Playing for a better world

1 Mar

Foreword: a few things worth a lot of attention

This post is about an idea that came some time ago and that I’d like to share; before  getting to the point there are a few concepts I’d like to introduce. I’m writing this post mostly for myself and my friends, but I hope if it can inspire people to dig into the concepts I bring here, if they are new to them, and enjoy the very early stage of a crazy idea (yes, yes, another one).

Videogames matter! (confession of a videogames addict)

one of my pg in wowI’ve grown up with video-games since they exists. I’ve been playing a lot,  too much. Beside the fun, I’ve always tried to study them, evaluate, analyse and enjoyed a lot of discussions about them with a couple of friends, passionate as I am. World of Warcraft has been my second life for several years now, an unbelivable source for learning and the ultimate time-sink.  Videogames are, at the same time, bliss and a curse.

No matter if you are a videogame addic, if you never understood them or if  you and never played or hate them: videogames is not something that can be ignored. (I suggest reading the book Fun Inc.: Why games are the 21st Century’s most serious business by Tom Chatfield, for an introduction to the role of videogames in our present and future).

More than fun

Then something I would have never imagined started to make his way into these discussions with friends and colleagues: gaming can be used with different purposes than “fun”! About two years ago we started imagining several possibilities to engage people in real world  using “games” and game techniques. The original idea came from looking at the emerging social gaming, especially on Facebook, and analysing some of the best in leveraging the network of friends, creating a new wave of time-sinks and ultimately a lot of fun and some little good.

Since then we discovered Games for Change: a multitute of innovative and often very experimental games aimed to change the world for the better: in education, training, democracy, politics, climate change, etc. etc. We have been inspired by Jane’s talks and articles, and we’ve been studing and working to be able to bring this passion into our professional future.

Good changes can be brough to the world leveraging the little gamer that is inside each one of us… with a Purpose.

Gaming as an interface

The last important concept I need to introduce is that games can teach us a lot on how to design powerful engaging applications and tools. Learning from psycology, motivational design or BJ Foggs work on behavioural changes, the message seems always to be that what some game developers is very relevant and meaningful for application design.

The phenomenon is hyped as gamification: “Gamification is the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications, particularly consumer-oriented web and mobile sites, in order to encourage people to adopt the applications. It also strives to encourage users to engage in desired behaviors in connection with the applications” from Wikipedia.

In other words Gamification is the concept that basic elements that make games fun and engaging can be applied to things that typically aren’t considered a game, to bring real-life changes and behaviours (see also The Gamification Encyclopedia): nice examples are Foursquare, Wii Fit, Jinx and …

But, as some of my friends, working in psycology put it: gamification focuses on using gaming as an interface. The approach is definitively much more than only badges, points and achivements. All literature on the topic dates 2010 or 2011, the very term “gamification” is too recent (and ugly) to describe the concept and the approach new and not mature at all; there is too much hype about it and a lot of promeses about it that will not be fullfilled.

I’m not sure what will be the true role and evolutions of the concept but I’m firmly convinced that yes, “gaming” can be used as a paradigm to design new powerful applications. In paricular observing the latest developments in MMORPGs, gaming platforms, and “social gaming” (Zynga, etc.) there is a LOT to learn.

This very week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco gamification enthusiasts and traditional videogame designers are meeting and joyfully fighting (The Great Gamification Debate!).

“Better World” project

So here is the idea, crazy and worth pursuing: build an environment to match resources (time, ideas, money, skills, etc) needed by NGOs and resources availables in the world (from all people) in a huge games-like experience aimed to changing the world.

The idea came while working on Miomood (a startup on mood tracking&sharing): to build an application, a Facebook application or Facebook “extention” that would help engage users in quests, missions, “call to arms” and battles… in the real world. The application would make it easy for NGOs to develop it’s social mission (whatever it is) using the Social Network.

The pain it addresses: activism, social engagement, volunteering, lobbying, etc. are quite painful, hard and complex activities for most of the people: the result is that there are millions of “sleeping activists”, marginally-engaged people, lost volunteers-to-be. Becase these issues are complex, the contest is complex, true engagement expensive and time consuming.
The good news is that social engagement seems to be very important in the “personal network” of a person, as it relates to “shared values”, moreover, a lot is about “education” and “information” and gaming is excellent at both training and forming.

io senza frontiere scheenshot

Game-like Facebook application by MSF Italia

The opportunity it delivers: move huge amounts of spare-time, game-time (& cognitive surplus) into changing the world for real.
NGOs  would “create” the content in a guided, simple, clear format: the same way they manage a Facebook page they would be able to add a “Quest” or a “Mission” or an “Action”. Title, difficulty, location, requirements, goals… storyline. NGOs would need to well design their contents, their messages and stories, but will not have to develop any mechanic, user interface or web platform.

A world-changer, the user, the player would join the “call”. The identity of the “world-changer” would be his/her real identity, enriched and customized with special skills and abilities, experience, place visited, language spoken, etc. The world-changer answering the call would need the help of his/her friends very often to complete the Quest, the Mission or the action. She/he would along the way socialize with others, maybe even people of distant countries. Along the way discover new and more complex ways of interacting. And be rewarded.

Here is an overview of the main motivational drivers that should be considered the design:

1) Achievement

  • Advancement (points, badges, medals, titles, stats, experience, talents, …) example: “green points”
  • Mechanics (how to spend points, talents, get rewards, …)
  • Competition (there can be good competition too, even in social engagement) example: “world-travelling ladders”

2) Social

  • Socializing (within the personal network and beyond) example: exchanging messages with the volunteers in Haiti.
  • Relationship (everywhere is the design!)
  • Teamwork (everywhere is the design!)

3) Immertion

  • Discovery (new people, new problems, new landscapes, both local or very distant)
  • Role-Playing (world-changer would be taken into being THE BEST possible themselves, right?)
  • Customization (background, avatar, objects carried, t-shirts weared, photo uploaded, …)
  • Escapism (very different from a MMORPG, not sure how it fits, right now)

I’m sure someone have more than enough imagination to “see” how such a project could look like.

It is worth noting that Facebook is already evolving to support some of these needs, expanding our “online self”. Moreover such platform is not only about game mechanics, badges or points, but an evolving system to allow the design of rewarding and joyful experiences when acting in changing the world!

Key design challenges: simplicity, cleanness, avoid transforming serious things in a game (but “play” for real changes!), avoid retoric, avoid frustration when approaching real-world problems as complex as hunger, poverty, etc. and reach the MAXIMUM number of people (get the “marginal” engagement of millions).
A lesson we have all to learn again from WOW: it has brought to a MMORPG millions of people that where not even gamers before! Now popular games such Zynga products and loads of online and social games are expanding this territory. I feel it is the right time to expand into more massive “serious” gaming.

One particular reason HTML5 matters

21 Jan

I’ve always been a loyal fan of standards and openness, but there is one particular reason HTML5 matters  to me: it promises to be extremely valuable for the development of powerful ICT4Dev tools.

It is true in general that HTML5 is there to move forward the extent and widespread of web (someone would say “cloud”), but why such a technical thing as web standard is meaningful for software aimed to serve international development and human rights?

The Web have already begun to have a mayor impact on development and crisis response, I will not dare trying to discuss that in a blog post, but for those not familiar with these issues, here are three projects you absolutely have to look at:

Ushahidi – a platform that allows collecting incidents reports by everyone in an emergency or crisis, and mapping the reports visually on maps to allow quick analysis and faster response. It has been successfully used in very large scale emergencies including Haiti. (http://www.ushahidi.com)

Kiva – a website that “connects people, through lending”; a wonderful story on how the web can be used to develop microcredit, and at the same time connect people from different countries or conditions. With minimal investments in technology or marketing, Kiva has  facilitated so far more than 150 millions in loans (http://www.kiva.org).

Refugees United -a website and mobile application aimed to directly help refugees reconnect with missing loved ones. A rather simple idea, not easy to implement, but with the potential of having a mayor role in rebuilding refugees families worldwide (http://www.refunite.org)

Those are only some of the most visible initiatives and organizations that are bringing an incredible change in this world, not to speak of the impact that the “social web” is bringing to international development (and btw: I love Twitter).

Indeed the developing world has some extra needs in terms of technology: here is three elements that we should always consider. Reuse: the developing world benefits a lot from open source and technologies that can be freely reused. Mobile: mobile technology is key in the innovation in many countries. Connectivity: internet access, through a PC or mobile phone can be limited, in bandwidth, depending on the location, and variable in time.

Reminder: what is HTML5 about?

the html5 logo

HTML5 is the umbrella name  for the “Next Open Web Platform“. The HTML5 brand includes the new upcoming standard for HTML itself, but also CSS3, Web Storage, SVG1.1, Geolocation, Web Sockets, Web Workers and many more standards; the aim of these new standards altogether is to enhance the web language (HTML), integrate second generation languages (SVG, Video, etc.) and making the web a lot more “reactive” (more about HTML5: http://www.w3.org/html/)

HTML5 promises to allow simple development of rich web applications: dynamic forms, video embedding, geolocation, offline, and much more; even video games can be developed in HTML5.  Some of the most astounding HTML5 apps so far have been collected in the HTML5ADVENT  URE CALENDAR2010 (check it out, if you haven’t already!).

Why HTML5 matters for ICT4Dev?

While working with HTML5 and studying it, it became more and more evident to me how the characteristics of the new platform are very relevant for the context of the developing countries. The new standards:

Allow the development of new generation cross-platform applications

A new generation of applications can flourish and they can be cross-platform, thus running freely on the most different devices, independently from the manufacturer and on low-cost hardware. Adaptation and maintenance costs reduced.

Allow the development of mobile applications

While projects show how, in both rural areas and in emergency relief that texting/SMS can be very powerful (see FrontlineSMS for example), the battle for mobile applications started. On one side the native applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, RIM, etc. on the other side the efforts of W3C and others to bring web development to mobile devices (see Mobile Web For Social Development (MW4D) and Open Mobile Consortuim).  HTML5 has the most challenging role: the faster and better it develops on mobile browsers the highest the possibilities for developers to adopt it.

Allows reusing the incredible number of open source products, libraries and web frameworks

HTML5 could be used to enhance and reuse the incredible variety and abundance of good open source products and libraries; there is an incredible potential in the combination of web, open source, and mobile in ICT4Dev. Again, the most successful HTML5 and web-based development the more the possibilities of this ecosystem.

Allows to deal with the conditions of limited or unstable connectivity

person with mobile phone in Africa

Image (c) textually.org

The single feature of HTML5 I’m more enthusiastic about is the offine and storage or, as the W3C puts it: “HTML5 apps can start faster, and work even if there is no internet connection (thanks to the App Cache, Local Storage, Indexed DB, and the File APIs.)“. Offline and storage will allow the deployment a new breed of web applications, that simply could not exist, because of the need of an active internet connection. We can think of countless great web applications that would be improved to be used in places where connectivity is limited, bandwidth an issue and hardware resources scarce.  We can think also of collaborative tools can run also offline, on any device and without any installation, and repositories of knowledge that can be easily carried in a USB key or external hard-disk, or almost-real-time (TM) gathering of information from different devices, geotagged, and still working when connectivity is not stable.

And it’s an open standard!

That too counts: open and not controlled by any single organization means a lot more freedom of action, competition, and better allows the development of solutions outside the interests of big market players. HTML5 is a vital part of that trend for openness: open source, open standards, open data and open protocols, that is acclaimed by all and threatened by many, at the same time.

The project I’m working on

More than a year ago I started working on an apparently very complex project whose user requirements were: we need a tool that is easily managed by non technical staff, works online and offline, is cross-platform, optimized for different devices, including mobile, is lightweight in data storage and in data replication, and open source, or at lest no licence-based. So far so good… but it also should run from a USB key or other portable device and no installation should be required. Commenting and feedback would be a nice to have (I’m glad there was at least a nice-to-have ).

hey, wait, this is either impossible or insane!

After long mumbling and head-scratching it is my colleague Riccardo that came out with a possible solution based on a web application using some open source libraries already available! That would meet all the requirements above in the simplest possible way, but for the online-offline, not mobile support. HTML5 was not at all ready at that time, but we aimed to invest in a solution that would be viable in the long run, so we developed the first version using Gears (was Google Gears), with the idea of bringing the project on HTML5 later.

The project, which is called OOPS: Online Offline Publication System, is just getting its HTML5 upgrade, and will run without any installation on several platforms, including some mobile devices, online and offline. The OOPS is itself a collection of libraries put together and it is released as open source (http://code.google.com/p/online-offline-ps).

Next?

I feel as with OOPS we had only scratched the surface of the many possibilities that this new standards are giving us to develop better web applications aiming to address, by completely new means, very old, dramatic problems.

Dunia ni maarifa (the world is knowledge)

16 Nov My understanding of the big picture of knowledge flows in development

This post is about my personal experience, leanings, humanity and wisdom from the wonderful Sharefair, held in Addis Ababa a few weeks ago.

First of all, a few words to what it has meant to me:

The wonder of my first trip to Africa, the discovery of such a positive, engaging, passionate and friendly community around KM for development and Africa agricultural development.

The fun with the other somewhat crazy folks of the social media group: not only learning, discussing, meeting and networking as everyone else but also tweeting, blogging, podcasting, photographing and in general “on-duty”: the mission? capturing as much as possible from the Sharefair and document it, spread it, make it worth outside the event itself.

The challenge of so many intersting things to learn, to meditate upon and to bring in my everyday work and the joy of meeting such great and nice people.

This has been the sfaddis to me. But what was it about, really? What where the main outcomes, the original thoughs and discussions that matured there?

The big (rich) picture

My understanding of the big picture of knowledge flows in development

Filippo, my son, helped me drawing a rich picture of the Sharefair, he is only 7… next time I’ll ask him also to help me writing the post, he’s very smart.

Now, the picture tries to capture the “big picture” of what have been the discussions, sessions and actors at the Sharefair, from my point of view and understanding. In particular the picture came to my mind during the Make knowledge travel session where all main discussions and themes have been connected one to each other. I would recommend reading this post by Nadia and watching the video reconding of the session.

Research (1)

One of the pillars of the Sharefair, research was presented and discussed in Learning PathwaysClimate change, Land, Livestock and Water. Interestingly the learning pathways were not about the outcomes of research but on how to increase cooperation, sharing, dissemination of results, and transformation of research into action! (Check out the oucomes from pathways.)

Is worth mentioning that the entire event was organized not as a classic talks/powerpoint thing, but as a series of different sessions, focus groups, open spaces, advanced trainings, and more…

Among researchers coordination and sharing seems still not very “popular”, it was said, but I believe the Sharefair has been an important factor of change in this respect. I found particularly interesting and successful the session on Climate change, which I attended with great pleasure, where an important outcome has been reached right away: mapping of existing initiatives related to climate change in Africa, first, then a speed dating (this is the official name of the technique) ending with all participants frantically exchanging information about their projects, giving their business cards and shaking hands in the perspective of future collaborations.

Grassroot communities (2)

An important point made during Sharefair: bring more attention and focus to the local african communities. Having people like Flora Nzambuli (ALIN, Kenya), there, whose contributions where always so valuable and valued by everyone clearly showed that there is a need for better and wider representation from these communities. And the special Focus on farmers session with memorable quotes such as “farmers are our number one researchers” was inspiring to teach us all to listen more.

Communication and sharing between communities was also higlighted and brought to everyone attention, as the need for adequate methods and techniques such as workshops, practical trainings, “look what the neightbour has done” and singing and dancing! (check out the beautuful post by Camille on “understanding with the body“).

Knowledge Management Specialists (3)

The never referred as such during the conference, nor where any talk about them, but they where everywhere as the engine powering the whole idea of Sharefair and working hard everyday in their organizations to make knowledge travel.

The fact is that some enlightened researchers (really they are), project managers, and communication specialists in important organizations are true believer of the role of knowledge, the need to share it and transform it in action, opportunities and solutions. These people also embraced the web (version 1, 2 , 3 or better), mobile and spacial data technologies, all giving ample new possibilities and opening new scenarios for collaboration and sharing.

During the Sharefair special training on social media and advanced social tools were given and really appreciated by everyone.

Last but not least: if you are interested in these topics there is a worldwide community open to everyone to join: KM4Dev.

Face2face, radio, mobile, online platforms, social media, spacial data and more (4)

My speciality: techniques and technology for knowledge, communication and collaboration. Many techniques have been explored and explained at the Sharefair, many cases and solutions presented. One I particularly liked is a mobile (SMS-based) platform providing daily prices of livestock markets in Ethiopia. But also online platforms (such as TECA, KDID and the FSN Forum) and interesting discussions on community building as well as the social media / social networks rise in Africa and general “mobile power”.

Everyone asking: how to engage more? how to get to the grassroot comunities? how to overcome limitations and remove barriers?

Advisory services (5)

Rural extension and advisory services, who meet the immediate needs of farmers and other rural people as they change their production and livelihood systems” where described as very important actors for change, but where almost absent from the Sharefair: another lesson learned for the next Sharefair and other knowledge sharing initiative: more of those are  needed, both from local and international NGOs.

The feedback loop (6)

Now, this was a little new: first of all research and academy are usually put “above” the grassroot in a diagram and the arrows will “by tradition” go from research to grassroot. In Addis there have been a lot of discussion around more listening and more inclusion.

Moreover “reaching” these communities has been an important point in almost every session: language, local culture, technology availability, openness and accessibility all have been brought to attention in Addis.

But the nicest and brightest moment for me on the “feedback loop” was for sure the Sharefair marketplace, where local rural and veterinary knowledge was shared and exchanged for other knowledge: seeds and leaflets, honeys and paper, donkeys and websites, alltogether.

a crowd exchanging knowledge at the marketplace

Sharing more, better and with more actors (7)

The opening session by Owen Barder seems to have  really inspired some important discussions held later during the event: the role of knowledge in development, reaching grassroot audiences and involving them (the feedback loop) and the strong need for ideas to shuffle, connect, mix and “make love with each other” (he said sex, to be honest).

The starting point: the analysis and understanding of all channels of communication, with the Web in the forefront: open access, open data, but also open standard to exchange information and connect people. Then, during the other days of the event hundreds of conversations took place eventually shaping new ideas and bringing  new challenges.

During the last day the overall picture started to emerge during the Make Knowledge travel session: the growing willingness to share more, and better and the absolute need to involve more and different actors in the process: the Media, Technology experts, the Private Sector and of course the Policy Makers.

Will we be able to bring this to our everyday work?

Final thoughs

The picture, far from being accurate or complete, is something I’d like to improve so please step forward if you have something to add or improve (some drawing skills, incidentally, will also be highly appreciated).

People under a tree discussing

Photo by: ILRI/GRenard

Sharefair has been a respectful and deep conversation under the beautiful sun of Addis; I’m back with some new tools & techniques, new concepts and insignts to think about, mind-opening encounters and point of views, and many new great people to keep in touch with, possibily some friends.

The world is knowledge: knowledge is everywhere and in everyone and it is key to future of the world: let’s continue the conversation and see you next year in Rome for the Sharefair 2011!


10 Words of Wisdom for consultants

16 Oct

I would like to share some words of wisdom I got from fellows consultants… an amazing group of folks, in fact.

discover the location and you might win a special prize!

a beautiful place

The occasion has been a camp I attended this summer, a great professional and human experience organized by Graham Oakes. Set in a beautiful location, in that relaxed context I enjoyed every talk, every discussion and every shared thought. There, I learned powerful communication techniques, interesting tools to facilitate and analyse relationships and better face changes. I have been initiated to System Thinking, Psychology and much more, but the best part of the camp was the people and their willingness to share their personal intimate wisdom. I picked up my favorite 10, here they are:

be patient

as perseverance, calm and balance.

listen to your body

in the physical sense and also as intuition (sometimes gut feeling is a good approximation)

challenge your assumptions, always

it is hard, yes, but worth it, and the world is not in black and white but infinite shades of grey

sympathy

participation, understanding and compassion

it’s a sales job

remove useless modesty, be real and understand that sales is part of your job

authenticity

not in contrast with the above, if you are willing to take the path of the uber-consultant

get a two years “travel around the world” experience

ideally early in the career, who dares not agree with this one?

have always many options open

and do act. Options are one of the most valuable asset of a consultant.

ask powerful questions

I’ve always loved the idea that questions are sometime more important than answers.

be so good they can’t ignore you

ok, this was from me, also mentioned in an older post :-)

A final though: there is so much wisdom is simple words as authenticity, that a lifetime is often not enough to reach it. Thanks folks!

Inspiration and disillusion at Better Software, Firenze 2010

24 May

Better Software is a great italian conference at its second editon now. Better Software is about software development and project management, web and mobile, agile, startups, open source and making better software in general; it is an event Italy really needed, in fact.

At the conference, that gathered more than 350 people this year, I presented a different approach in web project management on an early-morning talk: Unconventional tools and tecniques for project managers.

The talk comes maily from some experiences in managing international projects, where we (myself and the Team, of course) have focused on getting more effective in improving overall quality also by adopting this less formal but more
powerful approach: creativity.
Slides
are available on Slideshare (www.slideshare.net/francescociriaci/unconventional-tools-and-tecniques-for-project-managers).

Beside my talk I’d like to share my personal notes and opinions on the event itself: first of all it has been inspiring!

There are talents in Italy, incredible persons.just a banner: Be so good they can't ignore you

I really enjoyed and got inpired by Leandro (leeander.com) both from  stage and after (chatting about startups and self-tracking) and Giacomo Guillizzoni (www.balsamiq.com) which has deeply inspired almost all participants to the conference: the hint? “Be so good they can’t ignore you“. Morever he gave on stage one of the best representations of an “overnight success after ten years”.

Ciccarelli (working at the www.densitydesign.org) showing horribly wrong dashboards and giving great hints on data visualization, Andrea Provaglio (andreaprovaglio.com) on systemic approach to the organization and Andrea Santagata (www.banzai.it) on statups in Italy.

Content-wise I really appreciated Luca Mascaro (www.lucamascaro.info) on UX Agile Design (whose workshop I attended last year), Alberto Brandolini (ziobrando.blogspot.com) especially on the part on education and, last but not least, Fabio Castronuovo, not only for some great new elements for project management but also for the insight on Jazz :-)

And of course I need to thank all friends (including the incredible Develer Team, the organizer of the conference), colleagues and new great new people I met at the conference!

Then came also disillusion.

Francesco Cirillo (www.metodiagili.it) gave me the hint and I realized (again?) that in Italy there is still very little knowledge of agile, very little interest for quality in software, especially in web software, and I’m afraid also very little attention to UX. There are incredible persons in Italy and a widespread mediocrity.

Moreover: Leandro and other “veterans” confirmed that NO, I can’t make such a startup as Miomood in Italy (in Italian: noncelapossofarcela!). Let’s say that the probability lowers from 1:50.000 to 1:1.000.000.

It’s time to take some more risk…

“WE GET IT” CHECKLIST FOR VENDORS – Plone

19 Nov

I just realized that Plone was missing from the A reality check for vendors by Kas Thomas (CMS Watch).

So here it is, the

Plone CHECKLIST

1. Our software comes with an installer program.

Yes, the Plone Universal installer.

2. Installing or uninstalling our software does not require a reboot of your machine.

Yes. Moreover the software is platform independent.

3. You can choose your locale and language at install time, and never have to see English again after that.

No. Installation is in english only (although the CMS user interface is available in about 50 languages).

4. Eval versions of the latest edition(s) of our software are always available for download from the company website.

Yes. As a full open source product the entire latest version is always available (also unreleased and in-development versions are).

5. Our WCM software comes with a fully templated “sample web site” and sample workflows, which work out-of-the-box.

Yes. Plone comes with one sample web site and four different sample workflows out-of-the-box

6. We ship a tutorial.

Yes. Tutorials are always available on Plone.org

7. You can raise a support issue via a button, link, or menu command in our administrative interface.

No. Not there, yet. Open Source Community support can be obtained for free, Professional support depends on the Plone Provider selected.

8. All help files and documentation for the product are laid down as part of the install.

We don’t ship end-user documentation as part of the install. But all the documentation is available online and there are several end-user, integrator and developer books.

9. We run our entire company website using the latest version of our own WCM products.

Yes, sure!

10. Our salespeople understand how our products work.

Yes, they usually do. And many of them are developers of the core software itself and in general they are fans of the product.

11. Our software does what we say it does.

Yes it does. It also sometimes does something no one has advertised, unfortunately. Being Open Source, you can also independently verify it does exactly what it claims.

12. We don’t charge extra for our SDK.

Yes. We don’t charge.

13. Our licensing model is simple enough for a 5-year-old to understand.

Yes. Not sure everybody really understand how free software works. But they should and my 5 year old son at least knows that I do a real job.

14. We have one price sheet for all customers.

Everything is free but the customization, support or hosting services. Plone has about 300 integrators / providers worldwide.

15. Our top executives are on Skype, Twitter, or some similar channel, and: Feel free to contact them directly at any time.

Yes they are. The whole community is there.

To the Plone Community: Did I forgot something? Please comment.

Long live to my favourite Web CMS.

Round table on WCM at the JBoye09 conference: emerging best practices

16 Nov

Again this year Janus Boye & friends have repeated the magic with their JBoye09 conference.

In the informal enough context of the conference some of the best CMS analysts, project managers, consultants and, of course, vendors and web / intranet managers met to exchange an incredible amount of experience, knowledge and have some good time together.

In the afternoon of the second conference day there was a slot reserved to roundtable discussions: a moment for an open debate on many diffrent topics, proposed by the participants.

I attended the roundtable proposed by our very Master of Cerimonies, Mr. Janus, on: “Emerging problems, emerging technologies, and emerging approaches to Web Content Management“.

And I was appointed as “volunteer” to take note and report on the outcomes of the discussion, so here are the…

Emerging Best Practices for WCM

1) Divide selection in two phases:

a) vendor and product checklist-filtering
b) in depth look at the VALUE provided by the different remaining vendors/products

Note: care about the project, not the product.

2) Have a content strategy ready before vendor selection

Not a full Information Architecture but a good part of it should be ready before you move forward.

3) Talk to peers, exchange experiences with your peers community

Hint: one of the best places for this are the communities of practice and conferences like the JBoye, of course.

4) Test drive with users

Users are very often still the least considered stakeholder of WCM projects.

5) Make sure that content management is recognized as a task within your organization

Note: put effort in training and other similar activities.

6) Measure, measure, measure

To define goals and measure success (and failure), and to improve the project in a later phase.

Credits go to all the participants to this roundtable:

Stephanie Lemieux, Simon Lande, Richard Hare, Silvia Bombardone, Philippe Parker, Rory McClelland, Miklos Gaspar, Janus Boye, and Francesco Ciriaci.

And if you are interested in WCM future don’t miss the great #fixwcm thread.

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