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


Emergency 2.0 and Social Software – Making Enterprise 2.0 Really Matter

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A couple of the folks that I get to read on a regular basis have been commenting in the last couple of days on a news item, originally from PCWorld, titled LA Fire Department all ‘aTwitter’ over Web 2.0, where throughout the article itself you would be able to read further how the L.A. Fire Department is starting to make use of social software tools like Twitter in order to be able to handle whatever emergencies and crises in a much more efficient and effective way by spreading information around much faster than through traditional tools. Quite an interesting read, to say the least, and a real business case for Twitter, nevertheless.

This particular topic is something that I have been thinking about myself quite a bit lately, specially after the recent fires in Gran Canaria and Tenerife, amongst other Canary Islands, and which I feel that Rob Paterson has put together quite nicely over at the FASTForward Blog in Social Media Adoption – Maybe a Crisis Will Help? Mike Gotta has made also an excellent point about how much we may be underestimating social software tools when handling crises of whatever the magnitude, just because most people may be using some of those tools for fun.

For a number of years we have given lots of importance to Knowledge Management in the business world, and lately that same focus seems to have gone into social computing as way to validate it for us all, but how about if, instead of just focusing on the corporate world, we would have KM and social software focusing on what really matters: the day to day stuff that can affect your own life (And that of your loved ones) and the environment for many years to come.

Yes, that is right. This is something that I have already talked about in the past. Just because you cannot justify the business usage of various social software tools it does not mean they are not useful to knowledge workers out there in general. On the contrary. That is exactly what the LAFD has proved with their adoption of different social software tools. Just like Mike Gotta mentioned, it is not about justifying the use of Twitter, or also of blogs, YouTube video channels, Flickr, podcasts, etc. etc. It is just a matter of making use of these tools to live and work smarter and not necessarily harder.

I mean, can you imagine if the local fire department, and the local government, here in Gran Canaria, would have set up a blog, or a podcast, or a Flickr account or even a Twitter channel a couple of years back and started educating the population in general on what could happen on a catastrophe of such proportions at this one and at the same time educate us all in what we could do to help, I bet that the end result of the disaster would have been completely different.

In fact, not only would the impact of the crisis would have been minimal, but there would have been from day one a very strong sense of belonging to the community from all parties involved that would have helped avoid having to go through such tough times as part of that prevention and education that would have taken place from way before.

This is one of the main reasons why in the past I have always been a very big fan of KM weblogs like those from Dave Pollard (How to Save the World) and David Stephenson (The Homeland Security 2.0 Blog) and why over the last few days I feel that it may be a good time now to explore how social software could help a group of people heal their wounds and those of their motherland, the land where they were born and raised, and help prevent future disasters like this one and, if not, at least, prepare us all to make the most out of it and help keep the damage to a minimum.

That is exactly what the LAFD has done thus far and I seriously hope that more and more folks would chime in these efforts. Because, after all, why should you worry about the corporate world and its adoption of social software when there are much more important things to safeguard, like your home, your family, the environment where you live (And work), in short,  the things your treasure the most.

Would you be up for the challenge? Would you start focusing where we would need to focus on while encouraging the adoption of social software? What is your local government doing on the subject? Are we all prepared to prevent the next disaster? Would you know how to react and help out? Perhaps too many questions out there. Perhaps we should start getting some answers for them…

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What It Once Was … Ayagaures

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As I have mentioned in the first weblog post of the series, every week I am planning on creating an entry over here under the heading What It Once Was … to share with you folks some of the different pictures that I have taken over the course of the years from some of the different areas affected by the recent fires here in Gran Canaria, as a way to help remember what it once was and what will be again over the next few months / years. It may be a slow process, it will take plenty of healing, but I am pretty sure that we would eventually get there.

Over the last few days, I have been getting lots of positive feedback comments on this series of posts, specially from folks who keep reading of my weblog(s) and who live in the island, as a way to help  us remember the immense beauty that most of these places used to have and which I am sure will blossom again very soon! So while I understand that this series may not have much to do with the main theme from this weblog, at least, for the time being, I hope you can understand how I am planning to continue with it as a way to help me release some of the pain that we have all gone through, specially for those of us who feel those burnt areas had a special place in our hearts.

One of those places is the area known as Ayagaures, specially the upper part of the area, where you would be able to find a couple of dams and some stunning views! In the past, I have been sharing a couple of weblog posts to detail some of that beauty, but over the weekend I have been uploading some more pictures into my Flickr account from the last time I was there. To me, it is one of those special places from the South of the island, where in less than 15 to 20 minutes you are in the countryside enjoying lots of green, the mountains, the dams, a wide range of different birds stopping by here and there. Ideal for long and extensive walks. And if not judge for yourselves. Here you have got a couple of the pictures I have shared just yesterday:

I am surely going to miss this place for those eternal and peaceful walks, while it starts its slow and lengthy recovery, but one thing for sure is that I am planning to come back, perhaps this very same winter with the first drops of rain, and check how nature has started its healing process, hoping that everyone out there would have become by now much more conscious of the serious damage that just a single match can create in a matter of hours!

Oh, and if you would want to find out some more about the catastrophe that this has been for us all, check out the following YouTube video that Manu Moreno has put together (Perfect combination of tunes and pictures to reflect how most of us feel at the moment) and which I am sure will make people think of the fatal consequences of provoked fires.

Don’t forget as well to check out his photo and video Web site over at GranCanariaFotos, where you would be able to find lots of other pictures and videos about the fires at the same time that you would get to see some other stunning pictures of the island itself with all of its beauty.

Speechless! Yes, that is right, that is the only word that comes to mind at the moment… Thanks, Manu!

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Goose Bumps

That is exactly what I had earlier on this week when, thanks to Kellypuffs, I bumped into this particular video clip from YouTube:

There is just not much more than I can say about it, is it?, other than it is these little things we keep bumping into every now and then that make it all very worth while, don’t you think?

Very touching, moving, adorable. Priceless!


Plus it is now Friday, getting ready for the weekend and just found out earlier on today that I am about to exceed the monthly bandwidth from elsua.net, so need to take care of it as we speak. You may expect a few hours of down time while I get it all sorted out. But I guess that is what it takes to be popular, right?, although nothing to compare with Conny and her over 7 million hits and counting!

Have a good one everyone!

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What It Once Was … Palmitos Park

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As the fires from Gran Canaria and Tenerife continue towards making really good progress and be completely extinguished, still with some minor, completely isolated and under control patches here and there, I thought I would go ahead over here and start something that I have been thinking quite a lot about during the course of the weekend and most of last week as well. During the last few days, there have been a number of folks sharing their thoughts and opinions on the outcome of the fires. And a lot has been said about it whether the catastrophe could have been avoided or not, but instead of just following that thread I am going to take another approach to it all. At least, for the time being. Perhaps at a later time I would share as well my two cents and what I have learned myself from this tragic experience.

However, this new approach is going to be a lot closer to me than whatever I could have ever anticipated. While doing a recap of the recent events, over the course of the weekend, talking to some friends on the outcome of the fires, I realised that quite a few of the emblematic places from the South of the island of Gran Canaria have suffered tremendously from the fires. I get to visit those different places quite often and have got tons of pictures from what they used to look like, but not what they look like today with the devastation.

So what a better way to pay tribute to those special places from Gran Canaria that got burnt than to create a weblog post every now and then over here, and share a bunch of pictures that I have been taking before last week’s disastrous set of events and which I will be uploading into my Flickr account as well as time goes by. I think it would be really nice to share with you why those different places are special, at least, to me, and why I am really looking forward to when things would go back to normal, like a whole bunch of us have been sharing thus far, and see those stunning places come back to an re-energising life, the same one they have always had.

So to get things started here is the first of a serious of weblog posts that I am going to tag as "What It Once Was …", where I will be sharing with you a couple of comments about the particular space and then share some pictures of what they used to look like and, I am hoping, that when the right time comes, I will be able to share with you all the dramatic change, for the better, I am sure, that they would go through over the next few weeks, months, years, etc.

Without much further ado, the first place I will be talking to you about is one of the most emblematic tourist attractions from the island: Palmitos Park. Half zoo, half theme park that used to host an incredible amount of flora and fauna and which, unfortunately, has been so severely affected that it would be about a year before it would open up to the public again. Most of the animals survived the fires, but the different buildings and the flora have been very badly damaged. So this is one of the wonderful places I will be looking forward to when they re-open again. I am sure it would be much better, much bigger, much more impressive and just basically focusing on what matters, the flora and the fauna of not only the island of Gran Canaria, but from all over the world!

Here are the promised pictures…

You can find more pictures from the series related to Palmitos Park and What It Once Was… at the following URL, or look also at a previous weblog post that I have shared some time ago.

So, will you join me when they re-open the place to check out most of the beauty that has been left behind? … And so much more? I surely hope so…

One year goes by lightning fast. I just can’t wait for it!

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Blogging and Crisis – The Fire in the Canary Islands and the Role of Knowledge Management

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This week is probably one of those weeks that I feel most of us could have done without. The disaster of the fires of both Gran Canaria and Tenerife has been one of those that leaves with you a deep sense of sorrow and a mark that will remain there for a long while. I am sure that from here onwards things will improve a great deal, the countryside will recover all of its own beauty, burnt houses would get re-built, people would go back to their usual routines, etc. etc. Yet, I feel that things would never be the same.

While I have been trying to share with you some of what we are going through in the last few days with the fires I just couldn’t help thinking about the superb weblog post that Rob Paterson put together a couple of days ago on Blogging and Crisis – The Fire in the Canary Islands. In it, Rob comes to the conclusion that blogging could surely well be a good medium to get the message across in a crisis and get everyone informed and up to date with the latest developments, as well as identifying how technology could serve for a better purpose than just all of that techie stuff we are used to: Getting people together helping them manage those specific critical moments in a much more efficient and effective way by making use of social computing.

While I agree with him 100% on his argument, I am starting to think that I would want to take things further into the next level, at least, as far as Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Communities and Social Computing are concerned.

Over the last few hours, now that the fires are on the verge of being totally extinguished, there have been a number of different discussions, mainly taking place locally, on whether this catastrophe could have been avoided, at least, to some extent. There have been some concerns about some degree of lack of coordination between the different groups involved and the local population, and while those discussions keep going on, I just couldn’t help thinking about a weblog post I created a while ago where I commented on some Knowledge Management Rules by Dave Snowden.

[…] if you ask someone, or a body for specific knowledge in the context of a real need it will never be refused. If you ask them to give you your knowledge on the basis that you may need it in the future, then you will never receive it” (Emphasis mine)

That is just so accurate! I bet that if we would all have applied some of those different KM rules from the very beginning, things would have been completely different. As a starter, different groups would have found out about themselves and what they know, and how that relates to other groups and their knowledge. Secondly, they would have had a chance to collaborate and communicate from way before, giving them an opportunity to learn the strengths and weaknesses from all groups, which would help tackle crises like this one much more effectively. People from the various groups would get to trust each other much more, because of the information and knowledge they have shared all along, next to all of that social capital they would have built,, around that very same subject: the extinction of fires on a massive scale. And the list goes on and on and on.

I don’t want to make this weblog post longer than necessary, so I would probably be commenting on this at a later time some more, but I can imagine how incredibly different the situation would have been if people from those groups would have had access to blogs, perhaps a wiki, Twitter (Of course!), social bookmarks of meaningful resources, podcasts from different group members, tagging, syndication, etc. etc., yes, the whole lot around social software, in order to help them share what they know with others so that when that knowledge is really needed everyone would know how to react and help coordinate everything in such major crises and most importantly people would trust each other to do the job properly and fully coordinated.

Remember the motto “Think globally, act locally!” that I have talked about in the past? This is probably what Knowledge Management has been about all along, and perhaps the right direction to help tackle crises like the one we have been going through in the last few days.

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Heroes and a Token of Gratitude

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As the news items about the recent fires in both Gran Canaria and Tenerife are starting to die out, now that they are all under control and it would be just a matter of hours for them to be completely extinguished, I thought I would share something over here that I think it would be a good time to mention, since it is hardly ever covered most of the times.

Most people who know me would probably tell you how fond I actually am about the T.V. series “Heroe”. I love it, I have been religiously watching episode after episode ever since it came out and will probably do the same for season 2. However, after the last few days, I must confess that the word “Heroes” has turned around into a new, and special, meaning for me. And I guess by now you know where I am heading.

Yes, that is right, they hardly ever get the due credit for a well done job where mistakes can be rather costly (For everyone!); they hardly ever get the recognition, respect and admiration they surely deserve from day one from all of us; they hardly ever get the gratitude from those who they save their lives or their most precious belongings and memories, so earlier on this morning I thought that this is the least I could do for a good bunch of folks (Firefighters and members of the UME special unit and all of the different volunteers who have helped in the extinction of the fires!). My heroes:

(Courtesy of Noticias de Navarra)

(Courtesy of El Pais)

(Courtesy of Canarias7)

Thanks ever so much, guys! You probably do not realise much of what you have just done in the last few days, but one thing for sure is that we would always remember what you have saved not just for ourselves, but also for our children! Thanks!

Oh, and talking about a token of gratitude, from here I want to sincerely thank as well the online edition of Canarias7, which has been an inspiration for us all on how crises like this one should be reported to the general public, both in the Canary Islands and the entire world. They have done an incredible amount of work reporting by the minute the different updates on the fires, they have been receiving a bunch of comments from various different folks out there watching through the news anxiously and share with us some of that drama, and they have been sharing some incredible pictures that people have been taking over the course of the last few days and share them as well with us all to give us a sense of what the disaster was like.

A couple of my fellow bloggers (Links in Spanish) seem to agree with my thoughts as well, I am glad that has been perceived that way all over the place, because they surely have been fundamental in keeping the local population informed, and involved, in everything that was going on during those tragic moments. So, from here, my most sincere congratulations to Canarias7, and in particular to Esther Pérez, for the superb piece of work done throughout showing us all that it is possible to be timely, accurate, responsible, and involved in delivering news to whom it matters. Us. So thanks a bunch for that!

As far as the local T.V and whatever other traditional news media sources, I think they need to catch up a lot with Planeta Canarias. Sigh.

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