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


Social Media Collective – Where the Enterprise 2.0 Action Is Taking Place!

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If you are actually reading this particular weblog post through the RSS feed you may not have noticed it, but I have just done another update to the weblog template where I have added a new badge or logo from a group of folks that I have recently joined thanks to the kind invitation from Jerry Bowles, the always entertaining and enlightening weblogger behind Enterprise Web 2.

Yes, that is right, folks, the badge I have just added into this weblog template is the one from the Social Media Collective. As you would be able to see, it is a group that has got a defined purpose around the world of Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0. Here you have got a quick excerpt of who we are and what we are up to:

"Social Media Today is a collection of the best writing from the Social Media Collective, a diverse group of bloggers, consultants, investors, journalists, and analysts who represent the web’s best thinking on social media, marketing and Web 2.0. For information, contact Jerry Bowles."

We have got a Web site set up already using the fine service of Blogtronix (Perhaps I will get to write a follow up weblog post on the different capabilities from this Enterprise 2.0 offering), where you would be able to see all of the content related to social computing for the Enterprise that have been sharing thus far.

At the same time, Maggie Fox has actually created a podcasting service where every week there will be an episode with an interview from each of the members from the Social Media Collective. You can check it out and have a listen on the main homepage or you can subscribe to it over here (First episode with Jerry Bowles is up and running already!). There are also a number of conference call events hosted on different social software tools, thus stay tuned for upcoming weblog posts where I would be sharing some thoughts on the ones I have been able to attend thus far.

As you would also be able to see in the Social Media Collective site, you would be able to subscribe to a number of different sections of the Web site, including all of the different weblog posts, comments, news items, events and wiki. And at the same time you would be able to see the list of members of the group who are actually weblogging away and engaging in the different conversations. So if you are thinking about building up on your Enterprise 2.0 feeds index I would strongly encourage you to have a look at that list of contributors because you would be able to find some really good stuff already shared and ready to digest. And, of course, build up your own OPML file of Enterprise 2.0 webloggers. Yes, I know there are plenty more, but this particular group can certainly be a good start to get things going, don’t you think?

And, of course, so much more, but I will actually be detailing some of them as time goes by. For the time being, just a heads up to encourage all those folks interested in Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and Social Computing to check out Social Media Collective, because there is a great chance you may find what you were looking for over there! Stay tuned for some more to come !

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Lotus Connections – What Is It? – Some Initial Thoughts

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As you may recall, I mentioned in the past a couple of times that over the course of the next few months I will actually be sharing some information details about one of the latest IBM offerings on the space of Social Computing: IBM Lotus Connections. There have been lots of different conversations around this very same during the course of Lotusphere 2007 and beyond, and while I am getting to digest some of those I am thinking as well about sharing with you folks those weblog entries that I have found particularly interesting.

Like, for instance, the one that one of my fellow IBM colleagues, Rob Boccadoro, shared not long ago over at Yellow is the new black: Lotus Connections – What is it? In that particular weblog post you would be able to get some further details on what Lotus Connections is actually going to be based on. Five different components: Profiles, Communities, Blogs, Dogear (Social Bookmarking) and Activities:

I am sure that by now you may have heard about the different components themselves. Perhaps even checked out some of the screen shots of what they would look like (Rob shared some of them over there as well) during the course of 2007. However, I thought I would share a couple of quick comments on why I feel that each of the different components would eventually be making plenty of sense as part of the overall offering, because if there is anything really interesting about this particular Enterprise 2.0 application is the fact that we find a whole bunch of social computing areas put together under a single focal point of entry to make the final product: Lotus Connections.

Profiles –  This particular component puts together the best of both worlds: the enterprise employee directory data from every single knowledge worker picked up from the system itself plus some nifty social software features like tagging. So people would have the opportunity to tag themselves and associate themselves with the different annotations that would probably help others find and identify those different subject matter experts. In short, both a fixed taxonomy in combination with a powerful folksonomy.

Communities This is actually going to be one of the components that I am actually going to find myself very interesting and enlightening, because in the era of the Me First (I am not sure I would agree with that particular concept, actually, but more on that at a later time) this particular component is actually going to show how to get the most of social networks from a community perspective, instead of just being Me First.

Blogs – I don’t think I would need to speak much more on this one, since all along I have been talking about how IBM has been embracing blogging, both internally and externally since as early as 2003, and some other folks like Elias Torres or James Snell, two other IBM colleagues who have been working really hard on this particular component, have given some further details indicating how this particular component would be running Roller Weblogger. Thus if you are interested in checking out how things develop from there I would suggest you keep an eye on their weblogs, too!

Dogear – This is actually one other component that I have mentioned in the past and, perhaps, one of my favourites: social bookmarking within the enterprise. As you may already know, I am actually a big fan of BlinkList as my default social bookmarking tool for Internet Web sites, but for those Web sites where content may be a bit too sensitive to share it with wider audiences I am actually making heavy use of Dogear: a protected and secured environment where I can share with other colleagues my favourite social bookmarks knowing that it is a safe place to share whatever I feel I need to bookmark behind the firewall.

I know there are other different social bookmarking tools available out there and, perhaps, one of these days I will detail why I am sticking with BlinkList and Dogear, despite some other really powerful offerings. We shall see.

Activities – And, finally, one of the most unknown new components that Lotus Connections will put together: Activities. I could tell a whole bunch of different things about this really cool social computing initiative within Lotus Connections, but I think that for the time being I am just going to point out to you a paper, that Rob also mentioned in his weblog post: Activity Explorer: Activity-centric collaboration from research to product. And from there I am going to venture that this is potentially one of those social software components that will make you walk away from e-mail and just collaborate and share knowledge much closer with your colleagues, as opposed to just exchanging e-mail messages. Yes, that is right. Activities will take you away from e-mail and will help you collaborate with others in exactly the same way as collaboration was conceived in the first place: sharing information and knowledge with others in an open environment where everyone has got the same level of visibility and involvement.

Thus, as you can see, a good bunch of different components from the social computing space put together under the same single focal point of entry, something that not many other social software tools are currently providing. As time goes forward, and as I get to digest some other interesting weblog posts from Lotusphere 2007, I will actually be creating different weblog entries regarding each of the different components so that you have got the opportunity to discover much more as we come closer to the availability of the offering some time soon! Thus stay tuned for some more to come!

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Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us – On What the World Wide Web Was Ever Meant to Be?

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Remember when not too long ago I mentioned how I was actually quite content with having, once and for all, my blogroll updated over here and how I said we are all what we read? Well, I am really glad that I have made that statement, because in the last few days I have been reading from quite a few of the folks that I get to read on a daily basis an incredible video clip of under five minutes that tries to explain, and succeeds big time!, what Web 2.0 or social computing is all about.

Yes, I am talking about the fascinating YouTube video that Michael Wesch, from Kansas State University, shared under the title Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us. Goodness! If all along most of us have been struggling all over the place about explaining key concepts related to Web 2.0 or social computing, Michael has just managed to do that in under five minutes. Fan – tas – tic !

I know that plenty of people have been linking to this video from all over the place. And I guess some folks may be starting to get tired of it,  so reading through this again over here may not be the best use of your time, nor mine. However, there is a reason why I wanted to share it over here. Yes, that reason is that you can never link too little to such incredibly helpful resources as Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us. That is right. There may be over 55 million weblogs out there, but the number of Internet users is way higher than that, so we all need to keep spreading the message. The faster, the better.

The more Web end-users get exposed to key enlightening resources like Michael’s video on social computing the easier it would be for us all to take things into the next level: empowering knowledge workers to share their knowledge and collaborate with their peers in much more meaningful ways, even if that means we need to rethink "copyright, authorship, identity, ethics, aesthetics, rhetorics, governance, privacy, commerce, family, love …". In short, "ourselves".

And if on top of that you put together as well some really nice tunes to go along with it I guess "there’s nothing impossible", is it? So let’s keep spreading the message:

If the World Wide Web was ever meant to be something, I guess it will not be getting any better than this. That is for sure.

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Social Tools for Business Use: Web 2.0 and the New Participatory Culture – London – February 2007

(As previously shared over in elsua – The Knowledge Management Blog at ITtoolbox)

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Phew! I am back ! Last week was one of those weird weeks that I guess I have been having in the last few months. It surely was a very busy at work, trying to figure out where I am with my team as far as activities are concerned for the remaining of the year. Lots of great stuff, indeed, that I am hoping to be able to share with you all as time goes by as some of it has got an external exposure as well.

However, what nearly knocked me down completely was a nasty stomach bug that didn’t leave me with much more energy after work and the usual catchup with everything. So I have been neglecting this weblog a bit since I first needed to get that out of my body, get back in shape and back in full force! Which is what I am actually going to be doing with this new weblog entry.

A big thanks to the few folks who have been contacting me offline asking me what was happening. It is greatly appreciated to find out that there are some folks out there who keep reading off this weblog, who take an interest when I disappear for a few days without no apparent reason. So thanks much, folks! As I said, very appreciated and touching!

Ok, so, back to business. Lots of stuff have been happening all along around the area of Knowledge Management and I am hoping to continue sharing some of that as we move along, but one of the things that I am actually trying to figure out, specially now that we just got started with a new year, is to actually find out which conference events I would want to go this year that would be really worth while attending. And then from there onwards follow up on other events that although I cannot make it to them I am still interested in finding out some more about their outcome and what people thought about.

One of the latter conferences mentioned above that I am surely going to be checking out every so often is one that the folks over at Unicom are organising this very same month in London, February 21st to 22nd. It is titled Social Tools for Business Use: Web 2.0 and the New Participatory Culture and you would be able to find more information about it over here. As I said, this is one of those conference events that I would have loved to make it, but that, alas, I will not be able to.

Reason why I would be very interested in attending, and if you are in the area during that time, I strongly suggest you try to make it, too, is because the agenda put together for it is rather impressive. There are a few folks whose pitches look very interesting since it is all around the subject of social software and Web 2.0. Like Lee Bryant‘s on "Enterprise 2.0 – towards a social infrastructure for collaboration and collective intelligence" or Suw Charman on "Fostering Adoption: A strategy for encouraging use of social software in business" or John Davies on "Combining Wikis and the Semantic Web: moving towards Web3.0".

But then again, there are also some other folks who I have been following up on for a number of years, some of them I have already met in person and some others I am hoping to be able to meet them in real life pretty soon ! Like, for instance, Euan Semple who will be talking on the opening keynote on "What will "businesslike" mean when business isn’t like business anymore?" or Phil Bradley who will be talking about "Practical Uses of Web 2.0 Technologies in a business environment".

At the same time it would have been a great opportunity to be able to meet up with two IBM fellow colleagues: Ian McNairn and Roo Reynolds who will also be presenting at the event. Ian will actually be putting together a case study on "An Inside View On How IBM Uses Social Networking to manage its own precious knowledge." I am sure that this one is going to be really interesting for everyone, but I for sure would love to see that one and catch up with Ian once again ! Last time we saw each other was way back in 2003 ! Too long, I am afraid!

Roo’s session, on the other hand, is about "Web 2.0 and Virtual Worlds" and I am sure that is another must-attend session. Why? Well, not only because Roo is actually quite a fun guy who knows lots of stuff on lots of different subjects, but also because he, along with Ian Hughes (Over at Eightbar), were the first couple of folks who brought the world of the metaverse, yes, indeed, Second Life, into IBM and from there onwards it has been an incredible experience! I would suggest you subscribe to Eightbar if you haven’t done so already to check out what is going on in IBM around this very same area of virtual worlds.

So as you can see from the above text Social Tools for Business Use: Web 2.0 and the New Participatory Culture would have been an incredible event that I would have loved making it in the end. Plus it would have given me the opportunity to catch up with one of my favourite world cities: London. I guess it cannot get any better than this, so I am looking forward to catching up with it all virtually as I am sure that quite a few of those folks would be telling the whole world what it was all about and how it went, but one thing for sure is that if you are going to be in London during that time I would suggest you try to make an extra effort and try to attend the event, because I know for sure that it would be really worth while all the money!

(Sigh, I guess I will have to wait for the next one…)

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The FASTForward Blog – The Must-Follow Business and Technology Blog for Innovative, Search-powered Business Transformation

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I am sure that by now you may have had a chance to quickly scan through my blogroll I have shared in this particular weblog and you may have found out one of those weblogs that I have subscribed to recently and which I think is really worth while checking out. It was originally created a few weeks ago as a powerful method to provide some context on this week’s FASTforward ’07 conference event taking place from  February 7th till 9th in San Diego, CA, US. And what it has ended up providing is an incredible set of really helpful resources and worth while weblogs entries around the subject of Enterprise 2.0. And that is how you can get yourself off to a successful event even before you get it going!

You come up and build up TheFASTForward Blog, a superb Social Computing related weblog, where you line up one of the most impressive list of Enterprise 2.0 contributors to the blogosphere that you may be able to find currently out there, and you get them to weblog on what they are already passionate about. And that formula is just bound to be incredibly successful as it has proved to be thus far. So much so that FASTforward ’07 is one of those events that I was hopeful I would be able to make, but that in the end, for one reason or another, I haven’t been able to in the end. Sad, I know, but that is life, I guess. You can only attend up to so many conference events, I supposed. Sigh.

Either way, I am hooked on this particular weblog and here is an excerpt why (Posted some time ago already by Hylton Jolliffe):

"(A little context: this blog, which is sponsored by FAST Search & Transfer, was conceived and developed as a companion blog to FASTforward 07, which will take place in San Diego from February 7-9. The conference, like this blog, aims to explore how a new generation of enterprise applications and capabilities are enabling companies to better capture, harness, analyze, and search data, foster communication and collaboration, and connect individuals and ideas within companies. More info on the event, at which Ray Lane, John Battelle, Tim O’Reilly and others will be speaking, can be found here.)" (Emphasis mine)

I guess that would be good enough to get you hooked up, too, right? Specially if you are into Enterprise 2.0, social computing, social software tools and the like, because those are some of the main topics of discussion from this particular group weblog, amongst other things.

I have been catching up with The FASTForward Blog ever from nearly the very first beginning and over time I have been collecting a number of different weblog posts from that weblog where I would want to share my two cents worth of commentary and that is actually something that I am planning to do from here onwards, now that my final catchup with them all has been completed. This is actually one of the great things about weblogs and events like this one. You actually get a chance to check out on the conference itself, just in case you may be able to make it and if not you can carry on with the conversation directly out there in the blogosphere. I doubt it would get any better than this, except for the being there in real life thing, of course, so expect to read some more over here about some of those great posts that people have been sharing thus far.

And if you do not have enough information on Enterprise 2.0 to get you going I then suggest you re-check the list of contributors and start subscribing to their weblogs, because, like I said, that list is actually a well known bunch of passionate folks around social computing within the Enterprise and beyond. Oh, and if that is not good enough still, check out on that same link of contributors the stuff that they themselves keep reading on a regular basis, i.e. their blogroll. Pretty impressive and quite a lot of interesting and worth while following materials that will certainly help you pave the ground of how your business, whether large enterprise or small business, could be adopting some of those social software tools that we have been using for a while already. Lots of thought-provoking materials in there and lots of incredibly helpful tips on how to get things going. I tell you.

So go on now and dive into The FASTForward Blog and if you get a chance to attend the event in real person don’t forget about doing some live con-blogging, so that we all get a chance to keep up with the conversations! Time to get started with some great fun, don’t you think?

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Social Computing at IBM – By Ben Edwards and James Snell

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As I get to prepare a number of different weblog posts around the subject of what IBM is currently doing on the area of social computing, specially touching base on upcoming offerings like Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr, I thought I would create a weblog post (Perhaps some more, you never know) to help introduce the topic itself, more than anything else because I have been getting lots of feedback from different people telling me that they never thought IBM would be so serious about social software, after all.

Well, let’s see; let me tell you something on the subject to get things going. IBM has been getting involved with social computing for a number of years already and what most of you folks have been reading lately about what has been going on at Lotusphere 2007 with regards to the recent announcements is just the culmination of some intensive work taking place internally and which, slowly, but steadily, is coming out to the outside world. Yes, Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr are already making their way into providing some really useful business value to knowledge workers, but some of its many components have already been used inside IBM for quite some time.

And if not, check out the following videocast that Jeremiah Owyang (Thanks, Jeremiah, for putting it together and for sharing it with us!) put together where over the course of six and a half minutes he gets to interview Ben Edwards on what IBM is currently doing around the subject of social software / media. So you would get to hear from Ben how IBM has been making use of weblogs, wikis, podcasts, videocasts, etc. etc. in order to help IBM employees share knowledge and collaborate with one another.

I have actually been working with Ben on a number of different episodes for the always helpful and interesting IBM Shortcuts podcast and even though we work in two different workgroups we still get together to share our experiences and collaborate making use of this social software.

But that is not all of it. Here is another example of what IBM has been doing around the space of social computing over the last few years. This time around it is coming from James Snell, one of my fellow IBM colleagues who has been doing an incredible piece of work around the weblogging component from Lotus Connections and who has been looking after our internal weblogging platform for some time, too, along with his entire team.

Check out Just letting it happen. In that particular weblog entry James gets to share plenty of different gems about how IBM has been making its way through social computing over the last few years. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

"[…] if you want to build a viable, valuable social networking environment within the enterprise you simply cannot force it. You just have to let it happen and you have to be willing to let your employees run with it. Provide the tool, make it available, give them the freedom to use it, then step back and get out of their way. Don’t worry about short term ROI and don’t worry about the possibility of failure." (Emphasis mine)

That is perhaps one of the best descriptions that clearly explains what social computing is all about and how you can get things going within the enterprise. Bottom-up and onwards! And forget about the good old ROI and trying to justify it all. Let the knowledge workers do that for you when the right time comes.

"Today IBM has what may very well be the largest corporate social networking environment in the world. We don’t know that for sure because there’s not a lot of great information out there about how many folks are actually using these technologies within the firewall. Here are some numbers: Our BlogCentral environment supports 25k+ registered users with over 3k+ “active” blogs. There are over 100k posts and comments with over 10k+ unique tags. Our dogear server has over 200k+ distinct bookmarks to resources both inside and outside the firewall and is generally more reliable at providing quick access to important resources than our Intranet search servers. Our activities server has over 11k activities with 69k+ entries and has 35k+ registered users"

They say that for any social software tool to succeed in whatever environment you would need to have a critical mass of knowledge workers making extensive use of it. Well, there you have got some statistics on how that critical mass of IBM employees has been forming up over the course of the last few years around some of the most popular social networking tools.

"Generally impressive statistics, especially if you consider that use of the blogs, bookmarks and activities servers is entirely optional and there is no corporate mandate that Thou Shalt Blog or Thou Shalt Bookmark. Instead, a small group of people heard about it and started using it; they told some others about it and they started using ti; then they told some others about it and they started using it… and it evolved from there"

Like I said, bottom-up and onwards! That is perhaps the key successful factor on the huge traction that social computing has been having lately inside IBM. Build it, deploy it and they will come. Sooner or later, but they will come. And here you have got a couple of primary examples. The challenge now remains how IBM is going to consolidate all that experience it has been able to build up over the course of the years in this particular area and share it with its customers and beyond in order to help them share their knowledge and collaborate with others.

And that is basically what I would be trying to address in upcoming weblog posts over here as Lotus Connections, Lotus Quickr, Lotus Sametime 7.5.x and Lotus Notes 8 make it through to their final stages of becoming IBM products. Thus stay tuned for some more to come if you are good for an exciting ride!

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