E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez

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Personal Knowledge Management by Harold Jarche (BlueIQ Ambassadors)

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las Nieves & Surroundings in the Spring If you have been following this blog for a little while now, you would know how Personal Knowledge Management, a.k.a. PKM, or Personal Knowledge Sharing (PKS), whichever term you would prefer to make use of, has always been one of my favourite topics to talk about and share some further insights over here and elsewhere. It’s been all along one of those areas that has always caught my attention since way back when I was first involved with KM in the late 90s. It’s one of those fascinating fields that has permeated successfully throughout time from traditional KM and into the world of Social Networking reaching a new level of awareness that surely makes it all worth while diving into, if you haven’t done so just yet. More than anything else, because, if anything, that interest will keep raising as time goes by! And here is why …

Managing knowledge is quite a daunting task; in fact, most people claim (I am one of them, too!) that it is almost impossible to manage it successfully. How can you manage what you yourself don’t know really that well after all? How can you manage what you are just not even aware you are knowledgeable about till you are confronted with it? How can you manage what you know till you eventually have a need for it to resurface again? Quite an interesting set of questions, don’t you think? So where does Personal Knowledge Management fit in then?

Well, indeed, it’s impossible to manage knowledge, even your own knowledge. However, knowledge workers can have a good chance to self manage some of that knowledge so that they can re-find and reuse it effectively and efficiently at a later time. There are a whole bunch of processes and traditional technologies that have been helping people try to figure out how they can have their own PKM strategy. And, lately, over the last few years, with the emergence of social software tools, that job of managing one’s own knowledge seems to have become much easier. Although perhaps still with plenty of room for improvement.

Either way, under that premise, and if you are interested in finding out plenty more how things like social bookmarking, Twitter, wikis, (social) tagging and even your blog! could help you get off to a great start with building your own PKM strategy, I bet you are going to enjoy the remaining of this blog entry… hehe

Earlier on today, I had the great pleasure, privilege and honour to invite my good friend and (P)KM extraordinaire, Harold Jarche, to spend a few minutes with one of the communities I co-lead inside IBM: BlueIQ Ambassadors (A bunch of enthusiastic and rather passionate folks around social networking, whose main mission is to help facilitate the adoption of social software within IBM … Yes, my daily job, too!). I eventually asked Harold whether he would be willing to talk and share some further insights around the topic of Personal Knowledge Management. One of the various passions that he has been talking about for quite some time now.

Of course, I was really excited when he agreed to participate in such virtual event, since I knew he was going to provide some really good conversations on the topic of PKM that would get lots of interesting and relevant dialogue on this subject. The expectations were rather high, but then again, if you already know Harold, he was up to the task and big time, exceeding all of them and delivering plenty more!! (With lots of attendees clapping virtually at the end of the session!). Absolutely wonderful!

And the great thing about this all is that in agreement with Harold we eventually managed to record both the audio and video of the virtual webcast and I am now more than happy to drop by over here and share with you folks a bunch of interesting and relevant links to that virtual event that I’m sure would make you think around PKM for a long while.

As a starting point, you could have a look into the essential, must-read article he put together on this subject under the title “A Personal Learning Journey“; from there onwards you could browse through his delicious PKM tags to then stop by this Slideshare presentation from where he grabbed a good number of slides for today’s event.

Once you have gone through that additional reading, it will get even more interesting, because you could actually check out the following couple of links, very much related to today’s event:

That’s right! Above, you would be able to find a link to the presentation that Harold used in PDF format and the second link is a streaming link that when clicking on it it will start playing the video recording of the session which will include the audio as well, so you will be hearing Harold, and a bunch of us!, commenting on PKM and what all the fuss is about 😉

Of course, there are lots and lots of things that I could comment on with regards to the wonderful session that Harold did with us today, but I’m not going to do that right now. I would rather prefer you go and watch through it (Lasts for about 56 minutes, so get yourself comfortable first!) and then at a later time I will be putting together another blog post where I will share my two cents on what I learned from the event as well as I’ll put together some further insights on whether I share his PKM vision … or not.

For now, just to let you know that we have got much in common with both of our notions around PKM, to the point where his mantra Seek > Sense < Share is pretty much along the same lines of what I have been using myself for a long while now. But better get busy and start playing the recording itself to find out plenty more!

From here, just a very very special Thanks!! to Harold for being with us today and for doing a superb job in meeting up all of our expectations around the subject of Personal Knowledge Management and for sharing his insights, in-depth knowledge and expertise on that subject matter with us all! Wonderful stuff! Thanks ever so much, Harold!

What a blast!

 

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OpenNTF – Bookmark Viewer for IBM Lotus Connections Dogear

I am sure you would agree with me that Social Computing, and, in particular, social software tools, still have got plenty of different challenges within the enterprise in order to provoke that massive cultural shift most of us have been looking forward to for a long while. One of those challenges has always been trying to accommodate the mobile workforce and provide something so relatively simple as offline capabilities from most of those social tools.

Yet, it is not happening as much as one would have hoped for, don’t you think? I mean, there are some Enterprise 2.0 Social Software applications out there that are starting to tap into the offline world. Alas, not as pervasively as what you would have hoped for. And that’s one of the main issues that most mobile knowledge workers have got right now as we speak with regards to their own adoption of social software in a corporate environment.

At IBM, where 50% of the workforce is mobile already, we are seeing this very same issue as well and the interesting thing is that more and more we are seeing how some of our various social software tools we are exposed to on a daily basis are making serious attempts to accommodate offline interactions. And the latest example is coming from one of my favourite social software tools: IBM’s Lotus Connections.

Actually, from one of the components I have started to rely very heavily on over the last couple of years: Dogear (Now graciously renamed Bookmarks after Lotus Connections v2.5 went GA). Check out "Bookmark Viewer for IBM Lotus Connections Dogear" by Hanspeter Jochmann, where you will be able to see how all of the bookmarks folks may have been storing in Dogear / Bookmarks can now be taken off into a Lotus Notes database that allows you to have a rich set of interactions, while working offline, and then synchronise them back to the server once you are connected again. Amazingly powerful! And something I was really looking forward to after having gone through some very bad experiences myself.

Remember Ma.gnolia? I was a big fan of it; I had several thousand bookmarks stored in it and was a rather heavy user all along… Till one day, I came to work, was on my way to bookmark a few sites and found out Ma.gnolia went through a server crash and LOST all of my bookmarks! Without a chance to provide a backup or anything. Just GONE! All of them! Ouch!! I thought I would have to re-create most of the work I put together in it, but lucky enough Dogear came to my rescue and allowed me to recover most of it.

Ever since that painful experience happened, I haven’t gotten outside and use any other social bookmarking site available out there. Not only because I haven’t been convinced that any of them would do what I would want them to do (Specially with the protection and backup of my own bookmarks!), but also because I don’t think I would feel comfortable going through that very same experience of losing my bookmarks once more, should they suffer from an irrecoverable server crash.

So I have decided to go internal and rely, almost exclusively, on Lotus Connections Bookmarks inside the firewall. And every now and then I synchronise them with my Dogear / Bookmarks over at ibm.com so that folks out there would have an opportunity to check the kinds of links that are of interest to me and that can be shared externally. For the internal ones, you know where they would go… hehe

Thus when Hanspeter shared this brilliant offline Bookmark Viewer for Dogear I just couldn’t help but giving it a try and all along to state I have been rather happy is probably an understament. It just works! My fellow colleague, and good friend, Luis Benitez, blogged about it and pointed out to a YouTube video that explains how that Notes database works:

And if you notice, it pretty much puts together that key concept of replication and "working offline" from traditional groupware tools into the space of social software, which, I am not sure what you would think, but I think it’s just pretty awesome! Best of both worlds in just a single application coming together nicely and allowing me to always be control of how I use it, whether I am connected or not. Just brilliant!

I just hope that plenty of other social software tools follow this very same trend, because otherwise we are going to continue missing out on a large chunk of the corporate workforce who are constantly on the road, disconnected, while at customers, and the last thing they would want to worry is try to figure out whether they can get connected to just bookmark a site. This Bookmark Viewer clearly shows the way it’s possible to accommodate those needs, because, after all, we all know what’s like being on the road without a live Internet connection, don’t you think? 😀


(Oh, before I forget another special thanks to Hanspeter for helping make our lives much much easier with our own adoption of social software tools in combination with those other tools we have been using for a long while now! Talking about a nice, tight and smooth integration of the 1.0 and 2.0 worlds! Well done, Hanspeter! Thanks ever so much!)

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Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 26 (K.I.S.S. on Business Processes)

Continuing further with the weekly progress reports on my new mantra of giving up e-mail, as in corporate e-mail, here I am again with another progress report, this time for week 26, where, it looks like, things have gone back to normal a bit. Or so it seems. You would remember how, for week 25 I reached a new low with regards to the incoming count of e-mails received, as I have blogged about it a couple of days back. Well last week things settled back into what I have been getting used to for the last few weeks already. Here is the screen shot of the report:

Yes, indeed, back again into the 30 e-mails coming through during the course of week. Somehow, I am starting to get used to such number, more than anything else because it makes a round number of 6 e-mails a day approx. although I am still keen on lowering it down more and more perhaps to 10 to 15 a week! Thus the fight is still on. Let’s see how it goes further…

For today though, I would like to share with you folks a couple of links that I have bumped into or that some other folks have passed on and which I am sure you are going to enjoy quite a bit. The first link comes from Alan Lepofsky, former IBMer and very good friend, and who recently moved into SocialText, for those folks who may not be familiar with the huge piece of news that hit a couple of weeks back! Alan pointed me to this particular wild idea, which I think is very much spot on with regards to the kind of e-mail overload that plenty of folks can identify with: "Broken business processes contribute to our email overload".

In it you would be able to find some really really good gems like this particular paragraph for which I just couldn’t stop smiling while reading through it:

"Worse than the volume of email is the amount of mental energy required by each email recipient, ergo worker, to parse each exception and determine what to do with it. E-mail was once intended to increase productivity and has now become so voluminous it is counter productive. Basex determined that business loose $650 billion in productivity due to the unnecessary email interruptions. And, the average number of corporate emails sent and received per person per day expected to reach over 228 by 2010."

Indeed! Maybe that’s the problem we have been having all along. Maybe that’s where it all got started. Maybe it was down to use to complicate our own corporate existence by putting together whatever the various different business processes and then create exception after exception after exception to ensure we could all possible scenarios. And as a result of that we all went mad using e-mail all over the place to process those exceptions.

I can surely agree with the idea that business processes are the main culprit, perhaps, as to a large chunk of the e-mails we get on a daily basis and kind of wondering whether we may need to STOP, re-think things again and go back to K.I.S.S. Yes, keeping things simple, straightforward, brief, with not so many exceptions would probably help us improve the way we interact through e-mail. However, why not take things further into the next level? Why not re-think the model of engagement and move straight outside the Inbox and start re-building processes with a 2.0 flavour where perhaps openness and transparency would be part of the criteria behind them? What is it out there that may be stopping us from doing that?

I mean, we all know that most of the processes we work with throughout the course of the day are somehow broken, so why not fix them? Why not re-evaluate their validity, update them accordingly and start making use of social software tools within the enterprise. Wouldn’t it be quite something to, at least, give it a try? I am sure right from the beginning we would be able to see the benefits, like that former link / idea puts it nicely within the following quote:

"Socialtext has been building out business practice support using their customizable Enterprise 2.0 platform to return email back to its rightful place in the communication stratigraphy, which is not as the catch-all for exception handling. Their business social software makes the process more productive, reducing email by 30%."

If it sounds *so* easy, what’s stopping / preventing us from diving in and address those broken processes? Exactly! Nothing!

So what are we waiting for then? Are we just too lazy, or gotten to much used to dealing with the exceptions that we just don’t care in improving the way we work? I am not sure about you, but I refuse to think that is the case. So what is stopping us?!?

The second link is eventually a whole lot more fun, as well as educational and enlightening on what the possibilities are on moving away from the good old e-mail system(s) into a much more open and collaborative environment: in this case a wiki (This particular example coming from Socialtext as well).

The link is actually a screencast that Alan himself put together over here. It lasts a little bit over three minutes and it demonstrates how certain collaborative tasks, like gathering input, or brainstorming, can be better achieved through a wiki, which, in this particular case, taps into your regular e-mail. So those folks very keen on making use of e-mail, they still can. The rest can also then go into the specific wiki and see how they can each contribute into the overall effort.

Alan’s screencast is a very good example of how a wiki, Socialtext, in this case, can help you reduce, tremendously, the amount of e-mails you get on a daily basis as well as reducing your outbound e-mails to others. And if not, check out how easy it is:

After watching the screencast you would have to agree with me that most of the times it is not that difficult, right? It is probably just a matter of thinking outside the inbox and Alan just demonstrated it how easy it is …

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Twitter and the Power of Micro-Blogging in Emergencies

As time goes by, and we get to read more and more on the various benefits from making use of micro-blogging social software tools like Twitter, I thought I would share today a couple of comments on one particular blog post referencing one of those various benefits from such tools, and Twitter in particular, that surely is very powerful not only from a business perspective, but also from a personal / individual one.

Check out New on YouTube: Use Twitter in Emergencies! by David Stephenson (Over at Stephenson Strategies), where you would be able to find a very helpful vodcast from David where he is clearly demonstrating how micro-blogging applications like Twitter could be used, specially, in emergencies, and not just to carry on with that declarative living we all seem to enjoy quite a bit. Here you have some of the reasons David gets to mention that should really be an eye opener to most folks who may not see just yet the clear perks of making use of such online presence tools:

  • "it demonstrates that a Web 2.0 application that’s in wide use, so many people are already familiar with it and wouldn’t have to learn it in a disaster, can easily switch to serving a totally different function in an emergency
  • it solves a serious problem in a simple way
  • it harnesses the power of existing social networks during a disaster.
  • a few smart municipal agencies and relief agencies "get it", and are already capitalizing on Twitter for emergency communication
  • even if other government agencies don’t catch on, we the people can use it ourselves, without permission or government support"

What is really good about David’s blog post and YouTube vodcast is the fact that he makes it so simple, yet so effective and efficient to use, that it is almost no brainer getting ready with it: Just sign up and spread the word around through your various social networks. And off you go. Ready to go on with that declarative living of yours and ready to face whatever the emergency and keep those who need to know informed about what is going on. Hopefully, you will never need to make use of such social software tools for such purposes, but, just in case, it will take you about a minute to set things up and sharing David’s vodcast with those who you think would benefit from it right away.

Still think that tools like Twitter do not provide any value to everyone out there? Regardless whether you are on to social software or not, incredibly helpful tips as the one David shared with us a little while ago, can only confirm the penetration that social computing tools can have not only within our day to day work within the Enterprise, but also with our own personal lives.

Here is the embedded version of the YouTube videocast:

(A massive thanks to David for putting together such a great blog post and an even better vodcast for all of us to re-use and keep spreading the word around! Thanks, David! Well done!

Special mention as well the wiki space that Nancy White and a few other folks have been using to build further up on How have you used twitter to collaborate?)

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“Virtual Worlds for Corporate Collaboration” by Roo Reynolds

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During the course of yesterday, one of my fellow IBM colleagues, and very good friend, Roo Reynolds (One of the two Meta-evangelists at IBM), shared over at his blog a very interesting post, where he has gone ahead and shared the slide deck, with audio, that he has put together for the Serious Virtual Worlds 2007 conference event in Conventry, UK.

The title of his pitch was Virtual worlds for corporate collaboration and you would be able to read a whole lot more about it over at his above mentioned blog post. Dennis Howlett also makes a good mention of the slide deck. And I thought I would go ahead and share a link to it over here as well, if you would want to find out some more what social computing is all about and how it is impacting, big time!, the corporate world. For good.

In that presentation you would be able to see how Roo gets to mention a number of different Web 2.0 offerings and the kind of impact they are having in the business world, and, much more importantly, how you can get the most out of it by helping others embrace the tools you get to use on a daily basis. To start with, his entire presentation is reusing pictures from Flickr (Not a single bullet throughout!) bringing strong messages as to why social networking matters for our daily interactions as knowledge workers.

He gets to talk as well about Last.fm (A social software offering I am just about to re-acquaint myself with, specially now that I am starting to use the Mac much more heavily), IBM Rocks (A superb Last.fm mashup put together by one other colleague, Darren Shaw, a.k.a. Daz), Twitter  Facebook (Of course!), as perhaps some of the most powerful social software tools there are out there to help improve your social capital skills, by getting to know what people are busy with, at the same time you get to nurture the different social interactions, something that I have been mentioning over here as well, as one of the crucial aspects for a healthy collaborative experience within the workplace.

From there onwards Roo gets to detail some more on the stuff he is doing around the virtual worlds space, including Second Life and Metaverse, IBM’s own internal dive into the 3D Internet. What is great about the whole presentation from Roo is that he gets to detail how how he has adopted a number of different social computing tools to help him work smarter, not necessarily harder, and connect with those folks who he would closely collaborate very often. And he uses social software to get the job done. Just brilliant!

The Slideshare presentation, which, like I said, contains audio as well, lasts for about 29 minutes and I can certainly recommend it to everyone who is new to the subject of social software and social computing as a very nice intro to the overall topic of how social networking tools are changing the corporate landscape. And for all of the good reasons.

Thus if you haven’t checked it out just yet, by all means, go and have a look into the audio and slide deck or just start watching it through from the embedded link I have included below:

(Great show, Roo! Thanks much for sharing it with us and for showing us that social software is not as difficult, nor complicated, as some people seem to think!)

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Finally Joining the *Expensive* Mac Side!

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A couple of days ago Dennis Howlett commented over at his blog AccMan on a recent post I created myself over here myself where I was mentioning how it was finally about time that I joined the Mac side and he was not surprised that I have made the move a few days back already and so far I am really enjoying the Mac experience. Certainly, to the point of not going back any time soon! And how spot on he is!

Yes, that is right! So far I am really enjoying the experience quite a bit. There certainly has been a bit of a learning curve, I am not going to deny that, but once you are over it, you come to appreciate one single aspect that I didn’t think of for quite some time while I was making use of different Windows machines: simplicity! That is probably how I could describe the last few days of working with my MacBook Pro: getting the job done with a lot less hassle and without having to figure much out! Good stuff, indeed!

However, over the course of those few days that I have started to make heavy use of my MacBook Pro I have found out that there is a price associated with it. And I am not just talking about how pricey the overall machine is (A whole lot more expensive than most notebooks and laptops out there!), but talking about the software applications available for it.

One of the things that I have come to notice is the fact that most of the applications I am heavily using on a Windows environment are not available for free on the Mac. On the contrary, they cost money and they aren’t cheap! That is how I have found out that I need to upgrade to iLife08 by paying a fee, if I would want to have a similar experience to Picasa (My favourite default app. for managing large amounts of photos). Or how I would need to pay for ecto, if I would want to have an offline blogging experience similar to Qumana, if not better. Or how I would need to pay for another tool called endo, if I would want to have an aggregator I could remotely compare to Omea Pro, my default offline RSS / Atom feed reader.

And all of that without even considering iWork08, which I am not sure I will be going for in the end, since I am anxiously awaiting in anticipation for the GA release of Lotus Notes 8, which includes the super fine IBM Productivity Tools that I am currently making heavy use of in my Windows machine. But more on that later, when I get to detail how I am successfully transitioning most of my work apps. into the Mac environment and enjoying every minute of it!

However, one of the major disappointments that I have been confronted with so far is one application that I make use of rather heavily in the Windows environment and which, apparently, hasn’t got a Mac version for it: Camtasia. Yes, that is right, I make use of it to create screencasts and I have been told that not only isn’t there a Mac version for it, but the only capable option offering similar functionality is iShowU, for which I would also need to pay a license fee (Thank goodness it is not as expensive as Camtasia’s is!).

And that is just some of what I am seeing at the moment while I am starting to consolidate my list of essential tools that I keep using in Windows and which I would love to make use of in the Mac. Well, it looks like I may need to adapt myself to the new needs and continue to pay for some expensive software, and hope that tool developers would think once and for all that to create a state of the art application for everyone to use you need to figure it out and make it OS independent, pretty much like in the Web you focus on creating applications that follow Web standards, instead of being browser dependent.

Thus yes, it is a completely new experience and one I am probably not going to walk back from any time soon, as I have mentioned above already, but I am hoping that over the next few days I will be creating a number of different weblog posts on how I have made of my MBP my default work machine without having to pay much more money for it, specially for the software. Thus stay tuned for some more to come, because I feel it is going to be a fun ride and if you have got some hot tips you would want to share with me from your experience … I am all ears :-)

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