Sunday, 28 November 2010

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg - a conundrum

Facbook - you either love it or you hate it. I hate it - but Mark Zuckerberg does at least seem a nice sort of chap. Maybe he'll settle down and get married soon - that will add a sense of reality to his life!

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His face pale and shining with sweat, words stumbling out in a voice pinched with anxiety, Mark Zuckerberg appeared on the verge of a panic attack in June at the All Things Digital conference, as he fumbled to explain his mistakes in college and in building Facebook.

Less than six months later, in front of some of the most influential figures in the Internet industry at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco this week, Zuckerberg looked like a different person -- relaxed, thoughtful, even funny -- as he talked about his shortcomings.

"Ah man, I've made so many mistakes in running the company so far," Zuckerberg said, answering a question from an audience member who called him a "celebrity entrepreneur."

"Basically, any mistake you think you can make, I've probably made" -- Zuckerberg paused to smile -- "or will make in the next few years. But, I think if anything, the Facebook story is a great example of how, if you're building a product people love, you can make a lot of mistakes."

Facebook's reach continues to grow. Experian Hitwise said Friday that nearly 1 in 4 Internet page views in the U.S. last week were on And despite his unflattering film portrait in "The Social Network," Zuckerberg in recent weeks has appeared comfortable talking about his personal life. At a Nov. 3 product announcement, Zuckerberg started out with a story about an exchange with an elderly neighbor

as he walked to work in Palo Alto.

On Monday, with more than 100 journalists massed at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco to hear Facebook unveil its new Message service, Zuckerberg talked about hanging out with his girlfriend's family in Boston last Thanksgiving. Recounting conversations he had there with high school students about e-mail that "make me feel really old," Zuckerberg said they influenced his view about how Facebook should build its Message service.

On stage at Web 2.0, Zuckerberg spoke slowly and thoughtfully, making eye contact with the audience, his palms open with fingers extended as he talked.

Zuckerberg said he thinks "every day" about

building a unique culture at Facebook, and talked about one internal yardstick the company uses -- the number of Facebook users, divided by the number of engineers who work there. For some time, that formula has yielded a number greater than 1 million. The size of that number, Zuckerberg said, indicates that Facebook is in a "golden period" where it has the influence of a big company and the creativity and agility of a startup.

His response to a question about criticism leveled by Jobs that Zuckerberg's demands were "crazy" in negotiating a deal between Facebook and Apple: "It's fine." His take on how big tech companies need to think about social media: "Get on the bus!" He even laughed when co-interviewer John Battelle said, "you're gonna want to stay away from those movies," referring to "The Social Network."


Saturday, 27 November 2010

Five Simple Steps To Improve Your Facebook Site

Facebook fan pages are a great way to promote your business or organization, are easy to maintain and they keep your personal profile separate from your business page. To its credit Facebook has done a lot lately to make pages more brand-friendly, even website-like. Here are five things you can do to improve your fan page

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Facebook 'threatens' web future

Some interesting and pertinent points made by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, regarding the 'coralling' and siloing of information on the web. He cites Facebook as a particular example of how they capture user-generated information and hold it hostage. I also think he makes a good point about the increasing and pernicious development of smartphone apps that don't work as web apps - i.e. limited to a vendor's closed operating system, such as the iPhone. I think TBL has a right to be considered an authoritative voice on these issues - he not only invented the world wide web, he's one of the few leading figures who isn't trying to make a fast buck out of it!

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Tim Berners-Lee has dubbed Facebook a threat to the universality of the world wide web.

Next month marks the twentieth anniversary of the first webpage – served up by Berners-Lee at the CERN particle physics lab in Geneva – and in the December issue of Scientific American, he celebrates the uniquely democratic nature of his creation, before warning against the forces that could eventually bring it down. "Several threats to the Web’s universality have arisen recently," he says.

He briefly warns of cable giants who may prevent the free flow of content across the net. "Cable television companies that sell internet connectivity are considering whether to limit their Internet users to downloading only the company’s mix of entertainment," he says. And then he sticks the boot into social networking sites, including Mark Zuckerberg's net behemoth. "Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster and others typically provide value by capturing information as you enter it: your birthday, your e-mail address, your likes, and links indicating who is friends with whom and who is in which photograph," Berners-Lee writes.

"The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service—but only within their sites. Once you enter your data into one of these services, you cannot easily use them on another site. Each site is a silo, walled off from the others. Yes, your site’s pages are on the Web, but your data are not. You can access a Web page about a list of people you have created in one site, but you cannot send that list, or items from it, to another site."

This echoes the complaint Google made earlier this month as it banned Facebook from tapping Gmail's Contacts API. Mountain Views won't allow netizens to export email addresses to Facebook unless it reciprocates. But Berners-Lee goes further.

"A related danger is that one social-networking site—or one search engine or one browser—gets so big that it becomes a monopoly, which tends to limit innovation." The threat here is not Friendster. It's Facebook, which now boasts over 500 million users worldwide.

Berners-Lee urges the adoption of more democratic services, including Facebook alternatives GnuSocial and Diaspora as well as the project, which gave rise to a decentralized incarnation of Twitter. "As has been the case since the Web began," he says, "continued grassroots innovation may be the best check and balance against any one company or government that tries to undermine universality."

"You can’t make a link to any information in the iTunes world—a song or information about a band. You can’t send that link to someone else to see. You are no longer on the Web. The iTunes world is centralized and walled off. You are trapped in a single store, rather than being on the open marketplace. For all the store’s wonderful features, its evolution is limited to what one company thinks up."

He also bemoans the proliferation of net-connected apps on the Apple iPhone and other smartphones. "The tendency for magazines, for example, to produce smartphone 'apps' rather than Web apps is disturbing, because that material is off the Web. You can’t bookmark it or e-mail a link to a page within it. You can’t tweet it. It is better to build a Web app that will also run on smartphone browsers, and the techniques for doing so are getting better all the time."

Dredging up Comcast's BitTorrent busting, he then warns against threats to so-called net neutrality. This includes Google for the FCC filing it laid down this summer in tandem with US telco giant Verizon. "Unfortunately, in August, Google and Verizon for some reason suggested that net neutrality should not apply to mobile phone–based connections," he says.

He also warns against Phorm-style snooping and governments that restrict free speech on the web. But ultimately, he's optimistic. "Now is an exciting time," he says. "Web developers, companies, governments and citizens should work together openly and cooperatively, as we have done thus far, to preserve the Web’s fundamental principles, as well as those of the Internet, ensuring that the technological protocols and social conventions we set up respect basic human values. The goal of the Web is to serve humanity. We build it now so that those who come to it later will be able to create things that we cannot ourselves imagine." ®


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Ten Principles of Communities of Practice

Thanks to Bill Ives for the blog and to Stan Garfield for defining the ten principles. Great stuff!

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My KM World 2010 and Enterprise Search Summit 2010 Notes: Stan Garfield on Communities of Practice

Here are the ten principles: One - Communities should be independent of organizational structure. They should be based on the content.

Two – Communities are different from organizations and teams.  People are assigned to a team. Communities are better with self–selection for joining and remaining.

Third – Communities are people and not tools. You should not start with tech features. A platform is not a community. Readers of the same blog are not a community but that might be a byproduct. 

Fourth – Communities should be voluntary. The passion of members should be what drives a community.  You should make the community appealing to get members and not assign them to it.

Fifth – Communities should span boundaries. They should not be for a particular group likes Sales or IT. There is a lot of cross-functional or cross-geography learning that would be missed then. Diverse views help communities.

Sixth – You should minimize redundancy in communities. Consolidation helps to avoid confusion by potential members. It also reduces the possibility of not getting a critical mass. Reducing redundancy also enables more cross-boundary sharing.

Seven - Communities need a critical amass. You need at least 50 and likely 100. Usually ten percent are very active so you can get sufficient level of activity with 100 people.

Eight – Avoid having too narrow of scope for the community. Too much focus can lead to not enough members. Stan advises people to start broad and narrow if necessary.  Or start as part of broader community and spin off if needed.

Nine – Communities need to be active. Community leaders need to do work, often in the “spare time” at their regular work. This means that the leader needs a passion for the topics so he or she will spend this extra time. There needs to be energy to get things going.

Ten – Use TARGETs to manage communities. TARGET includes: Types, activities, requirements, goals, expectations, and tools. Each of these issues needs to addressed and explained to prospective members.  Tools are necessary, but the least important component, so they are placed last.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A great example of ROI using the Social Web

We're getting familiar with the mantra about the need for efficiency and cost savings in the public sector. We also hear about the difficulty in measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) for use of Social Media. Well, here is evidence of both; how an online conference 'attended' (in a virtual sense) by over 1000 delegates over 5 days, saved around £280,000 when compared to running a standard (real) conference.

But apart from the cost savings identified here, we shouldn't forget that the other key differentiator with an online conference is the almost instant access to a considerable volume of knowledge assets, e.g. the forum conversations, blog posts, uploaded documents and presentations, etc. - all available as a permanent digital reference of the event.

Surely some lessons here for anyone thinking of running a conference? Maybe this will be the benchmark for future online events - it certainly demonstrates what can be done with a bit of organisation, and the 'glue' provided by the social web!

36 presenters over 5 days, that sounds like a big event.DSCF2023

Well it was the Local by Social Online Conference ran from the 3 to the 9th of November…  And this has been our most ambitious online conference to date, not only in time but the amount of presenters and participants to the online conference.

One thing to point out is that we encourage participation.  It’s not like a face to face event where you are an attendee.  And going back to the 1% rule or the “90-9-1″ version of this rule.  This states that 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content, and 90% view the content without contributing.

The online conference did a good job.   With 242 out of the 1123 participants, making a contribution. Totalling 21%

And a total of 1123 contributions over the 5 days.

I’m not going to forget the Lurkers out there.  Because between you and the contributors you viewed 27,360

That’s the equivalent of reading the original War and Peace 22 times

Also the average time spent in the online conference was 14m 20s per day.

When it comes to unique visitors by day we averaged at 427

  • Wednesday 518

  • Thursday 455

  • Friday 341

  • Monday 415

  • Tuesday 406

That would have had to be a large conference venue to hold that many people.  More than what we could hold at the Local Government Improvement and Development with our maximum of 60 people.

When it comes to travelling to the Online Conference, you probably only had to go to work. Or if your like Ingrid, and mentioned in her blog in her Jim Jams

But what if you did have to travel?  Well looking at the Map. I picked the 141 locations that people visited from in the UK.  All the way from Stornoway in the North to Truro in the South.  Belfast in the West and Norwich in the East.

As a rough estimate the travel distance to Layden House EC1m 5LG if you just calculated it for the 141 locations on a once only return travel it would have been 52008 miles.  That’s twice round the World and would have left a Carbon Footprint of 4.55 tonnes of CO2

Twitter was used quiet a bit over the conference with 457 tweets that used the Twitter hash tag for the Local By Social Online Conference #LBYS

And if you’re interested, if this was run as a 5 day Face to Face Conference the cost could have been around £293,000 not only to host it but to get to the venue.  This does not include other cost e.g. time away from the office etc.

Estimated cost comparison with a face to face Conference

Five Day Face to Face Conference (estimated costs)

  • Delegates = 400

  • Venue Hire = £2,000 x 5 = £10000

  • Audio – Video for venue = £2,250 x 5 = £11,250

  • Marketing Materials = £800

  • Advertisement = £1,500

  • Delegate Rate @£65 per person = £26,000 x 5 = £130,000

  • Conference Team Accommodation = £600 x 5 = £3000

  • Conference Team Travel = £400

  • Speakers Travel = £200 x 5 =£ 1000

  • Conference Team (11 days @ £500 per day) = £5,500

  • (Includes before, during and after)

  • Speakers time (average 2 speakers) = £2,000 x 5 = £10000

  • Couriers = £300

  • Delegate Accommodation (est. £40 per person) = £16,000 x 5 = £80,000

  • Delegate travel (est. £50 per person) = £20,000 x 2 = £40,000

  • Total Cost = £293,70

5 Day online Conference (estimated costs)

  • Delegates = £100

  • Venue Hire = £0

  • Audio – Video = £250

  • Marketing Materials = £250

  • Advertisement = £250

  • Delegate Rate = £0

  • Event Team Accommodation = £0

  • Event Team Travel = £0

  • Speakers Travel = £0

  • Conference Team (15 days @ £500 per day) = £7,500

  • (Includes before, during and after)

  • Speakers time (average of 8 speakers) = £4,000

  • Couriers = £100

  • Delegate Accommodation = £0

  • Delegate travel = £0

  • Total Cost = £12,350

Maybe with these types of events and with the Knowledge Hub coming along next year.  We will still be able to share and transfer our experience and knowledge virtually with the restraints on the budgets across the sector.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Apple’s Ping Social Network Gets Social with Twitter

Like it or not, we have another social network to embrace in Apple's Ping. The good news is that it integrates with other networks, except (as usual) Facebook, which continues down it's own information cul de sac. I haven't tried Ping yet, but it is installed on my version of iTunes so will give it a whirl. I guess we can anticipate a significant burst in (trivial) Twitter traffic as we discover what music the people we follow are listening to. Oh joy!

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Apple’s Ping Social Network Gets Social with Twitter

Back in September, everyone gasped as Apple launched the social network Ping, built inside of iTunes. Of course, the excitement quickly dissipated as everyone realized Ping wasn’t social at all. It was an information silo and didn’t even appear ready for the masses. Facebook and Apple even got into it, resulting in Facebook blocking Ping from full integrating with Facebook. A block that is still in place to this day.

All is not lost, though. Ping is finally starting to show itself to be somewhat social and possibly even useful with deep Twitter integration. From the Twitter Blog:

Starting today Ping, iTunes’ new social network for music, and Twitter are making it even easier for people to share music discoveries with their friends by putting Ping activity, song previews and links to purchase and download music from the iTunes Store right in their Tweets on

The integration goes both ways. Once you connect your Twitter account to Ping, your activities in Ping will be automatically tweeted to your Twitter followers. I put “automatically” in bold to remind you to check your settings in iTunes and adjust accordingly. You may not want every minute activity you do broadcasted to Twitter.

On the Twitter end, these tweets from Ping will include special links that show you more detail about the song or album right alongside your Twitter stream. You can view the details and even play previews without leaving the Twitter website. I knew this new Twitter was going to end up being useful for something.

What do you think about Twitter integration in Ping? Will it prompt you to give Ping another look? Are you already using Ping? Tell us about it.

See more at

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Transparency |

I applaud the initiative behind this new website, clearly in line with the gov's transparanecy agenda. But how much better is would be if developed as a dashboard showing a graphical representation of Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) rather than just blocks of text. Even just showing a trafiic light system of red, amber and green to indicate which targets are being met would be an improvement. Add your comments to the Transparency website if you have an opinion

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Google bars data from Facebook as rivalry heats up

So, it seems a walled garden is being erected around Google services (it's always been there for Facebook). I can't really see this hurting Facebook very much. The loser is (once again) the user who will no longer have the facility to easily join up address books between networks. I think we can look forward to these two heavyweights continuing to slug it out over the coming months. An interesting spectacle since both are too big to fall.

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc will begin blocking Facebook and other Web services from accessing its users' information, highlighting an intensifying rivalry between the two Internet giants.

Google will no longer let other services automatically import its users' email contact data for their own purposes, unless the information flows both ways. It accused Facebook in particular of siphoning up Google contact data, without allowing for the automatic import and export of Facebook users' information.

Facebook, with more than 500 million users, relies on email services such as Google's Gmail to help new users find friends already on the network. When a person joins, they are asked to import their Gmail contact list into the social network service. Facebook then tells the user which email contacts are also on the social network.

In a statement, Google said websites such as Facebook "leave users in a data dead end." Facebook did not immediately provide a comment on Friday.

While Google framed the move as an attempt to protect its users' ability to retain control of their personal data on the Internet, analysts said the move underscored the battle between Google, the world's largest search engine, and Facebook, the dominant Internet social network.

"The fundamental power dynamic on the Web today is this emerging conflict between Facebook and Google," said Gartner analyst Ray Valdes. "Google needs to evolve to become a big player in the social Web and it hasn't been able to do that."

"If people do search within Facebook, if they do email within Facebook, if they do instant messaging within Facebook, all of these will chip away at Google's properties."


Google said that while it makes it easy for other Web services to automatically import a user's contact data, Facebook was not reciprocating.

"We have decided to change our approach slightly to reflect the fact that users often aren't aware that once they have imported their contacts into sites like Facebook, they are effectively trapped," Google said in an emailed statement.

"We will no longer allow websites to automate the import of users' Google Contacts (via our API) unless they allow similar export to other sites," Google said.

Some technology blogs were reporting that Facebook still appeared to be allowing users to import their Google Gmail contacts into Facebook as of mid-day Friday.

A Google spokesman told Reuters that the company had begun enforcing the new rules "gradually."

Google also stressed that users will still be able to manually download their contacts to their computers in "an open, machine-readable format" which can then be imported into any Web service.

Google has coveted the wealth of information that Facebook's half-billion users generate and amass. Having access to that data could be especially valuable to Google, whose business model is based on allowing its users to find any information anywhere on the Web.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Google sues US govt for Microsoft-only policy

I have every sympathy with Google. Hopefully a lesson here also for the UK public sector - there are other (and better and cheaper) products than MS Oulook, MS Sharepoint and Internet Explorer 6. Whatever happened to that level playing field?

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Web giant claims Department of the Interior unfairly mandated that an email procurement project should only use Microsoft products

The US Department of the Interior told potential suppliers of a new email system that it will only consider tenders based on Microsoft products, web giant Google has alleged in an lawsuit against the government body.

The lawsuit alleges that the Department sent ‘requests for quotation’ (RFQs) to IT service providers that specified that only offers based on Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) would be considered.

Google demands that a more competitive procurement process is introduced.

If Google’s claims are true, the Department of the Interior’s procurement process would appear to contravene a 2004 memo from the Executive Office of the President. The memo asserted that “policies and procedures covering acquisition of software to support agency operations” should be “technology and vendor neutral … to the maximum extent practicable”.

Microsoft-only procurement projects are not unheard of in the UK’s public sector, despite the fact that the EU Directive on Public Procurement asserts that “contracting authorities shall treat economic operators equally and non-discriminatorily”.


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Knowledge Hub at Local by Social Online Conference (3rd Nov)

I will be running a session on the 'Knowledge Hub' at the the Local by Social Online Conference this Wednesday 3rd November, 3pm to 4.30pm (GMT).  See more details below about the Online Conference. A brief synopsis of the Knowledge Hub:

Knowledge Hub will support service improvement, efficiencies and innovation across local government. It is a “Web 2” social media development and offers opportunities to foster greater collaboration across the sector and wider use of digitally based information such as open and linked data. Knowledge Hub builds on the successful Communities of Practice (CoP) space with over 75,000 registered users and is considered the most advanced online practitioner group in the public sector. Access to the new environment will allow councillors, officers and practitioners across the public sector to take advantage of new media tools and techniques for knowledge sharing and improvement.

More than just an IT solution, the KHub is a far-sighted social media resource that could lead to a major cultural change in the public sector.

The Local by Social online conference is just part of a wider strategy to support local government and its partners in using social media to improve services and knowledge sharing  across the sector. The following abstract from Ingrid Koehler explains:

The Local by Social online conference is showcasing a range of digital innovators in local public services.  Social media: Citizen and council strand has a range of brilliant speakers covering the breadth of how social media is being used to innovate and improve local public services and engage citizens more broadly and deeply.

And this is only one strand of the conference!  The other cover the use of social media for better knowledge sharing and practice development within the sector and the use of open data for transparency and improvement.

How does this work?  ‘Speakers’ will provide material in advance and will then be available to answer questions and engage in discussion.  But really they’re only there to prompt discussion.  This conference is about you! Your experiences, your challenges and your solutions to share with colleagues across the country and around the world.   Or you can just listen and learn. Sign up to the conference and you’ll be alerted to speakers who interest you and round-ups of key content, so you never miss a thing.

The Slidecast presentation below has been posted to the Online Conference website. If you'd like to participate in an online discussion about the content then I'll be happy 'see' you at the online conference on Wednesday 3rd November. This particular session runs from 3pm to 4.30pm (GMT).

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