No surprises in reality check on participation in social software

Care of Stu Downes and hot on the tail of news about data from Technorati that shows the blogosphere has “stalled”, research from Charlene Li provides some data on consumer participation in social media. Li provides this great little ladder graphic to explain the distribution of participation by dividing the world into creators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators and inactives:


Ross Mayfield has also reviewed Li‘s paper, pointing to his more theoretical power law theory.

Based on these reviews so far and the conversation around it, this paper also reminds me of the 1% rule and a model I used for a long time now, well before the tools we tagged social software appeared, from Cliff Figallo. However, like Mayfield I think its great to have some data that reflects the gut feel many of us have had about participation in social software, i.e. it was never the case that everyone would write a blog or that everyone would edit a wiki. So Li‘s data really puts claims that the blogosphere has stalled into a more realistic perspective.

Serendipity in the Cosmos and Jimmy Wales on Wikis

It was nice to get a mention on a Yahoo! Developer blog about the My Cosmos Pipe I built. I’m still using the feed it generates everyday – I really like the serendipity of the blog posts that come through this feed.

For example, tonight I came across this post about Jimmy Wales, who is currently on a speaking tour around Australia, that shares some of his ideas on a successful wiki community:

To set up a Wiki community Jimmy recommends:

  • Have a simple, clear vision for what the wiki is about.
  • Have a core of people – 5-10 to impel it forward in the first instance.
  • Allow, as much as possible, the wiki community to come up with its own solutions.”

As far as I can tell (as I wasn’t explicitly looking for blog posts on Jimmy Wales) none of the other blogs, news sources and blog search feeds that I subscribe to picked up this post.

So, a good return for very little effort on my part really.

RSS for Dummies, in words and pictures (but not PowerPoint)

Everyone else is pointing to it, so I’ll add my vote… its a short movie best described (in a nice way) as RSS for Dummies. Also, interesting because of the anti-PowerPoint presentation style:

The Common Craft show is a new series of videos done in a format we call “paperwork”. Our goal is to make technology easier to understand for the less geeky people of the world.

Free form or oversight? Wikipedia vs Citizendium

There is no doubt based on page hits and links that Wikipedia has been hugely successful – I’ve even seen attributed quotes from Wikipedia used on advertising in a staff canteen at large factory!

However, the new Citizendium, which aims to overcome the quality and editorial criticism of Wikipedia hasn’t really hit my radar yet. Reviewing the new wiki’ish site, Read/WriteWeb explain:

The idea behind Citizendium is to improve on the wiki-model by adding what they call “gentle expert oversight” — which more or less means that qualified users approve articles before they are officially added to the encyclopedia. Further, contributors are required to use their real names…

Citizendium marks files in three ways: CZ Live (articles being written), Approved (articles that have been given the stamp of approval by experts), and a separate draft status for previously approved articles that are being edited.”

Considering this is the aim, then anyone interested in social software should be interested in following the success or failure of the Citizendium approach, particularly for Enterprise 2.0 adoption – i.e. can we really tap into the wisdom of the crowds with a self-regulating system or do we still need oversight.

While Read/WriteWeb stress it is a little unfair to compare the two sites at the moment, it is rather telling at the moment that the Wikipedia entry for Citizendium has more to say than Citizendium‘s own page on itself. Issues of how much content aside, the other issue appears to be the timeliness of new information being added. There is of course an overhead to stronger editorial processes, which ironically inside the firewall is one of the reasons why there is so much interest in using wikis for intranets versus traditional content management approaches.

Incidentally, Ernst & Young‘s approach to Knowledge Management was based on the idea of “filtered” (i.e. processed, reviewed and managed content) and “unfiltered” (this included discussion forums) knowledgebases. The infamous PowerPack would have been the internal equivalent to Citizendium, while other document libraries might represent Wikipedia – this was all linked together by a search engine. The same issues around the amount of content (deliberately) and speed of information collection existed with PowerPacks. But when a PowerPack was managed well their reduced size and high quality content were valued – so perhaps there is room in the user-generated content stack for both managed and unmanaged content.

Voices from the past

Tomorrow is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia it is considered as both a national day of commemoration and also a celebration of what many Aussie‘s feel to be the point when Australia‘s national identity was largely forged. The ANZAC Day tradition began in 1916, but fast forward to 2007 and ANZAC Day can now be found online.

Browse through YouTube and you’ll find plenty of ANZAC related videos, meanwhile we can expect the blogosphere to light up with posts about it, some using the opportunity to discuss what the ANZAC spirit means today. The Australia War Memorial has also used the Web to showcase some previously new film footage this year.

Remembering that at the beginning of the last century the concept of modern computing didn’t exist, I’m not exactly sure what the ANZAC Diggers from the 1st World War would think about the Internet, Web 2.0 or even YouTube. But, like it or not, their voices from the past are echoing here online today.

Stand clear, Knowledge Management evolving

As I’ve always thought, those who predict the death of Knowledge Management (KM) are premature in completely writing off the concept. Just in the last day I’ve seen the following posts that continue the debate about how KM is evolving, not dying:

  • Keith De La Rue, who works in Knowledge Management at Telstra, comments on that curly issue of trying to tie down what knowledge management is, and says pragmatically that “I don’t see any particular need or benefit in attempting to tie down KM.  It will continue to adapt and evolve – and take on other names to suit different environments“; and
  • Meanwhile, Matt ponders one of the questions that also fascinates me, does Social Software = Knowledge Management? He says, “So has KM evolved to KM 2.0? No, not at all. KM is still about people and sharing knowledge. It’s always been about ensuring a supporting environment in which this can be best achieved. It’s never been about the technology because good KM can exist without it! It can even be about drinks with your IA colleagues once a month. Yes, we’re currently seeing, through blogs and wikis, an environment in which knowledge management can be supported through technology. My message is, just don’t get confused between the two of them.”

BTW Meanwhile over at the NSW KM Forum tomorrow night that will be tackling one of the big KM questions, Is Knowledge Management an Oxymoron?