Some years ago, I announced to anyone who would listen that knowledge management would be the next big adjacent territory for communication management/PR to occupy.  I said that, if we didn’t do so, I.T. professionals would take our place.  Well, open-source applications have all but overwhelmed my prophecy.  Now, any simple-minded computer user can manage knowledge with far less dependence on programmers.

In this context it’s interesting to talk to colleagues about Yammer and other “enterprise social networks”

The idea of these applications is to provide a secure network within which employees can collaborate efficiently and share knowledge without a whole lot of meetings (It is in-effect a knowledge management system).

Like Facebook and Twitter, Yammer offers profiles, messaging, microblogging, links, images and groups.  It was mentioned by a speaker at a small seminar I attended before Christmas.  Alongside Yammer was Jive – an application that connects the external community with the internal one to allow employees to act on information published on the external site. 

One of Jive’s features is that it can help monitor conversations about your organization a bit like MindTouch, which has traditionally been a tool for developers to produce intranets, extranets, and knowledge bases.

The other application talked about at the Internal Communicators Network seminar I attended in Wellington was Basecamp, so I had a look at it online .

Basecamp is a project management programme in the same genre as MS Project.  It is set up with more functionality and a focus on communication and collaboration within and between workplace teams.  It offers check-lists, wiki-style documents, milestone management, file sharing, time tracking, and a messaging system.  The main thing about it is that it is interactive and web-based, taking it into the realm of social media.

Like most similar applications, it is text-based but available in variety of iPhone and mobile apps with high visual potential for peer-to-peer viewing.

This may be a great strength in the “text-shallow” future of Web 3.0, where sound and images will communicate and colleagues will speak to each other instead of writing messages.

Communication managers and line managers might need to change any project or knowledge management set-up quickly if The Futurist (Nov-Dec 2010) is correct.  In that issue, John Smart noted that Web 3.0, comprising TV-quality peer-to-peer video delivered on the Web will transform content sharing by including features of social media such as many-to-many and chat-while-viewing.   These changes will change the way in which collaborative workplace projects and talked about and managed.

Get ready to wiki while you work!

Posted by Joseph Peart

 A behaviour linked to the rapid growth of social media is the direct sharing of copyright material, especially music and movies.

Some people think “peer-to-peer” is intellectual jargon for copyright theft.  Certainly Time magazine (December 6, 2010) suggests this is its view by its headline, “The men who stole the World”. 

TheTime article began its historic notes with the year 1997, when Justin Frankel wrote the free MP3 player Winamp.  The story continued in1999 with Napster, written by Shawn Fanning, plus a programme, written by Jon Johansen and two others, that decrypts commercial DVDs for copying.  All three men were in their late teens.

File sharing on the Internet was boosted further by Bram Cohen in 2001 when he released his file sharing application BitTorrent, which facilitates the distribution of large files.  BitTorrent is still favoured today for large packages of data.

Napster has been superseded by iTunes, but it still exists, while WinAmp was bought by AOL.  We all know that now the very-simple-to-use iTunes is currently winning the popularity contest with MP3 users, and Time magazine deduces from this that the best way to compete with being free is by being easy. 

Most intriguing is the determination of those youthful Internet pioneers to remain outside the big companies.  Johansen, for instance is in his own company doubleTwist, producing software which can interpret and organise files from hundreds of files and combine them on a single interface.  Time reports that, in June 2010, doubleTwist introduced an Android app and around half a million people have downloaded it.

It is interesting that Fortune is equally fascinated by Internet entrepreneurs, but in its December 6, 2010 issue this was more about the success of Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, whom it named number one business person of the year.

It did so because, during 2010, Hastings cannibalised his own $2 billion-in-sales DVD-by-mail business and streamed television and movies to customers over the Internet.  This was so successful that the company’s shares have risen 200%.

It was also easy, as in the United States video can be delivered within 30 seconds over a high-speed connection.  It is not stored on a subscriber’s hard drive, but viewed immediately on a range of devices, including video game screens.

Again, Hastings’ answer to what the music industry and Hollywood call piracy, is to make it so easy for people to pay and view movies that they don’t flout copyright.  And, while iTunes has provided a similar solution for music, other positive results of file-sharing have been that musicians are staging more live performances to make money, and independent musicians are able to compete with “pop music factories”.  Indeed, some say peer-to-peer sharing no different from lending a friend a book and that it has helped support better music.

Finally, despite its headline and use of terms such as “piracy”, the Time article concludes: “The pirates never wanted music and movies and all the rest of it to be free – at least, not in the financial sense.  They wanted it to be free as in freedom”.

Posted by Joseph Peart