Tris Hussey’s session on tools was one that you really had to move you pencil for. So many interesting examples. I really like how he mixed the mostly free tools with examples of where a few dollars gets you so much more.

I had previous experience with

Avairy was an example of a class of tool that has only been possible recently. It provides desktop-class image editing tools as a website. While there are always need for dedicated tools like Photoshop and Pixelmator, when you see what is possible online – especially for those of us that go across machines and across platforms – you wonder why you would use anything else.

Feedly for the newspaper-style RSS experience was a really nice tool for researching and scanning RSS content.

WordCamp Victoria was held Saturday Nov 14th at University Canada West in Victoria
What’s at Wordcamp –
Location Sponsor –


WordCamp Victoria was held Saturday Nov 14th at University Canada West in Victoria


  • What’s at Wordcamp –
  • Location Sponsor –

Register: WordCamp Victoria 2009 – WordCamp Victoria (Victoria, BC) –

In slightly more than a tweet, I wanted to plug the upcoming WordCamp Victoria event. After what sounded like an excellent event in Vancouver a couple months ago, some engaging folks on this side of the water have put together an event for Victoria’s Social Media/Networking/Blogging, <Insert additional new media tag here> groups.

Employees don’t need your network. I can access any social network I like on my iPhone and my Palm Pre. I have a laptop with built-in access to the Sprint network that gets me on any site I want. Employees can (and do) bring these tools to the workplace. Your blocks have no impact. Employees can still get to Facebook all they want.

via a shel of my former self.

As someone who has managed networks of various sizes, I understand the need to manage resources to ensure critical business is not overwhelmed by other uses. But this article lays out some interesting points – on the network and other things – as they related to the corporate IT infrastructure.

In the early days, Corporate IT groups limited the services they would offer based on what was “supportable”. Frequently the cost of support would dwarf acquisition and operations by an order of magnitude (10x) or more. The implied deal being – we can’t let you have everything – but what we do give you we will provide training, in-service, and be responsible for the ability of the tool to meet you business requirement.

That ‘social contract’ (pardon the pun) has largely been broken. Training budgets have been non-existant for many and the outsourcing of services have limited support to the ‘hard outages’ not the ‘soft support’. The response is frequently if the service is operational – there is no problem. Whether you have the ability/information to use it or not is not a support issue.

So outside services and resources, which may have more commonly understood interfaces or tools start to look more useful than the Corporate IT Applications.

So, are Corporate IT days numbered – yes and no. The current round of economic ‘realities’ have seen cutbacks in many areas. Cancelation of corporate cellphones and blackberries, push to work from home (and home-based computers) are all seen as money savings. But this undermines the role of the IT Services provided centrally.  In some organizations there is likely to be a tipping point where the personal technology becomes more useful than the corporate. And if the costs are not extreme, the individual employees could end up outsourcing their own IT services.

Watching what gets done right and wrong with various social tools I offer up my three ‘F’s. First it is important to say that Social Media is not a single tool or application. As I got drilled into my head from the likes of Brian Lamb and D’Arcy Norman – its about community. If you are building a social network is needs to be based on the community not the tool. In many cases you will need to multiple tools.

With that in mind, here are my three F’s

FEEDS – you need a syndication, transmission, stream of consciousness that people can latch onto. Provide some thoughts that people can look at. This could be Twitter, an RSS feed, or even a series of emails if that is what it takes to reach your audience.

FOCUS – Provide a platform for the community to engage with your content. At this point it could be a blog, but more likely it is a common platform (Facebook, Flickr, Google Groups) that is not seen as being ‘owned’ by an individual.

FEEDBACK – The community must see its influence fold back into the content. What’s the use of contributing if it has no effect. This can includes comments in blogs, voicemails played in a podcast, or collaborative content like a Wiki.

An interesting study in anti-social Networking is when a large corporation attempts to portray itself so vastly against its common persona. Such is the case with AT&Ts “Seth the Blogger” this week

News Item:

A video was uploaded yesterday wherein Seth tries to explain why AT&T has been rather rubbish lately. In essence, it’s because there’s so many iPhones out there chewing up network capacity that AT&T has a hard time keeping up. Whether that’s AT&T’s fault or iPhone users’ fault is an issue for another day.Here’s just a sampling of what the good people on YouTube are saying: “Not buying it. AT&T is still overpriced and still sucks.”

via Wow, people sure don’t believe AT&T’s Seth the Blogger Guy.

Dan Airely in his book Predictably Irrational covers the point quite clearly. Paraphrasing him; there are different ‘norms’ that are appllied in different situations, companies can frequently be see to invoke social norms in one case and business norms in another.  For example, your boss says “Dan we need you to stay late because this report needs to be finalized for 8AM Monday”, a month later ‘Dan’ asks “Got my kids Sports day, like to kick out at 2 to catch it, okay?” No money changes hands, no overtime or holidays are counted just two unrelated social transactions. If Dan demanded overtime or the boss made him take 2 hours of holidays then all subsequent discussion would be based on the more formal Business norms of employer/employee.  The hazard as Airely states it is when relationships go back and forth between one and the other. This is both frustrating and unsustainable as both sides continue to be unclear on what the ‘norms’ are.

This is not to say that you can’t have different norms apply to the same relationship. I for example have a local coffee shop staffed by people, who may not exactly be close friends, but I respect and enjoy both the coffee (which I pay for) and the conversation (which is an uncompensated byproduct). I occasionally arrive shortly after opening and the owner (Italo) is still laying out the furniture and signs. Not being one to stand around an watch someone work, I’ll grab a few chairs and put them around the tables. The logic being, the sooner that gets done, the sooner I get my Americano. Sometime Italo will refuse to take my money after I offer my assistance. Given the size of the financial transaction ($2.50) it is a minor thing either way and the mutal respect would stop either of us from taking advantage of it.

Now you may say that is because of a direct relationship built up over time. Well I have the same social vs financial with several Podcasts I follow. I pay a small amount each month to subscribe to Mac OS Ken. On the odd day the podcast may be missing or late, there will be an audio note or twitter explaining the situation and frequently its an illness, trip or some family event. I have no problem accepting this as a small social transaction based on the overall enjoyment I get from the podcast – frequently enjoyed with above mentioned Americano.

The value received is far above the direct financial transaction. Sitting with a awesome view of the Victoria harbour drinking a delectable Americano, listening to a humourous tech newscast is worth significantly more than the money to me than I spend on either of them. So it is easy to accept the small social transactions on the side. I hoping that in some small way Italo, Ken and I are all getting more from the transactions than just the money.

Flash forward to Seth the Blogger, or in my case the Senior Executives in my own organization, they both try to invoke social norms and ask for my ‘understanding’ for various issues that do not turn out as one might expect. The problem is the social context doesn’t exist. Neither Seth or my Boss’s Bosses’ Boss’s Boss are my friend, they have no social capital with me, and they are trying to pretend that ‘we’re all in this together’ and I should accept the social give and take. Well sorry, my company isn’t my family, and my service providers (for the most part) aren’t my friends.

I work hard and I believe I give my company fair value in return. I take their money and spend it with companies who frequently give me less than fair value (most recently Travelocity – idiots). Expecting that I, or anyone else, will look past the business norms and accepting there is also a social relationship that can be taken advantage of just shows how out of touch some of these folks are.

A friend asked about my Master’s Thesis the other day. I was hunting through old computer files (c.1990) and found quotes that still seem to have a ring of reality.

My paper in 1990 barely considered networked computing, internet or anything like that. In fact it was sparked by a Presidential Commission on Instructional Technology that goes back 20 years before that (1970). In reviewing all the 1950s and 1960s era ‘technology’ that was applied to education.

In part it found:

1. Indifference or Antipathy toward Using Technology in Education
2. Poor Programs
3. Inadequate Equipment
4. Inaccessibility
5. Teachers Not Trained in Instructional Technology
6. Media Specialists Excluded from Central Planning
(Commission on Instructional Technology, 1970, 78-81)

“Today technology touches only a small fraction of instruction. Colleges, universities, and schools have been using television, films, computers, or programmed texts in instruction, but to a limited extent. The results are mixed, with some institutions making a creative and sustained use of the new media while others, after an initial burst of enthusiasm, quickly losing interest.” (Commission on Instructional Technology, 1970, p8)

As is was summarized in a presenation I heard in the late 1980s, “any technology will fail if it doesn’t tak into account the culture of the classroom”.

In the world of ‘social networking’ the message of understanding culture is more important than ever.