Utopia is… touch screens and surfaces

Nicholas Carr thinks these kinds of techno-utopian videos are creepy. I’m not sure about that, although both of these videos are some what homogeneous and perhaps a little ‘antiseptic’ – but they are marketing pieces, not true works of science fiction. They actually remind me of rather badly thought out ‘perfect’ user journeys. If you want something a little grundgy, try William Gibson.

For more on Microsoft’s vision, see their Office Labs site.

GovCampNSW on 19th November, 2011 in Sydney

Open government; resilient state: Innovating for government in NSW

If you work for government – or with government – whether federal, state or local, this one-day forum is for you.
GovCamp for you

This GovCamp “unconference” is simply a space to open up the public sphere conversation – to create a comfortable place where new thinking becomes possible and enables new outcomes.  There are no long presentations and the topics are yours – you get to create the agenda.

So this GovCamp is about how government works, as well as how it works for citizens.  It’s about the pressures of needing to do better government with less; about meeting growing public needs and expectations within an increasingly transparent and stretched public space.

It’s also about leverage points for innovation in NSW, such as connective technologies and open data.  We hope to hear some big-picture policy ideas and some pragmatic new-ways-of-working.

GovCampNSW is about the power of ideas and conversation. It aspires to build upon the gov-tech / 2.0 focus and look beyond to shaping innovation in government in NSW.

Discussion will include:

  • Cultural change leading to open government.
  • Social technologies and service delivery.
  • Policy 2.0: Why do apps have all the fun? 

For more info on the program and format OR to suggest topics you’d be interested in discussing on the day, please visit the GovCampNSW website at www.govcampnsw.info.

GovCamp is for people like you

Public sector practitioners, advisers and leaders who are excited by these challenges, who seek to better understand the risks and opportunities within emerging trends. 

There are no clever corporate games; just dialogue and an open exchange of ideas.  It’s a Saturday. It’s free time, casual and as “off-the-record” as you need.  And because it’s shared conversation, you’ll take away even more than you contribute.



For my part, a recurring Gov 2.0 theme for me is social innovation and the role of the non-profit sector in service delivery. So I hope to see a good mix of government people, agitators for change (like me), engaged citizens and also the non-profit sector at this first GovCamp for NSW.

BTW I’ll be helping out, co-facilitating the conversation cafe and maybe a presentation.

RSA Animate – The Divided Brain

In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society. Taken from a lecture given by Iain McGilchrist as part of the RSA’s free public events programme.

McGilchrist explains that its not really about the idea of the left and right sides of the brain, rather about how we understand the relationship between rational and intuitive mind.

ThoughtFarmer 5.0 is… mobile and extendable


Coming off the back of their annual social intranet conference, the ThoughtFarmer guys have announced the release of ThoughtFarmer 5. This release includes a new mobile-optimised version and an improved API.

I haven’t played with the mobile version yet, but it looks well executed. I’m also really interested in the Integration Kit (TIK). No social intranet exists in a vacuum, so the ability to extend and customise ThoughtFarmer means you can use it as a true social workplace platform.

Moving Beyond Systems of Record to Systems of Engagement – 26th October, 2011

I’m presenting at the Institute of Information Management (IIM) NSW chapter meeting on 25th October, about moving from systems of record to systems of engagement:

Social Media guru, James Dellow will give us a briefing on some of the emerging trends in the way Social Media tools are changing the way organisations are thinking about recordkeeping, information and knowledge. If pressed, James might also offer insights into the latest technology and tools such as Jive, tibbr, Yammer, Socialtext, Drupal Commons, and the rest!

Where: Sydney CBD, Australia

When: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM

For more details and to register, see the IIM’s registration page for this event.

Crossed posted from the Headshift | Dachis Group Asia Pacific blog.

Gary Hamel on management for the 21st Century

In the aftermath of the credit crunch people are thinking about the way banks work, the way financial markets operate, and the values and purposes of the companies that use those markets.

And some of the big management thinkers are beginning to put forward ideas that challenge many of the assumptions that have dominated the way business has worked for the past several decades.

In this progamme Peter Day hears from management guru Gary Hamel and gets his thoughts on the future of capitalism.

I only just got around to listening to this podcast, an interview with Gary Hamel. The title is perhaps a bit misleading, although Hamel did make me pause for thought in light of the #occupywallstreet movement. Is this what he meant by consumers mobilising?

However, this podcast actually contains a broader discussion about the difference between business in the 20th Century and the needs of the 21st Century. This isn’t just about “Capitalism”, but actually about why and how organisations are organised and managed. The active role of the citizen-consumer is also important and themes such sustainable profitability.

Critically he highlights the challenges this creates for large, legacy organisations built on 20th Century management principles. The practice of management is firmly in the sights of Hamel and he doesn’t think academic management theorists will have the answers we need.

He mentions the example of The Morning Star Company, where:

“Our company is operated by colleagues without titles or a hierarchy of unilateral authority. Authority relative to other colleagues’ activities is lateral, with our Mission as the guiding principle of action. Although we have grown significantly, we would like to maintain a culture of individual responsibility and self-management. A colleague’s influence and success at Lucero Farms is relative to such colleague’s integrity, competency, effort, persistence and straight-forward persuasiveness.”

This, he suggests, is a model of management for the 21st Century.

Thinking about this example, if you step back for a moment to reflect on the technology changes and human events going on around us right now, then they suddenly stop being isolated phenomenon and instead you realise they are all taking place on the same backdrop.

Revisiting Grudin’s 8 Challenges for Collaboration Software

Microsoft researcher, Jonathan Grudin, wrote a paper back in 1994 that looked at eight challenges for groupware [PDF] – they were: 

  1. Disparity in work and benefit.
  2. Critical mass and Prisoner’s dilemma problems.
  3. Disruption of social processes.
  4. Exception handling.
  5. Unobtrusive accessibility.
  6. Difficulty of evaluation.
  7. Failure of intuition.
  8. Adoption process.

Its interesting to consider what the current generation of groupware, what today we call Social Business Software or “Enterprise 2.0”, has done to address these problems.

I think challenges 1, 4, 5 and 7 are definitely areas where we have seen improvement – primarily through the benefits of infusing the concepts of social software into the design of the technology solutions we want to use. All sorts of design patterns have come to the fore in recent years to make collaboration software more human-centred than ever before. Plus the accidental training ground of the World Wide Web means that more and more users are ready (if not demanding) a consumer experience inside the firewall.

However, I sense that right now we are looping back into old territory by considering again the importance of embedding the technologies into workflow and most of these challenges can only improve through iteration (sorry everyone, the goal of integrating collaboration technologies into the places and tools where people are actually working isn’t a new one).

But the Difficulty of evaluation and Adoption process in particular are likely to remain major challenges (Critical mass and Prisoner’s dilemma problems and Disruption of social processes are also closely associated with both). The evaluation challenge might be dealt with eventually through better analytics (Dachis Group’s Social Business Index is already starting to do this), but ultimately these challenges aren’t technology based:

  • Organisations need to have a design mindset, in order to both implement and judge the success of such technologies; and
  • We already have tried and tested methods available to support their use, we just need to use them!

If we can assume the software will continue to get better and better, moving forward why can’t we focus on getting the last few points right instead?