Tuesday, June 29, 2004

RSS built in to new Safari

Boing Boing reports that Jobs says the next version of Safari will have an RSS reader built in. That's a step forward, but what we really need is for MS to build a Bloglines-like server-based reader into IIS. Now that would be cool.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

RSS, relationships, and identity

Doc Searls wrote about RSS as an email replacement. Then Ross Mayfield responded. Then Doc responded to Ross with some dense linkage, which hit my feeds when I actually had some time to process it all.

While no one is claiming that RSS is email, Doc thinks RSS can fill a relationship void in email. Well, potentially, yes it could be used to do that. But as Adina Levin says (referenced by both Ross and Doc),

...signing up for an RSS subscription isn't a "relationship", any more than signing up for a magazine is a relationship. If the information flow is one-way, then it's publishing or marketing, not a "relationship"

It's possible to have "relationships" facilitated by RSS, but that only happens when the receiver talks back -- clicking through to the source to comment or hyperlink or trackback.

I'd take Adina's point one step further: a relationship isn't just about words exchanged, but rather the sum of conversation and actions that affect the other party, even if the other party isn't directly involved.

Some one may bring you lunch when you are working under deadline. This is clearly an action that could positively affect your relationship, even though a conversation occurs when they drop it off. Or, your boss may speak highly of you to her peers. This is a conversation about you, which affects you, but doesn't include you. It won't affect your relationship with your boss unless one of those peers lets you know that the conversation took place.

There is also much discussion in these posts about identity. Ross is concerned about a composite identity controlled by others:

...the deepest question I am wrestling with on identity is in social networking. When a composite identity is formed in a network without your participation. Your friends upload your contact information to make you a node in the network, your emails with them and information scraped off the web builds an identity that you don¹t own or control.

How is this any different from real life? If some of your boss' peers don't know you but have heard of you, what forms your identity in their eyes? Your boss' comments about you, emails that you sent to other folks that were forwarded to those peers, information about you on the corporate intranet, etc. You have an identity that you don't directly control.

In other words, your reputation (or whuffie).

Are you sharing the context that forms your reputation? Not really. Might you receive solicitations based on your reputation? Certainly.


Interoperability for Instant Messaging

You would think by now, after years of immature squabbling from the likes of industry titans such as AOL (not!), Yahoo and Microsoft, that the public would be able to send and receive I.M. to one another, regardless of client brand. The protocol is all the same! How sad is it that we even need a trillian?

Not only that, isn't it also time for a credible I.M. gateway for businesses to appear on the market? Before all I.M. can be truly trans-firewall (as it must be in order to be worth using) we need functionalized extranet-based devices that can make lookup and routing decisions. The same idea is behind the way DNS works. I'll let you find someone if they want to be found, and if you're on legitimate business. But we're not going to just let you cast about in search of destinations to ping and spam!

Imagine the bad craziness if folks were allowed to behave similarly with the SMTP protocol?! Messaging militarized the way the Silk Road was ... oh wait, the grapevine tells me already that HotMail and others are refusing to deliver all Gmail-originated traffic, in spite of the will of senders and recipients to play nice.


Monday, June 21, 2004

Checking email v. checking feeds

I was at an off-site staff meeting last week, and I noticed something about my behavior that struck me. I checked my email regularly, but I almost never checked my feeds.

Why? One reason is habit, which gives some evidence of the behavioral change issues that we face. More importantly though, is the content. My email provides me with more relevant corporate infomation for now. When time is short, you focus on the primary channel and on the stuff that most directly affects you. And today, that stuff is in the email channel.

As much as I get from reading my feeds, they are often lower priority. The good news is that they are still there, neatly organized, when I'm ready to read them.

We will see if and how my behavior changes when there is more corporate content out in feeds.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Winning hearts and mind

The feedback from the two times I presented our strategy was mostly postive. What was really effective was our use of scenarios -- sharing a document, sharing an idea, getting up to speed, etc. Folks identified with the mostly real-life stories contained in the scenarios.

What is lacking is an explicit tie-back from the strategy to the scenarios, such as team workspaces address document sharing. What seems obvious when you live something isn't obvious to those who don't.

We will still have to get approval for specific projects, but so far there has been no disagreement with our direction.

ListGarden RSS generator

Dan Bricklin announces his latest tool, an RSS generator for content management systems that don't already have one. It's in beta now, and he's thinking about releasing it as GPL.

I've looked over the product description, and it might really simplify the process of adding an RSS feed to our technology planning site, which is managed by our TeamSite content management system. This bears further investigation.

Here's some other commentary I found via the Bloglines references feature:

Phil Ringnalda

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

From the meeting

Blogging about blogs while talking about blogs. Cool stuff.

Monday, June 14, 2004

I rest my case....

Exhibit A


Exhibit B

The Anti-Blogger

Convincing corporate audiences

This week, we will see how successfully we've packaged our message for the masses. First, I get to run it by the rest of our technology planning team, and then I walk through it with a group of primarily business analysts. These are two fairly different audiences, so I should get a pretty good sense of how well our approach works.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

How org charts lie

No surprises here. Org charts don't reflect the social networks through which work actually gets done. The authors argue that more links aren't necessarily better, but a good distribution of linkages is critical.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

InfoWorld: Sarbanes-Oxley will require a message-storage rethink

Yet another reason to move away from email. If Schwartz' contention that email on a few laptops will make auditors want to look at them all is true, then email retention policies, including ours, are toast. Certainly, .PST files must die. Synched laptops (and home PC's, for that matter) will only reflect what's in the corporate message store, so I don't see a problem there.

Back Talk?

I found this piece on Gmail to be good commentary, in and of itself.

Authority mapping! Very cool. We could create a whole 'nother blog on that premise alone.

Separating the metadata from the underlying data it describes has let Google initiate a conversation in which users effectively trade general personal data for access to services derived from the aggregated requests. This scoped contract between users and the cloud sidesteps most privacy and political concerns.

Of course, the data needn't necessarily be personal, in order to work.

But of greater interest - to me at least - check out that innocuous little microphone ... How soon before all our various network interfaces include a headset for talk/playback, de rigeur?

Friday, June 11, 2004

Blogging for the curmudgeon

David sent us this gem this morning, identifying with Sid and classifying himself as old. He couldn't appreciate the irony of blogging his anti-blogging position, so it's left to me to do it for him. ;-)

But Sid does reflect the view of many, especially in the corporate world, that blogging is exhibitionist navel gazing. Well, sure, that goes on. But not all blogs are journals. And even though focused blogs wander some, that helps make them fun and interesting and keeps people coming back. Dramas have comic relief. It's okay. Really. Or as Guy says (and he can elaborate), blogging needs personalities.

People tend to discount the social nature of work. Relationships are how work gets done. Why else would work groups wander off on team building boondoggles? Might it be that they aren't boondoggles after all, but rather something that's beneficial to the bottom line by making the work group more effective? If you need help in a pinch, it's the people you know who typically will help you out.

So why the resistance to blogging? Much of the sort of stuff that people object to in blogs happens in email today. David and I had an interesting and informative thread about TiVo this morning. It's a bit of a s-t-r-e-t-c-h to call the content work related, but the fact that TiVo advocacy is a tie that binds David and me is good for our working relationship. On the other other hand, the fact that I'm posting all of this may not be. :-)

Like all of these social things, blogging can also keep people from doing "real work" such as documenting collaboration strategies. Oops! Uh, later...

Tele-Embodiment, Part I

What role do kinesics and proxemics play in effective collaboration?

Distance seems a much diminished factor in the normal transaction of business now.

Are the new technologies we use everyday that good? Just as good as being there; how can it be - or is it not - as good?

Is "the third place" now online?

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Scintillating Welsh Blogs

#1) Pob Luc i Chi Gyda'r Dysgu

#2) Actually .. I haven't found any yet

But more people speak Welsh today than Latin. So how long of a wait can it be? In the meantime, one can brush up on their cymraeg, in hope and preparation.

what I say

Previously here I've expressed my disinterest in sourcing music from the internet. I had good reasons, if you'll recall. Which got David and I to talking - what's the best tool for capturing streaming radio?

Interviews, ballgames, lectures, esoterica... countless hours of the real deal.

It's ZINF! No other comes close, for full functionality and ease of use.

Who? Who has more disk space than they will ever need?

No more. We've got your number. Word up.

In Memoriam

First Ronnie Ray-Gun, under whom I 'directly' served for 18 months (sorta, at SDI), and now another hero, Doug Pappas … depart from this earth the very next day.

Doug and I had just begun to correspond with one another over the 'net this year. We shared two keen interests: the hidden game of baseball and the hidden backroads of the U.S. He will be missed.

Oh no, now I hear Ray Charles has passed, too. Helluva week.

Waiting on Guydot

Guy keeps telling me that he has many great items to blog, but that his ceaseless attempts to appease the ravenous monster S-Ox have drained him. First, he was going to do it this weekend. Now, I hear that maybe tonight he will resuscitate himself with some quality blogging.

Meanwhile, I feel like Bueller's teacher. Anyone?...Anyone?...Anyone???

Google reconsiders RSS

This is good news. Of course, even better news would be to get one standard. Can't we all just get along?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Many-to-Many: The State of Email

Some high-fiber reading on email, RSS and Atom, shared workspaces, public blogs, and the like. I really liked this bit:
Occupational Spam, email sent out of context characterized by CCs, is 30% of corporate email. You know this problem and are a part of it. You want to keep people informed and you want to be informed. The problem is email wasn’t designed [for many-to-many communication]and its best use is for one-to-one communication.

Good stuff.

Monday, June 07, 2004

It's ubiquity, not mobility that matters

This is a pretty interesting rant. There are also a lot of good comments in response. However, I think that Russ misses the point. Mobility, while important, is just a subset of ubiquity. It's the ubiquity of connectivity that enables people to work with one another regardless of location.

Employee blogs at Sun

Sun now has employee blogs, reversing a policy prohibiting any public comment that wasn't sanctioned by Sun's marketing and legal departments. Microsoft started allowing employee blogs on MSDN in January.

It's no surprise that this happened after Sun hired Tim Bray, one of the authors of the XML spec.

Corporate America wakes up to Wiki

Smart Mobs says that folks in our bailiwick are beginning to use wikis. These didn't get much play in our discussions. Team blogs with liberal commenting seemed to make more sense to us.

Maybe a wiki could get a second look, but with limited resources, you've got to prioritize.

Thoughts, anyone?

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Changing habits

The biggest risk we've identified with rolling out any new collaborative tools is in actually getting people to use them. People are creatures of habit. Unless you make it just as easy or easier to do things the new way, people will continue to do it the old way, even if there are benefits to the new way.

As I noted earlier, blogs provide a natural knowledge capture mechanism if you can get folks to actually change their work habits to include posting to a blog instead of hammering out an email. David, our resident curmudgeon on this issue, makes several points to this effect in his response.

Will people worry about their "proprietary knowledge," or will they see a reduction in the number of times they have to answer the same or similar questions? Is our corporate search good enough to find all this information? Can we automatically maintain a feed directory? Are there RSS tools that corporate users will readily adopt? Do corporate policies actually inhibit use of these tools? How easy is it to integrate an RSS feed into our standard intranet sites?

We hope to address all of these questions and more with a proof-of-concept over the next couple of months with a handful of IT groups that work closely together. These will be internal blogs, but it should be as easy to post to them externally as it is to write an email on your work account when you are home.

I'll let you know how it progresses.

Virtual meeting surprise

I was fairly sure going in to our collaboration strategy that one of the top needs that we'd find would be for an enhanced web conferencing capability. But to my surprise, that's not what we found. Even though NetMeeting can be problematic, the general feeling was that it was good enough for now.

The biggest limitation of NetMeeting is its use with external people. As we progressed through the strategy, we discovered that we actually already had a small deal in place with WebEx that addressed just this sort of thing. It's very Dilbert-ish that the collaboration team didn't know anything about the WebEx deal, but that's life in a big corporation.

So, for the time being, our virtual meeting efforts will center around making sure that everyone is aware of the capabilities that we have in the space. After we address the gaps in our capabilities, we will revisit the web conferencing space to look for a better solution.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Experiencing the collaborative holes

I was in a multi-day meeting straight off vacation, and in the meeting, I couldn't help but experience the gaps in our collaborative environment.

"Have you all seen this document? It's out on the shared drive." How was I supposed to know it was out there? No one sent me an email, and if they did, it may have been buried in the post-vacation deluge. Wouldn't automatic notification via RSS be really helpful?

Then there was Karen's reaction: "Where? What folder?" There's no reasonable way to discover what's out there so that you could then subscribe to the folder. But if it were a project site instead...

Finally, the consultant said, "When you put it out on the shared drive, will you email me a copy?" Being an "outsider," the consultant has no access to the shared area. Simple, granular remote access would be nice.

We've identified all of these problems already, but there was nothing like experiencing them again outside the realm of our project team. Now we have to start fixing them.