October 2006
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Month October 2006

IBM squares up to Amazon: ‘IBM patented ecommerce’.

IBM Sues Amazon for Violating 18-Year-Old Patents

I’m tempted to chuckle at this as being the latest manifestation of the US ‘bizmeth’ patent madness, in which people can ‘protect’ the process of doing something obvious in a sensible fashion.

IBM’s patents are gloriously old, and predate the internet as we know it. These are akin to finding feudal land rights, or ancient rights of way, impinging on the gleaming new freeholds of the web.

I’m not a fan of bizmeth patents, as this thread on NowEurope demonstrates. Greg made some good and sensible comments there about the need for quality, how it’s the process that’s protected rather than the implementation and the difficulty protection. Greg also provided a succinct position paper on the defeat of the European Software Directive.

I don’t really mind who – other than the lawyers – profits from this: I’m just going to enjoy for a moment that the ‘inventors’ of the ’1-click ordering’ (“whereby the item is ordered without using a shopping cart ordering model”, to cite their patent) are getting a taste for being sued for inventing the obvious, or discovering the optimal.

Internet.com: “Why Wikis Are Conquering The Enterprise”

Why Wikis Are Conquering The Enterprise

This is a clear and useful article on Wikis in corporates, by Michael Hickins.

Large companies find communication difficult – a combination of cultural conservatism, finding an appropriate local, relevant scale, the limitation of the tools (“create a shared folder on Exchange[r]“) and the risk of putting one’s head above the parapet.

This leads to arcane, vital knowledge being condensed into a few people who fly beneath the radar of seniority and becom effectively unmanageable (at worst) or underused (at best).

This phenomenon – known to all staff as they have to turn to the ‘wizard’ in the business to get things done – is not on the Board’s agenda until, of course, the triennial business restructuring kicks off and the process consultants note that there are three key people in the business who are single-handedly keeping the stock/finance/buying/security/whatever systems up and running… At which point, Corporate Security resolves to winkle out their knowledge, to never have single points of failure again etc etc. This may sound cynical, but having lived through this more times that it’s polite to recount I don’t see that there’s a change.

Until wikis, of course.

There have been expert systems in the past, of course: knowledge-banks (big licences, arcane operating requirements, massive discipline overhead for categorisation), ticket and FAQ systems (where the users often lack the knowledge to apply the techical incantations they find there) or – gasp – “written documentation” that’s obsolete (or naive) from the outset.

Wikis, however, are lightweight, fast and free. They are so easy that there’s no technical barrier to usage and only the most basic requirements for authorship or contribution.

If you’re looking to set up a Wiki for your team or collaborators within your corporate then this article will help you write the inevitable ‘business justification’. Corporations love to hear nothing more than that other corporations are doing something ;)

The final radical point is that the use of wikis generally challenges both hierarchies and the notion of what’s “confidential”. Wikis are by their nature contributive and they value expertise, clarity, sharing and relevance.

If only that could become the abiding corporate standard for all communication then Web2.0 would have made a major contribution to Good Things Happening In The World… ;)

Update on 8 November, 2006: I see that Intel have launched a new service – SuiteTwo – that combines a wiki (SocialText), blog software (MovableType) and some RSS stuff into a ‘box’. Interesting to see a ‘chip company skipping over desktop software and appealing straight to the Enterprise via a browser and open source software…

Mike Butcher becomes Editor of TechCrunch UK.

TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » Mike Butcher joins Techcrunch UK!

Congrats to Mike Butcher, hitherto of mbites fame, upon his election to the Editorship at TechCrunch. Mike will bring not only journalistic rigour but also media/tech insights born of his years of commentary and analysis of the sector.

Oracle embraces Web2.0 in its new WebCenter (sic) Suite.

Oracle Enters Web 2.0 Fray

Well well. So the enterprise gets Web2.0, eh?

At a recent event – “Inside the Bubble“, organised by Banner – I shared some bar-stool space Sam Sethi, of TechCrunch UK who opined that the ‘next big thing’ would be enterprise software catching the Web2.0 bug.

I nodded, but I didn’t really agree. Having worked in past lives with the painful development cycles of the Oracles of the world I doubted that they’d get their act together quickly enough or, more pertinently, find “openness” a compelling business case.

Interesting therefore to hear of the appropriation of the language of Web2.0 at least via InternetNews.

So, what’s this doohicky of Oracle’s then?

“First, it’s a complete set of standards-based middleware, which gives you all the capability you need to use a service-oriented architecture,”

said Thomas Kurian, senior vice president with Oracle .

The reporting voices Kurian’s desire to free the enterprise from waiting on the IT department and suchlike and it all sounds lovely. However, I’m always warying of whiz-bang offerings that site within a vendor’s development environment – we’ve been hear before: flash, .net, Websphere etc. That said, though, once an enterprise is committed to Oracle then at least there’s now some hope of flexibility for the employees – oh, and some improvement over the standard Oracle “self service” templates? Could that be true? Be still, my beating heart…

Whether hype or not, however difficult implementation may be, it’s a no-brainer that information within an organisation needs to be free, flexible and relevant. Whether we call that Web2.0, common sense or a dream, it’s as important today as it was when first promised some 20 years ago in the Relational Database of Everything on Your PC days.

PocketMod – paper, pocket, disposable organiser

PocketMod: The Free Disposable Personal Organizer

Wonderful.

Having recently dumped the Treo650 (or “threo”, I should say, since it was my third unremittingly crap, subfunctional, crash-happy ‘pocket-anchor’) I am just getting used to a mobile phone that – erk – works. I am also rather enjoying “bits of paper” as a great always-on, crash-free way of dumping thoughts from my brain to my pocket (in case they rub against my skull and wear a hole in it).

The veritable Hipster PDA has already been well covered but I never liked the bulldog clip.

I’ve been enjoying origami things of late – notably the devastatingly wonderful origami envelope – and this PocketMod combines simple paper, a tiniest touch of folding elan and a rather nifty interface that allows you to ‘build’ your own notebook.

Anything from blank pages to a sudoku addict’s journey pad, it’s a slick interface and a neat idea. Best of all though – especially at half term – is that my kids love them and are currently running around the house with their coloured-in ‘fairy books’.

First look at Second Life… on InternetRetailing

[Analysis] First look at Second Life

Just been playing with Second Life and thinking of the current ‘gold rush’ to be ‘in the space’ from companies like Reuters, IBM, Adidas and many others. Wrote a quick introduction for InternetRetailing, and I’m sure that this is a topic I’ll be returning to in the near future. In the meantime I need to find someone that’ll help me get an avatar with visible cheekbones and a chiselled chin…

“Interact with your piers”… ‘pillars’ of the internet?

Bravo to the marketing team at Centaur for their email invite to the IMA awards which gushed into the inbox so:

Even the medium of the Internet has its limits

Because some things just have to be face to face.

For an opportunity to interact with your piers (sic), see who’s doing what in the industry, and have a wonderful evening at one of London’s top hotels, make this experience a tangible one: Attend the 2006 Interactive Marketing and Advertising Awards, being held on the 8th November at the Royal Lancaster Hotel

With such a collection of piers I’m sure the event will be “well supported”….

Inside the bubble – video

The good folk at Banner have put up the video from the panel discussion they ran: “Inside the Bubble”.

I am guilty of being In Posession of a Welsh Accent While Balancing on a Bar Stool.

JPG Magazine: Brave New Photography

[via the excellent Publishing 2.0]

My, how I like this business!

So – it’s a photography site where “pro-am” photographers can upload images on the current theme. So, it’s “social” and “web2.0″ since other website users get to vote on the images they like best. And it’s multichannel because the “winning” photos are printed into a tasty-looking art-mag which is then for sale. The photographers also get paid if their images are printed: not masses, but hey – we’re ‘pro-ams’ and our mums will finally see us ‘in print’.

The site saith:

JPG Magazine is for people who love imagemaking without attitude. It’s about the kind of photography you get when you love the moment more than the camera. It’s for photographers who, like us, have found themselves online, sharing their work, and would like to see that work in print.

JPG is a magazine. It’s published 6 times a year by 8020 Publishing. Check out the back issues. The photos in the magazine come from you!

JPG is a website. Here any photographer can join and upload photos to their member page. You can also submit your photos to issues and themes for consideration in the magazine.

JPG is a community. JPG exists because of, and exclusively for, photographers like you. Without you, we’re nothing.

.

Nice.

I’m going to file this under “ideas I wish I’d had and acted upon”.

Internetnews: “Web 2.0: The ‘Consumerization’ of The Enterprise”

Web 2.0: The ‘Consumerization’ of The Enterprise

Nice, succinct article, citing Gartner’s analysis, of how Web2.0 technologies will permeate the enterprise.

The real point however, behind the obvious “new widgets trickle-down to enterprise” comments, is that these technologies and capabilities will challenge the established working practices and silo-mentality that pervades large companies.

Web2.0 enables and thrives upon collaboration. Traditional organisations are based upon departments, reporting lines and hierarchical processes. The latter will no doubt seek to appropriate the former, but let’s hope that a combination of new tools, a little luck and new staff whose open working practices have been formed outside staid businesses will gradually subvert OldSkool business.

This isn’t to propose a hippy utopia of careless, structure-free dossing at work. Rather, it’s a plea for openness, collaboration and peering within the enterprise. Fingers crossed.