People are People

re tweet me
(Image credit:
"No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important." - Mary Kay Ash

I recently received an email from a colleague at work referring me to an internal blog post. The thoughts in the blog post talked about flexibility, work life balance and Enteprise 2.0. To be honest, the blog post on its own was awesome. In addition to the blog post being so great, there were many many comments to the blog post. One caught my attention, and this single comment is inspiration for this blog post. The comment is provided here (with a couple of small edits):

I love my iPhone!
I don't know how I survived before I got my iPhone. Besides checking my e-mails, I use it daily: to check the weather, listen to music,read CNN & USAToday headlines, update my Twitter feed and play Words With Friends (it's so addictive!). I use the Open Table and Fandango apps to make dinner reservations and buy movie tickets.
I couldn't live without texting. My son recently got his driver's license, so he keeps me posted with his whereabouts by texting me. I text friends to meet them for lunch. I'm so comfortable texting that sometimes I catch myself typing "u" for "you" or "c" for "see" in emails at work. And, yes, I often wonder why email at work doesn't have auto complete / auto correct. How awesome would that be?
The best example of how my iPhone keeps me connected has to be what happened to me at a recent event at work.[We had an external speaker come in to talk at work]. I follow the speakers Twitter feed, so I tweeted her from my phone the morning of the event to tell her that I was excited to come hear her speak. And she actually tweeted me back! So after her talk, I approached her to sign a copy of her book. As we chatted, I mentioned that I had tweeted her earlier that morning. She actually stopped what she was doing, looked up at me and said, "I'm so happy that you came over to say hi. I didn't recognize you. You're so much blonder than your Twitter picture!" How cool is that? Without my iPhone, I never would have made a personal connection with such a remarkable woman.
The part that struck me the most is the last last paragraph, the commenter describes making a connection through a social network activity stream (Twitter). It got me to thinking about how this type of interaction online enhances relationships of people. She took the opportunity to reach out to someone before the speaker came to work to talk and then took the opportunity to meet and talk with the speaker after to event. And just by making a connection via twitter, the commenter was able to 1. Make a connection with someone that she would never have made before and 2. the connection was even better/enhanced, if she hadn’t met the initial connection via twitter. Can you imagine the power this could have within the Enterprise?

Being able to see people profile pics is just the tip of the iceberg. Being able to connect with someone before a meeting in an ad hoc manner, even someone you have never talked to, and then meeting them in person. Imagine how that could enhance relationships - the power of person to person contact is important and is quickly enhanced when the connection is made in an almost anonymous fashion initially.

To illustrate the point, I have had this happen to me. I follow people that I view as "stars" in the E2.0 world. This past June, I got to meet the stars that I had been following via twitter Google+ and other social network venues when I went to the Enterprise 2.0 conference. While I viewed the people I met as start in the E2.0 world, I quickly found out after meeting them that they were just regular people that like sharing their knowledge. And in addition, looking back at the interactions and actions I had with them, they valued my knowledge just as much as I valued theirs. I found that many of them looked to me for inspiration, just as I had looked to them for inspiration. It was an awesome experience that enhanced the relationship I had already started to form online.

Looking back at both my experience and trying to relate to the commenters experience, I can honestly say that learned two things :
  1. People are people, and while you might put someone on a pedestal, they often have not done that with themselves. They look at what they do as just something they like to do and are happy to help out.
  2. Having a relationship with someone online enhances the relationship once you meet them in person. It makes the relationship build quicker in person and in the end, the friendship is even deeper than it would have been without the initial online relationship.
For those people that I am talking about (and you know who you are), let me just say that I am awed over and over by you all. In fact, I gush about every one of you every time I start talking with colleagues (at work) about E2.0. You all mean that much to me. Thank you.

1lb or 5lbs? Sifting is done the same way

Sifting the 5lb bag
Greg Lowe has a great post on social hitting the mainstream, called Social & the 5lb bag  Definitely go check it out. He makes quite a few good points about what he is seeing today (I am seeing the same stuff) and what to expect in the future from vendors.

While Greg takes a glimpse into the future, I want to look at the issue from what people have done in the past.  The questions that I like to ask is about how people have done it in the past and will people change their behavior and way of processing the task at hand because of a new technology.

In the case of "Social" they questions I have include:  How did people find information (knowledge) in the past?   How did they determine that the information/knowledge was good or bad or old?  Will people's behavior and techniques change because I have implemented a new technology?  I am not talking about what technology did they use, but what are the ways people determined that a piece of information / knowledge answers the question they have. Do these their techniques change now that we have "Social" as a technical solution? My answer?  no

I don’t think the path of determining valuable information / knowledge has changed.  What has changed over time (and will continue to change) are the methods used to find that information (search, activity streams, communities, FAQs, etc.  today .... what will it be in the future?.)  But the really big change is the amount of information / knowledge has grown, the ease of access to this information/knowledge is better, and the speed of change related to the knowledge has increased (debatable based on the subject matter).

Is that the definition of information overload?

Today people have to sift through more sources of information, sift through more information, and sift through that information with an eye on the age of that information.  And they have to do that using the mental tools they might have learned 5, 10, 20 years ago.  People adapt with each change, but many of the techniques remain the same.

I want to close quoting Greg's last paragraph
I’ve heard a lot of discussion lately around “System of Record” vs. “System of Engagement”. Can your social platform ever become your system of record? I’m not sure, but if so, the challenges to get there are going to be great. What is clear is systems of engagement will be generating knowledge, but what’s not clear is how that knowledge gets promoted to the system of record.
Greg rightfully states that one method to help the consumer in identifying valuable information is to tag the content in a system of record.  Interesting idea that could be very difficult to obtain.

I missed some reqs - My personal social media apps requirements part 2

I guess I was too quick to post my last post. Based on twitter comments and my own continued thinking of ideas I have come up with about 9 more abilities I would like to see in a social media aggregrator / twitter application. Here are the additions - enjoy:
  • recognize that a tweet was written in another language and automatically translate it in line -e.g. translate a tweet from German --> English 
  • allow to view items in a threaded view - see all tweets that are related to each other 
  • if in threaded view, allow the entire thread to be marked as read 
  • (not sure this was clear) any marked items can be removed from the view in the app manually 
  • ability to specific how many tweets / messages are stored in cache in the app 
  • ability to put all tweets in cache back into the view (read or unread) 
  • ability to mark all items as read 
  • ability to filter the list based on items that have a link or does not have a link 
  • ability to filter based on a word/name/hashtag 
  • provide the ability to define multiple columns that you can read - all friends, home, favorites, mentions, searches, Facebook, linked in, etc.

    My personal social media apps requirements

    social media landscape
    Fred Cavazza from Flickr
    I use twitter.  I use twitter enough to know that some aspects of the apps that support twitter are annoying.  So instead of just festering in my disgruntlement, I have decided to write a blog post with my wish list of features for my ideal twitter application.  For the record, I have used tweetdeck, seesmic, hootsuite, the app formally known as touiter and several others.  All of them have great features but none of them do everything I want them to do.

    Hear is my list :

    • the ability to quickly and easily indicate if a tweet has been read or not - TweetDeck has this feature and it is easy to mark things as having been read already 
    • the ability to sync across devices (computer --> phone --> tablet) information such as account information, which columns I have setup and if I have read or not read a tweet 
    • ability to save items and have them sync'd to InstaPaper
    • the ability to integrate other twitter like feeds that follow the twitter api, e.g. Socialcast, yammer, etc.
    • ability to customize the theme colors
    • ability to create custom plugins to extend the app (ala Seesmic) 
    • have direct messages(DM) not cached in the client - ever notice that when a DM is deleted it sometimes sticks around in some apps - #fail
    • ability to caches tweets or not to cache tweets - make it configurable - indicate how many tweets to cache (ala TweetDeck)
    • after reading an item, the items should not stay in the cache
    • ability to have some smart filtering of tweets ala my6sense - if integration with my6sense works, that is a bonus (don't fix what works)
    • integration with more than just twitter - linked, Facebook, etc.
    • have all tweets, recent posts (Facebook), activity stream, linked in, etc. land in one column in one area - provide an easy way to see that the post came from various sources, twitter, Facebook, etc. (ala TweetDeck in chrome/android)
    • color coding for individual users - automatic differentiation across users - ability to apply similar colors to a group of people based user definition (e.g. all the people I know from work are in one color range)
    • as close to real time updates as possible (think TweetDeck)
    • integration with external services like url shortening, image and video services - have the aiblity to look at image, video in line to app
    • tweetchat like functionality - follow a hashtag and then be able to respond and have the hashtag automatically added

    Casting a Wide Net

    twitter outage casting a wide net
    My team researches, coordinates and implements many of the Enterprise 2.0 activities where I work.  The other day I was having a discussion with my team doing research on the Internet.  As part of the conversation, I asked them to guess the method that I use most often to find relevant and timely information while casting a wide net that allows me to capture as much information as possible.  The team answered back with  The guesses including RSS feeds and search engines.  While I do use both of these methods, they have flaws associated with them when you need to meet criteria such as timely. relevant and wide net:
    1. I find searching via a search engine, provides a results that are relevant, but will almost always provide results that are rarely timely.  Many of the articles are articles that occurred  months and years ago.  
    2. I do use RSS feeds and will continue to use RSS feeds.  RSS feeds provide timely information and relevant information.  The problem with RSS feeds though are that there is no way that you could watch and pay attention to all RSS feeds that are in the Internet.  There is no way for you to find an article that was written by one person in an obscure blog.  RSS feeds provide timely and relevant content, but misses on casting a wide net. 
    While both Google searching and RSS Feeds provides a lot of information and I do use both methods, the one method I use find information that is timely and relevant information and casts a wide net is via twitter.  For me, the use of twitter is to keep up to date on Enterprise 2.0 topics, including collaboration, mobility and multimedia.  Basically, I use twitter extensively to keep a pulse on what is happening in E2.0.

    The question is, how does twitter allow for me to do these things?  I can't say that I have been a user of twitter since the beginning. In fact, I have only used twitter for about 1 year.  At the beginning I didn't know anything about twitter and why someone would want to use twitter.  But over the year, I have learned what makes twitter twitter and why it is such a great tool to find the latest information.

    There are 2 major ways to stay on top of the latest information while using Twitter.  The first is to follow the hashtag that people use related to your subject.  For example, E2.0 uses the hashtag #e20.  The second method is to follow a group of people that are mostly tweeting about the subject of interest.  For example, if you know there is a small group of people that are in a specific field, follow those people.  Inevitably, you will start to see tweets specifically related to that field.

    By following a group of people in your field of interest, you get to hear about what these trusted people think and do related to your field of interest. You also get to hear what they think is important as it relates to the field of interest.  By following a hashtag, you get to hear from many people that you might not be following.  There will be a lot more information in the hashtag, which can become overwhelming.  But by following the hashtag, you will find some new people that are worth following.

    I plan on posting more about how I use twitter and its usefulness.  Before I end this blog post though, there is one thing that is very important to remember.  If you see something that you think is useful, re-tweet it while including a reference to the original person that sent the tweet..