John Klossner's Ink Tank

From Social media to the Pony Express: A guide to the collaboration toolbox

I love the variety of communication technologies at our fingertips. I especially like that they offer me many different ways of not speaking directly with the person I want to contact. My professional existence involves a wide variety of relationships where I have rarely spoken or met with my employers or co-workers. (For all they know, I may be an alias, or several people working together. The quality of my drawings and writing discourages that line of thinking, however.) If "electronic hermit" isn't in use already, I wish to coin the phrase.

I might not be the person to talk with about the future of e-mail, though. Having once lived in a world where, in order to communicate with someone, I had to either find a telephone connected to a wall or the ground, or write on a piece of paper, put this into another folded and sealed piece of paper, apply a 20-something-plus cents sticker to the corner and put it in an outdoor box to be picked up, or physically locate the party I wished to speak with and have a face-to-face conversation -- having lived in that world, it still seems new to me to be able to sit down at a keyboard or cell phone and communicate with another party any time of day. Problems with this technology? You must be kidding.

We've reached a point where it's not enough to be able to communicate with anyone, anytime. We now have to be able to speak with EVERYONE, anytime. Mind you, I'm not complaining about this. The problems with e-mail, which mostly centers around security, response time and data storage issues, have made it an inefficient technology for collaborative communications, especially in the workplace. Sending out group e-mails has become the equivalent of throwing a fistful of post-it notes into the wind. Web 2.0 presents more efficient technologies for office communications.

(We've also reached a point where our technologies suffer from generation gaps. Can you imagine the point in time where we will think the Web 2.0 technologies are "old school?" "Dad, you still Tweet? You are SO embarrassing." As of now, anyone who is still impressed by e-mail is considered outdated by the tweeters of the world. How soon until we hear the phrase, "Never trust anyone who Lotus Notes?" This may already be the case; I discover these things later than most.)

But here's the catch - studies show that e-mail isn't actually dying. Active corporate and consumer e-mail accounts are predicted to grow in the next few years. The reality is that e-mail is just becoming another tool in the box.

So the question isn't "Is e-mail dying?" More to the point, it's "Which technology is right for me?" I offer the following directory to help consider which technology best fits your particular communication need.

Pro: Can reach party directly.
Con: Can reach party directly.

Pro: Can send a communication at any time of day.
Con: Communication can be denied by server for any number of reasons at any time of day.

Brick through window
Pro: Can make a direct, dramatic statement to a specific party.
Con: Might get caught.

Pro: Can send a brief message to a group of contacts / followers.
Con: Numbers of contacts/followers might diminish after receiving "just got out of shower can't decide what to wear" tweet.

Bicycle messenger
Pro: Immediate delivery of packages.
Con: immediate receipt of sweaty package.

Comments section
Pro: Allows immediate response to specific article.
Con: Immediacy can come at expense of rational thoughts.

Pro: Can develop a full media package, with sound and visuals, to tell your message.
Con: Need to create a production company in order to produce 5 minute story that gets 136 hits.

Instant messaging
Pro: A written phone call.
Con: Index finger can be larger than some cell phone keyboards.

Pony express
Pro: Traditional delivery method which is good for the environment.
Con: Not sure if the Washington D.C.-Omaha route is still in operation.

Postal Service
Pro: The joy of producing a physical message that will be unique to the sender and recipient.
Con: The 17 people who still do this may be too busy to immediately write back.

Pro: Can send mass message to group of contacts or friends.
Con: Might forget to hide the photos of last week's party that are still on your wall.

Pro: Can write thoughts and philosophies on a variety of subjects.
Con: This is monologue, not communication.

Klossner FCW e-mail

Posted by John Klossner on Aug 25, 2009 at 12:18 PM0 comments

Klossner: “We’ve suffered an employee separation of the lower cubicle”

“Employee separation.” I came across this Orwellian term while reading the FCW story on recommended security steps to take when an employee leaves. The term jarred me, as it reeked of consultant jargon. I understand that it refers to any situation where an employee leaves the workplace, but I can't help but feel that it covers the employers' concerns rather than the employees'.

It sounds like a medical term -- "We've suffered an employee's separation of the lower cubicle." Doesn't employee separation also refer to what happens at the end of every working day? Is it a dance step? Do managers address a soon-to-be-let-go employee and tell them "we have to separate you?"

I guess what really catches my ear is that this sounds like a term that would only be used by an employer. No one comes home and tells their loved ones "I got separated today." Have you received any invitations to a "separation party" or "separation luncheon?"

Maybe this is oversensitivity on my part. I imagine it was intended to cover any situation where an employee leaves -- moving on to another job, retirement, going back to school, escaping to the private sector -- including situations where the employee makes the choice to "separate." Recent economic events don't make one think of this verb is from both sides of the desk, do they?

The technical term for the process immediately following employee separation is "de-provision." In reading the description of these steps, one gets the impression of a swat team descending upon the separated employee's cubicle and putting up crime scene tape. I also have an image of everyone acting relaxed and in control, when you know they want to rush to the "separated" employee's cubicle and make sure all the paper clips are still there.

Should management/consultants have need for other terms to cover the situation, I offer the following:

* They'll (employees) be stepping back to take a look at the big picture.
* They're going for the long coffee break.
* They're being given an opportunity to do research in job futures.
* They're on our bottomless sabbatical program.

And employees -- or separated employees -- might want a few terms of their own:

* Employee laceration.
* Doing the security guard tango.
* Returning to the home office.
* Forgetting the security code for good.
* Cutting back on office expenses.
* Joining the ranks of the newly self-unemployed.

Please feel free to submit any terms of your own. I'll gladly use this space in the future to share submissions.

Klossner FCW Deprovision

Cartoon note: The cartoon I created for this subject didn't work so well. In looking at the finished piece, I don't think the intended image -- a person being spun around in "pin the tail on the donkey" style -- is one that can be easily rendered. Showing motion -- impending or happening -- is tricky in a static cartoon. The cartoonist has to make sure that it is easily recognized, which I don't think is the case here.

Posted by John Klossner on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:18 PM0 comments

Web 3.Oh No!

We are on the verge of the next Web development. For those of you who lost track, we have had Web 1.0, which was the development of browsers to help us store and find data. For those of you who have shut off all media (in which case I imagine you wouldn't be reading this, so why should I acknowledge you?) we are in the midst of Web 2.0, the development of social networks, allowing us to find each other. We now are about to enter Web 3.0, or the semantic Web. Web 3.0 applications hope to – through better description of the data and linkage of previous apps – make existing data easier to locate and analyze.

Think of it as social networks for data. (I guess the data are lonely now that the humans spend all our time on social networks.)

For those of you, like me, who need a way to keep these things straight, I offer the following handy, wallet-sized program.

WEB 1.0 (browsers) – Users find data
WEB 2.0 (social networks) – Users find each other
WEB 3.0 (semantic Web) – Data find each other

Of course, a lifetime of science-fiction reading and viewing leads me to fear we can look forward to the following developments:

WEB 4.0 – Data create their own Facebook page, restrict friends.
WEB 5.0 – Data decide they can work without humans, create their own language.
WEB 6.0 –Human users realize that they no longer can find data unless invited by data.
WEB 7.0 – Data get cheaper cell phone rates.
WEB 8.0 – Data horde all the good YouTube videos, leaving human users with access to bad '80's music videos only.
WEB 9.0 – Data create and maintain own blogs, are more popular than human blogs.
WEB 10.0 – All episodes of Battlestar Gallactica will now be shown from the Cylons' point of view.

Klossner Web 3.0

Posted by John Klossner on Aug 03, 2009 at 12:18 PM0 comments