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.

A Couple Conference Opportunities for June

There are two conferences I’ll be attending in DC in June that I wanted to let you know about. They happen to overlap but are in the same building, so you could hit them both if you wanted.

First, Jeff De Cagna is spearheading a social media unconference for association executives on June 5, 2007 at ASAE & the Center’s meeting space in the Reagan Building. The event is free and will be driven by the attendees. Simply add your name to the registration list on the web site if you wish to attend. I’m very excited this event is happening and I encourage you to attend if you are passionate about social media and/or want to learn more about it.

The second event is the Gilbane Washington DC conference on June 5-6, 2007, also at the Reagan Building. This conference focuses on content management technologies for government and non-profit organizations. Content is tracked, so there should be something for everyone. I will be facilitating a panel on integrating association and content management systems and processes. This event is not free but you can get a $100 discount by entering my last name as a promotional code when you register.

I hope to see you at one or both events!

The Only Interesting Use of Twitter I Have Seen

Adrian Bye went to Cuba and twittered from within the revolution. He is back home now but it was fascinating to read his miniature travelogue while he explored the island. Adrian couldn’t receive calls or texts while he was in Cuba, so he had no idea how many people might be reading his twitter posts.

Adrian is now posting several long entries in his blog about his experience in Cuba. Definitely worth checking out to hear his first hand account of what life in Cuba is like today.

Notcasting: What Not to Do on Your Podcast

Paul Bissex has posted a great list of things not to do on your podcast:

  • I Must Apologize for the Terrible Sound Quality of the Last Podcast
  • I Must Apologize for the Terrible Sound Quality of the Present Podcast
  • I Must Apologize for Not Making a Podcast in Several Days/Weeks/Months
  • Thank You for All Your Emails Telling Me What I’m Doing Wrong
  • I Need to Speak Very Quietly, My (Mom|Dad|Girlfriend|Ferret) is Sleeping
  • There Is a Very Exciting Thing Coming at the End of This Podcast But I Won’t Tell You What It Is
  • We Only Have One Microphone for the Three of Us
  • We Are Laughing About This Thing, Ha Ha, You Kind of Had to Be There
  • I Had Big Plans for This Episode But They Just Didn’t Work Out
  • Please Listen to My Next Podcast, It Will Be Better Than This One I Promise

No one cares about any of that! Just do your best and be interesting. This is important because it is functionally impossible to skim a podcast as you can with text.

Third Party Comments

I’ve talked to many people at organizations where they are interested in blogging but are concerned about liability from comments posted by third parties. Here is a bit of good news on that front: Court says blogs can’t be sued for postings –

Bloggers and website owners cannot be sued for posting libelous or defamatory comments written by third parties, the California Supreme Court has ruled. The court said only the original authors of comments published online can be sued.Legal analysts say the 34-page decision, issued Monday, is significant because it brings California in line with other court rulings across the nation that have upheld the 1996 federal Communications Decency Act, which protects website owners from legal liability in libel or defamation lawsuits.

“Bloggers and website owners can all breathe a very big sigh of relief,” says Gregory Herbert, an Orlando lawyer who specializes in First Amendment issues. “This decision adds more uniformity to the law and reduces the risk for liability for even individuals who are posting things onto website message boards and chat rooms.”

Associations are often concerned about anti-trust issues as well. I’m not a lawyer and do not know if this ruling would cover that kind of activity as well but it is at least a step in the right direction.

Spotted over on Gadgetopia.

Quoted in the New York Times: Blogging the Hand That Feeds You

Last week was media week for High Context Consulting! I was quoted last Wednesday in an article on blogging about work in the Times Circuits section: Blogging the Hand That Feeds You by Matt Villano.

Here is my bit from the end of the piece.

If it were up to corporate lawyers, the business world’s fascination with blogs would be short-lived. Daniel M. Klein, a partner at the Atlanta law firm Buckley & Klein, said that the “safest way to blog about work is not to do it,â€? adding that it’s “just a matter of timeâ€? before some of the biggest companies that endorse blogging lay off employees for going too far.

Others are less skeptical. C. David Gammel, the president of High Context Consulting, a Web strategy consulting firm in Silver Spring, Md., said that employee blogs were worth encouraging, as long as companies devised individual policies about blogging and incorporated them into the employee handbook.

“Human resources departments should simply add blogging to the list of activities in which employees should be careful about how they represent the company,â€? he said.

Blogs for Project Management in PM Network

I was interviewed a while back for an article in PM Network magazine about using blogs and wikis for project management. The article is out in the August issue and you can read a PDF version of it on their web site. The magazine goes out to the Project Management Institute‘s 200,000 members located in 125 countries around the world.

Customizing for New Members

Michelle Frisque is thinking and writing about how to reinvent the American Library Association as part of a pilot course about inventing Library 2.0. Every association should be so lucky as to have members like Michelle, Michael, Jenny and others who are dedicated to their profession and will blog about how the association could best serve them and their peers.

Michelle also mentioned one of my articles in another post, which made my day!

Michelle recently wrote about how the ALA web site could do a better job of serving new members:

ALA is a huge organization. I remember when I first joined I found it very confusing. How do you get involved? What is ALA doing that affects me? What will my membership in ALA do for me? How do I network? None of this is easy to find on the Web site.

Something I got from Michelle’s post is the idea of customizing your association home page for new members. Help them discover the organization by highlighting information, services and opportunities on the home page when that new member is logged in. Change it every week or every day! You can phase out the special content over time or allow the member to turn it off when they no longer need it. It should be fairly evergreen content, which is great because it is relatively easy to manage once it is developed.

A few other ideas: Provide the same content in an RSS feed! Create a serial e-mail autoresponder for new members that gives them a new tip about the association every day for two week after they join! You get the idea.

(A serial e-mail autoresponder is an e-mail announcement list where all the messages are written and queued up so that a new subscriber gets each message in order at a specified interval. These have been around a long time but I’ve never heard of an association using them, oddly enough. Seems like a natural for a lot of association promotions and content.)

Someone You Should be Reading: John Robb

John Robb has been blogging for the past couple of years about “the intersection of terrorism, infrastructure and markets.” I’ve been following John’s stuff since he was the CEO at Userland and was leading discussions about knowledge blogging. Many of the trends he discusses about warfare and terrorism have much applicability to self-forming groups and how they may impact associations. Hopefully that won’t involve a rogue committee bombing the electrical lines to your headquarters, however.

I suggest you add his blog, Global Guerrillas, to your subscription list.