E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Communities

Swicki – Community-Powered Search at Its Best

If you have been visiting my weblog going through the direct link as opposed to the actual syndication feed you will have noticed by now a couple of changes on the actual weblog template itself. The most notorious one and the one for which this weblog post is meant is Swicki. And the reason why I think it is worth while mentioning is because this is a relatively new offering that tries to fill in a gap in the searching world out there. That gap is the one of a community-powered search where community members help build up a common set of keywords and their results from a community perspective as opposed to an individual perspective, which is what you would get with traditional search engines. In short, and like it is mentioned on the web site itself:

Swickis harness the collective intelligence of and strengthen your community.

Pretty neat, eh ? But it gets better, folks. Now consider the fact that most of those community members may be dispersed and may have an already existing connection through the usage of particular collaboration tools to share knowledge like Wikis or weblogs or even Instant Messaging, but were missing the fact that they didn’t have a common repository of keywords they could search on from all of the different resources they would be using. Now with Swicki things are different. The circle will be closed since community members would have the opportunity to collaborate offline through Wikis and weblogs or in real-time with Instant Messaging and, finally, with the chance to put that altogether into a dynamic search engine that community members can refer to back and forth and help it grow further as time goes by. 

And that is the real power from Swicki. Not the fact that it may be another powerful search engine, but the fact that it establishes a connection between the different community members by allowing them to build that powerful search engine based on their sharing of sets of keywords. And that would be the main key success factor from this, so far beta, offering. Worth while watching it how it evolves for sure, which is why I have decided to include it in my weblog template and continue to use it more and more. And later on in time I will be weblogging about it some more to share with you folks what my experience has been so far.

Thus if you are part of a community and want to build up that community-powered search engine I would certainly recommend you give a try to Swicki. It will help you build those stronger links and trust levels and become much more integrated with the rest of your fellow community members. So you may want to go ahead and create your own Swicki now !

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Habitat Jam and the Future of Our Cities

Where will you be from December the 1st till 3rd ? Got any plans that would make a difference in the world we live in today and perhaps in the near future ? No? No plans? Then you may want to stay tuned and register to join Habitat Jam. The United Nations-Habitat (UN-Habitat) is currently preparing (With the help and support from IBM) one of those online events that not only would it be unique on its own but that it would also have a significant impact in the way we live in this world in the next few years to come.

Indeed, for the first time ever the world will stop and think what it can do to make a significant impact by hosting one of those worldjam events that I am sure would not leave people unaffected, all the other way around. There have been some folks who have been weblogging already about the online event itself (Amongst them Nancy White in Habitat Jam :: Another Online Event to Watch and Nick Aster in Habitat Jam Offers Online Discussion of Urban Issues Dec 1-3) and I am sure there will be more. But here is your chance to get to know a bit more what Habitat Jam is all about:

Imagine tens of thousands of people around the world just like you connecting in real time over the internet to discuss and debate some of the most urgent and controversial issues that face a rapidly urbanizing planet. Imagine world-class thinkers leading the discussions. Imagine the results that could be achieved by this unprecedented global conversation and collaboration. This is Habitat JAM.

The Habitat JAM is about adding your voice into the global conversation about the future of our cities. It’s about having your say on important issues that affect you. It’s about building new global networks of people who wouldn’t have connected before. It’s about working together across the globe to agree on solutions.

As part of the preparations for the third session of the World Urban Forum, the Government of Canada in partnership with UN-HABITAT is sponsoring this 72-hour internet event. From December 1-3, 2005, the Habitat JAM will gather your input and add it to thousands of others to turn ideas into actions for the Vancouver World Urban Forum agenda and influence the Forum’s content.

As you have been able to read above this is going to be one of those online events worth while not only listening in but also participating to whatever the extent. As you will be able to read from the About Habitat Jam web link there actually will be six different forums in place:

And everyone is more than welcome to participate not only by reading the different discussions but also by engaging into the different suggestions and great ideas that I am sure will float around all over the place. I know I could go on talking some more about what an event such as this one would eventually mean to us all but I think that would be enough for the time being. However, I do want to point out a number of different resources where you could get some more information details on the event just to get yourself ready to participate in it:

So what are you waiting for ? Go and register now and get ready for the online event of events. The one that will change the way we are, the way we live, in short, the one that will change the world as we know it ! And best part of all this is that we get to define those changes with our ideas. Now it is no longer the time to complain about this and that. Now it is just the time to take action and continue to have a much more positive impact in the world we live in. It is up to us to do so. Thus where are you going to be from December 1st till the 3rd ? Got any plans ?

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Blogging Means Business

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

You have probably seen this already, as it was published during the course of yesterday, but, just in case, you may not have seen it yet, over at IBM – On Demand Business there is a very interesting article about an interview with both IBM executives Harriet Pearson and Willy Chiu around the topic of weblogs: Blogging Means Business.

There have been a couple of people already weblogging on the topic, including BL Ochman and Neville Hobson, and I have just watched and listened to the interview and I can seriously recommend it to anybody who feels that corporate weblogging is not as important and key as they may have expected. Certainly, after you have watched and listened to the interview your opinion about weblogs will be different. I am sure. Both Harriet and Willy have always been inspiring enough to deliver very powerful messages and this time around they have done it again. Just to give you a quick excerpt of what they both talked about in Blogging Means Business here you have got a couple of random thoughts taken out of the interview about what weblogging means for IBM:

Weblogs is all about sharing expertise, building (And maintaining) a connection between different people with similar interests. A key element though is to keep on listening ! Listening to people who have got something to say about you, your product, your company, you name it. You cannot longer ignore the weblogging phenomenon. Yes, indeed, this is something that I have been mentioning myself for quite some time now.

Weblogs is all about how open do you want your company to be as you will be communicating with the whole world, whether you have an Intranet or an Internet weblog. Having weblogs will create customer loyalty, they will speed up innovation, team and different collaborative services. In short, “Weblogging is the glue that brings all the experts together within the company”, and beyond.

Lots of good information out there, indeed, folks, including as well some statistics on the number of IBM internal weblogs. A must watch if you are planning to get into weblogs, but do not know enough on how to get things going, as another powerful enabler to encourage people to collaborate and share knowledge with one another in a much more intuitive and direct way.

Thus with all that said I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank both Willy and Harriet for taking the initiative to show how committed IBM is to weblogging. And as far as the credibility from both Harriet and Willy is concerned, since they do not have an external weblog (Yet), I can only say that having one of the first Intranet weblogs myself I have always found their own internal weblogs very inspiring about what the whole phenomenon of weblogging is all about. I am sure that sooner or later, at one point or another, they will dive into creating their own external weblogs and continue delivering those key messages on how beneficial weblogging can be for any company who wants to be open. So stay tuned !

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Harnessing Your Interstitial Time

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

Over time, you always have got a tendency to get the same types of questions over and over again. Yet, for some of them there are easier ways of finding a solution than for others where it would require some substantial work. Funny thing is that those recurring questions seem to be slightly more complicated every time they come up. And this is what has been happening to me over the last few months. Lots and lots of people have been asking me over and over again how they can go ahead and share their knowledge and collaborate with their peers when they are busy doing something else working on the different projects they may be involved with. The complicated item in here as well is the situation were lots of people think that sharing knowledge is a hardworking activity that would require substantial amount of time and therefore some people think that sharing knowledge is just not worth their time and effort. Boy, are they just so wrong or what?

Sharing knowledge and collaborating with your peers is just an activity you engage with just whenever you have got some free time for it, not when somebody tells you to do so. Sharing knowledge cannot be imposed on anyone, no matter what people say, and cannot be rewarded or incentivised like it is happening in most cases all over the place. Instead, sharing knowledge and collaborating with your peers needs to be encouraged and promoted as an ad-hoc activity for those spare or idle moments in between much more complicated activities. And since lots of people keep on asking me how to get engaged in such a way where they could share their knowledge with little effort but still getting the most out of the experience I just advise them to check out the following weblog post from 43folders: Harnessing your interstitial time.

Harnessing your interstitial time is probably one of the best reads I have come across in months as it clearly puts together a very strong and clear message as to what Knowledge Management and collaboration is all about. It is not about writing long essays or books or updating websites with some large content or when creating lengthy weblog posts that would take ages for people to digest. It is more about spending some time on those idle moments, where nothing seems to be happening while we wait for things to take place, when we can take the most advantage for knowledge sharing and collaboration. That is when the inspiration and the motivation would come up to share some knowledge with your colleagues. The key thing from Harnessing your interstitial time is that it brings forward a message that anybody can do apply successfully Knowledge Management principles about sharing knowledge and collaborating with others who may need to know or be aware of what is happening.

And as you can read from the weblog post there are tons of ideas for short activities to get engage with in order to share knowledge with others. Sometimes a simple phone call, or an e-mail, or an IM / VoIP conversation with others would be more than enough to get the ball rolling and start sharing for the benefit of the group. And this is what 43folders has put together very nicely. A good listing of impressive tips with which nobody can say there is any longer an excuse to share knowledge with your peers, since we are all having lots of idle moments during the course of the day, and yet we do not get anything done during those time lapses. Well, maybe we should do something now, maybe we should start taking much more seriously Knowledge Management and encourage folks that the benefits of knowledge sharing and collaboration are much more rewarding than working in your own silo without looking any further. And on top of that you can do it in a much shorter time than you thought. Or not ? Thus are you harnessing your interstitial time well enough or are you thinking that those idle moments are still unproductive and you are just as fine with that? I guess you decide but let me tell you how easy it is just to make things work and share that knowledge with others. You just need to dive in for a few minutes and off you go. You have done your work and have made it work for others. Knowledge Management in its purest form: sharing knowledge whenever you want with whoever you want in the time span you decide it is best for everyone and without having any restrictions on the nature of the amount of time spent.

I tell you, folks, if you are looking for an inspirational weblog post to help improve the productivity of your colleagues by helping them share their knowledge and expertise I doubt there is a simpler, yet so much more effective, way of achieving this than 43Folder’s Harnessing your interstitial time.

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Killer Buzz Flocks to New Browser

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

I have meant to create a weblog post back when I was first exposed to a Wired news article, but I thought I would delay it a little bit hoping that it would be in perfect timing with the release of a new web browser. But it looks like it is going to take some more time before that may happen so I thought I would go ahead, create the weblog post, give you a little taste of what is coming and then wait for an upcoming launch of, what some have already mentioned, the best web browsing experience there is out there on the Internet, specially for those power web browser end-users who are very much into Web 2.0.

The news article itself from Wired is titled Killer Buzz Flocks to New Browser and it basically comes to talk about Flock, an open source browser that supposingly will go live in early October. I am certainly looking forward to trying out this new web browser, more than anything else because of all the hype there is going on about it from the perspective where it has been flagged as a “social browser”, something that you obviously don’t get to see every day.

I will be looking forward for its integration features with other social computing offerings like Flickr, Technorati and del.icio.us since we may be actually witnessing a new much more creative and interactive way of browsing around the Internet, and, what is most important, we may end up using a browser that will help people connect with one another much easier in such a way that group collaboration on the Web will take another meaning. Lots of great things have been said about it, about how it will be helping out give web browsing a lot more collaborative power than what we are used to with the current offerings. But so far the only thing we can do is to head over to the Flock and sign up with your e-mail address and hope you will be one of the lucky winners who may have the opportunity to try it out first before everybody else does.

Either way, if it does bring together all of the different social computing features that have been mentioned all over the place I think we are off to some some really good fun on the Web by allowing us, end-users, to collaborate and share information with others in a much more powerful way than ever before, even than when working with traditional desktop software. If you want to go for a good read on what is behind Flock just check out this weblog post at Techcrunch: Flock – Social Browsing is Cool. I bet you can’t wait for it long enough, can you ? Neither can I.

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Tagalag – Tagging Taken to the Extreme

(Migrated weblog post from LSR)

For those people familiar with tagging and folksonomy, from where del.icio.us may be the most representative example, what I am about to post may no come as a surprise but for those folks who may not be familiar with those terms or who may not even have heard about TagCloud this is going to be something really interesting. Now, we all know that with offerings like del.icio.us and TagCloud, as an example, we get the opportunity to tag almost everything there is out there on the Internet. However, there was one single option for which we could not have the possibility of tagging.At least, till now. That option was e-mail. And that offering that changes everything is now called Tagalag.

Tagalag is a really impressive offering that allows you to tag people, yes, indeed, people, based on their e-mail addresses. So the way it works is that you can search for e-mail addresses or tags you are interested in and then add your own tags for your colleagues or friends. That way you get a chance to tag everyone of your e-mail contacts with whatever the keywords you may want to use and then after that if you are not happy with the results you can always revert back. The great thing about this kind of flexibility, and this is where the strong social networking component kicks in, is that you can change the tags that other people have used for you, if you are not happy with how they have described you. Yes, indeed, with this new offering you will be able to help build up your virtual network of e-mail addresses, i.e. people, based on your, and their own, input.

And this is an ideal option if you want to build some strong and lasting connections with your peers, because it allows you to stay close to them by being able to classify them but at the same time you can keep in constant contact with them by getting those tags updated back and forth. Pretty neat, I must say. So I had to try it out. And I did. And I love it! I logged in with my e-mail address and I got to tag already some of my colleagues. And after getting done with some of those tags I just didn’t notice how easy it is to actually work it out. But it gets better. Once you are logged in you get to enjoy a whole bunch of different features, such as a Tagalag box, which is what you can see now embedded in my weblog template, or you could use a Greasemonkey script that would allow you to integrate those tags with GMail or Yahoo! Mail. Indeed, that is right, you will always be in control, as long as your peers are ok with your tagging, but since they all seem to know you already for some time I doubt there would be any issues related to trust. There is already a certain level of trust in between all parties.

Tagalag is, indeed, a very useful offering and something that I am planning to continue using for quite some time since I do have plenty of e-mail addresses from colleagues and friends who I would love to keep and tag in a single place where they could also add their own input. That, folks, is tagging taken to the extreme and, even better, when you can search for people that meet a certain description based on those same tags. Have a look and search with the following example: IBMer blogger and you will see the options that will be coming through. Thus what are you waiting for now ? Go and tag me, so that I can then tag you back and / or update your already existing tag(s) about me.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that you can also log in with TypeKey. Yes, I know, great stuff !

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