Thursday, 15 May 2008

Enterprise 2.0 on a tiny scale

Having been involved in the creation of an Enterprise 2.0 community in a huge pharmaceutical, I am now embarking on a much different journey. I have just joined a tiny software firm (only 7 people), and I have offered to take to responsibility for setting up our own Enterprise 2.0 suite. At the moment I am going with Mediawiki for the wiki, and intranet homepage, backed up with a Drupal blog site for internal blogging and group discussions. I think it will be an interesting contrast to setting up E2.0 in a large company......

Friday, 18 April 2008

First Post of 2008

WOW It really has been a while since I have blogged!!!

Rest assured its not because I have suddenly gone off blogging, far from it, but I have been a bit busy.

In October, I proposed to my lovely girlfriend, who after an unexpected amount of crying said yes! This was great, but it did pose me with an immediate problem - I was living in deepest darkest Kent, and she was living in London!
After a lot of thinking I decided that the best thing was for me to pack my things and go to the place where the streets were paved with gold!!

So started the job hunting!! I wrote two CVs, one technical, and one leaning on my experience consulting on Enterprise 2 technologies. I decided pretty quickly that whilst I loved Enterprise 2, and have had some of my best working experiences whilst touting the joys of Enterprise 2 at the big P, ultimately my strength was technical, so I focussed my efforts on looking for software developer roles. After a close call with a job I really wanted, I was offered a developer role for a company developing online gambling solutions. This was quite a way out of my field of expertise, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to get into some of the nitty gritty of web development, so I took the job, handed in my notice at the big P, told my house mate that he was going to be homeless, and shipped off to the big smoke!

I have been working up here for 3 months now, and I am writting this blog on my last day at this company. It has been a real learning curve being here, as I have been using technologies that I had never even heard of let alone used, and I have enjoyed the challenge. However it has been a big culture shock from working at the big P. Essentially we are software consultants working to fine tune an existing product, which is cool, and I enjoy the interactions with the customers. However I found that there was no way of being creative in the ways that I am used to, and sadly whilst the company has got a wiki, there is a no buzz of an Enterprise 2.0 community, which stems from the fact that everyone is fully engaged dealing with customers.

It is really for this reason that I haven't been blogging for a while, I just haven't had the inspiration! However, out of the blue I was contacted about a position working for a small (6 person) private company, developing the interface of their online Rich Internet Application. Its sounded quite interesting, and to cut a long story short, I start there on Monday!!I am really excited to get going, because they are doing a complete redesign of their website, and upgrade of their application, and I am going right there in the thick of it, and will hopefully have a influence on the GUI, which is fantastic, as I have developed a real passion for usability. What is more I see a real opportunity to get back into the web2.0/ E2.0 scene, and try and use the experience I got in the big P, and see how it can be put to work in a small company setting!!

Sorry this has been a big post, and well done to anyone who has read this far - I look forward to blogging more often in the future!!!

Friday, 2 November 2007

LifeStreams -> WorkStreams

I love the idea of life streams - its great to be able to easily leave a trail behind you of cool stuff you have done/found.
I have been thinking lately about WorkStreams....
I used to be a lab scientist - and one of the things I used to hate the most about that job was having to maintain a Lab Notebook - it was a real drag having to take time out of my day to write (using a pen!!!) about what I had done. This is not to say that it wasn't neccessary, for patent and freedom to operate purposes it was essential, and it was really useful to have a record to look back on when I wanted to check something.
Nowerdays I am a software developer, and so the need to do this has subsided, I have all my code checked into Subversion , and that is all I need. However I really miss having that record of stuff that I have done/thought about etc.
For tagging cool web resources we have a tagging service, for recording my thoughts and ideas I have a personal twitter like service, and for recording the miscellaneous stuff that cant be put in our tagging service I have OneNote. However I really wish there was an aggregated stream of all this digital information that I could scan like my old lab notebook. A work stream could realise this, and not only that, if it was integrated into our Enterprise 2. suite, it would be effort free to create, but gives me that extra bit of return on taking the effort of tagging, and posting all this stuff in the first place, win-win.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Tagging as a service

We have implemented a like social bookmarking service and are currently trialling a new web based rss aggregation system within our organisation. Both of these applications allow you to tag content.
People who use both services are starting to ask whether they should be suing their RSS reader or the social bookmarking service to tag their content.

The answer is imperfect - you should use both.

Tagging is useful - it allows people to add their own semantics to content they are interested in, which provides an instant benefit to them, and engages them in the application they are using. For this reason tagging is becoming part of the core functionality of most Web2.0 applications.
This is a great thing because it increases the usability and usefulness of a service. However the problem is that while there are many places that you can tag things, you are essentially building lots of siloed tag collections that are difficult to aggregate. In the web2.0 space this is born out of the fact that all these services are competing with one another, to manage your information, and therefore there is no advantage in allowing you to share your tags with other applications.However within the firewall, this competitive element is stripped away and we have the opportunity to create an integrated environment.

Therefore I think we need to start thinking of tagging as a service.
Tagging as a service will allow your Enterprise 2.0 infrastructure to share a central repository for tagging. This means that when a user adds a tag in one application , it can be expressed in any number of others instantly with no further effort from the user.
Therefore adding tagging to an E2.0 application not only adds value to that application, but it increases the value of your whole Enterprise 2.0 infrastructure. For your users this will increase engagement and multiply the return that user receives from their initial investment in tagging.

Its a really simple concept but something I think that is being overlooked by the Enterprise 2.0 community at the moment.

Friday, 5 October 2007

So what is the FOWA?

The FOWA Expo 2007 is finished and I am just about to go on holiday so I wanted to quickly put down my thoughts on what I think is the Future of Web Apps, after listening to the talks and talking to the exhibitors.
So what is going to be big:

1. Lifestreams - until platforms like Facebook and Twitter open themselves up and allow social network interoperability people will start to create lifestreams aggregating all the content they create in various places. There are lots of companies getting into this area, but my favourite so far is , I had a chat with them and they have only just launched but there site looks great and they have lots of good ideas.

2. Ambient Intimacy : A phrase coined by Leisa Reichelt when talking about presence applications such as Twitter and Jaiku. I think these technolgies will become more mainstream, especially now you can Twitter from Facebook.

3. Mobile Web : As phones get smarter, and developing for them gets easier (?!?) then companies will want to get into the monile scene. In Britain we are well placed to be forrunners in this with providers like Vodaphone and T-moile providing broadband speed mobile internet at a fixed price. Lets face it, if you are out and about with nothing to do, whats the first thing you will reach for - your phone!!!

4. DeDigitilisation : As more of us have a lot our lives digitised (Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Wikis), our lives are becoming more intagible, and we become dependent on the internet to get access to our stuff. However printing has become massively cheaper, and companies like Blurb and Moo have arrived, offering to print out our digital lives at a surprisingly reasonable price!. Blurb is my favourite one at the moment - for a mere tenner you can create an 80 page shop quality book (Softcover) of whatever you want - I just ordered one with a bunch of my favourite photos, and it feels really good to have dedigitalised some of my life.

So whats not going to be hot at least int he way we expect??

1. Semantic web - the Tim Berners Lee vision isn't going to happen, at least not anytime soon.
We are all selfish at heart, and as a developer, what si the ROI of making my site semantically aware? However companies like Dapper are allowing communities to put a semantic layer over stuff they are intereseted in - essentially creating a semantic folksonomy.

Thursday, 4 October 2007


I have been experimenting with microblogging sites such as Twitter and Jaiku for a while, but without really doing it seriously. However yesterday Heidi Pollock mentioned in her talk that Twitter now has a mobile website, so I thought I would give Twitter another go.....Then this morning I was sitting next a guy called Paul Downey who was writting notes on the talk we were in directy into Twitter - I thought what an awesome idea and started to do the same, we ended up exchanging ids and follwing each other on the conference. I thought this is cool - so not only am I getting my notes down somewhere that I can find them again, but I can also see in real time what Paul was thinking/finding interesting. However it got even cooler when I changed track at the conference to watch a talk on presence, but still got the highlights of the talk on my original track because Paul was in ther twittering about it !!! Very cool.
BTW - The talk on presence was really really good - so good in fact I am going to write its own post later on this evening.

Thoughts on FOWA day one

Well I was a bit dubious about coming to FOWA. Simon had been to a few conferences this year that overall he didn't really find very useful, and to be honest, for a conference about the future of web apps, their attendees "networking" site was really rubbish!!!
However, I arrived with an open mind, and kicked off the day with a bit of Halo 3 at the Microsoft lounge. Having established that this wasn't going to be a stuffy Enterprise 2.0 conference, and it was going to be a fun web2.0 conference I relaxed a bit.
I noted before going that most of the attendees were from little web2.0 startup companies, and apart from the sponsors of the shows I reckon I was the only attendee from a big corporation , let alone from a pharmaceutical company - so I felt a bit like an undercover agent , posing as a Flex developer!!! The upside of this was that nobody was trying to sell me anything, and I found that people, even the exibitors really just wanted to tell you what they were up to , and maybe get some feedback!
My highlight from yesterday was a talk by Daniel Burka, who was talking about how to implement changes in a community site like DIGG, in a way that really engages and placifies the community. I think he had some really great advice, and actually out shone his boss Kevin Rose, who presented later in the day.
One final point to note - like any cool technology conference, everyone was sporting their swanky MacBooks - but I was very surprised to see that Microsoft were using them on their stand to showcase Silverlight!!!!!!
More later on today!!