Community and social computing
I picked up my copy of The Starfish and the Spider again to look back at how they describe their approach to building a community. The book advocates a new view of decentralized and non-hierarchical organizations, systems, even software. The two creates refer to the hierachical organism (Spider) that can survive loosing some parts of its body but after a point dies, as compared against the distributed organism (Starfish) which even when cut into pieces, essentially break up into multiple separate and surving organisms.
The reference is directly apt to communities, and in this light relevant to our Spaces model. Essentially, it is a way of how a community can organize itself. Per the book, there are five elements that help to make such a system successful: circles, a pre-existing network, ideology, catalysts, and champions.
In our view, a Space is a virtual implementation of having a circle of people that allows them to interact in any number of ways their own circle see fit. This is the home room for the virtual membership to gather together, interact or share information.
The pre-existing network comes from the large membership--6 million the last I checked--that already exists in developerWorks. However, that's not the only place. We also expect to draw folks from other areas of the Internet, which is why syndicating information from your space is so important. While circles can survive losses of members, they still need some minimum level of participation to sustain the existence of the system; otherwise, rather than subdividing, your membership simply dissipates. This is why for the long-term it is important to try to recruit new members. Of course, that still depends upon the intentions of the circle itself; they may decide that the circle only needs to exist for a short-term. In our model, the syndication not only helps to share information, but also acts a way to potentially draw more members based on their interest. The potential candidates can judge for themselves if they like the output of the circle.
However, raw information from the circle is not enough to bind people together. This is why ideology is of value. Call it what you like: mission statements, guidelines, values, tattoos, etc. They represent the ideas that the circle hold of importance; their view in relation to the information. Such ideology is not always necessarily complex, or spelled out; they may even be too subtle to ascertain from the regular ruminations of those on the roster. A better organized group works to make sure that their ideology is made apparent. To help shape that ideology, you need catalysts and champions who help raise and direct the circle.
dW Spaces can help shape the circle and tap pre-existing networks. It can even help the circle describe and post their ideology. However, this is where the software meets the wetware. This is where the brains of the catalysts and champions play key roles. In other words, software alone is not to build communities. It helps to to facilitate them, but you still need the people working to bring it together.
Our view in developerWorks is to try to help these communities start and grow, and collect the ideas of what works well in different situations, to feed back into other communities. That's a long-term process as well. Even though, the staff at dW may not be directly be the catalysts and champions, we try to help new them by acting as a common resource to collect and distribute that knowledge. In big companies, that is often referred to as a center of excellence. While we don't call ourselves that, perhaps that is the role we fill.
I'm trying to determine what would be the best way of describing the following concept:
- a recurring or common scenario of how people gather together in any size of population from small pairings to very huge communities
- who can post, provide input
- who can see/use/take the output
- how long it exists, who determines that
I simplified the factors above but it gives a general idea. Some examples are: a person's social network, a group activity, an instant messaging session, a long-term community, a mass collaboration like Digg, etc.
I started thinking about it as a social perspective or how people see it in a visual sense. We've also been talking about it in terms of social context which separates out the visual element and away from a focus on a beneficiary group, towards an abstract notion.
My thought is that there are a limited number of well known types of social contexts/perspectives that I've seen repeatedly across many sites. However, people don't necessarily know which one they are because they don't know the general idea versus specific examples (like how I listed Digg above). Once you can tell which social context/perspective your site has, or even multiple ones, you can then go on towards explaining what the other elements of it are.
Which do you think makes more sense or rings better to you?
Good business plans delivers on results, and to get results you first have to be able to determine what they should be and be able to measure them. Ie seen many business operations that aren quite sure what results they are supposed to be delivering, or have no easy way to measure those results. They end up not really progressing or succeeding in the long run.
With the new territory that is Web 2.0, this comes sharply into view. Organizations that implementing or running Web 2.0 services like blogs, forums, wikis, and other social interaction systems, all need to know how to measure them and what measurements are meaningful. At least wee lucky that in the online world, collecting data and doing business analytics can be more automated.
Many companies already agree that for Web sites (Web 1.0) you need to be able to determine pageviews (PVs), and unique monthly visitors (UVs) as your two key metrics, to determine the success of the site.
But now consider what Web 2.0 is about and think about if those metrics still give meaningful information. If youe an organization like ours where our Community has a wide range of Web 2.0 services, how do compare those metrics between that of a forum and from a blog? Does it even make sense do that when what youe really interested in are things more like: How vibrant or healthy is our community? Who do people interact with? Is our communtiy self-supporting or do we have to do a lot to keep it alive? How much does it cost us to support our community?
My idea on this is that PVs and UVs are too low-level to answer these questions, and we need another level of metrics beyond that which Il call participation metrics. These metrics are used to try to answer the questions, or at least get a sense for what those levels are.
Now, the catch: How do determine participation metrics in a Web 2.0 system when even the ways people participate are very different between blogs, forums and other services?
The key, I think, is to go back to social network theory and the core ideas of collaboration; in particular, the idea of relationships between the members of any social network or community. It fairly easy to quantify a relationship, but it very hard to determine the quality of the relationship.
In this case, I focusing on the quantity of relationships, as well as the population mixes. Taking dW as an example, there are many ways of looking at our population but the one that interests me here is the relationships between a consumer and a producer. Simply said, you can look at four main population segments:
Thus, you can create a matrix of sorts here based on the interaction activity going on a specific area:
You can go on defining more and more based on every (repeatable) use-case you can think of. More significantly, what this does is coaslesce together all the Community uses that generally contribute to specific relationships. While not entirely accurate, you could generalize that each use case mostly contributes to one or two types of relationships.
Thus, you develop a mapping across your entire landscape of interaction types for participation metrics based on relationships. If you have multiple communities (or dozens like dW has), you could limit the scope of the data to all service uses relevant to a specific community (e.g., IBM Rational ClearCase community) or specific set of communities (e.g., all IBM Rational communities), or you could look across all your communities at once (e.g., all dW). You have essentially, a set of participation metrics that applies to a range of data.
How do you use these metrics? It depends upon the questions you ask:
Again, this idea is more of a method than actual steps to take for your communities. You can see that the information is subjective to the goals and direction of your organization.
I'm read HOW magazine's article on Small Medium Large--unfortunately only in print--talking about the shifts in design strategy. The article describes six shifts, but some of them seem strikingly similar. They suggestions echo our strategies in dW now.
Otherwise, the common theme to me seems like being a designer now is a job shared by more people beyond just a design team, and even involving users in the process. However, at the same time, this means you need to design a system whereby it is easy for the user to get involved and affect design. This means creating the tools or mechanisms that allow them that capability, all while making it simple to do so. Thus, you provide the tools and a context on how the users can achieve their goals. There is also a lot more for designers to learn, and in this time of flux, to keep learning and training on new methods and processes. The job is getting harder by the day.
Our sister site developerWorks Korea has launched its own community page!
It's in Korean (Hangul, if I'm right) at: http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/kr/community/
We launched our developerWorks Spaces project at the Web 2.0 Expo last week. The page has more information including a video and an interactive tour of what the project is all about, but in quick summary: with our spaces system, you now have the opportunity to create your own community microsite around a topic, project or other activity for developers that can bring together multiple social networking tools, any of the developerWorks articles or tutorial content, or any RSS feed from across the Internet. We provide an easy web-based tool for you to create the community topic space and publish it to share with everyone. Please visit the URL for the project to see how you can apply for your own space.
I will also share information about the project in a webcast this Wednesday on April 25th, 1-2pm Eastern Time. This 1 hour long joint webcast together with the Software as a Service (SaaS) team is available through the IBM PartnerWorld webcasts as Social Networking and Software as a Service. It's a free webcast but requires registration to use the tool to see the slide presentation, the demo, the Q&A, and polls.
I noticed Hutch Carpenter's (@bhc3) post about this proposed session in Enterprise 2.0 conference where he's talking about different forms of competition. I had to share this excerpt from chapter 4 on Social Tasks of my book on the different forms of working together on a social/collaborative task.
Another excerpt from :
Another excerpt fromSocial Networking for Business
"The next step of defining a social task is to consider how members perform this task collectively. Social software aggregates the behavior or content from many individuals into overall results or collections of results. However, you can use different methods to perform aggregation:
- Independent: Members work on the task separately, but the results are aggregated across all members. Their discrete actions and results might not be directly visible to others: the results are visible only as an converged aggregate value (for example, closed ballot voting).
- Autonomous: Members work on the task separately of each other, and their results are distinctly visible to other members as separate work. This creates opportunities in which members might benefit from information that multiple other members share. A collection of divergent results across the many members or a single convergent result (such as brainstorming on ideas) can occur.
- Consensus: A group of members works directly together on the task with the intent to deliver an overall collective result, even if it’s not unanimous or convergent. Tasks often require analysis, discussion, and debate to arrive at a collective answer. The ultimate goal is to converge and deliver a single collective result, but members might not always agree on one answer and there sometimes produce multiple options as results.
- Deliberative: A group of members works directly together without the intent or necessity of coming to a consensus on a single result. These are typically discussions or interactions that can spread out in many directions, depending on how subsets of members interact.
- Combative: Members must compete against each other to derive the best result from the group, denying other choices.[i] Unlike consensus forming, only a single answer is provided from all the choices the group generated.
Glass, Designing Your Reputation System in 10! Easy Steps, IA Summit
I was talking to Bobby Woolf earlier today regarding the different generations of what we all call the Web. Bobby blogged on Web 2.0, the current conversation on a move from a focus on content to one around APIs. There are blog sites, conferences and other activities all around how services are present the great idea of how to work with the Web.
Bobby describes three generations:
I've tested the Web since 1990, starting with a very early
text-based browser that Berners-Lee first released that predated even Lynx. Then Mosaic, Mosaic 2.0, Netscape's alpha browsers, Netscape Navigator, Spyglass Mosaic, HotJava (Sun's original Java-based browser), Opera, Mozilla, and a few others. Over the years, I think there were probably a few other "generations" that came and went:
The benefit of the services Web is that it ties applications in more obvious and neutral ways that specific programming APIs, scripting languages and plug-ins. More significantly as Bobby indicated it brings a widely considered design pattern of the Model-View-Controller (the Observor-Observable pattern to be accurate); the separation of a presentation element from a communicating element and the execution elements of the design. Most programmers are familar with it and its benefits. The news now is that business people are beginning to take notice of its benefits too.
PS: Know any other trends in information presentation and interaction on the Web that came, went or stuck-around?
There are several different ways of looking at what to measure and how to measure benefit or value in social software systems.
First, who receives the benefit from the system, and how do you measure their benefit:
These are just my own ruminations. I believe that there are some ways to develop or gather metrics of some of these, but it may be a while before we can agree on how to measure all aspects of these. Before thinking about how to formalize this, you should take a look at these ideas of how to carefully define a measurement process by Peter Andrews, part of the Senior Consulting Faculty for the IBM Executive Business Institute. These are the brainiacs that think about the "thing behind the thing" (to paraphrase the classic statement from many a mobster movie): how to define or measure abstract concepts like innovation, strategy and more.
Ive just started reading Tom Davenport's new book Thinking for a Living, a great book on the issues surrounding knowledge workers.
If you havent heard of this term, you may not realize that you are (in the IT industry) very likely a knowledge worker yourself. This kind of work is a difficult to quantify, and even describe, but essentially involves all those jobs where people spend the majority of their time thinking of solutions for a living (doctors, lawyers, managers, programmers, etc.) rather than building many unit pieces of the same thing (e.g., manufacturing, production or labor-intensive work). This may still be an unfair description.
In fact, even the book indicates that the term has been measured in many different ways. In the US, the Labor statistics report is not categorized this way, so analysis by different academics point to there being anywhere from 30 million to over 100 million knowledge workers in the US alone (thats from 10-30% of the population).
The book makes for a fascinating read. For me, it provides valuable context to understand how developers worldwide do or think of their work. For example, Davenport indicates that there are some common attributes for knowledge workers, no matter their job:
It is these last two points where I find good relevance to my own job. Im probably a typical knowledge worker; in fact, my current job can be categorized as heavy knowledge work, but also some production work.
For the production work-side, I am responsible for getting more people blogging, discussing, debating, and interacting on technical topics on our site through our various community areas. Loosely, that translates to getting more instances of blogs, forums, wikis, and other such tools, started and running. I certainly have help from many others to get this going.
On the knowledge work-side, I work on our community strategy and direction, and lead our large community project currently in development in dW. This means I work with our infrastructure and development teams to describe the technical idea and debate solutions. I work with our research team and do research myself on different Web 2.0 and community activities around the Web. I work with our design, user experience and information architecture teams to consider how to present, organize, and direct this information. I work with our content teams to consider how to use or how to get others to use our community system, generate content, and participate in activities. I work with our management to present, consider and strategize what we should be doing in all these areas. Finally, I work with other teams and people outside dW, in IBM and beyond, to discuss many of these areas in relation to Web 2.0 and community. Believe me, that's a lot of phone calls and knowledge exchange.
To summarize: I suck information in and spew (hopefully useful) knowledge out across many different personas (people and groups).
Money magazine is reporting that Video Gaming will be a "welcome event" at the Beijing Olympics. Apparently the Chinese government recognizes it as an official sport alongside other ones that require agility or dexterity (like soccer), although the Olympic committee has not accepted it as yet.
This isn't like the World Cyber Games (in Germany in 2008) which takes things much more seriously as a sport, but it is a start. After all if Bridge counts as a "sport"...
Man, too many projects for me to inspect all coming up at the same time with this new job. Not enough time to blog in depth. I have two jobs to do simultaneously right now and it's definitely keeping me busy.
Meanwhile: take a look at this site I put together for my swordfighting students. This should link to our site on ning.
I picked up Market-based Management by Dr. Roger Best (see my reading list), a textbook of the "traditional" approach to customer-centric marketing. I'm looking into the ideas on how companies look at customer focus, satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. The processes are probably very different but online communities of all forms also face some of these same issues and the existing ideas and metrics may give insight into similar metrics from the community view.
There are some very different views here though:
Still there are many parallel concepts that can be borrowed. A few of the many examples:
Beyond just the basic measurement of each community, there are the issues of measuring the effectiveness of your community program itself. The parallel is measuring the effectiveness of the marketing program or strategy separately of the end-results driven. This means understanding market share, awareness, availability, etc.
The reality is that even with the decades of having online communities we really have not reached a significant level of sophistication in measuring online communities. Perhaps things needed to happen to emphasize that such as the rise of social software and Web 2.0, the acknowledgment of the long-tail phenomenon, the improvement of web metrics collection tools, and the effects of influencers online.
I see this as something entirely different than the success of the online ad marketing, which everyone can see is a multi-billion dollar opportunity. With online ads, some of the traditional ideas and methods still work, and even some of the traditional metrics may apply. However, a community, where the value comes from the knowledge economy, is likely quite different than a currency-based economy.
With growing interest in online communities as basis of support for real-world products and offerings, business & technology development, market reach and awareness, I think this is a large field waiting to be explored.
The book has progressed and transformed significantly over the past year. I've probably rewritten the contents three to four times already, either shifting large sections to bring related ideas together, towards a business focus (requiring less prior technical knowledge), and in a more cohesive concept.
The draft chapters all go up onto the Roughcuts section of Safari Books. What's confusing is that the latest information is in there but only to registered members, and the free information you see up front is several drafts old. So, I'm including the ToC here:
Ch 1. Social Software
A powershift through Conversations
Collaboration and the Social Web
A crying need in the global workforce
What is happening to knowledge workers and teams
From Mega-trends to Ground-level issues
Elementsof a Social Architecture
Ch 3 Social Experiences
FindingCommon and Reusable Social Experiences
DifferentExperiences for a complex world
ThePersonal Social Network Experience
TheClosed and Visible Group Experiences
TheMass collaboration Experience
Atthe Intersection of People, Places, and Purpose
Part I: People
Ch 4 Interpersonal Actions
Identity in Online Social Environments
Common Interpersonal Actions
Investing and Investigating Identity
Building Relationship Structures
Introducing and Intermediating
Harvesting the Network
Flowing between Interpersonal Actions
Ch 5 From Relationships to Roles
The Value of Roles
Structural Relationship Networks andSocial Graphs
Activity Roles in Social Systems
When and Where Activity Roles Emerge
Ch 6 Participation, Trust and Reputation
Identity to Participation to Reputation
The Trouble with Participation
Expanding the Definition of Participation
The Impact of a Reputation system
Building a Reputation system
Defining goals of the reputation system
Setting Reputation metric types
Qualifying to participate
Determining the award process
Displaying reputation metrics and award
Documenting the process
Expertise and Reputation
Ch 7 Social Leadership & government
Choosing a Social Government model
Leaders and Influencers
A Selection of Social Government models
The Centralized Models
The Delegated Model
The Representative Model
The Starfish Model
The Swarm Model
Governance Models applied to situations
Part II: Places
Ch 8 Content Actions
Social Content, Information and Vale
Varieties of Content Actions
Transforming Knowledge Actions into SocialContent Actions
Ch 9 Connecting to Social Experiences
Grouping and Combining Social Experiences
Multiple channels of experience
Interacting through Channels
The Impact of Grouping and Channels
Ch 10 Environment Actions
Managing the Interface
Skins, Themes and Layout
Availability and Mood Indicators
Distribution Points and Sharing tools
Managing Identities and Profiles
Background, Interests, or Skills
Identifying Photos and Logos
Affiliation, Membership or Role Badges
Awards and Merit Badges
Managing user actions
Managing User Rights and Membership
Managing Contributions and Content
Ch 11 Social Tasks: Collaboratingon Ideas
The Structure of Social Tasks
Form of Aggregation
Building a Template for a Task
Different Models of Social Tasks
Idea generation and predictions
Disitributed human computation
Open source development
Relationship mapping and mining
Location-centered social interaction
Ch 12 Social Tasks: Creating and Managing Information
- Recommendationsand Reviews
o DirectSocial recommendations
o DerivedSocial recommendations
- Creatingand categorizing information
o Directsocial content creation
o Derivedsocial content generation
o SocialQ&A systems
o Navigatinginformation on social input
Ch 13 Building a social culture
- Defininga Culture for a Social Environment
o Ideologyand Values in cult
o Behaviorand Rituals
o Cultureand Maturity of Social Environments
o TheCultural Impact of Social Architecture
o HowSocial Experience Models Impact Culture
o How SocialGovernment Models Impact culture
o HowSocial Tasks Impact Culture
o HowDomains Impact Culture
Ch 14 Engaging and EncouragingMembers
Engaging Members through Activity Roles
Roles and Interpersonal Actions
Roles and Content Actions
Roles and Environment Actions
Belonging and Commitment
Creating a model for identifying commitment
Maturing over a Lifecycle
Programs to Grow or Encourage your Socialgroup
Member Reward programs
Recruiting Evangelists and Advocates
Member Training and Mentoring programs
Part IV: Production
Ch 15 Community and SocialExperience Management
- TheValue and Characteristics of a Community Manager
Personality Traits and Habits
Who in the Organization should run theSocial Environment?
Community Manager Tasks andResponsibilities
Member and Relationship development
Topic and Activity Development
Communications and Promotion
Ch 16 Measuring social environments
Measurement in Social and Cognitive Science
Dimensions of measurement
Types of Metrics
Metrics and Social Experiences
Measurement Mechanisms and Methods
Quantitative Analytic MeasurementMechanisms
Qualitative Measurement through Surveys andInterviews
Ch 17 The Strategic Value ofSocial Computing
Measuring Intangible Assets with a BalancedScorecard
Social Capital as Intangible Assets
Connecting to Business Processes
Social Architecture and Business Strategy
You may have already heard this in your weekly developerWorks newsletter that we are now starting to offer podcasts as new content on our site. These first podcasts are a series of interviews with technical experts focused on Service-Oriented Architectures.
The WebSphere Technical Podcast series introduces the SOA Programming Model and the Software Component Architecture. This is a new plan to describe services universally regardless of if it is implemented as a Web service, a Java service, a database service, etc.
Jump to the site and listen in with your podcast catcher of choice.
I'm proud to say that developerWorks has joined the Hall of Fame for the Jolt awards given annually by Software Development Magazine.
AND ... Grady Booch has won the Excellence in Programming award ...
AND ... Scott Ambler, IBM Rational Practice Leader (and used to write for me too) won the Jolt Productivity Award for the technical book Refactoring Databases
AND ... dW contributors Brett McLaughlin and Gary Pollice, who (along with co-author David West) received an award for their book Head First Object-Oriented Analysis & Design
It always feels great when you work with a really good team and are surrounded by such brilliant minds. Congratulations to all our dW community members who won!
eBay is having their Developer Challenge 2006 until January 31st open to individuals and teams. The idea is to build an interesting application using their Web services API. dW also has a three-part series of articles on eBay's API that could help.
For the individual ranks, judging is based 40% on innovative use of their API, 30% on demo-ready look, feel and stability, and 30% designed for eBay users.
For teams it is 30% innovation, 20% look and feel, 20% eBay ready, and 30% on the quality of collaboration between team members.
Prizes (individual): $5000, $1000, and three iPod Nano winners
Prizes (team): XBox for up to 4 members, and free trip to demo your application at the O'Reilly Emerging Tech conference in March. Two other teams can win up to 4 iPod Nanos per team.
With Chris Anderson's book The Long-Tailfinally out, it's the season to talk about the subject at length. Ifyou aren't familiar with it, a one-liner might be: consider all theniche products or niche uses of your product(s) that you have ignoredbecause they were not a very feasible source business, until thelowered cost of Internet distribution and cataloging has changedthings. The phrase 'long-tail' refers to the hyperbolic demand curve ofproducts, with the top hits near the head of the curve making largenumbers of sales, and "rest" of those that are not hits, in the tail.In fact, this tail can be quite long (and hold a lot of businessopportunity). It counters the long-held aphorism the "80/20" rule,where 80% of your business comes from 20% of your products usingtraditional physical distribution and inventory.
To me, the Eclipse project is an example of a technologythat demonstrates how it can work. The first related idea from Eclipseis that it is an industry de facto standard for application userinterfaces (although primarily focused as a development environment).This means that there is wide access to the technology, and commonapplication to many operating systems and application needs. Then thereis the well defined open interfaces and APIs, and detailedcustomization options that allow anyone to create and add plugins tothe base system, allowing users to customize the system in greatdetail, each for their own niche areas; while still maintaining adegree of usage compatibility industry-wide. Finally, it's developmentenvironment, enabling users to bring new ideas into realization.
It only allows niche development of the base environment to eachperson's needs, but it also serves as an enabler to create other newtools. So it is a "long-tail" enabled system and you can use it tocreate yet more.
The July 8th issue of the Economist had a really good overview article on Internet advertising and marketing.(Access to the article unfortunately is not free after the first week,and you may not be able to access that link unless you're a subscriber).
The gist is that current advertising model across the world (innovatedby John Wanmaker back in the 1870s) takes the approach of carpet-bombeveryone in a city with the ad, rather than what the Internet enables,pin-point targetting individuals who would be interested (rephrasingRishad Tobaccowala, chief innovation officer of Publicis, one of theworld's biggest advertising groups). It also talks about viralmarketing by word-of-mouth and attempts to measure this, as well asother possibly effective methods.
Definitely worth the read.
I'm reading Mark Buchanan's excellent book on Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks, and came across the concepts of egalitarian and autocratic patterns in social networks. Before you jump to conclusions, let me say a few things about this book. To me it seems to focus on the mathematical origins of the theory of social networks, but takes a pleasant approach going through the history and background of how these ideas emerged. It also spans a wide range of disciplines in terms of where these patterns appear, from biology to watershed and geological studies.
First, it talks about Watts and Strogatz's truly innovative look that has eventually spread across the world as the meme: six degrees of separation. There's a lot more to it than the Kevin Bacon game, but I'd like to point out the particular elements here on egalitarian and autocratic networks. This is actually has little to do with policital systems like socialism versus monarchic or oligarchic communities. Instead if you look at it as a mathematical problem, what it describes is that there are often two varieties of patterns of connections in a system that emerge often.
The first is a basic heuristic that can be commonly seen in some biological systems like the brain: as a node (in a network system), you try to establish a fixed amount or ratio of connections to other nodes. The connections are not a random pattern, but neither is it based on a high degree of "purpose" or "intention". This proposes a very egalitarian and essentially a very simple rule to help build more complex systems as the overall network grows and evolves.
The other is the autocratic pattern, where the heuristic is to start with one node and grow from there. Essentially the key node itself starts growing in size or strength, while its immediate connections grows with it, and scaling down until you reach the end or leaf nodes which have only one connection to someone else. This easiest example is in terms of well known sites or articles on the Net that get linked from many sites, and in a very simplified description, the basis of the algorithm that Google's engine uses.
If you look at one example of each of these networks from a high level, the egalitarian network seems to be completely chaotic with no easily discernable pattern you can tell visually. On the other hand, the autocratic network looks strangely like one of those classic fractal diagrams. Yet, both serve different purposes and have different uses. You might almost say that they are the yin and yang that exist pervasively throughout the world. Okay, maybe that's too metaphysical for a Friday :)
I’ve increased my attendance at E2.0 by 100% by going two
years in a row; okay, that was a bad metrics joke. The Enterprise2.0 conference in
Boston was the big gathering of customers, analysts, bloggers and
aficionados this year. We’re still debating how many people really attended but
I’m guessing it is around a thousand. The week began early for me starting with presenting during
the Black Belt practitioner’s workshop on Monday. I’m proud of my fellow
members of The 2.0 Adoption Council who presented the workshops all day long.
There are about 10 speakers, starting in the morning with the effervescent Jamie Pappas (EMC) speaking on
business value; the cheery Megan
Murray (Booz Allen Hamilton) on planning; and myself on adoption. The afternoon
had a several pairs of speakers: Stan Garfield (Deloitte) and Luis Suarez (IBM) on community building;
Donna Cuomo (MITRE) and Ted Hopton
(UBM) on metrics and analysis; Bryce
Williams (Eli Lilly) and Richard Rashty (Schneider Electric) on positioning
tools; and Bart Schutte (St Gobain) and Kevin Jones (NASA) on mitigating risks.
I’m also thrilled so many people stayed from 8:30am till
4:15pm. It really is a fire hose of knowledge, even when spread across so many
hours. These were real issues and scenarios that the speakers have experienced
in trying to bring Enterprise2.0 to life in their own organizations. Has E2.0 gained ground? I definitely think so. For any idea
to take hold, there needs to be stability in what it means, and increasing
adoption and expression of the notions within it. Seeing The 2.0 Adoption
Council’s rapid growth within just one year (with over 100 member large
companies) worldwide, with active practitioners is one area of social proof.
The other is the reduction of “What is it?” and more of “How do we do it?” E2.0 seems to be entrenched in the domain of the CIO and IT
organizations. That’s a shame because it really does spread across many
domains. Gautam Ghosh lamented the
lack of attendees or speakers from the HR realm in a few tweets during the
event. Yet many of the talks were certainly around employee behavior and
engagement. I have to be honest. There are many things that are still
left unanswered this year. I didn’t expect solutions but I was looking for more
thought on the following ideas: It will still take a bit of time, or if at all, we can
figure on better patterns of a maturity lifecycle, but let’s not jump to
default conclusions simply because it is easy to remember.
I’ve increased my attendance at E2.0 by 100% by going two years in a row; okay, that was a bad metrics joke. The Enterprise2.0 conference in Boston was the big gathering of customers, analysts, bloggers and aficionados this year. We’re still debating how many people really attended but I’m guessing it is around a thousand.
The week began early for me starting with presenting during the Black Belt practitioner’s workshop on Monday. I’m proud of my fellow members of The 2.0 Adoption Council who presented the workshops all day long. There are about 10 speakers, starting in the morning with the effervescent Jamie Pappas (EMC) speaking on business value; the cheery Megan Murray (Booz Allen Hamilton) on planning; and myself on adoption. The afternoon had a several pairs of speakers: Stan Garfield (Deloitte) and Luis Suarez (IBM) on community building; Donna Cuomo (MITRE) and Ted Hopton (UBM) on metrics and analysis; Bryce Williams (Eli Lilly) and Richard Rashty (Schneider Electric) on positioning tools; and Bart Schutte (St Gobain) and Kevin Jones (NASA) on mitigating risks.
I’m also thrilled so many people stayed from 8:30am till 4:15pm. It really is a fire hose of knowledge, even when spread across so many hours. These were real issues and scenarios that the speakers have experienced in trying to bring Enterprise2.0 to life in their own organizations.
Has E2.0 gained ground? I definitely think so. For any idea to take hold, there needs to be stability in what it means, and increasing adoption and expression of the notions within it. Seeing The 2.0 Adoption Council’s rapid growth within just one year (with over 100 member large companies) worldwide, with active practitioners is one area of social proof. The other is the reduction of “What is it?” and more of “How do we do it?”
E2.0 seems to be entrenched in the domain of the CIO and IT organizations. That’s a shame because it really does spread across many domains. Gautam Ghosh lamented the lack of attendees or speakers from the HR realm in a few tweets during the event. Yet many of the talks were certainly around employee behavior and engagement.
I have to be honest. There are many things that are still left unanswered this year. I didn’t expect solutions but I was looking for more thought on the following ideas:
It will still take a bit of time, or if at all, we can figure on better patterns of a maturity lifecycle, but let’s not jump to default conclusions simply because it is easy to remember.
Measuring ROI on social software is an elusive topic, so it’s wonderful when I find projects that have managed to quantify it in some way. The following story focuses on a particular task, that of social tagging.
The Enterprise Tagging Service in IBM aims to provide an alternative approach to helping people find information compared to traditional search engines. Search based on keyword analysis often relies on a taxonomy that is rigid due to the way the software performs its structural analysis of web pages, identifying and classifying the keywords. Social tagging allows people to add human semantics to keywords that they define that sometimes can amount to finding a resource faster based on what people think is relevant.
As I mentioned on twitter, my peer Jeanne Murray and I are presenting a session at the Enterprise2.0 conference in Boston next week that describes an overall view of how we think e2.0 has evolved in our organization. The focus here is not on the technologies themselves but on the human capabilities, interests, and mindset as it has evolved over time. It talks about what we used to think about social computing and how that as changed or evolved with each stage.
This sort of view on evolution is not something that is absolutely decisive. With a multinational organization such as ours, it does not necessarily mean that every corner of the organization is at the same level. The reality is that many locations are still at Stage 1 while others are very well into the later stages. We use the stages to describe how some groups have progressed in their thinking and approach to how they employ social computing in their work.
I don’t plan to describe the entire presentation here but I wanted to share the intention of our session and give an example of a stage. In discussing the idea, Jeanne and I formulated five stages of this evolution:
- Stage 1 – Seeing a need for social computing in business
- Stage 2 – Recognizing the business uses and value
- Stage 3 – Bringing people together into a common frame
- Stage 4 – Building better social-enabled processes
- Stage 5 – Shifting the overall perspective to a dynamic, agile mindset
For example, we entered Stage 2 when the mindset (in stage 1) progressed beyond thinking of social computing as something just for personal entertainment or for kids into recognizing the business potential. Within this stage, people have accepted there is a business need, but are still unsure about how or where it applies in specific use.
The focus in stage 2 is to articulate value and use cases. To do so, we needed to connect people’s expertise and collect stories of their successful use cases. The glories of reaching this stage is that people are starting to become more connected beyond the possibilities of their existing location and organizational position; there are open networks and freer exchange of ideas; and new social-enabled tasks are vetted simply the degree of their adoption.
However, we also saw in this stage that the number of repositories and ways of describing and sharing expertise were exploding. There were multiple options for doing tasks in social tools, and people needed guidance on which ones made most sense. Our wide diversity of tools simply increased the many streams of information, and often randomness of information and people.
Stage 2 has some people starting to connect, but a recognition that for enterprise 2.0 to be valuable to the company itself (and not just on an individual level), we need to consider how we get the larger organization to do this all together (stage 3). This next transformation requires looking beyond how individuals benefit from social computing, to how groups and org units can work as a whole with this system.
Stage 3 then picks up from trying to unite the infrastructure and tooling, as well as clarifying what to use when.
I hope to see some of you at Enterprise 2.0. Our
session is on Wednesday June 16th at 1-2pm (twitter hashtag #e2conf-34).
We will post the slides next week for others to see as well.
I was reading an article by Om Malik in the current Dec 05 issue of Business 2.0, called The Return of Monetized Eyeballs. In essence it's talking about the fact the buyers are once again valuing the ideas of pageviews and monthly unique visitor counts.
They refer to recent purchases like MySpace.com (sold to News Corp.) for about $580 million for their 40 million registered members.
Apparently, the current value for a single unique monthly visitor hovers around $38. Using that value, they determined (amongst others):
If you are curious how dW stacks up, using the 2 million unique visitors each month stat from the an October 2005 news item, we would be about $76 million, based on those visitors to our online site alone. [FYI: dW does a lot more than just the online sites].
At least they do point out that not all pageviews are alike. I'd add to that not all unique visitors are alike either.
So next comes some ideas of how to measure community activity relative to these industry metrics...
You may have already heard about Facebook's new look as they change the social experience for users. While still focused on the Individual as the center of the experience, they are adding more capabilities. In particular, I'm amused that they are finally catching onto the idea of multiple tabs each per application, although they have not moved to free form tabs like developerWorks Spaces, netvibes and other sites. Separating the app to a different tab helps to create shorter, cleaner front pages, by compartmentalizing and creating subtopics. However, it is better if it is not limited to a single application; after all you might have several tools and widgets to focus around the same topic.
PS: I'm trying out AddThis, a service that lets users redistribute any URL to over 30 other social sites, saving me the trouble of adding links to digg, del.icio.us, etc. manually.
The notion that there are bits of information about us all over the Web has been a nagging feeling for many although theyre not quite sure how to deal with it. A few react to it with pride. Some people consider it as a minor issue with a reaction of needing to be careful but not in panic. Others more wary are who the insurance and financial companies are trying to target with new service offerings.
Kathy, our marketing leader, recently showed me a site that uses a combination of two Web 2.0 technologies, search and user identities, and it brought up not just a surprising collection of info but also a small shock and that old nagging feeling.
If you go to Zoominfo, youll find a whole new way to feed either your ego or paranoia, or even both. You can type in the name of any person or organization and it will search the Net for all the info it can where your name is published, most likely areas that do not require registration.
I came across only a handful of results mapping back to my name at previous jobs (LinuxWorld, RTD System & Networking, etc.), and automatically builds a new online profile about me. I could then register as a member and create a more detailed profile by editing it. In some ways, it builds on what LinkedIn is missing, that is, auto-filling in my information rather than entering it by hand.
Thats probably not as surprising as the other linkages it finds. For example, it does a lateral search of other people who have worked at these organizations to find my peers and coworkers. Youll probably be surprised who you remember and who you dont. It probably doesnt find info which requires you to enter an account and password but I have not explored this fully yet.
The core idea in this model is to build an online profile that can be reused. In Web 2.0 terms, you can then probably use this profile in other applications, sites, etc. in ways the dreamers, innovators, and entrepreneurs will figure out.
I dont know how the tool is implemented but my guess is that it involves one or more of the large search engines to perform the searching. This application focuses on conducting multiple sequential relevant searches and consolidating it under a common presentation, backed by registration and other tools.
This is an example of a federated identity but not in the sense of user-account identities and single-sign-on applications. It is federation around online information centered on your own real world identity, or at least your name.
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I spent the weekend watching the 4th of July Independence Day fireworks from our new house with friends. We bought a lot which is about 1.5 miles behind this hill where the City of Tucson shoots its fireworks from, so we got an excellent view. The housing subdivision is all sold out but so far we're the only house on the hill. Our neighbors is a community that allows only those over 55, so we're the youngest people on the block by about 20 years.
It feels slightly lonely even when near so many homes. We bought a large acre lot so we wouldn't have to be too close to our neighbors. Many subdivisions here have houses within 10 feet of each other. That's too little privacy, even in suburbia, especially when you're new.
Sometimes blogs feel the same. There are so many bloggers out there but not everyone crosses the street to meet the neighbors. It is not possible to know and follow everyone around; it is difficult enough to even follow several dozen blogs.
However, the secret is in how people interact in the first place. We are only starting to investigate better means of social networking and understand what actually drives people to connect. If you read Duncan Watt's Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age, or Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, you can start to understand the mechanics of social behavior. These plus about another 12 books are my summer reading right now.
When you consider how relationship development is at the heart of social computing and enterprise 2.0, it should be natural to consider the career and leadership development of your employees in this context. This opens up new areas of thought into what it means to influence and lead others through an entirely digital medium rather than when you have a face-to-face leader. In my Forbes article (on Apr 16), I describe it as digital eminence to differentiate from one's leadership activities and capabilities through non-virtual environments--often amusingly referred to as "in real life", IRL for short).
The best way that I have found to describe it is in terms of how do people understand, appreciate and recognize your expertise, knowledge and skills through online interactions. This could be anywhere online, even email and chat, but it becomes more visible in social computing environments. I also like to separate this idea from personal brand building. While conceptually you are actually bringing out how you are different and significant from other people--even perhaps Seth Godin's notion of a linchpin in your organization--brand building also harks of self-promotion and ego-stroking. Digital eminence emphasizes what others think of you and your abilities, which may or may not have anything to do with self-promotion.
A second danger is in trying to quantify what is essentially a qualitative assessment. We should be very careful in considering number of followers, friends in your network, or quantity of posts as an indication of one's digital eminence. When you consider eminence as how you stand out, essentially a comparison versus the aggregate group of others in the same field, it may be seen as a ranking. Similarly, such quantity metrics also reinforce this ranking and rating approach. That raises lots of ethical questions when you look at it per individual.
I'm not sure if you've seen this meme but I've come across it in several books both about online and offline communities:
Interactions in communities -->
Creates Understanding --------->
Develops Trust ----------------->
Allows Exploration & Entreprenuership ->
Sets stage for Innovation
The most recent place I saw this meme again, in a slightly varied form was near the last chapters of The World is Flat (ok, maybe I make references to this too often these days :)
Now these are "grand" notions that often follow in a sequence like this above. You need to have one stage happening before you can really reach the next stage. Thus you don't really jump ahead and ask "How do we innovate?" but need to ask "What are we doing to set up an environment such that innovation can happen?"
It's important to realize that the arrows in the diagram above are not trivial. In other words, when you have one stage, you need to do something to progress it to the next stage. That something could take a whole lot of effort. But in terms of managed innovation, it gives points where you can measure how your population is doing and how you can recognize if you've reach that stage.
There are many books out there describing how to innovate and get others to innovate, and I certainly have not read nearly enough of them. I still wonder if some of them consider going through that meme sequence above.
The somethings are also where the opportunities lie. Many innovation and leadership management trends have come and gone, and still many exist in parallel. I'm no certified expert at it and there are likely some really good sources out there too. (Okay, maybe people like Steven Covey)
Right now, I'm just trying to develop an idea for the early stages of this meme, those focused on the developing the community. Hopefully more smart people will come along to explain what to do next.
A summary of the topics at the recent O'Reilly Web 2.0 conference the three significant ideas that emerged were:
On the first idea, the focus is on syndicating outwards your data, and not trying to control what happens on the other end of the connection. This is a crucial idea that many companies are not quite prepared to handle. Legal and marketing groups in many companies have so long focused on exactly how some offering is presented that they may balk at the thought that in Web 2.0, they need to loosen their grip. There's always the worry of "what happens when someone does X or Y with it?" It's not quite so terrible.
This is actually quite related to SOA terms. Essentially, what you establish is a service-level agreement and a level of trust in your users and customers. The SLA defines your service endpoint, how it can be used, and how it will perform. You then trust the consumer of that service to make use of it according to the defined policies.
Once you use the word "policy" (however loosely), it seems to put the hawks more at ease. Obviously even "policy" is a vague and relative term. Watching Pirates of the Carribean (again) last night, they should think of it more as guildelines than as The (Pirate) Code. :)
Coincidentally, that is just where the fear stems from: that it would lead to "piracy", "stealing" or misuse of a service.
To paraphrase Princess Leia Organa to the Imperial Grand Moff:
"The more you tighten your grip, the more [they] will slip through your fingers."
You may be familiar with Wordle, a nice little Web2.0 tool by our own Jonathon Feinberg that creates word art images like this below. You've probably seen wordles like this appear recent (e.g. Tim O'Reilly's Web 2.0 paper)
(Source: Wordle.net - Pride and Prejudice first chapter)
Here's a game we started playing with it similar to other word games like "Cr*nium".
We had lots of fun with the Pride and Prejudice wordle, and not the phrases you think would appear out of Jane Austen (e.g., "girls better consent", "young delighted experience lady", "insufficient flatter heard")
I have no idea if this is an original game by itself but I'll set out the rules we're using and you can try and tell me.
The goal of the game is to see how many meaningful phrases you can make out of words that appear next to or very near each other in a wordle.
You need: 2 or more players. Paper and pen/pencil per person. Web access to wordle.net
Ed Elze from our jStart team asked me what I think is the role and job function of a community manager. Ed and I were manning the both for our respective teams at the recent O'Reilly Web 2.0 summit. jStart and their parent organization created QEDwiki, a mashup builder that you can try out on the alphaWorks services site.
In any case, per Ed's question:
I describe the Community Manager (CM) role as a team leadership, and support role, which doesn't require technical programming/development or systems administration knowledge, but does need some experience in using the tools for the community. I'd divide their job up into the following areas:
While the term "manager" is part of the name, this is not a classic functional manager or even a matrix manager role. This is primarily because the expectation is that the people in the community may not be part of your team (in the organization), or even part of your organization at all. If they are to support an external community, they need to treat each member with the proper respect due to a customer, even if they are part of your organization. This complicates things in some peoples minds: are they a tech support person, a marketing person, a PR person, a sales person? Probably none of them solely, and perhaps all of them to some bit.
In a perfect world, you'd have one community manager per community, but it is more likely they'd have multiple if not dozens of communities to work with in an organization. Even the definition of a "community" is vague here. In terms of size some communities could be a dozen people while others could be thousands-strong. The work is not quite proportionate, and what's worse, the amount and which elements of the above work you need to do, may vary with the mission, activities, and even tooling of the online community. For example, I tend to look at a blogger as being the center of their own community, and having a hundred bloggers, means that you have a hundred communities; however, the issues you may need to help your bloggers with can be different per blogger, or different when compared against a discussion forum-based community.
However, what is key to note is that when they are not present, things start to fall apart. A typical scenario I've seen is that a company decides they need forums and blogs started and really don't set guidelines or have a CM. If say a member starts harrassing another member, they turn to the sysadmin to fix it, as if it is solely a technical problem. There are right ways of handling situations and wrong ways, and unless the sysadmin takes the time to do the things that a CM does, then you might end up in a bigger pickle. In many similar situations, the sysadmins have to figure things up from scratch, eventually playing the role of a CM.
The key skills needed for the job are:
In talking to undergraduate students in Computer Science, I find that a fair share of them joined this particular major because of their interest in game development. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be sinking into the mindset of the educators in many major universities. For them, its either simply below their radar, or just not as interesting as what they are interested in. Heck, they even ignore their own historical origins: one of the very first applications created for the Unix system, in the hands of its original creators, was a game.
On one hand I hear professors in this field describing the ongoing drop in enrollment in this field since the dot-com bust. They want to find ways of making their program interesting again and appeal to the students. Back back to my point, they are simply ignoring the driving force behind why these students want to become developers in the first place.
Take in comparison, the movie and theater industry which has long been established over the centuries and is available in most universities with an arts programs. The schools are not keeping up with the fact that traditional entertainment-going audiences are continuing to drop across the board. On the other hand, the software game industry is continuing to grow, in some cases bigger than some of the largest movie or music hits. Even traditional media stars are starting to recognize this, as they transition to roles in animation and game titles. On another front, the number of game development books on the shelves continue to be some of the most popular published titles around. All this means a good future for jobs in this industry, and because of its very technical nature, a good market for education.
The good news is that newer schools and smaller colleges are appreciating this. Jay Clark who has just started his blog on our site writes to this fact; and here in the Southwest US, I see commercials for game design and development from independent technical and design colleges as well.
The basic industry is evolving. Even after three or four decades, it is still young. E3 and other major conferences have shown it to be a huge market with lots of players, but most academia, which are far behind do not see it as a priority. What it needs first is a generational change, but more importantly, it needs the actual properly skilled educators to come back from industry to teach the subject.
For industry members: you can't complain that there aren't a general pool of skilled developers in proper techniques, if there aren't enough people to teach the next generation the subject. Send your best teachers and managers back to train the future.
For educators: this is where one part of the industry is heading which involves deep programming experience in many different areas including software engineering, programmed/artificial intelligence, network & distributed programming, graphics programming, and more. You need students. Students want to learn what is involved to get into this industr. Figure it out!
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Per Gartner's request, I have removed this post. Gartner does not permit comparisons to prior years' research.
I've always considered multiplayer games as something beyond pure entertainment. My early experiences with text-based MUDs (precursors to highly graphical MMORPGs of today) showed that players spent significant amounts of time interacting with other players rather than just play the actual game itself.
While the moving-between-rooms-killing-hapless-virtual-beasts metaphor still remains, the more interesting applications of these virtual environments are starting to be appreciated at a level beyond entertainment for kids.
Note the statistic per The Economist, only 30% of gamers are under 18. The majority of ~40% are 18-49 and 19% are over 50. Most blockbuster games of today are targeted for the young and middle age adults.
I should mention that the Serious Games Summit coming up on Oct 31-Nov 1 in Washington DC will be discussing games as they pertain to Education, Government, Health, Corporate, Science and of course Military environments. The lessons to learn lie in Instructional theory and practice, Simulation, Contests, Public Affairs, Diplomacy, and marketing.
The U.S. Army has a useful phrase: Ground Truth, the truth of a matter as it actually exists on the "ground". It's also called by a number of other terms such as the "real stuff from the trenches", "where the rubber meets the road", etc.; pick a cliche. I found this out in Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak's excellent book In Good Company: How Social Capital makes Organizations Work.
The ground truth indicates that the actual matter of a deployment may be different or call for actions other than prescribed procedures, pre-planned processes, etc. In reality, this is quite common in software development and deployment too.
More significantly, understanding or learning the ground truth comes from experience and direct participation. This understanding varies depending upon the specific situation but can be something that occurs again and again for others.
This kind of knowledge really lies in the hands of those on the ground themselves. In many cases, the knowledge itself is not easily describable in a simple, generic repeatable manner but requires a lot of qualification.
To paraphrase Fox Mulder: the ground truth is out there.
The only practical way to get to it is to help people to communicate and participate in discussion. And that is just what we want to aim for in developerWorks Community.
I'm not sure if I've posted this graphic before but I use this inslides quite often to familiarize those who new to community buildingbut have heard of Web 2.0.
I've heard a number of comments from people within IBM and beyond thatthis makes sense, in terms of how think of the different "levels" ofpopulation in groups, starting from a General Population, moving intoan Audience (or specifically categorized population), to a SocialNetwork, and finally to a Community. The final level above is sort ofdisconnected and may start off in its own way: the Organization.
As you can see from the graphic, most of dW is currently at the levelof an audience. This is natural when you start with a magazine formatas we did. Most magazines have audiences but not social networks orcommunities; some do, especially when they have means for members tointeract with each other (in online forums, live events, conferences,webcasts, etc.) Building the interaction gives the first level ofsocial networking, but you can improve this in many ways to exposesocial network especially in online systems (e.g., social tagging,wikis, forums, comments, polls, etc.)
The distinguishing factor between social networks and communities isthe level of group identity. This is when people start associatingthemselves with a particular idea (an interest, a hobby, a belief, atechnology, a product, a company, etc.) and regularly return to thatgroup of people with the same interest.
Social networks may have this behavior, where people start buildingrelationships with each other, but it is when they start to organizearound the idea, is when you start building a community. It takes work,leadership and time to keep the group together and build a community.The rewards are that the communities tend to collaborate and create newresults of their own. If it is a strong and vibrant community, you evenget community members evangelizing their ideas to others. The morepeople behind the idea, the easier it is to accept or adopt the idea(unless it directly conflicts with yours of course).
I'm fairly mobile for a telecommuter. Not in the sense that I have to constantly fly around to different cities. These days, I'd say I'm becoming more of the average remote worker, when before I was fairly ahead of the pack. Now I'm trying to get back to truly having an unwired work environment.
First change, a better cellphone. For all its capabilities, the Treo is still just too fat. It's certainly come a long way; years back I tested the very first generation pdQ (joint venture of Qualcomm and Palm) which was a total brick, felt almost twice the size in very dimension of the Treo today; (the Kyocera version is second or third generation of the pdQ). With Sprint the only decent non-Blackberry option I have right now seems to be the MotoQ (yes, I think Ed Zander's company needs a break these days). So that'll be the first trial. Nothing unusual there; the Q has been around for a while. The Samsung BlackJack might be nice, but I'm still looking to stick with Sprint because of I'm waiting for 4G to come around. Oh, and I'm gonna try the Seidio double extended battery. Even with the double thickness battery, it is still thinner by a few mm than the Treo, and only the battery compartment. I even tried blogging from the Q and the page loads up fast enough for it to actually work.
Oh if 4G would show up already and with a good phone and fair price tag... Sprint is still working on its WiMAX rollout starting in Chicago and DC and it's unlikely to come to our area till 2009 or after, I'm afraid.
Also to go with that is a bluetooth stereo headset (two over the ear cones with attached mike). This wired headset I have now just wastes time and adds frustration packing, unpacking. Plus something is starting to fail with it. The trade off for easy access is a limit to battery life. For a regular workday of about 4 hrs continous calls at minimum, the Plantronics Pulsar 590 seems like a good choice to test out which I found for less than half price online.
The laptop data access is another element. I need a separate service than use my phone as a modem since I'll be doing both simultaneously fairly often. I've been paying for T-Mobile access and scoping free WiFi sites, but with the IBM discount on Sprint service plans their unlimited traffic high-speed broadband wireless EVDO Rev A service comes out to cost the same. Better yet, I'm not stuck within limits of a single cafe. Back in 1998-99 I used to have the cellphone data service but it was far too slow for the multimeg files I have to send around daily. I'm hoping the 400-500Kbps up-transfer speed for this will actually work out for my needs. In another two years or so, I can bother looking into their 4G offering but this sounds good for now.
As for the computer itself, I think I'll stick with the laptop size and full keyboard rather than try to UMPCs. I realized just how much typing I do, and will have to (another book coming up). So the small keys just slows me down (and that again just adds to my frustration). This Thinkpad T60 works well enough for me now and even higher-end graphics needed for SecondLife seems to work--if I don't have my regular set of 15 application instances running simultaneously. The next one I might consider would be the convertible/tablet laptops, sacrificing some screen space for more versatility to draw images and diagrams.
Assuming I get kitted out well enough, it makes me wonder why businesses aren't paying more attention to a future (possibly idealistic) situation of access-from-anywhere in terms of their software environments too. This harks back to the notion of running apps over the net entirely... reminds me of my days at NC World magazine arguing for moving to network-based computing.
I'll be going on vacation till July for except for the 21st when I'll be presenting at our first Technical Briefing held in SecondLife which will be at new venue.
As promised I've uploaded some snapshots of the new presentation theater for our briefings in SecondLife floating in the sky created by our own Jay Clark, that I caught with a cool sunset and moonrise on opposite sides of the theater. Hopefully, I'll see you there.
The vacation will be for my first life though...
Science fiction movies and TV shows have come a long way from simple puppets and men in ape suits. It even seems like the industry is starting to become nostalgic about those old movies (e.g., Spielberg's remake of War of the Worlds, and upcoming King Kong by Peter Jackson).
A friend of mine brought around a hilarious B-movie spoof called The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (None Can Stand Its Mental Power!). It was complete schlock, with such classicly idiotic dialogue like "Yes, honey, I am a scientist and now I shall go do science." B-movie's typically have bad dialogue, cheesy plotlines and very cheap effects. (This one had an evil skeleton that walked around puppetlike which you could obviously recognize as left over from a medical school model).
Some B movies can still excel. To get away from the stigma of B movies, they are now sometimes called "independent films", although I'm not sure if that does it any good.
Ever since watching Clerks, a decade ago, I've found a whole new respect for these movies. Made on a budget of $27,000 I believe at a convenience store that the director actually worked at, it was the first independent film which I thought should have gotten an Oscar for best screenplay.
Take George Romero. Dawn of the Dead is still considered one of the best zombie (B) movies of all time. But it spawned a whole new generation of such movies from the Evil Dead series to the absolutely hilarious Shaun of the Dead. With his new release (that I have not yet seen) Land of the Dead, Romero was honored with an ovation at the pretigious Cannes film festival this year.
On US TV, the remake of the Battlestar Galactica series loses the idealistic, sophomoric drama, and heavy stock footage reuse from the late 1970s series, for a significantly more hard-hitting drama that poses the tough questions that sci-fi at its best tries to bring forward.
Like War of the Worlds, the Battlestar Galactica series has a non-human force that easily overwhelms the skills and ability of humanity. In this case, this force is the Cylon "race" of intelligent robots that humankind created to handle warfare. After many smaller wars, the Cylons retreat for years eventually returning with new self-designed models that are very humanlike. More significantly, they develop the notion that God has created them to replace humans with a more organized civilization.
These are the tough questions that the legends of sci-fi like Asimov, Niven, Wells, and others posed. Too often today, the sci-fi stories are simply covered up with cute relationship drama, and special effects (e.g., the new Star Wars series spent too much time on these elements rather than building a deep story).
Whether probing the classic futuristic themes or just providing entertainment, many of these same shows have developed a very healthy community of faithful followers. Some of them have even become some of the biggest brands in entertainment (e.g., Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.)
If you follow Douglas Atkin's theory as described in The Culting of Brands, many leading brands have similar features whether it is a company, an organization or a religion. These include ideas like:
Atkins' talks about how such activities exist in many leading organizations like JetBlue, Apple Computers, Harley Davidson and others.
Can you see any of Atkins' elements in movie and TV show fan followings?
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In search of more turn-based games to fill my baby-watch time (see my reasons), a friend told me about this fantasy mod for Civ IV where they redesigned the gameplay almost from ground up. I went looking for it and found Fall from Heaven, a free player mod (version 1.0 released in April) that rewrites much of the Civ IV game from classic countries and developing nations, to more of one set in a fantasy world where it is about improving characters and combat. If you want to download this use the download.com site; they also have some screenshots there.
The set up is that there are a number of different races: orcs, merfolk, minotaurs, knights, etc. that each have their own religion. The units are very different and there are many more upgrades/enhancements that each character can get. Thus most people start with Warriors that can actually last quite a while gaining new skills. The city buildings are completely different with lots of added benefits: with wine, your brewery raises revenue and food; hunting lodges to improve your scouts to hunters and assassins. You can tame wild animals, etc. The tech tree is very different, and so are many of the Wonders.
While the map style looks the same and some of the units are still around, the gameplay is quite original. This took a lot of work to put together. This is what I call a player mod done right. Most other mods are simply changes to the units, or smaller fixes here and there. I'm surprised Firaxis doesn't consider licensing and selling this commercially. I'd put this comparable to the Rise of Nations commercial add-on, Rise of Legends, but instead of three new nations, this one has about eight. It's obviously more well known because of the big marketing engine of Microsoft Games behind it.
It's these kinds of player mods that I really enjoy. From over a decade ago, the MMORPG text-only games like MUDs had a programming aspect to it so users could add more areas to the game. Most MMORPGs don't allow that any more because of uncontrolled growth and often poor execution on most users parts. Secondlife, while not really a game, is gaining a lot of success (see Wired article) because it goes the very opposite direction: build all you like. It can be chaotic, but this is really pure capitalism at work: the successful ones should get the most attention and reward. To make a success, you need good planning and execution, as well as all the other things: marketing, delivery, customer satisfaction, etc., but it still starts with having a good idea that people will want.
I was about to go pay $50 to buy a new game like Caeser IV, but I thinkthese guys should get my money instead, if I can figure out how.They're off working on the next version, Fall from Heaven 2.
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CNet has a story on Google jumping into the developer business. Actually, the gist of the story is the same for most companies that have tools: Google is expanding and publishing its APIs for developing with its tools. This is no different than Amazon's Web services APIs or the eBay SDK, or any number of other company's with software APIs
However, Google is on the spotlight right now, primarily pitched against MS as their competition (to play up the err... Goliath vs Goliath story I guess). It's combination of service offerings from different areas (Sidebar, Google Talk, etc.) are now starting to come together into something more cohesive. I wonder what Yahoo thinks of that (see Yahoo Groups).
I picked up a copy of The Kids are Alright by John Beck and Mitchell Wade at the airport a few weeks ago. The subtitle How the Gamer Generation is is changing the Workplace is very apt. It is a sort of business-oriented sociological report on the behaviors, interests and incentives of this particular generation.
This is probably a must-read for all current managers and those who simply don't consider themselves as part of this generation. What is this generation you say? It's a cohort/generation that probably started around the early 1980s up until the current block of 10-year olds. They generally consider anyone over 34 or 35 to most likely not be part of this generation. I'm in that generation myself although I'm just about exactly at the cut off point.
This is one of those books that talks about the implicit life lessons that influenced those in this generation, even if they were not heavily into game playing. It is very likely that those in this generation were surrounded by this and the closer you get to the current time, the less likely that they know a world where video/computer games were not commonplace. The preface lists 7 Habits of Highly Typical Gamers which seem quite relevant to the behaviors I've experienced amongst others in this generation. I'd even put it as something to think about when designing or delivering products and services.
The book appears quite on the point but almost dates itself, not because of time necessarily but because it was likely written at the turning point in the game industry: the rise of MOGs (for the non-gamer generation folks: multiplayer online games). At one point of the book, it talks about how gamers are tuned into solely individual experiences, in that the game-world exists solely for them.
While this is/was case for single-player games, recent years have shown that multiplayer games can become successful, recurring sources of revenue. While single-player games are still the vast majority, many leading games now are either designed solely, or have special modes, for squad (4-6 players), team vs team (16-32 players), or massive-players (up to hundreds of thousands simultaneously).
Most WoW players today probably won't even understand that even ten years ago, even squad-team games were not worth their development time. I recall in 1996 trying to convince a VC and game developers to consider creating multiplayer games. Most just shrugged or plain laughed at the idea. Thank goodness for a reversal on that. (For me, it does suck to be way too early to a party and no one's there).
Anyway, MOGs may change the rules for gamers once again. One key point in this book is that because it's a world customized for your experience, it does not emphasize the more-challenging issues of building social connections within games. Even when players get together to play a game, with SP games, it was mostly a solitary experience. With MMOGs, players once more are faced with social relationships and often with total strangers from other locations, and with much larger crowds and changing people. On top of that technology has evolved so that it is even simpler to interact: actual live audio conversations rather than typing a lot of text, greater bandwidth and better computing power for richer environments, and even social networking sites for recording/blogging events, etc.
It's my belief that games are so much better these days for their multiplayer aspect. For myself, I started on MMOGs back in the text-based MUD days around 1990 or so, so I'm pretty ingrained into this from an early date. So when I play a top-10 single-player game like Oblivion, even with one of the richest environments, most detailed graphics and storyline, open ended gameplay, and a reactive environment, it still feels a little dull because of the lack of other real human players.
In any case, I'd be curious to see a followup to this book in another 4 years examining how MOGs have affected the gamer generation. Let's face it, after a certain point, you can't really call it a separate generation because games are likely going to be here from now on.
I’ve been looking for relevance of
The three forces he mentions are democratization of production, democratizationof distribution, and connectionsbetween supply and demand. I can actually see correlations between thoseforces and social software systems, which aren’t hard based on the manysuggestions he makes:
This just fulfils the applicability of the forces, but Ineed to still explain the application of the strategy to software products.
Many software applications are consumed in a different waythan content focused items like books, movies, music, etc. Most obviously, theyare usually tools used to accomplish, build, or fulfill something. Not all fitthis of course: computer games are still primarily a similarentertainment-consumption model. However, tools that a vendor, say IBM,produces are typically used to create or manage other things like applications,data, or knowledge.
This means that you can usually reuse a piece of software todo different tasks (assuming it is not restricted by the license-usage) if youwant to. More so, the deployment of such tools can be different for eachcustomer; and unless there is consulting involved, most vendors do not keepprecise track of exactly how they are deployed. Instead they tend to focus onthe type and number of products purchased (and, very often, how to get thecustomer to buy more).
Across the whole industry however, there is some level ofparity. Many customers with similar businesses may deploy the product insimilar fashion, or come across similar issues, a concordance of some sortaround the usage. These concordances are fuzzy (i.e., not identical) and ofvarying size.
Vendors may sometimes investigate if these concordances orniches of product use represent a potential market. In other words, they arelooking for that next ‘hit’ product that will sell profitably. What are missed in many cases are the smaller non-hit niches.In other words, there is a correlation to long-tail idea.
Vendors do want to capitalize on these opportunities but thediscovery and development of such opportunities can be difficult. Thetraditional business-case approach very quickly: make a hypothesis on apotential product, conduct research on market potential, shape the product,more research, more development, then marketing, launch, support, etc.
The niche products are often eliminated in the market researchstage usually because it is difficult to find proper subjects to interview andconduct the research with.
Changing business-case development
There is another way about this that can work forestablished or existing companies but it is yet to be tested enough to becalled a process.
Assume you have a base of users (a great many exisingcompanies) that have deployed or are interested in deploying your softwaretool.
The approach here is the opposite or bottom-up approach to definingmarkets that self-emerges from healthy active communities, rather than thetraditional top-down (the vendor trying to come up with new ideas). More so, itallows the potential for directly involving customers and users into theproduct-development lifecycle.
The role of online communities here is crucial. This meansnot just the passive approach of “let’s deploy something and leave it outthere”, but actually building relationships with the customers in thesecommunities, finding the influencers within, and trying to encourage healthygrowth. On other words, you need an active program to develop your community.
The dropping costs of “creating” such niches (moreaccurately: encouraging them to develop) through online mechanisms, means thatit is possible to explore many niches simultaneously, if you have a goodmeasurable system. Those with most potential automatically elevate to thehigher rankings, larger groups, and most activity.
I may be reaching here but it is almost like what quantumcomputing promises: calculate all the variations of an equation simultaneouslyto determine the correct—potentially multiple—result based on the highestprobability. (It might only truly apply if you have a really huge number of usersand a really huge number of products).
Whether formalized or ad-hoc, there are several common types of communities based on the goals of that group of people
Some of these types include:
The behavior of the groups, the tools they need, the processes they use, etc. are different. Some groups may start out as one type and change into another. It really helps the group to identify what they want to accomplish.
The failure of most groups to develop or encourage a healthy, growing community stems from not setting up that initial direction.
For example, a project-based community need tools help manage the project and the product they are developing. This can be software, but it can apply to any kind of product really. Having tools to monitor activity, define schedules, and record achievements are all hallmarks of a good project management system. However, not all projects need complex PM
tools; in fact they can be quite intimidating or cause bureaucratic overload, which just leads to frustration.
A community of practice needs means for the members to get together and collect their ideas and experiences. Very often, you see this happening in Wikis and other group editing tools.
A community of interest exists to gather more energy and followers to a topic but may not be focused as much on developing knowledge, just sharing experiences. Thus, regular communications through some form of discussion tool is quite healthy.
This is not to say that any of these require only one specific tool to achieve their goal. Quite the converse. You will find that many communities will use the same type of tool for different purposes and many will need multiple tools to interact.
This is one of the reasons why when developing a community, you cannot base it on a single tool like a forum or a wiki, and similar why a single tool does not signify the extent of the community. So far, I have not seen no one perfect solution for all communities.
If you're a community of many other communities like we are at developerWorks, then you will likely have each of these different subtypes within yourself, and then you really need to expand the tools that allow your community members to interact.
The rise of Web 2.0 brings a new level of collaboration into the mindsets of the audience. Ideas which were previously taboo, are now actually being considered.
For example, the value of a book is traditionally considered to be in having access to the content of the book itself. For book publishers, this model means: get one or more authors, work on a book, then print and publish the thing, and distribute to bookstores where customers can buy them.
Usually, the ability a person has to examine the contents of the book is usually limited in time (enough time to read some of the book in a store), in content (having access to some portion of the content they can review), or based on the opinion of others.
While not the first, Robert Scoble helped change views while working on his book as a blog, by giving people access to its content while it is being developed online.
This idea is close to my heart and went into the reasoning behind why we needed the developerWorks Books series, and why I helped to start that as part of IBM Press. Somewhere in the following I think is the future of how books can be developed in something that benefits most parties.
It's similar to, although not exactly the same, as "open sourcing" the book since the philosophy of open source does not preclude selling the product. However, if you have access to the contents of the book for free, why would you buy it.
This puts traditional print publishers in a dilemma. Their business is based on selling the product, not giving it away online and hope someone still buys a copy.
To me, both ways seem a little extreme.
Developing a book takes a lot of time and effort and in some topics, by the time you finish writing, a lot may have changed. My guess is that most authors want not only the noteriety but hopefully would also like to get paid from the knowledge they put down. Call me a capitalist, but giving away a year or two of my life to write a book that may become outdated deserves some reward beyond the satisfaction that you've tried to impart some wisdom to the world.
In the fast changing online world, it makes a lot of sense to do some grass-roots promotion of the book by talking about the subject or showing people some of what you have been working on. This is in hopes that later, when you are done writing and editing, people will want to buy the finished product.
Therefore, I think there's a use-case somewhere in between. I say a use-case because I think this is something people will want to do online.
E.g., provide a group of authors with a tool for them to put together a document (say a Wiki), that they can all edit. Develop the outline, and start fleshing out some of the chapters and sections. Then introduce processes between the authors and an editor where they can bring in the editorial process. Then give access to a select audience or even a wide audience to some of the content so you can get some feedback and peer review. Finally, give access to the content and some knowledge about what others think of the book in progress to the book marketing group so they know what it is about and how its doing.
Thus, this package is a specific use-case for book development that involves an online tool for document development, perhaps another tool for discussion, access control to select or public audiences to portions of the content that you choose, ways to measure opinions and traffic to the publicly available/reviewable sections, and then finally a way to transfer the developed content into a format suitable for publishing/printing/distribution.
It involves giving away part of the book for free so that you get a drumbeat going as well as some feedback on coverage. In exchange, you get a better understanding of how the market may receive the work before it is even complete.
The step beyond is where it gets real interesting.
There's no real end to the book, if people are really interested. You could continue working on developing the content, adding new material, and exposing new material to others. You continue to build on a book without having to build a huge business case for a new book or a new edition, unless there really needs to be one.
Paul Dreyfus from our team is helping to make the dW series of books become real and there should be some interesting news coming out this year.
This idea above is so far just my own brainstorming. I doubt it is unique and probably already in force somewhere. It requires the expertise, experience and cooperation of a book publisher, an online publisher, and authors daring enough to try it out. From a Web 2.0 perspective, I think it makes for an interesting approach to team and even community driven content, and brings remixing to a whole new level (between print and online media).
Okay so it's not a Dire Straits song yet, but it's why I now need to send back the Moto Q I just picked up two days ago. The current Q only has IE for mobiles and doesn't support AJAX quite right (if at all). I tried downloading the Opera 9 browser and installing that on the Windows Mobile 5 OS on the Q, but it also doesn't seem to be working right. I'll try playing with it a little longer to see if I can get it to work.
So the Moto Q may have to go back while I wait for a version of the Moto Q q9 that runs on the CDMA network of Sprint's. Currently there's a GSM version called the q9h which will likely appear for GSM providers like AT&T/Cingular, etc. It also has a faster processor, a faster OS (Windows Mobile 6), a nicer 2Mpixel camera, and a micro-SD interface (rather than the harder-to-find-cards-for mini-SD interface). There are apparently some downsides like the loss of the scrollwheel, which I really like. There's a review on engadget and another on infoSync.
According to Motorola, the q9 is supposed to be released in this quarter (which ends in 3 weeks) but I have yet to see it for sale anywhere. Who knows when that CDMA version will appear, and I may be waiting for months. Who knows, perhaps Sprint will hold off for a WiMAX version of the q9, but that would mean a much longer wait for me. I'll keep my Moto Q for the next two weeks and see how it goes before my 30-day trial expires.
James Governor of RedMonk has a point in his blog
Wake up IBM: come out from behind developerworks!!!
If it isn't obvious already, developerWorks focuses on a mixed audience of programmers, sysadmins, architects, testors, etc. all those directly involved in the software development lifecycle. Hence, our blogs fall in the same cloud too.
IBMers do have other blogs both on the site and outside, but there isn't an area for "all IBM blogs" externally from the global IBM site yet. Honestly, that falls beyond dW's scope.