Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Month: October 2006 (Page 1 of 2)

Google & JotSpot vs. Microsoft & Socialtext?

Not as manipulative a headline as you might think! Google announced it had acquired Jotspot today, and Socialtext announced “SocialPoint”, a wiki for SharePoint, on Monday. The timing of these announcements may be accidental, but Socialtext and JotSpot were very competitive and have countered each other’s releases before. In any case this is big news for the enterprise wiki world, and good news for many, including the other enterprise wiki vendors – at least in the short term since the market is so young.

This will obviously be a hot topic in our Collaboration & Enterprise Blogs & Wikis Track in Boston at the end of the month, especially in the Enterprise Wiki CEO/CTO Panel where Socialtext, MindTouch, Traction, CustomerVision, and eTouch will debate – maybe Google can join them… Enterprise wiki vendors Atlassian and SilkRoad will also be there.

Note we are again hosting an “American Idol” type contest along with CMS Watch, but this year it is an “Enterprise Wiki Idol” instead of a CMS Idol. This is a free event in the demo area. More information including the judges and contestants is here.

There is a lot of commentary on this week’s announcements. See what our friends at Between the Lines, Dan Farber and David Berlind have to say, as well as Don Dodge (Microsoft), and Ross Mayfield (Socialtext).

eBooks Return (again)

In an October 27th entry on Dave Mainwaring’s Publishers’ SIG at, someone named Chet Ensign wrote: “I have just read the press release at
Editions.html for Adobe’s beta release of Digital Editions. It is an eBook reader that uses PDF, XHTML, Flash and includes digital rights management support, subscriptions, ads, etc.

He continues: “I have not seen anything like a groundswell of excitement in publishing around eBooks so I don’t see this as a major development. In a review on ZDNet, Ryan Stewart wrote: “Users have been slow to take to eReader solutions, but I think technologies like the New York Times reader and Digital Editions are going to change that.” I don’t agree. I think people are not adopting ereaders because they add nothing new; they still just move print to the screen – where I personally just turn around and reprint so that I can read it in print. “What do others think? Is there more excitement around eBooks than I have been seeing?”

I wonder the same thing…

Somehow I think iPod when I read in Adobe PR of the new software:
“With native support for Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) as well as an XHTML-based reflow-centric publication format, Digital Editions delivers an engaging way to acquire, read, and manage content, including eBooks, digital magazines, digital newspapers and other digital publications. Initially available as a free public beta for Windows®, Digital Editions will support Macintosh systems as a universal binary application, Linux® platforms, as well as mobile phones and other embedded devices in future versions.”

I’ve always thought that the big problem with eBooks was/is the name, with the implicit connotation that we should be reading lightweight paperbacks on heavy digital readers… I now refer to ‘e-content’ rather than e-books. There’s a lot of digital information — most of it much shorter than book-length — that makes more sense to be consumed digitally than it does to be printed before consumption.

Somehow I also think about pending competition between Adobe and Microsoft on file formats, the long rumored battle of the PDF versus the XPS (although Wikipedia informs us: “XPS is viewed as a potential competitor to Adobe’s portable document format (PDF). XPS, however, is a static document format that does not include dynamic capabilities similar to those of PDF.”)

Microsoft doesn’t seem too hot on eBooks right now. Microsoft Reader was last updated in November, 2002 (the Tablet edition), although I was surprised to find today on the MSoft website: “Microsoft Reader Catalog of eBooks: search over 30000 free and retail ebooks, with direct links to downloading free content and samples…

However, looking more closely at the site, one finds that most of the eBooks are for sale, not free at all.

The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF, formerly the Open eBook Forum), the trade organization that speaks for the eBook “industry” (if that is not too grand a term) reported earlier this year that eBook sales increased 23% in 2005. Not bad, until one realizes that this represents under $12 million in revenue, and that unit sales were flat. As in all things digital, the result led publishers to increase title output by 20%, year over year.

The Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia Library does offer 2100 free eBooks (old titles, out of copyright —

Still, it turns out I hadn’t bothered installing Reader on this 6-month-old computer — I’m doing it now — to find out if I get any more pleasure out of reading Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities on a computer now than I did (not) four years ago (

As my friend Crad Kilodney once wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, it was a Monday.

When Web Sites Go Bad

Is your web site any good?

I bet that question made a lot of you cringe and start down a guilt spiral of rationalizations about why your web site isn’t really quite what you wish it was. If you have a bad web site, it’s because your organization is producing a bad web site. And no one who is visiting your site cares why. They don’t care about the bickering between marketing and IT over web site control. They don’t care about the 18-month argument about who gets a link on the homepage, or about the 30 years of history which makes it “impossible” for all the various programs and offices in your organization to cooperate in order to create the integrated web presence that your site visitors long for. They don’t care. But, everyday they are clicking away on your site, frustrated, trying to do business with your organization and trying to get information from your organization. And your organization continues to dither. By rationalizing low quality, you are prioritizing your organization’s bad habits over your customer’s and constituent’s needs.

For a business or an organization with a clearly articulated mission, the intent and purpose of its web site(s) should be obvious–expressed most clearly as a high quality web product. The mission should also be front and center for those producing the organization’s web site(s)- expressed as a coherent set of strategic policies and tactical standards for web site product development. But, we all know this is seldom the case. Web site quality is frequently at the mercy of some set of ill-thought-out, status quo web production processes and a lack of strategic oversight by senior management. All this for what is most likely the first point of contact for individuals interacting with your organization.

Continue reading

Compliance and the “Fear Factor”: November 9th Webinar

Every organization, regardless of size or market, shares a common set of goals: generate and grow revenue, satisfy customers, and operate at optimum levels of efficiency. In recent years, executives and boards of directors have put another critical mandate on the plate for management: regulatory compliance ranging from Sarbanes Oxley to SEC mandates to HIPAA. This mandate is daunting. The number and scope of worldwide laws, regulations and standards is staggering and continues to expand. Overlay geographic and industry-specific regulatory environments, and it’s easy to understand the frustration and concern within all global companies.
Implementation deadlines, audits, and high-profile non-compliance prosecutions have created a “culture of fear” in organizations that is counter-productive to standard corporate goals. Many regulations are complex, subject to interpretation, and lack best practices.
A culture of compliance strives to bring “order to disorder” by focusing on three tenets for overcoming corporate challenges: focus on people, process and technology. Shared, enterprise-wide understanding, business process optimization, and infrastructure content technologies are some of the key components to this approach. Join us on Thursday, November 9, 2006, 11:00am EDT for my panel discussion with Omtool CTO Thaddeus Bouchard and HP Financial Services Solutions Manager Joseph Wagle to discuss how to make compliance practices a seamless part of your business processes. Register here.

Gilbane Group, Omtool, & HP Webinar

Join us Thursday, November 9, 2006, 11:00 am EDT for “Eliminating the Fear Factor: Creating a Culture of Compliance.”
The Gilbane Group’s Leonor Ciarlone joins Omtool CTO Thaddeus Bouchard and HP Financial Services Solutions Manager Joseph Wagle to discuss how to make compliance practices a seamless part of your business processes. Webinar event hosted by Omtool.
Registration is open!

Thomson to sell Thomson Learning Division

For several years Thomson Learning was my largest consulting customer, and while I have not worked closely with the group for several years, it would be inappropriate for me to analyse or comment. I just wish to note for the record, quoting directly and exclusively from Thomson’s own press release of October 25:

Thomson Announces Strategic Realignment of Operations; Company to Sell Education Businesses
Highly Focused Strategy On Electronic Solutions For Professionals Will Drive Growth And Enhance Shareholder Value

Strategic Realignment Highlights:

  • Thomson organizational realignment designed to focus on electronic workflow solutions strategy and drive operational efficiencies
  • Thomson to divest education assets: higher education, careers and library reference; corporate e-learning; and e-testing
  • Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer are appointed

Stamford, Conn. , 10/25/2006.  The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC) today announced a realignment of operations to sharpen its strategic focus on providing electronic workflow solutions to business and professional markets and better position the company for future growth. As part of the realignment, which becomes effective January 1, 2007, Thomson intends to sell its Thomson Learning businesses, including those serving the higher education, careers, library reference, corporate e-learning and e-testing markets.

“These initiatives are part of the natural evolution of Thomson as we pursue our strategic vision,” said Richard J. Harrington, president and chief executive officer of Thomson. “The market has validated our strategy of providing workflow solutions to business and professional customers, and we will continue to build on our strengths, reframe our markets and exploit technological innovations.

“Thomson Learning is an excellent business, but it does not fit with our long-term strategic vision,” Mr. Harrington said. “After the sale of Thomson Learning, the vast majority of our sales will come from electronic products and services with recurring revenues that are currently growing at high rates. In addition, the sale will provide us with substantial resources to take advantage of opportunities to accelerate the development of our core businesses and explore adjacent markets that are consistent with our strategy.”

Thomson Learning Sale
“Thomson Learning has leading positions in higher education, global reference, e-testing and corporate training,” Mr. Harrington said. “This well-managed and profitable business consistently delivers above-market growth and is well positioned to pursue opportunities in the global markets it serves.”

Thomson expects the divestiture of the Thomson Learning businesses to encompass three independent sales processes, each on its own schedule.
(The press release continues with details of divestitutres and staff changes.)

And so it goes…How sad. Print is certainly becoming a dirty word!

The Technology Acquisition Conundrum

Leonor is quoted extensively in “The Rocket Science of Technology Procurement,” a piece on fallout from a recent bid process at NASA. Leonor addresses a few of the larger issues associated with acquisition, such as the trade-off between going with existing solutions versus introducing new technology. On the one hand, incumbents have established relationships and “processes [that are] deeply entrenched in a buyer’s infrastructure.” On the other hand, alternative solutions can bring new and different capabilities that enable true innovation in addition to improved efficiencies.
Leonor also points out that while choices may be made jointly by business and IT, the two groups are not always in agreement. A timely observation, as more and more suppliers of content technologies add new features that make it possible for business users to bypass IT and control content themselves.
Strategies for dealing effectively with the tensions surrounding technology acquisition will be one of the topics that we’ll cover during the analyst debate on Wed, Nov 29, at Gilbane Boston 2006. Add a comment to this entry with acquisition issues you’d like our panel of experts to address, or send mail to

Gilbane Washington DC 2007 Site Now Live

We are repeating our Washington DC conference with CMS Watch on June 5-6, 2007, and the landing page for the event is now live at: We will be returning to the Reagan building.
The deadline for submitting speaking proposals for Gilbane Washington DC 2007 is January 15, 2007. See the Speaker Guidelines page for details on how to submit proposals, and the site landing page to see the topic areas we’ll be covering.
Mark your calendars!

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