Featured Articles General

What time is 12am?

What time is 12am? What time is 12pm? An entertaining discussion on the Chiswick W4 site on what time is 12 am? Local Tom O’Keefe informs us:

I received a PCN [Parking Fine Ticket]today for parking at 14:22 in a bay near Hoxton square (Hackney) that showed parking to be restricted between 8.30am and 12.00am. I assumed that 8.30am to 12.00am meant restrictions for the 3 and a half hours following 8.30am, but since I have received a PCN can only assume 12.00am means 12 midnight.

The truth of the matter was revealed quickly when local councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman (who happens to be our representative for all things traffic and roads), brought in not the authority of traffic law, but that of his dad:

I can recall my old dad, a master mariner, telling me that there was no such time as 12.00am or 12.00pm – they were 12 noon or 12 midnight.

And he’s right: there’s no such time as either 12 am or 12 pm. As NIST, the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology explains:

…12 a.m. and 12 p.m. are wrong and should not be used.

To illustrate this, consider that “a.m” and “p.m.” are abbreviations for “ante meridiem” and “post meridiem.” They mean “before noon” and “after noon,” respectively. Noon is neither before or after noon; it is simply noon. Therefore, neither the “a.m.” nor “p.m.” designation is correct. On the other hand, midnight is both 12 hours before noon and 12 hours after noon. Therefore, either 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. could work as a designation for midnight, but both would be ambiguous as to the date intended.

So now you know and if you get an invite for a meeting at 12 am, just don’t turn up, as it clearly is going to be a waste of time! Whether Tom’s parking ticket appeal will work and he is let off his parking fine, is still a moot point…

Update: Hackney Council saw sense and removed the PCN. Wonder if they let the next person off?

Featured Articles General

Where the idea for the iPhone came from?

Analysts Communications Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Nielsen’s internet footprint – a toe in the water at work?

The latest report from Nielsen, Social Networking’s New Global Footprint showing the growing normalisation of social media in internet use is of interest for several reasons. Most notable the age demographics refutes the fallacy that this is a novelty for young male users. The broad median of users extends from 38-49 across both sexes and shows a significant number of users in the 50-64 range, with the majority there being female.

Mobile time

Secondly, the report shows an increase in mobile use, particularly in Japan, where devices such as the iPhone are seen as a bit primitive, especially when compared to the functionality of the average Japanese fliptop phone. Finally, Nielsen note the increasing amount of time spent on these networks, this is increasingly not a flitter visit by users.

Implications for Internal Communications

So, what are we to make of this for the workplace? The most important aspect is the demographics. Most 2.0 literate internal communications professionals today, will have had experiences where 2.0 was dismissed as “not something our middle-aged managers will ever bother with”. One more case of refuting this. And whereas previous observers have remarked on the need to provide the same sort of tools and collaborative experience for Gen Y entering the workplace, the same could be applied to Boomers already there. If we can edit a website in seconds at home, why does it take a week or 2 at work?

Blue collar workforce

The enhancement of mobile use is also of note. As these things get better, even outside Japan then so their use will increase.This will have a knock-on effect for the the workplace. Put a WiFi device in a wireless work environment and even those not usually connected to a PC can be part of an electronic communication and collaborative environment.

Moore’s Mighty Woosh

Of course this does all presume a connected, e-savvy workforce. My point about WiFi ushers in the possibility of blue collars being connected with cheap(er) devices. Indeed I use my iPod Touch as a poor man’s smartphone and it works well as I move from wireless zone to zone. Why not then the same at the workplace? Even if the full impact of the tectonic shift – Moore’s great ‘Woosh’ isn’t there yet in the workplace, it sure is everywhere else, well everywhere that has the internet.

Not on the phone

On this we ought to be mindful of the fact that most people globally are not online. What we’re talking about here is for those countries and workforces that are already industrialised. Chomsky used to like to remind us that not only have the majority of people alive today never been online, most of them have never made a phone call. I wonder if this has changed much and if so by how much in the last decade?

Communications Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

Microsoft Surface Launches in EMEA – whither the Intranet?

news out from CeBIT that Microsoft has launched Surface in Europe: Microsoft Surface gets EMEA launch

As a result of a previous posting on Twitter I was sent the video below by @joshblake I’ve also been chatting with Paolo Tosolini –@Tosolini who has been doing some great work with Microsoft on video casting and using Microsoft Surface as a comms tool – (please see previous post).

Moving on from yesterday where I conjectured about the intranet browser of the future, the video below maybe shows why technology may just yet leap frog over any such solution. When I watch Microsoft Surface in action I keep thinking, what will this do for internal comms and the intranet of the future?

Communications Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Intranet

Intranet Browser of the Future

Funny really when you think about it, a lot of time, effort, blood, sweat and hard cash budget goes into the intranet itself, the CMS, the platform and portals, etc., etc., but little all goes into the browser. What of the Intranet Browser? A few searches on this shows not a lot being done, apart from one notable exception Shiv Singh at the AppGap Intranets are not just intranets anymore. Here Shiv rightly to my mind, talks about the core business functionality and says that:

Today, employees demand more consolidated interfaces where all the information, collaboration, self service and business application access needs are met.

This is certainly so, but for Shiv this is ‘post-browser’ issue and ultimately a question about ownership within the corporation and a need to realign to meet employee, not application or dept needs. Yes, indeed, this is an item I plan to write on shortly, but for the time being I think one needs to ask if this is really going to happen. I for one won’t be holding my breath here. There are possibilities – WebEx Connect for example, or Microsoft’s Surface Table technologies, but for the time being, let’s get tactical.

Getting Tactical

I think there’s a low hanger ready to be scrumped in terms of Shiv’s one stop consolidated interface, in terms of what we can do with the browser now. The model I believe is Flock. I’ve written before about the way that Flock so neatly integrates RSS into the browser experience and that if this was more widely adopted in the enterprise then tales of RSS’s death might certainly seem to be exaggerated (Kick my RSS – How to make Enterprise RSS work). But, and it’s a but as big as Galway Bay, why stop there? Why not use Mozilla technology to do what Flock has done for the average social media savvy punter and do the same for the enterprise?

Enterprise Social Network Browser

This is what I’d have in my Intranet Browser of the Future:

1) At the top left there would be a series of buttons to access the core built in functions. These button would provide access to function bars such as RSS


2) There would also be a direct hard wired button to Directory. The Directory would have full Tagging and self-personalisation functionality

3) This tagging would tie in to other social media tools, all accessible from the browser. One would be Favourites – my personal and social bookmarks that I could share with my colleagues

4) I would naturally also be able to connect a wide range of other enterprise social network tools, not only bookmarks, but also my internal corporate blog, my forums, my videos, etc etc. In the corporate example these would be Yammer or Jive, all or a mix. The key thing is the access to their functionality is hard-wired into the Browser, not the apps.

5) So continuing in the same logic, all the corporate video and streams would be available within the browser – these could be live IPTV shows, streamed Video on Demand (VoD), or user generated YouTube type video.


And so on and so on. To reiterate, the Browser holds all this together to create the ‘consolidated interface’. It’s a Pareto fix I grant, but 80% consolidation in the near future would be better than waiting indefinitely for the full delivery.

Apologies for the duff formatting – I need to look at how WordPress is handling images.

Communications Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

How Microsoft Surface video to win deals

Using internal comms video to empower and inform a highly mobile and technically savvy workforce is one of the things I’ve spent a lot of career years on, so it was with keen eyes that I watched a Microsoft Surface video on how they’re doing it with cutting-edge surface table technology. The results look funky and efficient. I’d like to know more about how it all fits together. The questions that come to mind are:

How is the information is structured behind the creatives?

What the field sales guys reckon – nice or must have?

Tagging – I like tagging – what’s going on here? There looked like a means of synching up the info across multiple devices inc iPhones. This was the killler app I always wanted to provide our field sales guys with – don’t bombard but synch up so that the devices know when a message has gotton through. This looks like it delivers.

But delivery – is it push or pull, how do they find out about new content, how good is the engine behind it all?

It’s a good job that the presenter is on Twitter so I can now follow @tosolini and learn more…;-)

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Scaling the Enterprise Social Network Pyramid

Over at Bertrand Dupperin’s Notepad blog there’s a great article on Enterprise Social Networks, Social networks are the quintessence of enterprise web 2.0. Bertrand looks at how the active users has to manage and interpret the information flows amd how social media tools join up as a final layer, a ‘protean set of tools’:

Social network for enterprises is not a Facebook-like that connect people. It’s a tool that gather in a one and only place all the logics of web 2.0 (blogs,wikis,bookmarking,tagging etc…) and take benefit of this information to re-create all the facets of the link between information and people as explained above.

Reading this got me rootling through old archives looking for a model I made some time back where I try and articulate this in terms of how messages are managed:


What I’m trying to get across here is the notion of effective leadership and direction from on high, coupled with an interaction and feedback from a socially networked and actively participating workforce. The more strategic the message, the more structure and governance, the more participatory, the more democratic, organic and ad hoc. I’ve also overlaid this with technologies / applications. Thus the more traditional messaging is structured by the orthodoxy of a managed intranet and scheduled messaging via e-mail or planned TV shows. The more socially generated messaging is powered by social tools such as blogs, Twitter apps and such. There’s also the idea of segmentation and pushed /targeting vs, personalisation and pull. Not sure if the whole sits together – it’s perhaps too much of a changing target to do that, but it’s a model that helps me understand and to play with the potentials and possibilities of enterprise social networks.

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

Google Mail Panic? – Not with Thunderbird!

Twitter is going berserk as Gmail is down. Funny that it works just fine via Thunderbird!

Download Thunderbird and set for IMAP

Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles Theory

Critical Media – freewill and the web

One element of social media that intrigues me is the apparent lack of engagement between Theory minded people and industrial (for want of a better word) social media. I suspect, in fact I strongly suspect that I’m missing a lot of what’s going on here, but when I search on say Baudrillard and Web 2.0 I don’t get the level of response I’d expect. OK, there’s a level of engagement here, but there’s not the richness I’d expect. Maybe it’s a case of those looking at social media through critical theory eyes not knowing how to optimise their pages for Google and the like.

Jamboree of Contemporary Thought

looking for power

A lack of SEO savvy is not something one would expect to see amongst the evidently technical able of the world of blogs and Twitter and so I believe that any absence of using continental philosophers to understand social media and web 2.0 is literally that, an absence. My interest in all this is academic, literally. I took the Critical Theory MA at Nottingham University in the early 1990s, a course which took in Structuralist and Post-Structuralist, Marxist, Feminist, Lacanian, Deconstructionist and classical Critical theorists in a roller-coaster jamboree of contemporary thought.

Postmodern economies

When I moved to tech and the multinational environment it was familiar. Writers such as Jameson, Lash and Urry had described what the latter called “The End of Organized Capital” and it was great to be in this white hot heat of a genuine technological revolution. Mid recession there may be a case for wondering if our postmodern, post-industrial society is a post mortem for a wealth creating, growth based economy but I’ll leave that for another post.

Discovery vs Creation

So back to Theory and what sparked off this post. Over at CenterNetworks, Adrian Chan has written a piece called “A Short Post on Discovery vs. Creation, Relating to Social Media“. This is a remarkable little essay and one that has gotten me thinking a great deal about the relationship between Theory and social media.

Foucault and the Subject

What Adrian posits is the relationship between Michel Foucault’s concept of self(s) and the way we find and act in social media. By self, we’re talking about the ‘Subject’ i.e. that philosophic bête noire of the self and the birth of individual identity. Adrian sees Foucault as having the Self as either revealed, as in religious revelation, or as created as act of will:

the Self that is discovered and known through some kind of religious quest and search. And the Self that is created, invented, through free will, action, choice (and so on). 

If I recall rightly, I’m not so sure Foucault has a sense of self-created in this way. I think he would say that it’s constructed, made from discourse and is highly transient. In a sense, Foucault is trying to unstructure identity from the Structuralist ideas of his peers – we’re part of a changing matrix of discourses, not an order of structures. 

Tagging things and connections

But says Adrian, it’s in terms of such structures that we see social media, or it sees us. It’s like that because the way many approach the web is one based on the notion of a structure of sameness and relationship. This is the model of the dating site and of tagging – this attribute is shared, this connection is made, the structure of things defines our relationship. But as Adrian points out, such a model is profoundly anti-human:

But in each case, we have only a system of things and attributes.

Human relationships aren’t build on similarity or identity of attributes. They’re a result of interaction, of understanding, of the things we do that move us and by which we move one another.

Agency and dialogues

To counter this, Adrian puts forward a model of ‘agency’. We as concious humans act, interact, create stories and converse. We create the dialogue, it does not create us. Or at least in Theory. What I think this leads us to is a chance at change. To act on and to change structures and dialogues of the web, rather than us being defined by them. Or as Adrian defines in superlative form:

Social media may be a means of production. But we are still the production of means.

This whole question of the Subject and its apparent death, is one that excites a lot of contemporary thought. For many this death is pretty pessimistic stuff. If we’re entrapped in a web of meanings, where can human agency and action be? For an answer, James Heartfield‘s book “Postmodernism and the ‘Death of the Subject’” is a pretty good counter and a tasty excerpt can be found here. Wikipedia on the Subject

Analysts Enterprise 2.0 Featured Articles

McKinsey’s Six of the Best for Web 2.0 Work

mckinseyStraight in after Deloitte, McKinsey enter the fray with a piece ‘Six ways to make Web 2.0 work‘ that I can only describe as ‘awesome’. And I use that word advisedly and often chuckle when my North American pals use it for what we’d describe in London as ‘jolly good’. So why awesome?

It’s awesome because it’s so right on the mark and provides practical real politik advice. This is not a ‘how-to’ guide as much as what’s needed to get things working and working well. To see what I mean, just look at the list:

6 of the Best
1. The transformation to a bottom-up culture needs help from the top.
2. The best uses come from users—but they require help to scale.
3. What’s in the workflow is what gets used.
4. Appeal to the participants’ egos and needs—not just their wallets.
5. The right solution comes from the right participants.
6. Balance the top-down and self-management of risk.

No winning formula
This advice is centred on what works – getting it right is not formulaic, it’s about making sure people are happy in their risk, are getting credit and reward even in terms or their egos and that it’s about making sure 2.0 is right in the heart of the relevant workflows.

Controlled Disruption
And I particularly liked their concept of ‘controlled disruption’. Yes total laissez faire can lead to troubles, but there needs to be risk to make success:

Acceptance of Web 2.0 technologies in business is growing. Encouraging participation calls for new approaches that break with the methods used to deploy IT in the past. Company leaders first need to survey their current practices. Once they feel comfortable with some level of controlled disruption, they can begin testing the new participatory tools.

Consultant for hire
If you’re reading this and want to know how to make these technologies a success in the business, please fell free to get in touch – I’m looking for work in this area and can help you make it a success.