leaving Ecademy

Leaving Ecademy

I have recently left the network, Ecademy.  I did not find it in any way useful

I had been a member of Ecademy for some time.  Foolishly I had loaded a contact list at some point to determine which members of the contact list were also members of Ecademy.   Recently, after a period of inactivity in Ecademy, individuals on that contact list was mailshotted by Ecademy, on my behalf, inviting them to become members.

I do not have the time to determine whether Ecademy was entitled to do this.  It has certainly been a nuisance for all those mailshotted and for me.

Best reference I have come cross is this web post explaining how to delete your Ecademy account.

Web 2.0 not all positive

Web 2.0 is not all about positive developments. Jaron Lanier’s excellent book ‘You are not a gadget’ should be recommended reading for all of us promoting Web 2.0

Photo of Jaron Lanier performing at the Garden...
Image via Wikipedia

Close to finishing Jaron Lanier‘s excellent book: ‘You are not a  gadget’.  For someone like me who promotes social networking and web 2.0 Lanier certainly asks some tough questions.  I will comment in more detail in a later post – but I have to say his criticism of our obsession with the wisdom of crowds and of Wikipedia make a great deal of sense.  When I studied English in High School the cheat guides to the classical texts e.g. Hamlet, Persuasion, etc were Coles’ Notes.  They provided you with bullet proof analysis/ critiques for the texts – but obviated the need for original thinking/ imagination/ creativity.  Likewise Lanier argues that crowds will never produce original thinking on a par with an Einstein.

Today read an interesting piece in the New York Times on Hasbro‘s plans to dumb down a number of their games e.g. Monopoly.  They are making an effort to make the games more attractive through inclusion of some unnecessary technology – dressed up as a way to prevent cheating!  Seems to me cheating was always part of the fun in these board games.  More interestingly they also comment on the fact that younger people’s attention spans are continuing to shrink.  Without doubt this is a serious challenge for all educators.  And Web 2.0 has contributed significantly to the problem.

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Social networking in the enterprise – part 2

Social networking poses plenty of challenges also – we need to focus on why, what we are looking to achieve, how to manage the risks/ downsides.

As we seek to deploy social networking tools in the enterprise plenty of questions arise re potential waste of time and resources.  We set out with a number of positive objectives e.g. improve communication, improve ability to find people and information, support collaboration and team work.  But we also have a key question to address re potential downsides:

Does a facebook or twitter type application become a distraction – another source of interruptions in the day while trying to complete tasks; another temptation to move away from the task at hand?

We talk a great deal about the ability of people to multitask – but what does this really mean?  In many activities the ability to concentrate, focus on the job at hand, is paramount.  Constant interruptions/ distractions are more likely a hindrance than an aid.

In many ways we already have too many distractions at work – phones, mobiles, email, people, memos, noise, etc.  Social networking and ‘presence’ type applications generate additional potential distractions.

So what’s the way forward?  I think time management is back at the centre of the issue.  You have an amount of time to perform your role – within your role you have a range of responsibilities (and these have their own priorities).  Within the context of all of this you have a number of tools and resources (including people, templates, gadgets, software, social networks).  The real challenge is to figure out how to use these to the best possible advantage.  And I don’t think many of us are mastering this.  For instance when I use an application such as Rescue Time it gives me anindication of the amount of time I spend on social networking sites.  As someone trying to understand these environments and figure out how to harness them for productive use I allow myself generous amounts of time – but inevitably I am distracted and exceed my targets.

Interesting this week to read a piece in the Irish Times dealing with the concerns of parents and teachers about the impact of social networking on school children.  There was a time when parents worried about kids who were playing too much competitive sport close to exams to kids who had too active (traditional) social lives.  Now there are very real concerns about the amount of time spend on social networks – where there are unlimited distractions for any participant.

There are plenty of lessons in all of this for those of us rolling out these types of applications across  enterprises.  We need to remember what we are looking to achieve, we need to measure whether we are achieving this and we need to monitor the risks associated with these initiatives e.g. loss to productive time, unexpected bahavioural changes.  Notwithstanding all of this we need to figure out how to realise the potential benefits.

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social working/ social networking within the enterprise – part 1

Introducing social networking within the enterprise

A segment of a social network
Image via Wikipedia

Have been thinking for some time about the best ways to establish effective social networking within the enterprise.  I like the phrase I see used some places – social working.

My starting point is that  most companies that are in any way successful are already reasonably proficient at social working ie working in teams, brainstorming, sharing ideas, collaborating.  So this is not about introducing a new concept – it’s about looking to see whether we can use some of the technologies to assist in more effective collaboration, team work, etc.

Seems to me one of the challenges in commencing an initiative through a pilot is that to some extent the value of the solution is dependent on widespread penetration and adoption.  However it is also important to see which suite of products work most effectively, determine potential benefits of any preconfiguration or integration, determine any training requirements.

I am curious to see the potential benefits of a facebook or twitter type application within the enterprise.  And to understand the limitations of an enterprise walled-in solution as against a web wide solution such as twitter.  But the idea of some form of continuous stream such as a twitter type app seems attractive as a way to provide somewhere for sharing all sorts of information – notwithstanding the inevitable ‘noise’ arising from general posts.

Another challenge to many organisations is the varying level of comfort across people in using such applications.  As the social network becomes the primary communication channel there are risks associated with potentially losing some of the non participants.  Alternatively some of the potential gains are lost if we are obliged to duplicate things outside the social networking platform.

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Traditional media being used to promote tour holidays

Tour operators are using online advertising but still put great store on the traditional brochure.

I see I am now regularly targeted online for specialist holidays aligned with my sports interests – as detailed in my various online presences.  Was interested to read today’s piece in the Irish Times coinciding with the launching of the tour operators‘ brochures for 2011.  Clearly a great deal of marketing spend still goes into the prep and publication of the annual brochure (and these have been upgraded significantly over the years).

I suppose one of the key points is that whether you provide online or hard copy data to potential customers you still have to do the same spade work: property descriptions, photos, stories, pricing.  So,having completed that, the operators still believe that plenty of hard copy is required by the potential buyers.

Interesting comment about difficulty of tracking back on Google search sourced calls: With all her advertisements, Airey uses different phone numbers so she can track the responses. “The one thing we can’t track is if someone sees or hears our ad, then Googles our website and then calls the number on our site. A huge number of calls come from our website, but the problem is we don’t know how that person got to our website. Sunway has to become a household name, and advertising creates that brand awareness.”

Might be interesting to see whether HeyStaks can establish itself as a platform used by many people researching holidays?  Perhaps it will be of greater service to those researching the non packaged option?

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‘When Irish Eyes are crying’ – Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair

Michael Lewis reports on the background to Ireland’s current economic mess.

Map of Ireland's population density (people pe...
Image via Wikipedia

For those of us who are real stakeholders in Ireland this article is tough medicine.  This, or something like it, is what our kids are going to read about what we did to our country.  And it’s nothing to be proud of.  Think 20 years from now with many of our kids by then permanently living overseas, with no real expectation of returning home, bringing up their families overseas and coming home intermittently so that the grandparents can see the grandkids, etc.

I’ve read other similar pieces by Michael Lewis in the past  – they are written in a particular style.  The piece includes plenty of fact and sufficient colour to help you remember the juicy bits.

We are currently in the middle of an election – one in which many of the current government have declined to participate.  Having been in power for 13 years, led the country into this disastrous financial mess, many of them, including the Taoiseach, have decided to step out of public office.  Perhaps they are only avoiding a running certainty in the forthcoming election?

Lewis seems to be firmly of the opinion that the government should have limited its guarantees to deposit holders and let the bondholders sink.  This position has been consistently argued for by a a number of established economists and commentators; this position has also been consistently dismissed by the Minister for Finance (Brian Lenihan) and his Government.  And, for now, we would appear to be stuck with a level of debt which we will not be able to service.

This background to the election has the competing parties waffling to no end about what they may or may not do in terms of renegotiating the terms of ‘the bailout’ – or to use the vernacular, ‘de bailout’.  And the various powers in Europe remind us that a deal is a deal, while hinting that there may be some scope for change (perhaps in exchange for harmonisation of tax rules across the EU).

As a country I think the sooner we face up to balancing our books on an annual basis the sooner we can sit down and negotiate with those from whom we have borrowed.  Moving in that direction in the last 18 months has seen huge cuts and serious drop in net take home packages for workers.  There is an argument that we need to tackle unemployment levels of c. 450K rather than continue to cut.  Unfortunately it looks like the resolution of the unemployment issue will have more to do with mass emigration than anything else for the forseeable future.

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