Community and social computing
The July 8th issue of the Economist had a really good overview article on Internet advertising and marketing.(Access to the article unfortunately is not free after the first week,and you may not be able to access that link unless you're a subscriber).
The gist is that current advertising model across the world (innovatedby John Wanmaker back in the 1870s) takes the approach of carpet-bombeveryone in a city with the ad, rather than what the Internet enables,pin-point targetting individuals who would be interested (rephrasingRishad Tobaccowala, chief innovation officer of Publicis, one of theworld's biggest advertising groups). It also talks about viralmarketing by word-of-mouth and attempts to measure this, as well asother possibly effective methods.
Definitely worth the read.
Per my previous post about Playstation Home, the rumor mill is hitting full steam. From what I understand now, companies will be able to develop for this new virtual world by partnering with Sony. So in other words, it may have the programmability of SecondLife but in a different fashion. Jay's also gathering info on the PS Home.
Sony is used to partnering with game development houses only for their Playstation environments. This kind of development can involve a build environment in conjuction with a game unit simulator that also supports debugging and large-scale development. I have never worked in this environment but the last I heard, it works with the Eclipse environment. In any case, theirs is not an open development environment and you essentially have to join their partner program to be able to do such work. This and the much higher cost of entry for developers and customers ($600+ PS3) creates some hurdles for them.
Obviously they really need to have a compelling offer and in this case, visually at least the PS Home looks appealing. Programmatically, it's value is still to be determined. With IBM's support in terms of the cell processor, I'd think we would be thinking of working with this environment too, but I am not privy to such information either so I can just speculate.
In any case, there are also two types of development involved here: application (or prim) programming and the 3D visual design. The 3D design is outside my skill level; I've done 3Ds of buildings before, but you really need to become immersed and practised with the tools for a while to become a good artist and I'm just not that caliber. This should translate to either Secondlife or Playstation Home, since these visual objects are fairly standardized in the industry. The app programming however, is definitely specific to the world.
Nintendo's Mii, on the other hand, is slightly different animal. From what I gather, essentially it allows you to edit/update characters and the environment of existing games. This to me is more like what WindowBlinds does to the Windows desktop environment, i.e. customize an existing system. This is particularly different than a MMO environment where you can build new things, exist in a mass population, and it is not centered around the structure or rules of an existing game. Another way to look at it is what tuners do to cars. You can improve the car vastly or personalize it to the extreme, but in the end, you usually still end up with a car. (but sometimes also a nightclub, a performance stage, a giant dinosaur, etc.)
So I don't really consider the current Mii and Mii channel comparable to Secondlife or PS Home. Please do prove me wrong.
Lee Provoost’s post, “Adopting Enterprise 2.0 in large organisations: Fiat or Ferrari?” talks about how people can start with smaller
cars like a Fiat and eventually upgrade if need be to a Ferrari, rather than
wait decades of riding public transportation until they save enough for their
top car. I don’t see the entire negative with public transportation but when it
comes to social software, this ignores a large problem: migrating from one
social software system to another is a lot more complicated than just replacing
the tool itself.
Having seen first-hand several generations of social tools
in our company, and trying to get people to migrate from one existing
environment to a new one, it takes a bit of work to get people to switch to the
new system. A better analogy than cars may be “transportation networks”. In the
US, think about asking people to stop driving and using trains instead.
First of all, change is hard: people become used to certain features and know how to work it quickly. Unless the new social tool has the exact same features handled exactly the same, it means new learning, often new terminology, and trial and error.
Social tools also don’t always make it easy to migrate from one system to another. So you may also need to reenter your profile information, preferences, and generally reinstate what you may have already had before.
People place a lot of content and context into their social
environment, and unless that is all migrated with them too, they may see it as “loosing
their standing in that social environment.” For some this is in the form of
rankings; for others useful or valuable content that they left behind. New
social environments don’t need to start at zero but more often than not, they
are not fully compatible with the old ones or provide different tools and
require different fields; thus, migration is not a simple prospect of
Finally, a new system should probably not only perform better,
but all them to interact in better ways. This also means new features to ask
people to try out. The power of the new social tool may be in those new
features but in maintaining the status quo, many users will keep using what
they know, until enough people have adopted the new features.
These are just a few basic reasons in adoption that make it
difficult to simply “level up” to a new social system. If you run a social
software system in your enterprise, you should certainly not treat it like just buying a new car.
I’ve increased my attendance at E2.0 by 100% by going two
years in a row; okay, that was a bad metrics joke. The Enterprise2.0 conference in
Boston was the big gathering of customers, analysts, bloggers and
aficionados this year. We’re still debating how many people really attended but
I’m guessing it is around a thousand. The week began early for me starting with presenting during
the Black Belt practitioner’s workshop on Monday. I’m proud of my fellow
members of The 2.0 Adoption Council who presented the workshops all day long.
There are about 10 speakers, starting in the morning with the effervescent Jamie Pappas (EMC) speaking on
business value; the cheery Megan
Murray (Booz Allen Hamilton) on planning; and myself on adoption. The afternoon
had a several pairs of speakers: Stan Garfield (Deloitte) and Luis Suarez (IBM) on community building;
Donna Cuomo (MITRE) and Ted Hopton
(UBM) on metrics and analysis; Bryce
Williams (Eli Lilly) and Richard Rashty (Schneider Electric) on positioning
tools; and Bart Schutte (St Gobain) and Kevin Jones (NASA) on mitigating risks.
I’m also thrilled so many people stayed from 8:30am till
4:15pm. It really is a fire hose of knowledge, even when spread across so many
hours. These were real issues and scenarios that the speakers have experienced
in trying to bring Enterprise2.0 to life in their own organizations. Has E2.0 gained ground? I definitely think so. For any idea
to take hold, there needs to be stability in what it means, and increasing
adoption and expression of the notions within it. Seeing The 2.0 Adoption
Council’s rapid growth within just one year (with over 100 member large
companies) worldwide, with active practitioners is one area of social proof.
The other is the reduction of “What is it?” and more of “How do we do it?” E2.0 seems to be entrenched in the domain of the CIO and IT
organizations. That’s a shame because it really does spread across many
domains. Gautam Ghosh lamented the
lack of attendees or speakers from the HR realm in a few tweets during the
event. Yet many of the talks were certainly around employee behavior and
engagement. I have to be honest. There are many things that are still
left unanswered this year. I didn’t expect solutions but I was looking for more
thought on the following ideas: It will still take a bit of time, or if at all, we can
figure on better patterns of a maturity lifecycle, but let’s not jump to
default conclusions simply because it is easy to remember.
I’ve increased my attendance at E2.0 by 100% by going two years in a row; okay, that was a bad metrics joke. The Enterprise2.0 conference in Boston was the big gathering of customers, analysts, bloggers and aficionados this year. We’re still debating how many people really attended but I’m guessing it is around a thousand.
The week began early for me starting with presenting during the Black Belt practitioner’s workshop on Monday. I’m proud of my fellow members of The 2.0 Adoption Council who presented the workshops all day long. There are about 10 speakers, starting in the morning with the effervescent Jamie Pappas (EMC) speaking on business value; the cheery Megan Murray (Booz Allen Hamilton) on planning; and myself on adoption. The afternoon had a several pairs of speakers: Stan Garfield (Deloitte) and Luis Suarez (IBM) on community building; Donna Cuomo (MITRE) and Ted Hopton (UBM) on metrics and analysis; Bryce Williams (Eli Lilly) and Richard Rashty (Schneider Electric) on positioning tools; and Bart Schutte (St Gobain) and Kevin Jones (NASA) on mitigating risks.
I’m also thrilled so many people stayed from 8:30am till 4:15pm. It really is a fire hose of knowledge, even when spread across so many hours. These were real issues and scenarios that the speakers have experienced in trying to bring Enterprise2.0 to life in their own organizations.
Has E2.0 gained ground? I definitely think so. For any idea to take hold, there needs to be stability in what it means, and increasing adoption and expression of the notions within it. Seeing The 2.0 Adoption Council’s rapid growth within just one year (with over 100 member large companies) worldwide, with active practitioners is one area of social proof. The other is the reduction of “What is it?” and more of “How do we do it?”
E2.0 seems to be entrenched in the domain of the CIO and IT organizations. That’s a shame because it really does spread across many domains. Gautam Ghosh lamented the lack of attendees or speakers from the HR realm in a few tweets during the event. Yet many of the talks were certainly around employee behavior and engagement.
I have to be honest. There are many things that are still left unanswered this year. I didn’t expect solutions but I was looking for more thought on the following ideas:
It will still take a bit of time, or if at all, we can figure on better patterns of a maturity lifecycle, but let’s not jump to default conclusions simply because it is easy to remember.
I tried the MIT Personas site just to see what it would come up for my name. Basically, it does a Web search for any name you give it and analyzes the text on a semantic level to find common themes or categories for content from you or about you (e.g., it might suggest topics like "sports", "legal", "social", "management", "online", etc.) How it does this is a little beyond my knowledge of semantic processing, as well as what practical use this is seems to escape me.
But it's fun. :)
Some issues with it, is that because it searches on people names across the Web, the content may mistake e.g., one "Luis Suarez" (our own blog-evangelist) with another "Luis Suarez" (soccer player). It helps if you have a globally unique name like "Rawn Shah" (so far). Another problem is that the results may vary depending on how it processes whatever search results it finds. So, in trying it out three times to see how close it was, it showed slightly different categories for me and sized these differently as well.
I can't figure out why the following categories appear since I rarely if ever talk about them: military, religious, religion, genealogy
Per Gartner's request, I have removed this post. Gartner does not permit comparisons to prior years' research.
Measuring ROI on social software is an elusive topic, so it’s wonderful when I find projects that have managed to quantify it in some way. The following story focuses on a particular task, that of social tagging.
The Enterprise Tagging Service in IBM aims to provide an alternative approach to helping people find information compared to traditional search engines. Search based on keyword analysis often relies on a taxonomy that is rigid due to the way the software performs its structural analysis of web pages, identifying and classifying the keywords. Social tagging allows people to add human semantics to keywords that they define that sometimes can amount to finding a resource faster based on what people think is relevant.
It has been an interesting time at the Social Networking Conference in San Fran this week. I ran into some great folks on many fronts including mobile social networks, social software in the Air Force, in GE, in GM, and much more. I did my presentation on how to help teams decide on the base level of social context that they may be interested in.
In quick step, this is what you consider instead of picking a tool right away. It is the vocabulary that you need to define the perspective that you want your social group to see as well as the rules on how the group should interact. The five social perspective models I highlighted are the:
PS: You can also follow some of my tweets on the conference sessions.
There are a number of events on online community management, social software and communications coming up this year. I'm glad to see the topic of community management is thriving even after decades of existence. These are the live meetings in the beginning half of the year or so; I left out the online events and webinars since they are quite numerous.
The Online Community Report indicates events in:
I'll add more as I find them, but as you can see it's a hot topic this year.
Every time I see another piece or book on social network analysis, I have to say something, particularly because the term is used so often these days.
There is definitely a science behind social network analysis that has existed for years. In simplest form, it maps the relationships between different people in a group, and draws the connections between folks. This contrasts against the hierarchical structure in most organizations and companies. In other words, the actual way people connect and interact in a group can often be very different than reporting structures and formal relationships between different teams. SN analysis examines these relationships and helps to point out bottlenecks, misdirections, and point out key people in your organization.
However, the shortcoming of this approach is, first, it requires that the members in the group all participate and respond to a questionnaire (and honestly) on who they interact with. The truth is that we may remember the first set of fewest people we interact with the most often (e.g., those folks on your speeddial, "myFaves" in Tmobile, etc.), but there are many others who we do not interact with so often but still hold value. So what SN analysis uncovers is frequency more than accuracy. That's the second part, accuracy implies quality, and the quality of relationships between folks are hard to determine, especially when you consider that people rarely record and evaluate every single interaction they have with others.
The diagram on page 99 of this month's Fortune magazine is pure fantasy--it is not on the online version of the story. It is unlikely you will ever uncover this kind of information, mostly because it is very invasive and raises many privacy concerns. Don't get me wrong; there are probably people who really do try to create such a map, but it can get horribly complicated over time and with larger populations. The reality of what you can get is shown in the article, luckily.
The article does however, point out the reality: there is a hidden network of how people interact in a workplace. You cannot directly measure this to a really fine degree and probably shouldn't even try. Every manager knows that they should get to know their employees to some degree; some managers can remember more about the work relationships and history of their employees than others; in that way, they build their own mental map of their surrounding hidden workplace.
How does this relate to "social networking" in the Web 2.0 sense (i.e., blogs, forums, wikis, tags, etc.)? When you get frequent and regularly participating members in any community, you have this same kind of invisible relationship network. I won't say it is impossible to map this out; someone might eventually prove me wrong. Software makes it easier to track interactions since there is a "written record" somewhere. Smart software may be able to automatically analyze your interactions with other folks to help you keep track of your own social circle. I have seen this at work already. It can look at how you email, instant message, chat, online event, blog comment, forum reply, etc. that you make with each individual and create a map for you. This is harder than it sounds because it means the software has to look in many places. It also means that the analysis software needs to be compatible with each of these applications which you use; since most people don't use the same set of such tools that may not even be in the same site or organization, it is really hard to track.
This points out to keep track of relationships more than messages. While we still tend to think of email as the main way we communicate online, this is already starting to spread to many other types of applications. Eventually email may no longer be king; even if that day is a long way off.
This also points out another behavior that is an unfortunate side effect of the availability of peer networking social tools like LinkedIn. The value of social network comes from deep or meaningful realtionships with others, not quantity. It may be a while before this sinks in so reiterating it frequently is a public service. It's not how many people you connect with but how many of these are meaningful. Quality over quantity.
I think it was inevitable that something like this would emerge: a top console maker integrates with the Internet and start creating online communities, to combine its graphics system, user-to-user interaction and build a following.
And it looks like Sony has beat the others in the race with its announcement of the Playstation Home. It leverages the enormous power of the PS3 to render truly gorgeous graphics. News of it is already starting to make the rounds as a serious contendor to other 3D MMO systems like SecondLife. Since I missed the Game Developers Conference last week, but I believe it was announced according to this article.
Since I haven't actually tried it, it is difficult to tell how well it works over a network link. Also, graphics aside, it still remains to be seen what you can do inside this virtual world. From reports, it is much more like a true-3D system competitive to Cyworld, where users have homes they can decorate, buy stuff online, etc. and used primarily for socializing with friends. There's no word about programmability or if there is a way to develop new items or objects within the world, as you can in SecondLife. This is what has helped make SL so popular, and has contributed to its growth. Plus, it's free. On the other hand Sony certainly has a huge marketing machine, an established base of fans, and a network of games that could integrate with it. This might even give MySpace a run for its money in terms of social spaces.
Is this the death knell for SecondLife or MySpace? Let me know what you think.
My friend John--also known as Action Figure John but that's a different story--brought by the most expensive coffee I'd never heard of until then. This coffee is so hard to produce that I doubt Starbuck's or Peet's could ever list it on their boards.
Jamaican Blue Mountain, you say? Pshaw... that's middle class stuff... :)
Around $150 or more a pound for the roasted beans, this coffee has to be shipped directly from the plantation. It is the legendary Kopi Luwak... and here's where the snickering begins.
This exotic coffee from Indonesia can only be found on plantations in Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi. Not only do they have to grow a good bean but it requires the assistance of Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, the Palm Civet (/snicker). This small mammal is common in many parts of South-East Asia and does the very important function of eating the raw red berries, digesting them, and then pooping them out! (/snicker /snicker) The enzymes from the digestive tract apparently help to break down some of the bitter proteins. The happily fed mammal then walks away to eat another day. Farmers collect the beans and give it a light roast, then vacuum pack it and ship it to coffee extremists worldwide. John ordered it from AnimalCoffee.com I believe.
I just had to try this out, even though I'm not a coffee drinker myself.
For our afternoon of watching the Tivo'd new season episode of Battlestar Galactica, John brought his pristinely packaged poo poo coffee, along with his shiny brass coffee pot and burner, which he uses to make Turkish/SE Mediterranean coffee (yes, the true gritty stuff).
John ground a handful of beans in his brand new matching brass hand-mill coffee grinder, since it gets smaller grains than an automatic mill. It takes about a good 5-10 minutes of grinding to get it that way though. Then with some fine drinking water for fewer impurities, boiled over a small alcohol stove, the coffee came out quite nicely.
Not being a coffee connoisseur--here's a link from someone who's more in tune with it--allI could tell is that it was still a little bitter but had no harshness atall. It was strange to me but the others liked it.
He thinks we stillneed to refine how much coffee to water and how fine to grind it. Thegrit was not as fine as the Turkish coffee he usually drinks (about 2pots a day). But as you can see none of it went to waste, and people quite enjoyed it to the bottom. (/snicker)
rawn 100000R0P5 Tags:  report enterprise-2.0 economic data europe geographic eu case-study european e20 commission 2 Comments 5,564 Visits
The trio of Headshift, IDC and Tech4i2 have released their Interim report on Enterprise 2.0 in Europe. This is a fantastic piece of work in 160 pages. I had time enough go through half of it so far. It covers so many areas and compiles data on geography and economic production in countries due to e20. Thanks to @leebryant and @mikejthompson for sharing this.
Here are some of my suggestions and points:
Pg9 Table 3 - Links between participants –
For traditional enterprise aps the “peer or hierarchical” describes the structure of how people are linked overall, but for E2.0 apps, it focuses on quality of individual links.
That’s two different concepts.
Option 1: include both structure and quality in each box
- Traditional Apps – “Peer or hierarchical, if linkage with others is supported at all. Members have to accept predefined links with others in their workgroup. Strength of linkage unknown
- E20 Apps – “Web of connections. Members choose who they want to link to, and strength of connection depends on interactions
Option 2: Quality only
- Traditional Apps – Members must accept predfined links to others in workgroup, and strength of linkage unknown
Option 3: Structure only
- Traditional apps - Peer or hierarchical, if linkage with others is supported at all.
- E20 - Members choose who they want to link to, and strength of connection depends on interactions
Section 2.3 pg 10
This should also indicate sources which state that Organizational Culture and culture change is a key aspect. If you want you can link to our IBM paper on adoption which stresses that this is not just technology adoption, but actual work culture change.
I think for the Internal case, its missing: building employee loyalty, satisfaction and retention. To this take a look at Salary.com’s 2009 survey of Job satisfaction, particularly at the top reason “why people stay in a company”: “I like the people I work with”
An Internal>External or perhaps External case is keeping in touch with former employees/alumni. This is a variant on recruitment. By having an Alumni community, you may be able to rehire former employees which is much more cost-effective and faster in terms of integrating into the company. This saves time and money over hiring completely new people.
Section 2 & 3 overall
There seems to be a heavy reliance on McAfee’s research only. It’s very one sided. You should cite other sources as well. There are a whole lot of other researchers in this domain too.
Page17 Communities of Interest
A community of practice is a key component of building a “Center of Excellence” within organizations around different topics, technologies, knowledge domains and innovation directions. It identifies company-wide a select group of subject-matter-experts and organizational memory. In short developing centers of excellence within organization supports the overall innovation strategy of the company.
Pg 18 Innovation Management
IBM InnovationJam and IdeaJam system is a managed approach to ideation and discovering employees interested or committed to bringing innovative ideas to life. IBM has had various such Jams since 2001 across different populations: employees only (new product or service opportunities), employees and family (local community development, and work-life balance), and employees, customers and business partners (challenging global issues)
Pg 20 Crowdsourcing
An example is BurdaStyle by German publishing company, Hubert Burda Media. By providing a template system to allow anyone (customers) to create new clothing designs of their own. This is an example Crowdsourcing by Template; it generates new ideas that customers can sell to each other or license to the company Burda itself to produce for the mass market.
See my book “Social Networking for Business” (Wharton School Press, 2010) Chapter 4 on further details.
Pg20 Customer/Public Engagement
Use more European focused social sites. See ManyEyes and comScore data on apps per country
Pg39 4.2 The Role of Leadership
This is missing out that E2.0 allows a variety of different leadership models as microcosms within the overall organization leadership structure. I provide a variety of these models in Chapter 2 of my book.
The significance is that it creates an alternate dimension of leadership hidden underneath the official hierarchical structure of the company. These alternate models can be discovered through Social Network Analysis, or predefined for individual communities and social environments with different groupings of employees.
Pg40 Organisational size
One of the most obvious facts most people forget is that on the Internet, there is practically unlimited population that may participate in web2.0 environments. However, within an organization, there is a definite bound of all the employees involved. What this affects is the notion of the Long Tail: with a bounded employee population adoption need not be a long-tailed graph at all, since you can determine through metrics data how many people are involved, and how involved they can get. The graph changes shape significantly. On the Internet, there is an endless supply of the long-tail on ther otherhand.
Missing is a discussion on the Dunbar number limit that suggests people are able to at most recall 150 peers or friends, and a closer look at why that idea is not necessarily applicable in E20 system.
See Christopher Allen’s post on this: http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2004/03/the_dunbar_numb.html
Pg77 Employee Privacy concerns
Another actor of the personal social networking is that the line between work and personal discussions is getting quite blurry. E.g., some people use their personal Facebook profile to post both personal content and work related content. It thus becomes harder to tell how people are working because it requires detailed context to decide if any content posted is work related or personal.
Furthermore often employees use their corporate social environment to casually discuss personal ideas, projects and activities. This is not a negative, because it creates opportunities for other employees to find commonality and like-minded peers; in other words it improves chances of building stronger employee-to-employee bonds.
Pg78 “Eat your own dog-food”
How about “Drink your own Champagne” – a more pleasant prospect.
Pg80 Does E20 matter
For 1) or perhaps 3) there are some existing evidence / studies on the impact of e20 on productivity and growth. See Wu, Lin, Aral and Brynjolfsson (MIT & IBM)
It quantifies exact value gain per employee from stronger relationships through e20.
Pg81 Maslow’s ROI Hierarchy of Enterprise 2.0 chart
I know Hutch based this on Maslow’s theory, but using that title for the chart is very incorrect because it suggests that Abraham Maslow (now dead) defined that Hierarchy.
A better name would be “ROI Hierarchy of Enterprise 2.0 based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory”
[I should say right ahead that I’m not picking on them (since I disagreed before), but when many good ideas come across from Hutch Carpenter and the Spigit folks, sometimes I just have to disagree.]
The article Maslow’s Hierarchy of Enterprise 2.0 ROI on the Spigit blog from last week proposed a framework for a pyramidal hierarchy of needs aimed specifically at ROI of Enterprise 2.0. They are correct in some ways describing a pyramid of levels starting at the base with tangible needs and moving up towards increasingly intangible ones.
I’ve linked to their image here, source Spigit Blog. [I may take this image off if they ask so but you can generally find it on their blog post]
However, I’m not so sure that it can be so easily applied here in terms of the levels. For one, Maslow’s theory indicates that humans cannot focus on the higher levels until the lower levels are satisfied. This would be nice to conclusively say this of Enterprise 2.0 ROI but I can give examples where it is very difficult to identify “cost-savings” at the bottom of the pyramid in a conclusive and replicable way, but easy to identify “employee satisfaction” somewhere around the middle.
Cost savings is a comparative; you need to determine that it is most efficient to do things with one or more e2.0 tools than existing or traditional non-e2.0 processes. The trouble is that this is not systematic across all e2.0 experiences. It’s not simply a matter of deploying a discussion forum, for example, to support customers before you start seeing results (even before you see cost-savings); in fact, there’s no guarantee it will ever become enough of a social environment where the vendor, partners, other users etc. are properly supporting the needs of a customer. In comparison, a support workflow, even if more expensive, has immediate results. Until the social environment actually does support customers, it is a cost-center.
However, even without knowing cost-savings per Maslow’s theory, you can use survey instruments to determine employee satisfaction. Qualitative measures such as “satisfaction” work best by gathering input directly from people; it’s simply something in their heads that you need to get to. This means surveys, interviews, and focus groups. However, it does get a metric—which ROI is—of the level of satisfaction, without ever having to find out if the social environment creates cost-savings. This is similarly so for “customer satisfaction,” and I’d argue for “cross-org collaboration” as well.
So, while the idea of relative dependencies and ranking of hard and soft metrics that indicate some beneficial return, I don’t think this approach works. The logic has some holes and I wouldn't be able to sell this idea to folks around here.
I have been looking at online-to-print publishing services lately, or alternate formats in e-books, lately. Even with so many online forms, dead-tree formats are still preferred by far. Part of it is a question of format and such, but right now I'm more interested in how people feel about a book.
Stability - It's ironic that in a business world where fluidity and change are pressing forces, that printed books with a fixed set of information are still preferred. It is not as much the permanence as the stability in knowing that the same information is still there, not changing. For a lot of information that does not require adjustments or fluidity, this makes books first in mind. This is also its weakness in books: the more variable information needs to be the less significant the value of a book.
Exclusivity - It is the fact that not everyone can get their work published that adds value to books. This doesn't mean that the best info always gets out there, but it does mean that people have to work harder to get their info published. In the traditional process, this was to encourage excellence (but I don't think that's always the case)
There are other values, but those are being eroded (slowly) with the rise of digital formats: portability, visual impact, artistic value, etc.
Therefore to some folks, its that feeling of exclusivity of having a published book that makes it worthwhile. Which is why I think the idea of vanity publishing used to be compelling enough to keep a cottage industry going. Today however, with key innovations like HP's Indigo press system, it becomes so much cheaper to print low-quantity runs of books.
Take a look at Blurb.com, which allows anyone to get their photos, words, blogs, etc. put into print format at an affordable level. Having written so much over the years, I wouldn't mind taking some of my old online work and having it published into a print format, if nothing else to just have on my bookshelf.
I'm reading Mark Buchanan's excellent book on Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks, and came across the concepts of egalitarian and autocratic patterns in social networks. Before you jump to conclusions, let me say a few things about this book. To me it seems to focus on the mathematical origins of the theory of social networks, but takes a pleasant approach going through the history and background of how these ideas emerged. It also spans a wide range of disciplines in terms of where these patterns appear, from biology to watershed and geological studies.
First, it talks about Watts and Strogatz's truly innovative look that has eventually spread across the world as the meme: six degrees of separation. There's a lot more to it than the Kevin Bacon game, but I'd like to point out the particular elements here on egalitarian and autocratic networks. This is actually has little to do with policital systems like socialism versus monarchic or oligarchic communities. Instead if you look at it as a mathematical problem, what it describes is that there are often two varieties of patterns of connections in a system that emerge often.
The first is a basic heuristic that can be commonly seen in some biological systems like the brain: as a node (in a network system), you try to establish a fixed amount or ratio of connections to other nodes. The connections are not a random pattern, but neither is it based on a high degree of "purpose" or "intention". This proposes a very egalitarian and essentially a very simple rule to help build more complex systems as the overall network grows and evolves.
The other is the autocratic pattern, where the heuristic is to start with one node and grow from there. Essentially the key node itself starts growing in size or strength, while its immediate connections grows with it, and scaling down until you reach the end or leaf nodes which have only one connection to someone else. This easiest example is in terms of well known sites or articles on the Net that get linked from many sites, and in a very simplified description, the basis of the algorithm that Google's engine uses.
If you look at one example of each of these networks from a high level, the egalitarian network seems to be completely chaotic with no easily discernable pattern you can tell visually. On the other hand, the autocratic network looks strangely like one of those classic fractal diagrams. Yet, both serve different purposes and have different uses. You might almost say that they are the yin and yang that exist pervasively throughout the world. Okay, maybe that's too metaphysical for a Friday :)
Money magazine has a US Dollar to Wizarding world currency convertor for the world of Harry Potter, but apparently it has some shortcomings. If JK Rowling, the first billionaire author, were to transfer $1 Billion--that's US one billion, or rather a UK one thousand million--to Harry's world, apparently she'd need several trucks to carry all that change, but not have much in terms of larger values.
CURRENCY CONVERTER RESULTSMonday, July 23, 2007
1000000000 US Dollar = 2 galleons, 125862069 sickles and 15250000000 knuts
No harm done; just funny.
As part of a personal project, I've started learning JSPs and Servlets. My first thought was to go into Rational Software Architect and start modeling out what I had in mind. Without really looking into it I went into standard class modeling. Then downloaded Tomcat to start work on the actual JSPs, and which then led me to download Eclipse 3.2--I don't know why I didn't think of checking into how I could build JSPs with RSA, but I think it was to be able to get something that the students can use. This is a project for the students but I realized later through our Academic Initiative (when you sign up), they can get a copy of RSA for student development projects anyway; (or the 30-day eval off our site)
This probably sounds like a commercial but, to make it short, the Eclipse basic tooling to create JSPs in a Dynamic Web project is pretty simplistic; enough to get you an editor and get working. The visual modeling in RSA is just so much easier to use (supplemented by the text editor for the scripts) for planning and layout. The relevant HTML tags, JSP elements, and even JSF (which I haven't used yet) is there too. Now, I just need a whole lot of practice.
I picked up a copy of The Kids are Alright by John Beck and Mitchell Wade at the airport a few weeks ago. The subtitle How the Gamer Generation is is changing the Workplace is very apt. It is a sort of business-oriented sociological report on the behaviors, interests and incentives of this particular generation.
This is probably a must-read for all current managers and those who simply don't consider themselves as part of this generation. What is this generation you say? It's a cohort/generation that probably started around the early 1980s up until the current block of 10-year olds. They generally consider anyone over 34 or 35 to most likely not be part of this generation. I'm in that generation myself although I'm just about exactly at the cut off point.
This is one of those books that talks about the implicit life lessons that influenced those in this generation, even if they were not heavily into game playing. It is very likely that those in this generation were surrounded by this and the closer you get to the current time, the less likely that they know a world where video/computer games were not commonplace. The preface lists 7 Habits of Highly Typical Gamers which seem quite relevant to the behaviors I've experienced amongst others in this generation. I'd even put it as something to think about when designing or delivering products and services.
The book appears quite on the point but almost dates itself, not because of time necessarily but because it was likely written at the turning point in the game industry: the rise of MOGs (for the non-gamer generation folks: multiplayer online games). At one point of the book, it talks about how gamers are tuned into solely individual experiences, in that the game-world exists solely for them.
While this is/was case for single-player games, recent years have shown that multiplayer games can become successful, recurring sources of revenue. While single-player games are still the vast majority, many leading games now are either designed solely, or have special modes, for squad (4-6 players), team vs team (16-32 players), or massive-players (up to hundreds of thousands simultaneously).
Most WoW players today probably won't even understand that even ten years ago, even squad-team games were not worth their development time. I recall in 1996 trying to convince a VC and game developers to consider creating multiplayer games. Most just shrugged or plain laughed at the idea. Thank goodness for a reversal on that. (For me, it does suck to be way too early to a party and no one's there).
Anyway, MOGs may change the rules for gamers once again. One key point in this book is that because it's a world customized for your experience, it does not emphasize the more-challenging issues of building social connections within games. Even when players get together to play a game, with SP games, it was mostly a solitary experience. With MMOGs, players once more are faced with social relationships and often with total strangers from other locations, and with much larger crowds and changing people. On top of that technology has evolved so that it is even simpler to interact: actual live audio conversations rather than typing a lot of text, greater bandwidth and better computing power for richer environments, and even social networking sites for recording/blogging events, etc.
It's my belief that games are so much better these days for their multiplayer aspect. For myself, I started on MMOGs back in the text-based MUD days around 1990 or so, so I'm pretty ingrained into this from an early date. So when I play a top-10 single-player game like Oblivion, even with one of the richest environments, most detailed graphics and storyline, open ended gameplay, and a reactive environment, it still feels a little dull because of the lack of other real human players.
In any case, I'd be curious to see a followup to this book in another 4 years examining how MOGs have affected the gamer generation. Let's face it, after a certain point, you can't really call it a separate generation because games are likely going to be here from now on.
I was discussing this topic with several other friends today: when it's your turn to watch the baby, what computer game do you play?
I have a night shift from 8 to about 12 to watch the baby and the best game I can play is Civilization IV. It's a little older now but it's still a good game and the turn-by-turn basis gives me a lot of time in case I need to stop and attend to him. Also Civ IV is can be played almost as well whether you have just a keyboard or just a mouse, which is an important factor when you have to do your turn one-handed (while bouncing on a big rubber ball holding the baby). Also, the game takes many hours to finish and that is just what I need.
My friend Eric is/was quite into World of Warcraft, but when the baby cries, he put his priest character into "follow" mode. Unfortunately, that doesn't always work so well, when the others need your help. E.g., they're off fighting a creature and you're just standing there while others are begging you to heal them. So, I won't mention what his character's name is...
Another friend plays a version of Half-Life--I think it's Team Fortress--where you can turn your character to Observor mode, thus essentially making your character invulnerable but ineffective in the game. Your teammates still probably won't appreciate you taking yourself out.
Anyway, I've played Civ IV to death and new I'm looking for another building/management strategy game. I hear good things about Caesar IV, so its next on my list.