Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Is Twitter high value micro blogging?

I've been tweeting regularly for a couple of months and am starting to see benefits and a huge potential to it. First, I thought the idea of just writing about what I'm doing now, was a bit dumb. Who could possibly spare the time to read all that stuff?

Now, I think differently. I've seen a lot of different behaviours among tweeters. Besides the basic behaviour mentioned above, I've referenced plenty of different usages of Twitter:

  • writing about what you find remarkable (link, citation, etc.)
  • advertising your blog or other publication of yours
  • posting individual or collective instant messages
  • asking for help, solliciting ideas
  • expressing a strong feeling about something you've just discovered
  • filling up some idle moment...
In fact, what enhances the Twitter experience is the quality of the persons you follow as well as your followers. From the people you follow, you get information that they have selected out of the the web hive. This is high quality information that gives you insights as well as a sense of closeness in mind with your sharer.

The people who follow you motivate you to provide them with the best thoughts, the most remarkable insights you come across.

I wish you happy tweeting. You can follow me @ pattycake5678 on Twitter.

Some interesting posts on the subject:

Zemanta Pixie

Friday, June 20, 2008

Creating On-line Communities

For one who gets more and more interested in nurturing my nework, I find helping to develop communities fascinating. As an example, I have been actively participating to a group called the New Business Energy (La Nouvelle Energie du Business). This group has been exploring a new contract whereby entreprises need to find new ways of working that put human beings at the center of their business, as most valued asset. I'll talk about in a later post.

Here and now, I'd like to describe the path we took to interact on-line. We started (actually, that's how we met in the first place), with a hub on Viadeo that François created. While Viadeo is good ,as a place for meeting great people, it does not support conversations very well: the editing capabilities for writing posts are basic and management of topics and comments is cumbersome.

Our two main requirements were:

  • To be able to interact, as a small group, to organize the larger group's interactions and create content and discussions.
  • To provide an on-line environment that would be compelling enough for people to want to interact into.
So we first turned to Google Groups, which was powerful enough, but did not scale well to a community-sized group. At the same time, we launched a group blog on this very platform. Here as well, we found that the balance was too much towards one person providing content to many, as opposed to getting a many-to-many interacting medium. So our blog never really flew off the ground and it's buried now.

The next step was to implement a hosted forum tool (phbBB), thanks to Eric, that we thought would address our two requirements. It did adress the first one well, and in particular provided a good chat tool that we used to schedule a couple of chat conversations of great interest and outcome, but the interface is too text-oriented, which probably made the energy barrier too high for people outside of our circle of animators to adopt.

So, now we are experimenting with our fourth generation of collaboration tools. We have settled to experiment the use of Ning. Building on-line communities there is so easy, as it takes litterally only minutes to set up a new one, whether public or private. So we have a couple now. A private one to handle our core group interactions and a public one that, we hope, will take us to new heights of global interactions with our community (120+ members strong).

Ning's strengths are:
  • its flexible and very visual interface, with the ability for developer to really tweak it to their liking
  • its summarizing all activites happening in the network and exposing it so people can quickly catch up with what's going on
  • its persistence for individuals: one can create multiple networks, be part of many others while keeping only one profile up-to-date, make friends across various communities, etc.
  • its blogging, forum, event management, photos, videos and music sharing capabiities

However, Ning is not a Content Management System. Although there is the ability to attach files, their service agreement explicitly warns that Ning is not a repository and should not be used as such. So we are exploring the next generation of interaction tools, a wiki (Netcipia) , which should nicely complement Ning's great conversational features. More on that later...

I'd like to thank my partners in discovery: Carole, Franck, François and Eric, for hours of great talks and profound thinking.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Entreprise 2.0 at Pfizer

Now that I've left Pfizer, I am glad to congratulate my friend Ben Gardner for an excellent slide show. Ben and colleagues (Paul, Mark, Jason, Simon, Scott, etc.) have made a difference at Pfizer by demonstrating how collaboration could really move Pfizer on the path of unforeseen innovation. They relentlessly applied to themselves the values of collective intelligence: open mind, trusting peer environment, constant juggling of innovativeideas, unleashed passion, hard work and fun.

What I like about this slide presentation is that it presents a panel of technologies that has converged towards a coherent collaborative environment over the past two years. One of the first tools was Pfizerpedia, a geek's wiki whose use has been expanded to project description and reporting, profile management, meeting handling, etc. Another team started with a collective blog (DIGWWW) which gained readership in a lot of circles at Pfizer. RSS aggregation, tagging and social network analysis followed. Each technology brought a new dimension to the benefit of corporate collaboration.

In my view, there are two challenges that remain to overcome:
  • bring consistency to the installed toolset to avoid duplication of functionality and foster content interoperation (through a consistent meta data layer)
  • work to change people's culture towards recognising those who dedicate time and effort to sharing their knowledge and skills.
I had a wonderful time with you guys! I am glad to see that Entreprise 2.0 is alive and well in your hands!

Friday, March 28, 2008

In France, link aggregators are held responsible for content!

So, in Martinez vs Fuzz, the suitor won the first leg. Fuzz's webmaster Eric Dupin has been condemned to a fee of 1,000 Euros for relaying a link that infringed Mr Martinez's privacy. What to make of it?

Well, it clarifies the notion of responsibility for web publishers: they are responsible for all content that can be found on their sites, including indirect content, i.e. links to content maintained on other sites. Or does it really? It seems to define a sort of holistic responsibility: what if the content is a link to a site that contains a link to incriminated content? Would that qualify as litigeous content? For instance, could tinyurl.com be held responsible for providing a short url to replace one subject to sueing?

The second aspect which has not been considered in this regrettable affair is the intent of web publisher. Was it or not to do harm by publishing squander? In this paarticular case I know it was not, because, as an aggregator of content provided by users, Eric did not know everything that was published on his site.

The third aspect is about what harm was actually done to the plaintiff? To my knowledge, very little, apart from putting on the news front the name of an actor that a lot of people did not know. Furthermore, France2.fr reported that Mr Martinez's lawyer refuted the rumor in a statement right after the publication of the judgement condemning Eric. Why wasn't that statement made in the first place prior to any sueing? Why didn't Mr Martinez or his lawyer contacted Eric for a settlement outside the court again prior to sueing? Was there a hidden agenda (like earning a bit of easy money...)?

We will watch the upcoming developments of this unfortunate affair, which has the potential to harm free speech on the web in the French blogosphere durably.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Internet as a Gold Mine for serial law suiters!

Soutenons le Presse-Citron !

Recommandé par des Influenceurs

I cannot remain silent when some people threaten to undermine freedom of information on the Internet. The story so far: Eric, Press-Citron (Lemon Squeezing) blogger whom I follow regularly, also publishes a web site that contains RSS links that are compiled in an automated way.

He is being sued, because one link happened to connect to a dubious rumor implicating a not so famous French actor. So Eric has to defend the fact that he relayed some rumor, although he did not write the incriminated content.

Now we discover that that person is systematically suing web site owners who helped propagate the rumor. All web sites? Not by far, since neither Google, nor Yahoo! and other big integrators are sued...

The blogsphere in France is mobilised to support fellow Eric against Internet predators who seem to think that systematic suing could get them some easy money.

Cheer up, Eric. We support you!

PS: Latest news: the verdict will be known on March 26th.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Assessing Human Capital in the Entreprise

In these first days of the new year, I feel like I've started to climb an unfamiliar mountain. The path is narrow and looks unsafe, but the vista that is revealed to me as I make my way up, step by step, is gorgeous and full of nice surprises.
What is this mountain? It's the personal challenge that I've decided to meet to establish myself as an independent consultant in Collaboration and Social Network Analysis.

So, where am I on the journey?
As I am preparing to leave my current company at the end of the month, I've been contacting colleagues who are potentially interested in using the ONA approach in some of their client departments. So there is a (small) chance that this company becomes my first client. In addition, I am in contact with my former boss who is now at the head of an informatics group in a pharmaceutical company on the West Coast. Here again, there are active talks that could lead to positive outcomes.
These contacts are extremely valuable, whether they lead to work or not, as they prompt me to refine my offer and clarify the approach that I am offering to conduct Organizational Network Analyses.

ONA is one of the tools to assess Human Capital
Human Capital is the value creating potential of the entreprise. It relies on how the actors, who make the entreprise thrive, interact with one another while juggling with the following organizational constructs:

  • Values that enable constructive human interactions
    As a primary example, I would mention Strategic Thinking which helps determine the courses of actions that will help align everyone's efforts in a common direction. There is also the fundamental value of Respect for People which is a keystone of any human interaction. The third value is the promotion of knowledge sharing as an instrument of power, as opposed to knowledge retention, which is so widespread in many companies.
  • Obligations and Constraints
    Human Capital can often be hindered or inhibited by the set of internal constraints and duties that are grown off sheer organizational complexity. The first one comes from the hierarchical organization, that can sometimes be mixed with a dose of matrix reporting. Other self imposed constraints are the business objectives, which are necessary and a good thing when they directly support a well established and understood strategy., but can be translated into sets of unaligned individual goals. Another big constraint on organizations is the time sinks represented by rigid bureaucracy, including governance, corporate policies, meetings and email overload.
Faced with the organization's sluggishness and the values that give a framework of how to cope with its complexity, the Human Capital can be assessed by the responses of individuals and groups:
  • Their behaviours
    regarding how to do their day to day jobs, how they interact informally with one another (social networking), what time they can afford to spend on improving the way they do things (innovation) and how they develop themselves.
  • Rewards and recognition
    This is the feedback loop that can re-enforce or undermine any effort towards a more collaborative environment. What are the behaviours that are really rewarded? Is it global thinking, team focus, knowledge sharing and personal contribution to improve the level of cooperation, or is it exacerbated competition, hero mindset, power by information silos?
Organizational Network Analysis focuses on the collaborative behaviours within the entreprise. Its results have the potential to reveal the dynamic results of the set of obligations, constraints, values, rewards and recognition that form the culture of the entreprise. It will give clues about what could be changed to enhance people's contribution to the welfare of the entreprise, thus helping to improve Human Capital.

I will dive into how ONA's can be conducted as I take you along in my exciting journey up the mountain!

Link: A mind map of Human Capital Assessment

Photo: Jura (France) - August 2007 - Patrice Chollet

Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: Transition and Discovery

It's been two weeks without a post. Much too long regarding my own commitment to the task. So what happened? We've gone back to France for the season's break and visited parents and family, which means some travel (about 800 miles in all), leisurely activities and very little time on-line. This is no excuse, of course.

I've also been busy attending a one-day Consultant Marketing seminar organized by ITG, an umbrella company which offers haven to independent consultants who do not wish to be swamped by all the administrative tasks required when one starts his or her own business. Such companies will deal with all invoicing, insurance, pension, tax duties while consultants can devote their time to do what they like most to do: develop their business, nurture their network, land contracts. I have some contacts who could lead me to find my first mission as a free-lance consultant. If this happens soon, I'll seek to strike a deal with such a company.

So what about the earlier part of 2007?
The big events have run around the reorganization of the business and my struggle to find a suitable position in the Knowledge Management domain at my company. This has not worked out, but at the same time, I've found this to be a great opportunity to put my professional life in perspective and ask myself what is it I really want to do for the rest of my active life (probably about 10 years). So, I've decided that it was worth pursuing what I am passionate about, helping people and companies work better in a cooperative environment.

As a consequence, we have planned to move back to France during the first quarter of 2008 and establish this new business of mine there. It will fulfill a long time desire of ours to get back to our friends and family.

2007 has been notable also with my realising how social networking is at the heart of most human activities these days and especially for the knowledge worker that I am. So I have taken every opportunity to connect or reconnect with all the people I know or once worked with and I have started to make new on-line friends in France. This latter part worked amazingly well: I was able to find like-minded people who had just started a discussion group (La nouvelle énergie du business - the new business energy) and we've been busy planning for further development of the group in the new year.

The values promoted by that group are:

  • Take responsibility for your own life
  • Cooperation is at the heart of personal fulfillment and societal achievement
  • Be generous - Give without thinking about retribution
  • Open your mind to trusting others
  • Stand by your word to earn others' trust

I have made these values mine and hope to live up to them in 2008.

Dear reader, I hope you had an enriching year and that the coming one will bring you what you most desire. And I hope that some day we will find opportunities to help each other.