Social Media: It’s not the Wild West after all!

If there is one good thing to come out of the Newsnight fiasco, which resulted in the irresponsible and inaccurate smearing of Lord McAlpine on social networks, it’s the challenge to the long-held assumption that Tweeting or blogging defamatory or libellous material cannot be policed, and that those who propagate and repeat such mis-information cannot be held to account. As Lord McAlpine’s lawyers progress their legal case against the BBC and those considered to have been responsible for incorrectly identifying him on social networks, it may cause quite a few people to reflect on their behaviour. This is the moment when it can be clearly shown and understood that people cannot be libelled or harassed with impunity just because the defamation is published online and by individuals rather than on paper or by large organisations. The idea that the world wide web is the Wild West and immune from the law is – at long last – being seriouslsy challenged.

 I think Sally Bercow should be particularly worried, since her tweet on 4th November: “Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *Innocent face*” was deliberately meant to start a feeding frenzy, which it did. I hope she’s got some good legal insurance (actually, on reflection, I hope she hasn’t!).

What many people seem to forget is that having a social media account, e.g. on Facebook or Twitter brings with it a certain responsibility. After all, these social networks bring incredible reach and potential access to an audience of billions. Other than age restrictions imposed by some vendors, you don’t need any special skills, no training, no licence and you don’t have to demonstrate any competence before you can establish an account and begin pumping out your message to the world. This is all well and good, and reinforces the democratisation of voice and freedom of speech. But this doesn’t mean you can say (write) anything you want. Yes, there will always be trolls, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept them or to not pursue them through the courts if they harass, incite hatred or libel people. A few short sharp shocks, as is promised in the pending legal action brought by Lord McAlpine, will perhaps remind social media users that they have moral and legal obligations and cannot sit behind a computer screen detached and immune from the consequences of their actions.

Think twice before you post that blog, or tweet/re-tweet that message! Do you trust your sources?

Mona Lisa

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Where Next For Social Media

Technology is no longer something to be feared or avoided – it’s part and parcel of how we live our lives in the 21st century, and it provides us with unprecedented opportunities to understand the world in which we live, and to tap into the collective wisdom of our fellow human beings. It’s good to be alive!

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A session I recently presented for the London Information and Knowledge Exchange (LIKE) Conference.

A look at some of the current and emerging trends around social media, social networks and collaborative technology. We’ve transitioned from the industrial paradigms of the 20th century to a new age full of opportunities for shared knowledge and learning. But it’s an increasingly complex world and we need to be able to adapt and change if we are to make the most of our opportunities. Technology is no longer something to be feared or avoided – it’s part and parcel of how we live our lives in the 21st century, and it provides us with unprecedented opportunities to understand the world in which we live, and to tap into the collective wisdom of our fellow human beings. It’s good to be alive!

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The Search For Intelligence (and filtering out stupidity)

This week’s launch of Twitter’s Tailored Trends, Facebook’s App Center, and Airtime’s safety net is part of the growing recognition that a (very high) percentage of content on the interweb is unaldulterated rubbish with a layer of drivel on top.  Most serious users are finding it increasingly difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. The search for RELEVANCE is starting to become an onerous and time-consuming activity.

Twitter Tailored Trends

Whether or not the solutions provided by Twitter, Facebook and Airtime will be effective in channeling and filtering the information according to personal profiles and preferences remains to be seen. But there is a clear demand for this type of service, as we’re seeing from startups/Betas such as Bottlenose, Twylah, Prismatic, Zite etc, which enable users to tune into the streams, topics and authors that interest them. I’m also assuming that the Twitter tailored trends facility has borrowed heavily from their investment in Summify, a service which I have used and found to be quite useful.

As Josh Constine rightly points out on Techcrunch, the big risk of insisting on relevance and safety is that we create a filter bubble where we become isolated from those different from ourselves. Facebook and Twitter need to be especially careful that they don’t completely hide critical Trending Topics or novel apps just because they’re not popular in closed little networks.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone willing to share their experience of using aggregation, filtering, trending or content personalisation services. What works and what doesn’t?

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Overcoming Barriers to Workplace Collaboration

Organisations rely on collaboration in order to be successful. Imagine your workplace without any knowledge-sharing or team working. What would happen? Probably very little, as most people rely on collaboration with others in order to be able to do their jobs. If every member of your team attempted to work without drawing on the knowledge of others, they would find themselves unable to do anything pretty quickly. Despite this heavy reliance on collaboration, many people find it difficult, and do it only reluctantly and sometimes ineffectively. How can workplace leaders help their teams to collaborate better?

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Collaboration

Organisations rely on collaboration in order to be successful. Imagine your workplace without any knowledge-sharing or team working. What would happen? Probably very little, as most people rely on collaboration with others in order to be able to do their jobs. If every member of your team attempted to work without drawing on the knowledge of others, they would find themselves unable to do anything pretty quickly. Despite this heavy reliance on collaboration, many people find it difficult, and do it only reluctantly and sometimes ineffectively. How can workplace leaders help their teams to collaborate better?

Why People Don’t Collaborate

We live in a very individualist culture. Throughout our lives, we are encouraged to work towards personal goals, and to put our own needs before those of our community. It is therefore not surprising that many workplaces also encourage individualism. When we plan our careers, we do so as individuals. When we take a job, we are given a job description with a list of tasks that are assigned to us alone. Many job descriptions do include something on them about teamwork and collaboration, but it often usually couched in general terms and found towards the bottom of the list.

Individualism can be a very positive thing. It can help people achieve, particularly in jobs that are relatively solitary. For individualism to be positive, though, it needs to be supported by a culture of collaboration. This may seem more relevant in some businesses than others. Take a courier company like ParcelForce, for example. They rely heavily on collaborative working at each of the stages it takes to get a parcel from the Post Office, to depot, to delivery van, to the recipient. There is a long chain in which the success of each stage depends on the success of the previous stage. In another company, workers’ tasks might be much more discrete: take a proofreading business, for example: each worker has assigned tasks that they do alone, without the help of others.

Those who work in businesses that do not rely obviously on collaboration sometimes fail to recognise its value. Competitive workplace cultures can discourage collaboration, as team members are worried that it will mean their efforts are not recognised. Where team members lack trust in each other, collaboration suffers. People often feel they lack the time to collaborate, that it is just ‘one more thing’ on their to-do list. Workplace leaders sometimes fail to collaborate themselves, and so they fail to encourage a collaboration culture.

Encouraging Collaboration

Competition and lack of shared goals are barriers to collaboration. Mutual trust and shared goals help encourage it. Research shows that collaboration and co-operation in the workplace helps strengthen the business. It encourages innovation and helps the business meet its goals. Collaboration isn’t just a nice thing to do: it helps keep a business in profit. Sharing knowledge and ideas helps individuals to work better and more successfully. A collaborative workplace is greater than the sum of its parts.

Getting people to trust and believe in each other requires a change in culture. Easy to say, not so easy to do. Things like workplace social events and awaydays can help, but they need to be backed up by something more tangible. Use of social media in the workplace can be a great way to encourage collaboration. Because it works from the bottom up, rather than being imposed from the top down, social media helps create a shared body of knowledge that is open to all and that everyone can feel comfortable using. It helps encourage trust and understanding, as everyone can see the contributions made by everyone else. Rather than asking one individual to help with a question or task, a team member can log on to social media and get advice and help from various people, many of whom they might not have considered contacting. It can help encourage collaboration between seemingly unconnected areas of the business: improvements in the accounts system inspire project managers across the organisation, for example.

Leaders need to lead by example and work to encourage and reward collaboration across their organisations. Rather than only valuing individual achievement, team and organisational achievement should be valued. Some people will always feel more comfortable collaborating than others (either because of their personality or the nature of their job), but using social media or other media to demonstrate business benefits and show leadership can help encourage everyone to collaborate better.

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Engaging the Social Web for Personal Knowledge Management (PKM)

The Social Web for Personal Knowledge Management. A one-day training course that provides a practical and detailed introduction to social media and social/professional networks that will enable delegates to achieve a greater understanding of their context for use and deployment within their organisation and for personal and professional development.

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Personal Knowledge Management

I’ve recently re-vamped the social media/social networks training that I do on behalf of TFPL. The training has always been about using the social web for personal and professional development, (and anyone outside of marketing and comms may argue that this is what it’s really for!) but I wanted to re-emphasise the value for those interested in Personal Knowledge Management (PKM).

Details of the course are on the TFPL website (link above), but replicated here:

Introduction:

There is a desire to develop more effective knowledge sharing and a culture of collaboration in most organisations, but little recognition of what this means in terms of staff development and overcoming barriers to change. The enormous growth of social media tools and social/professional networks over the past few years has created new opportunities and new challenges for people and organisations that want to embrace this dynamic world of social interaction and fluid knowledge flows. However, It is not widely recognised that collaboration and knowledge sharing are skills and practices that rarely get taught. It’s something we may learn on the job in a hit or miss fashion. Some people are natural at it. Others struggle to understand it.

This one-day course provides a practical and detailed introduction to social media and social/professional networks that will enable delegates to have a greater understanding of their context for use and deployment within their organisation and for personal and professional development.

Outcomes:

  • An understanding of social media tools and social networks, and their context for engagement and knowledge sharing
  • An understanding of the three-step process to personal knowledge management: seeking; sense-making; sharing *
  • Developing an approach to more effective management of information ? avoiding information overload.
  • Using free web tools for discovery, research and engagement.
  • Knowing how to overcome the barriers to knowledge sharing and build a trusted network.

Programme:

  • Overview of the social web
  • Creating and maintaining your personal profile
  • Seeking, listening and observing: an introduction to social bookmarking, aggregators and tracking tools.
  • Sense-making: an introduction to blogs & blogging, wikis, Twitter, Yammer, Facebook, Google+
  • Social capital, trust and reputation.
  • Sharing and participating: an introduction to social networks and Communities of Practice for personal and professional development.
  • Creating and personalising your KM routines and digital environment for enhanced learning and professional development
  • Practical exercises and examples of the Social Web in action

Teaching style:

Highly interactive workshop and lecture

Who should attend?

Those who wish to understand and engage with the Social Web as an environment for personal learning, professional development and effective collaboration.

I should add that apart from the scheduled events organised by TFPL (next training event is on 2nd October 2012), I can schedule and run the training to meet specific needs of people and organisations, using the organisation’s in-house facilities or an external training venue. Just let me know your requirements and I’ll provide a quote.

These training courses tend to fill up quite quickly, so get on your computer and book now if you’re interested!

* The “Seeking, Sense-making, Sharing model is based on the work of Harold Jarche.

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Future Trends in Social Media & Social Networks

The ubiquitous Social Web. At look at the key trends and statistics for social media tools and networks and what it means for us mortals.

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I recently co-presented a session for NetIKX on “future trends in social media & social networks” with Geoffrey Mccaleb, with a solo follow-up Webinar for the Knowledge and Innovation Network (KIN). The content for this presentation was gleaned and curated from numerous sources, including books, white papers, vendor websites, industry reports and numerous blogs. In other words, not an insignificant research project in its own right.  I only mention this to illustrate one point – whether or not you agree with the content of the presentation, the data and trends described have – where possible – been validated against at least three different sources, and have not been artificially manipulated or otherwise obscured by personal opinion. Facts (if they are facts) on numbers of users for each social network are based on data made public by the vendors themselves, and oft-repeated by the industry press. It’s difficult to challenge this data where there is no independent reference source.

The Slides

The slides are available on Slideshare and embedded at the end of this blog. The following points provide some additional context to each slide.

  1.  Cover slide – The Future
  2. Wordle picture of the overall content.
  3. Let’s start with some statistics
  4. Big numbers with a common trend – they’re all getting bigger! Two thirds of the world’s population visits a social network at least once a month.  Facebook has 800 million users and is projected to reach 1 billion users by the end of 2012.  With the rollout of its Timeline feature, and the development of apps that integrate with it, Facebook’s strategic focus is now to encourage users to spend more time on the site, sharing more information with their social contacts. Data mainly sourced from  http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/01/17/internet-2011-in-numbers/
  5. At present, Google+ reaches 90 million global visitors, accounting for 5 percent of the global social networking audience. While this early adoption bodes well for Google+, whether or not the network can sustain this growth and a strong level of engagement among users will be better indicators of its success in the future. Google+ might emerge as a social networking leader in its own right in the years to come, but exactly how big it will be remains to be seen. Twitter reports 225 million accounts (note that an “account” might not be a physical person; bots make up some of this number). LinkedIn reports 132 million users (mainly B2B). Data sourced from Comscore , CNN and phill.co . There’s some interesting commentary about the accuracy of Google’s data at Venturebeat.
  6. With more than 800 million users, Facebook is running into a nice problem to have: There are only so many more people to add. While the site will continue to grow in emerging markets that are only now getting online, Mark Zuckerberg has shifted the conversation to sharing and engagement, arguing that sharing on Facebook grows exponentially and that users will double the amount they share each year. That sharing is driving users to spend more time on site — the average Facebook user now spends nearly 7.5 hours on the site each month, up from 4.5  hours just two years ago. With the arrival of Timeline, increased focus on media and entertainment consumption, and continued growth in social games, engagement will surge even further in 2012. Also see: “Facebook adds Pinterest + 59 new apps
  7. New models for engagement. Based on an original ideas by Dion HinchcliffeAmbient communication – Today, everyone can talk to anyone, just about anywhere for nearly (thought not at) at zero cost. Global information flows – The largest, fastest growing, and most freely flowing source of information available is the Internet. This trend will only continue into the future as all information platforms move online. Social computing – Social models for communication, collaboration, and business are proving to be more effective and fundamentally better than non-social ones. Market discontinuity – There is both space and demand for major changes in the way we do things in business today.
  8. Nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online is now spent on social networking sites – a stark contrast from when the category accounted for only 6 percent of time spent online in March 2007. Time spent on social networking sites gained ground during this time by taking share predominantly from web-based email and instant messengers, reflecting its emergence as another primary communication channel for users. Ornoklassniki is a Russian Social Networking website. Sina Weibo is a Chinese site. Data sourced from Comscore.
  9. While sites like Digg and Reddit have been around for years, a new crop of sites like Polyvore, Svpply and, most notably, Pinterest are allowing people to organize their favourite discoveries from around the web into themed collections that friends and contacts can follow. Pinterest has seen phenomenal growth over past 12 months, proving that social media continues to evolve, bringing new opportunities for multimedia social platforms. It appears that sites that offer new and personalised user experiences can have a major influence on social sharing and internet traffic. There’s a very useful introduction to Pinterest in this Slideshare presentation from the US Army (yes, surprising who’s using this stuff!).
  10. Content curation is the organising, filtering and “making sense of” information on the web and sharing the very best with your network. Examples include paper.li, scoop.it, Flipboard and Storify. If you want to get further information about content curation, read this article by Robin Good – What Makes A Great Curator Great
  11. Collaborative Consumption describes the rapid explosion in swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting being reinvented through the latest technologies and peer-to-peer marketplaces in ways and on a scale never possible before. Examples given included Barclays Bikes, Zipcar, Airbnb and TaskRabbit – but there are many hundreds of other P2P services out there, and growing exponentially. Incidentally, the most requested task on TaskRabbit is for assembling IKEA furniture, so if you’re an expert on that, go earn yourslef some money! Specifically, much of the material originates from the book “What’s Mine Is Yours” by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. Reputational Capital (i.e. who can we trust) will be increasingly important the more that we use the internet for transactional services.
  12. Big Data – ok, not specific to social media or social networks, but big enough to impact both.
  13. Big data are datasets that grow so large that they become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools. Difficulties include capture, storage, search, sharing, analytics ,and visualising. This trend continues because of the benefits of working with larger and larger datasets allowing analysts to spot business trends, prevent diseases and combat crime. Though a moving target, current limits are on the order of terabytes, exabytes and zettabytes of data.Scientists regularly encounter this problem in meteorology, genomics, connectomics, complex physics simulations,  biological research, Internet search, finance and business informatics. Data sets also grow in size because they are increasingly being gathered by ubiquitous information-sensing mobile devices, “software logs, cameras, microphones, RFID readers, wireless sensor networks and so on. One current feature of big data is the difficulty working with it using relational databases and desktop statistics/visualization packages, requiring instead “massively parallel software running on tens, hundreds, or even thousands of servers.”The size of “Big data” varies depending on the capabilities of the organisation managing the set. “For some organizations, facing hundreds of gigabytes of data for the first time may trigger a need to reconsider data management options. For others, it may take tens or hundreds of terabytes before data size becomes a significant consideration.” NB. Bus stop photo:  Bus users in Blackburn can now receive up-to-the minute information on the whereabouts of their buses following the launch of a pilot project by Blackburn with Darwen Council and bus operator Transdev Lancashire United.
  14. The increasing use of visualisation techniques,  infographics and smart analytics that enable complex data to be presented in new and interesting ways.
  15. Some people – wrongly – see gamification simply as the process of adding points, badges or rewards to the learning process and instantly creating engagement, interactivity and motivation for learning. When done correctly, gamification provides an experience that is inherently engaging and, most importantly, promotes learning. The elements of games that make for effective gamification are those of storytelling, which provides a context, challenge, immediate feedback, sense of curiosity, problem-solving, a sense of accomplishment, autonomy and mastery. Examples here include Big Door, Gamify-it, Scvngr and Badgeville.
  16. It would be remiss to say nothing about the trend towards mobile platforms. People are now free from the shackles of the office PC.
  17. We’re now at least 3 years into the next major technology trend – mobile.
  18. Morgan Stanley made the prediction in 2010 that mobile platforms would outstrip sales of traditional desktop systems within 5 years. The enormous success of Apple’s iPhone and iPad may even have accelerated this timescale.
  19. More people own mobile phones than toothbrushes!  There will be 7 billion mobile phones by 2012 – more than the global population. More than 4 billion people around the world now use cell phones, and for 500 million the web is a fully mobile experience.
  20. Apps – not just for gamers any more. Apps offer an entirely new business model. Users are now far more comfortable using apps for solving business problems and organisations are developing apps that are providing a richer experience for users of their on-line services. Also an opportunity to lower transactional costs (e.g. when compared to telephone or F2F support). Users have no particular loyalty to apps, and will discard the ones that no longer serve a useful purpose and download or update the the ones that do.
  21. The traditional vendor software development priorities of designing for the PC with (maybe) the mobile platform in mind are being reversed; any new product or application must work (and be optimised for) mobile platforms, with (maybe) the PC in mind.
  22. The trends reinforce the view that apps are becoming ubiquitous in how we work and play. Users are comfortable with the software distribution and update models offered by app stores.
  23. Location-based services (LBS). Product and service providers are realising the value and potential to make information services highly personalised. One of the best ways to personalise information services is to enable them to be location based. An example would be someone using their smart phone or tablet to search for a restaurant. The LBS application would interact with other location technology components to determine the user’s location and provide a list of restaurants within a certain proximity to the mobile user. Services such as Foursquare go one step further and link location with your social network, so that you can see if you have any friends within your vicinity. Other examples include using a GPS-equipped smartphone to reveal your location and in return offered special promotions from nearby businesses, or the Easy:park – smartphone app, which enables payment via smartphone and a countdown timer showing how long is left. A future release will find an available parking slot based on your GPS location – a must for the city motorist!
  24. Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. Examples shown here include New York Nearest Places,  Golfranger GPS Rangefinder, Cyclopedia, Panaramascope, Theodolite, Starchart.

Summary

The remaining slides summarise the overall trends:

•Social Media is ubiquitous. More businesses are adding social media links and information to their websites; consumers now look for these links. Visiting a company’s Facebook page or Twitter profile has become as important as reading reviews on the business.
•Facebook will have 1 billion users by end 2012 and will continue to dominate the social network space. More apps and integration with external services will encourage shift from conversations to sharing and engagement = users spend more time on site.
•Rapid growth of companies/services offering new and interesting ways for people to share information (e.g. Tumblr, Pinterest)
•Help with content overload. More apps and services providing knowledge and information curation, aggregation and filtering.
•Apps will inherit the earth! Users more familiar (and trusting) of software distribution channels (app stores). Users happy to discard old/legacy apps and download new ones that meet changing needs and requirements.
•Gami-ificaton techniques will find their way into more social networks and corporate websites in order to engage and retain users/customers.
•Augmented reality apps will offer an awesome user experience. Location-based services will thrive and provide new, more compelling, more efficient services with lower B2C transaction costs. Privacy issues will deter some users.
•More opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs. Peer to peer on the rise; more lending, sharing, bartering and recycling opportunities offered via ‘Collaborative Consumption”.
•We’re going to continue to generate data faster than it can be consumed or understood. Most of it will not be held inside the enterprise. Information visualisation techniques and intelligent analytics will aid user’s interpretation and understanding. Opportunities and challenges for knowledge & information professionals.
•Mobile platforms will soon overtake the desktop PC as the preferred interface to the Internet and www. Software being designed for mobile, with consideration for PC, not the other way around.
The final take-away from this session were the points made by Geof Mccaleb as a challenge for everyone to take back to their respective organisations:
  • Users want their data everywhere – what is your cloud strategy?
  • Users want simple tools and products – what is your app strategy?
  • Users want to see what is relevant to them – what is your graph strategy
  • Users want the same experience regardless of which device they are using – what is your mobile strategy?
  • Users want social experiences – what is your social web strategy?

Bookmarks associated with the presentation can be seen at: http://groups.diigo.com/group/ki-network/content/tag/webinar06jan12

Other blog posts from the session:

I hope this information is of some use – whether you’re dipping your toes into or fully immersed in the Social Web!

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Public bodies struggle to cope with Twitter Volume

Evidence (if any was needed) of how public sector bodies are still struggling to understand what social media is all about. In the ‘follow the herd’ instinct by councils and other public sector bodies to set up Twitter accounts, there’s a dawning realisation that Twitter is not a one-way broadcast channel. It’s clearly come as something as a shock that citizens who follow these tweets may on occasion send a reply, or maybe even use the @xxxxx address as a means of communicating with the faceless entity they know as their ‘local council’.

“We are becoming an arm of our complaints service, but with no budget – and the complaints team itself won’t monitor Twitter,” says one delegate from the Building Perfect Council Websites conference.

Social media needs to be fully integrated with the organisation’s communications strategy, which means ensuring it is properly managed and resourced, and not a bolt-on activity to be managed by a small cohort of social media enthusiasts. Whether it’s a Twitter account or a corporate blog, you have to be prepared and resourced to handle these as two-way communication channels.

If you’re a public sector body and you want a broadcast channel, use your website (preferably with an RSS feed) and leave social media alone. You’ll find life a lot simpler, albeit less rewarding.

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Social by Social Game

I’ve had a few people asking about the Social Media Game that is mentioned in the “Web 2.0 Tools for Facilitating Knowledge Management” training event that I ran earlier this week. The game was originally developed by Beth Kanter, David Wilcox and Drew Mackie, and has undergone a number of iterations and refinements, resulting in the “Social by Social Game“, which is the version I use for these training events.

The Facilitator’s notes for running the game can be found on the Social by Social website, reproduced below with a few modifications for the way that I run it.

You can play the Social by Social game in two ways – as a simulation around a situation that you invent, or “for real” in relation to a place or an organisation

In each case the sequence is much the same:

Delegates are asked to describe or invent a situation (a problem, or project)  that they are facing. I try to encourage delegates to think about a real work-related situation as opposed to inventing something, otherwise later stages of the game can become a little abstract if there isn’t a real-world context. This then is the scenario.

Delegates are split into groups of not more than eight people, around a theme or set of issues. Then each group:-

  1. Defines what they are trying to achieve:  the goals.
  2. Identifies the people they wish to engage, choosing methods from a set of cards. Cards have budget points as costs – so you have to prioritise.
  3. Think about the communication and engagement methods that are needed to achieve the goals, and choose the social media tools or other activities from another set of cards.
  4. Review the plan that is being developed and think about the resources that will be needed, and the roles to carry it out.
  5. Choose a number of the characters who figure in the scenario, and tell the stories of what happens to them over some months, or longer.
  6. If there is time, the Facilitator can throw in crises and opportunities for the groups to consider – e.g. key resources being pulled from the project, or funding being reduced.

Numbers

You can play with any number from a few people upwards. Ideally you need two groups, so six is a realistic minimum to get useful discussion. If you have large numbers you just split into lots of groups. The effective limit is set by the time it takes for groups to report back – but there are ways around that: see below.

Facilitators

One or two people, respected by participants, should act as facilator(s). They should ensure that participants are briefed; organise the room; manage the flow of the game without being directive; and make sure that any report back and final discussion relates to the purpose of the exercise. They should check that people are clear about the purpose of the workshop, and help them reach useful conclusions.

Equipment

You will need flip chart paper, preferably on easels, marker pens, one set of cards (engagement, tools, resources, roles), blu-tack, post-it notes. If you want a record, you’ll need a camera for photos and maybe video.

Establishing goals

Give groups a planning sheet, and ask each group to write into the top left quadrant their goals – what they are trying to achieve in the situation they are addressing.

  • Identify who you wish to engage
  • Ask groups to think about the different interests they need to engage with, and make a note of those in the top right quadrant.

Using the cards

Offer the groups the cards that they will use to plan their engagement, and then to develop their plan using the different tools and activities. I split the cards into the various categories and issue them in the following order as the group’s plans develop:

  • tools and methods (yellow marking)
  • engagement  activities (green marking)
  • roles and resources

Each card has a “budget” of effort/cost – 1, 2 or 3. Set budgets so groups can’t choose all the cards: say, 10 for engagement, 15 for tools. Ask groups to stick engagement cards top right, tools bottom right … adding their own ideas on blank cards or post-its, and amending cards if necessary. They are really just aids to conversation … so encourage as much discussion as possible, not just a mechanical exercise of playing the numbers.

After groups have chosen engagement and tools cards, ask them to consider what resources they will need, and what roles.

Reporting back

At this point, invite groups to report back. That could be to the room as a whole or just to the group that provided the challenge, if that’s the way things were set up.

By posting the flip chart sheet to a wall, then inviting people to wander round and review. That’s a good way of doing things if you have a lot groups, and limited time.

Variations of the game

  1. A slight variation of the game is that after the scenario and goals have been defined, the “challenge” is swapped with another group, i.e. the other group are now acting as consultants to the first group in delivering a solution that meets their goals, and vice versa. This can lead to some interesting dynamics and forces each group to think about how they present their recommendations to their “customer’ group.
  2. The Facilitator can introduce Resource cards where delegates need to consider how the project will be funded and maintained.

I’ve attached  copies of PDF’s containing all the material for running this game, that is:

I’d be interested in getting feedback from anyone who has facilitated or took part in this game and whether it achieved the objective of thinking first about the problem and then what tools are required, and not (as so often happens) to implement the tools before really understanding what problem they are meant to fix. I’d also be interested to hear about any other variations of the game that people have developed.

Below is a photo I took of the output from the game from the “Web 2.0 Tools for Facilitating Knowledge Management” training event.

SxS game

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The Impact Of The Social Web In 21st Century Organisations

The following was published in the Guardian IT Supplement on Thursday 26th November. It was produced as a leader article for the Online Information Conference 2009.

We are witnessing an extraordinary growth in user-generated content, whether it is conversations on social networks such as MySpace, Bebo or Facebook, or photos and videos uploaded to websites such as YouTube and Flickr, or comments and opinions published in the ‘blogosphere’ or ‘twitterverse’.  It has never been easier to get ‘digitally connected’, where more often than not the only technology required is a mobile phone.

What some commentators initially referred to as a trend is now being seen more as a revolution, with a potential impact as great as that seen in the 16th century, where the introduction of the printing press made mass production of books possible and created the environment for better educated societies.

The phenomenon has been variously labelled as Web 2.0, or social computing, but the term ‘social web’ is a more accurate description since it invokes the concept of people and relationships that that are supported and enabled by technology.  Perhaps the best description for the social web is that it is the democratisation of voice, conversation and opinion. It is no longer necessary to be elite or famous, or have a newspaper, TV or production company behind you in order to be heard. The cost of participation is trivial, where almost anyone can blog, or upload their clip to YouTube, or their photos to Flickr.

But what does all this mean for 21st century organisations? Opinion remains split between two camps; those who see the social web as something to be embraced and incorporated into how their business is developed, and those who consider it as irrelevant or hostile to their business, or a time wasting activity for their staff.

In the ‘pro’ camp are those organisations that are aware that their products and services are being discussed by their users and customers, and have realised that this can be a rich source of intelligence and research. Participating in these conversations provides a potential business advantage if they can respond to, adapt and deliver on user requirements ahead of their competitors. EBay and Amazon are two of the more well know organisations that have embraced this way of working, where the social web is providing thousands of touch points with their customers, replacing the more traditional single-channel CRM model.

An example from the public sector is Patient Opinion, which encourages hospital patients to comment on their experience in their local hospital. These comments are then collated, categorised and aggregated before being automatically directed to the relevant manager in the NHS. Though each comment may focus on some micro aspect of the service – e.g. “The ward orderlies never knocked”, or “The consultant never once washed his hands”; collectively they have the same power as a highly organised lobbying group for influencing policy change and improvement.

The ‘con’ camp is more likely to comprise of those organisations that are conservative in their outlook, and hence more risk averse. However, the new risk is in not being able to adapt to an increasingly volatile environment. The social web is an agitating presence that can create rapid change in user requirements and erosion of brand loyalty.

Organisations that remain oblivious to the social web also remain oblivious to what their customers are saying, with the consequence that their products and services become irrelevant. Successful 21st century organisations will be fully tuned into the social web; they will have a better understanding of their customers’ needs and concerns, which will drive innovation, improvement and efficiency.

What is certain is that everything remains uncertain; that the ability to adapt and change are prerequisites for survival, and that the social web can no longer be ignored – by anyone!

Guardian IT Supplement (PDF)

Guardian printpress

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Top 100 Social Media Tools

Social NetworkNot sure if this is something to be proud of, or ashamed about, but I’m using (or have used) about 70% of the applications in the list. The encouraging thing is to note how many of these applications are free to use. Others might have applicable promo code discounts.

The list has been compiled from a cohort of learning professionals who shared their Top 10 Tools for Learning both for their own personal learning/productivity and for creating learning solutions for others.

If you want to influence the list and rankings, then head off to the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies.

TOP 10

Key to availability: D=download; H=hosted; C=insert code onto page

Ranking

Tool

Votes

Description

Cost

Avail

2008

2007

1

2

del.icio.us

58

del.icio.us
Social bookmarking tool

Free

H

2

1

Firefox

50.5

Firefox
Web browser

Free

D

3

3=

Skype

43.5

Skype
Instant messaging, VoIP tool

Free

D

4

7=

Google Reader

42

Google Reader
RSS/Feed reader

Free

H

5

3=

Google Search

38.5

Google Search
Web search tool

Free

H

6

6

WordPress

35

WordPress
Blogging tool

Free

H/D

7

5

PowerPoint

32.5

PowerPoint
Presentation software

£

D

8

14

Google Docs

29

Google Docs
Web-based documents

Free

H

9

11

Audacity

28

Audacity
Sound editor and recorder

Free

D

10

7=

Gmail

27

GMail
Web-based email

Free

H

TOP 11-20

Ranking

Tool

Votes

Description

Cost

Avail

2008

2007

11

26=

Wikipedia

26.5

Wikipedia
Online encylopedia

Free

H

12

9

Blogger

26

Blogger
Blogging tool

Free

H

13

12=

Moodle

26

Moodle
Course management system

Free

D/H

14=

17=

iGoogle

20

iGoogle
Personalised start page

Free

H

31=

Slideshare

20

Slideshare
Hosting/sharing presentations

Free

H

16=

22=

YouTube

19

YouTube
Video hosting/sharing site.

Free

H

16

flickr

19

flickr
Photo storage/sharing site

Free

H

43=

twitter

19

twitter
Microblogging and social network

Free

H

19

31=

Ning

18

Ning
Social networking tool

Free

H

20

15

Wikispaces

17

Wikispaces
Wiki tool

Free/£

H

22-91

Ranking

Tool

Votes

Description

Cost

Avail

2008

2007

21=

22=

Articulate

15

Articulate
Presenter/Engage/Quizmaker

£

D

101=

VoiceThread

15

VoiceThread
Collaborative slideshows

Free/£

H

23=

12=

Bloglines

13

Bloglines
RSS/Feed reader

Free

H

26=

SnagIt

13

Snagit
Screen capture tool

Free/£

D

10

Word

13

Word
Word processing software

£

D

26

17=

Captivate

12

Captivate
Demo and scenario-based tool

£

D

27=

17=

Facebook

11

Facebook
Social networking site

Free

H

26=

iTunes

11

iTunes
Music and podcast player

Free

D

29

17=

Outlook

10

Outlook
Email software

£

D

30

43=

Flash

9

Flash
Animation authoring tool

£

D

36=

Google Calendar

9

Google Calendar
Web-based calendar

Free

H

Jing

9

Jing
Record/share screen captures/casts

Free

D/H

101=

Pageflakes

9

Pageflakes
Start page

Free

H

57=

Zoho

9

Zoho Suite
Online office suite

Free

H

35=

50=

Camtasia Studio

8

Camtasia Studio
Screencasting tool

£

D

31=

LinkedIn

8

LinkedIn
Social network

Free/£

H

17=

MindManager

8

MindManager
Mind mapping tool

£

D

38=

31=

OpenOffice

7

OpenOffice
Office software suite

Free

D

43=

PB Wiki

7

PB Wiki
Wiki tool

Free/£

H

57=

TypePad

7

TypePad
Blogging tool

£

H

41=

26=

Dreamweaver

6

Dreamweaver
Web authoring tool

£

D

36=

Google Maps

6

Google Maps
Maps of the US. UK, etc

Free

H

101=

SecondLife

6

Second Life
Virtual world application

Free

H

44

22=

Excel

5.5

Excel
Spreadsheet software

£

D

45=

72=

Adobe Connect

5

Adobe Connect
Web meeting/conferencing

£

H

Blogs/Blogging

5

Blogs and blogging tools
Of all types

Free/£

H/D

72=

diigo

5

diigo
Social bookmarking

Free

H

72=

Edublogs

5

edublogs
Blogging tool for educators

Free

H

72=

eXe

5

eXe
SCORM content authoring

Free

D

50=

FreeMind

5

Freemind
Mind mapping tool

Free

D

Garageband

4

Garageband
Personal recording studio

Free

D

57=

Google Alerts

5

Google Alerts
Keep track of new information

Free

H

101=

Google Apps

5

Google Apps
Communication/collaboration

£

H

31=

Internet Explorer

5

Internet Explorer
Web browser

Free

D

43=

iPod

5

iPod
MP3 player

£

72=

Keynote

5

Keynote
Presentation software

£

D

26=

Netvibes

5

Netvibes
Personal start page

Free

H

Nvu

5

Nvu
Web authoring tool

Free

D

Wetpaint

5

Wetpaint
Wiki tool

Free

H

58

72=

Adobe Reader

4.5

Adobe Reader
PDF Reader

Free

D

59=

50=

Adobe Photoshop

4

Photoshop
Photo/Image editing tools

£

D

Basecamp

4

Basecamp
Collaborative, project management tool

Free/£

H

50=

Elluminate

4

Elluminate
Web meeting/conferencing

Free/£

H

40=

Google Earth

4

Google Earth
Geographic information

Free

D

36=

Google Scholar

4

Google Scholar
Search for scholarly literature

Free

H

Linux/LAMP

4

LAMP
Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP

Free

D

72=

Notepad

4

Notepad
HTML and text editor

Free

D

OneNote

4

OneNote
Personal Information Manager

£

D

Opera

4

Opera/Opera mini
Web browser

Free

D

Paint.NET

4

Paint.NET
Image and photo editing

Free

D

Stumbleupon

4

Stumbleupon
Social bookmarking tool

Free

H

Ustream

4

Ustream
Live, interactive broadcasting

Free

H

Wink

4

Wink
Software demonstration tool

Free

D

72=

Yugma

4

Yugma
Web meeting/conferencing

Free/£

D

73=

22=

Thunderbird

3.5

Thunderbird
Email client

Free

D

74=

101=

Blackboard

3

Blackboard
Course management system

£

D

101=

Bubbl.us

3

Bubbl.us
Mind mapping tool

Free

D

ClassTools

3

ClassTools
Create Flash-based learning

Free

D

72=

Drupal

3

Drupal/DrupalEd
Content management system

Free

D

Filezilla

3

Filezilla
FTP client

Free

D

72=

Furl

3

Furl
Social bookmarking tool

Free

H

Google Analytics

3

Google Analytics
Website analysis tool

Free

C

101=

Google Sites/ Jotspot

3

Google Sites/Jotspot
Wiki tool

Free

H

iMovie

3

iMovie
Video editing software

£

D

Lectora

3

Lectora
Course authoring tools

£

D

36=

MediaWiki

3

MediaWiki
Wiki tool

Free

D

Polldaddy

3

Polldaddy
Polling and survey tool

Free

H/C

RSS

3

RSS
Really Simple Syndication

Free

Skitch

3

Skitch
Screen capture tool

Free

D

SMART interactive whiteboard

3

SMART Board
Interactive whiteboard tools

Free

D

Survey Monkey

3

Survey Monkey
Survey and questionnaire tool
Free

H

57=

Yahoo Mail

3

Yahoo Mail
Web-based email

Free

H

91

57=

TeacherTube

2.5

TeacherTube
Instructional video sharing site

Free

H

92-133

Ranking

Tool

Votes

Description

Cost

Avail

2008

2007

92=

72=

Adobe Presenter

2

Adobe Presenter
Narrated presentations

£

D

72=

Cmap

2

Cmap
Concept mapping tool

Free/£

D

Comic Life

2

Comic Life
Create comics from photos

£

D

101=

CourseLab

2

CourseLab
Course authoring tool

Free

D

101=

CutePDF Writer

2

Cute PDF Writer
PDF Conversion tool

Free

D

digg

2

Digg
Social bookmarking and rating

Free

H

101=

eSnips

2

eSnips
Upload and share files

Free

H

101=

FeedBlitz

2

FeedBlitz
Feed to email service

Free

H

101=

Gabcast

2

Gabcast
Phone in your podcast

Free

H

Gcast

2

Gcast
Podcasting service

Free

H

Geogebra

2

Geogebra
Mathematics software

Free

D

43=

GIMP

2

GIMP
Image/photo editing tool

Free

D

72=

Gliffy

2

Gliffy
Diagramming tool

Free

H

40=

Google Desktop

2

Google Desktop
Computer search/organiser

Free

D

50=

Google Notebook

2

Google Notebook
Personal online notebook

Free

H

iPhoto

2

iPhoto
Photo management tool

£

D

Joomla

2

Joomla!
Content management system

Free

D

101=

Meebo

2

Meebo
Instant messaging tool

Free

H

101=

MindMeister

2

MindMeister
Mind mapping tool

Free/£

D

101=

Mozy

2

Mozy
Online backup tool

£

H

OmniFocus

2

OmniFocus
Task management tool

£

D

72=

OmniGraffle

2

OmniGraffle
Diagramming tool

£

D

OmniOutliner

2

OmniOutliner
Keep track of projects

£

D

ooVoo

2

ooVoo
Video chat and conferencing

Free

D/H

72=

Paint Shop Pro

2

Paint Shop Pro
Image editing tool

£

D

57=

Picasa

2

Picasa
Picture editing tool

Free

D

Portable apps

2

Portable apps
Suite of apps for a USB stick

Free

D

72=

Quicksilver

2

Quicksilver
Interface to work with PC apps on Mac

£

D

Remember the Milk

2

Remember the Milk
Manage your tasks

Free

H

72=

Safari

2

Safari
Web browser

Free

D

Scratch

2

Scratch
Create interactive stories/animations

Free

D/H

50=

Scribd

2

Scribd
Document hosting and sharing site

Free

H

Sony Vegas Video

2

Sony Vegas Video
Video production tool

£

D

72=

Tiddlywiki

2

TiddlyWiki
Personal wiki tool

Free

D

Trillian

2

Trillian
IM Aggregator

Free

H

tumblr

2

tumblr
Micro-blogging platform

Free

H

Ubuntu

2

Ubuntu
Linux-based operating system

Free

D

Wikis

2

Wikis
Of all types

Free

D/H

Windows LiveWriter

2

Windows LiveWriter
Desktop blogging tool

Free

D

50=

Yahoo Groups

2

Yahoo Groups
Community tool

Free

H

Zamzar

2

Zamzar
Online file conversion tool

Free

D

72=

Zotero

2

Zotero
Firefox add-on to support research

Free

D

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