How to set up a nice simple group collaboration space

A nice piece of social media literacy here from Dr. Michael Weschand, a cultural anthropologist focused on digital, and his group at Kansas State University.

Everyone in the class (Mediated Cultures: Digital Ethnography) has their own blogs, all of which are aggregated into a single feed. This sits on a Netvibes page alongside RSS feeds of other useful data for the teaching staff and students, like the course calendar (from Google Calendar), bookmarks (from Diigo, a bookmarking service I’d not looked at yet), Wiki edits and a comments feed.

Image: The Mediated Cultures Netvibes page
Image: The Mediated Cultures Netvibes page

It looks like a great simple approach for any group collaborating on a project. Must increase my own literacy and start working more like this!

The other amazing thing is, of course, that we can all watch their work live on the Netvibes page. Which makes me feel better about the fact that even remotely I wouldn’t be able to fit in a course like this for a couple of years…

Upload to Facebook = donate your content to Facebook?

perez
Image: Perez say NO!

* * UPDATE: Check out my NYC colleague, Alisa’s analysis of what the Terms and Conditions mean in Facebook: All Your Data Are Belong to Us…

Facebook’s new terms of service make it sound an awful lot like they own anything you put up there forever. Ulp!

Some think this may even have consequences for brands that upload content. Double ulp (on behalf of brands)!

While others, publicity shy as they are, are calling for a Facebook boycott.

Now Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO going on an, er, charm offensive:

In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment….

…the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other.

He says he’ll post more soon. Best had – this issue won’t go away…

Thanks to @tacanderson and @dirkthecow for points via Twitter…

Upload to Facebook = donate your content to Facebook?

perez
Image: Perez say NO!

* * UPDATE: Check out my NYC colleague, Alisa’s analysis of what the Terms and Conditions mean in Facebook: All Your Data Are Belong to Us…

Facebook’s new terms of service make it sound an awful lot like they own anything you put up there forever. Ulp!

Some think this may even have consequences for brands that upload content. Double ulp (on behalf of brands)!

While others, publicity shy as they are, are calling for a Facebook boycott.

Now Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO going on an, er, charm offensive:

In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment….

…the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other.

He says he’ll post more soon. Best had – this issue won’t go away…

Thanks to @tacanderson and @dirkthecow for points via Twitter…

Upload to Facebook = donate your content to Facebook?

perez
Image: Perez say NO!

* * UPDATE: Check out my NYC colleague, Alisa’s analysis of what the Terms and Conditions mean in Facebook: All Your Data Are Belong to Us…

Facebook’s new terms of service make it sound an awful lot like they own anything you put up there forever. Ulp!

Some think this may even have consequences for brands that upload content. Double ulp (on behalf of brands)!

While others, publicity shy as they are, are calling for a Facebook boycott.

Now Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO going on an, er, charm offensive:

In reality, we wouldn’t share your information in a way you wouldn’t want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment….

…the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them—like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on—to other services and grant those services access to those people’s information. These two positions are at odds with each other.

He says he’ll post more soon. Best had – this issue won’t go away…

Thanks to @tacanderson and @dirkthecow for points via Twitter…

Comrade Excel and the Glorious Five Year Plan

Image: Tragically, Zepplin trips were outside of Lenin's core value proposition
Image: Tragically, Zepplin trips were outside of Lenin's core value proposition

Spreadsheets aren’t strategy, as Umair Haque is fond of saying.

Turns out they can actually be quite dangerous, for the temptation they bring to reduce a business (a complex, human enterprise) to a set of numbers on a page. Even more dangerous when they trick us into thinking we can predict the future and call the extended line of equations based on assumptions facts. And then, once the “facts” are there, start getting upset when behaviours in your lovely bundle of corporate human potential don’t follow the script.

I loved this post yesterday by Mark Earls about how central planning was utterly discredited at a macroeconomic level (i.e. communism was a disaster) but at a micro-economic level (in our businesses) we persist with command and control approaches.

Mark  muses on an excellent article by Simon Caulkin in Sunday’s Observer called Inside Every Chief Exec There’s a Soviet Planner:

Does your CEO tell the shareholders (and the other stakeholders of the business) stuff like, “we’re not sure what’s going to happen….”? Probably not – certainty in what will happen and the plan to meet it are essential fictions of today’s CEO.

All of which leads to the bloating of the managerial classes in any large organisation

“Central planning imposes a huge co-ordination burden – which is why there is just so much management.”

Curious then, as Caulkin observes, that when coupled with a fervent commitment by the same folk to laisser faire macroeconomics, we get oh….a total mess.

I think I totally failed to post a comment yesterday, so here’s what I was going to say:

It seems such an obvious contradiction now, but we’ve indulged the spreadsheet fantasy of control and predictability in our companies. In fact, to be outside it is to be a heretic.
“What are your projections for Q-whatever, FY-blah?” are questions that seem to demand a suspension of disbelief by all involved.

I recommend standing to attention, staring straight ahead and appending the word “comrade” to the end of any response to such questions from now on. It’s the only sane response…

Large organisations need to plan, but plan in a more agile way. One Truth is a lie. A spread, a loose plotting of your possible courses, and some ideas about how you would react to different scenarios…

There are three things this all boils down to for me:

  1. Organisations aren’t machines.They are far more human and complicated than that. If you treat them like machines they will break.
  2. Don’t be trapped by your plan.  Spreadsheets, business plans – as with all innovations, tech, methods – should serve us, support human potential, not make servants of those gathered round them.
  3. Management is a burden. It needs to be kept light or it destroys value.

Otherwise you end up, Like Hugo Chavez and his cohorts here in this public examining of the accounts trying to work out how you went off-plan…

how-many-beans

And when the answer doesn’t match the spreadsheet…

it-cannot-be

Questions need to be asked. The spreadsheet can’t be wrong, so who is…

there-is-no-excuse

Oops.

Anyway, thanks to Mark for summing it up nicely like that. He and the ever-wonderful Johnnie Moore have put together a podcast yesterday on the same subject which I shall be listening to with great interest later…

Innovation in news: Al-Jazeera Labs

Image: Al Jazeera Labs website
Image: Al Jazeera Labs website

Fascinating to see how Arabic and English news service Al Jazeera is approaching the innovation imperative with its Al Jazeera Labs project.

In the first couple of months of this year the company has rolled out many deals and pilots in interesting areas, according to a great report on Journalism.co.uk. I’m especially intrigued by things like its experiments with Creative Commons licensing of content and use of data visualisation in news stories like the recent war in Gaza.

The map is using both mainstream media reports and what people are saying in social media, via Usahidi, a “platform for crowdsourcing crisis information”. It is designed to help build up a picture of what is happening in a crisis situation – be it a natural disaster or a military conflict – based on what people are saying (by text, blog, Twitter etc.) on the ground.

Image: Al Jazeera's Gaza map on the Ushahidi platform
Image: Al Jazeera's Gaza map on the Ushahidi platform

It’s a very interesting concept, and interesting to see serious attempts to make sense of and filter the rich information – with all the sensible caveats about reliability – that personal content from people involved or near to a crisis situation create.

Here’s a map that has been created from data about the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Image: An Ushahidi map of incidents in DRC Congo
Image: An Ushahidi map of incidents in DRC Congo