Filtering Microblogging and Activity Streams

The use of microblogging and activity streams is maturing in the enterprise. This was demonstrated by recent announcements of enhancements to those components in two well-regarded enterprise social software suites.

On February 18th, NewsGator announced a point release to its flagship Enterprise 2.0 offering, Social Sites 3.1. According to NewsGator, this release introduces the ability for individuals using Social Sites to direct specific microblogging posts and status updates to individuals, groups, and communities. Previously, all such messages were distributed to all followers of the individual poster and to the general activity stream of the organization. Social Sites 3.1 also introduced the ability for individuals to filter their activity streams using "standard and custom filters".

Yesterday (March 3rd), Socialtext announced a major new version of its enterprise social software suite, Socialtext 4.0. Both the microblogging component of Socialtext’s suite and its stand-along microblogging appliance now allow individuals to broadcast short messages to one or more groups (as well as to the entire organization and self-selected followers.) Socialtext 4.0 also let individuals filter their incoming activity stream to see posts from groups to which they belong (in addition to filtering the flow with the people and event filters that were present in earlier versions of the offering.)

The incorporation of these filters for outbound and incoming micro-messages are an important addition to the offerings of NewsGator and Socialtext, but they are long overdue. Socialcast has offered similar functionality for nearly two years and Yammer has included these capabilities for some time as well (and extended them to community members outside of an organization’s firewall, as announced on February 25th.) Of course, both Socialcast and Yammer will need to rapidly add additional filters and features to stay one step ahead of NewsGator and Socialtext, but that represents normal market dynamics and is not the real issue. The important question is this:

What other filters do individuals within organizations need to better direct microblogging posts and status updates to others, and to mine their activity streams?

I can easily imagine use cases for location, time/date, and job title/role filters. What other filters would be useful to you in either targeting the dissemination of a micro-message or winnowing a rushing activity stream?

One other important question that arises as the number of potential micro-messaging filters increases is what should be the default setting for views of outgoing and incoming messages? Should short bits of information be sent to everyone and activity streams show all organizational activity by default, so as to increase ambient awareness? Perhaps a job title/role filter should be the default, in order to maximize the focus and productivity of individuals?

There is no single answer other than "it depends", because each organization is different. What matters is that the decision is taken (and not overlooked) with specific corporate objectives in mind and that individuals are given the means to easily and intuitively change the default target of their social communications and the pre-set lens through which they view those of others.

New Gilbane Beacon on High-Volume Data Challenges

We’ve published a new paper on addressing large-scale integration, storage, and access of complex information. As Dale mentions in his entry over on our main blog, the paper frames the discussion in terms of challenges to Open Government initiatives. We note, though, that the exploration of obstacles to effective, efficient processing of high volumes of data and content is relevant across many industries.

We’re cross-posting here on the XML blog because the paper deals wtih XML content and the XML family of standards, including XQuery and XPath.

The Gilbane Beacon is available as a free download from Gilbane and from Mark Logic, sponsor of the paper.

Survey on MT Adoption and Usage within Global Content Value Chains

Last year as we pursued our research for the Multilingual Product Content study we saw an opportunity for further study of the role of machine translation (MT) as an element in the global content value chain (GCVC).  To this end, Gilbane Group is now conducting an online survey on MT adoption and buyer / user expectations.  The survey covers domains using MT, target applications, integration, benefits and business drivers, as well as obstacles to adoption.

Adoption of MT in some form or another is gaining acceptance and use (we anticipate) will soon be prevalent, especially as a strategy for managing user-generated content in multiple languages.  We are seeking input from IT, content, and language professionals within global enterprises as well as service providers.  Current adoption of MT is not a requirement for taking the survey.

The survey is online and will take less than 10 minutes to complete.  In exchange for participation, respondents will receive aggregated survey results and the executive summary of the analysis. Take the survey nowContact us if you have any questions about the research.

Paper on Open Government Data Initiatives Available

Updated March 3, 2010

Government agencies produce a lot of information. Making it accessible to the public, which essentially paid for it, can be quite challenging. The volume is high. The formats are varied. Much of it remains locked in information silos.

Support is growing to take steps to make as much government information available to the public as possible. President Obama issued a directive describing the official policy for Transparency and Open Government that mandates an unprecedented level of accessibility to government information. At the same time, technical advances have improved the feasibility of increasing access to the data.

I recently completed a Gilbane paper on this topic and how some agencies are improving access to public data. It is now available for free on our Web site at http://gilbane.com/beacons.html. The paper’s sponsor, Mark Logic, has provided interesting case studies that illustrate the challenges and approaches to overcoming them. I also explore some of the major hurdles that need to be crossed to achieve this goal, including:

  1. Extremely high volumes of content and data
  2. Highly diverse, heterogeneous data formats and data models
  3. Complex content integration and delivery requirements
  4. Time-sensitivity of content
  5. Changing information environments

The approaches described have enabled that users of this technology to implement high-volume, disparate-data applications that not only overcome old technical barriers but also deliver new value to their organizations. This is, after all, the essence of open data – be it for open government, open publishing, or open enterprise.

I encourage you to read this paper to get a better understanding of what works to make government data more open.

Update: the Beacon is also available from Mark Logic.

Content Globalization: Hot Topics at Gilbane San Francisco

We’re featuring multlingual content strategies, practices, and technologies in four sessions on the San Franciso program:

  • Reaching Global Audiences: Case Studies in Multilingual Multisite Web Content Management
  • Breaking Out of the Silo: Improving Global Content Value Chains by Collaborating Across Departments
  • Content Metrics: Tools for Measuring ROI in Global Content Infrastructures
  • Eliminating the Multilingual Multiplier: Addressing the Cost of Producing Formatted Content in Multiple Languages

These topics are among the hot spots on Gilbane’s 2010 Content Globalization Heat Map, which identifies a set of key investments that companies can make today to advance their content globalization practices and overcome language afterthought syndrome. (See this presentation for more information on these concepts.)

We’re in the process of populating the sessions with top-notch speakers. Check the Gilbane San Francisco conference site for updates. Twitter is #gilbanesf.

Content Globalization: Hot Topics at Gilbane San Francisco

We’re featuring multlingual content strategies, practices, and technologies in four sessions on the San Franciso program:

  • Reaching Global Audiences: Case Studies in Multilingual Multisite Web Content Management
  • Breaking Out of the Silo: Improving Global Content Value Chains by Collaborating Across Departments
  • Content Metrics: Tools for Measuring ROI in Global Content Infrastructures
  • Eliminating the Multilingual Multiplier: Addressing the Cost of Producing Formatted Content in Multiple Languages

These topics are among the hot spots on Gilbane’s 2010 Content Globalization Heat Map, which identifies a set of key investments that companies can make today to advance their content globalization practices and overcome language afterthought syndrome. (See this presentation for more information on these concepts.)

We’re in the process of populating the sessions with top-notch speakers. Check the Gilbane San Francisco conference site for updates. Twitter is #gilbanesf.

A New, Very Interesting Platform in the Digital Publishing Space: PubFactory

I’ve followed iFactory, which recently released PubFactory, since its inception as a multimedia service agency, going back to my days wearing the editor’s hat at eMedia Professional.  Here’s a company that has spent its youth wisely.

PubFactory is a digital publishing platform that emerges from iFactory’s many years of solving their clients’ pressing Web publishing demands, alongside iFactory’s habit of throwing in a few extra-demanding capabilities of their own.  They’ve taken what they’ve figured out and rationalized the process into a platform, and the platform is impressive.

PubFactory is content online publishing platform “built from the ground up to support books, reference works, and journals in a variety of XML formats, with full support for PDF, images, and other rich media.”  Sounds, good, but not unique, right?  Here’s what I really like hearing about: “…management tools for librarians and administrators, and a full suite of back-end controls for publishers to control their content and manage relationships with their customers.”

The range of options that are oriented to a publisher’s customers is impressive, and includes such things as flexible ecommerce, access models, social media, analytical metrics, to name the big ones, and the flexibility in publishing control is also smart, with strong search and browsing, DOI and various library-specific support, customization, and, basically, push-button PDF and ePUB creation.

This last feature is showing up more and more, as in SharedBook, a multi-source/community/blog-content ebook/pbook generator, to name only one.  The biggest surprise about PubFactory, however, is its sheer scalability.  Using PubFactory, and slated for release in late spring 2010, Oxford Dictionaries Online (part of Oxford University Press) will present modern English dictionaries, thesauruses, and usage guides.  Not exactly a chapbook.

Of course, real-world use is the real test, but iFactory’s decade-plus efforts suggest a good passing grade out of the gate.  I’m looking forward to seeing iFactory’s Director of Publishing Tom Beyer’s PubFactory demonstration at Tools of Change, next week.

Need me to look up a word for you?  If so, or if you want to know more about our upcoming study, A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Systems to Re-Invent Publishing, drop me a line.