Tag Archives: microstreaming

Gilbane 2008 Boston Observations


I had the pleasure of attending the Gilbane 2008 Conference in Boston this week. It was the first conference that I’ve participating in for quite some time, and I was strongly reminded of a salient reality of such events:

Conference attendees from end user organizations (not analysts, consultants, or vendors) are there because they seriously need guidance.

The Gilbane conference was advertised as being focused on the intersection of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Web/Enterprise 2.0. In reality, discussion of social software and social media nearly drowned out any talk about ECM. Many of the attendees had sound knowledge of, and experience with, ECM tools, but knew very little about social software and media. They were starved for education and strategic guidance. The conference provided some education, but more is needed, and there is a huge opportunity to help organizations figure out why and how they should be using social software and media.

Here are some other key observations I took away from the conference, in no particular order:

  • Most people don’t realize that they are users of social software nearly every day and express the opposite
  • The word “Twitter” is on nearly everyone’s lips, but most don’t understand the unique value produced by microstreaming
  • Social software and media vendors have sewn an incredible amount of confusion in the market, which will ultimately inhibit their success
  • A large majority of end user organizations don’t understand how social software and media can be used to support business strategy
  • Without a defined strategic purpose for using social software and media, most organizations don’t know which tools to use and why
  • Many organizations have not differentiated between internal and external use cases when developing collaboration strategy
  • Most attendees were very concerned about how to demonstrate ROI on social software and media, because it is an increasingly important checkpoint in these awful economic times

The implication of these observations should excite any analyst or consultant operating in the collaboration and KM arena — the current potential opportunity to assist end user organizations is HUGE! On the flip side, if you are involved in introducing social software or media to your organization and are feeling lost at sea, you’re not alone.

There are people out there who are beginning to understand the strategic use of these emergent tools, but they need to develop clear conceptual frameworks, adoption and use data, and strategic guidance so they can better assist the mainstream business world.

Social software and media are early in their life cycle. It’s up to all of us that are involved with it now to advance the market toward, and past, the tipping point. Onward, ho!


Microstreaming in the Middle

monkeymiddleI noted, in a post titled Shifting Sands, last week that I am twittering far more than IMing these days and gave the key reason why – it’s about us, not you or me.  I still think that’s the most important reason, but I have also discovered another:

Twittering is neither synchronous nor asynchronous; it lies somewhere in between.

“Whoa!”, you say.  “That’s impossible.”  You are correct from a technical standpoint, of course.  Twittering (and microstreaming in general) is an asynchronous form of communication.  There are delays between tweet publication, reading, and response.  Those delays could take days or hours, but they are most often measured in minutes or even seconds.  It is this broad range of possible interaction time with tweets that leads me to say that microstreaming lies somewhere in the middle of real-time and asynchronous communication.

Let me explain this further by contrasting two other forms of online communication — instant messaging and e-mail.  As the name clearly states, IM is instant or synchronous.  There are slight delays between message and response, but those are generally measured in seconds.  If it is believed that there will be a significant delay in response, most of us would choose to send an e-mail instead.  On the other hand, we may quickly receive a response to an e-mail (i.e. in a minute or two), but we don’t have that expectation when we use the medium to communicate.  We clearly classify e-mail as an asynchronous communication vehicle and IM as a synchronous one.

Microstreaming seems to have a different, flexible set of expectations for communication time associated with it.  In some cases, we hope for a nearly immediate response to a tweet.  Other times, we really don’t care how long it takes to get a reply.  In fact, we occasionally tweet with no expectation of any response whatsoever!  We merely communicate a thought or feeling to the collective just to get it out of our head.  These varying expectations for microstreaming communication time are what leads me to say that the channel is neither synchronous nor asynchronous, but somewhere in between.

Is temporal flexibility the secret sauce of microstreaming?  Please let me know what you think.

Social Software: The Unemployed Knowledge Worker’s Best Friend

layoff-headlineReading headline after headline announcing new job cuts has sparked some thought regarding what’s different between this nascent recession and the last economic slowdown of the early 1990s.  Several things, to be sure, but the most important one may be the ability of the unemployed knowledge worker to connect with others to mine employment and new business opportunities.

I predict that we will remember the the 2008-2009 recession as the time when the public availability of free social software proved to be the unemployed knowledge worker’s best friend and savior.  And, perhaps, the global economy’s as well.

When I was laid off in 2003, after the Internet bubble burst, I had several tools with which to stay connected with my professional and social networks.  Telephone and e-mail were the primary communication vehicles, of course.  Instant messaging wasn’t as pervasive then as it is today, but I used it to stay in touch with a few people in my network.  The best method to network was — and still is — by meeting with someone face-to-face.  In fact, it was an in-person conversation that triggered the chain of events that lead to my employment at IBM in 2004.

Knowledge workers in this economic downturn have all of those tools available, plus several more.  Online profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace), blogs, microstreaming (Twitter, FriendFeed), content sharing (GoogleDocs, Box.net), bookmarking (Del.icio.us, Digg), and other species of social software have greatly increased our ability to stay connected and work with others in our professional and social networks.

As I’ve noted previously on this blog, we rely less and less on employers to provide the communication and collaboration tools needed to connect and work with others.  That’s great news for those who have, or are about to, become unemployed!  Knowledge workers in 2008 have so many more ways to mine their contacts to find regular or contract employment compared to those who lost jobs five years ago.  The ability of unemployed knowledge workers to explore business ideas and start new ventures has also been increased by the public availability of free social software.

I am optimistic that the current recession, as painful as it will be, will breed the kinds of opportunities that will leave all of us better off in the long run.  There is one caveat to my optimistic outlook though.  If you haven’t been maintaining and building your professional and social networks all along, your ability to leverage them to find employment or start a business will be very limited.  It’s not too late to start building networks now via social software, but don’t expect to harvest immediately from a plot that you’ve just sown.