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!


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.


42: interoperability and computational knowledge a fun early ride….

May 18, 2009
Ever felt happy using your computer? Well today I had one of those rare moments, when my face smiled from ear to ear while tryin’ the infamous new quest to human knowledge. WolframAlpha, is still in the first crawling modes, but computational knowledge have never been so easy to reach [intro-show]. WA won’t answer all my questions to life, universe and everything [D. Adams], but you bet I will be unbeatable in any Pub Quiz going forward using Cuil, Blinkx and WolframAlfa in a nice combo of Question:Answer sessions, topped with a pint of Guiness.

If the answer is 42 ( my age very soon, still being a man in his prime, 41), we all ask ourselfs what is the question?

Well, in my practice working with information management issues, I pretty often ran across interoperability problems when diving into the wast informtion environment of any large scale corporate landscape. Business Intelligence crowds, wish their cubes and datawarehouse binary & digits filled respositories could be as fluent as WA to the end-users never ending quest to make up new possible matchmaking efforts. Even before getting there, we need to take all the data to the laundry. From my very narrow perspective, I forsee WA-fused apps in the corporate landscape where internal data will be matched real-time with WA engine public domain knowledge. As intel inside logo, we will get apps all over the place with WA enabled.

Math will be the most sexy major subject of them all: imagine a classroom at University crowded with newly enlighted pupils, and equally gender based 😉

I wish I had a snippet of brain capacity from Dr Wolfram, but hell no. I am a mediocre ‘wannabe’… Well in times of crowdsourcing You don’t have to be the smartest IQ wise person. Good enough will do, and adding time and spritit and networking skills to the pot, will give even you a taste of knowledge/expert amongst peers and friends. This is why I found it a bit strange that, apart from the community at the site, there were no visible way to connect users using the WA-engine? and by that visualise new ground breaking ways of constructing clever questions…. well I am pretty sure that this will be amended in WBeta or even before that.

Well now I gotta invent ‘clever’ questions, and that isn’t all to easy. I have the answer, 42 but will I do with that? Friends, that is what we all will see in the future that is a bit sunnier today.


Communicator’s New Role in the Networked Corporate Landscape

May 4, 2009

Business Effective Communication will have to lean on new leadership roles for the communication professionals.

‘Fingerspetzgefühl’ on knowledge networking: Outstanding quest/question, how to change the communicator’s profession  in such a way that it will take on this new role??

#Systembuilder (process), Brooker/Gateway, Coach, and lastly Influencer

In the spine of the communicator’s practice lays the close relationship to management on all levels, both strategic and operational. The communicator’s best-practice is usually measured in how well percieved their efforts fits for purpose to management. To be in the leadership leach! The worldview is very top-down derived, but this will be problematic in a knowledge networked corporate environment.

The first role being ‘system builder’, is key to refine a work practice amongst peers in the network of communicator’s. Traffic rules that fit for purpose and make everyday operational communicational work more tangible and easy to express and systemize. The second role being a ‘brooker/gateway’ to different forms of communication inside or outside the enterprise will have to change when all actors in the network participate in the value creation in a networked manner. It is not only management agendas that set the scene no more. The third role ‘coach’ is truely a good practice when it is operational. To make-do in everyday practice amongst all actors in the network, to make the company a more fluent ‘spokes person’ inside/outside the corporate walls (that don’t exist in todays knowledge/networked economy). If the coach role in cascaded into all levels, it will make the daily ‘business game’ a winner.

Lastly, the influencer role is where all the above mentioned roles come to play. To network and act in a social manner, one have to be a good practitioner that influence the rest of the actors. Hence if the work practice amongst communicator’s will change (needed!) it will become a true asset to any organisation, and lever innovation and competitive advantage. Since the network of ‘influencer’ / communicator’s will cultivate the networked business arena.

Bricolage and ‘make-do’ in the networked society! The new era for leadership is communication, to co-ordinate and cultivate!


Collaboration Resurrection: ‘Suger-Daddy’ will take you to the clouds!

April 25, 2009

In recent posts on the Net, the beloved collaboration and knowledge sharing theme have been set into a new notion of future directions. Interesting for all of us doing research closely related to computer supported collaborative work (CSCW), knowledge management and new themes such as social media and web 2.0 and enterprise 2.0. The well documented backdrop of early attemps into the knowledge management realm, and CSCW where Lotus Notes were taken as “hostage” to illuminate the inbuilt social dilemmas. Have now ones again been set into the ‘hot-seat’, given the major switch to the collaboration suites from Redmont.

Suger-Daddy (Mr B. Gates) is set to induce us all into this new collaboration space. The reported grand use of the platform, makes me a bit curious: to what extent will social norms to knowledge sharing have impact to the reality check in all this? To a large extent, the new social media and web 2.0 collaboration and conversation ICT use, resambles very similar outset as the 90’s CSCW! Which from my part give me a gut feeling of “deja vu” 😉 Especially when I listen to techie evangelist, who fail to make sanity check to the social dilemmas that CSCW and early KM work faced.

Collaboration and Conversational use is key to Social Media inside corporations (how open?) Disclaimer: Cisco marketing stuff

Background

(reformated excerpts from ECIS 2006 paper “Examining knowledge exchange and organizational outcomes within intra- organizational electronic networks of practice with restricted access”, Teigland, Wasko & Landqvist)

With the rapid development of internet communication technologies, individuals may now communicate and participate in discussions easily with others in their organization regardless of time and space through emergent electronic networks focused on work-related issues.  As a result, many multinational organizations are implementing web 2.0 tools, such as Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) or similar eCollaboration suites from other vendors, to promote the sharing and creation of knowledge across internal organizational boundaries.  Investments in these technologies are driven by the assumption that knowledge is the firm’s most valuable resource and that new knowledge and competitive advantage are created through the integration of knowledge embedded in the minds of the organization’s individuals.  Management hopes that by creating virtual meeting spaces, numerous geographically dispersed individuals will be able to gain access to new information, share expertise, and discuss ideas with others who are often not available locally or through their immediate social networks of friends, contacts, and colleagues within the organization.  Building upon the work of Brown and Duguid (2000),   these computer-supported networks is refered as “electronic networks of practice.”

While management and designers of enterprise wide implementation of i.e. Sharepoint expect that the users of these systems will engage in the open sharing of knowledge, generating greater knowledge flows throughout the organization, what tends to happen is that the technology is adapted to the local situations by its various users and ends up being used differently than it was initially intended (Orlikowski 1992).  Researchers have clearly demonstrated that in many cases knowledge is not like other commodities, people are not necessarily willing to share all types of knowledge , and organizational culture and not technology has a greater impact on whether people exchange knowledge.  Employees may or may not be willing to share knowledge as widely as technology makes possible or as much as managers desire.  Different appropriations of the technology by different groups of users within the organization create some interesting dynamics that reflect an underlying split “personality” of the firm.  Some organizations may develop a culture of internal norms that discourage knowledge exchange because of the fear of industrial espionage or of diverting employees’ attention away from their direct work tasks.  More specifically, there is a tension within organizations between creating an open, information sharing culture that promotes knowledge flows and innovation and keeping its proprietary knowledge secret from competitors through restricted access and formal controls. Which is the inbuilt promise from Enterprise 2.0 envagelists, to open up the firms ones and for all. Organizations that are successful because of their ability to exploit proprietary knowledge, such as research and development intensive firms, benefit from the innovations resulting from open knowledge flows but may actually have policies and procedures (both explicitly stated and implicitly assumed by workers) that discourage open sharing.  Ironically, intranet technologies, i.e MOSS,  can be appropriated by users to develop open, electronic networks of practice, where anyone with an interest in the shared practice can participate, or users can appropriate the technologies to create private communities, creating knowledge silos by restricting access to participation.

The issues and challenges of using SharePoint for Enterprise 2.0 (Dion Hinchcliffe)

  1. Sharepoint is not web native
  2. The technology landscape of the enterprise environment fits SharePoint well; the business requirements to  a lesser extent.
  3. The wilds of the open network can be a challange for Sharepoint
  4. Self-service capabilities are lacking or not emphasized
  5. Cost and compexity

Web native implies something that by its nature is something ‘obscure’ from the start for the Redmont folks. Sharepoint is more a diligent market re-format from a desktop tinkering that is used to great extent. The fit for purpose extention is tricky since Sharepoint started its routes in a another realm, but have been reshaped to look like a web 2.0 suite (getting there with extentions and costly tweaks). From my part I think the most central challenges resides in the in-built lock-in/control contrasting open thinking. Enterprise 2.0 is all about applied open innovation tinkering and freeform mass-collaboration, where the document/desktop centric analogy fails to leverage to a large scale. Which gives us millions of knowledge silos and no findability. Hence all the debates into this space. The invaders from north west will surely manage a great improved suite where most of the in-built difficulties will have been fixed. Question still remains, will R.Ozzie be able to get his fellow peers into the collaboration thinking. I think he will, since this is where he comes from, and where future business in the cloud will be their cash-flow. Azure still need to been realised in reality to be comparable to Amazon EC2 or Google stuff. My personal reflection will all these clouds be compatible/interoperative? since all business networks will not be computed in only one cloud. The sky is full of clouds and even some sun 😉

Conclusion

Although there has been a significant increase in networked communication and a growing interest in technology-supported knowledge management, to date the basic assumption by researchers and practitioners alike has been that individuals value the open sharing of knowledge.  However, there has been little research into what happens when organizations try to promote the open sharing of “secret” or proprietary knowledge. Wikinomics gives us some cues.

Proprietary knowledge exchange within an intra-organizational electronic network focused on discussions of work practice is dependent upon

(from ECIS 2006 paper)

  1. the size of the electronic network
  2. the structure of ties that emerge through individual interactions in the electronic network
  3. the relational quality of ties that develop between individuals in the electronic network
  4. the relational ties individuals have with the organization
  5. the individual attributes extended to the electronic network.

Related threads and topics in the blogosphere that is really good reading:

Dion Heathcliffe [1, 2], Sarah Perez [1], Bill Ives [1], James Dellow [1] Hutch Carpenter [1], Marissa Peacock [1], Sameer Pretzel [1] and lastly my favorite Thomas Wander Val [1].

Don’t eat to much suger, moderation is good for you! The swedish term ‘lagom’ reflect the pragmatic approach to things. I think we all are going to see these threads around collaboration continue. Regardless of technology at hand.  Human behaviour and social themes won’t go away that easy even if we now have a US President who ‘twitter’ and masscollaborate using Google Moderator! A fun world!


Citizen (in)sanity: What Enterprise 2.0 unleash into the E-Government Mash-up Soup?

March 30, 2009

The expectations too forthcoming e-government is huge! As citizen we expect the different ‘service bodies’ that is reflected as the state, region/county, city or neighbourhood to act in a new agile and flexible manner. Transparency to the public sector is by all means something we see as a true democracy milestone. This new agenda for the public sector, regardless if it is police, hospitals, schools or other domains unleashes pretty obvious glitches in the tapestry. In many cases we as citizens fail to reach out to the service providers, simply because we don’t know or care how they are organised and whom is set as responsible and who to contact. Many everyday needs from us citizens, reflect end-user scenarios where we would like to have a public sector that acted as one layered service provider with simple and easy access, but reality check show us it is truly a maze we enter. Inter-organisational relations and shortcomings into the well-known social norms of power and knowledge sharing, stresses that we as citizens fall in between different service providers.

In a world prior to Internet and ‘Googlish’ instant access to information and services, this would still hold up in court. Bureaucracies have this inbuilt aura: hence Franz Kafka’s very illustrative and still vital trilogy, the Castle, the Trial and America. Now we as citizens don’t accept these loose ends and no means tinkering: We want perfect information delivery instantly regardless of were about we are, being at office, at home or moving around.

Findability is key to all this, from an E-Government perspective. If we as citizens can’t find the information needed to act coherently with the service providers and other citizens the trust decrease rapidly. In many cases E-Government have focused on perfecting the ‘work-flow’ and business processes behind the scenes within different silos of organisational units. Before we as citizens transcend from information seekers into transactional modalities to “ask for a specific service delivery”, we need to find the information. Or cues to interaction with the service providers…

The new transparent open public sector behaviour is something that we as Swedes have set as one of the key take a ways of being citizens in one of the most open societies on earth, but the truth of the matter is that we in several occasions through out our life journey get Kafkaian public sector experiences 😉

A very tangible scenario is emergency response where several different actors need to coordinate their effort to save lives amongst us citizens. Recent research from my fellow researcher (Jonas Landgren) at the Viktoria Institute, and practice have shown obvious glitches that might be solved using open arenas, emerging technologies with a ubiquitous information environments where we as citizens ‘co-act’ in time-critical actions. The term that reflect this emerging social networking is ‘smart mob‘.

There are a set of key elements to future design, one have to consider regardless if one have responsibility to a city web site portal or other more local/specialised information services.

  1. Information interoperability within the network of actors and the ubiquitous information environments. Mashup technologies and simple web oriented architecture (WOA) and to some extent service oriented architecture (SOA). The later hampered with way to complex integration schemes compared to WOA.
  2. Spatial (geographic), and temporal (time) navigation and pathways to information and humans
  3. Genre as means to lever ‘wayfinding‘ in all digital domains. Language constructs, like metadata (i.e. Dublin Core),  controlled vocabularies, ontologies, taxonomies and folksonomies (social tags) are the building blocks to the information architecture, and future semantic web. Healthcare have one very active interest group to cope with these central issues, and more groups do emerge within e-government/public sector.
  4. The need to reach for levels and granularity in information delivery: most users need very local/individual information that is bridged to global information.
  5. Guided Classification and inter-linking in all content provision, to improve information quality and findability.
  6. Decentralised and dispersed governance models, where we as citizens collaborate, have conversations and co-act with service delivery actors. Social Media integrated into daily practice. Transparency stress new ways of working!
  7. Portal top-down tinkering will fail, act in a networked manner. No service stands in the “top”, since end-users will dive into the details and not start their journey in a expanded file-share from hell click trip!

Obviously technology is one mean to this, but most of the design criteria is sound “common sense” human social norms. Lastly do not re-design, refine…. Act in everyday use, and have the word pragmatic as the standard.

All in all many of the search patterns give hands-on fixes, such as the use of facets, best-bet and other means to guide the citizen.

Concluding remarks

Wayfinding and navigation being a citizen is very individual: we start our journeys from different perspectives and with  different levels of knowledge. A ‘Google start’ with a explicit quest in a query, or guessing a “top-node” starting point, i.e the local hospital, city, region or whatever granularity we reach for. Any ambition to make-do of one ‘costume for all purpose’ will be destined to fail! This mash-up behavior unleashes the urgent need to collaborate, and open-up a mixed experience. When we as citizens finally get a clue on to whom we need to engage with to get the set of packaged services needed. There are outstanding and unresolved patterns of integration and disconnected none inter-operative supporting service. In this complex scenery one should apply ‘good enough’ and ‘dead-simple’ integration (i.e RSS, Widgets) to not reach ‘dead-lock nirvana’ with power relations blocking any feasible way of make-do. Here we see notions of future intermediary such as Google Health that takes on the individual/personal health records (PHR).

If the public sector manages to re-format its daily everyday practice to become more Enterprise 2.0 oriented, the emerging citizen social networking and knowledge sharing will be traces of collective action to create innovation commons.

May the force be with you!

Further recent post within Government 2.0: partI & partII leaves a few hints, but my own reflection is that public sector can only act as one with a networking practice across boundaries with all involved actors!

Note: Other related topics, such as Usability, End-User centric development (UX) and participatory design and accessability to name a few have been take for granted!


Serendipity, and the mothers of innovation

March 5, 2009

There is a quest to grasp the Enterprise 2.0 arena both in academia, knowledge management evangelists, and within practice. The terminology is rather blurred and fluffy, but expresses a urgent need to describe the make-do easy going attitude digital natives share towards information seeking, social networking and work practice, that ‘might’ be coupled to a new business setting going forward. In these early days we only sense a notion of the general direction, but fail to prove the evidence. Mostly we share corporate stories, that gives us all the feeling of being part of the change. As researcher and practitioner, I also fall into the simple means of explaining the change in the bedrock of web 2.0 technologies. Artifacts have always changed our human social behavior, but it isn’t that obvious what technology at hand that will gives us such a big leap forward, that we in the history lessons later will reflect upon this as “revolution” in contrast to “evolution”. Timely given the fact that it is exact 200 years ago, since Charles Darvin, made a big step for mankind!

Being digital emigrant, but rather grown up, having used Internet since 1989, my simple stab at this change, is that the social tendencies we now are facing was the bedrock to why I started to use usenet newsgroups, mailing-lists, ftp and other obscure IP protocols. Sharing is in the spines of all this, what has changed is the ubiquitous information environment, and ease-of-use for people outside nerdy Unix worlds (where I started off). Network theory explains these changes in pretty simple means, that makes sense to us all.

Turning the corporate landscape inside out, as proclaimed by Wikinomics author D. Tapscott, or other related works. Will that present a new Enterprise 2.0 arena for all of us?

I think, the answer is yes! but without proven evidence and data we stand small in this sandbox. The scent of emerging change is in our face. The Mash-up soup economy we now are facing stresses the need to network to survive. What all business managers fear is arbitrary decision making (even if that is what they practice daily), and losing control? The killer application is the in-built feature of all humans to have a strong gut feeling for adaptation, and where serendipity will play a key-role. Open-Innovation will give us competitive advantage, if we leverage the networking, and manage (or care taking /cultivate) these changes properly.

Adaptative Organisms, according to Mr Darwin, within nature and elsewhere have three markers to cope with change and risk: Diversity, Autonomy & Responsiveness and Communication (with friends and foo’s). In this simple explaination ones realises how enterprise 2.0 and web 2.0 technologies, regardless of their actual merits being contributions to terminology, fits for purpose. Coping with risk and change will not be possible with traditional management agendas or technologies.

Innovation, and use of technology in this scene grouped together as web 2.0, have been cross-linked with other emerging terms such as intranet 2.0?

or enterprise content management 2.0 or information seeking 2.0. From a sales-pitch point of view, it makes sense if you are a service or a vendor company in this space. (Disclaimer, hence these slides)

From a researchers point of view, these new terms defocuses from the actual need to explain the change in less marked oriented terminologies that will stand up in court years from now.

There is also mixture of what actually brings value to web 2.0, either realised as intranet 2.0 tinkering or improved information seeking experiences to match people, peers and networks. Truly it is a obvious shift from old school top-down derived knowledge management (codified knowledge) initiatives from late 80s and early 90s. Social Networking is human behavior, but the tools at hand renders different forms of information management, believe it or not! and in these days of dispart teams, groups and people ICT is the mediator. Not the camp fire where storries were told! The fascination with social media relates to us being social creatures, listening to the grapewine to survive in our group.

Knowledge Sharing, is in dire need of experience not only capabilities to cope with search and social media, and into this hot pot of loose ends and no means, the mash-up soup boils. To become competitive and unleash serendipity to the work place one need to bridge generation gaps!

Misconceptions, and rumors of “loss of control”?

In recent posts in both popular press, and elsewhere many “sayers” and “knowabouts” express the fear of losing control, when releasing the powers in-built to web 2.0 tinkering.

Problemet är att spårbarheten försvinner om skapande av information ges helt fria tyglar.

Traceability in any digital domain in No problem, even so, the open-arenas as with wiki’s, leave very fluid tangible traces of contribution in the logs, and within an internal setting all entries into social media will be connected to strong end-user profiling and security! Much better than the old school document centric way of solving collaboration, with work-in-progress documents tossed around, and where the changes will be lost over time, and the miss-use of corrupted temples makes it even more complex. For most organisations, it is only a matter of enforcing information management policies, standards, guidelines, procedures, governanace models and tools to increase the traceability, and features for future need to retention.

In the Enterprise Content Management arena, and especially within the practice amongst large intranet owners within the communication networks, the loss of control of published material on the intranet is really tangible. Control over the editorial processes and a strong force to use the channel as push, have given most corporations intranets that are indifferent for everyday users.

– De måste förstå skillnaden mellan en blogg och formell information som skapats av intranätets redaktörer. Om inte den mognaden finns måste man först utbilda medarbetarna, säger Fredrik Ring, ansvarig för enterprise content management på Logica.

There is obvious differences between push and pull and mass-collaborative environments, and in the end-user experience this should be pretty easy to illustrate with genres, and visible markers. People aren’t stupid! The real value is set, when intranet managers will realise this, and mash-up their push-angst to intertwingle information flows, based on end-users actual needs, not only corporate ambition to use the intranet as their vehicle.

In the story  Tower of Babylon, human communication and problems related to reach out, outside your community illustrated our human errors. Border Objects, being language constructs have always been the means to cross-link practices, languages and cultures.

En viktig del i tänkandet bakom Enterprise 2.0 är klassificering, taggning, av information för att öka sökbarheten

Information Management and Information Architecture practices and practitioner have worked with ontologies, taxonomies, and controlled vocabularies and information models to bring order into the unstructured reality being provisioned by us humans. Good effort, but less used! Hence poor findability across all digital information environments. Social Tagging and folksonomies raised great expectations from IM and IA folks, including myself. It is a great promise in the networked society to rebuild the Tower of Babylon?  but there are still hurdles to cope with before we reach the promised land.


Pivotal Individual Finance Service, Open Innovation?

February 25, 2009

How will banking and finance move ahead, to actually meet the expectations from us being customers in the new web 2.0 arena?

Consumer power like Mint give us a notion (swedish) to what the banks are missing in their trust building exercise to our private economy. Similar to how Google Health have embraced the simple fact that we as individuals are pretty keen on keeping our own medical profile data in a good shape to get the best health care service available.

In the re-make or re-design of internet banking, the focal point is still set to the transaction orientation where we trust the bank/finance partner to take care of our monetary resources. In the emergence of finance crisis, and lack of trust it becomes more “in our face” that we as individuals should be driving this? Simply put help me keep track of the resources that format my way of living, to leverage option to become a happy consumer again… hence get the boost needed in the economy.

When will the bank and finance sector embark into an open innovation tinkering where they invite us customers to act?

And finally a word from my Guru: Redesign Must Die 😉