Using location based services – have I missed the point?

I have been making some use of foursquare for a number of months.  Previously also tried the google latitude solution. Not convinced that either has been of any real benefit to me.

Examples of my use of foursquare: checking in when attending a football match, a concert, a restaurant, a conference.  Apart from telling people that I am there what has been the benefit.  And has that in itself been a personal positive or personal negative?

Google Latitude I tried with a small number of colleages for a period of time.  However we generally found it intrusive and impacted far too negatively on our privacy – such as it is.

There was talk about using location based services to target me with offers in my location e.g. you are now in Dublin 4 and here is a coffee shop offering a free scone with every cup of coffee.  The value proposition is not standing up – am wasting too much time checking in, sharing too much information about my whereabouts – all for no real value.

According to the survey just released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project:

28% of American adults use mobile and social locationbased services

This survey includes using solutions to get directions within ‘location based’.  I certainly make good use of ‘Navigation’ on my Android phone when trying to find various sportsgrounds all over the city for the first time at the weekend as we act as chauffeurs to various football and hurling teams.  And this is a location base service – in the sense that it is aware of where I am when I am trying to find a route to somewhere else.

So, overall, am disappointed with the benefits to date of location based services (other than navigation type services).  Perhaps it is also a generational thing e.g. perhaps other age-groups are using these services as an integral pert of their social lives.

Why is google+ important to google?

Interesting analysis on use of social network id’s to log into other sites.

So perhaps, in spite of much of the inane rubbish posted on social networking sites, these same sites are going to win out because they have become the holders of profiles we use for identifying ourselves across the web.  The analysis is interesting in that it shows that Facebook leads the way – another reason that google needs to win with google+.

 

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Manage or be managed

Important to think through how you want to use these solutions and resources – distraction is not in itself a bad thing. You need to manage the distractions.

instant messaging sites
Image by Will Lion via Flickr

Read Alex Pang’s piece on contemplative computing – courtesy of this article from ReadWriteWeb.  Fits in with much of the discussion taking place across lots of enterprises – is IM, social networking, blogging contributing very much to the business?  Surely IM (now often including video) is just another distraction to people who should be getting on with ‘the task at hand’.

As an individual consultant and researcher I am constantly required to manage the distractions – notwithstanding that were there no distractions there would be no interaction and no work.  The debate reminds me of something about 10 years ago – we should not let the team have internet access because they will waster their time surfing.  We seem to have moved on from this because, thankfully, in many cases the web has become a way fo doing work, communicating, researching, whatever.

I don’t think the answer has changed.  You have to work out what you are trying to do and figure out how to use the available resources.  If you expect to gain from online interaction then you need to recognise that it is a two way street – you will need to be active (or at least be responsive) in order to gain.  When you need to work in a quiet, non distracted mode, you need to make yourself unavailable.

Business has changed.  It’s not just the desk based personnel who are being bombarded by distractions.  Smartphones mean that anyone can be online at any time.  Education in the workplace has not caught up – people need training, awareness and guidance on tools which they can use to assist them in managing the online world rather than being managed by the online world.

 

 

 

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Some current likes on Web 2.0

Easy to use, useful, personal web 2.0 services

Just joined http://www.locql.com/ – combining Questions and Answers with location.  Looks good – easy to use, noce design, sully integrated with facebook.

Quora – excellent questions and answers site.

http://getglue.com – beginning to grow on me.  Add your likes/ dislikes and reviews – works for books, movies, actors, topics, etc.

 

 

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Why do I use LinkedIn?

Why do I use LinkedIn?

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

I have been asked recently to discuss with a range of business people my reasons for using LinkedIn – what I like (or don’t like) about LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the preferred social network of business people.  It is an excellent platform for me, as an independent consultant,  to provide detail about my skills, experience and interests.  Simultaneously it offers me excellent background information on other people and companies – be they clients, potential clients, competitors.

I have taken an incremental approach to using LinkedIn.  I started with basic detail and over a period of time have expanded this to provide more information about my previous experience, current areas of interest.  I have built my network incrementally – seeking introductions to some people, responding selectively to requests to LinkIn.

I have used a range of functionality offered on the site, including:

  • tags to tag/ categorise my contacts e.g.
  • polls to research specific topics with my connections
  • Answers to find answers to particular technical areas
  • Participated in groups of internet e.g. semantic web, business networks such as Kilmacud Crokes Business Network
  • Search to obtain background information prior to meetings – at both individual and corporate levels
  • Jobs to post job offers
  • the WordPress application to cross post from this blog to my LinkedIn profile.

Finally I have cross referenced from various sites which I maintain to my LinkedIn profile.

 

 

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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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Depressingly sloppy attitude to privacy by facebook

The world’s dominant social network is back at the centre of a privacy storm by allowing application developers to access users’ home addresses and mobile phone numbers as a matter of course.

Facebook logo
Image via Wikipedia

Pity to be kicking off 2011 blog by having to return to the subject of privacy.

Seems to be very little sign that in 2011 Facebook is intent on changing its attitude to respecting people’s privacy.  This report is depressingly in line with previous sloppy approaches to managing the security of members’ data.

One begins to wonder whether this is deliberate or a further manifestation of some level of incompetence.

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Another voice for semantics

semantics have a key role to play in facilitating conversations on the internet

The Cluetrain Manifesto
Image by Gauravonomics via Flickr

Just been reading the 10th Anniversary edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto.  In his Chapter ‘but how does it taste?’ Rick Levine focuses on the changes in Participation – through blogging, social networks and participation in ecommerce sites (customer reviews etc).  However he references the walls between his Linkedin, Facebook and Phone universes.  I like his demand: ‘We need to be more fanatical in our elimination of conversational friction’.

This very much speaks to the Cluetrain Manifesto – that the Internet is all about conversations.  And effectively Levine is making the point that semantics has a role to play in facilitating this.


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Good initiative on privacy

Know who is tracking what about you

Big Brother (David Graham) speaking to his aud...
Image via Wikipedia

There are any number of companies out there tracking your presence on the web – gathering information for the purposes of targeting you to purchase product.  Good to see an initiative emerging from some of those most proficient in tracking your online activities – to let you see what they are tracking and let you opt out.

George Orwell’s 1984 vision of Big Brother and surveillance is well and truly with us – whether through companies tracking our online presence or people constantly photographing/ videoing us and sharing it on the web.  The complaints about Google and Facebook are well documented.  The concerns about security of healthcare records, the potential risks of cloud computing…we will see more and more of this in the press.

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