Social translate… Google Giveth and Taketh

For the last year and a half or so I’ve been an avid user of Yoono. A browser plugin that allows me to review and update my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare activity streams from within a side bar in my Firefox. I love it. It’s easy, simple and because it’s integrated in the browser it always keeps my Social streams in my perephial view. Right where I like it to be.

Now one of the things that I discovered recently is that it has a function to translate tweets right there and then in the sidebar itself. Simply right click the tweet and select “Translate (via google)”. The translated text is shown right there and then in your stream.

Ok, yes. Google translations aren’t exactly accurate all the time but in general they do the trick. And it means I could follow people I would otherwise not, simply because I can’t understand a thing they are saying.

Like Mitsuru Katoh (Katoman), a Fellow self-proclaimed Domino Geek and IBM Champion from Japan. My Japanese is next to zero so this translate function really helped me and made it possible for me to socially connect to someone I would otherwise probably not even know about.

Unfortunately this morning the translate function didn’t work and a tweet to @YoonoSupport helped clarify:  

@Yoono The translate (Google) function doesn’t seem to work this morning. Anything going on?

 Bummer! 

Ok, I can understand Google wanting to make a buck out of this (although I’d wonder who’d want to pay for the crappy translations they give) but maybe Google had an alternative reason as well. I can (somewhat) understand them trying to promote their own networks so maybe this is a function they wanted to keep free exclusively for their own platforms….. aka Google+! I know Mitsuru is on G+ so lets check it out…..
Well, you guessed it. No function there to translate from within the stream itself.

Yes I know about the other Google translate options for translating whole sites but that is not really an option to me. As a Dutch national I read & write in English, Dutch, German and (a little) French and I follow people in all of those languages. Now I don’t need (or want!) those translated as that sometimes means you lose part of the underlying sentiments and jokes. I want to be able to control which tweets I want translated and which I want to read in their original language. And I want to do it from within my active streams itself, not by having to step out to a different site. That takes out the whole social context in which I’m operating.

 So for now it seems I will have to unfollow Mitsuru… Not because he’s not nice or interesting but simply because I can’t understand his tweets (Sorry Mitsuru, I’ll buy you a drink at Lotusphere).

Oh and for those (like me) wondering what that second tweet form Mitsuru said? I ran it through the ordinary translator and it came up as “That I was better with an umbrella. Worry.“. 

I guess it was raining in Japan 🙂 

Who is using Google+ ….. infographic

Interesting infographic by www.flowtown.com on the usage of Google+. There have been a lot of jokes around the internet on whether or not Google+ is really being used or if, after the initial hype most users returned to their old and familiar platforms. This seems confirmed by this infographic that shows only 17% of registered Google+ users is considered ‘Active’ and a ‘Frequent Google+ user’.

So did they loose the battle? No, I don’t think so. If you manage to pull in over 40 million users within a couple of months you must be doing something right. They just have to find their edge and unique selling point and that 83% that is currently inactive will be flocking back. The problem seems to be though that they don’t really know yet what that unique selling point is….

Who’s Using Google +?
Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

Social calendar

I found this great blogpost on what ‘Social Business’ is. Read it its worth it.

What prompted me to actually search for it was that I lay in bed yesterday checking my calendar for this weekend realizing it was empty and that I was happy with two days of no obligations and appointments. It made me very aware of the fact that for the last year or so I’ve been really busy. With work, with friends, with running but mostly with being ‘social’.

True, I’ve always been somewhat of a workaholic, checking my mail day and night, happily responding to messages at all hours of the day. But as most people (unlike me) shut their mail down when they go home around five it meant that the number of messages outside of office hours was limited.
That changed however when I became more socially active. The difference is that unlike mail, social micro blogging isn’t confined to work only. People micro blog about everything from work to hobbies to kids to personal challenges. Not just during office hours but at all hours of the day. Offering an inside glimps to who they are, but more importantly: Humanizing them. And that is a real revolution.
I now sometimes meet customers and relations I’ve never seen or talked to before but that feel like old acquaintances simply because I’ve interacted with them in chats and on social platforms far before they even got to be of interest business wise. And because it’s two way you are more familiar to them too, taking away normal barriers that are put up in business relations. Yes, you make yourself vulnerable but what you gain is trust and a deeper relation and that to me is totally worth it.

I immediately hear the ‘but….‘ coming from all corners here. Because how does this improve your business?!? and How do you make socializing cost effective??

Well read that blogpost I mentioned at the start, I’m not going to repeat what was said in there but two of the poignant things that really hit home for me were:

“The historical […] separation between the inside and the outside environments of a company is loosing importance”

The ultimate reason of existence for the [social] corporation is no longer to generate value for its traditional stakeholders but to maximize the exchanged value between the company and the entire ecosystem“. 

 Hello world! Its no longer about just making big bucks and putting up a nice facade to the outside world its about really working together at a personal level. Putting the individuals in the center of the process, not just the mechanism of work. Respecting that we all are part of the process and that each of us, whether you are a customer, contractor, relation or supplier, has a personal as well as corporate gain. And that by realizing and utilizing that we ALL stand to win.

Why? Well because when you see and respect that everyone involved has more to offer than just what was said on their job description, you suddenly end up getting much more value for your money. Suddenly you find that people are more than just output machines but that they are human beings with creativity, ingenuity, knowledge and intuition. Some of which might not even be related to work at all. But that by bringing all that together you end up getting something that is much more valuable and stronger than what any individual, even ‘Guru’ could realize. It’s no longer internal vs external, contractor vs client its teamwork.

So how does that make it cost effective? Well sometimes you have to ‘give a little to get a little’ but in general working together like this enhances the products, improves employee involvement and builds stronger business relations making the difference in getting future projects. And that to me is making my work a real joy. I’m a people person. I love to connect to people. And for the first time I’m seeing that that part of me is not just something I do because I like it but something that is actually becoming an integral part of my job and can help drive revenue.
 
And it’s not just my work that is changing because of this. It’s my personal life too. As stated above I’ve always spend lots of time on my work and people have accused me of having no personal life at all. Maybe they were right for a while there…. I’ve always been good at my job, but although I’m ambitious I never saw myself as a ‘guru’ and for years that made me feeling insignificant and holding back. I had trouble defining who I was and what I had to offer.
What changed is that I started realizing that I didn’t have to be a ‘guru’ to contribute and that just being me in all it’s uniqueness as a human being was more then enough as that made me a valuable part of the process and of the teams that I operate in. Both personal as well as professionally.

Wisdom of the crowds‘ already described how crowds know so much more then individuals but its the Social revolution that is giving a platform to those crowds to actually leverage that wisdom. So bring it on! I love this new era in business. It’s daunting and challenging and we are destined to make mistakes but as long as we do it together I’m sure we are on the right track.

And in the mean time I’m going to enjoy my busy calendar and Social activities and live life to the fullest. Because for the first time in my live I can truly say that my work is my hobby and NOT feel insecure about it.

IBM Social Business social media residency

You know that Redbook Residency I wrote about a couple of weeks ago…..?

Well I got accepted! So for the next three weeks I will be in frantic mode to get everything arranged, book flights, reschedule appointments, rearrange work and concentrate on Social Business. Fantastically exciting times! Will of course keep everyone posted about it through this blog, Facebook & Twitter.

But in the mean time don’t hesitate to point me to relevant topics and information to take along for this residency. It’s called the IBM Social Business social media residencyso what better way to start than to involve my Social network!

IBM redbook site

#StuffIBMersSay

Hot trending topic around the Lotus community on twitter tonight: #StuffIMBersSay. All kinds of things IBM people have said that are silly, funny or simply plain absurd. Good fun and definitely worth reading! It was started by two IBM’ers as a joke apparently but spread around the world in hours, reaching thousands of IBM’ers, business partners and customers.

Humor is the best way to communicate, Social Media is the perfect platform. That was definitely proven tonight!

Small selection of those tweets below. Spotting a trend here….There is a lot of web and phone conferences going on!

@DelphineRB:  Do you mean 3pm ET or GMT or EST or CET ? #stuffibmersay

@kate_motzer: “Someone is breathing heavy into the phone – can you please go on mute?” #stuffIBMerssay

@seralewis: Did anyone hear the recording start? #stuffIBMerssay

@FlemChrist: I swear that guy writing the Dilbert cartoon works here. #stuffibmerssay

@creckling: sorry i’m late, i was looking for a hotspot. #stuffIBMerssay

@ragtag: “Larry? Larry? I think we lost Larry” #stuffIBMerssay

@Chappers5: Can everyone on the call press *6* please as there is a dog barking in the background #stuffibmerssay

@wesmorgan1: Working as designed. #stuffibmerssay

@tpeisel: I can do that @2 …i’m only doublebooked then #stuffibmerssay

@FemkeGoedhart: “Let me just mute my cat for a moment” #stuffibmerssay

@HP_Dalen: Will you action these deliverables? #stuffibmerssay

@linny2777: well – we have beaten that horse dead #stuffibmerssay

@wesmorgan1: We’ll do a 360 postmortem on that… #stuffibmerssay

@mmoyer: We’ll start as soon as the speakers join the call. #stuffibmerssay

@mmoyer: Who’s on the call but not in the meeting? #stuffibmerssay

@blm849: Let’s put that in the parking lot and then circle back at the end of the call #stuffibmerssay 

@lina_farr: Can’t do that right now, I’m in a sea of red! Ping you when I’m free… #stuffibmerssay

ps. Seeing a perfect opportunity here for IBM to use it’s new Analytic tools to analyze this social phenomena!

Bye bye email?!?

The Social Business revolution is here. We are living in a new world and one of the ‘old’ relics being under attack is email. Email a relic?? Yes in the eyes of some, it is outdated and in need of retirement. Nowadays it’s all about new forms of communication. more direct, more interactive, less static…and all kinds of initiatives like ‘Global No Email Day‘ and IBM’s ‘OutsideTheInbox‘ are started to get people to realize this.
I can totally relate to this idea. Mainly because it seems that lately it isn’t us that is consuming mail but the mail that is consuming us. More importantly: consuming our time.

Ok, so I agree, but then I started thinking. How many mails do I actually get in a day…..? 
I’ve got 5 email addresses. One for work, one for friends, one for non-work-non-friend related stuff I deem important and 2 for spam. I use those last two when I need to register on some obscure site and I never check those two unless I’m looking for something specific. So those don’t really count towards my email consumption. The other three gave me a total of 12 messages today, 7 of which were notifications from other systems.
Now that isn’t extreme! That is actually pretty low if you consider I work in IT and was working at home today. I know people that get hundreds of messages, especially while working at home. So why don’t I? Does this mean I don’t work, don’t communicate…..?? No, I actually communicated with several of my colleagues and customers today as well as had interactions with several people around the globe. So lets analyze this….

I started the day with an email notification from Quickr about a document I’d put up for review. It was reviewed by a customer in the USA and she’d updated the document in the Quickr environment and used the notification option to let me know. As I noticed the customers project leader was online on Greenhouse Sametime I used this to have a short discussion about the review.

I then proceeded with opening our new IBM Connections test environment that we set up specifically for demonstrations to customers. To get some filling all employees were asked to fill out their own fictional profile as well as provide some fake content. While doing this I noticed some problems with the test installation. Instead of using mail I put a message on the Administrators notice board, telling him about the problem.

He responded back on the board which was promptly shown in my Status Update widget in my Lotus Notes client.

Now I could just as easily have used our internal Tweet application as well but as it was Connection related it seemed logical to respond within the environment itself. Using mail didn’t cross my mind once.


Roughly at the same time I was invited into a Skype call by another customer. During this call I had to verify something with a co-worker and with a Partner of us. So I used LotusLive Sametime to connect to my co-worker and set up a second Skype chat to ask my partner contact. He wasn’t up yet (Canadian) so I just left him a message in his chat to pick up when he returned.

While all this was going on I was also setting up a test environment for a migration project. It was not exactly going as planned and I used Twitter and Facebook to vent some of the frustrations with getting the thing to work. Apart from the fact this helped me to vent some of my frustration it also delivered a handy tip from a guy that responded to my tweet and sent me a helpful link.
Through the social media app I use I also noticed a new invitation request on LinkedIn that turned out to be a business relation that wanted to connect. As I’d been wanting to talk to this person for a while I used the opportunity to send him a direct message in LinkedIn and set up a phone call.

For the rest of the day I made several phone calls to customers & relations, used text messaging to make an appointment with a good friend, had a lengthy call with a co-worker on the server I was trying to set up and congratulated my niece with her birthday on Facebook.

So looking back on my day and talking about the ‘Less mail’ initiatives, I can honestly say I’m actually doing pretty well already. I’m not email-free yet (nor do I want to be, there’s always something that is better done through mail) but in general I can definitely say I’m not being consumed by my inbox.

There is however another side to this. Remember that Skype chat I started with the Canadian guy that wasn’t online yet? He did get back to me but by that time it was evening here. And that is the whole crux in this story….

Because one of the downsides of using more interactive forms of communications like Social Media, Skype and Sametime is that it is stretching my day. Timezone differences mean I have to adept to other peoples day regimes if I want to speak, chat, Sametime or Skype with them and that means I tend to spend a lot more time at night behind my laptop, sometimes stretching well into the night.

So are these forms of social communications the future? Yes, definitely! It allows you to not just  communicate  but to really build a relation with the other person, something that email just didn’t do. But I don’t think it will put email out of business yet. If not for the fact that lots of people still are hooked on mail then for the sanity of those that need to sleep….

Redbook recidency

In 2009 I had the honor of being chosen to be a part of the last formal Redbook by the Lotus brand. It was the “Self Assessment and Strategy Guide for Migrating from Domino Document Manager” Redbook. A Redbook that tried to help customers on DomDoc make their choise as to how to migrate of that platform as it was being discontinued.

I’d always hoped to be a part of a Redbook team but never really thought I made a chance and when the number of Redbooks being publiced for Lotus products diminished so was my hope of ever being part of one…
So that Friday morning in 2009 when my boss sent out a message asking if there was anyone interested in doing a Redbook I lept at the opportunity. I never even hesitated and just replied immediately. This was my chance, and I had to take it! Two weeks later after a couple of hectic weeks arranging things, I boarded a plane for a 3 week residency in Cambridge, MA.

It was everything I hoped for. The discussions we had as a team and with product specialists, developers and Brand managers of IBM. The opportunities we got, to see new developments, test them and write on them and the feeling of being able to create something that would help thousands of people do their migration… It was better then I had hoped for.
But it was hard work too! The 3 week residency itself was only the beginning. After that a 6 month period of writing, revising, rewriting and discussing (skype) started. All of which happened mostly at night or in weekends as my daily job didn’t stop either.Part of my task was to write a chapter on the comparison between Quickr and DomDoc and a chapter that outlined a step-by-step actual migration using a migration tool. I think I did at least 50 test migrations for that one alone. There were times that I got really fed up by it all.

So when the postman finally came to deliver that hard copy of the Redbook with my name on it. I was sad and happy at the same time. It had been hard work but it was so rewarding. Most importantly it showed me that I had something to offer. Be it small, I could actually help other people. For someone who used to be very shy and insecure that was a real eye opener.Since then I’ve become more outward going, wrote blogs and articles, spoke at conferences, became very active on Social Media and connected more to other people in the professional community.

No wonder that when I saw this on facebook last night….

….I couldn’t help but jump for it again. It might not be a Redbook in the way I did it before, it does incorporate everything I love and do so I would be crazy not to! At the same time I’m aware that this Residency is going to be really popular and that my chances of being picked are slim at best.
But if there’s anything I learned from my Redbook experience it is that you have to grab any chance you get! Besides, even if I don’t get picked I still got the thrill of reliving the great times I had again.

So if you are considering nominating yourself but not yet sure?… I can say only one thing: Go for it, take that chance! This could change your life. It did for me!

Choices…. where to post what

Nop, not mine but so excellent I can’t help but post it. Love the Google+ one as it is so accurate!!!

I got it from Facebook but the original actually came from this blog post.

Social Media Myth Buster

Great video by Louis Richardson on Social Media Myths from a keynote he gave in Danmark. Worth taking the time to look at if your company is wondering why it should become ‘social’.

Google+ continued

Ok, now the whole Google+ hype has died down a bit and most of my ‘friends’ activities are back to normal (e.g. Twitter & Facebook) they’ve finally officially released it to wider audience. Unofficially everybody could join anyway (simple get an invite from someone already on it), but now it’s open to the bigger community.

As my earlier posts might have already demonstrated I’m still not fully convinced on Google+. Ok, yes I can see they’ve got some really nice things in there and their interface is slick but after two months the main feeling I get from Google+ is:

Who the He.. are all those people adding me to their circles??

I mean I’ve posted only about 20 posts on Google+ in the last two months but had over a 100 people actively adding me to their circles. It took me a lot longer to get even close to these numbers on Twitter or Facebook. The problem is though that out of that 100 a considerable amount of people who added me really don’t seem to be interested in what I am about. They’re just following me so that I follow them back it seems.
On Facebook where you need to actively accept friendships I know or at least can place anyone I befriended and on Twitter, where following someone means their posts show up in your main stream I know or can place at least 80% of my followers. On Google+ however you can add someone and then just park them in a circle. There is no investment it seems. So although Google+ does seem to yield more ‘followers’, I feel less connected to them. And that makes it a lot less ‘social’  to me.

Social Networking for me is all about broadening your community and I would lie if I said I was immune to the joys of seeing my followers list grow. Your social reach (follower base) is more or less the currency in Social networking. It determines how well your message gets around and it allows you to build relations with people you would otherwise never meet. But it’s not just the amount of followers you have that is important but also why those people would want to follow you. Are they genuinely interested in what you have to say or just adding you in the hopes of being followed back?!?
How valuable are followers on Google+ as social contacts if they have the ability to add you and then bury you in a never read circle?? Ok they are ‘following’ you but they might never actually read any of what you are posting. And that is exactly what makes me feel less connected to them and less inclined to actually post on Google+.

A lot of the people that added me on Google+, I feel, were just doing that: Hoping that adding me would mean I add them back (‘I follow you if you follow me‘). When I don’t follow them back a lot of them removed me from their circles just as easily as they added me in the first place.
True, this happens on all social networks, including Facebook & Twitter but with the circles model of Google+ it just becomes so much easier to distinguish between the people you are really interested in and the ones you simply added as ‘social currency’ that it makes it feel impersonal to me. It sort of sucks out the Social aspect of it all.

So on we go. I’m not counting out Google+ yet. I still think it’s a strong contender that will grow significantly. I think a second grow spurt will happen when the full Google+ API’s will be released. Allowing social apps like Tweetdeck, Yoono, Hootsuite, etc to incorporate it. So avid Social users like me can post to it simultaneously with our other social networks (Facebook, Twitter, linkedIn, etc). Until then it will remain something I look at periodically but hardly use I guess…