Thoughts on Portals and Blogs

Posted: June 26th, 2003 | No Comments »

Here I a few thoughts gathered while discussing portals and blogs on TecfaSEED:

Idea of a blog/portal publishing tool:
- The ultimate goal of “Tell a portal” could be described as “Write once, publish everywhere”. Meaning a contribution (article) written on a [we-]blog/portal can be published in another [we-]blog/portal. The owner keeping full ownership of his contribution (keep the article on his personal blog or simply on his PC/PDA, …).
- It is based on the idea the we live in individualistic societies where people want to be noticed (if not rewarded) and want to be able to keep ownership of their contributions (e.g. to keep as centralized personal knowledge base).
- Use of trackbacks to follow discussion on multiple sites
- In some ways, freelance journalists and editorialists already work in such way (write an editorial which is published in several papers).
- one-does-it-all portal application need to be nuked and be replaced by distributed portals :) i.e. a portal should only be a thin layer/proxy which aggregates content and tools.
- I believe that a portal like TecfaSEED needs more personal contribution/thoughts and not only “hey I have seen this and go test it yourself” kind of post. Personal contributions are found in weblogs.
- Use of a cache to store distributed content

- Editing needs to be synchronized across multiple sites
- Might be harder to build communities if contributors do not even dare connecting to portals

Portal and blog contributors/communities:
- I believe people writing in portals do it mainly when they become community leaders and start to “own” the virtual place. From that point of view I do not think they are less egomaniac and more sharing-oriented than personal bloggers. People do not heavy contribute outside of their sphere of ownership. Nico did not agree with that statement and replied “check and count the number of “anonymous coward” who posts comments !!!!

Reasons tro write in my blog first (and then maybe post somewhere else):
- full ownership of my contribution (my writings won”t disappear when a third person decides so… what happens if the TecfaSEED community dies and the activity is stopped on the portal)
- some sort of personal knowledge management (caterorized, sortable, searchable)
- centralized way to keep track of my thoughts
- self-creation of my own community (links, blogroll, trackbacks)
- a proof of some of my knowledge/contributions to a future employer

My own terms to describe both communities:
Blog: self-centered, evolving (based on bursts) individual-centered
Portal: “anchored”, topic-centered

An paper on the evolution of the Blogspace: “On the Bursty Evolution of Blogspace

Social Scaffolding in Online Communities

Posted: June 23rd, 2003 | No Comments »

The 9 design strategies for community building mentionned in Community Building by Amy Jo Kim:

  • Define and articulate your purpose: communities come to life when they fulfill an ongoing need in people’s lives
  • Build flexible, extensible gathering places: once you’ve defined your purpose, you’ll want to build a flexible, small-scale infrstructure of gathering places, which you and your members will work together to evolve
  • Create meaningful and evolving member profiles: you can get to know your members, and help them get to know each other (developping member’s profiles to build trust and foster relationships)
  • Design a rage of roles: provide guidance to newcomers while offering leadership, ownership opportunities to more experienced members
  • Develop a strong leadership program: communitiy leaders greet visitors, encourage newbies, teach classes, answer questions, and deal with trouble makers
  • Encourage appropriate etiquette: it is crucial to develop some groundrules for participation
  • Promote cycle events: to develop a loyal following and foster deeper relationships among your members, you’ll want to establish regular online events,, and help members develop and run their own events
  • Integrate the rituals of community life: by celebrating holidays, marking seasonal changes, and acknoledging personal transitions and rites of passage, you’ll be laying the foundation for a true online culture
  • Faciliate member-run subgroups: if you grow a large-scale community you’ll want to provide technologies to help your members create and run sub-groups
  • Vivian pointed me to another book worth reading on the subject of online communities: “Design for Community” by Derek M. Powazek.

    No Fabien, No Comment

    Posted: June 23rd, 2003 | No Comments »

    I stubbled on the The Advertising Slogan Generator. If I ever want to brand myself, it came out with “No Fabien, No Comment”, “My Anti-Drug is Fabien” or “Schhh… You Know Fabien”

    Züri Badi

    Posted: June 22nd, 2003 | No Comments »

    Weekend in Zürich. We took some time to enjoy the different “Bäder” the little big city has to offer including along the Limmat river the Oberer Letten (excellent for an evening social drink) and the Unterer Letten, on the lake shores the Tiffenbrünnen. Still to be discovered the Rimini Bar and the Seebad Enge. More infos on

    Unterer Letten, Oberer Letten by night

    Posted: June 20th, 2003 | No Comments »

    I was obviously too busy to notice the launch by Sun Microsystems of at JavaOne 2003. is a common area (aka a portal) for conversations and development projects related to Java and is organized by Sun’s engineers, researchers, technologists, and evangelists. It integrates stories, weblogs and wikis.

    Dialing for a dog

    Posted: June 15th, 2003 | No Comments »

    No dishing out cash and no carrying back four hot dogs and four sodas to your seat! In-seat ordering of food and drinks via web-enabled cell-phone is being tried out at Safeco Field (home of the Seattle Mariners). More: “Dialing for a dog and drink from the seats at Safeco Field“. Some non-nerdish minds oppose to this new way enjoying a baseball game “I would never use this. You’ve got to get up once in a while” :-)

    Notice people working in professional sport franchises have titles like “vice-presidents of technology”. The Mariners also offer interactive games for some cell-phone users at Safeco.

    Cultural Competence

    Posted: June 13th, 2003 | No Comments »

    Cultural competence is an important skill to prevent communication breakdown. Cultural competetence is about being adaptive and dealing with complexity. It is the ability to switch between cultural paradigms. As read in Business Week, for communication, managers are encouraged to demonstrate sensitivity to language and cultural communication requirements. It improves communication despite accent and language barries and minimizes misunderstandings of etiquette, values, and behaviors. For many people, one can define a “cultural orientation” that includes:

  • Cognitive Styles: how we organize and process information
  • Negotiation Strategies: what we accept as evidence
  • Value Systems: the basics for behavior
  • Culture is complex, but it “embodies a way of living, of seeing the world”. Each of us maintains our own “World View” around five key areas:

  • Human nature: what is the character fo human nature
  • Relationships: how do people establish relationships
  • Nature: what is the relationship of people to nature
  • Time: where is the temporal focus of life
  • Activity: how do people live their lives
  • We see readily how contrasts around time, language, communication, and relationship can have significant consequences in online communities.

    Degeneration of Online Social Networks

    Posted: June 13th, 2003 | No Comments »

    L’utilisation des règles d’écriture de micro-document (par ex. SMS) dans des une communauté virtuelle (forums ou mailing-lists) semble s’étendre. Lu sur une mailing-list publique:

    “s@lut, jvoulé savoir komen on pouvé fair epr ke l’em@il de l’auteur puisse etre directement modifié par l’auteur”.

    Cet abus de l’écrit en phonétique dans une espace commun, m’a fait penser au texte dans Smarter, Simpler Social sur les possibilité de cassure dans une communauté pour des raisons linguistiques ou culturelles:

    Another goal for online social software, is to remove friction and break down barries to interaction so that people can communicate and collaborate more effectivily. An often overlooked aspect of this challenge is consideration of issues relating to languages, shared meaning, how we deal with communication breakdown and discover” [...] Cultures also differ in a multiple of other ways, for example, in how explicit they are about the existence of disputes or disagreement or how overt thery are about self-promotion. Given the limited bandwith of online communication techniques compared to the far richer face-to-face mode of interaction, failure to understand these subtleties can lead to communication breakdown, the descrution of social capital and ultimately the degeneration of online social netwok.

    Paperless Office

    Posted: June 11th, 2003 | 1 Comment »

    It takes time to move to a fully digitalized world. Status on my paperless office: progress, not perfection… :-)

    Geneva by Night

    Posted: June 11th, 2003 | No Comments »

    Bain de minuit aux Paquis à Genève.