Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Day: September 8, 2008

Social Media is bigger than a blog

Social media has crept into all sorts of enterprise applications, and is certainly an important component of all of the areas we cover, including content management, enterprise search, multilingual applications, and authoring and publishing. So rather than discussing social media in isolation, we’re going to focus more on covering social media in context, which means in whichever of our blogs (or conference sessions) it makes sense. You can use our site search to find discussion about social media from Geoff and our other analysts and contributors.
Check out Fred’s entry posted on our main blog earlier today on “Integrating Traditional Documentation with Social Media”

Integrating Traditional Documentation with Social Media

The design brief is simple: integrate the outgoing supply chain that takes corporate product or service documentation out to users with the social media that may arise to address those same products or services. The benefits are also clear: leverage user experience, interest, and advice to everyone’s advantage.

After that, it gets confusing.

Corporate structures are brand-directed and very controlled, while social media is uncontrollable, individualistic (if not anti-brand), and hyperbolic. That’s why we love it, but how could a corporation trust it with their babies?

What does integration mean in this context? If you hire someone to help with social media, you may lose the integrity of independence. If the social media is independent and you endorse it, do you taint it? It’s likely to change rapidly, so how can you keep your position up to date? If you just react to it, how is that different than focus groups? I’ll argue that integration means, somehow, placing social media into an iteration loop in the documentation supply chain.

The scariest scenario is bringing independent outsiders to your breast and having them blast your new release. On the other hand, they’ll do that anyway, so the question is how quickly you’ll respond, and how? Who said “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer?”

But let’s draw a distinction between unaffiliated commentators and those who are working in companies that are your customers. The former are always going to be less controllable, while the latter will likely cooperate with a cross-company integration. Just as an enlightened company will look to incorporate social media into its communications strategy, its customers will be exploring social media for its user-centric focus as a means of improving its own business practices.

Let’s assume that when social media is being practiced by independent outsiders, it will be a matter of chance whether their behavior is consistent with a corporation’s goals. When it works because all of the stars have aligned, as has happened at moments for Apple, Google, and even IBM and Microsoft, then it can be great. At other times, it may be ugly. Perhaps it’s just too early to draw those people too close.

But when the audience is composed of social media practitioners at client companies, then the field is open to all forms of social media: blog, wiki, twitter, IM, and other practices. For example, it’s easy to imagine deploying a documentation set via a wiki that issuing and client companies can both update, perhaps with a dedicated editor at the source company to keep brand, message, and metaphors consistent. That leaves the challenge of how that material gets integrated back into the supply chain so that it can feed the next release…

These are early thoughts, and tools such as wikis are low-hanging fruit. How will the less document-centric media be integrated? What new forms of relationship will develop around these practices? How can this be extended to independent outsiders?

Cerego Introduces iKnow! Intelligent Social Learning Platform

Cerego announced the North American beta launch of iKnow! iKnow! helps people to “learn faster, remember longer, and manage their memory for a lifetime”. iKnow!’s patented learning algorithms generate personalized learning schedules that improve the absorption and recall of chunks of learning content called “items.” Combining cognitive science and neuroscience with the social nature of the web, iKnow! lets users remix the web for the purpose of learning. iKnow! measures memory strength and generates a personalized learning schedule optimized for each user. The iKnow! platform is a collaborative network that will allow learners all over the globe to leverage and remix content produced by the community. As a demonstration of its social learning platform, iKnow! currently offers a set of tools and content for English speakers to study Japanese, with support for other major language pairs to follow within the year. Users soon will be able to upload any kind of learning content into the system – language and otherwise – and Cerego will open its learning APIs to the developer community. This will let third-party developers take advantage of the system’s memory management capabilities and build custom applications tailored to specific domains. http://www.iknow.co.jp/

Webinar: Business Cases for Multilingual Content

Update: Time Correction!
Wednesday, September 24, 11:00 AM ET
Gilbane’s study on multilingual communications confirms that enterprise strategies for creating, managing, and publishing multilingual business communications are often vague, if they exist at all. Without these strategies, companies face significant risk and loss of competitive advantage, especially as pressures to grow revenues, control costs, and satisfy customers increase exponentially. If you don’t have a multilingual content strategy in place, how do you get started? If you do, how do you advance your processes and improve performance and quality?
Andrew Thomas from SDL joins us in an online panel discussion on making the case for multilingual content strategies. The webinar draws on new research from Gilbane and real-world experience of SDL’s customers. Registration is open. Sponsored by SDL.