Is this Future Shock?

musings on how technology is changing my business environment

Archive for January 2008

Ownership of Social Networks? or the data we give them?

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Following a couple of interesting tweets on Twitter, I started following Brian Kelly and, as usual had a look to see if his blog was interesting. It is, and I’ve joined in with his Pownce experimenting – you can find me here.

One of his latest posts touched on ownership of social networks asking:

  • Who should own the social networks?
  • Should ownership of social networks be any different from other software services we use in our institutions (including VLEs such as Blackboard, Web 2.0 services such as Flickr or blogging services such as Edublogs Campus)
  • How should a transition to a change of ownership take place?
  • How realistic is the transition strategy?
  • How do you know what this is what the users actually want?
  • How will social networking services be funded under alternative ownership resources? And if the answer is increased taxes, how will you get that past the Daily Mail readership which seem to be influential in informing policy discussions for both the Labour and Conservative parties?

This followed concerns being raised by Frances Bell and Josie Fraser about the ownership of the social networks – particularly Facebook.

As an employee of a *huge* telecom/ICT firm, the idea of any state ownership of social networks seems faintly odd. If we trust private firms to provide the infrastructure that these social networks run over – because, of course, we can always switch to another supplier – why *wouldn’t* you trust private firms to run the social networks?

The social networks – be they Facebook, Orkut, bebo, MySpace or something from ning – are the pipes that we deploy our social graphs across. Pete Johnson gives a good explanation of graph vs. network.

Now, if I can take my graph off that network… [hey, isn’t that beginnning to look like Data Portability – and aren’t Facebook saying they’lll play?] … can I use it somewhere else? Which bits of the data are mine is a different issue.

Well, not yet. But maybe soon. And when that happens, won’t these concerns about who runs the “pipes” be less significant?
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Written by SteveEllwood

January 23, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Wikis, social networking and Facebook

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Wikis 
I’ve written before about wikis and the intranet, and how I saw advantages in their use.

My colleague Sandy – who has the patience of a saint – sighs, and explains that scalability and control are a bit more of an issue when you have 100k users rather than 30.

I counter with Knowledge Management working better when you have involved Communities of Practice, pointing out that wikis are ideal for those and we go round again.

I was interested to see Abigail Lewis-Bowen’s view at the Intranet Benchmarking Forum which suggests that

“it’s important to provide Wikis and Blogs only after processes for publishing “formal” information channels to the Intranet are well established.  If the right people are publishing to the right place on the Intranet, and there is good editorial workflow and governance, then the Intranet is sturdy enough to add an open, less-structured layer of content.”

Basically, if your intranet functions OK, go for it; require authenticated log-in, provide good how-tos and link the formal stuff to the “under-Web” [lovely coining by Paul Miller in his Trends for 2008]

Social Networking

Still lots of interest at work in:

  •  what this is (yes, I know you know, dear reader, but I’m still working it out; so have patience).
  • what can we get from this – and an interesting term I hadn’t heard before – Social Capital. I mean, I now know it’s been around for years, with the first cite being around 110 *years* ago.
  • how we can facilitate it – what tools, what processes?

I think it’s partly culture, partly tools,  and partly process.

As part of my Personal Development Plan(PDP), I’d decided this was a key area to understand and try and utilise. My company’s culture encourages us to drive robust PDPs. I’d found a range of tools – each new one pointed to by posting on previous tool, and learned from them. The process is the bit that is currently blocking wider acceptance of this; how do you measure the value. As long as nobody starts talking about a business model  I’ll be happy.

Facebook

I’ve had Facebook for a while, but following the irritation I – and a number of other friends – had been feeling with Vampires, “funny” videos, LOLcatz I removed FunWall and SuperWall. I update my status via Twitter  – and so do many others, and am currently using Twitter more – but I still use Facebook.

It’s still a nice application for seeing what your friends/colleagues are doing and provides a way of managing the various contacts – true, I want to be able to escape from the walled garden – but that looks like it’s coming.

I’ve been able to build

  • online relationships with the people I’ve “friended”
  • knowledge of Web2.0
  • understanding of some of the tools
  • links with people I’d never have heard of…

 JP Rangaswami says

“The information that flows through a social network exists in three dimensions. One dimension is time, past, present and future. A second dimension is number, one to many. A third is movement, static to dynamic. When I share my contact details with another person, I am providing static, present, one-to-one information.  When I share what I am intending to do with a whole community, I am providing dynamic, future, one-to-many information.

The motivation to provide information is, at least in part, driven by an expected value of the information coming out of Facebook. And one other thing: the comfort level of providing, to a community, what is essentially private information.

Generation M and their successors are comfortable with sharing their past actions, current state and their future intentions with the community they belong to; they’re comfortable with sharing changes to states and intentions as well. They do this because they believe new value will emerge from that sharing. Collaborative, communal value, shared value.”

I think that’s fair – and I look forward to how we’re going to use “Facebook for the Enterprise” to leverage the social capital we’re looking for.

Written by SteveEllwood

January 18, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Facebook, JP, Twitter, Web 2.0, wiki

Trust, OpenID, VRM, Data Portability and how does it hang together?

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… or who am I, anyway? Do *you* trust me?

I’m a moderately keen Facebook user. I have a number of friends, and am in a few groups – although I avoid all zombie battles and the like.

I’m a member of a number of web forums, and a newsgroup user.

I also blog in a couple of places, Twitter, and use some other Web2.0/blogging tools. I use last.fm intermittently.

I don’t think any of my online contacts know all the places I am, and I have differing reputations/standing in all of them.

None of the DVD/bookshops I use know enough about me to target me precisely – except Amazon – and while they provided the infrastructure to learn about my *purchases*, I provided large amounts of rating information to them – and told them which of my purchases (for others) not to use for recommendations.

I became interested in VRM following some posts by JP, whose other posts on ownership of information have exercised me a bit.

I’d also heard about a bit about OpenID but thought that would be a bit taxing to understand for a neophyte like me – when I suddenly discovered that I could use this blog as an OpenID… it now makes commenting on other folks blogs a bit easier, and helped sort out my QDOS application [FWIW, I have a shamefully low QDOS of 1100].

Once again, JP in a series of tweets including here, here and here started discussing communal ownership of information and its relation to identity.

I can use my identity here to let me comment on folk’s blogs. I’m an unknown blogger, and so not trusted as an authority.

One of the forums I frequent, I’ve been a member since near inception; I posted a lot; I’ve accrued karma/reputation points; I know some of the moderators; I organised group buys (basically taking on the hassle of ordering scores of items worth hundreds/thousands of dollars for members). I’m *trusted* there.

Now, does my reputation there belong to me, or to the community who accorded me the reputation?

In fact, some of it does seem to belong to me, as I posted on another related forum (to do with bushcraft, if you must know) and I was challenged about something. Another poster (who I didn’t think I knew) said something like “Nah, he’s alright. I know him from x, and he’s been about for years and knows a lot about this.” He “knew” me because he recognised my nickname and location. He used differing nicknames, so I couldn’t have vouched for him. If I’d logged in with my OpenID, it would be more obvious.

I’d like to take my data with me and share it with whom I want. Is Data Portability the answer? Well, yes. For some of it, and seeing @jowyang’s post encourages me to believe there’ll be some movement.

And no, not unless we sort out which data is mine. The karma others gave me in a bushcraft group? My technorati rating (as if!). Even if it was mine, how we going to transfer that?

I’m going to watch the debate with interest – and learn more, I hope.

Written by SteveEllwood

January 11, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Twitter, tweets, twerps and now twivers

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Doc Searls in another interesting post posits that part of the reason for the success of Twitter is the contrast between live vs. static and light vs. heavy

What makes Twitter so good is that it’s lightweight and not ambitious about running your life. It’s more service than site. It’s part of the live Web, even though you can still find it in the static one…the twin points of live vs. static and light vs. heavy.

I think I agree with that; I can dial up or back my interaction with it. I follow some pretty heavy twerps and don’t find it too hard  – as I turn off my SMS notification for them – but I get to see their funny/clever attention getting stuff online – and focus on the twits more closely.

As an aside, I also *love* how fast the twit/twerp meme has travelled and some of the kickback  it’s received…

… and lots of the fun with twitter is how fast you can check what’s arousing ire by a quick terraminds search.

 I’m still learning with this all the time – but I love it (rather more than my mild regard for Facebook). I haven’t had to unfollow anyone yet…

Written by SteveEllwood

January 8, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Posted in Twitter, Web 2.0