Business Intelligence

I was reading this article Buckle Up: Apple’s Next 3 Years Will Be Insane by Mike Elgan 2:49 pm PDT, Nov 9th 2013, On Cultofmac.com about Apple's business practices.

It reminds me, that regardless of which business we are in, we need to understand the problem space in which we are trying to make a difference. We could think about interactions through the eyes of web design and ask questions like, where are people having difficulties or where are they having less than satisfying experiences? We can ask these sorts of questions in a variety of business endeavors/markets on levels like scripture engagement and our experiences surrounding scripture engagement. We could ask the same type of question about academic and language-based materials. At all levels of inquiry and service delivery, an organization with strategic goals still needs to know: what the market is, and what the market member's pain points are. Additionally an organization needs to have the freedom creatively alleviate those pain points. Just because we can do something doesn't mean it's the right time to do something. Knowing when and how is still very important. By thinking strategically, one can make sure that the tools are in place to respond at the next opportunity. Acting strategically is carrying through with what was planned when the opportunity comes.

Client-Side Content Restrictions for Archives and Content Providers

Two times since the launch of the new SIL.org website colleagues of mine have contacted me about the new requirement on SIL.org to log-in before downloading content from the SIL Language and Culture Archive. Both know that I relate to the website implementation team. I feel as if they expect me to be able to speak into this situation (as if I even have this sort of power) - I only work with the team in a loose affiliation (from a different sub-group within SIL), I don't make design decisions, social impact decisions, or negotiate the politics of content distribution.

However, I think there are some real concerns by web-users users about being required to log-in prior to downloading, and some real considerations which are not being realized by web-users.

I want to reply to these concernes.

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Engagement Strategy

In my work with redesigning a NGO’s website, I have been recommending that the organization adopt and implement an engagement strategy. There are several challenges to this.

  1. There is the question: What is an engagement strategy which we are not doing now? Basically, what is the difference between engagement strategy and operations. – and certainly these are areas of organizations which need to have some symbiotic relationship.
  2. Another question has been: Why do we need an engagement strategy with our new website? – The new website is centrally managed, whereas operations are generally regionally managed.

So, the over simplistic answer is that if what a corporation presents themself as on their website is something which they are operationally not, then that presents certain discontinuities for persons viewing their operations and also viewing their website. This becomes evermore important as many potential clients for organizations first interact with that organization via the web. I first started blogging about engagement with regards to Language Development activities in a post titled: The Look of Language Development Websites.

However, engagement strategy goes beyond just presenting continuity. It gets into connecting potential clients with services offered or knowledge held by that organization. An engagement strategy for an NGO with a cause also speaks to how that NGO is going to target persons who are not aware of their cause and introduce them to the cause and provide options for those newly introduced persons to become part of a great solution for the problem just presented. This level of engagement is different than Public Relations, or brochure development (though both of these can be part of an engagement strategy).
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What do I want users to say?

I have been working with SIL team members to help create a better experience on SIL.org. So, I am constantly looking at how people on different web projects talk about user experience making a difference. Today I was visiting the Noun Project. There were some things I didn’t like about the website, so, I tried to give them some feedback. I found out that my ideas had already been suggested and that they were under review by the management and implementation team. A+ to the management team of the Noun Project – not for being perfect, but for communicating through imperfection and being concerned enough with users to add a feedback loop and for listening to user suggestions. The Noun Project has the edge on being Wikipedia for icons. However, it is the project and organizational commitment to User Experience and User Interaction which will make them succeed. As I look at what they are doing, I noticed this quote by their co-founder:

I find working on The Noun Project inspiring because I know what we’re doing is making a difference. I constantly get emails from teachers, designers, architects…and it’s never about how much they just “like” the service. People who use The Noun Project fall in love with it, and that’s when you know you’ve built something worthwhile. –
Sofya, Cofounder

At the end of the day, I want people to fall in love with the things I help build.

Some videos I like…

I was looking through Facebook to see if I could generate a list of videos which I have shared from YouTube… I wanted to see what I have “liked”. It would appear that though this information is available to businesses it is not available to me as a user… Sad… I kinda wanted to see what my longitudinal tastes were for videos and how much YouTube watching I do do… and has it increased over time…
Branding and video provider

In some respects this is motivated by wanting to become more able to communicate in video forms. Some of the videos I have enjoyed have been both on various video-graphic styles and various content genres. I have noticed that some of the creative videos I like to watch have sound tracks to MTV culture and music to which I have never been acquainted, but Becky has.

I think this stop motion video of head phones is an example:

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The Power of Interns

Today I was reading about how an intern at FaceBook created their new Mobile ad interface. For those of you who watch the business news, FaceBook being able to monetize their mobile market has been a big concern for their investors. I think this really speaks to several things in the corporate culture at Facebook:

  1. They are willing to listen to the ideas of young, fresh people.
  2. They are willing to work with temporary staff.
  3. They are willing to mentor.
  4. They are willing trust (things like project goals and budding technologies).

Each of these things listed above are social issues. They are social issues within the context of the corporate environment. Additionally, the company has to be contentious of them to the point that they implement HR processes to allow these sorts of things to happen. In this respect these four things have to be something that is fought for (in order to maintain them as part of the corporate culture). I currently look at the NGO I work for and wonder, What it would take to have harness the power of Interns? We don’t currently have the corporate culture to facilitate interns, but why is that? Is our walled garden so well constructed with bricks from the baby-boomer generation that we forget the power which comes when we can run with young people? For businesses, even for NGOs, if we don’t fight for relevance within the social networks of the up-coming generation then we will marginalize our significance.

Modular Courses for Linguistics

In 2008 I was contacted by a professor who wanted to be able to share various linguistics exercises with fellow professors. He asked for a website to be build so that if a professor were to translate the directions of these exercises that they could in turn put these translated versions back into the “set of exercises”. Continue reading

Email Befuddling

So, the common concern is:

If I put my email address "out there" on the web that spammers will get it and start sending me spam messages.

Well, that is a valid concern. There are scripts and crawlers which go around and look for email addresses. (And lets suppose that they also do not check for a robots.txt file.) These generally work by focusing on the syntax of the email addresses using Regular Expressions or finding the mailto: term in the HTML code. There are some things which can be done to prevent this from happening.

  • The best way is to use contact forms.
  • The second best way is to use JavaScript hiding. (Go here to read how to do this if you are running your own HTML pages, or here if you want a site which will create a JavaScript for you.)
  • The third best way is to use HTML characters for your email addresses.
  • One way that I severely dislike is to spell out the email address or phone number like (you see a lot of this on sites like craigslist and after a few spam text messages one understands why it is done): seven-one-seven or hugh dot paterson at.

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Permanently accessible? to whom?

Photo of the Bush House


Bush house: the BBC World Service is leaving its home after 71 years
Photo: Paul Grover via The Telegraph

There has recently been some discussion on the about the BBC selling its production facilities and moving from the Bush House to somewhere else. [1] Christopher Middleton. 7:30 am BST 10 Jul 2012. For sale: Bush House, a landmark of BBC World Service history. The Telegraph on-line. … Continue reading [2] Jonathan Prynn. 11 July 2012. Buy a bit of BBC radio history… or an entire studio. London Evening Standard on-line. … Continue reading [3] Paul Ridden. 12:41 pm 12 July 2012. Updated: BBC World Service equipment and memorabilia to go under the auctioneer's hammer. gizmag online. … Continue reading The BBC world service has been a major player in radio and oral culture in Great Britain and around the world for 71 years. A lot of history has been reported by the service. And the BBC's records (including its archive) have oral histories of a variety of world events for the last 71 years in a variety of languages (Wikipedia has a brief description of the collections at the BBC.). Continue reading

References

1 Christopher Middleton. 7:30 am BST 10 Jul 2012. For sale: Bush House, a landmark of BBC World Service history. The Telegraph on-line. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/9386848/For-sale-Bush-House-a-landmark-of-BBC-World-Service-history.html [Link] [Accessed: 19 July 2012]
2 Jonathan Prynn. 11 July 2012. Buy a bit of BBC radio history… or an entire studio. London Evening Standard on-line. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/buy-a-bit-of-bbc-radio-history-or-an-entire-studio-7935734.html [Link] [Accessed: 19 July 2012]
3 Paul Ridden. 12:41 pm 12 July 2012. Updated: BBC World Service equipment and memorabilia to go under the auctioneer's hammer. gizmag online. http://www.gizmag.com/bbc-world-service-bush-house-auction/23292/ [Link] [Accessed: 19 July 2012]