None of Us is as Smart as All of Us

It’s a quote from “One Minute Manager”, Ken Blanchard. It’s also the perfect title for this short blog post.

I’ve been gathering tweet logs and blog posts from several conferences over the past year. I do a little work to set the stage and the crowd adds content. It’s a great model.

If you have any interest in the latest thinking in Social Media / Social Business / Enterprise 2.0 / Crowdsourcing and the like, I think you will find this wiki valuable. It provides full social web coverage for two Enterprise 2.o conferences, the European Enterprise 2.0 Summit, Defrag 2010, and a local Barcamp that I am very proud of helping to organize.

Check it out and make it better: E20 Wiki Workspace

(btw Look here if you want more witty crowdsourcing quotes.)
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Filed under crowdsourcing, enterprise20, social web, team, wiki

What’s So Special About the iPad

I admit, I am a bit of a gadget freak. In my suburban home shared by two parents and two kids, we have technology throughout: 3 laptops, 3 desktops, 2 iPhones, 3 iPods, Wii, Roku, Blue-ray, Netflix, screaming fast FIOS broadband (internet, tv, and telephone service), whole house DVR, and a house and yard covered by WIFI.

Yes, I also bought an iPad and have been using it now for 7 months. I find myself regularly hearing from friends and pundits who point out the limitations and say “I’ll wait for the next generation.”. In the meantime, I’m enjoying what I have today. Let me try to explain the appeal. I bet it will ring true to other early adopters and fellow iPad owners.

  • Instant on – it is on and connected to the web before my ROM BIOS boot message appears on my laptop
  • All day battery life – my laptop batteries are so bad, we keep them plugged in all day and whenever we use them. The iPad runs often for 2 or more days without a recharge.
  • Portability – with the standard Apple protective case it is the size of a small book. No cords, no accessories. I just grab it and go.
  • Continuous and free software updates – Apple and app providers update OS and application software for free as soon as it becomes available. This keeps everything at the latest release level and cleans out bugs quickly. (Microsoft could learn a lesson here)
  • Social Web and email- Twitter, facebook, websites, email, blogs, it handles it all very well.
  • Video and audio – I have yet to see a better device for pulling it all together: YouTube, Netflix, digital movies, iPod, podcasts.
  • Games – my kids (and I) love the great games. The display, the touch interface, the speakers: they all work swimmingly together.

Say what you will about the lack of flash support, the difficulty typing, and the lack of ability to build complex spreadsheets and presentations. I’m tired of doing that stuff anyway. All I really want to do is simple short communications (tweets, email, blog posts and the like) and then quickly experience what the web has to offer in video, news, entertainment, and updates from my social circle. For that, the iPad is just right.

Thank You Apple for, yet again, not giving incremental improvements, but rather for dreaming up a new experience that we all wanted but never thought to ask for.

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Twitter, The Activity Stream of the Social Web

I’ve been on Twitter almost 2 years now and have some observations. I love the transparency and the “Work Out Loud” attitude it promotes. It truly is the nervous system of the Social Web.

Let me mention some basics first and then dig into it a little on how I think this simple tool is revolutionizing interactions on the web. First of all the basics:

  • A tweet is a 140 character statement that is sent to followers.
  • A retweet (RT) is when a follower finds that interesting and sends it on to his/her followers
  • A hashtag (#E20 for example) is a user generated tag that helps identify a topic in the tweet.
  • One can search on a hashtag to find all recent tweets on a particular topic.
  • When you first sign up to twitter, you have no followers, and you follow no one…boring
  • In time, a new tweeter begins to follow interesting people and others begin to find the tweeter interesting and follow him/her.
  • Once you get to a critical mass (50 or so followers and following you) it starts to get interesting
  • A direct message (DM) is a private tweet delivered to one person
  • A @message is a semi-private tweet that is delivered to that one person, but visible only to all who follow both of you that are conversing. You compose the message by beginning with @ followed by the recepient’s twitter name.
  • A tweeter’s full tweet stream (except for DMs) is available for public viewing from the tweeter’s profile.
  • Many people use twitter.com for their tweet platform, but most use some other twitter “client” or program on their desktop, laptop, or mobile device. There are dozens of good twitter clients available for free.
  • Tweets can contain a link to interesting content. Most often the URL is shortened by an automated URL shortener (remember, we are working with just 140 characters here)

The beauty of Twitter is the simplicity. When you put this all together, you have a constant ebb and flow of conversation. The conversations create community. Communities create relationships, and Relationships create lasting value. Let me give you some examples.

The transparency of twitter allows one to “overhear” a conversation. When two people you follow are messaging each other, you can monitor the conversation in your main twitter stream. It’s interesting, you learn that a relationship exists just by witnessing the tweets.

Sometimes it’s like “high school”, you can see who is hanging with the “cool people”. For example if there is a “rock star” on a particular subject (call him Jerry) and I see he and a good friend of mine (call him John) are having a back and forth conversation, I can watch and say “Hey, I didn’t know John knew Jerry that well”. John must be a “rock star” too. My opinion of John is elevated and I suddenly see him in a different light.

The openness of the platform makes it easy to join the conversation. Simply enter you thoughts with the twitter IDs of John and Jerry at the beginning and just like that, you are in the conversation as well. I think that is one of the great appeals of twitter, the ability to have meaningful converations and begin meaningful relationships with just a set of short messages.

Another great thing is the ability to join in and stay out at your convenience. Since the tweets are all captured, you can pick up the conversation later and not miss a thing. However, with the steady stream of tweets, many are missed. That’s alright. If someone wants to catch your attention, they just need to enter your twitter name into a point for you and it shows in your @mentions stream.

Finally, there is nothing like the “now” effect of twitter. Again, a “rock star” may be on line tweeting and if you reply immediately, it is likely he or she will see it before it gets lost in the long stream of tweets from other fans. There is nothing else like the accessibility of those tweeting. Generally if you see a new tweet, you can bet they are online right now and reading what comes their way. Yet another way to cultivate the conversation and begin to build a relationship.

I wonder what you have observed in the subtlety of the interactions and relationships you have built in Twitter. Tweet me @jimworth or add your comments below.

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Filed under community, conversations, how to tweet, microblogging, social media, twitter, web2.0

Lessons From the Crowd

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It was an amazing event. About 125 Social Media experts, novices, and curiosity seekers came out this past Monday for BarCamp Doylestown, an “Un Conference” on Emerging Social Business. It was great. The excitement and energy in the room was something we had only dreamed of. In fact one on-site tweeter summed it up aptly tweeting: “Presentations in the main room of #barcamp18901 are very much like twitter –many voices at once; easy to be drawn in another direction

Rather than write about the event as many others have, I’d like to write about how the event came together. For those of us organizing it, I think it is safe to say, none (or maybe few) of us has ever been involved in anything quite like it.

But first, here are the lessons we learned:

  1. It’s all about losing control. A crowd organized project is about letting go and watching what a group of motivated people can do with a common goal and clear guidelines. In the right environment, the crowd will act productively in creative ways to meet that goal.
  2. We work because we want to, an all volunteer team is the best.
  3. Anyone can organize a meeting, but only as a last resort. We can work very effectively through transparent online information sharing using twitter and a wiki
  4. “Work out loud” by default, sharing every idea and thought openly, and move to private messages only when absolutely necessary.
  5. Skip the kickoff meeting, let the event kick itself off online, let relationships form, watch the group form, and watch it “gel” a little into the project
  6. Let people volunteer and then hold them accountable for decisions and actions
  7. Anyone can speak up when uncomfortable, listen to their suggestions
  8. Anyone can act in the group’s best interest and on the group’s behalf. They can act on their own, or choose to gain consensus. It’s their call.
  9. Anyone can join. The group becomes self selecting and people rise and diminish based on their choices and preferences.
  10. Spread the celebration for the victory to everyone in the crowd who contributed to the success.

If this piqued your interest, please read on for the context and how these lessons were learned.

Like a fire that starts from a tiny spark, this BarCamp started with a simple tweet

Within just a few hours, all 5 had answered back with comments like:

  • “I have been wondering about that, too”
  • “Happy to explore with everyone”
  • “I’m in”
  • “I am in we need a location and a date”
  • “Sounds great! I’ll check out the link

We agreed quickly on a hashtag because the tweets with the names of the organizers started getting unwieldy. We chose #barcamp18901 (for the local zip code) and started to tweet publically about our plans to organize the event. We put the hashtag in each tweet and the initial group and soon other organizers could monitor the conversation.

After a week, we decided to have a face to face planning meeting. We picked a Starbucks for its convenient location and it’s free wifi. Still no email or phone calls had taken place. A few had met for lunches to talk about the ideas, but there was no formal organizing. The tweets with the #barcamp18901 hashtag continued.

Expanding on this transparent communication, we decided to set up a public wiki page to organize our thoughts. Using the incredibly powerful and simple wiki from pbworks.com, we created a planning page with a strawman proposal for the event. The page has gone though 84 edits since that initial strawman, but if you follow the link, you will see how we listed the ideas, crossed them off, improved them, documented tasks, asked questions, and generally kept all our notes out in the open for full visibility and transparency.

This transparency proved to be quite valuable. We were all busy people with jobs, families and other responsibilities. We had very little time to get together and even less time to meet up in person. Throughout the day on our iPhones, Droids, and laptops, we monitored the #barcamp18901 hashtag and went to the wiki page to organize our thoughts.

One week after that first tweet, we were meeting at Starbucks at 7am for the first of three face-to-face meetings, a timeslot that soon gained the nickname of “the new noon”. It seems we all enjoyed getting together early before the start of our day.

With iPads in hand, we went over the wiki notes, we captured new notes, and then updated with wiki later that day. We all had our assignments, and began to take them on, crossing them off on the wiki as we made progress. A few got started on the venue, others set up the Posterous blog, Facebook page, Youtube channel, Flickr, twitter, and gmail accounts.

I took on the ticketing with a recommendation from a friend to use eventbrite.com. Wow, that was easy. I created an account and started to poke around the site to see how I would set up the event and the free ticketing. As I experimented, I quickly realized, it was all ready to go in just about 10 minutes. I kicked off the event, created an initial “Announcing BarCamp Doylestown” blog post and we were off and running.

For the next few weeks, we continued to tweet, update the wiki, and count the registrations as they trickled in. We promoted the event through the @BCdoylestown twitter account and then through retweets from the organizers. It came together very quickly and by mid August, we decided to meet again and see how it was going. Back to Starbucks at “the new noon” and this time we picked up a few new organizers. Sponsors were beginning to appear and it was coming together. @markmag suggested we update the registration site to ask a few extra questions as the attendees registered. So we started gathering an interesting fact about each attendee, and also asked if they would like to lead a session and if so, on what topic.

More promotion followed, we moved to email lists, linked in connections, and more tweets and retweets. Something snapped by Labor Day and on some days registrations were coming in as many as 5-10 per day. We began to get worried that it would sell out 3 weeks before the event and started wondering if we should raise the attendee limit from 160 to 180. We had picked the magic number of 160 based on the advice of @markmag and @the_spinmd. They said we should register 2x the number of attendees we wanted. The logic was based on their past experience with Barcamps in Philly where usually only 1/2 the number registered showed up when the price was “free”. We were wondering, given all the excitement, that maybe we would get better than the anticipated turnout.

We continued to promote, tweet and organize the meeting in the public eye on twitter and the wiki. We shared the password so each of the organizers had the ability to post on our channels. Several people posted on posterous, several on twitter, and one even set up a LinkedIn group.

On Sept 7, just 2 weeks before the event, we had our final planning meeting. It was then that we started organizing the topics and learned that @mannyrechani had secured Newsgator as the food sponsor. We already had a venue sponsor, a soft drink sponsor, and a snack sponsor, but were really looking for someone with deeper pockets to cover the local catering that @nickeyh had worked out. Newsgator came forward and for about the price of a coast-to-coast airline ticket, covered the food and locked up the prime sponsor position for the event.

For the final week, we worked to organize the topics. We used the wiki again to build on the topics. We asked potential presenters to fill out more details on the wiki (not a big response rate), and also asked participants to help us pick the better topics through an online voting tool donated by AppFusions. That proved to work nicely in learning what was of most interest to the attendees, but in reality, the best voting is onsite at the barcamp itself.

@chuckhall printed up large poster pages of the topics and we created a voting process (on the wiki again) that all the organizers agreed to. We broke down and had a few conference calls for final logistics and declared on Friday afternoon that we were ready to go for the Monday event.

How did it go? Check out the site for full coverage.

For all of us, it was a rewarding and educational experience. Specifically I learned:

  1. You can lead without having any authority
  2. “Working out loud” is a very effective way for the crowd to self organize
  3. Transparency and Trust can enable anything
  4. Viral online promotion works
  5. Free online tools are mature and powerful enough for effective collaboration: eventbrite.com, twitter.com, posterous.com, appfusions.com, youtube.com, linkedin.com, gmail and google docs just to name a few
  6. The four pillars of Social Business were lived out: Trust, Transparency, Authenticity, and Collaboration

If you want to see or shape where we go next, just join the conversation by monitoring #barcamp18901 for BarCamp Doylestown.

Thanks to the organizing crowd: @bsdalton @ChuckHall @jimworth @NealWiser @MRubillo @MannyRechani @markmag @cariofthevalley @the_spinmd @Nickeyh @barrypeters there is a new understanding and appreciation of Emerging Social Business right here in our town of Doylestown, PA.

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2000 Tweets

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Yes, I’m closing in on 2000 tweets. It’s at 1997 as I write this and I didn’t want to just let the milestone pass with no recognition.

It’s really not such a big deal. I’ve seen many others with many more tweets. And just saying a lot is not really a reason for celebration, but somehow, I think hitting this milestone says something about how I’ve embraced the social web, how I’ve opened up and decided it’s OK to share many of my thoughts, ideas, and opinions on a very public stage. In fact, I understand all my 2000 tweets along with the other 20 Billion out there are being archived in the Library of Congress. It would make the first time, to my knowledge, that the Library of Congress cared anything about what I had to say. That’s for sure.

So, what goes into 2000 tweets? I remember my first tweet, something like this. “I just set up my twitter account, now what.” I remember the response I got from an experienced friend. “Tweet”, he said.

And tweet, I have. It started as a trickle. I found about a dozen friends to follow. I kept my tweets protected. I would only accept followers if I knew them. I continued this way for about 7 months then something snapped. I had about 40 followers at this time and was starting to get engaged in a global crowd working on enterprise social media applications. I was beginning to have some interesting conversations and meeting like-minded people all over the country and soon all over the world. I’m not sure why, but all of a sudden, I decided to open it up. I remember another friend said (through a tweet), go for it. You’re in for a fun ride.

So what have I tweeted about? Funny, they come and go so fast, I don’t really remember most of them. There are a few however, that seem to endure my memory. Most of them are interesting observations that my “following” crowd has sent my way. I find many of them useful and add my 20 character analysis and send them on. Most of these have something to do with new developments in Social Media, Social Networking, Enterprise 2.0, and Social Business in general. I’ve found so much information in blogs, articles, surveys and such that have enriched my understanding of this quickly changing landscape.

Then there are the Apple tweets. You see, I got an iPhone about 16 months ago and have been enamored with advances in mobile technology ever since. I followed closely the announcement and then the hoopla around the release of the iPad (ending up buying mine on day 1 from the tweet peer pressure). Then there was the leak on the iPhone 4. I remember tweeting something like “I wonder of this was an accident, or some marketing ploy by Steve Jobs”. I continue to listen to and chime in on the iPhone vs. Android debate. I don’t really care which is best, but rather enjoy the advances brought on by competition.

Then there was the Google Buzz debacle. I remember ranting about how the introduction of Google Buzz exposed the private mailing list of the early adopters. In some cases revealing secrets that were best kept secret. That was the time that @jowyang tweeted that Google Buzz was like an old girlfriend. I chimed in that it was more “like a spited girlfriend who shared all your secrets with the world”. That one got lots of mileage and all of a sudden Jeremiah and I were sharing the RT rounds. It was nice, if only for a brief few days, to be in the same company Mr. Owyang.

I started noticing some of my peeps tweeting about their political views, their religious views, and many topics that would be too sensitive for the office, or even for happy hour. But I found that they tweeted nonetheless and the community embraced their openness, sometimes agreed, but never chided anyone for truly speaking their mind.

I thought, heck, I should share some ideas too. That’s when the Sunday Series started. So, 31 of my 2000 tweets have been links to weekly mp3 messages, sharing the simplicity of the Christian Gospel. They go out each Sunday Morning as a nice diversion from the normal flow of tweets. Hopefully, the messages have spoken to someone with what they needed to hear at that moment.

Then, there have been the foursquare tweets. I really enjoy experimenting with location based technology. Foursquare and Gowalla came along at just the right time, making it fun to tell the world where you are and what you are doing there. I don’t tweet all my foursquare updates, but each of my 30 or so mayorships have been tweeted, along with the subsequent oustings. It’s harmless fun.

The conference tweets have been engaging. Taking part in the “back channel” during a webcast or a conference session is invigorating for a wise cracker like me. In the past, I had to whisper to a friend and snicker. But now with twitter, I can make my comments and often times they are picked up in real time. I remember a webinar when it moved from education to sales talk. I tweeted “Uh Oh, I hope this doesn’t turn into a sales pitch”. That got retweeted a few times with the webinar hash tag, and I think it may have turned the conversation away from where it was going.

I got the bright idea to gather a listing of blog posts from the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference. Using the wiki from pbworks.com, I set up a framework and tweeted it with the conference hashtag. Within 1 week, over 25 people from the conference contributed and it has grown into a very comprehensive summary of the conference.

Then there was the tweet that started a conference. I said something like “Thinking we should plan a Doylestown social business “barcamp” unconf. Any Ideas?” That one picked up very quickly and now we are off and planning our first Social Business Unconference for this coming September.

One of the funniest exchanges was just after I launched a big software system at work. I remember tweeting “I just released my largest software project of my career, on time and on budget”. It got bounced from a friend in Spain to a new friend in Australia. It was a Monday evening for me, and a Tuesday morning for him. I remember he said, something cute about me limiting scope or something, I chimed back with a few explanations and we had a quick round the world conversation right there. That’s the power of Twitter.

Then there was the day that we were all waiting for the Tsunami to hit Hawaii. I remember tweeting a friend on Maui and asking him how things were as they prepared for the waves to hit. We stayed in touch, I followed a few “breaking news” feeds and thankfully saw that it became a non-event for the 50th state.

So, 2000 tweets have come and gone. It is my contribution to the global conversation. 2000 tweets could become a 150 page manuscript. That’s a lot of writing, but mainly, it’s just an extension to the conversations I have every day. What’s great is that these conversations are reaching much farther and returning much more than I could in my limited daily conversations. I think the best thing about 2000 tweets is the many new relationships that have been built. Literally hundreds of new people are part of my social and professional circle now due to twitter. Many of which, I have met face to face and then continue to keep the conversation alive through the tweets. There is something special about having a crowd that I can always talk with and will always be willing to listen.

I’m looking forward now to see where the conversation will go next.

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Coming to Grips with a Social Way of Working

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Over the past years, I’ve come out of my shell. Having been in IT and also online for many years (CompuServe and before), I’ve come to really embrace my online activities and a new way of working and interacting with peers, colleagues, and friends.

I tweeted about it recently referencing this HBR blog post: 10 Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life.

(note: originally posted July 16, 2010, and refreshed Dec 4, 2010)

It’s true, my online life and my off line life are merging and the online aspect makes my off line aspect more fulfilling. Enough of that “navel gazing”, lets talk about what has changed in my daily activities.

Mobile is the “Tipping Point”
First of all, I do everything on my iPhone or iPad. I was a blackberry user for many years and watched my social circle expand greatly when I switched to the iPhone 3Gs about 14 months ago. With a powerful mobile device, the 10 items listed below can be done very frequently throughout the day. Without a “smartphone”, you’re limited to finding time to fire up a computer on a wired LAN connection or locating a wifi hot spot and laptop to engage in social media. It’s just too much trouble.

News is Targeted to me
1. Twitter is my central information source. I’ve stopped watching local and national news. I’ve stopped reading newspapers. Occasionally, I read the local page in my local paper, but other than that, most everything I see, I’ve already seen in twitter. I’m selective who I follow and look for people who have something to say that I find interesting and engaging.
2. I get my weather from my iPhone / iPad Weather Bug app. Often, I don’t even check the thermometer outside when I wake up. I just check the Weather Bug app on my iPhone for the current temp and forecast.

Communities are “Where it’s at”
3. I use Socialcast and Yammer all the time for several important communities. At work, it’s part of a large network of 4000+ employees all around the world. Within a peer group (20Adoption Council) Socialcast is the platform for very active conversation throughout the day with others who think like me all over the world. Google Groups and Yahoo Groups along with a couple of private email lists still feel like communities, but they are losing importance.

Email is much less important
4. I use gmail for my personal mail and make a point to keep it completely separate from my company mail. My day job mailbox is squeaky clean with only company business. Anything personal goes to gmail.
5. Most of my gmail is made up of lingering e-newsletters and notifications of what is happening on my social sites. Very little actual 1:1 communication happens there any more. When it does, I often miss it
6. I text a lot, but still keep it within my current 200 message monthly limit

Professional and Personal Networking
7. I make a point to connect with nearly every professional I meet on Linked In. I started there about 4 years ago and have seen that network recently exceed 850 connections.
8. Facebook is great and I use it regularly to keep up with non professional contacts (family, friends, people who my family would join for dinner, you get it). I keep that very personal and generally closed. I have about 100 “friends” there, and stay away from the high school reunion crowd. That was a long time ago…Why would I want to share my personal life with them now?

Location Based Enjoyment
9. I enjoy experimenting with Foursquare and Gowalla right now, but limit my “friends” there to people I’m comfortable with knowing my whereabouts.

Central Document storage with Crowd based Authoring
10. I’ve been using Google Groups, Google Docs, and Yahoo Groups for some time now for controlled online sharing. These are good, but I see them being replaced by crowd friendly tools. I’m really liking my recent experience with a consumer wiki tool from PBWorks. I have found it very useful for crowdsourcing links. See what I mean at my E20 Wiki Workspace.

There you have the basics. The reality is most of my communication throughout the day is on my iPhone or iPad through Twitter, Socialcast, gmail, Foursquare and Facebook. I check into my corporate email now on my iPad, but am not tied to it like I am my personal feeds. I find I am more and more comfortable sharing my thoughts and ideas with trusted colleagues. This steady stream of information can be intimidating, but I’ve come to a point where it’s OK to miss something even if it was a message addressed directly to me. If it is important, it will come again.

Willing to Foot My Own Technology Bill
It may go unsaid, but I’ll say it. My personal technology and productivity tools are much more powerful and flexible than those provided by my corporate employer (or any corporate employer for that matter). I don’t mind. In fact I prefer it that way. I like the flexibility and much prefer using my own tools just like I enjoy driving my own car and dressing in my own clothes when I come to work.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? Please share this post (RT) and add your comments below.

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Filed under microblogging, mobility, social web, twitter

Enterprise 2.0 Conference Recaps

>One thing I learned at the recent E2.0 Conference in Boston was the power of a simple wiki. I started by trying to compile a list of interesting blog posts and tweeters from the conference. I started with a short list and decided to try the pbworks.com wiki engine. I posted a skeleton list and then tweeted it. With in 5 days it had grown to become a very compressive list that still grows. Please visit and contribute more. Thanks to the power of the crowd for creating such a great list!

Link here

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Filed under community, enterprise20, Innovation, social business, social CRM, social media, social web, trends, web2.0