Coerced into Social Networking Sites Bryan Ruby Mon, 02/09/2009 - 14:42

Julia Angwin of the Wall Street Journal recently wrote that she wanted to remake herself into a new person...at least into a new person as seen by Google.  When Ms Angwin searched on Google using her own name she continued to see an old article written by her on top of the search results page .  Although the link to the old article was popular, she didn't feel the article was her best work nor that it reflected who she was today.  She then starts on an adventure into search engine optimization (SEO) as she tries

Shortcomings of Enterprise Wiki Deployments

A recent article in ComputerWorld discusses observations made by a Denmark-based analyst regarding wikis in the enterprise.  The analyst points out that wiki technology alone won't deliver if the organization cannot overcome obstacles in its own culture as well as the lack of true content management in a wiki.

One issue is the hype surrounding wikis or the blind faith with which they are approached, said Jespersen. "People often look to Wikipedia as a free form where everyone is contributing, and why could we not do the same with our organization?," she said, having observed wikis entering the scene to compensate for an intranet that has fallen to the wayside. But, she said, technology alone won't resolve that issue.

Jespersen lists three myths surrounding wiki implementation that might make some organizations rethink the expectations they've built around their platform.

The three myths given about wikis in the enterprise are:

  1. Myth One: Wikis will motivate employees to contribute content.
  2. Myth Two: Employees know how to contribute.
  3. Myth Three: Wikis will always provide the information employees need.

Myth three is of special interest to me. The analyst points out that although search is a selling point for wikis...the search capability found in wikis are often not as good as those found in content management systems.  She goes on to explain that given there is little structure built into wikis, "it is difficult to
structure this information to make it findable the next day even."

Make no mistake, Wikis provide an organization with a fantastic tool for employee's in an organization to learn how to collaborate.  I believe organizations often underestimate the paradigm shift needed in their own culture for their employees to properly contribute to a centralized knowledge base.  Wikis and other social publishing tools have proven to be a valuable tool for the collaboration component needed in information systems.  However, eventually wikis fall short of what a more well rounded content management system can provide an organization.

Quoting IT: Social Networking is not just for Millenials

"From an IT executive’s perspective, social networking isn’t about giving the millenials a place to play, rather it’s about how to improve the flow of information throughout an organization, using collective knowledge to solve problems, respond to customer needs, or exploit new business opportunities faster than ever before."

-Irwin Lazar, "The Rise and Fall of the Millenials?", Enterprise 2.0 Blog, January 29, 2009

Internet Explorer 8 Release Candidate

Although Firefox is my choice for Internet browsers, I do use Microsoft's Internet Explorer from time to time.  Yesterday, I installed the release candidate of Internet Explorer 8.

I can't say I'm a big fan of their "Web slice" approach as it feels like I'm ramming Google Desktop via RSS feeds down the browser's favorites bar.  Who know though, perhaps the slice approach will grow on me.  However, I am a big fan of Microsoft creating a more compliant and less buggy browser and IE8 seems to fit the bill.  If IE7 was a good step in the right direction then IE8 gets Microsoft's users pretty close to the destination.

Meanwhile, my rant to all the IE6 users.  I can't believe that about a third of Microsoft Windows users are still using IE6.  Shame on you if you are still using that insecure, buggy, and non-compliant browser.  Microsoft doesn't even want you to use that browser...and yet you're still stuck in the stone ages.  I have a theory that IE6 is symbolic of the problems of complacency at Microsoft and those companies/users that are still on that browser.  IE8 arriving on a modern Windows desktop near you and you're still on IE6?  Give me a break!

Drupal on a Budget II

I have never had good luck hosting my Drupal sites on shared hosting plans.  My last venture into budget hosting was a disaster with the hosting company locking me out of my own account due to too many requests to the remote database.  The truth is that I've only been happy with running my personal Drupal sites on virtual private servers (VPS).  However, I'm having a difficult time justifying my yearly costs of using a VPS to host my sites.

Using Wordpress city saves $19,000

This is a really cool story on how local governments can improve their presence on the Internet and save money using open source software.  The City of Albert Lea needed to improve their website but the small Minnesota city was facing project costs of $10,000 to $30,000.  In walks Wordpress being utilized as a full content management system.  As reported by the Albert Lea Tribune:

Some cities pay a consultant $10,000, $20,000, even $50,000 for a Web-based content-management site that looks professional and is consistent through and through. Fairbault is one instance.

Albert Lea, however, paid $720 to local resident Jeshua Erickson last December, she said. Kauffmann was in charge of the site’s revision, and last October she put together a committee of city
officials to advise her.

She said the committee decided to shoot for a site using a content management system — or CMS — but it was outside of her Internet skills. The city began seeking estimates from Web design companies. When the estimates returned, they realized the city couldn’t afford it.

“We just didn’t feel we could justify spending $20,000-plus on a Web site,” Kauffmann said. “I happened to run into Jeshua Erickson on the Pelican Breeze one day, and we talked about Web sites and how he was developing them using WordPress.”

I'll have to say that even though Wordpress is open source and "free", this city got a steal with getting a website for under $1000.  While Albert Lea is a small city, developing government sites can become big projects with lots of complications.  Either the city was kind to the developer and his hours or he felt some civil duty to give the city's taxpayers a good deal.  An example of this developer doing such a good job, Albert Lea's website is currently running Wordpress 2.7 which is the latest available version of Wordpress.  Very well done Mr. Erickson.

Wordpress remains top blog platform

Royal Pingdom completed a survey looking at the top blog platforms of the top 100 blogs.  This survey mirrors other studies that I've read showing that Wordpress is king of the blog platform.

We found that Wordpress is the most-used platform among self-hosted blogs, which perhaps isn’t a huge surprise. It has more than twice as many blogs in the top 100 as Movable Type, the blog platform that came in second place.

What should I do with osCommerce?

Not long ago, I expressed doubts whether osCommerce has a future.  While osCommerce is widely used by thousands of sites, and incidentally the only shopping cart I've ever put into production, its development cycle has been painfully slow for many of its open source contributors and users.  As I've said before, when the 3.0 version of osCommerce is released I find it unlikely that the new osCommerce will have many of the Web 2.0 features that the new breed of