We released Socialtext Virtual, a VMware virtual appliance of our open source version. Go play.
I wanted to add a non-personal comment about the impassioned scandal rocking our community, the best way I could think of to improve the silence.
This is a real test of the blogosphere. Our culture and openness. We don't know all the facts, but there is enough to be disgusted. We do know that part of this involves real core and dedicated bloggers. We do know that this involves trolls, there will always be trolls, and we all have them. We do know that some speech is illegal for a reason, and sociopaths run against society, but there are slippery slopes in all directions from the hill we think we have climbed.
There are core issues at stake:
Which is why I'm blogging this. It turns out that it is personal, in that I want to bring attention to Kathy's post. And that I need to blog this help sort out my own feelings. Part of me wants to scream FUCK YOU to the people who have assailed our norms. Part of me wants my community to sustain, to find what is common and what is wrong -- to feed back the hate without breeding hate. I want this blogosphere to surround and comfort, not harden a reaction to an extreme by institutionalzing an even worse extreme.
I'm quoted on the front page of the Financial Times on Twitter.
Over the past two weeks, Twitter has attracted the sort of hyperbole the Valley reserves for its next internet darling – though such self-reinforcing adulation also led to dotcom mania...
"This is the first application that people have got excited about since Flickr came out," said Ross Mayfield, a Valley entrepreneur, comparing it to a popular photo-sharing site bought by Yahoo in 2005. "I don't think it will be the next YouTube – but I do think it will gain wide adoption," he said.
Users of Twitter post short messages – up to 140 characters – that can be viewed either on a website or on mobile phones. "Twitter probably wouldn't have existed before blogging, when people learned to be more transparent," Mr Mayfield added.
Though launched publicly last summer, use of Twitter started to take off in the middle of March after it was adopted by technology bloggers attending the South by Southwest conference in Texas. As people like Mr Mayfield lauded the service on their blogs, interest spread quickly among the Valley's key opinion-formers.
The extended online version has Biz Stone saying they learned from Friendster's performance failings.
In other mobile social software news, Mozes announced a deal with Universal Motown to provide Twitter-like real time community around 60 recording artists. Jaiku is launching a new mobile client and website this week at Etech.
Following the Forrester and McKinsey studies yesterday, I stumbled upon this from a forthcoming EIU report:
One of the most striking bits of data from the EIU’s work (surveying over 400 executives, over 40% C-level) is that over 80% of respondents reported that they view the 2.0 technologies as “an opportunity to increase my company’s revenues and/or margins.” Fewer than one person in 20 view the 2.0 technologies as a threat, and fewer than one in 5 expect it to have no significant impact on their businesses.
The EIU survey also indicates that these executives have formed quite strong opinions about where 2.0 will impact most strongly. Over 75% of them report that the greatest impact from 2.0 will come in “the way my company interacts with customers.” Approximately 40% report that they see strong impacts coming in the way their company is viewed by customers and in the way employees interact with each other and the enterprise. And 40% also report that they see 2.0 impacting their business models.
Value propositions are either increasing revenue, decreasing soft costs, decreasing hard costs or managing risk. I'm encouraged to find a survey where results are positive about the former.
Nick Carr reports on two studies of Enterprise 2.0 adoption by large enterprises:
Some hard data is coming out this week on the adoption of Web 2.0 tools by companies. Yesterday, Forrester released some results from a December 2006 survey of 119 CIOs at mid-size and larger companies. It indicated that Web 2.0 is being broadly and rapidly brought into enterprises. Fully 89% of the CIOs said they had adopted at least one of six prominent Web 2.0 tools - blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS, social networking, and content tagging - and a remarkable 35% said they were already using all six of the tools. Although Forrester didn't break out adoption rates by tool, it did say that CIOs saw relatively high business value in RSS, wikis, and tagging and relatively low value in social networking and blogging.
McKinsey did a broader survey of 8,300 executives with similar demand and adoption patterns:
It found that social networking was actually the most popular tool, with 19% of companies having invested in it, followed by podcasts (17%), blogs (16%), RSS (14%), wikis (13%), and mashups (4%). When you add in companies planning to invest in the tools, the percentages are as follows: social networking (37%), RSS (35%), podcasts (35%), wikis (33%), blogs (32%), and mashups (21%).
But the highlight of the Forrester study for Nick and Richard MacManus is CIO attitudes towards incumbent vendors vs. startups.
74% of CIOs said they'd be more interested in investing in Web 2.0 if all the tools were offered as a suite, and 71% said they'd prefer the tools to be "offered by a major incumbent vendor like Microsoft or IBM [rather than] smaller specialist firms like Socialtext, NewsGator, MindTouch, and others."
Nick concludes: "You can bypass the CIO on a small scale, but it's difficult to bypass the CIO when it comes time for a company to standardize on a particular product and vendor." Yup. It has always been the case for enterprise software.
CIOs of large enterprises will largely give preference to the incumbent vendors they have relationships with to realize economies and standardize architecture. Especially when almost all of their budgets are sunk with maintainence fees of said incumbents. Part of expressing preference for suites is that suites are now available, beginning with SuiteTwo (Socialtext, Six Apart & Newsgator best of breed core offerings). I find the results of the survey very encouraging -- that SuiteTwo is a comparable preference to Microsoft or IBM.
Some CIOs will go what what (or whom) they know and stick to existing vendor relationships. That's why we created SocialPoint for the best-of-breed wiki to work with Sharepoint. As Lawrence Liu from Microsoft said: "More and more SharePoint customers who want advanced wiki functionality are looking to the specialized wiki ISVs like SocialText to provide it with an integrated user experience in SharePoint by way of 3rd party webparts."
As I've said before, when competing in a market of abundant choices, you have to be the choice leader. Choice is good. In some cases, you create choice through channels and partnerships. But you also have to do so through your core offerings. Today we have more deployment options than any established or upstart vendor.
Part of why we have choice is not all of our customers are CIOs of large enterprises. Lee Bryant of explores choice and the convergence of SaaS and Enterprise 2.0 in Bottom-up and inside out - the future of enterprise IT?
Euan's subtle insight on how to do Enterprise 2.0 is that there are powerful grassroots energies to not only tap into, but if you impede them you risk your deployment more than anything. While there is a certain inevitability of Enterprise 2.0 proliferation thanks not only to SaaS, but namely open source, his message is less about the tools than the demand for them and practices that make it work.
Dion Hinchcliffe explores this and notes "Those that represent to be doing Enterprise 2.0 solely through tool rollout and no infrastructure remediation will almost certainly be among those reporting less encouraging results."
This is all in the context of the alternative to how this post began. Besides large enterprise CIO preferences, there is the bottom up. And smaller companies.
Lee discusses the challenges of a completely bottom-up approach:
On the technical level, the integration challenges are non-trivial:
- identity / Single Sign On (SSO);
- internal application integration;
- legislative obligations for data retention, privacy and audit; and,
But the integration of people, practise and (dare I say) process is even harder, with challenges such as:
- devolving responsibility and promoting a DIY culture;
- encouraging people to grow their own internal and external networks;
- stimulating conversation and debate by overcoming fear of exposure; and,
- for many people, simply overcoming the idea that any form of online communication beyond email is "not part of their job."
Those challenges become opportunities when you have buy in from the top down and IT supports. And when you have actual leadership, as Suw Charman noted: you have the best adoption strategy. Lee specifically explores SaaS and rightly notes that it isn't a fit for many enterprises that have customization needs. He sees two trends in SaaS that have potential to close this gap:
The first is in the area of specialised appliances or systems that live inside the firewall, where they can happily integrate with internal apps ad data, but which can also be updated and fed by managed connections that extend outside the firewall. The Socialtext managed appliance seems to be a good example of this approach, which is a workable compromise between SaaS and purely internal systems.
The second area is enterprise software that takes advantage of managed connections with web services to add value to internal systems. Movable Type was a pioneer of this approach with its blog ping service to feed a public list of recently updated MT blogs. Their impressive roadmap for the enterprise version of this market-leading blog platform suggests they will take this a lot further in MT v4.
You really should go read his post, at least for the Star Wars metaphor. He concludes that SaaS still has a way to go:
...But the emphasis will shift from software, which is just a mechanism, to services, which is the actual product. Some of these will be new and imaginative forms of what we might recognise as applications, but many will be pure data or data transformation or sharing services. But whilst we will see adoption among SMEs for cost reasons, enterprises will not embrace SaaS for their mission critical systems or data until such a time as we find robust solutions for the key integration and data management challenges.
I see promise on resolving some of these challenges for the enterprise from innovations borne on the web. OpenID is a good start for identity and authentication, and will find its way into the bowels of enterprise directory authorization. RESTian APIs are shaking up pre-conceived notions of SOA. Open Source provides more options for not only these challenges, but is the dark horse for Enterprise 2.0 the adoption race.
Last week we quietly launched the Socialtext Managed Service Appliance. Initially we thought this infrastructure innovation would simply give us some operational efficiencies. But as we ran it by customers, passing their security audits and discussing how it changes IT Operations -- we discovered it was something greater, the delivery of Software-as-a-Service behind the firewall.
When we first created the Appliance deployment option, we worked hard to streamline administration, from setup in 10 minutes to simplifying upgrades. Fedex a CD, have someone stick it in and type go for an upgrade. Admittedly, we had one notable failure. One customer put the CD on top of the server, got some coffee or something, came back and couldn't get it to go. Turns out CDs melt. So we started shipping USBs (download has always been an option too).
Practically, the Appliance model is halfway between the latency of SaaS (near zero) and Onsite deployment (near infinity). Even if you make tasks like a routine upgrade fast and simple, it doesn't mean they will actually happen. In some IT departments, particularly those who have outsourced IT with firm SLAs, an upgrade is considered a degradation of service level!
This means that even if the upgrade includes an important patch or desired feature, the vendor gets a scheduled window of opportunity, measured in months or quarters, which can be a lifetime. On our SaaS version we do upgrades measured in hours or days. Given the constraint to get our best stuff behind the firewalls of customers we developed the operational discipline and QA processes to really give them our best stuff. We will serve no wine before its time.
As is common practice for startups, eating our own dogfood (or drinking our own champaign) means our company runs on staging versions. Not the highly experimental branches you might find in our open source repository, but we bang on it before you do and sometimes it bangs on us.
With a SaaS Appliance, our general release process remains relatively the same, but accelerated. Turns out IT departments not only love how they don't have to touch it, it simply works, but they can realize a lower TCO -- and shift the SLA burden to the vendor.
"SOA's impact on SaaS has lead to development of the Extended-Enterprise Service Bus (X-ESB) as a managed-service appliance … We expect to see an increasing number of SaaS Appliances emerge over the next few years as SaaS becomes fully integrated into the enterprise."
One forward looking enterprise we worked with has the strategic version to move all applications off of their network and rely on SaaS across the public internet. Not everyone has this vision. And regulations dictate that some never will. But nobody is in a better position to take the pulse and manage the health of software than the vendor. A Managed Service Appliance is a model that meets security and regulatory needs, enables the service of SaaS while offering SOA integration within the enterprises' security framework. Not all enterprise software will be delivered this way, but it is an option on the rise for good reason.
SEE ALSO: Why Appliances Are Good
Matt Mahoney spends most of his time working with enterprise wiki customers, cultivating adoption and best practices. In his most recent blog post, he provides a practical look at how enterprise wikis differ from Wikipedia. Wikis evolve in the context of corporate culture and inter-personal communication styles, for good or ill. The sense of ownership people have over pages is different than the norms that have arisen for Wikipedians. After discussing work conversations and group memory in wikis, he leaves us with some tips:
5 Simple Tips
* Assign responsibility for workstreams, and as a result, pages
* Use comments to add your thoughts without crowding out the person stewarding the task
* Rely on abundance, use talk pages for lengthy discussion, then re-factor the discussion into a joint page
* Pair live on IM or a screen-share, alternate note-taking
* Have a meeting, take notes, post the output
Given Twitter has reached escape velocity, I'm sure Obvious Corp. is in for an exit. It is a clear and simple fit for many social media portal players. But I think the interesting fit is how Twitter could complement an IM network. To turn this question around, consider if AIM, Y! messenger, MSN or others suddenly enabled IM status to serve as the message and the buddy list to be a social network?
Well, the prototype already exists, with Skype. Jaanus Kase, Skype community marketing manger, created Moodgeist. You install a pinger and your Skype mood message is broadcast publicly. You can browse recent moods, subscribe to feeds and see popular words.
Now, its just a hack to show off the Skype API, and me mentioning it might crash his server. But you can see where it could go. If Moodgeist pingers were part of the Skype software, the social network truly served as a filter, they added an SMS gateway and let you share moods either publicly or privately -- you have Twitter on a massive scale, technically.
But this is the consumer internet and Twitter has less to fear. Twitter is a cultural product. You see culture in the conventions and shared language such as @username. You can't just overlay culture, it needs to be cultivated.
Since my last post is really a question, let me provide some questions I would ask if it was the topic of an open conversation:
What are examples of giving attention transparently that save time?
Is the skill on the rise focus or flow?
How do we teach flow?
Which is of more value to vendors: transactions or engagement to co-produce and co-promote?
Which is of value to PR: exclusives or inclusives?
When you give attention to a co-worker, is the benefit usually short-term or long-term?
Which would your employer rather you give more of?
If attention isn't scarce in the attention economy, what is?
Will Twitter fail because of overload? Why not? Social network as filter? Ability to downshift to asynchronous?
If social dynamics are positive in a community, does the role of community management shift to directing attention by fiat? Is that expensive?
How does memory change with abundant attention?
What corporation executes best at giving attention?
Is a shift from push to pull as the dominant model of attention management do we discover more or is it the proverbial echo-chamber?
If we shift from push models of attention management, to pull, are we more productive?
There, I've put you back in middle school with a lazy teacher. That or a professor with the case method.
Read/Write Web has a good overview the attention economy the other week,written by Alex Iskold and edited by Richard MacManus. They suggest information overload will be solved through personalization and explain the trust issues of information metadata. Unfortunately, the analysis is flawed on both the cause and scope of the solution.
Pointing to the meteoric rise of weblogs as measured by Technorati, they argue the more information there is, the more difficult it is to manage attention. Attention economy is a relatively underdeveloped theory, and Wikipedia page for that matter -- from which they ground this assumption:
Herbert Simon was perhaps the first person to articulate the concept of attention economics when he wrote:
Just because there is more information doesn't mean you have to consume more. Ignoring is not ignorance. Further, the medium in which individuals gained the means to publish is the same one that provides the means to manage attention. This isn't broadcasting, where Sarnoff's Law says the value of the network is the number of nodes that consume. It is a network. Where Metcalfe's Law measures value by N squared and Reed's Law of Group Forming holds we have an exponential potential through communities to process information.
After Simon, with the rise of the web people thought it would be crushed by the Babel problem -- if everyone can be heard, how do we choose who to listen to amongst the cacophony? Yochai Benkler addressed this in the Wealth of Networks. He pointed out flaws in the theory that money would be the only driver for a solution, given the abundant means to produce filters through commons-based peer production. And how within hypertext, when producers are filters, using the blogosphere as an example, we can scale without being overwhelmed. The social network is the filter.
This is, in part, because of transparency. Oddly enough, transparency begets memory. We don't have to consume and process every bit of information that crosses our desk, but can fall back upon search and social discover.
Benkler, however, underpinned his analysis by submitting that the one scarcity is time and attention of users. Classical training makes this an obvious insight, perhaps too obvious. As users, and anthropological observers, it is hard to see how the overload could be anything else. But I think networks are still optimized for the days of Sarnoff and encroaching upon Metcalfe. Media is increasingly networked, but the role of groups in filtering is undervalued by your average user.
Attention economy collapsed two attractive words and tried to give meaning to the former. The best part of it was we sought different rights when enjoining attention into markets. The right to own what we were giving. The right to not have it abused, especially at a time when our attention metadata was by direct marketing, or ouright data theft in security failures that dominated(s) the headlines. Identity and attention rights, are still only valued by people who have experienced market failure and operational risk. This may change, but more catastrophe awaits and will drive it.
Some of the attention markets interest, and Steve Gillmor or Seth Goldstein could correct me on this, is on how much a given consumer could be paid to pay attention to a pitch (e.g. for mortgage advertising) that results in attention. This could be modeled and treat attention as fungible, and even enable trading of attention futures. Especially if there was trust in the market for consumer privacy. But I can't swallow how transactional this is. It provides incentives for offers and advertising of low quality and prematurely commoditizes. Do you just want consumers to consumer, or could they collaborate? Could a better measure in most cases be engagement?
Coping with attention overload by the individual is full of all kinds of GTD and life hacking tips. I personally don't believe you can engineer a solution as a former consumer of information, and the most important productivity and innovation boost you can give yourself is to let go of the stress. Stowe Boyd summarizes that the opportunity is shifting from focus to flow.
On the supply side, Steve Rubel remarks upon some better practices:
To cope, we've developed a defense mechanism - what Linda Stone calls Continuous Partial Attention. The content industry has responded by chunking things down for us into snacks that complement the meal. That's smart. I told marketers to do the same. However, something at some point has to give. The only way out is perhaps with tools that make things easier for us.
However, much of the conversation around Attention is framed upon scarcity-economics and psychology. Assume that attention is finite and the cognitive emotional overload of allocating it is overwhelming. However, what if Attention is framed upon abundance-economics and sociology? We have an abundant desire to give attention, and while time is short, when we give to others in groups, what we produce saves time. Especially compared to going it alone.
Here is my hypothesis, that i am too stupid or distracted to pull in the existing research around to truly prove -- that:
In summary, the gift of of attention begets not only attention, but time and attention. Attention is not a zero-sum game. So treat this snowball for what it is, and let's see what sticks to it.