Barcamp Presentation Summary – Enterprise Web 2.0

A quick summary of the Barcamp talk on Enterprise Web 2

Until now, innovation has stopped at the corporate firewall, with most of the Web 2 activity taking place in the personal and consumer space. With blogs (slowly) coming to the attention of the business mainstream, what is next to be taken up? Why should large companies bother? How will they implement it, or is Enterprise Web 2 just a fancy name for stuff they are doing anyway? More importantly, will anybody make a living out of it?

Any thoughts / comments / suggestions on what people what like to see?

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Business advice : Don't be Dustin Hoffman

Do you remember Dustin Hoffman in Rainman? He was an idiot-savant (not the PC Term) that was a genius at Mathematics, but had talent for little else. Too often we’re like that – genius in our own niche (IT, Law, Sales, Marketing, Finance) but useless outside of it.

ShareIT is an attempt to break outside of these niches and share useful knowledge in the small business sector. The slides below are from the first ShareIT event in Cork (held last week), with a follow up event in Dublin (Microsoft Campus) on April 28th.

Jenny Kent How to be an effective communicator – Slides.
Key Point:
Plan what you want to say, say it, then listen.
Conor O’Neill Outsourcing – Slides
Key Point:
You can outsource (almost) anything , but communicate, communicate, communicate.
Krishna De Marketing Matters for Tech Startups (slides to be released)
Laurence Veale Writing for the web – Slides
Key Point: Keep it simple.
Donagh Kiernan Sales Generation- Slides
Key Point:
Everybody sells; work hard to understand what your customer needs.
Richard Hearne Search Engine Optimization – (email Richard for the password to Slides)

(Updated with links to the Dublin Event)

Yahoo Pipes – could do better

I’ve been playing with Yahoo’s latest toy – see Yahoo Pipes in 10 easy steps.

It’s a very good example of a Web 2 tool. While it is still in beta it already allows you to combine / filter / clone and edit RSS streams. (RSS = a summary of a website, offered by many sites, including this one – just look for the orange logo). In the same way that SQL queries a database, Pipes allows you to query Websites (or to be more precise RSS streams) for the information that you want.

Yahoo Pipes is worth checking out for the following reasons:

  • The user interface (finally) puts Gmail to shame. Just how do they generate the dynamic / curvy pipes linking the boxes?
  • It’s completely graphic. Users with at a ‘power user of Excel’ level can generate streams that would previously have taken an experienced programmer a number of days.
  • It’s another piece on the Web2 infrastructure. All other desktop apps have migrated to the web. It was just a matter of time before developer tools did as well. Does it make sense for you? Your call.

Yahoo Pipes Logo
Pipes, for the reasons below, is not yet going to displace teams of Java people who do nothing but code RSS streams all day. Before, the choice on many IT projects was Build , Buy or use Open Source (or various combinations of those three). Online Web 2 apps and services (of which pipes is only one example) gives a fourth option to put into the mix. So what does Yahoo pipes need to overcome the ‘toy’ label and become a ‘serious’ option for IT projects?

  • The problem is, it’s free. How do Yahoo intend making money out of Pipes? More accurately , will they make enough money so that my project can still use it in 3 years time.
  • You’re stuck with Yahoo. If you build against pipes, you’re stuck with them. Even in the database world, it is possible, if expensive, to switch product supplier. I’d love Yahoo to open source pipes to solve this dilemma, and allow them to build a business around the ‘pipes hosting’ part.
  • It’s completely graphic. This is mainly a good thing but no doubt most developers would still like the option to see and edit the generated code.
  • It’s hard to extend. If there is a way of extending it with my own ‘widgets’ , then I missed it. I can host RSS-generating code on my own server, but this detracts from pipes overall ease of use.

What do you think – will Yahoo Pipes take off , or be quietly abandonded?

Yahoo Pipes in 10 Easy Steps – sample for Iona Dublin

Yahoo Pipes allows you to take RSS Feeds (Website summaries) and combine , filter, sort and otherwise manipulate them according to what you need. This sample shows you how to do this, based on several feeds from the Iona website. The feeds we are going to combine are:

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed IONA Information, News and Events
Keep on top of the latest IONA news, events, class schedules and more

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Debbie Moynihan’s blog
Open thoughts about open source, open standards, and lots of other random stuff.

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Eric Newcomer’s blog
SOA, Software Standardization, Web Services, and Transactions

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Oisín Hurley’s Weblog
SOA, Eclipse Tools, Open Source and SCA

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Publicly Speaking
Rob Morton’s Weblog

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed IP Babble
William Henry’s Weblog

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed SOS
Services in OpenSource

Drag this RSS symbol into your RSS reader to obtain the feed Essence is Real
Kiyoshi Egawa’s Weblog

If you want to see the end result (all the Iona Dublin Feeds in one place), click here.
Disclaimer: I have no connection to Iona, but I do want to read all their Bloggers feeds in one place.

Yahoo Pipes in 10 Easy Steps.

1. Open your web browser and Login to Yahoo Pipes at http://pipes.yahoo.com/. You can use a standard Yahoo ID (e.g. from Flickr, or Yahoo IM)

2. Click ‘My Pipes’ on the top left of the page . You should see the following screen
yahoo pipes picture 1

3. Click on ‘Create a New Pipe’. It should be in the middle of the screen towards the top. You should now see something like the following
yahoo pipes picture 2

4. At the top left of the screen is a blue menu option ‘Sources’ , with a couple of different places we can pull information from (e.g. The results of a Yahoo Seach, A Google Base Search, Flickr Photographs). The one we’re interested in is ‘Fetch’ , which can pull information from any Web Address (url).

Drag and drop the ‘Fetch’ box into the ‘grid’ area on the right. The main part of your screen should look something like the following:
yahoo pipes picture 3

5. Now we will add the Web Addresses (URL’s) that we want to pull the information from. We’ll get these from this page on Iona’s web site. Luckily, the blogs / web pages we want to combine also come in the RSS format (the orange buttons on this page). All blogs and many web pages have this ‘RSS’ option, and it makes it easier to combine the information in pipes.

To find the URl, we right-click on the orange button on the IONA site, and select ‘Copy Link Location’.

6. Back in Pipes Again , we paste this RSS link into the ‘url’ field on the Fetch box. We also click the ‘+’ sign at the top left of the box, so that pipe gives us the option to enter a 2nd URL. Our Fetch box now looks like this:

yahoo pipes picture 4.

7. We repeat step 6, and copy the 8 other RSS feeds into our fetch box.

8. At the bottom of the Fetch box there should be blue circle. Drag this blue circle and drop onto the ‘Pipe Output’ box. Your screen should now look something like this.
yahoo pipes picture 5.

9. Clicking on ‘Pipe Output’ (grey tab at bottom left of screen) fetches the information that we have just selected. The output from your newly created pipe should be at the bottom of the screen and look something like this :
yahoo pipes picture 6

10. That’s it! We’ve created a Pipe. To allow the world to see your new create, Select ‘Save’ then ‘Publish’ (both grey tabs on the top right of the screen). We’ve published a cleaned up version of the Iona Feed for you to view at: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/KIwiFt282xGelck8mLokhQ

The Irish Times schizophrenic attitude to blogs

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while, but am I alone in thinking that the Irish Times has a very schizophrenic attitude to blogging?

On one hand, it’s one of the key players ushering blogging into the mainstream, with writers such as John Collins bringing the read-write web to the attention of a wider audience (not to mention their coverage of the blog awards). I presume John is freelance , a distinction that will become important in the next paragraph.
Irish Times Logo

On the other hand, some time back I asked for a link from their ‘blogs‘ page. I expected more of a ‘who do you think you are, we have 100,000+ daily readers, and you have exactly how many?’

Instead I got this strange reply…

You can place a link from your website to ours, but we request that you
include a credit to ireland.com/The Irish Times and a link to our home
page at: http://www.ireland.com/
Further information on copyright is available at
http://www.ireland.com/about/copyright/

We do not currently provide a page from which we link to other sites.
Thank you for your interest in ireland.com

Fair enough about not linking to me. But telling me exactly how I should link to you is a bit 90’s.

Which is a pity as if they took the same approach as another publisher (O’Reilly books) they could get some great user generated content, and be a real hub for the masses of Irish non-bloggers.

Update: John Collins has just let out the news that Ireland.com now has several bloggers on it. They even let you post comments.

Does my CV look big in this?

In an ideal world, potential customers would read this blog then decide that they want to do business with me.

In the real world many of my customers haven’t heard of a blog, and are quite happy that way thank you very much.

Given that a lot of ‘selling’ to these customers is on a personal level, the fallback is to use the traditional common or garden CV. Which gives rise to the following problems :

  • Too Long or Too Short? : How do you get 13 years experience into a document without it looking like a version of ‘war and peace’?
  • The curse of the technical buzzword : You need to include the technical buzzwords (Oracle, Java, Agile etc) to show you can do the job (a lot of people just do a 1st scan for words like this). But, put too many in, and you just end up looking silly.
  • People or Technical skills: Apparently you can have great technical skills , or great people skills , but not both. How do you stop yourself getting pigeonholed? What about non-traditional experience (e.g. blogging, writting, speaking, training?)
  • Customer confidentiality: A lot of the stuff we do is internal to clients. But potential  clients need to know what you’ve done to judge your work. Where’s the balance?

You can judge how successful I’ve been here: Paul Browne’s CV online [pdf].

Yes, I’m slightly more available than normal in the coming months. Yes, I’ll consider proposals slightly outside ‘normal’ contracts, if the projects and upside are interesting. And yes , I may just take some time off that I’ve been promising myself (but I’ve said that one before). Email me at PaulB@firstpartners.net.
Note to recruitment agencies: I’m very happy consulting through FirstPartners. No, I don’t want a permanent job. No, Cork is nowhere near Dublin , but I will consider Belfast. No, I don’t believe that you’re in for anything other than the money – that’s ok , you probably have a family to feed; but let’s not waste time pretending otherwise.