22 February 2010

Visualisation and Mash-ups with Social Media - Where could this take us?

This post has the theme of decision making in today's world of social media. What is the impact of social networks and data mash-ups and visualisations of their content on decision making?

The post on Talented Apps looks at the role of humans in the network the concept of balancing the size of the network (the number of the participants) and the voice of the individual.

A recent post Harvard Business Review: Four Ways of looking at Twitter demonstrates how trends can be pulled from social networks. Another post Tech Crunch: Five Ways to Mix, Rip and Mash your Data. provides an overview of tools that can be used to build agents to bring together information from RSS feeds and other sources giving people more tool sets to gauge information flow.

But what does popularity in tweets or RSS Feeds mean?

I find myself tossing between two quotes:

"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."
- George Bernard Shaw


"There's a whiff of the lynch mob or the lemming migration about any overlarge concentration of like-thinking individuals, no matter how virtuous their cause." - P.J. O'Rourke

13 February 2010

Example - How to make a complex concept entertaining

I came across this example of presenting a complex concept in an entertaining and educational way. Thought I would share this

ICT Stereotypes - Are they keeping people (mostly girls) away?

This is a bit of a different track for me. My husband recently started the new school year. He is an ICT teacher at a local school for Year 11 and 12. There is a very slim turnout of girls for ICT courses and he is wondering how to attract more girls into the program?

I did a bit of asking around and one of the more popular opinions I got back was that a more social or personal relationships focus around ICT may encourage attendance. I came across the Digital Divas program, which offers a single sex program for Year 8 ICT to encourage girls participation.

I also found this European Schoolnet summary of a white paper from Cisco looking at Women in ICT. Where there was an observation that there was a poor understanding of the types of job roles and opportunities that exist.

To provide some insight into ICT roles Education Queensland published Female ICT Role Models, providing biographies and role insights for female members of the ICT community and the Education Technology Debate posted Female ICT Role Models, on TV and Youtube looking at the potential impact of these media to encourage participation in ICT.

Personally, I did not originally pursue a role in ICT, in fact I consciously avoided it. My perception of ICT careers was of programmers and did not include roles like business analysts, IT architects, project managers ...etc. I know many people who have found careers in IT more by accident, normally through being involved in a project as the business subject matter expert and then staying in the field. Is the ICT industry losing out because of people's perceptions?

Here is a video trying to change the perception of ICT

Maybe the change in perception will increase enrolment from both genders. What do you think?

01 February 2010

Communication Primitives - SHeet Music for IT Professionals - But what about the User?

Defense Systems recently published an article DOD turns to basic building blocks for a common language, that describes Business Transformation Agency's approach to overcoming the language barriers inherent in the system development process - Primitives.

Primitives are common vocabulary and common design patterns, which can be used to describe business processes, information and data in a notation. They are intended to be understandable to a wide variety of people involved in system development, much like sheet music provides a universal notation for musicians. This initiative supports the need to align all layers of the enterprise architecture with a common vocabulary or notation set, which is certainly an integral part to improving system development. In the US DOD the Business Transformation Agency (BTA) is using primitives for enterprise architecture, business process training and simulation.

It is time that greater commonality be found between the various disciplines related to system development and the concept of a global language for IT professionals is a great one. I like the analogy of the sheet music because it can be extended to the end user. In the case of music the end user does not need to be able to read sheet music to appreciate the output. This is also the case with IT outputs. In some cases the user reaction to the "music" is easy to gauge, kind of like a music single - iPhone apps, video games and to a certain extent office productivity tools. In other cases, like many enterprise systems, the "music" presented is more complex than an opera or the works of Greek bards like Homer and frequently this complexity is increased due to the intermixing and overlapping of various pieces. This may result in a user experience much like the one viewers were presented in Star Trek Next Generation when Data was listening to four songs at the same time.

This complexity makes it much harder to keep the focus of the user's attention. In the world of enterprise applications there is a need to be more proactive in gauging user reaction, not just to focus on function points but to the overall user experience. A need to strive to present "music" that they would sit down and listen to or get up and dance to - whichever they prefer.