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


Social Software … in Plain English

How many times have you tried to convince people about the business value of social software in the enterprise and failed in the attempt? How many times have you tried to describe different social computing terms to different folks and never managed to get the message across successfully? How many times did you wish you had an elevator pitch ready to explain different social networking concepts? Too many, I am sure, like most of us.

Well, here is something for you that you may find interesting and very very relevant to your job of evangelising on social software. I surely do find it incredibly re-energising! It is actually coming from Sachi and Lee LeFever, from Commoncraft, and it is a super fine series of very short video clips with some compelling messages describing some key concepts of social computing itself.

There are four videos put together not lasting for more than five minutes each and if there is anything that I can say about them all is that they are very educational and enlightening at the same time that they are really good fun to watch. What else could you expect from Commoncraft than getting to know about these important Web 2.0 terms and have plenty of  good fun in the process. And taking just a few minutes, which would make them perfect candidates for your elevator pitch!

I am surely going to be re-using these video clips all over the place hoping to continue spreading the message all over, so that even those folks who may not be that technical would have the perfect opportunity to get to know about some of these concepts. I just wished the clips would have come out a lot earlier, as I am certain they would have saved us all plenty of time explaining some of the basics and get everyone on board right away. That is just how *good* they all are!

I am not planning on expanding further much more on this, so I think we better get going with them. That way you would have an opportunity to enjoy them just as much as I did. They are just terrific and if not check out as well the different links I will be sharing below from different folks who have been promoting these very same videos. Excellent stuff!

RSS in Plain English (3′ 43” and referenced already by other folks such as Social Media Club, Nancy White, Jack Vinson, Anol Bhattacharya, Joitske Hulsebosch, Miguel Cornejo Castro, Chris Collison, Dan Keldsen, George Siemens, etc.):

Wikis in Plain English (3′ 52” and referenced by George Siemens, Anol Bhattacharya, Beth Kanter, Shel Holtz, Rex Lee, Joitske Hulsebosch, Rich Hoeg, Chris Collison, Dan Keldsen -Highly recommended reading, by the way, from Dan on the topic of Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and some of the basics):

Social Networking in Plain English (1’47” and referenced by George Siemens, Chris Collison, Chris Fletcher, Joitske Hulsebosch):

Social Bookmarking in Plain English – demonstrating del.icio.us (3’25” and referenced by a whole bunch of people. Amongst others: George Siemens, Chris Fletcher, Beth Kanter, Techmeme, Nancy White, Mashable, Jeremiah Owyang, Shel Holtz, Anol Bhattacharya, Craig Cmehil, Martin Koser and Robin Good with a superb overview over here):

Thus there you have it. Four gems that will get re-visited over and over and over again in order to provide a clear guidance on how to learn quickly and effectively four different key concepts around the subject of social computing and social software. Thanks ever so much, Sachi and Lee, for putting together these fine video clips and for making our lives a whole lot easier after sharing them! Well done!

(Oh and if you are having difficulties trying to differentiate blogs from message boards here is a bonus link from Commoncraft as well that explains the main differences quite nicely! Good stuff!)

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Lotus Notes 8 Demo – A Whole Lot More than Just Another E-Mail Client

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It looks like the last couple of days I have just been posting about particular screencasts that have become available regarding IBM offerings that are in the pipeline to go live some time during the course of this year and which touch the realm of knowledge sharing and collaboration. So far I have been posting about Lotus Connections, then Lotus Quickr and it looks like I may well have one more for you. At least, for now. This time around on another offering that I have been making use of myself for a number of months and which some of you may find interesting as well, specially since it is something that I have covered over here already in the past and which I mentioned I would be digging into it further some more.

Yes, I am talking about the next version of Lotus Notes 8, currently in beta 2, and which will go live some time during the course of this year. Not far from where we are today, actually. Going along with the previously mentioned screencasts on Connections and Quickr here you have got another screencast on the subject of Lotus Notes 8. It lasts for a bit under six minutes. And pretty much like with the other two, you can download the demo directly from here or get a copy of the script over here as well. It is one of those demos that I would certainly recommend to all those folks out there who would want to see the word groupware reinvented, once again. Whether you like the application or not, this particular screencast will show you what Notes 8 has got to offer. Lots of things, you would agree with me, but if there is anything clear coming out of it is the fact that it is no longer just that e-mail client that people seem to have learned to love or hate.

It will be a whole lot more than that. Yes, it would allow you to still process and work with your mail, and implementing a lovely set of features for that, too, by the way, but the key thing is how Notes 8 is going to extend its reach into other areas to encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration both in a synchronous and asynchronous fashion.

In this particular demo you would then be able to find out a whole lot more about how the new Lotus Notes integrates plenty improved e-mail, calendaring & scheduling capabilities along with Instant Messaging, next to Activity Centric Computing and Composite Applications. Features like improved threaded discussion follow up, side preview, recalling messages that have been sent out already, etc. are now put together with sidebar applications, like Lotus Sametime 7.5.1, Activity Centric Computing, Quickr Content Libraries or a customised RSS / Atom feed client that you can use to subscribe to your favourite feeds.

You would also be able to see from that screencast how Lotus Notes 8 provides an enhanced calendaring feature that, if anything, will be noticed for its compatibility with other popular Internet calendaring formats. From there onwards, you would also be able to check how the Address Book has been improved tremendously with business cards where you can see the pictures of your contacts along with some key basic data, making it a lot easier to remember who you have worked with in the recent past.

And from there onwards we go into the most exciting part of the demo itself which is basically talking about Composite Applications, also known as mashups, and how Notes 8 is actually going to introduce them as part of the client itself. In this particular demo you would be able to see a concrete example of one mashup and how it has been put together into the Notes 8 client itself. This is certainly going to be one of the most popular features from this offering as it would allow end-users to create their own mashups within Notes and share them with whoever else in the project teams. And all of that without having to make use of any other application. Pretty nifty.

Finally, the screencast finishes off sharing some further details on how you can also access Office applications like a word processor, a spreadsheet and a presentation to be able not only to create your own Office documents, but also to process a wide range of files you may be receiving in your Inbox from other knowledge workers. And again without having to leave the Notes client. All of them are nicely put together into a single seamless experience. Quite handy, if you ask me, don’t you think?

So, there you go. The last weblog post on screencasts demoing IBM tools that I will be doing for a while and which touch base on the next generation of Lotus Notes, Notes 8, which is probably going to differentiate itself from its former predecessors as the one client that puts together traditional communication tools like e-mail and calendaring along with several other social computing components, like RSS / Atom feeds syndication, Activities, Quickr, Composite Applications and Lotus Sametime 7.5.1.

Not too bad for just another e-mail client…

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IBM Lotus Quickr Demo Now Available, Too!

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There have been a number of different weblog posts that I have been sharing over here and which have been dealing with some of IBM’s latest offerings in the space of social computing for the enterprise. So thus far I have been talking a few times about the upcoming Lotus Connections, Lotus Sametime 7.5.1 or even the upcoming Lotus Notes 8, which also introduces some more social software components that I may be able to detail some more as time goes by. However, it looks like lately I am actually sharing some further details based on different screencasts that are coming out and which I think are a whole lot more compelling than myself detailing how they actually work.

That was the case with the recent weblog entry I shared about the latest IBM Lotus Connections screencast a few days ago and which, to date, has been one of the most popular weblog entries in here in the last few weeks. So I guess there is an interest in finding out some more. Well, it gets better, folks. Because today I am actually going to talk about another screencast that has just been published, but this time around not about Connections any longer, but about one of the most powerful collaboration, knowledge sharing and content management tools that may be out there available to knowledge workers. Yes, I am talking about IBM Lotus Quickr.

Why am I am saying that this particular offering could well be the next killer app.? Well, because, amongst many other things, it is an offering that tries to combine both the best from traditional content management with some of the latest emerging technologies, like wikis, weblogs, content syndication, etc. etc. And all of that taking place from a single point of entry: your Quickr space.

Let’s have a look into it with this particular screencast I mentioned above and which has now become available for everyone to play directly from the Web or downloading it to your own machine for later viewing. There is also an additional script you can download if you wish to.

In that particular screencast, that lasts for a bit under five minutes, you would be able to check how Lotus Quickr is actually going to provide a Personal Edition for managing your own content, your own knowledge, in a seamless way and empowering you to share that same content (Or not), including rich media, with other knowledge workers through a wide range of options.

On top of that, and perhaps one of the most interesting features that Lotus Quickr is going to put together is actually what has been called Connectors. Connectors would allow you seamless access to content from other popular business applications:

  • Windows Explorer: by right clicking on a file and selecting Check Out and / or Dogear options
  • Microsoft Office applications: i.e. Excel, Word, PowerPoint, through the Actions Menu and where the Check Out option is also readily available.
  • IBM Lotus Sametime 7.5.1: Through the usage of a plugin that connects with the Quickr content libraries and which you can interact with by collaborating with other knowledge workers in a real-time fashion discussing specific files that have been shared across along with the original invite to chat. Pretty impressive if you would want to discuss a document straight up front without having to go ahead and send it across.
  • And, finally, IBM Lotus Notes 8: Through that popular sidebar we have seen in the past and with which you can drag and drop attachments in new e-mails or just send the links to keep your mail box under control, but still having access to the documents right when you need it. Oh, and here is another cool thing. Lotus Quickr would also allow you to detach attachments from your Notes mails into the Quickr content library space so you can keep your mail box under control as well with not so much clutter. A huge time saver if you are one of those who needs to keep things as tidy as possible within your e-mail.

In this particular screencast you would be able to see as well how the Standard Edition is actually going to provide an additional set of Templates that people can work with further. In this demo you would be able to listen to the customising of the Innovation Place template where it is showing some of the social computing elements that I mentioned earlier on, and which makes Quickr rather attractive as it puts together wikis under the Idea Development area or Team Blog that would help team members share information faster and much more effectively and, finally, the Innovation News to receive newsfeeds from other external resources related to whatever has been discussed in that particular space.

And that is just an example of one single template. There are many more, depending on the needs of the tasks at hand. So that is also going to make it a rather interesting option on its own, i.e. the fact that you can work with multiple different templates based on what you are trying to achieve. Yes, that is right, power to the knowledge worker, as they would be able to define how they would want to work and what kind of customisation you would be going ahead for your team or for your community. Not bad at all!

Thus, if you would want to have a quick look at what IBM is doing around the area of merging both traditional content management capabilities with a richer end-user experience putting together some other popular social software components I would strongly encourage you to watch this under five minute screencast, because there is a great chance that it may well be just what you were looking for. I, for sure, would be looking forward to the Personal Edition becoming available later on this year as I bet it will probably become my latest Personal Knowledge Management tool and perhaps the one I will be sticking around with for a while. But that would be the time for another series of weblog posts, I am sure, thus stay tuned!

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IBM Lotus Connections Demo – The Real Thing!

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In the past, you would remember how there have been a number of times where I have been talking extensively over here about the upcoming release of an IBM product in the area of social computing for the Enterprise called Lotus Connections. I know as well plenty of folks have shown their interest in getting to know some more about this particular offering, since most of those different weblog entries that I have created thus far have been amongst the most visited over a short period of time. So with that in mind I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to bring things further into the next level.

Seeing Lotus Connections perform live! Yes, that is right! Instead of me telling you some more on what is actually behind such offering as far as talking on the subject of Profiles, Communities, Weblogs, Dogear (Social Bookmarks) and Activities, I think it would be a whole lot more beneficial if we would actually get to watch it live and check how each of the different components come together into a single unified collaborative and knowledge sharing experience.

Take a look then at the following demo that the IBM Lotus folks have been putting together:

It is a screencast that lasts for a bit over six minutes and in it you would be able to see how Connections actually works, which is probably as good as it gets. Because with that particular business end-user scenario you will be able to watch some of the very practical uses that this particular application has got to offer and how knowledge workers can benefit from it not only from the perspective of improving the way knowledge gets shared across but also how those same knowledge workers connect with one another to collaborate on getting the job done. And all of that without having to use multiple other tools in the process.

As you may be able to see from the Web site where the screencast is stored, you can watch the demo live or rather download it so that you can view it a later time offline. Whatever is easier for you. And also for those folks who may be looking for the script of the screencast you can also download it from here

Thus without much further ado and without taking too much time off from you for the demo itself, I would strongly encourage you all to take a look into the screencast on Lotus Connections and find out some more as to how IBM is planning to progress further into adopting social computing within the Enterprise and beyond. I bet that you will find it quite entertaining and enlightening. Because, above all, you will be able to see something very important and which may not be just related to Connections, nor to IBM itself: the fact that you can conduct effective business using social computing to address real customers issues and find solutions for them in the shortest time possible by empowering people to reach out for information and connect with other knowledge workers. Yes, that is right. Putting together the best of both worlds: knowledge and the people behind that knowledge. Can social computing get better than this? I doubt it.

Another step closer towards the final integration of social computing into the regular business processes that try to address customers’ real needs and act upon them. Excellent stuff! What social computing was ever meant to be!

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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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Introductory Guide to Social Software By Trevor Cook and Lee Hopkins

Through Des Walsh‘s weblog post Social Media De-mazed I have actually been able to locate another really good resource to help out all those folks who would want to go and read through a very comprehensive introductory guide on how to get the most out of social software, i.e. the so-called Web 2.0, and get to understand some of the commonest terms associated with it without having to focus too much on the technical terms but looking more into the practical uses of social software in general. In the past I have been weblogging a few times already about different ways and approaches towards defining Web 2.0 and what it is all about and I guess that to find one that would accommodate to most people’s needs would actually be almost impossible, pretty much the same thing as what has happened with Knowledge Management all along.

However, what Trevor Cook and Lee Hopkins have ventured into sharing with the rest of the world is just remarkable enough to comment on further and to help spread the message around. Yes, it is that good. Check out Free introductory guide to social media where a couple of days ago Trevor actually shared a link to a PDF whitepaper that would provide you with a very comprehensive introduction to everything related to social software. So if you didn’t know how to get started with the whole thing and was looking for a good resource to get you going then look no further and get busy downloading Social Media or "How I learn to stop worrying and love communication".

As Des mentioned over at his weblog post, it is, indeed, a very easy read and perhaps one of the best things about the whitepaper is the good amount of useful examples put together to describe different Web 2.0 concepts with very simple terms. Ideal for those who would want to get started with social software and wouldn’t know where to get started. So you would get to learn some more about Web 2.0 as a new and refreshing collaborative environment, also about weblogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, a good number of different weblog writing tips and an extensive list of must-check resources to get you started with it all.

Yes, as I said, quite an impressive job put together quite nicely and in very simple terms so whoever was struggling to understand some of the key concepts in this area should certainly have a look and download the PDF file. It would be really worth while checking out and digesting it further. And to make things even better, Trevor mentioned over there as well how this whitepaper is just v. 1.0, so there would be more upcoming updates, and, hopefully, we would be able to access all of those.

From here, I just want to give a special thanks to Des for finding such a great resource and to Trevor and Lee for sharing it with us all, making it freely available to us truly showing some of the core skills from social software: knowledge sharing and collaboration for the sake of sharing and collaborating. Well done, guys !

Oh, one other thing, and on a related subject, if you feel you don’t have just that much time to actually go ahead and read through it, then I would suggest you take a look into this particular screencast where U Tech Tips just provides with an impressive description of what Web 2.0 and social software are in just a bit over five minutes. Yes, indeed, just five minutes of your time ! I can certainly recommend going through it if you would want to get exposed to another great resource to try to define all this social media. Here is the embedded video, just in case you may not want to wait any longer:

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