I noticed Hutch Carpenter's (@bhc3) post about this proposed session in Enterprise 2.0 conference where he's talking about different forms of competition. I had to share this excerpt from chapter 4 on Social Tasks of my book on the different forms of working together on a social/collaborative task.
The next step of defining a social task is to consider how members
perform this task collectively. Social software aggregates the behavior or
content from many individuals into overall results or collections of results.
However, you can use different methods to perform aggregation:
- Independent:Members work on the task separately, but the
results are aggregated across all members. Their discrete actions and results
might not be directly visible to others:the results are visible only as an converged aggregate value (for
example, closed ballot voting).
- Autonomous:Members work on the task separately of each
other, and their results are distinctly visible to other members as separate
work. This creates opportunities in which members might benefit from
information that multiple other members share. A collection of divergent results
across the many members or a single convergent result (such as brainstorming on
ideas) can occur.
- Consensus:A group of members works directly together on
the task with the intent to deliver an overall collective result, even
if it’s not unanimous or convergent. Tasks often require analysis, discussion,
and debate to arrive at a collective answer. The ultimate goal is to converge
and deliver a single collective result, but members might not always agree on
one answer and there sometimes produce multiple options as results.
- Deliberative:A group of members works directly together
without the intent or necessity of coming to a consensus on a single result.
These are typically discussions or interactions that can spread out in many
directions, depending on how subsets of members interact.
- Combative:Members must compete against each other to
derive the best result from the group, denying other choices.[i] Unlike consensus forming,
only a single answer is provided from all the choices the group generated.
Glass, Designing Your Reputation System in 10! Easy Steps, IA Summit
2008, Miami, Florida
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.
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
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.
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.
On the last two points that Davenport made in his book: to get commitment from a knowledge worker, it is important give freedom to experiment and work on ideas rather than to always dictate or direct them to work on specific things. Also, just as it is difficult to describe the job, it is also often hard to describe the knowledge output; for that matter, knowledge workers may not even seemto be in their best interest to share their knowledge.
The concern is that if you do not provide the correct supportive environment for your knowledge worker, they are quite likely to move to another organization that does (i.e., jump ship to a potential competitor who does offer the right environment).
This has direct relevance to a number of activities in IBM. For one, we now have Think Fridays. Basically, Fridays of every week should be freed up so that you have some peace of mind to consider, experiment, or talk about new ideas. Each person should apply that to their job as they see fit. I hear that 3M has something similar in that engineers should put aside 15% of their time to this kind of free-thinking.
For me, this tends to free up my regular weekday packed with phone calls with different groups, and sit back and think of the issues and changes to our project, or new ideas that have emerged. Others in our division use this time to experiment with new technology. C.J. and Peter on our team have even extended this to Think Friday-Build Saturday-Test Sunday, which I agree is certainly going beyond the call of duty, and very applaudable.
Now, consider Think Fridays on a different level across all IBMers. In particular, think of what people do in blogs and different community areas: discuss, digest, or produce new ideas. In fact, if youre an avid bloggers, you probably have Think-Mondays, Think-Tuesdays, etc., but in less than a full days time. Thus by blogging, as a knowledge worker, you are very likely and effectively using that free-thinking time.
So my advice to bloggers in IBM (and even beyond): Consider using a portion of your Friday to blog, because by blogging you are in effect implementing the spirit of Think Fridays.
Obviously, not all the ideas that you have are something you would want to discuss on a public blog. In that light, for IBMers we have an global intranet system called BlogCentral, which is a safe environment to discuss ideas with other IBMers. This quickly points to the necessity of having a blog system not just for an external audience but also one for a company-internal audience. Therefore, for knowledge workers within an organization, it is important to have an organization-wide blogging platform.
So for those looking for a business case for why you need a blogging system inside an organization, this is one good example. Blogs allow an expression of Think Fridays (or your organizations equivalent) which many companies think is an important aspect of encouraging, supporting and keeping happy their knowledge workers. I would generalize that to any number of other community tools, not just blogs.
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.
[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.
The gist is that current advertising model across the world (innovatedby John Wanmaker back in the 1870s) takes the approach of carpet-bombeveryone in a city with the ad, rather than what the Internet enables,pin-point targetting individuals who would be interested (rephrasingRishad Tobaccowala, chief innovation officer of Publicis, one of theworld's biggest advertising groups). It also talks about viralmarketing by word-of-mouth and attempts to measure this, as well asother possibly effective methods.
I read Jonathan Trenn's recent posts on the fallacy of community (and more on it) which seems to argue the concept of community but combine a number of different elements together: culture (mostly), governance, and structure. T
It seems we often argue about "what is community" quite frequently but the arguments are on different levels because they argue on different elements. Some arguments are on structure: Are blogs, delicious, wikis, yahoo/google answers, or discussion forums all communities even though they are structurally different? Some are on how people work in those communities and governance: only I run my blog, vs many people editing a wiki? It's not just a matter of access but rules of how people work together in those governance scenarios. The most difficult to differentiate is culture which comprises unique elements like ideology, social norms, acceptable behvaior, etc. for each instance. On a cultural level, is a blog where only one person talks but others can comment, still a community or just a following? Does it matter?
My previous post showing my list of different modesl for social experiences focuses just on the structural component. I have other models for governance (but not yet for culture). These look at the different ways social sites/experiences are structured from the owner's point of view. They can map to multiple types of social tools (e.g., a defined group can be a forum, chatroom, Q&A system, etc.) Some social tools can be used in multiple ways to map to different experience models (e.g., a wiki can be an Individual, Social network, Defined-Group or even a Community experience).
I added a social network as a separate model from the Individual expereince (since that last post). The definition here is the specific network connected directly to a single individual through bidirectional agreement (both shake hands to be friends), or by inbound agreement (people following you). For one it is certainly beyond the scope of a Personal experience. It isn't quite a group experience because each person's social network may be different. In the group models (defined group, community, mass collaboration) there isn't a definite "center of the universe" as there is in the Personal, Individual or Social network experience. There can be centers of mass around key influencers in those group models, even leaders but groups aren't necessarily only about a single individual. They can be (e.g., fans around a celebrity), but this is always the case.
Here's my table of different qualities of each model:
Who can join
Only the owner
Anyone in domain, or identified members
Identified members selected by owner
Identified members and/or Anyone in domain
Anyone in domain
Between user and site
Between the owner and any others
Between owner and specific others that connect to them
Between who members may bring to the group; tends to be exclusive
Between user and the community; tends to be inclusive
Between user and site
Loyalty to experience
Useful content in site
Benevolence or competence of owner
Strength of relationships
Strength of member relationships and output of group
Degree of affiliation with community
Useful output from active collaboration
Value to user
Value of content
Content value, the owner’s competence and benevolence
Experience, knowledge and access of network members
Benevolence of members and output of group
Cooperation of members on activities and useful output
Mass input or analysis of knowledge
Lifespan depends on
Availability of site
Each member relationship to the owner
Depends on continued perception of active participation
No limit, and independent of specific individuals
Depends on continued contribution by mass of individuals
Social output direction
Minimal output socially
Shared outward from owner
Shared to members in their network
Shared primarily between group members
Shared to community or open to domain
Open to anyone in domain
I think most of the qualities are self-explanatory. Relationship engagement focuses on the key type of relationship the social experience enables: to who or with what a visiting user becomes engaged. Loyalty here is a summary description of what causes a person to stay loyal to the experience.
I'm begining to think I need to switch places of Social Network and Individual; there's possibly a relative scale in there, although not necessarily in terms of size, but in terms of radiance from the person, or how well one knows all the members of the population in each experience. There's also an aesthetic separation of three individual-focused experiences on the left, and three group focused experiences on the right, but that's coincidental. After all more models may upset this in the future.
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
My friend John--also known as Action Figure John but that's a different story--brought by the most expensive coffee I'd never heard of until then. This coffee is so hard to produce that I doubt Starbuck's or Peet's could ever list it on their boards.
Jamaican Blue Mountain, you say? Pshaw... that's middle class stuff... :)
Around $150 or more a pound for the roasted beans, this coffee has to be shipped directly from the plantation. It is the legendary Kopi Luwak... and here's where the snickering begins.
This exotic coffee from Indonesia can only be found on plantations in Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi. Not only do they have to grow a good bean but it requires the assistance of Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, the Palm Civet (/snicker). This small mammal is common in many parts of South-East Asia and does the very important function of eating the raw red berries, digesting them, and then pooping them out! (/snicker /snicker) The enzymes from the digestive tract apparently help to break down some of the bitter proteins. The happily fed mammal then walks away to eat another day. Farmers collect the beans and give it a light roast, then vacuum pack it and ship it to coffee extremists worldwide. John ordered it from AnimalCoffee.com I believe.
I just had to try this out, even though I'm not a coffee drinker myself.
For our afternoon of watching the Tivo'd new season episode of Battlestar Galactica, John brought his pristinely packaged poo poo coffee, along with his shiny brass coffee pot and burner, which he uses to make Turkish/SE Mediterranean coffee (yes, the true gritty stuff).
John ground a handful of beans in his brand new matching brass hand-mill coffee grinder, since it gets smaller grains than an automatic mill. It takes about a good 5-10 minutes of grinding to get it that way though. Then with some fine drinking water for fewer impurities, boiled over a small alcohol stove, the coffee came out quite nicely.
He thinks we stillneed to refine how much coffee to water and how fine to grind it. Thegrit was not as fine as the Turkish coffee he usually drinks (about 2pots a day). But as you can see none of it went to waste, and people quite enjoyed it to the bottom. (/snicker)
The late great management guru, Peter Drucker, helped to innovate theidea that there is a whole economic class known as the Knowledge Workeronce said: "Nobody has really looked at productivity in white collarwork in a scientific way. But whenever we do look at it, it isgrotesquely unproductive." In other words, trying to define how tomeasure the productivity or performance of Knowledge workers (commonlycalled white collar workers), is an exercise in futility.
Davenport's bookpoints out that it is hard to create a common correlative measurementaround "knowledge workers" as a whole class. In fact, he describes thatthe typical way of dealing with knowledge workers is the HSPALTA approach: Hire smart people and leave them alone. Unfortunately, this doesn't really examine how to improve the system or help people improve themselves.
Maybe we will eventually discover some future magical formula thatmeasures this performance and how to improve it. In the past, inAgricultural societies, we had found ways to improve agriculturaloutput. Farmers from the dawn of time will tell you that "farming is anart", but the truth is that farming is also a science. Art issubjective, hard to measure, quantify and teach. Science is morestructured and actually can be taught (although not necessarily easily).During the Industrial Age, we achieved similar goals for manufacturingoutput. Now that we are in the Information Age, we are stumped, becauserather than a physical unit output, it is more of a mental qualitativeoutput, and that seems to us a very subjective element.
The good news is, as Davenport points out, there is at least one way to measurethe quality of knowledge. It's been done for centuries: the Peer Reviewprocess. It's most common in academia, whereby a group of your peersexamines your output and gives an analysis of what they think of it.It's how Masters and PhDs are still given out for the most part,worldwide.
I think that this is a good thing for us because that Peer Review process is atechnique that can be applied to unstructued knowledge on our site. Inits simplest form it is a Ratings systemwhereby anyone reading a piece of information on the site can vote 1through 5 on what they think of the article. It's entirely subjectivebut if you get a large number of ratings, it tends to average out whatpeople think of the information. This can apply to structured as wellas unstructured knowledge. This is the first level of a Ratings model.
That's a very basic notion. In fact, to be more useful, you may want tocollect all those ratings per a person's knowledge output and store itand those knowledge output items as part of their identity. Thus, youcan see what a person has contributed and produced and what peoplegenerally think of their output (their level of quality). This is amore evolved Rating system, generally referred to as a Reputation model.
Then, in turn, you could use a person's current rating as a weightingfactor to any rating they apply to others; i.e., normalize the value ofthe function of "my current rating" multipled by the rating value theyascribe. Thus when an industry luminary says you have a good idea, itweighs more towards the rating of that information, than when a novicerates it. Thus you have a weighted average of your Reputation based onwho actually rates your articles. This is a second evolution of Ratingsinto a weighted or a Ranked Reputation model.
How do you yourself become such an "industry luminary"? Essentially, alot of high-ranked people giving you good ratings implies that a lot ofknowledgable or influential people think that your output has a highlevel of quality. Thus, you would appear higher on the rankingshopefully amongst those lofty people who are the luminaries.
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.
There are a number of events on online community management, social software and communications coming up this year. I'm glad to see the topic of community management is thriving even after decades of existence. These are the live meetings in the beginning half of the year or so; I left out the online events and webinars since they are quite numerous.
As part of a personal project, I've started learning JSPs and Servlets. My first thought was to go into Rational Software Architect and start modeling out what I had in mind. Without really looking into it I went into standard class modeling. Then downloaded Tomcat to start work on the actual JSPs, and which then led me to download Eclipse 3.2--I don't know why I didn't think of checking into how I could build JSPs with RSA, but I think it was to be able to get something that the students can use. This is a project for the students but I realized later through our Academic Initiative (when you sign up), they can get a copy of RSA for student development projects anyway; (or the 30-day eval off our site)
This probably sounds like a commercial but, to make it short, the Eclipse basic tooling to create JSPs in a Dynamic Web project is pretty simplistic; enough to get you an editor and get working. The visual modeling in RSA is just so much easier to use (supplemented by the text editor for the scripts) for planning and layout. The relevant HTML tags, JSP elements, and even JSF (which I haven't used yet) is there too. Now, I just need a whole lot of practice.
It has been an interesting time at the Social Networking Conference in San Fran this week. I ran into some great folks on many fronts including mobile social networks, social software in the Air Force, in GE, in GM, and much more. I did my presentation on how to help teams decide on the base level of social context that they may be interested in.
In quick step, this is what you consider instead of picking a tool right away. It is the vocabulary that you need to define the perspective that you want your social group to see as well as the rules on how the group should interact. The five social perspective models I highlighted are the:
Personal -- only seen by you, and arguably social at the very minimum
Individual -- how a person shares information with others in a shared environment
Defined Group -- how a group of people agree to collaborate in an environment solely for their own use
Community -- an open group where many people can come and go, but collaborate over time
Mass Collaboration -- an environment where each person works for their own goals, on an aggregate level may converge on one idea or another
I also covered several social governance models, on how people agree to work together, choose leaders, and make decisions:
Centralized - a single person or a few people who make all the decisions
Delegated - assigned areas spread across a core group who make all the decisions
Republic - an elected body of people who make the decisions as proxies for the rest of the population
Starfish - a group that agrees on common principles but handles decisions on a local basis
Swarm - decision-making across a mass population based on voting to determine ideas
In any case, here's the deck. [I moved my presentation to Slideshare; or see it on my space]. It is mostly visual, but there are some speaker notes included as well. I'd be interested in hearing more thoughts on this.
I'm reading Mark Buchanan's excellent book on Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks, and came across the concepts of egalitarian and autocratic patterns in social networks. Before you jump to conclusions, let me say a few things about this book. To me it seems to focus on the mathematical origins of the theory of social networks, but takes a pleasant approach going through the history and background of how these ideas emerged. It also spans a wide range of disciplines in terms of where these patterns appear, from biology to watershed and geological studies.
First, it talks about Watts and Strogatz's truly innovative look that has eventually spread across the world as the meme: six degrees of separation. There's a lot more to it than the Kevin Bacon game, but I'd like to point out the particular elements here on egalitarian and autocratic networks. This is actually has little to do with policital systems like socialism versus monarchic or oligarchic communities. Instead if you look at it as a mathematical problem, what it describes is that there are often two varieties of patterns of connections in a system that emerge often.
The first is a basic heuristic that can be commonly seen in some biological systems like the brain: as a node (in a network system), you try to establish a fixed amount or ratio of connections to other nodes. The connections are not a random pattern, but neither is it based on a high degree of "purpose" or "intention". This proposes a very egalitarian and essentially a very simple rule to help build more complex systems as the overall network grows and evolves.
The other is the autocratic pattern, where the heuristic is to start with one node and grow from there. Essentially the key node itself starts growing in size or strength, while its immediate connections grows with it, and scaling down until you reach the end or leaf nodes which have only one connection to someone else. This easiest example is in terms of well known sites or articles on the Net that get linked from many sites, and in a very simplified description, the basis of the algorithm that Google's engine uses.
If you look at one example of each of these networks from a high level, the egalitarian network seems to be completely chaotic with no easily discernable pattern you can tell visually. On the other hand, the autocratic network looks strangely like one of those classic fractal diagrams. Yet, both serve different purposes and have different uses. You might almost say that they are the yin and yang that exist pervasively throughout the world. Okay, maybe that's too metaphysical for a Friday :)
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.
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.
The sudden charge of Apple stock over the past two days due to rumor--yes, it's definitely rumor not fact--about the coming of a iPhone Nano, so soon after the recent iPhone launch is a quick study in swarm intelligence. As the Business2 blog indicates, this is an example of rumor going wild and spreading quickly.
Swarm intelligence, if you haven't heard of it, describes how very simple behaviors can amount to "smart" decision-making through the work of a swarm of individuals. This theory started originally in the study of how swarms of insects, birds, fish and other animals seem to make intelligent decisions with relatively simple brains. For example, how a school of fish know to move rapidly away in a direction of a predator seemingly all at once, or how ants know when it is time to rebuild their nest or send our foraging parties. Each creature is programmed with a few very basic rules of how to function: e.g. if one or more of my neighbors is suddenly turning and moving rapidly in a new direction, I should be too. They count on individual actions, and the propagation of reaction through the swarm.
Swarm intelligence is a form of collective intelligence, but when it hits humans, the complexity grows because of our seemingly greater decision making abilities. Collective intelligence is part of the spark of interest in the social networking side of Web 2.0. Swarm behavior exists in humans at a basic level, but we call it by a variety of other things like herd-instinct, mob behavior, market trends, crowd movement, flow, etc. There is a lot we can learn from this in SN: how folksonomies grow and change, how decision making happens in online groups, what causes idea propagation, etc.
In the iPhone Nano case, I can see several basic elements: recent excited activity, seed idea, association with recent activity, trusted parties doing research, publishing/syndication, amplification, individual and market reaction.
recent excited activity - Apple released its iPhone, one of the biggest 1st day successes in history, to an eager world
seed idea - several Apple blogs picked up on an Apple patent for a new use of their touchwheel to dial numbers
association with recent excitement - the idea could theoretically apply to the iPhone
trusted parties - Kevin Chang, an analyst in JP Morgan (a well known and trusted investment institution) came across this information
publishing/syndication - both the blogs and JP Morgan published or posted on this, and the trusted party information got syndicated to news organizations
amplification - news organizations everywhere jumped on this
individual reaction - individual investors saw this as good news for Apple in the longer term and started buying stock
market reaction - the individuals and institutions all around eventually pushed the Apple stock to new heights
This isn't all that different than one or two herring thinking they saw a shape seemingly like a predator salmon nearby and started shooting off, and the reaction propagating through the whole school. And we call schools of fish jittery. :)
This trend is well known by successful spindoctors and public relations organizations, and there is a whole industry of job roles behind it. Again, it sounds Machiavellian and controlling, but it really is how information flows.
In terms of social networks, we need greater understanding of what actually works in an online social environment, which is a different setting and may have different behaviors than live groups of folks.
According to a recent New York Times article, Tim Berners-Lee is partnering with MIT and the Univ of Southampton (UK) to launch their Web Science Research Initiative. I don't have much more information than that but it sounds like a graduate level research space into a more modern version of social networking analysis. The key people are Berners-Lee, Wendy Hall (head of School of Electronics and CS at U of Southampton), Nigel Shadbot (prof of AI, Univ of Southampton), and Daniel Weitzner (principal research scientist at MIT).
Commenting on the new initiative, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of theWorld Wide Web and a founding director of WSRI, said, "As the webcelebrates its first decade of widespread use, we still knowsurprisingly little about how it evolved, and we have only scratchedthe surface of what could be realized with deeper scientificinvestigation into its design, operation and impact on society.
"The Web Science Research Initiative will allow researchers to take theweb seriously as an object of scientific inquiry, with the goal ofhelping to foster the web's growth and fulfill its great potential as apowerful tool for humanity."
I'm pretty sure the web is already an object of serious scientific and even commercial inquiry, but more effort is always a good thing. In comparison, our undergraduate UAMIS class seems much less conceptual. I'm sure those ideas will eventually trickle down to us too. Social network analysis is a complex enough task, and not a simple topic; i.e., it'd need a full-blown semester to teach.
It's interesting to see the evolution of reward mechanisms in MMORPGs. In multiplayer situations, it is often difficult to tell who completes a task when there are a number of steps involved. For example, in a raid on WoW against a single monster, who gets recognition for the kill when it takes 40-80 people working as a team to kill that beast? It's defined now in WoW but this same problem existed all the way back to the days of text MUDs.
In the first generation, essentially there was no thought involved in this. Whoever made the killing blow got the points for the kill. Very primitive and the cause of many an argument. The next few improvements--it came in several different ways--was to add a list on the create being attacked where it kept track of who the attackers were and distribute the points based on how many points of damage each person made on the creature, so the distribution of experience points for the kill was more even. WoW provides a newer version of this whereby each person engaged in the raid gets dollars per kill, which once the creature was dead, they could spend to buy the reward items.
However, this still raises a problem when there are items that several people want to share from the common pool of rewards. In the people-administrative way, the guild--there's usually a guild involved--makes a decision on who gets what. This is where it breaks down again: what happens when there is an item so unique that the top contendors or leaders will argue for it. As my friend Eric described, that is the death knell of many a guild.
If you think this is a situation limited to MMORPGs and games, you're mistaken. This same situation exists when you have a community that is working for a shared goal, and there is some reward that needs to be distributed across the membership. In team scenarios in corporate environment, that is not very different than negotiations for annual bonuses. The differentiating factor is that in MMORPGs as in other communities, the group of people are not part of a single formal organization with defined managers and advocates. Instead it is up to each person to argue their own case. In other words, it is even more difficult in communities.
I don't have any answer here, but it is important to recognize that the situations are similar here, and compare what methods of distribution or approaches people take.
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.
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.