Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Social media in the Obama Whitehouse

Jonathan Greenblatt, former member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, will talk on "Contemporary US Politics of Social Innovation", in Canberra 19 April and Sydney 20 April 2010.
The United States Studies Centre and
DEEWR’s Social Innovation and Social Policy Groups
invite you to a presentation by Jonathan Greenblatt on

Contemporary US Politics of Social Innovation
Jonathan Greenblatt
Former member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team

Seminar Abstract
President Obama and the White House administration are leveraging social media to accelerate social innovation. The President has also established a new Office for Social Innovation recognising that government alone can’t address the complex social issues that we face. Instead, organisations from the private, public and non-profit sectors need to collaborate to identify and implement potential solutions. The establishment of the new Office shows that the US federal government has a key role to play in promoting and facilitating social innovation.

Jonathan will draw on his experiences as a former White House official member of the Presidential Transition Team to examine how the Obama Administration is developing new models of innovation to change how government works. By leveraging insights from the fields of citizen journalism, social media and venture capital, the White House is changing Washington with its own unique brand of "social innovation."

When: Monday 19 April 2010
Time: 12:30 – 2.00pm
Location: Theatre, Australian War Memorial
RSVP: Places are limited, so please confirm your attendance by Thursday 15 April 2010 with Julie Ward via email: or phone: (02) 6240 9383

Biographical Information
Jonathan Greenblatt is the co-founder of Ethos Water, a former vice president of Starbucks Coffee Company, and an acknowledged thought leader on ethical branding, global development and social entrepreneurship. He is the founding president of All for Good and previously served as CEO of GOOD Worldwide. He also has served at the highest levels of government, including as an aide in the Clinton White House and, more recently, as a member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team. He teaches social entrepreneurship at the Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA and advises corporations, foundations and non-governmental organizations on the intersection between business and sustainability.

You can find a more detailed bio at:

Sponsored by the Social Policy Group with a view to building and sharing the evidence base for policy

Evidence driving policy: the DEEWR strategic policy and research seminar series

From: Presentation flyer, by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and the United States Study Centre (University of Sydney).

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Military presentations and social media

Two publications on better presentations caught my eye in the NLA reading room today. One on how to use Twitter during presentations, the other on how military personnel can prepare better presentations.

The Backchannel: How Audiences are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever (Cliff Atkinson, 240 pages, New Riders Press, 2009) gives a step by step guide on how to use Twitter during a presentation for audience feedback. It also covers alternatives to Twitter which are better suited for discussion of presentations and how to set up a web version of your talk to allow for this. It is a very good "how to" as well as "why to" guide.

Towards better presentations (Commander Diane Boettcher, Professional Notes, Proceedings of the US Naval Institute, February 2010) is a short article urging military personnel to prepare better presentations. Having suffered from having to sit through many overly long bullet point acronym loaded PowerPoint presentations by defence personnel, I hope the suggestions are headed. I particularly like the suggestion to writing notes to accompany slide presentations. As the commander points out, slide decks tend to take on a life of their own and your presentation, or some slides from it may be widely circulated. If accompanied by some notes the presentation will make much more sense.

It would be interesting to see if the military are making use of the Twitter-type back channel for presentations. Clearly Twitter could not be used for classified presentations, but more secure systems with more limited coverage could be used.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Not a Review of Not a Gadget

This is not a review. Apparently Jaron Lanier has written a book called "You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto". The only reason I know this is because people keep telling me via the Internet. I have had a gushing and completely unintelligible review sent to me by a librarian. A web search finds 3,680,000 mentions of the book. But I can't get the book and have to rely on what I read about it on the web, which seems to invalidate what the book says.

Mr. Lanier has chosen to have only a hardback print edition made available, no lower cost widely available, paperback. There are Kindle version and Audio download, but the price for these has been set even higher than the hardback.

I can't read the book (at least not at a reasonable price and my library's copy has not yet arrived), so I have to go by what the author, and others say about it. That is a little difficult as Mr. Lanier has only provided a few snippets about the book, such as "Web 2.0 is a formula to kill the middle class and undo centuries of social progress." One message the book seems to have is that crowd sourcing does not necessarily provide good information. Another message seems to be that good information is not free. By making only very high cost versions of his book available, Mr. Lanier seems to be practising what he preaches. However, while I agree that the free-wheeling world of mash-ups may be an illusion, I don't think a quaint 19th century gentleman's club of exchanging ideas via books which take years to distribute and only to those with money is a good approach either.

The printed book is bound with "Deckle Edge" paper. This simulates handmade paper by machine fraying the edges of the paper. To produce a book about the follies of Web 2.0, which pretends to be a hand made object, is a folly in itself. Perhaps the pages of a book fraying around the edges is a good metaphor for the state of this approach to scholarly communication.

The sponsored Review says:
"... In You Are Not a Gadget, the longtime tech guru/visionary/dreadlocked genius (and progenitor of virtual reality) argues the opposite: that unfettered--and anonymous--ability to comment results in cynical mob behavior, the shouting-down of reasoned argument, and the devaluation of individual accomplishment. Lanier traces the roots of today's Web 2.0 philosophies and architectures (e.g. he posits that Web anonymity is the result of '60s paranoia), persuasively documents their shortcomings, and provides alternate paths to "locked-in" paradigms. Though its strongly-stated opinions run against the bias of popular assumptions, You Are Not a Gadget is a manifesto, not a screed; Lanier seeks a useful, respectful dialogue about how we can shape technology to fit culture's needs, rather than the way technology currently shapes us."
The author himself is positive about the effect of the Internet:
"... In the industrialized world, the rise of the Web has happily demonstrated that vast numbers of people are interested in being expressive to each other and the world at large. This is something that I and my colleagues used to boldly predict, but we were often shouted down, as the mainstream opinion during the age of television’s dominance was that people were mostly passive consumers who could not be expected to express themselves. In the developing world, the Internet, along with mobile phones, has had an even more dramatic effect, empowering vast classes of people in new ways by allowing them to coordinate with each other. That has been a very good thing for the most part, though it has also enabled militants and other bad actors."
But he sees a problem with web 2.0:
"The problem is not inherent in the Internet or the Web. Deterioration only began around the turn of the century with the rise of so-called "Web 2.0" designs. These designs valued the information content of the web over individuals. It became fashionable to aggregate the expressions of people into dehumanized data. There are so many things wrong with this that it takes a whole book to summarize them. Here’s just one problem: It screws the middle class. Only the aggregator (like Google, for instance) gets rich, while the actual producers of content get poor. This is why newspapers are dying. It might sound like it is only a problem for creative people, like musicians or writers, but eventually it will be a problem for everyone. When robots can repair roads someday, will people have jobs programming those robots, or will the human programmers be so aggregated that they essentially work for free, like today’s recording musicians? Web 2.0 is a formula to kill the middle class and undo centuries of social progress."

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Social Networking Technology for Emergencies

Cover of New Technologies in Emergencies and ConflictsThe United Nations Foundation has released "New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts: The Role of Information and Social Networks" (2009). The full report is available online, as one donw load and by chapter. The report recommends remove regulatory barriers for better early warning and emergency response and putting more resources into
local preparedness. The call for standardisation of communications is timely, including a global standard for cell broadcast technologies. Australia is entering another bushfire season with limited standardisation of systems at the national level. The report has received some criticism on the Humanitarian ICT discussion list for the breadth of coverage, but such a report can include online a limited amount of material.
  1. Foreword
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Executive Summary
  4. Introduction
  5. Alerts: Early Warning And Communication Needs
  6. Preparedness: Building Communities’ Resilience
  7. Response: Coordination In Emergencies
  8. Rebuilding: Post-Crisis Services And Development
  9. Recommendations
  10. Endnotes
Executive Summary

Natural disasters and violent conflicts have always been part of human existence. But the number of humanitarian crises has been rising in recent years. Moreover, disasters strike
most frequently, and with the most devastating impact, in the least developed countries. These countries also have the weakest communications infrastructures, which poses a
particular challenge to governments, aid agencies, and the affected population at every stage of a crisis, from the runup to a disaster through to long-term reconstruction.

There have been dramatic advances in communications technology: in the number of new technologies, the mobility and range of functions available, and the spread of these technologies. Growth has been particularly strong in the penetration of mobile phones and more recently the uptake of social networking websites including Facebook and Twitter. One important change is a shift from one-to many forms of communication, such as television and radio, to many-to-many forms of communication, such as social
networking and crowdsourcing websites, that is changing the way in which information is delivered and exchanged.

Communications advances present an opportunity forhumanitarian organizations to harness modern technology to communicate more effectively with communities affected by disasters and to allow members of those communities to communicate with each other and with the outside world.

People in affected communities can recover faster if they can access and use information. A look at the use of communications technology during disasters in recent years shows
that while it has played a positive role, its full potential has not yet been realized.

Moreover, governments, humanitarian agencies, and local communities face challenges and risks associated with modern technological innovation. These include:

• Information flows must be two-way to be effective — from the external world to the affected community, but also from those affected to the agencies seeking to help
them in useful ways.
• Information will not be used unless it is trusted. The utility of any technologies will depend on the social context. People are a vital part of the communication system. ...

Recommendations ...

Remove regulatory barriers
Some regulatory barriers to effective early warning systems and emergency response remain, despite the great progress made in these aspects since the Indian Ocean tsunami. We identified:
• the need for further standardization of communications in emergency situations—such as a global standard for cell broadcast technologies, for example;
• the need to develop standards applicable to existing and future systems for delivery of early warnings or alerts;
• the need for inter-operability between public networks and networks dedicated to emergency communications; and
• a need for priority access by emergency services personnel to communications.

Furthermore, governments must extend the regulatory framework to new and emerging technologies. Regulation is lagging behind innovation. In particular:
• the international community needs to create a legal framework enabling the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, which hold great promise for collecting information for
use by humanitarian agencies but are currently unable to be deployed due to legal uncertainties.

Put more resources into local preparedness
People-centeredness has been one of the themes of this report. The people affected by an emergency are in the best position to know what is happening and what they need.

Preparedness requires long-term investment by humanitarian organizations, including investment in public education and capacity building in local media.

Information provision should be recognized as a standard part of both preparedness and aid delivery, and might include:
• preparation of off-the-shelf material agreed on between humanitarian and aid agencies (what to do in an earthquake, basic sanitation advice, for example);
• training humanitarian agencies in communication skills, including receiving and using feedback from communities; and
• the inclusion of a wind-up radio in aid packages.

Information needs to be collected and deployed to be effective. Often this will be done by official agencies, but their responsibilities may be overlapping and uncoordinated.
Preparedness also requires the international humanitarian community to be able to act themselves in a coordinated way on the information and analysis enabled by these emerging systems.

Agencies should share best practices with each other.
Agencies developing tools for use in disaster preparedness and emergency relief should also include consideration of their potential for communities’ post-disaster or postconflict needs, to leverage the investment of resources as effectively as possible.

Governments—especially in developing countries where access is not ubiquitous—also need to consider enhanced access to communications and investment in infrastructure, among all the competing demands for resources.

Leverage new media and crowdsourcing
Some of the most promising applications of new technology in emergencies use social media, often through crowdsourced applications.

As this report has shown, the issue of authentication is a key barrier to overcome. The development of methods and applications for verification of crowdsourced information
should be a priority. The humanitarian community can support the development of innovative platforms that addres the issue of verification as well as provision of information by users.

At the same time, it is important to ensure that communications technologies can offer their users a sufficient degree of anonymity and protection. This will depend on
technological solutions but also, importantly, the legal framework and public debate about the risks as well as benefits of anonymity. ...

From: New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts: The Role of Information and Social Networks, United Nations Foundation, December 2009

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mobile real-time e-learning tools needed

Is online real time interaction feasible on limited Internet connections, such as those on mobile devices? I was invited to try "Learn Central" with the Elluminate Live! collaboration tool. However, this requires a Java download which will take 11 minutes on my slow wireless Internet connection. Even after that I was not confident that Elluminate would have options suitable for a low speed high latency connection to my low performance Linux netbook computer. That may seem an unusual configuration of computer. But it is not that different to the smart phones many people have and could use for education, if a workable configuration could be found. As it is, it seems that every week or so someone offers me what they claim to be a revolutionary online education tool, which turns out not to run on anything other than a Microsoft Windows computer with a high speed broadband connection and a lot of very fragile add-on software. What we need are some really revolutionary tools which are not just adaptions of business video conferencing.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Enterprise Social Networking for Business

Greetings from the 2009 International Young ICT Professionals Conference in Sydney. The program is designed for young professionals, recent graduates and university students to advance their career in Information Communications Technology (ICT), focusing on business issues. I am speaking Social Networking for Business" at the social networking stream. Currently Benjamin Patey, CIO of CSC Australia is talking on "Enterprise Social Networking for Business". He is taking an interesting and entertaining approach of some role playing and participation. I was worried that my talk may repeat what Benjamin was talking about, but it appears the two talks are complementary: he is talking from the corporate point of view, whereas I am talking from the individual professional and their development.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Google Wave Social Networking for Business

After the Google Wave Hackathon in Canberra on Friday I have more if an idea of what this is about. I will explore some of the implications in my "Social Networking for Business" talk in the Entrepreneurship stream of the International Young ICT Professionals Conference in Sydney on 3 September 2009:

Social Networking for Business: The Year It All Changes - 2010

Running your company, or the country, using social networking software and a mobile phone

Social networking web sites, such as Facebook are popular for keeping in touch with friends. But the same technology can be applied to promoting a young ICT professional's career and in the workplace to help run a business. Business orientated social networking systems will be demonstrated, along with the software used for this by the ACS in its education courses. The application of the this technology on a smartphone will also be demonstrated.

See how to:

  1. Use social networking to promote your career
  2. Implement social networking software in your workplace
  3. Run a business, or a nation, from your phone
  4. Benefit from free open source software ...
From: "Social Networking for Business: The Year It All Changes - 2010"

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

What is Google Wave?

It is an unusual and slightly refreshing feeling to sit in a technical computer presentation have no idea of what the presenter is talking about. The experts from Google Sydney who have developed the technology are giving an introduction for developers on how to use it. While the details of Java and Python APIs and the use of various techniques is familiar and by the end of the day I could probably code a Google Wave application, I am still having difficulty understanding what it is for. There are some glimmerings of understanding happening. One is that Google Wave robots (applications running out in the cloud) can manipulate the Wave data in XHTML format. Also there is an OpenSocial interface coming to allow for interaction with social networking services (or for building social networking services). These are of interest for my intended application in e-learning. This could be used to build web based services for students to interact with each other and the tutors. Even if it does not turn out Google Wave is not the technology for this (or more likely is more technology than needed) it might make a good prototype.

ps: On a less serious note, the first Google Wave presentation was illustrated with images of not very friendly or pretty looking robots. Ruth Ellison, head of WSG Canberra, gave a presentation The Uncanny Valley at BarCamp Canberra with more interesting robots.

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Google Wave in Canberra

Greetings from the Google Wave Hackathon at the the Australian National University in Canberra. This free technical event about Google Wave platform. It started at 9am, but there is still room for more people and it runs until 5pm. There also some people following on Twitter: #cbrwave. I am here to see how it might be used for collaborative education with a learning management system: think social networking for a tutorial group (I talked about teaching Green ICT with a smartphone at Google Sydney on Friday).
Canberra Google Wave Hackathon Day
Saturday 8th August

9:30am Registration
10:00am Talks

A presenter from Google (details available soon) will give an introduction to the Wave API.

If you have already been developing for Wave, please consider giving a short presentation about what you have done (doesn't have to be a formal presentation).

12:00 pm Brainstorming Lunch (BYO or we will take orders & payment for pizza at registration)
1:00 pm Hacking
5:00 pm Demos
7:00 pm Head out for dinner at restaurant (at your own cost).

You must register if you wish to attend so that a Google Wave Developer sandbox account can be created for you. Registrations will close on Tuesday, 4th August so that the accounts can be created.

Numbers are limited, so please register as soon as possible at:

This day is being organised by volunteers who are interested in Google Wave development and thought it would be useful to have a Google Wave developers day in Canberra. Please indicate if you are willing to assist with organising and running the day. Contact for more information.

We will be providing WiFi internet access, but you will need to bring your own computer. Please have a look at the developer information on the Google Wave site ( as an introduction.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Canberra Google Wave Hackathon Day

A Google Wave Hackathon is being held the the Australian National University in Canberra on 8 August all day from 9am (registration essential). This is a free technical event about Google Wave platform. I am going along to see how it might be used for collaborative education with a learning management system: think social networking for a tutorial group (I am talking about teaching Green ICT with a smartphone at Google Sydney on Friday):
Canberra Google Wave Hackathon Day
Saturday 8th August

9:30am Registration
10:00am Talks

A presenter from Google (details available soon) will give an introduction to the Wave API.

If you have already been developing for Wave, please consider giving a short presentation about what you have done (doesn't have to be a formal presentation).

12:00 pm Brainstorming Lunch (BYO or we will take orders & payment for pizza at registration)
1:00 pm Hacking
5:00 pm Demos
7:00 pm Head out for dinner at restaurant (at your own cost).

You must register if you wish to attend so that a Google Wave Developer sandbox account can be created for you. Registrations will close on Tuesday, 4th August so that the accounts can be created.

Numbers are limited, so please register as soon as possible at:

This day is being organised by volunteers who are interested in Google Wave development and thought it would be useful to have a Google Wave developers day in Canberra. Please indicate if you are willing to assist with organising and running the day. Contact for more information.

We will be providing WiFi internet access, but you will need to bring your own computer. Please have a look at the developer information on the Google Wave site ( as an introduction.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Us Now film on the power of mass online collaboration

The July Canberra meeting of the Web Standards Group featured the UK film "Us Now" about the power of mass online collaboration. For anyone familiar with the "wisdom of crowds", the film gets very tedious, very quickly. It makes the point in the first five minutes and then repeats it over and over again for what seems like hours. However, that criticism could also be made of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", which presents a simplistic case for global warming: it is pure propaganda, but socially useful propaganda (so good it won half a Noble Prize, with the other half going to the thousand scientists who did decades of work). Us Now is not going to win a Noble Prize, but for those not familiar with the idea of large scale online collaboration, it will be interesting and educational:

The Us Now film is about the power of mass collaboration, government and the internet and "takes a look at how this type of participation could transform the way that countries are governed. It tells the stories of the online networks whose radical self-organising structures threaten to change the fabric of government forever."

You can watch a short on YouTube or read more about it at the Us Now website. This film was recently launched at London and Harvard and screened at the Hague and the French National Assembly in the last two weeks. Now it's our turn in Canberra....

The film uses mostly UK examples, which is a refreshing change from US experts, who think they invented the Web. What was disappointing is the shallow analysis of ways to work in groups. Essentially the films compares a big business/big government approach to decision making with web based online collaboration. The one example of non-Internet example of a local government meeting is presented as if this was something new.

The film makers would appear to have never been involved in a social, sporting or local government activity, where forms of collaboration have been used for millennia. While I believe that online collaboration can make a useful contribution to business, education and government, this shallow analysis will not help.

Providing examples of where collaboration has been used throughout history and examples outside the very narrow confines of the UK and USA, would make the case for online collaboration more credible.

Markets in much of the world have been operating for thousands of years as cooperatives of members. You need only step into the gold market of Istanbul or the Friday markets in Southern India, to get a sense of collaboration in the service of society. Web theorists need to learn from such systems.

Most of the examples used in the film are about local government, whereas the rhetoric from the theorists is about national government. Local government is far more important than regional or national government in the lives of the citizens. It is at the local level that the roads get fixed, the garbage collected and basic health services are provided. Even where services are officially provided at a regional or national level, such as in Australia with police and schools, they are made to work by informal decision making at the local level.

Working out a way to run a nation via the web may be interesting for political theorists, but is of little practical value. I suggest we need web systems which can be used to help run a body corporate for an apartment building, a village,or a playing field. Apart from being easier than working out how to run a country, the results of this will be much more easily applied accross the world, without casing any conflict with whatever happens to be the national political system of each country. While Australia and China may have very different national political systems, when it comes to the important issue of how to collect the garbage from a home, much the same decision making system can be used.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Social networking in e-learning tool

At Matthew Allen's online learning seminar in Canberra I speculated about having a way to link e-learning systems easily to external social networking tools. One of the less well known open source e-learning systems, ATutor, claim to have done some of this by implementing the OpenSocial 1.0 standard in a module called "ATutor Social". This is somewhat limited in its features, but shows what may be possible. The Atutor code is open source:

ATutor Social is a social networking module that allows ATutor users to network with each other. They can gather contacts, create a public profile, track network activity, create and join groups, and customize the environment with any of the thousands of OpenSocial gadgets available all over the Web


ATutor Social is based on the Google OpenSocial standard, implementing the Container part of the standard in ATutor. It essentially turns ATutor into a platform for OpenSocial applications. Applications are based on the Gadget part of the OpenSocial standard, and gadgets plugin to containers. Gadgets are available for a wide range of purposes, from simply linking a quote of the day app into the networking environment, to integrating sites like Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube, as well as integrating other social networks like Facebook and MySpace.

Anyone familiar with iGoogle, can click on "Add stuff" to find a list of gadgets that plug into the iGoogle environment. Gadgets that work with iGoogle (or most of them), also work with ATutor

ATutor Social Features

All Users

  • Search Network: Search for people on a network to display basic information about them. Login to add people as contacts.

Registered Users

  • My Contacts: Search the network for people you know and add them to your contact list.
  • People you Might Know: To help build networks, contacts of your contacts (i.e. friends of friends) are displayed making it easy to add common contacts to your own. Random selections of a few other's contact display each time a page loads.
  • Network Activity: Keep track of what other people in your network are doing by following their activities.
  • Network Groups: Create interest groups, or join an existing ones. Invite people to join groups you belong to.
  • Gadgets: Select from thousands of OpenSocial gadgets available around the internet to customize your social network to your specification. Once a gadget has been used on a system, it becomes available to others on your network to add to their social networking tools.
  • Privacy: Select from a range of privacy settings to control who sees what parts of your profile, and control which parts of your profile are searchable by others.


  • Turn off ATutor Social: ATutor Social runs both inside or outside of courses. Instructors may choose to disable social networking in their courses.


  • ShinDig Location: The ShinDig server acts as a hub for a social network. By default acts as the central hub for the ATutor social network. Administrators may choose to point to a different ShinDig server to create a private network.


  • OpenSocial Standard: Develop your own OpenSocial Gadgets that will plugin to ATutor, or into other OpenSocial container applications.
  • Public Source Code: All ATutor Social source code is available for public checkout from the Subversion version control repository.
From: ATutor Social, ATRC, 2009
It is some time since I have looked at Atutor and the development of the package has progressed considerably. Some features of interest are:
  1. ACollab: ACollab is a collaboration tool which can be used with Atutor, or on its own. there is a demo for it. Students can use thios to work on group projects, with sdhared document development being the main feature.
  2. AChecker: is an addon to test web pages for accessibility using proposed Open Accessibility Checks.
  3. Release Dates:

    Atutor allos the course designer to set a date when particuarl content will be available to the student. Unfortunately these dates appear tio be absloute calandar dates, not relative to the start of the course (as for example day 1 of week 3 of the coruse).

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Social Networking for Business

I will be speaking on "Social Networking for Business" at the 2009 International Young ICT Professionals Conference, 3 to 4 September 2009 in Sydney. Another speaker is Fiona Balfour, former CIO of Qantas and Telstra. The program is designed for young professionals, recent graduates and university students to advance their career in Information Communications Technology (ICT), focusing on business issues. It is interesting to see that TATA are one of the sponsors.

Social networking web sites, such as Facebook are popular for keeping in touch with friends. But the same technology can be applied to promoting a young ICT professional's career and in the workplace to help run a business. Business orientated social networking systems will be demonstrated, along with the software used for this by the ACS in its education courses. The application of the this technology on a smartphone will also be demonstrated.

See how to:

  1. Use social networking to promote your career
  2. Implement social networking software in your workplace
  3. Run a business, or a nation, from your phone
  4. Benefit from free open source software

2009 International Young ICT Professionals Conference

3 to 4 September 2009 in Sydney


Day 1 – Thursday 3 September 2009




Conference Welcome
Jason Ming, NSW Young IT Chair


ACS Welcome
Anthony Wong, ACS NSW Branch Chair and National Board Member


Richard White
CEO and founder of CargoWise edi Pty Ltd


Creative ICT Futures
Graeme Wood- Wotif Founder


Morning Tea





Standing out from the crowd while maintaining your work life balance
Debbie Timmins – Young Professional of the Year 2005 and Yohan Ramasundara- Immediate Past Director of Young IT Professionals Board

What does Computer Science have to offer to the Young IT Professionals
Dr Chris Johnson - Associate Professor, Australian National University and Director Computer Science Board of ACS





Skills Development



Essential communication skills for today’s IT workplace
Jill Noble – Principal, Pivotal HR

Express IT

Social Networking for Business
Tom Worthington- Author, Net Traveler




Internationalisation of the ICT Industry
Varun Kumar – Head, TCS Operations in Australia and New Zealand


Accelerating your Career and ACS Foundation Opportunities
John Ridge – Executive Director ACS Foundation


Panel Discussion – How to be Successful in the ICT industry?


Afternoon Tea


Innovative Software Development – An Australian Perspective
Glenn Wightwick – Director, IBM Australian Development Lab


Executive Leadership - Transforming Businesses through investment in Information Technology
Fiona Balfour (Former CIO Qantas and Telstra)




Wrap Up
Jason Ming, NSW Young IT Chair


Networking Dinner

Chief Guest – Kumar Parakala – President Australian Computer Society and Global COO - IT Advisory practice, KPMG
MC – Yasas V. Abeywickrama – Director Young IT

Day 2 – Friday 4 September 2009


Jason Ming, NSW Young IT Chair




Where is technology going?
Dr Paul Scully-Power – Executive Chairman, Prime Solutions Pacific and Australia’s first astronaut


Morning Tea


ACS Exciting Membership Pathways


Green ICT – The Impact & Opportunities for Future ICT Leaders
Bianca Wirth – A Green IT advocate and Advisory Board Member, Computers off Australia


Establishing IT Services Businesses and Exit Strategies
Julie Irwin - A Winner of IT's Million $ Babes Award 2007








Leadership - Today’s Leader
Sarma Rajaraman – CIO Genworth Financial


Afternoon Tea


International Aspects of ICT
Neville Roach - Chairman, Smart Services CRC, Former Chairman Fujitsu Australia, an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and 2008 Overseas Indian Honour Award recipient from the President of India


Stewardship the Profession Requires from Tomorrow’s Leaders to Make a Difference
Mark Lloyd – A national ICT identity and thought leader


Scholarships Presentation, Wrap up and Closing Remarks
Yasas V. Abeywickrama MACS, Director, ACS Young IT Professionals Board

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Google Wave

Google have demonstrated a new product called Google Wave. It is a little difficulty to work out exactly what it is through all the hype, but it appears to be a real time collaboration tool. The idea seems to be to expand the idea of a collaboratively written document, with people adding content in real time. But the examples provided look very complex and this reminds me of some office applications from ten years ago which had so many features that they were unusable. There are some screenshots and descriptions, protocol description and a Google Wave API.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Online Travel Planning

Since a trip to Europe in 1994 I have been planning my trips using the Internet. This has involved a lot of email messages and manual preparation of schedules as web pages. But recently I noticed "TripIt" pop up as a plug in on LinkedIn. One of my colleagues happened to be coming to Canberra and LinkedIn got their schedule out of TripIt and told me about it (on the assumption that as I am in Canberra, this would be of interest). This has a slightly worrying aspect to it, but I am trying it out for my trip to Melbourne. I had laboriously prepared my own custom schedule web pages, but thought I would try TripIt's automatic one.

The service claims you just need to forward your itinerary by email and their system sorts it out. My first attempt using the booking form for the hotel did not work: TripIt could not understand the format. But the second attempt using the form from the travel agent worked. It was able to work out my flights and advise who was nearby in Melbourne.

Apart from the privacy issues with this, performance seems to be a problem. LinkedIn is now reporting "momentary" problems and the TripIT plug-in is not responding (direct access via the TripIt web site seems to be okay).

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Smallville but not global village

Smallville by Carl MilofskySmallville: Institutionalizing Community in Twenty-First-Century America (Civil Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives) by Carl Milofsky (Tufts, 2008 ISBN: 978-1584657217) provides a useful but limited view of the role of informal organisations in the community. Milofsky argues that informal local organisations are an important but neglected part of organisation theory. This is because the usual definition of what is an organisation excludes them.

The book started to get interesting when he discussed the role of local groups who are part of national organisations. I turned the page expecting to see the discussion of local groups as a part of international organisations and how the availability of the Internet had changed the role of location, but the book had ended. As Milofsky is basing his research on a small part of the USA, it may be that the people there don't interact online with the rest of the world. But it seems more likely that Milofsky's method and theory are flawed, resulting in him being unable to discern the existence of these groups all around.

The book mentions the Internet only twice and I could find no reference to the effect of the web or social networking:
  1. Page 10: "... are vertical community relations." In the second group, relationships may not even be face-to-face (as is the case with Internet chat rooms)." This group also includes communities made up of professionals trained in a national or international ...."
  2. Page 165: "... " Locals may relate directly to the national culture using professional or economic connections, the media, or the Internet. Many local activities, however, demand something more-specific organizational connections that render the locals and the nationals mutually accountable. ..."

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Future of Technology

Kate CarruthersKate Carruthers talked on "Future Technology" at the Australian Computer Society Canberra Branch last night. She is repeating the talk in Hobart tonight, and around Australian in the coming weeks. Kate explained she was discussing trends, not making predictions. Even so she gave some very clear views as to where she sees the future of ICT and how this will challenge ICT professionals and organisations.

The first part of the talk was taken up with a discussion of social networking and its impact on organisations. Kate made the point that younger staff will see tools such as Facebook as a normal part of everyday and will not understand if these are banned from the workplace. Organisations need to put in place procedures which allow for their personal use without adversely impacting the workplace. Organisations also need to work these tools into their operations, making use of them for business.

As Kate explained at the beginning, in retrospect technological trends seem obvious and inevitable. Even so I thought the description of social networking to be obvious and was disappointed that Kate did not go on to detail how organisations should deal with them. I kept thinking "Will this scale to be usable by the average office worker? Can it be made secure in the corporate environment?". However, this may turn out to be as significant as the ACS meetings I attended about 15 years ago where we were introduced to the wonders of the Internet and the web.

Along with other ACS members I helped bring the Internet and the web to the Australian Government.One job was writing the Defence Department's guidelines on the use of the Internet in the workplace and later the guidelines for the web. These were not abstract tasks as shortly after drafting the guidelines, I had a call from the military police saying that solders had been caught with Internet pornography and what should they do?

The smartphone is also something Kate sees as being big in the future, pointing out the average phone has more processing power than desktop computers of a few years ago. Unfortunately as with social networking, she did not go on to say what this would do to organisations.

RFID tags and cloud computing also got a mention. At this point the audience was probably suffering technology overload and perhaps some of this material could be dropped from future talks.

Improvements I would suggest for later talks are:
  1. Address the organisation: Canberra is a government town and like many in the audience I was wondering how what was being presented applied to large traditional government organisations. The same question would arise with large companies.
  2. Use Local Examples: Kate gave some examples of organisations using these new technologies, but the examples were US based. At question time I asked about Australian examples and Kate gave several which could be usefully incorporated in the presentation.
  3. Use the technology: While Kate was talking about highly interactive technologies, she was using a very static non-interactive PowerPoint style presentation to do it. I suggest some demonstrations would help get the dynamic nature of these technologies across the the audience.

    Recently I attended a training course by Mark Drechsler of Netspot, who are supporting the new ANU Learning Management System. He was teaching us to use Moodle and as this is a web based tool he was not surprisingly had a web page open on a big screen for most of the course. What I found surprising was that photos of people kept popping up in the bottom corner of the screen, with short text messages. After a time I worked out these must be Mark's work colleagues, arriving at work, posting general queries to each other and leaving.

    It was a little distracting to have these people popping up every few minutes and I was getting a little annoyed. At this point Mark explained these were his colleagues and typed a query one of the students had asked into the system and got an answer from one of his colleagues. At this point I realised that these people were mostly in Netspot's headquarters in Adelaide and others around the world. This was the equivalent of staff popping their head into the training course to introduce themselves. These were people we would be working with at ANU to implement the new system, so it was useful to get to know who we would be working with, even if we never see them in person or talk to them face-to-face.

    Kate could similarly demonstrate the use pf some of the technologies, to show that these are not just abstract concepts to be discussed, but real and practical tools for the workplace.
Social networking in the workplace is a topic the ACS is indirectly dealing with via its Computer Professional Education Program. The students use online tools for their courses which are similar to social networking. The primary method of learning is by the students interacitng online, discussing, adding information to forums; the tutors are there to help the students learn how to work this way, not to teach them. A byproduct of this procvess is that these students will be well equipped to use these techniques in their workplace. One of the interesting tools the ACS is using is the open source e-portfolio software "Mahara", from New Zealand, which interfaces to Moodle.

ps: Senator Lundy is talking about how she uses a smart phone to help run the Australian Government, in Canberra on Thursday.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mobile Internet taking off with Younger Australians

Last night Scott Ewing from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation reported on a survey of Australians use of the Internet. This is part of the World Internet Project (WIP), looking at Internet use over time and accross countries. Some of the more interesting results are that 19% of Australians don't use the Internet, 94% of 18 to 24 years olds do and of them 20% use the Internet on their mobile phones. The published report is available: CCi Digital Futures Report The Internet in Australia 2008. Scott and his colleagues will be talking in Melbourne, PERTH, BUNBURY, HOBART, Adelaide, SYDNEY and other locations.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

What do Australians do online?

Scott Ewing from the World Internet Project (WIP) will speak on the social, cultural, political and economic impact of the Internet and other new technologies at free ACS talks around Australia in October and November 2008:
Canberra7 October 2008
Melbourne15 October 2008
PERTH 21 October 2008
BUNBURY22 October 2008
HOBART28 October 2008
Adelaide29 October 2008
SYDNEY24 November 2008

ACS Branch Forum (Final EDxN for 2008)
The World Internet Project
What do Australians do online?

CCi Digital Futures is the Australian component of the World Internet Project (WIP), a collaborative, survey-based project looking at the social, cultural, political and economic impact of the Internet and other new technologies. Founded by the UCLA Centre for the Digital Future in the United States in 1999 (now based at the USC Annenberg Centre), the WIP is now approaching 25 partners in countries and regions all over the world.

The Internet is everywhere, at work, at home and on the move. If the Prime Minister's plans come to anything, it will soon be in every school. The underlying technologies are scarcely three decades old, and some of the most popular sites, such at You Tube and Facebook, are only a few years old, but this new world of information and communication is now, for many of us, an utterly everyday experience. What is equally remarkable is how little we really know about how the net is used, where and by whom.

Researchers are tackling these and other questions on several fronts. The answers will tell us a great deal about what sort of people Australians are becoming in the new era of networks. They will also tell us something about the real prospects for turning Australia into one of those new, desirable 'knowledge economies', based on innovation and creativity. What is the point of this sort of research? A global, long-run study of the net is useful for many people: for policy makers, for consumers, businesses and innovators. This kind of knowledge has another possible benefit, if it can help make what now seems strange a bit less scary. We could then spend a little less time worrying about what the net might do to us or our children, and some more time figuring out what it can achieve for us all.


Scott Ewing

A Senior Research Fellow at Swinburne University of Technology's Institute for Social Research and at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation, Scott Ewing has fifteen years experience as a social researcher, both at Swinburne and in the private sector. Currently managing the Australian component of the World Internet Project, a global survey of internet use and non-use, Scott's research interests include the social impact of new technologies and the role of economic evaluation in social policy. He has taught at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level and his research output includes a book, a book chaper, numerous monographs and reports, ten journal articles and many conference papers (both published and unpublished).

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Web 2.0 and the Net Generation

Meg Poore will give a free talk on "Web 2.0 and the Net Generation defreakified: Information behaviour of today's internet users" at the ANU in Canberra, August 21, 2008:
Web 2.0 and the Net Generation defreakified: Information behaviour of today's internet users

This talk gives an overview of 'Web 2.0' (what it is and what it means) and investigates how technologies that allow for greater communication, collaboration and content creation are changing our students' experiences of learning whether we like it or not.

'Net Gen' characteristics and culture will be described and we'll also look at some of the myths surrounding the Net Gen. The talk also explores Net Gen information behaviour and learning needs.

Speaker: Meg Poore - Meg is an educational designer and developer, and an educational consultant (who is currently working at the College of Arts and the College of Asia and the Pacific at ANU), who is fascinated by all things relating to Web 2.0, the 'Net Generation' and how to use online tools and technologies in education.

Where: MacDonald Room, Menzies Library, ANU.

When: 12.30-1.30 Thursday, August 21, 2008. Bring your lunch!

Please send to anyone who you think might be interested.

Annette L. McGuiness
Library Manager (Canberra),
The Lewins Library, Signadou Campus,
Australian Catholic University Ltd
ABN 15 050 192 660
CRICOS Registration: 0004G, 00112C, 00873F, 00885B

Box 256 Dickson ACT 2602
Tel 6209 1117 Fax 6209 1114
email: annette.mcguiness(a)

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

ACS Green ICT Group on LinkedIn

I created an ACS Green ICT Group on LinkedIn. I am still coming to grips with how such social networking tools can be used professionally and thought the best way to find out was to try them.

To create the group I entered a short description, uploaded the ACS logo and put in a link to the Green ICT website. The next day this had been approved by LinkedIn and the group created. Now people can apply to join the group (I get to vet them). Be interesting to see if anyone joins.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Naymz reputation management website

Mr Tom Worthington FACS, HLM
Someone invited me to join the Naymz reputation management website. This is a little like the Linked-In business social networking website, with all the features removed, except the ability to rate other people. The service seems to be new and yet to be proven: no one seems to be saying anything bad about it so far, just that a social networking site needs to build up a community before it is proven.

View Tom Worthington's profile on LinkedIn
Naymz seem to be attempting to speed up that process by making it easy for people to import their list of contact from Linked-In and similar systems. The process of building your reputation is a points scoring exercise, where you get points for entering details about yourself and for verification of those details. You are rewarded for having more points by being more visible in the system as well as it contributing to your "rep score" (reputation).

Simply by having someone invite me to join the system and putting in some details I got a score of 6. By adding some links to my Linked-In and Yahoo profiles, plus my blog, my score went up to 7. But the system seems to work on the reputation of the people in the system, so the more they do to get their score up, the more I will need to do.

Some verification you can do yourself, as with your email address, but this mostly an exercise in getting your peers to vouch for you.

The basic service is free, but like Linked In, Naymz make their money in two ways: advertising and selling premium services.

Services like Naymz may seem a very mechanical way to duplicate the subtle processes of creating a professional reputation. But something very similar is used by academics to rate each other. Such systems are sued to hand out millions of dollars in grant money. Those systems are partly informal and subject to manipulation, with limited ability to audit the system. Also a lot of money, time and effort goes into those manual processes. Perhaps if an online system were used, the quality of research could be improved and the cost reduced.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Social Networking for Corporate Governance

Day two of the Malaysian Corporate Governance Conference, 16 May 2008, at the Securities Commission, Kuala Lumpur was opened by by Yang Berbahagia, DatukRanjit Ajit Singh, Managing Director of the Malaysian Securities Commission (where the conference was held).

The MD started by explaining that he had been invited to meet the Queen of Jourdan, who is visiting KL, but decided to keep the appointment to talk to us instead (the very long royal motorcade went past the hotel last night). The MD gave a keynote address on "Malaysian Corporate Governance and Its Impact on the Competitiveness of the Country". The main message was about the need for confidence in companies, in the face of overseas corporate collapses.

Datuk Ranjit Ajit Singh argued that better corporate governance has been shown to increase the value of companies. Not only do large investors look for companies with good government, but also now invest in companies with poor governance with an aim to increase the value of those companies by improving the governance. He said that regulations cannot make companies act ethically; that this is something for corporate culture and ultimately a matter of the individuals in companies. But the auditors are the first line of defence for the company against malpractice. The SC is in the final stages of establishing an audit oversight board (AOB). This will check the auditors who audit major companies.

Also a forensic accounting investigation team is being put in place. One issue which came up in discussions before the event was the role of computer forensics in corporate regulation. However, this is normally only applied after an infringement is suspected. I suggest what is also needed is monitoring of the markets to look for suspicious activity. Data mining software can be used to look for problems. The Australian Taxation Office has a data mining capability, but is choosing a cooperative approach with companies, to agree corporate governance and compliance arrangements.

The MD pointed out that Malaysia has the fourth largest bond market in the region and the largest Islamic capital market in the world, with Islamic banking. In the commission's bookshop, I picked up some of the free booklets about Islamic Capital Markets. The commission issues lists of Syariah compliant securities and guidelines for such companies. It would be interesting to see how much there is in common between Syariah guidelines and environmental/social ethical guidelines used by Australian ethical investment companies, such as Australian Ethical Investments. I suspect they have much in common.

Talking to the MD later, I found he is a graduate of University of Melbourne and he suggested that while there was some in common in assessing companies between Islamic and environmental guidelines, that Islamic capital markets are a different issue and very complex.


  • What is the power of investor relations (IRs) function?
  • How does a company maintain an effective communication policy with shareholders through IRs?
  • How would one draw the line differentiating between Corporate Social Responsibility and IRs? They seem the same, but they are not.
  • In order to achieve greater transparency and accountability in financial performance reporting, what would be the best IRs initiatives proposed/practiced by award winning companies?
Whilst limitations on voluntary disclosure do exist as it may facilitate comparison by competitors, too little disclosure will defeat the purpose it serves. Thus, what would be the 'right' amount of disclosure to ensure the desirability of disclosure is achieved?
Moderator: Mr Puvan J. Selvanathan, Executive Director, Caux Round Table Malaysia
Speaker: Mr Justin Leong, Chairman, Malaysian Investor Relations Association (MIRA), Head of Strategic Investments and Corporate Affairs, Genting Bhd

At this point I decided to take a break from the conference and visited the excellent SC library on the first floor. This has an extensive range of business book and periodicals, as well as online access. I found publications on Islamic banking and Islamic insurance. In terms of design of the library, there are semi-circular desks for casual access computers wrapped around the pillars of the building. Each desk can accommodate two computers to be used while standing. This makes good use of space, which otherwise would be unusable near the pillars. However, no computers have yet been installed on these desks. There was also free public WiFi, but I was not able to get it to work.

One useful publication was New Horizon: Global Perspective on Islamic Banking and Insurance, with an article "Malaysia: Leading the Way" (Rajab-Ramadan 1428, July September 2007). One point this made is that Malaysia's rise as an Islamic banking country has occurred since the 1980s. This started out with Tabung Haji, to provide a way to save for a pilgrimage and provide welfare services on the journey. The government introduced legislation in the 1980s for Islamic banks. There are also Islamic insurers (takaful). Islamic banking has 15% of the sector in Malaysia.

The article makes much of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIIFC) and its promotion of "sukuk" government bonds. They point out that Islamic bonds have to be backed by tangible assets, rather than an exercise in interest rate movements. Given the recent problems in global financial markets with financial instruments which turned out to be backed by noting at all, sukuk makes a lot of sense. There are also some government tax exemptions to promote the new market.

The library has an excellent view out to the Science Center opposite. The windows are shaded by the projecting roof of the building and by perforated metal louvers on the bottom third of the windows. As well as shading, the louvers give some reassurance for those with vertigo, such as myself, who are uncomfortable standing next to a floor to ceiling glass wall with a sheer drop below.

I had some difficulty getting into the library as while it is advertises as being open to the public, it has an access card lock on the door. Presumably members are issued with cards elsewhere. But I was able to attract some one's attention and was welcomed in to visit. After the bustle of KL's streets, a library is a calm and familiar space. One aspect of the library which created mixed feelings was censorship of publications. An edition of Newsweek magazine had a photo of some scantly clad young women covered with felt tip pen. The idea of such censorship I find worrying, but in this instance the photo was not essential to the article it was with (about the sexual views of US college students) and I would prefer not to have to look at the photo.


The importance of information and communications technologies (ICT) can not be ignored as the world is heading towards this direction for effective sources of information, communications and world-wide connectivity. Thus, this session aims to cover the followings:
  • Overview of Standards
  • Electronic Reporting
  • Fraud and other Threats from ICT
  • ICT impact on Corporate Performance
  • ICT Corporate Compliance Requirements
Moderator: Mr Puvan J. Selvanathan, Executive Director, Caux Round Table Malaysia
Speaker: Ms Marghanita da Cruz, Principal Consultant & Director, Ramin Communications, Australia

The slides for Ms Marghanita da Cruz's talk are available online. One interesting point which came out is that a new international standard for ICT Corporate Government is being developed, based on the Australian standard. This would appear an excellent opportunity for Australian consultants and trainers to provide services to the world about the new standard. Mr Puvan J. Selvanathan, the moderator entered into a dialog with the speaker on the relevance of code, using architecture as a metaphor. This seemed a very deep and significant discussion, but like most of the audience, I had no idea what they were talking about.

One audience member asked about the legal status of the Australian ICT Corporate Governance standard, which shows a difference in view in different national jurisdictions. Australian standards have no legislative force, being from a non-profit, non-government body. Some standards are given the force of law by federal or state legislation, or are included in regulations, but most are not.

Another question was about "e systems", such as online tax form submission and if the investment in such systems was worthwhile. I commented that take-up of systems such as Australia's eCensus was only about 15%, but this was enough to more than pay for the cost of the system.

  • How do responsible business practices contribute to the success of a company in global businesses?
  • What kind of value do companies see in committing to responsible business practices in the long run?
  • CSR encompasses many different aspects in relation to responsible business practices. The concern is how does a company manage all different aspects of CSR in the global competitive environment?
  • What is the art of balancing the social aspect, economic welfare and environmental aspect of CSR?
Moderator: Mr Puvan J. Selvanathan, Executive Director, Caux Round Table Malaysia
Speaker: Dr Geoffrey Williams, Managing Director, OWW Consulting

Dr Williams discussed investor relations. He pointed out that hedge funds are starting to adopt a similar view to other investors, while still having a shorter view of time spans. Large investors expect personal access to senior company staff, possibly at their location overseas. These investors may only want a few investments in Malaysia. Financial analysts are time poor and risk averse and so will tend to favour large companies which are liquid, can be understood easily. They want reports in the morning and easily understood. He also had useful advice on dealing with the financial media. The main message was that Investor Relations information should be suitable for the particular audience. Even statutory information for the stock exchange needs to be well written as it is ultimately read by customers.

At question time I asked how to avoid being seen as devious if you produce different version of the information targeted to different audiences. The answer suggested was continuous disclosure, releasing information as it becomes available. One interesting suggestion was to lodge presentations to conferences with the stock exchange, before the presentation, if there is any price sensitive information in the presentation. Apart from meeting legal requirements, this could be useful marketing, with the stock exchange acting as an additional source of information.

End of Conference

The conference was a worthwhile event. Much of the value is in the informal discussions between participants, allowed for in the generous breaks in this conference. One insight by a delegate was that the Government has an ICT unit to encourage use of systems in government called MAPU (which seems equivalent to the Australian Government's AGIMO).

In may ways the issues of regulation and oversight I am familiar with for ICT systems apply more generally to corporations. ICT professionals could usefully learn about the wider context of business, but also have something to contribute, in terms of being able to build ICT systems to help with governance and also their more rigorous scientific and engineering approaches to governance.

Social Networking for Corporate Governance

An area in which I believe there is considerable scope for development is in the use of social networking technology for corporate governance. On May 12, 2008 Google announced "Google Friend Connect, a service using emerging social networking standards to allow third party web sites to provide social networking services. Currently this service is mostly confined to Google social networking products and aimed at non-business use. However, these show potential for expansion into business use.

The same standards as used for social networking, such as: OpenID, OAuth and OpenSocial, could be applied to corporate systems, using data access APIs as used by Facebook, Google, and MySpace. Management and board discussions could then take place using these tools, in much the same way social discussions now do. This would provide the rapid online communication and tools for group working, but with full audit trails complaint with government standards.

Those corporations and cities, who invest in the research, education and implementation needed for social networking for business may well be the Google, Microsoft and silicon valleys of the 21st Century.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Multi-Stakeholder Governance

Jeremy Malcolm is launching his book "Multi-Stakeholder Governance and the Internet Governance Forum" at the Melbourne Hotel from 6.30, 28 May 2008 (RSVP to events (a) While his sounds a bit esoteric, I suspect this will shortly become as hot a topic with government people and lobbyists as social networking is for business. The idea is to use Internet based tools to provide forums for making policy, without the expense and logistical problems of events such as the 2020 Summit.

If you can't wait for the book, you can read the thesis it is based on, for free: "Multi-Stakeholder Public Policy Governance and its Application to the Internet Governance Forum".
Governance and the Internet Governance Forum
By Jeremy Malcolm ...

Multi-stakeholder governance is a fresh approach to the development of public policy, bringing together governments, the private sector and civil society in partnership. The movement towards this new governance paradigm has been most marked in areas involving global networks of stakeholders, too intricate to be represented by governments alone.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than on the Internet, where it is an inherent characteristic of the network that laws, and the conduct to which those laws are directed, will cross national borders. Thus momentum has developed to bring multi-stakeholder governance to the Internet, through reforms such as the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). In this groundbreaking and incisive book, Jeremy Malcolm examines the new model of multi-stakeholder governance for the Internet regime that the IGF represents, and builds a compelling case for its reform to enable it to fulfil its mandate as an institution for multi-stakeholder Internet governance. ...

* Published on: 2008-05-09
* Binding: Paperback
* 640 pages

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Corporate social networking with web 2.0?

The IT business media seem to be taking Web 2 seriously, so perhaps it is time to look at it. But there seem to be several concepts mixed up together (or perhaps "mashed up"?). Sorting this out may solve some problems in corporate document management and academic publishing.

One is the use of AJAX and similar technology to provide a more interactive interface via the web. Another is traditional office applications provided via the AJAX interface (such as word processors and spreadsheets). The third is on-line meeting places, such as MySpace.

There is also YouTube, a video sharing web site, which usually gets mentioned in the same articles but does not seem to have anything to do with social networking or corporate applications, but just gets included because it is popular.

Capitalizing on Interactivity, Mobility and Personalization by Donna Bogatin, January 22nd, 2007:
Categories: Business Models, Web 2.0, Culture, Google, Blogs, User-Generated Content, MySpace, Social Web, Amateur Content, Self-Promotion, Google Software Applications, Social Networking, Social Media

Is MySpace coming to the enterprise? According to Business Week it is.

On what does Steve Hamm base his assertion? IBM's announcement today of “Lotus Connections.”

IBM describes its offering as “the industry's first platform for business-grade social computing”:

Lotus Connections facilitates the gathering and exchange of information through professional networks, provides a dashboard-like view of current projects and connects users to like-minded communities. In addition, Lotus Connections removes the need for multiple social software applications, providing businesses with a single destination for building professional communities. ...
Corporate social networking is name of game with Lotus Connections, By Stan Beer, 24 January 2007 :
While Microsoft has been trying to win Web 2.0 corporate hearts and minds with Sharepoint Server, IBM threatens to steal the show with a new corporate tested offering called Lotus Connections. Web 2.0 in the consumer space is all about social networking as exemplified by sites such as MySpace, YouTube and FaceBook. Users of these sites with common interests can network, share ideas and provide each other with information that builds upon their mutual knowledge base.
The idea of using more interactive web applications makes sense in the corporate environment, provided you have the bandwidth and processing power to do it and accept its limitations. In some ways this is a step back to centralized mainframe computing, with the web application running on the server. If the central application stops, no one can do any work. This would be a good way to go if you have a new application to introduce across a wide network.

The extreme case seems to be to run your corporate service on someone else's web server. Google have a service called "Google Apps for Your Domain" which provides online tools for email, instant messaging and shared calendar. The idea is that the same tools used for Google's Gmail and others are available for use by companies, educational institutions and other organisations. They use the Google system in place of their own in-house software.

Google are not charging for these services, but presumably are doing it to make people more familiar with Google's services which have advertising on them:

Google Apps for Your Domain lets you offer private-labeled email, instant messaging and calendar accounts to all of your users, so they can share ideas and work more effectively. These services are all unified by the start page, a unique, dynamic page where your users can preview their inboxes and calendars, browse content and links that you choose, search the web, and further customize the page to their liking. You can also design and publish web pages for your domain.
I remain a bit skeptical of online meeting places as a business tool. Any form of collaboration requires skills from the participants. Not everyone has these skills and corporations will need to invest in training and staff to make them work. As well as cooperation, workplace involve competition. Perhaps rather than a social network, an information market would be a better model for the on-line workplace. Also much social networking takes place outside the organisation.

Are companies prepared to formalize and document online the process by which their staff trade information with other organisations? In many cases these contacts take place verbally and informally, while tacitly endorsed by superiors. If the contacts took place via a computer system, all transactions would be recorded and could be used in evidence in court. Much of these contacts would be considered unethical or illegal, limiting the scope for using a formal system.

What has this to do with corporate document management or academic publishing? Organisations, particularly governments, are having difficulty with staff filing electronic documents properly. Academia are having difficulty over the role of academic publishing. In both these cases the problem is that the records manager or librarian sees the document or publication as an end in itself.

But the office worker or academic author sees them just as part of a process; a byproduct of doing some work or some research. By incorporating the social network process in the system used to produce the document, keeping good records or publications will be a natural by product of the work. This is more than just an automated work flow which prompts you for some keywords before you can save a document.

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