Open source has always been difficult at Microsoft, they’ve struggled with how to use its obvious value as a development and delivery model, but the SharePoint podcasting kit seems to be a great example of how to do it right.
Although SharePoint itself is unlikely to ever be Open Source there’s great value in stimulating an Open Source culture around developing on top of the platform. Podcasting is a good example because although SharePoint provides some good plumbing in the form of support for taking a document library of media files and surfacing this as an RSS feeds with enclosures, it didn’t have a polished solution. The same can be said for most of the SharePoint “applications”, great platform – ok solution. If you’re interested in Podcasting, this is definitely worth checking out, but there’s much more for SharePoint going on at Codeplex.
What Can You Do With Podcasting Kit for SharePoint (PKS)?:
- Listen and watch audio/video podcasts, anywhere on your PC or mobile device (Zune, SmartPhone, or any podcasting device)
- Share content by producing your own audio/video podcasts and publish them on PKS on your own.
- Connect and engage with podcasters via your integrated instant messaging program
- Find the most relevant content using the five star rating system, tag cloud, search engine and provide your feedback via comments.
- Get automatic podcast updates by subscribing to RSS feeds fully compatible with Zune and other podcasting devices
- Simple RSS feed based on a defined podcast series
- Simple RSS feed based on a person
- Dynamic RSS feed based on search results
- Play podcasts in real-time using Microsoft® Silverlight™ and progressive playback
- Retrieve instant ROI and metrics with the ability to track the number of podcasts downloaded and/or viewed, instant feedback via rating system and comments, and subscribers via the RSS feed
- Access the richness of SharePoint to extend the solution: workflows, community sub-sites, access rights, editorial and more
- Customize your own PKS User Experience
It’s really nice to see some progress at last on SSE, ie it’s implementation by Microsoft as FeedSync. Jon Udel covers it. Of course right now there are no examples of it really being used, but maybe the creation of FeedSync was needed before people would really consider it stable enough to invest in – lets hope so.
Dave Pollard has a typically excellent post contrasting Knowledge Management 1.0 (which I remember being pushed at me, but thankfully resisted) and KM 2.0 that’s been inspired by the Internet and web 2.
I have two thoughts worth noting:
- Things that work at Internet scale don’t always translate to the enterprise
- Dave’s post doesn’t seem to put much emphasis on the information lifecycle, for example
- blogs are a great way of narrating your work to improve ad-hoc collaboration between your known and unknown community of interest.
- However at some point information needs to be refined by collaborative effort and then maintained by other people (the original creators move on or loose interest) and wiki’s are better for that.
Having read Tom’s article where’s the working in social networking and Charlene Li’s counterpoint on the business value of social networking I’m still a bit torn.
I think my conclusion is that whilst I definitely see the value in inter-enterprise social networking, I don’t see the technologies that provide it as an enterprise solution, I see them as a personal complement to an enterprise solution.
For me an enterprise social networking solution can tap into so much extra information, that Facebook will never see, that will enhance the networking experience, including:
- Formal and harvested expertise information
- HR information
- Contact information
- Formal hierarchy information
- Business applications
- Presence and real-time collaboration services
- Personal and enterprise knowledge
- Enterprise Search
That’s not to say that inter-enterprise social networking solutions like Facebook and LinkedIn don’t have a role – they do – but just as my social network is personal, so is my Social networking technology provider. That said I can certainly see that some content from my enterprise environment might be delivered on my Facebook page (just like Twitter updates are today) and vice-versa.
I can also definitely see some new social networking scenarios being very important to business, like this one that Charlene mentions:
Here’s an example – LinkedIn described to me a new social application that would show events in your industry that are coming up – and who in your network is going to them. It will also show you people in that city that you could connect with. So if you know that colleagues, suppliers, partners, funders, customers, etc. are going to be gathering, you’re going to want to be there too.
According to research commissioned by the Institute for Innovation & Information Productivity undertaken by Oxford university young people actually don’t handle interrupts very well. In fact older people cope better because of the benefits of a mature brain with many more synaptic connections. The researchers quantified the impact of interruptions as equivalent to the effect of concussion caused by the impact of a football on the head, or the more headline grabbing “kick in the head”.
This is important research because it highlights the fact that young peoples familiarity with IT and with interruptions could well be masking a significant cognitive impact and that maybe these youngsters entering the workforce could benefit from some mentoring from us oldies on how to manage their time better.
I’m currently working hard trying to establish a community within CSC. It’s a technical community with stakeholders from all over the company, with lots of different perspectives and drivers. Whilst at the top level we all share business success objectives, scratch below the surface and many diverse objectives (and inconsistent) appear.
The tools at my disposal include a fairly good wiki and blogs, but both suffer a little from being hidden behind forms based authentication which isn’t very RSS friendly. I’m noticing a few things:
- Creating a wiki of this complexity requires a lot of up front work on structure, in order to achieve something navigable. Allowing such a structure to just evolve just doesn’t work because search will not be the primary navigation model.
- In this wiki, a lot of the value will come from context, ie while looking at information on a particular technology, you will easily be able to navigate up to find comparisons with other technologies, sideways to find use cases for the technology and cross and upsell opportunities etc.
- We don’t have enough time or a large enough user base to allow a folksonomy to evolve, so we need to design a taxonomy which is proving very challenging as we have objectives like tag discoverability which are not easy to achieve with a complex namespace.
- Getting people to contribute requires a lot of effort, at least right now, its just not embedded in our culture to put effort into helping (unknown) others outside of the direct request response model of email. Even when people are keen to contribute there’s quite a learning curve to get over in terms of using the wiki and making their content discoverable
So right now I’m reading reading reports and listening to quite a lot of Podcasts about a variety of community building experiences. Gartner has a couple of useful reports and I particularly enjoyed these two Podcasts from John Udell (yet again) that I listened to while out walking this morning. Neither of them seems directly related to my problem, but they both have some really key insights.
Mike Caulfield – Maintaining State-Level Political Blogs
On this episode of Interviews with Innovators, Jon Udell chats with Michael Caulfield, one of the founders of BlueHampshire.com. In less than a year, BlueHampshire has gone from zero to sixty. Today it’s the dominant progressive community-based political blog in New Hampshire, cited by national media (old and new) and respected by state and national politicians. Udell asks: how do you launch and run a successful state-level political blog?
Beth Jefferson – Transforming Online Public Library Catalogs
On this episode of Interviews with Innovators, Jon Udell’s guest is Beth Jefferson, the founder of BiblioCommons. Her company’s new software aims to transform public libraries’ online catalogs into environments for social discovery of resources that are cataloged not only by librarians, but also by patrons.
Chuck (from EMC) has a nice post on their behind the firewall experiments with social collaboration, and I particularly liked this quote:
One of the ways people can work together is around a document. People contribute, edit, revise, approve and distribute documents, reports, and so on.
Sure, people are interacting, but it’s in the context of a specific document or task at hand. As an example, it’s pretty hard to carry on a useful conversation using the “track changes” feature of Microsoft Word.
EMC’s Documentum implements a document-centric collaboration model around eRoom. Microsoft’s SharePoint offering does something similar.
As a social computer, this is better, but we’re still communicating by pushing documents at each other, with some workflow around it. Imagine if you went to a party, and the only way you could converse is by pushing a powerpoint at someone, who would read it, comment, and push it back at you.
That’s not the way people work together in the real world, is it?
Years ago my team and I designed a collaborative office environment, everyone was co-located and the physical environment was carefully designed to improve ad-hoc social collaboration, without compromising personal productivity. I still use this environment as my benchmark when I think about how far virtual collaboration has to go!