The Google +1 button was rolled out quite a long time before the launch of Google+. In March the +1 button appeared on the search engine results page. You could click it … and it would turn blue. Awesome.
After a couple of clicks you would feel a little bit like a laboratory rat who needs to press a button in its cage to receive food or any other reward, except there’s no reward.
So after some time, in June Google made it possible to embed this button on your website. So the button was now doing nothing on an ever increasing number of places on the web. Later Google optimized the button so it would do nothing three times faster. That’s some high quality engineering for you.
Now the next phase in the social experiment in which we are all part has apparently started, because the button now shares whichever page you click it on on Google+. You can select what circles you want to share it with and can write some explanatory remarks. You basically get the standard sharing window you also see on Google+. Try it out with the live example below (and thanks for sharing).
If you just click the button once it will be stored on your +1 tab on your profile. You can see mine here. You need to go to your own profile and click Edit profile and select “Show this tab on your profile” to make this available. If you also want to share it in your stream you also need to click “Share on Google+” in the pop-up below the button.
Google +1 button bookmarklet
If a website has not yet added the +1 button to its pages, you can add it yourself. By saving a piece of code in a bookmark you can have the +1 button appear over any website. This is called a bookmarklet, a bookmark that doesn’t go to a page but summons some other function. It’s not hard to create the +1 button bookmarklet. I have tested it in Google Chrome and Firefox, but it will probably also work in other browsers. Just click and hold the link below and drag it to your bookmarks or bookmarks bar. Google +1
The button on the bookmarks bar of Chrome
After you click on a page a pop-up will appear in the top right with the +1 button.
When reviewing models and researching the theoretical principles behind enterprise 2.0 and social software it can be easy to see all of this as something very new and ground breaking. It’s of course good to be up-to-date with all the latest web 2.0 news and management buzzwords, but sometimes there are classic articles and theories you can’t disregard. The book of Ikujiru Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi called The Knowledge-Creating Company (1995) contains such theories.
Chances are that you have been introduced to their basic ideas if you have followed any business or knowledge management courses. The book describes how a company can organize itself in such a way that it best maintains and develops the organizational knowledge in it. Now the term organizational knowledge may be somewhat misleading since the authors say that knowledge only exists within people. So this is in contrast to scholars who view the whole of an organization as more than the sum of the parts (the individuals).
The Basics of Knowledge
So the organizational knowledge consists of all of the knowledge inside these individuals. Just the basics on knowledge: it only exist in people (written down you would call it information but this always leaves stuff out) and you could see knowledge as information with a purpose. You know things with a purpose. It is action oriented. You know how to use powerpoint, fix a car or prepare a meal. In an organization knowledge is a very special thing. It is what make the people great an therefore what makes the organization great. So you want to know how to improve the level of knowledge and also the usage of knowledge. You want to have it, make more of it and you want to use it properly.
Nonaka and Takeuchi differentiate between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is hard to put in words, hard to write down and is most of the times created by experience. This is for instance the knowledge of how to ride a bicycle or how to swim, but also how to fix an engine or cook something. Explicit knowledge is easier to formulate and transform into written form. This would be for instance the recipe needed for the meal or the manual of the engine you want to fix. These difference then are important for the way you can transfer this knowledge to others or store it.
The SECI Model for Knowledge Transfer
This model describes how knowledge is transferred and conversed into a different form. There are four different activities for the two types of knowledge (tacit and explicit).
The SECI model
Socialization is the the conversion from tacit to tacit knowledge. Here multiple people are sharing knowledge by doing, giving examples showing their work. For instance a master builder and his apprentice. Externalization happens when tacit knowledge is changed into explicit knowledge. Writing things you know down is an example of this. You understand there always is a loss of knowledge in this process because some things are not easily put into words (riding bikes). Combination happens when explicit is brought into contact with other explicit knowledge as you would get in computer systems or with a information dashboard of a company. Internalization is the transformation of explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge. This usually happens by learning something, from a book or a speech. This also requires practice and reflection.
The level of knowledge in an organization can than be increased by this process of knowledge conversion. Knowledge conversion does not take place within one person but needs multiple people having contact. This process is shown by the arrow in the image and is called the knowledge creation spiral. In this process new knowledge will be created.
To understand how this knowledge creation process takes place you only need to think of a brainstorm session for a new product as an example. Different people with different knowledge sets start talking, drawing and combining ideas. Out of this some new insights might arise that weren’t present in the organization. This new knowledge can also be taken in the spiral and dispersed throughout the organization.
The Role of Social Software
The role of social software might be clear already from this setup. You might have even been thinking about it throughout this text. But then please remember the above theory originated in 1995. Obviously information systems had been around, but not as prolific as they currently are.
Social software which helps organization members connect with each other, ask questions, capture experiences and get to know each other can really facilitate in this process. Especially in companies where the geographical distribution increases people will have less contact. This will create silos in the company where knowledge will not be combined and therefore less knowledge will be created.
Social software in the enterprise can reduce the threshold for people to get into contact with each other. If people are not sitting next to each other they might not be inclined to share everything they do with others. They might not even know who to contact with a question or experience. When using social software people can talk about any issue or experience freely and anyone who is interested in their work can join in. Silos of knowledge can be broken and knowledge can be captured. This makes social software a great tool for companies who are interested in maintaining and increasing their organizational knowledge.
Competing in overcrowded industries is no way to sustain high performance. The real opportunity is to create blue oceans of uncontested marketspace. Managers usually spend their time figuring out how to outfox the competition. Strategic management has its origin in military thinking. The question usually is how to conquer a certain piece of land on our enemies. Also the enemies have to be defeated, we cannot coexist. It’s a zero-sum game. This is old thinking.
According to W. Chan Kim and Reneé Mauborgne (Amazon Affiliate link), there are two kinds of space. On the one hand there are the contested battlegrounds, the existing cake that needs to be divided. These are called red oceans. Red from the blood of all the fierce competition, as they dramatically state. The other kind are blue oceans. New markets with no competition yet.
When diversifying or starting a new business a manager has the choice between getting back into the fight with existing or new competitors or creating a new space with no competition yet. Obviously the creation of new markets is no new idea. Any radically new idea in our history has created a new market. The terminology of blue versus red oceans is new however and it creates the possibility for manager to make a choice and think outside of their current box.
The creation of new markets has always existed. You may think of the iPhone or personal computer, but new markets have been created since the invention of the wheel. Kim and Mauborgne use the example of Cirque du Soleil. The CEO, Guy Laliberté, could’ve tried to create a regular circus, but with more animals, more impressive juggling acts and even funnier clowns. With higher costs he would’ve created a little higher value. But he didn’t.
By creating a new space he avoided the cost/value connection. With lower costs (no animals for instance) he created a lot more value. He combined parts of the circus, parts of theater and ballet and created something totally new. Something uncontested.
When competing in red oceans you are trying to beat or match the competitors who is currently performing best. This means that even when you match them you will only become just as good as someone else. This is the same flaw that exists with benchmarking. A firm that is lead by benchmarking of competitors will only try to achieve to be just as good in a couple of years as the competitors are now. Not only is there no incentive to surpass a competitor on a certain road, firms will also not follow a whole new road altogether.
There is no doubt that there are many potential gains from creating a new space, free of competition and free of a value/cost trade-off. Then why do most managers spend their time on improving what they where doing yesterday and today? Are you improving little by little what you did yesterday or are you looking to make the leap into the next blue ocean?
Google has revealed some information about its latest try to get into the social game and be a worthy competitor for Facebook. Even though Google is a much larger company with a lot more profit than Facebook, its main fear should be that all activity of users will take place behind the closed walls of Facebook. This way all this activity will not be visible to Google search users.
There’s a lot that can be said about Google and its efforts to set up social media services or features. From Orkut to Wave and Buzz the results have varied from mediocre to miserable failure. Now Google has presented Google+, a place where multiple social features come together. Some highlights:
Circles: smaller groups of people (family, friends, work, etc.) so you can just share information with this list.
Vic Gundotra, Social VP of Google:“We’re transforming Google itself into a social destination at a level and scale that we’ve never attempted — orders of magnitude more investment, in terms of people, than any previous project.”
I have been waiting for a central hub for Google’s social tools. It’s nice that you try to bake in some social components in other services such as Gmail and Reader, but I think it is very confusing if you don’t have a central overview.
The circles are very smart. This is something Facebook really lacks. It makes it very easy to be in control of what you share and with whom. Big lesson learned from Buzz I think.
What is the connection with other social tools and Google services? Will the photo part integrate with Picasa? How does Buzz fit into this? Will they stop development of it or will it be incorporated (I say incorporate for people who want that). Hangout looks a lot like Gtalk, what’s the connection there? How will Reader Shared items and the +1 button work with Google+? It would be a real strong point if Google would use + to create some order in the chaos and have a clear social proposition for users.
Some services in + have a lot of potential to replace current success stories, especially with mobile integration (which is a big part in + I think). Send updates to people in a circle from your phone. Check in when you are visiting a location or ask your friends for recommendations (using the sparks). If Hangout works on your phone, no need to call regularly any more.
As always it’s now about execution and getting users. I have signed up to get a beta account so I’m very curious how this will continue. It looks like a more serious and better executed effort than the previous attempts and I expect it will get the support an effort it deserves.
I have been using Spotify for about one year now. Before that I used Last.fm and Grooveshark for online streaming, but mostly a rather large collection of music on my PC itself. After buying all kinds of MP3 and music players (ipod nano, ipod touch, an MP3 discman, a Minidisc player and of course a Walkman, look those last two up on Wikipedia kids) it turns out I’m not really a big fan of listening to music on the go.
Then my harddrive crashed and I bought a new laptop. So I didn’t really feel like gathering that music collection again, it needed to be updated and cleaned badly anyway. It was a great occasion to start using a streaming service full-time. Just before that Last.fm had announced you could not stream music any more for free. I wrote an article (only Dutch, sorry) on when I would pay for a service like Last.fm. My main objection was and is to Last.fm that you can not choose any music yourself but can just listen to a tag or keyword and have it stream a radio channel around that word.
Enter Spotify. It’s a great service with quite a large collection. You can search for an artist, album, genre or more specific things like labels or era and play that music. I just find the interface a little confusing here and there. There are quite some features I found out after a couple of weeks of usage such as how share stuff with your friends and how to save albums. You can only save playlists, not albums artists or anything else. So the closest thing you can get to an actual music collection in Spotify is saving some albums as a playlist. It would be nice to be able to add an album to your favorites or something and then have a nice overview of those albums a la iTunes.
All the features that made Last.fm great are a little bit lacking in Spotify. The ability to find music, share what you have listened to and just open a radio channel of a certain music genre or style are more or less there but really well executed. My profile shows what I have listened to for instance, but it seems to only list songs from the last week or month of play. You can still scrobble plays to Last.fm however (one of those things I only found out after a Google search). View my Last.fm profile here where my Spotify plays are listed.
After a couple of weeks of using Spotify I also discovered that you can select the “radio” of a certain artist. This shows you some related artists nicely but within 10 songs you’re listening to a whole other genre. One other thing is those playlists that everyone makes. They are real nice, but can not be found within Spotify. You need to go to a special website like Sharemyplaylists.com or Spotylist.com.
On the left you see my saved playlist, mainly for albums.
The deal used to be that you can use Spotify for free, for 20 hours per month. You receive some quite frequent and annoying audio commercial in between songs and ads in the player but I can just live with that. The 20 hour limit does not apply for Free subscription, but an invite is needed for that. Then for €5,- /m you get Spotify Unlimted which removes the time limit and commercials. For €10,- /m you get Spotify Premium which gives you unlimited songs in better audio quality, the use of a mobile app and the ability to download songs for offline use (can only be played with Spotify, so actually some kind of DRM play).
Now Spotify has announced that it will change the Open/Free plan. For the first 6 months it stays the same. After this you can listen for 10 hours/m and only listen to any song for 5 times /m. So in theory this seems like a lot less than what’s currently allowed.Especially for users with a Free account which have no time limit.
Will this nudge the large group of freeriding user into the paying category? It will cost only €5 /m to lift the time limit and get rid of the ads. While that’s not a lot there are many good alternatives available for free. On Twitter and in the comments below Spotify’s announcement there have been many reactions like “It’s been nice knowing you Spotify”. Spotify offers users a month of Premium subscription for free so that might be a good way to try that out. I know I will and then I will see what to do. No reason for to drop the service yet. How about you?
Twitter is rolling out its new version of the web interface. Some people will never notice, because they are using mobile or desktop apps, but it’s still interesting because it says something about how Twitter see its product. Still mostly for flinging short messages into the webosphere and less for conversation, apparently. Twitter CEO Evan Williams also mentioned in the announcement that currently 78% of Twitter users are using the web interface.
Twitter unfortunately still is terrible for conversations. This might not be such a big problem for most users who just post their lunch and do nothing else, but sometimes you’d like to have a more profound discussion with someone about you peanut butter and jelly sandwich or grilled cheese. See below for such a conversation. It’s too bad it took me almost 10 minutes of investigative journalism and paint ninja skills because out of the new Twitter interface it’s absolutely unclear this conversation ever took place.
The following image is the information Twitter gives about the last tweet in this discussion.As you can see, not so helpful. Below finally is an example from Friendfeed of how an conversation could be displayed. This makes it a lot easier for anyone to chime in.
I enjoy reading news online. I also subscribe to a newspaper (the Dutch NRC Next), but get most of my breaking news and background information and opinions online. I have been reading the item “Media Diet” on The Atlantic Wire with a lot of interest. The idea is to ask journalists about their media diet, or how they get their news and other things they read. Obviously it’s hard to compare yourself to the interviewees since they are all professional journalists, who are supposed to keep up with all the latest for their work and can spend a whole reading site, newspapers and magazines and still call it a productive day. So don’t be overwhelmed if you read many of these people receive three to five newspapers and finish them before breakfast, only to continue their news reading online. I’ve found an especially good read if you’re looking for some interesting blogs that are a little less well known.
As I said, it’s hard to compare yourself (myself) with some of these guys, but I still can tell you how I get my news and what I read otherwise. I get a newspaper, but most of the time I save it for when I travel or have some time to kill out of the house. For my main source of online news I use an RSS reader with a twist called Feedly. It uses Google Reader as input for news, so you have to load some feeds into that, but than it makes a newspaper/magazine style front page. On this page the stories are displayed which are most read and shared by other people, so you get the most interesting stories on top. After that you can always zoom in on some specific news sources.
This works best if you have many different news sources in there, as long as you don’t oblige yourself to keep up with them all (you don’t need to, you get the best of the best on the front page). I have added the feeds collection of Zee of The Next Web at one time to my reader. It’s a file (OPML) which you can import into Google Reader which will add all the feeds to it. There are many interesting blogs and news sites in there although it is very tech centered. A bundle with 13 of my favorite feeds can be found and imported into a feed reader here. Some more favorites in the Dutch language can be found here.
Obviously there are many more interesting news sources. One way of finding them is by using your Twitter friends. You can watch their stream for good links, but Twittertim.es gives an overview of the most interesting things for you, quite similar to Feedly. I’ve written about Twittertim.es before.
Allright, I’d love to hear what blogs you don’t miss a post of. Or have you started a real media diet for yourself and are you trying to cut back on reading online? Let me know on twitter or right here in the comments.
I’ve been walking around with two devices for a while now. Not all the time but often I would have my Nokia N95 8GB with me, together with an iPod Touch. But now I have an HTC Desire.
I’d use the Nokia for phone calls, but also some mobile web browsing such as Google Reader or a mobile web Twitter client. I’ve never installed many applications on it. It almost seemed Nokia didn’t want you to install anything on it, that’s how hard they made it. And the launch of their Ovi app store only made it a little better. I still really like the company Nokia, they are the complete opposite of Apple with their openness and anti-hype way of communicating (which may be part of their Scandinavian nature but perhaps also a little damaging to their PR). In the end I was not a big fan of their products anymore. Even the N97 which looked like Nokia’s answer to the iPhone failed to deliver with a certain confusing difficulty to it’s menus and unfortunate trade offs such as the resistive screen.
I carried around the iPod Touch for consuming news via newspaper apps or watching video podcasts. It’s obviously very user friendly, but sometimes a little frustrating in what Steve Jobs doesn’t allow you to do (and that’s how it feels when you can’t do things like multitasking or installing another media player). I just read Apple did allow the Opera browser to the app store, but just the fact that everyone was holding their breath for that and the arbitrariness because other browser have been disallowed says it all.
Now the Android operating system which is inside my new phone (think of it as the Windows or Mac OS inside the phone, while it’s actually based on Linux) is like a marriage of the Nokia and the iPod Touch. It’s versatile, but user friendly. There are more things to figure out than with an iPhone which makes it more customizable, but also less easy to use. When you give it to someone less computer savvy (I call this the girlfriend test) she will pick up and figure out the iPhone a lot faster than the Android phone.
HTC Desire keyboard installed on a Nexus One
The hardware of the HTC Desire is practically the best there is with a fast processor and amazing screen. Only the camera could be a little better (I’ve never been blown away by a camera phone, although the camera in the Nokia was very good) and the internal memory could have been more especially since that is the only place to store apps. Music, photos and videos can be placed on a memory card. I also think the on screen keyboard is the best I’ve used. I’m typing this on it right now.
One major difference between the iPhone and Android phones is the app store of course. Apple has a huge advantage with their ever increasing collection of apps. Usually this causes so called network effects (the more apps there are, the more interesting the product becomes, the more users it will get, the more apps there will be developed, etc) which at a certain moment are very hard to duplicate or substitute for a competitor. The fact that the same app store can be used on many different Android models is a very smart way to overcome this problem, I think. This causes the user base to grow, which stimulates aforementioned cycle. Already almost 80% of iPhone developers have stated they are planning an Android app.
So I’m very optimistic about the Android platform and can’t wait to see what to future hold for these two rivals, because I think it’s clear these will become the two dominant players.
After have followed the keynote this week, the real insight and information about the new Apple iPad comes in the couple of days afterwards. Almost any blogger and her uncle have made a post with their thoughts on the iPad so why shouldn’t I.
There are two ways of looking at this new product. From a technical perspective it really is just a large iPhone or iPod Touch. It really doesn’t have any technical features over the iPhone. David Pogue, technology writer for the New York Times, introduced the three phases of a new Apple product category.
Phase 1 of the standard Apple new-category roll-out: months of feverish speculation and hype online, without any official indication by Apple that the product even exists.
Now Phase 2 can begin: the bashing by the bloggers who’ve never even tried it: “No physical keyboard!” “No removable battery!” “Way too expensive!” “Doesn’t multitask!” “No memory-card slot!”
That will last until the iPad actually goes on sale in April. Then, if history is any guide, Phase 3 will begin: positive reviews, people lining up to buy the thing, and the mysterious disappearance of the basher-bloggers.
The second way of looking at the iPad is not from a technical perspective but by looking at the possibilities of use. When I thought of a web tablet before the product launch, such as this Apple tablet or perhaps the CrunchPad (similar to the iPad but with only a browser) I couldn’t think of any reason the buy one when you already have a smartphone and laptop. Then I realized I own and love an iPod Touch and use that a lot. I use it for surfing, reading e-books and articles, twittering and games and of course use some other apps. I use it quite a lot at home, because it’s connected online via wifi and about the only place with available wifi that you can use is at home. So the only thing missing from my iTouch actually is 3G connectivity.
If you look at possibilities instead of shortcomings you see what Apple has created is really a clean “slate”. An empty vessel for developers of apps and websites to create content on. As heard quite often from tech pundits and journalists it’s the ideal content consumption device. E-books, e-magazines, videos, websites, music, it can all be consumed while comfortably sitting on a couch holding the sleek 700 gram device. Just look at what Sports Illustrated envisioned before the launch of iPad:
Comedian Stephen Fry, who was present at the keynote said the iPad had to be experienced to be judged fairly and that you’d be amazed by the speed and simplicity of the interface (link – it’s a long but good read, you can always spot the real writers between the bloggers). Below is a video of a demo where you can really see how beautiful it looks and how fast and responsive the graphical user interface is.
So if iPad is supposed to be a consumption device, an open playground for developers, then it’s especially disappointing it’s still a closed system. As Alex Payne writes the iPhone can get away with having a closed system where you can only install Apple approved apps and are not able to tinker with most of the settings, because it’s quite a step ahead from the older “smartphones” where it’s really difficult to install apps. A device between a smartphone and a laptop however can be much more open and “Apple’s decision to make the iPad a closed device is an artificial one”.
So I think Apple has shown us the future. I’m very interested to see if will be massively adopted like the iPhone or that for the average consumer there’s just no point in having an extra device. As @breun said: “It would be great if your iPhone turned into an iPad when you get home”. Regarding the openness, I’m waiting for the other device manufacturers to launch their tablets. Would be great to see a similar device with Android or even Chrome OS where you can install android apps and have the freedom of these operating systems.
The iPad does stimulate ones imagination about possibilities and the future of connectivity to the web and media consumption. Now let’s hope it also stimulates the imagination of the competitors. Are you already saving money for the first iPad or would you rather wait for a later version? Or don’t you feel the need for such a device or are you looking at other devices?
I’ve gone and tried to follow the Apple launching event yesterday. Robert Scoble posted earlier his reasons for not going while he had a ticket, mainly because he had way better access to the backchannel, video, photos and opinions from everyone who did go by staying home. Since I obviously had no possibility to be there I felt myself a little on par with him by following it online :-)
I started with firing up Seesmic Web, an online twitter client. I wanted to open some columns with my followers, some twitter lists of people who were going to be there and a search query on “Apple” or “Tablet”. Unfortunately the web app is quite the memory hog and my computer grinded to a full halt when I opened more than four columns. I then opened the same things in tabs of Firefox and that worked very smoothly. I also opened the live coverage of GDGT, Engadget and Gizmodo. GDGT had the fastest and most complete coverage (including images) and Gizmodo the funniest, so I soon dropped Engadget. Twitter was predicted by many to cave under the pressures of the event. Although this didn’t happen they did shut down the list features altogether, which was a real shame because now I had to miss out on local commentary. Best video and audio stream was provided by Leo Laporte’s TWiT.tv, but I found the website hard to reach and when I did manage to connect the video needed a lot of buffering and lacked in quality. I preferred the images of GDGT.
Alright, that sums up how I followed the event live. I’ll let you know what I thought of the iPad soon in a new post. I’m confident I didn’t miss out on any information during the keynote speech, getting my information from both GDGT and Gizmodo. To be perfectly honest I don’t think it really adds much to follow the event live, over reading about on blogs afterwards. One advantage is that you can place comments in perspective, but with Twitter’s lists down that didn’t work anyway. It does make sense if you just want to know everything first and it was a nice experiment to see how much information you can get online. Have you followed it online or do you think it doesn’t add anything to follow it real-time?