Monday, March 31, 2008

more twitter

Jack has pointed to Nancy's rather good Twitter Collaboration Stories.

wikis for ray

Ray Sims made some comments on the Twitter post. This led to these two pictures which I am really not happy with. Can anyone come up with some better suggestions?

ready, fire, aiim - enterprise 2.0 report

A detailed discussion by James Dellow on the Enterprise 2.0 report from AIIM. As James notes, there are lots of graphs. The data comes from 441 responses to a web-based survey instrument and about a third of respondents were IT personnel - so at best we have indication of trends rather than anything too reliable. However given the paucity of data available - we have some material from Forrester (most of it not in the public domain) and Melcrum's report on social media & employee engagement.

So let's have a quick canter through:
  • Like James, I like the vaguely collaborative nature of Section 1: Defining Enterprise 2.0. We get Andrew McAfee, Dave Weinberger, Patti Anklam & others shooting the sugar about what E2.0 means, maaaan. The debates about the definition are more interesting than the definition itself. And I like how they have pretty much reprinted the emails.
  • Section 2 on Tech is a bit blahblahblah - nothing we haven't heard before - and I'm with James in being unconvinced by the 1.0, 1.5, 2.0 split. Figure 2 is pretty much what you'd expect with wikis at the top of the pops (2 years ago blogs would have been at number 2 instead of SNS). Figure 3 is also what you'd expect - the most E2.0 tools are generally the ones with least awareness - blogs being the honourable exception probably due to the hoohah about them since 2004. "Search" scores heavily as a E2.0 tool - but I take that to be i. an example of Google's marketing prowess & ii. a damning indictment of the last decade of attempts at enterprise search solutions. Is search E2.0? I guess it depends how it's done, baby...
  • Section 3 looks at the primary business drivers (oo-er). The message here is that E2.0 is primarily about collaboration. Which I don't have a problem with. The IT-centric nature of the survey sample can be seen in Figure 10 - "yes we all know what open source is". Based on a decade of experience, I would disagree that 53% of the respondents fully understand the term "Knowledge Management" but lets not teleport into that world of pain. Figure 12 is interesting in that E2.0 is not seen as well suited to individuals. This is probably because we think of E2.0 as "social" or "collaborative" and completely opposed to individualistic applications. But in fact, E2.0 stuff offers individuals a powerful set of tools for Personal Knowledge Management (PKM). And if they are to succeed, they have to appeal to individuals first AND THEN groups. Work is done by individuals within groups NOT by groups themselves.
  • Figure 22 in Section 4 makes a nice complement to Figures 2 & 3. I am intrigued that mashups rank so highly - again this may be due to the IT-centric survey sample. It's like to see those figures split out by the role demographic of respondents (IT vs. everyone else). Figure 28 says that USERS are driving all this. Figure 30 indicates that most uses of E2.0 tools are tactical and Figure 34 will get consultants rubbing their hands in glee while Figure 36 will get them quiet again.
  • Section 5 on generational & cultural attitudes is way too prominent but might allow a more nuanced discussion of the "Gen Y love it / Boomers hate it" non-debate. We don't know much about the KM-inclined group except that they are, well, "KM-inclined". Which makes them love E2.0 more.
  • Section 6 should be the important one. It's the one with the conclusions. It says a lot of very sensible things about culture and continuums of engagement/collaboration vs. protectionism/control. But it could say a whole lot more. Let's hope that over the coming weeks, both authors will.

And finally, why is this report only available as a single, clunky, dowdy PDF? How Enterprise 2.0 is that?

the long tale - for anecdote

It was a tricky assignment. Damn tricky. Anecdote came back to me regarding the offer. And asked for a poem. About all of them.

The research behind this was kinda cool. I asked all the Anecdoters to keep experience diaries for a week - what they felt, what they saw & heard & smelt & tasted & touched, adding photos where appropriate. All that info is in here somewhere. Although in hindsight I'd probably have run the diaries for a month rather than just a week if possible. People need some time to loosen up.

The Long Tale

Once upon a time,
a long way away,
there were five stories.
It has been said that
there are only seven plots
in our word world
but all I know is that
there were these five stories.

Each story started off as a whisper,
a rumour then a rumour of a rumor.
As each story was told and retold,
it grew and grew and grew.

There are boy stories and girl stories,
grown up stories and baby stories
(and just to be clear on this:
a boy story is not the same
as a story about boys).

Boy stories are loud and blue.
Their ends are loose and untied.
Events happen with little thought.
a blur of testosterone and muddy knees.

Girl stories are more considered,
in the pink not necessarily rose-tinted.
Their details finer, their voices are softer.
They need light and air as much as boys.

Old stories are wrinkled
with layers of circumstance.
They have been passed from mouth to ear to mouth.
Some say that the old stories are the best.

Baby stories are never fully formed.
They sit in bits and grow in fits.
Their meaning hardens with the calcium of time
and you can never tell how they will turn out.

Once upon a time,
there were five stories
and although they have started,
they aren't finished yet.

Download the mp3

Sunday, March 30, 2008

sociability & design (2): heuristics

Last year I posted on research carried out by Motorola in "sharing practices" and the augmentation of Usability Design by Sociability Design. I have revisited Jakob Nielsen's 10 Usability Heuristics through the social software lens. Some general changes are the replacement of "system" by "relationship", "user" by "participant" and "interaction" by "exchange". Click on the table to enlarge.

the presence paradox - lite communication tools

Lite communications tools such as Twitter & Instant Messaging & SMS txting offer the promise of ambient intimacy or the less confronting option of ambient presence. Little slivers of meaning 'n' grooming flick(er)ing between people.

Leisa Reichelt's ambient intimacy post positions these lite tools as mostly "phatic". I am not convinced that we are very good at correctly recognising "phatic" vs. "semantic" acts of speech. Most of our corporate communications (emails from the CEO, townhall meetings, intranet pages) position themselves as meaningful but are frequently meaningless. Instead they convey another set of messages around status, order & control. They are, in fact, almost purely phatic.

The further you move away from the tools supposedly concerned with meaning into the tools associated with grooming, the more actual meaning you will find. The corporate communications department rarely thinks of IM as a comms channel (thankfully). Let's hope they don't find out.

depth perception

When I was doing The Phoric with Rob & Johnnie, it struck me that things are not always as they seem with human behaviour. The example in the podcast was was about meetings. Many meetings I have been in have had an agenda. Then at the end of the agenda there is AOB - "Any Other Business". Now we tell each other that the real content of the meeting is in the body of the agenda. That is the semantic, meaningful part of the event. Then in the AOB section, there is general chit-chat and socialising and what-not, pretty much all phatic stuff.

This is fine in theory but in practice it works out differently. The agenda consists of worthy but dull topics - Why is the fridge out of yoghurt? Who will take the minutes of the next meeting? Then in the AOB section, all the really important stuff gets asked - What is the new CFO like? What will be the outcome of the restructure? The agenda items are not unimportant (i.e. not completely phatic) but they serve a crucial non-semantic, social function. With unfamiliar people, we observe how they respond and behave during the structured items - Are they responsive, aggressive, loud, knowledgeable, ignorant? Then when we get to the AOB, we have some insight that allows us to manage our interactions with them.

In short, the stuff that often appears to be concrete is actually social and the stuff that often appears to be social is actually concrete.

innovative household - masters of our domayne*?

Just before Easter, I crashed was kindly invited to the Innovative Household launch. You can download the whole magazine here. I haven't had time to dig into my copy in detail but it looks pretty browsable. I arrived a bit late (& frazzled) so I only caught Graeme Philipson & Immo Buschmann (you can download their presentations from the launch page).

Now free is good but the whole event seemed a bit of mishmash. We were surrounded by the domestica of Domayne. We had a few Audi cars parked here and there. We had some research on consumer attitudes to networked appliances. We heard (or rather we barely heard due to iffy sound) how innovative Audi were.

Ralph & Ian & Annalie were there so there were some good things - and Graeme was quite droll - but there was something missing. It didn't seem very, well, innovative. Just as knowledge management practitioners can be terrible at sharing knowledge, are those trumpeting innovation liable to clothe a potentially radical message in retro duds? Anyway, Grant Crossley is doing some interesting stuff so I am looking forward to future events (assuming I get invited to any).

*Yes, that is a Seinfeld reference.


I know that Twitter is old hat to you ker-azy Web 2.0 kidz but I've gradually been getting into it in the last couple of weeks. There is an ACT-KM thread going on about applications of Twitter to the enterprise at the moment. My thinking can be summed up in the following 2 slides:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

enterprise collaborative bookmarking

Here are the fruits of my recent research on Collaborative Bookmarking inside the Enterprise:

Follow this link if slideshare is knackered (you can download the presentation if you want).

Feel free to comment on this - it's a first version: I am still waiting on Connectbeam & IBM to get back to me with some more case studies. And if you know of any others then drop me a line please.

why don't people get it?

Along with 275 of my closest friends in the world*, I will be contributing to Drew's & Gav's sequel to The Age Of Conversation - Why Don't People get It?

All 275 contributors are selecting a section of the book to contribute to even as we speak. I want to contribute to the section on... oh - that would be telling.

*That is a lie - and not the last one I will tell relating to this project.

are you interesting?

So we have the second coming of Interesting South to Sydney. Get your red hot speaker application form here. It will be double the fun, double the danger, double the excitement.

Do it! Do it now!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

be kind rewind - the analogue acolyte messages the digital

Saw Be Kind Rewind last night. It's sweet and just right side of corny. Director Michel Gondry was one of the stars of last week's Phoric session. MG is an analogue obsessive in a digital world. The star of BKR is magnetic videotape rather than the ubiquitous DVD but despite this it's really all about the digital world of user generated content found in YouTube, Flickr, etc.


If you want to understand the real nature of human creativity at play on the interweb then watch this movie:
  • It's not about the coolest technology [Mike & Jerry use video fercrissakes].
  • It is about involving people [Mike & Jerry invite the renters to star in the videos].
  • Copyright enforcement can be just plain nasty [the steamroller, people].
  • Creativity is driven by necessity [Mike & Jerry don't dream this up just because they think that it's cool - they frickin' have to stop the shop being knocked down].
  • Creativity begins with plagarism [The Fats Waller movie comes after they have learnt their craft through rip-offs].
  • Great stories have their own truth & power [Fats Waller did not come from Passaic].

Most of all MG finds the creative, the magical, the alchemical in everyday life and its detritus.

Can you?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

urban fragments - for kim (1)

Kim offered me 3 photographs of urban fragments. I gave her 3 fragments back. Here is her post about the first.

listen carefully through your lens
the city’s concrete parapraxes
its slips of a rusty tongue
its sly evasions when put to the question

you can’t get a straight answer out of the city
you read its map statement again
combing over the misremembered debris
until you find a path through the rubble

a lead in the case
some lead from the windows
are you hungry?
in need of entertainment?

then follow the corroded path
up through the air vents
past the fire escape and insulation
into the tainted daylight

the city won’t budge

The other 2 fragments can be found here and here.
Their audio kin are here, here & here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

information architects

I was in Woolloomooloo last night with a bunch of Information Architects (after the Innovative Household thingo which I will talk about shortly). Eric Scheid was there running things, as was Greg Dwyer. Steve Baty claims to have worked on 1500 web projects over the last 10 years - which equates to approximately one every 2.5 days - so expect him to get a couple in over Easter. Lindsay Evans & Dean Hargreaves put up with some ranting and responded with some offerings of their own.

Dean's PhD around collaborative development reminded me of the PLM/CPC stuff from my days as a Supply Chain Knowledge Manager at PwC but that's another story...

touch podcast

Johnnie, Patrick & Mark join forces for a podcast on touch. Lovely stuff - esp. the Dad's Army references.

Monday, March 17, 2008

phoric 6: alchemy

Rob & Johnnie let me do a phoric session with them. Watch the videos and listen to the podcast here. It was great fun. Among other things, we talk about:
  • Improv and making offers
  • Risk
  • Alchemy
  • Skinny white English guys
  • Iceland magicians
  • Viral simplicity
  • Phatic contradictions
I was a bit worried that I wouldn't have anything to say but that didn't prove to be the case in the end. Thanks again to Rob & Johnnie for letting me me join them...

Friday, March 14, 2008


I have decided to go to the United States of America in May. I plan to be in Washington for this and this and then it's fair game. So far, I plan to see Nancy in Seattle, Vincent & Bruce in San Fran, Jenny & Rashid in NYC, Stan in Michigan, Jack in either Chicago or Boston.

Do you want to meet? Is there someone else you think I should meet? Or attend? Or just gawk at?

Detours into Mexico & Canada cannot be ruled out at this stage.

N.B. EwF believes absolutely in whim and kismet.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

australian km? deceptive pragmatism

I was shooting the breeze having a very serious business meeting with Laurie Lock Lee yesterday and I was reminded of this post I wrote a few years back. Laurie has been applying some VNA stuff to a specific set of business issues in a neat way. In many ways it reminds me of Shawn's approach to the Cynefin / Cognitive Edge stuff.
  • There is distinctly pragmatic approach to both Laurie & Shawn's work.
  • This may mean simplifying the source material and adapting it to local needs.
  • There is a willingness to mix approaches from different sources where appropriate.

In many ways with chimes with Thomas Barlow's book on the history of innovation in Australia. As a nation, we are great at taking other people's stuff and making it work. You want a 2020 vision, then go for this. The Chinese are brilliant at ripping off other nation's brands (and creating their own unique forms of innovation in the process). We need to return to our past as the China of Ideas & Tools.

I doubt Australian KM will ever produce someone with the mercurial brilliance of a Dave Snowden or the visionary fervour of a Verna Allee. We are more likely to produce writer/practitioners with the clarity of Tom Davenport or the considered erudition of a Larry Prusak (although arguably Singapore has got that last one already).

N.B. I have probably offended everyone mentioned in this post but I'm writing this with a huge amount of respect & gratitude to all concerned. And if you don't like what I've said about you, well, tough.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

information architecture in the public sector conference

The 3rd Annual Information Architecture in the Public Sector Conference 2008 will be held on 23 & 24 June in Canberra and then I will be running a workshop on the Friday afternoon on "Architecting Anarchy".

Beg the money from your employer or steal it from an old lady or sell crack or something. Just come.

bar camp sydney - april 5/6

Bar Camp Sydney will be on the weekend of April 5 & 6. Assuming I am not struck down by the flu again, EwF will be there in full on rant-machine mode. I'm probably going to be road-testing some of the stuff discussed here. There will be activities. And scones. And did I mention the ranting?

In the meantime I will be "persuading" Chris Khalil to present something on his application of value networks to social software inside the enterprise. Come on Chris, don't make me reach for the vodka again...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

enlightened self-interest

Check out this presentation from the RIAA if you get the opportunity. Definitely worth a go.


The city is blind but it will not slow down.

I lived in London for 4 years. It seems like a lifetime ago and I don't regret leaving. Lauren's experience is more immediate. She has her own triggers associated with that environment. But I see this and I remember what I loved about London.

London is an accelerator. Its immigrant communities from all over the world provide the raw energy. The bad weather and overcrowding intensify this until some form of fusion occurs (both in the senses of the productive and the devastating). I didn't grow there so I too was a blow-in. An extra. Part of the mutation.

More than any other modern city, London has a soundscape. You hear the city before you see it.

The city is blind but that just sharpens its sense of sound. It detects you as you move through it. An audioghost. A sonic hallucination.

Maybe I only existed when it deluded me into existence as a lost voice.

life as musical

Nancy White asks the question: Is a fully lived life a musical? Probably, but without me doing any singing. I make occasional references to music on this blog (which probably baffle 90% of my readers as the references are very specific and localised). If I can work it out with Johnnie and Rob, there may be an episode of The Phoric about this.

If there is one area of the world where I am part of the dominant elite, it is language. I can do stuff. With words. Like. And yet I crave experiences that exceed and overwhelm the resources of language. Physical stuff like hanging from a trapeze. Or listening to music. Music hotwires our emotional machinery, joyrides around our dreams. As an atheist (tho brung up a believer, baby), it is my last connection to the divine.

Many musicians talk about music as salvation. I don't want to be saved for eternity - I just want to be here and not here in the now. And music grants that paradoxical wish. Thank you.

draw me a picture

I'm at the CSTC breakfast kindly put together by Ralph Kerle and AMP's Catalyst for Magic (who does not blog but should). The posed and lovely Linda Naiman is in town. About half-way in, there's a lot of talking go on and my minute attention span is attenuating so I ask her to draw what she does. She bats it back to me and gets two us to do a drawing conversation exercise with her guiding us. I am a terrible drawer but I really enjoyed it. Especially the comet.

Check out Linda's site, there's heaps of good stuff there.

even less touching

A while ago, Patrick wrote about touching. Being an anglo-saxon heterosexual male (I am a member of the dominant elite, go me), who you can touch is pretty circumscribed. You can't touch other men without being a "poofta". You can't touch a woman you are not involved with as that could be misinterpreted. In our culture (tho not others), touching is too tightly related to sex. And yet touch is about so much more than sex. Years ago, I was on a beach on a tiny island in Indonesia. And this old guy with huge hands is giving massages on the beach. And so I have a massage. And it's all innocuous. And I've been travelling for ages and I haven't been touched in months. And it's too much. I have to ask him to stop because I'm in tears.

A couple things happened tonight that triggered that reflection. The bad: a woman cracking a homo gag when I'm working with another guy in circus classes. The good: a Melbourne and a Brisbane poet (both male) having a hug and then bagging Sydney poets for keeping their (physical) distance.

I am one of the dominant elite. Fear me.

But don't come too close or else I might cry.

Monday, March 03, 2008

blogging and you don't know it

I was talking to a couple of people about RSS and blogs today and suddenly we all realised that if you RSS enable different parts of your site, even if you don't have a site blog, the material will still appear blog-like in an RSS feedreader.

And then later on, Russ Weakley came into discuss the planned changes to the Australian Museum website - which involve tagging (both author & user generated) and reader comments.

Mix the two together (RSS + Tags + User Generated Content coupled with Organisational Content) and blogs disappear - instead everything is a blog (but not as we know it, Jim).

One possible future is that the majority of websites become hyperblogs such as this and the majority of intranets become next-gen wikis.

Go figure.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

meauring organisational health

The following was in answer to a question posted to the AFN email list. Several people liked it so I thought I share it more widely.

"I'm a bit obsessed with measurement at the moment so here's my 2 cents. Depending on what you mean by "health & wellness" (physical, mental, emotional, social), you have a whole range of options.

They probably fall into four buckets:
- Existing operational HR data (as noted by Belinda) - staff retention, sick days,
- Direct surveys aimed at aggregating individual experiences (as noted by Belinda, Hans & Cory) such as staff satisfaction & the human synergistics stuff.
- Direct surveys aimed mapping connections between individuals (social network analysis) - see here for an example:
- Indirect surveys using narrative (as noted by Mary Alice). These can either be done using F2F workshops or online software. This can yield both qualitative & quantitative insights.

A fifth area might be some kind of ethnographic research (i.e. getting stuck in there and having a look around) - but this yields qualitative rather than quantitative insights.

You probably want some combination of the above depending on the organisation's:
- Budget
- Culture
- Previous experiences with these approaches."

teens & the elderly getting fresh: innovation & social software

In the late 90s, the joke in KM circles was that KM in business was like teenage sex - lots of people talking about doing it, far fewer people actually doing it. The use of social software inside the firewall (or Enterprise 2.0) is probably the reverse - lots of it going on but very few people willing to talk about it in public - like sex among the elderly in fact.

Which brings me to the topic of innovation. I rocked up to the Innofuture Sydney gig on Thursday. There was a panel featuring people from here, here, here and here. There were some interesting comments from the panel and people on the floor but it felt like a bit of a talkfest (I contributed to this talkfest by getting in a few rants from the floor where I could). There was some debate over "what is innovation?" which I find tediously like the question "what is knowledge?"

On the one hand, they are both very, very important questions. On the other, the answers that are provided are often trite at best or opaque at worst*. Where and when they are asked is of critical importance. Knowledge and innovation are such diverse entities the local context of discussion really defines the answer that will help you. Hence the discussion needs the be anchored in the concrete and those participating in the conversation need a sufficient common context for the discussion to be meaningful.

*Please do not mention Popper's 3 worlds. They do not help. Really. They don't.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

edge of life

Cairo Walker hits us with another painting.

Like CW, I have a fascination with viruses* and pathogens in general. I studied a bit of pathology at Uni. When I lived in Calcutta, I became painfully aware that we not only live in ecologies but that our bodies themselves are ecologies (bacterial dysentery will do that to you). The human body contains 10 times as many bacterial prokaryotic cells as human eukaryotic cells.

Viruses are reproductive machines that don't have the full equipment to reproduce without hijacking other organisms. They swarm through the environment. They mutate, recreate themselves in a constant state of becoming. The AIDS virus has killed (and changed the lives of) people close to me. But on one level it is beautiful. Don't you think? A little strand of nucleic acid surrounded by proteins. Not that dissimilar to us.

*I think the term "viral" is hideously misused but that's a rant for another time.

kiva poetry auction update

Remember this? So far we have 2 bids:

  • Andrew Mitchell weighed in with AU$100.
  • Lesser Kudu upped the ante to $150 for "hope". Not bad for someone with hooves (do they cause problems with the keyboard LK?) and funky stripes.

Come on - you can band together to get the cash remember? For the cost of a good meal for 4 people, those same 4 people can:

  • Contribute to the well-being of many human beings.
  • Influence the behaviour of one specific human being (for better or humorous).

What could be better? Post your bid now.