In looking at @prem_k’s
mindmap on social learning today, I spent a few minutes considering what events
can be measured relative to this topic. Unfortunately, I cannot embed the
diagram in this blog but please take a look at his
I came up with the following measurable elements and
hopefully most are self-explanatory. The mechanics of how you actually measure
these items can very from trivial counting exercises to some fairly complicated
metrics for mapping networks and measuring influence and sentiment. However, I
think most of it has been done before, perhaps just not applied specifically to
learning and pedagogy. So who’s up to that challenge?
I’m also just starting on Marcia Conner (@marciamarcia) and Tony
Bingham’s book, The
New Social Learning(ASTD & Berrett-Koehler, Sep 2010), and I
expect I’ll be learning a lot from it too.
-disemmination relative to origin
(generalized SN diagram)
-disemmination of topics across overall
network (generalized SN diagram)
-rate & velocity of
-Resharing/promoting (e.g. RT,
-Acknowledging/rating (e.g. +1,
-Relationship effects -
Friending/following/connecting, or unfollowing/negative externalities/outcomes
-Searching / search results (text,
tags, social searches)
If you are attending Enterprise2.0 conference next week in Boston, here
are some of the events that I will be at. I may session-hop because there is just too much to see. Our BlueIQ Social software adoption
will be all around the event, and even Gina Poole, our VP will be there.
8:30am – 4:15pm, Black Belt Practitioners Workshop
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
-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
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
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.
For our social computing metrics system, we have the ability
to see how people act on others contributions. For example, given one person’s
post, we can tell who is sharing, tagging and sometimes reading it, with
identities of all. This can tell us how much a person is impacting those around
them, who and how.
[Note: From an enterprise measurement viewpoint who the
individuals are is not important but you need their ID to key off other
demographics such as their job roles, geographic location, or organizational
location. This might be of interest to each person, but I’m looking at the
gestalt of the organization. Also this is information we are allowed to see per
This leads to several possibilities, given person X’s post.
The first set is diversity of reach:
a)What job roles are consuming their
b)Where in the organization are the
c)Given a single post how much
consumption is happening; and what’s the average per post
On the business level, this can tell us a lot about how
well the organization is connected, and if the expected views of what
job roles rely on others is actually occurring and how much. For example,
sales people working with their sales engineers or seeking domain knowledge
experts. It can show how far they
reach across the organization, and what other roles they connected to that
were not expected. For example, sales people in Slovenia working with
Researchers in Israel.
The second set may look at secondary effects. Given person X
posts, and person Y shares or tags, who is Person Z that eventually consumes it.
a)What job roles (persons’ Z) are
the end consumers
b)Where in the org they come from
c)How much and what’s the average.
d)Is there additional resharing or
This extends the first set by looking at eventual impact
from the source.
So far, I’ve just talked about one path of action from a
creator (source) to a consumer (sink).The next level is to look across many
actions on if there is bidirectional interaction happening between the roles.
This looks for ‘lasting’ relationships based on continued bidirectional
interaction. This can happen in immediate sequence (e.g., I post,
someone replies to me, I reply back, and so on); or it can be delayed
sequence of events (e.g., I post, someone reads/tags it, a week later they
send something else through a different social tool).
Here we are looking beyond immediate or unidirectional
consumption, towards the idea of if people are forming lasting relationships.
Notice for one that I didn’t even say that it was necessary
for people to friend each other before any of this happens. In fact, I think
that friending action while certainly making it obvious is highly variable.
Some people consider friending to identity those who they have lasting
relationships with, but others use it simply to keep track of people they are
watching rather than have any interaction with. The difference lies in the
bidirectional vs. unidirectional relationship there. In other cases, some folks
never actually friend others but certainly interact with them, therefore
indicating a relationship.
Why is this any different than SNA (social network analysis)
tools? Perhaps it’s the limitation of the SNA tools I have found in terms of
the level of demographics and granularity they can show. For example, some do
not show the demographics I need because they simply don’t contain that info,
or don’t understand which demographics are useful for business reasons.
In terms of granularity, most SNA tools can show the
structure for each person; i.e., the relationships and interactions between
person X and those around them, but I need info about the aggregate level of
everyone of one demographic (e.g. job category), and the relationships they
form. This is beyond most SNA tools today.
The biggest part is that it takes a lot of data collection
and number crunching over many, many people to even begin to analyze this. This is beyond System level metrics (how many users, how many documents), or object level (how much activity per person or object), but goes into the meta level that we would like to understand. This is also only one aspect of many others.
On the business side, the goal is to better understand the connections across our organization, and where we can try to focus energies to improve communications or encourage interaction. It is using information from social systems to create a smarter organization. For enterprise 2.0 to become a success, it is not just about empowering individuals to use social computing systems, but it is to make the organization itself function better.
When people think of developing leadership in social
environments, they often think of it in terms of a person developing their own skills
in leadership (1) versus how the group itself executes (2). These are two different things.
In particular, in my chapter on leadership models in Social Networking for Business, it is not focused on #1 individual leadership
skills, but rather on #2, how to consider what the right model is for
leadership in a given social experience. As said many times before, leadership
in a community experience is very different than that in individual social experiences
(e.g., your own blog, or profile page).
In a way, these models are much more “tactical” in the view
that they are what you might apply to one particular social environment
instance (e.g. the Durian-lovers community, Rawn Shah’s blog). These tactical
models may still run for years, and are not necessarily short-term—what we
often equate with tactical situations.
A strategic view, on the other hand, is from the eyes someone
or some team overseeing the Enterprise 2.0 ecosystem of all the social environment
instances. In many cases, they may be looking at thousands or millions of them
within the same organization. In the strategic view, you could consider how
many applications of each of the tactical leadership models exist. This gives
you an idea of how well the people across the organization are ‘skilled’--building their skills per #1 in online social environments--in
working in particular leadership models.
From an employee’s point of view, if you have never worked
in a workgroup of one particular leadership model, it takes a bit of time to
learn and understand how it works. It will require it anyway, because each
instance may have its own particular nuances and variances. However, my point
is that the employee understands the differences in working in different such
tactical leadership models, so they can contribute or lead the group more
These are the soft skills of leadership that we often
talk about, but here in terms of tangible concepts.
Furthermore, from the strategic view, this also shows that
you can have an effective Enterprise 2.0 collaborative system with high degrees
of autonomy, without needing to completely transform the structure of your
overall organization. What the employees are essentially agreeing on is that
within their many online collaborative instances, they will work as agreed
within each instance. The overall organization is still free to change and
transform, but it is possible to be both an open social collaborative organization;
yet still maintain the traditional structure, as long as both covenants allow
and support each other’s approaches and needs.
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. Inmy 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.
That aside, the real question is what are you doing about sharing your expertise and skills with others? By doing so, you are building your digital eminence.
[Please note: I will replace this post with the recording and file links. ]
A quick note, I’ll be presenting an “Intro to Enterprise 2.0”
to the Univ of Arizona MIS 527 graduate class on Enterprise Information Systems
today. Since folks have asked, I’ve decided to open the presentation to others.
If you are interested in listening, this will be available by telephone and/or
webcast at the following sites.
Topic: Introduction to Enterprise 2.0
Audience: Graduate students, general interest
Start: 12:30pm Pacific Time, 3:30pm ET , Wednesday 4/15/10
End:2pm PT/5pm ET
Note: You can either dial into the audio conference
call or listen to it over the web from the Web conference (in addition to the
slides). The web conference will ask you which one you’re using so it can mute
the audio if necessary.
Please do go on mute (on your phone or press *6) unless you
have a comment, question.
In working recently on the topic of leadership and decision making processes in social environments, I thought I'd clarify something per my book. Quite often I see these decision-making methods split into simple categories--centralized versus marketplace (or distributed)--
when there is so much more. Additionally, the way how people work to produce results is not the same as who is involved in making the decisions.
One milling question from those who’ve looked closely
at my book, Social Networking for Business, is that leadership and decision-making processes seem to appear in two
different areas: the chapter 3 “Leadership in Social environments” and then
later again in the section “Describing the Form of Aggregation” in Chapter 4 on
Social Tasks. I should explain the key differences here.
Chapter 3 focuses on six different common leadership models:
Centralized, Centralized w/ Input, Delegated, Representative, Starfish and
Swarm. These models focus on whois allowed to participate
in the decision making process, set direction for the social group, and select
leaders. These range from those with very strongly centered to very distributed
The Aggregation methods on the other hand describe how
these decisions are made or this work executed: Independent,
Autonomous, Consensus, Deliberative, and Combative. These again are
alternatives to each other to create results.
Independent—Members work on the task separately, but the results are aggregated across all members
Autonomous—Members work on the task separately of each other, and their results are distinctly visible to other members as separate work.
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.
Deliberative—A group of members works directly together without the intent or necessity of coming to a consensus on a single result.
Combative—Members must compete against each other to derive the best result from the group, denying other choices.
Certain pairs are more likely to occur: e.g., a swarm is
likely to use the Independent aggregation where only the combined results (voting)
across many members result in a single value. A delegated model is likely to
have autonomous decisions spread across the different domains delegated across
The moral here:
Set the right expectations -- Be clear not only about who
can make the decisions, but also for those who can do so, how they can make
A key takeaway from this report that I find quite revealing: it contradicts the common belief that all communities develop into a 90-9-1 rule (90% lurkers, 9% contributors, 1% authors). Per the report: “As the community management discipline matures, there is increasing understanding of where certain rules of thumb like this apply and where they do not.” I've once looked at the origins of this meme, and other than the Pareto principle, in online communities it dates back to specific posts in a Usenet newsgroup around the early 1990s. I need to find that link again. We now think of much more than just contributors and lurkers since there are many other ways to contribute as well which are not so obvious. That is a distinguishing mark that elevates the level of insight that this report brings above others.
What thrills me is that of the eight competency areas within, only on area focuses on tools. The majority of the focus lies in business principles: strategy, leadership, culture, policies, etc. The general media and blogosphere is always fascinated with new tools and toys but the real value is in understanding the almost unchanging business principles many of which are outlined in the list of competences. Each of the sections on these competencies specifically identifies lessons learned directly from the real life experience of members of The Community Roundtable.
I've talked before about the value that community managers bring to organizations, so I have to point out a specific section the role and issues of Community Management which can help current organizations understand the heavy demands of this role. Perhaps, with this insight, more organizations will take to heart that Community Management is not a part time, or a junior role in the organization. It takes a lot of people and relationship skills that develop with experience, and in doing so creates the same qualities we ask of our business leaders.
For folks who’ve asked me about social computing and the
retail industry, I’d like to describe ideas in use. Some of you may already be
familiar with these.
First of all, there’s the “w00t” idea, most common in the US
as the site www.woot.com and even featured
in campaigns with American Express and others. It’s fairly simple, every day
they list a limited quantity of a single product (at seemingly random) at a
good deal of discount. Its success depends on mixing in very popular items with
some of the ordinary ones at many different price points, spread across a wide
range of product categories.
The social element here is in competition to get
one which often heats up considerable. Folks have even created bots or software
applications to beat others to the purchase. To spur this competition on, there
is constantly updated “sales snapshots” of the purchase experience for that
item: a map of the US where it’s being purchased the most, sales per hour, the
number of times the purchaser has bought from the site before, how many the
bought, etc. Finally, the discussion thread often gives social input or
feedback to what others think of the product. Other companies have tried this,
for example, I recall seeing it on American Express shopping as Deal of the Day
where they had a Honda Civic Hybrid as the deal for almost 60% of the sale
The key element is the competition, limited quantity and
thus exclusivity of the items of the site. All the social input exists to feed
the competitive basis unlike other online retail sites, where this is not at
all emphasized. Rather they take the stance that there is always some quantity
available. However, the competitive element of woot combined with a surprise in
random but in-demand items, is what turns the social elements into a game-like
structure, and most importantly: bring people back to the site. This method
isn’t new by any means, but the online environment makes it easier to spread
the word and increase the likelihood of sales. The social experience model here
is a mass collaboration with swarm leadership and combative aggregation. (if
this doesn’t make sense to you, please read my book).
Unconfirmed, but did the jargon term “w00t” originate from
“iwoot” = “I want one of those”? See http://www.iwantoneofthose.comwhich is not this above model, and closer to what
is now “traditional” online retail, purchasing with ratings and comments. Or is
it a derivative, if I remember right, of the “woof, woof” sound made popular
back in the 1990s by the Arsenio Hall show.
is another form of social computing applied to coupons for services within your
city (again mostly in the US). Essentially, it takes the woot model to a new
level, requiring people to invite enough members to qualify for the coupon. The
time limit is again one day only, and it is specific to a city. So, if a user
really likes the coupon promotion, they may need to try to get their friends or
others of like interest to also vote for the promotion, or just wait to see if enough
people from their city vote, before they can even take advantage of it.
Here, the social experience is not entirely a mass
collaboration like woot, because people do not necessarily work entirely
independent of each other. It allows two choices: you can bring your friends as
a small community to vote and get the coupon, or you can vote and hope that
others join in. In other words, it’s a hybrid of a mass collaboration and a
community. The leadership effects are also swarm-like, with no single person in
charge and each person making their own choices (typically to vote positively
for the item). However, this is not combative but consensus aggregation.
The core competency here is in terms of facilitating relationships and communications between different parties. There are in fact many different types of interactions that this role takes on. In as such, this means they participate as a part of many different role-interaction patterns. This is significant since when such patterns are frequent and repeated, it becomes almost transactional, and therefore measurable. If you need the example of a more common role-interaction pattern: think of a support call from initial contact to completion after a solution or resolution has been reached and the customer is verified as satisfied. Each such complete interaction has a measurable value; or you could also measure it in terms of cost or time it took to conduct that interaction end-to-end. Finally, you could also measure it in terms of quantity of those interactions actually reaching completion rather than partial or incomplete resolutions (likely meaning an unhappy customer left hanging).
The RI patterns for Community managers are of a different sort but the following tables give some suggestions of the kinds of patterns they could participate in.
Table 9.1 -- The Value of Community Managers
Improving relationships with members by providing a human face
to an organization or a large social group
Bringing the value of their own relationships and contact
networks within the organization
Arbitrating conflicts between members, or between the member and the
Coordinating member projects and activities
Serving as a repository of situational knowledge about the
organization, the members, or the content
To the sponsoring organization
Serving as an organizational spokesperson to the membership
Providing a view into the climate
of the members about the topic or purpose (the business climate within the
enterprise, across business partners, or across the industry)
Housing a repository of situational
knowledge about members, the content, or the topic
Encouraging and monitoring
member involvement and participation in the topics that
interest the sponsor
members might have with the organization
describing value or outcomes of the social group
and potential for hires or rehires
Table 9.2 Supporting Customers or Partners
Customers or business partners (public-facing, cross-boundary, third-party)
Marketing or sales
Increasing the number of touches with customers
Identifying customer evangelists and activists
Discovering industry trends and customer interests
Acting as marketing
liaisons to customers
Guiding marketing on
appropriate messaging or tactics
Product development and delivery
Assisting in gathering product requirements from audience
Conducting market research with customers
Identifying competitor activity or offerings
Conducting design tests and product beta-testing
Delivering products to customers online
Customer relations or product support
Providing a human
interface to the organization or social group
Serving as a “finger on the pulse” of audience concerns
Helping partners locate internal representatives or departments
Helping customers find appropriate support resources
Identifying troubled or
There's another table on their roles within the enterprise supporting employee and organizational interactions.
I should be getting some early copies of my new book, Social Networking for Business
(Wharton School Press, 2010) straight from the printer/binder just
before Lotusphere. I'm planning on bringing some to hand out at the
event either during lunch--our BlueIQ Social Software Adoption team
will be hosting two tables with signs, so come by and talk to us. We'll
be chatting on just about anything around adoption, how we do it in
IBM, and what you can do with social computing.
If you haven't seen it yet, it is available at, Amazon, Barnes&Nobles or other booksellers around the 24-29th this month. Kindle versions should be out a few days earlier.
I learned the other day from a friend that taggers—the spray
paint kind, not the online variety—are often quite predictable. If you look at
a map of the locations where they tag, you’ll often found a common radial
pattern of increasing density of their tags. The closer to the center of that
circle is the general vicinity or even the very house that the tagger lives in.
Applying some social computing to the idea, I could see a
useful mass collaboration social experience, where the task is to allow anyone
to submit smartphone photos with GPS locations of where they see a tag. You can
then plot this on a geo-map and over time create a result of frequency of occurrence.
Social sites like Brightkite and Foursquare that let you share your location
prove that it’s quite possible to create such a map.
So, there’s a possible project that can apply to any location
really, with the help of any willing citizens. There are some practical issues:
identifying the actual tag signs from different taggers, collecting enough data
for useful information, and cooperating with the police to utilize this
information. However, these are not insurmountable and it would help the community
A thought I had a few weeks ago on a measurable value outcome
of switching to social computing reflects a common situation in our company: mailing
large files around. Simply said, many enterprise mail systems such as Lotus
Notes allow the central administrator to set a limit on attached file sizes.
By imposing a limit around say 4MB, and redirecting people
to use Lotus Connections Files to share large documents, you save: a) network bandwidth
usage; and b) storage of multiple copies on local drives and on mail servers.
LC Files on the other hand adds lots of other benefits like
re-sharing without re-forwarding the files, comments w/o re-forwarding, and lookups
on who it is shared with (or not).
This activity may not be practically measurable per person when
you have many thousands of people. On the other hand you can measure the quantity
of documents and their file sizes, on the email system versus LC. What it comes
down is a known (or knowable) IT cost factor of $ per MB. IT departments could
show the cost savings directly due to reduced infrastructure use and resource
What it does change is user behavior. The first necessary
element is a tool that can automatically redirect where the document is stored
(a link to it on LC Files) rather than the email. The second part is
enforcement through the file size limit. You really need the redirector to work
smoothly so people do not see this as a burdensome task.
So in a direct way, you have a measurable outcome related to
hard $ amounts. This kind of alternative mechanism works easily for files, and
is still just a basic step in moving towards enterprise social computing. Slowly,
What I'd be additionally interested in is looking at the trends of how re-sharing occurs after such a switch. It's pretty common to see people re-forwarding a file to others but this allows a better alternative. In a limited sense, it can also improve security: if the user does not allow publicly share a document, it may be limited to only those they intend. Of course, there are always alternatives and other mailers but it's good manners to keep to their request.
It seems so old
school to try to classify social computing metrics but I keep getting the same requests from various internal teams, who are sometimes not familiar with some of the metrics, don't understand
them, or simply use other metrics better suited to Web sites rather
than social sites. A second goal is to evaluate the qualities of
these metrics to determine if they are useful (e.g. using the SMART
analysis approach). A third is to see the relationship of the metrics
to each other—whether there are dependencies, or if some metrics
are more meaningful when reported alongside or compared with others.
To give an idea,
while it's considered outdated by others, some still look for
Pageviews, and Unique Visitors--classic web metrics better suited to
measure how people visit pages, than interaction from social
environments. Similarly, "Interaction" itself becomes
another stopping point for metrics. These are the metrics most
commonly recorded by social software tools: number of posts, the
number of downloads, the number of connection invites, etc.
In working with
our social computing researchers we're also looking at Network Effect
metrics such as the Topics (what people discuss) that come out of the
system, or the ratio of consumption to a person's content
such as marketing teams have an emphasis on Engagement metrics,
considering how much a person is becoming involved in a social
environment, an event, a marketing offering, or other engagements.
Other engagement metrics aren't specific to marketing only. For
example, thought-leadership metrics include the ratings on content
someone has submitted, or how often they have been quoted or
retweeted by others. A more complex one is to determine the Impact a
person has on their target audience.
To go further
along on marketing metrics, these can even build up towards the sales
pipeline—how many interested individuals are there, are they
potential sales leads, have they actually asked for sales info, has
that lead been validated, and then closed. Joe Cothrel, Chief Community Officer of Lithium
suggested similar ideas in an article for Strategy+Leadership magazine back in 2000, on conversion rate from a
visitor to a sale, as applied to social environments.
and sales, there are other indicators that relate to business value
metrics. Some suggestions in a recent email exchange with Dr. Walter
Carl, Chief Researcher of ChatThreads and a member of WOMMA's board on metrics include
cost reduction (using this tool to communicate is a lower cost than
other existing ways), accelerating adoption of any business
philosophies, values or company directives, processes that minimize
lost revenue, etc.
Lots of Metrics,
but what are their qualities?
So what should be
obvious is that there are lots of metrics, categories, subclasses,
variations, and inter-relations that different organizations or even
different teams within the same organization utilize. What
constitutes business metrics and delivered value for one team may not
even be relevant to another. So I'm still surprised when people ask
for a generic ROI methodology.
All the same, the
next step is to look at the qualities of these metrics. I mentioned
the SMART acronym earlier which are basic questions if a given metric
type or unit is:
(specific and targeted to an area of measurement),
data point that can be captured and collected),
(robust data that can be analyzed and utilized by a stakeholder),
realistic, meaningful and consistent measurement),
(current and possible to collect in good time).
all these qualities, there will likely be a problem with either
collecting the data in a way that is meaningful and available in time
for use in a business.
There are other
qualities that I think are important to consider as well:
it scalable in quantity? Can you capture larger and larger volumes
of data or does it become computationally intractable
it apply across social environments of the same type? Is the metric
relevant to a single social environment, or can it apply to many
environments of the same structure (e.g., a discussion forum)?
scalable and still meaningful across different social environments
(e.g. A blog and a forum)?
Does it drive
behavior? Does it encourage that person or other people to interact
credible? Is it a measure that is accepted by other teams,
organizations or even industry-wide?
significant as a performance and/or a diagnostic metric? Performance
metrics are useful for comparisons across like types. Diagnostic
metrics help determine the state of the system.
Is it a
quality metric? That is, counting it does not really describe the
value contained within it, so you need a secondary way of looking at
it helpful to look at it across different demographics? This is very
insightful in some metrics, and just not necessary in others.
I'm sure there are
more relevant qualities, but this is already quite a lot to think
about. These qualities can help decide which metrics are the most
useful or what they can tell us, independently of the others.
is to look at which metrics should be reported alongside each other,
or which ones depend on others directly or indirectly. That's where
things start to get real interesting and much more subjective.
No conclusion here
because this is on-going work trying to map out all these variants of
metrics, but here's to hoping it inspires others to think and work
along these lines.
Per my previous note, I mentioned that we have 400,000
people collaborating across 170 countries in IBM.
That raises a great question of what does it mean to have 400,000 people
collaborating? Are they all in one massive social network connected to each
other? Are they participating in the same spaces? Are the contributing to each
To give an idea, first we need to look at the state of
social computing in IBM. First, there is not
one but at least 32 different social applications each of which can have
hundreds of thousands of unique users, and tens of thousands of instances
(e.g., separate wikis, individual blogs, etc.)
By another count, there are over 200 applications--it varies based on what different folks consider as a "social application".
For example, in rough numbers of some of the tools
200k replies (aging removes some)
Dogear /social bookmarking
Beehive (social net)
Cattail (social file sharing)
This is just a subset and unofficial list of these services.
There are other tools for enterprise wide social searching, social
brainstorming, instant messaging, tweeting, podcast/videocast sharing, social
profiles, and analysis tools. Some of these other tools are used by 100% of
employees particularly instant messaging and out Bluepages (profiles) systems.
Others have even more people because non-employees such as business partners,
customers, and even suppliers have access to them.
People generally use them as follows:
across the enterprise: e.g a blogger
team spaces: departments and hierarchical teams
spaces: across multiple departments
group spaces: e.g., someone creates a Lotus Connections Activity and
So the groupings vary significantly, and a number individuals
do use many of these tools for different reasons, but unique users still reach
across the company.
The types of activities or projects in these spaces are just
as varied as the job roles, products and markets. Think of it, just in terms of
products alone, I think we have over 5000 distinctly, different ones (and not
just variations); some are very complex (imagine working on the DB2 database), and others are smaller. That still doesn’t include the many thousands of customer projects
people are working on at any one time. So in general there aren't any common scopes or scales for
what people work and interact on.
The general philosophy that creates this mix is that as a
company we encourage an internal free-market environment to allow many tools to
appear and compete with each other. This helps the best ideas to emerge out of
new social experiments and methods. While someone has to pay for the
environments, this is up to each social app project to figure out how to fund. There
are official tools that are universally supported, but there are also other research
and experimental projects—even Beehive as a research project easily includes over
We also do not police these activities. People are talking
about their non-work activities, but that is a natural outcome of social
interaction. As long as people are not breaking their business conduct and the
social computing guidelines, they are okay to use it how they like.
This kind of quantitative information really doesn’t show how
people are collaborating just where. Rather our BlueIQ team collects
success stories, especially recreatable and reuseable scenarios, from
individuals illustrating how they are productively working together in these
In general, it is complex to say how people are
collaborating, but safe to say that they are collaborating widely in the
social environments in IBM.
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:
MIT Emeritus Professor, Edgar Schein's classic book on Organizational Culture and Leadership describeshow companies undergo differentiation at a cultural level in "mid-life"which has given views to some classic opinions of how IT folks viewculture versus how executives, sales and other folks (termed Operators)see it. This may seem a little dated in some ways but the core thoughtsstill pervade many companies (even us).
One classic argumentin this vein is the different views of "should information becontrolled" discussion which comes up so frequently in social computingand media.
I thought it might be interesting to see a third-viewin terms of how social computing aficionados view culture. Taking adirect copy from Schein's book (pg 275-277) are the first two columns,albeit sorted slightly. The third is my comparsion in terms of socialcomputing.
Please feel free to add your views.
Operator & Executive culture
Social Computing culture
Information can be packaged into bits and transmitted electronically
Information relevant to operations must include face-to-face human contact in order to be accurately understood.
People can relate to both information and other people through electronic means
More Information is always better than less.
The more quantifiable Information is the better.
Information must be extracted from raw data and will be meaningful only in particular context that is itself perpetually changing.
Meaning derives only from complex patterns.
More information is helpful but it should be interpreted through each individual’s view and understanding of context
Technology leads and people should adapt.
People can and should learn the language and methods of IT
Technology should adapt to people and be user friendly
Technology should follow how people behave, and adapt to their language and methods.
Technology should be assistive.
Management will give up hierarchy if IT provides better coordination mechanisms
Hierarchy is intrinsic to human systems and a necessary coordination mechanism
The costs associated with speed may not be worth it
We live in a fast-paced, highly interrelated, and mesh world where hierarchical access is not always the most effective way to distribute information.
Social computing can provide better ways for different ways to organize coordination, including hierarchical structure.
The more fully connected an organization is, the better it will perform
Too much connectivity produces information overload
Social computing can assist maintaining relationships and connectivity, and managing information sources
People will use information responsibly and appropriately
Control of information is a necessary management tool and the only way of maintaining power and status
Give people a chance to demonstrate responsibility.
Show them helpful methods but do not limit their behaviors
Paper can be replaced by electronically stored information
The ability to see and manipulate paper is intrinsic to many kinds of tasks
Mostly agree with IT culture
Information can be captured and frozen in time
Agree with IT culture
The more information you have the more you need
Software can help filter information to what you need.
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.
If you have not come across it before, web2logo.com provides an extensive listing of companies in the social computing and Web 2 space. There seems to be approximately 1000 companies listed there in one form or another. Some logos are repeated (e.g. Google in different versions) but that's rare. Clicking on a logo will give a description from Web2list, site traffic data from Alexa, and current Technorati-tracked blog activity for each of them. It's hard to say if this data is accurate but it does give an idea of which ones are doing decent enough to watch.
Wow I haven't really posted in here for a while. Time flies when you are having fun.
Lately I've been working on a survey of attitudes and behavior towards social software inside IBM among the sales people. It's part of my current assignment. I'm also putting a lot of my spare focus on my upcoming book. In talking to random folks at the Community 2.0 (tweets) and Online Community Business Forum, there seems to some exasperation on needing more structure around what constitutes community strategy, even among the people who aren't new on it. This is good news, since that is likely to get more people thinking about what to do about it.
I'm also on many different tools these days. Most of my activities outside IBM these days are either on Twitter or my dW space where it's either easier to just write a post, or post mixed media content.
One of the more anticipated massively multiplayer online games coming up later this year (and anticipated all last year) is the Age of Conan. Aside from the game's theme and storyline, one of the interesting aspects here is the ability to create a virtual army of folks numbering in the hundreds.
This isn't a new idea per se. There have been MMOGs that allow for team efforts all the way back to the days of text-based MUDs, but the 3D worlds of today make it increasingly more complex with the addition of many types of tools, weapons, etc. What AoC also allows are full scale sieges of town and cities by an army. This kind of planning takes a whole new level of thinking.
The base level ideas focus on organizing a team of folks to achieve some stated goal. In most cases these days, this is something a guild will undertake with its members; however, it doesn't need to be a pre-organized/preset community, and many such quest efforts can take on an ad hoc group.
The next stage beyond just gathering folks is understanding the roles and skills of the members. Often there is a leader who has experience in the matter on what skills are necessary and where to place people (in the environment).
Usually this is event-based, that is, focused during a specific amount of time (rather than a long-term activity). So another step is to make sure the key folk needed arrive at the meeting point, along with their tools. If they don't the leader(s) need to readjust the assignments and formations.
During the execution of the quest, there may be preamble actions to take before they get into the mix of it; in MMOGs, this could be casting spells, donning specific armor, etc. Then there may also be real-world things to set up: a comfortable seat for long activities, water/super-caffeinated products, going to the restroom, quiet environment, etc.
As they enter the melee, the direction becomes even harder since there is so much going on. Modern MMOGs allow special heads-up displays showing status information, communications channels, and more, with different HUDs possible for different roles. It's not just keeping up with the action in the melee itself, but also keeping an eye on the HUDs to make sure you are in sync.
The activity can rage on for hours, and the stress impacts everyone. Everything from friendly fire, kill steals, random shots, hard choices, and more. The commitment here is not just in terms of mental stress and duress, but also in terms of ability to keep focus and in sync with the overall plan. In other words, the moment to moment stressful and dangerous action makes it feel real to many. The high level of risk is what helps to develop the level of commitment amongst players to the game, and to each other.
The aftermath or outcome also has consequences. As a fried said, most guilds fall apart because of arguments when dividing the winnings/loot. Everyone has sacrifices per their character, and many are emotionally connected to their character on a deep level. A catastrophic loss of equipment or the character takes it toll as a long-term effect; I would daresay on a level proportional to how long the person has been involved.
In a real-world military system, leaders assume that teamwork is a given. They never had to face the idea of a "democratically-organized" army as in an MMOG. That is a much harder proposal in terms of setting up teamwork.
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"...
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:
the individual view - the question: "How do I as an individual benefit from the social systems and networks I am involved in?"
the comparable individual view - If I can measure how each person benefits, can we compare that benefit between the persons? This isn't always so, because the value to an individual may be specific to themselves, and not quantifiable in a universal manner
the organizational view - How does the organization benefit from social software (at different levels of social system, teams, departments, units, etc.)? Is this organizational view a composite of the comparable individual view or is it different?
the comparable organizational view - Just like the individual view, there may be a comparable organizational view as well. These again rely on establishing a comparable basis of measurement of one organization versus another.
Then there is a difference between the value of the social network as a structure, versus the content in that network:
the structural view - How do you measure value of the structure of contacts, parterships, collaborations, connections, networks, and other connectivity-based views of the social systems you are involved in?
the content or knowledge view - How do you measure the value of knowledge or content from that network? Can they be packaged as assets specifically?
Aside from the value of structure or content as different forms of assets, how do you measure goal-achievement from the network.
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.
This past Sunday our dojo had it's 41st annual black belt promotion ceremony. That's quite a few years (and generations) of students across many different styles. This time around we had black belts promoted in Battodo (swordfighting), Praying Mantis kung fu, Matsunoryu Jujitsu, and Hiraido (Mixed Martial arts). I'm proud to say two of my own sword students, Andrew and Stephen, have just become black belts, and another sword student of my instructor was also promoted. Both my students came through the middle/high school classes and dedicated part of their time over the past four years or so to learn battodo. They started out at around age 14 and matured just as much as developed their skill.
I also was promoted to sandan rank (3rd degree black belt) for years of teaching and training students. It'll be years more before I see another rank. There are also skill competency standards as well as teaching requirements at the higher black belt ranks. For the sword class, it may be a while before we get another person to sandan because of the physical strength and agility difficulty. For example, you have to perform the three basic cuts nearly perfectly across multiple targets at least 90% of the time you try. We have even simplified some of the testing requirements but it still takes a lot of practice to reach that level.
All the same, if you measure across the time, on average for every 10-20 students we have each semester, we get perhaps one or two who stay the road to achieve the first black belt rank. It's a fairly rigorous system in our school; the aim is not quantity necessarily, but proficient students.
I've not uploaded the photos from the recent tests, but if you are interested, you can see many other photos and videos on our battodo social site.
It was a long week at Lotusphere held in Orlando at the Swan and Dolphin--looks like I'll be a regular at that hotel for a while. There certainly was a lot of discussion about social software, not the least on Lotus products in this area. More so, they finally announced externally some of the interesting research areas for social software that we have been using internally for a while at the Innovation labs at the show. I'm not sure there's public sites to point to but here's a quick breakdown of some of them:
Team building games - a sort of virtual "Ropes"-style exercise where team members get together to try to complete a task in SecondLife focused around decision-making, cooperation, planning, executing. Some of the games include creating a tower of blocks, and creating a castle. It sounds simple but the actual value is in how it makes the team of folks think about how they cooperate
Wormhole - an API between SecondLife and web-based applications and databases. This bidirectional link lets you check status of objects in SecondLife from a web page, and vice-versa, the status of objects on the web from SecondLife itself. It's an important connection mechanism between a virtual world and the web.
Cattail - this is a file sharing system that maps to tags, and people used internally in an organization. It helps to offload the act of emailing large presentations around, associate names with documents, and make it easy to search files by people, description or tags
SONAR - this is more of an API that maps the info from many types of social software to people as related to what you do. For example, you can find others who share common interests in their blogs or forums, papers that they may have written or published, documents they have shared, etc. You can configure the relevancy of one of many factors along a sliding scale. It helps to identify others with common interests along each of those factors. You can build a client that uses this relevancy and connectivity information in different ways (e.g. visualization, identification, etc.)
SmallBlue/Atlas - This internal project became a product mid-December. It creates a visualization of a social graph based on different systems of connections. The Atlas product is an add-on to Lotus Connections and uses the data there to see how people are connected to each other across the different tools, e.g. tagging
If I find an external web site for these projects I'll create a link for them
I've just filled out my developerWorks Expert space for the first time today. I haven't really added all the feeds and other things I really want to add in but you can be sure I'll be adding more over time. Right now now it is a little self-centered, since that was easiest for me to find. I'll probably move my links and tags to the space rather than push too much into a particular application like this blog.
The point of an expert space is really to focus on a particular individual and the multiple things they may be working on, or the multiple social tools they may be using. This differs from a group space in that it is not shared with others and you don't have to negotiate or discuss what you want to put onto the space (as long as it doesn't break the T's and C's). A group space really is intended to focus on a group activity with several folks who will be active participants in the topic. Think of it this way: in an expert space, YOU are the product. :)
In my earlier view, I only identified two stages: social networks, and communities. The former describes a loose network of people who generally keep in touch with each other for a common purpose, whether purely social or for business purposes. The people within the network usually know the others, and have some degree of strong ties with each other, but they don't really define themselves in detail as a group, have well-defined goals or ideology. This contrasts against the next level of networks, the community, which do have a common identity and purpose, and where the network of people generally work together for the direction of the community. Beyond the community is the organization, a very strongly oriented group of people, often with defined objectives, budgets and even some level of hierarchy as to how they should work together.
Somewhere in between the social network and the community are other social models. What Howard Rheingold keeps describing as "smart mobs", a loose social network of folks who gather on an "instant" basis for a specific purpose. This is slightly different than the pure social network since folks in a smart mob have a (vaguely) defined purpose: anyone who is interested in X, let's meet up to do something. Other descriptions for this are often used in events as Birds-of-Feather (BOF) sessions, and Meetups. Unlike the more personal connection of a pure social network, the members do not necessarily know each other from prior contact and simply have a common interest. This can also be a transitional idea; one the meetup is over, the members disperse taking the knowledge gained from the event. Sometimes, they do keep in contact and evolve into a longer running community of interest, where membes return to keep working on that interest.
Another model that is described aptly in The Starfish and the Spider (see my book list). Groups like the Apaches of North America (circa 1800s); Alcoholics Anonymous, a peer-group organization, etc. These have some of the characteristics of a social network in that each group is fairly independent with no overall leader. However, they also go the next step along where there is an organizing principle or ideology, and there are local leaders on a decentralized basis. I call this as something different--some will say I'm just splitting hairs--because the overall larger picture of the group is never centrally coordinated. For that matter, something like this is hard to converge into a realistic distributed model, unless there is a strong need for and common belief amongst the members that the goals and purpose are what they share. Otherwise, it tends to be a localized organized that never grows beyond it's domain.
On the other end, the centralized community, seems like a good idea to try out at the beginning but over time this can grow into an inherent bureaucracy instilled in trying to centralize activities. It has some advantages in that there is less tendency to deviate from the mission of the community across the distributed organization. The Starfish model on the other hand has resilience, but truly works on a decentralized basis if the core goals and beliefs are truly of common interest on a distributed scale, and has been tested over time. Otherwise, it can break down into separate factions as each group goes its own way.
The key to group involvement in any of these types of people networks is still strong leadership and influencers. There are good practices and models for each level that can help people work faster or better, but the idea still depends on a having an interest in being a leader and keeping that interest and momentum going over time. I'm surprised by how many folks keep imagining that they can instantly grow a network from complete zero to success in a very short time. Such situations are pretty rare, and usually, new ideas that work in this vein really leverage existing relationships, population moods or past history to get there, rather than truly working from zero.
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 tend to markup the books I read. After a while, it just became easier to use those little 3M strip stickers and highlighters to index a book my way. I used to use different colored strips for different ideas: "hot idea", "case study", "problem point", etc. But eventually, I realized that it'd be easier to actually write specific words onto the strips. Guess what, I'm just doing something exactly the way I do online, but in a more primitive, and less easy-to-search way. I loose a lot of knowledge this way, or at least track of it.
So my wish here is that there would be some way how I could tag the content in any book I find into an online, searchable way, and perhaps share it with others. My thought is that there are several possibilities:
Really lame way: copy the text, page, etc. and in the tagging/bookmarking software, create an entry with that description pointing to the place in the book. Cons: Is there any point to even talk about this?
Magical semi-scanner tool: Some pen-like device that can scan text in a book and the position in the book, and then let me enter the tag for the text. There are some smart pens out there that digitize writing but this would also add in the requirement to be able to create a tag, and then publish that online. Cons: I don't know it such a device exists but its not impossible to build on top of something like Logitech's oi2 Digital Pen
Ebooks with tagging support. I find some sort of ebook reading device that allows bookmarking/tagging to a general online tagging service, rather than "saved with a book". Cons: Not all books are available in e-books format, however, publishers are getting better about it. Still ebook reader devices need to be extended to allow the online tagging.
Use online web-based books and find a way to tag. Similar to the ebooks approach but no special device, just a laptop or web-phone. Cons: Requires a browser device, and may need a live connection.
For 3 & 4, a side note: Safari is still hanging on but it is has a good approach to online books. You pay a service fee to be able to "borrow" books from their online library and can swap out your bookshelf over time; just requires a regular fee.
I think the idea of ebooks is great in terms of technology like digital ink that requires really low power consumption and can run for many hours at a time, but I think the need to be able to correlate or search related information, tagging, color images, etc. all require a net conneciton and better graphics support. In other words, the device just becomes a browser anyway, and the worst you have to do is keep recharging the device.
Take the iPod Touch or iPhone example as a browser people actually want to use and has some degree of a readable screen (compared to other phones). I don't have one, but I think you'd be able to access books from Safari and have a way to tag information. Ebooks (e.g., Sony Portable Reader System) have more screen real-estate, typically about the size of a paperback book. I think visually the iPod Touch /iPhone is still a little small to read and chews power like candy, but it's much more capable in terms of enabling the reader or researcher.
I'm reading the chapter in Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams' Wikinomics book on Prosumers. (see my book list). It makes a particular point that I should highlight:
The old customer co-creation idea was simple: Collaborate with your customers to create or customize goods, services, and experiences, all while generating a built-in market for your wares...
This is the company-centric view of cocreation. We'll set the parameters by telling you when and on which products to innovate. You'll give us your ideas for free, but we'll choose the best of them...
I couldn't agree more with them on the intentions of the company. However, I still have to agree that the same examples they give in other parts of the book are still similar to this idea. For example, even digg has basic limits on what you can do: write a short port, or vote. Even though digg allows anyone to submit a post, it still sets the parameters on when people can innovate. Fine line? Possibly, but the reality is that short of giving a complete blank slate for anyone to do anything, the real value actually comes from giving guidance and parameters on how people can participate on a social site. If you make it too open ended, it may end up becoming too unfocused on purpose. In other words, if the leaders or owners of the community/social site define the purpose and focus area, then the users have an idea of what to expect and what to do there.
The model for prosumption that Wikinomics talks about is more about mashup culture, and the idea of enabling consumers to freely interact to create their own versions or interpretations of products. This means that the prosumers--a distinct subset of your overall users, and possibly even a relatively small percentage depending upon the complexity of the product--should be allowed greater freedom on how to use the products and share their ideas.
Wikinomics' suggestions on how to harness prosumers is very good:
prosumption goes beyond individual product customization (limited only to each user) - it means engaging users earlier in your product development cycle or even making it simple to remix them
loosing control - you sacrifice some control to allow them to do mashups, and you need to more actively engage the prosumers to keep track of successful ideas
customer toolkits - make it easy for prosumers to customize the product through user-friendly (not obfuscated) customer tool kits
become a peer - recognize that the company now plays a role as a peer of the prosumers, not patrons
sharing the fruits - prosumers expect to be able to share the fruits of their customizations; help them, don't hinder them
The practical reality that I tend to see is that unless it is a very widely used product, the amount of prosumption activity can be fairly small. This goes along with the idea of participation inequality. So the amount of prosumption you enable may really depend on the value you think this work will generate. In some cases, the product is simple enough that people can add or extract the parts they want to create a new thing (with a little skill or perseverance). In others, you need to create well-defined interfaces that allow access to a complex piece.
It's easy to give a hugely inclusive environment like Wikipedia and then say that wiki's can apply to everything, but it simply doesn't work that way. Participation in wikis, or for that matter any social service, depends upon the number of participants in the system, and more importantly, how many really care to be there. For that to happen, the users and potential prosumers need to easily see the value of being in that community. The simpler or more evident the purpose, the easier it is for people to decide if they want to be in that community or not.
Beyond just reading or consuming the info in the community, you need to find ways to engage or challenge the community to invite participation; and make it easy for them to participate. The more immediate it is to interact, the more interaction you will get. From simpler interactions, you can start building more complicated interactions and generate that recurring following. These return participants are what help to spur prosumption activity, or at least bring that activity into the context of your community. This is where more the abovementioned suggestions from Wikinomics can come into play.
I keep running into Chris Anderson's activities lately. First, I'm listening to his dW podcast interview on our site this week, and next we had an internal meeting for book authors that Chris came to talk to us about. The main discussion in the call was more about how to approach book writing and some ideas that he found successful for his own bestseller, The Long Tail (see my book list). Some of it rang so true but is still missed by so many authors.
For one, he talked about blogging from the very beginning on the book as he did on his research, and carrying the conversation on regularly and for a long time. Chris started blogging from the beginning. It helped in shape his ideas, but also helped quite a bit when it came time to launch the book; he gave away a thousand copies of the book to all the bloggers who interacted with him on his blog. This, I think, really helped to spread the popularity of his book.
Blogging is certainly popular but to many book authors it is still a new phenomenon, even in the tech industry. With that in mind, many authors think that they should start blogging when their book is nearer completion that from the beginning. I think there are two parts to this: a) in general, for a blog to become even barely known takes a long-time of ongoing and active effort; b) blogging about your book helps to build awareness. In other words, if you already have (a) going for you, then (b) should be easier. However, back to my point on blogging still being new with many authors points to the fact that many of them don't even have (a) going for them.
To give my example, I am working on a book and many of the ideas that I have talked about are spread all around this blog of mine. However, I don't think I ever stated that intention. For me, the ideas are more significant--and even more than that discussion of the ideas--than the point that its for a book. But perhaps I should state that intention right away and define the premise more openly. I'll save it for a different post so as not to distract from Chris' point here.
Another interesting point and one that is dear to his heart apparently--he just launched a new startup BookTour.com on it--is about authors engaging others in live events, book tours, presentations, speaking engagements, etc. I think it's a great idea and fits my philosophy: most people need help on learning how to generate a community around an idea or even themselves. What live or virtual appearances and activities do is help to build that community and reinforce the significance of the work. By Chris' own admission speaking engagements can have a better ROI than book sales, even if they go hand in hand; and I don't disagree with that in terms of getting paid for day-long appearnaces versus spending months on a book. This means that as an author you need to spend the time and effort to actively promote your book and not just rely on the publisher's marketing team. The argument I always hear on this is that most people have full time jobs and do not have the time to do so. This is where I think an idea like BookTour can come in really helpful.
Let's take an online parallel: we at developerWorks are about to launch a new aspect called Expert spaces amongst other features. This allows a person to create a community around their own activities using different social software tools not unlike what groups of folks are doing with our community topic spaces now. Like our spaces now, you can start a blog of your own to talk about your project, link in resources your find useful. If you want to go a step beyond, you could even write parts of your book in a wiki online and ellicit comments about the contents you share.
For our own team, this means that we will now need to help these experts get going on communicating in this new way. BookTour focuses on the specific activity of bookwriting; we have a much wider focus on building awareness about any technical expert. We do that now to some degree, but there is a lot more that we could learn.
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:
product markets are much more well-defined and often well tracked by industry watchers, analysts and support organizations, and therefore may have access to industry-wide data/metrics
a product market can be easily measured in a fairly universal way in terms of dollars (or other currency denominations), whereas communities don't necessarily have purchase transactions or a common currency system
community value and contributions are by definition more subjective according to the perceived value by the community at that point in time.
communities tend to start off much more lightweight and sometimes may even prefer to stay that way, versus the goal of most product markets is to grow (revenue, marketshare, customers or other quantifiable items)
Still there are many parallel concepts that can be borrowed. A few of the many examples:
customer "terrorists" - as this book describes it, where current or former customers who are dissatisfied with the product can turn against the producer. This parallel exists directly in most communities.
customer loyalty - one measure of community success is through developing a loyal following, whatever that process and metric may be. This concept is broken down into customer satisfaction, customer retention, and customer recommendation, all of which are also important to a community.
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.
Our technical briefings team is hosting a special event in September; actually two of them in the US, one in Raleigh, North Carolina, and another in Austin Texas. It's a free event, and the idea is to get a lot of thought going on around the topic of putting Web 2.0 into action in the workplace, in a more general way, beyond just startups and special projects.
Here's the info on the event:
Join us for a special event to learn how you can start bringing Web 2.0 into your organization, or as we say, 'Take Web 2.0 to Work.' During this day-long technology event from IBM, you'll see demos of the hottest technologies and participate in interactive breakout sessions - a large part of the content will be driven by you and the other attendees as we go along! The day will be full of live demos and true attendee participation!
During the day, you'll not only hear from IBM Execs like Rod Smith, IBM Software Group, VP of Emerging Technologies and David Barnes, Program Director, Emerging Internet Technologies, IBM Software Strategy based out of Austin, TX, but also rub shoulders with other developers in your community, IBM's key system architects, developers and researchers from our R&D labs and some of the lead developers that created Lotus Connections. There will be plenty of time to dive deep into several different topic areas in breakout sessions including: Collaboration (Social Networking applied to the Enterprise) Application Creation (join in the creation of mashups and wikis) Information Technology (see new ways to unlock information using emerging technologies like "Many Eyes")
Reading this story on Red Herring about the Socialstream project over at Carnegie Mellon, reminded me of three other things. The story is about a graduate student project that aggregates "any" social networks. What that means is obviously vague but it's getting some press due to the Google funding it received. It partially hints at the ability to aggregate a user's profile from across multiple sites. That in itself is not that unique.
The first thing it reminded me of is ZoomInfo, a site that conducts a web search for a person's name and makes correlations, and creates a single profile for all the related info that match that person. It isn't all that accurate and sometimes gives multiple hits for the same person (e.g., "Rawn Shah" a name that as far as I have searched is currently unique in the world). It also can give results for multiple people (e.g., plenty of "Michael O'Connell"s out there), and I'm guessing that sometimes the entries cross over between profiles inaccurately. It doesn't quite merge profiles from multiple social networks as much as take raw information, do some semantic processing looking for similar context, contact information, and references.
What would help ZoomInfo is more contextual or semantic declaration of information, in other words, it is an application just waiting for the Semantic Web to rise. There are other examples like the real-estate mapping and pricing site, Zillow. Both search multiple sources for particular type of information and then aggregate them in some meaningul way to do what they do. I know what you're think: "Isn't that just a mashup?" And you'd be right, but this kind of mashup becomes more useful if given the semantics of the situation.
This leads me to my second thing, the Semantic Web, which we talked about just recently at work. Conceptually, it means applying more specific information to any piece of knowledge so that it can be handled by software agents trying to understand the context and semantics. This is the current work of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the originator of the Web. I think we even have a podcast interview him on dW where he discusses this. This has also been referred to more recently as "Web 3.0", although the Semantic Web seems a more accurate and less self-aggrandizing title. To get to this level, there are a number of protocols, in particular the Resource Description Framework, that need to be much more widely applied to web information. There's a more complete diagram on that Wikipedia entry for it.
But returning to the topic of "aggregating" social networks, the third thing I recall is what Marc Canter, founder of MacroMedia and current CEO of Broadband Mechanics, wrote on CNet: "...it's clear that folks are interested in connecting together some of their disparate accounts on a wide range of social networks." Having worked on standards before I know how much messy politics go into it more often than good information. Marc's focus here again is also on connecting the profiles across multiple networks, and separately connecting the social networking tools they use and the information they generate.
My point of view, all three (profile, SN tool, information) are part of the same set, and should probably go together, not in terms of actually being on the same application, but in terms of the same presentation. In the background, all the data in the set can come from multiple application sources, even multiple sites. Don't force people to switch tools and interfaces constantly so they have to go from e.g., their blog to their wiki to enter different kinds of information. The same for profiles, you can have multiple profiles on multiple sites, but even switching between different sites to get to your profile in each community/social network system you are part of is cumbersome, when you need to change some basic information, e.g., your job title. It's also hard to track.
Mashable published this list of what they call 10 most beautiful social networks. The emphasis is on visual presentation and prettiness rather than value to the user I guess. This is still useful for designers and Web 2.0 developers to consider the design elements.
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.
Shift 1: Media are merging - the designer's role now spreads across multiple types of media and forms of design processes. I'm not sure this pertaining to our site, but we certainly look upon our users as more than just readers, and become contributors, collaborators, packagers, and critics, recommenders, and more, all impacting the processing and presentation of information.
Shift 2: Users are part of the process - no argument there. We are making this readily possible with the flexible layout of our spaces, and working to bring in more user-interaction and social tools.
Shift 3: Context and Conten are king - no arguments there. We do this already now, and are trying to combine with Shift 2 and 6 to enable even more
Shift 4: Scale is radically changing - I'm not sure how having a big screen TV pertains to our web site but I think the bigger point is to keep in mind the "three screens" (TV, web, and mobile devices).
Shift 5: Interactivity is changing - From single to social. Closed to open. Dumb to smart. We're definitely on for the first two. Dumb to smart points to software assistance and predicting of what steps to take next from previous experience, sort of like a recommendation engine. This is a complicated endeavor (I'll explain why later) but definitely worthwhile
Shift 6: Design is a group effort - perhaps its because our team has already progressed here, but bringing in end-users to evaluate and comment on a design seems like a basic requirement of all design activities. Things must have really sucked in the dark ages :)
I think they missed out on one point which may be relevant beyond justthe net: the world is becoming a smaller place and design needs toconsider global impact and address a global audience. Virtual friends,teams, businesses and markets all mean that people are coming in frommore directions and this means understanding cultural patterns andnorms across the globe. They also need to consider how the message is distributed on a global basis. Globalization of design is a tough one.
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.
I missed out on Secondfest, a music festival on SecondLife that Intel recently sponsored together with the UK's Guardian newspaper. There were so many performers there, I'm surprised at the size of it. Even one of my long-time favorites, The Pet Shop Boys. This is a fairly large online event to organize and I'm pretty sure it takes a good concert promoter on the side of the bands too. It's hard to call this a UK thing when it's on SL. I think the promotion for it I'd like to try to find out who helped to organize this.
PS: Does the group Hadouken have anything to do with the old Capcom Street Fighter II games?
This rings back to the most recent Pirates of the Carribean movie where at one point a whole fleet of pirate vessels at sea with their own pirate flags. It looked like they all shopped at that Pirate Museum gift store. Obviously the movie is fiction, with more attitude added to pirate life than reality, but sometimes you see just how fake it is. In terms of the actual movie, I still think the first of the three was still the best, with this third being far too overachieving in terms of plot, and direction. Overstimulation is sometimes just that. The characters behave as the director figured self-interested pirates would, meaning they would do whatever they needed to achieve their own goals, but at some point, it got far too complicated to keep straight who wanted what. Visually, they also tried far too much, pushing into ludicrous speed... yes, they went plaid.
A philosophical fantasy question and not one anyone may have been asking anyway I agree, but it's what I was contemplating when I looked at my father's day present: a Darth Vader bust cookie jar.... "[Look]... I am your father..'s day present..."
The headgear of Darth Vader is almost certainly based on the the war gear of samurai lords: their kabuto (helmet) and their mempo (face mask). In samurai days, these were both fanciful and practical. They were usually fairly artistically designed for the daimyo (lord) usually to inspire reverence or fear, as well as to indicate clan symbols. The fearful mask therefore is very apt for a Dark Lord of the Sith.
But that brings me back to my question, how would you equate the Sith in samurai terms. First of all, let's get some historical facts right, the samurai did have a strong sense of honor, but this did not generally make them benevolent. In today's terms, you might even call them single-minded and ruthless. Their sense of chivalry is not the idealistic romanticized version of Arthurian legends and European myth. In fact, those ideals are closer to the Jedi; the very clearly defined, although fairly blase, "good" side of the force. Samurai had the right to kill anyone of a lower class (farmers, artisans, merchants) and did not even need to have a motive. They fought the wars against other samurai based on what their lord indicated, and often that meant devastation to the rest of the population. So you can hardly call them similar to the Jedi. By rules of logic that invalidates my original premise but leaves the second part unanswered.
The Sith are the opposite of the "good" forces of the Jedi, bent on qualities we consider evil: absolute domination by force. In Arthurian legend, there generally was not an evil counterpart that was formalized to such a degree. Rather there were individuals like Mordred, who fought against Arthur, and therefore was considered the "evil" power-hungry opposite. So in principle there were equivalent there.
In Japanese historical culture there were three other categories: the ronin, warrior monks, and the ninja. The ronin were simply the "masterless ones", when a samurai lost their lord and hence no longer had someone to pay the bills or give allegiance to. Because there was such strong clan-alignment, it was unlikely you could simply be picked up by another daimyo, and therefore, without anything but their military skill, they often turned pauper or worse (in the old Japanese class system), into farmers or workers for the merchant class. Some did turn to crime but none of it is an institutionalized practice as the Sith model.
The warrior-monks were generally just a separate rank of folks in the clergy and by Zen ideals and pacifism, could hardly be considered "evil" like the Sith.
The ninja are perhaps the closest in a way. They were often paid for hire warriors who did the dirty and dishonorable work like assassinations and mayhem. A better description is perhaps outlaw not in the Jesse James in the the Cowboy-West sense, but as people who made their own rules separate from the rest of the law of the Japanese society (which in truth was very restrictive in history). They were an institution too in the form of ninja schools of thought and practices that trained an army of folks over the years. Yet, the goal of the historical ninja (versus TV-ninja or Internet-Ninja) tended to be more of mercernary intent rather than megalomaniacal domination like the Sith.
Looking back at other historical cultures, the Mongols, Chinese, Romans, English, Persians, and others were certainly bent on world domination (or at least their definition of the "world"), but one person's evil overlords are another's great and wondrous leaders, and vice versa.
So Vader, Sidious, and all Sith going back into the fantasy culture do not have an easy comparable. In fact, in terms of good writing, the black-and-white metaphorical comparison of Sith to Jedi, is quite overly simplistic and trite as concepts. It's fit for teenagers and kids but as you get older you realize there is a lot of grey and even good people do bad things at times, or vice versa, or are labelled bad or good depending upon who you ask.
CNN has a story on Wi-Max, the upcoming standard for high-speed wireless Internet access from anywhere on the Sprint network. It's a metropolitan area network (MAN) although that term isn't really used as much anymore. While I may not see it here for another two years, this 4G wireless service should eventually supplant the EVDO service Sprint has now. For all those iPhone users waiting in line to get their silly first generation device which can only get Cingular's EDGE speeds (around 50Kbps), the megabit speeds of Wi-Max would make it look like a very fancy horse-and-buggy, next to a 2007 Bentley Flying Spur. The device may be usable but when it comes to downloading anything for a browser or worse a movie, be prepared to be tragically disappointed. Even my current EVDO service beats that by a magnitude.
Truth is that Wi-Max will not beat 802.11g in terms of raw speed (54Mbps) for a local area network, but keep in mind that most Wi-Fi hotspots are limited by their outgoing bandwidth, usually a DSL or Cable modem that really limits it to perhaps 2Mbps at best, before it even reaches their ISP. Worse yet, this bandwidth is shared with others from the hotspot point to the net, so in most cases, you're lucky if you can get a few hundred Kbps. With Wi-Max the uplink/downlink goes straight to the provider's antenna, and from there (presumably) high-speed links in the hundreds of megabits. It's a shorter hop and a much larger outgoing pipeline. This is assuming that the provider like Sprint does the right thing and has those outgoing net links at high-speeds, not a 10Mbps line.
Per that CNN article, Craig McCaw is right: "...doing for the Internet what cell phones did for voice 20 years ago."
To put it in perspective, texting from phones may go the way of the sailboat--still around for some purposes, but generally replaced by other forms of travel. It may become replaced by live video clips directly between users: faster, and easier (although maybe not from under the table in the meeting room). Push-to-talk can become push-to-video. Projects like SecondLife and Google Earth (in 3D) could be incorporated into your phones with GPS to actually show you the path you need to take (like the batmobile in Batman Begins) or the location of your peers in buildings (like in just about any modern spy movie today). For the truly self-immersed, you could stream continously from your headset mounted video camera to your vlog site.
Right after the RSDC we went off for vacation in Key West, leaving the boy and my laptop with grandma, to get away from it all. After walking around for half an hour in the high humidity, sweating profusely we drop off our luggage at the nice Weatherstation Inn--a really nice Bed&Breakfast that we found and certainly more affordable than the hotels. We then go off in search of a good seafood lunch and find a decent restaurant. We opt to sit indoors in the airconditioning, which is much appreciated in the 80+ degree 90+ % humidity weather.
But of course, they put us in the middle with one table with three infants and children on one side, and another table where the adults spent the entire time talking about how they can take advantage of SecondLife... so much for getting away from it all.
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.
RSDC 2007 is over and I have a few hours to kill, probably by the poolside. It's a little warm and humid compared to Tucson but not too bad.
At the conference close, I sat with Frank Schophuizen, along time Rational ClearCase and ClearQuest user who recently started a new dW space on Configuration Management, and was asking what he should do to promote awareness of his space. He just started but has already populated it with a lot of information.
Anyway, justa few minutes after asking, our GM, Jim Corgell, pointed out his space to the large audience as an example of the level of involvement our customers were participating on our site. Very serendipitous.
Sometimes it's things these things shared by a key person at a key moment that make a difference.
I would link to his space right now but it's not easy to blog from IE on a mobile phone...possible but not easy... maybe I should switch to twitter for this.
The new space for the Rational Software Development Conference 2007 is now live and full of details and links to podcasts, announcements, SecondLife activities, Rational Tube, highlights from the dW Rational Zone, blogs, and more. We'll be updating this space during the week of the conference itself as it progresses.
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.
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.
This looks like another busy day for phone calls, but an excellent time to test out the battery life of my new Moto Q and Plantonics pulsar stereo headset (see my previous post).
Yesterday, I tested out the phone to visit our podcasts and listen to some of our recent interviews, downloaded to the phone. I then left the phone in a spot and walked around for a while with the stereo wireless headset and it worked like a charm: the high-speed wireless network, the cellphone's browser, the freedom of wireless, and sitting on the hammock watching the stars listening to the podcast. The sound quality was excellent, both in terms of focusing the caller's voice (over background noise), and listening to audio playback from the net, the laptop, or the ipod. Next test today is skype and long hours of calls, to see how uncomfortable it can get and which dies first the battery in the cellphone or the headset.
Next week's trip to Rational Software Developer Conference 2007 in Orlando should be fun (quick infomercial). They have some great activities planned, including some new things by our own team:
We created a new space for RSDC at http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/spaces/rsdc, which won't be active until Sunday (or late Saturday night). It puts into a single view many of the activities around RSDC including Rational Tube, RSDC in SecondLife, and more (see the following)
We are presenting the IBM CODESTATION learn-and-play game in SecondLife, where you can learn to program bots to take the Labyrinth challenge and get into development in the SL environment. There's also an article right now on our site about just that. The presentations in the main tent for RSDC will also be played in SL. As before, you should download and install the free SecondLife client to visit these URLs.
IBM Rational has also launched the community video site Rational Tube, asking users the question What makes you Rational? in keeping with this year's theme and where anyone can create and post a short video. There are number of interesting videos by Scott Ambler (self-professed crazy agile Canadian :) ), Grady Booch, and lots of execs and all the usual suspects from IBM Rational. There's also this cool one by iRise on Formula One raching and Rational RequisitePro (huh? what's the connection, you ask?), and comedian Mitch Fatel.
There are tons more things which I'll span out over several posts and try to keep updated from my phone while I'm at the show. I'll be at the developerWorks booth on Monday and Tuesday; so if you're attending, drop on by. Hats seem to be a theme, so I might wear my Crab hat.