World Bank 2.0: The BuzzMonitor

I just heard about a new open source application for tracking discussion of specific issues in social media (blogs, tags, podcasts, wikis, etc.) online: The BuzzMonitor. This was developed by the World Bank for their own purposes and then released as an open source application. From the about page:

Like many organizations, we started listening to blogs and other forms of social media by subscribing to a blog search engine RSS feed but quickly understood it was not enough. The World Bank is a global institution and we needed to listen in multiple languages, across multiple plaforms. We needed something that would aggregate all this content, help us make sense of it and allow us to collaborate around it. At the time, no solution (either commercial or open source) met those requirements so we decided to build our own.

We were playing with Drupal, a solid, open-source content and community platform for different pilots. Drupal being so flexible and module oriented, we decided to write the specifications for a “super aggregator” that would help us people understand, follow and collaborate around mentions of the organization online.

I asked Pierre Guillaume, who announced it on the Social Media Measurement Group on Facebook, how they are using it internally at the World Bank. His response:

Thanks David. We are rolling it out to communicators across the bank with a guide on how to use tagging, voting, rss feeds etc…there is, not surprisingly, a bit of a learning curve both in terms of “getting” social media and using the tool but some champions are emerging, embedding findings obtained through the buzzmonitor in their regular comm and web reports, adding relevant bloggers to their contacts etc.. We also feature the most recently voted on items on a page available two clicks down from the intranet home page, for all staff to see.

Sounds like a great tool for raising awareness of how issues important to the Bank are evolving online. I recommend listening to the online conversation as a key activity for any organization and this looks like a great tool for assisting in that. I have downloaded the application and will give it a try this week.

Ah, Modern Yearbook Anxiety

This story in the Washington Post brought back memories of being a yearbook staffer (I was even co-editor in chief my senior year!):

From Facebook To a Yearbook, Teens Get a Jolt – washingtonpost.com

This story is about how the yearbook staff of a high school lifted a bunch of pics posted by students to Facebook without permission. Not smart. They don’t mention a yearbook advisor in the story, but I see it as a failure of the the high school staff to inform and monitor the yearbook students. Looks like they are moving on the ethics education piece, which is good.

What they ought to do next year is create a yearbook group on Facebook and use it to get photos submitted by the students for the yearbook. Leverage the trend, don’t fight it!

Marc Andreeson on Facebook's API

Marc Andreeson, founder of the original Netscape, has posted his thoughts on Facebook’s new API, which has created quite the storm of attention since it launched. This observation is quite interesting:

Analyzing the Facebook Platform, three weeks in

The implication is, in my view, quite clear — the Facebook Platform is primarily for use by either big companies, or venture-backed startups with the funding and capability to handle the slightly insane scale requirements. Individual developers are going to have a very hard time taking advantage of it in useful ways.

In short, creating a Facebook application with the API requires that you provide your own server resources to power the application. Facebook’s super-viral distribution of popular apps leads to crushing load on your web servers in a very short amount of time if you are (un)lucky enough to create a popular application.

The capacity to rapidly scale up server capacity is probably beyond even some large corporation’s ability unless they have specifically prepared themselves to do so. Your web application needs to be designed for scaling up the number of servers as well.

Engaging with Facebook

Rick Klau’s report on the Obama campaign’s Facebook application:

It’s smart for Facebook, because it reinforces their role as facilitator of the community… no doubt many people already go to My Barack Obama, but there’s a non-trivial number of people who want to hang out on Facebook and show their friends what matters to them. (Keep in mind, these people are not all college students, not by a long shot.) By embracing this, the campaign ensures that they’re where their supporters want to be, and aren’t forcing them to come to the campaign’s website in order to engage with the campaign.

If you have an interest in social networking applications, you should read the rest of the post from Rick. I think it is a good example of how to engage in an existing community in a somewhat structured way. Much better effort than the hash they made of their campaign effort in MySpace.