From Storage to Collaboration
We've written before about the growth of various Web-based services that serve as alternatives to desktop software, with offerings such as Google Docs, Fax.com and Box.net. This is a quick
follow up on the latter, which has added features for "simple and powerful" collaboration to its original role as a free file cabinet. You can now invite collaborators at the folder level, and
give them editing rights to your files. There are tools to support editing and saving to box.net, without a separate download and upload step. And there are new email options, so your collaborators will
be notified automatically if things change.
It's not all that innovative or powerful, but it’s very fast, very intuitive and as we've already mentioned, free. If you're working on some kind of virtual project team, this level of collaboration may
very well be all you need. In our experience, the more complex the tool, the harder it is to get buy-in. The interface here is simple enough to get started with only minutes of effort, so you can focus
your attention on the work of collaboration. Coming together on the ideas is the real challenge, and with this level of support, the technology won't get in your way.
In the early days of Knowledge Management, we spent a fair amount of time talking about the basics. Perhaps
the most basic question of all was about what we were supposed to be managing. What is "Knowledge," actually? What separates it from Information? If you accumulate enough Knowledge, do you
automatically gain Wisdom? Wherever you stand on these weighty issues, you'd probably agree that KM is at some point about ideas. It's about recognizing ideas and transferring them from person to person,
in ways that add value. Some ideas are worth spreading, others are not.
And that brings us to TED, an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design as well as a brand under which the nonprofit Sapling Foundation sponsors a conference, a website and an annual prize. Its
goal is to foster the spread of ideas, and TED's tag-line is "ideas worth spreading."
At the TED website, you can watch some of the world's most fascinating people talk about what they know. There are scientists, politicians, writers and
musicians here. Folks like Stephen Hawking, Al Gore, Malcolm Gladwell and Peter Gabriel. Very interesting folks, and very interesting subjects. Plus, you can subscribe to the talks with RSS. There are
over 200 already posted, and more coming all the time. Last month, we much enjoyed one recommended by Garr Reynolds. It's this talk by neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, who explains how her own stroke gave her new insights into how the mind works.
It's been said that the quality of your inner life is a function of the books you read and the people you spend time with. Spend some time here.
The Highest Form of Flattery
There are some who feel PowerPoint has done more harm than good when it comes to improving
the quality of human communication. Like it or not, though, PowerPoint-style presentations are here to stay. They're an inescapable corporate short-hand, occupying a space somewhere between a casual
email and a formal report. Unfortunately, they're eating away at the kind of content that once was the realm of the thoughtful white paper, and in that respect, they probably are guilty of dumbing down
You can improve your own PowerPoint skills by reading one of the many books on the subject, or subscribing to the blogs of presentation experts. You can also improve your chops by looking at other peoples' presentations, and that's easy to do at SlideShare.net. It's sort of a swap meet for presentations on many topics, where you can look at what other folks are doing, share your own materials
and download files for reference. Note that the downloads are PDFs, not PPT files. You can imitate, but it's not intended to be a source of PowerPoint building blocks. (Speaking of PowerPoint, you might
like this one, entitled "Death by PowerPoint.")
There are also a number of special interest groups, including one for Knowledge Management. You can easily create a group of your own, too. It's a nice resource, and thanks to Al Simard for pointing it out to Stan Garfield's SIKM Group.
Despite a broad sense that we don't have as much free time as we'd like, the Web has an almost infinite
capacity for spawning new ways to take time away from us. One of the newest is a "prediction platform" from Predictify, Inc.
idea is based on the observation that groups (whether of experts or of non-experts) make more accurate predictions than individuals. Predictify offers two user modes: you can ask a question, or suggest an answer. Premium questioners are expected to pay for the results, at $1.00 a response, up to a maximum of $10,000 (or less, if they prefer to set a lower cap). This money goes into a pot for each question; registered "Predictors" who submit answers can win a share of the pot, based on the accuracy of their predictions. By doing so, they increase their reputations on the site, with bonuses awarded to those at the high end of the reputation scale.
a social networking component, too. For the Predictors, it's about enjoying the research, discussion and fun of making predictions. For Advertisers and Market Researchers, it's a way to better understand
the opinions of the crowd. There are only two Premium Questions open as of this writing, and both relate to the upcoming Democratic primary in Pennsylvania. So it may not offer much in the way of
financial incentives, but it's still kind of a neat idea.
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