Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NASA and Requirements Assistant

Well, this doesn't have much to do with 'information architecture', it's family-related. My dad has been developing a tool for years and years now that analyzes requirements using natural language processing techniques. It's called Requirements Assistant.

NASA set up an evaluation of several comparable tools and guess what? My dad's tool scored best and they bought a license. Congratulations dad!

You can get a copy of the paper on this evaluation and corresponding presentations here (category "Requirements Analysis"). It's titled: "Evaluation of Current Requirements Analysis (RA) Tools Capabilities for IVV in the RA Phase". (You have to leave your name and email address to download it.)

As you can read on my dad's site, he's (a.o.) working on preparing Requirements Assistant for the Eclipse environment.

Océ's Document Services Valley

It's public! And I'm really excited about it!
Océ is setting up the Document Services Valley. Here's (part of) the press release:

Océ N.V., a prominent global leader in professional printing and document management, today launched Document Services Valley in its Dutch home town of Venlo. Document Services Valley will focus on the research and development of document related services. In this new Valley, Océ intends to join forces with authoritative business partners and is currently in discussion with several. Partnership is key to develop the new services and test them in the market as quickly as possible. Effective 2008, some 50 experts will be employed by Document Services Valley. Demand for a document management resource such as the Valley has risen considerably and is attributable to various business trends such as new corporate governance legislation like Sarbanes-Oxley.

UPDATE Oct. 15, 2010: Please refer to the Document Service Valley website for more information!

Monday, October 29, 2007

What will the IT organization look like?

The other podcast I listened to was an ITConversations interview with Shane Pearson (BEA).

I'll be shorter on this interview. What I found most interesting was Shane Pearson's remarks on the IT organisation of the future (it's around 6:50 in the interview). He does not believe that IT will eventually, in the future, control all the new (and old) technology and employees will be forced to use what's on "the approved list". It's not governable. And it's not worth it.

What he thinks we will see is in the next 10-15 years is that the IT department will take a different approach. Comparable to how many companies approach their corporate phones: you have to use one of a couple of providers, but are allowed to pick any phone/communication tool you want. People get comfortable with the tools they use at home. Their blog of choice, their wiki or IM of choice. They will be more productive if they can keep using these tools of their choice at work.

Snowden on Web 2.0

Listened to two interesting podcasts this weekend. One is an interview with Dave Snowden (Cognitive Edge). I didn't know, but Cognitive Edge has a 450 person network now!

I'll give you a summary of the parts I liked most.

In the research on Knowledge Management we learned that it's about connecting people (2:30). But, Dave says, when we learned this, about 10 years ago, the technology didn't support it. We now, with the Web 2.0 tool around, can do exactly this. It seems that knowledge management ideas were ahead of technology.
The connections between people are "voluntary", they "emerge" and are "self-organising". Dave uses blogs and feed reading as an example for this point.

Dave finds "context" "the most neglected word in KM". Most information systems are organized in a way in which the content is context-free. Web 2.0 does seem to address context. And it also taps into trust, which is also an important issue in sharing knowledge. Sharing is only done when knowledge is needed.

Snowden believes (7:00) that a knowledege sharing culture cannot be created. But the interactions between people can be increased.

The knowledge worker will not become a corporate role. (8:55) It's about the way we do things.

It's time for the firewalls to be brought into the raw data. Let people go free on the Web. IT has to learn what to control and not.
There are implications for HR (10:50), because more and more employees will decide for themselves and together, which role they take in a project (every time).

Snowden does find Web 2.0 too unstructured in it's own for the enterprise (19:25). Wiki's are OK. Using consistent categories and keywords with blogs, however, is difficult. And this is essential for the long term. So, we need a semi-structured tagging system to support consistent tagging. Cognitive Egde is working on this.
On the other hand, Snowden does not believe in tags generated by natural language processing (22:00). Because text does not comprise everything; there's also video, pictures and audio. And tags can hardly be found in the text. Human-based tagging is much better than semantic search. It's not all in the content, but in the context, the relationships (26:00).

How do you find 'knowledge objects' in your organisation? These are things an organisation should manage. (27:45-29:30) Snowden advises to collect stories in the organisation and use the ASHEN model to analyse these structurally and define the knowledge objects.

Make sure you balans between social computing (no order) and enterprise systems (order). (30:00)

Knowledge Management will dispear as a formal organisation title. But as a function it won't (32:00). As a function it will become more important. This will require a big shift. This will result in the collaps on the centralized IT department. IT should focus on putting more security on data and less on collaboration.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Future of Printing

A couple of days ago I posted about an O’Reilly Radar post on printing webpages. One day later, they had another interesting post on “The Future of Printing”. It was based on a talk by HP. HP says:
Photo printing … provides a lesson: when you get the cost and quality of home printing on par with commercial printing, and you bring the speed to a reasonable level, people will switch over. He emphasized, “What happened to photos will happen to books, magazines and newspapers."
If you look around on the Web, you’ll see he’s right. O’Reilly also mentions that there are “home binding kits”, to bind your home printed books.
Furthermore HP has some interesting numbers:

Speaking of computer printers, Joshi noted that while 70% of desktop machines are connected directly to printers, only 30% of laptops are. And laptops are gaining on desktops. So HP is shifting their business model from printers to printing, from unit to pages. Which means that HP is heading toward a printing-agnostic future in which they're just as happy if we print our photos, books, magazines and newspaper at home, at retail businesses or via the Web.
Very interesting. Wonder what this implies for a business-to-business vendors like Xerox, Ricoh, and Océ?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Darpa Urban Challenge 2007

This summer I wrote shortly about the Darpa Challenge. (More specifically on the Google Tech Talk on the Darpa Challenge 2006.) The finals for the this year's challenge, the Darpa Urban Challenge are coming up. I'm really curious who's going to win this year! And if the contestants will be able to ride the whole route.

Last year the autonomous vehicles had to drive over a route with no everyday obstacles (but that was difficult enough). This year the vehicles will have to move through a mock urban area, with regular streets, cars parked along the way, crossroads, etc. The finals will be on Nov. 3 and you can follow it via a live webcast.

Business Blogs: A Practical Guide

Just finished reading "Business Blogs: A Practical Guide" by Bill Ives & Amanda G. Watlington. As the title says, this book gives you practical tips about all kinds of aspects of blogging. It mostly focuses on "business blogging", but it also addresses more general blogging topics. To name a few: it goes into 'what's all this noise about blogs?', 'should my business blog or not blog?', 'starting your blog right' (not only about business blogs, but also about personal and group blogs), 'how to blog?' 'using blogs in your own organisation' (internal blogging), and 'reading blogs'.

There's loads of insightful writing on blogging in this book. And I think it'll be a real help for people and organisations who want to blog and need help to get started.
Specifically I liked the part about setting up an organisational blogging policy (page 70-72). Basically it says: keep it simple and short. Don't make to much rules.
What I missed - and I've said this before on my blog - is good strategies for commenting blog posts and keeping track of your comments and replies to them.
Could anyone point me to a post on this topic or share his/her thoughts on this topic?

(By the way Lilia's blog is mentioned on page 105 of this book!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Océ's long history: 130 years

As you may know, I work for Océ. Just to give you an idea what Océ is about and where my company came from, please watch this video. We're celebrating our 130th anniversary this year!

On Memory

National Geographic had an interesting article on Swarm Intelligence some time ago. Now they have one on memory. There's also an interesting 3D animation that lets you move brains around and it tells you which part of the brains is used for what kind of processing.
My interest for articles on these kinds of topics is because they touch the way humans process information.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Document Management System in Engineering

Found this interesting article on document management in Engineering. You don't find articles on this topic too often. And if you do, they'll mostly be about handling structured, product-data. This type of data/information is usually managed in Product Lifecycle Management Systems or Product Data Management Systems. But where does all the other important, contact information go? The type of information usually called 'unstructured information'.
This article addresses both types of information. Basic requirements for managing unstructured information are:
  • Ensure easy retrieval of and access to relevant documents by authorized (and only authorized) persons
  • Make collaborative working an efficient and effective process
  • Preserve the documents, particularly those that make up the knowledge base, free from damage and loss for a long time
  • Exercise proper version control to avoid erroneous use of obsolete documents and for keeping track of different aspects
However, I do miss advice on where to store which information. And how do you make sure both types of information are stored and related in a consistent way. I'm looking for answers to these questions. I'll possibly post my (preliminary) answers soon.

Summarizing Knowledge Management visually

Nice video trying to summarize all that has been said on knowledge management. I like the video. It's inspiring. Enjoy! (Thanks GridLock for the pointer.)


Monday, October 22, 2007

The Future of Work

Business Week has a very extensive issue on "The Future of Work". I'll comment on the articles more elaborately soon. It's absolutely jam-packed with information. It has an article on what the CEO of the future will look like, what being-an-employee will look like, what tools they will use, etc.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Printing the Web

O'Reilly Radar's Sarah has an interesting post on the problem of printing web pages. She pointed to HP's Tabblo which addresses this issue.
However, there are more competitors of HP that also offer comparable tooling.
Canon also offers a tool with their printers, called 'easy web print'. Lexmark also has a toolbar to support webprinting. And OKI has one too: 'webprint utility'. (Jim Lyons has an older, but insightful post on this topic.)
Furthermore, I'm a Firefox user. And one of the things I like about Firefox is how it handles web page printing (- if you want all the web pages you have open). Firefox almost always reformats the pages in such a way that it's printed nicely (readable).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Everything is miscellaneous: the video

Well, Weinberger should be the first to point me/us to this video... It's based on his book. Enjoy!

The art of filing

How do you manage your paper and digital documents at work and at home? What is your filing strategy? Do you save everything? Do you have a complex filing structure, which you maintain closely?
Mindtools has an interesting article on "The art of filing". It's well worth the read. It helped me to evaluate my filing strategy.
However, there are two points I'd like to discuss further:
  1. One advice is to "Store related documents together, whatever there type". I agree and it's also my practice. But a file type I missed is "email". Nobody stores their email together with the other related documents. This is interesting, because it costs the knowledge worker a lot of time. Email contains very important context information. It contains information about actions, for instance. And can answer the question: who did what to the document. So we keep email in Outlook (or whatever email app you use) and store our documents in Explorer, on a share or in a document management system. So, we are de-contextualizing our documents. And loosing important information about the documents. Or at least we're making it hard on ourselves to search for the emails that are/were related to the document and vice versa. And this brings me to my second point.
  2. There's another type of document that I missed: paper documents. Yes, usually printed versions of the digital document. But with our annotations. Important annotations, which depicts what we thought of that part of the document at a certain point in time. Of course the "tickler system" is mentioned. (For more on the tickler system refer to "Getting things done".) But now we're not storing our documents in one place, are we? We now have two places to store documents, one for paper and one for digital documents. This also causes problems for knowledge workers. "Where did I store that document?" "Is the digital or the paper document the latest version?" Etc.
For point 1 I don't have a solution. Save the specific emails in Explorer with your documents is not a solution. So, most people save the emails with documents (attachments) in Outlook, which doesn't seem to be the perfect solution either (- not to mention the Inbox size limitations...).
For point 2, there are solutions, but they're not real solutions. Some people say: scan all your paper documents! Or use 'track changes' or 'comments' for annotations in digital documents, instead of annotating on paper documents. Both don't seem to be the real solution, because hardly anybody does it.

So I'm wondering: What would your strategy be on these issues?

Lego World 2007 in The Netherlands

Lego World 2007 will be held in the lowly place Zwolle, which is situated in The Netherlands. And, yes, I'll be going (for my son of course...).

UPDATE 10/22/07: Please find some pictures and video's of Lego World here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sharepoint and wiki patterns

Some time ago I posted on a new initiative called wikipatterns. Not too long ago SocialMediaToday posted about a survey on wiki adoption in companies. This post also pointed to another website with wiki adoption patterns.

In my post I also mentioned that it would be nice to have e.g. Sharepoint patterns too. I haven't really found anything yet that really looks like a platform for sharing 'Sharepoint patterns'. What comes closest is this website, called "Community Kit for Sharepoint". But there's not much activity there. Maybe we should just start a Sharepoint patterns site ourselves. Who'd like join and investigate if we can set this up?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The real world of blogging

Ran into two interesting posts on blogging practice. One is very old (2003!) by Dave Pollard on the "the blogging process". The model neatly describes what my blogging looks like.
The other is about "why you don't have to write a blog post everyday". If you've been following my blogging, you'll understand why this post relaxed me a bit. (Thanks wikinomics for the tip.)

Tips for Conference Bloggers

Some time ago I blogged about my first live blogging experience. One of the problems I experienced was writing about figures and pictures. I wrote:
Then there’s the diagrams, figures, etc. How do you get them in a post?! I don’t know. Sometimes I tried to describe them in words. Taking pictures of slides is a way to do it. But it’s a lot of work, getting the picture on your pc, uploading it to Blogger, etc. (The pictures that were taken will be on flickr soon, someone promised.) Does anyone have tips on this?
So, when TED blog posted about a guide titled "Tips for Conference Bloggers" by
Ethan Zuckerman and Bruno Giussani, I was curious what they would say in general about live blogging and, specifically, if they would answer my question.
The guidebook is very insightful, well written and I nicely illustrated. It gives many practical tips (- I wish I had read this before the conference I blogged). They only briefly address blogging about pictures and the like. They say:
Don't be afraid to create a narrative saying "He shows a slide with data on ..." or "She walks on stage carrying a big suitcase" or "He shows a YouTube video" etc.
This is what I did and it works. But I was wondering if someone has any other experiences with blogging about figures, pictures, etc. Maybe Zuckerman and Giussani have them and would like to share them?
Another thing that triggered me when reading this guide was: Where do you write/prepare your post? I didn't write about that in my post. They say: Use a text editor. That's also what I started out doing. I used Word. But my experience is that when you copy-paste the text to the blog, all kinds of markup comes along with the text. Which resulted in me removing all the markup before publishing... So, I started blogging directly in my blog. That worked much better for me. What could also work is to blog in 'plain text' files.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Learning to use new "technology"...

Getting users to use new tools or even getting used to them myself, is often frustrating and hard. Here's a funny video on this topic! Enjoy!



Thanks Anecdote for the pointer!

11 Deadliest Sins of KM

Stan Garfield reposted the "11 Deadliest Sins of KM" and asked Larry Prusak what he now thinks of the list he came up with. You can find all his comments on Garfield's blog.

To focus on one "sin". I actually agree most with number 1, which also has the most implications:
Not developing a working definition of knowledge.
Prusak comments on this error are:
Error 1: This is still one big error. Everywhere I speak people conflate information and knowledge - and this situation is greatly abetted by IT vendors and consultants for obviously commercial reasons. I would estimate that tens of billions of dollars have been wasted by organizations trying to work with knowledge by buying IT tools. Since none of this is taught in Business schools or perhaps ANY schools it isn't too surprising that most people can't define knowledge as distinct from information.
I fully agree. I posted on related issues before here. Getting this point across, however, is a different ballgame. Does anyone have examples how he/she got IT project leaders and stakeholders to understand this?
Any,
it was good to reread the list!

Ask a Stupid Question Day

Wired had an interesting (short) post on Ask a Stupid Question Day. That reminded me of the remarks that Jim Collins makes in his great book "Good to great". He says that good leaders always have a set of questions they want to get answered, not by themselves, but by others. This could also be a "stupid" question, of course. But can a question really be stupid? It would be wonderful to have a company list of all (possibly stupid) questions that employees (yes, managers too) have. Answering them and coming up with new public questions would take to company to a new level, I'm sure.