Monday, March 24, 2008
So this is my personal ode to the 10 greatest joys of teaching adults:
1) The unimaginable rush you get when you say something and an entire room full of people write it down.
2) Turning on the light bulb (or the ah-ha) moment when you see the class ‘gets it’.
3) When someone tells you they got the job/promotion/project they wanted because of the skills you helped them develop.
4) Explaining something complex or difficult in simple terms and having the class relate to your explanation.
5) Thinking of great analogies to get to #4 above.
6) Starting a discussion where there are lively and differing opinions hotly defended in the most civil possible way.
7) Having someone tell you ‘I thought about what we talked about in class all week’.
8) Hearing (or overhearing) yourself quoted.
9) The first day of class when everything seems possible and the last day of class when we have moved together through the entire semester’s curriculum with demonstrable knowledge and skills.
10) Watching adults color outside the lines – with confidence and capability.
Ta-ta for now,
Thursday, March 20, 2008
8 April, 2008
11:00am US Eastern Time
Presenters: Ulla de Stricker, President of de Stricker Associates & Barbie Keiser, President of Barbie E Keiser, Inc.
As the world changes, libraries find that the communication vehicles they currently employ to keep in touch with thier clients (e.g., intranets, extranets, e-newsletters) may be a bit outmoded and are no longer doing their intended jobs. When this occurs, it might be time to conduct a communications audit to gather valuable insight into the particular communication vehicle your information center may be using.
The audit utilizes a mix of techniques, including:
- Conducting a comprehensive survey of users to assess how they use the library's communication vehicles
- Facilitating focus group discussions to delve more deeply into existing challenges and uncover potential solutions
- Holding interviews with selected clients to verify findings through actual on-site observations
If conducted properly, the communications audit should reshape not only the concrete website, intranet or e-newsletter, but the processes used to create, update and deliver them.
Register today. Make sure your stakeholders are hearing the message you intended to send.
Friday, March 14, 2008
- A widget by any other name still has the following two key attributes:
It is a distributable web object (A miniature application that you can port into nearly any web environment)
- It allows for interaction with and displays dynamic content on the client side in a digestible visual format that changes via server-side updates and user initiated modifications
What makes it a “distributable” object you ask?
One thing that makes a widget (the generic term I will use henceforth) a distributable object is the use of code generators. Code generators have been around for ages. You simply fill in some fields, choose some values and click a button. Then copy your newly minted code and away you go!
Another method for creating a widget as a distributable object is the use of an object generator. They have many names, but do the same job…
According to the marketing gurus in the Widgetsphere, this method is preferred by both end users and distributors as it does not require users to copy and paste code or even leave the site to implement their new widget.
And what was that about “displays dynamic content”?
The dynamic content sits on the host’s servers and is often delivered via a feed. This “push” technology means that it is updated on-the-fly. “The blinkx Video Wall is a tool which allows bloggers and website creators to embed a video wall of clips from a selected search term into their sites (and pulling from over 18 million searchable hours of footage). The display is fed by RSS, so it updates automatically as new search results come in. Users can choose the size of their desired wall, composing it with anywhere from one to sixty-four glimmering video screens. Users can even compile a specific selection of videos to be made into a video wall and embed it to their pages with ease.”
And how about that “digestible visual format ”?
Because of the limited amount of visual real estate, it is essential that widgets can compensate for high levels of data transfer through graphics. “Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator.”And how about “changes via server-side updates…”?
Whether or not the user triggers the change to the content displayed, or it is updated on a timed increment, the push ultimately comes from the host. You may have your top RSS feeds displayed, or maybe you are employing a mini-search box like the Bitty Browser widget but it all comes down to a solid architectural connection between the embedded or framed object and the host from whence the actual data is pushed from.
The webcast continued on, describing the primary widget types and categories and eventually walked through the current obstacles facing the expansion of widgets as well as five recommended methods for ensuring a brighter future for these little apps. We'll be posting a recording of the webcast on our Dow Jones InfoPro page once it is available, but in the meantime take a virtual walk over to Widgetbox or Clearspring and see more of the widgets I've talked about and maybe incorporate one into your blog.
I'll be back with more on the widget webcast after these messages...
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
David kicked off the workshop by asking a series of questions that exposed how we personally make buying decisions today. The responses provided strong evidence of a change in buyer behavior. We no longer make buying decisions based on mass corporate advertising, which talks to buyers as a single, generic, monolithic group. Rather, as consumers, we make a decision to buy based on peer recommendations, product reviews (that reflect uses and circumstances similar to our own) and possibly advertising that has been tailored and personalized to our particular interests. This shift can largely be attributed to the free and boundless commerce model of the web, along with the transfer in power from the corporate marketing machine to the individual consumer. David also pointed out that these activities are occurring at the very beginning of the buying cycle, long before a corporatation is even aware that their is a potential customer looking for their products or services. Thus, the workshop emphasized the need to know your buyer persona.
I know some of you may be thinking, so what does this have to do with Information Professionals? Well, the lesson fits any role where a service to a potential client, patron, user, or customer has a CHOICE. Let's face it, our internal customers have a plethora of choices (some good, some bad) when it comes to information needed to perform their jobs. Our job is to make sure individuals in our organizations are making the BEST choice. (We can all think of examples where wrong conclusions were drawn and poor decisions were made based on inaccurate information.) Thus, just as much as a corporation needs to understand a buyer persona, we need to understand and document our internal customer personas. Building a persona will help us to understand and determine information consumption. This means at the end of the day, we can begin to deliver content that matches the current workflow and behavior of our identified personas.
To develop a persona for information consumption, questions like these would need to be answered.
- Do I know the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of my users, internal customers, etc?
- Do I know their current information seeking habits?
- Do they need real time, minute-by-minute information updates or is a general current awareness sufficient?
- Is there a need to access archived information?
- Do they want to search for information or have it anticipated and delivered?
- Do they want information with analysis or just the data and supporting facts?
- Do they use mobile devices?
- Are they using/searching/contributing to any of the various social media vehicles?
- Are they digital natives or digital immigrants?
Armed with the user persona, we can create an information experience that is relevant, customized and useful.
So are you willing to play by the new rules? I am. And to prove it, all of my future posts will only have one space separating the sentences.
Monday, March 3, 2008
It is called Application Spamming and the worst offenders require that you alienate your friends with chain letter efficiency after strafing them with a succession of assault apps. These should not be confused with the true widget, which appears to act independently of social utilities and environments (for now).
If you have a draggable chunk of web usability that you can drop almost anyplace on your page without being asked to send it to your "friends", it could/should be described as a widget. Of course, I am bypassing the tech aspect of code implementation and platform management in favor of loose paraphrasing and simple ideas. :)Let's say that you also have a moveable block of web functionality that when you use it it prompts you to send some of the fun you are having in your friends' directions. "Select all of the friends you want to _______." This would fall into the category of friend spamming. Now that you know the difference, how are social utilities like Facebook battling the attack of the time-killing (and email clogging) apps?
According to Mike Arrington:
"First, users can block applications when they receive a request, so no additional requests from that app will get through. Second, they added a “clear all” requests feature that erases all pending requests (my new favorite, and most used, Facebook feature). Also, Facebook is watching how many people block or ignore application requests - too many, and an application has restrictions placed on it."
So there you have it. Where popups continue to be employed by the faceless ne'er do wells of the Web and spam continues to be blasted out to every permutation of an email address, it seems that the social utilities and networks may just be trying to get it right this time. Time will tell if it will make a difference in the user exodus that is starting to decrease the number of new users joining social networks per diem.
One thing you should remember though... The application spamming going on is not the result of an insideous breed of Assault Widgets as much as developers wanting to spread their application seeds like dandelion fluffs.
So how are these "portable chunks of the web" making their mark? What are they providing that there was an untapped need for prior to their introduction into our lexicon? Perhaps I can sum it up quickly with some solid points of interest...
Firstly, are indeed VERY portable, and while you can have code generated for them so that they are optimized for a variety of environments, they can be dumped most any place on the web.
Next, they have the flexibility to address many major uses for a mini app currently on the web. From the media player that features the latest from your artist of choice to RSS search widgets that deliver the latest news, podcasts and video submissions.
Let's not forget that they are providing developers with a multitude of outlets for their output, and in fact there are many places where it is encouraged. Seeing "Submit your widget" on a developer's portal is becoming more and more common.
These are some of the things we'll be looking at and discussing when I present the Dow Jones webinar "Widgets: Internet Sushi for the Web 2.0 Crowd" Register today. It'll be a blast.
Catch you soon!