Advertisements

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 121908

From the home office in Short Pump, VA…

#1: “Each year there is more information created on the Web than in all the previous years combined. ” Jim Breyer of Accel http://bit.ly/12nH3

#2: Per a Yahoo product rep, the average search session lasts 15 minutes http://bit.ly/eSrr

#3: What a lovely bitchmeme we have this weekend…and in case you’re curious, here’s Dave Winer’s definition of a bitchmeme: http://bit.ly/MYJm

#4: It takes 6-9 months for a blog to get fully ramped up in terms of readership per @duncanriley http://bit.ly/W0LO

#5: Great story of a Best Buy meeting where a raging Twitter conversation happened while the room was respectfully quiet http://bit.ly/FkKM

#6: 60% of e2.0 vendors will be bought or go under in 2009, according to Gartner http://bit.ly/Acyg >> Oy!

#7: Today is my one-year anniversary of Twitter. First tweet? “Trying to get warm-n-fuzzy about Twitter…” http://bit.ly/fss2 Accomplished!

#8: Office 2007 – really, really confusing if you’re used to Office 2003 or prior versions.

#9: FriendFeed got a spammer attack, the team quickly took care of it. One thing I wonder: why do these spammers always have such bad grammar?

#10: My sister just earned her PhD in linguistics this morning from Georgetown. Way to go Helen!

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22My+Ten+Favorite+Tweets+-+Week+Ending+121908%22&who=everyone

Advertisements

How Would Social Media Help You in Your Job?

I’m having a ball with social media out in the consumer web. Blogging, FriendFeed, Twitter, Facebook. I’m learning so much about technology, new companies and people’s attitudes regarding Web 2.0. Along the way, some collaboration and a new job actually happened out of all this fun.

Now why can’t we see some of these same effects in the place where most of us spend a third of our day? We’re seeing live implementations of social media inside organizations (aka Enterprise 2.0). It’s a good sign.

I’m now in a job where I’m thinking about this a lot. And I figured I’d start with myself. Where would social media have made a difference in my two previous Big Corporate jobs:

Both companies were examples of today’s modern company, with a heavy information orientation. It’s been years since I worked at either, but here is how social media could have helped me in my jobs.

May Department Stores

The buying office of a retailer is responsible for picking the merchandise you see on the floor. Buyers also plan and execute promotions, set prices and ensure optimum amount of inventory on the floor and in the warehouse. We also had to communicate with the department managers of dozens of stores.

Here are the social media that would have helped me (if we had the Web back in 1990-1994):

  • Twitter: Yup, I would have loved Twitter. An easy way to fire off updates out to the field of department managers. And they would have sent back news of things they were seeing. Would have been a huge help during the crazy Christmas season.
  • Blog: I would have blogged about the weekly promotions. There’s a fair amount of work that went into them (promo prices, signage, focus of the ads), and documenting all that would have been useful. New products that we bought would have been good to discuss as well.
  • Bookmarking and notetaking: Assuming we had the world wide web back then, I would have bookmarked and noted a number of things for the job: competitor ads and pricing, product promotions I liked, new products I’d seen elsewhere.

Bank of America

At BofA, my group raised debt for corporations. Deals could run anywhere from $25 million to $6 billion. It was an information-intensive job.

The work consisted of three primary activities: (1) win the deal; (2) sell the deal; (3) close the deal via documentation. You had to stay on top of comparable deals, industry trends, capital market trends and general market chatter. Our group was divided into Structurers (me), who worked with clients to win and structure deals; and Distribution, who sold the deal to the market. Distribution always had the best information.

Social media I would have wanted:

  • Twitter: Again! I really would have wanted to see the ongoing chatter of the Distribution guys. They picked up all sorts of incredibly valuable market intelligence during the day. They used to IM. Now I’d want them to tweet.
  • Wiki: Every deal should have had a wiki space, with its “win the mandate” phase, its “sell it to the market” phase and the documentation phase. Wikis would have been good for handling the whole deal cycle.
  • Feed Reader: There were market data publications to which BofA subscribed. Getting a feed of deal information would have been a huge help. We were chasing information down in paper publications.
  • Bookmarking and notetaking: When deal, market or industry news came through, I needed a place to save it. I was always going back to find stuff I’d seen earlier. Bookmarking would have helped a lot. Note taking too – capture some information or thoughts, tag it and come back to it later.
  • Blog: My group wouldn’t have had much use for a blog amongst ourselves. But a blog that updated the rest of the bank as to what was happening in our particular capital market (syndicated loans) would have been perfect. We had other groups asking us often about market conditions.

I’d Love to Hear About You

Maybe you’re already using social media inside your company. Or perhaps you’ve been thinking, “my company really needs…”

If you’ve got any ideas to share, I’d love to hear them.

*****

If you want an easy way to stay on top of Enterprise 2.0, I invite you to join the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. The room takes feeds for Enterprise 2.0-related items on Twitter, Del.icio.us and SlideShare. To see this room, click here: http://friendfeed.com/rooms/enterprise-2-0

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22How+Would+Social+Media+Help+You+in+Your+Job%3F%22&public=1

What Are the Top-Ranked Search Keywords for Your Blog?

Just going through the blog stats after a week off. I noticed my blog post about Facebook’s new newsfeed getting a lot of hits via search.

Just for the heck of it, I figured I’d list some of the search terms that rank my blog pretty highly in Google search results (note my rankings are as of 3 pm on August 10, 2008; the rankings seem to fluctuate a fair amount):

1. “Farewell email“: My blog post How to Write a Farewell Email to Your Co-Workers usually ranks in the top 5, and often is #1.

2. “Pay By Touch“: Two blog posts make it into the top 5 results: Pay By Touch & the Peanut Butter Manifesto, Farewell, Pay By Touch, Farewell.

3. “Facebook slow“: The post Facebook’s New Newsfeed: Slow. Over-engineered. I Like It. has climbed to #5 in the search results for this term.

4. “Should I buy an iPhone“: Shockingly, Should I Buy the Apple 3G iPhone of the Nokia N95? comes in at #7 in response to that search term.

5. “Blog aggregators“: Coming in at #4 for that search term is Explosion of the Blog Aggregators…How to Keep Up.

That’s not a complete list, I’m sure. But some that I’m currently seeing in terms of traffic.

As an aside, compare the search terms where my blog ranks highly to my tag cloud:

There’s something of a disconnect, as you’ll notice lots of FriendFeed, Twitter, blog and social media posts. Those posts don’t receive quite the same search engine positioning. But they are very popular topics written about by many others.

Me? I’ve just happened to land a few hits for less popular blogging topics. And the iPhone search engine ranking probably resulted from a fortuitous link from MacSurfer.com, which gave it good link juice.

How about your blog? What are your blog’s top search terms?

Unclear on the Concept: People Complaining about Comcast Monitoring Social Media

The New York Times has an article today about Comcast using social media to respond to customer complaints. Comcast is definitely at the forefront of this move to engage customers out in the wild. Comcast’s efforts have previously been documented on ReadWriteWeb. New York Times coverage helps move the concept, and Twitter, closer to mainstream adoption.

What caught my eye in the NYT article is that some people are concerned about Comcast doing this. They feel like Comcast is acting like Big Brother. According to the article, 20 year-old Brandon Dilbeck blogged about his dislike of ads on Comcast’s programming guide. A Comcast representative found the post (Google blog alert perhaps?), and responded to him via email.

Hey dude! Your blog had some impact! Isn’t that cool?

Well, no. The blogger apparently thought it was weird:

Mr. Dilbeck found it all a bit creepy. “The rest of his e-mail may as well have read, ‘Big Brother is watching you,’ ” he said.

Here’s what I don’t get. Blogs are publicly available. Anyone can find a blog and comment on it. Sometimes, your blog posts result in actions you wouldn’t have expected. This is the power of Web 2.0.

If you’re going to write publicly, how on earth can you be concerned about Big Brother? Sure, if Comcast had monitored his email or phone conversations, that’d be Big Brother (and illegal).

But to air your concerns publicly and have someone from the company read it? If you’re concerned someone would actually read your post, then don’t blog. I’m actually surprised this 20 year old was concerned. The Gen Y folks are supposed to be pretty open about everything in their lives. Maybe Mel McBride is right when she made this comment on FriendFeed with regard to Facebook:

I’m just getting tired of dopes buying into the surveillance of their personal history, daily activities and personal associations as a “convenience” – wake up people.

Social media: If you write it, do it or video it, people can find it. That’s the great opportunity for all of us.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Unclear+on+the+Concept%3A+People+Complaining+about+Comcast+Monitoring+Social+Media%22&public=1

Google Knol: A Massive Blogging Platform

Google opened up its Knol service on Wednesday July 23. From the Google blog:

The web contains vast amounts of information, but not everything worth knowing is on the web. An enormous amount of information resides in people’s heads: millions of people know useful things and billions more could benefit from that knowledge. Knol will encourage these people to contribute their knowledge online and make it accessible to everyone.

Allow millions of people to freely write up their own thoughts and contribute knowledge. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah…

You know what Knol is? It’s a blogging platform. A hosted, multi-author blogging platform

As Mathew Ingram notes, Knol is compared to Wikipedia and Mahalo. Here’s how I’d break down the three services.

  • Wikipedia is a wiki
  • Mahalo is an editor-controlled links aggregation site
  • Knol is a giant blogging site

Wikipedia is a collaborative effort toward creating a single information page. Mahalo is handpicked information created in a top-down fashion by experts. Knol is a bunch of separate blog posts on a given subject.

I Wrote My First Google Knol

To find out more about Google Knol, I decided to write up a knol. My knol is Using FriendFeed to Increase Blog Readership. I took my old post Ten FriendFeed Visitors Beats 1,000 StumbleUpons Any Day, and got rid of the comparisons to StumbleUpon and Digg. The knol focuses on how FriendFeed is actually good for bloggers.

I figured that post was a good one to start with. It got Likes from FriendFeed co-founders Paul Buchheit and Bret Taylor:

The post was also (ironically) quite popular with Stumblers. So I cleaned up the references to other sites and added some things around attention optimization.

Yup, I was ready to rock-n-knol.

Knol = Blogging

The process of creating a knol was really easy:

  1. Go to knol.google.com
  2. Click on “Write a knol”
  3. Sign in with your Google account
  4. Start writing

I thought there might be some sort of test to prove my expertise, or some approval period while someone checked my credentials. Nope.  It was just another Google Accounts sign-up.

The process reminded me of signing up for wordpress.com and starting to write. Here’s the knol blogging interface:

Once I got in there, it was just like blogging. I wrote my paragraphs. Created section titles. Added graphics.

I did assume a somewhat more professorial tone in the knol than I do here.

Knols Allow Some Wiki-Like Collaboration on Blog Posts

The overall Knol site is not itself a wiki. But there are wiki elements available for individual knols. Three collaboration options are available, set by th author:

  1. Wide open editing by anyone who is signed in
  2. Moderated editing – all edits must be approved by the author
  3. No editing – no one except the author can make changes

So there could be knols that are set up as true community build-out efforts (#1 option above). That’s pretty much Wikipedia. The difference is that there may be several knols on a given subject – some by solo authors, some by a group of collaborators. Wikipedia has only a single page per subject.

Knols Allow Comments – Just Like Blogs

People can make comments on your knol. A good discussion can occur around a subject. This is just like a blog.

Knols Allow Ads – Just Like Blogs

An author can elect to allow ads to appear beside the knol. I did this, signing up for Google AdSense for the first time in my life. I don’t expect to earn a penny, but I want to see what ads run there.

Blogs, of course, can also have ads.

Knol Includes an Author Profile – Just Like Blogs

When you create your first knol, Google automatically creates a second one for you: your profile page (link to mine). A really nice feature that, again, is a hallmark of blogs (the About page).

Aside from a  bio, the profile page includes a listing of the knols that someone has written.

What’s the Difference Between Google Knols and WordPress.com?

Really, there’s no reason the content of knols will differ that much from blogs. I searched for “back pain” on Google Knol and WordPress.com. Here are two results:

The knol is the more scholarly of the two. But the wordpress.com blog holds its own in terms of information.

There are two key differences from what I can see:

  1. Brand. Knol is branded as an expert/knowledge site. Blogs are that, but also include a lot of opinion and first-person experiences.
  2. Ranking. Readers can rate a knol on a 1-5 star scale. These rankings will help the best content emerge at the top of search results.

Google knols may also have better “Google juice” than most blogs. Search Engine Land suspects knols will inherit a Google page rank advantage in search results.

Try Writing a Knol!

For me, writing a knol was a lot less pressure than adding to a Wikipedia entry. It was just like writing a blog post. Now I am conscious of the purpose of knol, and don’t expect to fill it with my blog posts. But perhaps over time people will be less wary of adding opinion to knols. From the Google blog post introducing Knol:

The key principle behind Knol is authorship. Every knol will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content. It’s their knol, their voice, their opinion. We expect that there will be multiple knols on the same subject, and we think that is good.

Note the inclusion of opinion in there. Once you open that up, you’ve fundamentally got blogging. Knol might be good for people who don’t want to maintain a full blog, but would love to write a few articles providing knowledge and opinion.

Go take a look at the knol I wrote (link). Please rate it. Comment on it. I’m curious what all that interaction looks like.

And then go blog your own knol. If you do, leave a link in the comments so I can check it out.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Google+Knol%3A+A+Massive+Blogging+Platform%22&public=1

Innovation Requires Conversations, Gestation, Pruning

The day-in, day-out work of employees is tough on innovation. You have to get done what your managers, and the company needs today. Now there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with getting the near0term stuff done. Companies would be chaos if everyone did their own thing. But the typical work day is not conducive to maximizing innovations.

Which is where employee blogs come in. Enterprise 2.0, if you will.

Current Workplace Environment

Several things limit the amount of innovation coming out of larger companies.

General Busyness. Andrew McAfee has a nice post on this one. We’re all very busy. It feels that way, doesn’t it? And it’s not just any busyness. Your hours must have an immediate, measurable outcome. That leaves little time for the longer term, R&D-oriented type of thinking that can result in breakthrough ideas. Google’s 20% of time for personal interests stands out as an example of a company fighting this dynamic.

Existing Processes Are Hard to Change. The current products, internal practices, meetings, sales efforts, etc. are all geared to what is going on today. Much of this infrastructure is decreed from the top. New ideas which require these same corporate resources get a tough reception. It’s like you’re adding new work to everyone’s day.

Proximity Drives Relationships. We tend to share our thoughts with those we work with regularly. It’s natural. These form our relationships. So if you have a new idea, you’ll naturally bounce off these folks. But it’s crap shoot as whether you’ll get far this way. Your colleagues may not be interested or are too busy. A good idea can suffer a premature death.

Ideas Go to the Email Inbox to Die. Email is a tough medium for idea exchange. You can send your idea to someone else. If the recipient doesn’t have an immediate response, the email just sits there. And sits there. And sits there. Before long, your email is six feet under. Never to be read again. Email also suffers from limited distribution, unless you spam the corporation with your idea.

Now it’s not like innovation is failing to occur. But do companies’ internal pendulums swing so far toward busyness that they’re not maximizing their vital innovations?

Conversations, Gestation, Pruning

You ever have an idea that you really thought had legs? Well, if you just keep it to yourself, it won’t go far. Your butterfly wing flap needs to be picked up by others. The process of talking out your idea is important for validating it, refining it, seeing if it has potential.

These conversations are hard to have based on the usual workplace dynamics described above. Sure, some will happen. In a company of 10,000 people working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, there are 20 million hours annually. Out of these 20 million hours, some innovation conversations will happen. But enough?

New ideas also challenge the status quo. They need time to sink in. Colleagues know the existing processes, products and services well. How does your idea affect that? How will it improve it? It’s hard to rush people to grok your idea.

This gestation also lets the idea play out more fully. It can be refined, altered, researched. Others pick up the idea and discuss it. It gets socialized. Others can become advocates, including those with a say on corporate resources.

As a result of these conversations and gestation time, some ideas will emerge as real opportunities. Many won’t. In fact, most probably won’t. But that’s OK. Real innovation is hard to achieve; if it wasn’t, we’d all be enjoying our start-up IPOs, right? This pruning is healthy and necessary.

Blogging Is a Natural Channel for Employee Innovation

In my brief blogging experience, my eyes have opened to the power of blogging. You put an idea out there, and see what others think. You make connections. You read other blogs for different perspectives.

A lot of this makes sense for addressing the hurdles to employee innovation:

  • General busyness: Blog posts need not take a lot of time. Ideas can be entered in 10 minutes.
  • Existing processes are hard to change: A blogged idea does not put someone in the awkward position of considering how it will increase their workload and change their routine.
  • Proximity drives relationships: Blogs are location neutral. Anyone can find them. Forget the guy in the cubicle next to you. The employee in Asia might grok your idea.
  • Ideas go to the email inbox to die: Blog posts live on. They’re RSS-able. They’re shareable. They’re searchable. They’re taggable. And they can be accessed by everyone.

Blogs let the conversation continue in an asynchronous fashion. You can comment on a post. Share it with a colleague. Link to it. You can build on someone else’s post. Recruit others to your cause.

All of these factors contribute to the gestation period needed for the new idea to take hold. And they help prune ideas so the ones with the most potential survive.

And a Couple Nice Benefits Also Happen

An interesting thing occurs from this: new employee social networks emerge as connections among bloggers. There are the people you work close to. Those whom you collaborate on projects. And now new connections are made based on knowledge and innovation. Those last ones may be the strongest of all.

Employees can also raise their profile and reputation with their blogging. Here’s a nice example. EMC is deploying web 2.0 technologies inside the enterprise, an effort that is being blogged by Chuck Hollis, EMC VP Technology Alliances. In a recent post, he describes how several internal employee bloggers are “graduating” to be external bloggers. That’s right – they now will engage the market on behalf of EMC.

All in all, blogging holds tremendous benefit for companies. While many employees won’t do it, those that do can become real drivers of innovation.

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/e/5303300f-3e4c-e5d9-b1ed-96c6d94988cf

Becoming a Web 2.0 Jedi

Thinking about the ever deeper levels of involvement one can have with Web 2.0 apps and the Web 2.0 ethos. Came up with this chart.

Thoughts?

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Becoming+a+Web+2.0+Jedi%22&public=1