Trying the IWPhone plugin

A while back I read on Laura Ricci’s blog about the increasing liklihood of first web-site visits being on a mobile device, and the need for a mobile-friendly site. At the time I checked this site on the test page she mentions in her post, and it was pretty ugly. 

I finally decided to do something about it, and am trying a new plugin, the iWPhone plugin, that provides a better view for iPhone users, but I haven’t yet found a reliable plugin for general mobile use. Anyone have any recommendations?

On using wikis & blogs in sales…

My friend Matt Kelly, of Strategy Software, makers of the best CI software on the planet asks:

What are your thoughts on the use of wikis and blogs in the sales force?

My answer:

Authors write. Others read…maybe.

As someone who has used blogs, wikis and other semantic publishing tools both successfully and unsuccessfully I can tell you that the first rule is to never implement a system that relies on someone writing content without first identifying some very enthusiastic writers.

These can be really useful tools. Just don’t rely on an audience to provide the content.

Day One at OnDemand 2007

Arriving in Boston

After a long delay, I arrived at my hotel at about 2am this morning, and was leaving for the OnDemand show by 10:30. I felt pretty good despite the travel and weather, and was really looking forward to it. I was not disappointed.

The Digital Print Podcast

After spending a little time on the show floor, barely enough to get disoriented, I participated in the podcast that Xerox hosted on various issues surrounding digital print. It was a pretty good time, though it was a bit journalist heavy. There weren’t any printers there. Still there was some interesting dialog.

It was less than an hour long â?? a bit short I thought â?? so the answers to Gavin’s questions were kept short. Some major items that shook out were whether or not printers had to become â??solutions providersâ?? who did way more than print in order to survive. Some said yes, others said printers had to concentrate on doing what they did best. I think the truth is that all printers will have to adjust and find new things to be good at, but they won’t all have to be good at everything.

There was also discussion about how pricing tactics among quick printers were very destructive, and they need to learn to price on value (along with learning what value it is they provide) and thus preserve that value. Otherwise they are going to live a life of pricing torment.

There was a lot of other discussion, and you’ll be able t hear the whole thing at In The Balance.

Xerox lays an egg with second life

I was at Xeroxâ??s very swanky get together this evening at Fenway Park. On the quality of the outing as a whole, Xerox gets an â??A’. No cost cutting or schmaltzy efforts to make things seem fancier than they were, and quality goods all around.

But, the press conference was a different story. First Mr. Firestone delivered a pretty typical speech about the blah blah blah about their products. I donâ??t mean to be negative about Xerox here, all speeches of this type are too detailed and lack really grabbing value statements that connect with people. Hence the blah blah blah. Lots of companies do it, usually because they employ people like me who feed them a lot of detailed stuff and they just pass it on to the masses.

The rest of the presentation was in â??second lifeâ??, a virtual world where avatars in a virtual world were purportedly interacting with Xerox equipment. It was actually more like a spoof of a spoof of faculty put on by a bunch of middle school nerds, actually put on by baby boomer nerd wannabes. The characters were not flattering, the script was stilted, and overall the effect was very, very poor.

The consensus between Adam Dewitz, Frank Cost and I was that if theyâ??d hired a few 14 year olds they could have saved a bundle and had a funnier show. Maybe a giant dragon pooping out Kodak logos or something.

On the bus back to the hotel, I ran into a Xerox guy who explained that the point of the presentation was to poke a bit of light-hearted fun, not to be a cutting edge marketing masterstroke. In that it succeeded somewhat, but it still felt like old-media people clumsily using new media.

[UPDATE] I spent some time the next day with Xerox’s PR folks, and learned some interesting stuff.

So tomorrow I have the day to look at the show and learn what’s new.


New Printing Industry Blog

The folks at are bringing us a new service – a blog: They even chose a good platform, WordPress.

In the past I’ve blasted WTT but I think this site was a brilliant thing to do. The print industry needs to embrace new media, and working to bring the CEOs to the table is a great step. Print will not find ways to leverage this technology until they understand it from a user’s perspective. So making more users is a good thing.

A few things they need to consider for the future:

  • You’ve got a list of the contributing authors on the side – how about making those links to the posts by those authors? WordPress will do it.
  • Categories – you’re going to end up wanting them anyway, and they’ll make older content much easier to find than search alone.
  • How about graphs of various industry stats in the sidebar? You can get the software to do it here, you can see how I use it on my run log here.
  • New media = user participation and the formation of a conversation. The really golden value will be in the user comments – how about a recent comments block on a sidebar, or most read comment, most commented post, etc.
  • I know there aren’t many industry blogs out there, but how about a link list?

Thanks for bringing it to us!

The BSU Chapter Two

Des Walsh make a great point in response to my last post about IT departments being “Business Suppression Units.” He suggested that the solution “shouldn’t all be one way.” He’s right.

John Wonders, the guy who runs LinkedinMilwaukee and who’s also a crack IT guy who made the point that often it isn’t IT but upper management that’s the obstacle. Another good point.

Here’s what’s worked for me in getting things set up outside the usual bureaucracy:

  1. Learn what you’re talking about. You probably do already, but before you go charging to IT claiming that it will take only “5 minutes” to install that new blog that will save the department/company/etc, make sure you’re right. You’ll still be wrong, because good IT people will always build things to a higher standard than you or I will, but they’ll know you weren’t too wrong.
  2. Be realistic about your needs. I’ve started several blogs and wikis at QuadTech in the interest of solving various problems, only to discover I’d dramatically over estimated the desire and savvy of my user base. That’s why I just host things on my desktop until the usage justifies more hardware. The goal is to get something started, that can grow and demonstrate, not to build the perfect solution.
  3. Take responsibility for what you’re doing. Don’t be a pest, and don’t expect IT to pour time into supporting your bootstrap project when you could be supporting yourself.
  4. In general try not to be someone who needs a lot from IT. This means not being the person who let the virus in, and not storehousing gigabytes of mp3s on your desktop, and doing anything else to raise their ire.
  5. Be persistent.
  6. Don’t begin until you have a vision of what you want and can communicate it, and the benefits, clearly and concisely.
  7. Work to understand IT’s valid concerns about security and privacy, and take them into account.

A lot of this new technology is scary to people. Heck, the very idea of free open source software is still a mystery to most business people – they can’t understand how it can be sustainable – and that makes it even harder to buy into.

What’s needed are people who have the vision and persistence to help their company leverage these new tools. If you can be one of those people, so much the better.

On the printing industry and blogs…again

In a recent WhatTheyThink column (membership required) Dr. Joe Webb states: “It does amaze me that the printing industry, which is in the
communications business, after all, has not been more aggressive in
taking advantage of this communications tool.”, in regard to the printing industry using blogs. Hat tip to Adam Dewitz.

Joe, where have you been? For ages you’ve been writing about how the printing industry would rather have their head in the sand ahhh…nice, cool, sand! than work harder at defending their own existence through embracing and exploiting new media. Many of us are very happy that you’re writing this stuff because people in the industry respect you and the message is one they need to get. But you have access to your own blog’s logs, and I suspect they show a readership that reflects the true understanding of web publishing in the printing industry: there isn’t any.

The blogosphere seems to be a non-media to the printing industry. The only guys outside of our small circle who ever really showed any awareness were Timo Paakki, formerly of Data Engineering (a competitor of ours), now of Symbicon, a non-printing related company, and Erik Nikkanen, who’s also left the industry. I haven’t posted much here on printing because I get little response from any of it. I’ve mentioned QuadTech’s competitors several times yet none have ever commented or even emailed me. The few times I’ve asked the odd customer what blogs they read, the answer, universally, is “what’s a blog?” I had been trumpeting for QuadTech to create a blog but in order for it be worthwhile there has to be someone interested in reading it. I suspect your logs are fatter than mine, but mine show that printing-related content is at the bottom of the readership pile.

I think it’s easiest and most fun to poke fun at everyone and imply they’re a bit daft for not catching on to the obvious value that blogs bring (at least to us bloggers 8-). I think it’s harder and less fun to perhaps accept that there’s not much for them to find in blogs. Maybe everyone’s just busy, successful, and innovative enough without that input.

Until people see others getting some kind of value out of blogging, why would they bother?

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Will we have Chief Networking Officers?

Octavio Pitaluga is one of the folks on Yahoo Groups’ MyLinkedinPowerForum that is a bit of a mainstay. He’s an active networker, and written about the CNO – Chief Networking Officer – position. Recently he posted on an interview with Selma Prodanovic of brainswork™ on her position as CNO.

I think it’s very interesting, but I’m not sure larger companies will buy into the role. After all, Selma’s position is at a company that she started herself. Still it’s interesting and as an alternative I can see the value being split into other roles:

1. As part of an Internet Expert role – someone who’s helping the company manage it’s internet presence. This would traditionally be done by PR firms, but web 2.0 brings many things, like social networking sites and blogs, that involve personal employee involvement.  The problem with traditional PR/branding mentalities is they are used to having control that you lose on the web. A dictatorial approach here will backfire.  It’s in the company’s best interest to pursue involvement in networking sites because even though they may be other’s property, they can still impact the company.  The smart course is to put guidelines in place and encourage the kind of activity that helps both the employee and the company. The not quite as smart course is to ignore it until some sap causes a problem, and then fire him. I see the Internet Expert being the one who trains employees on how to get connected, and how to get the most of out of these systems for both the company’s and their own benefit.

2. As a new breed of resource whom I’ll refer to as The Connected One. That is, the person who’s got the responsibility for finding the help needed when it’s outside of HR’s baliwik. TCO is the person you go to when you need info or help, and you have no idea where to get it. Every company has one or more of these people, but social networking sites will comoditize and quantify this value and make it more accessible to others.  I believe that possession of a large network will become a documentable (i.e. on a resume) asset. However, I don’t think this value requires a position unto itself.

Regardless, social networking sites add an undeniable value. The quantity of that value and the nature of its use is still changing, but I believe that these systems will soon see every day use in the business world.