Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Trust Networks continued...

Rather than edit the previous blog, here's some further trust -related information as promised.

a few months ago, at an intranet benchmarking forum meeting, I heard a lecture by Adam Joinson of the Open University on Psychology and the Internet - I've got a Powerpoint of his lecture - if anyone wants it, just send me an email. Much of what he had to say about how we are more trusting on the internet is borne out through the example of my friend Jamie, who appears to be very successful in online flirting! I'd also point to the sample chapters of We Blog: Publishing Online with Weblogs by Paul Bausch, Matthew Haughey and Meg Hourihan which point out how a personality can be "constructed" online.

The oxytocin issue is discussed in To Trust is human in the 10 May 2003 edition of the New Scientist. Oxytocin is a lactation-related hormone, which I always remember being told is very important in mother-baby bonding. It looks like it might also have a role to play in other human bonding/trust relationships. The New Scientist archive is open to subscribers.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Trust networks

Aaargh - stupid me. I'd just written a lengthyish posting on trust (oxytocin, wikis, Open University lecturers, online flirting and business) when blogspot refused to post it! Oh well, I'll try and recover my thoughts and re-post it later on along with a few useful URLs.


I'll add more resources later - probably not until Friday

Friday, May 16, 2003

Books, lovely books

Through work, I've just received Rosenfeld and Morville's 2nd version of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Bob Boiko's Content Management Bible, Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think, and Jesse James Garrett's Elements of User Experience. I've read parts of all of them before, and enjoyed the first version of IA 4 WWW, although found it very much an introduction for beginners rather than for the more experienced Information Architect. I've started reading Elements of User Experience on the bus in and from work, and like the expanded explanation of Jesse's famous diagram (later expanded upon by George Olsen). I like to think I'll use a few paragraphs of it to communicate some core user-focused/user experience ideas to others, as they are nice and succinct. The opening, mind you, does rip off Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Banging head against a brick wall

I feel sometimes like I am banging my head against a brick wall. Our intranet menu plays host very frequently to the "I'm more powerful than you" playground contest. Pressure is put on the intranet team to add new top-level items to the menu based upon a department's "importance". Those putting the pressure upon the team are impervious to any clear explanations of user-focus or findability - our job - and generally try to assume an "I don't care what you say, I'm more important than you" attitude.

We have tried a number of ways to improve this situation: concerted communications efforts and - a measure which has been partially successful - user-focused card sorting exercises, which do deliver some form of "scientific proof" to those higher up the ladder that no-one thinks departmentally (apart from them!). Does anyone else have any experience of this specific problem, and have any useful suggestions for resolving it?

Contact me if you have any suggestions

Friday, May 09, 2003

How do you follow up a training exercise?

I've been training some colleagues in our intranet Content Management System this morning. It's a bespoke system, and generally works pretty well. Most people attending the training pick up the basics very quickly (in about 2-3 hours), and we provide them with sand boxes to play with their new-found skills. We also have a user guide, which, while it does not cover 100% of the functionality of the system, has been user-tested to provide an insight into the basics.

What I want to know is:

Is there anything else I can do in terms of follow up to ensure that this training sticks?

Contact me if you have any suggestions

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

A propos social software and social networks, I am pondering how some people can attain a kind of "negative node" position in a network. They appear to achieve this by blocking progress, engaging in political sniping and keeping "knowledge" very much to themselves. Some corporate cultures positively seem to breed these types: at the moment I'm wondering if merged companies are particularly prone to these attitudes - loyalty to oneself in the face of a lack of job security and continuity, as well as substantial loyalty to previous network connections, turning in and creating this negative exchange.
After many efforts to try and inflict some early stage user testing on the intranet, I have finally succeeded in rolling out some card-sorting exercises in order to cut the gordian knot of the "why isn't my department at the top-level" argument. The results so far have been intriguing - the most interesting aspect is the interest that the test subjects have taken a) in doing the test b) in finding out about the "results" and c) in asking for more information about the card sorting methodology. It really helps if you can get hold of a software-based card-sorting technique - it beats writing out endless sets of cards - jorge toros CardZort and Card Cluster work nicely.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

I've been reading about social software and social network analysis recently. My main aim is to try and find quick and dirty ways to leverage a knowledge base in a company using the company intranet. I am sure that wikis, blogs and bulletin boards may have a role to play. Interesting background information on the subject is available at the Social Software Alliance Wiki. I've found Valdis Krebs' details on social network analysis an interesting approach to defining the networks that exist in a company beyond business-defined roles and relations. I came to Krebs and the subject of SNA via Peter Morville's incredibly useful introduction to the subject. I've also come across an interesting social software blog. I'll put my thoughts together in a post when I've had a chance to digest the various ideas, but headshift's great essay Smarter, Simpler, Social is a great overview of everything "social".