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web 2.0 for development


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the social network

I just saw “The social network“, the movie about the rise of facebook.

the social network

I found very interesting seeing how Mark Zuckerberg put together the pieces of his creature. Two main ingredients were at the basis: his deep consciousness of what his creature should be AND an ear always open to listen to what people have in mind.

Mark says: “We are talking about taking the entire social experience of the college and put it online.

Mark had the ability to perceive that “the social experience of the college” can be so fascinated and attracting for people AND the capacity to read the Web and to put online such an experience.

If and when you are really able to have such a clear line in your mind and simultaneously take in consideration the needs of your users then, I think, you reached the “secret” for your success.


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Session on microblogging

Luca explaining twitter at the boardLast week we had an introductory session about what micro-blogging is. Most of the attention was dedicated to twitter but there was also time to explain yammer and laconica.

Many different twitterers were in the room like @gaurisalokhe, @mongkolroek, @TheRoadTo and @mariagraziab, with also other friend connected.

Many questions came from the audience. The most representative of the doubts in the room was:  “twitter, like other tools, resembles in many aspects email, so why do we have to move away from email?”

Here are the points and the problems to bypass:

  • people are overloaded by communication flows, and
  • they do not immediately perceive implicit differences among tools.

Unless they have the chance to test these tools for some time, they won’t be able to familiarize with the differences and realize how their job could benefit. Testing needs willingness, time and desire and these issues are not always “available” in professionals. As a consequence, my feeling is that if we want people to modify their behavior, they must be in the position of  immediately identifying the benefits deriving from changing their habits. If we don’t look at the questions people have in mind everyday and we are just fascinated by technology, we loose the focus and our ideas risk to become sterile.

I think we have to go back to these “simple” questions and try to solve these very basic but fundamental problems if we really want to promote KM, innovation and communication in our job.


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Define your target group and its needs

Starting a new online community is a hard job. Before doing anything else, I always suggest to ACCESS your TARGET AUDIENCE. Spend your time on this exercise because it is very, very important. This is one of the key to avoid further problems. It is the prerequisite to analyze the needs of your future users and find the best way to address them. If you want more suggestions about it do Lesson 2.1 of the IMARK e-learning module on Building online communities.

After that, it is much easier to verify the NEEDS of the group. If you know what kind of people you want to address then you can discover their needs. And this is the best way to create a useful service and a long life community.

We have to start from people’s practice, from their habits, from watching what is going on among potential members. We have to discover who they really are and what they need. In this way, it is easier to understand what kind of use they do of a network and understand the key of success.

Then, we can think about consolidating the system and make it grow. Not before. Relationships among users have to be real and well established before thinking about enlarging the volume and the possibilities of a network. The chart describe this process:

Correct approach

On the contrary, most of the people willing to create a new network are focused on the idea itself. Their will to make it real is so strong that they loose contact with their potential group of users and do not focus on their needs. The focus is on “planning” rather than on the “practice”.

As a consequence the group has very few possibilities to grow and be successful and is likely to be abandoned pretty soon after its creation. The managers spend their time thinking and not watching what’s going on. They tend to be sure that their creature will be accepted by the end users but this is not sure at all. In this case, the risk that the process of consolidation does not take place is very strong. If users are not so fascinated by the new network, they won’t repeat their experience and the new “house” will be empty in a while. Consolidation of the relationships among members won’t take place and the network will fail pretty soon.

Wrong approach

So, the lessons learned are:

  • Observe people and their habits;
  • Assess your group;
  • Assess people’s needs;
  • Spend time on creating relationship among users.


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Learning Log – Week #2: Meaning and value for participants

“How might you communicate with your participants to market your online interaction space? Remember: if you build it, they may not come!

There is the saying that you can build something that is wonderful, but unless others know about it, care about it and want to participate, they won’t come. Just setting up an email list or a web interaction space is not enough to ensure success. We must make sure it has meaning and value to the participants and we have to let them know it is there!”