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Monday, January 13, 2003

Industry Analyst Bloggers

Press Release: Jupiter Research Announces the Launch of Analyst Weblogs

Jupitermedia Corporation today announced that its Jupiter Research division will be the first research advisory firm to offer dedicated research analyst Weblogs. The new Web site at features Weblogs authored by senior Jupiter Research analysts and will offer timely access to analysis on breaking news, events and announcements. Each analyst will keep a frequently updated Weblog that will include interesting links, running commentary, personal thoughts and essays providing thought provoking insight that will enhance Jupiter Research's products.

"The addition of the Weblogs allows us the opportunity to engage our clients in new ways and to share our insight with the world," said Jupiter Research Director Michael Gartenberg. "Launching the Weblogs continues Jupiter Research's history of covering, as well as embracing new Internet technologies," said Gartenberg.

Oddly they've even felt the need to start a weblog covering Online Advertising and Marketing - I mean whose going to read that? ;-) [MarketingFix]

About time.  What a natural.

UPDATE: David offers some advice for Jupiter's bloggers.

3:54:38 PM    comment []

Startup Weblogs

One of my consulting clients and a friend of mine who is starting a new company share the same challenge.  They are both startups looking to launch a new website and I pursuaded them to launch weblogs instead.  The reason isn't just that its damn simple and cheap.  Its the externalities of the process.  When someone is engaged in blogging they are learning by doing, the tacit is made explicit.  And they aren't doing it alone.  No matter how niche their focus is they will find themselves in conversation clusters, perhaps with potential customers and partners.  And these conversations, their words and their link structures permiate the web to attract searchers outside their sphere. 

Dan Bricklin provides some great examples of how small businesses can use weblogs.  Startups have even better reasons, as they usually have unique entreprenurial and expert voices.  They have a real chance for, dare I say, thought leadership, as well as contributing to the diversity of the medium.  I am reccommending to them that they start with a collaborative blog, where many employees are contributing posts.  At first this may seem risky.  Words can be damaging.  But with all the electronic modes of communication, most any words can end up in the public sphere.  And its better to have a dialogue on propriety early.  A startup collaborative weblog provides an opportunity to build a culture that is conscious of what it shares while encouraging sharing.

The initial opportunity for these startups is to create something dynamic and valuable to engage the world.  But once the process of production takes root, participants will demand internal weblogging.  At that time both companies will have grown a little and have more need for internal sharing.  And the real benefits will take hold.

3:07:25 PM    comment []

Doc Edges Ahead
Doc Searls on Edging ahead, puts Jon Udell's weak ties article (see mine) in deeper perspective.

Shared consciousness is fuzzy stuff, but what we know truly matters. Blogging is a huge part of the new social fabric that is knitting itself all around the world of ends that comprises the Web.

I wrote about that in my Release Early Release Often post back in June 2001. There's a matrix there, borrowed from John Seely Brown, that sorts explicit and tacit knowledge into personal and social quadrants. What makes blogs so powerful, I think, is that they feed socially held tacit knowledge (what we know) with an abundance of explicit (what I know) stuff.

Here's what JSB said, long before weblogs showed up:

In essence the Web augments the knowledge dynamics of a region, increasing its diversity (serendipity) and expanding its learning resources by leveraging local expertise — in a lightweight way — for mentoring. More generally, it enhances the fluid boundaries between knowledge production and knowledge consumption and between the local and the virtual. The Web helps to build a rich fabric that combines the small efforts of the many with the large efforts of the few. It enables the culture and sensibilities of the region to evolve, not only by enriching the diversity of available information and expertise, but it tightens the feedback loops of bootstrapping. It increases the intellectual density of cross linkages. And it enables learning to happen everywhere‹a learning ecology. And the lurking (or informal benchmarking) that happens in local hangouts can now get augmented by the Web, one feeding the other. In other words, a self-catalytic system starts to emerge reinforcing and extending the core competencies of the region.

He goes on to predict weblogs...

...This is also, I believe, the idea behind smart mobs, moblogging and the transformation of companies from the forts they were to the social organizations they have to become if the best-learning (and best-teaching) employees are going to bother working for them...[The Doc Searls Weblog]


2:47:38 PM    comment []

SMBmeta Initative

David Weinberger scoops the SMBmeta Initiative by Dan Bricklin.  This metadata scheme allows small and medium size businesses to express their identity in XML.  David rightly points out why this approach is so smart:

  • Dan doesn't want to own the data
  • It's free for anyone to aggregate
  • Its extensible

What I also like (from the whitepaper, which also provides a great account on why RSS is a success):

  • It is low cost, but has a cost to prevent spam (an economic problem)
  • It doesn't attempt to serve large enterprises
  • Simple and open
  • Its decentralized, but has leadership behind it

If you want more information, go to the new TrellixTech web site. There you'll find a blog, the spec, and a highly readable paper on the topic. [Joho

It also needs a new name.  How about: SMOB - Small and Medium Online Business. nah.

Can't wait for Dan to create a form that allows the creation of my SMBmeta file for my consulting business.

10:12:34 AM    comment []

Process of Practice

Continuing my thread on business process vs. business practice in software design and implementation, I found a great post by Peter Merholz last month.  It provides an account of how Content Management Systems (CMS) could lead the way in having software adapt to its environment rather than having the environment adapt to software.

...The problem wasn't one of features and functionality -- the software did everything they wanted it to do. The problem was one of design -- learning how to use this system was quite difficult, and often ran contrary to how people currently worked.

In our presentation on user-centered design, we utilize the following diagram as an overview of a process:

cycle (23k image)

Such as it is, the cycle "begins" with "Gathering Assumptions and Requirements." This is the step where you look internally to understand the business drivers of whatever project you're involved with. The thing is, that's pretty much where this company began and ended. They understood the business drivers, got a sense of the features and functionalities they wanted, and then would go out and buy software to solve it.

The problem is, as they learned, that the issues isn't with features and functionality, but with the software fitting into current work processes. What this means is that, when buying enterprise software, companies need to do more work, move forward along the cycle, to "Understand Goals and Tasks." This is where you observe user behavior and needs in order to understand the processes people engage in to accomplish their tasks.

What surprised the client was that they thought this was the responsibility of the vendor. Part of the reason they bought this software was for the "wisdom" the software was meant to have embedded within. That there was a "wisdom" in how the software presents work processes, and that the company ought to learn from that wisdom and adjust their work accordingly, taking advantage of this "wisdom."

This totally took me aback. How on earth could this enterprise software tell you how to do your work? It's your work! And, this is what the client learned, in a painful way. That software can't come in and change how people work--such software will simply be ignored, be rejected. Companies have to step up and take more responsibility for the integration of software within their organizations, because no one else knows how those companies work. This is something that content management system vendors have had to deal with, and has lead to a solution of separating the content/data and the presentation.

Remember, the problem with the software wasn't features or functionality, it was how those tools were presented. Unfortunately, the design of the system was hardcoded (which is shocking, since it is served through a web browser).

What will be clear, moving forward, is that enterprise software companies will have to follow the lead of CMS and provide a greater degree of flexibility in how people can interface with their tools.


8:34:57 AM    comment []

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