Archive for November, 2008


I’m sure by now most people have seen the guidelines from the UK federal government level on civil servant participation in social media (Released in June 2008): 

  1. Be Credible – Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent.
  2. Be Consistent – Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times.
  3. Be Responsive – When you gain insight, share it where appropriate.
  4. Be Integrated – Wherever possible, align online participation with other offline communications.
  5. Be a Civil Servant – Remember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your department or agency.

I thought I’d reflect on their guidelines, especially after participating in the recent Web 2.0 Summit in Toronto – a fantastic summit, very well organized by the City of Toronto!  Check out the lively #to20 twitter feed from the event.

While there are lots of different guidelines out there for participation in social media, the UK Fed Gov’t guidelines are specifically tailored to the civil service.  I like the simplicity of them, and the fact that they are “guidelines” and not rules and regulations is very empowering to the individual.

The overall premise of the guidelines is to act professionally, and to conduct yourself in a manner that is becoming of your profession.  Very adept, as the online environment is partially an extension of your self in a F2F environment, but is akin to having a conversation that anyone anywhere can listen to and participate in.  The transparent nature of online interactions is fitting to public accountability, which lends itself again to the underlying principle of professionalism.

Do you have any other good examples of social media guidelines to share?

I stumbled across a very neat collaboration tool called VoiceThread, that allows you to co-create presentations with others using various media sources, and invite discussion about the presentation through multiple channels.

voicethreadVoiceThread allows you to create a web-based presentation or story, using images, videos, documents, or powerpoint presentations (or a mix of these) with voice-over options.  Right now they allow you to import from Flickr and Facebook – look for more import options to come.  You can also export or embed a VoiceThread creation – there is a WordPress plugin for embedding VoiceThread, but only for self-hosted versions of WP.

People can then add their comments to the stories using any of: a computer’s microphone, webcam, a standard telephone (pretty cool), text comments, on-screen drawings (layered over top of the original presentation), or uploading a comment.  All of the comments are embedded around the original story, so you can see a sequential thread of discussion happening.

I think it’s a very creative example of mixing different ways to interact and chat about a particular issue.  The sophisticated commenting system I hope will be replicated in other apps – would be great to see this kind of functionality in blogs and wikis – for example, being able to add a video comment to this post at the click of a button.

Check out this example of a teacher using VoiceThread to get ideas from colleagues for a presentation about networking.

When I started a new job last January I had the opportunity to learn more about the world of web 2.0, and apply when I already knew to a business environment.  To help me better understand the environment and some of the relationships between technologies, I looked for a visual representation of web 2.0 and came across the Map of Online Communities by XKCD:


A fun way to visually represent a small amount of what’s going on in the web 2.0 world.  I’ve had this poster on my office wall since January now, but my collection has grown lately to include other broader images that present collections of tools and applications in different ways.  The collection of posters on my walls certainly makes for a more colorful space, and is a great conversation starter when people drop by to visit.


Above is the 2007 version 2 Web Trend Map from Information Architects Japan – one of my favourite maps.


I’m not sure who created the Periodic Table of the Internet, but it’s another colorful perspective on the landscape, although quite limited in what’s presented.


The 2008 WebTrends map (multiple versions of this map are available from Information Architects Japan) gets a bit too busy for my liking, although there is a lot of info on there to explore and discover.


Finally, The Conversation: The Art of Listening, Learning, and Sharing by Brian Solis and JESS3 is a summary of some of the key applications for a whole range of social media tools.

Do you have any other examples to share?  Have you used any of these (or other) maps in your work?

twitterthumbnailTwitter has been around now for over 2 years, and for a long time I couldn’t really see the point of twitter – it seemed like quite the time waster to me!  Especially if you view the CommonCraft video about twitter uses – all the day-to-day things people don’t otherwise tell you about, like “I’m cutting the lawn” or “I just drank a delicious cup of coffee”.  Frankly I don’t care, nor do I want to, or have the time to follow trivial updates from all my friends or contacts about daily habits.

Backing up a bit… for those not in the know, twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows people to send 140 character max text-only messages to a blog-like site (each participant has their own twitter feed page).  The novelty is that you can send messages from multiple channels, including the web (either through twitter’s own interface or through other platforms such as facebook), mobile phones, instant messaging, and even using a regular phone with Twitterfone.

As a business tool there are some potential uses.  If you can tap into the right sources, you could get up to the minute news about different stories developing around the city.  Reporters out in the field a lot could use twitter to stay connected as a team.

I think the team/group connectivity is one of the most powerful features and potential business collaboration features of twitter.  Whereas Instant Messaging enables people to exchange live chat between two people (you can also setup IM chat rooms), twitter is a kind of group instant messaging tool.  You could carry on a conversation as a team in near real time, with the added bonus of an archive of the discussions.  It’s also easy to tap into a wealth of knowledge around the world – if you can find it.

I was introduced to the value of Twitter at the ALI Social Media for Government conference about 2 months ago.  There was a discussion going on during each presentation on twitter – both with live audience members, and other remote participants asking questions and giving feedback.  While distracting at times, I thought that many of the comments and discussion was very useful.  Since then I’ve selected a few twitter feeds (not too many) to follow on a daily basis – usually checking in a couple of times a day.  If I follow somone and they constanly spew out useless information I remove them.

There has certainly been some great nuggets of information I’ve come across through twitter.  A couple of my favourites to follow include Jeremiah Owyang and Colin McKay.

I’d really like to hear what ideas you have for using twitter, or micro-blogging for professional use; and any good feeds to follow for social media.

Google Chrome advances the browser

Posted: November 13, 2008 in web 2.0
Tags: , , ,

googlechromeI started using the new Google Chrome web browser a few weeks ago, and the innovative features are really quite impressive.  While Firefox is certainly still ahead of the game for the many addons and extra plugins you can get, Chrome has some very impressive features worth highlighting – which will undoubtably make their way into future versions of Firefox, IE, Opera, and Safari (if they’re not already a part of them?!).

1. The ability to drag around tabs – reordering them, and extracting a tab from a group into a new window – all very easy to do.

2. The default opening window displays thumbnails of the sites you visit most often.

3. The search feature is pretty amazing as well – just start typing in the URL field and dynamic search options are suggested.

4. The downloads management is also cleaner than Firefox & IE – no annoying popups to deal with.

information_overloadManaging information overload is no longer about filtering through email messages & a to do list on your desktop.

The rapid growth of content on the Internet means that we need to continue to refine how we find and follow relevant content online.  Not only are we searching through website content, but with blogs, wikis, twitter, and other social media content, the rate at which new content appears can be impossible to follow.  The challenge is to stay up-to-date on what’s going on out there, without spending your day sifting through all of it.  For example, there are tons of useful twitter feeds with updates coming in every second – you could literally spend all day following twitter (and receive some very interesting, relevant, and useful updates – if you’re tapped into the right sources).

A few tips for managing content in a web 2.0 world:

  1. Trust social media sources to deliver the news that you want to hear – DIGG; relevant blogs, twitter, RSS etc.  Use channel filters wherever available (thematic RSS feeds for example) to receive focused content.
  2. Continuously refine the content that you follow – add new interesting sources you discover on twitter; new blogs to iGoogle; etc; and don’t be shy to remove feeds that share more useless than useful info.
  3. Seek out the well connected people who are on top of things you want to follow – hot issue bloggers; tweeters; etc.
  4. Don’t be shy to participate – post questions, comments, ideas on blogs, forums, twitter – and tap into the collective wisdom and person-power of your own networks.

How do you stay connected without being overwhelmed?

barack-social-mediaWith Barack Obama’s incredible campaign success, I thought I’d kick off this blog by looking at how they used social media so successfully – esp as it’s the first US presidential campaign to make such widespread use of the Internet.  To begin with they have a pretty impressive website http://www.barackobama.comwith very clear and rich information, and easy to use navigation.  The site includes videos, photos, a blog, and embeds content from social media channels.
The use of social media was pretty extensive, including:
  • Twitter – Obama is the most followed twitter account (with 117,025 followers vs 71,000 for the 2nd most followed)
  • YouTube – over 1600 videos
  • Over 50,000 photos on Flickr
  • Facebook pages, MySpace pages, LinkedIn, Meetup, FriendFeed
All of this is very impressive, especially the sheer volume of content and connections.  But, I think the driving force that brough it all together was the “MyBO” community platform created by – a personalized space for campaign coordinators to collaborate with supporters.  It is a truely empowering collaboration site that helped people to take ownership of campaign activities – something I feel made a big difference in the success of the site.
MyBO allows people to:
  1. Create their own profiles, with personal details, including why they support Obama.
  2. Create and join groups (over 20,000 different groups) to connect with local people, or others with a shared interest (single mothers, air traffic controllers, etc).
  3. Easily contact voters – a feature that automatically finds local potential supporters to contact, based on your address; creates a printout of address/call list with names, script for conversation, and a map of where they live; report back feature for campaign office to track results.  Very impressive way to easily coordinate volunteer campaign supporters with a minimal amount of effort needed from the volunteer (they can do it from the comfort of their own home).
  4. Setup a personal blog to share their own comments and views (not many sites allow visitors to setup their own blog & publish their own content).
  5. Post or view campaign events – the locations, details, help needed, etc for local community campaigns or rallys
  6. Personal fundraising page – the ability to setup and customize a personal page; send personal invites to people (with a default but customizable message); track how much support you have brought into the campaign; automatic aggregation of all personal pages for the campaign HQ.
myboThese impressive collection of tools made it easy for people to connect with and collaborate with other supporters; and for the campaign coordinators to not only drive and steer the efforts of others, but to empower people to take action on their own.  The site also provides an excellent crossover between online and offline activities – using tools to organize and drive campaign efforts for phone campaigns; in-person meetings and rallys; postering; door-to-door campaigns, etc.  The site also focuses people’s efforts at mobilizing volunteers to get out there and talk to people who are not already supporters (instead of making a space for existing supporters to talk amongst themselves without reaching out to others).  MyBO provides the groundwork messages, values, and ideas of the campaign, and helps people integrate them into their own message, and empowers people to spread the ideas as their own message.  One final feature – donation matching – created a connection between first time donators and new donators, promoting dialogue between established and new supports to discuss why each of them donated, their beliefs, values, etc – a way to further solidify support for Obama.MyBO proved to be very successful:
  • Over 1 Million people created a user account
  • Over 75,000 campaign events were organized or promoted through MyBO
  • Donation efforts helped raise over $250 Million
A final thought… social media/web 2.0 is not just about making it easier to connect people to each other, it’s about empowerment – to create, to take ownership, to have control.