'Friends' in facebook

Been making more use of facebook in the last few weeks.  Hard not to – when 250m people are using it.

Was discussing it with a few different friends.  One said he uses it to keep track of/ stay in touch with people overseas, ie does not see a lot of benefit in using it with people located close by.

I’ve certainly found it useful in terms of renewing acquaintances with people based overseas (e.g. fellow College grads) – and then staying in touch with them.  Interestingly I had two such friends visit Ireland recently and in both cases we failed to catch up, physically.  So my question was: are you pretending you have more friends than you have?  Or has the technology made you so lazy that you don’t make the effort to track someone down physically when they are here on a short vacation?

The truth is that we all continue to live very busy lives.  On a short vacation to the old ‘homeland’ there is not a whole lot of time for all the ‘one on one’ catchups.  But then I was thinking about it – ‘presence’ would probably have made the difference.  We have the technology (google, brightkite, etc) to be aware of someone’s location e.g. if I’m based in the office in the city centre and the overseas visitor happens to be in town then this may be the easist way to catch up for a coffee or whatever – without any mahor diary planning, etc.

To some this will feel like another invasion of privacy – to others a way fo making the technology work to support physical relationships.  And the technology should be good enough for you to control who may be aware of your presence, in which time frame and even in which general location.  All just about possible now.

Would suggest that www.brightkite.com is worth a look.

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Irish government to appoint a CTO?

So the government published its paper: Knowledge Society Strategy: Technology Actions to Support the Smart Economy.

There is already plenty of comment – on twitter, in the blogs, on the news and there will be more over the next few days.  Comments ranging from ‘a lot of waffle’, ‘telling us what we already know’, ‘where’s the meat?’, etc.  But buried in the report are enough reference points to show where we’ve been making progress and where we’ve been falling behind.

When I read Friedman’s ‘The world is flat’, listing his concerns about the state of education, engineering in the US, I felt he could have been writing about Ireland.  Ironically he references Ireland as a country pulling itself up and leveraging the flatness of the world.  However the shortage of maths proficient secondary school leavers is a major concern and cannot be fixed over night.

The topics discussed in the paper are very worthy of attention – and do represent opportunities for Ireland Inc e.g. cloud, green data centres, networking.  Delighted to see reference to semantic web – not really that surprising after €25m of government investment.

I just picked out one small detail from the report (p45):

The Government should appoint a high level CTO with the authority to drive cultural change across the many departments and agencies.

I have commented previously on such appointments in the US – within the Obama administration.  I would strongly support such an initiative – though she/he will need plenty of support from Mssrs. Ryan and Lenihan.

Google and the books of the world

Commented previously on the copying of books by google – to make them available online (commercials not clear).  This continues to cause great concern across the globe – who should own/ censor all of this material?  Should a company have control of all this intellect and art?  Quinn Norton writes on the subject in last Friday’s Irish Times.

This is the sort of subject of real import which gets thrown up by the internet.   Good to see ongoing coverage in Technology section of the newspaper.  However this is far too important to be left to those interested in technology.  This requires debate amongst politicians, academics – assisted by technologists as may be relevant.  Easy for major developments of this type to go relatively uncovered in the times in which we live – given the economic difficulties dominating the agenda.

Ontologies and the challenge to IT leaders

The recent Technology Forecast publication from PwC focused on semantic web and linked data.  Interesting series of articles – and I like the concept of dealing with ‘messy data’.  CEOs and other managers want to be able to merge internal ERP type data with external data.  Also reminds readers that the I in CIO is for information – and that CIOs need to take the lead on the generation and planning of relevant ontologies – given a clear understanding of their businesses and a working knowledge of ontologies.

On the same theme interesting piece by Linda Moulton – the line ‘enterprises must commit to having very smart people with enterprise expertise to build the ontology’  rings the same bell.

Linda Moulton believs that real progress in adoption of semantic web will be seen first within entertprises, later between enterprises and across the web more generally.  Seems to make a lot of sense and be the most likely scenario – however we may prefer the more holistic soltuion to emrge immediately.

Twitter – part 3

Completing a series of three articles re twitter – why, what how?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 – How does twitter fit in with web site, blogging, facebook, linkedin, other social networks?

I see my website as my anchor on the internet. My website says I am who I am, sets out my stall, explains how to contact me. I want my website to be found – by people looking for solutions which I can provide. Periodically I will update my website to describe additional solutions, new partnerships, new references/ endorsements.

My blog is where I provide my thoughts – hopefully my insights to emerging social, business, technical issues – as they occur to me and and I develop/ refine my thinking. I expect the blog to incorporate feedback from readers. Over a period of time my blog accumulates an amount of my thinking re the issues of the day.

So there does twitter fit in with all of this – and with the other networks in which I participate?

Twitter is the medium through which I develop interactive dialog with people of mutual interest (I am interested in their thoughts, they follow me – so presumably are interested in my thoughts). Through those contacts I am also looking to expand my network – attracting attention to my competencies and learning from other experts.

With this in mind I automatically notify twitter of any new blog postings. I post questions to twitter, I respond to queries from others on twitter. I use twitter to draw people’s attention to information which I think may be of interest to them.

Both linkedin and facebook are also important to my social and business networking. Initially I focused facebook on the social side and linkedin on the business side. Facebook now has a much broader role – and has an important business element to it. For now I have a range of contacts who may/may not use all of the solutions e.g. may be a member of facebook but not using twitter or linkedin, only use linkedin, etc.

All of these are being brought together. Many people are members of all of these (and many more) social networks. Initiatives such as SIOC are working to faciliate interoperability. Using tools such as Yoono with Firefox it has become very easy to update your presence/ status across mutiple environments. I cross post to facebook from twitter and using ‘company buzz’ on linkedin twitter references to me are published to linkedin.

So what’s twitter, at the end of the day? As one of my twitter friends (@rbconsulting) says, flippantly – ‘hard to belive it took them that long to get SMS working on the PC’. And that captures the essence of the microblogging limits. Twitter is that and more. Most importantly it’s a platform which makes it very easy to establish relationships with people all over the internet – for business, social, educational, recreational, whatever purpose. The value of the relationships flows from the level of interaction, quality of contributions, responsiveness.

Who’s using twitter?

Fascinating report re use of twitter.

While the uptake has been huge, it’s clear from this that the content is driven by/ dominated by a relatively small/ select group.  However as an early user of linkedin I would have had the same types of reservations – mainly seemed to be used by technology people and/or recruiters.  However I think this speaks to an awareness/ understandng of the power of the medium and the available functionality.  Now we are beginning to see Linkedin used more generally by people right across the business spectrum.   I would expect to see twitter adoption move the same way – notwithstanding that there will always be people/ professionals who target/ exploit a platform.

Thanks to twitter.com/mike_stelzner for bringing this to my attention.

Twitter – part 2

Continuing a series of three articles re use of Twitter –  Why do I use twitter? What are the benefits of using twitter?

In the first article I referenced twitter as a community – perhaps more accurately as providing a platform to support an infinite number of communities. However these are communities without regulation – there is no sign up fee and there are no rules. There is no membership per se – you voluntarily contribute and voluntarily receive (by following). People are using the platform to share and exchange information – in a form of online collaboration.

As an entrepreneur and consultant working in the areas of KM, Collaboration, semantic web – twitter facilitates my networking effectively with people all around the world who have a say in, or an interest in, these areas. I will establish my credibility with this changing and evolving group based on my contributions e.g. through responding to general queries, commenting on developments, posting my own throughts and approaches. If my contributions are not worthwhile the market looks after that – I will simply not be followed.

The personal element of twitter is important. Search engines such as google and bing are well capable of returning a great deal of information in response to refined queries. Placing questions in specific fora often delivers answers to specific technical questions. However as a twitter user I am being prompted by people who are active in my areas of interest – to look at new material, to participate in debate, to respond to queries. The personalisation of the information is a key element in the attractiveness of twitter.

Working out of a base in Ireland twitter provides a very easy way for me to stay in touch with people working in the same area across the globe. For actual projects I use wikis and various collaboration tools. But for day to day staying in touch on relevant research topics twitter fits the bill.