Archive for the 'communication' Category

Yammer thoughts

August 27, 2010

Peta at Innovate asked me to comment on the “success” of Yammer at MPOW. I read her post last night and couldn’t comment then so I have had some time to think about it.  So naturally my thoughts have expanded to the size of a  post rather than a comment.

Firstly – how do you measure the “success” of something like Yammer in an organization? I am sure the KM people could point me to some resources and there would be usage criteria but we haven’t done the study – as far as I know.

Some stats- at the moment there are 836 members but this is rapidly shifting. The total size of the organization is 6500+ so proportionally there are not so many members.  The first members joined up 15 July 2009. There are currently 11 internal groups and 4 “communities” that allow external collaborators to join.

This is not a library initiative. When I joined, just to see what it was about and after hearing about it on Twitter, I found about 50 people already there.  No part of the organization had “ownership”  until a little while ago. Yammer is free but paying as an organization gives some benefits. For example paying designates an administrator who can then remove individuals when they leave an organization or do some moderation on content.  The cost was going to be prohibitive as it is per person in the organization. When the membership numbers started to grow the benefits of designating an administrator became evident and our “Communications” (marketing and web, social networking etc) people negotiated a better price. The manager of our web team is now the administrator.

As an observer of how people use social networks it has been interesting to watch. There was an influx when the Communications people advertised it as a forum in the weekly email newsletter a few months ago and there is a large influx happening at the moment. I suspect from the messages happening when people join up that the current influx is largely from the way Yammer invites participation and the way that it is presented rather that any deliberate actions. (“what do we do now”, “dunno- I just joined because you invited me”)

As with some other social sites when you sign up you are presented with an “Invite others” option. You need as organization email to join but anyone would know or can easily can look up their colleagues organization email address in our directories. Anyone invited to join or invite others to join any external social site thinks (I hope) twice. But apparently not with Yammer. And less so since paying has enabled the site to be branded as belonging to us.  And as the invitations come from work colleagues. I know that there is not an awareness that Yammer is not actually running on our servers.  There are reminders from time to time from our IT security expert. There were 650 odd pending invitations this morning which went up to 713 after an hour. Then down again slightly as some of those invitations were accepted. It’s going viral.

It’s apparent when the people join with experience on other sites. They start using it in more than just the basic way. For example starting communities or importing RSS feeds.

More stats-the most number of messages by an individual in the main feed is196. There are 26 people with 50+ messages in the main feed and a VERY long tail of those who have joined and never posted. People with the most messages are the early adopters and/or experienced social network participators and are mostly from our “Comms” team again. I was following a few on Twitter before I joined Yammer and have started following a few more since. It is not a small thing to my perception of the success of Yammer that our CEO is among the 26.

Beyond the stats are more of my perceptions. I have said that we are a large organization but we are also very dispersed- across 50 sites and three time zones- 5 in the daylight saving months. We are a research organization with a wide variety of disciplines. Communication between divisions has always been a problem. So when I see research scientists from 3 different sites and two different disciplines jointly discussing a post started by a librarian or a Comms person I count that as a success.

From a library point of view we haven’t had any direction to be involved but we have been encouraged by our team management to be and I see a growing number of us that are. We are using it to post interesting links and incorporating it into our current awareness service delivery but also responding to issues that fall into our area. For example someone complains in a general way about the institutional repository- we can respond- get in touch and hopefully help quickly. Someone recommends a book we can recommend our document delivery service to access it. Conversely if I need to find someone with the right expertise I can ask the “yammersphere” and usually get a quick answer.

There are some Yammer attributes that have helped uptake and success (in my humble opinion).

  • Threaded conversations.
  • email integration- many post from email and get their notifications in a daily digest
  • As stated above- perception as a “safe” network. It has our corporate branding and the email integration.

A final thought. I follow everyone and get my notifications via a Firefox plug in and the iPhone app and there is an one tick box that allows that. For the library purposes above that is necessary. With the current uptake its going to get noisy. I have just started to see some links be repeatedly posted.  It would be interesting to get some stats on actual use. How many have joined but never read any posts for example? Will the noise drive some people away? How many are using the desktop application?


Reflections on #blogeverydayinjune

June 30, 2010

And now we will return you to you regularly scheduled program. Or irregularly unscheduled program.

It has been an interesting challenge and I am a couple of posts shy of actually making it. It did teach me some things about myself and blogging and so I am glad I tried it. I won’t be trying to keep it up. On the other hand I will be trying to keep up the connections that we made.

These are some of the things that I learnt (there aren’t 30):

  1. Posting every day is hard work and time consuming for me. It wasn’t so much that finding the time that was difficult as finding “a” regular time. Mornings are as busy here as in any other house and I like to spend the free morning time catching up on other people’s posts tweets etc. Night times are OK but I am not a night person and tend go to bed early. I am also not as clear thinking after a hard day’s work. I posted a couple of times at lunch but a lunch 1/2 hour wasn’t long enough for a well constructed post.
  2. Inspiration can strike at any time which can make me late for work or late to come home when I stop to post. Or make hubby express frustration that I am blogging AGAIN. I can’t schedule that so I won’t be promising to make a certain number of posts per week.
  3. My first rule of blogging was “have something to say”. Some days I just didn’t.
  4. I read some time ago that the worst thing was a blog full of posts apologizing about a lack of posts. It stops now.
  5. Questions can be interpreted as challenges
  6. Writing knowing that I have an audience changes my perspective.
  7. Coming to know and connect with that audience via their personal blogs, comments and tweets REALLY changes my perspective. I found that I was writing much more like I was telling a story or having a conversation.
  8. We are all complete people and posting everyday can mean having to blur the professional and the personal lines and letting go of self imposed rules.
  9. Following from that it was difficult to start posting personal subjects, which I had to in order to have something to say some days. It felt wrong on this “professional” blog. I somehow reserve that for twitter or facebook in my mind. A big thing that will be occupying my mind in the months coming up will be my kitchen renovation. Do my readers really want to hear the gritty details?? I also wondered all the time whether I was “oversharing”. Strange- it’s not something that I worry about in 140 characters, just long form posts.
  10. Stranger- I didn’t apply that judgment to others and I really valued learning about them via this challenge and felt I knew them better via their “personal” posts.
  11. I kept forgetting the hashtag.
  12. I started with a theme in order to have something to post about. I have posts on that theme still sitting in drafts. But after I did a couple I felt they were much too snarky and negative. It has been a hard month at work and any negativity was bringing me down further. I felt my negativity coming through those posts making them even more snarky in my eyes. So I left most of them in the drafts.
  13. Having a life gives me something to post about. It also give me less time to post.
  14. My post about hubby’s gig was as much an experiment in mobile citizen journalism/life stream recording from my iPhone as a post about our lives.
  15. My current theme (White as Milk) is not good for posts with lots of pictures. I should try another.
  16. I am not a natural writer. Writing for me takes some time to edit and grammar check (thank god for browser spell checkers). Practice hasn’t changed that.
  17. Some topics I thought I may have been repeating from old posts and I had to search to make sure.
  18. Memes make posting easy except when they are topics too revealing. But don’t bring comments.
  19. I also observed and tried a couple of alternative post styles- as though I was seeing if they fitted. But it was like I was using someone else’s voice.
  20. Minor observation. My trained tendency, even after 25 years of knowing differently, is to write in the third person passive. I hope (but I know that they do) that they are not still teaching Science undergrads that. I just had to go over and edit all of this post.
  21. My assumption that I should not do link posts because my audience would have already seen the information that I was linking to was wrong. I shall try more of those.
  22. My most viewed and commented post over the 30 days was the one that got everyone crossposting – about blogging itself. But it started as the sort of post I would have ordinarily have made and a homage to Dorothea. It was just serendipitous that the timing made it relevant to 30+ other people.
  23. Numbers viewing does not correlate to numbers of comments. Except when they do.
  24. There is a hierarchy of validation of blogging for me:
    1. viewers
    2. comments about my ideas- not necessarily on the blog post
    3. my ideas being discussed in another blog
    4. then the highest compliment. When someone takes an idea in one of my posts and it solves a problem for them. And they let me know.
  25. However, validation is nice (OK- it’s lovely) but not why I post. I post to get an idea out of my head and into a form where I can see it and judge it. The act of writing it out make me structure it better.
  26. I was too busy writing and reading to give good comments. I will try to fix that.
  27. I apparently only have mind space for a certain number of posts. My posting on our in-house blog for my colleagues, which is mostly link posts, declined a lot.
  28. From the above – I need to but have yet to find a balance in these things.

Making assumptions

March 21, 2010

I usually discount reports and articles which analyze the differences between generations especially when they relate to technology use and information gathering.  I worry about libraries using such reports to stereotype their users without gathering evidence about how THEIR community really does work. Actually I probably worry more that someone is making assumptions about ME based on age and gender. I bridle at the suggestion that people my age do not use tech and online social networks or I use them less well than my 18 year old daughter.

But today I encountered a generational difference that I wanted to report.

My daughter accidentally wiped her phone including her contacts list. She didn’t have a back up as she uses a non web connected Blackberry phone with a Linux laptop. Backing the phone up is doable but problematic so she hadn’t done it. That is nothing different- we have all been there.

And we all live in dread of doing something similar. I hesitated syncing with Google contacts when they said that the initial sync is one way and will delete the list. Delete my years of data! No way. Not going there. I have my contacts backed up to Outlook on my laptop and the corporate server via Exchange. I compromised with an initial import to Google contacts that I later regretted. Not only have they got out of sync but the implementation of Buzz bought home to me how much I keep my networks separate. The people in my phone list are not the people I regularly email and they are not the people  I connect with on online social networks. There is some overlap. My family and friends that I email or phone are most likely to be on Facebook if anywhere. But my phone list includes businesses that I use. I do not want them on my Facebook list or Buzz. (Sadly my contacts list also includes people I only ever contact by sending a Christmas card to. That needs work but I wouldn’t want to either loose their addresses or have their details in my social network.)

Back to my story. My daughter is attempting to recreate her phone list by creating a Facebook event to bring her plight to her network’s attention. So in her situation the majority of her phone list network IS in her online social network. I rang her to say how novel that was but apparently others in her network have done the same thing.

So there are several elements that I would like to hear back from people:

  • How much does your network segment between different communication tools?
  • How do you backup your phone contact list? How would you need to recreate it if it was lost?
  • Have you any stories that have reaffirmed for you those articles about digital natives doing information gathering differently?


November 27, 2008

I woke this early this morning to the horrible news from Mumbai. I first heard about it – not on the radio- but on my iPhone via Twitter. After all the radio only has scheduled news times. Twitter is instant and constant … and quick.

I had recently started following @BreakingNewsOn who were covering it but also there were also several people in my stream retweeting people who were in Mumbai. There was one person @Vinu who was in the immediate area who twittered his experiences AND very quickly uploaded his disturbing photos to Flickr . Someone else pitched in and bought him a Flickr Pro account just as he was about to run out of space. 

Also, very quickly, everyone Twittering about it started tagging their tweets #Mumbai. Anyone can use that tag to see a constantly updating stream of the news via search.twitter.

And here I am (very quickly) blogging my impressions, not of the event itself, but of the impact of social networking and social media on the way I recieved the news. 

It’s just another reinforcement of Mark Pesce’s notions of hyperconnectivity, he wrote of after the China earthquake in May. I am wondering whether its more mainstream (after all CNN rang Vinu) or am I just more used to it?

PS Twitter is really becoming mainstream now that the likes of Malcom Turnball, Kevin Rudd, Richard Branson and Telstra (or their PR staff) are all using it, some more effectively than others.

On play and dithering perfectionism

November 19, 2008

Jessamyn used the term “dithering perfectionists” on Twitter last night in reference to a library she was in. It resonated strongly with me this morning probably as I have spent the week trying to convince colleagues that they are allowed (nay – required) to play with our WordPressMU installation

I think that it is dithering perfectionism that we are trying to get away from in our 23 things explorations and the “library2.0” movement. As librarians attention to detail and perfectionism are highly regarded traits. But perfectionism that stops us from exploring and trying new things out is hand in hand with fear of failure, leads to dithering perfectionism and hinders innovation and growth.

In Helene’s 23 things programs the trait that is desired is playfulness. A desire to try and tinker and learn from mistakes and not worry about getting things right or perfect.

We all know rationally that without the possibility of failure there will be no innovation. And I am certainly not the first one to point this out in the biblioblogosphere recently. The trouble is knowing it rationally does not overcome our inate dithering perfectionism. We need to practice our play regularly.

Facebook v MSM.

September 16, 2008

We all know that local mainstream media (MSM) filters the news. There is that old adage that a fire down the street is worth more airtime than the 1000s killed yesterday in the Sudan. But if you try and keep up with all the news everywhere then you can feel overwhelmed. You can set up alerts in Google news but they will be restricted to whatever your interests happen to be at the time.

If there are events happening in the world that we ought to be aware of how do you find out?

I have presented before about the value of online social networks in keeping me aware of the latest news in my web, library and online interests.

Today Facebook came to the rescue in keeping me a bit more aware of a human tradegy happening. My cousin worked for the UN and is connected to me on Facebook. Yesterday my cousin commented on this photo and that comment was on my Facebook newsfeed. It has not been made private so I hope very much that the poster does not mind if I post the link here. I then had to go a seek out the news of what was happening in that part of the world.

I am not sure a what I can do but I am using my meager part of hyperconnectivity to respread this bit of news just to remind us that there are others things happening in the world besides the US election and the release of a new browser. 

Facebook won this round.

Iphone blogging

September 14, 2008

This is a test but it is mind blowing if it works. I am posting this from my phone. Imagine if you will the consequenses when (not if) this becomes mainstream.

The photo is my hubby practising.

[EDIT] There was no edit option so I have hopped back on the lappy to expand. The photo was also taken with my phone. The whole post took a matter of a few minutes to write, take the picture and load. The consequences that immediately come to mind are for journalism. When a good proportion of the populace have a blog and a web and camera enabled phone any event can be immediatley recorded and published. Actually I wouldn’t need a blog. I could just have easily posted something with a photo to Facebook or Twitter with better effect as more people read my streams there.

Sharing links

June 24, 2008

Because I am a librarian and sharing information is what we just do I wanted to start a list of tools that help the easy sharing of links and clips with colleagues and clients. So here it is. The trouble is that I have been working on this for days and I keep finding ones that I didn’t know about and new ones keep getting released. I was going to expand it out into the features, pros and cons of each etc but it is a much bigger project than one blog post. Maybe I should start a wiki for it but maybe it already exists??

I have broken the list below up by the source of the original information.  The first list is just the ones that I have tried.

From Browser ie Web Page/Link

From RSS Reader- sharing a post or link

  • Feeddemon
    • send to
      • email
      • delicious
      • digg
      • blog
    • clip to clippings folder then share via RSS
  • Google Reader
    • star
    • share
    • share with note
    • email
    • tag to a public folder

Sharing journal articles

  • Connotea
  • CiteULike

John over at Library Clips has had a series of posts about many more sharing tools that he has tried:

These are others I have found (some in the last day or two) but have yet to try:
Mister Wong
Awesome Highlighter

If I do expand this out to a wiki I want to limit it to the type of sharing that can be directed to people of groups of people so I didn’t want to include social news aggregation sites like Digg, Mixx, Newsvine or reddit. Or personal clippings and links management tools that don’t have sharing features or at least an RSS feed.

What is your favourite tool at the moment? Opinions, additions ….help??? – not so great for conversation

June 18, 2008

I have been a Twitter addict for about 14 months now and have been playing (lemming like) with other microblogging tools as they have come along been bought to my attention via Twitter.

Plurk was launched recently a few of my Twitter friends went over there so I went too- just to have a look at the shiny new toy.

The trouble was that not everyone did. While Twitter has had problems recently no-one quite wants to abandon it completely. These social network sites are all about the community. If your friends are not there they do not have much value. So the issue becomes how to keep up with those on Plurk and Twitter at the same time.

Plurk is great for conversations but at the moment it has no integration with other sites as Twitter does. It is not yet supported by Friendfeed and I couldn’t get Feeddemon to see the RSS feed – but that could be because I have a private feed. is designed for those, like me, wanting sometimes to update their status on several sites at once eg Plurk, Twitter, Facebook. It offered a iGoogle gadget from their site so I added it to my iGoogle page and had a very convenient place to post status updates. I shut down Twitter etc when I don’t want distractions but I always have my homepage open.

Trouble happens when someone responds to the status change i.e. wants to start a conversation. Great but if you havent got the site open in your browser or desktop client (like Twirl) you will miss the response and the opportunity to connect. If you had those sites open you wouldn’t need in the first place. It all depends on how and why you are using these types of sites whether you will find useful.

Them and us

June 14, 2008

I had a couple of email conversations on Thursday which lead to a couple of conversations on Twitter about people’s uptake of reading online using an RSS Reader rather than email.

After mulling over it (I need time for reflection – I learnt that at a recent train the trainer training session) yesterday morning I had a realization.

I live in my browser- other people live in their email client. They aren’t wrong just different. but that is where my barrier is in talking to them about some things.

Actually at home I live in my browser. I work I have dual screens. One generally has my email client and the other my browser.  This is because the preferred communication method in my organization is email.

This post took a couple of days to write and in the mean time Richard at Science Library pad says the same thing (only much better).