Monday, November 2, 2009

Google Wave Book - A new openness in publishing

Gina Trapini announced yesterday on This Week in Google that she is working on a new book destined to be the definitive source of information on Google Wave. I find her total desire to put her knowledge into the public domain really refreshing. The book is being developed online using MediaWiki and is licensed under the Creative Commons License. While she does plan on publishing PDF and traditional paper versions, it is clear that Gina intends for this to be a dynamic reference guide that will be updated as Wave matures. Visit The Complete Wave Guide to experience this openness in information sharing.

What does all of this have to do with 21st Century Business? Several lessons can be learned from Gina by businesses who want to move forward.

  • Knowlege is meant to be shared, not hidden in some file share directory structure or locked behind passwords
  • Knowledge is ever changing. Just because the project is over or the documentation published the changes shouldn't stop. Documentation of a process or method that is not ever changing is outdated.

Too often businesses create new processes but then fail to stay in a mode of continuous improvement. Some companies implement the tools of the Internet like blogs, wikis, intranets but fail to realize the dynamic change that is the culture of the Internet. They ask "why aren't our tools successful". The answer is: "free them, free the knowledge and let your employees' creativity and innovation come to the surface."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Google Wave

Google Wave is breaking new ground in the collaborative environment. I know that people are not happy about having to wait for invitations or the system isn't running perfectly. It is PREVIEW or pre-beta. Google has broken new ground by opening up development projects that would normally have never been used or even known for months later. They use the feedback from these experiences to further improve the software for the public release. By involving ourselves in this endeavor we, the community, have certain responsibilities:

  1. Be patient and realize that Google has their schedule and that schedule may change at any time. We don't influence the schedule
  2. Realize that any part of the system may or may not work at any time. By agreeing to participate we were not guaranteed a working system
  3. Provide honest feedback about the functionality and suggest improvements

Other software providers who have been traditionally closed are slowly moving in this direction. We, the preview testers, can make this the way of the future by working with the providers and not against them.

For a good introduction to how to use Wave visit Gina Trapani's Wave 101 at:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

TED Talk on Wisdom

I just finished listening to Barry Schwartz's talk on the "Loss of Wisdom" given at TED in February 2009. This is an outstanding talk and really gets to the root of some of the issues that caused this current economic crisis and are also causing companies to be stuck in a crisis circle.

Barry makes very clear points with examples that rules and incentives are NOT the solution to our problems. The issues we face are, in his words, "often ambigous and ill defined". It isn't possible to write rules to solve these issues. Each situation is different. We must apply morals, wisdom (maybe collectively known as common sense) to each situation in order to solve it. Responding by developing guidelines or rules that "must be followed" are not the solution and in fact more often than not will cause even more problems in the long run.

Everyone should listen to this talk (see the link). There is something in it for everyone regardless of your position in a company or society.

The talk is available at and also on iTunes.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Your Digital Reputation

I thought this was a good article. Sometimes we don't realize that sites such
as Facebook, Linkedin, mySpace, Twitter, mailing lists and so on are cataloged
and available for searching. Even if we have turned up maximum privacy, our
comments or pictures may be found on other people's sites that have less privacy.

These days employers DO search these sites for information about prospective
employees. Speaking from my own experience, I google EVERYONE that is a business
partner. That "funny" picture at a party, slouching in a chair or comment that
might seem inappropriate when the background isn't known would be the one thing
that causes someone else to be chosen for a job.

That certainly doesn't mean that we shouldn't use these new social media tools
but only that we should keep in mind how others would use them and how we want
others to view us. Yes, some things will get posted by others that we can't
control but we can control what we post and how we want the world to see us.

Properly used, these social media sites can be a very powerful force that will
open doors to opportunity that a simple old-fashioned resume never would.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 - The Rebirth of In-house Development

The change in the dynamics of the world economic situation will change how companies consider capital investments. In particular, the high cost: initial license, implementation and ongoing warranty costs of software will receive a very high focus. As companies, even whole industries, realize that they need to make radical and fast changes to their business models there will be a mandate for the software systems to change at the same rate of speed. The current model of using Commercial Off-the-shelf software (COTS) and high cost implementation consultants will not be able to respond to this new situation.

In the 1970s and 80s there were large in-house IT development staffs that in the 90s were seen as resistant to COTS and client-server. This was true. However, now we have a new paradigm of agile, "open" development that really does connect the end customer of the software with the developers (eXtreme Programming and similar methodologies). Using these "new" methodologies we can reintroduce the in-house programming teams and couple them with the open source community to leverage an even bigger effort to develop and maintain software. The in-house staffs can keep the software current with business requirements and feed those changes back into the community.

For most companies, the support software isn't strategic to the company's success. It is only a tool. If they are using a system such as SAP R/3, Oracle's manufacturing system or others then they probably only use a fraction of the total capability, yet pay a license for much more. By leveraging the Open Source Community they will not be put at a competative disadvange, rather will be able to be at an advantage by reducing costs while increasing the speed at which they can change their internal processes.

In 2009 we will see that systems such as OpenBravo, Alfresco, Knowledgetree and Pentaho become more prevelant. Protocols such as XMPP/Jabber will be used to power scalable interfaces between modules of these systems as well as with companies, their customers and suppliers such as it has with the Evergreen Library system.