Away on holidays – Happy New Year!

Tomorrow we leave on a little over two weeks holidays – it’s a good time of year to get away, so we always take the opportunity. The last three years Victoria and I have taken our New Year’s holiday in various Asian countries – Vietnam and Laos, Thailand, and Japan. The last was with our lovely daughter Leda, who was four months old at the time, but not too young to acquire a taste for Japanese cuisine and esthetique.

This year we’re heading to the North Coast of Australia’s New South Wales. We’ve made no bookings for accommodation or anything else, so it will be a very laid-back affair as we wander around and probably hang out for a while in the hippie hinterland rather than cosmopolitan Byron Bay. My wife Victoria will paint and design, and I may make some progress on my novel set in the near future (realistically a few years away from publication yet). Leda will no doubt make some friends and enjoy being out of the city for a change.

I’ll report back on any startling encounters or insights when I’m back, but there’s unlikely to be anything as futuristic as Leda’s encounter with a robot in Akihabara, and more likely I’ll just experience a very pleasant stilling of the mind before I throw myself into 2008, which promises to an extremely fun and exciting year.

Have a fabulous New Year!

How to survive Christmas parties: A practical guide to festive conversations

As we move into Christmas season, many people will find themselves in social situations they may not want to be in. They may find themselves sitting next to distant relatives or acquaintances who are tedious, obnoxious, annoying, pedantic, weird, bombastic, stupid, or all of the above.

For these situations, I would like to provide a handy guide to party conversation that will help anyone to be completely comfortable in any social situation and conversing with anyone.

Ten years ago, in a period when I went to even more parties than usual, I observed that close to 90% of conversations were essentially content-free. There are in fact many, many things that can be said that are ALWAYS appropriate at ANY point in ANY conversation. This means that you can say these phrases, irrespective of what the other person has just said, and it will always be a relevant way to continue the conversation and appear to be a brilliant conversationalist. I then engaged in a long-term research project, spanning many parties, in which I compiled a list of these “appropriate phrases” that can be used at any point in a conversation.

In the spirit of Christmas generosity, I now share these phrases with the world. Before you go to your next party, memorize a few of the phrases to use. If you prefer, print out the list, and surreptitiously refer to it during the conversation. No one is likely to notice, given your outstanding conversational skills.

Have fun with the 335 phrases listed here, and please add any other “always-appropriate” conversational gambits below when you have completed your Christmas party research. Happy partying!

You expect me to believe that?

That’s a good one

I’ll drink to that

Truer words were never spoken

Have you ever said that to anyone else before?

If something’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying twice

Could you say that again for me in a low, sexy voice?

I’m sure you can do better than that. Take 2!

Just give me one last pearl of wisdom, and then I have to go

Are you an actor, or are you always like this?

We don’t go for that sort of thing where I come from

Lots of people tell me I have a sick mind. Do you think so?

You’re joking

Enough small talk. How about it, then?

Do you understand what you just said?

Do you know for a moment there I almost believed you

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How to make Facebook secure for organizational use: no more excuses!

I have written and being interviewed many times in the last few months on the use of Facebook in organizations.

There are a range of reasons why Facebook is often being blocked inside organizations. In many cases it’s because it’s viewed as a time-waster. However in other cases the concern is more about information loss – competitors finding out who is working for your organization and potentially sensitive information.

Worklight has just released a Facebook application called Workbook, reports Dan Farber, which authenticates users with an organization’s identity systems, and enables closed communication within the Workbook application between Facebook users. In one step Facebook can become an enterprise application, including proprietary discussions.

The application is expected for general release in February. For now it is being trialled in three large institutions, including a global retail bank with 70,000 staff that had received loud complaints from staff when it banned Facebook, and an investment bank that tried to implement an in-house social network based on Sharepoint that its employees didn’t use. The intention is to use Facebook not just internally, but also with clients and fund managers. As I’ve written before, one of the key issues with banning Facebook is that it makes it harder to attract and retain young, talented workers.

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We are discovering our “latent humanity” by how we share and communicate on the Internet

The latest Teens and Social Media report from Pew/Internet gives some great insights into how teens aged 12-17 are using the Internet.

There are a host of great insights in the report, including:

* 64% of online teens aged 12-17 have created content on the Internet, up from 57% at the end of 2004 (this is 59% of all teens, as 7% are not on the Internet)

* 35% of teen girls write a blog, compared to 20% of boys

* 19% of teen boys upload videos, compared to 10% of girls

* 70% of 15-17 year old girls have used an online social network, compared to 54% of boys

* 89% of teens who post photos online say they get comments

* 79% of teens restrict access to their photos in some way, compared to 61% of adults

* Email is the least popular communication form among teens, with just 14% saying they email their friends every day

The fact that close to two-thirds of teens create and share content on the Internet underlines the fact that we are moving into the Participative Age. In fact close to a quarter of over-65 years olds also create content on the Internet, however generational change will see a world in which we take it for granted that we all create and share in some form.

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Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum: early-bird registration ends 24 December!

Early bird registration for Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum in Sydney, Australia ends 24 December! So if you want to go, you might as well save some money and register now :-).

Speakers include: (click on this link for speaker bios)

David Backley, Chief Technology Officer, Westpac Banking Corporation

Ross Dawson, Chairman, Future Exploration Network

Peter Evans-Greenwood, Chief Technology Officer, Capgemini Australia

Joshua Gliddon, IT Editor, Australian Financial Review

Brian Haverty, Editorial Director, CNET Australia

Andrew McAfee, Professor, Harvard Business School

Sheryle Moon, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Information Industry Association

Victor Rodrigues, Software Development Manager, Cochlear

Euan Semple, Former Head of Knowledge Management, BBC

Jonathan Stern, Business Unit Executive, Lotus Software Australia/ NZ

IBM is Platinum Sponsor of Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum! … and launches organizational network analysis tools

We’re very pleased to announce that IBM is Platinum Sponsor of the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum. Given the breadth and maturity of IBM’s Web 2.0 offerings for large organizations, as well as its own experiences in using these tools internally, this makes a lot of sense and will bring a lot of value to the event.

I’ve written extensively about IBM’s initiatives in the space. In January IBM launched Lotus Connections, a suite of collaboration software which today brings much of IBM’s Web 2.0-style offerings, establishing a solid, coherent, credible offering to corporations. Just over two years ago now I blogged about how Lotus was embedding blogs and wikis into IBM’s platforms, in line with their vision that social networking tools were the future of collaboration. Over five years ago, in my book Living Networks, I wrote about how IBM’s alphaWorks provided a platform for user innovation and product development, while earlier this year I pointed to one of alphaWorks’ fantastic initiatives, ManyEyes, which is a participative site for people to upload and mash-up data sets and visualization techniques.

Just today the Lotus Connections suite has expanded further, with the launch of IBM Atlas, a set of social networking visualization and analysis tools. It has four components:

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What most people don’t understand about the long tail

The “long tail” is the buzz-phrase par excellence of the new media revolution. No presentation about how media is changing is complete without it. An image of the long tail, taken from our Future of Media Report 2007, illustrating the scaling of business models along the long tail, is below.

FoM07center_longtail.jpg

From a media industry perspective, the most important aspect of the long tail is that it illustrates an effective doubling of the size of the media market. The tail is as large as the head, allowing both production and consumption of media from small producers.

However, arguably the most fundamental aspect of the long tail is poorly understood by most people who use the term.

The long tail curve describes an intrinsically network phenomenon – it shows the distribution of the number of connections of each node in the network, from the nodes with the most connections to those with the fewest connections.

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Web 2.0 creating value in organizations: Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum – Sydney, Australia

The first hard-copy flyer for our Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum has just been mailed out. Click here or on the image below to download the flyer as pdf.

e2ef_flyer1.jpg

Below is the text for the cover letter which went out with the flyer. More detailed updates on the event coming soon.

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ERP: automating processes | Enterprise 2.0: enabling knowledge work

There has been some very interesting discussion over the last week about enterprise software, which began with the question of whether it is sexy or not. It has since covered a wide range of related topics, including the usability of enterprise software, industry structure, how it is bought, its role in attracting talented staff, and whether it can get people laid. (Selected references at the bottom of the post.)

In all of this, there was a gem that I think is well worth exploring. In the context of market opportunities for the biggest enterprise software firm of them all, SAP, Sigurd Rinde wrote (in part):

A Business Process is any process, sequential work or activity, that happens in an organisation. Some are repeatable and linear, others happens in unstructured ways and are hard to model.

Let me keep it simple and divide process types into two groups:

1. The Easily Repeatable Process (ERP for me)

Processes that handles resources, from human (hiring, firing, payroll and more) to parts and products through supply chains, distribution and production. The IT systems go under catchy names like ERP, SCM, PLM, SRM, CRM and the biggest players are as we know SAP and Oracle plus a long roster of smaller firms.

Known to be rigid, but handles events and transactions with precision and in volume. Systems delivers value through extensive reports and full control over resources.

Resource oriented, transactional, event driven systems. Delivered by system vendors with roots in accounting using up to 25 year old technological solutions.

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Adapting consumer Web 2.0 for use in the enterprise

When I spoke at KMWorld07 in Silicon Valley last month, I sat in on the presentation made by Charles Armstrong of Trampoline Systems. One of the interesting points he made is that Web 2.0 is the first set of technologies that have been developed in the consumer space before being taken into enterprise use. All other major information technologies have first been developed and used in large organizations before being adapted for consumer use, not least by becoming accessible on price.

I’ve often observed that Enterprise 2.0 initiatives largely stem from executives seeing their children using sites like Facebook, Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Digg, YouTube or Remember the Milk, and thinking, “Hmm, I can see that kind of tool being useful inside my organization.”

It is very useful to think of it specifically as that issue: adapting consumer tools and software to be useful inside organizations.

One obvious issue is that of scale. As I point out in my Web 2.0 Framework, one of the key aspects of Web 2.0 is that it “collectively transforms mass participation into valuable outcomes.” In the case of the open consumer web, that mass participation can amount to literally hundreds of millions of people. Organizations at the most have hundreds of thousands, and often far fewer people. This means there are a range of issues in effectively scaling Web 2.0 applications to be valuable inside organizations. However the other side of that is that far more detailed information is available on workers inside companies, including their current projects, training background, work objectives and more, all of which means that aggregating information can be far more usefully applied than in the open web.

Building on the theme of adapting Web 2.0 technologies to be valuable inside organizations, Network Computing has recently published a very good piece titled Can Web 2.0 evolve into an Enterprise Technology? It’s well worth a read. Some of the points it raises:

* Since Web 2.0 gives power to users, it can reduce IT staffing levels. Nutritional products firm Shaklee has reduced IT staff by 20%. It is a significant change issue to have IT staff support these shifts.

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