Enterprise 2.0 Science Theory

Why we don’t click banner ads

OrangutanMore entertaining research on the human brain, this time from University of California at San Diego. According to Roland Piquepaille writing in Emerging Tech Sexy objects stimulate our brain ones brain’s visual areas respond more to ‘valuable objects’. This starts to raise all sorts of intriguing questions as to ‘what is value’. But before we go there, let’s have a little closer reading of the experiment…

What the experimenters actually did was present the equivalent of an online game or banner – clicky the right one and earn 10 cents, click the wrong and zero. Our brains quickly learn which have more value. This learned action (which is retained even when the subject has forgotten it), can be measured with scans.

Top boffin on the project one John Serences expands:

Though it is too early to say how this relates to perception, it raises the intriguing possibility that we see things we value more clearly – much like the way the brain responds to a bright object versus a dimly lit one. It’s as if the visual system is telling you how valuable something has been to you in the past… (source)

So then, at best previous exchange value, at lowest previous reward value, will imprint on the brain. It still starts to raise is whether there’s a notional value retained in the brain, even if what Marx dubs ‘commodity fetishism’ crudely put as the tendency for ‘things’ to aggregate values and meanings purloined from their human creators/exchangers.

And then we have all those gift-exchange theories, if the gift given is a pain if it’s too valuable, does the brain work in reverse when the giver gives too valuable a gift? ‘Oh on the rotten so and so has arrived with too valuable a gift, how will we ever be able to pay back?’ see for e.g. Marcel Mauss (The Gift) and Georges Bataille (The Accursed Share). One must not forget Jean Baudrillard either, hyperreality is maybe hard-wired reality, the crazy exchange of simulacra is just our brains over-heating at so much symbolic exchange, a hyper potlatch maybe.

Let us return from such cyber heights to the mundane. Not only do humans have the abilty to fire off neurons at perceived value so do apes too, well so do orangutans. See for example the BBC’s “Orangutans learn to trade favours” where a certain “calculated reciprocity” can be seen in orangutans:

Researchers from the University of St Andrews found orangutans could learn the value of tokens and trade them, helping each other win bananas.

What’s more the reciprocity meant that if one of the apes didn’t play game then the was a clear expectation that it should – this was a clear win-win game as St Andrews’ Valerie Dufour explains:

So we have a calculation behind the giving. If you don’t give me enough, then I don’t give you either; but if you give me enough, OK, then I buy your co-operation, and I secure it by giving too.

And so to banner ads. For us here working with the internet there has to be a pay-back for an action – we click a link or banner with a perceived value / reward for that action. And as we know from experience after experience that clicking on a banner ad is a waste of time and effort, we don’t click on them. The neurons stop firing, the visual parts of our brain don’t get that turn-on.

This extends beyond banners though. It casts into question SEO itself. If a site is engineered for SEO but with no actual value then SEO starts to have no value. No matter how clever a site is engineered for value by SEO, unless it has value our brains will not get excited. Dupe us a few times and though we might forget, our brains won’t.

Micah at the Learn to Duck site spells this out: SEO is Dead. It’s dead because the cash-cow has been milked dry by spurious value. But what’s more Micah reckons, the same is happening to social media. Social media has become perceived at least, as the next great cash-cow after the demise of SEO. Micah explains that social media had value, but this value is being underminded by its own success:

The content generated by users of social media began to rank highly in search engines, because it was RELEVANT. Because it had VALUE. Because it was TIMELY. Because it was REAL. Suddenly, all the SEO experts also became Social Media Experts, as social media marketing became the hot new thing.

Once the SEO experts moved to social media, the value says Micah collapse, creating:

social networks and user generated content that is full of useless, noisy, crap.

The solution to this is simple – don’t try and trick via clever SEO tricks, or falsely leveraging social media and offering no real value. It may last for a while, but our neurons know better. Content as ever is king. Even a clever monkey orangutan knows that.

UpdateSeth Godin reckons there should be “an unlimited budget for ads that work”. Just a case of defining what works means…

Analysts Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

The quiet arrival of the SharePoint killer

It was with some interest that I read The Forrester Wave™: Collaboration Platforms, Q3 2009 after a link was Tweeted out yesterday. I was reading in reverse order from Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, see my Gartner Magic Quadrant; a dark horse closing up the outside fence… My main interest in Forrester’s was to see where Jive were placed. Of late I’ve been doing a lot of hands-on work with Jive and getting to know the platform in a great amount of detail.


On reading the wave report, I was struck by one small arrival – a horse of even darker hue,  that of Cisco WebEx Connect as a collaboration platform. Most people are aware of WebEx as a webinar tool and have not used Connect.  I was at Cisco when WebEx was acquired and in San Jose too and remember all the WebEx signs in the carpark. It all looked a bit puzzling, for me at least, until I found out about Connect. Connect is a superb tool and worth acquiring for that alone. It’s a SharePoint killer.

Here’s why. Connect is 2.0 in a way that SharePoint never will be. It’s modular, making it infinitely extendable and uses accessible open APIs:

  • URL commands
  • XML Request / Response interfaces with well-defined schemas
  • Web Services interfaces that support Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) with access through Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
  • Representational State Transfer (REST).

What this means is a rapidly deployable, file-store and  silo-busting collaboration app with the ability to slot in any number of friendly mash-ups. Twitter for Connect/ no problemo, just load it up and slot it in. Facebook, ditto, iPhone easy. What’s more it’s robustly secure, no worries about the firewall with this baby. And of course it’s backed up by a tech behemoth. This is no start-up.

Potentially, this is the Enterprise 2.0 application.

I say potentially as to be frank I was surprised to see it in the Forrester Wave (and it’s not present in Gartner’s). The product is superb but I’ve never seen it pushed out and really marketed for what it is. Go to the WebEx site (and it’s still on the WebEx domain) and Connect is listed but not featured much. It doesn’t scream out what it does. What’s more, I couldn’t find the link where I might connect up with Connect. Puzzling.

Now if you go onto the Jive site you’ll see a lot of publicity about SharePoint connectivity. All good stuff as SharePoint is almost a defacto standard in many corporations. This could change almost overnight. Here’s how and why.

Cisco, Miscrosoft and Google are in a cage fight. That fight I dubbed The Battle of the Cloud a while back. Cisco own the Network, Miscrosoft the Software and Google own the Experience. All of these 3 areas get completely mashed up in the metaphor we currently know as the cloud. And I believe, the stakes are high enough to see severe casualties amongst the 3 big players. (See also Dion Hinchcliffe’s Cloud computing and the return of the platform wars…estimate is for $42 Billion by 2012, I’m taking the argument even further).

Against this backdrop, singular products like Connect, that many don’t even realise exists, provides some wonderfully disruptive possibilities as a disruptive Enterprise 2.0 collaboration tool. Given this, what I’d do if I was sitting in the board at San Jose would be to ramp up the marketing for Connect. And if I really wanted to shake up the whole apple cart, I’d also make it free.

Analysts Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

Gartner Magic Quadrant; a dark horse closing up the outside fence…

Gartner Magic Quadrant: Social Software

Just been reading the Gartner Magic Quadrant: Social Software. Jive  come out as the clear leaders, closely followed by IBM and Microsoft (the latter featuring better on ability to execute). Other notables – Drupal, Telligent, SocialText and blueKiwi jostle with Google for the Visionary space. Gartner wonder if Google’s move into the enterprise is opportunistic. I think it’s strategic. Open Text and Atlassian feature as Challengers.

I think the horse racing up the outside fence as they close into the paddock will be Thought Farmer. Their biggest weakness is the fact they don’t have any big customers, a fact that their alliance with the Dachis group is bound to change! I enjoyed their latest blog too The Problem of the Intranet – so much so I actually read it on my iPod Touch! Touche to the Canadians!

n.b…Hmm, I wonder where WordPress will feature in future Magic Quadrants?

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Flickr Tags, it’s made of People! It’s The Dog’s….

I liked the new tag people feature in Flickr:

To add someone to a photo, you can either type in the member’s name, much like you’d add a tag, or you can draw a face boundary on the photo, as with a note. People in Photos has been wired into your Recent Activity, so you’ll always be up to date with who’s added you to a photo or added other members to your photos.


So it connects people up, which of course people like. But what if we could do the same with people and their documents in the corporation? Rather than  tagging as part of an application, what about  a tagging machine as a sort of electronic Enterprise 2.0 sticky note system? I could take a digital object – picture, video, document and add the sticky note to it with my scribbles. This would then connect up to others similarly tagged just like current tagging systems.


  • It would have to be present at the point of consumption and distribution – so we can add the sticky tag at any point in the collaboration change – little notes added in its journey.
  • This would free float the systems and provide ubiquitous tagging across the enterprise and beyond.
  • It would be easy, simple, fun and add instant value, much like sticky notes do in real life

All it needs is a catchy name. I think following IBM’s Dogear, it should be called the DogsBollx as that’s what it is. The reason is this – it could provide the means for a dynamic and used system of tagging for a working and evolving folksonomy as part of the Enterprise 2.0 infrastructure.


Communications Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Funky video collaboration II

My post on LibreStream as a funky collaboration tool attracted some interest, not least from Kerry Thacher their CEO… At first I was concerned he’d taken umbrage at my suggestion that my old employers Cisco might take a keen interest in his technology but this fear was very much ungrounded.

To recap and expand, what I had in mind was taking LibreStream’s highly industrial collaboration cameras, making them small funky and consumer and connecting them up via wifi as a fun consumer to consumer app. Now of course these could also function as rather ubiquitous internal communications tools too, maybe more on that later.

rubberphonepalWhat inspired the thought and the Cisco connections was Tandberg and Flip acquisitions, add to that LibreStream and you have something qualitatively more – realtime mobile video collaboration, in ya pocket. Stuff that inspired me ona  design side were robust consumer products encased in rubber, stuff like the Nokia 5140, which a friend, The Chiswick Gardener liked to throw over his shoulder to show how robust it was. Take also the Tivoli PAL, fine audioware encased in said too….

So that’s the box, what gets fun is when video gets connected via handhelds using wifi, plus white-boarding. Click shoot share. In live video.

But what happens if you take these new handheld wifi video collaboration phones and take it a step further. How about telepresence too? Sound a bit mad? Well there’s always LifeSize Passport:

sparkle-passportLifeSize Passport is the first truly portable telepresence-quality system; Passport is so small, it fits in the palm of your hand….you get true HD video quality – 720p30 – for natural, realistic interactions at only 1Mbps over any internet connection. And LifeSize Passport is the first HD video communication system that works with Skype™, making connecting with colleagues and customers easier than ever.

This would give the ability to project the image outside of the tiny phone – think maybe the hologram scenes in Superman or Star Wars. Almost there…

But what you need next I don’t know if it can be done. For it to really gel, there needs to be some sort of socialising the camera. There needs to be a way of the sender being filmed. So what if these things piggy-backed off of each other so I film someone near as they in tern film me via some sort of reciprocal sharing?

Now we’re talking truly next gen phones…

Update – we’re probably also talking about Foucault’s description of the Panoptican gone mad….

Enterprise 2.0

Social Media: Missing the point, the target and the barn door

Oh yawn not again.  Social media is not just about marketing, the most exciting stuff happens in and across the firewall. Five reasons corporations are failing at social media

So yes culture is key here, but so is an holistic approach that unifies the external marketing with the internal collaboration. How many companies do that? Not many I grant but a handful I guess have realised this is where they need to be.

Analysts Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Creating the Social Media Balanced Scorecard, doing the undoable….

Conducting some research I’ve stumbled across an interesting quote (& this blog is but a jotter of my thoughts) that I suspect might be an old chestnut by now.  It’s new to me though so here goes.  & it comes from Bob Kaplan inventor of the Balanced Scorecard and relates to measuring the ROI of social media. Kaplan’s quote on the ROI of social media is succinct and cuts so quick to the point as to leave little behind:

“you can’t do it.”

I found the quote on who explain that “Measuring Social Media ROI is a pipe dream

Trying to calculate the ROI of social media is the same as trying to calculate the ROI of email or the road you drive to work on. The costs can be approximated but the benefits can’t. Their reach is too broad and too many other factors are at play to even to list them all, let alone attempt to measure profits.

Now this I find interesting and and in equal measure implausible – I don’t believe it.

Now I don’t have much ammo to refute it and I’ve even less expertise. This simply ‘aint my area. And yet it keeps on coming up – there must be a way of making the Social Media Balanced Scorecard.

So where to start? Well where I started to think about this was in 3 broad areas

1) Impact improvement on existing process: time to create, to sell, cost of production etc etc etc

2) Innovation – doing what was not done before, idea Wikis and the like. Making new stuff happen.

3) Business Transformation – when 1 & 2 fuse in completely unexpected ways.

But where to strap the numbers to? Well on this, I first started to think about Balanced Scorecards – hence finding the quote from Kaplan. This is an interesting area and all I have to go on at present is an old report from Forrester from 2004:  The Balanced Scorecard For IT: Value Metrics. Forrester supply a suggested list of scores:

balanced scorecard

They’re keen to stress though that,

When it comes to IT value metrics, there is no silver bullet, no single metric that provides the appropriate answer. However, with strong alignment between business strategy and IT strategy, it is possible to start making the necessary links between IT investments and their business value. We suggest using a number of diverse, financially oriented metrics to capture the breadth of IT value delivered.

This provides for me food for thought though. Can we correlate this to enterprise social media, to enterprise 2.0? Or more pointedly:  is your social media strategy aligned to your business strategy and if so in how much and in what form? And where next with Forrester’s other factors, can they correlate to scoring against the success of enterprise 2.0?

Update, 31st December 2010 – I’ve developed this idea on the making the Social Media Balanced Scorecard to that of creating the social business scorecard, please see my post: The Social Business Scorecard IV, or ROI made easy

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

LibreStream: The next funky collaboration tool (or Cisco’s next acquistion)

Must confess I found Oliver Marks’ recent contribution to the ‘social media expert’ debate rather fun Fads vs Business Value: Knowledge Management & Enterprise 2.0. Oliver looks back to the pre bubble burst era when e-learning was all the rage and cockily wryly remarks:

Back then the shiny new idea was that we could share knowledge as never before thanks to the web, and a whole enterprise industry sprung up around ‘elearning’ with ‘learning management systems’ being touted as the cost effective educational source for businesses to enlighten and track employee’s intellectual sophistication.

I found this especially fun as back then I worked in e-learning, most specifically in Cisco EMEA’s E-learning team. Come to the pop and that e-learning team was reformed. Myself and some colleagues were reformed too, as characters and in roles and we formed a new team we dubbed Communicating@Cisco.

The aim of the team was to enhance comms and to save money and one key way we did that was to heavily promote erstwhile e-learning tools such as the virtual classroom as virtual meeting places. Neat scenario was that meeting online and collaborating via the internet saved money on travelling. it was a novel idea then. The technology we used here was PlaceWare, and interestingly Cisco’s future acquisition WebEx was hardly used at all.

What we did use though was Tandberg and a colleague of mine actively touted ‘video conferencing in a box’ with 2 large and rather heavy Tandberg video conferencing units being carted across Europe to various demos. previously video conferencing hadn’t featured much, the fact that the Tandberg units could do it over IP rather than ISDN and were basically portable made them mobile video conferencing devices. Well sort of, they are rather heavy!

Now of course Cisco recently acquired Tandberg, following on from their acquisition of Flip and before that Kiss. All prime video companies! And I thought of these when a colleague in my current role for a big oil company showed me a Librestream Onsight camera. These things are awesome!

To begin with I thought it was a funky battle-hardened camera – all industrial bounce rubber and spark proof high quality camera for an explosive or otherwise hazardous environment – perfect for use in an oil field in Africa or on a rig in the North Sea. And they certainly do meet that spec. But god do they do more.

onsight-devicesThese things have full wifi video conferencing abilities plus VOIP connectivity. They have whitescreen drawing capabilities on the viewer screen too – see a video, scribble on the back and the person at the other end sees that. They even have IP based remote control.

So what we’ve got then is the essence of the virtual classroom in a camera – realtime sharing, synchronous data – voice, video and graphics. Now if Cisco don’t either acquire this company or the technology and put it in a small consumer device, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. Or am I one already, what can the latest Tandbergs do?

n.b put me down for the first rubber flip video conf boxes. Hmm, Cisco still own the iPhone trademark, I wonder if they’ll want it back from Apple when these video phones get released?!

Ctd….Funky video collaboration II

Featured Articles Film

Pure Commodity Fetishism

I like this video as it combines animation, origami and commodity fetishism. Money begets money in a magical union. See Taussig’s The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America for some of the fantastic forms this takes – money mating with money in the tills to make more money. This is a central dream sequence of a movie I’ve been unworking on for umpteen years, now we have the animated version:

Warning, not quite safe for work! (It’s a Friday night and I have man-flu so no apologies)

Original removed by YouTube, to be found here however:

“Released: May 2009

Avertiser: Bontrust
Country: Germany
Category: Banking
Tags: ??????????, ???????????, ????????
Andreas Pohl, Creative Director, Optix
When the agency came to us with the idea to show the increase of money on the international market in connection with some kind of sexual relation, we were very enthusiastic. No doubt, we had to do this!

The goal was to create a world completely made out of banknotes and explicit characters that stood for themselves. So we spent many days and nights doing a lot of research finding the right objects such as furniture, buildings, bridges, certain landscapes, clothes, etc.

This procedure was followed by style frames in 2D to evoke the right feeling, tone and look for the film while having a special origami look in the back of our minds. After we were done creating rough animatics, we could start to fine tune our characters, as well as the different scenarios of the spot. Our final task was to blend all the scenes, camera tracks and sounds together.

All characters (Lincoln, Mao and the unknown lady) were created as 3D characters in Softimage XSI. Therefore, our designing team engaged in a lot of origami studying. To get used to the technique, we spent a lot of time with uncountable folding sessions. We took dollar and pound notes and folded Origami figures until our hands bled.

Then we were able to start with the digital modeling. Each character received an individual animation rig. With this digital skeleton we defined positions, rotations as well as the movements of the particulars. ”



Featured Articles General

The Garden Shed

Exciting times for social media. Launches of a Collabatory from the Dachis Group. Unveiling of an Open Hangar at Altimeter.

When this blog first started I called it the Garden Shed. Maybe it’s time to start up a global garden shed for like-minded souls. Only criteria for entry is shared by a handful of contacts I know online… 😉

Image: carpe diem