My notes from the Internet Trends 2012 Update

I find Mary Meeker's reports on internet trends very interesting. They're packed with interesting data and insights. I've been following her work closely. She recently published an updated overview of 2012 and I thought I'd share my highlights with you at the end of this year.

sheet 9: stunning slide showing shipment of iPads, iPhones and iPods over 10 years compared. This slides is old(er), but it just underlines the interesting times we live in
sheet 10: You thought the ramp up of Apple products is huge, well Android ramp up is 6 times that of iPhone
sheet 12: 30% of US adults own a tablet, less than 3 years ago that was 3%
sheet 17: mobile advertising is growing rapidly; $0.7 billion in 2008, $19 billion in 2012
sheet 18: 24% of online shopping was done via tablets on Black Saturday, versus 6% 2 years ago
sheet 20: we are in the midst of a huge change powered by new devices + connectivity + UI + beauty. Meeker highlights the effects for the pc, photography, phone, knowledge, navigation, news, note taking, content organization, magazines, cash registers, lending money, idea building/funding, recruiting, product design, etc. market (and we are still in "spring training", Meeker says [sheet 58])
sheet 24: very interesting overview of the market share of Microsoft compared to others. Used to be 96% and is now just 35%.
sheet 61: I like how Meeker digs deeper into the consequences of the internet by addressing what it means for our space, time and money and how we balance these
sheet 77: Meeker mentions markets that still can be opened, such as the time spent in cars and watching TV, education and healthcare.

And here's her complete slidedeck:

Is our web slipping away?

Sometimes I read a post that really gets me thinking. Anil Dashes' recent post 'The web we lost' did it this time. I think reading the full post is well worth your time if you're interested in where the web is headed. Two fragments from the post triggered me the most:
We've lost key features that we used to rely on, and worse, we've abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world. To the credit of today's social networks, they've brought in hundreds of millions of new participants to these networks, and they've certainly made a small number of people rich.

But they haven't shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they've now narrowed the possibilites of the web for an entire generation of users who don't realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be.

The first step to disabusing them of this notion is for the people creating the next generation of social applications to learn a little bit of history, to know your shit, whether that's about Twitter's business model or Google's social features or anything else. We have to know what's been tried and failed, what good ideas were simply ahead of their time, and what opportunities have been lost in the current generation of dominant social networks.
One of the things I really like about the web is that I know what it was like before the web was there and became so important in our lives. I can also remember the first steps 'web 2.0' brought us and how thrilled I was (and still am) about the next version of the web. After years in the internet and intranet version of the new web, I too am wondering if we're loosing it. I understand Dashes points to business models and what existing services are doing (building walls, cutting off integration opportunities based on RSS, etc.) as reasons for loosing the web. However, I wonder if we should ask even more fundamental questions. Web 2.0 and social media was about refinding our voice. More and more I see the services that helped us refind our voice are becoming less human (walling their garden, changing privacy settings, etc.). They're going against important statements from The Cluetrain Manifesto. And I see less and less people blogging and starting deep conversations (although I must say this is one of the reasons I love Google+). Monetization of services has become more important than the core values of the new web.

Or aren't we loosing it, but are we just getting started? Is it that the early adopters have to slow down and understand that the majority is just starting to understand the concepts and tools of the new web?

Just when I wondered if Dashes would share his ideas about rebuilding the web we lost, he posted his ideas. They are good ideas, even though they're focused on technology, design, funding, business models and the like. These could be good starting point, but as I just mentioned, I wonder if this cuts deep enough to really bring back the web we lost. What do you think?

UPDATE (5 minutes after publishing this post): My friend Ana Silva recently blogged about this topic as well, pointing to Dashes' post and other related posts.

Social Students?

What social tools are young people using? As a (internal) social media advisor for several companies I'm very interested in the answer to this question. So, when I get a change to talk for students, I'm honored, but also very curious what they will tell me.

Recently I was asked to guest lecture for students at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. It's the university I went to years ago. I was asked to share my experience with using social media concepts and tools inside organizations. I basically used a shorter version of the slides I use for my guest lectures for a college, but spent more time on the conceptual, philosophical if you will, side of 'social'.
I also asked them which social tools they use and why they use them. What did they say? Here's what I learned (there were 40+ students attending my lecture):

  • None use Google+. Why? Nobody/none of their friends is there.
  • All except 3 use Facebook. The 3 that didn't use FB, just didn't see the value of using the service.
  • None of the students blog. Some said they didn't because they thought nobody is interested in what they have to say. Some said they wanted to but didn't have time.
  • There are no Hyves users in this class (Hyves is a Dutch social network).
  • 75% uses Twitter. Most use it to consume information, not publish/share it.
  • They know Foursquare but don't use it.
  • All have a LinkedIn account, but don't use it. It's for after their student-life.
Interesting, I find. It's pretty different from the usage pattern I collected while lecturing at a college. To me the most worrying answer is the one about blogging. At college and university hardly anybody blogs. I usually point to my blog and tell them what it brought and brings me. I hope that inspires them...
What's worrying to me is the reason why they don't blog: because they conclude what they think and would share is not interesting to others. And these students will be paid to think in the future. Wouldn't it be great if these young people would share their thoughts with us? I think so and hope they will in the future. The big question is: how do we get them to share?

Emailing with @elsua?

You all know +Luis Suarez, right? The guy from IBM, that live on the Canary Islands and has declared war on email. Well recently I wanted to get in touch with him to discuss an opportunity that popped up. Contacting him is easy, right? He’s all over social media. Just DM him on Twitter, send a message via Google+ or Facebook. LinkedIn will do as well. I thought I’d share how it went. Did I seduce Luis to hand over his email address to me? 

But what to do if you want to send him a longer piece of text? Do you request for his email address? I was tempted to but refrained to ask because I knew I would be whipped by him. ;-) So I reached out to him via Twitter (direct message) and asked if we could call sometime soon. That was possible and we had a chat. But, still, I had to send him more information about the opportunity, about 10-15 lines of text. And I’m not going to chop this into 140 character messages. LinkedIn could work, but feels like email. I’m not connected to Luis in Facebook, so I couldn’t message him there either. So I left it up to him. And what did he choose? We had a one-on-one conversation in Google+. Which worked fine. There is no limitation to message link there. Although attachments can’t be sent, a link to it works as well.

This does make me wonder: this one-on-one conversation is basically email in a social network. The shift of email-like communication to social networks is evident and understandable. But does it really make sense to move this kind of conversation there? Isn’t this the sweet spot of email and basically it’s best use case. To use it for one-on-one confidential conversation? I could think of two good reasons to move these kind of conversations to social nets:
  1. When we think the conversation might me opened up to a larger group later on. When the conversation has been held in the network where this group is, it can easily be shared with them. 
  2. When social networks instead of email is de central hub of the knowledge worker. For most people this is not the case yet (just relate to what application you open first in the morning when you start working…). 
So, what do you think? Are there other reasons to communicate one-on-one in social media instead of email? And how would you have interacted with Luis if you wanted something from him?

By the way, Luis will be at the 2013 Intranet Conference (the company I work for is the organizer). He’ll be sharing his thoughts on the skills of the knowledge worker in a keynote and in a pre-conference workshop he’ll be talking about ‘a world without email’. You can register here!

Looking forward

It’s that time of the year again when we look back and evaluate the year that has passed by so quickly. And lots like to make predictions for the year to come. I don’t want to share my predictions and my ponderings on the previous year. It has been an exciting year for me though. Many interesting projects, many interesting interactions with colleagues, customers and you. I moved from being a senior consultant to manager, visited interesting conferences, had discussions about and changes to the company I work for, etc. I’m just happy to have a great job, in times when many are looking for a job.

I would like to thank you for the previous year. For reading my blog, thinking about things I’ve shared with you and the interactions we’ve had here and elsewhere. I’m looking forward to 2013 and hope you are to.

I wish you and all your loved ones happy holidays!

I’ve seen the future and (part of) it’s Qbengo

In the past I’ve written quite a bit about expertise location and knowledge mapping. Expertise location is about supporting people to find people with certain expertise they’re looking for. In larger and multi-nationals organizations this is a big issue. One aspect about expertise location is also finding out where the person is. This can be a static location (e.g. the person works in room 3, building 4). This is difficult enough, but it can be done as I wrote some time ago.

However, the workforce is more mobile than ever. Less and less employees have a fixed space they’re working in daily. They work in several rooms in an office during the week, they work from home, in the car, etc. Supporting expertise location in this context is even harder. In theory it can be done. I wrote about this as well. But I never saw a company actually connect the dots and make it work. Until recently.

I had the pleasure to visit Qbengo. Qbengo is currently focused on connecting people at larger conferences. You’ve been there: a large conference with many booths. You have specific questions and would like to have them answered, but finding your way to the right person and/or booth, is hard. Furthermore, you don’t want to walk by all the booths, because that takes too much of your time.

Qbengo has developed technology to support this process. They can quickly map out a conference location: the conference rooms, lunch area, booths, etc. By downloading there app you get access to these conference maps. But you can also register and connect with people and vendors there. When you set up a meeting with Qbengo you are subsequently helped to find that person or booth with turn-by-turn navigation inside the conference location. The cool thing is this also works in 3D. And this was exactly one of the issues I pointed to some time ago. For (expertise) maps inside organizations to work, you would need 3D-mapping technology, because most offices are multi-layered.

Qbengo is a start-up and a start-up needs focus. But you can easily see where I think they should and could go, right? Yep, expertise location for organizations. They have all the elements to make this work. This is (part of) our future and I think this is very exciting.

Why do we share?

Maybe a better question is: why do I share? I was wondering about this while reading +Oscar Berg’s post ‘Why do people share?’.
Oscar makes several interesting statements about sharing in his post. Like this one:
The act of sharing something tells our colleagues something about us and that we think and care about what they might be interested in. If what we share is relevant and valuable to them, they will understand that we have really tried to understand what their needs and interests are. Their trust in us grows.
And, citing from an MIT Sloan article about reputation and knowledge sharing:
Reputation also plays a role where rules or systems are unable to spur sharing. Because critical information is often held privately by individuals, workers often can choose to share or withhold such information in their interactions with colleagues without fear of sanction. That leaves reputation as a key motivator in any decision to share or withhold information.
Oscar also relates to the influence of culture on sharing. Furthermore, referring to another article, the content of what you share also depends on whether you’ll share it. People share content that will bring them ‘emotional communion’ and not all content is fit for that.

And at the end of his post he points to a post by Nancy Dixon in which see distinguishes two types of knowledge sharing. One is, in my own words, work-related, the other relation-related. Examples of the first are reports. Experiences are examples of the second. More interestingly, both types of sharing have different motivations. Only the second kind of sharing was done for personal benefit.

Interesting stuff, I think. I’ve been collecting articles about knowledge sharing and blogging about his topic for some time as well. It’s not an easy topic. And the above provide interesting insights, but only scratch the surface of this topic.

At the end of Oscar’s post I was wondering what motivates Oscar to share. I can’t talk for Oscar, of course, but I will share why I share. To me there is one big reason to share information and knowledge (as far as I know them now):
Share to learn: I share what I know and see with others because I want to learn. By wording my knowledge in text or speech in itself, helps me to learn. But I also hope to learn from the response I get from the person I’m addressing or that has asked me the question. I hardly withhold information from people. I will if I think that person does not respect me or will use the information in a wrong way.

I think I can unpack this general reason and distill underlying reasons from it. These are:
  1. Share to show-off: to me there is definitely a show-off element to knowledge sharing. It’s not the most important one, but I do share to show what I know, read, bump into, etc. 
  2. Share to listen: an important part of learning to me is listening. So I enjoy what others are sharing, because it helps me learn. It also triggers me to share by posting things I find interesting and asking questions. 
  3. Share to remember: sharing information is also a way for me to capture things I find interesting. So I bookmark a link, tweet a link or statement, etc. In this way I’ve stored it for later use. 
  4. Share to be more effective: I share to learn and this helps me become more productive. Asking a question in my (digital) network, helps me find (partial) answers more quickly. Once I’ve written about something on my blog, I can refer to it later on. This makes more productive in the long run.
So, these are the reason for me to share. Do they make sense? What are your reasons to share?