Friday, May 21, 2010

Communication Nation: What's the best tool for communication?

Communication Nation: What's the best tool for communication?

If I had my druthers, there'd only be one answer for all of these conundrums - Mu. Refer to my blog post about omnicasting, which is a part of mu, and then also compare with the above illustration. All of the forms above can basically be mapped to the omnicube, and mu should be designed to handle (if not replace completely) all of them.
Email - asynch, unicast (or multicast if cc:)
Commercial groupware - asynch, multicast
Wiki - a document, which is a 'conversation piece' nominal form in a muspace
E-learning tool - video is just a plugin to mu, one of many forms of media, and synch/asynch inherent, so elearning tools are unneccesary
Weblog - in the VoxBox metaphor, any output by a person is reachable via their presence icon in a muchat interface, be it blog, tweet, IM, etc.
IM - merely a synchronized unicast
Commerical desktop video - video enabled muspace chat 'room'
audio teleconference - merely a muspace with no video media. Mu is multimedia, so its not necessary to differentiate between audio and video teleconferences
Discussion forum - Usenet, forums, groups and threaded comments are all just versions of multiuser spaces but they happen to be totally asynch. Mu can handle asynch with the VoxBox metaphor.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Amplify and Four Views

Eric Goldstein recently revealed new features being added at and I referenced the Room with Four Views in regards to the various conversation streams that could be possibly viewed. I tried to write a full description but it was too stream of consciousness and really needed a graphic, so here it is:

Posts (blue) are just the posts themselves, sans displayed comments (a spring, to extend the "stream" metaphor). The stream and/or a profile is posts+comments (blue-grey), while comments (grey) are the bridges between the four quandrants, "leaks" so to speak in the streams. I guess what I've nicknamed the "Amplifile" would be a torrent, or a rapid. ;-)

I struggled on the placement of "Featured Ampsters (Posters)" and decided that while it ontologically fits on the Global quadrant (lower right) it made sense to put it in the center, the focal point.

So it's clear, the quadrants are:

1) Private view (upper left) - My posts
2) Empathetic view (upper right) - Another's posts
3) Peer view (lower right) - Others' posts (includes your own)
4) Global view (lower left) - All posts

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Subjective, Objective and Internet Technology

I've reprinted the section of the table that deals with Internet technology from the post Mental Functions Table.  Here you'll see how the basic structure of the Internet can be seen to metaphorically mirror Jung's model of human psychology, particularly in his first and most basic concept of Introversion (Subjective) and Extraversion (Objective).  Some of the technologies past and present can easily be mapped (I'd welcome suggestions of others).

Extraverted (E) Introverted (I)
expend energyconserve energy
talk to thinkthink to talk

Server (e)
Client (i)
server computinggrid computing
IM (Y!, AIM, XMPP)Solipsis

A robust social networking system would incorporate both side of the I/E dichotomy, and offer granularity in between.  There are purposes for both types of networking, as I'll explain over time.

It seems the original model of the Internet has been lost with the commercialization of it, and developing robust personal servers has fallen by the wayside.  It's time to return to the basics:  develop simple and secure server technology, develop sophisticated interfaces for the common user, distribute the software to each data server instead of relying on the cloud.

The cloud is a bug, not a feature.  Remember that.  It's important.

AllPeers BitTorrent Plugin Preview For TechCrunch Readers

AllPeers BitTorrent Plugin Preview For TechCrunch Readers

This sounds similar to what I propose for sharing all content in a subjective space with others in the objective space. In a multiuser environment, all objects are shared via bittorrent. In fact, Id propose that all objects have a metadata (tag) layer, and an internal bittorrent layer. essentially, turning every jpeg into an xpeg, every doc into an xdoc.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Google doesn't need to hire a Head of Social, it needs to *be* social.

I was recently alerted by Chris Parandian at Amplify via GigaOM that "Google says it’s willing to accept its shortcomings on the social web and bring in a “Head of Social” to set it on the right course."

Umm... What Google needs to realize is that having a director-level position to provide leadership and focus for a marketing strategy isn't their problem. Their problem is that they're a bunch of geeks who couldn't cocktail party their way out of a recyclable plastic bag.

Harsh? Yes. But since they're anti-social Vulcan geeks, they don't have any feelings to hurt, right?

And that's the problem.

Now let's talk about it in non-invective terms (despite the fact that it's so much fun).

In Jungian terms, Google is a highly self-selected Paradise of iNtuitive Thinkers (xNTx in MBTI code). Admittedly structured more like a engineering graduate student research program than a real company, everything iNtuitive and Thinking is rewarded, and seemingly anything Sensing or Feeling is either "taken care of" for the staff, or just neglected. Their bodily needs are taken care of (food, fitness and relaxation) and everything Feeling oriented (Orkut, FriendConnect, iGoogle, Buzz and Wave - i.e., their social brands) has been an abject failure.

It's typical for a company to not realize their neglect of the Feeling function - the business world to date doesn't reward the Feeling side of their employees- except when they finally get around to using it amateurishly at attempts at creating "corporate culture" which usually amounts to overt and exaggerated uses of Extraverted Feeling (lots of "shoulds" and neo-pollitically correct terminologies and "team building").

Group-think is another common plague of companies, especially companies with strong competencies in a particular field, or a field that naturally attracts certain Typological structures (accounting firms attract and are dominated by STJs for example). What happens Typologically with group-think is that the predominate Type gets continuously reinforced, like a perpetual motion feedback loop, to the point of exaggeration and caricature, and attempts at anything outside of that Type is amateurish and even sometimes petulant (especially when someone points out how poorly they're doing it). People who don't prefer those functions are either forced out for not lock-stepping it with the rest of them, or leave on their own accord because it's such an unrewarding atmosphere.

I've frequently described geek culture and especially Google as a group of self-reinforcing NTs that result in a sort of collective Asperger's Syndrome - all Thinking and a complete lack (to the point of outright denial) of Feeling.

Google doesn't need a Director of Social - it needs therapy. It needs to collectively get in touch with their Feeling side across the whole company. Despite the fact that the strength of Google is their deep NT research model and highly scientific algorithms, everything they do touches People, especially Search. Right now they have the power to turn on a dime and basically control the World, and that's a very high moral perch to be on - and morality falls into the realm of Feeling, not Thinking.

Google has an office here in Pittsburgh (because of Pitt and CMU), and it's expanding to over 150 employees right now. So there's been a lot of job posting by Google lately. Lots of my friends and family have been encouraging me to apply there, and for a while I was considering it. Then I looked at their job postings. Every single one of them fell into two categories 1) geeky research or programming and 2) project management - not a single one of them had anything that would attract someone who prefers Feeling. Now they may have posted a few lately that I haven't seen, but I gave up looking a while ago. If the company is *that* dominated by NT types, I doubt it has the atmosphere that I'd find attractive in the first place, let alone a specific job.

From unannounced iGoogle format changes on a select few Beta testers by force (I'm one of them and haven't used it since), to a gotcha! inclusion of Buzz in their Gmail interface (with Facebook-like public-by-default settings), it's obvious that Googlers just don't have a clue how to respect the needs and space and values of their users. That isn't a "Social Web 2.0" strategy problem. It's a corporate culture problem. And corporate culture comes from the collective Typology of its members. Hiring (and creating a department of ) Persons Who Prefer Feeling is just going to create a situation where "if you want to do Feeling stuff, you need to go work in that department - we don't do that in this wing of the office" attitude.

Now it's difficult to attack a collective problem by applying therapeutic techniques to the individual members. After all, it goes against the grain of Typology to try to force someone to be a Type that they aren't, and it's very difficult to effectively work on every staff member's individual development to strengthen their non-preferred functions (nor is it really the place of a company to do so). The role of the company infrastructure is to 1) make aware to its members of their individual strengths and therefore, weaknesses and 2) provide an infrastructure for them to do it on their own.

One strategy that they can implement, however, is active recruitment of more Feeling Types in every department (but NOT through psychometric testing of interviewees - that's an unethical application of the MBTI). Another is to make sure they look at all of their products through the lens of Feeling. Will implementing this new feature violate our users sense of self, of identity, of morals, of privacy? Does it add true social value, and does Feature A *need* social value in the first place, or will it just get in the way? Does it let the person opt-in and exercize a modicum of free will? Do we have the staff (in touch with their feeling side) to support (with feeling) the new users we hope to attract? Is this "social" feature actually how people in the real world with social skills actually interact? Does it enhance those skills if it doesn't do it itself?

It seems that Google has never used this strategy to date - Orkut failed once they bought it. iGoogle actually pissed people off (as well as Buzz). Wave is an excellent idea, but they forgot to integrate it with Buzz, and the interface sucks. Google Friend Connect is stupid, Blogger support sucks (and lags waaaaay behind WordPress and LiveJournal), Delicious stomps Google Notebook's ass, Reader is unuseable, and Google's version of customer service is to provide a Usenet knock-off discussion group to let the users stumble around in the dark together playing Marco Polo. Their only social success so far has been YouTube, and they didn't even invent it - they BOUGHT it, and the success of YouTube has NOT been through any social networking features of the site - it's been through links in emails, IMs and Facebook to your friends and family members and crowding around your co-workers grey cubicle at work while the boss is at lunch.

Basically anything that requires empathy, sympathy, morality, individuality, aesthetics or community, i.e. Introverted or Extraverted Feeling, Google has failed miserably at (with one glaring exception - the variant Google logos - which seems to be evidence of that "go to this department if you want to do Feeling stuff" syndrome - and it used to be all done by ONE guy!). By attempting to solve the problem by hiring a "Head of Social" they're doing the equivalent of finding a mail-order trophy bride to their cooking and cleaning, clothes shopping and party hosting, instead of taking a shower, buying a new wardrobe that fits (and wearing it!) and learning some social niceties that everybody else doesn't have a problem doing on their own naturally.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

excerpt from a discussion about reputation points

I was recently "quoted" on another person's blog. I think it's a first for me. In a blog post about reputations, Gia Lyons referenced some of my points in a discussion on the Jive community forums. I've excerpted my posts from the discussion if you feel like skipping the larger debate. Thanks Gia, my first honor ;-)

From a discussion on this link, my posts:

First Post:
My background is with Jungian psychology for definitions of my terminology, so please bear with me if its new to you.

When trying to design a reputation system, its important to recognize that it's ultimately derived from one's subjective opinion, despite the fact that it has objective pieces and parts. Context is also important.

Objective in Jungian terms means "shared and compromised" to summarize a complicated concept. Subjective means unique and personal. Ultimately the things that I think matter in terms of a person's reputation are going to be different than yours, but ultimately I probably will, in some manner, "poll" people who also know the shared/objective third person, and ask others in shared objective terms, such as "politeness," helpfulness," "participatory-ness," or some other tag or label.

So when we create a measurement, such as "was Joe Schmoe's answer helpful" we're creating a shared, objective measurement. That doesn't speak to Joe Schmoe's tendency to answer questions in the most derisive and patronizing manner possible (and from my personal experience, when dealing with OpenSource forum support systems, that's usually how it happens!).

Now Don Doozer also tends to be neck and neck with Joe Schmoe with the helpfulness of his answers, and he's a lot nicer. It turns out he's an IT guy for a non-profit organization that deals with quite a few computer illiterate people, so there's a background to why. There's nothing in the rating system to give him "nice" points, because I'm depending on a third party (a shared objective intermediary) to create a "niceness" meter.

Now I could create my own niceness meter label to apply to people, but it only contains my ratings, and doesn't benefit from wisdom of other people's opinions of Don's, and thus far, there's no way for me to share it. Now a system could allow for me to publish (share objectively) my subjective metering system, but that's not always desirable (particularly since I don't want Joe to know that I think he isn't nice). One is entitled one's opinion, but you're also entitled to keep it to yourself; and I'm sure we wish more people would exercize that second entitlement sometimes!

But let's say I have a peer group of people with whom I'd like to share my niceness meter, and whose opinions of niceness I hold in high regard. I decide I'd like to incorporate their opinions as well. But I'd like to keep my opinion as the primary meter, and only let their collective opinion "tweak" the result.

But there's a person in my peer group who I know is a poor judge of character, and actually thinks people who are rude are actually being mercifully nice. I'm not a fan of his opinion, despite the fact that he's a great peer in the current context. What's actually happening is that we don't objectively share the definition of "niceness." Do I have the ability to tweak the formula to incorporate my (low) opinion of his (inappropriate) opinion?

But wait, let's say there's a meter that I haven't considered (timeliness of response, for example) that others have considered. Is there a way to "suggest" that meter, or subconsciously incorporate it?

It turns out that if I incorporate that last meter, some dark horse candidate comes around the bend and ends up winning the Kentucky Derby, and that this dark horse happens to have an extremely high reputation in the opinion of both Don and Joe!

This is getting pretty complicated isn't it? Well, so are reputations.

Ultimately, any reputation system that depends on "global" objective/communal/shared systems is going to be gamed and ultimately fail in the relevance game. Once you know the rules, its easy to break them. But its impossible to game a system when it isn't known by the gamer, because that system is private, subjective and personal.

Reputations algorithms are ultimately subjective and therefore any attempt to quantify them must be customizable by the person depending on their results. In order to be customizable, they must be transparent. In order to be useful, they must be understandable by the end user who may not understand algebraic equations.

Reputation is going to be one of many Next Big Things in the next generation of Social Software, and unless it takes context, subjective and objective concepts into account, it will boil down to devolved popularity contests.

Second Post

My first attempt at a reply was lost to the ether, but I think my "keep me logged in" check box should stick this time.

Your kudos and concerns about recommendations are both spot-on. For example, I've been stuck at 90% on my LinkedIn profile because I lack two more recommendations. Now I actually have an issue with that, because it's not my fault - it isn't my responsibility to have a recommendation; the onus is on others to recommend me, not for me to solicit recommendations. I hate grovelling, brown-nosing and otherwise acting as a salesman. For me, the incentive (for the goal of 100%) should be the other way around - recommend 3 others.

It may seem silly to use a Likert scale numeric metric for a recommendation, but it does have some value. If it's one of a few (or several) metrics used in the final rep algorithm, you'll be able to tweak its influence in the final "score" (presuming you have a way to view the 'rithm transparently and can change it). How you tweak that Likert score can be influenced by the commentary that accompanies it.

It's pretty easy to give someone a "high five" when you're enthusiatically entranced by them, but if you're being overly gushy in your commentary (in someone else's opinion), that enthusiasm can be tempered by one's opinion of their opinion.

Let's presume it's a +10/-10 scale with commentary (I prefer 10 point scales over 5, because it allows for more nuance). The final outcome of the score would be affected by

1) my (subjective) relationship "score" (if any) with the recommender.
2) my (subjective) relationship "score" (if any) with the recommendee
3) my (subjective) opinion of the recommendation based on the commentary
4) the (objectively) collected (subjective) opinions of the recommendation
5) pick a metric, any metric.
6) and for their final rep score, how much recommendations factor into the final number

and of course we could go on ad infinitum with other factors, and none are really necessary. Having both a number and commentary provides for both subjective (free-form space to gush) and objective (a shared standard of measurement) factors.

Privacy about recommendations is important as well. There's not much incentive for me to give a negative recommendation if my name is attached - I don't necessarily think I need to own up to my comments, if my aims are altruistic and I'm trying to give constructive criticism. But privacy also allows for libelous commentary. Private recommendations could be allowed with a moderator/broker approval, if keeping things civil is an important aim, and you can even allow for hand-picked brokers/moderators. You could always subjectively "turn off" anonymous commentary but still allow for it.

Again, this is getting exponentially complicated, because it is. Ultimately a remote web-hosted SAAS platform (an objective/shared space) can't handle it, because it's infinitely subjective and requires (IMHO) a directly accessable desktop application. A peer-to-peer (or persona-to-persona) system is ultimately the only way to handle it. That's not a reason for SAAS companies to become despondent however. They can assist in many ways, by enabling the basic metrics and standards, by (objectively) "aggregrating" metrics on my behalf, by storing or processing via HAAS'n'SAAS. I think the best thing that SAAS companies can do is contribute to OpenSource initiatives that enable end-users to view and tweak rep systems, and make their own inhouse rep systems compatible with others and accessable via APIs. Short-sighted companies will fight this, but they'll ultimately lose.

Some of my first thoughts on this topic can be found on this blog post from June of '07.