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Windows Live Writer?

MIKE2.0, Web 2.0 1 Comment »

Anyone received the update request for Windows Live Messenger? Well, I did and it includes a Google Pack-like collection of tools including Windows Live Writer. It took 1 minute to hook it up to my WordPress blog and write my first blog post:

WindowsLiveWriterInterface

Images can be easily inserted and are automatically uploaded to your blogging application.

It has a simple WYSIWYG editor, has different preview modes (web, normal, html), has a spell checker (which WordPress and many other blogging applications are missing) and allows you to manage multiple blogs. Because who is only blogging on one blog nowadays? (wink)…. It also has a link library (=glossary) to previously used hyperlinks or blog post which is very useful.

I will have to try a couple more posts to make sure it is working all fine. And if it is, I will be rolling it out to our other authors on MIKE2.0 Information Development blog and imCollab, the BearingPoint internal collaboration site…

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The tech bubble math is back!

Social Networks, Web 2.0 No Comments »

To probably no one’s surprise, the math behind the overevaluations of companies during the tech bubble is back. Take a look at the Techcrunch article fubar-grows-over-3-million-percent-in-a-year. It feels like back in the times when your boss is offering you a dramatic 30% raise and you can’t help but point out that 30% more on $20k is still only $26k which is still a pittance… So here we are at Techcrunch, an arguably respectable technology magazine, and they present that some company had a 3 million percent increase in traffic in one year. This makes no sense to me, but who gives, right? Well, here is my math.

I don’t know what they used as the basis for their calculation (monthly figures, YTD etc.), but let’s assume they were looking at the change in monthly traffic, then all this means is that Fubar started at 201 visitors last year and has 6.6 million now. Which is a fantastic feat, but means that they just started last year. When we look at growth percentages, we are not interested in a one-off, but in a trend. If the figures mean anything, we would like to predict what’s gonna happen next year. And by no way will Fubar be able to repeat this, because it would mean that they will have to attract 215,966,322,000 monthly visits by March 2009. And that would make everyone of us (6.6 billion worldwide) have to visit their site 33 times per month! Good luck…

By now you gotta be asking yourself what this website is actually about?! It’s an online social network centered around the concept of meeting up in a bar over happy hour. Prost Fubar!

There was actually some useful pieces of information in the article. Who would have known that Orkut, Google’s social networking site, is growing (again)? Looks like their Open Social strategy of providing a common platform for integrating online social networks is attracting some attention!

And finally, I see LinkedIn growing at 729%. For a long time I have been refusing to join any of these online communities, but I must admit I gave in two years ago and joined LinkedIn. And it has been a very positive experience so far, allowing me to keep in touch with many ex co-workers and business partners who I would have struggled to keep in touch with otherwise. I mean, who is still interested in occasionally meeting a former colleague or business partner over a pint in a bar? Fubar, anyone? Cheers to that again…

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Twitter? Fun with upgrading…

Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0 No Comments »

Ever heard of Twitter? If yes, then you are part of the social networking software crowd. If not, there is still hope for you…

Twitter is a micro-blogging service where users post mini-updates on their whereabouts, what they are doing and how they are feeling. It adds another dimension to the personalisation of the internet. User can update their personal profile via SMS, instant messaging or email. This creates some kind of a blog, although the information content of the posting is only valid and valuable for a short amount of time, because of its immediacy in nature.

And why do I write about it? The mantra of Enterprise 2.0 is to “release early, release often” and to tap into the user community for feedback to drive your future functionality and releases. This makes it inevitable to have downtime on your site when you are rolling out new software.¬† But you can be funny and honest about it, as the guys at Twitter have shown us the other day:

Twitter site upgrade notice

A quick search on the internet for Twitter then showed me where we are in the hype cycle of Web 2.0. 9 out of 10 hits were talking about how to make money off Twitter-like technologies. Are we back in the bubble? Or is it different this time? If you believe the latter, then read on the Influential Marketing Blog about “a few non-boring ways to use Twitter for marketing“…

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Benefits of Enterprise 2.0

Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0 1 Comment »

I just came across a KPMG whitepaper called Enterprise 2.0: Fad or Future written by Gary Matuszak. It contains a nice collection of case studies of companies using social software (wikis, blogs, RSS, mashups etc.). Gary sees the value of Enterprise 2.0 in:

  • Knowledge sharing and management
  • Problem solving
  • Innovation
  • Collaboration

I think we also need to realise that in the enterprise cost reduction, revenue generation and customer service can never be left out of the equation. Enterprise 2.0 performs well in these categories as well. Here are some simple examples for each category:

  • Cost reduction – Wikis and blogs as customer-facing publishing tools improve customer self-service levels and therefore reduce help desk costs
  • Revenue generation – Blogs can personalise a company and put a face with its services and products. This removes a barrier to engage with people in the online world and will increase online sales
  • Customer service – Social software adds another channel to the communication with customers. Empowered customers are happier customers!

The full paper is available here.

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Mediawiki Tag Cloud and Google Suggest extension

Enterprise 2.0, Mediawiki, MIKE2.0, Web 2.0 20 Comments »

It’s here, finally! A Mediawiki extension that combines a tag cloud and Google Suggest like features to categories. It’s called SelectCategoryTagCloud and version 1.0 is available on http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:SelectCategoryTagCloud.

Let me explain how and why we did this. A couple of weeks ago Jeremy wrote about how taxonomies and folksonomies are complimentary. In a simplified view of Mediawiki and Enterprise 2.0, categories are as close to a taxonomy as you can get. You can pre-define categories, nest them to create a hierarchy or automatically include them in templates that you force on certain pages (and therefore the page itself becomes a member of the category). However, categories also allow users to create horizontal or lateral views on content that is otherwise stored in a hierarchical or sequential manner. In wikis you create a link from a top page or home page to a sub page to a sub page and so on. You can then link from one sub page to another one, but if you want to see what pages deal with the same topic, you have to navigate through them one by one (either hierarchically or in sequence). Categories allow you to group pages that share a common topic into categories by simply ‘tagging’ the page with a category name. Here is a screenshot of an article with 4 categories applied to it:

SCTC Article with categories

If you want to see all pages in that category, you just need to click on the category name and Mediawiki displays all pages that are part of the category. The following screenshot show all pages in the category MIKE2 Activities:

2 SCTC Articles in category

A couple of extensions to Mediawiki exist that have attempted to solve the problem of suggesting categories to users, visualising what categories are popular and applying the style of Web 2.0 applications to categories. But none of them have achieved to provide the usability and simplicity of applying tags to bookmarks as Deli.cio.us and Digg have done.

My first step was to review existing extensions to see how much code reuse is possible. As a professor of mine at university used to tell me, copying code gets you expelled from school, but awards in the corporate world ;) . I found two extensions that were particularly useful (SelectCategory and WikiCategoryTagCloud). Credits to the developers of these extensions, because their code was to become the basis of my new extension which I named ‘SelectCategoryTagCloud’ in their honor.

The first step was to refactor the Wiki Tag cloud to be displayed on the edit page (and then further on the upload file page) of a Mediawiki article. Users are now able to see what categories are popular on the site and what categories are already assigned to the article. Take note of the simple visual marki-up of the existing categories.

3 SCTC Edit mode with tag cloud

The second step was to extend the functionality by adding an input box that would list all categories that are already assigned to the article. So instead of having to type the category command [[Category:CategoryName]] into the regular edit field or having to hunt down where the original user had put the command, users now have one single place where all categories are managed. Users can click on any of the categories in the tag cloud which adds it to the list of categories. Clicking on a category that already exists in the list removes it.

Finally, I needed to solve the problem that a tag cloud can only display so many categories as feasible to show on screen. Wikipedia has something like 150,000 categories, can you imagine how their category tag cloud would look like?! In my extension the number of displayed categories can be limited by setting a minimum count number for articles that are part of the category.

But how about all the other categories that don’t fit into the tag cloud but which we still want to encourage the users to reuse?!! So I added a category suggestion feature, similar to Google Suggest. When the user starts typing the initial characters of existing categories, the extension will display suggestions of existing categories right below the category input box. This not only encourages reuse of existing categories, but also reduces the amount of categories with similar names and typos. Check out this screenshot to see suggestions on the initial characters ‘Bu’:

4 SCTC Edit mode with suggest

The user is presented with 3 suggestions (Business Activity Monitoring, Business Intelligence Offering Group, Business Solution Offerings) and can select any of them with a simple mouse click. And because it’s all AJAX based, the lookup and suggest feature is kicked off in the background and doesn’t interfere with the user’s typing.

So what’s the next steps? Well, this is a first stab at applying some of the Web 2.0 features like tag clouds and suggestion to Wikis. Next I would like to apply a more formal approach to social bookmarks to complete the circle of taxonomies and folksonomies. Specifically, I will work on how to apply categories created in Mediawiki to Scuttle, an open source bookmarking software. This great software hasn’t really received any development support over the last year or so, but we have been using it internally and we believe that this will be another piece in our work to glue Web 2.0 technologies together to provide a solid, open source Enterprise 2.0 offering for collaboration.

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How to upgrade yourself to Enterprise 2.0

Enterprise 2.0, MIKE2.0, Web 2.0 1 Comment »

Since having started working on the MIKE2.0, I had to rethink the way I personally participate in the Enterprise 2.0 world. I have been publishing a personal web site for quite some time and have been using instant messaging and profession networking software. But I have en large ignored the new breed of Web 2.0 technologies. As they are seeping into our professional lives, one has to adapt his work practices in order to keep up. Don’t stay stuck in the age of email and voicemail. Here is my list of things you need in order to upgrade yourself to the age of Enterprise 2.0:

  1. A new life starts with a new browser. And none is cooler than Firefox. With all the add-ons available, it’s arguably the best browser out there!
  2. Immerse yourself in the world of Google:
    • Get rid of your Hotmail account and sign up for Gmail.
    • While you are at it, download Google Talk. Everyone of your colleagues and friends who uses Gmail will automatically be available for chat and free phone calls.
  3. And because one also wants to make VOIP calls to regular phones, sign up for Skype.
  4. You also need to get your bookmarks sorted. Why not put them online so that you can access them from wherever you need? Check out Del.icio.us or Digg.
  5. Build your professional community with LinkedIn.
  6. Blur the line between personal and professional friends on Facebook. Don’t get scared by the plain front page. Once you are in, there are 25 million people waiting to ‘get back in touch with you’.
  7. Extend your shelf life by getting your own avatar and diving into your Second Life.
  8. Get serious about sharing your knowledge and experience on your corporate Wiki. Ask around, chances are that someone in your organisation will have already put up a Wiki somewhere and that a whole bunch of people are already wiki-ing away…
  9. Pick a topic where you have professional expertise and which you are passionate about and start a blog (Typepad, Blogger, WordPress or Livejournal)

So what’s all of this about? This is about getting yourself sorted out. Call it your personal brand. You are worth it!

If the above list isn’t exhaustive enough for you, then check out Todd Stephens’ “15 Ways to Professionally Brand You” for more ideas.

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