Web 2.0 Expo: Community Building

sunrise building by David Wilmot

[Semi-live blogging. I am uploading this after the talk from the Blogger’s lounge. I’ve tried to correct spelling but grammar may be a little lacking. I wanted to keep the immediacy.]

No power cords so I will have to post this later. This could be a good start. The panel has some very strong members including Jeremiah Owyand from Forrester and Dawn Foster from Jive.

Jeremiah started with a nice easy question about what each panel member wore in the 80s. Lots of people using Twitter for the session.

Tools not important. It is the people and why they connect. Kellie Parker discussed gathering together to exchange ideas. Dawn – feedback on products. Bob – brand loyalty and 2-way communication.

Nothing new, right? just customer support.Kellie – old way is one to one. this is one to many or many to many. Collaboration provides support. Dawn – not just company providing solutions. Other members of community can. Bob – moving beyond support.

Jeremiah – asks audience to provide some answers on background. Do I great a new community or join an old one? Kellie – need to do both.set something on Facebook, twitter and on their own.

Bob – discussed Slash.dot almost too earlier since it was on before many web 2.0 came to maturity. need to use your own assets to create – train bloggers, etc. It is different from traditional marketing. Dawn – marketing messages are different from community. It is people who work for the organization not the organization. It is people not companies.

Kellie – community manager is the landlord, set up the space and take care of it but does not own it. She is just Kellie.

What is skill set for community manager? Bob – passion. need to have it not just be an expert. Helps but not required. needs to understand the community and the company. wants people who touch the technology. Dawn – a good networker. in real life and on the web. Kellie – tact and diplomacy. good people skills.here to serve community. Dawn – advocate to company and to community. [an effective ombudsman]

Bad – How? afraid of losing control. Bob – need to protect brand. but know culture. Need for risk may be more important than maintaining brand. for external deal with legal. biggest was company resource restraints when dealing with silos that need to communicate.

deployed tools, hired people but no one is coming. Dawn – how do you build initial community. in case of customer space, tap existing customers. Find outside evangelists. get early adopters on board early. if starting from scratch, find early adopters and use them to spread the word. Use marketing channels and other social media.

How flexible should community be with coporate rigidity? Kellie – keep goals in mind. realize that your plans may not be what the communities want. be creative.

Deal with trolls?Kellie – try to engage, at least once. often this just calms them down. if keeps on, will discuss in private and then ban.

Dawn – step back and do not get defensive. Typically there are people who will stick up for the community. It is much less defensive if you let passionate members help fight rather than the organization. Bob – train all bloggers on engagement. moderate lightly. often the community comes to the defense. use terms and conditions if they are egregious. let community have discussion.

Clay Shirky – deploy a community? what is funniest social dynamic on site? Kellie – general topics section. people find out they grew up in same town. what they had for breakfast. So have a place where community can just be people not part of PCWorld. Dawn – spammer got on and got Nigerian sam to members. Bob – discussed terms. not deploy but embrace. funniest is what does not make it out of moderation side. off the wall comments. experimentation.

How do you get people to stay at community? Kellie – ask general questions? favorite browser, etc. act as matchmaker and connect people. Dawn – give them something special like their own space. Bob – make it simple for people to engage. add captions to photos, etc. one sentence.

Within the enterprise (sales people or contractors) where do you see momentum inside companies. Dawn – mostly in external communities. seeing more around partners. semi-private. just starting inside company. does it at Jive. it is really helpful since all info on 1` platform and everyone knows where tp go to get answers. 2013 – 40% will be internal.

experience of community managers to senior management. Bob – distributed structure. need to make sure community is close to product. but need to evangelize up.

What are metrics? What is ROI? Bob – needs to know objective and be firm. outreach will have different than marketing. talking model – make intel more relevant. looks at organic traffic like to see referral links to site rather than number of visitors.
Dawn – look at participation. messages posted. do not need to look all the way down to leads. not really a funnel to purchases. Kellie – page views may be only way to tell who reads but not participating. looks at page views then number of messages. Jeremiah – depends on exact objective of community.

What about interactivity? Digg help hostage by community. cold community hurt product. Dawn – hard to value Digg because whole value is the community. can you buy a community. not an easy answer. different for dedicated sites like PCWorld.

Size of community. number of managers to community. resource management. Kellie – depends on culture. if community is self managing – then only need 1. if more like a cocktail party, then need more host activity and maybe more hosts. dedicated manager vs shared resources. Dawn – development manager but have help from developers. Bob – foster conversations. lots of managers living in community with 50-100 FTE with lots of bloggers. each post 4-5 times a week. no ghost towns.

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First day at Web 2.0

sunrise by Just-Us-3

The morning of the first day at one of these meetings usually starts with a continental breakfast followed by a search for a nearby plug in the meeting rooms. After my coffee, I discovered that none of the meeting rooms apparently has power outlets to use and there are no tables for computers.

I guess that is one way to prevent laptops from being used during a session. Little live-blogging I guess. There are several power-up sites at the conference, to recharge the computers but with 8000 or so attendees, they will be crowded.

There is a blogger’s lounge that I checked out and got myself invited to. That may be very helpful as time goes on. We shall see. It is sponsored by Blogtropol.us.

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The Community Speaks

ginger by twoblueday
These three posts run the gamut from exuberance to wonder to doubt to reconciliation:

A Breakthrough In Taxonomy?:
So Much For Taxonomies:
Taxonomies Again — What Behavior Do We Want?:
[Via A Journey In Social Media]

They describe the process of creating taxonomies for a group of communities, an attempt to create some order. The very rapid path this took, from the excitement of a brand new idea, its implementation and then the very rapid feedback all demonstrate the power of Web 2.0. Life moves faster.

The problem here is probably a very old one. Some people feel better with a described space, using tags that mean specific things. The tags define the space. Others like the space to define the tags. There will always be a conflict here, between those who want an orderly desktop and those who prefer an unorganized one, especially if both types are represented in the community.

Neither view has a monopoly on wisdom. As brought out here, it is operational the difference between a search and a browse. Tags make searches much easier and allows people to find the exact information they want. The path to the information is sharply defined.

Browsers like to take a less defined path to the information. They like little cul-de-sacs and interesting dead ends. The surprise of new spaces is innervating for them.

One group will always find what they are looking for. The other will be surprised at the novel things they happen upon.

The approach described here was not satisfactory to the users, they let people know and the leaders of the taxonomy project quickly tried to reel it back in and find figure out what to do. They pulled back and asked “What question are we trying to answer?”

They understood that the problem was really getting new users on board as quickly as possible. Here a taxonomy would help them get started. But there are other ways to help newbies that would not disrupt the established users. Now they can try to fix the real problem.

Web 2.0 approaches allowed them to reach this conclusion in just a few days, rather than months, something that happened in the Web 1.0 world.

We tried this at Immunex, with defined tags being used for research projects. The Bioinformatic people spent months putting together the applications to allow tags to be attached to research projects. They finally rolled them out and they were a failure.

The problem was that the users could not define the tags. They were created by some unknown person. So what happens when a new project did not have an appropriate tag? Do you try and use something close, even though it might corrupt the system? Do you leave it blank, subverting the entire purpose? How do new tags get added? Who decides that they should be?

The tags never really got fully utilized. Research moved too fast to rely totally on pre-defined tags. Different people would categorize the same project differently. Without flexibility, too many projects would just get tagged with ‘Other’ negating the whole purpose.

A useful system has to be respectful of the users. It has to be malleable enough to have both structure and flexibility. It would also encourage browsing as easily as it does searching. Not easy things to do. But EMC will get to it faster by using a Web 2.0 approach.

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A New Page – What is Science 2.0?

Well, Science 2.0 must be the next full release after Science 1.5.b13, right? Not quite. It takes its lead from applying Web 2.0 approaches to scientific research. So, what is Web 2.0?

In 2005, Tim O’Reilly described in detail what he meant by Web 2.0. Since then, there has been a lot of discussion on just what this means, if anything. So, I am going to add my own two bits to the mix. There really are not many technical differences between Web 1.0 and 2.0. The differences come from how they are used, and how usable they are.

Web 1.0 is static. Web 2.0 is dynamic.

As mentioned in the Wikipedia article on Web 2.0, Web 1.0 was about displaying information. Web 2.0 is about conversations, about participation in the flow of information.

Web 2.0 uses many new approaches for dealing with information including wikis, weblogs, syndication, aggregators, RSS, podcasts, forums and mashups. These often require the active participation of users. They have been used to create hugely popular social media sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, where the very content seen by all is created totally by the users. User-generated content.
Continue reading A New Page – What is Science 2.0?

Open science 0.9 beta

sunrise by Wolfgang Staudt
The science exchange:
[Via Science in the open]

How do we actually create the service that will deliver on the promise of the internet to enable collaborations to form as and where needed, to increase the speed at which we do science by enabling us to make the right contacts at the right times, and critically; how do we create the critical mass needed to actually make it happen? In another example of blog based morphic resonance there has been a discussion a discussion over at Nature Networks on how to enable collaboration occurred almost at the same time as Pawel Szczeny was blogging on freelance science. I then hooked up with Pawel to solve a problem in my research; as far as we know the first example of a scientific collaboration that started on Friendfeed. And Shirley Wu has now wrapped all of this up in a blog post about how a service to enable collaborations to be identified might actually work which has provoked a further discussion.

Open Science is really in the very early stages. It may very well evolve into an important adjunct for research. Collaborations are the prime driver of much of today’s science.

Collaboration is difficult in some organizations. Without it, they will not be able to effectively solve the difficult questions in science today. The organizations that can harness effective collaborations will survive and flourish.

Currently, collaborations are usually set up using well known social networking skills honed through years of experience. Who you know is important. What Open Science holds the potential for, when it comes to collaborations, deals with who you don’t know.

OS can leverage an online community so that connections can be made that would have been difficult or impossible if face time was required. However, it will take a little work, like porcupines mating, to make this really effective.

Part of the reason for this is trust. Science has some free loaders, people who take short cuts. Not many but they can degrade interactions until trust is established. which takes a little time. Reputation is an important part of this trust.

There are many examples of peer reviewers abusing the process and scooping someone on a paper that they held up in review, giving the reviewer time to replicate the work in his lab and submit a paper.

Grant proposals have been abused in a similar fashion. Researchers have altered data in order to fit a preconceived hypothesis. Collaborating with such people is a possible danger without more information.

So trust and reputation will have to be a part of OS, particularly since the participants may not meet face to face. But reputation and trust are a common problem with many Web 2.0 approaches.

One way Web 2.0 surmounts this is the very openness and transparency that gives it power. Ebay, for example, would not work if people did not trust the seller to have the item and the buyer to have the cash. Being able to see how each rates the other help establish trust.

Research has shown that what is important in human social networks is not that the network prevents cheats or freeloaders from existing. It is that the network has a method for identifying them and expelling them from the network if they fail to change.

Now OS will not be like Ebay, which is a site of commerce. But the power of many eyeballs watching the interactions will help apply social norms to the most egregious behavior. A reputation lost in the open like this will be very difficult to untarnish.

Another important aspect of scientific collaborations is power, a very human trait. Scientists with power (i.e. large, well funded labs) sometimes have a very different view of a collaboration than those with a small lab and a single grant. People often tend to confuse large and well-funded with innovative.

Remember well funded does not always mean cutting edge investigations of important questions. Sometimes it means doing what everyone knows will work, just more of it with greater efficiency. Risk is many times found in the smaller labs, not the larger, something also seen in corporations. The unwillingness to take a risk, found in many large organizations, often make collaboration with smaller, risk-taking groups problematic.

But on the Internet, this sort of power is defused somewhat. There is a leveling effect, allowing many more researchers to have an equal voice. On the Internet, no one knows you are a dog. They also may not know whether you have a lab of 40 researchers and $10 million in grants. What will be important are your ideas and how you treat others in the network.

So, watch as this discussion happens out in the open, as it should. Become part of it if you can.

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Paul’s Principles of Web 2.0

Spider by aussiegall
Web 2.0: Building the New Library
[Via Ariadne]

Paul Miller wrote this over 2 years ago but it amply describes the effects of new approaches will have on an area that lives by dispersing information. It is not the technology that will make a difference. It is an attitude, one that is almost as old as humankind.

Sharing helps the entire team, tribe or town. The collective intelligence of the group is only strong when the umber of information chokepoints is low.

Paul’s Principles of Web 2.0, as discussed here, still apply in almost any endeavor that must deal with information to succeed. Here they are:

  • Web 2.0 presages a freeing of data, allowing it to be exposed, discovered and manipulated in a variety of ways distinct from the purpose of the application originally used to gain access.
  • Web 2.0 permits the building of virtual applications, drawing data and functionality from a number of different sources as appropriate.
  • Web 2.0 is participative.
  • Web 2.0 applications work for the user.
  • Web 2.0 applications are modular, with developers and users able to pick and choose from a set of interoperating components in order to build something that meets their needs.
  • Web 2.0 is about sharing: code, content, ideas.
  • Web 2.0 is about communication and facilitating community.
  • Web 2.0 is about remix.
  • Web 2.0 is smart.
  • Web 2.0 opens up the Long Tail.
  • Web 2.0 is built upon Trust.

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Change 2.0

change by josef.stuefer
6 Drivers of Change:
[Via HarvardBusiness.org]
There were discussions at the ‘Innovation:Change Happens’ panel during the the Newspaper Association of America and American Society of News Editors Capital Conference 2008. Several elements were were found to be common in the change experience:

• The need for a crisis or some kind of “burning platform” to motivate transformational change
• A clear vision and strategy … that allows room for iteration
• A recognition that transformation is a multi-year journey
• A need to put the customer or consumer in the center of the transformation equation
• The critical importance of demonstrating to skeptics that different actions can lead to different results
• The need to over-communicate to employees, customers, stakeholders, and shareholders

While the first three have been mentioned in many programs involving change, the last three are particularly important for any project utilizing Web 2.0 technologies.

The end user needs to be front and center. They are the ones generating the content and effecting change.

Skeptics need to be approached. In fact, many times they can be the best allies. Their skepticism often comes from a healthy sense of reality, since in many cases, talk of change accomplishes little. But, demonstrating what can be done, and how they can have a direct hand in that change, often converts them.

Things usually do not change simply because they should. It has to be sold. People have to be told many times just what is going on and why. Moving change from Early Adopters to the bulk of the organization is what over-communication accomplishes.

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Openness helps everyone

Bursty science depends on openness:
[Via Science in the open]
An example of a social network diagram.Image via Wikipedia

There have been a number of interesting discussions going on in the blogosphere recently about radically different ways of practising science. Pawel Szczesny has blogged about his plans for freelancing science as a way of moving out of the rigid career structure that drives conventional academic science. Deepak Singh has blogged a number of times about ‘bursty science‘, the idea that projects can be rapidly executed by distributing them amongst a number of people, each with the capacity to undertake a small part of the project.

There will be many of these little experiments – using online conversations for scientific endeavors. Even inside an organization, having an online area to ask for help can be useful. Trying to use email for this purpose has little effect.

There are several ways to  use Web 2.0 approaches to ask/answer questions. An online forum works well if it is substantially populated and active. A forum with a 3 month old unanswered question will not be very useful.

One approach that works is to have one person, or a small group, act as troubleshooters. They probably already exist in many organizations. They are the ones every one goes to when they have a problem in the lab.

They usually have a wide range of knowledge and often work to help people find a solutions to a research problem.

Have these people move online. A troubleshooting page on a wiki would allow questions to be asked. The troubleshooters have the opportunity to find answers. FAQs could be written to respond to the endless questions many troubleshooters receive.

Then when someone asks for some help, there is already a team with responsibility to find answers. And, because all this is open and transparent, the troubleshooters can finally get the well deserved credit they should.

Helping in the lab is generally invisible to others, particularly when evaluation time comes around. It is hard to document just what the help accomplished.

A troubleshooting wiki, on the other hand, would provide ample documentation on just what help was provided and the effect that help had on the organization. The ability to actually document who helps the organization move forward will be very valuable.

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