Google Wave: Integrating Multiple Flows

May 29, 2009

AxisPortals Aphorism:  Catch the Wave (if you get my drift).

 

Advertisements

The Uncountable, Perpetually Emerging Web

May 29, 2009

Robert Scoble’s reflections about why it’s best to avoid terms like “Web 3.0” is accompanied by this terrific list of the kinds of changes we see rapidly emerging all around us right now:

1. Real Time. Google caught the Wave of that trend today BIG TIME.
2. Mobile. Google, again, caught that wave big time Wednesday when it handed Android phones to everyone at its IO conference.
3. Decentralized. Does Microsoft or Twitter demonstrate that trend? Not really well.
4. Pre-made blocks. I call this “copy-and-paste” programming. 
Google nailed it with its Web Elements  (I’ll add a few of those next week).
5. Social. Oh, have you noticed how much more social the web is? The next two days I’m hanging out on an aircraft carrier with a few people who do social media for the Navy.
6. Smart. Wolfram Alpha opened a lot of people’s eyes to what is possible in new smart displays of information.
7. Hybrid infrastructure. At the Twitter Conference this week lots of people were talking about how they were using both traditional servers along with cloud-based approaches from Amazon and Rackspace to store, study, and process the sizeable datasets that are coming through Twitter, Facebook, and friendfeed.

I’m not sure I’m yet a huge fan of Robert’s suggestion to replace version numbers with years (there are some drawbacks to any numbering system), but his point is well taken:  because what we can do and how we can interact online is in a state of perpetual change and emergence, it makes much more sense to think in terms of what is current/contempary and what isn’t than it does to think in terms of version numbers that are inevitably overused, and that inevitably oversimplify all that they attempt to capture.  

AxisPortals Aphorism:  The wave of the web constantly emerges.  A flow can’t be pinned down with a number.


Collaborative Writing is “…A Different Kettle of Shoes”

May 24, 2009

Thanks to Robbin Zeff Warner for posting the  “…A Different Kettle of Shoes” entry from her husband Gene’s  Innocents Abroad  blog to the Writing Program Administrators discussion list.  

Gene captures something essential about the nature of collaborative writing, there.  What’s true of NATO’s collaborators is true–if on a somewhat smaller scale–of most all instances of writing by committee: in the push to honor every sensitivity, include every perspective, address every fear, and anticipate every possible political objection, we inevitably sacrifice clarity.  

For all its joys, collaboration always involves some risks. AxisPortals sometimes thinks the story of the The Blind Men and the Elephant should be meditated upon prior to any committee meeting that will result in a collaboratively written document.  Most committees can’t quite claim NATO’s brand of international, multilingual diversity, but when various disciplines, departments, or brands of expertise are present, the result is the same.  

That’s one “kettle of shoes” in which lots of us have walked a kilometer or two.

AxisPortals Aphorism:  With a clear sense of purpose, an appreciation of the risks,  and an excellent sense of humor, one can enjoy the delights of collaborative writing without creating elaphantine sentences that few will appreciate, and fewer still will understand.    


Musical Interlude: Jazz for a Spring Evening

May 8, 2009

[clearspring_widget title=”Grooveshark Widget: Chameleon” wid=”48f3ef6c29317865″ pid=”4a051119dce765be” width=”400″ height=”300″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

AxisPortals Aphorism:  A big orange moon and the cool stillness of a spring night call for smooth jazz.


Healthcare Organizations are All a-Twitter

May 6, 2009

Just a Tweet Away | Articles & Archives | Healthcare Informatics.

Key article in the May, 2009 Issue of Healthcare Informatics.

AxisPortals’s favorite passages:  

I don’t want them just to know what our strategic plan is or what our IT plan is.  People like to work with people, and so this is a mechanism of letting my personality show, along with what we’re trying to accomplish as a healthcare organization, and as an IT organization.–Will Weider, CIO Affinity Health System, and Ministry Health Care.

And

Some might argue that e-mail is sufficient for staying in touch with employees, and that social media is just another obligation for already busy executives, but Weider, who receives hundreds of e-mails every day, says he can better manage his time with sites like Twitter by more quickly sorting through messages.  By limiting posts and direct messages to 140 characters or fewer, the site forces users to communicate as efficiently as possible.

AxisPortals Aphorism:  Social media personalizes communication, and supports institutional growth and education.


Community Health: Digitized and Widgetized

May 5, 2009

Over the last few weeks, AxisPortals has been deeply impressed by the public health community’s embrace of the digital, particularly in the form of widgets, but also in the form of embeddable audio and video public service announcements and press conferences.  

Initial fears of swine flu, and the accompanying gallows humor concerning the “aporkalypse”  rapidly gave way to solid information and education about H1N1 influenze prevention and treatment.

Digitized, widgetized information–prepared by authorities and designed to be portable and shareable–largely accounts for that movement away from hysteria and toward the calm dispensing of useful information. Consider these examples:


Information spreads quickly online.  Indeed, it spreads quickly enough that producing the bit of information that succeeds in becoming viral is every online marketer’s dream.    Often, the most successfully viral information is either sensational or just plain silly,  as was the case with the following picture of a toddler kissing a pig, which flew around the internet at record speed:

Public health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services are wise, indeed, to take advantage of social media and multimedia to promote education and awareness.   

An awareness pandemic?  That’s the one form of pandemic we can all happily embrace.  

AxisPortals Aphorism:  If you want to spread a message fast–and make it portable and engaging–digitize it, widgetize it, and certainly don’t hesitate to Twitter about it, too.


The Small Business: Bridging the Digital Divide II

May 1, 2009

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts

AxisPortals quotes Shakespeare this morning for two reasons.  First,  she loves the Bard of Avon, and does hate to miss an opportunity to work in some of those classic lines.  Second and more importantly, though, it occurs to AxisPortals that all the world’s a multimedia, interactive social network, and that the wise small business will therefore provide its web visitors with plenty of opportunities–plenty of entrances, if you will–to interact with both the site and with the business itself.

So, how to go about making your website not only a static web presence, but an active staging area for forging interactions, relationships, and connections? Here are few quick and simple approaches:

  1. Icons and Badges and Buttons, Oh My!  The major social and business networking platforms all make it very easy to create attractive, clickable connections to your profiles so that visitors can quickly connect to you and interact with you.   FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Plurk, for instance, all provide easy, built-in badge or widget creation tools.  Some of these simply provide links to your social networking profile.  Others actually display your status updates and activities.  Simply customize your page to suit your purposes and the style of your destination page, then copy the code and insert it into your website or blog.  Then, your web visitors can rapidly scan your online network, and can easily connect with you. If you are working with a web designer, ask him or her to work with you to ensure that your website and/or blog include badges that represent your main public social and business networking profiles.
  2. It’s Alive, It’s Alive:  Every website does need some core information that is relatively static (though religiously kept fresh and up to date) and always easy to find.  For instance, you will want to ensure that your contact information and product and service descriptions are stable and easy to access.  However, today’s web is multimedia driven.  That means that your small business website would do well to incorporate not only polished prose but also arresting graphics and absorbing audio and video elements that not only inform and create interest, but also make it easy for users to share your key content with others.    Note, for instance, how effectively the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services have leveraged podcasts and videos to disseminate authoritative information about the Influenza A H1N1 virus. Multimedia elements bring your website to life, often quite literally giving it a voice.
  3. Feed Me!  Websites are a lot like teenagers:  they require nearly constant feeding.  Fortunately, the web itself provides abundant sustenance for your business site in the form of newsfeeds.  Select appropriate newsfeeds based on the nature and focus of your business. What kinds of information can you feed to your site that will most interest and best serve your visitors, whether they are current or prospective clients?  Once you identify the relevant feeds, configure RSS widgets to match the style of your site, and embed the feeds in your pages.  Embedded news feed widgets ensure that there are areas of continuously refreshed content on your site.  Embedded podcast widgets are also a good idea, for they not only offer all of the advantages of a feed, but also add another multimedia element to your site.
  4. We Really Have to Talk:  You might also consider adding real-time discussion tools to your site.  If real-time web-based discussion plays a major role in your business plan and you can devote personnel to monitoring your online chat tools, then investigate paid services such as Bold Chat, Volusion’s LiveChat,  or WebsiteAlive.  If you are just beginning to explore the possibilities of real-time web-based discussion, then it might be worthwhile to experiment some of the free or less expensive tools, such as those offered by Meebo and CoffeeCup. Embedding your Skype badge also introduces an element of real-time communication to your site.

AxisPortals Aphorism:  Make your website an active staging area for forging interactions, relationships,  connections, involvement.