IM Bogeyman Strikes Again

I see that the Instant Messaging Bogeyman is back in town 🙂 This time its local IT analyst, Bruce McCabe, writing for the Australian. In his opinion, “The only quality that makes instant messaging interesting as a business tool can be summed up in two words: presence detection.

I’m actually a little confused about the point McCabe is trying to make. On one hand he provides examples of where IM is useful (like a widely dispersed organisation) but then gives it the thumbs down because of lost productivity (interuptions, lack of richness, slow typing).

Its a shame that he fails to mention other benefits such as:

  • Integration with Webconferencing tools;
  • Access to information through interactive IM ‘bots;
  • The ability to indicate if you are busy, away or free to talk;
  • As a secondary real-time communication tool while you are on the phone to someone else or to support a teleconferencing and videoconferencing meeting;
  • And so on…

Looking at the broader picture of IM you actually find there is more to it than just chat or presence alone.

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Enterprise blogging in practice cont’d

I said I would post a few more comments about this post yesterday. One thing to add is to make sure you read both the original and follow-up posts by Coté.

Now what I say here needs to be taken in the context of what I’ve said previously about corporate blogging and also these comments. Like Coté I don’t think we should give up on enterprise blogging, but I do think many organisations are reinventing the wheel rather than building on what we already know about getting people to collaborate with technology inside the firewall.

In my previous life as a knowledge manager at Ernst & Young I faced similar problems with helping staff to develop and maintain successful knowledgebases that were components in the firm’s award winning EY/KnowledgeWeb intranet. I know from direct experience that, just like a blog, running a successful discussion forum within an organisation requires ongoing effort both to create content but also to ensure sponsorship, readership and contribution.

However, I also had to spend a lot of time explaining to people why it was important to stay within the E&Y collaborative architecture so that the majority could contribute, access and search for content. Standards like RSS are excellent on the Internet where people use different applications to create and read public blog content, however this isn’t necessarily a challenge faced within the enterprise. However, RSS can create problems where another standard platform exists (unless you can integrate the two of course).

So overall I see the challenges of enterprise blogging as a knowledge management challenge. The key to success is building on what we already know about getting people, process, technology and content to all work happily together.

Alarm Clock 2.0


Continuing my theme of looking for good and innovative information technology design, the Clocky alarm clock fits into the better mouse trap category.

As reported in the Guardian, Clocky was invented by MIT Media Lab researcher, Gauri Nanda. How does it work?

Clocky is, quite simply, for people who have trouble waking up. When the alarm clock goes off and the snooze button is pressed, Clocky will roll off the bedside table and wheel away, bumping mindlessly into objects on the floor until it eventually finds a spot to rest. Minutes later, when the alarm sounds again, the sleeper must get up out of bed and search for Clocky. This ensures that the person is fully awake before turning it off. Small wheels that are concealed by Clocky’s shag enable it to move and reposition itself, and an internal processor helps it find a new hiding spot every day.

Unfortunately Clocky is only an academic research project at this time.

Human Area Networks: RedTacton

Just yesterday I was talking about the potential for P2P file sharing based on mobile hardware, rather than the Internet. Then this morning I come across an article in the Sydney Mobile Herald on something called RedTacton.

RedTacton is a new Human Area Networking technology that uses the surface of the human body as a safe, high speed network transmission path… RedTacton uses the minute electric fieldemitted on the surface of the human body. Technically, it is completely distinct from wireless and infrared… Communication is possible using any body surfaces, such as the hands, fingers, arms, feet, face, legs or torso. RedTacton works through shoes and clothing as well.

According to the Herald, RedTacton supports “speeds of up to 2mbps – equivalent to a fast broadband data connection.

Hmm. Thinking about this, H2H (human to human) file sharing could be an interesting experience. 🙂

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Watch out! Technology has a habit of winning

Two related stories on Google News caught my eye today. One is this report by Wired on latest from the Australian Sharman Networks court case over the Kazza P2P software. The other a report in InfoWorld on the results of recent research completed on the sharing habits of digital music and video users.

Wired comments that “it’s worth remembering that technology has a habit of winning in the end… If the music industry wants to survive, it needs to think outside the box and stay out of the courtroom.

It’s an interesting comment because while the research (from the Pew Internet & American Life Project) reported in InfoWorld suggests the music industries actions are having an impact on Internet P2P file sharing, millions are still using informal sharing method. These informal sharing methods including e-mail, instant messaging and hardware-2-hardware (such as from one MP3 player to another).

Now considering that late last year saw the unveiling of the Samsung SPH-V5400, the first mobile phone with a 1.5GB hard drive, it really is only a matter of time before consumers will have the capability to share music through the “layer” of their choice from a single device. I wonder how the music industry would respond to a decentralised mobile phone based P2P music sharing system using some kind of wireless mesh networking? You know it could just work in densely populated areas or perhaps workplaces, universities or schools…