MP: Day 2 at Content Week 2007 (Web 2.0 stuff)

Day 2 was a Web 2.0 summit - lots of Web 2.0 yesterday as well, one interesting feature is seeing everybody go through an intro slide defining it in subtly different terms.

Here starteth the sessions:

  • Matthew Glotzbach from Google Enterprise talked about Google Apps, and how fast, simple, Web-based applications were changing the way people collaborate. Now if we can just convince 'em to produce DITA from the doc editor and wiki editor...
  • I missed the next session, but got back in time for a panel on Web 2.0 with Sandra Kearney of IBM, Kelly Thul of State Farm, and Brian Gorman of Intel; an excellent panel, with a good focus on how the collaborative/social aspect of Web 2.0 can really change whole business processes. The piece I still feel is somewhat missing though is the recognition of an information lifecycle that includes both some collaborative/social phases and some less collaborative/more formal phases. For example, I may want to develop an initial set of product scenarios using a Wiki, collaboratively with users and architects; but at some point the product spec moves into a much more formal workflow-controlled space where the product gets developed, and then it moves into an archive. Simply put, taking advantage of Web 2.0 shouldn't mean isolating yourself and your content from the rest of your business. Perhaps we're still at the stage where Web 2.0 is defining itself in opposition to established technologies, but we need to understand where social development is appropriate and where it isn't, and most importantly we need to build bridges between the environments, identifying the chunks that need to move and the context that needs to stay. In conclusion: DITA.
  • The last morning session was from Otto Khera of USC, on the use of iTune University to share course materials through a secure interface that protects student privacy. Interesting ideas and challenges, and points to the potential of an iTunes model for general sharing of content, and negotiated agreements between using and reusing parties. If we can syndicate an RSS feed, we can syndicate a topic; and if we can manage the IP for an MP3, surely we can do the same for a DITA task or concept.
  • The first session of the afternoon came from Brian Gorman of Intel, talking about the deployment of blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies on the Intel intranet. A couple of things were particularly interesting: first, the realization that early adopters and early mainstreamers are very different audiences; the early mainstreamers were very pleased to have access to the technology, whereas the early adopters were already chafing against the restrictions and wanting to download the next new thing. Brian suggested the goal going forward would be to incorporate the early-adopter community into an extended development team that could actually vet and fine-tune new technologies before general deployment. Definitely an interesting idea: handling an adversarial relationship by dissolving the boundaries between the two sides. I would be interested to see how it works in practice - an early-adopter mindset doesn't always mesh well with the formalism of a development team, especially where it comes to test cases.
  • Another idea Brian brought forward was an economy of knowledge - using economic principles to guide knowledge investment and transfer, and learning from video games some of the ways in which such an economy might be managed. The key phrase here is "serious games", and I look forward to learning more.
  • I then missed another session but came back in time for Kelly Thul of State Farm, who presented on selling Web 2.0 to the enterprise: IE, how to convince your employer to allow Web 2.0 into the intranet.  The key steps were: clarify (get rid of the jargon), find the best bets (don't do everything at once), phase in over time, and partner with others (IT, business units, communications...). And finally, make sure the initiative is adding value, and that you measure it. Basically sound advice for any initiative, but perhaps particularly worth keeping in mind for Web 2.0, where the buzz can sometimes drown out sensible voices and lead eager adopters into nasty swamps. Good to have a map first.
  • The final session was from Francisco Simplicio of the UN Development Programme, who talked about knowledge management in the large: as it pertains to developing common IP agreements and cultural diversity protection across many different national boundaries, and also how technology can sometimes provide the opening for dialog in otherwise difficult situations: like giving people video cameras to record their own oral histories when they might not trust a foreigner, or using GPS to map land boundaries in a war-torn area trying to return to peace. One of the messages I got was that sometimes the most you can hope for is to keep the dialog going: not every conversation has to have a goal, other than just keeping the possibility of communication open. Kinda put the rest of the week in perspective.

That's it for the day- definitely the highlight for me was Francisco Simplicio's presentation, and the discussion afterwards. I wish I could do a better job of capturing/expressing it, but Chris Heuer of the Social Media Club did an interview with him the next morning, and I'll be looking for the URL when it goes up. Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
OASIS sites: OASIS | Cover Pages | | AMQP | CGM Open | eGov | Emergency | IDtrust | LegalXML | Open CSA | OSLC | WS-I