Is it time to try social technologies?

I know for some people the term "social networking" can be quite scary but is it perhaps time for everyone to start using social networking sites more? Looking for some encouragement, why not have a look at the video below (it's from a few months ago but it's still useful) from Kevin Jones. In the video he outlines the two main reasons why individuals don't use social technologies.

  • Fear of the unknown

  • Fear of change

As Kevin says the only way to figure some social technologies out is to give them a good sustained go, don't just quit after a few days.

Magical Law Library staff

We all know Law Librarians are magical but now it has been confirmed with the publication of "The Magical Law Library staff" post on the Linex Systems blog.

From the introduction to the Blog post "Lawyers, like many other library users in other sectors have very short memories, and little interest in anything beyond their immediate work. So it never occurs to them how those important books they need just happen to be available when they need them, in the current edition...It's all done by the magic of the Library staff"

The post goes on to describe some of the work undertaken by Library staff including:

  • Trialling, assessing and selecting electronic resources

  • Reading publisher information

  • Monitoring news sources

  • Undertaking research

  • Fee-earning

  • Calling in favours...from other Librarians in other sectors

  • Hunting down elusive books (always my favourite game on a Friday afternoon)

  • Budget planning, balancing and negotiating

  • Training

  • Acting as an unofficial IT helpdesk

  • & many many more magical activities

We sure are busy as Law Librarians, but are we valued? We're certainly valuable and this is where the blog post makes and important point "we help fee-earning staff to be better informed about developments in their work area, save them time trying to find reliable sources, stock the physical and electronic library...make sure they're trained and fee-earn when we get the chance to do so"

We really are quite valuable aren't we and dare I say it...magical! Now if someone could just magic me up some more time that would be great.

[Photo credit - Fruit Pie the Magician I liked this image so much when I saw it on FlickR I just knew I had to add it to this blog post]

I love the smell of vicks in the morning

Whilst most people were probably enjoying a nice lie-in on a Sunday morning I was up bright and early to take part in the Dartford 1/2 Marathon. This was the second time I'd run this race, having last ran it in 2008 when I set a new PB for 13.1 miles of 1:43:23 unfortunately that was 3 years ago and I've lost it would seem a lot of pace since then.

On Sunday I managed a respectable time of 1:51:38 which for this course is pretty good but could and should have been better then an average speed of 8 minutes and 31 seconds for each mile. However this is described as a challenging course so I'm hoping my next 1/2 Marathon the Kent Coastal Half Marathon will produce a quicker time!

I must say this was a very well organised race with marshals everywhere encouraging runners, especially up the hill from hell between mile 10 and 11. What I've missed since my last race is the smell of vicks vapour rub first thing in the morning, there's nothing like standing next to someone at some ungodly hour and feeling your eyes burn because they've applied copious amounts of vapour rub - perhaps just me?!

Google plus or minus?

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last month you cant help but have noticed that Google have rolled out yet another social networking platform. Google plus (+) yes that really is the name of the product follows in the wake of Google Buzz and Google Wave. So is Google + any good? well it certainly has something to offer. I haven't quite discovered what yet although one person on Google + has said "It's all about the circles and the public posts, Google + is the best bits of Twitter crossed with Facebook"

I do think being able to seperate your friends, family, colleagues and other people you know into different "circles" is fantastic and certainly something that Facebook should look at doing. The site also looks a lot like Facebook which is going to appeal to a lot of people who already use Facebook.

However I'm not sure Google + offers enough in terms of functionality to make it my first port of call each day. Only time will tell I guess. In the meantime why not have a read of one of the many blog posts that have been written about Google +.

What I would say is that you should definitely sign up for Google plus, add some people to circles and see what you make of the site. Before I joined I review the presentation below, this provides a very good introduction to circles, which are at the heart of Google plus.

[Photo credit - Google +2 from FlickR]

How new technologies can help KM

This is the title of an excellent presentation from James Robertson (embedded below) which looks at how new technologies can help with the creation and sharing of knowledge in organisations. James makes some interesting points in his notes accompanying the presentation which I think are important if you're considering a project which involves a "new technology"

For me the most important points are:

  • Don't pilot new technologies without a clear objective and strategy

  • Start by identifying the business needs, not the tools

Tips for new Intranet Managers

I've been in my current role for almost 2 years so I thought it was about time I sat down and write some "tips" for new Intranet Managers.

For those who know me you'll know that I wasn't always an Intranet Manager, my background is as a Library Professional and I'd worked in a number of organisations as an Information Professional before I realised my skills lay firmly at the technology door. That doesn't mean I'm not still an Information Professional of course.

So it's in that context that I present you with my top 5 tips for new Intranet managers.

  • Get to know your organisation - If you've worked in the same sector for a while you'll have a good understanding of how the company works, but nothing beats actually finding out how the organisation works, both in terms of it's organisation and structure but also its culture especially in relation to how the Intranet sits alongside other tools. For example what tools are already available and how are individuals using them.
  • Get to know your users - As well as understanding how the organisation works, you need to undertand how your users use the Intranet. What are some of the things they use regularly, what don't they like, what would they like to see improved. These are all important if you want your Intranet to be successful. User feedback can be gathered in a number of ways and that will be the subject of a seperate post.
  • Consult, consult, consult - In connection with the point above you need to speak to your users regularly about what you're developing on the Intranet and how it will impact their work. Intranet managers shouldn't be working in isolation and an Intranet definitely shouldn't be what they like. Intranet Managers should be providing an Intranet that is balanced in its approach and incorporates features and functionality that users have identified as being useful. Unfortunatelty an Intranet Manager is never going to please all the people all the time!
  • Plan carefully - Planning and project management skills are key requisites for Intranet Managers but sometimes it can be hard to remember exactly how many people you need to talk to before developing functionality on the Intranet. For example if you're looking at your people search you many need to talk to your IT Team (technical issues) your Marketing team (branding) your HR Team (Policy) and your Risk team for well Risk. Plan carefully any proposed development and you'll be fine.
  • Act like a duck - If you're a sensitive soul an Intranet Manager role may not be the best career choice. Intranets can be much maligned and discussed in quite negative ways so you should prepare yourself for comments that nobody reads the Intranet or "that exists on the Intranet" Act like a duck and you'll be fine!
[Photo credit -Blackboard ABC]

Knowledge Management and Intranets

Do you manage an Intranet? does it incorporate Knowledge Sharing tools like Blogs, wikis and forums? were they added on to the Intranet? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then you'll definitely be interested in a new post from the Green Chameleon blog. In it the author looks at how Corporate Intranets used and how can they help us contribute Knowledge. To begin with the author looks at the broad uses for Intranets, these include the following:

  • "corporate topics: spread messages from the CEO office, human resources, etc / access to corporate tools like HR tools, CRM, time & expenses, etc
  • teams (functional or project teams): discussions and collaboration on documents, notes / sharing of individual information / web conferencing
  • communities (groups of people gather around a specific topic): discussions and collaboration on documents, notes / sharing of individual information / stay in contact with experts in the same field
  • individual usage: personal information management: documents, bookmarks, notes / manage personal relationships and contacts
  • global usage: search and find experience & expertise in discussions, documents, people profiles / access to business tools for a specific function
  • external topics: integrate external news sources (RSS) / integrate external partners (e.g. suppliers) into communities"
The author then looks at some of the Knowledge Sharing tools which should be incorporated within an Intranet, these include wikis, blogs, bookmarks, profile pages and news feeds. What the author is really discussing here is the concept of a social intranet or as the author describes it himself "an intranet that is centred around the people and their connections; compared to classic intranets which focus on (central) information capturing and broadcasting. A people-focused approach might allow to make information capturing on demand; this means content is contributed either when somebody needs to know it or when somebody wants to express it"

Do Social Intranets exists? yes and there are a number of articles which discuss successful approaches to developing a Social Intranet:
How are you making your Intranet more social?

[Photo - From Knowledge Management to Knowledge Participation]

The horrors of devolved publishing

Luke Oatham has written an interesting post on his blog The Intranet Diary in the blog post called "The horrors of devolved publishing" Luke looks at some of the issues associated with "devolved publishing" specifically:

  • Consistent quality

  • Consistent structure (navigation)

  • Findability

Luke recalls how he was asked to implement devolved publishing to a particular team and when he did the quality of the pages they were creating, the structure and findability of the pages all suffered. Now Luke makes some interesting points about how devolved publishing can be a bad thing, but in my experience of being involved in the management of two Intranets devolved publishing rather then centralised publishing has always worked better.

Centralised published certainly has it place for example with pages that don't naturally fit with a particular team or for pages that you wouldn't necessarily want just anybody editing. The problem I have with Centralised publishing is that it causes bottlenecks. If someone wants a piece of content to be published to the Intranet immediately a centralised publishing process might not be able to accomodate this. In my opinion a much better solution is to have a mix of centralised and devolved publishing.