Monday, May 31, 2004

Social Software ideas | A Whole Lotta Features

I have this love/hate affair with software features for online interaction. Goes to the previous post about our piling more garbage on that really does not go to the heart of the challenge. At the same time, I'm seduced by possibilities. Check out a few ideas Matt posted in December 2003.

Social Software ideas | A Whole Lotta Features:
"While social software may be the internet revolution du jour among venture capitalists, as a user I'm still waiting for the killer social software app that lives up to all the market hype. Recently I've been thinking about how the current crop of options could be improved upon, or at the very least, how they could be leveraged to be something useful for users. I've come up with a few ideas, some half-baked, others fully baked. I offer them here in the hopes that someone, somewhere already built it or would like to build it."

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Holy Crap, Flower Porn!

Flower Log. Does this have anything to do with online interaction? Naw, just me really enjoying a bunch of flower pictures. The gardener gene is not quite s strong as the chocolate gene, but HECK. I found the link off of

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Technology and Online Communities

This is an older post, but it has a gem I'd like to echo here... Matthew Haughey writes:
"It seems like every cool new technology idea has to overcome what drags down older forms. Or maybe we just move on to new ideas hoping the old problems won't catch up with us."

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Building Distributed Communities of Practice

Stephen Downe's notes from from the International Centre for Governance and Development's workshop, Building Distributed Communities of Practice for Enhanced Research-Policy Interface 28-31 May, 2004, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Amazing notes with a soupcon of analysis from Downe's.

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Theory Development for Organizational Platform of “User Collaboration Innovation Community ”

Jen-Fang Lee and Tzu-Ying Chan, of the National Cheng Chi University of Technology & Innovation Management, Taiwan, offer this paper Development for Organizational Platform of “User Collaboration Innovation Community ”. From the abstract:

...this study proposes the concept of the “User Collaboration Innovation Community”, tries to understand this new phenomenon by conducting projects where the opening of source software is the subject of this analysis, borrows the observation variables and propositions adopted by Mintzberg on structures of the innovative organization, and summarizes the opinions of scholars of organizational economics, the relationship between property rights and organization performance. This study further infers a series of conceptual framework and propositions on the relationships among “organization structure, property right, and organization innovation” for “the organizational platform of the user collaboration innovation community”. We expect that the construction of this concept framework will function as a concrete description and presentation of the innovation model of the “User Collaboration Innovation Community” and will serve as a clear path to be followed for continuous research in the future.

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From the Association of Internet Researchers - 8 new papers book on

So many papers, so little time. There are some interesting papers noted on this post to the AIR-L list (this is an archive page) -- [Air-l] 8 new papers book on

There is one that looks like an interesting starting point for me, and right from Washington State (home!) Daniel Stewart's Status Inertia: The Speed Imperative in the Attainment of Community Status*

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The Sociable Media Group 2004 Papers

Just started cruising through MIT's Sociable Media Group . There are a bunch of interesting looking papers. Time to do some reading!

2004 Papers

Anthropomorphic Visualization: Depicting Participants in Online Spaces Using the Human Form. [pdf]
Ethan Perry
M.S. Thesis, MIT Media Lab

Telemurals: Linking Remote Spaces with Social Catalysts [pdf]
Karrie Karahalios and Judith Donath
Long paper, ACM Computer-Human Interaction 2004, Vienna, Austria.

Artifacts of the Presence Era: Visualizing Presence for Posterity [pdf]
Fernanda Viégas, Ethan Perry, Judith Donath, and Ethan Howe
Siggraph Sketch to be presented at Siggraph 2004, 8-12 August, Los Angeles, CA.

Social Roles in Electronic Communities
Scott Golder and Judith Donath
Extended abstract of a paper to be presented at AoIR 2004

Anthropomorphic Visualization: A New Approach For Depicting Participants in Online Spaces [pdf]
Ethan Perry and Judith Donath
Short paper, ACM Computer-Human Interaction 2004, Vienna, Austria.

The Keep-In-Touch Phone: A Persuasive Telephone for Maintaining Relationships [pdf]
Scott Golder
Presented as a poster at CHI 2004. (view poster [pdf])

Online Personals: An Overview [pdf]
Andrew T. Fiore and Judith S. Donath
Short paper, ACM Computer-Human Interaction 2004, Vienna, Austria.

"Scientists, designers seek same for good conversation": A Workshop on Online Dating [pdf]
Andrew T. Fiore, Jeana Frost, and Judith S. Donath
Workshop, ACM Computer-Human Interaction 2004, Vienna, Austria

Digital Artifacts for Remembering and Storytelling: PostHistory and Social Network Fragments [pdf]
Fernanda Viégas, danah boyd, David H. Nguyen, Jeffrey Potter, Judith Donath.
HICSS 2004 (conference paper)

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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Piping All Your Political Messages Down One Stream

Progressive Pipes aggregates political and activist news in one handy place.

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A Bunch of Interesting Links from the Weekend

Online Conference Discussions - From January 2004, this article echoes what I have seen in practice for integrating online pre/during/post interaction with a conference or other F2F meeting. Our F2F time is too precious. We need to make the most of it. This is one way.

Clancy Ratliff shares an interesting paper -- "Push-Button Publishing for the People": The Blogosphere and the Public Sphere. Lends more ideas as to how we E-ngage ourselves in the public sphere.

Charlie Lowe reflects on the impact of the interesting wiki on CommunityTiedToOneTechnology as it relates to his site. He talks about removing forum modules from Kairosnews. All blogs, all the time. What does this mean for people who prefer forums or story modules?

David Huffaker's thesis, Gender Similarities and Differences in Online Identity and Language Use among Teenage Bloggers. From the abstract:
Contrary to prediction, the results indicate that there are more gender similarities than differences in blog use. However, some gender differences were noted, regarding emotive features, sexual identity, language use, and some components of personal information. Males average more emoticons in their posts than females. Males also reveal their homosexuality more often than females, expressing their sexual identity or coming out. Males reveal their location more often than females, while females present a link to a personal web site more often than males. Finally, males use a more active and resolute language than females.

That's enough for one post. I gotta pee.

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Saturday, May 29, 2004

Lurking and Social Networks

Ton Zijlstra tickles one of my favorite topics, Lurking in Lurking and Social Networks. Right now I'm lurking in a fascinating conversation on CPSquare looking at Etienne Wenger's new research agenda on learning. I look forward to more ideas about tools for lurkers. (I love lurkers. Not quite as much as I love chocolate, but it's close!)

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Spike Hall Compiles Some Great Thoughts on Collaboration

The Aims of Group and Organizational Knowledge Work is a dense chocolate torte of ideas and links about collaboration. One that struck me full on:
we lose collaborative power if we only show finished products to our coworkers or the "world"

Amen! I could spend all day with this entry and the ganache of links.

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Blogs and Non Profits/NGOs

Christian Crumlish posted this excellent piece on blogs and non profits last fall (October 3) but I wanted to bookmark it here since I share resources with a lot of non profits/NGOs.

Weblog strategies for nonprofits @ Radio Free Blogistan

My two bits to add to the comment that The Glue is Syndication. That's the technology glue. The people are the other glue. It's how NPOs/NGOs cross fertilize ideas. This is one of the key things we need more of to improve the kinds of results we can achieve through the non profit sector. Amen and goodnight!

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I spent most of today at our glorious Northwest Folklife Festival, a 32 year free NW tradition. We went to a fabulous panel concert on busking, led by the Northwest's own great political poet-songwriter-activist, Jim Page.

Now what does busking have to do with online communities or online facilitation? Twp things. One, I was infected with a crazy idea to write some songs about online interaction and post them. A sort of cyber busker. But that may involve torturing accidental listeners with my singing and guitar playing. But then I started thinking a bit more globally about artists who share their music - some quite free - online. And how they are building a network -- even a community -- through their gift of music. They are cyberbusking.

My business has been built on the principal that you gotta give out and it will come back -- often in unexpected ways. I also relish that I don't "work for the man" as many of the buskers today shared. The direct contact, unmediated by another organization. Crossing the theatrical "fourth wall" every day.

It was a cool afternoon. I only regret I did not take my digital camera so I could have shared some of it visually with you. Maybe tomorrow.

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Friday, May 28, 2004

Blogs and Integration -

Ask a Question of the Universe, you Get Pointed to More Great Questions

In my early flurry of what feels like overposting to the blog (that's a whole 'nuther issue!) I raised the question of integration of blogs w/ other tools. In my time-demolishing playing with weblog related tools, I found a pointer here. (And yes, I confess, I forgot to note the pointee! Yikes!)

Dave Pollard wrote:
How to Save the World: "To me, the greatest limitation is blogs' lack of integration and 'transitionability' with other communication tools. Why haven't we developed generally-accepted work-arounds that allow us to transition from blog comments to e-mail threads, IM, telephony, wikis and other tools, and back again? Have we become so used to being led around the nose by the functionality (and lack thereof) of communication tools that we've lost our imagination and social will to develop means to jump to better tools when the one we're working isn't optimal? Skype was one of the Top Technologies of the Year in Business 2.0's list, and it's wonderful, and free, so why isn't everyone using it to extend the relationships they develop on blogs? And why are webcams still ridiculed, when everyone agrees facial expresssion and bosy language add immensely to communication, and we now have the high-speed bandwidth (well, 47% of us have anyway per a recent study) to accommodate multi-media conversations? Why do so few people take up my (and others', from what they tell me) invitations to call them, Skype them, IM them, to allow the iteration (back-and-forth) that is the essence of true conversation? And why, when we do make that transition, and meet someone who's become a 'friend' through our blogs, is the first meeting or conversation in aother medium so awkward, even jarring?"

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Faceless colleagues sparking office mistrust -

Via the TeleWorkTimes Blog, Faceless colleagues sparking office mistrust -
Businesses that don’t consider the implications of remote workers could be creating an atmosphere of mistrust in their businesses, according to new research.

A survey from effectiveness consultancy Priority Management for Microsoft has shown that more and more people are working with people they've never actually met – so-called 'invisible workers' – and feel that they're not working as effectively as they could be.

This strikes me as very much a process issue. How are relationships facilitated (self and via formal facilitation)? What blend of tools and communications modes are proffered to help people establish enough identity so as not to be faceless? It ain't just video. There are more ways we can have warm, electronic communications (term thanks to Michele Paradis of Knowise). And it is more than "a more formal approach" as suggested by "Michael Beasley, MD of training organisation Priority Management." It goes to our personal and group communication skills and habits. For example, think of how we can use teleconferences better.

Again, it ain't just the tools.

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Dina Mehta on the word AVATAR

Via Seb's blog I wandered to Conversations with Dina where she shares the origins of the word Avatar.
"The word avatar has its etymological origins in Sanskrit (Sanskrit avatra, descent (of a deity from heaven), avatar : ava, down tarati, he crosses - source here), and finds its place in most Indian languages. We hear the word used so often here in our day-to-day lives and in common parlance - for instance, a person of great virtue is often called 'bhagwan ka avataar' (incarnation of God)."

I presume it was never the intent, but it is kinda weird that somehow we might think of our web-alter identities as dieties. YIKES! I'm not sure I ever feel that powerful. ;-)

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ICTS for Development

From the DO-Consult list today comes this link that has personal relevance to me - Europe & CIS Regional Resource Facility. I have been working on a number of ICT related projects in Central Asia since 2000, mostly with Project Harmony. So I was interested to dig into the country profiles. It is a great overview -- and there is some amazing stuff being done -- but I wondered about the fact that it was just about UNDP stuff when the value of all this internet stuff is the NETWORK!

What if they had produced the report as a wiki so other organizations could add their information? Or maybe this can be a springboard to something that allows folks to not just publish a static report (ah, pdf, don't get me started) on "best practices" but build them, keep them alive, more like the work of AidWorkers Network - a 5000 member network of development workers who are held together by email lists, a web based repository and the good intentions of volunteers. (Hey, if you know of any funders, point them to this group. NOW!)

How do we move from static to active? From an organizational standpoint, how do we generate enough trust to help this happen. Ownership is an issue. Can we let go?

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CommunityWiki: CommunityTiedToOneTechnology

I feel like I slipped into the chocolate store this morning when I followed a link to CommunityWiki: CommunityTiedToOneTechnology. I have been in an ongoing conversation with Etienne Wenger, John Smith, and Kim Rowe about technologies that support distributed communities of practice. (This comes out of Etienne's CoP Tech Survey of 2001 - we are in the process of creating the next gen!)

John says all communities "straddle" technologies - and he considers telephone/IM/VOIP/F2F/paper technologies. On some days I totally agree. But when I look at the "platform" (an integrated set of features or tool) with the groups I work with, I see the CommunityTiedToOneTechnology pattern more often.

That said, I also notice that people experience that one platform in many diverse ways. Some embrace it and fly. Others struggle so hard and are often turned off or simply can't hack it. The same tool -- and these aren't stupid people. The point is the tools are designed for a group but experienced as an individual. My question is, does the integration of features and technology help us bridge that gap, or does it fractionate the group. How do we balance the cost of inclusion with the cost of cohesion when it comes to tools?

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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Social Computing: Getting Ahead of the Blog

Mike Gotta, of ZDNet's Tech Update penned Social Computing: Getting Ahead of the Blog in April (4/20/04).

He gives a good overview of social computing, offers examples with blogs, but the part that was helpful for me was his list of questions. He takes it beyond blog-praise to the next step -- making it real. Making it real means helping the users/potential users think about how it might work for them. Beyond the fluidity of the early adopters. There are some lovely, thought provoking questions here.

  • How do blogs add or detract from the overall business model?
  • How will blogs be positioned versus other communication, collaboration, and information channels?
  • Will users respond to a “pull” (subscription-based) model?
  • Will a browser model for reading blogs suffice, or will an e-mail client be preferred by users?
  • Will blog proliferation lead to just another source of information overload?
  • To what degree is editorial control and release management required?
  • How will the time devoted to blog-related activities by employees be valued?
  • What leadership, communication plans, and reward/incentive programs are necessary to encourage blog adoption and use?
  • What risk factors do blogs present (e.g., court-ordered discovery, regulatory compliance)?
  • What rights management situations might arise (e.g., copyright)?
  • Will blogs become as credible a resource as other sources of company information?
  • How will blogs be used within business processes as opposed to personal networks?
  • What are the alignment aspects of blogs (e.g., portals, content, learning, and collaboration tools)?
  • How do blogs “fit” into existing infrastructure (directory, security, operational management)?
  • What metrics (e.g., subscription data, page sessions) should be gathered and reported?
  • Are blogs a premium service for certain external activities (e.g., commerce aspects)?
  • Are vendors already on-standard and poised to deliver blog tools, or can they deliver the same benefits within existing technology?
  • What options do emerging vendors, hosted services, or open-source alternatives offer?
  • What are the archival and records management aspects of blogs?
  • What storage implications (e.g., backup/restore) will occur, and what limitations around storage allocation per worker (similar to e-mail inboxes) might have to be established?
  • What content security aspects should be required to protect liability, confidentiality, and intellectual property?
  • How does all this fit into a social computing strategy?

I'd like to add my questions:
  • How can we begin to imagine, implement and describe ways for blogs to support not only information sharing, but collaboration?
  • What are the tools and processes that allow collaboration to progress from the initial catalyst provided by knowledge shared on blogs?

Thoughts? Hit the comment button.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Adding Music to Serious Chat

I've been using chat in virtual teams, distributed CoPs and in online learning groups. It can be a tough environment for some people. Sometimes it can make you downright CRAZY and frantic.

A year or so ago some folks in my "Facilitating Online Interactions" workshop did an experiment. We had a chat window open in one window, and loaded the following page (Healers Way) which has healing harp music (of one of the members of the group, Stella Benson) in another window. In effect we were all listening to the same music at the same time as we were chatting. We then took a moment to relax at the start and midway through the chat, with this lovely harp music soothing us.

IT WAS AMAZING. It changed the experience of the chat. Thinking about bridging communications modalities as a way of improving/deepening and enriching online communications is on my mind these days. Not only do we bridge across technical platforms, but we bridge senses and modalities.

By the way, Stella teaches about how to play and use healing music for F2F health situations in an ONLINE workshop -- check it out at The Healing Musician. Talk about bridging!

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London Gathering of Community Folks

A couple of weeks ago I was passing through London on my way home from Armenia where I was doing some work with Project Harmony. I had the luck to be able to spend the afternoon with some old and new colleagues and friends -- all of whom have an interest in online interaction. David Wilcox blogged it. Now I'm going to try and share a few SMALL pictures from it. (I don't have the full files yet!)

Paul, David, Leonie and me...

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Online Learning URLs and References

Learning Peak's page for Making Sense of Online Learning by Patti Shank. Thanks to Stephen Downes OLDaily. . Downes rightly points out it leaves out , a great resource which provided him the link originally!

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Restarting my Online Community Link Blog

I started this with Blogger back in 2000 and let it (and my account) lapse. You can see the old stuff here -->

We'll see if I can do any better this time around!

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