Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

Markets are conversation, again

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.

Markets are ConversationWhen Markets become conversation, the participation benefits the parties involved, viz. (a) The Intent Owner. This is the person who has the money, spends time and effort. In a non-generic sense, this  person is the buyer/purchaser/decision-maker of goods/services/products (b) The “Goods” Owner. A person or an entity who has something of interest for which people will spend time, money and effort.

An Intent Owner collaborates with others for research, analysis and in general to discuss items offered from one or more sellers/providers. On the other hand, Goods Owners researches the intent of the buyers by listening to them and/or participating in their conversations. The conversation leads to perfect markets.

During the old days, a weekly bazaar (aka Haat in some Indian dialects) served just that purpose–Buyers collaborated, chattered while sellers listened, conversed and converted the intent into real money. However, as society got industrialized, the collaboration dropped and became 1:1 (thanks to telephone, email and other 1:1 communication media). Come Social Networks, Markets are conversation again. Social Networks are enabling the same depth/breadth of conversation where people are chattering about products, services, companies, etc. (How this is all coming together? To be continued in the second part of the post).

Facebook for the Enterprise

Monday, December 18th, 2006

It is totally amazing how large corporations “engulf” 1000s of employees; minimal existence as an employee id or an e-mail address, contributing from a small cubicle in a functional department. I was talking to a few people over at my day-job — these are the people who have at least 100+ connections on LinkedIn. A lot of these connections are also from the work buddies. When I asked them about connections at work beyond the 1st-degree, very few existed.
Doesn’t it make sense to have connections beyond 1st degree at work, except for the ones coming through the bosses? More than that, doesn’t it makes sense to ‘show and tell’ the life at work and beyond work? One of the challenges within the enterprise is finding people who could do the job, but managers hire external consultants, spend time and money on external recruiting efforts to get it done.
A Facebook for the enterprise could be the answer. People would know what you do, who do you interact with and projects you are working on.
Sure, this would raise the “heckles” of the management, even more of the immediate managers — They would be worried as ever, thwarting further moves allowing employees to promote the brand YOU. What the heck, You have been successful in establishing 100s of connections on LinkedIn, have been writing a blog which the recruiters are reading and have been posting videos on YouTube and have made friends across the atlantic.
What a typical implementation of a Enterprise Facebook would have?
1. A Profile Page
2. A Project Page
3. A Friends Page
4. A Message Page
5. A Musings/Moods/Notes Page
6. A Groups Page
Organizations are pathetic in having Groups for intra-company discussions. Think about it. Knowledge is not contained in a department — it cuts across functional boundaries.
However, don’t do the following if you want the Enterprise Facebook to succeed:
1. Do not have implicit connections between manager and the employee. Have a “boss connection” only if the employee chooses to do so (Great HR exercise here to figure out the bosses who are disliked!)
2. Do not let this project ever, ever be run by HR
3. Do not moderate the content. People within the firewall are more responsible than outside
And yeah, if your Enterprise Facebook experiment becomes successful, open it up outside the corporate firewall and hand over an alumni account to every departing employee.
Doing the above, might improve your rankings by couple of notches in Fortune’s Most Admired Companies.
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Blogging as Therapy

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

BlogBurst asked the question, Why Do you Blog?. The reply is simple:
1. Blogging is a therapy. It releases the creative demons hitting the neuron walls
2. Share with world what you can’t share during your day schedule. Ideas, theories, commentaries keep running across the mind while you are meeting someone, or in a shower, or even while writing this post. Not all the ideas are shareable at that point in time, mainly due to context. You want to release the ideas in the wilderness so that room can be made for more new fresh ideas
3. Writing a few paragraphs is good, it makes you think, articulate and put the thoughts into the context of what other people are thinking/talking
4. It’s your public resume without your employment or education history
5. It’s your social hangout
… and the last one, a lot of people are now blogging for money!

Yet another Social Networking startup launches today

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Vox launched yesterday after a long and thought through beta period. Vox is interesting as it combines several elements of design, UI, themese, widgets commonly found in the various social networking sites. Here’s my first impression:
1. Account signup. They present a large text box to enter the e-mail address. Reminds me of WordPress signup page.
2. The Registration form is neat with each field showing a nice little note on the side. However, there is no way to tell which fields are required.
3. Signup “Add Team Vox as a Neighbor”: It asks whether you are interested in the VOX Team as a neighbour. This is a feature they probably picked up from Myspace signup process where Tom Anderson automatically gets picked up as a friend
4. The ads start popping up during the sign-up process itself on the 3rd screen — Neat!
5. Item Composition — It has a neat little feature where you can search and add “assets” from YouTube, Amazon, Flickr, Photobucket, etc. Users would love this feature.
Don’t know how they are going to make money as I haven’t seen any ads on any of the Vox blogs, except for the ads while signing up and while doing admin tasks (like posting a new entry, creating tags, etc.)..Hmm.

Writable Intranet

Monday, July 10th, 2006

“Writable Intranet” is the corporate intranet of the future where employees collaborate using Wikis, Blogs and applications interoperate using RSS. The Writable Intranet does not have series of static pages where information is disseminated “top down”. It is the place where employees collaborate, exchange thoughts, create plans, capture meeting notes, track projects, create documents (not word documents but documents which are web pages and have version control). The Writable Intranet marks the end of e-mail as the collaboration platform. The Writable Intranet means that enterprise knowledge is “free” and searchable by anybody. The “freedom” implies that knowledge is neither in e-mails and nor in documents but in easily accessible and searchable repositories. The Writable Intranet means information which is a constant source of data to other people who make modifications at will.


Collaboration in the Intranet: The existing ways are fundamentally flawed

Saturday, July 1st, 2006

Fundamentally flawed? Ye, right. Do you remember that the last document you created for your project plan is in the folder //HD4567Share/CorpDocuments/Plan/? Worse, an updated copy of the document is in Sue’s e-mail. Even worse, Sally has updated with her 2 cents and uploaded it on Notes. Go figure!
Mostly collaboration within the intranet is built on top of two technologies viz. e-mail and documents (and documents within your e-mail). Most communication around e-mail is 1:1 or 1:Many or Many:Many, everybody keeps adding their “stuff” on top of the original thread with corrections, clarifications, modifications to the original. A way too many times you have to scroll/wade through to figure out which is the most important e-mail with the most up-to-date/accurate content. And then that e-mail gets archived in one of the “folders” somewhere. Imagine a discussion on a Sales strategy or a Marketing plan. Yeah, you may have had face-to-face meetings, but the little oh-so-forgotten meeting minutes are still in e-mail. Imagine looking for the outcome of such a meeting 6 months down the road — It would be an exercise in vain.
Why this mess? Two-fold, collaboration platforms are draconian and proprietary. Wrote in word, can’t edit in HTML, your word document in e-mail is outdated the moment someone opens up and hits save. Using e-mail as the default publishing mechanism and document repository is killing the organizational knowledge. My exchanges with a former colleague are now in my mailbox. Good or bad, my boss doesn’t event know what ideas we exchanged for that product roadmap! Organizations are not to be blamed for this, there was no one-click publish platform to enable collaboration and knowledge exchange before e-mail. The over reliance is troublesome. Bob Sutor suggests PDF is good until no one wants to edit the document. Not bad, but how about few people collaboratively editing a document before it is published to a larger audience. We’re not there yet, at least not without paying a large fortune.
Come Wikis, Blogs, RSS, JotSpot and other platform. Don’t get this wrong, MediaWiki, the defacto Wiki platform and most of the other wikis still store the content in a data store which is not tuned for harvesting, publishing using other
tools except MediaWiki — All presentable content on Wikis are still HTML. The challenge as David Berlind puts it is “interoperability” of proprietary applications, their protocols. It’s the “walled” systems for content management, document management and e-mail management which are guarding collaboration. David points out that RSS alone can rescue us there:

With RSS as both the notification mechanism and the content subscription mechanism, you basically have a single technology that takes e-mail, e-mail attachments, and far too many round-trips (of email, to fully facilitate the collaboration) completely out of the equation.

Wikis by themselves have the power to change the way corporate intranets disseminate and share knowledge. It’s not a surprise it is easier to find a place to host a webpage and edit it’s content (or maybe even run a Wiki) on the public internet. Have you ever tried hosting a page in your intranet, if you were successful; how easy it was? Even if there are a few companies listening, the future of “Writable Intranet” is here. What I fear most? The whole story of Wikis, Blogs, etc. getting diluted by vendors like Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, InterWoven, etc. by claiming that “yeah, we also do Wikis, Blogs, RSS” and then locking that information down in their proprietary store (a la import all formats but export none!). Keeping a close tab on this one.
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LinkedIn: How to virtually add any known connection

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005

It all started when I was looking for a former manager of mine. I had lost all the TPAs (“touch-point attributes”) of him. Then I found him on LinkedIn. The challenge was to get in touch with him without jumping through various degrees of separation. I finally managed to connect with him by guessing his e-mail address!

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. You have to know the name of the person and the name of the company that person is working for (We are not trying to spam, spammers use the name dictionary attack)
  2. Next, the idea is to find out the pattern of e-mail address for that company. Go to Google groups or simply Google search. For example, if your contact works for HP — type “”. You will get a lot of results for a large company esp. in technology space. The trick is to filter down the search results by adding an extra keyword in the search parameter; say we add, mySQL (a “commercial” open-source database). One of the result in the top 5 has a link to a forum which gives the answer as There you go, you now have the e-mail address pattern for your target contact.

    Here are the three most common e-mail patterns:

    • (most common on Microsoft Exchange platforms)
    • (common among Lotus Notes users)
    • (common on Unix based mail servers)
  3. Thanks to the pattern, you “know” the person now — Just shoot a LinkedIn invite.

Easy(maybe you already knew!)

Disclaimer: I’m not a spammer, nor I derive any revenue from hacking, spamming or doing anything like that. Nor, there is any hidden idea to discredit LinkedIn or it’s great service. I’m just an ordinary next door geek who wants to make things easy with some automation in life.