In this issue:
Innovation Tools • October 6, 2009
Security counts. People aren't really resistant to change—it's the threat to security they really hate, says business consultant Mike Dalton. Check out this list of questions you should ask before implementing any major overhaul in your organizational processes.
This article flips the question from "what needs to change?" to "what are we changing to?" A set of six "simple" questions helps the team examine and question the proposed solution and allows for skeptical evaluation, considering possible downsides. I like the thinking behind this exploratory process (although I did not see the list of question as simple at all). ( Proffitt)
Web Strategy • October 9, 2009
Yikes! Now that audiences can dis your presentation in real time via Twitter, consultant Jeremiah Owyang suggests strategies for monitoring backchannels while you're speaking, and shifting gears at the first sign of audience discontent.
As a long-time speaker and someone with a great deal of experience with the backchannel, I must politely disagree with the premise of this piece. Speakers should focus on making their presentation as compelling an experience as they can, which means not being distracted by monitoring the backchannel. I do, however, review the backchannel afterwards, and make appropriate adjustments to future presentations if I feel the criticism is justified. But making major "course corrections" based on one tweet (as reported in this piece) is ludicrous. You will never connect with every audience member in the room. But the author also gets some things right, such as "prepare more than ever," (you can't go wrong there), and "know your audience's social technology adoption" (which is key to know where to check for feedback—for example, will it be in IRC or Twitter?). One side note—as the moderator of a panel I have found giving audience members a hashtag to use for questions via Twitter to be very effective. People are often more comfortable submitting questions via Twitter than in walking up to a microphone. The essential point: use these technologies effectively and don't be ambushed or distracted by them. Your audience will thank you, both in person and on the net. ( Tennant)
IT World • October 9, 2009
Whistleblower wiki. A Web site dedicated to publicizing sensitive documents is now making it easier for newspapers, human rights organizations and others to participate. With more than a million documents published over the last three years, the site offers some interesting browsing.
Daniel Ellsberg could have used one of these. Imagine a secure form embedded on a Web site: "press here to publish The Pentagon Papers." So far Wikileaks has 1.2 million documents up, but evidently they aren't easy to search. Hmm...Organizing access to information is a factor for all kinds of archives. ( Schaffner)
Poets & Writers • September/October 2009
Never at a loss for words. The two-volume 4,448-page Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is a behemoth of a bookshelf addition, but publishers' plans call for making it available as part of an OED online subscription for $29.95 a month. One differentiator from Roget's is its attention to historical meanings of words as they change over time.
Nearly fifty years in the making, priced at $395 for two ravishing blue books resplendent in an understated indigo casket, this exhaustive work is—in its print manifestation—platinum-class porn for etymologists. Alas, most will encounter this lush historical thesaurus not in all its gilt-lettered cobalt-bound glory, but rather in the least tactile and most impersonal way possible—online, as part of a reasonably-priced OED subscription. ( Massie)
ReadWriteWeb • October 9, 2009
Worth another look? Google Squared—which gathers and displays structured data—has been revamped. It's still a work in progress, but the concept of being able to retrieve data organized in table format is a potentially useful feature for researchers. Check out this latest version from Google Labs.
It's still easy to spot issues in the displays (Thomas Hart Benton succeeding William Henry Harrison in the US Presidents square). But I'm glad to see Google Squared being made visible before even fairly glaring errors are accounted for; that's brave, in its way. I wonder if the misalignments would be less troubling, or the tentative confidence in some of the "facts" Squared offers made clearer, if Google selected an organizing layout without the rigid authority of a table. In its present form, the most compelling examples seem less like fodder for researchers than enhancements to casual or commercial discovery: the square of San Francisco Thai restaurants sorted by neighborhood is working for me. ( Washburn)