Archive for September, 2006

OnlineGroups.Net

It’s a big day, OnlineGroups.Net have released their ‘start a site’ and ‘start a group’ service using a paid subscription model.

I’ve been using the technology for three years now, right from a very early alpha stage. This was mostly because I shared an office with the creators of the software. I’ve seen it evolve from being pretty rough and ready to being extremely functional. There are still a few things I don’t like, but overall it’s fantastic.

I’m a member of ten active groups, and am the administrator for a site that comprises six groups, and is likely to have many more. The things I like the best about the system are:

  • the user management – where users can manage their account details in one place, while being members of many groups
  • the centralised file storage (this makes a huge difference for committees and groups that aren’t on the same IT infrastructure)
  • the focus on good online group facilitation processes

Enterprisey

I recently spoke at the Brightstar 6th Annual Strategic Intranets and Portals conference
I was going to blog some notes at the conference, but I stopped as soon as I saw that Michael was doing a much more thorough job than I could have done.

One thing that Michael’s presentation raised for me was the relationship between web 2.0 and enterprise collaboration/km technologies. Which is driving which? I’ve said for a couple of years now that corporate users expectations have been raised by Google. How is it that you can normally find what you’re after on the Web, where there’s 8 billion pages, and you can’t find anything on your corporate document repositories where there’s only a few hunderd thousand documents?

Michael asked whether perhaps Web 2.0 was just the bringing of ‘enterprisey’ collaboration functionality to the public web. To a certain extent I think that’s true, especially for those who have been using Lotus Notes for years. I also think that Web 2.0 is driving some innovations from the public web into enterprises though. Blogs, wikis, and faceted classification (tags) are to me, clear examples of this. Lightweight, ‘paper thin’ portals like Netvibes are also examples of the kinds of customisation that corporate users may start to expect.

Google page rank style search power is another thing that should come into enterprises. The challenge with this is that there just aren’t that many links between corporate documents. The reason Google works is that a lot of relevance ranking can be drawn from the number and type of links between web pages. I think this offers a lot more promise than automated context extraction technologies like Autonomy (as fantastic as they are). It was therefore interesting to hear BEA talking about incorporating contextual links between people, documents, and groups to improve search within the enterprise portal space.

I await these developments with interest.

Remember kids, in order to maintain an untenable position, you have to be actively ignorant
Stephen Colbert