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Thursday, September 24, 2009

If you like Google Sidewiki try

Google Sidewiki is a very nice concept, but ReframetIt is a way better implementation of the concept. try, see it in action here

I have tried Google Sidewiki, and I have uninstalled it within the half hour, because it is missing the point on the user experience side, and it does not really deliver on its promise. Maybe the next version will be better. In the meantime, ReframeIt rules :-)

It is always nice to see Google push great new ideas, but in this case I think that they are victim of becoming too big for their own good. And they seem to be spreading themselves over too many things without really going into the depth of them enough to make them really worth our while.

I have seen it happen several time: friendconnect was a great idea, but I do not see too much happening with it, Google talk was a good idea, but I do not seem much happening with it, etc...

The worst of it all in this area is Google contacts, this link you have in Gmail to access your contacts. This is the worst contact management system I have seen, and it has not been improved a bit in the few years I have been using Gmail. And even if you use Google Apps and pay for the service you are very limited on that side, and for example there is no UI to upload contacts that you want to share with colleagues within the same domain. Just an API, and outside vendor who have built the HTML and will charge you for that piece. How hard can it be for Google to resolve this?

I love Google and I love what they bring us (I can't wait to see Google Wave open up to more people so that I can start use it fully to communicate), and I appreciate that they bring it to us for free, but I wish sometimes that they would do a little less and go a little deeper to make it really work...

Comment posted on Google Sidewiki at using Reframe It

Monday, September 14, 2009

Google Voice on the iPhone

I just ran into this post mentioning that there is now an app to use Google Voice on the iPhone. I have tried and this is a major cool app.
Basically I can use the app the call, the keyboard is the same as for the regular phone app, and I have access to all my contacts on the iPhone. What it does for me is resolve the issue of the Google contacts not being synchronized with the right account.
Google Voice native uses my Gmail contact, while I am using Google Apps ( domain) for my address book. Not a problem anymore, since these contacts are synchronized on my iPhone through the Exchange sync, and since they are the contacts I can use when dialing from my iPhone. Very very cool. If you have any question why you would want your iPhone jailbroken, here is the answer. Thank you Sean Kovacs for this...

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Post originally published here

My friends at eCairn recently came up with a new service to get to know your ecosystem better: network and keyword maps.

I am already using eCairn to collect and read blogs on several topics: entrepreneurs, entreprise 2.0, social capital, etc...

I use the service to find new blogs related to each of these topics: the "suggested blog" feature that they have has allowed me to build from an initial set of about 20 blogs that were relevant to me to a list of about 500 to date.

I also use eCairn influence ranking to sort out these blogs, so that I have a choice to filter the posts I read using keywords, but also influence. If I am short on time, I'll stick to checking posts from the top influencers, and then if I have more time, I will dig down into the bigger set of blogs. This same influence ranking is what allowed me to post the top 150 "Social Capital" blogs for example.

And now they are offering some interesting visualization tools. I did experiment with them on the Social Capital list of blogs:

1. Network map: this is a big blob, and not much can be seen, but it is interesting to notice that within this big cloud of 548 blogs there are a few networks within the network that appear on the edges (blue tags and green tags). Social Capital Network map

2. Network map for the top blogs: in this map, you can see 2 distinct networks for blogs. From what I could see, one group seem to focus more on funding and marketing, while the other seem to have a focus closer to social entrepreneurship. But in the end bloggers are people and who they reference and why is not a strict rule. In this case I would be interested in feedback from bloggers on why we have such 2 groups at the top. Social Capital top blogs - network map

3. Keyword map for the blogs mentioning "Social Capital": in this last example, I used a filter on "Social Capital" to look at the posts from the Social Capital ecosystem that I am tracking. And what is interesting here is that we are looking not just at keywords, but at groups of words as well, up to 3 word. The big difference here is that while it is interesting to keep keywords, there is value in identifying groups of words such as "office of social" for example. In this case, it is probably fair to assume that this group of word refers to the Office of Social Innovation established by the Obama administration. And if we start looking at this group of words and how often they are used in posts, we can see here that "Office of Social" is used more often than "government".

The most striking group of words for me is "Social Media" which comes back more often than almost anything else. For a group of blogs focusing on Social Capital, it comes back more often than "social entrepreneurs" or "social innovation".

On the more "to be expected side", "Social Venture" is comes back more often than "philanthropy", "Impact" comes back more than "investment".

And then note the importance of "San Francisco" in the overall cloud. If I am to believe bloggers, San Francisco is clearly the place where things are happening.

And if there is one event that stands out, it is the Social Capital Markets Conference (look at the size of the "Capital Markets Conference" group). Kudos to the Socap team for the awareness that they were able to raise in the blogs. It would be interesting to see how this cloud evolves over time... Social Capital blogs - words cloud

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Post originally published here

The last day of Socap started with very moving and sobering accounts of the state of the world from 3 women. According to the program we were looking at 3 stages of Social Entreprise, but really it was 3 vivid snapshots from the ocean of issues we need to address:
- Elizabeth Lindsey talked about vanishing indigenous cultures and the absence of respect for elders in Western countries. "We earn these wrinkles, we should be proud of them"
- Ann Wizer talked about trash, and how we need to think about what happens after a product has been used. This is not just about recycling, it is about including the "end of life" into the design of the product
- Eve Blossom talked about fighting the sex trade by providing a competing market options

Inspiring stories that ultimately show us that regardless how bad things are, something can be done to try to make it right.

And after the tone had been set, the open space format of the last day always make it the best of all. This is where we go past the formal presentations to dig into the heart of things.

For me today it was virtual currencies and how they can help unlock currently untapped or under-utilized resources. 2 examples, from each end of the spectrum:
- Recipco offers UTUs, a universal trading unit backed by large corporations. A very impressive solution worth checking - more details here
- Everywun offers credits to compensate for positive actions: displaying support, learning about causes or reaching out to friends. These credits can be used then to support charities. Simple and powerful.

Technology exist that works, we can use virtual currencies as a tool to change the dynamics within a given ecosystem.

My idea for Socap next year would be that every attendee gets 10,000 units on the first day, with a mission to spend it all during the conference on social entrepreneurs or other resources that help make a difference. You must spend your initial 10,000 units, and then you can spend units that you earn during the conference.
And at the end of the 3 days, some of the foundations present at the conference could match these units with real dollars for the top earners.
Spending units could be fun, it could be a good opportunity to meet people, and it could be an opportunity to get a few projects funded on site.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Socap09 - day 2

Post originally published here

Lots of conversations today at Socap09, and a lot of the same questions from last year still unresolved: how to get projects funded, how to scale, how to measure impact, how to better account for intangible assets, etc... We are still experimenting, and sharing results from here and there, trying to extract the lessons learned so that hopefully next year we can show a little more progress.

Meanwhile the highlight for me today came from the discussion on "hubs": building communities anchored around a space. Nothing fundamentally new, incubators have been around for quite some time, except that we are not talking about real estate, but rather we are talking about establishing geographical landmarks as anchors for local communities to gather around the idea of changing the world. A small difference in the narrative and in the pricing model, but a huge difference in the type of community you establish and the results you can expect.

And it seems to me that it is a very good opportunity to start fresh with people and their dreams (their BeDo, as I discovered yesterday) gathering to help each other and share experience.

There are several examples of such concept implemented in various places, but the best I have seen so far is The Hub. A good place for entrepreneurs to hang out.

I have been working on my side on the Entrepreneur Commons, and I see a lot of synergies between hubs and Entrepreneur Commons. If the Entrepreneur Commons is a community anchored around a fund for seed capital, and hubs are communities anchored around geograhical landmarks, then what we have really are 2 pilars upon which we can build strong ventures. Something that I intend to explore further...

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Socap09 - first day

This post was originally published here

One year later, it feels good to be back at Socap, and it is great to catch up on the Social Capital Markets conversation.

My first impression is that just like everywhere else I go these days, and whoever else I talk to, the subject of Innovation, and more specifically Social Innovation takes over the conversation.

Socap and its attendees were no different today: the first keynote was from Sonal Shah, the director of the office of social innovation in the Obama administration.
- 4 people working across the various bodies of the administration to help them think differently and work with each other to scale efforts taken from the public or private sector that work
- a social innovation fund to help finance the process

It used to be that people dreaming of a better world would try to stay away from government ("big brother" could kill the dream). The same people see now the government as a potential (or even unavoidable) ally. This is a huge change in perception, and a huge opportunity to make things happen differently. Just that is a major accomplishment of the Obama administration, and even if it is just starting and much still needs to be done, it clearly makes this office of social innovation a success already.

So if you did not know yet, it's official now: 2009 is the year of Social Innovation. And what it is really is a re-definition of organizations models and infrastructure: whether it is government or enterprise, or any kind of organization, people have realized that military style hierarchies with top down communication are not sustainable over the long term. Michel Bowens has been talking about the rise of the peer-to-peer civilization, and it is now happening.

What this means for entrepreneurs is that they too should think about Social Innovation and Participation for their own organizations. If you are going to build a company that will last, it should have participation built in.

And this is the other highlight of this first day of Socap09 for me: BeDo Spring as the "Intel Inside" for enterprise.
What BeDo Spring does is help corporations develop unique mission brands and action platforms, which engage employees around social responsibility, sustainability and purpose. It helps brand evolve from a top down model of a small strategic marketing team defining plans and actions to a model where employees are empowered to do something good that will benefit them as well as the brand and the rest of the world.
Brand management is becoming community management, starting with employees. If we are evolving towards a world where "communities dominate brands" this is good strategy to implement. You too need to find your BeDo...

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