Latest Publications

HaCkEd :-

hacked.jpgNot cool! Somebody managed to hack my blog and put loads of spam links in my header and footer files. While I was cleaning those, I got an e-mail that an online payment bounced. Turns out that my creditcard got hacked as well, and some fool ordered plane tickets with it. Fortunately, MasterCard already expected something and blocked the card. Obviously, the plane tickets provide a very nice lead to whoever tried to use it…

Anyway, time to implement 10 Ways to Secure my WordPress Install.

Concepts for the future of work: the mental strain injury (MSI) meter

We’re starting an online collection of concepts for the future of work: ideas about how knowledge workers may be supported to work freely, effectively and healthy. For an overview of the ones we have currently collected, and to contribute concepts yourself, please visit: concepts.futureworkspaces.nl.

One of the concepts I like a lot is the Mental Strain Injury (MSI) meter.
Fatigue is fatalDigital nomads tend to have long working days. They are expected to be available during evenings and weekends, but also feel obliged to work during traditional working hours. So in the new world of work, work-life balance is not just fading – it’s shifting. And with less time to unwind, mental stress accumulates.

The MSI meter makes you aware how much mental strain has built up. It monitors your physiological stress levels (muscle tension in your shoulders and neck, eye blinking rate, heart rate, blood pressure) and warns you if these are out of healthy range. The meter makes you aware of this and provides suggestions for stress reduction. It suggests microbreaks or a change of activity, or even hints you to reschedule appointments.

Sharing great places to work "on the go"

While travelling, I’m always hunting for places with plugs, good coffee and preferrably wifi as well. How great would it be to have them as point of interest in my navigation system? If any of you know of such a database, please, please, pretty please, let me know.

Anyway, today I found a great spot: “de koffiesalon“, at the Utrechtsestraat in Amsterdam. Really great coffee made by skilled baristas, upstairs a long table with plenty of plugs and free wifi. The only problem is that now I’m so happy about finding the place that I first want to share this with you, before getting to work… 

Promoting the Triple-I Special Track on Knowledge Sharing using Social Media

Triple IAs part of the Triple-I conference in Graz, Austria (3-5 September 2008), there will be a Special Track on Knowledge Sharing using Social Media. The special track focusses on real-world experiences with Social Media and tries to find answers to research questions such as:

  • How is Social Media applied at the interface between enterprise and customers or partners?
  • Which factors facilitate and impede the successful implementation of Social Media?
  • Which Social Media applications are most promising for what purpose?
  • What are the approaches in introducing Social Media?
  • How is Social Media integrated with semantic technologies and to what purpose?

I hope you will consider sharing your experiences at this special track, as I am one of the program committee members 😉

More information can be found on: http://www.i-know.at/kss.

Rien ne va plus

Sad NabaztagSadly, my Nabaztag stopped responding. Maybe it gathered too much dust, maybe it was overwhelmed about being part of an art exhibition, maybe it caught virtual myxomatosis, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, no more experimenting with using the bunny as an ambient display. One of the things I wanted to test, was to use it as an ambient activity indicator of a SharePoint workspace. Now, maybe this is just a good excuse to look for other cool gadgets… Any suggestions of things that could be used as an ambient display?

Top 5 misconceptions about wikis at work

Wiki wiki busAlthough many organizations are currently experimenting with wikis, some presumptions about wikis in the workspace appear to be sticky. Our interviews with managers as well as employees (before working with a wiki) revealed some opinions that may hinder the introduction process, if left undiscussed. What misconceptions have you encountered around wikis at work? John Rotenstein from Atlassian already mentioned a couple a while ago. Hereby my top 5:

  1. “Making the technology available is enough for people to use it.”
    Carefully planning and supporting the introduction of the wiki is essential. People must trust the new technology, know when to use it (and when not), how to use it, have management support to use it, and find ways to embed it in their normal working routines. Putting the technology in place is just a small piece of the puzzle.
  2. “Only information that will stand the test of time belongs in the wiki.”
    Comparing the company wiki with Wikipedia is not helpful: people have to learn that sharing raw ideas and initial thoughts can be great conversation starters and lead to a “pressure cooker” effect, where insights from different angles are combined into valuable results.
  3. “You cannot trust the contents of a wiki page.” As with any piece of information, you have to judge wiki content carefully. However, the mechanism that all employees can mark and correct wiki pages helps in discovering and correcting errors. You’re not alone.
  4. “If everybody can change everything, things will become a mess.”
    Ton Zijlstra told me to just make a slide with this text and then animate it, so “everybody” changes into “my colleagues”… If they still see that as a problem, then they need more then just a wiki.
  5. “Putting information in the wiki is something you just do on the side.”
    These are actually two misconceptions: it takes time and effort to write a good wiki page, but more importantly, writing down results in a wiki could be the primary outcome of the work process, not a secondary documentation step. For instance, a design, meeting minutes, or a status report could just be delivered as a set of wiki pages. Management has an important role to reassure people that delivering project results as wiki pages is perfectly acceptable.

What are your experiences with presumptions around wikis at work?

Status tags for wiki pages?

draftDoes anyone know any good practices regarding status tags for wiki pages? In a wiki where many people co-create and share information, it is often useful to see the status of an article: it this an initial draft, is there discussion around this text or is the article maybe even a candidate for deletion? Just like wikipedia uses the {{NPOV}} tag to mark articles that do not represent a neutral point of view, it may be a good practice to mark the status of wiki pages. Any suggestions or do you know of any good practices?

I expect that the set of tags depends on the purpose of the wiki; the purpose of the wiki I am referring to is co-creation and sharing information over the boundaries of departments within an organization. Sounds familiar? I would prefer the set to be as short and clear as possible. My suggestions:

  • FirstDraft: indicates initial thoughts, not really being discussed yet, comments are welcome.
  • UnderDiscussion: indicates articles that are being discussed, alive, contributions are welcome. 
  • Official: indicates pages that reflect an official policy or widely accepted standard. When editing this page, users should ensure that their revision reflects consensus. When in doubt, discuss the changes first.
  • NeedsUpdate: indicates articles that contain outdated information and lack recent discussion. Practical for wiki maintenance.
  • CandidateForDeletion: indicates articles that contain outdated information that may be removed altogether. Deletion of wiki pages should not be taken lightly, but some cleaning up once and a while may be smart.

What could a Social Virtual Workspace look like?

SocialrOne of the developments I strongly believe in, is making our personal work environments more social. Knowing that my social network is not just a source of passion, but also a source of inspiration, expertise, and keeping track of current trends & developments, it seems to make sense to have this network on my radar, and integrated in my work environment.

At the moment, I use a mixture of Outlook, iGoogle, SharePoint, Skype, Facebook, Microsoft Office and a dozen other tools to get my work done. I would like to have a more integrated work environment, where I am in charge of what functionality is included and how it is presented to me. SharePoint2007 and iGoogle already show possible models of allowing users to select and combine the functionality they need, when they need it (which is what I call tailorability). The image I attached to this post goes one step further: it sketches an online service that focusses on your social networks (family, friends, colleagues, customers), keeps you aware of their status and activities, and integrates this with personal information management and collaboration functionality. The open interface for Facebook developers and OpenSocial are examples of inititiatives that could be the basis for such a service. It is essential to actually utilize the corporate firewall in the scenario: making sure that confidential information stays within the organization, while giving employees a low-threshold means to keep in touch with their network in the outside world.

What is your opinion on such a social virtual workspace and what do you think it will look like?

New Ways of Working & Social Embedding

Family gatheringCurrently many organizations are experimenting with more flexible work arrangements for their knowledge workers. Well-known examples are Best Buy’s Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), and, here in The Netherlands, Interpolis. Although there are different visions of the New Way of Working, it usually involves more freedom and responsibility for the knowledge worker, more trust by the employer, while maintaining cohesion in the company (social embedding of knowledge workers). Information and communication technology can help in this process by allowing people to work from anywhere at anytime, while still being able to find each other, communicatie and coordinate their actions. So far so good, and actually most basic solutions for anytime, anywhere working have been around for at least 10 years (laptops, e-mail, cellular phones, file servers).

Veldhoen + Company (in Dutch) state that a change towards the New Way of Working requires a balanced change of the physical environment, a mental change and a change of the virtual environment. Many initiatives just focus on putting new tools in place, some address new management styles (such as the Results Only Work Environment), some try to provide knowledge workers with a stimulating physical work environment (like Interpolis). But how about the stimulating virtual work environment? Just being able to share files and folders does not really stimulate me to socialize with my team members. Meanwhile we know that social embedding (feeling connected to our colleagues) is a factor that requires extra attention when working more and more at different locations and at different times.

What I am curious about is whether wikis, blogs, social networking sites and applications like Twitter can help us feel connected, share our passions, know what others are up to and socialize also in an office environment. And how to make sure this all is nicely embedded in a virtual environment that actually stimulates us to socialize? Any thoughts or examples (good and bad) are very welcome.

Limited options for applications in Second Life

For our new project on Future Workspaces, I have been looking into the possibilies of integrating applications in the Second Life environment. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed by the options and the limitations of the Second Life script language (LSL). First of all, in-world applications have to be constructed out of the basic building blocks of Second Life (prims). You can define limited functionality inside such a prim using the LSL language or let it communicate with the outside world using e-mail, URL requests or XML-RPC. So far, so good…

Angry in SLHowever, the LSL scripts have some serious limitations (as I discovered when I tried to program an SL poker table in my free time). First of all, a single script can only use 16K memory (welcome to the 21st century!) and there are all kind of unpracticalities, such as no nested lists and no library functions, so code reuse is done by copy-pasting code. Moreover, there are serious memory leaks and build-in delays, for instance when sending an e-mail. Of course it is possible to overcome these barriers, but this complicates any programming effort so much, that it quickly takes the fun away.

Because of these limitations, some operations that seem pretty standard become extremely complex, as illustrated by the story of displaying an external image by Dav Yaginuma, who even went as far as to create a series of cubes to represent individual pixels.

A few days ago, I saw an integration of Basecamp in Second Life and I was very curious how they did that. It turned out that it was a static screenshot, placed as a texture on a prim, with a link embedded to a Basecamp webpage. Clicking on the object just opened your browser to a fixed webpage. That is not quite the integration I had in mind.

Part of my trouble is of course that I don’t now yet what I would like to make to support knowledge workers in Second Life, but I figured that it makes sense anyway to explore the options. Anyway, if you know of any cool examples, I would be happy to hear from you.