Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LotusSphere 2010: Remix

While I keep working on some notes and editing some pictures on LotusSphere 2010, here's a short under 3 minute recap of the entire event by DJ Steve Porter

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LotusSphere 2010: Connections Next!

The big session we've all been waiting for at LotusSphere 2010 was "Connections Next!" on the upcoming features for Lotus Connections 2.5 and Lotus Connections Next (probably 3.0) presented by IBM's Demo-Queen Suzanne Livingston f.k.a. Minassian.
Big news in this session was that Forums will be extended into a standalone service, and not just a subset of communities. However, what I missed in the presentation was the further integration of Quickr into files, or highly desired additions to the files service and the addition of video libraries to Lotus Connections.

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Profile Background gets seperate tabs for adding education and stuff like that.

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Social Analytics seems to be a keyword for Lotus Connections in 2010. We need metrics!

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To improve building the social network, Lotus Connections will be extended with recommendations; suggested blogs, communities and people based on your own searches and tags.

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LotusSphere 2010: Orlando, we have a problem!

"Orlando, we have a problem" was the title of the funniest session I attended during LotusSphere 2010 on monday Januari 18. Two crazy Scotsmen, but crack lotus admins Paul Mooney and Bill Buchan did a very inspiring session on how small mistakes can lead to huge catastrophes.
(photo Ed Brill)
Paul and Bill discussed 10 worst cases of 'fatal errors' that literally crippled entire companies. How can you send all 18,000 employees on holiday in just one click? Well, it happened! Of course, they did not just share the best jokes in sysadmin land to us, they investigated how these errors were made and presented the lessons learned.

Link to the presentation at Paul Mooney's site.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

LotusSphere 2010: TeamPark the best solution in the market

During the first major keynote with client showcases, one of the case studies was Sogeti's offering of TeamPark which was introduced to the 8,000 + audience by Sogeti CTO Michiel Boreel.

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As said in a previous blogpost, many companies find it hard to put real KPI's on Corporate Social Networking and Michiel also touched this subject; "there is a chance that your managers see social collaboration as a whole new waste of time" but in this day and age you have to push the limits, especially as a global IT company. The world is changing fast and competition heats up. As a company, you need to be agile and close to the market. You need to keep up to speed in terms of the latest developments. That is the reason why Sogeti chose to implement Lotus Connections 2.5 by the end of 2009: It's the challenge to increase the speed of innovation by engaging the talent of your employees.

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Michiel described the for stages of the TeamPark methodology; Awareness, Strategy, Implementation and Live. In many IT projects we do the strategy and the implementation but we do not do the first and last phase: Awareness and bringing the platform to Live. Especially when it comes to corporate social networking, these stages are essential. Else you would have an empty restaurant. And where do people eat? Not in the empty restaurant, but one across the street where it's busy. Now if your company would be like that, your employees would probably eat out in restaurants like Facebook or LinkedIn.

A social environment breaks down into five areas: Socialness, Organicness, Collective Intelligence, Aliveness and Linkedess (it needs to be S.O.CI.A.L.)

According to IBM, Sogeti's TeamPark offering currently is the best in the market when it comes to implementing social software in companies. If you would like to know more about TeamPark, just leave me a message or contact me on twitter (@vjburns), or call your nearest Sogeti Offices off course ;)

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Conenza Corporate Social Networking Pilot

Conenza builds and manages online employee and alumni communities for Global 2000 enterprises. Conenza’s SaaS-based, white label social networking platform includes a growing range of interconnected modules that engage the enterprise and their employees and corporate alumni in relationships that create business development, recruiting, referral, innovation and philanthropic value for both the company and the community members. Today Conenza hosts and manages the official corporate alumni communities for four of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies.

Conenza Launches Corporate Social Networking Pilot Program

Enabling Global 2000 companies to quickly and cost-effectively prove the value of a corporate social network

SEATTLE, WA, (PRWEB) April 7, 2009 - Conenza, a leading provider of corporate social networking solutions for enterprise employee and alumni communities, today announced the launch of a Corporate Social Networking "Quick Start" Pilot Program.

Increasingly, global enterprises are adopting social networking technologies to increase collaboration and improve organizational efficiencies. Workforce communities enable large organizations to bridge geographical and departmental information silos increasing communication and fueling innovation. By breaking down traditional organizational hierarchies, an enterprise community helps a company tap into the knowledge and connections of current and former employees to drive significant business impact.

Read the full press release here

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Building Intelligent Organisations

Last month I've blogged a bit about what the important SOCIAL factors are in creating corporate social networks. Today my colleague Patrick Savalle published a first presentation on the TeamPark approach which is designed to help organisations successfully implement corporate social networks and become more intelligent organisations.

In every organization processes can be identified that do not function optimal in the normal, so called bureaucratic or formal structure.

Finding people or expertise, sharing and leveraging implicit knowledge, exploiting the wisdom of the crowd, using the special talents of people, driving sustainable innovation. Many processes run more efficient and are more effective using the social networks of the organisation.

Many tasks can be accomplished better by organizing people in communities instead of teams. An organization that knows how to use communities, social networks, crowd-sourcing, broadcast communication, self-organization and other ‘2.0’ concepts has an advantage over competitors and offers an appealing working environment.

The Intelligent Organization knows; build it with TeamPark

At the SlideShare presentation you'll also find a transcript to go with the presentation.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Key to the Magic Quadrant of Social Software

A few posts back I did a quick comparison on Microsoft MOSS 2007 and IBM Lotus Connectins to see which one is best suited for Enterprise 2.0, for Corporate Social Networking. One of the criteria we've developed in our TeamPark approach at Sogeti is that the software needs to be S.O.C.I.A.L.

In this comparison I also showed the Gartner graph on Social Software;

In their review, Dogear Nation rightly pointed out that for instance Yammer, Facebook, Twitter and so on are missing. So where have the Garter researches been?

However, the graph also shows that none of the currently available platforms moves into the socalled 'Magic Quadrant';

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is a proprietary research tool developed by Gartner inc., a US based research and advisory firm. It is designed to provide an unbiased qualitative analysis of a “markets’ direction, maturity, and participants

Time to work magic

In the upper left quadrant we see both Microsoft and IBM named "challengers" with a great capacity to execute (read established corporate penetration), in the lower right quadrant we see a number of "visionaries" like Atlassian, Jive and Socialtext. The majority however falls into the lower left quadrant of "niche players" and no solution has made it to the magic quadrant yet.

What does it take to get into the magic quadrant? In blunt translation of the Gartner graph it should be Microsoft buying Atlassian for instance to combine 'completeness of vision' with 'the power to execute'. But that is not the correct answer.

If we mix up Jive with IBM or Atlassian with Microsoft it does not create a winner, it will not be a magic quadrant recipe, because it will undoubtedly be a functional cocktail from a technical point of view, not from a social point of view. It will result in a (probably very good) platform which offers everything you would want, but in the end won't work.

The 'ppp' Protocol

What does it take to get into that magic quadrant? Basically this is an identity management based issue. In my opinion we use the web in three ways:

  1. Private
  2. Personal
  3. Professional

Probably we should rename 'www' to 'ppp' ;) .You could argue the terminology though, it could just as well be personal, social and professional. However, I think theseare the three domains to which we use the internet and with the current cloudcomputing trends this will create a new paradigm for identity management (IdM) and this will be the key in stepping inside the magic quadrant.

In the 'old days' we had our home pc to facilitate our 'private need', meaning we used it to store our documents, photos and accessed the internet to find information for our hobbies. We also had a corporate pc on which we stored our work related documents. And in the Web 2.0 age we started to use the internet for social interaction.

Nowadays, more and more is shifting towards webbased functionality. We use Google Docs for our documents, share our photo's on Picasa, Webshots, Flickr, Paintbucket or wherever. We started blogging, and we started Tweeting...

Each of these three domains is becoming more and more webbased and it confuses us, it frustrates us. We're constantly putting up content on a variety of sites, distributing our lives through various media to various audiences and we often find the content should move beyond the boundaries of just one domain and we end up duplicating the same information to another blog or wiki.

IdM Divergence is Key

The current trends on aggregation, the creation of lifestreams is convergence; pulling the content of various media into one single lifestream distributed to all our contact. Regarding the three domains however, we want - no, NEED - divergence; one single point of entry and the option to distribute it to different audiences, across the boundaries set by these domains. One of the functional prerequisites is the ability to organically group contacts (there are more ;)) regardless of the domain they are confined to.

This is, what in my opinion, will make it impossible for each of the platforms mentioned in the Gartner graph to truly claim the Magic Quadrant. Each of these solutions focus on one particular domain; social / personal or professional. The Magic Quadrant platform needs support all three domains in one coherent mashup of these multiple online identities we have fostered with ample mechanisms to guard our privacy, with the appropriate tools to include and exclude people to see certain types of information. It needs to be able to discern who is allowed to see which part of a certain domain

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What is Social Software?

A few posts back I did a quick comparison on Microsoft MOSS 2007 and IBM Lotus Connectins to see which one is best suited for Enterprise 2.0, for Corporate Social Networking. One of the criteria we've developed in our TeamPark approach at Sogeti is that the software needs to be S.O.C.I.A.L. But what exactly does it mean?

As of this moment we only have a Dutch version of our book available, so I'll try and write up a few bits and pieces here on the blog.

Social Software

The foundation of Enterprise 2.0 is social software. A TeamPark which has a lot in common with MySpace for instance, but with clear differences.

What should your TeamPark look like? Whatever we think of and eventually build, a core requirement should be that it should be a place where people like to come to, without directions in their function description or receiving notification all day long to let them know something of interest has been added, or changed. A corporate hangout which lets people experience community and mutual interest. Various literary sources call this aliveness, as an important quality of social websites and, as far as we're concerned this pretty much nails it. It is just like in real life, as people are looking out for signs of life to find a place to socialize. Once inside that environment it takes some time to find the talk of the town.

It is not really that difficult to sum up what is necessary to build a social website, more or less. Which means; which are the elements that give a website a social character. A website on which you lookup a telephone number or are reading a text is not really social. In no way you can see what happens or who else is there, what the others think and there are definately no options to collaborate. A social environment does show these signals. As soon as you can see the presence of others, track their activities it suddenly gets a lot more social. It is perceived entirely different, and these signals, or stimuli, create an environment to interact. Which (inter-) actions actually do take place, and the result of these actions in consequence is primarily dependent on the focus the designer puts in the environment. The design of the website is a dominant factor, both the layout as the interaction design, in delivering the right stimuli.

All these stimuli a social environment offers, will stimulate people to engage in conversation, produce content and share ideas.

A conversation is quickly started by allowing users to react to a newsarticle. Different sorts of conversations can be facilitated by various web elements ranging from Instant Messaging to Chatboxes, Shoutboxes and a forum.

If there is a lot of content added to the environment, it will become important to weigh (rate) and filter which will allow content to surface that really has value, is popular, interesting, funny or up to date. With these mechanisms you avoid an information overload and stimulate quality.

As soon as a website starts to get a lot of users, the urge to create subcommunities arises. Each of these will form itself around special interests or themes. In large groups individual ideas are lost in the din and a sense of anonimity grows. A well designed social website stimulates growing optimum sized communities.

Finally, it requires enough mechanisms which truly enable to leverage the talent of the crowd. These are called aggregationmechanisms. Participation and UGC (user generated content) only is not enough.

Translation: Johan Vermij / VeeJay Burns
Original: TeamPark Method, the development of the intelligent organisation Page 13/14 by Arnd Brugman and Patrick Savalle, Sogeti Netherlands.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who are your Twitterfriends?

Most people are pretty honest in building their social network at sites like LinkedIn and Plaxo, connection to people with whom they have a real relationship. It also helps that if you want to connect with someone out of the blue, you often have to enter the person's email address.

Building your friendlist at microblogging site Twitter works differently though. On Twitter you send out your message to the world. Everytime you blurt something into the Twitterverse there's a good chance it gets picked up by someone you don't know. If they like your tweet, there's a good chance they'll start following you, and if you politely follow them back, you'll get into a new network, building your own. Networks on twitter can expand pretty fast to thousands of followers.

Stars of Le Web 2.0 often have massive lists of followers, like Barack Obama (555,878), iJustine (285,034) Guy Kawasaki (100,318), Robert Scoble (74,688). It's impossible to pay attention to everything your 'friends' say when you've got such a list to monitor. Chances are that you're barely able to follow about a 100 or 150 of them actively.

One of the nice tools that plug into Twitter is the Mailana social network analysis system, which taps into millions of messages, tweets and pulls up a nice graph of your Network. If your list of followers has grown too big to manage and you start to forget who your real friends are, maybe it's time to pull up a graph of your own to see who you've been interacting with. The image below is my Twittersphere, which you can explore here.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Companies spy on Twitter

Although it's been around a while already, suddenly Microblogging service Twitter, is the talk of the town, overly hyped and going supernova with unsurpassed growth rates over 1300%. For those unaware of Twitter: It's nothing special. It lets you type 140 character messages to the world, or anyone who cares to read your digital farts.

Nonetheless, Twitter is getting more and more popular and getting a lot of mainstream attention as twitterers like @BreakingNewsOn often bring breaking news way ahead of traditional media. In its wake we've seen all sorts of people turning to twitter to get attention. When I say all sorts of groups, I really mean all sorts of groups. On the serious side we find (of course) Obama, the Governator, Dutch Royalty and Dutch politicians (find the list on kamertweets.nl) for instance, and on the other side of the spectrum we find a list of pornstars who'd like more than 100 character lines in movies. Over the past months I've also seen an invasion marketeers on Twitter.

Most of Twitter's richness though comes from add-on applications that allow you to search on certain topics and handle multiple streams.

Due to its nature of 140 characters max per textmessage, people are often too honest, to blunt in their statements about almost anything and the number of stories about people who got into professional trouble after their boss picked up a tweet is growing. Online Marketing and CRM company Salesforce now adds to this, in offering a new service which helps companies to spy on Twitter.

Your Customers Are Talking in the Cloud.Where do customers go for service today? More and more often, it's not the call center. What used to be everyone’s favorite way to access customer service has become a jumbled mess of touch-tone navigation and poorly trained outsourced agents. It's no wonder customers are looking elsewhere. Today, real wisdom lives in the cloud. Web communities. Twitter. Facebook. Forums. Blogs. Google. The cloud is where customers are turning for service.

Salecforce just recently launched their Service Cloud offering (January), and promised it will include Twitter in the very near future, which basically means that you pay them a bunch for doing queries on Twitter. Companies will have to pay fees in excess of $ 1.000,- per month. After two months of service, Salesforce already registers 6.800 customers for their Service Cloud offering. According to Alexandre Dayon in a Venturebeat article yesterday, there is a huge interest in listening in on Twitter:

Most people on popular microblogging site Twitter (which just turned three) have probably seen customer service-type queries from other users — questions about how to make a product work, or complaints that it’s broken. I have even posted some complaints of my own. That’s one of the reasons companies like Google have created their own Twitter accounts, and its why Salesforce.com is adding Twitter integration to its customer service product, which it calls the Service Cloud.

This, of course, is the positive, official view on the Service Cloud offering, the more realistic version is that companies want to know what is said about their products and service, not to help you, but to do damage control if a customer has been 'too honest'.

Of course, there are exceptions; official corporate representatives who are not on twitter to monitor comments on their company, but for the love of Twitter itself. These folks are usually very accessible and welcome comments about their companies.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Corporate Social Networking

All around us, companies feel the need to go Social. As the web grows and companies see their employees blog and interact, share knowledge everywhere, suddenly we have to take Social Networking behind firewalls and create a corporate walled social garden.

It's not that big of a surprise senior management sees merit in embracing social networking as communities are pretty loyal and dedicated. It would be nice if we could bind our employees so strongly and also use their creativity to get better. It's probably no surprise either that they just don't quite get the essence of social networking. In the end it is about information, about knowledge that is the company's main asset, isn't it?

It's not in the functionality.

The next thing your senior management will probably ask for is a thorough analyses of requirements and a turn up a full list of features. A Social Networking site should have blogs, wiki, forum, chat, and so on. Over the past month I've been doing just that and made a thorough comparison between Microsoft MOSS 2007, IBM Lotus Connections and Telligent Community Server. Drawing up comparison charts, listing the functionality is a cumbersome job. Especially when the result is that there hardly is a difference. All platforms offer more or less the same functionality.

They're all the same, or not?

When it's all about the same, the obvious choice for senior management is to stick to what they know and we already use inside the company. From this reasoning, many companies will probably go for Microsoft MOSS 2007 (or MOSS 14 if they can wait until 2010) as it will offer the basic functionality you would want and integrates well with the other corporate software, and even allows you to keep sharing those all important documents.

It's like playing in a rockband.

Last week I attended a presentation by my Swedish colleague Andreas Sjöström, who founded the website inarockband. In his presentation he said working for Sogeti was like playing in a rockband:

inarockband.com builds on the analogy that working for Sogeti is like playing in a rock band.

Just as rock musicians we are serious about our passion, instruments and customers. In our creative work we understand that everyone in the project plays and important role, just as every instrument counts.

Working with Sogeti is not about working your career, but about your passion. Be passionate about your work, try to excell and in excellence delight the crowd.

In my opinion, Corporate Social Networking also fits this analogy. Blogs are a stage to enthuce and delight, communities a place to share passion. When we look at platforms to support this we are looking for simplicity, easy to use software instead of massively complicated configurable packages. The most suitable software for the job is Social, Organic, Collectively Intelligent, Alive and Linked.

It needs to be S.O.CI.A.L

We at Sogeti are passionate about our job. We like to excell. Small wonder we are constantly working up new books on best practises, creating new standards and methods. One of the latest books we've come up with is about moving from Crowd to Community. The second part of the book deals with the Teampark idea, a method to implement and adopt social software inside companies. In the next release this part will be extended and worked out into a full approach.

In the acronym S.O.CI.A.L my colleague Patrick Savalle has tried to capture what the elements are that empower social software:

These are the key elements for Social Software. From this vantage point, there is a clear winner when it comes to Enterprise platforms: IBM Lotus Connections. Whereas MOSS will excell in sharing explicit knowledge, LC will tap into the implicit knowlegde of your workforce.

Into the Magic Quadrant

I'm not saying Lotus Connections is the perfect match, but from an enterprise point of view, it's closing in on the magic quadrant, as Gartner puts it:In the graph IBM is not yet in the Magic Quadrant, and Microsoft isn't far behind. Don't get me wrong, MOSS isn't a bad product, not at all and I'm not saying IBM has done the trick yet, but they're slightly ahead at this point in time. In June last year, the CIO magazine also ran an article on IBM vs. Microsoft in the Social Software space and concluded:

While both vendors showed their products could integrate with existing e-mail systems (especially e-mail systems that they sell, such as Notes and Exchange), IBM’s Lotus Connections looked, at minimum, a year or more ahead of SharePoint in its social computing capabilities out of the box.

It was a lot prettier looking, too.

If we look at the road ahead, this conclusion still stands with Lotus Connections 2.5 going into Beta in April and expected to go Gold by Mid July whereas Microsoft MOSS 14 is due for early 2010. However, it is more than just release dates. It is about the core focus of the product. In terms of S.O.CI.A.L aspects, LC2.5 still has a more informal, organic, people centered approach than MOSS 14, which (from what I have seen under NDA) still is more formal and hyrarchical focussed on information, despite all it's slick tricks.

Scaling the Walls

Identifying the right triggers to create Social Networks is not a guarantee for instant succes though. On the one hand, setting psychology loose on Social Webdesign to delight the crowd and direct communities, creating emergent behaviour is tricky, but on the other hand we have the issue of the walled gardens. Companies will try to contain these platforms behind their corporate firewalls.

About a year ago I did a project in wich security played an important role. The client went into extremes to protect its data. However, all it's corporate knowledge, its value, could be found on Wikipedia for free. Knowledge and creativity are hard things to contain, they will find a way. Take blogging for instance.

From a bloggers point of view, his main drive will probably be to build a reputation. Blogging is more than just jotting down short things you are passionate about. You want to excell and gain authority. A global audience will probably suit you better than a limited corporate stage can offer.

Regarding this, Hutch Carpenter wrote an interesting article on his blog "I'm not actually a Geek" where he asks how much scale is actually needed in Enterprise 2.0 Employee Adoption.

Blogs: The nature of a blog is a single person’s thoughts, observations and ideas. Inside companies, these applications can be tools for the ongoing recording of things that fall outside the deadlines and process-oriented activities that make up the day. Making them public is a great way to share these contributions with other employees and establish your record of what’s happening. If only a few key people blogged inside a company, there will be value in that.

The article raises many interesting issues, but the question remains if we should take it all behind walls. It is quite true that Blogs do not require a large scale adoption, It will take justa few catalysts to start interesting corporate blogs, but if you want your employees to excell, to put effort into this Social Environment you have to offer them a worldwide stage. Have them interact with the world instead of limiting them to peers.

From a knowledge point of view we really have to consider which information really is actually a corporate asset. Is it knowledge on technology (which probably is out there on the web anyway) or is it about privacy, personal data and sensitive information about competitors or clients?

It's a brave new world

When you carefully look around in your company you might find these catalysts; passionate people who engage and delight the crowd. These thoughtleaders and visionaries inside your company probably have their own blogs, as they will be sharing their passion, having a global stage to build their reputation. Do we really want to confine them inside corporate walled gardens? Will they combine the pursuit of their personal passion and delight the corporate crowd? You will undoubtedly find out they will put more effort in personal blogging than in corporate blogging if we rigidly put our Corporate Social Network behind firewalls.

The current Social Networking trends focus on aggregation, pulling together updates from a variety of media into a single lifestream. If I look at my Plaxo Pulse stream for instance puts my twitter messages and my blogposts into a single update stream which is visible for all my connections. The next challenge will be to move from this information convergence to information divergence. This divergence will allow me, as a blogger, to write one passionate article and distribute it to the medium I chose and the audience I choose. This divergence will even more require personal and professional digital presence to blend, calling for better identity management and privacy measurements. In short, getting into the Magic Quadrant of Corporate Social Networking will not be about more features, but about smart blending of corporate and private digital identities.

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Podcasting for Sharepoint, MOSS 14

Over the past month I have been doing a Proof of Concept to see which Enterprise software would offer the most social value. The main focus was on the differences between IBM's Lotus Connections 2.5 (going into Beta in a few weeks) and Microsoft MOSS.

At our offices in the Netherlands we have a version of MOSS 2007 running, but apparantly we were not using it to its full extend, so Microsoft felt we were not giving them a fair chance and they did a full proof of concept at our offices in Paris. I must say, I was a bit surprised. Microsoft Moss (Sharepoint) is actually better than I had thought.

We also received a preview of the upcoming MOSS14 release, which should head into Beta later this year and will probably arrive early 2010. Without going into specifics, it won't be a surprise that Microsoft will continue the trends they set with Office 2007, using contextual ribbon menu's and throw in a lot of Silverlight. Of course, there will be more focus on social networking. One of the features Microsoft included in the presentation was an external kit, the Podcasting Kit for Sharepoint (PKS) by Codeplex. This kit went into beta last month and also heavily leans on the Silverlight technology. PKS can also be added to the current Sharepoint version of course.

What Can You Do With Podcasting Kit for SharePoint (PKS)?:

  • Listen and watch audio/video podcasts, anywhere on your PC or mobile device (Zune, SmartPhone, or any podcasting device)
  • Share content by producing your own audio/video podcasts and publish them on PKS on your own.
  • Connect and engage with podcasters via your integrated instant messaging program
  • Find the most relevant content using the five star rating system, tag cloud, search engine and provide your feedback via comments.
  • Get automatic podcast updates by subscribing to RSS feeds fully compatible with Zune and other podcasting devices
  • Simple RSS feed based on a defined podcast series
  • Simple RSS feed based on a person
  • Dynamic RSS feed based on search results (will be implemented later in 2009)
  • Play podcasts in real-time using Microsoft® Silverlight™ and progressive playback
  • Retrieve instant ROI and metrics with the ability to track the number of podcasts downloaded and/or viewed, instant feedback via rating system and comments, and subscribers via the RSS feed
  • Access the richness of SharePoint to extend the solution: workflows, community sub-sites, access rights, editorial and more
  • Customize your own PKS User Experience

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Enterprise 2.0 adoption

Yesterday I came across an interesting article on the "I'm not a Geek" blog on social networking inside companies, or Enterprise 2.0. In this article Hutch Carpenter asks how much scale is needed in Enterprise 2.0 employee adoption.

The article has three sections;

  1. Varying Adoption Levels Required

  2. Consider the Purposes of the E2.0 Applications
  3. Blogs: The nature of a blog is a single person’s thoughts, observations and ideas. Inside companies, these applications can be tools for the ongoing recording of things that fall outside the deadlines and process-oriented activities that make up the day. Making them public is a great way to share these contributions with other employees and establish your record of what’s happening. If only a few key people blogged inside a company, there will be value in that.

  4. Implications

    Greater required participation correlates to greater impact on a company’s value: Generally, you could change the metric in the chart above from percentage of employee involvement to impact on company value. The increased participation means the associated application will also have a larger effect on the company’s strategies and operations. It’s not an tight correlation, but a general trendline. Exceptions will abound.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Google unfit for Social Web

Over the past years we have seen two major trends on the internet; one is the so-called web 2.0 stuff, social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace etcetera and the second trend is Google taking ousting one rival after the other, gaining dominance on the web. Today a new study says these two trends are incompatible:

"NEW YORK Google doesn’t care about social networking. But perhaps it should, since social-networking platforms are gradually making search less relevant.Those are just two of the more pointed conclusions found in a report issued today by Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield, who examined MySpace’s business and its long-term ad relationship with Google. In the report, Greenfield reiterated a contention he made last July that the underperformance of search ads in MySpace is not simply a product of the non-responsive nature of these sites’ users. Rather, according to Greenfield, Google’s algorithm isn’t well-suited to social-networking sites -- and that’s something Google isn’t necessarily concerned with."

I'm not sure Google isn't concerned with social networking sites, but it certainly is an interesting statement. What is particularly interesting is why Greenfield things Google is not suited for Social networking;

"The reason the company doesn’t care, said Greenfield, is that the basic functionality of social platforms like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter is "diminishing the importance of search.” He points to users’ growing inclination to search for specific information by tapping into friends’ and colleague's knowledge through platforms like Twitter’s own search product, as well Facebook’s status update tool."

The rise of the social web brings people together. Friends and professional networks are the way to provide the necessary information, as these are sources you trust and value.

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Social Networking made easy

Having trouble to explain to the management what social networking is? Well, here's the summary: It's all about S.O.C.I.A.L: It's just a 5 piece puzzle

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Credit Crunch key to future of Social Networks

A variety of newsfeeds on different topics was poured onto me today, through various media. Snippets I picked up on the radio, television, conference calls at work, twitter feeds etcetera. The mashup my brain made led to an interesting thought (I think) on how the credit crunch and recession will affect social networking, for better or worse.

Primarily old media are pouring out negative news on the crisis, credit crunch effects and recession worldwide. I bet you can't get away from the news either. Most of my social networks barely mention it, except for the occasional twitter / friendfeed / blog rant of Scobleizer. Why don't they? Is it because they are all new start ups, dependant on Venture Capital and VC might be the first thing to save money on?

I think not. I'm beginning to think the credit crunch and social networks are totally incompatible entities. They just don't mix.

Business is going Social ?

Let's start with social networking. Throughout the day I've been working on collaboration platforms and how to implement social software inside companies. When you're working at a company which is 'considering' to go social, you know the hassle. It often fails as corporate structures are incompatible with the social networking way of life; not bound by corporate hyrarchy but organic. Corporations still have the idea to implement communities through a top-down decree.

One of the articles I read today which touches this subject is a report by McKinsey, titled "Six ways to make Web 2.0 work for companies" (Thanks to @AlexKaris). Another quote that triggered me was from the presentation by Cisco's CEO John Chambers at the MIT World. I found his speech at OpenZine in an article called "Business is Social"

John Chambers held this speech at the MIT World back in october last year.

At about 3.00 minutes into the video John says:

"And when you look at the future of companies, I think you are about to see the most fundamental change in businesses and governement on a global basis that you have ever seen, moving from command and control to collaboration and team work"

Will we see this change, or won't we see this change? Everybody is talking about it, but will it happen? In reflection today, the credit crunch will play a crucial role in this process.

The Anglo Saxon business Model

Switching to old school media, one of the stories I heard on the radio was a Dutchmen who lived in Japan talking about business models. The Asian businessmodel looked very similar to our Dutch "Rhineland" model, or negatively connotated "the polder model". He gave a few examples.

The example from Japan was the CEO of Japan Airlines who had to take drastic steps in his company. As a result, he himself took a huge payment cut and came to work by bus to give a good example to his employees. This relates to the attitude we have had for many years inside the Netherlands, where you expected your CEO to come to work by bycicle and have lunch with all his employees in the canteen, bringing the same ham and cheese sandwhiches from home as his employees did. In both these models, the company is the center of the attention. It is about stability, security. It is about the role the company has in a social environment, limited to its employees, or in a broader sense to the city or other communities.

This is very unlike the Anglo Saxon model in which the shareholder has become the center of attention, the model which originated in the United States and the UK. This model is about short term satisfaction and profits. During the 90's we, in the Netherlands, have adopted this model too, and CEO's get filthy rich. This model results in corporate leaders who take enormous risks to gain short term profits and shareholder approval.

Crunch to make or break Social Networks

Don't get me wrong, John Chambers is saying a lot of sensible things on how corporations should act during a recession, and how innovation is important during these troubled times. However, if we "are to see the most fundamental change in businesses and government" it will be the challenge to do so on a business model scale. Yes, there are companies out there -even in the United States - who are able to adapt to web 2.0, but the majority will fail due to the business models described above.

Worldwide, companies sense the need to go social again. They feel the need to do something with social networking in order to leverage the latent potential inside their companies, to gain a stronger commitment from their employees, to facilitate knowledge exchange or simply to boast about their tech-savvyness.

The Anglo Saxon business model focus on shareholders and short term profits might just be the key issue to the future of social networks. It blocks long term commitment to a community and it causes corporate leaders to cling to their position. Managers and CEO's are protecting their little kingdoms, their expertise, their budget and their staff to remain in control. This is corporate politics on the balance of power, fueled by hunger for a big bonus and shareholder approval. This is where the fundamental change has to start to really empower Business 2.0, to facilitate corporations going social and capitalize on the billions of dollars of VC funding which have been invested into social networking sites. This is where the fundamental change has to start to temper the recession and this is where the fundamental change has to start to create long lasting communities and receive employee commitment.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

MySpace blocks sexoffenders

One of the largest social platforms, MySpace announced it has discovered and removed 90,000 sex offenders from its network. The number almost doubles the estimates MySpace made last year, according to the Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. They might be blocked, but where did they go?

MySpace is in the spotlight today because it revealed that 90,000 registered sex offenders have been kicked off its site in the past two years. But where did all of those sex offenders go? Some evidence suggests that a portion of them are now on Facebook.

The Techcrunch article cited above has a nice description of how MySpace detects sex offenders and what Facebook could learn. It also includes reactions from Facebook officials.

One of the possible avenues to explore, according to some, is that Social Networking sites block profiles of minors to older members. I'm not sure that solves the problem. We've seen reports of people lying about their age with several networking sites. It's easy to register with false information.

The problem is, we haven't got a certification authority on the web for websurfers. We've got certificates to prove the identity of websites, like those of VeriSign, but no one can vouch for the identity of surfers. This is, in my opinion, one of the priority issues to solve on the internet in the coming years.

One thing we need to be carefull about is what kind of information do we actually put up on the internet. We need to be more aware of our online Identity and our privacy. Especially youngsters should be carefull in using these sites and be taught and guided in using them. Parents need to get involved in what their kids are doing online. They have to show an interest in their kids online social life.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

A.D. 2009, Open Beta or Stable?

Just been looking at the news again. Not something to relax on these days. We're barely two weeks into the year 2009 and shit happens everywhere. We've seen earthquakes and Israel waging war on Gaza and so on.

As a project manager in the IT Business I'm responsible for bringing projects to a happy end. We deliver and when we deliver the customer usually has a two week acceptancy period to fully test the application or implementation to discover bug and decide whether or not they're happy with the project. Then we'll go live.

Looking at this years' start you'd almost say that the product delivered is not acceptable. Take it back to the drawing board and fix the bugs and nasty little things that make it an inpleasant experience. Unfortunately. It can't be done. Almost like you have to live every year in public Beta, knowing you'll see so many disasters that at the end of the year it has reached the end of its lifecycle already and the next beta version will be packaged.

So much for this random thought though, which came up after a review on the 2008 technology scene and a look forward into 2009.

2008 definately was a year of Beta releases, closed and open. It seemed like half the internet was in open beta. We saw tons of virtual worlds and social networking sites walk this path. Some of these sites have been in open beta for years. Let's hope 2009 will be a year of stability; applications and worlds closing down their beta stages and moving into stable production.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

What is Social Webdesign ? Is it dangerous?

In my post yesterday I briefly mentioned a potential danger of social webdesign. But what exactly is social webdesign?

Social webdesign is not about website builders building websites for social networks. Well, not entirely. Social Webdesign is more than putting together a social network, making a site design and putting bits of code into the website. Social Webdesign is about the features on these websites that create communities and addiction.

It's actually about psychologists designing mechanisms that get you hooked, that pull you in hook, line and sinker untill you can't get out anymore.

From a graphical design point of view you could argue that the Facebook design is rather boring, maybe even unattractive. From a technical design point of view you may fuzz about their ecosystem and from an Interaction Design point of view you may freckle over the layout of the interface, but looking at it from a Social Webdesign point of view, it's a different ball park. Social Webdesign is about what makes Facebook work, about the widgets, the features that have attracted millions of users almost overnight.

Let's go S.O.C.I.A.L.

Social webdesign works around several key principles, which we at Sogeti have neatly called S.O.C.I.A.L;

  • Socialness: The measure in which a platform stimulates social interaction and gives social incentives.
  • Organicness: The ability of a platform of self organising communities.
  • Collaborative Intelligence: Mechanisms to make talents explicit and converge
  • Aliveness: Necessary signs of live, buzzcreators and talk of the town to create a vibrant community to which people can easily connect.
  • Linkedness: ‘no social platform is an island’…

These principles are the foundations to our Teampark experiments, an enterprise solution to utilise the power of the community inside corporations. Social Webdesign can benefit companies to leverage the creative forces inside.

The hidden danger to Social Webdesign

There's a side to social webdesign though. Yesterday I blogged a little on how Authority based filtering for example can bring about the danger of creating an elite, a dominant opinion in which new and refreshing ideas are taken out of the equasion.

First class social webdesign can have the power to play the masses. It can ignite emergent behaviour and lead groups of people into doing things they would normally not do individually (or are even strongly opposed to). It may well bring about the tools to mass manipulate.

Further reading tip:

One site you might want to check out is Joshua Porter's blog called Bokardo. It is a blog about interface design for social web sites and applications, about recommendation systems, identity, ratings, privacy, comments, profiles, tags, reputation, sharing, as well as the social psychology underlying our motivation to use (or not use) these things.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Privacy and Social Networks

It's been quiet on the MindBlizzard blog during the past two weeks. I've enjoyed the holiday season and spent some time with the family skating and stuff. That doesn't mean nothing interesting has happened during the past weeks though.

Let me start off with wishing you all the best for 2009. I hope you'll have fun on the web.

One of the things I just ran into was a video of the Office of the Privacy Commisioner of Canada which made an excellent video about Privacy and Social Networks and shows that harvesting of personal data keeps going on and on...

A couple of great thoughts about this video have been put up by Digital ID Coach Judi,

Coaching moment: There are two sides to this problem. On one side are the account holders of these social networking sites. They are busy disclosing their interests, connections, and lives. These account holders may not realize that they are being mapped and sold out to the extent that they are. Perhaps they think it’s ok.

On the other side are the businesses that run these sites. They have Terms of Service (TOS) contracts that account holders agree to, whether they read the terms or not. The businesses engage in harvesting and selling practices that benefit their bottom line. (Would you expect anything less? They are businesses, and this is one way that it’s done.) The problem is that the buying and selling of account holder data is not transparent to the account holders.

Read the full article here.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Muxlim Pal: Gone before the wind?

Social Virtual worlds like Second Life often resemble Sodom and Gomorra. I remember the days that most headlines made by Second Life were about the slease and dirt and sex empires. No wonder Muslims were out to seek a world of their own in which the name of the prophet would not be slandered, and every one walks the walk and talk the walk of the Koran.

Being a christian, I haven't felt the need to deeply explore this world and haven't blogged it before since I didn't want to fall into cynical "72 vestal virgin heaven" kind of jokes, but Muxlim Pal, as this world is called saw the curtain fall before it ever saw the light of day.

Muxlim Pal is a 2.5D virtual world, launched earlier this month by the Muxlim community site and, as they themselves describe it:

Muxlim Pal is the first Muslim virtual world providing a new kind of family friendly social online environment for your entertainment. In this Beta phase we are giving you a taste of what we plan to be a continually growing online and getting your feedback on how we can make your experience here fun and even more enjoyable.

However, I noticed a tweet flying past by Rikomatic who found out the world had already shut down due to griefer attacks. As Rikomatic wites on "The Click Heard Round the World"

Unfortunately, it looks like they have had to restrict access to Muxlim Pal because of griefers. Here's the message on the site:

Welcome to Muxlim Pal. As you know, muxlim.com are committed to providing all our users with a respectful, open-minded and family-friendly environment, in which to learn, exchange information, play and work. Unfortunately, we have had a short down time, as a small number of destructive elements were sabotaging the site for everyone else. [my emphasis] The site is now up again and users are enjoying it. With these attacks going on we have had to make the difficult decision to temporarily restrict access for new members. All new members are welcome complete this form (below) to trial the site or wait the standard activity and waiting period used for messaging features on the rest of the site. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

The Muxlim Team

I can't imagine the difficulty of moderating a virtual world populated by Muslims. It must be a magnet for every anti-Muslim bigot with broadband on the planet.

Well, for what it's worth, a few screenshots:
Down below is a map of the Muxlim Pal world, with a Beach Cafe, which will probably only serve non-alcoholic beverages, even if virtual.

Dressing up is an important part of the Muxlim Pal world as well, however I haven't seen Taliban approved Burkas yet.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Is it Web 3.0 time?

Aside from Pownce shutting down , today looks a pretty fine day as both FaceBook Connect and Google Friend Connect emerge from closed beta into the wide public. Both these projects will undoubtedly boost social networking immensely. John McCrea of Plaxo posted quite a nice blog today on "the birth of the Social Web" as he called it:

December 4, 2008. Today may be remembered as the birth of the Social Web, as two major projects aimed at turning the Web social emerged from their restricted beta periods for general availability, Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect. Together, these two major events sound the death knell for the walled garden phase of social networking. Early reactions to the news are quick to frame this as a head-to-head battle between Google and Facebook, but the truth requires a look at the details…

read full article here.

But, does today live up to its outlook? One the one hand I welcome these projects as they may bring some sync into the countless social networking accounts I have, but on the other hand I fear the widespread grip Google is starting to gain on our digital identities (see this blogpost for instance).

The image above is from Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" and depicts Gulliver being tied up by the people of Lilliput. As their ropes are mere strands of hair to him, he would have no trouble whatsoever in tearing these ropes apart.... at least, one or a bunch at a time, but the vast amounts of ropes will hold him tied down, captive.

This analogy was used by professor Vincent Icke in the Dutch talkshow "De Wereld Draait Door" yesterday on how the government is getting a grip on our online identity with all sorts of new files and registrations, but I think this is even more true for Google. It is time for a new web, and yes it is time for the Social Web, but that would require a thorough redesign, a proper 'new web' with a different architecture supporting it; An architecture which can provide privacy and security when it comes to Identity Management

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Crunch back with Visual CV

A Credit Crunch and recession do funny things with people. All of a sudden we are all looking for a new job. Well, I personally am not, but professional networking sites like LinkedIn report an increase of 25% in activity and new connections made.

On the other hand, Headhunters seem to turn down their activity a little. Over the past yerar I received at least two annoying calls a month, but it's been pretty quiet over the last two months. I guess it's pretty much a US thing to use LinkedIn for finding and hiring people, here in the Netherlands we kinda stick to old fashioned, not networked sites like Monsterboard or Nationale Vacaturebank.

Anyway, if you're looking out for a new job, you might want to check out a new startup called Visual CV. It opened up for beta in early 2008 and offers a whole range of cool features to pimp your resume with video presentations and so on.

"...VisualCV is a clever idea to update the traditional resume. It also allows applicants to stand out in the job market, and cuts out unnecessary steps (phone and in-person interviews) that make it more difficult for employers to see a body of work. Plus, it is entirely free..."

Read full article at Killer Startups.

One of the example resumes that stands out of course is the one of Barack Obama, the president elect of the United States of America. One slight comment, analysts say Barack is the first internet president, with all his neat web 2.0 ventures, like on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the Obama Blog. His resume is a little outdated though, it still states Presidential Candidate. However, a striking example of how leveraging the power of internet can help you get a new job.

Visual CV Barack Obama

One example down the road, we find the Visual CV of Torley Wong, better known as Torley Linden or @torley, neatly wedged in between Barack Obama and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki in the "Influencer" category at Visual CV. Not sure if this is on the same level, but one could say Torley is the people's president of Second Life, or officially Resident Enlightenment Manager at Linden Lab.

Well, time to get out there and pimp that resume.It's easy to do, create then share.

Some more press coverage from early 2008:

"...New to this field is VisualCV. With an online resume at VisualCV, you can showcase your work in a visually appealing way. Although VisaulCV may sound like they're just jobster, version 2, take note - VisualCV already has 50 participating companies onboard receiving VisualCVs and their names may surprise you...

...VisualCV offers a unique feature that lets you track who views your profile after you've shared it, but unlike resumes you post on other job sites, VisualCV's members have more control over their resume's privacy - there are no backdoors for recruiters or marketers to access your resume..."

Read full article at Read Write Web.

VisualCV, a free service for individuals offered by a Reston, Va., start-up, lets job seekers create an online résumé that can include work samples, references' video testimonials and a visual for accomplishments, such as a chart showing surpassed sales targets...

Read full article at Wall Street Journal.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oriental Dispatch: Nurien, MiniLife, Kloseup, Zeb

I can't read Korean, but did find many interesting services in Korea.

Nurien uses CryEngine (you may know Entropia and BlueMars use it) and offers a superreal virtual world. (See video below!). Members have their own profile page, enjoy chatting and games like a quiz show or a dance compettion.

Nurien plans to launch in China, Hong Kong this year. and do a USA release next year.

Mini Life
Cyworld, Korea's leading Social Networking Service which has 22 million members(!) in Korea, has launched a new 3D world called Mini Life in June.

kloseup is a online machinima making service. Select scenes, animations, and create movies. Adding that, you can upload google sketchup files.

I don't have much information about ZEB. I tried to visit the website again, but no response. The service is continuing?

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fire up that blog - Social Spark

Last week, the ReadWriteWeb, wrote an article titled "How Much Do Top Tier Bloggers and Social Media Consultants Get Paid? We Asked Them!" which probably is an interesting question to many bloggers out there.
Are you one of those that think they're making fortunes with their sponsored blogs, and would you like to do the same? Well, here's what ReadWriteWeb came up with:

Most people who are paid to blog are paid per post. What kinds of rates are our respondents seeing? The low end of the scale was $10 per post for very short posts. Almost everyone else said they were paid $25 per post. One person said they were paid $80 per post! One respondent said they were paid $200 per item of long-form writing; bloggers often do other kinds of writing as well.

Paid blogging is usually parttime stuff. Yes, people like Robert Scoble or the founders of big blogs like Download Squad and Engadget probably make a lot more. The question is, can you get paid to blog?
Well, actually, that's pretty easy these days if you sign up at Social Spark. Social Spark is a social network with two types of accounts: bloggers and advertisers. Start profiling yourself and your blog, add tags and start meeting the sponsors and advertisers.
On the homepage you see the latest sponsorship offers, featured blogs, cobloggers and the hottest blogs in the system. There are basically three types of rewards you can get at the marketplace at Social Spark: Sponsored posts where advertisers pay an amount for a reasonable blogpost with enough references, Sitewide sponsoring, just put up some ads on your site and finally, there's Affiliate sponsoring, which in my opinion goes somewhat into dark territory.
Once you put up your blog, you (or potential sponsors) can find a number of statistics about your blog, such as visits, real rank and alexa rank as well as demographics.

Okay, I signed up and there were actually a number of sponsored posts which I would be interested in doing but, alas, the MindBlizzard blog cannot participate as it has several guest authors. One of their criteria is that you and you alone own and create the blog. So much for this sponsorship deal as I value the input of my guestwriters more than making a few bucks on posts.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Connect - Again?

It's been around for a while, but somehow it hasn't reached critical mass yet in Europe. It was not untill yesterday that I noticed Yahoo had a nice new app out on the web: oneConnect. It was launched as early as februar this year.

Yahoo has upped the ante in its campaign to rule the mobile Web.

On Tuesday, the company announced at the GSMA Mobile World Congress here OneConnect, a new tool that allows mobile phone users to aggregate their social-networking updates and messaging in one spot on their phones. The service integrates directly with a phone user's address book and allows people to share status updates and messages from a variety of messaging and social-networking platforms. This means it can provide status updates from Facebook or MySpace.com as well as provide access to e-mail and archived instant-messaging chats. [Read full article here at CNet]

Okay, here we go again. Time for yet another tribal migration, another MeToo social networking app where we can leave our personal data up for grabs. Right now every new web 2.0 app is about converging streams, plugging things into something else, creating more of the same data stream, to pretty much the same people. Why is this different than say Facebook, or Plaxo?

Let's have a look at some of the features.

There is a distinct difference. oneConnect does connect. It doesn't require building a new profile like Facebook, LinkedIn and Facebook. It simply leverages my existing social networks in their current states which saves me going through the hassle of importing contacts and extensive profiling once more.

oneConnect services the usual stuff, converging contacts and lifestreams from multiple sources, but also adds some new features into the mix.

This is what I consider oneConnect's biggest advantage over the existing competition, it allows you to post across different platforms. Better yet, it let's you select which platform you want to push your content to. And although we often use these platforms for specific purposes, often we'd like to update our status to all of our networks, or just to announce a new blogpost without starting up Pownce, Twitter and Jaiku.

Another new one (to my knowledge) in the social space is the integration with Instant Messaging applications making oneConnect one of the most versatile communication platforms out there at the moment.

Now does this all make oneConnect the next killer app for the web? Not yet. It isn't stable yet, it's buggy and has performance issues. It doesn't support enough feeds or services yet and you're pretty limited in the amount of contacts you can add.

Aside from the number of feeds and sources to leverage, there are a few other things that are still lacking to get the next revolution going. We still need some innovation to make the next level of social networking. Yes, oneConnect has some nice extra features over other lifestream aggregators and social portals but it isn't enough to herald a new massive tribal migration on the web just yet.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Twones: Something new or yet another me2?

It's that time of year again... No, it's not yet Christmas, but september has been a blast with the Virtual Worlds Conference & Expo, TechCrunch Top50, PICNIC 08, EmTech and one on Digital Content Distribution all in one month. No wonder one or two new and exciting startups get overlooked.

Today I came across yet another new startup: Twones, which just went into private Beta. People say it's cool, so let's have a look.

Twones is a music service lets you store, organize, find & share music played all over the web (tracking many services, see image above) or on your computer (like iTunes) to one single point of access. Twones ties all music together and let's you share your taste with others in its most direct way.

It basically works in 4 steps:

  1. Track
  2. Store
  3. Socialize
  4. Discover

I'm not much of a music freak myself, well yeah, I'm an 80's fetishist, but I usually play CD's and don't listen online to music. I've tried Last.FM, it didn't bring me what I needed. So I'll pass on this one as there are enough other lifestreams and aggregators to follow, so for me, Twones is just another Me2 site whcih yet again fails to crack the code. If you are a music lover and use all sorts of media sites you might still wanna check it out.

The good new is that it is yet another Dutch startup like the übercool Project E, which I blogged yesterday.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Can "Hello My Name is E" cure the identity confusion on the web?

I've been discussing the need for better Identity Management in the web 2.0 era for a long time now, see for instance my blogposts on Identity Confusion and the tribal migration between social sites. Earlier today I ran into "Hello, my name is E." which is was launched today at the PICNIC 08 event in Amsterdam and is currently selecting beta testers.

"Nice to meet you!
I’m your online life, right inside your pocket.
I integrate your social services and make sure you can share your online identities in real life.
I am the physical link to social networking.
My name is E. "

That sounds very welcoming. Small print says you'll need a mobile device capable of internet access, such as a Blackberry or iPhone. Does this exclude simple pc users? And, does it exclude new Google G1 users (since that was also launched today) too?

I can't wait to actually start beta testing this. We really do need to find ways to keep our data centralised, one account to rule them all so to say. One single point of entry with the ability to distribute content through different (media)channels to a variety specified contacts and groups.

I don't wan't to go to twitter, pownce or jaiku any more to type that I've blogged this to a selected audience of my twitter followers, then go through the same motions of spreading the word on LinkedIn or Hyves or Facebook, not even daring to think of autosyncing with Xing, Ning, Plurk, and so forth, yet I do want some control over whom I sent the information to as well. This last bit... that will be the challenge to tackle for the folks over at Hello My Name is E. or any other social media. I do want to discriminate. My family can see more of me (or less), my colleagues can see different thingies and my social network (and my virtual network) can see yet again other things. I want to be able to manipulate these datastreams with preconfigurable settings.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Integrate or wrap up

Many will agree that Virtual Worlds are wonderful tools when it comes to visualising hard to explain stuff and offer a range of quite useful possibilities. Yet NVE's are still a niche market and have obviously failed as marketing tools. They don't hold the power to overturn the internet yet and become mainstream applications.

In my opinion the key lies in integration with mainstream and social networking tools. Virtual Worlds such as Second Life are still mainly social worlds, used for social interaction for certain special interest groups and in this regard they are a mere 3D Chat addition to social networks. In this day and age these social networks are in charger of the internet with Facebook, Myspace etc. holding vast communities. If Virtual Worlds are to stand more than a "snowballs' chance in hell" in this web 2.0 battle for numbers they have to bridge the gap.

I think I've mentioned Kaneva in the past as pioneering this with their user profiles with blogging, etworking features etc. to enhance the social power of their virtual world. I've mentioned integration a number of times in the articles here on MindBlizzard and in presentations I did in the past year and a half.

Just over a year ago I wrote:

"One of the great features of Kaneva is the personal homepage that you get as a resident - a good start to integrate Web 2.0 and Web 3D into one environment. Think of the power of integrating Second Life with Flickr, Blogger, YouTube, Twitter/pownce and Facebook all in one!"

We've seen a small Facebook widget appear last year in which you could linkup with your Second Life friends, an attempt to integrate Second Life with Joomla, but now the integration takes a step forward as Tribal One integrates Facebook and OpenSim in a first step towards a new approach to 3D/Web integration

As usual, UgoTrade, has a very extensive and thorough blog on this integration:

The picture above shows the in the left pane fetched pictures from Stefan’s Facebook photos. As Stefan explains a hybrid web app is talking to the region to change the picture accordingly and pull the photos into frames on the wall (for a more detailed technical explanation see here).

read more at: UgoTrade.

More to come

There's bound to be more to come on cross platform interfaces and 3D/Web integration. Check out Digado for example with it's accounts on the "Second Life Interface Debate", and here's a vid from Smashing Magazine on "Futuristic Interfaces"

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Feelin'Groovy at LoudCrowd

VentureBeat has uncovered Conduit Labs' first project, LoudCrowd, a mix of social networking, virtual worlds, and casual games. Users can create avatars that, for now, seem mostly usable on a dance floor that's part of a rhythm-based casual game. Users dance to earn points that can be used for customization items and earn more when they're chosen by others as partners.

Loudcrowd Preview by Conduit Labs from conduitlabs on Vimeo.

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