Saturday, April 26, 2008

We need something instead of search

Too much data is now online for good search results.
Is Keyword Search About To Hit Its Breaking Point?
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Workstreaming, or the Facebook of Enterprise Management

My flagger pointed this out a couple of days ago but I haven't been able to blog it until now. Trampoline Systems' Sonar Dashboard is meant to marry workstreaming, social networking, and enterprise dashboards (well, the term "marry" doesn't work so well for combining three things, but whatever). It also tackles the chief problem with Web 2.0 solutions, which is that they are hard to scale because their information is hard to aggregate:
So at Web 2 Expo this week, Trampoline Systems, the UK-based enterprise startup, launched its new Sonar Dashboard tool designed to be a “Facebook for the enterprise”. This allows employees to create profiles, watch a news feed of colleagues’ activity and use a contacts list. Dashboard automatically tracks employees’ everyday work activity, such as email. Their Sonar Server product analyzes the social graph, information flows and expertise hidden within the company, allowing users to work out who in the company can help them, across departments and geographies. Sonar Dashboard makes the network searchable, and gives visibility to the right people via a simple visualization tool that maps the user’s social graph. Users can completely control what they share (the system automatically filters out blatantly personal material) and also lets them work out what they themselves are most preoccupied with. I haven’t seen a product like it so far and the visualization tools are pretty amazing.
Obviously there are some privacy concerns here, and one thing that struck me about the screen caps at the Sonar site was that it provides different views for peers and managers. But let's bracket that for now. The really interesting thing for me is the visualizations, which allow people to visualize their formal and informal social networks. There's a piece of the aggregation/summarization puzzle. But there are more pieces to find and fit.

The Enterprise Social Network, Auto-Generated And Visually Mapped
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Projjex -- another contender in the project management/collaboration space

Project management and collaboration tools seem to be coming closer together. This trend was kicked off with 37Signals' Basecamp, but seems to ramp up with each new iteration of web-based PM.

The latest example is Projjex, "an online collaborative workspace" that takes the project as the unit for collaboration. It manages tasks, documents (including all standard Office formats and PDFs), notes, meeting times, and time tracking in a single webspace. It also offers deep search that goes across tasks and through the actual text of your documents.

Unlike Basecamp, but like many Basecamp imitators, Projjex also offers tagging. It also promises mobile integration via text reminders and a mobile interface.

I have watched the Projjex demo but haven't taken it for the free test drive yet. Based on my quick review of the site and tutorial, I think it might be good for larger units that want a one-stop shop for internal collaboration as well as some client collaboration.

Projjex | Get it done
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Google's small business strategy

According to Google's public policy blog, "David Fischer, our VP for Global Online Sales and Operations, will testify before the U.S. House Small Business Committee to explain just how Google has become an engine of economic growth and opportunity for hundreds of thousands of small businesses." The testimony focuses on AdWords, but as I've noted elsewhere in this blog, Google's other apps (GMail, GCal, Docs) are also targeted to small businesses in an increasingly "co-opetive" environment. Tellingly, "David will highlight the fact that small business success stories like Regina's [a customer's] are a powerful testament to the importance of maintaining a free and open Internet."

Google Public Policy Blog: Creating opportunities for small business to thrive
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Twitpitch

Even shorter than the elevator pitch. Brilliant. All of you who are on the job market, take note.
We've all heard of the elevator pitch: the brief overview of a product, service, or project that can be delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator, usually around 30 seconds or so. Now here comes a new idea: the Twitpitch, and yes, it's just what you think - the same pitch narrowed down to 140 characters or less.
Twitpitch: The Elevator Pitch Hits Twitter - ReadWriteWeb
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Congratulations, Clancy!

Congratulations to Clancy Ratliffe on the birth of her son! He's beautiful, Clancy.

Precious Little Henry | CultureCat
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Come on, Android

Bring this concept app to market. I especially like the little 360-degree view indicator in the top right corner, which reminds me of Battlezone.

Enkin: navigation reinvented
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Monday, April 21, 2008

Google Docs + Google Gears -- preliminary impressions

I've been waiting for Google to roll out Docs + Gears integration because I want to see how the web app is extended to the client for offline access. Now I've been able to test it, some initial impressions:
  • Editing existing docs seems fine. Big yellow message at top to let you know you're editing offline.
  • Spreadsheets are view-only. (Mentioned in Help.)
  • Presentations are greyed out. You can see them in the list, but you can't get to them. (Mentioned in Help.)
  • Can insert comments in docs (great for offline grading).
  • Cannot create new docs -- that's a real handicap, and I suppose you can leave a few blank docs hanging out there if you absolutely want to compose new things in GDocs. (Mentioned in Help.)
  • Once you have edited a doc, in the docs list it says "Edited offline" next to it. Great.
  • Can still view by doc type, by folder. Can still assign to folders and remove from folders.
  • Can only print via "Printer-Friendly HTML."
  • "More actions" only allows "Preview."
  • Offline Help available but rudimentary.
  • Can delete docs.
  • Can sort docs.
Overall, this integration is not as great as I had hoped. The word processor works fine to edit existing docs, but since you can't create new ones, it's pretty limited. I guess you could have a few blank docs hanging out there just in case, but that seems like a bit of a hack.

On the other hand, GDocs is a good way for students to share their assignments, and I could insert comments even when offline. I also have several manuscripts to edit, so I doubt I would be at a loss for work during short periods.

I'll continue to road-test GDocs over the next few days. If you're doing the same, why don't you drop me a line or write your experience in the comments.
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Sunday, April 20, 2008


GDocs has finally rolled out offline access to me. Took a long time, guys. I'll be playing with this over the next several days and will blog a report. 
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The mortgage crisis might negatively impact higher ed

Usually bad financial times result in more people going back to school. But that might be hard, since educational costs are rising -- and the characteristics of this crisis might make it much harder to obtain student loans.

Student Loans May Be Impacted by the Mortgage Crisis | Capital Gains and Games
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