Really looking forward to the Web 2.0 Conference next week. John Battelle just invited participants into a private Eventspace -- the web platform for the web as a platform event. Folks are already posting good questions to speakers and signing up for workshops.
I'm providing a workshop on Enterprise Social Software with Socialtext Customer Mike Pusateri from Disney. You might recall his great presentation at the at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Confererence in February. Mike and his team are leading the way with how they are using lightweight web-native tools as a platform for productivity. Not just how they use Socialtext for project communication, but how they stitch it together Moveable Type and Newsgator for an ecosystem of tools with RSS.
AP's Nick Jesdanun has written an overview of Wikis that basically says the tools have the power to change how we live and work, replacing e-mail as a collaboration tool. I can already hear Ross Mayfield'scash register ringing!
Nicholas Carr, Don Tapscott face off on whether IT really does matter in an InfoWorld article. A topic I've been chiming in on for a longtime. Carr keeps beating his dead but differentiated horse:
"Distinctive systems once provided competitive barriers," Carr said..."But barriers have eroded as accessibility, affordability and standardization have increased," Carr said. The economies of scale that standardized open systems provide has outweighed the costs of the temporary advantages that proprietary systems offer, Carr argued.
And Tapscott takes him to task:
"Companies can use IT to transform business processes that are not easy to replicate," Tapscott told the IDG News Service after his address. "New business processes can help drive new business models that are even harder to replicate, and can transform the whole culture of a company, which is even more difficult, and may be even impossible, to replicate."
At the core, this means the ease of group forming with simple tools to solve problems and adapt processes. As evidence, almost every single use case for Socialtext has been invented by our customers over the last couple of years. Why? Because users themselves, not designers, experts or managers, can create information architecture and simple applications.
Distinctiveness comes not just from systems, but in most cases, how users use them. Cases in point include user created customer care, day-to-day coordination and more. Productivity is always a people problem, and people are the best at solving them, its their own pain.
Dave Sifry shares the cascading hell that can happen with service operations:
The colo fire has led to a cascade of failures that has caused the Technorati service to be down for most of the weekend. It's also giving me a lot more respect for people who build and maintain 100% uptime of services, the trials and tribulations they go through, and also the cost of being operationally excellent.
Technorati and other consumer web services have the luxury of service quality being perceived. As an enterprise social software provider, part of service is user satisfaction, as Judith noted last month:
Kudos to Socialtext—a social software service that I never find down, or slow, or broken while utilizing the 15+ workspaces that I belong to there. This is markedly different than the experience on one or two other ‘social software’ related offerings that are ‘broken’ on occasions too numerous to count!
But operational excellence for serving enterprises with critical applications also demands a service level agreement. Hats off to our VP of Service, Ed Vielmetti, for more than SysAdmin appreciation day. He has a dedicated focus on improving our security and operations policies and procedures, despite constrained resources that not only gains us customer satisfaction, but allows us to extend the service level agreements our customers demand. What's been remarkable for me is also how he also documents his work in wiki so we can give quick answers to customers, provide transparency to resolve exceptions and enables new team members to get up to speed quickly.
I had one of those what can I do today moments with the idea of donating in-kind to Glasses for Humanity. 90% of eye glasses are wasted -- and Robert Tolmach's foundation is one of the most cost-effective forms of public health intervention for the developing world and beyond. I had eye training years ago to correct my vision years ago, put them on for the first time in 15 years, and noticed a difference in how I stare at my laptop. Ugh. Good intentions gone blurry.
This week, StillSecure announced that they are taking a similar step and donating 1% of revenue through 12/31/04 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Like Ryan, Raj Bhargava - StillSecure's CEO - has a strong personal philanthropic philosophy. With this action, he's integrating this philosophy and awareness into his company with an immediacy that is impressive. StillSecure is still a young company so it doesn't have the infrastructure to create a foundation, but Raj and his team are laying the groundwork today for having StillSecure have a component of its business that is philanthropically aware and subsequently more tightly integrated into its community.
Too many entrepreneurs leave philanthropy for when they personally succeed. The benefits of a philanthropy program go beyond cause-related marketing, its a way of engaging communities and employee satisfaction. Donating revenue is a difficult step for an early stage company, and there are alternatives. Providing employees time for worthwhile pursuits (Socialtext employees contribute on their own initiative to non-profits, politics and open source) lays the groundwork for programmatic efforts to come. Providing discounts and a commitment to serve academic institutions and non-profits helps build a more robust network of customers. In-kind donations take this a step further, but needs to be done in a non-discriminative program.
The simple step any startup can take is to make social contribution part of the vision and mission of the company at a formative stage. If you plan on success, recognize that its partially due to supportive communities -- and have a plan for what to do with success at each stage.
Using the CNET Bandwidth Meter, this my connection on Airport Express (1120.3 kbps) and this is my connection on my old hotspot (837.1 kbps). That's 5 dial-up accounts. Although performance is more dependent upon the WAN than the LAN and requires greater sampling, its nice to know the modest difference between 802.11a and 802.11g. Also a noticable difference in range, but now I wish I had other Apple Airports to mesh. Playing music from iTunes works great, haven't tried printer sharing.
But the best thing is having a hotspot in your pocket for travels.
Makes sense for a search engine that prides itself on hand-picked web sites organized into categories to enlist users to do some of the hand-picking. Should be an interesting case of when communities and ontologies collide. My guess is that Looksmart saw more than than a complement to help compete against features at the social fringes of things like A9, but recognizing the bottom-up disruption occurring in search.
Its a little cliché, but venture blogging has put a human face and open rationale for what is a mysterious process for many. You quickly learn that the venture boys have their own lives and
interests. Also of interest is Jeff Nolan's blog which is like getting VentureWire for free with honest commentary and the VCs that
dabble through AlwaysOn. I've been pleasantly surprised at the level of civility that venture bloggers receive, given the generic blame pointed at them since the crash -- something that should encourage new voices to join the chorus.
As an entrepreneur, there is no better reference for who I might choose to work with over a long term than their long term reputation and thoughts shared through blogging.