Saturday, October 30, 2004

Update in Basecamp

Bit of a geeky one this, but I love the [UPDATE] feature that has just been added to basecamp. Essentially you type "[UPDATE]" and your text is replaced by a wee green UPDATE icon. Simple but effective, like the rest of the application.

CRM and call centres

Having once worked in a call centre for a bank during its first e-banking forays (although very much in a "grunt" capacity to rip off the G.I. term), I feel quite sensitised to telephone-based customer contact: for this reason, I was initially delighted today when phoning Dell, I was given the opportunity to opt for a call-back (while retaining my place in the queue) instead of just holding. This reminded me of BA's callback confirmation for ticket amendments that they ran around 2000/2001 (haven't bothered to check if they still do).

Anyway, I said initially delighted, as Dell have yet to call me back, about 5 hours later for an estimated 5 minute queue. Obviously, I should have held on - my first two attempts to ring back were cut off, then I hit another queue. I'm not saying Dell have missed the opportunity of a purchase, but I can't say I'm impressed at the performance of functionality which gave me the initial "great" factor. I'm assuming it's just a glitch, but I might give it another go and see if it works...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Time Management Again

One thing I have worked out about my failures in time management is the work/home/not at work/not at home series of divides. I try to use a Palm Zire, a Nokia phone, Outlook (home and work) and scribbled lists in pads/calendars/diaries and on bits of paper to keep track of everything, but I cannot use anyone of these except the last to keep all my diary and task information together. I often wish that I could have one to-do list/diary that I could access and update from anywhere - pen and paper wouldn't work, I'd never manage it, and I wouldn't get nice ringing/vibrating reminders for things I had forgotten!

UPDATE - 30/10/2004

Funnily enough, here's John Udell chatting about much the same thing!


Via Lilia Efimova, this quote from Ross Mayfield:

"Where the bottom-up and top-down meet -- middlespace -- is the realm of policy, metrics, incentives, cooperation and sharing control."

I like this term, it's a nice way of looking at the messy area that is all about stimulating interactions (be they collaboration, co-operation or communication), but also about the governance and control issues that go with them. Having spent a portion of today writing a set of Terms & conditions for our intranet bulletin board system, I've had fun with just what messy territory it can be. Having checked with Legal and Information Security teams, I'm looking to engage what I call "controlled freedom" (oxymoronic, eh?) - which I now realise is middlespace, the hinterland (or is that tweenerland?) in between allowing more direct communication in the enterprise (making sure that initial enthusiasm is retained), and ensuring that this stays within boundaries acceptable to the enterprise itself...oh, and of course, delivers benefits to the enterprise, its formal departments and groups, the individual worker and any Communities of Practice. It's actually a neat representation of the conundrum posed by Jesse James Garrett's Venn diagram of Content, Context, Users (which I thought was in "The Elements of User Experience" but which appears not to be on a quick flick-through) - how do you satisfy this middlespace of competing needs, how do you hit the sweetspot?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Intranet Benchmarking Forum Live

Intranet Benchmarking Forum Live was a great success - and I'll try and put up some relevant notes and links over the next few days. Highlights for me included another excellent presentation from Adam Joinson of the Open University on online behaviours, an insight into tasks on the BBC intranet (they have a nice attitude toward user-centered design), and chats with some of the guys from search vendors, Endeca, Kevin Keohane of the IBF as usual and Dr Liz Daniels of Cranfield University's Information Systems department - and my presentation on intranets and crisis communications seemed to go down reasonably well... (I hope!).

Some of the other attendees were particularly taken with Gerry McGovern's presentations - personally, I felt that he was preaching to the converted (but that might be because I used to be an editor, and have read his book, Content Critical - but at the very least he was entertaining.

Perhaps the best thing about the day, however, was that the stated aim of being a more interactive conference pretty much succeeded - although as the day was very packed, everyone looked fairly bushed at the end. Personally, I felt that the table-topping exercise I ran at the end of my presentation (ably facilitated by Bridget Peake) ended up being more useful to attendees than my presentation itself. I was also happy to coin a catchphrase during Plumtree's portal presentation - "Take care, low-hanging fruit can sometimes be rotten" (surprisingly Gerry also made use of a rotten fruit metaphor in his presentation, but was referring to out-of-date content).

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Slippery Words

I love the slippery nature of language - particularly what I like to call semantic wobbles (although I'm sure there's a technical linguistic term for them) where not enough attention has been paid to the rules of language, and a phrase "wobbles" away from its intended meaning. Take this example from my workplace, for instance:

"Soap Machine
Sometimes Jams
Press repeatedly"

Because the phrase misses out the definite article, and takes on a telegraphic style, I now think that our dispenser may occasionally bring forth a raspberry preserve or plum compote if I "press repeatedly". Pedantic I know, but it made me chuckle.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Relevanta - online reputation

I was meithering quite a few months ago for a while about online reputation particularly insofar as it could be leveraged to deliver either "personalised" results or results where it was easier to evaluate the relevance of results returned on a search query. With this in mind, I am intrigued by Relevanta - which I came across via the Social Software Weblog. At the moment, you can sign up and then post comments and ratings to a political area, thus building (I assume) both the content authors reputation, and your own reputation as reviewer and commenter using their experience system. I've not yet entirely grasped how best to use this, but it seems like an interesting implementation of some of the areas I was looking at in particular. Take a look, it could at least be fun...

JotSpot - interesting looking wiki

In looking at various online authoring tools along the stasis-flow line, I've just come across the interesting-looking Jotspot (via Jon Udell). It's a WYSIWYG interfaced wiki tool with additional application-type add-ons. Worth further investigation...there's a beta sign-on available if anyone is interested.

Information Foraging

I haven't seen anything on this for a while, but here's a good introduction to Information Foraging at InfoVis by Juan C. Dürsteler. I always think that the sorts of Web tools that add "good scent" are breadcrumb trails, faceted categories for search showing the number of results under each facet, recommendation metadata and search categories - including best bets.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Time Management

I have been really under the cosh over the past few weeks (nay, months) both in personal and professional terms (in fact, my blog reflects this with a dip in postings). What I'd really love to know is:

When you really have too much on your plate, how do you decide which important items may actually have to be dropped?

One of these days, I am sure I am going to get this sussed, but if anyone has any thoughts, let me know...