Employees and Web 2.0

May 21, 2007 at 12:52 pm | Posted in Reading | 2 Comments

The timing on this couldn’t have been better.  I’ve been engaged in a conversation with my boss about the very flat nature of our news center website and the need to give it more of a social media look for reporters and others.  After all, reporters in print media are moving to blogs on a pretty regular basis.

More importantly, I noted – and my boss agreed – that the employee comm group was adding some zip to their communications – not full-on social media – but at least, from a design point of view, getting it more user-friendly.

I think both articles make a couple of points that have been running around in my mind – and likely obvious to all of us in 586 – that companies need to consider.

First, millenial employees are coming into the workplace expecting to interact in the same ways they do on their own time – through social media.   Last Thursday I was on a call for a briefing by a company called Fast Pitch.   Essentially, it was bringing a powerful set of social media tools to small businesses and individuals who wanted to be more part of a referral network, rather than just using Plaxo or LinkedIn for addressbook contacts or resume sharing.

The important part of the network and the presentation I participated in is that it provides full integration of social media for the members.  Of course, there is a cost to this, but that isn’t what caught my attention.   I began to think both for internal and external communication purposes that Verizon needs to begin to give its employees and customers some ability to interact with a number of different Web 2.0 options.

As was pointed out in Naked Conversations, Scoble’s development of Channel 9 at Microsoft (vlogging) began to humanize the company at a time it needed it.  It showed employees in their daily work, captured their opinions and discussions about the work for the outside world to see.

IBM, likewise, moved early on to encourage blogging among its employees and now has taken the next step – formalizing it in corporate communications.  The end game for this strategy at IBM from a certain point of view may be to encourage new ideas – innovation; it also may improve employees job satisfaction.

Friday, I was at a PRSA conference in San Francisco and heard from a number of speakers, including the director of corporate communications from Hewlett-Packard who focused primarily on the fallout that he was dealing with daily during the HP board leak scandal.  However, he also mentioned that the employees – HP encourages blogging, too – weren’t focused on what the outside world was concerned about but rather on working.   Their high level of trust and faith in the company may have been engendered by its history, as well as its employee-friendly communications.

In fact, their principal concern during this period of time, was what kind of discount they could get on the new line of notebook PCs coming out.  Of course, there was an integrated employee communication update that followed what was occurring in the outside news media.

The point here is simply that – as noted in the one article – blogging may be good for your employees, as might other social media, but you have to think about this in the context of your own company. 

Sure, things can go wrong with new media, just like they do with rumours started in the elevator or at the water cooler.  Most employee communications programs in companies where management communication to the troops is perceived to be untrustworthy in the past might have dealt with so-called ‘pirate’ publications, i.e., ones not sanctioned by official employee communication channels before the advent of e-mail and the blogosphere.

QUESTIONS

1.   Will blogs and wikis replace traditional print, electronic and related media as the principal vehicle for employee communications in 5 years?

2.  Does the flattening of an organization via technology impose a greater responsibility on each employee to participate and take ownership of projects and ‘official’ communication about them?

3.  Does the adoption of social media tools change the business organization model itself?

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draft podcast script

May 15, 2007 at 7:14 pm | Posted in Assignment | 2 Comments

VERIZON’S BIG BET SCRIPT Ø  UPBEAT INTRO MUSIC   :15

NARRATOR:

Verizon, one of the country’s largest telecommunications companies has been building a fiber-optic network for almost four years and is now bringing it to 16 states, including Washington and Oregon.  The importance of this fiber-optic network – FTTP, or fiber-to-the-premises, is that it covers the challenge of what’s known as the ‘last mile’ before reaching the home.The quest for a high-speed fiber-optic network has gone on for at least 20 years.  In the past ten years, what might be described as the perfect storm has permitted the possibility of a fiber-optic network to take off:  the emergence of the Internet, the demand for bigger and faster data applications, and the drop in the cost of fiber-optic cable.

Ø  SOUNDS of FIBER-OPTIC CONSTRUCTION (boring equipment, booms on trucks rising) and CONVERSATION between EMPLOYEES   :15

Today, more than 200 contractors are building the network that takes the fiber-optic cable into neighborhoods – sometimes attaching to overhead poles and other times, digging up streets and sidewalks to place the cables underground.

(Narrator engages local FTTP construction manager on challenges of project 1:30)

CONSTRUCTION MGR:

No one’s ever built something of this scope – there are definite challenges.  We constantly have to talk to local public works departments to be sure we are meeting their code requirements, some of which are quite stringent.  In addition, we have to work with our contractors to make sure they stay on top of the situation.  In the end, though, we think we do a pretty good job of making sure that neighborhoods aren’t any more impacted than absolutely necessary.

NARRATOR:

Do you ever have people upset about their flower beds or their sidewalks?

CONSTRUCTION MANAGER:

Well, I’d have to say that in most cases we make the effort to keep the ground in the same condition that we found it.  We start by notifying the neighborhood 1-2 days in advance that we will be bringing trucks into the area to lay the cable and then we try to get our work done as quickly as possible with as little interruption to daily routines as is feasible.The last stage of the process is when we notify customers with doorhangers that their area is open for sale.  After that, if someone decides to order FiOS, then a contractor is called back to connect the fiber from the hub in the yard to the side of the home – again, we make sure this is all done in a way that puts the lawn, flowerbeds, whatever back to its original condition.

Ø  DOOR TO HOME OPENS – SOUNDS OF CHILDREN   :10

NARRATOR:

I went to the home of  Claire Walker between Bothell and Mill Creek to find out more about why she chose to get FiOS instead of an alternative service and to ask her about the FiOS installation and any technical support help she needed.

CUSTOMER:

Well, I have worked as a medical transcriptionist for the past few years and my office is in Edmonds.  I’d been using DSL/Comcast where we lived before, but when we moved out here into this new development, I checked out what FiOS offered versus Comcast or DSL.  The important thing to me was that I could have increased upload speeds for file transfers and everything connected with Category 6 wiring at home.It’s worked out well.

NARRATOR:

Does any of this have to do with the distance to Edmonds, or do you just prefer to work at home?

CUSTOMER:

Well, in terms of miles, Edmonds isn’t that far away, but commuting traffic can be a problem.  I’d already done work from home – FiOS just makes it faster and simpler requiring less time in the office than before.

NARRATOR:

Walker is one of the many people who work from home at least part of the time but, for some, it’s an even better deal – like Jarrod Smith who lives right off the 405 in Bothell.  Smith is one of those young techie types that abounds in Puget Sound and he’s recently become a partner in a mostly virtual IT consulting firm.

CUSTOMER:

FiOS is the best thing to come along for someone like me.  I have to manage two data centers – one in Seattle and one in Salt Lake.  With FiOS, I don’t have to go in to the data centers anymore.  The speeds on this are insane![If time permits, would like to include a gamer to interview, too]

NARRATOR:

Smith is, without a doubt, a heavy data user.  He has Verizon’s fastest and most expensive consumer package which offers a 30 megabit per second download speed and a 5 megabit per second upload speed.  Verizon says that most customers opt for the basic 5 megabit/2  megabit package though more are going for the intermediate 15/2 offering.  Faster speeds at no increase in price also appear to be on the way.The company says it’s building this network because of competition.

VERIZON EXECUTIVE:

There isn’t a pretty picture to paint in the area of competition says David S. Valdez, the company’s senior vice president in Everett.“The reality is that we’re losing our landline business to all the emergent forms of unregulated technology – wireless, VoIP and cable phone.   The company believes that a major investment in our fiber network is the only way to stem those losses and to turn the game around.  It really is future proof.  There isn’t a technology out their today or on the horizon that can match the capabilities of fiber-optics.

NARRATOR:

While Verizon builds out its network in the Eastside communities of Redmond, Kirkland and north through Woodinville, Bothell and on to Everett, Internet broadband customers elsewhere will have to rely on DSL, cable modem or wireless technologies, the real one-two punch will come when Verizon is able to offer its FiOS TV product, a competitor to cable and satellite offerings.  The earliest that’s likely to occur is late next year because the company is just beginning the process of negotiating local franchise agreements with the cities in its build area.Will Verizon be coming to your area?  Well, the company has a national plan to pass 18 million homes by the year 2010 and expects to continue its Eastside and Snohomish County build next year.  If you don’t live in those areas, then you are probably out of luck.  The company provides landline service in those areas but not elsewhere in King County, nor in Pierce County and has no plans to build out beyond their traditional landline borders at this time.In the meantime, if FiOS is coming to your neighborhood, get ready to sit down, boot up and hang on!

Ø  MUSIC FADE OUT  :10

Website Credibility – How Does Form Impact Substance?

May 14, 2007 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Reading | 3 Comments

I think both readings hit home on important elements in the credibility of a website.  Some of it is fundamental – the reputation of the site’s authoring organization or individual, the ability to navigate the site, the perceived risk associated with the site’s functionality, etc..

However, this review raises another question here that goes to credibility and may not have been researched directly – the search engine optimization for a site.  If a site’s URL comes back to me in the top 10, or maybe 15, links after doing a search , I begin to think that the site has credibility.

This is simply because the many who traverse the virtual world have found it of value. Also, within the same search, if an ‘anti-site’ is returned in an equivalent fashion,  this tells me that all may not be right about the intial site. Of course, it still requires a critical eye to evaluate any search list return.

I think we also need to question how style tops substance – in other words, is the layout, fluidity, graphic design and attractiveness something that goes to credibility or simply what we might describe as ‘slickness’?   I am reminded of how I was approached by followers of the Rev. Sun Yung Moon, so-called Moonies when I was in my 20s – the people appeared to be very nice and appealed to my idealistic sensibilities or, more recently, a few years ago at a school board conference where there was a booth with books on something called Intelligent Design.  The people were nice, approachable and had a well-written, graphically aesthetic book they would give me in exchange for a lot of background information from me.  Perusing the well-written book, one would think these were a laidback group of intellects suggesting something totally reasonable.

So, I raise a similar question here – is a tightly laid out, esthetically pleasing site with .edu as the URL extension an indication that what I see on the site is credible?  Maybe; maybe not.

When Hanson Hosein was in class and I asked the question about the the GE-NBC-BOEING relationship, he described how cynics might see it.  I took the view that given that Boeing is only one of two commercial airline makers of any consequence in the world, an American business with some cache and history grounded in the country’s economy, why wouldn’t Matt Lauer want to come here?  I suppose if he’d gone to Bentonville, Arkansas, the home of Wal-Mart, the cyncism would’ve run similarly deep, but for other reasons.

My point here is simply that when an organization has a history, a substance, a reputation of sorts, how important does form become?  Realistically, if website design and planning are absent, then it really doesn’t matter how credible you are in the real world.  An entity’s Internet site becomes a version of the Firesign Theater’s 40-year-0ld album,  “I Think We’re All Bozos on this Bus!”  By all means, listen to the mp3 file for a taste of inanity.

 Questions for consideration:

1.   What role does search engine optimization play – if any – in creating website credibility?

2.  Are trust antecedents the primary measuring stick for risk?

3. Can ease of use make up for other deficiencies in a website, including its underlying credibility?

Gigabit Networks – Do we have a clue?

May 7, 2007 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Discussion Leader | 2 Comments

Discussion PPT

While I found little in academic annals to present in class, I thought the study below which I found more than a year ago would be worthwile for consideration in the context of the IEEE Journal reading on Gigabit networks.

Although it is dated, all of the policy analysis and recommendations remain fresh in this debate.  The executive summary begins by noting that the U.S. is behind other G-7 countries in its commitment to broadband.

Reviving the FORGOTTEN Information Superhighway 

In addition, looking to what I know in the telecom industry based on the work Verizon is doing, I also found a couple of articles from industry publications talking about the possibilities for gigabit networks.  As noted in the recent Telephony article, Verizon is bringing a gigabit network into play for those in its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) build across the country.

The salient point of this article is the fact that video – more specifically, HDTV – is driving innovation and deployment of Gigabit networks.

A second article covers the current ‘battle’ between different types of gigabit networks for dominance in the marketplace based on their technological underpinnings and efficiencies.  The Battle of the PONs (Passive Optical Networks) covers the challenges facing the rush to bandwidth by telcos, cable companies and others attempting to get fiber-to-the-home or otherwise maximize bandwidth for consumer use.

Summarizing the relative capabilities of three different methods of getting fat bandwidth pipes to the home, there still doesn’t seem to be a solid case for recommending the symmetrical ideal proposed in this evening’s reading, nor is it certain that point-to-point (P2P) networks are an ideal solution.  What is clear from the current developments in technology is that GPON is the architecture that is getting the most traction in FTTH – as evidenced by Verizon’s recent announcement to deploy it.

Please note that the broadband ‘gap’ between the U.S. and many European and developed Asian countries is real as noted in this blog by Jeff Pulver.  Given that the U.S. has 3 million+  square miles, this is a different kind of challenge than Singapore or Sweden face, but it’s obviously doable once the policy direction and financial resources are there for a build and/or technologies like WiMax are able to offer gigabit bandwidth in the future to rural areas.

Finally, if you have further interest, here’s an organization that wants to push the public policy agenda – Speed Matters.

McGarrity Notes

May 1, 2007 at 6:56 pm | Posted in Assignment | Leave a comment

McGarrity – Rhetoric

Persuasion through Argumentation

          The Rhetoric/Aristotle

Logos – argument demonstrates something

 

    Ø  Evidence used

    Ø  Web design:  Think progress http://thinkprogress.org/ (attempts to persuade through logical argumentation)

  Pathos – arousal of audience emotions

      e.g., people given a story in a fundraising example is being told a story about those who benefit, they were moved to give money

Ø  Save Darfur

Ø  Johnson 64 Ad – Little girl with daisy

Ethos – presentation of character of the speaker as trustworthy

  Ø  Tends to be the most compelling (using design to give asense of what is right and reasonable)  Crooks & Liars v. Huffington’s Post

More recent development in the 20th century is persuasion through identification

  Ø  Persuade by our shared values and goals (create an ‘us’ and ‘them’)

       Ø  Persuasion through ‘framing’:  what is the dominant concept you want the audience to use when thinking of your issue?  E.g., estate tax v. death tax; clear cutting v. healthy forests;  global warming v. global climate change

Narrative Framing

Agent, Act, Agency, Purpose, Scene – who, what, when, where, why and context

What is the dominant idea in a narrative – what is the key area you prioritize?

Look at headlines to compare. . . the dominant component of a story

“Everything’s an Argument”

What are the words that are going to appeal to your audience?

“Made to Stick”

Appercline’s Applet

May 1, 2007 at 11:00 am | Posted in Reading | 2 Comments

bettelheim.jpg 

Yes, I do make a play on words here – that an Applet is similar to Appercline’s recount of th universal elements of storytelling.   We might view Appercline’s succinct treatment of the elements as something we can inject in any story we tell so that the audience can appreciate the visual creation we make in our minds.

I think it’s fair to say that she puts this information out directly in an easily assimilable fashion.  For me, it is a reminder of a book I read oh so long ago – more directed at children and the relationship between the struggles of life and fairy tales by noted child psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim – “The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.”

The point of the book here and, arguably, that of the oral tradition is pedagogical – to teach.  I believe that Appercline’s straightforward description of the elements of storytelling, while universal, lead me back to thinking if one’s self expression isn’t – in some way – instructive to the audience. 

If I describe the blossoms of an apple tree unfolding against the weight of a spring rain, am I merely creating pleasure for the reader, or am I being instructive?  I think it depends on the way the story evolves – if I allude to the competing forces of nature with the blossom eventually pollinated by a bee to bring forth the late summer fruit that satiates my parched lips with a pressed nectar drizzling down my throat have I, in the end, ‘taught’ the reader something?  Bettleheim would say yes.

In any event, the elements described by Appercline are a great reference for all of us as we develop our stories.

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