Just watched this video about something called the Semantic Web (see Wikipedia page).
Basically it is about a better web than we have now (the WWW) because it carries meaning with the data (this object is linked to this object or Marcel “works with” ING). As explained in the video by Nova Spivack it will vastly improve the current keyword search we get through Google, which actually is not keeping up with all the growth of content on the web and can not keep up in terms of search result quality.
It’s often advised that Enterprise 2.0 initiatives have more chance when coming from the bottom of organisations. For good reasons too: Enterprise 2.0 is all about empowering people, but often requiring radical changes in the way they work and relate together, both with their peers and with management. In terms of both testing what works and getting the tools accepted in the workplace the best way could then very well be to start low, small and with a few frontrunners or potential evangelists.
However, after a couple of experiments at work I now have a feeling that bottom-up Enterprise 2.0 has its own limitations, especially when critical mass is important to show the potential benefits (to employees and management) and tools don’t readily overflow with personal value (it’s not all Del.icio.us!) and when people are in the pursuit of busyness.
Or did we do our experiments wrong, actually violating the rules stipulated above (with the obvious benefit of hindsight)? Maybe more called for, to get some participation?
Enterprise 2.0 is not a hype, but it is also not easy, and will serve to separate the winners from the loser” (link)
I predict that the diffusion of these tools is going to sharpen differences among companies as some work to foster the new styles, modes, and practices of collaboration and others work (subtly or overtly) to squelch them. (link)
Asked the question on Twitter tonight but no response yet:
What would the most attractive feature on an employee social network that really draws people in (providing individual value)?
At the end of last year I created a list of 20 things to do on a social network in the office. The piece was the result of a personal brainstorm. But, as you might understand a lot of “utopia” ended up there. At least from the perspective of a employee in a company that never even though about social networks, let alone done some stuff on them. So let’s get down to earth…
To repeat: What would the most attractive feature on an employee social network that really draws people in? In my opinion for, in my case “busy bankers” but it might be for anyone else new to this stuff: personal value first should be the motto
So what’s personal value on a social network? Let me think again:
seeing photo’s behind those long-known names?
keep one’s resume (for the new potential boss to see)?
learning about the interest, hobbies, careers of colleagues?
seeing what you network is doing (= writing on the personal blogs in the network)?
finding people in the same specialism, related projects etc?
seeing what is written on specific tags (this is obviously 2nd or 3rd phase stuff….)
The trouble is that considerable critical mass is required to at least get some of the personal value from the activities mentioned above, although not to the same degree.
Let me refrase my question: What are the first things to focus on when building a social network behind the firewall in terms of features (next to usability)?
“It was never about the markup anyway. Wikis are about making creating and editing content trivial, about creating structure as you go, about tracking changes and activity (plus more). The “wiki way” never demanded the use of strangle little text commands.”
“It could even be argued that the wiki way is all about usability, so wiki markup is actually opposed to the core principles being pursued. What could be easier than just typing straight into the wiki, with buttons for formatting?”
“I would go one step further: don’t deploy a wiki for a broad audience (or within the enterprise) if it doesn’t have WYSIWYG editing. That will start to put some pressure on the developers, and should help to speed the permanent death of wiki markup. RIP and long live wikis.”
I fully agree with James here, although I must admit I have developed some kind of blindness: the longer you are working with wiki markup the easier it is to forget this big usability and adoption issue.
So, although my colleagues in the department have finally begun to do their stuff on our wiki (MediaWiki), I am sure adoption would have been much quicker had WYSIWYG editing been in place.
True, it has been somewhat quiet out here. With a reason!
So we recently had our first face-to-face meeting on a potential LocalWeb initiative. First of all, I loved to (finally) be able to talk about my passion: Internet, web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0. It has not occurred often, that I could spend 3 hours focusing on those topics.
Purpose of our community LocalWeb:
Improve well being (relevant info in nice things in town)
Social cohesion (people that know and understand each other will be more caring and co-operative towards another)
From the obligatory introduction round it appeared three out of the four participants have an IT background and employment. Among the four of us there is also a considerable amount of experience with previous local web experiments and knowledge of local community. This will come in handy!
We discussed a couple of former initiatives like:
a link portal with a commercial drive (get traffic; sell advertisements): unsuccessful because too little traffic; maybe because Google helps people out these days and lot of people/company’s/clubs websites are found that way.
a site linked to a “web ring” of community guides (paper version) providing local content and links. Issue: “Google effect” and nobody willing to provide content.
It’s all about getting people to participate!
The main topic of the night was “participation”: will we be able to generate enough participation because it should be an easy exercise for the four of us (self sustainable; with minimum moderation and content generation; other people taking over some jobs). So far only around 100 unique people turn up on local offline town events, although the content of those meetings are quite compelling. Is the hurdle for participating offline too high? Would it be lower via an online channel?
Some tips and guidance:
What’s resonated from the comments on my first post on the topic:
Make sure you satisfy a real need of people.
You must solve a real problem for them (like in ability to find like-minded people). Something that they will be willing to participate for (create content).
Engage people on things that are important to them (school issues, local event calendars, fun stuff!)
Make sure the community has a clear purpose and make sure people know that purpose
Using local events and low hurdles:
Another important help for attracting participation is focussing on local issues or events that people might want to react to. Well, there are some we examples we could use, like:
I have been trying to list some of the issues around the subject of participation on the Intranet. Here is my draft outline of symptoms, backgrounds and possible solutions. Have anything to add or restructure? Please comment.
Let’s do some real work ok?
I am too busy for “that”!
I do not feel confident enough to participate.
I have enough information coming towards me already.
What’s behind these reactions:
Knowledge is power: a knowledge transfer makes me end up in a worse situation than before. I will not share anything if I am not obliged to do so by my superior or/and recognized in my annual review and compensation. Related: What does my boss think of me spending time on “that”?
What do I have to contribute to such a tool? What would be the value? I do not see that (not understanding the concept; needs training).
Technical barriers for contributing: needs training on working with the tools
Some people are just not interested in working on the Intranet. They come to do the work they are supposed to and that’s it.
People do not like the thought of their input being read and commented upon by anyone. Feel their thoughts are private and not for everybody to read. Who knows what will be the result in future?
Management should start signaling that it is generally accepted to spend time providing relevant and constructive input in the social software systems.
Acknowledgment of management of the value of the new tools to the company (e.g. actually using all collective intelligence; reducing search time for information / people; more engagement; flow of idea’s/innovation).
The company should make sure that sharing of information or participating in social network environments is part of KPI’s and the reward system. Some S.M.A.R.T. measures should be developed for that, but I am sure that is not the real problem.
Increase the weight on team results in reward systems relative to the individual result if you want people to share more and collaborate better.
Employees should be made aware of the value of the new tools and of their particular contributions.
Employees should be supported in working with the tools (how to do “this”?).
Employees should be provided with suitable equipment (e.g. RSS readers) .
What’s behind all of this? Just me “shaping my thoughts”!