections all together, without having to manage this complex task manually.

Auto suggestions in real-time

Finding things and navigating in real-time. Obviously to work together we need to find things to be able to act in our enacted environment, and be aware of triggers in our everyday pathway that relate to our practices. These information flows, do have to be calibrated and nurtured to not overwhelm us with data feeds. So filters! But in same breath, they not be too narrow, so we fail to connect the dots in the overarching picture to things.

There are many fancy smart devices and services, that add context and triggers to autosuggest for you on your pathway of doing your actual work. These means, should be in the background and infuse correlations that makes sense. And that it not disturb, like the well know MS Office Assistant (Paper Clip).

A connected company, is a place where people are able to work seamlessly without boundaries, in-side out, or outside in. In all this emerging internet trend like semantic web and linked-data might come handy.


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 😉


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.


Enterprise Inferno, are you Content?

August 28, 2009

There is a big divide in how the internal information environment, e.g. intranet, we use daily in any work practice works compared to our external use of Internet services and resources. Being a researcher with focus on enterprise content management, knowledge management and social networking this becomes the beacon and most obvious reply I get daily from respondents in either surveys or in interviews.

Enterprises do emerge, and grow into the big corporations over time, depending upon the business climate they act within and time. Enterprises are social constructs, where our inbuilt behaviour of using tools will be the competitive advantage if the human actors will be content with their task.

Being social implies that we act with different facets (mind-sets) depending in what network our interaction takes part. Our minds share ideas, interests or other relational aspects to life. The outfit we carry relates to our perceived role in the network, e.g. while at work we have assigned roles and responsibilities that come with expected outcome, look and feel. Our experience and know-how is embodied in the craftsmanship, in how we act and solve problems at hand. We all depend upon given infrastructures in life, as traffic rules, or shared spaces like Intranet, cities or houses. We walk around in this maze of defined or undefined infrastructure. In our quest to reach out to our networks and engage in conversations, we have always used different communication tools, today reflected with Internet use. Media is our storytelling techniques to share insights stored on papyrus scrolls or multimedia spaces like YouTube. Lastly we hang out in groups/networks, like to play different characters in these settings, either being within the family, with friends, co-workers, or neighbours or fellow citizens.

being social

being social

The business environment that we all act within stresses new options to solve our daily tasks at hand with our peers and with good leadership (if possible). The problem is that size doesn’t always matter if the counterpart of competitive advantage lies in the hands of human’s social behaviour. Obviously some businesses have very expensive tools (resources), and in the industrial era the access to these resources gave an upper hand.

How to cope with this inferno? The answer might be within reach, when corporations turn into networked entities within their realm and embrace the emerging collaborative opportunities outside the company walls. Not invented here, might be the key to future success, if cultivated into the spines of culture of the enterprise. If corporations don’t accelerate and become more adaptive and agile, they will become yesterday’s news, and left over’s in the trash bin of the enterprise world. Simply put, end-users realising that their internal information environment won’t realise good enough findability, will refocus outside the company wall. With despair reaching out to the larger community living on Internet.

A Healthcare & Lifescience scenario

What is the enterprise today? It is all about networks! A very recent and hot topic, that will be useful to illustrate the new tapestry, is the healthcare and life science space.

There are obvious actors in the network, but they fail to converge into a coherent semantic space, where the citizen and patients will be tightly intersected. The bolts in this meccano are the enterprise applications supporting the process, to either provide efficient healthcare, or develop new treatments that will improve life for us being humans. All supporting information systems within the work practice have grown out of proportions, and now when national or international actors try to harmonise the structure. They fail to see the crispy and clear picture! Focus should be set to the edges and use interoperability as one building block, combined with social constructs and behaviours deeply embedded into the pragmatic work practice. Instead the technology and deterministic worldview still prevail: lets build ONE system (large scale)

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

All available research within the domain enterprise wide system, enterprise architecture and the diffusion of technology, shows with thousands of academic papers and best-practice and valued data that this path will only lead to failure.

Crowdsourcing and inviting the citizen and patients to a co-creation of better healthcare and life science is the only feasible route. The national imperatives should only state traffic rules, improve network infrastructure, such as interoperability means and reach for open innovation spaces where practitioners will be able to create common good. One outstanding critical issue relates to new identity and security management standards to be able to be more open without loosing credibility. Patient data shouldn’t be widely open!

Emerging Architectures will rule

It is all happening as we speak that new value networks create both greater speed to change and real value back to the end-user community than traditional value chains ever have. For IS/IT professionals one have to cope with the perpetual beta and technology drifting as the building block in the architecture. Good examples with Twitter ecology, or Facebook and Google Open API Lego pieces. The enterprises that release to power in ‘emerging architecture‘, and open innovation in their value network will get content end-users. And the inside-out picture will be blended into new ways of doing business, e.g. enterprise 2.0 thinking. The culture of change is represented by for instance Cisco, as Tom Malone, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, sees Cisco as a pioneer for a larger trend. Traditionally, he says, management was about “command and control”. Now, as technology makes communication much cheaper, bosses should move to a more flexible view, best described as “co-ordinate and cultivate


Combatants: on eachothers turf, surfin’ the waves or another ‘blingbling’ bing?

June 2, 2009

The last two weeks have been very promising with new launches and sneak previews into what the giants are up to while old enterprises are going down (GM). Google strikes its first really vital attack to the one pillar in the Redmont Castle, being MOSS by launching its amazing waves concepts. I truely like the freformedness and streamy spirit to collaboration and conversation, that might overcome the knowledge sharing problems from the past. From the other side of the ring, we get a airy punch from northwest reaching for the findability organs. First impression from the search experts is pretty lame. Bing will evolve into semantic and a structured data exposé and I reckon there are some real Norweigan Wood built into the house to make-do.

Emerging technologies like wave, WolframAlpha and Bing fuels the Enterprise 2.0 scene. Outstanding questions raised, is when will these things go live in reality inside and outside the corporate environent. My humble answers, sooner than later, given the speed of change we all are undergoing. Business need to be reshaped to value networks and reach for new open innovation spaces to get profitable. The end-user community, you and me, demand simplification and interoperability. Hence firsts trials will probably be in the crossroads where different business ecologies meet and re-invent new networks, as in the intersection for Lifescience, Healthcare and citizens/patients. Each vertical have their own spices to the stew, but it will all become new semantic meaning to our daily lifes on the net.


Hitchhiker’s Guide: the ‘collective mind’, your new travel companion?

May 26, 2009

With vacation soon within reach, one starts to reflect upon ‘travel experiences’. In the hay days being youngster and backpacker late 80’s and early 90’s, before the omnipresent “Net” you travelled the world with pocket travel guides, and the serendipity of meeting new friends along the road.  Yellow notes in youthostels told you true storytelling from travel-companions, cues on what goes and what sucks… Go with the flow, and enjoy!

Since the event of the web in mid nitties, we have never seen so much content and web services dealing with travel/tourism experiences: both business travel, and true leisure. Virtual travel, is something my son (six years old), enjoys in his mind boggling journeys using GoogleMaps and GoogleEarth 😉

Dad, lets visit the Grand Canyon again before departing to Münich to glanze at ‘his’ cousins house….

What strikes me and others[swedish] is the lack of simplicity when being in pre-travel modality. You have a hunch or a gut feeling on what you are getting at, but fail to be on spot. Almost every travel site or booking site on the web use the very same trope: Business Travel! You know when you are about to depart; where you are going to have your meetings and when you are about to travel to your home sweet home. While being in travel mode you might even use some spare time to recreation? events or whathaveyou. Best Practice amongst the travel & tourism business community, have picked up some early on success stories from business travel sites, and the road have eroded ever since…. For us being in leisure less well planned travel mode. This state of affairs don’t match at all. A ‘Human Companion’, that guides you please? and you reach for the phone to call the travel-agent instead. The problem with the agent, is that he or she have to cope with the very same difficult end-user experience, and in many cases even worse ‘terminal based’ access to pre-Dinosaur relics, while keeping you in the conversation to make the reservation. The incentive! And not to mention, she/he only give you the experiences she has an incentive to book. No kidding 😉

Simple everyday scenario (me and my beloved wife in conversation about possible nice places to pay a visit):

wife: wouldn’t it be nice go to some warm place in the autumn?

husband: huh! (trying to evaluate the cost benefit analysis of continuing the dialog, having ‘credit crunch’ news stories crispy and clear in mind and with sanity check to the family expenses)

wife: can’t you find a set of ‘affordable travel experiences’ to pick from ( somewhere, in a undefined timesphere? being rainy season here in Sweden)

husband: well I could try Google….(after hours trying different travel portals, and booking sites, he fails to please the wife and her less well defined question to get a nice vacation)

Why don’t we add a ‘smart’ decision support system to help us? It is not information overload, it is filter failure!

The data about world travel, bookings and statistics are all there in the cloud, in conjunction with the ‘storytelling’ from the social media. Heureka, WolframAlpha might be the future solution to our quest? If mathematica have the ability to answer simple questions like ‘San Francisco to Tokyo‘ with simplicity, why on earth not make an investment to infuse all travel and tourism (pre-dinosaur) information systems with brilliant algoritms to compute the question raised from my beloved wife above…..

In pre-booking mode you only need rough guides to what fit for purpose, and when different travel destinations would suite your vacational dream, romatic weekend or whatever you are looking for. If you also added ‘the stream‘ to get the ‘collective mind‘ as your travel companion, boosted with  a similar end-user experience as WolframAlpha, combined with GoogleEarth (virtual travel)?! To develop this master travel experience, the travel and tourism industry need to embrace ‘open innovation‘ and release their internal data, work coherently and networked with service providers like WolframAlpha to unleash the beast. In the best of world we would see a change towards simplicity and ease-of-use, where each and every node in the network worked with great interoperability (sharing data) and use similar services.

When being in transactional mode, doing the actual booking: the scenario is pretty much straight forward eCommerce, but there are options to add temporal and contextual experiences from the Net. Similar to Amazon and the world famous cross-linking. Bare in mind, this would best be rendered in a ‘sites network ecology’, not ‘a site’ tinkering.

When you finally do travel and enjoy the treasures of the world of tourism ‘the stream’ will feed you with temporal, spatial and timely triggers to your mobile ubicomp devices.  I wrote about  similar scenarios in earlier research papers, with the case story for VisitSweden and now the social media extention CommunityofSweden (both being award winners).

If we don’t get killed by the stream I hope that Steven D. Levitt will develop some comprehendible Freakonomics story to make-do to convince the travel and tourism industry to behave more like our travel companion. I wish you all joyful journeys going forward.