“Doing things together online”

Recently, a couple of events allowed me to look again at how groups of people “do things together online”.

I’ve had a chance to meet up a few times in a short period with Aldo de Moor, and that helped us reflect on where things have come since we first drafted the contours of our “social context model”, nearly ten years ago now.

Add a few potential projects in the pipeline that deal with global networks of people who should produce something together. And the opportunity to dive a bit deeper into the NABUUR concept, to see how it is still pretty unique.

Aldo and I quickly concluded that although a lot is happening, and happening fast, there actually has been little progress in what we see as the hardest part of (online) collaboration: supporting work flows. Sure enough, people find ways to use the techno-centric tools that emerge, and services like Basecamp are making inroads into this. But most platforms still have some way to go.

How “web 2.0” can you become in six months?

Adaptive Path's DNA of web 2.0Adaptive Path’s DNA of web 2.0
A while ago I was asked to help answer an interesting question. Imagine: you want your website (and organisatuon) to become "truly web 2.0", and a donor is considering a sizeable grant to help you do that, under the condition that you define yourself how you will measure your "web 2.0"-ness, set your own targets for the next half year, and have reached those targets by then. What would you measure and what targets would you set?

  • Indicators: Web 1.0 metrics like number of visitors or registered users are not really a measure for "web 2.0-ness". Amount of user-generated content maybe more. Per registered user? Number of mashups? Position in Technorati? Having an API, connecting to the APIs of other sites? Number of feeds into your site?
  • Targets: A 6-month timeframe to do the technical work and show measurable results would lead me to focus more on the infrastructure and organisational side of things. What’s a realistic target… needs to be compelling enough to get the grant, but also a pretty certain win…

Designing sociality for Nabuur

Nabuur has been pioneering online volunteering since 2001, and is currently redesigning their organisation: how to put "web 2.0" into the DNA of everything that’s happening? And how to engineer that, rather than try and hope it works?

So I spent the day with Nabuur team members, who invited René Jansen to facilitate drilling down to the core of their activities. René is one of the authors of "The Realm of Sociality: Notes on the design of social software", a paper which won the Best Paper Award 2007 at the “International Conference on Information Systems” in Montreal, last December, and (to me, at least) introduces the concept of "sociality" as the centre of the design process.

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