The parable of the four unfit friends

August 19, 2019 · · Posted by Pierre Bienvenüe

ImageIn this article we tell the parable of four friends and some of their life choices.

Four unfit friends make a decision for change

Amelia, Bradley, Charmelle and Dimba became friends at university and over the years kept in contact. Now in their mid-thirties they realised that time was acting against their body. Somehow, around a conversation, they agreed that they had to do something about their fitness level, waistline and change their lifestyle.

Amelia had friends, the Jones's, who had built a gym in their mansion. She thought it was a brilliant idea and since she had a spare room, she shopped around and bought herself a few fitness machines. She started to practice, but since she didn't know much about pumping iron and persistent effort she soon stopped using them and would rather show the room to visiting friends. Once a year she'd spring clean the room and get a handyman to repaint the machines before a professional would inspect them. He'd tell her that they could do with more usage and then he'd send her his bill.

Bradley superficially considered joining the gym but when he saw the annual subscription cost he told his friends: "this gym thing is quite expensive and if you can't show me an immediate return, I'm not interested". So he continued with his lifestyle thinking that life was good and he would take a chance.

Charmelle and Dimba decided to join the gym. They started to go three times a week and once a week they shared a coaching session. Since it was a good facility with good equipment, affordable and competent coaches, they kept going. After a few weeks, they realised that their energy level had increased. It felt good training. Coach advised them to adjust their diet which they did. This resulted in pleasant weight loss. After a while Charmelle felt bored and because she was going through tough time at work and a change of season at home she started to skip sessions.

Dimba kept going and joined another group at the gym who shared coaching sessions. Obviously there would be some low times when he would fall back, but since he had a clear vision for his lifestyle and fitness objectives he would pull himself together and resume regular training cycles.

Seven years later

Seven years later, Amelia sold her machines on the internet for 20% of the purchase value. She is overweight and because of that she has high blood pressure and shows early signs of Type 2 diabetes.

Bradley, well, Bradley is in Stage 2 lung cancer. Ironically he wouldn't subscribe to the gym because it was too expensive but never stopped buying cigarettes. His bad habits are killing him.

Charmelle is not too happy with her fitness level, but she occasionally attends a few classes of pilates or Zumba or anything trendy. Oftentimes she'll swap her card just to keep her membership going. She's plodding along.

Dimba ran his first half-marathon four years ago, three marathons last year and is currently training with his new friends for the Ironman in Holland this summer. He started to coach disadvantaged kids to improve their fitness and build healthy life habits and relationships.

Four unfit organisations make different strategic choices

So what does the story of Amelia, Bradley, Charmelle and Dimba mean for businesses?

Every organisation moves along a life cycle curve and in the various stages they will experience normal maturity problems but also abnormal ones that they need to manage. Top leadership level of courage, sense of reality and vision will determine if they grow a healthy and prosperous business... or not.

Amelia represents organisations that embark in ISO9001 certification for the wrong reason: their customers are demanding it. Execs in these organisations have the wrong perception of what ISO9001 really is. They see the certificate as a qualifier for engaging in commercial activities when actually ISO 9001 provides a path to prosperity. Resources and money are spent to establish the Quality Management System, they barely use it, turn their Quality Assurance personnel into policemen. They scramble once a year to repaint the system for the surveillance audit while naively thinking that the auditor won't pick up anything. A real pain. What a waste!

ISO 9001 is designed to support the drive for organisations to be profitable through sustained customer satisfaction. The framework forces the organisations to answer the three questions:

  • Tell me how you run your business;
  • show me how you run your business and;
  • if what you show me is different from what you tell me, then show me how you are improving your business..

Bradley represents Execs in organisations whose drive to change is lower than the perceived cost of change. They are dissatisfied, but not nearly enough. They don't have a long term vision nor risk-based thinking and therefore can only consider change from an accounting angle. They expect an instant return to any investment. They may think that avoiding to invest in people and processes is a sure way to improve their business. They confuse cost saving and cost cutting and forget to notice that most of their past decisions haven't yielded any sustainable improvements. Edwards Deming puts it this way: "it is not necessary to change; survival is not mandatory".

Charmelle represents the Execs in many organisations with a disconnect between the strategy and its implementation. They also fail to consider the business as a whole organism. They like the idea of pursuing operational excellence but don't have a clue on what it looks like, how to get there and the discipline it requires. So based on market conditions, tax incentives and latest management hype, they'll invest in ad hoc initiatives, a bit of lean, some training and development, leadership courses, mentoring program, motivational workshops, pieces of software. Since they don't have an integrated approach to strategy implementation, nor coordinated plan they fail to develop a culture of continuous improvement. Brian Wilson, co-founder of the Beach Boys made this amusing jest: "beware, the lollipop of mediocrity, lick it once and you'll suck for ever."

Dimba represents Execs that have established a vision for their organisation and understand the need to develop healthy leadership habits that bring about transformation. They understand the value of discipline and persistent effort. In their journey towards excellence they integrate best management practices (Quality Management), and continuous improvement practices (Lean Management). They develop their people all the time. Even in difficult times and when facing set backs, they stay the course, humbly, one small step at a time. The organisation becomes a great place to work, with loyal employees and life time customers. Prosperity.

A call for action

impi! is to organisations what the gym is to people: an enabler for transformation. Impi! is altogether a platform, sets of tools and methods, and competent coaches that provide a transformation strategy, adapted routines, sound advice based on the reality of the organisation and most importantly accountability for the execs to keep pressing on their Lean safari even during the tough times all organisations experience.

The Execs make a decision to change. impi! help them action the decision. It offers them the tools to understand better their current reality, refine a vision of their desired future and provide practical means to get there by engaging their teams who improve their processes. Dimba is in for the long haul.

Related

Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe - founder of impi Business Improvement Solutions Pty

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo? - Discipline and creativity

Aug 2018 | TeamPage ISO 9001:2015 Solution adds integrated Risk and Improvement Project Management

impi! and TeamPage Reduce Administration of Document Control

May 3, 2019 · · Posted by Pierre Bienvenüe

ImageIn this article we build a case for using TeamPage and impi! wiki templates to save administrative time for document control and support the intent of ISO9001:2015 to distribute the responsibility of the Quality Management System to the leadership of the organisation.

In 2018, Impi Development engaged in business development talks with a manufacturing company in the Durban area. The organisation had completed the transition to the 2015 version of ISO9001. The QA manager was still managing writing of standard documentation on behalf of the other heads of department (HODs). The Durban company's document management system was still Word and Excel based. Maintenance of the document change control and register was thus still manual as was the risk register. The QA manager reckoned that document management would account to one week per month or 3 months per year of administration.

In May 2019, Pierre enquired with Liezel Eksteen, Quality Assurance (QA) manager at CounterPoint Trading (cpttrading.co.za) about her workload to manage the firm's TeamPage/impi! based document management system.

CounterPoint was successfully accredited for the ISO 9001 Quality Management System in April 2019. From her past and current experience in developing and maintaining such management systems Liezel would have spent three weeks per month to build up the documentation on the ramp up to accreditation. With TeamPage/impi! her engagement was about one week per month. Maintenance of the system necessitates about 8 hours per month or five times less than that of a manual system. Liezel points to two main reasons: technological and systemic.

Technical benefit of using TeamPage.

The moderation capability allows for wider collaborative content change, but easy content control and monitoring. This means that content can be created by multiple users and yet conform to the company requirements.

The audit trail records all changes – not just edits – including tag changes, publish / draft actions. There is no need to maintain a document register; TeamPage does it for the QA function.

Systemic benefit of using impi!

The organisation of the documentation in a wiki type, access to a multitude of standard templates and the use of signature requirements makes it easy for process owners to take procedural responsibilities. The onus is now on the HODs to manage the content of their own documentation, review it and insure its relevance. This is one of several intents of the transition from the 2008 to the 2015 version of ISO9001: responsibility for the quality management system is distributed throughout the entire organisation.

So the time that Liezel saves in non-value activities that the Durban QA manager still performs manually makes up for a large share of the cost of the annual licensing for TeamPage/impi!, but is now being applied to the improvement of the quality management system in the areas of Non Conformity, risk and internal auditing.

Related

Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe - founder of impi Business Improvement Solutions Pty

Jun 2016 | ISO 9001:2015 Requirements Met By impi! Solutions - Meeting ISO 9001:2015 requirements using the impi! model

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo? - Discipline and creativity

Dec 2016 | Business Process Improvement with impi!, Plug-in extensions, TeamPage improvements

How to create a simplified custom front page for TeamPage

December 13, 2018 · · Posted by Takashi Okutsu

ImageThe other day, I helped a Japanese IT Support company build a client support site with TeamPage.

Their main request was to make the top page ("front page") of TeamPage simple as possible to be more welcoming and prevent clients from being confused. So, I (1) put the large icons and buttons on the top page and (2) removed tabs and sidebar etc.

In this blog post, I will briefly introduce how I did the customizations using a TeamPage plug-in developed and delivered to the company.

How? Why TeamPage?

Let me introduce how TeamPage allow us to build a client support site with private and public spaces.

The structure of the support site by TeamPage

A "space" is like a "room" in a TeamPage building. An administrator is like a janitor of the building. He or she creates private rooms for clients who purchase IT support services from the company. The TeamPage server also has spaces for internal staff, and public spaces to post information shared with all clients and internal staff.

  • A client can not enter the private rooms for the other clients.
  • Internal support staff including the administrators can enter all rooms.

For example, the support requests, on-site remedy schedules, and the other articles and comments posted in the "Client A" room are allowed to be viewed by Client A only. They can not be seen by the other clients.

On the other hand, the internal staff has a high level overview of everything.

The company decided to start using TeamPage to build their support site because they had found Teampage as the best tool to manage the information security, track the latest situation for all clients, and research support records posted in the past by search.

Why We Simplify The Top Page

The top page before customization had the following interface.

  • There were 3 green buttons, "Inquiry Form for PC", "Request via Phone", and "Request via Email".
    • The buttons were embedded in an article and I put the article on the top page.
  • The blue button "Go To Members' Page" was supposed to lead a client to his/her private space.
  • The New Articles section showed the 5 newest article so that people could catch what was going on quickly on the top page.
  • The Customer Information section showed the 5 newest articles with the "Customer Information" tag so that the internal staff can take a look quickly on the top page.

Before Customization

I thought this was simple enough and sufficiently refreshing, but my customer wanted me to simplify more and more. Their requests were;

  • Let the clients understand "Go to the membership page first" and do not allow them to do other operations on the top page.
  • Add attractive graphics including a fancy character. The top page with text and buttons does not look inviting and may turn off the clients.

TeamPage has lots of links and buttons on the page. This allows people to select their favorite ways to do an operation. One of them may do something by selecting a tab in the top navigation bar and another may do the same thing by clicking a link in the sidebar.

It's designed to be flexible. However, my customer didn't like it. He said "If there are several ways to get the same goal, people may be confused to choose one. They need only one way. Remove the unnecessary links and buttons as possible from the top page so that there will be only one way to get to the members' page."

I think this might be because of the difference of the educations in the U.S. and Japan. I've heard that the kids in the U.S. are taught to be independent, have their opinions, and make decisions. On the other hand, the kids in Japan are taught to follow the others to be a part of the teams first rather than express their opinions. Interesting, isn't it?

How to customize

Okay. Now let me introduce how I simplified the top page and made my customer happy.

Hiding the unnecessary parts

First of all, I had to hide unnecessary tabs and buttons as much as possible. Please see the animation shown below. I hid the black parts.

Comparison - The black parts should be hidden

Home icon on the top-left

The "home" icon for returning to the top page is unnecessary on the top page because you are supposed to be already on the top page. I hid it by using the following stylesheet (CSS).

.view-home #loc .loc-home {
  display: none;
}

The stylesheet can be set on the "Design" dialog or Proteus Custom JavaScript & CSS plug-in.

Customize CSS

Setup and Invite menus

The "Setup" menu shows up only when a user logs in to TeamPage as an administrator. Since clients who post inquiries are not administrators, this menu will not be displayed. Therefore, customization is unnecessary.

The "Invite" menu shows up only when a user logs in to TeamPage with a user account with the "Invite" permission. This permission is allowed to everyone by default, so I configured the permission is allowed only to the administrators.

Tabs

The tabs in the header bar is a frequently-used navigation In TeamPage. You can switch the tabs by your needs. For example, if you want to the tasks and/or projects of your team, you should select the "Tasks" tab. If you want to check the due dates of the tasks and/or your meeting schedules, you should select the "Calendar" tab.

Tabs

The tabs may be unnecessary for clients who are not familiar with TeamPage, but they are convenient and powerful navigation for those who are accustomed to TeamPage (such as administrators).

So, I decided to set up "to hide the tabs for clients and display the tabs for administrators".

The plugin-in that I recently created for this purpose is Set Special Class(es) to The HTML Body Tag plug-in which checks whether a logged-in user account belongs to a specific group and adds a special class(es) to the HTML <body> tag.

I set it up to add class="is-admin" to the <body> tag if a logged-in user belongs to the administrator group.

This allows me to display the tabs to the administrators only with the following stylesheet.

body:not(.is-admin) #sect-nav {
  display: none;
}

Sidebar

Hide/Show Side Column plug-in, which is installed by default, has an option which allows users to select collapse (hide) or expand (show) the sidebar by default. All I had to do was selecting "hide by default" there.

Sections

I disabled the sections in [Server Settings] > [Front page] configuration page. It was easy.

Coloring the notification badge

The notification badge tells you the number of your notifications. You receive a notification when someone comments on your post, someone changed the status of your task, someone posts an event (a schedule) with you as an attendee, and so on.

Default badge

... but I wanted the badge to be noticeable by making its color red. The default color is lightened color of the background bar. Don't you think it is inconspicuous?

It was also easy to color the badge red. Just add the following CSS.

Red notification badge

.menu-notifications .notifications-count {
  background-color: crimson;
}

A Fancy Character

I asked a web designer in the IT Support company to draw an image of the top page with a fancy character. Now, how do I put it on the top page of TeamPage?

Image of the top page with a woman

TeamPage has (1) the "Embed Content" plug-in which allows me to put any HTML code in an article and (2) the "Dashboard" capability which allows me to display a specific article(s) on the top page. With the combination of the (1) and (2), I thought I could achieve the goal.

However, it turned out that there was a problem. Putting the green buttons and menus in the picture above is OK because the link target is fixed and the same for everyone but the destination of the "Members' Page" (the blue button) in the picture below must be different per client.

Go to the members' page

The "Members' Page" means "the dashboard page in the client's private space". So the blue button must navigate a user from the client "ABC Company" to the "ABC" room ("ABC" private space) and a user from the client "XYZ Company" to the "XYZ" room etc.

So I created a special small plug-in that checks the private space of a logged-in user and put the space name into the destination URL.

Each client user is supposed to have the read permission in his/her private space and some public spaces. The plug-in gets the list of the spaces where the user has the read permission and exclude the public spaces from the list.

<!--- Create a comma-separated list of the spaces where the user has the read permission,
      and put it into the "readableSpaces" variable. -->
<var.set name="readableSpaces">
  <projects.read>
    __project.name__
    <loop.last not>,</loop.last>
  </projects.read
</var.set>

<!--- Create a list of the public spaces
      and put it into the "publicSpaces" variable. -->
<var.set name="publicSpaces">Bulletin,FAQ,Forum</var.set>

<!--- Check each space in the list.
      If a space is in the public spaces list, do nothing. -->
<foreach list="${readableSpaces}">
  <compare.contains "${publicSpaces}" "__foreach.current__">
    <!--- Ignore! -->
  <else>
    <!--- Draw the blue button. -->
    <a href="/traction#/dashboard&proj=__foreach.current__">Members' Page</a>
  </compare.contains>
</foreach>

The programming language for TeamPage customization is called "SDL" (Skin Develop Language). It looks like HTML and XML. You can modify the existing behaviors and create new features just like you create a web page. If you are interested in the SDL programming, why don't you come to our support site? It's free!

After customization

Ta-da! Finally, the top page customizations are done.

The IT Support company liked the simplified face of the top page. "It is quite simple and easy to understand! Customers will not get lost any more."

Customization Completed

Summary

On the standard front page of TeamPage, you can arrange sections such as "New Articles" and "New Tasks" like a newspaper, or you can put a specific article on it like a poster.

In addition, you can change the landing page from the front page (the team-shared dashboard) to your own page.

Using JavaScript, CSS, and TeamPage's SDL programming language makes it possible to further customize.

The TeamPage plug-in architecture makes it simple to install the customization, and allows the company to install new TeamPage updates without having to re-install the plug-in.

One of the IT Support company said: "It was surprising and inspiring to me to know that TeamPage has such wonderful flexibilities and possibilities. I asked you many requests and you did never say "No, it is not supported." All our requests came to existence. Wonderful!" I was so glad to hear that!

If you are interested in customizing TeamPage, please feel free to contact us. You can learn to do this customization yourself, ask us for TeamPage SDK training and support, or ask us to design, deliver and support a plug-in extension to match what you want to do.

Related articles

Working Across Boundaries ... There's no reason to settle for a collaboration and action tracking solution that only handles internal collaboration, or assumes that everything happens in a building with glass walls and no doors. Real business value and sustainable competitive advantage often depend on working easily within and across boundaries that need to be in place to do business.

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style ... A work graph consists of the units of work (tasks, ideas, clients, goals, agenda items); information about that work (relevant conversations, files, status, metadata); how it all fits together; and then the people involved with the work (who’s responsible for what? which people need to be kept in the loop?).

お客様が迷わない!スッキリ簡潔なトップページのカスタマイズ例 Japanese language version of this blog post, on the Traction Software Japanese Business Office website. Follow @TSIJPBO on Twitter for TeamPage news from Japan!

Why, How and What of the impi Standard Meeting Plug-in for TeamPage

January 25, 2017 · · Posted by Pierre Bienvenüe

ImageThe new impi! Standard Meeting Plug-in for TeamPage enables easier, faster and more accurate minute taking for recurring meetings which agenda is standardized. It augments the impi! solution: Goal Alignment - Mini Business Units Deployment. To learn more about this plug-in and impi's Business Management System solutions built using TeamPage, please contact Traction Software.

The task is the unit of continuous improvement and the MBU meeting the delivery forum

In a Lean enterprise, the unit of continuous improvement is the task or action. It needs to be explicit and time bound. Members make themselves accountable by first agreeing on the tasks and then taking responsibility to carry them out. The best forum to review progress is the mini-business unit (MBU) meeting where accountability is achieved with transparency and simplicity. This is one of the reason why visual management is much prevalent in Companies seeking excellent processes and people. At operational level, a wall is well suited to communicate priority tasks and decisions. Together with Key Performance indicators and other succinct and essential information, the priority tasks are recorded on a board. The traditional supervisor black book is now replaced with an information medium available to all. The interval between two meetings is short (from a shift to a week) and the priority tasks are straight forward. The meeting is recurring and its agenda is standardized: there isn't a need for minute taking.

Visual management is not restricted to a wall. TeamPage provides electronic visual management

However, for MBUs where the nature of the standard meetings is more systemic or strategic, tasks become more complex and numerous. Decisions need to be recorded too. Even general information and detailed minutes can be needed. This is typical with cross-functional operational meetings, management reviews, monthly executive or sales meetings, multisite meetings where new information and intelligence are shared. An electronic solution is required. Here, the wall, board and pens are replaced with the screen, projector and computer; this is still visual management.

The Standard Meeting Plug-in leverages the capability of TeamPage for task management and contextualizing information. Our development drive has been to offer a solution that would be intuitive, easy to use and offering simple and deep ways of finding historical tasks, decisions, and minutes. Additionally the ability to see at one glance all historical decisions associated to a particular meeting profile, provides a coach insight into the chairperson management style.

The plug-in is a productivity tool and a time saver

We researched examples of minute taking templates (some of them very complex in the Quality Assurance domain) and observed for two years the habits at CounterPoint Trading our industrial partner with whom we experiment all impi! solutions. We came to the conclusion that the five following areas were sufficient to document a standard meeting:

  1. The administrative information that identifies the standard meeting e.g. meeting name, location, attendees, etc.
  2. The Meeting profile that describes the 4 P's (Purpose, Players, Preparation and Plan - the agenda)
  3. General Information or Detailed minutes
  4. Decisions made during the meeting
  5. Open and closed tasks from the current meeting and open tasks from past meetings.

The resulting solution allows the team to capture on the go tasks and decisions associated to the meeting profile. Past open tasks are always on the radar screen, thus reinforcing accountability. Information retrieval is immediate in the context of the meeting. The plug-in is a productivity tool and a time saver. Example of usage of the standard meeting plugin would be for management and senior management meetings, project reviews, management reviews, compliance/governance meetings, multisite meetings, etc.

CounterPoint Trading interview

Here are the first impressions on using the plug-in from the original users at CounterPoint Trading:

How does it work?

A standard meeting is defined by its 4Ps. impi! users define the detailed meeting profiles in their Knowledge Central space alternatively the 4Ps will be defined in the meeting profile article created in the relevant space.

proteus view

A standard meetings section is configured In MBU spaces (e.g. BU3 operational) or special purpose spaces (e.g. Environmental Management).

proteus view

By adding a meeting profile in the meeting section, we create a container where all the meeting minutes will be collected in sequence for that particular profile

proteus view

We can navigate from to the previous and next meeting directly from the current minutes. Also, a new meeting minutes can be created In the Meeting profile itself or alternatively from the latest meeting minutes.

proteus view

Open tasks from past meetings are shown in the current meeting minutes

proteus view
Image

Learn More

Here is a more detailed tutorial on how to use the Standard Meeting plug-in:

Related

Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe - founder of impi Business Improvement Solutions Pty

Jun 2016 | ISO 9001:2015 Requirements Met By impi! Solutions - Meeting ISO 9001:2015 requirements using the impi! model

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo? - Discipline and creativity

Dec 2016 | Business Process Improvement with impi!, Plug-in extensions, TeamPage improvements

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo?

July 16, 2016 · · Posted by Pierre Bienvenüe

ImageImpi is a Zulu word for any armed body of men. It also bears in English a connotation to the art of warfare. In the early part of the 19th century the Zulu nation, then a relatively small tribe rose to a prominent nation. Under the leadership of King Shaka its influence span across Southern Africa. Shaka deeply transformed the art of warfare in the sub continent drawing from traditions and innovating. Aspects of warfare covered army structure and deployment, leadership, training, agility, logistic, weaponry, etc. Shaka's organisational development and leading of his impis were characterised by discipline (standardisation) and creative improvement.

Shaka's influence in improving the impi was sustained to the point that 71 years after his death, at the battle of Isandlwana in 1879, the numerically superior Zulu impi defeated the British despite a vast disadvantage in weapons technology. "The British Army had suffered its worst defeat against an indigenous technologically vastly inferior foe." (See Wikipedia article).

Relevance to our project

impi! as a set of solutions offers a disciplined and structured approach to establishing the Business Management Systems (ISO 9001 compliant) of organisations based on continuous improvement. It relies on the transformation of individuals that become a thinking people by improving processes through discipline and creativity.

So if an organisation and its employees constitute an impi, who would be the enemy? The various risks associated to operating a business and the wasteful activities embedded in the processes are the enemy. And it goes on: the age-grade regiments are the MBUs; the Bull-Horn formation is part of the management systems; the shields are the standards used to protect; the spears are the methods used to improve (problem solving, innovation, improvement projects) i.e. atrophy the risks and eradicate problems.

Reference to Lean principles

Social Structure and Technical Structure of an organisation as per Paul Adler (1999).
Image

A stunning observation of the evolution of the impi under King Shaka is the level of innovation and creativity stemming from the cultural traditions and the simultaneous increase in discipline. In the Lean manufacturing approach, leadership intentionally develops a thinking people on the foundation of strong structures and standards.

A common view of organisational structures is to look at discipline and creativity as the two ends of the same structural continuum. Jeffrey Liker in a footnote of the Toyota Way (2004) makes reference to Paul Adler's paper on Building Better Bureaucracies (1999). Adler's model shows that creativity (enabling Social Structure) and discipline (strong Technical Structure) are two favourable features of an empowered organisation. The Intern (2015 film) makes an interesting point in the balance between discipline and creativity (although the critics would have missed in the movie the case for enabling bureaucracies).

ImageLong before we started building the blocks (the solutions) for impi! in 2012, we wanted to lay a foundation: a dynamic model that would help understand how a customer driven company operates. Business Management Systems are constructs designed to manage knowledge. In the words of Peter Drucker, "the essence of management is to make knowledge productive". The Core Cycle is an integrated model that attempts to make the statement actionable. It consists of five interrelated factors namely: contribution, best operating practice (BOP), best improvement practice (BIP), leadership and structure, and empowerment.

Back in 2005, the author became a champion for the implementation of a continuous improvement programme. He created the ancestor of the Core Cycle as a theme to communicate the change about to happen in the organisation. It consisted in a shield representing the discipline in the organisation and a spear representing innovation or improvement. With the shield, one can defend. In the case of the organisation, this means defending a business model, people, environment, shareholder value. But an organisation that only defends systems defined in the past cannot sustain without improvement: attacking to craft a future for the organisation by continuously improving. Improvement and Discipline have been identified as success factors of the impi.

Defending with the shield; attacking with the spear.

Image

The evolution from this picture to the Core Cycle happened over the years. The shield became the Best Operating practice (BOP) and the spear became the Business Improvement Practice (BIP).

Rooted in our values

As we develop a relationship with our clients, partners as well as a nascent Community Of Practice, we hope to strengthen our values and live by them:

  • We care relates to the protection offered by the shield. We care for others, the business model, the systems and processes, shareholder value, etc.
  • We Continuously Improve relates to the spear and carving a future for impi!, our partners and clients.
  • We Contribute by defeating the enemy: risk and waste (value addition).

Revealed in the impi! logo

ImageThe impi! logo below represents the i of impi! and the exclamation mark; continuously spinning, like Deming's wheel, the PDCA cycle. We standardise, improve and sustain, like King Shaka did with the impi.

And by the way, why an "!" at the end of impi! ?

Because the impi is powerful, compelling and exciting. Listen to Johnny Clegg, relating the battle of Isandlwana in his song impi!

Related

Welcome to impi! - an evolutionary business improvement system for the digital era.

Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe - Concepts impi! uses to build business management systems. Convergence of Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement.

ISO 9001:2015 Requirements Met By impi! Solutions - ISO 9001:2015 requirements based on lessons learned working with one of my clients since July 2015 under the guidance of one of the contributors to the new version of the standard.

A Fabric, not a Platform

June 21, 2016 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageApple and Google are competing to build a fabric that connects everything you own and use, working outward from the globally meshed supercomputer you carry in your pocket. Both apply deep learning technology to AI assistants, and are opening up their AIs and bots to other apps, bots, and cloud services. This richly connected fabric makes bots useful and AI assistants valuable by teaching them how to identify objects you're talking about as well as understand what you want done. The same applies at work. Making this happen requires a shift from the traditional definition of a platform to a fabric which makes it possible to connect people and the actionable objects they use, in context.

Juggling Plates

First of all, work is not all done in one place. The things that people talk about and use to get work done are scattered across a handful of silos and apps. For some people it's a scary, dark forest of silos and apps, but most people rely on a handful of places to get their daily work done - and are reluctant to venture outside the places they know.

This isn't a bad thing:

  • Nothing is ever done in one place; work is intrinsically intertwingled. People will use their own smart phones and apps to route around omissions and ugly bumps that IT provides.
  • Trying to stuff all work into one big box is much, much worse: I remember the global bank whose Lotus Notes repositories spent almost all of their cycles synchronizing with each other.
  • In a competitive marketplace, progress is made in fits and starts. New apps, platforms and services are far better, cheaper and more fun to use than apps fossilized by IT for a small captive, internal audience, written and maintained by the lowest-cost outsourced bidder.
  • It's an opportunity for companies like Salesforce and others to build big service platforms to create cozy places for familiar activities, lowering friction and adding guardrails for guidance.
  • Sharing platforms like Box, Dropbox, and Google also aspire to become platforms for work, trying to convince customers and developers to choose their platform to build cozy places for specific activities.
  • But having a multitude of channels repeats the plate juggling problem if you have too many places to look when you try to get organized, see Group Chat Doesn't Suck. The Way We're Using It Sucks

How can we make work actionable?

Actionable Work

I hope you all agree that one way to make life easier for people trying to get work done together is to make their work observable. I believe it's also valuable to make work actionable - by individuals, teams, apps, bots, and AIs. Think "actionable" in the sense of actionable intelligence: "information that can be acted upon, with the further implication that actions should be taken." Think "work" in the sense of "work product" like tasks, documents, CAD files, transactions in system of record, as well as the trail of actions taken and resources used by people, apps, or bots to get work done.

In an ideal world, the information you want, things you need to work with, and people who you should talk with should be just a click - or a "Hey Siri" - away. I'll call this actionable work since it expresses a desire to make what you or others have done, used or talked about in the past usable to get work done in the future. Effortlessly findable. Easily usable. It should fall readily to hand. How close can we come to the ideal? What's needed? What stands in the way?

Objects - Documents, pages, messages, tasks, discussions, and transactions need to be findable, addressable, and usable as objects of action verbs, whether than verb is an action taken using a click, API call, message to a bot, or request to an assistant like Siri.

Context - To make work actionable, you need to implicitly or explicitly identify the context of an action's reference; context itself becomes an object of actionable work.

Although this sounds like something that only a programmer would say, think about how you reference objects in a conversation: "How are we doing on the Acme Products proposal?" A human being you work with either has a pretty good idea of what you mean in some shared context, or will ask you a question to clarify.

A good reply might be "We're waiting for Chris. He should approve it or get back with questions by Wednesday close of business". Could a bot do this? Even if you're not using a bot, could a request like "How're we doing on the Acme Products proposal?" give you a link to the relevant status and related activity rather than just a link to a document named Acme Proposal?

Software objects have addresses or names that can identify that object in the context of some open domain like the web or a closed domain like a database. Although some objects of actionable work have human sensible names, few of these names are unique. Unique names are themselves unique in a context like names in your address book, names in corporate directory, or assigned names like invoice numbers and permalinks in a system of record. Many objects of actionable work don't have human sensible names, but become addressable when a click on a screen or command like "reply" enables a software system to identify the object you want to act on.

Work Graph - Whether shown on a screen or mentioned in a relevant context, context makes objects of actionable work findable, usable, and fall readily to hand. By "fall readily to hand" I mean easily accessible to human beings who talk about related objects of work. People, bots, and AIs need to understand what humans means when they say "Send this to Jordan and see if he agrees", or "Open a trouble report on this." Building on a term coined by Justin Rosenstein, l call this representation of related people, objects and trails of actions in context a work graph.

Work like the web - You don't need to get into arguments about the world of apps versus the work of the web so long as the underlying objects you use are addressable and usable with standard W3C protocols. It doesn't matter if you use Facebook's mobile app or Facebook's web browser interface so long as both user interfaces show and use the same objects and content under the covers on the server side. You also want to: 1) identify yourself once, and use that identity consistently; 2) rely on web services to consistently grant or deny access and other permissions based on that identity; 3) rely on web services for actions, permission-aware search and navigation throughout an interoperable fabric.

We're close to this basic interoperability using nothing more than a web browser, web standards, and web addressable services. See the Internet Archive's 2016 Decentralized Web Summit and my two cents in Reinventing the Web II

A Fabric, Not a Platform

Traditionally, "platform" refers to a software product with APIs used to construct or extend applications and services, like the original version of Lotus Notes. With the advent of the web, service business like Salesforce, SAP, and others began opening up their cloud platforms to entice builders to add complementary capabilities that "work like Salesforce" etc.

Sharing services like Box and Dropbox began opening up their platforms to enable apps as well as people to share documents and handle closely related activities. Likewise Slack is building out its messaging platform, adding bot and message button extensions to use external services from within Slack, and connectors to enable sharing and other services to use Slack for messaging.

Platform wars - The fact that all of these services are available via the cloud makes a basic level of W3C-based interoperability possible, if not exactly easy or pleasant. It's plate juggling time, even for organizations that try to stuff all of their work into the same box. Customers, partners, and employees find it's even easier to use their phones and favorite services to route around what's missing or awkward to use at work. The good news: market pressures are driving platform builders to compete on their ability to connect and interoperate with complementary or competing services.

At the same time, the shift to mobile first drives adoption of bot and AI conversational interfaces since: 1) there's no room to show a long list of results or screens that look like an old fashion airplane cockpit on a mobile screen; 2) people aren't willing to put up with the clutter; 3) people feel comfortable with a conversational interface that reliably understands what they want done and asks for clarification or confirmation when appropriate. A great conversational interface requires a good way to model context, whether the conversation is driven by text messages, voice, or a sequence of screens.

I believe what's needed is a fabric for actionable work that lives over traditional cloud platforms and services. Not one big box where all the work gets done, but a thin layer of pages, messages, and trails of activity using identity and a work graph to enable people, bots, and AIs to understand what people want to do, how to find the right objects, and how to do it.

Transactional and other work done inside a system of record or a selected service platform will still be done using that platform, linked from the actionable objects in the work graph using standard W3C links or vendor API services.

For example, TeamPage offers social enterprise web capabilities (summarized below) that automatically index the content of any external web reference, and make that page an actionable object which can be discussed, tasked, tagged, and searched from within TeamPage. A simple browser plug-in or single JavaScript call planted on an application page can add a TeamPage discussion box (similar to Disqus) and tasks to web pages representing orders, CAD designs, and other objects in an external system of record.

TeamPage permissions make it easy to define who can see and use actionable objects, expressed in the context of a business activity like Quality Management. Customers, partners and employees build a shared fabric of actionable work, relying on TeamPage to clip references to related work that's more private than they're permitted to see.

The work graph and its actionable objects are the right resources for bots and AI's to learn how to make what you care about effortlessly findable, easily usable, and accessible to bots and AI's you trust. Hey Siri - how're we doing on the Acme Products proposal?

Related

From The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style

"...A work graph consists of the units of work (tasks, ideas, clients, goals, agenda items); information about that work (relevant conversations, files, status, metadata); how it all fits together; and then the people involved with the work (who’s responsible for what? which people need to be kept in the loop?).

The upshot of the latter data structure is having all the information we need when we need it. Where the enterprise social graph requires blasting a whole team with messages like “Hey, has anyone started working on this yet?”, we can just query the work graph and efficiently find out exactly who’s working on that task and how much progress they’ve made. Where the enterprise social graph model depends on serendipity, the work graph model routes information with purpose: towards driving projects to conclusions." Justin Rosenstein, Wired 9 Oct 2013

TeamPage Work Graph

TeamPage watches what you do, and automatically maintains two-way links and relationships as you edit, keeping an accurate version history of everything so you can easily see what changed, when, and who did what.

TeamPage's work graph automatically connects articles, comments, status messages, tasks, milestones, projects, links, shared references, and relationships stored in TeamPage to the TeamPage profile of the person who created, edited or tagged the work, along with a time stamp for the action.

This concept of a work graph is helpful in describing what TeamPage automatically creates and maintains as you work.

But what counts is how TeamPage uses its work graph model to cut clutter, make it much easier to work with people anywhere inside or outside your organization, and make files and records already in IT systems easily accessible to get work done.

The same work graph information is organized and presented two different ways: by person, or by unit of work. This enables TeamPage to show activity feeds, dashboards and calendars of people, linked to the work they created or edited, as well as activity feeds, dashboards, and calendars for specific tasks, projects, and spaces where many people work together.

Working with external and internal teams - use permission rules to clip what the work graph lets you see

TeamPage's work graph model includes permissioned access that automatically clips content to show just those work items, relationships, and search results each person is allowed to read.

This makes it simple to use TeamPage for work that can cross boundaries, linking customers, suppliers, partners and internal teams with different permissions to different business activities on the same TeamPage server.

TeamPages' work graph model allows you to put a private comment (or task) in a more private space where it's only visible to a smaller group. For example, an internal team discussion on a customer's question.

Typically each external client has a private space (like separate clients of a law firm), and internal team members have a birds eye view across all clients and most or all internal spaces. TeamPage makes it simple to set up granular access rules for spaces based on individual names, Active Directory, LDAP, or TeamPage group membership.

Extending the work graph to content on the public Web, Intranet pages, and siloed systems of record.

TeamPage's Social Enterprise Web enables you to share, tag, task or comment on any page your browser can see on the public Web or on your private intranet. Just install TeamPage's Web browser plug-in extension for modern browsers including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

The Social Enterprise Web also lets you add a TeamPage share button (like Facebook or Google+ share buttons) or comment box (like Disqus) to any public or intranet Web page your organization controls. Comments are stored in TeamPage , and link back to the external Web page, which is treated as part of the TeamPage work graph.

As a bonus, the content of a page linked to TeamPage with the browser plug-in, share button, or comment box is automatically indexed for TeamPage search and drill down navigation.

The Social Enterprise Web makes pages on the public Web or your organization's intranet simple to see, share, find and connect to TeamPage tasks. A task or question on an internal purchase order page can tracked and used part of TeamPage's work graph without complicated or expensive custom integration.

For example, add a TeamPage comment box to an Purchase order page in a Web based ERP system by adding a JavaScript snippet, and see something like this:

You can then search, share, task, tag or comment on any work item in these external systems, making live external transactions part of your TeamPage work graph, including integrated TeamPage and external content analysis, search and navigation.

More

Reinventing the Web II (2014) Why isn't the Web a reliable and useful long term store for the links and content people independently create? What can we do to fix that? Who benefits from creating spaces with stable, permanently addressable content? Who pays? What incentives can make Web scale permanent, stable content with reliable bidirectional links and other goodies as common and useful as Web search over the entire flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web? Includes links to the 2016 Internet Archive Decentralized Web Summit and other resources.

Continuity and Intertwingled Work (2014) A level above an Internet of Things: Apple aims to deliver a seamless fabric spanning what's in your phone, tablet, car, and home, for you, your family, and trusted services at work.

Google::Apple is the new Microsoft::Apple (2016) A two player race between the most valuable and capable enterprises on earth. "It could be ML/AI/NLP/Cloud is new OEM licensing Achilles heel, as one example? Conversely, did Android inherit ecosystem fracturing? @stevesi" "IMO only Google and Apple have a sufficiently well-connected fabric of personal information, mobile platform, apps. @roundtrip'' An annotated Twitter conversation with links to Google and Apple fabric references.

Contextual Computing At Work (2013) Peter Morrison argues that the future or work isn't mobile, it's contextual: "Always-present computers, able to sense the objective and subjective aspects of a given situation, will augment our ability to perceive and act in the moment based on where we are, who we’re with, and our past experiences. These are our sixth, seventh, and eighth senses."

Intertwingled Work (2010) No one Web service or collection of Web servers contain everything people need, but we get along using search and creative services that link content across wildly different sources. The same principle applies when you want to link and work across widely diverse siloed systems of record and transactional databases.

Enterprise 2.0 and Observable Work (2010) Jim McGee wrote: "One unintended consequence of today's technology environment is to make the process of knowledge work less visible just when we need it to be more so. The end products of knowledge work are already highly refined abstractions; a financial analysis, project plan, consulting report, or article. Today, the evolution from germ of an idea through intermediate representations and false starts to finished product exists, if at all, as a series of morphing digital representations and ephemeral feedback interactions." We need to make work observable.

Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe

May 28, 2016 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageI'm happy to introduce Pierre Bienvenüe, founder of impi Business Improvement Solutions Pty, a South African business improvement firm and TeamPage solution partner since 2012. Pierre has great experience in helping mid-size companies organize and run effective quality improvement programmes. impi! works with clients as partners from concept definition, initial rollout, through improvement of the quality program itself. Pierre has worked with Traction Software and clients to develop templates, plug-in extensions, and a methodology for using TeamPage to support the impi! business improvement model, with solid results to report. This post is an introduction. You'll hear more from Pierre as an expert guest blogger on this page, in Traction Software's TeamPage customer forums (free registration), and across the web.

Pierre Bienvenüe writes: Since 2012, the trigger to develop impi! was primarily the realisation that mid-size companies couldn’t afford quality improvement programmes à la TRACC, 20-Keys, Mission Directed Workteam or BMGI offering. Furthermore, they didn’t want an improvement programme but needed a business management system (BMS). Something that would outlive the consultant… (btw they didn't want training either, but coaching.)

Additionally, for a few years now we have experienced the convergence of Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement. The latter becoming the enabler of the former. Since July 2015, I've had the privilege to contribute to the ISO 9001:2015 implementation at one of my clients (my official guinea pig!) under the guidance of one of the contributors to the new version of the standard. impi! has proven itself to be a solid and flexible platform to work through the implementation and manage the required documentation. As a result, the current impi! solutions are supportive of the new standard.

Why choosing mid-size companies? Their systems are usually less mature than that of large corporations and therefore, the implementation of an IT system underpinning the BMS wouldn’t usually clash with legacy systems. Also, most importantly, top management in mid-size organisations are more likely to get their hands dirty coaching the teams (changing the nappies) rather than the consultant-nanny who too often ends up raising the kids by implementing the programme bottom-up (which always fails in my experience).

A few concepts to build a business management system

impi! is applying the Lean tools and techniques other programmes offer (and probably not as well due to my limited experience and resources to develop the content). However, there are a few concepts, possibly original, that I’d like to share with you:

1. Integration of document management and improvement, blurring the lines between creativity and discipline, short term operation and long term systemic improvement.

The question here is how to ensure that improvement results in standardisation and standardisation in sustainability. There is always a tension between moving fast in improving and taking time to properly document, train and even audit.

Another tension exists between the daily operation (immediate) and its systemic improvement (essential). Here, a footnote on the Toyota Way led me to Paul Adler's article: “Building better bureaucracies” (see also attachment) on enabling vs coercive structures. And gave me hope that discipline and creativity should coexist in the workplace.

My response to the two challenges is:

  1. A dynamic business model, the Core Cycle, summarised by Drucker definition of management: “the essence of management is to make knowledge productive”. This model helps me to have an integrated view on how a business operates and therefore develop interlocking solutions to build its BMS. I attach a presentation of the Core Cycle, a subset of the foundation course I train my clients with;
  2. A technology (social media for companies: TeamPage) as an enabler of the Core Cycle that provides an integrated work environment, flexibility, ease of use and at the same time provides structure and visibility. With the technology we can have knowledge workers and even supervisors to collaborate, share, task, project manage, create and manage documents, etc.

I experimented and now understand that the technology - social media for companies (Enterprise 2.0) - and the philosophy - the Toyota half-way (see attachment) - share many principles: collaboration, transparency, accountability, emergence (pattern of improvement: pushing the knowledge threshold by doing).

2. Management needs to become a routine, implementing a routine is a project, starts at the top, everyone is responsible for improving the organisation. entrench the routine of change before planning to roll out at operational level. Rather than starting an improvement programme - typically with business goal alignment, we first need to build the structure for improvement.

I found that a two-weekly cycle of project review sets up a pace for the company and puts the right pressure on both top management and project leaders. I borrowed that idea from a 6-sigma project management method.

Everyone with a computer runs an improvement project (initially) related to their processes. The project leader gets some face time weekly (20 to 60 minutes) with a sponsor (the process owner = top management). Every two weeks, project leaders stand up and give an account of progress before top management using TeamPage. This is show time. Coaching and learning naturally happens. Con artists are exposed. We get to eat together. We celebrate project closure. The improvement champion (internal or external) can use that time for short training time at the point of need (e.g. what the hell is the Toyota Kata? What is a Pareto analysis, how and when to use it?). The forum is also used to get the teams to contribute to the Long Range Planning process.

Then implementation of any system is pushed through that improvement process. It is logged and managed as a project e.g. establishing standard meetings, rolling out KPIs, ISO 9001 implementation, 5S and of course improvement of business and operational processes. So we guarantee alignment to strategic objectives and make the workload of project leaders obvious.

3. Mirror the social media spaces to the actual Mini Business Units (MBUs). Harmonious mix of electronic and manual visual management

We create spaces for the systemic, strategic and selected operational mini-business units. The more the team uses the platform for its daily operation for communicating and tasking, the easier it becomes to use it for project management and documenting: it is the same platform. A bonus feature is that email traffic diminishes. Visual management (e.g. KPI tracking) is still displayed on the walls, yet in some cases is duplicated electronically. Tasking and minute taking is captured live by the team members in the relevant MBUs. Knowledge can also be created in the context of daily activities with threaded discussions. The discussions are usually informal but they are searchable and can be tasked.

4. Use the BMS to provide knowledge

Sharing of knowledge is woven into the BMS. Firstly, in the central repository of standard documentation (Best Operating Practice - BOP), secondly in the project templates themselves (e.g. DMAIC, Business Process Improvement), thirdly in the MBU spaces as described in Para 3:

  1. All impi! solutions are built on TeamPage on a wiki space and are standard documents. Every solution starts with a Policy (the why) and a Standard Operating Procedure (the how). The SOP is the hub that links all the other documents (the spokes). The templates used for these documents are the same that the client can use for their own controlled documentation in their own wiki space called “Knowledge Central”. Two outputs of every improvement projects are a) an operational improvement and b) documentation in Knowledge Central. The project templates used to run improvement projects comprise standard articles that will naturally become elements of the BOP (e.g. SIPOC, business process maps). When the project leader reaches the Control or Adjust part of the project, large chunks of the documentation would have been written. Using the capability of TeamPage simplifies the linking and tagging of documents. The organisation steadily builds its very own Wikipedia, and it’s ISO 9001 compliant. The risk of deadwood documentation is reduced: team members create their own documentation, hyperlinking contextualises the documentation and tagging and search capability ease retrieval of information.
  2. Several templates are available for improvement projects (e.g. PDCA, DMAIC). With each project milestones are associated standard articles e.g. project charter, project checklist, Fishbone diagram, business process “AS IS". To each milestone there are also associated tasks. In each task is a tutorial on its own with tips and links to glossary terms, One Point Lessons (e.g. How to use a risk assessment matrix) or external reference in the public domain, e.g. Wikipedia, Lean Institute.

Finally, here is a one page summary of impi! and the synopsis of one of the three solutions that Traction and I have released thus far and are currently being used at clients.

Image

Voilà - I hope there is enough meat here to stimulate a conversation or two.

Since I have only developed impi! thus far with my clients and for my clients, I haven't started a public website. It will be up this year. Immediately though, I will value the comments and interactions @Pierre on Traction Software's TeamPage server (free registration) or email pierre@impi.solutions. In the meantime, gazing a last time at the horizon of this South African part of the Indian Ocean, I'm aiming down to the engine room, pondering how I am to navigate this blue ocean.

Related

Jun 2016 | ISO 9001:2015 Requirements Met By impi! Solutions - Meeting ISO 9001:2015 requirements using the impi! model

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo? - Discipline and creativity

Dec 2016 | Business Process Improvement with impi!, Plug-in extensions, TeamPage improvements

Why, How and What of the impi Standard Meeting Plug-in for TeamPage - A customer interview and walkthrough of one new part of the impi! BMS solution

Chris Nuzum Hyperkult XXV Video | Tripping Up Memory Lane

May 15, 2016 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageWatch this video of Chris Nuzum's Tripping Up Memory Lane talk at Hyperkult 2015, University of Lüneburg, 10 July 2015. Traction Software CTO and co-founder Chris Nuzum reviews hypertext history, his experience as a hypertext practitioner, and the core principles of Traction TeamPage.

Image
Live video Christopher Nuzum: Tripping up Memory Lane Hyperkult XXV
Adobe Flash required for desktop Chrome or Internet Explorer 10 and earlier.

More

"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts | thoughtvectors.net

Related

Tripping Up Memory Lane - Chris Nuzum's written notes for his Hyperkult XXV talk.

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart - About Doug Engelbart's Journal and Traction.

Original Traction Product Proposal - Hypertext roots and evolution of Traction TeamPage.

Doug Engelbart | 85th Birthday Jan 30, 2010 - "Doug Engelbart sat under a twenty-two-foot-high video screen, "dealing lightning with both hands." At least that's the way it seemed to Chuck Thacker, a young Xerox PARC computer designer who was later shown a video of the demonstration that changed the course of the computer world."

Thought Vectors - Ted Nelson: Art not Technology - "To give up on human understanding is to give up hope, what we call in English 'a counsel of despair.' I think there is hope for much better and more powerful software designs that will give ordinary people the power over computers that they have always wanted - power with complete understanding. But that requires inspired software design, which I believe is art and not technology."

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style - The social dance of getting things done, dealing with exceptions, and staying aware of what’s going on around you

Introducing the TeamPage iOS App

May 13, 2016 · · Posted by Christopher Nuzum

I was delighted to find that our TeamPage iOS companion app was published on the App Store this morning. We've been enjoying the app for the past few months, and are excited finally to be able to share it with you.

A Simple, Useful Start

We've often thought about what we wanted in a mobile TeamPage app. Our ambition set a pretty high bar.

The app that we released today is not the app we thought we needed to build.

It's the app that we were tired of living without.

It has a simple objective: make it easy to stay in the loop when you're living your life away from your desk. So you can dash off a quick response while waiting in line for a coffee; read and respond to last night's posts on the train; or add an incoming request to your worklist before you turn off the light.

Two Views, for Two Ways of Dealing with Information

Image

TeamPage provides dozens of ways to slice and present information: feeds and dashboards scoped to spaces, projects, and milestones; task lists; section tables; tag change and history views, cross-references and audit trails.

Desktop TeamPage, that is.

We boiled the mobile app down to two views: Notifications and Discussions.

Notifications are:

  • Low volume, focused on what you care about and what you need to know.
  • Great for responding to @mentions, seeing tasks assigned to you, following discussions you've participated in, and tracking activity on projects you own, spaces you subscribe to, and people you follow.
  • Perfect for individual contributors, engineers, and people who prefer to work with headphones on, since it keeps the level of distraction to a minimum.

Discussions are:

  • For when you want to, or need to, scan everything that's going on.
  • Perfect for analysts, support staff, and managers who need to scan for activity of interest and either jump into the conversation or follow up in detail later.

Personally, if it's been a while since I checked in, I review my notifications first, and then scan through discussions.

The list view showing notifications and discussions uses a new unread tracking capability built into TeamPage and synchronized with the iOS application to give you a snippet of the next unread message in the thread, while showing you the avatar of the person who posted it.

The discussions and notifications views are ordered based on how recently the thread was active, so you only need to scan down the list until you've reached an item you've seen before to know that you're all caught up. The yellow highlight on unread items also helps with this, making it very easy to stay on top of what's new.

A New Detail View

The Desktop version of TeamPage uses nesting to visualize replies in context, which works very well for getting the big picture and for threads you haven't read.

proteus view

In the app, to facilitate catching up on the latest additions, we organize the replies chronologically, and use the unread tracking to scroll you down to the next unread reply.

iOS app detail view

We also make it easy to swipe left and right or use left and right arrows to go to the next or previous thread in the list, which makes it very easy to catch up on activity using only one hand.

Two Actions, to Put Your Mind at Rest ⋮

When it comes down to it, when something comes to your attention on your mobile device, you either can deal with it then and there, or you can't.

iOS context menu

If you just need to answer a question, you can use the Reply via Email action to type or dictate a quick reply.

If you need to come back to it later, you can add it to your Worklist, where it will show up on top when you get back to your desk.

And if you need access to the full TeamPage web interface, e.g. to assign a task to someone, you can open a browser to the current discussion by switching from the preview tab to the WWW tab.

toggle iOS vs web view

Finally, you can use the Share Sheet to share a post's URL with other iOS apps.

iOS Share Sheet

That's It

For starters, anyway. We've focused on making it fast, functional, and friendly, while laying a foundation for future features. Behind the scenes, there's a new REST API on the server side; you can learn more about that in my next post, Behind the Scenes of the iOS TeamPage App. We'll be extending that API in concert with new features for iOS and other clients.

What's Next?

We welcome your feedback, ideas, and, inevitably, bug reports. We know our 1.0 isn't perfect, and it certainly isn't complete, but we find it indispensable, and hope you will too.

Depending on how you use TeamPage, you'll probably have a different opinion about what should come next. If you use it for ISO 9000 compliance or Quality Management, you might want to be able to compose new Quality Issues with photos right from the phone (today you can email them in). If you're a Competitive Intelligence professional, you might want access to Advanced Search. If you're a project manager, you might want to edit your project's tasks, or your team members' worklists.

Please send questions and feedback to ios@tractionsoftware.com, or post in the TeamPage Forum.

Note: The TeamPage app requires a TeamPage server version 6.1.14 or later. If you're a hosted customer, you're ready to go. If you have an on-premise TeamPage server, you'll need to upgrade before you enjoy the iOS app with your TeamPage server.

If you're interested in how we built the app, stay tuned for my next post, Behind the Scenes of the iOS TeamPage App.

Daily Report 日報 = Observable Work: Takashi Okutsu

March 29, 2016 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageTakashi Okutsu of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office recently posted an update to his Daily Report TeamPage plugin. Takashi writes: "In some Japanese companies, it is common to look back what an employee did in the day, write a summary, and submit it to his/her boss. This is called "日報" (daily report or daily journal) and it's a way of sharing information between employees and bosses in the hierarchy. If you are interested in the ways of business in Japanese companies, you may find this blog post interesting." This example of Observable Work is very simple to understand and use. Quality Management and other TeamPage solutions follow the same pattern.

Image

Takashi's plug-in adds a Daily Report form to post and edit daily reports, along with a Daily Reports tab that includes a feed view, summary table, calendar view, and optional ranking. In addition to making it simple for employees to post a daily report, each report can be discussed, emailed, searched, and used like any other TeamPage article. For example, a visit to a customer which includes a suggestion or identifies a problem can be tagged with a follow-up task pinned to the original report and person who reported it, easily tracked from start to finish.

Like other TeamPage plug-in extensions Takashi's Daily Report is packaged as a single file that can be uploaded and installed with one click. Plug-in extensions add or override TeamPage capabilities, add new tabs, views and new setup pages to configure the appearance and behavior of the plug-in. TeamPage extensions include localized resources so the same plug-in can support many different languages - Japanese and English in this example.

Image

See Takashi's Daily Report Form post for screenshots and examples. For a free TeamPage Forum and support account click here.

Related

Shaka, When the Walls Fell

November 22, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

What?

In Shaka When The Walls Fell (The Atlantic, June 18, 2014) Ian Bogost poses a challenge based on Darmok, a 1991 Star Trek New Generation episode. Star Trek's Universal Translator knows how to translate the aliens words, but it's completely useless at telling Picard what the Tamarians mean. If that's how Children of Tama communicate, how could they ever have become a starfaring civilization?

"... after hailing the alien ship upon arrival, contact with Children of Tama proves more difficult than Picard imagined:

DATHON, the Tamarian captain: Rai and Jiri at Lungha. Rai of Lowani. Lowani under two moons. Jiri of Umbaya. Umbaya of crossed roads. At Lungha. Lungha, her sky gray.

(no response from Enterprise, looks at First Officer in frustration)

(slowly, deliberately) Rai and Jiri. At Lungha.

In the Star Trek universe, a “universal translator” automatically interprets between any alien language instantly and fluently. Unlike today’s machine translation methods, the universal translator requires no previous experience with another language in order to make sense of it. Such is the case with Tamarian, at least on the surface, as the Enterprise crew is able to comprehend the basic syntax and semantics of Tamarian utterances. “The Tamarian seems to be stating the proper names of individuals and locations,” offers Data, stating the obvious. But Picard quickly sums up the problem, “Yes, but what does it all mean?”

Picard calls the Tamarian's communication model metaphor, Troy calls it image, but according to Bogost's analysis they're both wrong:

"If we pretend that “Shaka, when the walls fell” is a signifier, then its signified is not the fictional mythological character Shaka, nor the myth that contains whatever calamity caused the walls to fall, but the logic by which the situation itself came about. Tamarian language isn’t really language at all, but machinery."

Read Bogost's essay for a fascinating dive into what Bogost calls “procedural rhetoric”—the use of computational processes to depict worldly processes.

I was struck by a simpler point: If the Tamarian's communicate using shared references, this implies:

1) A shared corpus of events known by every member of the Tamarian civilization;

2) A shared means of economically denoting a particular significant event in that corpus, with little likelihood of ambiguity or error;

3) A biological, technological, or technologically augmented biological means for every Tamarian to choose the appropriate event to communicate the desired interpretation (or logic in Bogost's analysis).

This seems like a tall order, but consider that most of us now live in a civilization that assumes that no factual question need go unanswered for more than a few minutes, after poking or talking at pocket sized supercomputer screens meshed with an associatively addressable, world spanning corpus that's glued together by annoying commercials, a few giant companies, and unicorn dreams of VCs.

What Tamarian's need (or have) is a culture spanning version of Doug Engelbart's Journal, a shared, addressable record of Tamarian history and its logic. I'll toss in Vannevar Bush's Memex too, for corpus spanning associative trails, if only we knew how to build the Memex's code book.

Doug on the screen in San Francisco. Dealing lightning with both hands.

Related

In Shaka When The Walls Fell (The Atlantic, June 18, 2014) Ian Bogost. "In one fascinating episode, Star Trek: The Next Generation traced the limits of human communication as we know it—and suggested a new, truer way of talking about the universe."

And here's what Enterprise 2.0 looked like in 1968 | Dealing lightning with both hands... "Doug Engelbart sat under a twenty-two-foot-high video screen, "dealing lightning with both hands." At least that's the way it seemed to Chuck Thacker, a young Xerox PARC computer designer who was later shown a video of the demonstration that changed the course of the computer world." from John Markoff's What the Dormouse Said.

Thought Vectors - Vannevar Bush and Dark Matter Vannevar Bush's 1945 concept of trailblazing, across the dark matter of the Internet.

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style Addressable work. ... A work graph consists of the units of work (tasks, ideas, clients, goals, agenda items); information about that work (relevant conversations, files, status, metadata); how it all fits together; and then the people involved with the work (who’s responsible for what? which people need to be kept in the loop?)

Original Traction Product Proposal

August 24, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Image
I hope you'll enjoy reading the original Traction Product Proposal, dated October 1997. Many early Traction concepts carried over directly to the Teampage product first commercially released in July 2002, but we've also learned a lot since then - as you might hope! The quotes still make me smile. The Proposal and Annotated References may be helpful to students interested in the history and evolution of hypertext.

Motivated by Chris Nuzum's recent Tripping Up Memory Lane talk at HyperKult 2015, and Takashi's Design Concepts followup, I'm happy to continue the Traction history theme. I've removed the Confidential markings from the Proposal, and released it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license (CC BY-NC 4.0), so you're welcome to read and use it for non-commercial purposes with attribution. Please link directly to this blog post.

Traction Software folk may make occasional blog posts referencing the Traction History project on this blog or on Twitter. Please follow @TractionTeam on Twitter, and feel free to message me as @roundtrip if you have questions.

The scribbled picture above from about the same time was my visualization of the Traction goal: To link and use anything that would cross a business person's desk using the Web as a platform, rather limiting hypertext to content stuffed inside silos like Lotus Notes.

Image

When we introduced Teampage in 2002, the word "blog" was often dogmatically defined as the unedited voice of a person. It was a tough slog to introduce a chronological stream of content created by a group of people rather than a single individual. The concept of an activity stream or Slack channel - a group of people talking in a shared space or channel - better captures what Teampage does.

Teampage extends the concept of an activity stream or channel to include:

  1. Editable entries with a full audit trail, including wiki history
  2. An extensible family of entry types (task, status, ...) and relationships (comment, ...)
  3. Dashboard and other views that collect, organize, and show entries in context
  4. A unified permission model that makes it simple to roll up entries across spaces and navigate or search by topic, context, author, or other criteria, see The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style

Clay Shirky got the concept in his 2003 review: Traction: Weblogs grow up in Social Software: A New Generation of Tools, Release 1.0 Vol 21, No. 5 (pdf). So did Jon Udell in his 2002 InfoWorld review: Getting Traction Traction's enterprise Weblog system gets a grip on corporate KM.

"Somewhere around your 30th responses to a response to a response in Notes, you start to wonder where all this group discussion leads. Somewhere around the fifth time a document marches by with yet more groupware annotations and digital yellow stickies attached, you wonder if it is really all that wise to have all of that group editing taking place. After all, isn’t the purpose of a group to tap the greater intellect represented by all those fine thingies in the group and, once tapped, move quickly to a better decision? Shouldn’t the purpose of groupware be to build more intelligence rather than more features into the product?

While it’s useful to share documents, hold ad hoc discussions and post groupwide projects, the essence of groupware may be the ability to manage a business outcome by divining a group's thought process."

Eric Lundquist, The Next Big Thing in Groupware PC Week 1 July 1996.
Team Problem Solving from Traction Product Proposal Oct 1997 

The core concept was granted US Patent 7,593,954.

The original business case for Teampage cited project work as the most important use. We've learned that it's valuable give people a straightforward way to link action tracking, messaging, and collaborative content creation. By creating and tracking tasks that can be directly attached to Teampage or external content, it's easy to see and stay on top of what's happening for you, by person, by channel, or in context of a specific Teampage project.

We learned how to model permissions to extend work across many internal as well as external groups such as the clients of a consulting firm, or the suppliers and customers of a manufacturer. The Teampage model of multiple permissioned spaces was added soon after the 1997 proposal. You can focus on any space (like a channel) as well as search and navigate across all spaces and entries you have permission to see.

By adding individual and group permissions to a space with an ACL model, internal and external groups share the same Teampage server while seeing and participating in just the set of projects and activities that are appropriate for every individual. Comments, tasks, and tags can cross spaces - so it's simple for internal team members to have a more private discussion linked to a more public paragraph or question posted by an external customer. Streams, discussions, notifications, digests, navigation, tag clouds, and search all obey permissions defined by business rules to show you what you're interested in and have permission to see and nothing more - enforced at the core level.

Email and Teampage has an interesting history. The 1997 proposal describes Traction as an alternative to broadcast email, but cites email as an important source for information to be be recorded and shared. An emailed Digest was one of the first features added to TeamPage based a beta customer's request. The Digest includes title links and content snippets gathered from the stream of events posted since the previous Digest was emailed. The content of each Digest is clipped to conform to what that person is permitted to see.

The Digest remains a popular features of Teampage, later augmented by email notifications with auto threaded email replies: your reply to a Teampage email notification is posted as a comment by you, linked at the right point in the discussion thread - requested by major consulting firm. I agree with Alan Lepofsky's point that email is one of many channels for messsages: we should flip our perspective to the stream of messages rather than the channel used to deliver each message, see Takashi's Eat your spinach post.

This combination of capabilities is particularly valuable for projects that intertwingle collaborative writing, team communication, and action tracking such as: quality management, product development, product support, consulting, and competitive intelligence. See The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style and Teampage Solutions.

A note on links: Although some of the links in the proposal still work, many point to sites which have been moved, including Doug Engelbart references which have moved from bootstrap.org to dougengelbart.org. In most cases a bit of creative Googling will find the referenced page in a different location. If people are interested, I'll publish an editable version of the Annotation References section that can be used to share updated locations. Please message @roundtrip on Twitter if you're interested and willing to pitch in to tracking down current references. Sigh.

More

"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts | thoughtvectors.net

Related

Tripping Up Memory Lane - Hyperkult 2015: Hypertext lessons learned talk by Traction Software CTO and Co-founder Chris Nuzum

Teampage hypertext journal: Design concepts, by Takashi Okutsu Director of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart - About Doug Engelbart's Journal and Traction.

Enterprise 2.0 - Letting hypertext out of its box - "I believe that the radical departure is the Web as the context of work: the universal medium, universal library, universal marketplace, and universal platform for personal as well as enterprise communication... In every previous generation hypertext system, the ability to read, search, link and communicate came with a terrible price: it might work well, but only if you were willing to put everything you wanted to work with into some sealed box, and convince everyone you wanted to work with to use the same box. From the earliest days of Vannevar Bush's Memex, the vision was universal, but the implementation was a siloed."

Intertwingled Work - Working and scaling like the Web. "... in the past, conversations could only be intertwingled across paper memos, faxes, written reports and email. Until the advent of the Web it wasn't possible to intertwingle conversations, networks, analysis and work in near-real time and global scale. Now that's trivial and essentially free with basic Web access."

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style - The social dance of getting things done, dealing with exceptions, and staying aware of what’s going on around you

Teampage hypertext journal: Design concepts, by Takashi Okutsu

August 7, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Image
Takashi Okutsu of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office wrote a blog post, Teampage hypertext journal: Design concepts. Starting from Chris Nuzum's Tripping Up Memory Lane presentation, Takashi explains how TeamPage's append-only journal models editable content, links, and relationships − while maintaining a full audit trail. See this Google English translation.

Teampage's model was inspired by the work of Doug Engelbart, who in 1975 wrote:

Our Journal system was conceived by this author in about 1966. I wanted an underlying operational process, for use by individuals and groups, that would help bring order into the time stream of the Augmented Knowledge workers. The term "journal" emerged early in the conceptualization process for two reasons:

  1. I felt it important in many dynamic operations to keep a log (sometimes termed a "journal") that chronicles events by means of a series of unchangeable entries (for instance, to log significant events while evolving a Plan, shaping up a project, trouble-shooting a large operation. or monitoring on-going operations). These entries would be preserved in original form, serving as the grist for later integration into more organized treatments.
  2. I also wanted something that would serve essentially the same recorded-dialogue purpose as I perceived a professional journal (plus library) to do.

Compcon 75 Digest, Sep 1975 pp 173-178, Douglas C. Engelbart THE NLS JOURNAL SYSTEM see the full paper, courtesy of the Doug Engelbart Institute.

Working from Chris's presentation notes (pdf), Takashi explains how to Teampage builds on Engelbart's model to support editable, stable two-way links, relationships, and content.

Takashi uses an animation cel analogy to illustrate how the effect of multiple entries in a TeamPage journal can be superimposed to show the effect edits at any point in time. For more detail, see Teampage's US Patent 7,593,954.

Related

Tripping Up Memory Lane Traction Software co-founder and CTO Chris Nuzum talk on hypertext lessons learned, Hyperkult 2015 conference, Lüneburg Germany, 10 July 2015

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart About Doug Engelbart's Journal

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style Understand how TeamPage connects people and their work

Tripping Up Memory Lane

July 16, 2015 · · Posted by Christopher Nuzum

Image
Last week I gave a talk at the Hyperkult 2015 conference. It was an honor to present there, especially since it was the 25th and final time the conference was held. This was my proposal for the talk:

Sometimes it seems like collaborative software projects are designed in an ahistorical vacuum. Like all our ideas are new. Maybe that’s because so much software is designed by young people fresh out of computer science programs heavy in programming and data structures, but often paying little more obeisance to the history of software than to acknowledge that once people programmed on punch cards, however that worked.

In 1996, after celebrating the 50th Anniversary of As We May Think at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and inspired by a long, encouraging talk with Doug Engelbart, I co-founded Traction Software (originally Twisted Systems, Inc.) and set out to design a memex-inspired literary machine for the augmentation of collective intelligence. In this talk, I’d like to demonstrate how the Traction Hypertext Journaling Engine underlying Traction Software’s TeamPage product borrows from and builds on insights and ideas from Vannevar Bush, Doug Engelbart, and Ted Nelson. I’ll also talk a bit about what ideas we’ve abandoned and why, and end with some thoughts on ideas that I think haven’t yet had their day.

I'd never given a talk in Germany before, but since the German word Vorlesung means "reading", I thought I had better be prepared with something I could read, even though that's not how I'm used to presenting.

For anyone interested, I've posted the script I prepared for the talk: Tripping Up Memory Lane Script.pdf (14.2MB). The PDF also includes high-resolution versions of the images I used in my slides.

I hope you'll enjoy.

Update: See the University of Lüneburg's video of this talk. Adobe Flash required for Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 and older.

Eat your spinach: Email is good for you, but it could taste a lot better

July 3, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Takashi Okutsu of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office says that email is like spinach. It may be necessary for a healthy business, but not everyone likes spinach. He says that it's not reasonable to think that Social Network Software replaces email. It's better to look at how SNS extends and complements email. Takashi's July 3, 2015 TractionSoftware.jp blog post explains how, see this rough Google English translation.

Takashi often works with customers who depend on email for external and internal communication. In his blog post he uses several examples:

Image

It's simple to email content into Teampage. The article or comment is automatically logged with the correct Teampage account based on the incoming email address. It's also simple to CC: email to Teampage when you want others to see an outgoing email to a customer or other person you are working with.

People can receive an email notifications when an article they are interested in is posted to Teampage. You can choose to receive notifications based on: comments added to articles or spaces you watch; comments added to articles you wrote or commented on; articles with a tag you watch; articles that mention you.

When you receive an email notification, you can reply to the email to automatically add a comment to the threaded discussion. Only the content you write is added to the thread, not a copy of the entire email thread.

Image

But too many email notifications can be overwhelming. Teampage also provides an automatic email digest that summarizes articles and actions of interest, customized for the preferences (and access permissions) of each Teampage user.

You can use email notifications for your highest priority interests, and use the email digest to catch up on everything else. By default the digest is emailed once a day, but each person can choose to get a digest for a longer period (once a week), or several times a day.

Takashi concludes (in Google translation): "I think you have done already the spinach by e-mail. Why not been investigated in-house social us to support it. Just add a little plus of 'CC in TeamPage', you can get a big plus."

Image

Understanding Spinach Update: Takashi writes that the Japanese word ホウレンソウ (HORENSO) has a literal English translation "spinach", but it is used to refer to a Japanese practice that aligns members understanding and synchronizes actions. Thanks to Takashi and Google Translate, I've learned that: 1) Japanese people have useful terms for communication practices that don't have an English language equivalent. We should adopt them; 2) Teampage is very good for ホウレンソウ !

"HORENSO is a way of information sharing by way of aligning members' understandings and synchronizing actions about changing circumstances that happen in and out of an organization." from NNA post. See also definition of HOKOKU.

Related

Constellation Research Analyst VP Alan Leoposky aka @alepo frequently debunks claims that "email is dead" (or should be), pointing out: 1) Email is universal. No introduction or specialized software required; 2) Email is a firmly established habit. Habits are hard to change, and often shouldn't; 3) Email enables every person to filter, organize and prioritize what they see; 4) Email is one of many channels for messsages: we should flip our perspective to the stream of messages rather than the channel used to deliver each message. I agree.

Dec 2014 | TeamPage @ Mentions Bring any TeamPage item to someone's attention, bring them into the followup conversation

July 2014 | TeamPage Notifications Introducing inline notifications

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style Understand how TeamPage connects people and their work

My Part Wor ks

May 22, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageAbout 50 years ago, Andy van Dam joined the Brown University faculty with the world's second PhD in Computer Science (earned at the University of Pennsylvania). Today many of Andy’s friends, faculty, students and former students are celebrating his 50 years at Brown with Stone Age, Iron Age and Machine Age panels. [ June 9, 2015 update: See event video: Celebrate with Andy: 50 Years of Computer Science at Brown University ]

I’m part of the Stone Age cohort. In 1968 Andy and his Swarthmore colleague Ted Nelson gave a medicine show pitch to convince skeptical undergrads to sign up for an an insanely demanding one year, four course sequence then called Applied Math 101/102 and 103/104. I bit.

Starting with a tiny, two person department - and as a matter of principle - Andy recruited undergraduates as teaching and research assistants, a tradition that continues to this day. In an essay on the history of the Brown CS UTA [Undergraduate Teaching Assistant] program Andy said:

“Offering teaching and research assistant opportunities to undergrads,” he says, “was even more unusual, indeed was viewed with everything from skepticism to outright hostility. Hardly anyone said, ‘What a fantastic idea!’ Everyone was used to four years of preparation as an undergraduate, then n years of graduate work before you could contribute to a science. But we’re different. CS was and is young, experimental, and open for undergrads to contribute. And undergraduate participation in research in all fields has become commonplace, especially in the last decade.

In 1965, a single, intense full-year course could cover much of the breadth, if not the depth, of the systems-oriented portion of the discipline, not including theory, AI, numerical analysis, and a few other topics. Andy insisted that students couldn’t learn to be good programmers by solving small “toy” problems; they had to write significantly-sized programs, each taking multiple weeks.

Not just checking for the right answer but giving useful feedback on structure, style, and efficiency required careful reading and one-on-one help with concepts and debugging. In a class with forty students, it was impossible for one graduate TA and a professor to provide this level of attention, no matter how little sleep they were getting, so van Dam asked for help from students who had taken a prior programming course. In that first cohort, he remembers Bill Adcock; Dan Bergeron, who also subsequently got his PhD with Andy and became Chairman of the CS Department at UNH and went with him and a group of six other of Andy’s students for his first sabbatical in 1971 at the University of Nijmegen in Andy’s country of origin; and Dennis Ruggles, among others.

“The undergraduate teaching assistants,” Andy explains, “though they were initially called graders, didn’t just grade programs -- they not only provided one-on-one help to students but also became active participants in course design and in subsequent years read research papers and brought new ideas into the curriculum. In fact, they did everything graduate TAs did, becoming producers and not just consumers of education. We kept modifying the course as we went along, but the one constant was the highly-appreciated UTA system.

Few people appreciate it more than Ed Lazowska ‘72, who will lead the first (“Stone Age”) panel for Celebrate With Andy. He says, “I’m a faculty member precisely because of the UTA program. I went to grad school because Andy told me to. In some way, everything I do professionally today is due to him.

To provide feedback for the course, students wrote detailed, multi-page evaluations, something that was almost unheard of in 1965. As Bob Munck recalls, “Also after every class, the graders would sit around on the floor of Andy's office (later my office) and critique the lecture and him. I'd never seen anything like it.

On his commute home from work, Andy would listen to tape recordings of his lectures, filling the empty minutes with self-critiques: “Boy, was that a clumsy explanation! Get rid of the ‘um’s and the ‘you know’s.” Presentation skills are still something that van Dam is keenly interested in. “Today’s equivalent of ‘you know’ is ‘like’, which I try to stamp out in all students who work with me. I’ve given up on ‘awesome’.

An interesting aspect of the UTA program is that the system has essentially never been challenged by students due to the built-in checks and balances. “By having rotating TAs and detailed rubrics,” Andy says, “you create fairness. It’s a system that’s at least as fair as having a single faculty member grading. Besides, a single faculty member, even assisted by a few graduate TAs, can’t begin to read that many programs at the required level of detail, and students recognize that. Part of the checks and balances is that faculty members are responsible for assigning the final grades, and I personally review all borderline grades, hoping to find evidence for promotion to the next grade bin.

Originally something made up as they went along, the UTA program matured over a period of decades. Iteration and gradual regularization brought cross-course norms and standards that are used today by almost all Brown CS courses. “In my opinion,” says Andy, “We have the most systemic TA program, and there’s a well-defined appeal system in place to address any grading errors.

You can read about Andy’s honors and achievements on his Wikipedia page, and Professor Shriram Krishnamurthi's answer to Why is professor Andy Van Dam (Andy) so cool? Here are two short stories from me.

After Dinner

Image
Photo of Andy on WBGH Boston’s After Dinner show, broadcast live at 7:30PM Monday October 20, 1969.

After Dinner featured Andy van Dam, Chris Braun, Bev Hodgson (then Brown Daily Herald editor), Al Basile and myself talking about hypertext for 30 minutes on a stage set that was supposed to look like a professor’s living room, right next to Julia Child’s WGBH TV kitchen. Andy is pointing to photo of Chris Braun at the IBM 2250 Hypertext Editing System (HES) console.

AvD writes: You might mention that the topic wasn’t just hypertext per se, but the use of hypertext for non-linear narratives, esp. hypertext fiction as a new literary form (Montreal Expo (68) had just shown an audience-influenced branching movie, Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and Nabokov’s Pale Fire had been published, and experimentation was in the air. I’m sitting in the audience at the YURT inauguration symposium, listening to organizer John Cayley talk about “Cave Writing” and related spatial (immersive) hypertext projects that he and his students craft.

My Part Wor Ks

Image
Brown Computer Science circa 1969. Original edition.

The story as I recall: Most people chose an individual final project for AM 101/102. However, a few folk chose the two person assembler project.

A grader did an in person review with a two person team, noting a problem. One team member replied: “My part works, but he keeps passing me garbage.

It became a team programming mantra.

The first part was made into a button, with Wor ks spelling. The second part was the AvD equivalent of a secret handshake. Until now.

More

"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts | thoughtvectors.net

Related

Image

Andries van Dam - Wikipedia page

Celebrate With Andy: 50 Years Of CS At Brown - May 2015. An essay celebrating "the three golden anniversaries for the Brown CS family: fifty years of the UTA program, undergraduate involvement in research, and Andy van Dam at Brown."

Why is professor Andy Van Dam (Andy) so cool? - Quora, Jan 2015. I agree with Brown CS professor Shriram Krishnamurthi.

Pastepost - One more AvD story. The first public document from the first Hypertext Editing System was a press release announcing its own creation.

As We May Work - Andy van Dam - Tokyo 2008

The MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium - Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Bush's As We May Think. Organized and MC'd by Andy van Dam

Hypertext Editing System - Wikipedia page. Photo by Greg Lloyd.

Enterprise 2.0 - Are we there yet?

November 21, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageAndrew McAfee writes Nov 20, 2014: "Facebook’s recent announcement that it’s readying a version of its social software for workplaces got me thinking about Enterprise 2.0, a topic I used to think a great deal about. Five years ago I published a book with that title, arguing that enterprise social software platforms would be valuable tools for businesses...

Why did it take so long? I can think of a few reasons. It’s hard to get the tools right — useful and simple software is viciously hard to make. Old habits die hard, and old managers die (or at least leave the workforce) slowly. The influx of ever-more Millennials has almost certainly helped, since they consider email antediluvian and traditional collaboration software a bad joke.

Whatever the causes, I’m happy to see evidence that appropriate digital technologies are finally appearing to help with the less structured, less formal work of the enterprise. It’s about time.

What do you think? Is Enterprise 2.0 finally here? If so, why now? Leave a comment, please, and let us know."

Andrew – As we’ve discussed in the past, I don’t believe there’s a specific ‘Are we there yet?’ for Enterprise 2.0.

The lessons I learned from your excellent book and research are still relevant today. Enterprise 2.0 technology enables but does not guarantee organizational change. Some organizational change is invented and purposeful, some is serendipitous and emergent.

The effect of new technology on an enterprise is too often like picking up and shaking a sleepy beehive.

We’ve come a long way towards the vision that software and devices used inside a company will become more like software, Web services and mobile devices people use at home. Enterprise software and services need to meet the same expectations for clarity, any time / any where access, and easy of use that people expect at home, which shakes markets as well as assumptions. Tracking the relationship of Apple IBM from Nov 2009 through Nov 2014 (and their market cap) is an instructive example.

As Peter Drucker taught, organizations need to adapt and innovate to make use of these capabilities, which opens the door to new technology, capabilities, and markets for enterprise software and services at every layer of the stack. Which opens the door to new organizational challenges and opportunities…

I’m not surprised that this takes time - and like Bill Buxton’s analysis in his Long Nose of Innovation article from 2008.

I’ll also keep my faith in Peter Drucker and Doug Engelbart as the twin patron Saints of Enterprise 2.0. As I said in Nov 2009, you have your own sub-numinous stake in the game!

cheers,
Greg

Related

Enterprise 2.0, Finally? Andrew McAfee, Nov 20, 2014 (This blog post was originally posted as a comment)

Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization's Toughest Challenges Andrew McAfee, Harvard Business Review Press, Nov 2009

The Long Nose of Innovation Bill Buxton, Bloomberg Business Week, Jan 8, 2008

Enterprise 2.0 Schism Greg Lloyd, Nov 9, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day | Emmy Noether, Mathematician

October 14, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Ada Lovelace Day celebratesImage the contributions of women in science and technology, follow @FindingAda for news and events. This year I've chosen to write about mathematician Amalie "Emmy" Noether. At the time of her death in April 1935, she was described by Pavel Alexandrov, Albert Einstein, Herman Weyl, Norbert Weiner and others as the most important woman in the history of mathematics. Noether’s First Theorem is a fundamental tool of modern physics and the calculus of variations: every symmetry corresponds to a conservation law. "It was her work in the theory of invariants which led to formulations for several concepts of Einstein's general theory of relativity." [J J O'Connor and E F Robertson, 1997]. Of her later work, Nathan Jacobson said: "The development of abstract algebra, which is one of the most distinctive innovations of twentieth century mathematics, is largely due to her – in published papers, in lectures, and in personal influence on her contemporaries." Einstein wrote Noether's obituary in the New York Times, May 5, 1935:

"Within the past few days a distinguished mathematician, Professor Emmy Noether, formerly connected with the University of Göttingen and for the past two years at Bryn Mawr College, died in her fifty-third year. In the judgment of the most competent living mathematicians, Fräulein Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began. In the realm of algebra, in which the most gifted mathematicians have been busy for centuries, she discovered methods which have proved of enormous importance in the development of the present-day younger generation of mathematicians. Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. One seeks the most general ideas of operation which will bring together in simple, logical and unified form the largest possible circle of formal relationships. In this effort toward logical beauty spiritual formulas are discovered necessary for the deeper penetration into the laws of nature.

Born in a Jewish family distinguished for the love of learning, Emmy Noether, who, in spite of the efforts of the great Göttingen mathematician, Hilbert, never reached the academic standing due her in her own country, none the less surrounded herself with a group of students and investigators at Göttingen, who have already become distinguished as teachers and investigators. Her unselfish, significant work over a period of many years was rewarded by the new rulers of Germany with a dismissal, which cost her the means of maintaining her simple life and the opportunity to carry on her mathematical studies. Farsighted friends of science in this country were fortunately able to make such arrangements at Bryn Mawr College and at Princeton that she found in America up to the day of her death not only colleagues who esteemed her friendship but grateful pupils whose enthusiasm made her last years the happiest and perhaps the most fruitful of her entire career."

ALBERT EINSTEIN.
Princeton University, May 1, 1935

In The Most Important Mathematician You've Never Heard Of Dr Dave Goldberg summarized Fräulein Noether’s life, her academic struggles - championed by Göttingen mathematicians David Hilbert and Felix Klein - and contributions to the foundations of modern physics.

"Hilbert and Noether skirted the rules by listing Hilbert as a course instructor and then having Noether as the perennial guest lecturer, though this didn't extend to getting Noether any sort of paycheck. It wasn't until 1922 that the Prussian Minister for Science, Art and Public Education gave her any sort of official title or pay at all, and even then only a pittance. As Hilbert described it in his memorial address for Emmy Noether:

When I was called permanently to Göttingen in 1930, I earnestly tried to obtain from the Ministerium a better position for her, because I was ashamed to occupy such a preferred position beside her whom I knew to be my superior as a mathematician in many respects. I did not succeed. . . . Tradition, prejudice, external considerations, weighted the balance against her scientific merits and scientific greatness, by that time denied by no one.

In all events, bringing her to Göttingen turned out to be an incredibly good idea. Almost immediately upon her arrival, Noether derived what's become known as Noether's 1st Theorem and by 1918 had cleaned it up enough for public consumption. And this is where we pick up the physics part of the story."

Fräulein Noether’s name and contributions to mathematics will live forever, despite the obstacles she had to overcome as a mathematical genius of the first rank - who happened to be a woman.

No woman should require the endorsement of mathematical legends like Hilbert, Klein, Einstein, Weyl, and Weiner to pursue and excel in the mathematical, scientific, or other career they love. We need every Fräulein Noether born in whatever place or circumstance, and need to support and encourage all who are inspired by her work and example.

Update See Marie Curie [ and Emmy Noether ] cartoon by xkcd "You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process. So don't try to be the next me, Noether, or Meitner. Just remember that if you want to do this stuff, you're not alone." via @ValdisKrebs

More Finding Ada Blog Posts

Ada icon by Sidney Padua From the Thrilling Adventures of Babbage & Lovelace for your iPad (free). Enjoy Babbage and Lovelace adventures, backstory and more on Sydney Padua's 2D Goggles Web page.

Named Data Networking - Boffin Alert

September 8, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageOn Sep 4, 2014 the Named Data Networking project announced a new consortium to carry the concepts of Named Data Networking (NDN) forward in the commercial world. If this doesn't sound exciting, try The Register's take: DEATH TO TCP/IP cry Cisco, Intel, US gov and boffins galore. What if you could use the internet to access content securely and efficiently, where anything you want is identified by name rather than by its internet address? The NDN concept is technically sweet, gaining traction, and is wonderfully explained and motivated in a video by its principle inventor and instigator Van Jacobson. Read on for the video, a few quotes, reference links, and a few thoughts on what NDN could mean for the Internet of Things, Apple, Google and work on the Web. Short version: Bring popcorn.

For a short non-technical introduction, see Wade Roush's Sep 2012 piece on Van Jacobson and Content Centric Networking The Next Internet? Inside PARC’s Vision of Content Centric Networking. Background: Jacobson's work on CCN begot the NDN project, where he is now a Principle Investigator. A few quotes from Roush's story:

The fundamental idea behind Content Centric Networking is that to retrieve a piece of data, you should only have to care about what you want, not where it’s stored. Rather than transmitting a request for a specific file on a specific server, a CCN-based browser or device would simply broadcast its interest in that file, and the nearest machine with an authentic copy would respond. File names in a CCN world look superficially similar to URLs (for example, /parc.com/van/can/417.vcf/v3/s0/Ox3fdc96a4…) but the data in a name is used to establish the file’s authenticity and provenance, not to indicate location.

It’s easy to see how much sense this makes compared to the current client-server model. Say I’m using my Apple TV box to browse my Flickr photo collection on my big-screen TV. To get each photo, the Apple TV has to connect to Flickr, which is hosted on some remote data center owned by Yahoo—it could be in Utah or North Carolina, for all I know. The request has to travel from the Apple TV over my Wi-Fi network, into Comcast’s servers, then across the Internet core, and finally to Yahoo. Then the photos, which amount to several megabytes each, have to travel all the way back through the network to my TV.

But the photos on Flickr are just copies of the originals, which are stored on my camera and on my laptop, about 15 feet away from my TV. It would be much smarter and more economical if the Apple TV could simply ask for each photo by name—that is, if it could broadcast its interest in the photo to the network. My laptop could respond, and I could keep browsing without the requests or the data ever leaving my apartment. (In Jacobson’s scheme, file names can include encrypted sections that bar users without the proper keys from retrieving them, meaning that security and rights management are built into the address system from the start.)

“The simplest explanation is that you replace the concept of the IP address as the defining entity in the network with the name of the content,” says Lunt. “Now all the talk in the network is about ‘Have you seen this content?’ and ‘Who needs this content?’ as opposed to ‘What is the routing path to particular terminus in the network?’ It’s a simple idea, but it makes a lot of things possible...

“One of the things that’s intriguing about not having to go to the source is that you could start to think about implementing applications differently,” Lunt says. “You could build apps that don’t have any notion of a server at all. So you could have Twitter without Twitter or Facebook without Facebook—that is, without having to have a major investment in hosting content, because the network is caching it all over the place.

Such architectures might give users more control over privacy and security of their data, and let them share their own data across devices without having to go through proprietary services like Apple’s iCloud, PARC executives say.

“What Apple is trying to do with iCloud is to say: You shouldn’t have to care which device you got an app on, or which device you took a photo on, whether it was your iPad or iPhone or MacBook Air. You just want your content to be on the other devices when you want it,” says Steve Hoover, CEO of PARC. “That validates our vision. But the way they are solving that puts more load on the network than it needs to, and it requires consumer lock-in. So Apple may be a user of this [CCN] technology one day, because it will make it easier. On the other hand, they could also hate it, because it will make it a lot easier for other people to provide that capability of getting the content whenever you want.

In my option, one of the technically sweetest characteristics of NCN is its relationship to current TCP/IP and networking protocols (quotes from NDN Architecture: Motivation and Details):

Like IP, NDN is a “universal overlay”: NDN can run over anything, including IP, and anything can run over NDN, including IP. IP infrastructure services that have taken decades to evolve, such as DNS naming conventions and namespace administration or inter-domain routing policies and conventions, can be readily used by NDN. Indeed, because NDN’s hierarchically structured names are semantically compatible with IP’s hierarchically structured addresses, the core IP routing protocols, BGP, IS-IS and OSPF, can be used as-is to deploy NDN in parallel with and over IP. Thus NDN’s advantages in content distribution, application-friendly communication, robust security, and mobility support can be realized incrementally and relatively painlessly...

Communication in NDN is driven by the receiving end, i.e., the data consumer. To receive data, a consumer sends out an Interest packet, which carries a name that identifies the desired data (see Figure 2). A router remembers the interface from which the request comes in, and then forwards the Interest packet by looking up the name in its Forwarding Information Base (FIB), which is populated by a name-based routing protocol. Once the Interest reaches a node that has the requested data, a Data packet is sent back, which carries both the name and the content of the data, together with a signature by the producer’s key (Figure 2). This Data packet follows in reverse the path taken by the Interest to get back to the consumer. Note that neither Interest nor Data packets carry any host or interface addresses (such as IP addresses); Interest packets are routed towards data producers based on the names carried in the Interest packets, and Data packets are returned based on the state information set up by the Interests at each router hop (Figure 3).

The router stores in a Pending Interest Table (PIT) all the Interests waiting for returning Data packets. When multiple Interests for the same data are received from downstream, only the first one is sent upstream towards the data source. Each PIT entry contains the name of the Interest and a set of interfaces from which the Interests for the same name have been received. When a Data packet arrives, the router finds the matching PIT entry and forwards the data to all the interfaces listed in the PIT entry. The router then removes the corresponding PIT entry, and caches the Data in the Content Store. Because an NDN Data packet is meaningful independent of where it comes from or where it may be forwarded to, the router can cache it to satisfy future requests. Because one Data satisfies one Interest across each hop, an NDN network achieves hop-by-hop flow balance...

Names

NDN design assumes hierarchically structured names, e.g., a video produced by PARC may have the name/parc/videos/WidgetA.mpg, where ‘/’ indicates a boundary between name components (it is not part of the name). This hierarchical structure is useful for applications to represent relationships between pieces of data. For example, segment 3 of version 1 of the video might be named /parc/videos/WidgetA.mpg/1/3. The hierarchy also enables routing to scale. While it may be theoretically possible to route on flat names (see ROFL), it is the hierarchical structure of IP addresses that enables aggregation, which is essential in scaling today’s routing system. Common structures necessary to allow programs to operate over NDN names can be achieved by conventions agreed between data producers and consumers, e.g., name conventions indicating versioning and segmentation.

Name conventions are specific to applications but opaque to the network, i.e., routers do not know the meaning of a name (although they see the boundaries between components in a name). This allows each application to choose the naming scheme that fits its needs and allows the naming schemes to evolve independently from the network.

I haven't quoted from short sections on Data Centric Security, Routing and Forwarding, Intelligent Data Plane, Caching, or Intellectual Property Approach and open source. You should read NDN Motivation & Details, then much more from named-data.net if either your head exploded, or you are jumping up and down in your seat with questions and objections.

Much of this is QED Marketing - I told you how it works, not what it means for you. Here are a few thoughts:

1) Secure efficient transport of content crossing many boundaries is a hard problem, getting harder as the number of people, things, and places on the Web grow, and as people look for a seamless and trusted way to deal with things they care about at home and at work. For example, how could Apple (or Google) leverage NDN to deliver on an internet of your things? How might players other than the giants leverage NDN to compete?

2) NDN offers the possibility of doing a lot of the hard work at the network level, which is a win if it offers a economic benefit to those who pay for the fabric of the internet, and opportunities to invent and grow scalable businesses more effectively. For example, what could change if Amazon offered NDN as an Amazon Web Service?

3) NDN might offer an appropriate secure, flexible framework for connecting people to content at work. Businesses use siloed applications for for transactional data for good reasons: they are simpler to build, (potentially) more secure, and (potentially) more flexible than old style monolithic business applications if they become sources of content linked together at a higher level of an application stack. NDN might be a great protocol to build flexible, secure, extensible business applications connecting people to the content they want - and are allowed to use.

With respect to the network issues, I'm a fan, not an expert, but the NDN proposal seems to share many of the (relatively) simple, scalable, decentralized characteristics that fueled the growth of the Web and evolution of TCP/IP. NDN seems to be most attractive for big content, particularly where multicast style delivery and caching can delivery big bandwidth and responsiveness improvements, but it looks like a lot of thought has gone into efficient localized delivery. Likewise, management of a very large, frequently changing name space is a challenge, which also seems to have gotten a lot of intelligent attention.

With Cisco and Huawei on board as founding industrial partners of the NDN Consortium, you can bet that a lot of caching routers can be sold, and NDN routing technology will take the fast track if there's economic payback for NDN, which will drive better payback, faster adoption, etc.

The good thing is the program has advanced to the stage where many of these questions can answered by experiment - we shall see.

Will the NDN Consortium take off? Will Google, Apple and Microsoft jump in? Or will NDN join the queue of technically sweet solutions that never really get off the ground? I'm optimistic that NDN has the right technical characteristics and pedigree, with smart experienced people leading the charge. With the Internet of Things and secure content distribution efficiencies as economic drivers, I hope we'll all benefit from NDN's content delivery model as the next stage of the Web's evolution. If you're not in the battle, bring popcorn and watch - it should be a good show.

Related

Named Data Networking Architecture: Motivation & Details The best short technical overview I've found of the objectives and approach of the Named Data Networking project. Read the overview to get quick idea of how content is named, the NDN security and caching model, how NDN works over (or under) TCP, scaling issues, and more.

A New Way to Look at Networking - Van Jacobson's Aug 2006 Google Tech talk on TCP and Content Centric Networking (CCN). CCN is the title of Jacobson's Xerox PARC project, which became "the single biggest internal project at PARC." CCN led to the formation of the Named Data Networking project as a National Science Foundation funded Future Internet Architecture program in Sep 2010. Jacobson is currently a Principle Investigator of the NDN project. See Van Jacobson speaks on Content Centric Networking for a longer (three hour) and slightly earlier version of Jacobson's CCN talk presented as a Future Internet short course, including slides.

Reinventing the Web II (Aug 2014) The Web won vs "better" models by turning permanence into a decentralized economic decision. Why isn't the Web a reliable and useful long term store for the links and content people independently create? What can we do to fix that? Who benefits from creating spaces with stable, permanently addressable content? Who pays? What incentives can make Web scale permanent, stable content with reliable bidirectional links and other goodies as common and useful as Web search over the entire flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web? NDN is the sweetest and most credible global technical approach I've seen.

Continuity and Intertwingled Work (Jun 2014) A level above an Internet of Things: seamless experience across devices for you, your family, your health and trusted service providers, at home and at work.

Intertwingled Work (Jul 2010) No one Web service or collection of Web servers contain everything people need, but we get along using search and creative services that link content across wildly different sources. The same principal applies when you want to link and work across wildly diverse siloed systems of record and transactional databases.

Thought Vectors - Ted Nelson: Art not Technology (Jul 2014) Ted Nelson should be smiling - but I won't hazard a guess. From what I see, everything in NDN seems compatible if not influenced by the Docuverse, Tumbler, and fine grain content addressable network architecture that Nelson described in detail in his 1987 book Literary Machines. I believe NDN provides secure, scalable, fine grain, and upwards compatible networking that could connect the front end and back end Xanadu architecture that Nelson describes in Literary Machines. I'll follow up on this with a separate Boffin alert.

Linked, Open, Heterogeneous

August 31, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Image Art, Data, and Business Duane Degler of Design For Context posted slides from his 5 April 2014 Museums and the Web talk, Design Meets Data (Linked, Open, Heterogeneous). Degler addresses what he calls the LAM (Libraries, Archives, Museums) Digital Information Ecosystem. I believe the same principles apply when businesses connect internal teams, external customers, external suppliers, and partners of all sorts as part of their Business Information Ecosystem. Read Degler's summary and slides, below:

"The tide of available information continues to rise. The opportunities that come from open access, linked data, sharing resources with other institutions, and standards-based data are enticing - and perhaps overwhelming?

Emerging design approaches help you find ways to make the most of your opportunities for new types of interactions and engagement with Information Objects. They focus on:

- Exploration, serendipity, use: Rich, relevant design requires an intimate understanding of information and the way people interact with it. It's more than attractive styling - although that's important. It's about people engaging in ways that stimulate the intellect and the experience. People need to find information, use it, relate other information to it, and share it for decades to come.

- Scalability, persistence, authority: Rich, relevant design also takes the long view. Understanding that the integrity of the information matters. This is increasingly important as we move toward more linked, open, and born digital cultural information.

Your institution becomes a gateway to an ecosystem of artistic imagery, scholarly insights, history, perspectives, and related objects. Other people will use your information to create new interpretations and works, which then build on what you hold. Curating information may be perceived as a burden (to be made easier!), yet it is a significant opportunity to reinforce the value and authority of institutions that enhance the information ecosystem."

Related

Dark Matter by Michael Peter Edson 19 May 2014. "The dark matter of the Internet is open, social, peer-to-peer and read/write—and it’s the future of museums" an important essay on the opportunity and mission for museums and cultural institutions: "We’re so accustomed to the scale of attention that we get from visitation to bricks-and-mortar buildings that it’s difficult to understand how big the Internet is—and how much attention, curiosity, and creativity a couple of billion people can have."

Thought Vectors - Vannevar Bush and Dark Matter (2014) Inspired by Michael Edson's essay. Just as Bush suggested in July 1945, I believe there's a need for people to act as explorers, guides, and trail blazers over knowledge they know and love. You can experience that personal knowledge and passion on a tour, at a talk, or in a conversation on a bus, at a party - anywhere you meet someone who loves one of these institutions. I think it's particularly valuable to have trail blazers who are also skilled professionals personally represent and communicate the values, knowledge, and heritage of their museum, just as a great reference librarian becomes a library's ambassador.

Reinventing the Web II (2014) Why isn't the Web a reliable and useful long term store for the links and content people independently create? What can we do to fix that? Who benefits from creating spaces with stable, permanently addressable content? Who pays? What incentives can make Web scale permanent, stable content with reliable bidirectional links and other goodies as common and useful as Web search over the entire flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web?

Intertwingled Work (2010) No one Web service or collection of Web servers contain everything people need, but we get along using search and creative services that link content across wildly different sources. The same principal applies when you want to link and work across wildly diverse siloed systems of record and transactional databases.

Hello! Greetings from Takashi Okutsu

July 10, 2014 · · Posted by Takashi Okutsu

TakashiHi everyone. I am delighted to introduce myself to you as a member of the Traction Software Team. As some of you know, my name is Takashi Okutsu, and I am the director of Traction Software's Japan Business Office, located in Yokohama.

I have worked for Applied Knowledge in Japan as technical support staff, and have a long association with TeamPage since 2007. During this job, I helped many customers to improve their business with TeamPage and got lots of experience.

I am very happy to keep supporting these customers, introducing our products to new clients, and consulting with all TeamPage customers based on my experience. I believe our product TeamPage is a flexible and adaptable tool and service for many customers and business areas, and hope you like it.

If you should need additional information regarding me or Japan Business Office, or if you need any help regarding TeamPage, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can email to takashi@tractionsoftware.com. I am looking forward to talk with you.

皆様、こんにちは。私は、奥津岳と申します。横浜にある Traction Software の日本支店(トラクション・ソフトウェア・インク)の代表を務めています。

TeamPage には 2007 年から長く関わっています。前職では、株式会社アプライドナレッジにて技術サポート スタッフとして、TeamPage を通じて多くのお客様の業務改善のお手伝いをさせていただき、たくさんの経験を積むことができました。今年からはトラクション・ソフトウェア・インク代表として、お客様へのサポート、製品の紹介、経験に基づいたコンサルティングなどご提供しております。

私たちの製品 TeamPage は、とても柔軟性があり、様々な業務に適用できる製品/サービスであると自負しています。多くの方々に気に入っていただけることを願います。

トラクション・ソフトウェア・インクや製品/サービスにご興味がございましたら、お気軽に私のメールアドレス takashi@tractionsoftware.com までお問い合わせください。皆様からのご連絡をお待ちしております。

Thought Vectors - Ted Nelson: Art not Technology

July 5, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageThe technoid vision, as expressed by various pundits of electronic media, seems to be this: tomorrow's world will be terribly complex, but we won't have to understand it. Fluttering though halestorms of granular information, ignorant like butterflies, we will be guided by smell, or Agents, or leprechauns, to this or that pretty picture, or media object, or factoid. If we have a Question, it will be possible to ask it in English. Little men and bunny rabbits will talk to us from the computer screen, making us feel more comfortable about our delirious ignorance as we flutter through this completely trustworthy technological paradise about which we know less and less.

To give up on human understanding is to give up hope, what we call in English "a counsel of despair." I think there is hope for much better and more powerful software designs that will give ordinary people the power over computers that they have always wanted - power with complete understanding. But that requires inspired software design, which I believe is art and not technology.

I believe the technoid vision does not comprehend what is humanly desired, humanly needed, and humanly possible. Especially the need and possiblity of human understanding. So excuse me from the butterfly crowd; I hope you will come with me to where understanding may be found.

Ted Nelson
The Future of Information
ASCII Corporation, Japan 1997
Image courtesy of Computer History Museum

This quote from Ted Nelson's 1997 book makes a point similar to Nelson's closing point in his July 2014 interview with Gardner Campbell as well as statements in his 2011 Possiplex autobiography, and 1975 Computer Lib / Dream Machines. Nelson sees computer technology as a medium for creative expression, not an end in itself, or a cheap replacement for human creativity. He cites film directors among his primary inspirations and heros, noting that his personal ephipany came in the early 1960's when he learned that it was possible to connect computers to screens. Nelson invented the terms hypertext and hypermedia to describe the new capabilities that he envisioned. During his 2014 interview Nelson cited the example of Orson Wells. For Ted Nelson, what you see on a computer screen and interact with should be the result of human creative intelligence applied through the use of new engines of expression over an endlessly evolving intertwingled corpus of literature. Using Nelson's cinema analogy, history put him in a position where he would have to invent the motion picture camera to achive his goals, but I believe his motivation was to become the seminal director and intellectual father of the new media which are his earliest and most influential inventions.

Later

More

"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts | thoughtvectors.net

Related

Intertwingled, The Festschrift-- Ebook celebrating Ted Nelson Day at Chapman University, 2014 (Springer-Verlag) (via @TheTedNelson, 12 Jul 2015) A free Springer ebook edited by Douglas R. Dechow and Daniele C. Struppa. Chapters by Alan Kay, Brewster Kahle, Belinda Barnet, Ken Knowlton, Dame Wendy Hall, and others. Closing chapter What Box? by Ted Nelson. I highly recommend this book.

Living The Dreams: A Conversation With Ted Nelson Published on Jul 5, 2014. Dr. Ted Nelson speaks with Dr. Gardner Campbell about research, fantics, computer liberation, and the ongoing struggle between schooling and learning. A conversation undertaken in support of "Living The Dreams: Digital Investigation and Unfettered Minds," a digital engagement pilot of Virginia Commonwealth University's UNIV 200, Inquiry and the Craft of Argument.

Ted Nelson talk - Possiplex book launch From Welcome to Possiplex : An Autobiography of Ted Nelson party at the Internet Archive on Oct 8, 2010.

Possiplex: Movies, Intellect, Creative Control, My Computer Life and the Fight for Civilization, an autobiography of Ted Nelson, Mindful Press, Feb 2011.

Triangulation 164 - Conversation with Ted Nelson Leo Laporte's July 2014 conversation with Ted Nelson, broadcast Aug 18, 2014 on TWiT.tv. On hypertext, Xanadu - and being a media guy. "To me, all media are alike. You think about what are the effects you want - and you think about what are the technicalities it will take to give you those effects. So when I took a computer course in graduate school, I thought 'Holy smoke, you can put interactive screens on them'... Interactive screens were instantly obvious to me."

Computer Lib / Dream Machines A brief description of Ted Nelson's 1974 book. Ordering information for an authorized 2014 replica reprint, which I highly recommend.

Ladies and gentlemen, the age of prestidigitative presentation and publishing is about to begin. Palpitating presentations, screen-scribbled, will dance to your desire, making manifest the many mysteries of winding wisdom. But if we are to rehumanize an increasingly brutal and disagreeable world, we must step up our efforts. And we must hurry. Hurry. Step right up.

Theodor H. Nelson, “Barnum-Tronics.
Swarthmore College Alumni Bulletin, Dec 1970, 12-15
Quoted from Dream Machines, 1975
See New Media Reader Computer Lib / Dream Machines excerpt

Video Archive MIT / Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium: A Celebration of Vannevar Bush's 1945 Vision, An Examination of What Has Been Accomplished, and What Remains to Be Done. Oct 12-13 1995, MIT. Talks and panel discussion with Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson, Andy van Dam, Tim Berners-Lee, Alan Kay and others. See also ACM Interactions summary (free access), transcript of day 1 and day 2 panels.

Meet Takashi Okutsu: Director, Traction Software Japanese Business Office

July 2, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageTakashi has been a TeamPage wizard since 2007, and now directs Traction Software's Japanese Business Office. Takashi provides exceptional sales, consulting, and support to TeamPage customers in Japan. He is a valued member of the Traction Software global team, and a frequent contributor to the TeamPage Customer Support Forum including development and discussion of TeamPage SDK plug-ins and examples. We invite Japanese visitors to explore TractionSoftware.jp for TeamPage information and a free trial. You are also welcome to join the TeamPage Japan Customer Support Forum to talk with Takashi and Japanese TeamPage customers.

Please follow Takashi on Twitter as TSIJPBO for Japanese TeamPage news from トラクション ソフトウェア (Traction Software Branch Office), Yokohama, Japan.

You can also follow Takashi's Buna Tree Melopan Twitter account to learn about walking in the Tanzawa mountain area of Kanagawa Prefecture, computer topics, and Japanese cooking, including camping meals Takashi has made with his Traction Software Swiss Army knife.

Image

Thought Vectors - What Motivated Doug Engelbart

June 23, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageBy "augmenting human intellect" we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of gaining a useful degree of comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insoluble. And by "complex situations" we include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers--whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years. We do not speak of isolated clever tricks that help in particular situations. We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human "feel for a situation" usefully co-exist with powerful concepts, streamlined terminology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids. 1a1

Man's population and gross product are increasing at a considerable rate, but the complexity of his problems grows still faster, and the urgency with which solutions must be found becomes steadily greater in response to the increased rate of activity and the increasingly global nature of that activity. Augmenting man's intellect, in the sense defined above, would warrant full pursuit by an enlightened society if there could be shown a reasonable approach and some plausible benefits. 1a2

Doug Engelbart Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. SRI Summary Report AFOSR-3223, October 1962

This week's Thought Vectors in Concept Space assignment is a blog post based on a nugget from the works of Doug Engelbart. I like this quote because Doug talks clearly about what motivates his research; what motivated his life's work.

To me, it's interesting to note that Doug wrote his report in 1962 just as NASA was launching Project Apollo, and not long after President John F. Kennedy announced his challenge to land on the Moon. Project Apollo was arguably the most challenging engineering project of the 20th century, designing and testing families of new engineering systems as well as new classes of hardware. But Project Apollo was more than an engineering project; it was a grand challenge that motivated NASA to do its best and engaged most of the world as spectators in a high stakes, highly visible race to the Moon.

Doug's vision was also an engineering vision, designing and testing new human/computer systems as well as new classes of software. The paragraphs, links, paragraph-grain addresses, relationships, viewspecs and visualizations of Augment/NLS made Doug's thought vectors as real as they could possibly be, recording, linking and animating thoughts in a way that could never be done with paper plans and records. But like Project Apollo, Doug's vision was more than an engineering project; it was and is a grand challenge, to find better ways to enable people to solve critical problems, part of a trail on augmentation started by Vannevar Bush that will never end.

More

"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts | thoughtvectors.net

Related

Doug Engelbart | 85th Birthday Jan 30, 2010 - Blog post celebrating Doug Engelbart's 85th birthday, includes quotes and links to resources. One of the quotes from Engelbart's talk at the Brown/MIT Vannevar Bush Symposium became the tag line for this VCU course.

DougEngelbart.org: The Doug Engelbart Institute was was conceived by Doug Engelbart to further his lifelong career goal of boosting our ability to better address complex, urgent problems. It contains an excellent history, archive of papers, photos and other published resources as well as links to Doug's current projects.

Video Archive MIT / Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium: A Celebration of Vannevar Bush's 1945 Vision, An Examination of What Has Been Accomplished, and What Remains to Be Done. Oct 12-13 1995, MIT. Talks and panel discussion with Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson, Andy van Dam, Tim Berners-Lee, Alan Kay and others. See also ACM Interactions summary (free access), transcript of day 1 and day 2 panels.

Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. by Douglas C. Engelbart, October 1962 (SRI AUGMENT, 3906) A work Doug referred to as the bible of his research agenda, it also outlines the motive for his work: enabling groups of people to respond to the increasingly complex and urgent problems of humanity. If you want to read Doug's original works, start here.

More

Reinventing the Web II

June 16, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageUpdated 19 Jun 2016 Why isn't the Web a reliable and useful long term store for the links and content people independently create? What can we do to fix that? Who benefits from creating spaces with stable, permanently addressable content? Who pays? What incentives can make Web scale permanent, stable content with reliable bidirectional links and other goodies as common and useful as Web search over the entire flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web? Here's a good Twitter conversation to read:

How the Web was Won

I believe Tim Berners-Lee's original HTTP and HTML protocols succeeded beyond his original vision of a globally scalable, loosely coupled network of Web pages that anyone could edit. The fact that his original protocols were simple, decentralized, and free for anyone to use were essential to success in a world of competing proprietary Internet publishing and commerce "standards" from Microsoft and others. But in my opinion, the Web won by turning permanence and stability into a decentralized economic decision.

Berners-Lee's original W3C protocols appeared at the right time to open clear field opportunities for distributed publishing, marketing, sales and advertising that fueled the Web's growth and evolution. Recapping the argument from my first Reinventing the Web post:

The idea that any sensible person would rely on a global hypertext system where links on one computer pointed at locations on another computer which would break whenever the remote computer was unilaterally moved, renamed, taken off line or abandoned seemed absurd.

The idea that you would have no way to know what incoming links would break when editing or refactoring content seemed just as bad.

The Word Wide Web protocols looked like they would work for relatively small cooperative groups like CERN who could keep things from breaking by having shared goals, and using peer pressure plus out of band communication to keep distributed content alive.

Actually that intuition was pretty good, because the World Wide Web took off in a direction based on other incentives compatible with those assumptions - and grew like crazy because unlike alternatives, it was was simple, massively scalable, cheap and eliminated the need for centralized control.

1) The Web became a distributed publishing medium, not the fabric for distributed editing and collaboration that Tim Berners-Lee and others envisioned. People and Web publishing engines like Amazon created content and kept it online while it had economic value, historical value (funded by organizations), or personal value. Content hosting became cheap enough for individuals or tiny groups. Advertising supported content became "free".

2) Search engines spanned the simple Web. Keeping content addressable now gained value since incoming links not only allowed people to bookmark and search engines to index what you had to publish (or sell), but the incoming links gained economic value through page rank. This provided even greater motivation to edit without breaking links, and to keep content online while it retained some economic, organizational or personal value.

3) People and organizations learned how to converse and collaborate over the Web by making it easy to create addressable content others could link to. The simple blog model let people just add content and have it automatically organized by time. The Wiki model required more thought and work to name, organize and garden content, but also creates stable, addressable islands of pages based on principals that reward cooperative behavior.

4) Search engines, syndication and notification engines built over the Web's simple, scalable protocols connected the Web in ways that I don't think anyone really anticipated - and work as independent and competing distributed systems, making rapid innovation possible.

Tim Berners-Lee made an inspired set of tradeoffs. Almost every concept of value on the Web: search engines, browsers, notification is built over his simple, open, highly scalable architecture.

I believe it's possible to provide what TBL calls "reasonable boundaries" for sharing sensitive personal or organizational data without breaking basic W3C addressable content protocols that makes linking and Web scale search valuable. That should be the goal for social and business software, not siloed gardens with Web proof walls.

Building a better Web over the Web we have

Telephone companies used to call their simplest and cheapest legacy service POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). I believe it's possible to build a richer and more stable Web over POWS (Plain Old Web Services) without necessarily starting from scratch.

One answer to "who benefits?" and "who pays?" are the businesses who benefit from a richer and more stable Web connecting the systems they use to get work done. Stable fine-grain links and bi-directional relationships connecting systems of record and systems of engagement open the door to business systems that are more flexible, effective, simple to develop, and pleasant to use - more like the public Web than traditional line of business systems.

Museums, libraries, and archives such as Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive, the Library of Congress and others have a mission to collect and curate our cultural heritage and knowledge. The Internet Archive shows how little it costs to collect and index an archive of the content of the visible Web.

Commercial publisher monetize their archive, but have weaker economic incentives to maintain stable links to content outside their own domain.

Commerce sites and providers of consumer-focused Web services may have the greatest economic incentive for deep linking with stable references and relationships spanning devices you own, your home, your health and healthcare providers, your car, your family - and your work, see Continuity and Intertwingled Work.

If I'm right, there are economic incentives for Web content creators to make their work more linkable, visible and useable using straightforward, decentralized, and non-proprietary upwards compatible extensions of Plain Old Web Services.

I believe that indices spanning permalinked locations as well as incoming and outgoing permalink references to content in "stable islands in the storm tossed sea" can be created and maintained in near real time at Web scale, preserving the integrity of links to archival content distributed across the Web.

For example, any domain could publish an index to its permalinked content. Other domains implementing the same protocol could make incoming references to that content by permalink. This is a simple decentralized protocol, no more magical than the published external references that a link editor or dynamic linking system uses to resolve references connecting independently compiled modules of code.

Domains that agree to implement the same protocol, and use permalink (URI) references for content in other compatible domains then have a more stable, decentralized model for permanent links. If domains also publish their own permalink outgoing references (external as well as internal), a Web level service could build and maintain reliable inverted indices of bi-directional internal and domain spanning links. The federation of such domains could be spidered by any number of independently developed services, creating a more stable and useful Web as a decentralized service without breaking the simple Web protocols that every browser and other Web service relies on.

I don't know who has suggested this before; it seems obvious, and is a straw man not a solution. I'm using it to argue that we can and should invent ways to improve the capabilities of the Web using the same simple, decentralized philosophy that made the Web wildly successful versus "better" hypertext systems.

See Michael Peter Edson's Dark Matter essay and my Thought Vectors - Vannevar Bush and Dark Matter response.

Related

Update 19 Jun 2016 See the Internet Archive Decentralized Web Summit, 8-9 June 2016 Locking the Web Open. See videos of the Summit and Brewster Kahle's notes: "Building a web that is decentralized— where many websites are delivered through a peer-to-peer network– would lead to a the web being hosted from many places leading to more reliable access, availability of past versions, access from more places around the world, and higher performance. It can also lead to more reader-privacy because it is harder to watch or control what one reads. Integrating a payments system into a decentralized web can help people make money by publishing on the web without the need for 3rd parties. This meeting focused on the values, technical, policy, deployment issues of reinventing basic infrastructure like the web."

Reinventing the Web (2009) Ted Nelson, Tim Berners-Lee and the evolution of the Web. Ted Nelson wants two-way links, stable transclusion, micropayments. Tim Berners-Lee wants a new Web with open, linked data. I believe that most of what they want can be delivered using the current flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web as the delivery medium for richer, more stable, more permanent internal models, as stable federations of islands in a storm-tossed sea.

The Internet's Original Sin by Ethan Zuckerman, The Atlantic, Aug 14, 2014. Ethan confesses his role - invention of the pop-up Ad - stating "It’s obvious now that what we did was a fiasco, so let me remind you that what we wanted to do was something brave and noble." He makes a convincing case that the apple in the Web's garden is Investor storytime "... when someone pays you to tell them how rich they’ll get when you finally put ads on your site." A darkly comic but heartfelt essay on the past and future economy of the Web: "It's not too late to ditch the ad-based business model and build a better web"

Intertwingled Work (2010) No one Web service or collection of Web servers contain everything people need, but we get along using search and creative services that link content across wildly different sources. The same principal applies when you want to link and work across wildly diverse siloed systems of record and transactional databases.

Dark Matter: The dark matter of the Internet is open, social, peer-to-peer and read/write—and it’s the future of museums by Michael Peter Edson on May 19, 2014.

Continuity and Intertwingled Work (2014) A level above an Internet of Things: seamless experience across devices for you, your family, your health and trusted service providers, at home and at work.

Reinventing the Web III (2014) followup Twitter conversation with @zeynep, @jeffsonstein, @kevinmarks, and @roundtrip.

The Web of Alexandria (2015) by Bret Victor "We, as a species, are currently putting together a universal repository of knowledge and ideas, unprecedented in scope and scale. Which information-handling technology should we model it on? The one that's worked for 4 billion years and is responsible for our existence? Or the one that's led to the greatest intellectual tragedies in history?"

And Victor's followup post "Whenever the ephemerality of the web is mentioned, two opposing responses tend to surface. Some people see the web as a conversational medium, and consider ephemerality to be a virtue. And some people see the web as a publication medium, and want to build a "permanent web" where nothing can ever disappear. Neither position is mine. If anything, I see the web as a bad medium, at least partly because it invites exactly that conflict, with disastrous effects on both sides."

Update 13 Jul 2014 Added new section headings, added the inline recap and economic benefit examples, added a link to a Jul 2014 Reinventing the Web III Twitter conversation on the same topic.

Update 23 Aug 2014 Added link and brief note on Ethan Zuckerman's fine essay on advertising as the Internet's Original Sin.

Update 29 May 2015 Added links to Web of Alexandria and followup by Bret Victor on why the Web is a bad medium.

Update 19 Jun 2015 Added link to Brewster Kahle's summary of the Internet Archive's Decentralized Web Summit of 8-9 June 2016.

show per page,  

Page Top