August 22, 2012

Own your online reputation with help from your friends

Chris AbrahamMany hands make light online reputation work. Changing your reputation online is no small task. It’s also a house of cards. You can either do it yourself, about yourself, for yourself, or you can start the equivalent of an online reputation club, inviting friends, family, your colleagues, and your industry to start building a universe of content that is germane and salient to who you are, what you believe, what you’ve done, and what you’re doing as well as who they are, what they believe, what they’ve done, and what they’re doing.

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July 8, 2010

The story of Intelpedia: A model corporate wiki

The home page of Intelpedia, Intel’s corporate wiki.


Other companies should take a page from Intel’s collaborative workspace

JD LasicaWikis are the poor cousins of social media. Seldom loved, often feared, always unsexy, a wiki is simply a collaborative website that can be directly edited by anyone with access to it. At its heart, a wiki is an online space for building collective info banks. (I’ve created more than a dozen wikis over the years, for Ourmedia, the Traveling Geeks and other organizations.)

In recent years, wiki software has entered the workplace, with companies like Socialtext, Atlassian, CustomerVision, MindTouch and Traction rolling out business-friendly versions, and a good number of Fortune 1000 companies, including Microsoft, Disney, Xerox and Sony, now using wikis. Wikipedia, natch, lists some of the features of enterprise wikis.

Josh Bancroft

Josh Bancroft at Intel: 'Imagine that you could have all the features and functionality that Wikipedia has on your own internal wiki.'

But one early success story hasn’t received the attention it deserves: Intelpedia. I can’t link to it because it’s a private wiki, but I did spend an hour on the phone interviewing its creator, Intel engineer Josh Bancroft. In November 2005 Josh decided that his co-workers should have quick and easy access to a raft of company information, from internal projects to historical background. (Disclosure: I am an advisor to Intel and a member of the Intel Insiders, and I met Josh at Gnomedex 2006.)

Like so many successful projects, this one bubbled up from the bottom, and the idea quickly caught on inside the company. By April 2008, the wiki had grown to about 25,000 pages and received 100 million page views. About 500 changes to the wiki take place each day, and more than 8,700 people have contributed to it.

‘In the four-plus years that Intelpedia has been up and running, I have had exactly zero reported instances of an unwanted edit — of someone spamming or vandalizing or doing something inappropriate.’

“In the four-plus years that Intelpedia has been up and running, I have had exactly zero reported instances of an unwanted edit — of someone spamming or vandalizing or doing something inappropriate,” Josh said. I’ve heard the same from other companies, which should allay the fears that some corporate executives still harbor.

What about the traditional corporate culture of locking up information? “By necessity, a lot of sensitive information needs to be controlled,” Josh said. Only information that couldn’t hurt the company if it leaked out to the public could be posted to the wiki.

“We haven’t had an example of sensitive information being shared outside the company,” said Ken Kaplan of corporate communications.

At its outset, there were handfuls of evangelists saying on an almost daily basis, “Hey, we should put this on Intelpedia!” The wiki got covered by Circuit, Intel’s internal online newsletter, which brought in a big influx of users. Josh and some of his colleagues then formed a voluntary group, the Intelpedia Distributed Editors, to help steer the wiki with a mailing list, a weekly meeting and to by helping to “garden” content contributions by newcomers. “No funding or resources from the company has been needed, and it probably never will be,” Josh said. Continue reading

February 18, 2010

Chatting with Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales about community

Jimmy Wales
(CC) photo by Joi Ito

JD LasicaYesterday I wore two hats as a guest and co-host on David Mathison’s Be the Media Radio podcast on BlogTalkRadio along with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. The topic was online communities — how to grow, nurture and sustain them,

Here’s our hourlong conversation — Jimmy Wales comes in about 20 minutes into it:

It was a wide-ranging conversation about the democratization of media, the birth of Ourmedia and YouTube, the thriving global open source development community of WordPress, Creative Commons licenses, Ning, entrepreneurial journalism, Silicon Valley’s mantra of embracing failure, and the state of Wikipedia. (Disclosure: I’m mentioned in a couple of chapters of Mathison’s book, Be the Media.)

wikipedia-entryI conveyed to Wales an observation by author and friend Howard Rheingold, who literally wrote book on virtual communities: All online communities have life cycles, he said. When they mature, it becomes more difficult to maintain a fresh flow of newcomers. Mature online communities can continue for years, but there is a danger of stagnation that accompanies longevity. Howard has tried a number of different approaches with his own communities, providing a “fresh space” for newcomers.

Wales said it was a thoughtful point and an ongoing challenge for Wikipedia, which is now coming up with innovative ways to keep people engaged, particularly making the editing experience more intuitive for nongeeks. (Even for a geek like me, figuring out how to do something as simple as adding a footnote remains obdurately difficult.) Continue reading

December 15, 2009

7 tips to increase your online media literacy

Is your BS detector optimized to deal with the new realities of democratic media?

WeMediaJD LasicaIt’s become a truism that we’re all media creators now, from bloggers and podcasters to the most wet-behind-the-feathers Twitterer.

Along with the new freedom to create comes more responsibility: The new media ecosystem places an increased burden on all of us to become more perceptive consumers and dissectors of media. In the age of We Media, it’s important that we be able to discern fact from fiction, to separate reportage from speculation and to not become unwitting participants in the latest spam scam.

In short, we need to sharpen our online media smarts.

A couple of years ago I was tempted to write a book called “But I Heard It on the Internet!,” but Farhad Manjoo’s book, “True Enough, Living in a Post-Fact Society” beat me to the punch. Like many of us, Manjoo bemoans a society where anything can be accepted as true if it’s said loudly enough, repeated often enough and circulated widely on the Internet. We’ve become so lacking in basic media literacy skills that an entire segment of our population believes whatever its cultural leaders tell them to, facts be damned.

Every day, when we take a ride on our favorite search engines or tune in to our favorite news sites, we seem confident that we know how to spot the good stuff and weed out the nonsense. But do we?

Here’s a guide to help you optimize your BS detector to deal with the new realities of democratic media.

1. Give your trust to sources that earn it

alexaJust as print newspapers run the gamut from tabloid sleaze to the New York Times, so too you can find any flavor of news, from celebrity sleaze to public service journalism, in the online arena.

What’s changed in recent years is that we no longer rely just on traditional media brands for our news diet. Individual bloggers, hyperlocal news sites and alternative media publications now command a good deal of our mindshare. Before you give your attention and retweets to the newcomers, ask:

• Do I know who’s behind this site, or are they hiding behind a cloak of anonymity? Use to find out who owns the domain if there’s no author listed.

• Has the site been around for a while? Alexa will tell you.

• Is there a way for users to leave comments on the site or communicate with the producer?

• Does the news source link to materials that authenticate his report?

• Does the source have a presence on Twitter?

• Are other users linking to the site? Check on Technorati for the site’s “link authority.”

Even generally reliable information sources on the Web aren’t wholly reliable. For instance, just because it’s on Wikipedia doesn’t make it true, as I learned first-hand from people like Forrest Sawyer, who told me his Wikipedia entry is riddled with errors. Don’t take entries at face value — follow the source material to see if it adds up.

What’s important is not whether news or information outlets occasionally slip up –- we all do –- but whether they have mechanisms in place to prevent and correct mistakes. In other words, minor blips notwithstanding, are they earning our trust?

2. Get out of your bubble generation ago, Walter Cronkite said that an informed citizen needs to check multiple stories from multiple locations rather than rely on a single news source, whether it’s the New York Times or CBS News. His advice resonates even more strongly today with the rise of hyper-partisan media from the right and the left.

Avoid the media echo chamber, which exposes you to only a narrow prism of views and discourse. A good way to burst your isolation bubble: Broaden your online diet by bookmarking overseas news sites.

Good choices include, the Guardian, Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat, Israel’s Haaretz, Australia’s or the Australian Broadcasting Company. Read opposing points of view. Use a news reader to subscribe to a search term like “health care reform” or “Afghanistan war” to funnel in an even more diverse range of coverage. Continue reading

March 4, 2009

The social side of Skittles


Ayelet NoffThe average site for a popular consumer product is:

A. Slick with a high level of “production values.”

B. Made in Flash.

C. About as socially engaging as a log.

Skittles changes all that in one go by essentially giving up on having a site of its own.  If you go to skittles.comyou see a realtime Twitter search for “skittles.”  All that is left from the old corporate branded experience is a small widget-like navigator in the right hand corner.

If you click “videos” it goes to Skittles’ YouTube page, if you click “images” it directs you to a Flickr search, “products” is the Skittles Wikipedia article and clicking “friends” will take you to the Skittles fan page on Facebook. This breaks with the tradition of consumer products with boring mass sites that feel like generic dance clubs — I’m looking at you, Pepsi. Skittles has decided that the best online experience is one created by its own customers.

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January 12, 2009

’49 amazing social media, Web 2.0 and Internet stats’

Adam Singer at The Future Buzz: 49 Amazing Social Media, Web 2.0 And Internet Stats. Excerpt:

1 trillion: approximate number of unique URLs in Google’s index.


2,695,205 – the number of articles in English on Wikipedia

684,000,000 – the number of visitors to Wikipedia in the last year

75,000 – the number of active contributors to Wikipedia


70,000,000 – number of total videos on YouTube  (March 2008)

200,000 – number of video publishers on YouTube (March 2008)

100,000,000 – number of YouTube videos viewed per day


133,000,000 – number of blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002

346,000,000 – number of people globally who read blogs (comScore March 2008)

900,000 – average number of blog posts in a 24 hour period

77% – percentage of active Internet users who read blogs


1,111,991,000 – number of Tweets to date (see an up to the minute count here)

3,000,000 – number of Tweets/day


150,000,000 – number of active users

170 – number of countries/territories that use Facebook

2,600,000,000 – number of minutes global users in aggregate spend on Facebook daily

100 – number of friends the average user has

700,000,000 – number of photos added to Facebook monthly

52,000 – number of applications currently available on Facebook