Archives for June 2008


Social Publishing Systems: What about We, the Participants?

We’re living in a time of the greatest shift in human (and machine) connection and communication any of us over 30 years old will experience in our lifetimes. Social media is proliferating, networks of people exploding, self-publishing, microblogging and new communications channels like Twitter emerging, and for the most part, the enterprise isn’t playing in most of these areas.

As a former content management systems (CMS) guy (was with Vignette during the dotcom heyday), I’m in an interesting spot between grassroots social media use by individuals, non-profits and small business and my enterprise clients trying to determine how to play in this shifting landscape. These clients are trying to figure out how to engage all of us connecting and communicating, and just finding more efficient ways of publishing content with a CMS or portal isn’t cutting it.

Social publishing systems are needed.

This morning I read Jeremiah Owyang (Sr Analyst at Forrester Research: Social Computing) who had this post entitled, “Social Software: Here Come The CMS Vendors.” He begins by discussing his oft-repeated theme of the volume of white label social networking providers, and ends with a premise about the major CMS vendors, “I’ve started to notice more of the ‘traditional’ CMS and Portal players that already have deep footprints into the corporate web teams that are inching into this space.

What are the trends, what are CMS vendors likely to do and what should be offered?

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Scam Canon Driver site…

I hate this stuff. One more example of "if it can be scammed, it will be scammed."


Magento Commerce: iPhone and WordPress Support

Magento Commerce enjoys one of the most active and participative ecosystems I’ve seen surrounding any open source project…let alone one that started in January of 2007!

Though the software is still in a 1.0x version state — and is not for the faint-of-heart to install and deploy — it’s moving quickly toward being positioned as the ecommerce engine of choice. Joomla, WordPress and even Drupal project folks are interacting with the Magento Commerce teams to determine how integrations can proceed and how quickly.

Today sees an email from the team about iPhone support and WordPress integration. Two positive steps in the right direction.

I tried out the iPhone interface and it’s simple, easy and fun. Thinking about my purchase history and online research before buying, I realize that it’s relatively unlikely many transactions will occur from a smartphone. But there’s no question in my mind that these devices will be the primary internet interface for many of us going forward, and having sites accessible will be critical.

The WordPress integration is also of particular interest as I’m doing more with this software and the community is crying out for seamless integration and rock-solid ecommerce.


Being Good at Everything…or One Thing

Quite a bit has been written about Tiger Woods winning this year’s US Open with a broken leg and gimpy knee. Singular focus, knowing what it takes to win consistently and for decades, pushing through pain, and all the other descriptors of Woods fall short of watching the video below and seeing the delight and joy of his win.

I’m struck daily by my being a jack-of-all-trades and master of but a few….and no Tiger Woods of anything. One of my strengths is ‘input’ and another is ‘learning’ so the moment I master something, I am absolutely driven to move on to learn something new. It’s at the heart of my value and drives my consulting practice, but it also holds me back from that singular focus on one thing which makes someone a Tiger Woods of their specialty.

Few of us choose one thing and put all of our energy and effort behind it and that’s what it takes to be the best at something. I’ve seen it over-n-over-n-over again from music, to writing, to podcasting, to swimming, to running, to golf. Those who are so passionate about something that they devote ALL of their energy, effort and drive to it are the ones who emerge as the best.

Think about that as you beat yourself up at not being as good as the next guy or gal who seems to be a champion at some given thing. You’ll notice that they’re deficient elsewhere since they are hyperfocusing on that one thing to the exclusion of most other pursuits.

Consider that as well when you’re moving forward in a new job, career or are embarking on a new initiative or project. If it’s important enough to you and aligns with your values, purpose and strengths, then throw yourself completely into it and dedicate yourself to being the best.


RPC Report

Starting in early 2006, I found myself presenting to groups and teams about the Internet-as-a-platform, Web 2.0, social media, and the acceleration of an always-on, always-connected mass of people who were participating online in new and fundamentally different ways…but continually delivering the same basic information over-n-over again. I put together this report, gave it away free (it’s had over 13,000 downloads as of August, 2008) and often recommend it as a pre-read before presentations with client teams.

Though soon to be refreshed — since new technologies, like Twitter, have emerged — the primary premise of the report is a good baseline overview and is entitled, Rise of the Participation Culture.




How do you spend your Golden Hours?

With blogging, MyBook or FaceSpace social networks (my pet names for MySpace and Facebook), Twitter, FriendFeed, video comments with Seesmic, and all the myriad of other participative, internet-centric places to invest your time, where are you spending your Golden Hours?  How many of them are there in a day when we’re always-on and always-connected, and how are you managing your communication interrupts when trying to get stuff done?

In emergency medicine, the Golden Hour is that 60 minute chunk of time after a heart attack, stroke or major trauma when medical procedures are of most benefit in limiting the scope of damage and for saving lives. In photography, it’s the first hour after dawn breaks and the last hour before dusk when the light is amazing and allows even an amateur hack like me to frequently snap stunning photos.

The Golden Hours in business — which varies depending on cultures, work ethics and geography — have historically been 9-11am and 2-4pm. Morning coffees or meetings, escaping for lunch at 11:15am, post-lunch tiredness over by 2pm and the day wind-down at roughly 4pm (along with the always welcomed caffeine boost), all have made those four hours in the day particularly compelling and productive in the past.

Today it’s different. Thinking about “Golden Hours” is like imagining that we left our computers, mobile phones and all the connecting-type applications on the ‘net behind when we left our workplace. In a day when it’s so easy to be connected, aren’t all hours in the day and evening in some way “golden”?

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Firefox 3: You’ll Want This Browser

Today is Firefox 3 Download Day and you’ll want to get this browser when it’s released at 10am PDT. Why? It’s really, really fast. Significantly faster than Firefox 2 and one thing is gone that caused many of us great angst: memory leaks that caused any of us who have 12-15 tabs open in one or more windows as workspaces to experience slowdowns, crashes and things like Flash videos stuttering.

Join people all over the world who’ve committed to downloading today (1.6M so far) and grab this gem.


Yahoo is Irrelevant…and Beige

As an observer of internet and web innovation, a voracious user of hosted applications and ‘Web 2.0’ offerings, I’ve wondered for a long time about something: why have I never used Yahoo products and services in any way and still don’t?

Though I own some stock and been waiting for it to rise (fat chance now), it’s a company I’ve never believed in and one that’s irrelevant to my life. Most people I know don’t use Yahoo either and, out of the tens of thousands of pageviews per month on this blog, a tiny fraction come in from Yahoo….and I mean a tiny fraction (as a point of comparison, Google represents 63% of all referrals with the remainder coming in from blog or website links).

This irrelevancy is one reason why I didn’t care much as the Microsoft acquisition adventure was underway as well as after it had collapsed, though my few hundred shares increasing in value would’ve been nice.

My best guess on why that is can be summed up in one word: beige. In many ways a non-color, beige is the epitome of risk aversion, neutrality, and mass marketing that is the antithesis of where the web is headed. Today’s web is all about connection, personalization, participation and a Long Tail and Yahoo, trying to be everything-to-everybody in a mass media sort of way, doesn’t do any of that. 


Global Warming, Cars & Leadership

A “green Hummer” in paint color only

I’m torn between the evidence for global warming and the scale of our energy problem in the United States. On the one hand, global warming evidence is irrefutable and on the other, there’s been such a woeful lack of leadership for eight years that we’ve been putting our heads down on conservation and innovating around alternative energy sources.

Then in the last week or so, US carmakers have a sudden realization that $4 a gallon gasoline is changing buying habits and sales of their profitable, gas-guzzling behemoths grind to a halt.  US automakers have suddenly awakened to this reality (amusing take on GM CEO Rick Wagoner’s position here) and that the price of gasoline and demand for fuel efficient cars are a permanent change.

Gee…do ya think?

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Will the iPhone 3G be the NSA’s best friend?

As I watched the streaming video of Steve Jobs’ keynote from yesterday’s start to Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), I was delighted with the capabilities of the new 3G iPhone, the coming explosion of new applications and that this device will be so much more powerful…

…but I also am more paranoid than ever about the unprecedented tracking capability built into it.

Techcrunch’s Mike Arrington is simply in love. Josh Lowensohn thinks the server-based involvement provides Apple with a scary amount of marketing data. I’ll take Josh one step further and submit that any of we soon-to-be-3G-iPhone-owners should consider the possibility that — at some point soon or even a longtime down the road — government intelligence agencies (like the National Security Agency (NSA) currently doing warrantless wiretapping) will gleefully use location and presence aware devices like this for surveillance and tracking of our movements.

Who needs RealID when you’ve got a tracking device tied to our names, Social Security numbers, and credit records and is a product that we’ve purchased and love to have with us at all times?