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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Attention Types

Agile Brain interview with Thomas Davenport, who has gone from KM to AM.  Email is the most attention-getting medium, employee newsletters fail...

...And ultimately, any organizational initiative that's successful comes down to individuals changing their behavior. But if they're not paying any attention to what the initiative is about, its objectives and so on, they're not going to change their behavior. Getting real change to happen in organizations becomes a matter of individual attention...

From his attention economy book:

TYPES PRINCIPLE: Six basic units of currency are exchanged in an attention market, each emphasizing a specific facet of focused mental engagement.

Six types of attention can be paired into three dimensions. Each pair contains two opposing kinds of attention: (1) captive or voluntary, (2) aversion-based or attraction-based, and (3) front-of-mind or back-of-mind.

Captive vs. voluntary

People pay attention not only to things they have to pay attention to, but also to what they want to pay attention to. When someone straps you down and props your eyelids open with toothpicks, you tend to pay lots of attention. Movie preview advertisers understand this and pay dearly to sell products (particularly upcoming movies) in the dark of a movie theater.

But we give an equally strong form of attention to those things on which we freely choose to focus. Some products are best advertised in magazines or newspapers because they take advantage of "voluntary" attention. It is actually easier for readers to turn the page than to stop and look at the advertising, but when they do stop, tremendous amounts of information can be communicated to the voluntarily attentive mind.


Attraction vs. aversion

We tend to pay the most attention to things at either end of the attraction/aversion continuum. Think about yourself people-watching in an airport or some other public place. Which people are the ones that actually get your attention? One category is those that you find most beautiful or attractive - or at least the ones that are "your type."

The other category is the exact opposite - the freaks, the truly ugly, the deformed. We hate to admit it, but either one of these categories is likely to make us stop and stare. Partly because it is so politically incorrect to stop and stare, the urge to sneak a peek can become almost obsessive.


Front-of-mind vs. back-of-mind

The difference between front-of-mind attention and the back-of-mind version is very simple. Think about yourself driving down the street talking to a friend. Your front of mind attention is the topic of conversation. At the end of the drive you'll be able to think back on it and remember most parts of the dialogue.

You probably won't remember much of your back-of-mind attention -- but it was equally important. You probably did not run a single traffic light down the whole road. You paid complete and devoted attention to driving your vehicle, and to all the state and local traffic laws, and you don't even remember it.

9:36:43 PM    comment []

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Trade Winds

The community that was fostered at AO2003 is now providing more pensive analysis.  This is a great time to reflect on how social software is changing the events business and the "trades" in general. 

An excerpt from Conferenza, which provides a tad more traditional paid research coverage of trade shows, contains this golden nugget of controversy:

Still, there were interesting insights, some intended and some not...

·   As a demonstration of the power of interconnection, a panel on Web services featuring Salesforce.com CEO Mark Benioff provoked the most talked-about moment of the conference – at Benioff’s expense. Asserting that the largest e-commerce software supplier is Amazon.com, Benioff pointed toward co-panelists from IBM and Sun Microsystems and said, “None of these companies has any position in [that] market at all. Even Apple’s iTunes music store was built on Amazon,” and asserted that Amazon has 300 people working on its proprietary software.

We thought this was news, until Ross Mayfield, CEO of one of the Web’s leading blogging software providers, Socialtext, led an online chat charge showing that most of this was apparently untrue: Amazon uses standard XML out-of-the-box stuff, and Apple’s iTunes doesn’t use Amazon’s software at all, the chatters charged. As Benioff continued, the audience watched as a group of online contributors disputed fact after fact, input Benioff apparently did not see. “It was sort of like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit,” said one attendee. “As Mark spoke, we could see his nose growing longer, like Pinocchio.”

How it played out in the Chat (Archive) was Kevin Marks did the fact checking, which was simultaneously projected on to the big screen:

[11:51] KevinMarks: no he didn't
[11:51] adina: bthey /are/ mentioning public web serivces

[11:51] KevinMarks: he licensed the patent
[11:51] KevinMarks: iTunes backend is not Amazon
[11:51] toughcrowd: this panel is showing lots of promise - but I love that cynical suspicion "lovefest"
[11:51] Ross: Amazon's real smart move was an API for developers
[11:52] adina: tross /greencard/
[11:52] Ross: but they dont get decentralization. witness http://www.allconsuming.com
[11:52] adina: ross /greencard/ again
[11:52] Ross: Kevin, did he say it was?
[11:52] KevinMarks: Apple had ahuge online store already selling Macs
[11:52] KevinMarks: they built on that for iTunes
[11:53] Ross: real-time fact checking Kevin, I love it
[11:54] DariusD: Do you know that the Apple onnline store was not built on Amazon technology?
[11:54] KevinMarks: It is built on Webobjects

Here's Apple's story of how iTunes was built and how they licensed the one-click form from Amazon.  Before we get carried away with the event of a fact check, rather than dynamic itself, its important to understand the context.  I doubt Marc had negative intent, he had little to gain if so, and he was just plain conversing.

This parallel channel, a second superpower on a finite scale, first emerged at PC Forum 2002 when Dan Gillmor blogged a fact check on Joe Nacchio.  Clay fostered the first experiments with social software as an in-room chat tool.  Supernova I was the first to formalize a group weblog.  PC Forum 2003 was the first to incorporate a conference wiki.  The O'Rielly Emerging Technology conference renewed interest in IRC and Hydra in parallel to the wiki.  Supernova II was the first to incorporate chat and wiki.  AlwaysOn was the first to add video streaming (Archive), creating a richer remote participation experience.

For some, the choice of modes is overwhelming at first, something we are tuning.  But Social Software and its practices for events has a reached a level of maturity where it is solving fundamental tensions of event structure. 

Take Bob Frankston's experience with remote participation after in-person attendance the first day:

While it's not the same as being their in person, I was surprised how well the combination of the video and Wiki worked. Over my standard home Internet connection I had very good audio and video quality in looking at the panel.

I don't know how to capture the screen picture that included the video so I simply used my digital camera to take a picture. That's Tony Perkins summing up the conference discussion log is in the lower left. There was a lively discussion with people in the room and others outside such as Joi Itcho in Japan and me at home. Joi mentioned that he was attending in his underwear and people wanted to get a video of him. He obliged though only above the waist...

...I judge events by the attendees more than by the panelists and, by that measure, the event has gotten off to a good start. The concept of being always-on or always connected is a good one though, in my opinion, it is important to distinguish between the transport issues that enable connectivity and the question of what one does with connectivity and the implications. This confusion is reflected in some of the panels.

As I write this I'm still attending remotely. I can view the conference over the Internet with very good audio and video quality. Socialtext is provided a live commenting facility using their Wiki software. This is wonderful for those like me who want to jump up and say "that's stupid" or maybe even be positive. There were problems with 802.11 connectivity the first day so I had only a few opportunities for such commentary though I did make good use of it. Today, from home, it appears to be working better and I've been able to add my own comments on the side.

Participating from afar is interesting. The audio/video works very well but I miss the ability to kibitz with others. A side-chat facility would help. Still, this is my first time trying such remote participation. Having been there for the first day I have some sense of the context and it works very well. Of course this is early stage and I can think of a lot of improvements but it is mundanely useful rather than being a novelty.

David Weinberger recently wrote a great piece in Darwin on the Death of Panels:

...Panelists and audiences do not share the same goals. Audiences want to learn and be entertained. Panelists want to impress and sometimes want to sell. Conversations work against the panelists' natural inclination to manage their speech; conversations develop their own gravitational fields that fling panelists together in ways they can't control.

If you're organizing a conference, as an audience member I implore you to cast aside the spurious safety of panels. If you're a moderator, you'll do everyone a favor if you rearrange the chairs, eliminate the opening statements, confiscate the bulb in the projector and get your participants to just talk. Don't "leave time" for audience participation; open it up from the beginning. Hell, screw the bulb back in and project the online chat where the real life of the conference is probably happening anyway...

Mike from Techdirt yearns for conferences with semi-structured small group interaction.

...An ideal conference, then, would be more like a day full of these lunches - that forced people to think in different ways. Thus, I'd love to see a conference where people are either randomly (or carefully planned by the organizers) split into small groups, and given a task or a challenge. Let them do some scenario planning that forces them to think creatively. Get people thinking, get them involved with the ideas, get them interacting with others and force them to think outside of their own viewpoint. Maybe challenge them. Have different groups "competing" in some way to get people to really pay attention, and really try to get their minds around very difficult issues. ..

Trade Winds

Social Software and Social Networking Models provide the greatest threat and opportunity for the trade industry (trade magazines & shows) -- because they change the notion of audience into participants.  The rise of weblogs and participatory media allow domain experts to contribute without making contribution their full time job.  Networking models allow people to connect regardless of space or time as is the case with LinkedIn, or in space and time with Meetup.  Because these tools work so well in virtuality, it is natural for them to be extended to reality (whatever that means).

Trade shows will fundamentally change their structure to become more participatory -- and the result is more connective, constructive and conversational.  Remote and in-room participants will moderate panels, there will be greater use of working groups and communities will persist between events.  We used to come to trade shows for the people in the place.   As Dr. Weinberger says in Small Pieces Loosely Joined, the web is a set of places itself.  Now we have places upon places, where the network is the conversation.

This isn't the place for me to talk about commercial value for event organizers, but let me say this.  There is no such thing as a closed system.  Bloggers are coming to your conference.  You can't throw up Walls.  The energy can dissipate or enjoin with the event.  Do what Tony did and give out blogger passes.  Augment experiences.  Create a greater and more open context for your event and the wind will blow at your back.

11:51:45 AM    comment []

Friday, July 11, 2003

7 Enterprise Open Source Projects

Tim O'Reilly captures a talk from OSCON on seven areas of enterprise software that could be served well by open source projects:

  1. Distributed cron
  2. Asset Management
  3. Single Sign-on
  4. Messaging
  5. Change Management
  6. Relationship Management
  7. Source Terminator

1:19:05 PM    comment []

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Blogs in the Workplace

An NY Times article on weblogs in business that somehow missed Socialtext ;-(

..."People are starting to use Web logs to archive data that would have otherwise been lost," Mr. Tang said. He noted that much of the company's internal communications had been via instant messaging — and was lost as soon as the correspondents closed their chat windows. Now, though, employees are starting to post transcripts of relevant discussions on the Web logs, he said.

"It's not just making life more convenient," Mr. Tang said, "but actually giving us something new we didn't have before."

[via Scripting News]

6:55:17 PM    comment []

Monday, June 23, 2003

Socialtext Raises Angel Round

Great news. Socialtext closed an Angel round of funding with some really great people, including:

  • Reid Hoffman, CEO of LinkedIn and former EVP of Paypal
  • Joi Ito, Venture Capitalist with Neoteny
  • Mark Pincus, former co-founder, CEO and Chairman of SupportSoft
  • Erik Josowitz, former VP of Product Strategy of Vignette
  • Oakstone Ventures
  • Freedom Technology Ventures

This new funding provides resources to accelerate the development of enterprise social software, improve how we serve our customers, and give customers greater confidence that we will be there for them.

But it's more than that -- it's a network of exceptional people. A little while back, Pete, Adina, Ed and I talked about who we wanted to work with and who we thought "got it." Raising money these days is a challenge, and it says a great deal that were able to do so with the people we wanted. I don't think we could have picked a better group. Here's what Ed Niehaus, general partner of Freedom Technology Ventures LLC said:

"We're proud to back Socialtext's experienced founding team. The company's customers tell us that Socialtext made it simple for them to discover this new flexible communication form, the Wiki, and use it to create, discuss and decide. Such early customer satisfaction is rare for a new business medium, and it makes us confident that the company will have an impact."

Since the end of last year we have accomplished a great deal with relatively few resources. We developed a tremendous advisory board and I must credit Clay, David, Doc, Jerry, Kevin, Mitch, Ward & Zack with keeping us on the wiser track. We now have over 20 enthusiastic customers. Our product is moving beyond being the the first of its kind to one that has had real success advancing teams.

So what's to come? We have a new release of our product soon, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Mostly its continuing to spend time with customers and focusing on their needs. It sounds a little cliche, but that's what its really all about. Great products develop in social context.

7:10:56 AM    comment []

Friday, June 20, 2003

Socialtext in Business 2.0

Small Socialtext mention by Jimmy Guterman's Media Notes (I really miss his Media Grok) in Business 2.0: The Net's Killer App Keeps Connecting People

Now that even businesspeople have caught on that the Net is more about connecting people than delivering pop-under ads, there's been an explosion in social software, from modest blogging services like Blogger and LiveJournal to elaborate systems like SocialText and Groove.

Most of the article is on Social Networking Models, with this very good point:

One day, perhaps, you'll respond to an ad that reads, "I'm a Virgo. My turnoffs include liars and salespeople who don't meet their monthly quotas. I'm at the next table at Starbucks (SBUX). Turn around." The next step in social software may be way more intrusive -- but that may be what people want.

1:54:15 PM    comment []

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Dave Snowden
Matt Mower has posted some great notes from a talk by KM guru Dave Snowden: Cynicism and Serendipity.

...For 20-30 years we've operated a model of the human brain closer to cybernetics than neuroscience.  The assumption is that thought is a logical, rational, linear process.  This is wrong.  So is Myers-Briggs and all these other attempts to put people into boxes.  It is reminiscent of Brave New World...

The human brain is adaptive.  The way we see the world changes according to context.  Disruption changes brain patterns and the key thing in human intelligence is patterns.  We match stimulus against patterns to know how to act.   The brain creates patterns.  Hence KM has a problem: We cannot codify patterns for use in text books...

3rd generation approach to KM (Post-SETI - Nonaka) separate knowledge into:

  • context
  • narrative
  • content management...

Trust is not a property.  It's an emergent property.  You can't make people trust each other.   You can't train people to have qualities.  It doesn't work...

Many other gems in this long post, good frameworks, worth a full read.

10:46:02 AM    comment []

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