Archive | December, 2009

Seth Godin Releases a Free e-Book

Seth Godin, the well-regarded and original business blogger and author, has a new e-book out.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/files/what-matters-now-1.pdf

It's a compilation of brief, bold thoughts from a diverse array of thought leaders, each one based around a word or theme. And, it's great. I suggest that you download it, read it, and share it.

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Why Do I Write?

I write a lot. Not as much as some, but way more than most. If you're reading this, you probably already know that.

But why? Why do I write stuff? I was thinking about this on a cross-country flight, and took some notes on a US Airways napkin with a red marker. Thought I'd type it up for you.

(1) To get fame and fortune. Obviously. My blog on Posterous is simply raking in the dough. Next thing you know, I'll be as famous as Kevin Rose!

(2) To lay out arguments and conclusions. I think writing without a story arc, without arguments for something at least somewhat original, and without some natural conclusion is basically not worth much. If you're writing, you're probably writing at least partly opinion – I believe in making every article count. Try to convince someone to believe what you do.

(3) To provoke responses. I write what I write because I feel strongly about it (see #2), so I don't care too much about comments, honestly. Most of them don't shake my point of view. And I'm not one of these bloggers who writes the beginning and expects my readers to figure out the end – that's lame. But I do enjoy getting comments in general because some of my posts are little experiments to see who my 'hidden' readers are, how controversial a topic is, or which other websites pick up my material.

More generally, with blogging, I think that powerful observations + entrepreneurial experimentation + community networking = an innovation engine that helps you achieve greater things in life.

Posted via email from Mark’s Cheeky Posterous

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Why Isn’t Government Data Fun?

Have you heard of GraphJam? It's a great site with a simple user interface that lets people make bar graphs, Venn diagrams, and more. The applications are mostly funny – making fun of song lyrics, vacation spots that you want to go to vs. those of your spouse, and so forth. Pop culture.

But what I'm wondering is: Why isn't government data this fun to play with? Data.gov and similar local examples are terrific, to be sure – more government data available to more people creates more opportunities for more benefits to citizens. But you have to be a wizard to figure that stuff out. I'm not even sure I know exactly what XML is for pete's sake. And I can't mount an operation like Sunlight Labs, which does outstanding work…with their stable of a dozen computer nerds.

Governments shouldn't always rely on well-funded non-profits, computer experts, or apps contests for getting useful things done with government data. Those things are really great, but how can the average person occassionally do something useful?

A more simple portal that draws people in and helps them participate in tiny ways could be great. Graph Jam has a brain-dead "graph builder" which aids people in making Venn diagrams – even if they don't know who the hell Venn was, or why these graphs are useful in mathematics and statistics. And frankly, it's easier to use than Microsoft Powerpoint, which tons of people deal with for work.

Now that data.gov and other initiatives are up and running, a really, really simple user interface for the common citizen would be terrific PR, it would make some citizens think more seriously about what the government is doing, and once in a while something useful may be done with the data. And meanwhile, can't everybody have some fun?

Posted via email from Mark’s Cheeky Posterous

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Microsoft, IBM, and Jive On Top of the Gartner “Magic Quadrant” for Social Software

From destinationCRM.com (Lauren McKay) –

The market for social software is expansive with hundreds of vendors with myriad functionalities. In order to make sense of the heterogeneous landscape, Gartner Research has narrowed its focus for this fall's Social Software Magic Quadrant to include only those proficient at social tools for the workplace. Analysts…write that social software buyers seem to be evaluating products that will be used internally differently than those aimed at external usage. Social software supporting external communities for partners and customers will be evaluated by Gartner at a later date. 

Established vendors need to beef up their offerings, whereas, specialty vendors need to invigorate their reputations…Despite the burgeoning level of awareness of the value of social software among enterprises, Gartner notes that cultural misalignment and risk remain roadblocks to adoption. The report states: "Many organizations are finding it hard to align existing practices, and more generally their organizational culture, with the end0-user empowerment promised by social software environments." 

Leaders:

Gartner notes that leaders are well-established vendors with solid customer bases. The report says, "Their leadership is being established through an early recognition of user needs in this market, their overall market presence, and their success in delivering user-friendly and solution-focused suites with broad capabilities." These vendors are continually investing in social support and are seeing consistent traction. 

  • IBM: "IBM is a leader by virtue of being ahead of the market with a strong market presence," the analysts write. IBM is not only an established technology vendor, but the report points out that IBM Lotus Connections 2.5 offers a comprehensive social software suite and that the company offers many flexible deployment options. One caution is that IBM could stand to improve its usability.
  • Jive Software: The analysts point to Jive's "mature product, solution focus, vision of bridging internal and external communities and strong evidence of market acceptance" as reasons for its leadership in the market. Gartner also states that there has been positive feedback surrounding the company's Social Business Software. The only caution is that Jive needs to be careful with its growth strategy as it establishes its footing as an enterprise vendor. 
  • Microsoft: Microsoft has for years used SharePoint to deliver "good enough" social capabilities to organizations, Gartner writes. Recently Microsoft has invested more in social networking with the introduction of SharePoint's My Sites functionality. The vendor also allows for integration between its Office tools and other business applications such as unified communications, and Web based meetings. Gartner cautions that there are functional gaps in the version of SharePoint 2007 including social tagging and social search. However, these will likely be addressed in the 2010 version of SharePoint.

For information about Challengers, and more, read the entire article here.

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State Department Blocks Weblink to O’Reilly’s Gov 2.0 Conference as Spam

From time to time I send emails to people I know at the State Department. Lately, I couldn't figure out why they were getting sent back to me. Multiple people over there, multiple email addresses I have, multiple times and days.

Well, I finally bothered to look at the error message. Here it is:

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

   XxxxxxXX@state.gov

Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 554 554 5.7.1 This message has been blocked because it contains FortiGuard – AntiSpam blocking URL(s).(black url http://gov2expo.com) (state 18).

So, the State Department's spam filters have the website for the Government 2.0 Expo (which almost certainly people from the State Department will attend and speak at) blocked as an evil URL. Ironically, I was trying to email people there doing great work on Gov 2.0, such as the Democracy Video Challenge. State is in fact one of the very most progressive agencies with regard to innovative social engagement around the world.

I don't know everything about cybersecurity, spam filters, and the like, but this seems silly. I'm the co-chair of the Gov 2.0 Expo in May, and I have the web address in my email signature. No other enterprise (including the Defense Department and other government entities), to my knowledge, has blocked this. It's unfortunate that State does. I wonder what other completely legitimate and probably useful weblinks are getting caught in their spam filters? I wonder who else's emails have been blocked?

Sometimes we get so excited about all the progressiveness of open government that we forget the basics.

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The Future Networked Non-Elite City

San Francisco, CA – At the Supernova 2009 conference, Adam Greenfield of Nokia gave a talk about the future networked city. More humans now live in cities than ever before. But the cities withing which new technologies are being developed and tested (San Francisco, New York, London…) are different from developing urban environments where most of the people are – Rio, Lagos, new emerging cities in China, and so forth. There are a number of consequences to this.

Are we thinking about this? Are technologists thinking about this? Are governments? Adam pointed out that advertising campaigns can seem awfully geared towards an upscake, white, educated elite, yet most urban conditions don’t match up to that envisioned standard.

This dovetails with government missions, particularly in other countries where the military, the State Department, USAID, and other groups like the Red Cross or World Bank may be involved. What is the relationship between information and communications technology (ICT), reconstruction operations or emerging markets/democracies, and the new tech that’s largely being developed in the Western world.

In a different talk today at Supernova 2009, Microsoft researcher danah boyd (@zephoria) commented that online social networks like MySpace and Twitter give us a public window into other people’s lives. We have the right to look, but do we know how to properly interpret what we see? Can we properly understand someone’s MySpace profile through their eyes, through their community’s collective eyes?

Social networks are a wonderful opportunity to see into worlds different than our own. But humans, a tribal species, tend to associate with people like ourselves. The irony is that many people most evangelistic about developing the tools may be the least likely to peer into the lives of the average people – in the U.S. and around the world – who could use them to improve their lives and their communities.

The application of social tools and other emerging technologies to people in developing economies and in stabilization and reconstruction operations, in my view, is an important and underdeveloped topic in Government 2.0 discussions.

Follow #sn09 on Twitter for real-time comments from Supernova 2009 attendees for the next few days.

Submit ideas about Gov 2.0, ICT, and cities (or other topics) to the upcoming Gov 2.0 Expo at http://gov2expo.com – as co-chair, I welcome them!

Posted via email from Mark’s Cheeky Posterous

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