We talked about crowdsourcing as a particular community use-case. It definitely counts as a use-case because of the use of multiple community services, tools and need for potential CMs. (I looked up Wikipedia but there's no entry right now, so perhaps I'll have to add one)
The concept itself is far from new but the delivery is. The core idea is that you pick a topic, invite a crowd to discuss or brainstorm on it, pick top ideas, let people vote on it. The way it's being applied in online communities is interesting. Take a look at a recent Businessweek story on this (and an earlier one from July).
The following is from our slide on this item that draws some from this:
nInviting the audience to brainstorm, design, or build an idea, product, or service.
qDefine the key problem or issue you are trying to solve. Be specific.
qIdentify your metrics for success beforehand
qDefine your interval for how long this project should run
qIdentify an appropriate reward for the group
qSet up a filtering process
qTap the right audience
qHave community managers to guide and build the community
nThe implementation can vary significantly but the model is what is important.
I'm reading the chapter in Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams' Wikinomics book on Prosumers. (see my book list). It makes a particular point that I should highlight:
The old customer co-creation idea was simple: Collaborate with your customers to create or customize goods, services, and experiences, all while generating a built-in market for your wares...
This is the company-centric view of cocreation. We'll set the parameters by telling you when and on which products to innovate. You'll give us your ideas for free, but we'll choose the best of them...
I couldn't agree more with them on the intentions of the company. However, I still have to agree that the same examples they give in other parts of the book are still similar to this idea. For example, even digg has basic limits on what you can do: write a short port, or vote. Even though digg allows anyone to submit a post, it still sets the parameters on when people can innovate. Fine line? Possibly, but the reality is that short of giving a complete blank slate for anyone to do anything, the real value actually comes from giving guidance and parameters on how people can participate on a social site. If you make it too open ended, it may end up becoming too unfocused on purpose. In other words, if the leaders or owners of the community/social site define the purpose and focus area, then the users have an idea of what to expect and what to do there.
The model for prosumption that Wikinomics talks about is more about mashup culture, and the idea of enabling consumers to freely interact to create their own versions or interpretations of products. This means that the prosumers--a distinct subset of your overall users, and possibly even a relatively small percentage depending upon the complexity of the product--should be allowed greater freedom on how to use the products and share their ideas.
Wikinomics' suggestions on how to harness prosumers is very good:
prosumption goes beyond individual product customization (limited only to each user) - it means engaging users earlier in your product development cycle or even making it simple to remix them
loosing control - you sacrifice some control to allow them to do mashups, and you need to more actively engage the prosumers to keep track of successful ideas
customer toolkits - make it easy for prosumers to customize the product through user-friendly (not obfuscated) customer tool kits
become a peer - recognize that the company now plays a role as a peer of the prosumers, not patrons
sharing the fruits - prosumers expect to be able to share the fruits of their customizations; help them, don't hinder them
The practical reality that I tend to see is that unless it is a very widely used product, the amount of prosumption activity can be fairly small. This goes along with the idea of participation inequality. So the amount of prosumption you enable may really depend on the value you think this work will generate. In some cases, the product is simple enough that people can add or extract the parts they want to create a new thing (with a little skill or perseverance). In others, you need to create well-defined interfaces that allow access to a complex piece.
It's easy to give a hugely inclusive environment like Wikipedia and then say that wiki's can apply to everything, but it simply doesn't work that way. Participation in wikis, or for that matter any social service, depends upon the number of participants in the system, and more importantly, how many really care to be there. For that to happen, the users and potential prosumers need to easily see the value of being in that community. The simpler or more evident the purpose, the easier it is for people to decide if they want to be in that community or not.
Beyond just reading or consuming the info in the community, you need to find ways to engage or challenge the community to invite participation; and make it easy for them to participate. The more immediate it is to interact, the more interaction you will get. From simpler interactions, you can start building more complicated interactions and generate that recurring following. These return participants are what help to spur prosumption activity, or at least bring that activity into the context of your community. This is where more the abovementioned suggestions from Wikinomics can come into play.
I'm helping the Univ. of ArizonaManagement Information Science dept start a new course on Managing Online Communities.It started out as an idea through my involvement in the IBM Academic Initiative.In a meeting with the IBM AI Director, Kevin Faughnan, the U of A MISDepartment Head, the U of A Computer Science Dept Head andothers, we were exploring ways of how academia is keeping up with theIT and CS topics of interest to incoming freshmen undergraduatestudents. My point was that the MySpace Generation is already wellentwinned into the net today and actively participate in more onlinesites that older generations. You need courses that appeal to thisrising interest in online technologies, as well as being potentialfuture job possibilities in this field. I suggested the idea of acourse that touches on all the technologies involved in onlinecommunities and social network systems, and in particular, how tomanage such communities for a business.
This is our first step course to see how much people areinterested in the topic. It's 3 credits (about 3 hours a week) for a4.5 month-long semester at the third year Undergraduate (Junior) level, startingthis August. There are multiple goals but the primary idea is based onthe notion that many companies are finally beginning to create jobpositions of a Community Manager or other IT support role for creatingand managing online communities. They call it by different names butthis is essentially what they are pointing to. This is quite differentwhat people think of in terms of a Web site manager. The whole courseis an experiment but I think it has a chance of expanding to alarger/wider scale. This course will at least get them started in thatarea, but I think there will still be a lot to learn about thisevolving future.
I don't think it will be that hard or new for them to grasp consideringthat we are talking about the MySpace generation, but we want to showthem that this might become a future work opportunity in the industryif they know how companies themselves are interested.
Aside from just getting the students up to speed on all the differenttechnologies and topics in social networking and community, there'd beassignments and group projects. The final project I think will beinteresting to many universities all over: the students taking thiscourse will subdivide into pairs, and each pair will be working with asmall group (micro-community) of 4-5 high school (secondary school)students from a school that we are partnering with. The goal is for ourstudents to teach some of these ideas to the high school students, andtry to build and manage that community (on a short term basis).
our students get some exposure trying to work or organize others(is dealing with high school students ~= dealing with executives andexperts? :) )
both our students and their students learn by doing
we get a broader reach of the ideas (those high school students are potentially future college students the next year)
Other regularly/weekly assignments are of course, blogging or postingin forums on a regular basis to get them used to the rhythm.
We have great support from the head of MIS (Dr. Mohan Tanniru) aswellas the principal of the High School we are going to work with. I willbe helping the MIS Lecturer, Andrea Winkle teach the course; she hasbeen running SummerCamps for high school students on the topic of IT, so she hasexperienced working with them before, which as involved in the FinalProject adds a valuable aspect to the course. (Just working with somany highschool students is an interesting juggling act as it is)
The following is our general list of topics that we are basing it on.It's not complete but hopefully we should have a good range of topics:
Overview of the role of online communities in business
what businesses are doing in their online communities
competing for mindshare
user-generated/user-led vs. organizationally-developed content
what are and are not online communities: community identity & interaction
Overview of common types of community tools:
What happened to just a simple Web page? - Web 2.0
content & collaboration tools: blogs, forums, instant messaging/forums, wikis, etc.
workflow, process and project management tools
information organization: categorization, taxonomies, tagging
This past Sunday our dojo had it's 41st annual black belt promotion ceremony. That's quite a few years (and generations) of students across many different styles. This time around we had black belts promoted in Battodo (swordfighting), Praying Mantis kung fu, Matsunoryu Jujitsu, and Hiraido (Mixed Martial arts). I'm proud to say two of my own sword students, Andrew and Stephen, have just become black belts, and another sword student of my instructor was also promoted. Both my students came through the middle/high school classes and dedicated part of their time over the past four years or so to learn battodo. They started out at around age 14 and matured just as much as developed their skill.
I also was promoted to sandan rank (3rd degree black belt) for years of teaching and training students. It'll be years more before I see another rank. There are also skill competency standards as well as teaching requirements at the higher black belt ranks. For the sword class, it may be a while before we get another person to sandan because of the physical strength and agility difficulty. For example, you have to perform the three basic cuts nearly perfectly across multiple targets at least 90% of the time you try. We have even simplified some of the testing requirements but it still takes a lot of practice to reach that level.
All the same, if you measure across the time, on average for every 10-20 students we have each semester, we get perhaps one or two who stay the road to achieve the first black belt rank. It's a fairly rigorous system in our school; the aim is not quantity necessarily, but proficient students.
I've not uploaded the photos from the recent tests, but if you are interested, you can see many other photos and videos on our battodo social site.
I'm back from family leave. The baby and mom and doing great, and we have no end of pictures. We've even started a site on Kodakgallery.com just for the family and friends. It's a much simpler way of selectively sharing a large number of photos with a group of people, although not quite an open social site. It's more of a private portal per owner. I think this used to be Ofoto before Kodak reopened it under their brand name. Unlike Flickr, it doesn't openly share pictures with everyone, but each site has its use. In fact, the better way would be to have both visibilities (public and private) through proper access control mechanisms, and let the owner figure out what they'd like to share.
Anyway, I found this article on Tom's Networking on building a Bluetooth sniper rifle, where you can scan open bluetooth devices from hundreds even thousands of feet away, all built from common parts for a few hundred dollars. So, if you have bluetooth cell or laptop, please make sure you try to keep it secure.
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 RESULTS
Monday, July 23, 2007
1000000000 US Dollar = 2 galleons, 125862069 sickles and 15250000000 knuts
HARRY POTTER CURRENCY CONVERTER
US Dollar to Harry Potter Currency
Knuts do not divide evenly into dollars or vice versa. Consequently, there may be small discrepancies due to rounding.
I tend to markup the books I read. After a while, it just became easier to use those little 3M strip stickers and highlighters to index a book my way. I used to use different colored strips for different ideas: "hot idea", "case study", "problem point", etc. But eventually, I realized that it'd be easier to actually write specific words onto the strips. Guess what, I'm just doing something exactly the way I do online, but in a more primitive, and less easy-to-search way. I loose a lot of knowledge this way, or at least track of it.
So my wish here is that there would be some way how I could tag the content in any book I find into an online, searchable way, and perhaps share it with others. My thought is that there are several possibilities:
Really lame way: copy the text, page, etc. and in the tagging/bookmarking software, create an entry with that description pointing to the place in the book. Cons: Is there any point to even talk about this?
Magical semi-scanner tool: Some pen-like device that can scan text in a book and the position in the book, and then let me enter the tag for the text. There are some smart pens out there that digitize writing but this would also add in the requirement to be able to create a tag, and then publish that online. Cons: I don't know it such a device exists but its not impossible to build on top of something like Logitech's oi2 Digital Pen
Ebooks with tagging support. I find some sort of ebook reading device that allows bookmarking/tagging to a general online tagging service, rather than "saved with a book". Cons: Not all books are available in e-books format, however, publishers are getting better about it. Still ebook reader devices need to be extended to allow the online tagging.
Use online web-based books and find a way to tag. Similar to the ebooks approach but no special device, just a laptop or web-phone. Cons: Requires a browser device, and may need a live connection.
For 3 & 4, a side note: Safari is still hanging on but it is has a good approach to online books. You pay a service fee to be able to "borrow" books from their online library and can swap out your bookshelf over time; just requires a regular fee.
I think the idea of ebooks is great in terms of technology like digital ink that requires really low power consumption and can run for many hours at a time, but I think the need to be able to correlate or search related information, tagging, color images, etc. all require a net conneciton and better graphics support. In other words, the device just becomes a browser anyway, and the worst you have to do is keep recharging the device.
Take the iPod Touch or iPhone example as a browser people actually want to use and has some degree of a readable screen (compared to other phones). I don't have one, but I think you'd be able to access books from Safari and have a way to tag information. Ebooks (e.g., Sony Portable Reader System) have more screen real-estate, typically about the size of a paperback book. I think visually the iPod Touch /iPhone is still a little small to read and chews power like candy, but it's much more capable in terms of enabling the reader or researcher.
I came across this recently: ProjectSpaces, a hosted service offered by a company called Forum One Communications seems worth a look.
They actually charge for a hosted space that features, a contacts db,calendar and scheduler, tasks list, document library, and discussions,with each space allowed 1 GB of storage (sound familar Google?) andunlimited members. There's a pricing sheet starting around $129/mo perspace.
I've been looking into ways of staying mobile with less the burdens of hercules upon my back, a.k.a. my ThinkPad. I use the laptop often enough that I carry two 9-cell batteries plus a drive bay battery which I can drain in a single day. I don't like carrying the power connector because that is rarely possible to use where I go.
So the search has been around a smaller or lighter form factor that can still do all my work. As with the dreams of any child, I want it all: powerful enough to run ten applications, high-speed network access, usable keyboard and mouse/trackpoint, a good docking solution at my desktop, long running and replaceable batteries, and decent graphics/video quality.
I've been looking at the new category of Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs), a smaller form factor for PCs that still run a full desktop system. These tend to be be about the size of a thick paperback book and range around 2 pounds. The screens are small by even the ultralight laptop category, but the idea is not for many hours of laptop use. Most of my research was easily facilitated by Dynamism.com, which sells any of these models and other mobile devices.
(Image: courtesy Sony.com)
The only one I have seen first hand is the Sony UX series,which are quite decent with a good video screen, which, from this imagefrom the Sony site. is certainly bigger than their PSP (probably 50-75%more screen at 4.5inches) yet still usable in two hand mode. Thekeyboard is below the slide out screen, with chiclet-like keys. It onlyhas Wifi/WLAN, and no WWAN options, a 1.2GHz Centrino processor. Thelarge capacity battery claims up to 9.5 hrs of life. It even has not one but two video cameras (0.5MP and 1.3MP).
The first new one I've read about is the Samsung Q1 just recently released which is a tablet UMPC only and requires a separate USB keyboard. There's a virtual keyboard. The larger 7" screen belies the fact that there is only a 900MHz Celeron M or a 1 GHz Pentium M in it and the graphics rez is lower. (Image: courtesy Dynamism.com)
The real winner in my book is the newly announced OQO 02, from a relatively unknown company but a system that is relatively more powerful than the others. The 5" screen is partway between the two others, and while the screen rez is 800x480 (with zoom/pan up to 1200x720), what's really interesting is that it can output up to 1920x1200 over and external HDMI/DVI connection, even . This is awesome for a desktop replacement. The 1.5 GHz VIA C7M is a cpu I'm not familiar with but I'm guessing it is a variant on the Celeron. Like the others it can have 1GB of RAM but no separate video RAM. Max battery claim is 6hrs, which is good enough. Best of all it has an optional WWAN using Sprint's mobile broadband EVDO Rev A service, meaning access anywhere on the Sprint EVDO network (with the right unlimited plan of course at around $60) at 400-700Kbps. Of course, there's still Wifi and Ethernet too.
(Image: courtesy Dynamism.com)
I think the OQO trumps the others, but they are all fairly good. I don't know how useful the small keypads but I have managed to write an entire article over my Treo before. The question is if it is still practical on more regular mobile use: lots of email, make powerpoints, lots of reading (on the small screen); or would I still need a full USB keyboard to go with it, just to make it less burdensome.
The price for any of these is not cheap: ranging around $2k. For that price, I could get a well set up lightweight convertible/tablet PC with a larger 12" screen. This makes me wonder if the form factor is really that much of a saver. I certainly can't put it in my pants pocket, although a larger jacket pocket may work. I don't fly significantly but when I do travel for work, I do tend to have the laptop out (2+ hr flights); which is a real pain. What is heavy these days is carrying about 12lbs of laptop gear (at minimum) plus additional dead-tree material of 1-5 lbs, almost every other day, and walking a lot. (The walking is good exercise but carrying a heavy laptop bag is not for me or my back.)
Sometimes I wish I'd stuck to my old job as an independent product reviewer and writer, with the bennys of getting to take one of these for a spin (and getting paid for it). Oh well...
Well, I'm back from vacation and in Tucson, after a few weeks in Austin and Ft Myers to see the folks. My mom in Austin saw the baby for the first time, and so did her dad in Florida. Her dad in fact, got to relive an experience he last had many years ago: changing a diaper. Florida was nice and warm. We even got to spend a day at the beach, which started out with a few people but was completely packed by the time we left. We also drove down to Marco Island to visit my old friend Tom and see their new baby Grace (and their new house).
In any case, back to the topic...
I recently got my first glimpse of practical IPTV in action in the form of Russian TV channels that you can watch over the Internet. Both were streamed down from other countries: Russia and Canada. Considering that I have a very common cable modem set up here, the quality of the picture was amazing. On my big screen TV, one of the streamed video came down at 640x480 size (I'm guessing) as a media player in the web browser. Completely clear, no jitters, no lost data or any kind of performance issues. The other IPTV service was from a site in Canada I believe and that was an even larger picture, 4:3 proportion but taking the full height of my 46" TV. The wonder was that this looked even better than some of my local (non-digital, non-HD) cable channels.
I'd have to see it again during busy net times like Monday morning to see if there are lags, dropped packets, etc., but I think I'm pretty sold on IPTV. YouTube is complete rubbish compared to this. If the two were cities, YouTube would be like Dhaka (overpopulated and a complete mess), compared to the Singapore quality of these IPTV stations. Now if they only had more stuff worth watching than Russian news and TV shows. I'm sure I'll have to hunt around.
The Consumer Electronics Show is also underway in Las Vegas this week and according to CNet, IPTV is one of the lead topics, with speakers like Bill Gates, Bob Iger (Disney), and Leslie Moonves (CBS) all on it. I wonder how much longer it will be before IPTV streaming through a media device like the SlingBox--letting me combine not just my own AV sources at home, but also those from the net--becomes a reality?