Thoughts on using Google Buzz for collaboration and knowledge work

Ah, all the buzz about Google Buzz. Everybody is kicking the tires, experimenting and playfully learning. This is fun – at least for geeks and I can say that the overall experience has been pretty cool. It’s slick, has seen some very good ideas implemented and integrates nicely with my (private) Google account. Some feature requests and some questions still remain, and right – mine are not so much focussed on the consumer experience side but rather on the side of collaboration and knowledge worker’s processes. So no thoughts on mobile usage of Buzz now, nor about usability, complexity or design and only a smallish thought on adoption near the end of this post.

One – I am really waiting for the Buzz to arrive in my Google Apps domain (mail to frogpond adresses is handled by Google Mail, yes, there are a lot reasons for putting mail and apps into the cloud) – and the official announcement wasn’t clear I think:

We also plan to make Google Buzz available to businesses and schools using Google Apps, with added features for sharing within organizations.

Hmm, does this include the standard edition of Apps or is this planned for Premium alone?

Two – let’s applaud Google for relying on open communication standards for its social web endeavours – it’s playing, integrating and – as Chris Messina writes here – leveraging the fabric of the open web. Of course this is helping Google but it’s also helping us, and it’s a wildly disruptive move too (hey, everything that uses Pubsubhubbub is a friend of mine …).

Three – Right, Buzz both validates and marginalizes Friendfeed (I so dig the tag line “FriendFeed Reborn. On Growth Hormone” at Techcrunch). Indeed, the idea of an aggregated life-workstream was just too good to go unsatisfied – and I am now waiting for rooms and/or persistent searches to find their ways into Buzz.

Knowledge workers they need to arrange their groups and channels of communication, finding information from sources that are contextually relevant (and then act upon them, sometimes this may just mean more information filtering, analysis and refining et al.). All in all the knowledge workers workplace can need some more nifty tools that improve productivity – and yes, this is a big topic in Vulcan too everywhere.

Four – Commencing on the context topic of three, what Buzz already has done for me is a boosting of the volume (and so far the usefulness) of Google Reader recommendations. I really like the pre-filtered stuff that gets channeled to me through my social network (and I hope they enjoy the stuff I am recommending and bookmarking on a daily basis).

And now there’s more of it – and it’s easy to “buzzify content” that may start a discussion on Buzz. So I guess we need some more Backtype wizardry to include the Buzz discourse on blogs. That said – we’re still missing threaded conversation, individual favoriting of comments et al. in Buzz. Until that arrives I would rather have the conversation and discourse in here, yet I am not sure how this will work out in the end. But yes, I see and I like that Buzz will allow for more finetuning, filtering and finding stuff that interests me.

Let’s assume then that the adoption rolls in the enterprise sphere too? That’s asking for much now (and let’s not forget that these are beta status thougts …). One reason is that Google is not exactly in the position to enter the large enterprises market, even taking into account the considerable amount of consumerization of corporate IT and collaboration instruments. But I am sure that collaboration systems that merge IM, mail, wiki style collaborative editing, content sharing and communication will succeed in the enterprise too.

So yes, I think they can mount the 9x challenge – Susan asked here whether Buzz can overcome Andrew McAfee’s famous test – and I commented that it’s the integration with Google Mail that helps Buzz access a huge initial user base and network, of which:

[…] some may use it at times, even when it’s not 9 times better than the other ways we communicate

From this initial user base I guess it’s a downhill battle …

So yes, and to sum it up – for now Buzz may be immature, but it has lots of promise to change the way people collaborate and communicate.

PS. I know this could as well been a BMID post – as Buzz pondering touches and meanders around the cultures of innovation, the nerve and resilience to pull through with your innovation and ideas (some have fears Google may not), all in all the excitement and the wonders of technology innovation. And it’s relevant from a business model innovation perspective too, I feel a bit so …

Upcoming: WikiCAMP at CeBIT 2010

Mark the date and arrange your travel plans wisely – on March 6, 2010 we’ll have the first WikiCamp at CeBIT


The venue is in Hall 6 at the FORUM Learning & Knowledge Solutions, nearby the Webciety area. There will be some smaller rooms for workshops and small group discussions – plus a large general meeting area where lightning talks, interviews and the closing session is planned. Add your session proposals now.

Here’s the planned schedule:

10:00 – 11:40 Opening, Meet ‘n Greet, Plan for sessions
11:40 – 12:25 First sessions
12:30 – 13:15 Open for sessions (or lunch if you’re hungry)
13:20 – 14:05 Timeslot 3 – plus one session in the forum
14:10 – 14:55 Timeslot 4 – plus one session in the forum
15:00 – 16:30 Closing it up – what have we discussed and what have we learned

Es geht los – CoWorking in Stuttgart

Genug des Redens, seit dieser Woche wird gebuzzt geschafft im Beehive Stuttgart CoWorking Space Stuttgart der Name steht noch nicht fest – aber ich bin mir mittlerweile nicht mehr sicher ob die Buzz-Metapher noch sinnvoll ist …

Bis Anfang März, wenn wir die offizielle Eröffnung planen, möchten wir Euch die Gelegenheit bieten, die Alpha-Phase des Coworking Stuttgart mitzuerleben und zu gestalten und – warum nicht – an eigenen Projekten zu arbeiten! Auch wenn nicht gleich am 15.02. die ganze Infrastruktur vorhanden sein wird, sondern erstmal nur Tische, Stühle, Internet und Kaffee 😉 laden wir euch herzlich ein, zwischen dem 15.02. und 28.02. im Rahmen unserer Coworking Test Days, eure Projekte und Laptops mitzubringen und Coworking gratis zu erleben!

CoWorking Test Days? Am Rosenmontag werde ich meine Arbeit (Laptop) und einen Kuchen einpacken und zur inoffiziellen Einweihung da sein, ich freue mich darauf …

What builds Community Strength

But if communities are so much a part of humanity, why do many fail? There are more communities available to us than we are able to join. We filter those we don’t have affinity to.  We are stretched too thin and cannot be at every party — and give each one our gifts.  We run out of time, energy, and willingness to participate.  So we choose our attachments. If only we understood how.

Communities require emotional attachments that makes them communities — they (usually via their leaders) must develop a sense of Shared Fate.  Shared fate means that if something happens to the community, then each member feels affected by it.

… and then there’s shared faith which is essential in community building and “nourishing”.

Gil Yehuda cites open source development projects, which can (sometimes) lead to extraordinary results, and goes on to talk about in-house community building and the steps it takes.

This is a great post and an equally inspiring discussion – touching actual community management, the dynamics of communities (of practice), why we need to foster them (resilience, collaboration, motivation only being some of the points) and the design and patterns that underly them. These sort of communities, ie. communities that share fate and faith, are what makes work and workplaces meaningful (and sometimes enjoyable) …

PS. Yes, I am writing this on an Ubuntu-powered GNU Linux machine, in Firefox, and this post will get published on an Apache powered Linux webserver again, so much on what communities can achieve.

Extended blog post based upon a posterous entry.

Linear vs. iterative models of implementation

Morten Hansen did the opening talk at yesterday’s Virtual Enterprise 2.0 Conference – and I must admit not everything resonated with me.

For one this linear process of 1. get clear about your business case, evaluate opportunities, 2. identify barriers 3. tailor a solution, ie. “get a grip on the levers and pull” is only sounding easy – in real life these mucky Enterprise 2.0 implementations are rarely linear, clearly set out and easily manageable, ie. easy to plan for, to control and to measure.

Mostly I’ve seen iterative and “perpetual beta” initiatives – and that’s not a bad thing to have at all. Ideally it allows for rapid learning from pilots and prototypes, and the gradual emergence of patterns of collaboration that make sense to the organization (be it a team, a department, whatever). In my mind this freeform, emergent and adaptive approach is also instrumental in “instilling both the capabilities and the willingness” in people – after all Enterprise 2.0 is not a classic IT-project that can be rolled out – and it’s complementing the freeform and emergent nature of many of the tools, systems and environments we employ to meet business objectives. A linear model of implementation might be good for selling and appear rational at first sight, but it’s not realistic and – I really hate to say that – merely academic.

Anyway, most of his other thoughts and ideas are vastly agreeable (“bad collaboration is worse than none”; his advice on evading collaboration traps like over-collaboration, the underestimating of costs, hostile cultures, solving the wrong problems et al.; the meme of disclipined collaboration as a whole; his focus on nimble interpersonal networks and the advantages of T-Shaped people) and are of value and interest to Enterprise 2.0 people of all kinds. So, yes, seems I have to get me the whole book after all, for now check out the (a bit sales pushy) video with Morten from BNet below:

It’s the dream of any organization to have all of its departments working together harmoniously for the greater good of all. But is collaboration within a company always a good thing? Author Morten Hansen thinks not and provides a guide on how to avoid common collaboration traps and how to create an environment in which collaboration can thrive.

Virtual Enterprise 2.0 Conference (notes and agenda)

It’s about to start underway now, the Virtual Enterprise 2.0 Conference, live – and I need a place to tweak, extend and comment on. While this could be Google Wave, like at the last e2conf in San Francisco, a nice little blog post might do the trick for the moment as well.

So what’s on the slate? First it’s the opening keynote with Morten T. Hansen, Author of Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results.

Then at 6pm my time it’s Oliver Marks & Sameer Patel discussing “Accelerating Business Performance with Enterprise 2.0” – see their video here

[…] the stages from inception to completion that form the gateways to successful justification, budget allocation and roll out. The session will provide guidance on how to plan, internally sell, design, develop and launch Enterprise 2.0 initiatives that will provide tangible business value to your organization.

7pm my time it’s Building an Interactive Enterprise with Louis Richardson, IBM:

[…] he reviews what IBM is doing to challenge people to think differently and do business differently. Learn how to create an interactive office environment with enterprise 2.0 capabilities that can bring people and content together quickly, integrate them into existing business processes, support high performance teaming, and drive faster decision making across the value chain of your organization.

Hey, did I notice I’ve been to Lotusphere? Nice to have a recap anyway 😉

9 pm my time it’s Social Software Tools: A Critical Evaluation with Tony Byrne:

[…] To date, technology analysts have quite properly focused on the social and business aspects of social software. And yet, social software tools (including collaboration suites, pure-play blog / wiki / social-networking products, and revamped portal products from major vendors) differ quite substantially in maturity, approach, and support. This session will share customer research from noted evaluation firm CMS Watch on leading social software technologies, and provide a framework for customers to evaluate the marketplace based on their own needs.

10 pm it’s the Microsoft Keynote with consecutive Q&A Session

11 pm The Evolution of with Megan Murray :

In this session, learn how Booz Allen’s platform is evolving. From the tools leveraged to their approach to policy, governance, and user support, Hello, like many Enterprise 2.0 implementations, is changing as it is integrated into the fabric of the organization.

For the moment I think I will follow the tweet stream, favourite some of the better ones (they will get syndicated into my tumblr lifestream here) and make some scribbled notes on plain paper …

Lotusphere 2010, Project Vulcan und #LJC

Eingezwängt zwischen Arbeit und der virtuellen Enterprise 2.0 Konferenz in Boston auf meinem Desktop finde ich etwas Zeit zum bloggen und nutze das zum verlinken: Zum einen auf die Videos in denen Stefan Pfeiffer, Peter Schütt und René Werth auf die Lotusphere 2010 zurückschauen – mit besonderem Augenmerk auf den angekündigten Roadmaps und Initiativen wie Project Vulcan:

Natürlich ist Project Vulcan zuallererst einmal eine Vision, ein Blueprint, eine Roadmap – aber OK, ohne Visionen und Pläne ist ja alles nichts … im Ernst, die Integration verschiedener Technologien und Clients auf Basis offener Standards wird ja nachgefragt – zum einen weil die Geschäftsanforderungen eben genau das fordern (übergreifende Kopplung und Abstimmung von Anwendungssystemen und Geschäftsprozessen, Einbau von kollaborativen Funktionalitäten an geeigneten Stellen), zum anderen weil die Cloud bzw. das Aufkommen neuer Endgeräte (Smartphones, Blackberrys, iPads …) miteinander verbundene Plattformen fördern: “[…] blend collaboration, social, and business applications into a useful, productive experience, and to deliver it in Lotus Notes, a browser, and mobile devices”, wie Chris Reckling hier kommentiert).

Project Vulcan wird so sicher auch auf dem kommenden Lotus JamCamp diskutiert, das heute offiziell angekündigt wurde:

Auf dem JamCamp diskutieren Vertreter aus Unternehmen und Verwaltung, Digital Natives, Studenten und Professoren sowie Business Partner und IBM Mitarbeiter, wie Web 2.0 Technologien, Cloud Computing, Enterprise 2.0 oder Open Source den Arbeitsplatz von heute und morgen beeinflussen und verändern:

– Wie sieht der innovative Arbeitsplatz der Zukunft aus?
– Was heißt Enterprise 2.0 aus Unternehmenssicht und aus Sicht der jungen Generation?
– Wie bette ich Social Media-Tools wie Wikis, Blogs, soziale Netze, etc. organisatorisch im Unternehmen ein?
– Wie sehen Erwartungen, aber auch Anforderungen der Digital Natives aus, wenn sie in die Berufswelt einsteigen?

Ja, ich wusste davon schon etwas früher – der Grund dafür ist dass ich das Team um Stefan Pfeiffer bei der Organisation des Events unterstütze. Das hier nur als erster Disclaimer und zur Offenlegung der Beziehungen, ähnliches habe ich ja bereits zur Lotusphere geschrieben.

Ich werde daher in den kommenden Wochen noch den einen oder anderen ausführlicheren Beitrag zum Lotus JamCamp schreiben – heute will ich nur meine Freude ausdrücken dass sowohl Nicole Simon als auch Jörg Kantel mit Impulsvorträgen dabei sein werden. Mit Nicole habe ich das bereits bei der LeWeb besprochen, mit Jörg erst diese Tage – und es ist sehr schön dass die beiden an Bord des #LJC sind.