Stop with the Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’: Customers aren’t Targets for Social Media

October 1, 2008

Keeping up with social media is a real challenge these days. However, one theme seems constant whenever you read blogs about social media, especially among marketers and so-called optimizers who target, target, target to drive, drive, drive customers to their client’s social media asset, i.e. video, blog, community, etc. You would think advocates of social media are Rowdy, Gil, Jed, or one of the other actors on Rawhide.

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E-Learning 2.0 and Employee Access to Social Network Sites

September 26, 2008

Peter Kim offers an interesting observation on the way social networking relates to the qualities of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon and the insight offered by Michel Foucault that Bentham’s design served as an exemplar for organizational discipline in the industrial age. Peter notes that Bentham’s design made prisoners uncertain whether the prison guards were watching their behavior at any particular moment. He also points out that the design of modern cube farms in offices not only foster collaboration but also afford observation by managers and peers.

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Social Software, Community, and Organization: Where Practice Meets Process

September 18, 2008

Ross Mayfield of SocialText recently pointed to a longstanding issue involving the relationship of organizational practices and organizational processes. He offered a discussion of distributed collaboration and community, specifically on the question of which organizational stakeholder is the most effective leader of community (internal and external) initiatives. Ross suggests that even though we may see the emergence of a Chief Community Officer to align and coordinate internal and external communities, communities are more likely to arise around organizational processes as 360 degree process communities.

In my view, approaching distributed collaboration from the standpoint of community alone, especially communities internal to the enterprise, is overly restrictive. Collective understanding and collaborative understanding, as Thomas Vander Wahl makes clear, are different parts of what he refers to as the social sofware stack. Without getting overly picky, let me agree with Ross’ point that the development of internal communities in enterprises will most likely occur around the way process owners manage routine work and its exceptions. Nevertheless, the distinction Ross makes, following Mike Gotta, about the difference between processes (how work is supposed to get done) and practices (how work actually gets done) really indicates a need to keep in focus the range of connections and interactions that social software enables.

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Closing the Engagement Gap and Customer Experience

August 29, 2008

A few weeks ago, we drew from the 2008 Tribalization of Business Study, sponsored by Beeline Labs, Deloitte, and the Society for New Communications Research, to discuss the gap between the importance many enterprises attribute to the development of communities and the accompanying investment in that engagement strategy, whether focused on internal stakeholders, or externally on customers.

We noted that the findings of the Tribalization study point to a Community Gap. Yet, drawing from Rachel Happe, we also pointed out the differences between the conversations characterizing social media and the conversations of a community. The distinction is important to keep in mind when considering an overall strategy for connecting with and engaging people online, whether they are employees, suppliers, or customers. After reading two recent research efforts, one from Fleishman-Hillard and the other from Forrester Research, it is clear that the Community Gap is one manifestation of a larger gap, the Engagement Gap.
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Social Media Networking with Customers Explained

August 16, 2008

Lee Lefever’s CommonCraft website offers a succinct take on how social media help businesses network with customers. If you haven’t seen his paperworks video technique for explanation I recommend viewing the video below. We’ve used Lefever’s work before to explain twitter and its relevance to collaboration.

Visit Lefever’s website and take some time to review the work. It is a unique approach to visual explanation.

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Call them Visual Tags (v-Tags), not 2D Barcodes

August 13, 2008

A vTag for Skilful Minds generated with Google Chart API

For those who think discussions of semantic value and meaning are pointless, with no relationship to technology adoption, you may want to skip this post. 

We first discussed visual tags in 2006. Many people today refer to them as 2d barcodes. However, a crucial difference exists between what things are like and what they in fact are. Calling visual tags (v-Tags) 2d barcodes is like calling YouTube a video database, Flickr a photo database, or Del.icio.us a favorites list.  Literally, the description is accurate. Functionally, it is meaningless. Read the rest of this entry »


Is a Social Network on Your Foot?

August 7, 2008

The social networking capabilities of Web 2.0 technologies provide numerous opportunities for product and service providers to engage customers. Two interesting examples of companies reaching out to engage their customers come from the footwear industry, specifically Nike and adidas. Some of you may already know about these two examples. However, the difference in social networking strategy between the two is worth thinking about.
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Mobile Learning and Visual Tags

August 4, 2008
eLearning Guild QR Visual Tag

eLearning Guild QR Visual Tag

We first discussed visual tags a couple of years ago as Web 2.0 technology initially emerged in mobile devices such as cell phones. Referring to two visual tagging techniques available at the time, we noted:

Shotcode and Semacode make mobile information seeking over the web work like scanning a bar code to determine the price of an item. They make offline media interactive. It is pure pull, unless you consider the offline advertising “pushy”. The metadata necessary for accessing relevant information is largely in the context, the embodied situation of the user.

Take a look at the following video for an overview of how visual tagging works, in this example it is for advertising services.

So, how does this relate to mobile learning, or m-Learning as the eLearning Guild refers to the practice? Read the rest of this entry »


The Community Gap

July 27, 2008

Rachel Happe, over at The Social Organization, recently posted an entry titled Social Media is not Community, outlining the broad differences between what distinguishes community from the conversations characterizing social media. Rachel’s general point is that even though social media can support community development, several key traits of communities make them distinct.

They are continuous, not temporal – this is not to say that people don’t drop in and out but there is a core membership that interacts together over a long period of time.

Communities gather around a concept or common goal not around a collection of content (although content does plays a major role, it is not the impetus for the community).

Communities take on various conversations and activities, led by different members over time – it is not one conversation but many.

People within communities get to know each other and interact regularly without centralized facilitation and not necessarily in the context of what the community is discussing as a whole.

Community leaders emerge over time as they continue to take proactive roles in the community and rally other members to their causes. These leaders are community members and they self-select because of their interests – not because they are told to do so…although they can be encouraged to do so.

Rachel adds that enterprises can take advantage of two opportunities relative to social media and community. The enterprise can use social media to start conversations among their stakeholders around content, initiatives, and goals. Or, enterprises can develop communities and sustain them over time in order to impact business processes. She believes enterprises don’t yet understand what is entailed in developing communities.

The points offered in Rachel’s post are provided empirical support in the recent 2008 Tribalization of Business Studysponsored by Beeline Labs, Deloitte and the Society for New Communications Research. Read the rest of this entry »


futuremelbourne: Wikis in City Planning

July 16, 2008

Howard Rheingold provides an interesting video podcast of an interview with Mark Elliott regarding the use of wikis in city planning, particularly in Melbourne. The Melbourne wiki uses the tagline, “the city plan that anyone can edit.” Mark indicates there were 500 registered users and 7,000 visitors to futuremelbourne.

I’m not convinced by Mark’s concept of stigmergy, analogizing patterns of insect behavior — specifically ants — to the activity of participants in a wiki. However, his overall point about the benefits of using wikis for collaboration between public officials and the community in civic projects, such as the New Zealand police act wiki, is persuasive.

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Flowgrams: A New Way to Screencast

July 8, 2008

Screencasts are effective ways to share ideas, images, concepts, experiences, and a range of information for a variety of purposes including eLearning, collaborative problem solving, or just fun. I just ran across a new technique for doing screencasts called a Flowgram.  Eric Schonfeld over at TechCrunch describes it as,

…a full-screen player with what appears to be a screencast with a voiceover. Except that you can control the pages by scrolling up and down, watching any videos that might be on the page, or clicking on the live links (which takes you out of the Flowgram to that Website, but if you hit the back button it picks up where it left off). You can also add comments and share the Flowgram via a widget…It’s an interactive screencast, a way to synthesize the Web by pulling different pieces together The voiceover acts as the glue. It can be used for slide shows, travel guides, tutorials, sales pitches, or just to explain something to a friend.

I’ve signed up for the private beta access program so I can build a few Flowgrams of my own to get a better sense of how this tool compares to applications like Captivate or Camtasia. After briefly interacting with several of the Flowgrams available it looks quite promising. I like the ability to scroll pages as well as play videos embedded in pages presented in the Flowgram. I’m not sure why the developers decided to navigate out of the Flowgram when you click on a link that takes you to a page outside the Flowgram, rather than opening a window to view it, but when you click the back arrow the flow of the Flowgram seems to pick back up where you left it. Take a look at Flowgram for an overview.

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Who’s on Your Team? Enterprise 2.0 and Team Boundaries

July 7, 2008

Do you know who is on your team? It seems like an easy question for people who work in large corporations to answer. Reviewing Socialtext People recently led me to remember an interesting study I read a few years ago that reported rather surprising findings with significance for Enterprise 2.0, and to the lead-in question above. The study, largely ignored in the social networking literature, pointed to a clear limitation to collaboration in national and global corporations that organize teams geographically distributed.

Mark Mortensen and Pamela Hinds published a chapter titled, “Fuzzy Teams: Disagreement in Distributed and Collocated Teams”, in an edited collection called Distributed Work  way back in 2002. The book itself contains an interesting range of studies on the challenges involved in organizing work across members of geographically distributed teams. However, it seems to me that Fuzzy Teams offers a key insight into the way Enterprise 2.0 applications, especially wikis, help to meet challenges in organizing distributed work that are often overlooked. Read the rest of this entry »


Demographics, Innovation, and Enterprise 2.0

June 30, 2008

As a member of the boomer generation, a recent post by Stewart Mader on the use of Enterprise 2.0 at Wachovia  caught my attention because it relates to a range of ongoing discussions on the relationship of age and innovative uses of technology in supporting collaboration.

Stewart points approvingly to a recent InformationWeek article on Wachovia’s use of wikis, blogs, and social networking to develop mutual mentoring between younger workers and senior staffers. Wachovia is assigning younger staffers to mentor senior staffers about the benefits of using collaborative networks. However, Stewart goes on to qualify the point of such mentoring with the following insight:

We often talk about how the millennial generation has an advanced grasp of these social and collaborative tools, but just half of the story in my opinion. I see enterprise 2.0 tools not as the exclusive domain of youth, but as a better connector for multiple generations, so that wisdom, tacit knowledge, and business know-how from the experienced can be shared with younger workers.

The point is bolstered by recent research, though with a couple of crucial caveats. Read the rest of this entry »


Visual Wikis: Forbes’ Corporate Org Chart Wiki

June 28, 2008

Wikis are largely about creating, organizing, and sharing knowledge. Most people think of textual and static graphic information created, organized, and maintained by groups of people when they consider what makes up a wiki. The integration of visualization tools is one of the more interesting developments in wikis recently though. As an example, the Thinkbase tool provides an ability to visually navigate and explore Freebase, an open, shared database of the world’s knowledge. The Thinkbase Blog is a good resource for learning about Thinkbase.

In fact, John Hosking recently provided an overview of how to use visual wikis. Read the rest of this entry »


Collective Tags, Collaborative Tags, the Long Tail, and Enterprise 2.0

April 30, 2008

Thomas Vander Wal recently offered an interesting discussion of how collective understanding and collaborative understanding differ, and why those differences are significant to social software, specifically in relation to folksonomy. Thomas’ concern is that many observers, and he points to the Wikipedia entry for folksonomy specifically, conflate collective understanding and collaborative understanding when considering folksonomy. He notes that, even though the two terms are similar, their differences manifest as distinct capabilities in social software.

…the term folksonomy was coined to separate tagging done in a collective manner (each individual’s contribution is held separate and collected or aggregated to build a fuller understanding, as the tagging is done by and from the individual reading the media for their own retrieval and is also share out with others). Collaborative tagging does take place and there is a need for it in certain situations, but it is not folksonomy.

First, Thomas makes a key point that remains unspoken when many people write about social software. Read the rest of this entry »


Onboarding, Social Capital, and Wikis

April 16, 2008

All organizations face a similar challenge when new employees come onboard. The new employee needs to learn the ins and outs of the organization. HR typically provides them an orientation packet and a point of contact for information. Their team, or department, management gives them an overview of their job and, if they are lucky, walks them around to introduce them to their co-workers and provides any virtual introductions, i.e. email announcements, needed to other members of the organization. However, providing new employees with access to the information needed to understand how to do their work is always a daunting challenge. Referring them to policies and procedures, whether manuals or online, remains the most common first step. Sometimes the new employee even receives on-the-job-training for a few days.

Making the first few days of a new employee’s orientation smoother and making the curve of their time to performance steeper are challenges requiring ongoing innovation in the management of human capital, but also social capital. Read the rest of this entry »


Collaborating with Twitter: More than social networking?

March 30, 2008

I’ve started using Twitter lately. Not because I just learned about it. I’ve known about it for some time, but didn’t need the added social networking juice it provides. For those of you who don’t know about Twitter though, you can see a good overview in Lee Lefever’s “Twitter in Plain English” (Thanks to SoulSoup2.0 for pointing out the video.)

Nancy White’s Twitter Collaboration Stories blog offers a range of possibilities for Twitter collaboration. However, the development of WordPress’s Prologue makes it increasingly possible that corporate enterprises can implement twitterlike collaboration behind the firewall. The implications for project management and performance improvement through dynamic eLearning are very promising.

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Cell Phones, Semacodes, and Impulse Buying

September 26, 2007

Back in January 2006, in a discussion of Peter Morville’s Findability, we noted two innovative approaches to using the built-in digital cameras of mobile devices, like cell phones, to input URLs for locating web sites to retrieve information using offline visual tags. Specifically, we noted,

Shotcode and Semacode make mobile information seeking over the web work like scanning a bar code to determine the price of an item. They make offline media interactive. It is pure pull, unless you consider the offline advertising “pushy”. The metadata necessary for accessing relevant information is largely in the context, the embodied situation of the user. Consider the experience of walking down the sidewalk past a bus stop with large sign displays for a musical artist. You see the artist, you read the title to their new CD, pull out your mobile phone, and take a picture of a symbol on the sign to call up a rich media advertisement, or informational message, on the artist.

H&M has recently taken the technique to the next step in Europe. Impulse shoppers can use their cell phone to snap a picuture of a semocode associated with a product, pull up a catalogue and make the purchase by charging the item to their cell phone bill. The semacodes are used on posters and in magazine advertisements so the buyer does not need to provide information to the seller, in this case H&M.

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A function, a seam, or a point of control?

January 9, 2007

I know, I know, you are probably saying “Can’t he talk about anything but seamful and seamless design?” Well, I’ll get off that topic soon. Yet, in the meantime, here are a couple of examples of how a seamless interface to the user of a device is a seam for control by someone else. One basic point of those arguing for seamful design is that the user of the device, rather than the developer, is the agent whose control over the device needs maximizing by designers. Those who contend the goal of a seamless interface is a well-intentioned effort to relieve those using ubiquitous mobile devices from information overload often fail to mention up front that all connected devices provide seams of control. You might say that proponents of seamful design are the Libertarians of experience design, contending that control over the agency of any device belongs with the person who uses it, especially if they own it. Read the rest of this entry »


Everyware, Findability, and AI (Part 2)

January 3, 2007

Part 1 promised that Part 2 would discuss Greenfield’s Everyware. However, before we get to that discussion, a few considerations on Moreville’s Ambient Findability are needed. The discussion of Moreville’s book will make clear the contributions offered in Everyware.

Greenfield and Moreville express skepticism about the ability of artificial intelligence to solve basic problems related to ambient findability and Everyware, what Greenfield terms ambient informatics. As more and more ordinary devices are available for people to engage as they go about routine activities, the sheer challenge of finding the right device among those available to support an activity promises to develop into a significant hurdle. Both authors recognize the challenge. Yet, Greenfield and Moreville both fail to discuss straightforwardly the challenges faced by attempts to manage relationships between connected devices. Read the rest of this entry »