Real-time Collaboration * Google Wave

May 30, 2009

The geniuses behind Google Maps recently announced Google Wave, which they are calling a “personal communication and collaboration tool”. It is a browser application (HTML 5)  that brings the opportunity to “collate” and evolve emails and traditional documents into a real-time collaborative experience that will integrate instant messaging, wiki (read-write) and social networking components.  You can also easily embed these “wave” conversations on blogs to share the discussion…pretty cool!

BONUS points – Google Waves works on Android mobile devices. I repeat…Google Waves works on Android mobile devices. Check out the video below!!! I cannot wait to try out on my G1. Being a huge fan of Gmail and Google Documents, I just signed up for the alpha and am VERY, VERY interested in how a tool like this can be used to streamline business communication and collaboration. HEADS UP teammates and peers out there, get ready for the Mark Wave…coming soon!

They are not only calling it an application but also a platform and protocol. Being open source, Google is looking for the community to try out, see what works and extend it to make it better.

I like this quote about email-

“…email (aka snail mail), which was invented 40 years ago, is still today is the most popular communication tool….but lacks the experience of real-time SMS etc. ”

So what are you working on? * Enterprise Conversations

October 3, 2008

I was reading this Mashable article that hits exactly on what I have been thinking for a little while, how businesses can leverage microblogging tools like Twitter and Plurk, aka Yammer to help build online communities. This new communication tool can open up enterprise doors to faciliate cross-department conversations and support.

The article concisely summarizes business value and key considerations:

Business Value:
Emergency Broadcast System: First and foremost, any company needs a way to reach all of its employees quickly and efficiently. E-mail is obviously one way to do this but increasingly, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. With many folks receiving hundreds of e-mails a day, it can take minutes if not hours before we get to an e-mail from the CEO.

Knowledge Management: Here’s where things get interesting. One of the biggest failings of many companies is the fact that they trap their intellectual property in Powerpoints, spreadsheets and Word documents and store them on shared drives and e-mail inboxes. Once the creator of that content walks out the door, the odds of their years of work finding its way into anyone else’s life are slim. As companies start uploading more and more content onto wikis, or central file repositories, these files can be linked to and indexed by conversational tools like microblogs.

Training: Any company that has gone on a hiring binge quickly realizes how painful it is to train new employees. If a formal training program exists, the materials are often outdated almost as soon as they are created. By identifying a few key influencers and allowing new employees to see their daily “streaming,” information and best practices can be shared more easily and in real time with little burden on the “trainer.”

Expert Identification: Another area that many larger companies fall down is in making their resident experts easily findable. If you can see your company’s employees talking (possibly segmented by business unit or group within an organization), it wouldn’t take long to figure out who knows what about whom.

Seeing the Connectors: Good companies spend a lot of time on succession planning. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have a good handle on who the true connectors are within their organization. By analyzing conversations and watching the conversations of employees, senior managers can easily identify who these connectors are and then ensure these employees compensation and titles match their internal value AND start to add additional connectors if too much information is flowing through any one individual.

Inclusion of External Stakeholders: Back in the early 2000’s, extranets were all the rage. There would finally be a way for companies to include partners, investors and even certain customers in their daily conversations. Portals obviously began to fill this roll to a degree but none were ever truly conversational. Enter enterprise microblogging with the ability to include these aforementioned stakeholders in the mix.

Key Considerations:
Single Sign-On (SSO): A growing problem in the social media world right now is identity proliferation. With some notable exceptions that accept OpenID, most sites still require you to create yet another account in their system (or identity domain). In most enterprises, a fair amount of effort has already been expended on establishing single sign-on through the intranets’ LDAP registry. It would be highly desirable to leverage this capability to enroll employees in the microblogging system. So, an enterprise microblogging solution must have flexibility in adapting to existing ID and sign-on registries.

Reliability: Initially, microblogging may seem like a non-essential, nice-to-have kind of tool, but our bet is that most businesses will find it very quickly becomes indispensable for keeping important lines of communication open. People, on their own, will invent many different uses for such a simple tool, as they have with Twitter. In a large corporation with geographically distributed sites, it would be best to have a solution that allows each campus to run its own server and not be dependent on a remote centralized service. These distributed servers would exchange data to unify the system as a whole. See Distribution below.

Analytics: Businesses will eventually want to analyze the traffic on their microblogging sites. They’ll want to know who follows who, who posts the most and to who and most importantly, a feature I’d love to have in Twitter, the ability to see and search all my posts and other posts selectively for important information, just like we can search our G-mail accounts now.

Security:This will probably be of paramount concern at least initially in most businesses. Most corporations are very aware of keeping internal communications safe from prying outside eyes. An enterprise microblogging solution must provide for fine-grained authorization and trustworthy security of communications. Management, through the IT department will want to be able to restrict who can see certain posts.

Scalability: The word Enterprise covers a huge spectrum of organizations. An enterprise microblogging solution should be scalable from less than 100 users to tens or even hundreds of thousands of users, spread across the globe. The ability to distribute and federate many local servers on the corporate intranet will help to satisfy this need.

Groups: Enterprises comprise many different groups within their walls. Not just departments, but project teams, ad hoc working groups, common interests, etc. An enterprise microblogging solution must provide for the easy definition of groups or tags, where any employee user can belong to many groups.

Distribution: This requirement has been touched on already, but it should be mentioned again because of its importance to other requirements. It refers to the ability of the enterprise microblogging solution to be decentralized, spread out across wide geographic areas, and hence to become fault tolerant, so the failure of any one node does not cause a failure of the whole system.

Interoperability: Clearly a distributable enterprise microblogging solution would require its various nodes to federate and interoperate, but a corporation wishing to allow interaction with its customer base outside its walls would require a solution that interoperates with other microblogging solutions that may exist, yet allows only some posts to be seen outside the corporate firewall.


Screenshot of Yammer

Justin Mass * T-shirt to Honor Tim Russert

June 18, 2008

An inspirational act at a sad time…

Justin Mass of Washington DC, is using the power of the (Facebook) network, grass roots effort and mad (t-shirt) design skills to raise money for a good cause in honor of Tim Russert. Besides being a new family man, an eLearning guru and a hip-hop evangelist, Justin is also quite the humanitarian. Go Justin go! // I met Justin last year at an eLearning Guild conference and have been keeping up with him ever since.

Read an excerpt from an article (below) and here are a few media bites: (Seattle) radio interview, (Seattle) news article, and DC news article

Justin Mass of Ashburn, like the rest of America, is mourning the passing of long-time “Meet the Press” host, Tim Russert.

“I always looked forward to his show,” said Mass, 31, who attended graduate school at University at Buffalo, in Russert’s hometown. “He’s one of those special guys who you really don’t appreciate until he’s gone.”

Mass, a huge hip-hop fan whose blog is called Daily Operation, decided to honor Russert in the way that the hip-hop community memorializes fallen musicians.

“When an artist passes prematurely in hip-hop, it’s usually just a few days before someone designs a tribute T-shirt,” he explained.

Mass had never designed a T-shirt before. By day, he works at a Reston law firm. But after hearing of Russert’s death and watching the news coverage until midnight on Friday, he felt inspired to honor the man.

The tribute Tees cost $20 each, and all profits will be donated in Russert’s memory to an organization that the broadcaster was actively involved with: The Boys and Girls Club of D.C.

Mass linked his T-shirt design on a Russert Facebook page yesterday, and by this morning, he said he had already received 20 orders.

“At first, I just told people to send me a check when ordering,” he said. “Today, I set up a Pay-Pal account to meet the demand.”

To order one, click here.

A mock-up of the Tim Russert tribute T-shirt (Design by Justin Mass)

A|G 2008 – Day 2 Highlights

April 21, 2008

Back in Seattle and synthesizing notes…here are my day 2 notes.

Breakfast Byte – Web 2.0 has value…now what?

Rise and shine with an awesome breakfast discussion using web 2.0 and social learning. It was awesome, with a lot of interesting ideas from many different perspectives. Bottom line: don’t focus on the tool, instead focus on what and how you are currently collaborating and communicating and figure out what your needs are from there.

There was an IT rep from Wrigley gum, which was there to collect information to help his organizational needs…very cool. They say make friends with IT, and this guy is already on your side. One person was using a meta-tagged phone directory, with embedded IM. Sounds very cool. Kevin Jones, who I met at an earlier discussion that he lead the day before was in the house, full of cool ideas, who has also started a ning social network around social learning, so check it out. I didn’t get a chance to catch him at Espresso Learning, but he seems to be one of the dudes to keep up with and he has even started a social learning social network.

Keynote #2 John Patrick

Bottom line: Future of the Internet…we are just in the beginning in the internet’s full potential (5%).

Here are other random notes:

The internet is about people, not just students, teachers, business. Transferred the power from institutions to people. Expectations rise by the day with information. Music industry should have listened to technology theorist along the way to see where it was going instead of waiting for Steve Jobs to lead the way.

Both global and local…convergence and divergence…one device that does everything. Pervasive internet…anything this electronic with a chip in, has a networking capability. Power of the click, not necessarily revolution (edit note from Mark – Tibet is using micro-blogging to push out critical and timely information). He calls the power End to End. ISPs have the lowest customer experience rating. He does not like his service provider….he showed a poor web usability example of his service provider not letting him put his security answer (leo, or blue) because it wasn’t enough characters. They are not empowering you, they are empowering themselves…whereas the web is for you (the customer). Availability is strong aspect.

Cultural studies, Phew family funds study. Showed teenages uers emails, texting, IM’ing The banking coming ING concentrates of the customer and uses the internet. Email is powerful and we have along way to go. He uses Span arrest. 82% of his email is spam. The real barriers are not tecnnical. Most of the issues are wit attitude.

Health care issues, which give lots of jobs and will potentially, bankrupt the country. No politician has a good solution. Medical error and care provider liability insurance drives the cost. Information technology (lack there of) adds to the problem

Kaiser Permanente, IBM, Siemens, Mayo clinic are doing stuff, but in the mainstream, not enough is not going. People do not do enough about their own health, nor demand for the information.

Health care is too reliant on paper and web-based EMR is what he wants and will likely reduce errors and security.

The government has not regulated it out of fear and ignorance, which has worked to our advantage. IRS had done a GOOD job with eFile.

The internet, which originated from education, provides a way for livelong learning.

A lot of people don’t know how to learn. We need to teach people to learn to learn.

Companies are face with do I empower people with the internet or just accommodate the internet.

He does not feel that a bubble is occurring again, because investors are smarter.

Whole Mind Design

Ann Herrmann Nehdi

This was an awesome session, where Ann used discussed how the there are four distrinct ways for processing information, and how we need to keep this in mind when we not only desing eLearning, but also how we collaborate with each other. She used fun props like color cards, balloons, hats and group exercises. I would like to see her perspective on immersive learning simulations.

Here are some other random notes:

  • Brains kicking in…years of research, how do you leverage and take advantage.
  • Are we learning as fast as the world is changing?
  • Retention is critical
  • Average peson speaks @125-175 words per min. and listens @450-600 wpm
  • Book: The Right Mind
  • Use context and emotion correctly, leverage engaging emotions
  • Put learner at risk, with safety

Telling stories with pictures

This was a fun session, which discussed how when telling and story, with imagery or otherwise, we should ask three levels of interest or “why”? This will help strengthen your story.

Example: Picture of a girl putting money in a piggy bank;

What/Why is she doing? – Putting money in a piggy bank

Why is she doing it? – To save for something.

What is she saving for? – To buy a new toy.

A|G 2008 – ILS Symposium & Day 1 Highlights

April 17, 2008

The eLearning Guild 2008 Annual Gathering (Orlando) has been amazing with so many new ideas, fresh perspectives, amazing case studies, actionable approaches and social connections. I look forward to staying in connect with everyone I met to continue the conversation. I tried to take as many notes and plan to synthesize and post. Below is a collection for the a pre-conf symposium and Day 1. More to come…

Immersive Learning Simulations (ILS) Symposium

This was a very, very impressive session with ILS experts let by Mark Oehlert, which was an awesome blend of theory, group discussion and plenty of awesome examples. Life and learning looks different through the glasses of ILS. The coolest thing is that they started a wiki for continue the conversation.

Here are my random notes and examples.


Simulation – model of reality (an engine that drives everthing)

Scenario – initial conditions, goal, story

Game – tuned (being in the zone, tuning the scenario) adding time, pressure

Frame game – uninteresting, content irrelevant, glorified quiz

  • “Play in the beginning of knowledge” – baby animals, kids. Learn how the world works.
  • People do things for two reasons (Have to, Want to)
  • Congtive science research, learning should be “hard fun”…play is better learning
  • “A good game is a series of interesting decisions” Sid Meier
  • “People make mistakes in patterns” bring models in from their experience
  • Every wrong answer should have a different set of feedback
  • Mark asked a question about compliance training….Clark, ethics – have high stakes for story, law suit will shut company down. Mark O. said he does this, even with simple quiz, they are making results public to add competitive element.
  • “Tuning is nine-tenths of the effort.” Will Wright
  • Book: A Theory of Fun for Game Design
  • Book: The Game Design Reader
  • NY School The Game School – tell Cinnamon about this (public) Katie Salen
  • Tip” Provide a social outlet with the release of a course/game (i.e. a wiki), even better is a built in comment, feedback mechanics into the training…unmoderated.
  • Term: Adver-games
  • Choosing the right metaphor for your game content
  • (Mark C thought) – Are toys valuable in learning?

Day 1

Keynote: Keith Sawyer

To be successful we need to create a culture of collaboration and learning (environments).

How to learn to be creativity:

  • Research says, build on learners knowledge
  • Encourage reflection, meta-cognition
  • Carefully scaffold authentic situated practice
  • Combine inquire and project-based activities with information delivery
  • Foster learning in collaboating group

Challenges for eLearning:

  • Identifying a good problem or design challenge (ideally come from learners)
  • Support active learning
  • Fostering effective collaboration
  • Supporting the creation os shared artifacts and effective critiques

Positioning Your Careers in Social Networking and Collaborative Learning

Ray E. Jimenez

Social networking jobs are increasing and will continue to a vital part of the learning ecosystem and job market. Some up and coming job titles are: social learning analyst, social networking analyst, toolkit guru, resident expert, gaps consultant.

This ain’t your Mama’s training. Implementing learning 2.0 at eBay

This was a most impressive example of how eBay has strategically incorporated collaborative web tools (blogs, wikis etc.) in their work environment. The heart of their presentation was using an organized matrix to look at what they are doing with information, where they are doing it and the flexibility and “able-ness” of the tool(s).

Here is a bunch of other random notes:

  • Millenials are primary employee base
  • 90% of people say carrot when asked to name vegetable.
  • 3 weeks average time to develop a program
  • Speed, lean teams, change, trends, location
  • Survival forced eBay to think differently, are we relevant to the organizations
  • Have you ever thought of declaring training bankruptcey, get rid of everything…give freedom.
  • How we can deliver in a different way.
  • Moving from called training professionals to learning professionals.
  • Call themselves knowledge farmers
  • eBay “assign learners to use a blog as a personal training journal” – great idea
  • Turn learning objectives into “challenges” individual and teams
  • Applied Learning 2.0 to formal first with success, than they tackled informal…they found other islands of employees already using informal learning 2.0
  • Build “digital knowledge artifacts” feedable, searchable, taggable, linkable…

Twisted Media *

March 7, 2008

I found this write up in Wired, about Stephen G. Bucher’s Dailymonster, which includes a blog, a Flickr group, and now a book chock full of user participation. I find this blend of collaborative media very interesting, and can totally see it being used in other areas, especially education. Even though it combines print, it totally reminds me of an excellent “cross-platform” story telling presentation from Tejpaul Bhatia of Tej Media.

It’s a blot, it’s a blog, and now it’s a book. When Stefan G. Bucher transformed random inkblots into bug-eyed freaks and posted a new creation each day at, visitors to the site began hallucinating — er, imagining — backstories for his drawings.

daily monster

Another Lunch 2.0 * Zumobi

January 21, 2008

Thanks to Josh Maher for another exciting Seattle Lunch 2.0., which kicked things off with Buzz Bruggeman and a thought provoking presentation on getting seconds back in your life by using ActiveWords.

The host, with prime office space on Pike Street, Zumobi informally shared the good news, bad news and more good news about their launch. It sounds like things are really getting started for them (globally), so keep your eyes on them. They are here to give mobile users a “unique, lush and engaging” way of accessing content and their user interface is based on many years of Human-Computer Interaction research, which is device neutral and open for developers. Good (smart) move.

I am continually excited about how light-weight, easy to use and motivating mobile access will help everyone collaborate more effectively, as well as offer just-in-time information…performance support anyone? We have been chained to our workstations or to either clunky laptops, or clunky interfaces for too long. If any developers out there are interested in using Zumobi to collaborate on a ‘thin’ learning management application, feel free to comment.