TeamPark book (english) part 2, platform and method


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Worlds first complete method to transform the enterprise into a socially integrated enterprise. Use web 2.0 style tools and collaboration to deindustrialize knowledge work, removing most of the problems facing normal 'bureaucratically' structured organizations.

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TeamPark book (english) part 2, platform and method

  1. 1. TeamPark platform and method Patrick Savalle, Wim Ho and and Arnd Brugman Sogeti innovation and inspiration
  2. 2. TeamPark
  3. 3. TeamPark Platform and Method 2nd (revised) edition Patrick Savalle Wim Hofland Arnd Brugman 2010 Sogeti
  4. 4. Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 The Netherlands You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work to Remix – to adapt the work Under the following conditions: Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Share Alike. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same, similar or a compatible license. • For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page: licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/. • Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder. • Nothing in this License is intended to affect or limit the author’s moral rights. 2010 Sogeti Sogeti Nederland B.V. DSE / Innovatie en Inspiratie Hoofdweg 204 3067 GJ Rotterdam production LINE UP boek en media bv, Groningen ISBN/EAN 978-90-75414-28-8 NUR 982
  5. 5. “The ant is a collectively intelligent and individually stupid animal; man is the opposite.” Karl von Frisch
  6. 6. Foreword The birth of the TeamPark method occurred over a year ago. Since then, we have chalked up many workshops, conferences, presentations, discussions, projects and many, many comments from domestic and international organizations. All this accumulated experience has been as far as possible incorporated in this revised English edition. The method has been tried and tested, but it’s still surpris- ingly fresh, as demonstrated by reactions from the field that it continues to attract. We are grateful for the assistance of all those who read the previous book and provided us with commentary. In particular, our thanks go out to Albert Hoitingh for his inspiration and notes on personas and scenarios. A great deal of inspiration from reading about and, in particular, applying Team- Park. Wim Hofland, Rotterdam, 1 March 2010 Foreword for version 1.0 The setting was a weekly meeting of Innovatie & Inspiratie, the innova- tion consultants from Sogeti. The immediate cause: a request from a customer to organize an inspiration session about Web 2.0 and its impact on existing organiza- tions. Only the first of five topics on this day. At I&I, we are innovative and live innovation. We do it and we are it. Our adrenaline level is far above average. Dis- cussions appear chaotic and tend to be contentious. This is nothing new for us, but takes bystanders some getting used to. “Is everything all right there?” Within five minutes, TeamPark 0.1 was born TeamPark is a method for arriving at a successful social software solution for an enterprise. It turned out that all ingredients were available on the net in one form or another. All existing exam- ples and techniques were incredibly popular, and all the secrets were plain for all to see. But no one “saw” it. Foreword 7
  7. 7. Only the right question in the right context gave us the answer. So obvious, so ordinary that we quickly passed over it. Only a “hey wait a minute” alerted us at that moment to the fact that we had something wonderful close at hand. This moment of insight was followed by innumerable brainstorming sessions, mind maps and inspirations. The idea became a method. Periods of services doubt, high-flown future expectations, but, most of all, reflection interchanged with each other. Ultimately, TeamPark 1.0 was the result. An inspiration! Wim Hofland, Rotterdam, 15 May 2009 8 TeamPark
  8. 8. Content Foreword 7 Foreword for version 1.0 7 1 The intelligent organization 13 More than just social 14 Promises, Promises 16 The tool kit 17 Part 1 Platform 19 2 Social platform 21 s.o.c.i.a.l. 23 Social design 25 The 1% rule 26 The ideal crowd 27 The not so ideal crowd 28 3 Stimulus rich 31 Activity 32 Presence 33 Identity 33 Relations 33 Groups 34 Reputation 34 Sharing / content 36 Conversation 36 Challenges 36 Social character 36 Weighting based on visibility 38 Analysis: the existing situation 39 Synthesis: the target situation 40 Content 9
  9. 9. 4 Organic 43 Group formation 43 Social tagging and folksonomy 45 Absence of synchronous communications 48 5 Collaborative 51 General tools 52 Special tools 53 6 Intelligent 57 Be aware of the Matthew effect 58 Collaborative filtering 60 Reputation or karma 63 7 Adaptive 67 Evolution vs. Intelligent Design 67 Which processes? 69 Which employees? 70 Which resources? 70 8 Linked 73 rss and web services 74 Widgets 74 Social bookmarking 75 Part 2 Method 77 9 TeamPark 79 Awareness 80 Strategy 82 Implementation 84 Life 85 10 Awareness 89 Workshops, seminars and presentations 90 Presentations 90 Workshops 91 The “Do-it-together” workshop 91 The pr campaign 93 Roadmap 94 Recommendations for the ensuing process 95 10 TeamPark
  10. 10. 11 Strategy 97 Formulating vision and core values 98 The Vision Game 98 Drawing up an initial social graph 99 Cultivating the social seeds 101 Human factors and identifying personas 102 Identifying candidate processes 107 Identifying candidate scenarios 108 Who has the latest version? 108 Package Selection, poc and Planning 110 12 Implementation 113 Selecting catalysts 115 Socializing (Stigmergizing) processes 117 Stigmergizing processes 117 Designing training programs 120 Train the trainers 120 13 Life 123 Best Practices 124 Training and instruction 125 Install parties 127 Workshops 128 Life hacking 129 Floor walking 130 Catalysis 131 Organize! 132 Bookmarking and Activity streaming 133 Satisfaction 134 Community Management 134 Moderation and content monitoring 135 Measurements 137 Final Word 143 Content 11
  11. 11. 1 The intelligent organization Enterprise 2.0, dubbed “The Intelligent Organization” by us, is an organ- ization with a living organic dimension that supplements the bureaucratic (formal) structure. The Intelligent Organization has the technical and conceptual possibilities that enable it to make large-scale and continuous use of special talent and disorgan- ized contributions. We are here talking about such means of communications as wikis, social bookmarking, tag clouds, activity streams, forums and blogs, but especially also about a combination of all these media and their integration in a platform. In contrast to employees that only participate in carefully top-down controlled processes according to job profiles and fixed workflows, Enterprise 2.0 employ- ees must also be permitted to arrive at usable results in a more organic, bottom- up manner. They must be able to function in a stigmergic environment that allows them to work together independently of each other without direct communica- tion, an environment in which direct control is unnecessary. All in all, this type of work setting evidently involves a new paradigm. “2.0” is in many respects the opposite pole of the “1.0” way in which companies are currently working. In every company, it is possible to identify processes that do not thrive well in a bureaucratic structure. The localization of people, content, and expertise, the utilization of special talents and the maintenance of usable innovation: many things run more smoothly when use is made of an organization’s social dimension. Many tasks can be performed better by organizing employees not just in teams but The intelligent organization 13
  12. 12. also in communities. An organization that also makes use of wikis, forums, social networks, crowdsourcing, question and answer facilities and other “2.0” media has an advantage over its competitors. This type of organization is what we are calling the “Intelligent Organiza- tion.” The Intelligent Organization More than just social The basis of the Intelligent Organization is the so-called heterarchy. What we propose is to view the company as a coin in which heads stands for the current functional side and tails for the new social side. Two sides of the same company. An Intelligent Organization is more than just an organization with social life. It is a magnet for all types of new concepts and technologies, such as: 14 TeamPark
  13. 13. • Social communications and collaboration (what we are talking about in this book) • Knowledge management • “The new way of working” or “Unified Collaboration and Communication,” a location dependent communication and collaboration solution specifically for the functional side of the organization. • New infrastructural solutions like Enterprise Service Bus (esb), Enterprise Service Hubs (esh) and a new more agile and scalable manner of application development. • New user interfaces such as portals and widget platforms • Mash-up technology that enables employees to combine existing and new functionality. The combination is logical. Formal teams have limitations that impede their manner of working but that can be overcome by social communities. Access to as much knowledge as possible is important in undertaking this development. Normally speaking, knowledge is largely organized along the lines of the organ- izations vertical structure, as revealed by the organizational chart. Over the long term, this regimentation has restrictive effects on an organization as a whole, as information increasingly flows through what is now being diagrammed as a social graph. In addition, if we want to allow the crowd and communities to be organ- ized in an organic way, they must not be obstructed by pre-defined patterns of information and knowledge. At the same time much unsanctioned knowledge quickly becomes mere noise. There must consequently be a mechanism to distin- guish relevant knowledge from noise. Use can be made of “the wisdom of the crowd” for such purpose, as well as 2.0 tools as aggregation and collaborative filtering. Knowledge management in the traditional organization is therefore clearly different from the 2.0 organization, which is much “flatter.” The platform must therefore take this into account, by means of a site-wide wiki, for example, and “enterprise search.” But also by implementing a form of social tagging and rating; providing people and content with self-generated keywords and having the crowd select content on the basis of quality. To obtain productive results, there must of course be collaboration. Character- istic of the social side is the ad hoc character of most work and the appropriate communicative and collaborative possibilities associated with it. There is a wide range of types and means of communication required in order to integrate every- The intelligent organization 15
  14. 14. thing in the community platform. The new way of working plays an important role in this. The traditional form of collaboration is however based on fixed work flows, direct / synchronous communications and central control that is unsuited to social or mass collaboration. On the social side, communication occurs through the environment. By leaving instructions, knowledge, signposts and other stimuli in the environment, other people can collaborate without mutual coordination and without the necessity for central control. Promises, Promises What might be expected from the Intelligent Organization in contrast to the normal organization? Flexibility: The self-organizing and self-controlling capacity would have certainly been useful to many organizations during the economic recession that started in 2008. The inertness of large organizations was and is visible everywhere. And that is paradoxical as it is precisely in large companies with a large crowd and extensive social networks that the benefits of the social dimension are entirely predictable and reliable. Social collaboration works better with large numbers. Improved efficiency: We have been busy transforming our companies into well- oiled machines in which everything is perfectly coordinated. Increased optimization is hardly structurally possible. Still there remain numerous processes that do not perform well. Some processes were never intended to be executed in bureaucratic structures, and they can benefit from the socialization process. The new paradigm for collaboration also offers new possibilities for business process improvement, a systematic approach to the optimization of organizational processes. Satisfaction: Employees want to have more power to determine how they organ- ize their own lives. Fixed working hours and work locations make such self- determination difficult. Employees also want to perform a greater variety of work. Although this is difficult in an optimized bureaucracy, a social organiza- tion, renders it all so simple. Employees can immediately make use of their individual talents in their work, a form of self-involvement that leads to all types of improvements, as well as satisfaction and pride. In sum, the advantages of the Intelligent Organization are as follows; 16 TeamPark
  15. 15. A more effective and efficient organization due to greater flexibility, more effective communication and collaboration. Better integration and use of people, resources, knowledge and expertise by self-organizing processes. Satisfied employees that are able to work in their own manner, in their time and at their location. A collective consciousness with a sharper perception of society, trends, cus- tomers and fellow employees. The tool kit For our own acquisition and project execution, we make use of an extensive set of materials. Many of our customers use this material in the same basic form, with slight “rebranding” of their own. This set of tools is simply available to everyone under the same creative-commons license as this book. See the conditions at the beginning of this book. As an additional condition, we asked everyone to contribute their own material to our slideshare group: The basic material consists of: • A general PowerPoint presentation entitled “TeamPark” • A presentation entitled “Social Platform Design” • The A3 poster “The Intelligent Organization” (the framework) • The A3 poster “The TeamPark Process” (services) • The A4 poster “Elevator Pitch” • Both sections of this book More material about the Intelligent Organization and TeamPark is also available at The intelligent organization 17
  16. 16. Notes 18 TeamPark
  17. 17. Part 1 platform
  18. 18. 2 Social platform An important instrument of an Intelligent Organization is the social platform: the environment in which employees leave signals like ants leave phe- romones to coordinate their collective work. The hope and assumption is that oth- ers will follow in their footsteps and, as a result, meaningful collaboration will occur. What the environment of the nest is for ants, the social platform is for the Intel- ligent Organization. When considering social software, most people immediately think of Facebook and MySpace, while asking themselves what an organization would be able to do with this type of software. To begin with, such websites are not representative of the corporate social sites we envision. Additionally, these websites often lack what we have identified as an “aggregation mechanism,” so that collabo- ration exists without easily identifiable “results.” In this part, we will investigate the necessary ingredients for a successful corporate social platform. To start with, there is of course the all-important definition: What is a social platform? A social platform is a platform that stimulates and facilitates group interac- tion and that uses the wisdom of the crowd for purposeful means. A platform is not in itself social but requires certain characteristics in order to attain this quality. In this part, we will go over these requirements in detail. Obvi- ously, a social environment, any social environment, must have a certain vitality. Social platform 21
  19. 19. How many empty clubs, restaurants or bars have you entered because you thought you would experience a pleasant evening in them? The place to be, that is what the environment must certainly become in order to attain success. It must be attractive, pleasurable, inspiring, free and never threatening, To take the analogy a step further, what do you look for in a social hot spot? “Signs of life” without a doubt! There is a reason that restaurants sit their cus- tomers at tables that are highly visible from outside. You want to see that other people are enjoying themselves inside. Once opening the door, you of course want to know if the place is for you. What are these people doing here? What are they on about? Is this the place for me? What makes it “the talk of the town”? It is no different in the case of the Intelligent Organization’s social platform. The first impression must be that there is a lot going on. Chance visitors must be able to see at a glance if the place is something for them. But there is still more required. Just as in the case of ants, it is not enough to be merely running around in circles but pathways have to be marked, mechanisms must exist to direct and facilitate emerging group performance, etc. How should your social platform actually be constructed and which elements should it contain? Whatever we think and ultimately build, the underlying assumption must be that people will want to use the platform without being required to use it by their job description and without having to be sent notices all day long reminding them that something interesting has been added or updated. It must be a corporate hang out that allows people to feel that they belong together and are part of the gang. It is not difficult to conceive of what such a social hub might require, as the building blocks that give a website a social character are often obvious. A website such as the online yellow pages is not very social, nor is it meant to be. There is no way of discovering what is happening, who else is online, what other things are going on or where there might be opportunities for collaboration. A social environment has to contain all these types of signals. Once you can detect the presence of others, observe what they are doing, and follow the various activities, everything immediately becomes more social. Right away, the perception is entirely different, as the signals create an interactive climate. The actions or interactions that actually occur and the 22 TeamPark
  20. 20. results generated by the various activities will then largely depend on where the designer of the environment has placed the emphasis. In this respect, the website design is crucial, both in terms of its layout and interaction, but even more so in terms of it social design: the way it stimulates interaction between the visitors. All the signals that a social environment issues will encourage people to enter into conversations and to produce content to share with each other. A conversation is quickly initiated by permitting users to comment on news items. Various types of conversations can be supported by various web elements, rang- ing from instant messaging to chat boxes, activity streams and forums. If a very great deal of content is being added, it is important to weigh and filter it so that only the most popular, interesting, highly rated or current content is displayed. Such a practice avoids an incomprehensible flash flood of material and promotes quality. Once a social website acquires a large number of participants, there is naturally a tendency to form sub-communities around specialized topics or interests. If groups are too large, an individual’s initiatives get lost in the void, resulting in a growing sense of anonymity. A good social website encourages the creation of ideally-sized groups. Finally, there must be adequate mechanisms to enable proper utilization of the wisdom of the crowd. These are called aggregation mechanisms. Just allowing participation and collecting ugc (User Generated Content) is not enough because most of it will be of average quality from which valuable items need to be dis- tinguished. S.O.C.I.A.L. The important characteristics of a flourishing, living social platform can be appropriately specified using the acronym s.o.c.i.a.l. (what else could it be). Social platform 23
  21. 21. This acronym can be used to test if a platform is suitable as a social platform. Each letter stands for a specific quality that such an environment must possess. They are: • Stimulus rich – the platform must provide users with the appropriate stimuli and present them with signals in order to provoke interaction. • Organic – the platform must enable users to share and structure their data and activities according to their own conceptions. • Collaborative – the platform must possess the appropriate peer-2-peer facilities and other means of collaboration for the tasks to be performed; it must offer the right stigmergic mechanisms. • Intelligent – the platform must make it possible to distinguish quality from noise by means of aggregations, filters and weightings. • Adaptive – the platform must be adapted to its environment, its users and its processes (tasks) that have to support it; in other words, the environment must fit into the organizational structure. • Linked – the platform must be linked to relevant external environments and networks in the most seamless and unobtrusive manner possible. These basic qualities will be further explained in the following chapters. s.o.c.i.a.l. as a key to evaluating social platforms More specific information on this topic can be found in the slide-share presenta- tion “Social Platform Design” ( 24 TeamPark
  22. 22. Social design Crowds cannot be told what to do. Crowds cannot be controlled in a direct or centralized manner. Crowds gather on their own and individuals in such a crowd make their own localized decisions. Even though such gatherings may be channeled, this type of management works entirely differently from the employee control practiced by purely bureaucratic organizations from a centralized command center. A little prompting in the form of an inquiry into wishes by, for example, a moderator does not pose any problems, as it will certainly be acceptable to everyone. Its effectiveness is, however, minimal. Truly effective crowd management must be different; it must be more “organic.” Every crowd undergoes continuous evolution and can be subtly manipulated as a result. Just as evolution in nature, the evolution of crowds is not a process that is centrally controlled, but one that nevertheless follows a very clear pattern. The most important conditions for an internet com- munity / crowd are imposed by the website design, the interaction as well as the social design. Social design is a new discipline that combines the already existing disciplines of graphic design and interaction. • Graphic design is concerned with the layout of the website: its look. • Interaction design involves the interaction between the website and the user; its feel. • Social web design involves the interaction among users that the website (plat- form) initiates and maintains. Social design1 is based on the psychology of crowds. It begins by setting up a platform with the appropriate features possessing the specified mix of character- istics and stimuli. Below, we will discuss how this works in detail. Once the plat- form exists, an equally important step follows: its forced evolution. Subtle adjust- ments in the navigation and functionality of a site or in the social concept behind it can drive and compel the evolution of the community. In principle, social design is a continuous process because the dynamics of the crowd changes in response. The most obvious factors in this regard concern the choice of functionality and the placement of the various web elements on the pages. It goes without saying that the most striking elements will exercise the greatest influence. If a website generates too little discussion, the adjustment that first comes to mind concerns adding an appropriate web element (such as “last 10 reviews” or “most dis- 1 Social platform 25
  23. 23. cussed”) to increase the visibility of a discussion and reduce the thresholds inhib- iting it. If a website generates too much uncontrolled discussion, consideration can be given to displaying comments in random order so that people can no longer respond to each other directly. For each undesired effect, there is often a way of devising a manner in which to redirect it. Conversely, desired effects and high-grade content, which we will call “quality”, must be stimulated. People who do their best must be visibly rewarded. It is in this way that a community can be managed and that, ultimately, the desired return is obtained. Channeling a community’s direction of movement by stimulating the desired behavior and making undesired behavior unattractive is an ongoing process. Many social mechanisms are included on the social website and each mechanism is subject to influence. Many of the devices must match the degree to which the number of visitors and participants changes and hopefully grows. The effects dominant in a large group are different from those that dominate a relatively small group. The production and implementation of a social platform is therefore “only” the beginning. Do not be too eager about immediately aiming for quality; it is important that there is first sufficient quantity. A good inflow of content, sufficient activity and a large community is essential. But do not let things get too far out of hand. It is necessary to stay on top of events and to be a judicious moderator who can inform designers about the adjustments that need to be made. Such upgrading should furthermore be done in open dialogue with users. Clear reports should be provided in forums or weblogs about the types of changes that will be implemented and the reasons for them, without revealing too many tech- nical details (any such revelation may later work to your disadvantage, as it may enable people to cheat, or “play the system”). Undoubtedly, people will complain, but do not be overly concerned about these complaints. Do not make it a democ- racy; you are providing information and not making queries. In Web 2.0, it is normal that websites remain in a state of “perpetual beta.” There are no longer any great breakthroughs but continuous small developments. The 1% rule Most members of an open, public community are more or less akin to parasites. They lurk in the background and consume what others produce. For every 100 million downloads from YouTube, there are roughly 65,000 uploads; a ratio of 1500:1. More than half of all Wikipedia articles are made by much less than 26 TeamPark
  24. 24. one percent of users, and more than 70% of the articles by less than 2% of users. once indicated that less than 2% of readers actually made comments. For larger communities, the rule of thumb is the 1% rule2: 1% of the users will actually contribute content to a social website, 10% will interact to contributions by, for example, making a comment and the remaining 89% will only consume what is offered in silence. This is not bad or good; it is a statistic that must be taken into account when constructing the community and designing the website. In social news sites, articles can be voted on and the most popular ones placed on the first page. Consideration is given to the group that you are going to allow the greatest influ- ence, a decision that can be crucial for the content on the front page and therefore also for the culture of the community. A company that has 5000 employees may be happy if there are an initial 50 that will regularly produce their own content. This figure will only rise if the community becomes part of the business culture. It can also be counted on that 1% will find a business environment more to their liking than a “free” internet environment, although a figure in the range of 5-10% may be achievable in this respect. More participation can be expected on platforms that facilitate previously bureau- cratic processes that were redesigned into stigmergic (social) equivalents, for which employees received training and new procedures. Later more on this. The ideal crowd According to the book The Wisdom of Crowds,3 the best results can be obtained from a crowd (community) when: • There are sufficiently varied opinions (and personalities) • There is sufficient independence when making choices (consider the Matthew effect, as discussed in one of the following chapters) • There is enough decentralization so that people can be specialized and can be prevailed upon by like-minded people to collaborate on their designs (recalling notions of organic group formation and the Dunbar number4,5) 2 3 4 5 Social platform 27
  25. 25. • It is technically possible to arrive at collective decisions or to survey collective views (consider democratic ratings, reputation systems6 and a weighted first page7). These are the features of social design that must be targeted using the right tech- nology and organization of facilities, as they provide support for all the other results expected of the community. The first feature can be realized by gathering the various departments in a com- pany into a single social environment. This mass assembly will create the great- est possible variety of peoples with the widest possible divergence in educational levels, job levels, etc. The second feature is largely a condition that must be fully guaranteed by the technology. The process of guaranteeing independence boils down to reducing, as much as possible, non-essential influence that impacts on decision-making, such as previously issued evaluations. For social designers it can be useful to look into “conformity research” such as that of Solomon Asch8 and Zimbardo.9 To a large extent, the third feature is also a condition to be fully guaranteed technically. It must be possible for the community to form its own sub-commu- nities, and this is a question of having the appropriate software. The final feature is especially important: this book is, for that matter, concerned with the special talents of the crowd. Talent is meaningless if there is no mechanism to display or report group choices and decisions. Aggregation pages and the appropriate weighting algorithms are two of the most important mechanisms. The not so ideal crowd Conversely, there are also discernible problems that may arise when assembling the community. The Wisdom of Crowds includes the following in a list of pos- sible problems10: 6 7 8 9 10 28 TeamPark
  26. 26. • Too homogeneous (inbreeding) • Too centralized • Too much herd behavior These are also factors that can be manipulated by implementing the correct social design. An excessively homogeneous group could be a difficult problem. One of the most obvious measures is to prevent the community from replicating the company’s organizational structure. By definition, departments have a certain amount of inbreeding. Allow production employees to collaborate with the innovation department. Differences in approach are advantageous. “Centralized” means that knowledge is not easily accessible and groups remain too strongly self-contained in their own environment. This is also an easy prob- lem to solve. The “weighted” general aggregation page that shows selected, mixed content from multiple or all groups provides an adequate solution. A social platform is like an ecosystem. Not all communities are equally stable and optimal. Just as in all ecosystems, the risk of oscillations, plagues, bugs and disequilibrium is greatest when diversity and spread is small. The most stable communities are likely the largest and most diverse ones.The chance of a plague of locusts is greater in a desert than in a jungle. In unstable communities, small incidents can quickly get out of hand. Communities lacking diversity are also characterized by too little creativity and too much consensus. Size and diversity are two factors that are never present right at the beginning of community formation, and must be continuously targeted. By ensuring diver- sity right at the start, the community can be given an advantageous launch. A much used trick for initiating discussion platforms is to allow a dissonant to clandestinely infiltrate the community and to express excessive dissent by being contrary to everything. This will work just fine until employees begin to see through it. Social platform 29
  27. 27. Notes 30 TeamPark
  28. 28. 3 Stimulus rich Social software emits signals and supports such interaction as conver- sations, collaboration and knowledge-sharing. All possible signals and stimuli for interaction can be grouped into a handful of social factors, which then can be used to build and analyze the software. To begin with, these will be the factors that transform a website into a social website. Or they will convert a general environ- ment into a social environment. In 2003, Matt Webb11,12 came out with a list of features that have served as a basis for our method. According to Matt, social soft- ware is characterized by the following factors: identity, presence, social relations, conversations, groups, reputation and sharing. Matt Webb was in turn inspired by Flickr-founder Stewart Butterfield.13 Flickr is one of the largest social websites in the world, and its founder’s opinions and ideas therefore carry some weight. In social software, we distinguish the following nine social factors as interaction stimuli conveyed to the user through the concept, style and interaction design: • Activity – What is happening now? • Presence – Who is currently available? • Identity – Who is it and to whom does it belong? 11 12 13 Stimulus rich 31
  29. 29. • Relations – With whom am I connected? • Groups – Can groups be formed? • Reputation or Karma – How is your contribution and therefore your member- ship appreciated? • Sharing – Is content or “something else” being shared? • Conversation – Do participants communicate with each other? • Challenges – Are there challenges or non-content related activities? Not every factor will be constantly present on a social site to an equally percep- tible degree. One site may be more content-driven, while another places greater emphasis on relationships. We can use a radar diagram to visualize the various profiles, and make the social character of the software more evident. The radar chart of a platform’s degree of stimulation This diagram awards each element with a visibility level of 0 to 3. The levels of these elements indicate the subjective presence of the element by means of a score ranging from unnoticeable (0) through noticeable (1) and very noticeable (2) to dominant (3). Activity Activity provides visitors with information about what is currently happening on the website or what has been updated. An example is the box on YouTube indicating “Video’s being watched right now.” But there are other activity 32 TeamPark
  30. 30. streams that may be monitored. Clearly visible activities are important elements in creating “Life” (displaying that there is something going on). This is sometimes referred to as showing “signs of life.” Activity is generally seen as one of the most important factors for creating a successful and growing community. Presence Presence is the possibility of visitors viewing who is available and online, as well as the manner in which they can be contacted. It creates the sense of togetherness, but it is also important for the successful conduct of certain types of conversations. One example of discernible presence is the contact person list in msn. Another example is the availability of a “Chat now” function on a dating site, complete with profiles of other love seekers. Identity Identity makes it possible for people to distinguish their contributions from those of others and to sufficiently personalize their own little corners of the community. A login name, an avatar, a personal channel on which to assemble all your contributions and, for example, a personalized “skin” for that channel. If peo- ple can build up their identities and reputations in a clear manner, they will view their contributions to the website as an investment and will look after both the website and this investment, while refusing to abandon either of them very quickly. Identity ensures power of discernment. Relations Relations indicate how people or groups are related to each other in the system. Clear examples of this type of bonding are the friendships or business contacts indicated on LinkedIn or Facebook for example. There are also forms of relationship management that can be put to good use in monitoring the activities of friends. A clear difference can be made between explicit and implicit relation- ships. Explicit relationships are initiated by users themselves, such as in the case of the msn buddy list. Implicit relationships are detected by Social Network Analysis on the basis of characteristics, interests, and other properties that one user shares with others in the system. Examples of these types of relationships are the matches that a dating site finds based on a client’s preferences and personal data. Stimulus rich 33
  31. 31. Groups Groups indicate the possibility of forming sub-communities. Groups and group formation offer users the chance to form groups on their own based on such things as shared interest. Social news sites also use this feature to enable mul- tiple users to form a collective news channel. Group formation is clearly not to be understood as unilateral classification of individuals such as many people do on msn when they distinguish a private from a business contact (these are “relations”). Depending on the type of software and community, it is often necessary to subdi- vide a larger community into smaller ones. It is not possible or desirable to be friends with everyone or collaborate on a project with the entire world. The type of exclu- siveness criteria used to whittle the numbers down must be something that can be set by users themselves, both individually and as a group. Reputation Reputation stands for the capacity of indicating the status, reliability, productivity or any other quality of a certain identity. Everyone can see who the top users of social news sites are, and top users often have greater influence during the procedure of voting on articles. Pure democracy is often a bad idea on the internet because it then becomes a dictatorship of the majority (“three wolves and a sheep vote on what will be on the menu that evening”). The majority is never the most creative or intelligent part of a community, mostly only the most docile and least exacting. Reputation is a way of not allotting everyone the same rights or influence, and of protecting quality and authenticity.14 Reputation often emerges on its own because users comment on and vote for the contributions from a certain member. It is important to establish reputation on the basis of desired contributions. On a commercial site financed by advertising, it is clearly just the ratings that count. On a news sites, the number of comments or the evaluation are perhaps more important. There are various types of reputation systems, depending on the chosen quality criteria and desired output. Various types of reputation systems 14 34 TeamPark
  32. 32. Internet giant Yahoo has undertaken a great deal of work on the conception and design of reputation systems. For social software developers, it is interesting to take a look at this work.15,16 The following illustration shows the various ways in which reputation can be determined and the challenges associated with each of them. Various templates for constructing reputation systems, from Yahoo Reputation, often also called “karma” following the example in particular of “first person shooter games”17 can be used and determined in various ways but, in nearly every case, it is intended to improve the quality of the community and its “wisdom.” 15 16 17 Stimulus rich 35
  33. 33. Sharing / content Sharing is the practice of making content available to the rest of the group or community. Such content may comprise personal experiences, stories, advice, opinions of knowledge and many take the form of texts, photos or videos. For example, video clips are shared on YouTube, photos on Flickr, knowledge on a wiki and contacts on LinkedIn. The mutual sharing of information, knowledge or content is essential for social software. Web 2.0 now has many means of commu- nication that are outstandingly well suited to facilitate this interactivity. A number of the above discussed components suitable for sharing are weblogs, wikis, auctions, media libraries, news aggregators and news dumps. Conversation Conversation refers to the opportunity of exchanging information (communication) by means of discussions, chat and reactions. These conversations occur in very many different shapes and sizes. Conversations on msn are mostly one-to-one and, normally speaking, synchronous (wait for the answer). Conversa- tions by email are often one-to-many and nearly always asynchronous (the sender does not wait for the answer). Social software can facilitate conversations among the members of a community in various manners. The reaction mechanism on weblogs is also a means of conversation. The same holds true for a thread on a forum instant messaging (chat) and for instance a shout box. Challenges Challenges refer to tests of skill. There are, in fact, always activities that do not directly service a “functional” purpose, especially on gaming platforms. They nevertheless contribute in many ways. by adding a fun-factor, for example. They are user “inducements,” such as the games found on msn that users can play with each other. All these non-content-related and non-relationship-related activities are encompassed by the category Challenges, and consist of activities that you can take on yourself as well as those that you pose to each other. Social character A fitting social character is one of the most important conditions at the start of a social platform. This social character will have to be constantly adjusted; 36 TeamPark
  34. 34. in other words, changes of direction, tone and composition of the community will mean that the platform will have to emit other stimuli. It has to grow along with the development of the communities themselves. The homepage of YouTube is, to some extent, regularly rearranged. YouTube is clearly searching for the best possible layout, as is Facebook. The administrators of these sties do not even precisely know what the sites should become, and they monitor the behavior of the community in order to gradually evolve toward the best possible layout and interaction. They are repeatedly carefully modifying the social design and accordingly keep a close eye on the effects that the changes have. As described above in the discussion of the nine factors, each factor has its own possibilities for technical realization, which vary according the type of social environment. The more or less dominant presence of social factors determine the character of a social website. These factors can, in fact, be used to analyze a site, creating a type of personality sketch: a characterization of the website. The dia- gram below displays such analyses for some well-known social websites. The social character of various websites: degrees of stimulation Most good social websites are continuously in development (such as in the case of the above-mentioned YouTube), so that the indicated characteristics might already be different. Nevertheless, the diagram typifies the character of each website. There are three main dominances that can be distinguished: Stimulus rich 37
  35. 35. • Content dominant (YouTube) • Relation dominant (LinkedIn) • Activity dominant (Twitter) Weighting based on visibility The visibility and conspicuousness of web components used to build a social platform determine the weighting and influence of these components within the total character. It is possible to distinguish the following levels of visibility: • Brief / unnoticeable • Moderate / noticeable • Clear / very noticeable • Unmissable / dominant Visibility results from a combination of various (subjective) factors. A web com- ponent flashing in bright red on the hot spot of the opening page clearly contrib- utes more to the character of the platform that a web component in small print and modest layout placed in the bottom-right corner. The best location on screen is the top left. This is the location on which users first focus and is, consequently, the most eye-catching.18 If a component is located in the bottom left, it will have greater presence than an element in the bottom right (possibly only visible after scrolling). The component can also be absent from the website but still have a place in the platform. The location of the com- ponent in the portal is therefore important to indicate presence. The effect is used as a weighting factor concerning the social characteristics of the social compo- nent. The figure on the next page presents an analysis of visitor viewing behavior. The redder the color of the location, the more frequently and longer visitors tend to gaze there. For advertisers, red areas are the locations most in demand. 18 tussen_een_of_twee_kolommen/ 38 TeamPark
  36. 36. Eye-tracking maps that indicate where users look the most. Analysis: the existing situation Many organizations already have their own intranet or extranet. These networks already often contain a nook set up for knowledge sharing or even main- tain somewhat more informal items such as an auction site or cookbook. Often, these items were not designed for the purposes for which they are being used, or else they have been reconfigured by a group of enthusiasts. The environments can be seen as the first cautious steps towards a full-fledged social platform, and the users of these functionalities are the initial enthusiasts of the new environment. We would therefore like to know what attracts them to the activity, captivates them and binds them there. The degree to which the social stimuli such as activity, presence, conversation, etc. are present in these existing environments can be quantified in terms of feel. After all, users experience things by feeling them! For every factor, an evaluation can be made concerning the degree of its presence. This character sketch of the current solution can be regarded as an analysis of the actual situation, providing Stimulus rich 39
  37. 37. us with a foundation for a construction phase through which we then reach a detailed target situation. Besides this relatively simple quantification of the technical design, we especially want to learn what the users feel about the existing situation and what part of the current solution they find lacking. Synthesis: the target situation The desired character of a social platform can be discovered by inter- viewing a future group of users. To prevent users from feeling like children in a candy store and wanting the platform with everything that appears cool, they must be interviewed in a more subtle and indirect manner in order to disclose their real needs and preferences. Instead of asking users questions to which we very likely will receive answers in the affirmative (e.g. “Do you want your own blog?” “Do you want to be able to upload videos and images?” “Would you like to have the latest news every day?”), questions might better be formulated in the form of alternatives (e.g. “Blogs or sharing photos?” “Wikipedia or eBay?” “Reading or writing?” “Dis- cussion or blogging?”). In this way, the potential user is forced to consider the functionalities and to make choices. This indirectly probes the desired features and enables the expected composition of the platform to be itemized. Because not all wishes come to the surface in such a set-up, it is prudent also to conduct a number of in-depth interviews with users. They are then able to relate, in their own words, what they currently find lacking and what they would like to see in the platform. Besides the inventory of user wishes, the expectations of the employer can be enumerated in this phase. This occurs by entering into an open discussion in which the results of the analysis and the inventory taking are subject to review. After all, the platform begins to take shape by using an initial sketch of possibly appropriate components in order to give it a face. This rough sketch provides proper insight into the possibilities, ensures a solid commitment and creates a nice moment for probing expectations. 40 TeamPark
  38. 38. Notes Stimulus rich 41
  39. 39. 4 Organic There are so many communities, so many wishes, interests and talents, it quickly becomes impossible to make a prior assessment of the structures into which the community or platform should be organized. Such an endeavor should therefore not be attempted. The key terms involved here are “organic” and “self- organizing.” The environment must have the possibility to allow the community to determine its own direction and structures. Only a minimum of structure is prede- fined and pre-established. The composition of groups, layout, compartmentalization and especially structure of the content must be able to be determined by the members themselves. Group formation A good platform permits people to start their own groups and com- munities, which others may join or leave at their own discretion. Collaboration must be self-organizing and self-scaling. This serves various purposes. Instead of people being rigidly allocated to a team or task, people can find the tasks or communities to which they may make meaningful contributions on the platform for themselves. This is organization that occurs bottom-up instead of top-down, by allowing wishes and talents to match needs. Organic 43
  40. 40. It also turns out that there is something in communities akin to an ideal group size.19 Intuitively, many people know that if a group is too large, it explodes and disintegrates into smaller ones. Anthropology demonstrates that the maximum size for more “intimate” social groups is about 150, which has been identified as Dunbar’s number. People appear only to be able to maintain social relation- ships with 150 friends. The social gaming world reveals that a maximum of 60 participants exists for intensive collaboration in collectives known as “guilds.” For each type of community, task and environment, there is probably a certain ideal group size. The sense of belonging in the following anecdotal example only begins to exist when a size of 5–8 individuals is reached, after which this feeling, in a sense, sags before recovering its optimum level at around 50 members. To ensure that each group can find its own balance and ideal size, the platform must be organic. People must be able to find groups for themselves and join in with them. Or to remove themselves from them again. Groups find, in fact, an ideal size depending on task or type Besides the groups formed by participants themselves, it is also very conceivable that the system automatically recognizes and facilitates groups based on an anal- ysis of the relationships among participants. Such matchmaking techniques involve the identification of various points in common. If participants are able to establish explicit relationships with others, there are often clusters of social connections to be recognized. If use is made of social tagging, which we will 19 44 TeamPark
  41. 41. discuss below, participants can for example be groups based on matching inter- ests. Social network analysis is a tool for use in this respect.20,21 Implicit group- ing can bring people together who would otherwise never have found each other. There are many metrics available for this purpose, such as “betweenness,” “close- ness,” “centrality,” “cohesion,” etc. The most evident application is the identifica- tion of Networks of Practice,22,23 the organic “teams” of a community. Social tagging and folksonomy There is a big difference between a centrally managed and top-down enforced labeling of content and a self-ordering classification system administered bottom up. Fixed top-down structures mostly consist of sets of categories arranged in so-called taxonomies (an example is the animal kingdom). Fixed structures are never optimal, nor are they appropriate for all data. They must therefore be avoided as the most dominant structure on a social platform. The tendency to reiterate the organizational vertical structure on the platform must certainly be suppressed. On a social weblog or a social news site, visitors can add their own articles (or content in general). A categorical structure is one of the greatest impediments to such activity, posing an enormous obstacle on almost every site. Evidently, some- one had the absurd idea that a classification can be devised ahead of time, one in which everything can always be slotted. This is certainly ambitious but usually not very smart. Classification in general is a problem for which a good, unam- biguous solution can never be found. Biologists, mathematicians and philosophers have known this for centuries. The article that the user wishes to post will almost never fit into only one of the categories, and almost never precisely in categories that are preconceived. The fixed structure obstructs evolution of the crowd. In most cases, it is better to choose a system known as “social tagging,” which results in what may be identified as a folksonomy,24 in contrast to a taxonomy.25 A good synonym for tag is “keyword.” Every user can attach keywords to every article, 20 21 22 23 24 25 Organic 45
  42. 42. and the system allows various possibilities of performing keyword searches of articles or to link them by means of recommendations, for example. Sites that support this self-organizing system of classification are frequently rec- ognizable by the somewhat untidy but very informative “tag clouds.”26 A tag cloud is a visual representation of the popularity of the tags or keywords, as frequently occurring keywords are given greater representation. The tag cloud reveals a great deal of information at a glance. Advantages of the use of tags as an ordering mechanism are: • Tags represent the wisdom of the crowd. • Tags need not be added by a special editorial staff. • Tags form an organic structure that directly reflects the actual semantic struc- ture of the data. Tags automatically create an order and, as is proper to complex self-organizing systems, the distribution of tags follows the Power Law, as opposed to randomly formed data-sets which follow the “Gaussian” distribution (see first part of the book). The order is self-generated due to the fact that a user has linked certain tags to the same “thing,” which implies a certain semantic connection between the tags. A few tags occur very frequently, but most of them very seldom 26 46 TeamPark
  43. 43. Tags can be analyzed and visualized in various manners. Analysis can take place by means of mathematical graph theory and/or statistics. The environment, the platform, must give rise to the one that is the most usable for the purpose at hand. Two frequently used visualizations are the tag cloud and the tag graph. The following tag cloud shows countries in relation to their number of inhabit- ants. A tag could of countries weight by number of inhabitants A comparable tag cloud can be constructed on the basis of gross national product, land area or any other statistic. Organic 47
  44. 44. Below is a more mathematical representation of a folksonomy: The visualization of tags in a graph (figure from: visualizing-folksonomies-using-machine.html) Absence of synchronous communications Perhaps the most important factor involved in an organic structure is the dominance of indirect broadcast communications. The reasoning is of an inverted nature; the machine model is based on direct synchronous communications. In this format, the sender explicitly waits for an answer from a designated recipient. This 48 TeamPark
  45. 45. sort of communications is, in principle, unwanted on a social platform because it enforces fixed structures and dependencies. The collaboration on a social platform must be based on the assumption that the initiator of an action does not know by whom, when or from where the initiated action will receive follow-up. This is the basis for free mass collaboration. It is an opportunistic way of working. Examples of synchronous communications and means of communications are: • A telephone conversation • A direct dialogue • Collaboration within a fixed workflow Sometimes, certain means of communication are still usable on social platforms for various types of communications, but it should be noted that the following communication media are, in principle, synchronous: • sms • msn / im • Email Admittedly, these three media can also be used in an asynchronous manner, which is to say that the sender can organize his or her work so that it can continue without awaiting an answer from recipients. Typical asynchronous communications and means of communications are: • The blog • The Wiki • The forum • The bulletin board • The revision control system In principle, the lack of specifically addressed recipients is the most important indicator of “social communications.” Organic 49
  46. 46. Notes 50 TeamPark
  47. 47. 5 Collaborative A social platform must be equipped with the proper stigmergic col- laboration tools, and these must not just be given lip service. For years, it has been said that “Enterprise 2.0” was an organization that worked with blogs, forums and wikis, while practice was demonstrating that work was never actually performed using these tools. Every organization has other processes, which posed their own specific requirements on the type of collaboration tools that had to be employed. The aim of the platform and that of the social side is not to introduce new tasks but to constantly improve them by linking them to smarter processes, such as stig- mergic (social) processes instead of bureaucratic (functional). The current organization has certain processes that cannot be performed effi- ciently using functional forms of collaboration, regardless whether or not they are currently organized like this or not. They can be identified as the first proc- esses that must be socialized (actually the correct term is “stigmertized”) in order to obtain optimum performance. The tools with which this must be done must match the nature of the processes. A wiki will not help to find people and exper- tise faster, just as a forum will not contribute much to the safeguarding and disclosure of knowledge. The entire array of “2.0” or stigmergic collaboration and communication tools comprises several shades and hues, and the correct combination of them is necessary for the success of the platform in terms of the task for which they are employed. Collaborative 51
  48. 48. The collaborative capacity of a platform reflects the degree to which the choice of tools matches the specific tasks and collaboration requirements of an organi- zation. General tools The collaboration tools for the more general social platforms have already been discussed in “From Crowd to Community”. In most cases, a standard social platform consists of a social weblog, a forum, wikis and, if applicable, some items related to an activity stream. Each one of these tools serves another communication/collaboration purpose. The tools are universal enough to be used for several tasks, but they can be roughly summarized as follows, and this is not rocket science: • Weblog A weblog can be used to inform and express opinions. It is a “broadcast.” In general, it provides support for more goal-oriented tools. In effect, there is no collaboration on a weblog other than the commenting on opinions and news. No products result. • Forum A forum is a vehicle for conducting discussions, sounding out and shaping general opinion, answering questions, providing advice, etc. It is a public means of debate. In general, it provides support for more goal-oriented tools. There are also no products that result in this case. • Wiki A wiki is entirely well suited to the storage of collective knowledge. A wiki can be used by a large group of people to collectively update and maintain a large quantity of documents. More recent wikis are also suitable for use as collaborative documents and could, on their own, form the basis for the Intelligent Organization. At every location where people work together on a document, a wiki can be employed in order to save people from having to send each other the latest version. Not all brands of wikis are technically appropriate for this use. In contrast to the weblog and the forum, the wiki is “product-driven.” In this case, the product is the “living” document that may be collectively delivered. 52 TeamPark
  49. 49. In most companies involved in knowledge work, documents constitute the greatest part of their production. • Social bookmarking Social bookmarking can be used to filter news and other messages on the internet. The mechanism of the wisdom of the crowd can ensure that the result is a continuously up-to-date overview of relevant news. This type of informa- tion can be used for many various purposes. The marketing department may find it interesting as a means of keeping in touch with the “consumer.” The sales department can similarly stay on top of trends among customers and create opportunities as a result. Technicians can keep up-to-date with the lat- est developments, etc. It is a pure means of sharing knowledge. • Activity stream An activity stream is entirely well-suited for initiating contact between small islands in companies and facilitating cross-fertilization. Because people are constantly up to date with each other’s activities, new collaborations arise on their own. Most platforms will offer these tools as the basic elements of a “general tool kit.” Special tools Besides the above-indicated general tools, there have also been tools invented for the specific tasks and processes that are necessary for any given organ- ization. Many general processes can be designed around existing general tools, such as the wiki. The wiki is a document in which several can collaborate at the same time. Other processes require a specific tool with the appropriate built-in stigmer- gic characteristics. The manner in which such tools are required to work, the types of signals and content that users therefore deposit in the environment and the ways in which the accumulation of these signals leads to a fulfilled task are all subject to the redesign process that will be described later on. For an example of a more specific tool, an examination can be made of an envi- ronment in which open-source software is being developed, such as the sublime Sourceforge platform. The basis of the platform is formed by a few standard components, such as a forum, a wiki, a blog, rating mechanism, comments, activ- ity stream; the “whole works” constituting a completely social set-up. It is one Collaborative 53
  50. 50. of the finest social platforms in existence. Entirely specific, customized facilities27 for the collective development of software have been incorporated. The platform has tools for version control, bug tracking, release management, download man- agement, etc. It is a fully-equipped software workshop in which developers from around the world can produce software together. It is entirely conceivable that a stigmergic collaboration platform may be built to fit every type and class of production in an organization: a tool for requesting, processing and delivery of local government “products,” such as fishing licenses, building permits and complaint handling; a platform for open-source research; a platform for innovation. Anything seems and is possible. In addition to the basic set of tools, each of these platforms will have other tools for specific proc- esses involved in the purpose at hand. Stigmergic collaboration tools customized for the organization. 27 54 TeamPark
  51. 51. Notes Collaborative 55
  52. 52. 6 Intelligent A community potentially contains a great deal of talent that can be used to improve operational management, for example. Although never intended for commercial use or for unlocking collective intelligence, a well-known platform that clearly possesses all these qualities is MySpace. The community of MySpace is enormous, as is its vitality. But something essential is lacking: nothing important “results.” There is no purposeful goal. No meaningful result. The platform is conse- quently diffuse and clearly demonstrates that just having fertile ground is not enough. Perhaps the most important ingredient of a “commercial” social platform is the aggregation mechanism. There must be a way to “tap” into the wisdom of the crowd. The community must have the ability to converge on a result, and this may be accomplished by implementing the appropriate aggregation mechanism. No such mechanism is available on MySpace, and it is perhaps for this reason that it is not much more than a place to hang out. The fact that a great deal of ugc (user-generated content) is generated, for exam- ple, in the form of high-grade wikis, displays in itself the presence of talent. However, this talent has no immediate purpose. Generating knowledge does not necessarily result in a solution, improvement or innovation. Knowledge in itself will not improve operational management,; such improvement requires another mechanism. Intelligent 57
  53. 53. On a social news site where users work together to collect news and vote on the best news items, this mechanism is the front page of the website, where only the best articles are displayed. The same holds true for a website such as Dell’s Idea- storm. Users can make suggestions for improvement on which other users can vote. The best proposals then appear on the front page and are given serious consideration by Dell. There are innumerable ways to evaluate the quality of content, but they are also all dependent on the definition of “quality” being applied. These examples simply involve a democratic vote. Such simple determi- nations of an average rating may be easily enhanced by, for example, not weight- ing every vote the same. The weight of a vote may be made dependent on the “karma” of the voter. Valued users then have more influence on the vote than others do. Furthermore, quality may be assessed in different ways and based on several factors. In any case, these types of calculations must be guided by the desired quality of the community and the outcomes that are to be stimulated. Such “quality calculations,” which may occur at several locations in a large sys- tem, come under the heading of “collaborative filtering.”28 The aim of such filter- ing on a Web 2.0 platform is, in most cases, to assemble the most valuable/useful contributions from the mass of a community’s input. Be aware of the Matthew effect Crowds and communities have a strange effect on their members. Not only is a crowd “more” than the sum of its individuals, the crowd, as a whole, also has a feedback loop to its parts. Sociology has noted the existence of something called “cumulative advantage.” This is commonly known as “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer” and more officially as the Matthew effect29: “For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” People always have the tendency to attach themselves to the largest, best or most well-known group, person or opinion: in this way, it resembles the bandwagon effect.30 On such social news sites as digg, this potential has a great influence on the voting behavior of visitors. People tend to vote on articles that already have the most votes. digg is a social news site where the crowd can vote on the news 28 29 30 58 TeamPark
  54. 54. items that appear on the front page. The quality of the news leaves something to be desired and the monotony of the topics is sometimes intolerable. It is never too long before the umpteenth iPhone or iPad news report is once again at the top of the list. In part, this is the result of irrational factors (the power of stupid people in large groups), but a significant element is perhaps related to the design of the website.31 Since the popularity of articles is visible before voting, there is a strong tendency in the crowd as a whole to make already popular articles even more popular with likely negative consequences for the general quality and diversity of the content on the website. A similar effect is discernible on any site where “top rated” or “most popular” lists are displayed; the items mentioned on these lists are looked at or watched with disproportionately greater frequency. People undoubtedly feel more secure in the knowledge of belonging to the largest group. Weblogs such as the Dutch Geenstijl make grateful use of this behavior; they bind together an extremely large group by dissing collectively smaller and less able groups. Easy, effective but not resulting in anything of quality. Actually, the “cumulative advantage” involves nothing more than putting Boids rules into effect. We already discussed this point in “From Crowd to Community”. Boids is a simulation of the flocking behavior of birds, insect en fish. A Boid is programmed to always follow the direction of its nearest neighbors and to always shift to the position of these neighbors. Or at least remain close by, not too far off. If we come to know that the members of a group always want to move in the same direction as other members, we can then take it into account by, for example, disguising the direction of movement. In the case of a social news site such as digg, you could redesign the mechanism so that you will be able to analyze the popularity of an article only after your vote has been cast. Such a measure will make the vote much more independent, and will improve quality (but likely also reduce quantity). It is probably no coincidence that, another great social bookmark site, has a much higher diversity of content and an independent voting mechanism as well. The site has, at the same time, fewer visitors. Unfortunately quality and quantity are often mutually exclusive. 31 Intelligent 59
  55. 55. Collaborative filtering If a social platform has to create a feeling of togetherness, it is then desirable to have a front page made by the group itself: a page through which all content and all activity passes irrespective of the manner in which it is made or the part of the community to which it is relevant. When a great deal of content is produced (forum posts, videos, photos, slide shows, wiki entries, auction advertisements), it however provides an undesired torrent of information on the front page. New content then flashes by so quickly that no-one gets anything out of it. Furthermore, not everything is suitable for the front page. This page is particularly well-suited to be a continuous display for only the best, most attractive, most inspirational items posted at any given moment. The appear- ance of an article on the front page is then its own reward. However, editing on a social website is blasphemous. Therefore what should we do? The solution is to allow the community itself to determine what is good and what is not. This can occur in various ways. Nearly, every social site makes it possible to rate articles, YouTube being a good example. This rating can be used to select the currently top rated articles for inclusion on the front page. If the rating involves the time frame of the article’s front-paging, the article will naturally lose its popularity and disappear from the front page at some point. This mechanism, known as collaborative filtering32 is exceptionally well-suited for selecting the best content without explicit editing. The mechanism is even extremely demo- cratic. Besides explicit or active rating, there are also implicit or passive factors that might assist in the selection. In fact, all the factors that might make content desir- able must be given consideration. Collaborative filtering generally exists in two versions: active and passive. Allowing users to vote can be classified as an active variant, in which case a great deal of usable information is overlooked. To prevent such neglect, consideration can also be given to viewer ratings, the number of reviews, perhaps even a type of automatically measurable quality of the content. This is called passive filtering. Regardless of the variant, the algorithm used has a large influence on the evolution of the community and the quality of its out- put. 32 60 TeamPark
  56. 56., the social news site of the Dutch nu/ Ilse media organization, determines the popularity of articles based on votes alone and gives each vote equal weight- ing. Viewer ratings for an article and the number of reviews that it receives are not included in the calculation. This means that a large part of the community does not have any influence on the content of the community. If were to include such factors, the chance is great that a cultural transformation would be discernible. By culture, we are here referring to such factors as the tone in which the average discussion is conducted, the type of news that is posted, as well as the degree of involvement and interaction. A potentially large problem in so-called democratic (or actively filtered) systems is misuse. Social news site digg is so large that front-page posting is financially attractive for the referred site (advertising income). At a certain moment, word began to go around that top posters had organized themselves and were being paid for voting articles to the front page. The transparency and predictability of the algorithm being used, a superficial understanding of basic social mechanisms and some assistance from other top posters, makes it possible to systematically “game”33 the system (also known as “pay for play”). digg took action but appar- ently without much success. It is also very easy to have news items appear on the front page through the mere collaboration of a small group of members early in the lifecycle of an article. Members of Dutch Zapruder Inc. website were able to take nujij site hostage for weeks until the authors of the “truth” site told their fans to settle down. The solution that nujij programmed into their system after- wards, was entirely asocial; it became possible to register secret dissenting votes and, since then, strange things have been occurring in the system. Likely, an edito- rial board is pressing the buttons to suit themselves. A good reputation system and a clever algorithm can provide an effective solution for this problem. At, our own “social experiment” that grew out to be one of the larger social news sites in the Dutch language and even won “The Dutch Bloggie,” popularity is therefore partly calculated by the system. The underlying basis for this is the so-called 1% rule for social media. The system uses different statistics such as number of votes, number or different people making comments, number of comments, number of inbound referrers, number of views to calculate popu- larity. The algorithm that calculates popularity gives these properties different 33 Intelligent 61
  57. 57. weightings, the 1% properties receiving much greater weight. The weighting is continuously updated and standardized for the last 1000 articles. uses “the reciprocal of the ratios of factors” as weighting for the popularity of an article so that each type of user gets a fair shake. In this way, a page view has much less weight in the algorithm than a vote but the anonymous lurker still has some influence on the system The number of votes on the popularity of articles is not noticeably visible, in order to avoid the Matthew effect. Because Zaplog. nl wishes to post articles written by the contributors themselves, articles under copyright (an indication of original content) are given preference, as are articles with an image and a certain minimum length. All attributes regarded as desirable are encouraged. Originally, experiments were conducted on the quality of an article’s content. Several algorithms exist that, based on statistics involving word lengths and diversity, can say something about the quality of an article, translated, for example, into a number such as “year of education.” However, such calcula- tions have proven undesirable because their algorithms understand nothing of poetic or creative use of language. The most important consideration in conceptualizing weighting algorithms is the desired quality. What articles, what content, what output is desired? The most desirable output should, of course, have the greatest chance of a front page posi- tion, assuming that such positioning is a good stimulus for authors. At Zaplog. nl, it is possible to post both original articles and many simpler link dumps. Since an effort is made to display as much original content as possible, articles written by contributors are given preferential treatment in several ways. In posting, an author must indicate the copyright that the article has: none (for quotations and link dumps), creative commons34 shared) or all-rights reserved. Exclusive content has an easier and faster route to the front page and may remain there longer. To provide extra stimulation, original articles are posted with a short introduction, while link dumps appear only as a title. Users have a greater tendency to click on intros than to click on “naked” links. Articles accompanied by pictures also receive somewhat greater preference, as do articles of substantial length. The entire layout design, social design and interaction design are intended to stimu- late the posting of original news and opinion articles, and the proof that this policy works was confirmed by the award of a Dutch Bloggie for best Dutch weblog in the news and politics category.35 The largest portion of the content 34 35 62 TeamPark
  58. 58. now consists of original work, and the site has grown into the second largest social news site in the Netherlands. The algorithm and the social design of the website are constantly being revised. It has adopted a social design that serves as a sort of public demonstration, in part because is used to testing and developing many of our theories. Reputation or karma The importance of the right aggregation mechanism for a social web- site has already been mentioned above. Just causing large quantities of ugc (user- generated content) to be created is not enough; neither is just initiating a great deal of activity. Making many friends, watching a lot of videos, do not lead to any results, except in the case of websites that must have page views and user numbers to gen- erate advertising revenue. A social platform that actually wants to use talent to devise better business operations has to involve more. There must consequently be a means to calculate/generate/demonstrate results. The above-described front page is one such technique. As a consequence, “results” not only appear, but the practice also ensures that everyone remains in touch with the entire community. Another mechanism, often used in combination with others, is “reputation.” Every identity (in most cases, of course, just a normal user) can be associated with a number indicating the identity’s weight in the community. This number can be used to stimulate quality in many ways.36 The most simple such mechanism is a ranking, which may then produce a “User of the Week.” Reputation systems must be used with restraint, however. Each user is, in prin- ciple, equally valuable to the community because he or she may also, at some time, throw his or her unique talent into the battle. Even troublemakers and trolls have their function.37 An unruly person always is very successful in stifling discus- sion and, in many start-up websites, editors often take this role on themselves. At the same time, some users are just more active and more successful than oth- ers, and a signal provides the appropriate reward. It constitutes an incentive. The reputation system must, however, never represent a barrier to new, beginning or, up to then, less valuable users. 36 37 Intelligent 63
  59. 59. A reputation system can also be usable to the community in combating misuse. Especially in systems in which content and activities can be voted on, or in which ratings can be issued, it is undesirable that everyone who has just become a member should be able to immediately strongly make a strong impression on the site. In this case, this type of right must first be earned. At the Dutch ZapLog, karma is calculated on the basis of an evaluation that the system makes of a user’s contributions, which is furthermore determined on the basis of such weighted factors as the number of interactions (views, comments, links and ratings), the number of different users who have interacted, and the average rating. A user is therefore more valuable if the community evaluates his or her contributions as valuable. As a result, both quality and quantity become important. On your social platform, an examination must be made to determine the quali- ties of each group that should be stimulated and to discover if a different karma system must be established for each group. Do not be afraid to regularly change these calculations as the community grows, however. In a small community, an effort must first be made to obtain quantity; in somewhat larger groups, greater emphasis can be placed on quality. Certainly communicate the changes and do not make any exceptions for certain users. At the same time, such transparency must occur without revealing the specific details of the calculation in order to prevent cheating. Reputation can also be helpful in establishing the specific expertise available in the different groups or in finding expertise regarding a particular matter. Used in combination with social tagging and social network analysis, it becomes easy to undertake a few keyword searches to establish the source of the most valuable content associated with these words, as well as the groups and individuals behind it. The form of analysis by means of which this occurs is called social network analysis and typically results in the previously mentioned “communities of prac- tice” (groups of people who have implicit relations with each other on the basis of earned reputation and demonstrated interests). 64 TeamPark
  60. 60. Notes Intelligent 65
  61. 61. 7 Adaptive Where to begin? A complete organization provided with a living social side must go through an entire sequence of steps in order to emerge. With Team- Park, we envision a development in four phases: awareness, strategy, implementation and vitalization. An important ingredient in the strategy phase concerns the deter- mination of the scale and degree in which the organization has to establish processes to “socialize” itself (equivalent to the term “democratize” used in literature). It goes without saying that every type of organization requires a different platform, depend- ing primarily on the processes that must be facilitated. But how do we determine the types of communications and the manners of collaboration that may be suc- cessful, and the department that first must test the new way of working together? There are various theories, but we are ultimately interested in a process that provides the best possible results at the lowest possible cost and within the least amount of lead time. In our view, there are two possibilities for doing this, and all other variants are derived from these two. Evolution vs. Intelligent Design In general, there are two strategies for achieving an “adapted social platform”: evolution and intelligent design. Both strategies have advantages and disadvantages. The choice between them depends on the specific situation and, in particular, the size of the company. In very large companies, evolution is advanta- geous at many points. Ultimately, the chance is then the greatest in such large Adaptive 67
  62. 62. organizations that the most extensively adapted platform can be created without running through an enormously expensive procedure. Given that practice can best determine the processes requiring an improved social and given that training and intensively counseling employees are not only very expensive but always occur under the risky assumption that we know in advance what the final result has to be, it may prove much wiser to adopt the “social evolution theory.” In our view, this runs as follows: a big bang makes a very rich and “over-functional” social platform available organization-wide, and the ele- ments of this platform are monitored to determine which ones are successful. The successful initiatives are nourished and expanded, while unused functional- ity is allowed to die out, or at least reduced to a less prominent stature. In this manner, relatively little guidance is required to create a successful platform that is, by definition, adapted to the organization. The other strategy is social intelligent design. This process is very precisely geared to finding the most fertile ground in the organization and to sowing seeds there. Three factors play key roles in this respect: • Processes • People (your employees) • Technology Of course, not all processes are well-suited or function better as a result of socialization. By analyzing the organization to find the processes that might be given attention, the initial range of solutions can be significantly diminished. Strictly speaking, we are actually putting this wrong. It is, in fact, not the proc- esses that are important but the results: the successful performance of tasks. Some tasks can better be performed by means of social collaboration (organic), others are better undertaken through functional collaboration (mechanical). We need to find the processes that currently rely on functional collaboration but don’t perform well. They are probable candidates for social redesign. Not all your employees are suitable, have the intention or have the power to undertake all the new forms of collaboration and communication on their own. Examining the forms and tools of collaboration that are appropriate for your people substantially reduces the range of solutions. 68 TeamPark
  63. 63. Finally, there are the ordinary technological requirements or limitations of your facilities. Consideration of these issues also creates an organizational map with which to identify the best possible breeding ground for social initiatives. Which processes? Large bureaucratic companies do not have an explicitly organic quality, but they do have a great number of processes that, in fact, do have this dimension. Such misplaced processes can be identified and constitute the most obvious can- didates to convert from bureaucracy to holocracy. Misplaced processes are recogniz- able in various manners. They have the characteristics of social stigmergic collabo- ration. For example, many involve broadcast communications or inherent asynchrony. They have an ad-hoc or incidental nature, as well as characteristics that are difficult to encode in procedures. Consider, in this regard, the difference between mechanism and organism. Many processes are of a hybrid nature. In these cases, they have functional as well as social features. Take, for example, the bidding process in a commercial knowledge company. This is a centrally coordinated process in which much of the information must be obtained from employees working in another part of the organization. For them, it is organic work. They cannot be expected to par- ticipate in synchronous reciprocal collaboration within the bid team. They can- not always drop everything to respond to an email. This conflict can result in large degrees of inefficiency. The way of working and communicating used by the bid team until that time (documenting, circulating emails, teleconferencing and making agreements) almost entirely bogs down, and the project is exposed to enormous stress as well as inevitable aggravation. These types of processes can make enormous gains in efficiency by providing them with the proper stig- mergic facilities. Unpredictable processes are also often suitable candidates for socialization or maybe something like crowdsourcing. Innovation is such a process. Good ideas do not appear on command, and the generation of them is difficult to systematize. Crowds very often have extremely good ideas, frequently coming in a more reli- able stream, than that produced by a few, even incredibly inspired, individuals. The same applies to resolving problems or finding information. Adaptive 69