"I have recently entered SecondLife, out of curiosity of this new medium. Many people consider it nothing more than a 3D chatting/dating environment. IBM is not even taking communities on dW seriously, such as the discussion forum community. Why should IBM then be interested in this 3D virtual world of chatting/dating? Graphics are far less then the (2D) websites, information is much harder to publish or to find. Everybody is already hating spam mails and ads on websites. What does make SL so special for IBM??? Or are we going to sit (our avatar) in virtual classrooms or meeting rooms? Why not simply use IM (instant messaging, like Sametime), netmeeting, webcams, Skype, phones and other real-life interaction/communication mediums."
This is only my dime-store psychology at work: I think one big advantage over SL is that it takes into account that most humans are visual animals. If you can see something moving around and doing things, then it is probably "real". However, when it's a post left by someone that doesn't give an indication of who that person is, what else they are doing, etc., it is much more easy to ignore them.
When just read the information on a community site and ignore the actual person who writes it (happens very often), it becomes only a piece of data, and you evaluate it in terms of the value of the data, rather than the value of the person. Unless you are a frequent reader of that site, you may not pick up on names; people tend to ignore or forget names unless something really sticks out about the person, and online with aliases, nicknames, etc. it is easier to ignore them. The first impression is that you may not know who this person is; if you have an opinion about them, you still don't really know what others think about them. Unless you really spend the time (very rare) to get to know a specific person, you essentially take the interaction for the face worth of the data they provide.
What I'm talking about here is the underlying social capital of trust. It is more difficult to trust an unknown source especially with little background, little peripheral knowledge around that person, limited ways of finding out what else they know or have contributed, little understanding of their relationships with others, limited or disjointed contact with the person, etc. This overall potential but disjointed relationship is hampered by the fact that most online community services are not live. This also sort of explains why some live services are even more successful: instant messaging, online chatrooms, MMOGs, videoconferencing, and secondlife.
Of course, when I say "live" in the online world, I mean it only in thecontext of direct communication within a given session rather thannecessarily an actual face-to-face. With a live service, you can (or at least attempt to) directly communicate with the other person, rather than build up a relationship through separate deferred messages back and forth via email, postings, comments, etc. The more live you get the better your chances for building a connection with the other person and probably faster too.
On the other hand, most people do not have the time to build many relationships and a live meeting takes up direct individual time, and will probably require a number of sessions before such communication becomes any form of a relationship. This is the classic battle between the need to develop relationships and the need to preserve our own time. It's also why deferred communications through postings, etc., counts as the next best thing. And hence we start with basic communication services like discussion forums (focused purely on deferred messages to a group).
What is needed however, is to try to flesh out the deferred interactions, or bring in more aspects of "live-ness". A step up is a blog, which is still deferred but may give you agreater understading about the person (blogger) based on their thoughtsand writings. To get more information about the person, they should have a profile that describes their background. Another direction is a wiki: while deferred, it allows people to change the content in a pseudo-live way, rewriting each others material as they care to. Another really helpful tool is a peer-to-peer rating system, so you can understand what people think of the person's contribution in their various engagements around the community. Finally, having actual live online services that they can attend on occassion or on demand, fills it out.
All these combine to give a once anonymous other person, a greater depth and personality, and a basis to consider whether this person, not just their knowledge, is worth making a connection with.
I'm not sure I answered Franks question, but this "live-ness" is part of it. Add on top of it, the ability to create, and enrich the environment with more tools and "feathering" to make it an appealing environment to communicate, gives Secondlife a much greater depth in terms of community building.
But, what Frank points out, and what I indicated about time-restrictions of live activities, remains true. Most information is and probably will always be in text. So, no matter how fancy a visual environment you have, without text content, it may lack sufficient information to learn from others. In other words, secondlife may never truly replace the web, since deferred communications ("do it on my time, not yours") and text ("easy to create info") is still the primary choice.
Sorry to say to all those who dream of living in the Matrix, but when it comes to gathering information, you'll still need the realm of text (until we evolve enough to dispose of text entirely). You can talk to people, and interact as much as you want, but the most common way may still be in reading the information.
Okay, editors hat on... I disagree that we should be lazy and call it "Service Oriented Architecture" as is what people are labelling it. It's a sign of the continued degradation of the English language.
Not only is it grammatically correct to have it as "Service-Oriented Architecture", but it also has historical precedence in "object-oriented architecture".
The hyphen implies the focus on Services. Grammatically, if you didn't have the hyphen, it is somewhat non-sensical: "Service Oriented Architecture" would indicate that you have an architecture that has something that is a "Service Architecture" and something that is an "Oriented Architecture" but not that it is oriented around services.
I saw a truly priceless rug today. We stopped by after lunch at a rug store next to the restaurant just to look. After looking over a number of 8x10 rugs, the owner took us up to his safe where he keeps the heirloom ones. He pointed out a particular antique rug which is one of two remaining in the world. It's about 500 years old from Tabriz, Iran, and probably over 30 feet long. According to him there is no real price on it but the only other one is in a museum in Europe. I couldn't tell the difference from a $9,000 rug but that's art. It's worth whatever price you put on it if someone wants it bad enough.
It's amusing to cosnider there's very little parallel for it in the software world. When developers create something from their minds, we sometimes call it "a work of art". The cost can be high but we don't really sit there and appreciate it as much.
Consider the idea of service-oriented computing where you build an "application" from a combination of components or applications each described as a service. It's no where near the analog of a painter's choices when it comes to colors, even if it does take as much thought, exasperation and suffering. But I guess I can take consolation in that the term "starving developer" hasn't caught on with the general public.
I went back to our Japanese swordfighting (Battodo) classfor middle and high school kids on Tuesday, for the first time thisyear. I really enjoy helping to teach that class since kids do goofyfunny things. This time around, we practiced rolling on the floor andit was quite the sight. Our o-sensei(instructor) is a long-time Jujitsu teacher as well--actually he knowsat least 4 different martial arts. He wanted to show the kids some verybasic rolls, throws and disarms. These can be very dangerous if done imporperly or carelessly.
You may or may not be surprised that most people don't know how to rollon the floor in a safe or coordinated manner. As we grow older, this isprobably one of the last things we do on a normal day but it's one thatcan be really helpful on rare occassions (e.g., taking a dive off abike, or even just tripping). In any case, it can be fun and even alittle exercise.
You'd think kids would have an easier time doing this. Almost. We hadabout 20 of them of various sizes from half my height to those over sixfeet (who'd have just as much trouble as I did originally), all rollingdown the mats on the floor getting woozy and running into each otherfrom time to time.
First they learn the basic roll from a squatting position, then from astand-drop-down-to-a-squat, and then just from a stand. Eventually, itbecomes one flowing motion. After they learn know how to roll, we canshow them some basic ways to throw people. After that, some sworddisarming and throwing techniques.
Rather than roll head-over-feet (gymnastics style), the idea they firstlearn is from squatting with one knee down (say your right knee down,left up), putting your arms in a diagonal line (left elbow pointing upabove the raised knee, the other pointing down), and then rolling overyour (left) shoulder. This is much safer that head over feet, sincerather than landing on your neck, you land on the meaty tricep,shoulder and back muscles.
I could make a business-philosophical quip about "learning to roll withthe flow properly and stay on track", but I think just actually rollingaround is fun. :)
Ian Hughes from our IBM Hursley Research Labs led me onto this company that does 3D Printing of objects from Second Life. Essentially, any 3D object in Second Lifecan now be "printed" as a physical sculpture/model out of foam or waxfor about $30 or $60 up to a size of 9" x 5" x 5". I can't quite tellwhat kind of 3D milling/printing device they use but you can contactthem for more info.
I was thinking of modes of real business services in terms of virtual environments and came up with this list:
realuser2hoster services - where the user pays the company that runs thesystem for some kind of service (typically, a monthly fee)
realuser2system services - where the user pays the system forsome kind of service (e.g. buy more credits with online payment likePayPal)
realuser2realuser services - where the user pays another useroutside the system/game for some kind of product/service (e.g., thelegal/illegal exchanges that take place outside the game for Everquestor World of Warcraft items, on sites like eBay, or this 3D printingservice above)
virtualuser2virtualuser services - where the user pays another user forsome kind of service or product within the system itself (usually ingame dollars)
realuser2virtualuser services - where a real world person pays avirtual character for some service (I can't think up specific examples)
virtualuser2realuser services - where the user in the system/gamepays a real world entity for some product or service (e.g., ordering areal Domino's pizza from inside World of Warcraft)
There may be more such modes but this is a starter list. Theexchanges/modes listed above have different behaviors. The primedifference between real and virtual users here is where the businessexchange occurs. It doesn't always have to be in (real or virtual)currency, certainly; it can be in terms of information, access, orbarter for real or virtual goods.
I bring this up to consider where the business opportunities lie. WhileI considered the above scenarios for SecondLife (SL) in particular,this is really a generic model that may apply to any online retail website. In the vast majority of such retail web sites, the trade is forcurrency for real goods, but this exchange can occur between a realperson and a virtual identity (it might be one person, it might be awhole company of people). E.g., on eBay, when you bid and buysomething, you never really know if that person on the other end is asingle real person or multiple people.
This is a factor to consider for conducting business. I tend toconsider all interactions significant. The more you interact withsomeone, the more trust (or distrust) you build with that person. Youmight remember fondly of previous exchanges or, after some few basicexchanges to build familiarity/trust, you suddenly find that you aresuddenly suckered out of your money when that big exchange happens. (atypical con-job as we say here).
Trust models thus play an important part in exchanges and mostmultiplayer environments these days have to build in some sort oftrusted exchange system. Most MMORPGs that allow users to exchangeitems have a special "Trade" window where both parties must check a boxto accept the trade for it to complete. This is a scenario that happensin type 4 virtualuser2virtualuser exchanges.
On the other hand, on eBay (realuser2realuser),since the actual exchange involves some form of physical exchange orshipping, they need another another way to designate each identity'strust level, within the system. Thus, you have a rating system tosymbolize that level.
One thing to note is that there is a continuing rise in virtualuser2virtualuser as well as realuser2virtual usertrades. In fact, the latter even applies between you as a real personand your character. E.g., in SL, if you transfer your Linden$ into realdollars through Paypal (i.e, withdraw currency from the game), you arein effect doing an exchange between your physical and virtual selves.
Also interesting is that there are some virtualuser2realuser servicesemergine like the Pizza example. I would daresay this isn't the firsttime this has happened. Some in the late 1980s (if I recall right), atMIT, you could actually order real sodas from the soda machine throughyour emacs text editorenvironment on your online Unix account identity which would chargeyour school food account (one of those cool hacks that Stallman andcrew did with emacs). If this 3D printing service was paid entirely inLinden$ then it would fit into this mode as well.
The biggest deal out of all this is not just in the types of exchangesbut the value applied to virtual objects. That'll be a future post...
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.
I keep running into Chris Anderson's activities lately. First, I'm listening to his dW podcast interview on our site this week, and next we had an internal meeting for book authors that Chris came to talk to us about. The main discussion in the call was more about how to approach book writing and some ideas that he found successful for his own bestseller, The Long Tail (see my book list). Some of it rang so true but is still missed by so many authors.
For one, he talked about blogging from the very beginning on the book as he did on his research, and carrying the conversation on regularly and for a long time. Chris started blogging from the beginning. It helped in shape his ideas, but also helped quite a bit when it came time to launch the book; he gave away a thousand copies of the book to all the bloggers who interacted with him on his blog. This, I think, really helped to spread the popularity of his book.
Blogging is certainly popular but to many book authors it is still a new phenomenon, even in the tech industry. With that in mind, many authors think that they should start blogging when their book is nearer completion that from the beginning. I think there are two parts to this: a) in general, for a blog to become even barely known takes a long-time of ongoing and active effort; b) blogging about your book helps to build awareness. In other words, if you already have (a) going for you, then (b) should be easier. However, back to my point on blogging still being new with many authors points to the fact that many of them don't even have (a) going for them.
To give my example, I am working on a book and many of the ideas that I have talked about are spread all around this blog of mine. However, I don't think I ever stated that intention. For me, the ideas are more significant--and even more than that discussion of the ideas--than the point that its for a book. But perhaps I should state that intention right away and define the premise more openly. I'll save it for a different post so as not to distract from Chris' point here.
Another interesting point and one that is dear to his heart apparently--he just launched a new startup BookTour.com on it--is about authors engaging others in live events, book tours, presentations, speaking engagements, etc. I think it's a great idea and fits my philosophy: most people need help on learning how to generate a community around an idea or even themselves. What live or virtual appearances and activities do is help to build that community and reinforce the significance of the work. By Chris' own admission speaking engagements can have a better ROI than book sales, even if they go hand in hand; and I don't disagree with that in terms of getting paid for day-long appearnaces versus spending months on a book. This means that as an author you need to spend the time and effort to actively promote your book and not just rely on the publisher's marketing team. The argument I always hear on this is that most people have full time jobs and do not have the time to do so. This is where I think an idea like BookTour can come in really helpful.
Let's take an online parallel: we at developerWorks are about to launch a new aspect called Expert spaces amongst other features. This allows a person to create a community around their own activities using different social software tools not unlike what groups of folks are doing with our community topic spaces now. Like our spaces now, you can start a blog of your own to talk about your project, link in resources your find useful. If you want to go a step beyond, you could even write parts of your book in a wiki online and ellicit comments about the contents you share.
For our own team, this means that we will now need to help these experts get going on communicating in this new way. BookTour focuses on the specific activity of bookwriting; we have a much wider focus on building awareness about any technical expert. We do that now to some degree, but there is a lot more that we could learn.
In my earlier view, I only identified two stages: social networks, and communities. The former describes a loose network of people who generally keep in touch with each other for a common purpose, whether purely social or for business purposes. The people within the network usually know the others, and have some degree of strong ties with each other, but they don't really define themselves in detail as a group, have well-defined goals or ideology. This contrasts against the next level of networks, the community, which do have a common identity and purpose, and where the network of people generally work together for the direction of the community. Beyond the community is the organization, a very strongly oriented group of people, often with defined objectives, budgets and even some level of hierarchy as to how they should work together.
Somewhere in between the social network and the community are other social models. What Howard Rheingold keeps describing as "smart mobs", a loose social network of folks who gather on an "instant" basis for a specific purpose. This is slightly different than the pure social network since folks in a smart mob have a (vaguely) defined purpose: anyone who is interested in X, let's meet up to do something. Other descriptions for this are often used in events as Birds-of-Feather (BOF) sessions, and Meetups. Unlike the more personal connection of a pure social network, the members do not necessarily know each other from prior contact and simply have a common interest. This can also be a transitional idea; one the meetup is over, the members disperse taking the knowledge gained from the event. Sometimes, they do keep in contact and evolve into a longer running community of interest, where membes return to keep working on that interest.
Another model that is described aptly in The Starfish and the Spider (see my book list). Groups like the Apaches of North America (circa 1800s); Alcoholics Anonymous, a peer-group organization, etc. These have some of the characteristics of a social network in that each group is fairly independent with no overall leader. However, they also go the next step along where there is an organizing principle or ideology, and there are local leaders on a decentralized basis. I call this as something different--some will say I'm just splitting hairs--because the overall larger picture of the group is never centrally coordinated. For that matter, something like this is hard to converge into a realistic distributed model, unless there is a strong need for and common belief amongst the members that the goals and purpose are what they share. Otherwise, it tends to be a localized organized that never grows beyond it's domain.
On the other end, the centralized community, seems like a good idea to try out at the beginning but over time this can grow into an inherent bureaucracy instilled in trying to centralize activities. It has some advantages in that there is less tendency to deviate from the mission of the community across the distributed organization. The Starfish model on the other hand has resilience, but truly works on a decentralized basis if the core goals and beliefs are truly of common interest on a distributed scale, and has been tested over time. Otherwise, it can break down into separate factions as each group goes its own way.
The key to group involvement in any of these types of people networks is still strong leadership and influencers. There are good practices and models for each level that can help people work faster or better, but the idea still depends on a having an interest in being a leader and keeping that interest and momentum going over time. I'm surprised by how many folks keep imagining that they can instantly grow a network from complete zero to success in a very short time. Such situations are pretty rare, and usually, new ideas that work in this vein really leverage existing relationships, population moods or past history to get there, rather than truly working from zero.
For our social computing metrics system, we have the ability
to see how people act on others contributions. For example, given one person’s
post, we can tell who is sharing, tagging and sometimes reading it, with
identities of all. This can tell us how much a person is impacting those around
them, who and how.
[Note: From an enterprise measurement viewpoint who the
individuals are is not important but you need their ID to key off other
demographics such as their job roles, geographic location, or organizational
location. This might be of interest to each person, but I’m looking at the
gestalt of the organization. Also this is information we are allowed to see per
This leads to several possibilities, given person X’s post.
The first set is diversity of reach:
a)What job roles are consuming their
b)Where in the organization are the
c)Given a single post how much
consumption is happening; and what’s the average per post
On the business level, this can tell us a lot about how
well the organization is connected, and if the expected views of what
job roles rely on others is actually occurring and how much. For example,
sales people working with their sales engineers or seeking domain knowledge
experts. It can show how far they
reach across the organization, and what other roles they connected to that
were not expected. For example, sales people in Slovenia working with
Researchers in Israel.
The second set may look at secondary effects. Given person X
posts, and person Y shares or tags, who is Person Z that eventually consumes it.
a)What job roles (persons’ Z) are
the end consumers
b)Where in the org they come from
c)How much and what’s the average.
d)Is there additional resharing or
This extends the first set by looking at eventual impact
from the source.
So far, I’ve just talked about one path of action from a
creator (source) to a consumer (sink).The next level is to look across many
actions on if there is bidirectional interaction happening between the roles.
This looks for ‘lasting’ relationships based on continued bidirectional
interaction. This can happen in immediate sequence (e.g., I post,
someone replies to me, I reply back, and so on); or it can be delayed
sequence of events (e.g., I post, someone reads/tags it, a week later they
send something else through a different social tool).
Here we are looking beyond immediate or unidirectional
consumption, towards the idea of if people are forming lasting relationships.
Notice for one that I didn’t even say that it was necessary
for people to friend each other before any of this happens. In fact, I think
that friending action while certainly making it obvious is highly variable.
Some people consider friending to identity those who they have lasting
relationships with, but others use it simply to keep track of people they are
watching rather than have any interaction with. The difference lies in the
bidirectional vs. unidirectional relationship there. In other cases, some folks
never actually friend others but certainly interact with them, therefore
indicating a relationship.
Why is this any different than SNA (social network analysis)
tools? Perhaps it’s the limitation of the SNA tools I have found in terms of
the level of demographics and granularity they can show. For example, some do
not show the demographics I need because they simply don’t contain that info,
or don’t understand which demographics are useful for business reasons.
In terms of granularity, most SNA tools can show the
structure for each person; i.e., the relationships and interactions between
person X and those around them, but I need info about the aggregate level of
everyone of one demographic (e.g. job category), and the relationships they
form. This is beyond most SNA tools today.
The biggest part is that it takes a lot of data collection
and number crunching over many, many people to even begin to analyze this. This is beyond System level metrics (how many users, how many documents), or object level (how much activity per person or object), but goes into the meta level that we would like to understand. This is also only one aspect of many others.
On the business side, the goal is to better understand the connections across our organization, and where we can try to focus energies to improve communications or encourage interaction. It is using information from social systems to create a smarter organization. For enterprise 2.0 to become a success, it is not just about empowering individuals to use social computing systems, but it is to make the organization itself function better.
To me the idea of SecondLife was only a dream back in 1992, when text-based MMOGs were available. Even then, there were many MUDs, MOOs, etc. where players eventually got bored of playing the hack-n-slash life and switched more to socializing and creating. The lands I created in lpmud using a derivative of the C programming language inside the game is a similar notion to Lindenscript in SL now. Of course, with a text-basis, you did not have the sheer coolness of a 3D world. But that came back to bite me when I tried SL programming. While I can do the programming, I'm pretty lousy & slow with 3D graphics. That and my lack of time just made me give up (too easily I'm afraid).
My own scripting woes aside, it's the change from game-playing to game-making that made those programmable MUDs really fun. I don't want to say it's a bit of growing up but for me it was a switch from entertainment to using my skills. Not everyone wants to do that and even those who didn't want to play but still returned to the game to socialize points to the need for a different kind of environment: the same that SecondLife is suited for.
What's more, by taking the game aspect out of SL, it allows those of the non-gamer generation (per that book) to relate even better. My guess on what sold companies on getting involved in SL is not just the 3D factor, the programmability, the multi-user environment, etc., but because it is a transition environment between the two generations. Gamer-gen folks can work on this and still explain to their non-gamer gen bosses and seniors that it's okay because "It's not a game." That may sound silly, but the reality is that the non-gamer gens generally still consider games a waste of time, so anything that suggests that it is a game is most likely not worth the attention, and that the gamer employees are probably slacking off.
I bring this up because it is not limited to SL and the like, but even to other community & web 2.0 services. This same parallel exists in situation when a developer becomes an active member of a discussion forum, a chat, a wiki or are blogging . One common first assumption is that they are slacking off, rather than the reality that they may be building better relations than what you pay loads of money to communications, marketing and PR departments for, or even make the right connections to help them in their work.
Very often they are asked to justify themselves spending their time in such activities, in terms of some sort of results: solutions, work products, clientelle, etc. The difficulty lies in the fact that the benefits that they get from communities is building social capital, which itself is an intangible and variable product. You'll find dozens of books that all talk about the value of social capital in business, but it is still hard to measure and compare. But then again some folks have figured out (somewhat) complex ways of determining other intangibles like productivity, loyalty, coolness, etc., so I think there is hope yet for some form of measure.
After all, if we are fixated on results-driven and measured processes for everything, we would definitely need a way to describe that. Enough for now, I'll gab about some ways of measuring this in other posts.
[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 came across an interesting article in the current issue of THE FUTURIST magazine titled Extra-Preneurship: Reinventing Enterprise for the Information Age. The article by David Pearce Snyder, former CIO of the US Internal Revenue Service, starts out:
"Information technologies are toppling traditional hierarchical business-management systems. The new model for twenty-first-century management will be extra-preneurship--virtual networks based on collaboration and self-actualization that will add value to all current and future jobs. THE FUTURIST's Lifestyles Editor describes what this shift will mean for individuals, corporations, and the world economy."
What I found interesting was not the expounding on Linux, the open-source model, etc., that we have all heard before but the need to consider that the nature of how people work is changing. In particular the idea of "extra-preneurship" where the traditional structure of businesses are transforming into virtual collaborative networks.
I gainsay, this has relevance to one of my other continuing interests of service-orientation in business (and technical models).
Think of it: consider the specialization of work functions into specific tasks or task areas, each as a type of service. On the pure software level, services are very strictly defined, but on a business level, they exist as well. A combination of services therefore becomes a process flow (in business and in software).
A virtual collaboration can also be thought of as a workflow of processes and services, from simple levels such as consulting, to more complex multi-organization workgroups (e.g., standards organizations).
These collaborations are specific communities and uses of a community model. In fact, they integrate their human element services (thoughts, interactions, communications, contracts, expertise, etc.), with software services (blogs, forums, instant messaging, wikis, etc.)
From a high-level, these services blend across each other into useful workflows that are arranged and rearranged per the needs of the users themselves. This is the same process that applies service-orientation to business and IT operations.
What may be missing is a development environment to build such communities with such workflows. Just like we have tools for business analysts to define process flows, and developer tools to define sequence diagrams, we need tools that allow a user to build such workflows out of the available members of a community, the available software services of the community, and the necessary means to arrange them together and define rules of behavior.
We had a call today posing the question of how to work with Influencersin your community. I compared community influencers similar to how theindustry works with Analysts. Many organizations have Analyst Relationsteams whose sole job is to interact and communicate with analysts thatcover their products or services. Analysts come from many origins, butare usually recognized as experts in their topic, and hold a primaryjob function to cover the topic, or consult and interact with manycompanies, the press or other customers about the topic.
It's not a far stretch to say that leading bloggers, forum members, andothers who interact in a community are starting to gain (or evenbecome) the same status. The primary difference for most is the"amateur" status: rather than "being an expert" as their official job(the professional analyst), they are experts because of an existingjob, function or coverage they have. However, my point is that weshouldn't disregard them because of their amateur status. In fact,quite the opposite: this represents an opportunity to work with otherwho can help spread the word.
For the converted, this is not news, but in general this is still a newnotion. In fact, many organizations haven't even considered how toaddress this new population of amateur-analysts. They are looking for anew generation of PR/AR people who do get it. Businessweek's July 24th issue raises this issue.
On the other hand, some have (see the Nike examplein that article). Or on the other hand, there's the current debate onblogging-for-pay, where some bloggers are looking to get paid for theiractivities when in relation to product mentions, etc. I find thisdebate not very surprising when you consider this is already exists inthe field of professional-analysts. What is happening is that they aretrying to make a transition from amateur to professional status.
That is a bigger leap than a lot of people may think.
It's more than a matter of showing that you have X number of people whoread your blog, hence you should be paid $Y. In fact, what it points tois the somewhat mysterious/mystical reputationfactor. Anyone who tells you they have an equation for fame is talkinghorse's eggs (it's one my mom's favorite Bengali sayings: ghorar-dim).
This circles back to our Influencers and trying to figure out who theyare, and how to support them. With the social networking software oftoday, however, it is possible to learn some general behaviors like howmany people read something you've written, how often they may come backto it, what they think of your posting, etc. (Obviously, this onlyenters the picture when the influencer in questionwants to actually participate in this. Otherwise, you'd be running intosome heavy privacy invasions.) You need a number of different softwareelements to find that out, including a good metrics collection andanalysis system, a ratings system, per-user histories, peer networks,etc. This is more than a few separate pieces of social software we aretalking about, which means a lot of investment in developing the righttools. It's already going on in the industry as apparent by the growingnumber of social software sites and products that many new startups aretrying to capitalize on. So, there is and will be many different waysfor companies to start leveraging social systems.
But what is the value to the company? How do you even value somethinglike that, especially when they are so widespread across many differentsocial networking sites, tools, all of which provide different types offeatures, metrics, etc.
Many web sites in the industry have generally agreed upon the UniqueVisitor metric as a common measurement for people coming to sites, buthow do you measure reputation.Just because you have a lot of people reading the post, does notnecessarily mean you have any kind of influence over them. In fact, thepopulation may actively dislike an influencers views. Amusingly enough,this reminds of how Howard Stern became a big hit: not just his fansbut also those anti-fans listened to his show. Because of how thetraditional Wanamaker advertising model works (see my earlier post),it is considered a success. Is this still true in the evolvingpin-point targetted marketing model available on the Internet? (I'msure Mr Stern's producers certainly hope so: can he deliver on his$500M salary).
Do we need an industry-wide reputation metric? Is that even possible?Would this have any impact on what people use now: the traditional CPMadvertising/marketing metric model?
Well to get off the pontification of where it may go, I'll step into what we are thinking in terms of a reputation model next...
I remember back in the 1980s looking at an illustrated book about the future with descriptions on how robots will become part of our everyday lives in the 21st century. Although we don't quite have androids doing our shopping yet, we do have self-driving cars, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, bomb sniffers, pets, flying spybots, and even soccer players. These ordinary robots make the old Disneyland Tomorrowland ride look like a joke. We're catching up to our futures already. Now if only that moonbase was ready with a basketball court.
It was a long week at Lotusphere held in Orlando at the Swan and Dolphin--looks like I'll be a regular at that hotel for a while. There certainly was a lot of discussion about social software, not the least on Lotus products in this area. More so, they finally announced externally some of the interesting research areas for social software that we have been using internally for a while at the Innovation labs at the show. I'm not sure there's public sites to point to but here's a quick breakdown of some of them:
Team building games - a sort of virtual "Ropes"-style exercise where team members get together to try to complete a task in SecondLife focused around decision-making, cooperation, planning, executing. Some of the games include creating a tower of blocks, and creating a castle. It sounds simple but the actual value is in how it makes the team of folks think about how they cooperate
Wormhole - an API between SecondLife and web-based applications and databases. This bidirectional link lets you check status of objects in SecondLife from a web page, and vice-versa, the status of objects on the web from SecondLife itself. It's an important connection mechanism between a virtual world and the web.
Cattail - this is a file sharing system that maps to tags, and people used internally in an organization. It helps to offload the act of emailing large presentations around, associate names with documents, and make it easy to search files by people, description or tags
SONAR - this is more of an API that maps the info from many types of social software to people as related to what you do. For example, you can find others who share common interests in their blogs or forums, papers that they may have written or published, documents they have shared, etc. You can configure the relevancy of one of many factors along a sliding scale. It helps to identify others with common interests along each of those factors. You can build a client that uses this relevancy and connectivity information in different ways (e.g. visualization, identification, etc.)
SmallBlue/Atlas - This internal project became a product mid-December. It creates a visualization of a social graph based on different systems of connections. The Atlas product is an add-on to Lotus Connections and uses the data there to see how people are connected to each other across the different tools, e.g. tagging
If I find an external web site for these projects I'll create a link for them
With the school semester back in session, I now have three battodo (swordfighting) classes a week, two of which I have to teach. They basically span all levels now. There's the regular class that my sensei--who has recently been promoted to shihan (master) after 25 or more years practicing and teaching hundreds of students (possibly over a thousand) in a number of different martial arts--on Saturday's at our headquarter dojo that I attend primarily for practice. It's students of all skill levels but all adult. On Friday's I have the class at the Univ of Arizona for college students. Finally, there's a middle-school/high-school level class to teach, full of students from 12 to 17 years of age and of many ranks.
The college class is really more a club and it just started again this Friday, with the addition of three new students. We're lucky in that the university has a very good recreational/sports center with plenty of rooms (with beautiful polished wood floors). We currently use the racketball courts since they are the easiest to reserve ahead of time, but my sempais (senior students) are looking to getting one of the larger rooms which also have the padded mats to work on.
The mats are great but I was surprised just how much they cost (up to $500 for a 5' x 10' section). They're also kinda heavy and not easy to move around, so it's best to have them available in one room permanently. We can use the mats for doing rolls, and kneeling work.
The high-school class has yet to start but I have been the assistant teacher for several years, and each semester we get about ten to twenty students. Some of the students have been with us for years. In fact, two of my college students spent 4 years or more learning at the high-school level and eventually became black belts before they even started college. There is another batch which are nearly approaching that level as well.
What I've seen over the years is that most people either really like the sport, or they give it a shot for a few weeks and then quit. The ones that practice for a long time but leave are usually adults with busy lives. The high-school class certainly helps capture their interest at a young age, which is when they are most able to grow mentally and physically into the sport. We've had many an aimless and largely distracted individual that finds their focus through the practice.
We're also going to return to cutting targets on a bi-weekly basis on the weekends outside of the class which is the real fun part. It takes some time of practice to get to that level but it's something that is in the reach of most people. The cutting practice however, takes several hours of time even for a small group of a dozen people, especially when most of them don't have their own swords and have to share the class one. After years of use and without sharpening my primary katana is getting pretty dull. I need to work on it, or send it for sharpening (which is almost as costly as buying a new starter cutting sword).
For me, three times a week will certainly help me get back in shape, although I have to make sure I practice as well as teach. It's not easy to do a hard and fast sport, while talking and teaching simultaneously. Even when you build up stamina and breathing pace, to get real practice you have to push beyond your own limits.
I like Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs & Steelwhich is now showing as a documentary on PBS.The Putlizer prize winning study of how some cultures and civilizationsmay have succeeded over others because of different inventions in theirhistory, suggests that back in some primitive time, it all started witha geographical advantage: good geography, climate, and luck of the drawin terms of wildlife (potential livestock) led to successful transitionfrom a hunter-gatherer society to an agrarian one.
The progress started with people found new ways of supplying the basicneeds, and as the supply increased, this allowed new professions, andskills to rise. The general statement is that the surplus of availableresources is what allowed people to develop their knowledge to newlevels. It took a long time and often different situations for somejobs to come about but that's how it starts. It could take a dozenfarmers to supply a village enough that one metalsmith might becomenecessary and useful; perhaps a hundred more for merchant; a thousandfor a philosopher, and so on.
That nugget around a surplus of resources I think still holds true inthe information age. The resources we are talking about here are ideas.It may take many, many ideas to come forward, before new viableopportunities arise.
Take this with what people in community and social networking havealways said: the combined value of people in a network is significantly(perhaps even exponentially) better than the sum of individuals in it.(Reed or Metcalfe's "law"). This means that the greater number ofpeople interacting in the network, the more ideas become available,leading to that surplus.
You need to cultivate the full environment of idea exchange,irrespective of whether a high percentage of them lead to a success.Often we miss sight of the need for a surplus, in the popular cultureof seeking to "turn every lead into a sale". What is really necessaryare ways to better support interaction and engagement between people,keeping track of commonalities, and analyzing the leads to try to finda few really good ones.
Nevermind the big Hoover, Dyson or other whole house vacuum cleaners, what someone needs to invent is a small/micro version to use in small areas like say inside computers, around your media equipment, etc. You won't believe how dusty it gets in Arizona, even in a house where we don't open windows or such, and a whole house electrostatic filtration system (like the Shaper Image Quadras but built into the ventilation system).
It could be just as simple as a much more flexible and small attachment to a regular house vacuum. The attachment should be small enough to fit my palm but the hose needs to be long enough to reach all the crevices and such.
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.
From slashdot. In the US, the federal legal establishment has decided that some bloggers can actually be considered as journalists. This is quite specific to a political blogging site called Fired Up and specifically on journalistic freedom of access to information in government elections, but is a good step. The slashdot article has more info.
I was discussing with my enlightened other about fiction versus non-fiction books in particular business books versus fiction stories. The argument is that non-ficiton books have to be filled with facts to be of use, versus fiction which has to be entertaining. This means that fiction books take much more work to create because you have to think out a lot more of the plot in detail while a business book usually has a point and what you need is a proper series of facts to lead there. I beg to differ in that I feel that most business or technical books tend to achieve the "lower levels" of fact-filling but that doesn't necessarily make them a "good" or interesting book. The interesting ones are those that not only get the facts right but also have to tell a story in an interesting and appealing manner. To that regard, "good" non-fiction books of the like are in my view harder to do. The writer is hampered by details of facts, figures and sequence of events, which are, truth be told, sometimes as gripping as glossy paper covers the books come in.
Unfortunatley, I think this is lost among many business writers. I can consume probably about a 300-page business book in a week or less if it is really interesting, or a month if it not so, or even never if I find it just downright appalling. It seems like writing style is becoming even more significant these days with blogs, forms, and other social software. I'm not sure if anyone is teaching that beyond the do's an don'ts but I suspect is probably a new form of being an English major (not something I really know about).
That being said, I started working on my next book last week--I tend to have a "next" book in the works every other year--and already have about 55 pages in about 4 days; that's about 15% of the total page count that I feel a decent book should be. Now some people look at that as a sign of productivity, but I beg to caution folks that it matters more how useful that is versus how long it is. I'll probably end up with 2-3x the amount of pages than what I'll actually use.
Is there a point? Maybe what they say is true: more is not always better; better is always better.
IBM, Strikeiron, Kapow and Dapper are supporting a new mashup camp and contest on July 19th in Silicon Valley called the Business Mashup Challenge. The goal is to have a two day event where developers can get together for the camp and create different mashups right there and then using the Contest Development Environment (CDE) to do the assembly and publishing of your mashups. There is money and prizes for the winners. The assembly and consumption of services and some of the widgets apparently works through the QEDwiki project (try it out on alphaWorks Services) which is part of the CDE.
BusinessWeek magazine has an interesting online article titled The MySpace Generation that talks about the new generation of people who live, buy, and play online. There's also an subplot about marketing Coke through social networks.
MySpace.com now claims 40 million registered users with 20 million logged on in October alone.
When people think of developing leadership in social
environments, they often think of it in terms of a person developing their own skills
in leadership (1) versus how the group itself executes (2). These are two different things.
In particular, in my chapter on leadership models in Social Networking for Business, it is not focused on #1 individual leadership
skills, but rather on #2, how to consider what the right model is for
leadership in a given social experience. As said many times before, leadership
in a community experience is very different than that in individual social experiences
(e.g., your own blog, or profile page).
In a way, these models are much more “tactical” in the view
that they are what you might apply to one particular social environment
instance (e.g. the Durian-lovers community, Rawn Shah’s blog). These tactical
models may still run for years, and are not necessarily short-term—what we
often equate with tactical situations.
A strategic view, on the other hand, is from the eyes someone
or some team overseeing the Enterprise 2.0 ecosystem of all the social environment
instances. In many cases, they may be looking at thousands or millions of them
within the same organization. In the strategic view, you could consider how
many applications of each of the tactical leadership models exist. This gives
you an idea of how well the people across the organization are ‘skilled’--building their skills per #1 in online social environments--in
working in particular leadership models.
From an employee’s point of view, if you have never worked
in a workgroup of one particular leadership model, it takes a bit of time to
learn and understand how it works. It will require it anyway, because each
instance may have its own particular nuances and variances. However, my point
is that the employee understands the differences in working in different such
tactical leadership models, so they can contribute or lead the group more
These are the soft skills of leadership that we often
talk about, but here in terms of tangible concepts.
Furthermore, from the strategic view, this also shows that
you can have an effective Enterprise 2.0 collaborative system with high degrees
of autonomy, without needing to completely transform the structure of your
overall organization. What the employees are essentially agreeing on is that
within their many online collaborative instances, they will work as agreed
within each instance. The overall organization is still free to change and
transform, but it is possible to be both an open social collaborative organization;
yet still maintain the traditional structure, as long as both covenants allow
and support each other’s approaches and needs.
Right after the RSDC we went off for vacation in Key West, leaving the boy and my laptop with grandma, to get away from it all. After walking around for half an hour in the high humidity, sweating profusely we drop off our luggage at the nice Weatherstation Inn--a really nice Bed&Breakfast that we found and certainly more affordable than the hotels. We then go off in search of a good seafood lunch and find a decent restaurant. We opt to sit indoors in the airconditioning, which is much appreciated in the 80+ degree 90+ % humidity weather.
But of course, they put us in the middle with one table with three infants and children on one side, and another table where the adults spent the entire time talking about how they can take advantage of SecondLife... so much for getting away from it all.
The Cell Processor is the brain of the upcoming Sony Playstation 3. You can download the Linux-based development kit and start working on your next gaming masterpiece with the new Cell Broadband Engine Software Development Kit for free from our alphaWorks site. This also includes a full simulator for the processor system.
I've just filled out my developerWorks Expert space for the first time today. I haven't really added all the feeds and other things I really want to add in but you can be sure I'll be adding more over time. Right now now it is a little self-centered, since that was easiest for me to find. I'll probably move my links and tags to the space rather than push too much into a particular application like this blog.
The point of an expert space is really to focus on a particular individual and the multiple things they may be working on, or the multiple social tools they may be using. This differs from a group space in that it is not shared with others and you don't have to negotiate or discuss what you want to put onto the space (as long as it doesn't break the T's and C's). A group space really is intended to focus on a group activity with several folks who will be active participants in the topic. Think of it this way: in an expert space, YOU are the product. :)
If you have not come across it before, web2logo.com provides an extensive listing of companies in the social computing and Web 2 space. There seems to be approximately 1000 companies listed there in one form or another. Some logos are repeated (e.g. Google in different versions) but that's rare. Clicking on a logo will give a description from Web2list, site traffic data from Alexa, and current Technorati-tracked blog activity for each of them. It's hard to say if this data is accurate but it does give an idea of which ones are doing decent enough to watch.
If you're a fan of the genre that Sid Meier created with the original Civilization, the latest incarnation released through 2KGames was probably already on your list.
Despite the fact the game actually keeps crashing on my WinXP box due to problems in its use of DirectX somewhere during cut-scene/video playback, it's still gives the excitement I enjoyed with previous version.
Civ 2 - some improvements but nothing really fancy
CivNet - really lame excuse for a multiplayer version
Civ 3 - new graphics (eh so what), and only real new element is the "loyalty" factor displayed on the map. It's like they weren't really even trying to make it better.
Civ Test of Time and other off-versions - I can't tell if these were knock-offs or that while they used the Civ2 engine they were written by an entirely different team(s).
Civ 4 - TBD... at least the multiplayer aspect looks more practical.
What I really get out of it is the interesting game elements they try to layer into the game without making the process of building a civilization way too complex. (After all it is a game).
Common elements and Civ 4 adds:
cities/centers of population
units for military, commercial, and now religion
buildings that provide benefit
a technology tree for advancement and research
economic trading systems
Great People/benefactors that are suprise goodies that can boost your civ's advancement
Culture rather than happiness as a growth factor
realistic limited resources and unlimited resources (forests can grow back now)
pollution is a element from the beginning which you counter with health (which also counts for growth factors)
It's still a game in the fact that the rules have changed but it still fun to play. Too much detail in graphics. It's hard to see things clearly with so much detail. This thing is also getting so resource demanding of your computer, it's not a surprise to me that my install is running into problems running the thing. The more complex the simulation after all... Who knew that old "cell" game from the 1960s/70s would grow up to be this...
Now if they'd only help fix my DirectX problems that cause blue screen of deaths. I guess I'll go look at Civ Fanatics.
I do get requests from others on what the notes for this couse contains. The course is definitely one "in the moment", as in, "it's trying to keep up with the latest." The topics we discuss does involve tooling but more for experiential purposes than core training. Because it's so recent, I have not found a single book that could apply across the whole topic. I found about a good 15 books or so that could do it, but I don't think the students would enjoy having that much to read. Nonetheless, there's a need for a book and the students expect it.
In the meantime, the course is a combination of :
many slides - often with too much detail on them (not great for a business pitch but perfect for a class)
lots of reviews/overviews of Web2.0 sites (by us and by the students)
short in-class skillbuilding activities - for communications skills
assignment and in-class presentations - do research on a Web2.0 site and present to class - encourage presentation-giving skills
guest speakers - give industry perspective on different aspects of the course.
tools assignments - blogs, wikis, podcasts - get used to tools
final project - students get a group of others to work with and organize into a community, teach the tools
This is as much in the delivery and activities as it is in the content. We tell them it's a course on leadership and working with people. They may learn the tools but this is not a technical development or a software training course. The slides are plentiful and can be expanded into more written information.
I'll ask the public: do you think I should put this information together into a book?
I've written or co-written about 6-7 books already but they are always so much more work than the time/payoff. There are a lot of books out there but as I said, this is a how-to course and not specifically on tools or a particular category (e.g., blogging). Anyway, let me know what you think.
So far, I have not mentioned more details of the final project because we have not yet told the students--if you're reading this--what it entails. We'll probably describe this in the next week or so, and I'll post it then.
I've asked our dev team to set up a wiki for me and hopefully should have one soon. I'll see about post the notes, and files there.
It seems so old
school to try to classify social computing metrics but I keep getting the same requests from various internal teams, who are sometimes not familiar with some of the metrics, don't understand
them, or simply use other metrics better suited to Web sites rather
than social sites. A second goal is to evaluate the qualities of
these metrics to determine if they are useful (e.g. using the SMART
analysis approach). A third is to see the relationship of the metrics
to each other—whether there are dependencies, or if some metrics
are more meaningful when reported alongside or compared with others.
To give an idea,
while it's considered outdated by others, some still look for
Pageviews, and Unique Visitors--classic web metrics better suited to
measure how people visit pages, than interaction from social
environments. Similarly, "Interaction" itself becomes
another stopping point for metrics. These are the metrics most
commonly recorded by social software tools: number of posts, the
number of downloads, the number of connection invites, etc.
In working with
our social computing researchers we're also looking at Network Effect
metrics such as the Topics (what people discuss) that come out of the
system, or the ratio of consumption to a person's content
such as marketing teams have an emphasis on Engagement metrics,
considering how much a person is becoming involved in a social
environment, an event, a marketing offering, or other engagements.
Other engagement metrics aren't specific to marketing only. For
example, thought-leadership metrics include the ratings on content
someone has submitted, or how often they have been quoted or
retweeted by others. A more complex one is to determine the Impact a
person has on their target audience.
To go further
along on marketing metrics, these can even build up towards the sales
pipeline—how many interested individuals are there, are they
potential sales leads, have they actually asked for sales info, has
that lead been validated, and then closed. Joe Cothrel, Chief Community Officer of Lithium
suggested similar ideas in an article for Strategy+Leadership magazine back in 2000, on conversion rate from a
visitor to a sale, as applied to social environments.
and sales, there are other indicators that relate to business value
metrics. Some suggestions in a recent email exchange with Dr. Walter
Carl, Chief Researcher of ChatThreads and a member of WOMMA's board on metrics include
cost reduction (using this tool to communicate is a lower cost than
other existing ways), accelerating adoption of any business
philosophies, values or company directives, processes that minimize
lost revenue, etc.
Lots of Metrics,
but what are their qualities?
So what should be
obvious is that there are lots of metrics, categories, subclasses,
variations, and inter-relations that different organizations or even
different teams within the same organization utilize. What
constitutes business metrics and delivered value for one team may not
even be relevant to another. So I'm still surprised when people ask
for a generic ROI methodology.
All the same, the
next step is to look at the qualities of these metrics. I mentioned
the SMART acronym earlier which are basic questions if a given metric
type or unit is:
(specific and targeted to an area of measurement),
data point that can be captured and collected),
(robust data that can be analyzed and utilized by a stakeholder),
realistic, meaningful and consistent measurement),
(current and possible to collect in good time).
all these qualities, there will likely be a problem with either
collecting the data in a way that is meaningful and available in time
for use in a business.
There are other
qualities that I think are important to consider as well:
it scalable in quantity? Can you capture larger and larger volumes
of data or does it become computationally intractable
it apply across social environments of the same type? Is the metric
relevant to a single social environment, or can it apply to many
environments of the same structure (e.g., a discussion forum)?
scalable and still meaningful across different social environments
(e.g. A blog and a forum)?
Does it drive
behavior? Does it encourage that person or other people to interact
credible? Is it a measure that is accepted by other teams,
organizations or even industry-wide?
significant as a performance and/or a diagnostic metric? Performance
metrics are useful for comparisons across like types. Diagnostic
metrics help determine the state of the system.
Is it a
quality metric? That is, counting it does not really describe the
value contained within it, so you need a secondary way of looking at
it helpful to look at it across different demographics? This is very
insightful in some metrics, and just not necessary in others.
I'm sure there are
more relevant qualities, but this is already quite a lot to think
about. These qualities can help decide which metrics are the most
useful or what they can tell us, independently of the others.
is to look at which metrics should be reported alongside each other,
or which ones depend on others directly or indirectly. That's where
things start to get real interesting and much more subjective.
No conclusion here
because this is on-going work trying to map out all these variants of
metrics, but here's to hoping it inspires others to think and work
along these lines.
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
-E20 Apps – “Web of connections.
Members choose who they want to link to, and strength of connection depends on
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
This is missing out that E2.0 allows a variety of different
leadership models as microcosmswithin
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.
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
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
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)
As I read a part of Brafman and Beckstrom's The Starfish and the Spider, it struck me how similar some of its ideas are to Douglas Atkin's The Culting of Brands (see my list of Books on Communities). I'm going to have to cross reference some of this again later but both describe at least one common element necessary for building successful peer networks (starfish), or brands (culting of brands): ideology.
Brafman & Beckstrom's book talks about having a shared ideology amongst the members of the peer network. This could mean several things from having a core sense of values to a shared sense of purpose to a shared direction (each different things). However, they do not point out the specifics like Atkin's does:
How do you motivate people towards this ideology?
Showing the love, as they say
A statement of value
Shared iconography and symbolism
It's not hard to see why they don't because in a pure-play peer network there is no centralization that develops these ideas. They are amongst one of those nebulous things like asking someone why they like Harley's, swordfighting, anime, open source software, Apple Inc., etc., aside from technical details. Loyalty is an implicit and hard to define element, whether it is an organized program, or a decentralized community.
On occassion, when you get enough mass, some of them will try to write down what these are--the Apache foundation went through this, but so sometimes so do the many community folks who start to write a FAQ--but each group goes through a rediscovery process of these ideas.
My view is that communities grow by their own efforts, not on a very focused path, but evolve over time and stabilize at a certain point. Some of the really successful ones actually start off because they are not something else (as in not the mainstream), which often predicates that they do not look into how other communities form. By trying to break into a new direction, they tend to leave all other ideas behind.
The other part is that a truly decentralized community tends to follow leadership (another hard to define quality), and not only does this change over time, but not all our leaders know how to organize a loose network of people such as a community. Without this kind of understanding, it becomes a harder process of successes and failures, and rediscovery of the same ideas.
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.
Conference season is in full swing now. I have three of them to attend/present at.
First up, Web 2.0 Expo next week in San Francisco. I went to the Web 2.0 Summit in November which was a much smaller crowd than what's expected this time as a full exhibition. We're getting ready for it with a booth for a number of new things from IBM, including both a developerWorks and an alphaWorks pedestal. I will be at the booth much of the time alongside several others from our development team. We also have a nice min-theater at the IBM booth, to present at.
Then comes an internal IBM summit on Web 2.0 at the beginning of May, which means more presentations and good chance to meet up with the many folks across IBM working in this area.
Somewhere in there is all the regular work. I'll be gone on vacation after the Rational conference spending some time in Florida just to relax.
I think it's best described by Karl Hyde of the music group Underworld, it takes Two Months Off to really relax and be on vacation. I don't think I can convince my manager to let me have that though :)
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.
Laptops are the ubiquitous tool of Networked Man. It's also how you identify them in the wild.
I'm a very heavy laptop user. I take it with me almost every day when I leave the house. Hence, I need something that won't drag me down in terms of weight. I've been using one kind of Thinkpad or another for years, honestly, because this is what they provide me at work. It seems to do the job well and isn't too heavy (current one is about 5 lbs).
On the other hand,I really like the idea of convertible notebooks or Tablet PCs where you can flip the screen over and lay it flat on the keyboard and then write on it. IBM's PC division (before Lenovo) had one for a brief time together with a notepad, but that went away. In fact most Tablet PCs were similar size (12" screens), which was a little too small for me.
The one I see out there now is Gateway's 14" widescreen version. However, they haven't made a good docking station for it, just a port replicator.
I'd like to a tablet PC with a docking station you can just plug into vertically to turn the unit into a sort of all-in-one monitor-PC. There'd be a keyboard, mouse and cabling connected to the dock of course. But the core idea would be to have a dock that works like an adjustable monitor base (turning it, raising it, etc.)
When you're on the go, you could simply suspend, unlock and lift it off and put it into a locking hard case/shell rather than having to strap into a laptop bag.
Honestly, the five minutes it takes for me to hibernate my computer, undocking, and pack it; then do the reverse when at my location turns out to be about an hour a week I've lost. That's 40-50 hours a year; i.e., a whole week of work.
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.
This looks like another busy day for phone calls, but an excellent time to test out the battery life of my new Moto Q and Plantonics pulsar stereo headset (see my previous post).
Yesterday, I tested out the phone to visit our podcasts and listen to some of our recent interviews, downloaded to the phone. I then left the phone in a spot and walked around for a while with the stereo wireless headset and it worked like a charm: the high-speed wireless network, the cellphone's browser, the freedom of wireless, and sitting on the hammock watching the stars listening to the podcast. The sound quality was excellent, both in terms of focusing the caller's voice (over background noise), and listening to audio playback from the net, the laptop, or the ipod. Next test today is skype and long hours of calls, to see how uncomfortable it can get and which dies first the battery in the cellphone or the headset.
Next week's trip to Rational Software Developer Conference 2007 in Orlando should be fun (quick infomercial). They have some great activities planned, including some new things by our own team:
We created a new space for RSDC at http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/spaces/rsdc, which won't be active until Sunday (or late Saturday night). It puts into a single view many of the activities around RSDC including Rational Tube, RSDC in SecondLife, and more (see the following)
We are presenting the IBM CODESTATION learn-and-play game in SecondLife, where you can learn to program bots to take the Labyrinth challenge and get into development in the SL environment. There's also an article right now on our site about just that. The presentations in the main tent for RSDC will also be played in SL. As before, you should download and install the free SecondLife client to visit these URLs.
IBM Rational has also launched the community video site Rational Tube, asking users the question What makes you Rational? in keeping with this year's theme and where anyone can create and post a short video. There are number of interesting videos by Scott Ambler (self-professed crazy agile Canadian :) ), Grady Booch, and lots of execs and all the usual suspects from IBM Rational. There's also this cool one by iRise on Formula One raching and Rational RequisitePro (huh? what's the connection, you ask?), and comedian Mitch Fatel.
There are tons more things which I'll span out over several posts and try to keep updated from my phone while I'm at the show. I'll be at the developerWorks booth on Monday and Tuesday; so if you're attending, drop on by. Hats seem to be a theme, so I might wear my Crab hat.
I missed out on Secondfest, a music festival on SecondLife that Intel recently sponsored together with the UK's Guardian newspaper. There were so many performers there, I'm surprised at the size of it. Even one of my long-time favorites, The Pet Shop Boys. This is a fairly large online event to organize and I'm pretty sure it takes a good concert promoter on the side of the bands too. It's hard to call this a UK thing when it's on SL. I think the promotion for it I'd like to try to find out who helped to organize this.
PS: Does the group Hadouken have anything to do with the old Capcom Street Fighter II games?
I'm at the Rational Software Development Conference 2006, taking a break between sessions. If you haven't seen it already, there is a lot going on. You can start on our blog and podcast page for this event.
The first interesting session I found was on Building a Strong Software Business on Open Source, by Palle Pedersen, CTO of Black Duck Software. His company works on testing compliance in software products. In particular, they have taken a look at the issues around licensing, usage and behavior of teams who use open source software or incorporate them into products of their own.
Interesting factoid: there are now about 600 different variations of open source licenses. Can you imagine checking compliance of code/products that incorporates that kind of range/possibility of OS software?
More interesting to me is his point that there is a common best practice to how to incorporate OSS into your own line:
start with an OSS-based "lite" version of your product
initiate and grow a community around your product to draw or gain a sufficient user base
develop an advanced commercially licensed upgrade of the product.
This is oversimplification of the whole thing but its step two of this business model that obviously catches my eye. In fact, there were a few questions about how to do Step 2. This is in fact exactly what our Community team in dW is tackling. I'm just glad that people are starting to recognize the importance of this as a required part of the open source business model.
We've known this for a while but many groups tend to just gloss over this. The assumption is that if you start a discussion group, you've satisfied that step. It's not as simple as that. In fact, there are many OS products with discussion groups but that still never take off as a success. What is needed is a more scientific way of performing this overall step (which is what I'm hoping would become the outcome of my current side-project to create a course for Community Management at the University of Arizona MIS dept. More on that later).
In any case, I think there's a story there in what Palle said around this OSS business model and community development to pursue.
Okay, it's really Day 3 but I'm posting on yesterday's events.
I took a bunch of photos. Unfortunately, they're all off a 5MP camera so I have to resize them each time. Maybe it's time for me to get one of those cellphones that can post photos directly to your blog. Anyway, I'll have photos back-posted soon.
The blogger meetup went well with some analysts, execs and tech folk all around. It was mostly a leisurely meet up with folks we work with but rarely see. We signed a big get well soon card for Grady that's being sent out today as I speak.
I spent part of the day manning the booth (okay only an hour or two compared to the other dW staff members) talking to different people as they come by. It feels like there are a lot of first-timers to the RSDC this year, and we had about 50-50 split on people familiar with dW and others not. I had an interesting conversation with a gent from Amazon Web services and there's a session later today on Mashing with Amazon Web Services that I intend to visit.
The interesting event of the day was Amazon's sessions on its Web services. Amazon Web Services is the software side of the company, sort of separate from the main sales/retail site that they are so well known for. The retail side uses some of these same Web services within the site, but they are also available to external customers as well. I listened to Jeff Barr from Amazon describe them some of which include:
S3 - their network storage service, where you can upload and download any object using different APIs. Priced around 15-20 cents per gig. Amazon here acts as an NSP (networked storage provider) for your web apps.
Amazon Mechanincal Turk - more of a process where you can submit jobs to be completed that can be taken up by other people (Amazon users not staff) to handle the processing; sort of like a giant human-based grid software system
their Queuing service - a simple queuing web service that you can use as part of a mashup
After about 4-5 hours of sleep the previous night, I was still in reasonable shape to do my presentation at the 3rd Developer Relations Conference hosted by Evans Data Corp. This is a gathering of the folks who run developer programs at different technology companies, with speakers from Sun, Nokia, BEA Systems, Eclipse, Motorola, Yahoo!, HP Software, Intel, Borland, AMD, and many more (and of course ourselves from IBM). It seems an anachronism to have an event where all these companies that are competing for many of the same developers to share knowledge but I think it opens minds and views all the same.
My presentation was Extending your developer network with Web 2.0 communities, discussing what you need to know about communities to pick the right kind of Web 2.0 tools for yours. For all the organizations that may go headlong into setting up blogs, wikis, etc., and even multiple competing instances, without really understanding the communities they are trying to create, I hope this talk gives provides some food for thought. (The powerpoint works best in slideshow mode: F5).
I attended a few of the other sessions but the one I found refreshing was Chad Dickerson's talk about Hack Day at Yahoo! Chad's a Sr Director at Yahoo and responsible for organizing the internal Hack Days, and more importantly, the external Hack Day last June. I had missed this event entirely (busy with my then-8-month pregnant wife). They essentially opened up the Yahoo campus to 400 developers from all over who agreed to come and spend 24 hours developing new projects and mashups using Yahoo's many APIs. The format was what intrigued me:
Developers could come from anywhere but they had to agree to code, and not just be an observor
The developers actually camped out on the Yahoo lawn and ate and slept there for a day or two--even people like David Filo stayed till the wee hours of the morning
An unconference model where people signed up for any project that they thought of, led initially by talks about the APIs themselves
Yahoo employees roamed around the developers and stayed with them through the night
They had Beck give a performance there, which was quite appropriate considering he'd just appeared on the September 06 cover of Wired
The Legal departments agreed to let the developers keep whatever rights to their own code (seems the right choice but hard to accept by legal teams sometimes)
People could make whatever projects they wanted to work on, although at times, it raised some eyebrows
Now this is very obvious customer-led innovation. For all the executives and analysts that like to throw that term around, this model is the concept implemented in what I think is its truest form. I applaud Chad and the Yahoo team for doing the right thing and having the guts to put this together. Read more from the TechCrunch blog soon after the event. Here's hoping to the same success again this year.
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.