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About The Authors

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

Email Suw

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for BBCNews.com.

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

Member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup
Dark Blogs Case Study

Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group

Find out how a large pharma company uses dark blogs (behind the firewall) to gather and disseminate competitive intelligence material.


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All content © Kevin Anderson and/or Suw Charman

Interview series:
at the FASTforward blog. Amongst them: John Hagel, David Weinberger, JP Rangaswami, Don Tapscott, and many more!

Corante Blog

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Cross media teams

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Eric Chaverou with Radio France is a multimedia reporter. We need more more multimedia reporters.

But I’m starting to see a theme here. Ten years into new media/online/interactive media, whatever you want to call it, we’re still struggling with integrating work processes and even more than that work cultures.

Eric said that Radio France created a small team of multimedia journalists because they were having difficulty getting their traditional radio staff to work for the web. He said:

The majority of radio people in Radio France told me that is not my job to make something for the website.

They spent a year following the recovery of one of the towns hit by the tsnunami. They went back every three months. Here is the result.

It is a really impressive effort, and they found that it was too complicated to ask their traditional journalists to do.

This morning, Dominique, talked about the tensions between the TV and interactive production schedules. TV still comes first.

Eric says the multimedia teams are now accepted six years. Before they were radio reporters so they had some legitimacy.

Now, he says it will be difficult to fold the multimedia teams to be folded back into the radio teams, although he thinks that is how it should have been from the start.

A colleague from Radio France asked them if it was difficult to juggle the demands of multiple media.

Eric replied that the reporters focus on the sound first and still photos second. They do not shoot video.

“I don’t want to pit radio against the internet.” he said.

Why is this still internet versus radio or versus TV? We’re still thinking in terms of platforms and not in terms of content.

We talk about cross platform content but what about cross platform thinking?

There is still a lot of thinking to be done about how to tailor content for best presentation on multiple media not to mention multimedia platforms, but this isn’t about technology or organisation structures, this is about the business cultures.

More about that in the next post.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

EBU Conference: Control freakery and Mozart

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Henrik Heide of Danish Radio kicked things off by talking about a Mozart event that similar to BBC’s Beethoven Experience.

Denmark is a hotbed of media convergence, in no small part because of Ulrik Hageruup, the editor NordJyske, a pioneering cross platform media operation.

I often quote Ulrik in presentations when he says: “If there are more changes going on outside your window than inside, then you’re in trouble.”

Back to Henrik and Geneva. He started off saying that Danish radio had no idea “how difficult it would be to control content” with their Mozart project.

Before the launch he said: “We were in control. Everything was plannned.”

“We did not want too much trouble with the record comapnies. We are public service broadcasters. We thought there wouldn’t be any problems,” he said.

Already in the early sessions, there is a theme developing: Rights.

Things were going quite nicely until with about 300,000 downloads over the first few weeks, and then they saw a spike in traffice.

They have 300,000 downloads overnight, three-quarters of them from outside of Denmark.

They had been Digged!!

From Henrik: “Digg is a little nerdy website about technology and so on.”

Suddenly, “we had to talk to the record companies about 1.2 m downloads,” Henrik said.

And the files were in the wild even high quality files encoded. surround sound. I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the room with Henrik and the record execs.

(UPDATE: I spoke to Henrik at the lunch break. He hasn’t spoken to the recording executives. He’s waiting for them to call…)

But I liked Henrik’s take away: “Forget control and learn social engineering.”

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

UPDATED: 8 commandments of cross media

Posted by Kevin Anderson

UPDATE: I just got this message from Damien Marchi, a Senior Producer with Streampower. He developed these 8 commandments in a thesis on cross media projects he wrote before he joined the company. They are great rules to work by Damien. Thanks for the e-mail, and let me know about that blog when it launches.

Dominique Delport with Streampower is just giving a really interesting presentation about a cross-platform interactive television programme on France5, Cult TV.

He said that 30 to 40% of the programme is video content generated by the viewers. Wow.

He just laid out his 8 Commandments of Cross Media production:

Commandment 1
Interact with the show. Give the power to the audience.

Maybe obvious to say today, but they really want to have the control. They can see whether it is real or false, Dominique said.

The agenda of the programme is driven by the viewers. Viewers vote on topics all week long. They set the agenda for the next week.

And he says that public TV was not particularly focused on its viewers. (EBU is a pan-European group of public broadcasters, which the BBC is a part of)

Commandment 2 Increase users’ stickiness. Extend life length of the show. Some audience watching show on TV and on the web.

And be aware of how the audience wants to communicate. Originally, they thought SMS would be the way the audience would communicate, but their younger audience was using e-mail and video blogging (using webcams) more.

Commandment 3 Give users access exclusive access not seen on television. Half hour is spent with guests after show, and web users are given specific musical bonus.

Commandment 4 iIncrease user loyalty. Work so that your viewers recommend the show. They have many contests and challenges organised on the website

Commandment 5 Continue the show on the web.

Commandment 6 Enhance the watching experience so that it follows the viewer whenever and wherever they are. The programme features video chat with guests.

Commandment 7 Promote the programme with P2P, social networks. Viral, word of mouth marketing.

Market the show with the hosts of fan forums. Invite key members of online social forums on the programme. Target underground activity and get the maximum number of people involved. It will get the show even more known and spoken about. target underground activity. get maximum number of people involved

Commandment 8 Increase revenues. This was the very last objective of public tv but many public broadcasters are moving to dual-source revenue streams with their public support being supplemented with advertising and cross-promotional revenue.

But he noted some of the challenges of creating this programme, one that brings together web cam contributors from around the world.

They have a production teamo of 40 people for one programme. A poverty of riches for most organisations.

And Dominique said that the clash of interactive and TV cultures provided challenges. And he said:

TV needs are not the same as interactive and web needs. And TV always comes first. The web always comes second.

I wonder if this will always be the case?

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Liveblogging Multimedia Meets Radio & TV

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Welcome to Geneva. I’m speaking tomorrow at the European Broadcasting Union’s Multimedia Meets Radio conference.

I feel like I’m at a meeting of the UN. They have little headphones so I can listen in English in case my Finnish is a bit rusty or non-existent in this case.

My biggest exposure to Finnish was the fake credits in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

It makes me want to go all Khruschev and bang my shoe on the table, but I stayed up too late working on my presentation to get thrown out that quickly.

Michael Mullane, who invited me to take part is also liveblogging here.

That leaves me free to live blog today.

I’m really keen to understand how other broadcasters bridge the cultural and logistical divides between their new media teams and their brodcast teams. That’s a huge challenge. Different deadlines, different working practices and different attitudes towards innovation.

And I want to know how they are tailoring content for different platforms. How do you balance the unique opportunities on each platform while balancing it with the limited time and resources?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

Doing less

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Two years ago, when I first said I was going to become a ‘blog consultant’, many people laughed. “You’ll never make a living out of that,” they said. “Who is going to need you to teach them how to blog? I mean, come on. It’s easy.”

Deep down, I worried that they may be right. Who needs to be taught to use a blog? Who needs to be taught about the cultural differences between mainstream media and PR, and blogging? Who needs to know how to use wikis or instant messenger? Come on… it’s as easy as pie.

Two years ago, I spent a lot of time reading blogs, following all the main players, and writing about it all on Chocolate and Vodka or, later, here on Strange Attractor. Dave Sifry couldn’t fart without me knowing about it and blogging about it. As new blogging and social networking tools crawled into beta, I was there, ripping them into small bits if they were rubbish, exhorting you to go and play with them if they were good.

It was great. I got into some fantastic conversations with some really intelligent people, and those conversations frequently let me to conferences, seminars, and even just plain ol’ meet-ups (which are, usually, a lot more fun). I felt like I was a part of a community, a part of something bigger than me, and that my life was enhanced because of it.

Now, things are different. I am successful as a social software consultant - my diary is full for the immediate future, I have the stable income I didn’t have two years ago, and I have an awful lot more experience under my belt.

What I don’t have is time. Time to read blogs. Time to investigate new tools. Time to write. Time to be a part of the community of metabloggers whom I count as my peers. I feel a bit like I have slipped down the rabbit hole into an alternate reality in which Suw Charman works away at her desk every second of the day, hardly speaking to anyone (not even her friends), overwhelmed by email, and feeling guilty that she’s not crossing enough off her To Do list.

I don’t like this reality. I don’t like the fact that both Strange and CnV have suffered from my lack of time to post. (Note: I really should be replying to emails right now, instead of writing this, but people are just going to have to learn to wait.) And I really don’t like the feeling that I have drifted away from my community.

Feast or famine is a familiar cycle for any consultant, and in the nine years I have been working for myself, it’s been a cycle that I’ve come to understand at a very fundamental level. Until now, it’s been a financial cycle - you have a client, so you work your ass off for that client, and then when that contract ends you have nothing to replace it with because you were so busy working your ass off that you didn’t have time to go off and find another client. Blogging kills that cycle because I have a permanent presence on the net, even if it’s not as active as I would like. I have a load of leads for new clients to follow up, and I can’t imagine running out of work any time soon.

But the feast/famine cycle remains - except now it is all about time. I’m suffering a chronic time famine at the moment. Every second of every hour is filled with things I need to be doing, so all of the stuff that I want to do but which doesn’t have a deadline gets bumped, day after day after day. My To Do list has been moved to an A4 notebook, and it does nothing but get longer. Currently, it’s six pages of A4, and I know that I haven’t yet put everything on it. I would estimate that it should be at least triple that, if I honestly wrote down everything I want to or have to do.

I bought Getting Things Done, because I hoped it would help me get things done, but so far I’ve only had time to read the first 45 pages, and most of that was telling me to do things that I already do, or which I’ve tried before but which didn’t work. My conclusion is that the answer really isn’t about becoming more efficient (although patently that can’t hurt).

So what is the answer? On a fundamental level, the answer is ‘Do Less’. For months I’ve been saying it in jest, “I need to do less so that I can do more”, but it’s really very true. If I want to learn Spanish, if I want to take up climbing again, if I want to play my guitar then I need to free up some time in order to do those things, and in order to do that, I need to do less of all the other stuff.

Perhaps there’s a self-help book in there somewhere. Getting Less Stuff Done. Hmm, I think I’ll need to put that one on my To Do list.

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

An adoption strategy for social software in enterprise

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Experience has shown that simply installing a wiki or blog (referred to collectively as ’social software’) and making it available to users is not enough to encourage widespread adoption. Instead, active steps need to be taken to both foster use amongst key members of the community and to provide easily accessible support.

There are two ways to go about encouraging adoption of social software: fostering grassroots behaviours which develop organically from the bottom-up; or via top-down instruction. In general, the former is more desirable, as it will become self-sustaining over time - people become convinced of the tools’ usefulness, demonstrate that to colleagues, and help develop usage in an ad hoc, social way in line with their actual needs.

Top-down instruction may seem more appropriate in some environments, but may not be effective in the long-term as if the team leader stops actively making subordinates use the software, they may naturally give up if they have not become convinced of its usefulness. Bottom-up adoption taps into social incentives for contribution and fosters a culture of working openly that has greater strategic benefits. Inevitably in a successful deployment, top-down and bottom-up align themselves in what Ross Mayfield calls ‘middlespace‘.

Fostering grassroots adoption

This approach centres around identifying users who would clearly benefit from the new software, helping them to understand how it could help, and progressing their usage so that they can realise those benefits. These key users should:

  • be open to trying new software
  • be influential amongst their peers, thus able to help promulgate usage
  • have the support of their managers

Users who are potential evangelists should be identified at every level of management, not just amongst the higher echelons, or amongst the workforce.

1. Identify key user groups

The first step is to identify which potential user groups within the company could most benefit from using social software.

  • What needs do these people share?
  • What are their day-to-day aims?
  • What projects are they working on together?
  • What information flows between them, and how?

2. Identify and understand key users

Once you have identified key user groups, you need to know which users within that group are both influential and likely to be enthusiastic. Then consider how social software fits in to the context of their job, their daily working processes and the wider context of their group’s goals.

  • What specific problems does social software solve?
  • What are the benefits for this person?
  • How can the software be simply integrated into their existing working processes?
  • How does social software lower their work load, or the cognitive load associated with doing specific tasks?

Ideally, key users will be ’supernodes’ - highly connected, in contact with a lot of people on a daily basis, and heavily involved with the function of their department and the transfer of information within the group and between groups. This may not be the group executive, but could well be his PA or a direct report. Frequently, people’s supernode status is not reflected by official hierarchy.

UPDATE: I don’t believe that supernodes are key anymore. I do believe that oft-ignored groups who are not traditionally thought of as influential, such as PAs, can in sometimes be crucial to an adoption strategy. But it’s far more important to focus on groups who share aims, actions, and information and who show existing enthusiasm for change and learning new stuff. This post explains in more detail why I changed my mind.

3. Convert key users into evangelists

Training in the form of short informal sessions (face-to-face or online) and ongoing on-demand support are the basics for encouraging adoption. Too much training or too formal a setting will put users off, and is usually unnecessary.

More important is that the information gathered in steps 1 and 2 are communicated to key users. They need to understand:

  • What their own needs are
  • How those needs are going to be met by the software
  • What the benefits are of using the software
  • How they can integrate that software into their daily routines

This requires face-to-face, personalised sessions which can’t happen unless steps 1 and 2 are successfully completed. The aim is to convert key users into evangelists who can then help spread usage through their own team, encouraging the people they work with to take the training and use the tool themselves.

4. Turn evangelists into trainers

Evangelists may find that it is in their own interests, having adopted the social software, to encourage their colleagues to also become competent with it. A minority of evangelists (and it only needs to be a minority), will also find it in their own interests to train their colleagues themselves.

These evangelists should be trained further and given the support and materials they need to become trainers themselves.

The advantages of having evangelist-trainers are immense:

  • They understand the day-to-day needs and working processes of their colleagues far better than an external trainer can
  • They can communicate with their colleagues more easily, in the same language
  • They have the opportunity to provide effective training on a far more informal, ad hoc basis
  • Given enough support themselves, they can then support their immediate colleagues

5. Support bottom-up adoption and emergent behaviours

Training and support should not be limited to named groups, and should be made available to all users. ‘Volunteers’, especially, should be encouraged. The most influential people in a wiki or blog community are not those with official status but those who engage most enthusiastically. For example, wikipedia has about 90,000 registered users who have edited at least 10 times since they joined, but the majority of work is done by about 5% (4500) of these users. (Stats approx. for Nov 05.)

If people start to use social software in an unexpected, innovative, or informal manner, this should also be encouraged. If a user begins by putting their team’s coffee rota on the wiki, for example, this will help them understand how the wiki works and what benefits it brings.

Management support

As well as supporting bottom-up adoption, it is beneficial for there to be top-down support, but that support has to be based on openness and transparency. Managers and team leaders must trust their staff to use the tools correctly, but they must also be forgiving if mistakes are made. There is always a learning curve associated with any new software, and some people find social software daunting because they are scared of what they perceive as a high risk of public humiliation.

Managers and team leaders should:

1. Lead by example

By using the tool themselves for team- and department-wide projects, managers can encourage their colleagues to also use social software. By being active, showing subordinates how the new tools can be used, and demonstrating the benefits, manages can play a valuable role in fostering adoption.

In the software industry, this is known as ‘eating your own dogfood’, and it is essential in order to build trust, interest and understanding.

2. Lead by mandate

If the manager makes clear that this new tool is to be used for a specific process or task, it can help foster adoption and encourage reluctant users to learn how to use the tools. For example, managers can mandate that all meetings be documented on a wiki, with agendas written through collaboration and minutes being published as soon as the meeting is over, or that monthly/weekly update reports be made on a blog or a wiki instead of in a Word document or by email.

Key to leading by mandate, however, is that the manager must also lead by example. If one of his team puts a document on the wiki, but the manager comments on it by email, that gives conflicting signals to the team. Managers must be clear about which tool they expect people to use, and must use that tool themselves.

3. Lead by reminding

Managers can also increase usage by reminding colleagues to use new technology instead of old, e.g. when a colleague emails with a document to be proof-read, the manager can reply with a request to put it on the wiki.

4. Ensure there is adequate support

Managers must accept that their staff may require support, and they must be willing to allow staff to take time out to do training. They must also ensure that they have access to ad hoc support, so that problem can be solved quickly - it is important that there is someone tasked with ‘hand holding’ through the initial adoption period.

5. Ensure personal and business benefits reflect each other

Management plays a key role identifying and communicating the business benefits of social software adoption. When users understand these benefits (e.g. reducing email volume, speeding up projects, improving productivity, encouraging innovation), and see that the business benefits are in line with the personal benefits, (everyone likes to get less email) they will have greater confidence that the software is worth their own investment.

Understanding time-scales

In large companies with thousands of users, it is impossible to give everyone face-to-face training, but even with online screencasts* and help documents, it takes a significant amount of time for adoption to take place. Having a clear adoption strategy, and ensuring that the correct key players are identified and ‘converted’, helps to speed up the process, but it remains a fact of human nature that it takes time for people to become comfortable with new technology, new ways of doing things and, most importantly, new cultures.

The cultural aspect of implementing social software in enterprise cannot be underestimated, and it is the hardest aspect to overcome. It requires time, patience and understanding, but given those three, it too is a temporary obstacle.

Remember what your goals really are

Adoption isn’t a goal in and of itself. Lots of people use email an awful lot, but that doesn’t mean that it’s being used well. Think about what your ultimate aims are; make them discrete, measurable and attainable. Go for ‘reducing occupational spam’, for example, rather than ‘improve communications’. Measure your email usage before you start, monitor it whilst you adopt, and report back regularly so that people can see the progress that they are collectively making.

Wikis are a very powerful tool within enterprise, but like any other IT project, it takes thought and planning to ensure successful adoption.

* Screencast: Digital recording of a computer screen output, often with audio instruction.

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

My network, my tools. Your network, MySpace.

Posted by Kevin Anderson

Last Thursday, I spoke to my friend Steve Klein’s multimedia journalism class at George Mason University on one of my last days in Washington. I’ve spoken to his classes before, and I usually have highlighted some of my own multimedia projects.

Speaking at Steve Klein's class

But this time, I wanted to show them some of the stuff that was happening at the grassroots level with third party web tools instead of Flash or big monolithic content management systems that are good at serving up lots of pages but not so flexible. I was really inspired by a post by Argentinean journalism professor Julian Gallo who showed how easy it was to tell multimedia stories using these new tools.

I kinda assume that anyone younger than me eats, sleeps and breathes this stuff, so I was a little surprised that very few of them had heard of sites like Flickr, Odeo, OurMedia, CastPost etc. By using these sites and services, it’s possible to build very compelling multimedia stories.

They hadn’t heard of these sites, but they all knew about MySpace and Facebook. I didn’t think that the class was somehow behind the curve; instead it reinforced a couple of ideas.

1) Don’t be fundamentalist about my tools.
2) The internet isn’t just about information. It is social.
3) My tools for my community. Your tools for your community.

Blogs and Flickr really do help knit my London social network together. When I got back, friends said I must have had a nice break based on my pics in Flickr.

I never got into MySpace because it disturbs my sense of online feng shui. But these kids talked about how their friends were trying to get them onto Facebook or MySpace. And one student wanted to do her project on how other students were passionate about MySpace.

They were doing the same thing I am doing, but their community uses a different site or service.

I shouldn’t gloss over point two. I have a really hard time getting people to understand that using the internet is social, not anti-social.

It’s anti-geek prejudice that just doesn’t square with reality, but that’s another post for another late night.