Sunday, May 30, 2004

Trying Photoblogging With Hello

Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland

I've just been fooling around with "Hello", the photoblogging tool, which has kindly been offered to current webloggers.
Now I wouldn't say it is the most intuitive tool I've ever used, but I've managed to post a photo of the lovely Gleneagles hotel...
so it obviously works!
It has a neat re-sizing tool as well. I think I may be adding photos to my blog more regularly now! In fact, thinking about it, this may mean that I actually get around to updating the personal photo catalogue that is several months out of date.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

"Bunch of RSS"

Apologies for the title, which probably only 'works' if your from the UK. That's enough bad jokes for today. Via Object Learning, I found Brian's long list of RSS links called "The Fuss", an excellent storehouse of RSS-related information, albeit - not surprisingly - focused on Learning Objects and educational uses.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Social Software Overview

Matt Webb's overview of Social Software is pretty useful - particularly as it is a n=hub of useful links out to specifics - for instance, this fascinating article on Life With Alacrity (and Comments!) on optimal group size and "The Dunbar Number", which I for one had never heard of.

UPDATE: Via Many to Many, I came across the Online Community Toolkit, which looks like an excellent set of resources.

UPDATE 2: an excellent matrix of social software facets (not orthogonal!) - could help in deciding on a particular tool, or in gap analysis to work out how to make a 3600 networking tool.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Annoyances: Easyjet and Blogger

I'm not one to get annoyed over much, but two things this evening have got on my nerves
First of all, I had a message from my mother-in-law explaining (2 hours after her expected arrival) that my wife had not arrived from her flight to Geneva. My wife was travelling via Easy Jet (EJ), so I went on the site to get contact details. Instead of a number, EJ tries to answer a set of common questions. Typing "telephone number" into the search, I arrived at a UK number, which, when dialled only presented you with directions to "visit our website for more information". EJ: people phone you for a reason. Efficiency is all very well, but people may at times need to speak to a human for more personal information. Communications channels should support one another, not replace one another - the chase for increased profit margins can be detrimental to a customer's experience, you realise...Anyway end of rant one.
Annoyance two was blogger's re-design, handled by the (should I say "usually"?) excellent Adaptive Path. However, trying to amend my profile photo, I typed in a lengthy path to a photo of myself. There were no written indications to suggest that my path would be a problem, and the form field accepted my path, only for me to realise post-submission that there is a 68 character limit for images. Chaps, read "Defensive Design for the Web" - let me know before I fill it in. Grrrrr!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

More Searching

I read the New Frontier of Search a bit ago, and had meant to post something as to the fact that it is a neat overview. It also highlights something that I mentioned at an intranet benchmarking meeting with a group of peers - we were bemoaning intranet search performance, when I asked what sort of searches employees at each company were interested in. No-one seemed to know, yet everyone was keen to criticise the search performance. Are you looking for the occurence of a phrase or of a concept? Are you looking for results that you can trust? Different engines will perform better for different types of search - I think we've all got slightly over-sensitised to Google.

"The Enemy of My Enemy"...

" my friend" according to the saying. I seem to remember a humourous extension of FOAF aiming for this territory a while ago, which sparked my interest. The problem with the above-saying is that it is a paradox in certain critical situations where trust is involved. I don't want to be overly political in sensitive times, but the relation of the USA to Iraq and Iran (implementing this strategy) over the past three decades is a case in point.

Map out the relationships - Iran and Iraq have been reciprocal "enemies" during this time, so let's assume the US takes up an antagonistic approach to Iraq, then the eneny of its enemy is Iran, its "friend". If the US then gets fed up with Iran and takes up an antagonistic stance towards it, by this strategy, it is honour-bound to do a volte-face and make the enemy of its new enemy its "friend" i.e. in this case Iraq. I don't think it takes a genius to work out the drawbacks of this strategy - there are numerous instances of this happening with the foreign policy of various governments, and the Iran/Iraq issues are still rattling on.

Anyway, getting back to my sheep, my point was that it is a risky strategy to suggest anything other than predisposition towards a relationship in a social network unless that relationship is directly stated. I know that my above example does not map directly to the virtual world, but I still think it's an interesting bone of contention.

Endeca Again (and Facets to Support "Searching")

As I've said before, I'm not sure anyone is ever interested in searching for anything - it's the retrieval (and usage) part of information that the end-user is concerned with. Treasure hunters might, at a push, enjoy the search, but it's the booty they're really after! With this in mind, I thought I'd mention Endeca again, as - via Lou Rosenfeld - I came across an interesting overview not only of Endeca, but also of facets supporting information retrieval in "search", in Volume 1, Issue 1 of "The Barrington Report on Advanced Knowledge Organization and Retrieval" on the KM Connection site. I've yet to read the entirety of the Journal, but it's good stuff with a focus in this issue on metadata (particularly faceted).

Now that I've written "booty" I'm concerned about raising false expectations for this post in search results...

Monday, May 24, 2004

Trust and intranets

I'll write a little bit more about this later on, but I recently met Dr James Backhouse and John Baptista of the London Schoool of Economics Information Systems Integrity Group. James and John were presenting on "Do People Trust Your Intranet?", and were proposing measuring "trust" to be benchmarked and compared across a number of intranets. The aim, it appears, is to measure five key "trust" factors displayed by an "institutional device", including governance and policy (although I can't remember the other three off the top of my head!!!). I'm going to take a second look at their presentation when it becomes available online, as - in spite of my concerns at the vague nature of "trust" in an institutional sense - it could be a useful metric in the armoury of the intranet/portal manager.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Social Searching (aka Trusted Results)

I've banged on about this for a long time - about how recall and precision are not enough to move a user from a searching action to a "doing" action, and that being able to trust your search results may be a missing link - anyway, it seems like one search engine is actually applying this model: Eurekster. I must sign up to this and get some "trusted" sources to do so as well, and see how well the system actually works in practice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

PageRank Revisited

So I'm still not 100% convinced that I understand the baseline in a comparative sense, but this article by Harjot Kaleka did at least make me realise that PR is exponential

Note: The scale of 1-10 on Google is not linear. It is exponential in nature, believed to be a base of 6 to 7, that is, PR 7 website is 6 times more important than PR 6 website.
I am therefore assuming that PR6 is 6x more important to PR5 and so on. i.e. PR1 (1), PR2 (2), PR3 (6), PR4(24), PR5 (120), PR7 (720) etc... Someone stop me if I'm wrong!

Blogger Redesign

Like most reactionaries, my initial instinct is to run from change...where are my comfortable slippers? So, I'm a tad shocked at the blogger changes. I'm not sure that they are super radical, but I am quite averse to beige, or is that camel or taupe?
I seem to be getting the odd screwy css ie6 reaction on the sliding doors tabs at the top of the screen as well, but I'm sure this will get sorted. The bit that shocked me was seeing all those posts lined up in the dashboard - I quite like the fact that I only see a small number of posts at a time (so I immediately reset to five), but seeing 50 posts in one go has probably sent me over the edge. I shall compose myself and have a fiddle with the new additions shortly. I wonder if I can export comments from Squawkbox into blogger?

Saturday, May 08, 2004


I found - and forgot to bookmark - a PageRank calculator yesterday, and was making some - I thought - intriguing comparisons. This site has a page rank of 5, which I guess is OK, but the funny thing is this is better than a few of my company's sites. Now, I know I haven't had time to get any SEO work done, but I think it's about time I wrote a strategy paper for this. On the laziness front, the other baseline indicators I ran were quite intriguing. Lou Rosenfeld, for instance - who was complaining about my laziness in getting an RSS feed up the other day, that was my butt kicked - has a PageRank of 6. Anyway, while doing this baseline comparison, I realised I had no idea really what a decent baseline is. While I understand the theroretical idea behind the PageRank algorithm, I'm now realising that I have no idea what the end figure means. Can somebody fill me in as I'm feeling a bit stupid?

Friday, May 07, 2004


Via Tom's (OTHERblog) more human efforts, I came across Lisa Galarneau's Relevancy blog. What Lisa calls relevancy is what I've generally termed "making stuff useful" previously - i.e. focusing on value-centered design for all stakeholders, business and user community, so her blog looks like it might be an interesting read. Anyway, I was interested to see that Lisa is a fan of Endeca's faceted browse/search interface as well, having used it at Tower Records. Once again, I feel the small world syndrome closing in on me!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Intranet Governance Policies

It strikes me that when intranet governance is mentioned by intranet professionals, they are generally discussing overall governance structures - i.e. intranet boards and committees, however, I'm interested in finding out some more detail on more granular detail on intranet governance and auditing issues.

For instance, I need to provide an auditable structure of user access both to our content management system and to the folder permissions on our network attached storage which acts as a document repository. If I roll out any collaborative tools such as a blog, wiki, bbs/discussion board, project management comment tool, instant messaging client etc. I will also need a clear governance structure for this also i.e. a set of defined behavioural norms and guidelines, as well as moderators/discussion facilitators.

Anyway, my conscience on these matters was piqued when reading through Mike Gotta's piece that I blogged about on 5 May 2004, which was very focused on the business implications of social software. So, I'm hoping for some responses - what governance issues have you come across related to intranets, and how have you solved them? I'd be interested to hear everyone's comments.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Yet More Corporate Blogging Details

Judith Meskill posted an interesting bunch of links in and around corporate blogging (k-logging now seems to be motus non grata for some reason - NB: my Latin is a bit pokey). Mike Gotta is worth a read, and I just scanned the intro of the zdnet piece, Social Computing: Getting Ahead of the Blog, which looks interesting.

Straightforward Wiki Explanation

A very nice description of what wikis are and what they do by Lee Lefever on his Common Craft blog. Not a lot more to say other than succinct!