Sunday, June 29, 2008

running odiogio

Check out my talking blog feed from odiogo below. The Blogger widget doesn't want to install for some reason however...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

podcast - tim noonan on accessibility

Yesterday I had the pleasure of discussing accessibility, technology and the future with Tim Noonan (more on him here and here). The result is an intriguing podcast.

Download the mp3.

Show Notes:
00:00 - Tim tells us about his first experiences with technology via a braille machine.
02:20 - Tim reduces the fear factor for people.
03:40 - The Christmas Card and the liberating privacy of email.
06:00 - The double-edged sword of technology.
06:50 - The visual nature of current technology.
08:40 - The return of audio via podcasts & mobile devices.
11:20 - Technology should be transparent & smart - the barriers must be removed!
14:00 - Accessibility: It's not about desexying stuff.
16:30 - How do we make technology more inclusive to more people? Universal design.
19:00 - Separating the information from the presentation.
19:40 - Elevators, ramps, wheelchairs, strollers. Accessibility benefits everyone!
22:10 - Twitter as an example of accessible design.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

phone spam

I have recently been the victim of Premium SMS Spam. It works this way, you enter a survey or competition (such as one run by these parasites) and in the fine print it mentions they'll start sending you premium SMSes that cost you $2 a pop. These are a significant problem in many countries a brief Google search will tell you.

Now I don't blame the SMS spammers. They are just doing what greedy people do the world over. It's the phone carriers who are driving me up the wall. The attitude of my carrier (Vodafone) is: Your problem. They are quite happy to bill me for this junk but they are unwilling to do anything about it. I was told by their customer service people that they cannot stop premium SMS being sent to my phone. Apparently that is not true - but if they stop premium SMS I also lose access to international numbers. As my family live in the UK, this is unacceptable.

I believe the other carriers aren't much better. They can create a zillion different (& confusing) billing plans but they can't (or won't) block Premium SMS. Cheers guys. Love your work.
  1. I will happily give my business to an operator that will block premium SMS and also offer a comparable level of service at a comparable cost to the others. This is a deal breaker for me - do you understand? Can anyone suggest such an operator in Australia?
  2. Given the proliferation of mobile devices & data services, we can expect more & more crap to hit us. Carriers seem to view this nightmare for consumers as a non-issue for them - in fact consumer frustration may be a moneymaker.
There is a business opportunity here for those able to take a more proactive approach.

km methods cards

Patrick gave me a pack of these today. I'll probably be writing a more formal review elsewhere but here I'm wondering what games you could play with them:
  • KM Poker - Everyone sits round the table and mentions something that no one else has heard in a bid to appear more expert. They may not know what it is themselves. They may or may not get called on that bluff. If you can pull it off, a tasty consulting engagement may emerge. If you fail, there will be hours of email list abuse debate.
  • KM Strip Poker - You play the above game as your budget gets divested with each round. The results are often embarrassing for participants.
  • KM Solitare (it's the only game in town) - A lonesome KM practitioner plays with their cards while everyone else in the organisation ignores them.
  • KM Tarot - You pretend to know what the future holds for the gullible. Gypsy scarf and gold earring optional.
  • KM Snap - You discover that everyone else has the same challenges as you.
  • KM Soccer Cards - Your pack has 80 cards - but 2 sets of 40. You must trade cards with others to get a full set. There may be fisticuffs in the playground.
  • KM Top Trumps - You claim your method is better than everyone else's. There will be hours of email list abuse debate.
I actually think these cards are very useful.

Buy some.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

kiva poetry auction winners (3)

  • Shahnoza Juraeva - "She has applied for a Kiva loan to buy seasonal materials and additional national dresses" in Tajikistan.
  • Saneam Soeur Village Bank Group - "Fourteen people in Preak Thom Village in Kandal Province [Cambodia] form one group in one Village Bank".
  • Khuraman Sheydayeva - "Now this family requests a loan to buy 2 calves" in Azerbaijan.
  • Myriam Lugo - Selling jewelry in Paraguay.

the public sector & social software

I was down in Canberra at the Information Architecture in the Public Sector 2008 - where I presented this:

I enjoyed myself. I'm pretty sure they did too. The real fun was the workshop on the second day. I used the Cynefin framework to discuss social software (for the third time) and we got cracking on discussing business cases, making friends & influencing people.

Monday, June 23, 2008

kiva poetry auction winners (2)

Our next four winners are:
And still more to come...

podcast - jason ryan & social software in government

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Ryan of the New Zealand State Services Commission on the use of social software by governments (esp. the kiwis) and very enlightening it was too.

Download the mp3 here (24:38, 5.6 Mb)

Show Notes
00:00 - Jason introduces himself.
01:00 - Jason begins blogging himself. NZ Aid and the Retirement Commission experiment with blogs.
02:45 - Social software is not the solution to every problem.
04:00 - Should governments use hosted services?
05:20 - Principles for government use of social software. Why is sovereignty important?
06:38 - Social marketing, Bebo & a sense of optimism.
07:30 - You don't want the government to be your dad dancing at a party.
08:30 - Two contrasting cases: Police Act Review wiki vs. Safe As forum.
14:40 - Other examples from around the world.
18:00 - What's the future for social software in government?
20:00 - The risks of Facebook for employees and what we should do about it.
23:00 - What do you think?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

kiva poetry auction winners(1)

You may remember this. Well, lesser kudu ponied up $300 (to which I will add $100). Most generous of LK - so three cheers from everyone please.

I am in the middle of writing LK's poem on hope - of which there will be many variants I suspect. In the meantime, here are the first four entrepreneurs I have given the money to:
  • Youssef - who needs a new floor-polishing machine.
  • Fabiola Dilone - who needs to buy some inventory for her clothing business.
  • Seang Sok - who is gunning for a motorcycle and a pumping machine.
  • Rose Mensah - who is up for more stock for her food trading.
Go them! More to follow shortly...

a fairy tale (1)

Once upon a time there were two brothers: Colin Content and Barry Business.

Colin Content loved writing stuff. He took great pride in writing and presentation. He had honed his skills in journalism school and on all manner of publications. His years spent sub-editing had also left him a bit picky. He didn't like numbers very much and had three unpublished novels in a drawer at home. Here is Colin:
Colin's brother Barry was very different to Colin. Barry liked money. He had started in ad sales, selling space in the publications that Colin had written for. He had got an MBA. The only things he liked reading were bonus cheques and earnings statements. He had three sports cars in a garage at home. Here is Barry:
Colin and Barry didn't like each other very much but both needed the other.

As far as Colin was concerned, Barry was the kind of philistine who didn't know what "philistine" meant. Why couldn't Barry get him the money he needed to expand his publications? Colin dreamed of the day when his words would sell themselves.

Meanwhile as far as Barry was concerned, Colin was just there to fill the space between his ads. Why couldn't Colin produce content quicker and cheaper? Barry dreamed of the day when computers by themselves could produce words that consumers would want to read.

Then one day, the internet appeared. Barry & Colin were excited. Lots of people like Barry & Colin invested money in it and lost most of it.

There was a pause.

Then ordinary people realised that they could write stuff and record stuff and copy stuff. Most of the stuff they made was for their friends and family - which was fine because it was stuff only your mother could love. Most of the stuff they copied had been made by people like Colin and had made money for people like Barry. Barry & Colin were excited again. And a little scared. Maybe they could finally be free of each other.

Along came someone new: Simon Social Media. Simon had a background in technology rather than business or media. He had three open-source programming projects in his desktop at home. He blogs and twitters and wikis and all that other stuff. Here is Simon:
Simon thinks Colin & Barry are old-fashioned, elitist and stupid. Meanwhile Colin thinks Simon has no quality standards and Barry think Simon has no business sense.

What can Colin, Barry & Simon say to each other that is friendly & nice & productive?

Or are they doomed to huff and puff forever?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


So much respect due to Jed White for putting on PubCamp. I walked away with mixed feelings.

We had a blizzard of 6 minute presentations - some obvious pitches, some dull, some sharply observational - favourites were Tim Noonan's session on accessibility and Ben Gerholt's advice on how to be a media mogul. Bronwen Clune & Richard Walsh debated whether new media was "a dagger in the heart" for both producers and consumers - and they are both smart, articulate people but the debate format felt sterile. Defending or attacking a proposition is all very well but it rarely takes you anywhere interesting. Conversations tend to be more inspiring that debates.

Which brings me to the panel. We had a bunch of people with decades of media experience between them - and nothing really interesting came out of it. The whole physical set up was oppositional - the panel on the podium facing the audience. Now quite a few people in the audience were frantically twittering with each other and the twitterstream was put up on the screen - but it didn't lead much in the way of insightful questions. But the whole thing degenerated into "big media bad", "no, big media good, "journalists vital", "no, journalists not vital", "no...". It felt like an unfocused waste of time. The panel format is actually hard to pull off well - it needs a focus and an engagement on the part of all involved. At future PubCamps (which would be great Jed), I'd like to see smart people engaged in a different way or more focus given to the questions the panel have to answer and the conversations they have with each other.

So then there was the unconference bit - which was an organisational disaster. The slots were all shifted about and I had no data projector for the slides below - so I ended up holding up my laptop like an accordion in front of my little group. The talk was an attempt to articulate how a value networks perspective might be applied to new media. It's early days and not there yet - so comments welcome.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

clues and clouds

In his famous 1980 article "Morelli, Freud and Sherlock Holmes: Clues and Scientific Method", Carlo Ginzburg discusses the importance of clues. He talks about the art historian Giovanni Morelli- who looked at hands and the minor details of art works to establish their authenticity. He discusses Sigmund Freud and his predilection for parapraxes. Sherlock Holmes gets a mention as well*.

The plethora of new media that we engage with can be seen as clue-creation machines. When Nancy White was using to bookmark a bunch of sites on breast cancer as part of some client work, she got a stream of concerned emails from those who had put 2 and 2 together and got 5.

Are we aware of the clues we create ourselves and those we sense from others?

*Ginzburg notes that Morelli, Freud and Conan-Doyle were all trained as doctors. More posts on medicine shortly.

to live and die in la

Los Angeles is a strange place - less of a city than Sydney - more a bunch of surburbs that thought it would be, y'know, cool to hang out together but not get trapped in anything, y'know, too serious. Like any form of urban planning. Thanks to Joe & family for their hospitality.

Back in the day, Los Angeles was viewed as a postmodern harbinger of the future - a decentered, autoparadise compared to the modernism of Chicago & Manhattan. We'll see what rocketing fuel prices do to that one.

Monday, June 02, 2008

i left my social network in san francisco

San Francisco was a bit of a trip:

The rest of the time was spent with KT checking out bridges, cable cars, trainers & bars.

seattle sound

Yes - as the trip continues, the title references are getting worse. Seattle was spent in the awesome company of Nancy White and her kin. Nancy has forgotten more about online community development than I will ever know. We talked about her recent trip to Ethopia, her whitepaper with Shawn & Mark, the forthcoming book with John D Smith & Etienne Wenger, the fantastic work of the Skillet Street Food Company.