Online Information Conference & Show Closes


As reported in a brief statement posted to the Online Information Conference website, there will not be an exhibition or conference this year, 2014, with no certainty that it will re-appear in the future. Another victim of these austere times no doubt, with exhibitors, delegates and organisations paying closer scrutiny to the value of every penny spent.

Rightly so, but nevertheless, it is a sad reflection of our times, where the opportunities for establishing new connections and developing new relationships is increasingly devolved to a virtual world. Not that I’m against the digitisation of social and professional networks (I belong to enough of them!), but can they ever really replace face-to-face time, or the buzz generated by listening to – and possibly meeting – an internationally respected keynote speaker? It’s a bit like thinking you can get the same value from listing to Elbow’s latest album vs. seeing them in concert (yes, I like Elbow). As Kevin Bacon tells us in his latest EE broadband ad – it’s a ‘no-brainer”!

I’ve been privileged to have chaired the conference these past 4 years, and have worked with some highly respected and knowledgeable colleagues on the Executive Conference Committee in developing the ideas and themes for the conference programme during that time.  But before that I had been a regular delegate for several years, and always considered ‘Online’ to be the premier “must attend” conference if you wanted to learn more about your profession and get some insight into emerging industry trends. The highlight was being invited to speak/present – on two occasions, my first steps onto the conference circuit.

I believe (though I’m sure someone will correct me if my data is incorrect), that this year’s conference and exhibition would have been the 38th since it first started, so missing out on its ruby anniversary by just 2 years. It was the world’s largest information industry conference, regularly attracting over 700 delegates from more than 40 countries. It will be remembered as a showcase for the latest developments in digital information; for promoting strategies for effective information management and deployment of information resources, and for stimulating thinking on the future of the information landscape.

Which leads me to wonder where the many loyal delegates to this event will now go to get insights into the emerging trends affecting their industry. Not everything is in the virtual space and face-to-face networking can never really be replaced by online networks. Quite coincidentally, I picked up this quote today which appears to echo my own sentiments: “Traditional face to face networks where relationships have been established and built up over time provided added validation and expertise that is not easily achieved through electronic networks.”

I will certainly miss the event, but remain hopeful that it might reappear in some format in future years – guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

To conclude, here is a roll call of keynote speakers that I’ve had the privilege to meet and to hear at the conference. With apologies for any omissions, but my memory and archives only go back a far as 2007. I’m happy for any readers of this blog to fill in the gaps.

And finally, a word of thanks to my colleagues on the Executive Conference Committee, to the sponsors, speakers and delegates – past and present – and special thanks to Lorna Candy and her team at Incisive Media, who have ensured the success of this event over many years.

It’s been a great experience!

See also:


Posted in conference, Online Conference | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

5 New Year resolutions that might make you more interesting (or less annoying).

Having trouble deciding what your New Year resolution should be? Looking for something challenging, or maybe even life changing? Here’s a few behaviour changes to ponder, any one of which would potentially improve my own social media/social networking experience and probably that of many others!

Social Media 'Expert"1. Review and update your personal profile. Are you one of the growing number of self-proclaimed experts, gurus, ninjas and black-belts in your chosen trade or subject area? Yes, you might have a doctorate, or have 30+ years of experience, but does that mean you know everything there is to know, ad infinitum? I think “expert” is an attribute that other people award, and not something that you award yourself. It looks pretentious and overlooks the fact that learning, skills and expertise are continually evolving – or maybe you hadn’t noticed?

Image credit:

Big Ego

2. Manage that giant ego. You might have several thousand followers on Twitter, but do they all really want to know all about the jet lag from your recent trip,  or where you’re going on your next trip? Do you think we are all impressed by the fact you’ve travelled long distance or that  the world is your stage?  Far better to tell us something useful and interesting about the work you’re doing.


Robot - automation

3. Switch off or scale back on those automated tweets. Ok, so you’ve discovered IFTTT and found that you can automate just about everything in your social media environment. (Confession, I use IFTTT for one update per month). But how do you control relevance if you’re just re-broadcasting stuff from the Internet firehose? And think twice about having an automated direct Twitter message that goes to all of your new followers, promoting your Facebook page or latest book. Don’t you think we get enough targeted ads from big business without you adding to the spam? Similarly for those automated tweets that provide statistics on how many new followers you’ve had this week. Who cares?

Comparing apples with oranges

4. Don’t keep propagating the myth that Facebook is competing with Google+, unless you are specifically talking about ad revenue. They are entirely different networks, with different objectives, different facilities and different types of users (thank goodness). Showing me statistics on user demographics, how many minutes users spend on each network, or comparing total number of users is pretty meaningless (ad revenue apart, as previously noted). Tell me something useful, such the type, quality and relevance of the conversations.

Death by Powerpoint5. Think about ways you can bring your next PowerPoint presentation alive. Camp fires have bee replaced by projector bulbs, and in the process we seem to have lost the art of storytelling. I’ve lost count of the number of tedious, text-heavy presentations I’ve attended that require a great deal of effort from the audience to (a) stay awake and (b) understand what the presenter is trying to put across. If you are a presenter, remember it’s not all about you. Think about the precious and finite time you’ve got in front of your audience and make it interesting. Don’t waste their time as well as your own!

Hoping that these suggested resolutions might lead to a better experience for those who use social media and social networks to learn from and share knowledge with like-minded people.

Happy New Year!


Posted in Knowledge Management, Social Computing, Social Media, social web, storytelling | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Semantic, linked and smart data – predictions for 2014

See the full article on Scoop.itData & Informatics

Quite a lot to digest here, though the overall sentiment is positive for development and innovation around open and linked data. Actual products as opposed to proofs, pilots and concepts.

There is also renewed optimism that the Semantic Web can deliver on its original vision, Semantic Web 2.0 (my term) utilising ‘cognition-as-as-service’ (CaaS), and building bridges between ‘Big Data’ and the Semantic Web in order to rurn unstructured chaos into higher level insights.

The following abstract caught my eye:

One less obvious problem is one of information retrieval. Keyword search is now fundamentally broken. The more information is out there, the worse keyword search performs. Advanced query systems like Facebook’s Graph Search or Wolfram Alpha are only marginally better than keyword search. Even conversation engines like Siri have a fundamental problem. No one knows what questions to ask. We need a web in which information (both questions and answers) finds you based on how your attention, emotions and thinking interconnects with the rest of the world.

Sounds good if a little utopian.

Overall, some useful insights in this piece.

Original source:

Posted in Data, Linked Data, Linked Open Data, Semantic Web, Standards | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

13 Social Media Statistics For 2013

Useful to see where we are with Social Media as we approach the end of the year (2013). Nothing too surprising here, i.e. the numbers just get bigger. Key statistics and trends from the Infographic:

  • 30 percent of traffic from social media is from SlideShare.
  • Snapchat declined two multi-billion acquisition offers from Google and Facebook.
  • Over 35 million images with the hashtag #Selfie were posted to Instagram.
  • L.L. Bean’s Woodland Creatures Pinterest board is the most followed with 4,689,706 followers.
  • Pinterest accounted for 41 percent of traffic referred to e-commerce sites.
  • Pinterest outscores Facebook for shopping, where the average shopper spends $140 to $160 with Pinterest, compared to $60 to $80 through Facebook.
  • Infographics receive 4x more attention than presentations, and 23x more than documents on SlideShare.
  • Twitter has 231.7 million monthly active users who spend an average of 170 minutes per month.
  • A branded video on Vine is 4x more likely to be seen than a branded video posted elsewhere.
  • 95 percent of Facebook users log in every day.
  • Facebook accounts for 15.8 percent of all time spent on the Internet.
  • LinkedIn has 259 million users, and nearly 40 percent pay for a premium account.
  • Google+ adds 25,000 new users per day or an average of eight new users per second.

Infographic courtesy of

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Corporate Memory and Personal Knowledge Management – A Dichotomy?

PKM and Corporate Memory

I was recently asked to give a talk to a breakfast meeting of the Managing Partners’ Forum (MPF). The focus of the talk was around the possible dichotomy (or misalignment) of the development needs of the individual and the demands of the organisation they work for. At times these needs align, sometimes they need to be reconciled and at other times they diverge. Nothing radical in that statement, but does the organisation believe there is an asset value in the personal networks that the employee develops, maintains, cultivates and nurtures whilst on the payroll, and if so, does it exploit it at the expense or detriment to the employee?  These networks are increasingly likely to traverse the boundaries of the organisations’ directly employed staff, and embrace customers, stakeholders, partners and even competitors. This is what the much-hyped term “Social Business” is really all about.

These “personal” networks (I’ve used quotes because this is at the heart of the issue – is the network really personal or is it a corporate asset?) are sometimes – but incorrectly – assumed to be visible entities, measured in terms of number of Twitter followers, or Facebook friends, or Klout or Peerindex scores, all of which are pretty much irrelevant if trying to quantify the value of “trust”. In actual fact, these networks are often invisible to company leadership, and are blend of personal, real-world relationships and the virtual world of social networks. They are not recorded on any company handbook, they don’t appear on organisational charts, but are very likely to be embedded in the organisation’s business processes. It might not be until the employee leaves the organisation that the real value of these networks is realised. When the ties are broken, chaos can ensue.

The other side of this coin is where perhaps the organisation does recognise the value of these informal networks and relationships, internal and external, and sets about exploiting them. I think this point is effectively communicated in the quotes I’ve borrowed (with permission) from Helen Blunden:

I felt that my network, my trusted network which I worked hard to maintain, cultivate, nurture, trust and grow was going to be exploited by other individuals who saw me as their ‘free ride’ to some quick answers.

I look at the culture of the organisation.  If there is a genuine, authentic opportunity to share and learn and be respectful of each other’s networks then I have no problem.  If it is mandated, or if my networks are used, misused or discounted, then I’d question why I’m even working there.

For the time being, I will nurture and maintain my networks but I will be cautious in how mine are used within my organisation and for what purpose. But I’m the one who decides that.

So, no matter how we look at this, the growing importance of networks and networking as both a professional competency and as an organisational asset cannot be overlooked, and leaders need to start taking relationship building into account when considering the value an employee brings to the organisation, and therefore how he/she is rewarded. Time and investment in PKM to develop these skills and competencies is a critical part of this reward mechanism.

The slides I used are embedded below, and also available on Slideshare. The presentation looks specifically at the changing nature of organisations and the emergent power of networks and networking. Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), and particularly the networking element, as a set of competencies we must all learn in order to remain relevant to our organisation. I raise the point about who ultimately “owns” the ‘corporate’ knowledge that we gather through the networks we nurture and sustain but have left it to the audience to ponder this point. Whether or not the organisations we work for recognise the importance of these networks as places for continual learning, knowledge sharing and as incubators for innovation is – I believe – fundamental to the success of the business, but employees need to be aware of the possibility of exploitation, and be ready to answer that question of “who owns your network?”.

As a closing point I posed this question to the audience, which readers here may want to think about. I suspect there may be different answers dependent on where you sit within the organisational structure, which in itself might tell you something about the organisations you work for. Looking down may give a very different perspective to looking up!

What is the predominant culture in your organisation, and does it encourage learning and sharing?

  • Autocratic – We’ll do it this way
  • Bureaucratic – We’re supposed to do it this way
  • Technocratic – It’s best to do it this way
  • Democratic – How shall we do it?

Posted in Knowledge Management, PKM | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Knowledge Hub User Consultation: the importance of UI and UX

sad-happy-UXLong time readers of this blog will know that I was intimately involved as lead consultant for the local government Knowledge Hub collaborative platform, and have written much about the concepts and ideas that went into its early development. Some of which are noted here:

This is my response, to the latest Knowledge Hub consultation exercise following the recent announcement about CapacityGRID (a subsidiary of Liberata) taking control of the future development and strategy for KHub. This is posted here as an open letter, but has also been submitted to the KHub forum discussion.

It’s laudable that you are consulting with your users to identify improvements to KHub, but I wonder if this is the best way of shaping and prioritising future developments. The fundamental problem, I believe, is the inherent complexities of the user interface (UI), which creates a less than optimum user experience (UX). Building additional features and functionality on top of these shaky foundations is only going to add to the problems many users experience in finding the information they want or knowing how to engage and contribute.

Taking on board all of these new ideas and suggestions for features and enhancements from what will inevitably be a vocal minority may give you a skewed perspective on what is really important, and future problems in managing expectations where some suggestions are given lower priorities. If you get – say – 50 responses, this represents just 0.0003% of your touted user base of 160,000. Hardly a representative sample.

An alternative would be to use the system statistics to develop a histogram showing the most used features and most popular pages and then set about simplifying access and improving performance for these features and pages. This will more likely uncover the underlying problems that ALL users are likely experiencing, it overcomes the problem with skewed priorities from the more vocal users, and will hopefully address some of the problems with the UI/UX.  If anyone cares to understand a bit more about the importance of UI and UX, and the difference between the two, then read this post that I produced during my time as lead consultant for the KHub, which also contains lots of useful reference links to good UI/UX practice. It’s difficult to relate anything in this post to what was actually delivered – especially the business scenarios.

Key point here is that it’s not about what the technology can do; it’s how you use it.

One last point, as you are probably aware, I collated and curated a fairly substantive response, on behalf of the “Knowledge Hub Advisory Group”, to the original consultation when it was announced that KHub might close down. This group acted as a steering group during the procurement and early development stages of KHub, but was disbanded by the new project team shortly after I left the project. I managed to get many of the original members together for the purpose of the consultation exercise, and have yet to see any response or even acknowledgement to this input – formal or informal.

I’ve pulled out two of the many recommendations from this group, which I think are still relevant to this latest consultation, and once again relate to UI and UX, as follows:

1. There is significant anecdotal evidence that users find the current system difficult to use and lacking many of the features of the legacy CoP platform (e.g. tools for Facilitators). The user experience is further complicated by the lack of integration with other LGA products and services, such as esd-toolkit and LGInform. Currently, if you use LGInform you sign in via the esd-toolkit, but if you want to collaborate or have discussions about it you have to separately sign-in to Knowledge Hub. This is despite esd-toolkit supporting relevant standards, such as OAuth and OpenID. Users would naturally like to see a far more intuitive and seamless experience between esd-toolkit, LGInform and Knowledge Hub. Porism, esd-toolkit’s technical partners, are willing to commit resources to help achieve this vision.

2. There is a need for closed, secure spaces for sharing some knowledge and data, and there is also a need for the online management of these spaces, as currently provided by the KHub support team. However, the online field is moving incredibly fast, and it may be that we need to put more emphasis on mini-Hubs and connecting different Hubs and networks. It doesn’t make sense to have a local government-only space nationally when locally the reality is lots of different partnerships and networks across sectors, and with citizens, on the lines that Lambeth and others are developing.

I hope this helps inform this latest consultation, and it would be useful (and courteous?) to get some feedback on this occasion.

Steve Dale

(Image source:

Posted in Communities of Practice, Knowledge Hub | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

I’m Becoming an Anachronism (according to Google)

Another one bites the dust (to the tune of song by Freddie Mercury, of course). I’m beginning to wonder if the way I use social media is becoming anachronistic, i.e. I seem to be out of step with what I assume must be the majority of users who have found no use for Google Reader, Google Sidewiki, Google Notebook, Google Labs, Google Answers, and now the latest to be consigned to the Google Graveyard – iGoogle.

Yes, I’ve used them all, and in some cases (Reader and iGoogle) have devoted considerable time in personalising the interface, carefully selecting the content sources and widgets that would enable me to quickly tap into the topics and conversations that I’ve chosen to follow.

So I assume the rest of the social-media-verse operate in an entirely different way to myself. Presumably relying on serendipity to find the useful nuggets amongst the cacophony of noise on the InterWeb. How quaint. Seems like I’d better haul myself into the 21st century and hope that the “thirty-things-you-wished-you’d-known-at-school” from Buzzfeed or the “top-10-people-who-have-nothing-interesting-to-say-but-you-ought-to-follow” from Mashable just happen to be the things I should be looking at. Don’t you just love evolution?!

As a reminder – here’s what we (correction “me”) will remember with affection:

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Making The Most Of Online Information 2013

The countdown to this year’s Online Information Conference has begun, and with an anticipated 400 delegates from over 35 countries, and a line-up of internationally renowned keynote speakers, it promises to maintain the benchmark it has set for itself in becoming the year’s premier event for information professionals.

The event runs for two days on 19th and 20th November at the Victoria Park Plaza, London.  Key learning opportunities from this year’s event include:

  • New strategies for using social media to collaborate and build relationships.
  • Making sense and creating value from Big Data.
  • New methods and business models for e-publishing.
  • How to create and structure content for a multi-device, multi-platform world.
  • New and emerging business models for open data and open access.
  • Keeping up with developments in search technologies.

See the full agenda for Day 1 and Day 2, and a short video of last year’s event.

bizzabo logo

There is also a great opportunity to network before, during and after the event with the fantastic Bizzabo event app. Available to download for iPad/iPhone and Android devices, it will give up-to-date information about the conference proceedings and enable users to share their experience, arrange meetings and discover new friends via its integration with the professional LinkedIn network. Details about the app on the Conference website or read a review of the app on Techcrunch.

I’m looking forward to meeting as many people as I can at this year’s event – either in person or via the app. If you want to make the most of the conference experience, I highly recommend downloading and using the app….now! Happy networking!

(Steve Dale – Chairman Online Information Conference Committee)

Posted in Information Management, Knowledge Management, Online Conference | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

In the Future, Only Rich People Can Afford to Keep Their Emails Secret

See on Scoop.itData & Informatics

“If you’re seeking a service that’s super secure, all-encompassing, and easy to use, the best choice would probably be to go outside the U.S., where legal measures could make it more difficult to access data. But you’ll have to pay a hefty price for it.”

Stephen Dale‘s insight:

On the back of the Edward Snowden revelations, more of us are becoming aware of the level and degree of Government/State digital surveillance, and whilst we can accept that there are legitimate reasons for this, e.g. to gather intelligence  of terrorist activities, there is the inevitable concern that this data (our data) may be misused, misappropriated or even sold to third parties. And not forgetting the private sector, where emerging social analytical tools are being used by marketing departments to track our digital trail.

This article reinforces the view that there may ultimately be two classes of consumers using the internet; those who can afford to pay a premium to remain protected and private and those who cannot.   A whole new economy of companies who provide anonymous search, super-encrypted email and document sharing, and protected document storage etc. are blossoming.  Are we approaching the point whereby the Internet will become like an airplane with first class and economy seats? I’m beginning to think so.

See on

Posted in Privacy, Security | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Social Network Analysis: making invisible work visible.

Social NetworkEveryone is talking about the enormous benefits to be had through collaborative working and better employee engagement. Industry analysts report a 25% improvement in organisational efficiency when companies successfully deploy a collaboration platform. Whether it’s social media or social collaboration, organisations are striving to deliver better value through a more connected workforce and closer engagement with customers and stakeholders. The term ‘social business’ nicely sums up this important development. The paradox is that organisations continue to allocate a significant proportion of their IT budgets on communications infrastructure and ‘social software’ and virtually nothing on systems and tools that can analyse how effective this investment is.

While companies know that social networks are important, most managers don’t understand how these networks really work. These social networks don’t appear on any formal organisation charts, yet can significantly affect performance and innovation. The problems is, how can leaders manage what they can’t see?

Managers may implement collaborative technologies with the vague notion that they will help employees interact more seamlessly and that this will improve the quality of their work. They may plan culture change programmes or apply KM techniques to create “learning organisations” in the hope that promoting open and honest conversations will lead to innovation and performance improvements. Or they may establish communities of practice with the intent of promoting knowledge creation and sharing as well as improving the quality and efficiency of work.

Sometimes these initiatives have the desired effect, but the results are not always positive. Organisations can get bogged down. Decision makers can become so consumed that most of their employees cannot get to them in time to seize opportunities. And individual employees get overloaded with email, meetings and requests for help, to a point where their own work, job satisfaction, and even health are affected.

It seems odd that we’ve accepted this state of affairs for so long, perhaps partially driven by the hype around enterprise collaboration systems that will instantly unlock the previously suppressed creative forces within the organisation. Managers need to take a more targeted approach, based on information about how work is really done within their organisation. The power of a network perspective, whether applied to a group or an individual, lies with the precision this view offers. Managers who target strategic points in social networks can quickly increase an organisation’s effectiveness, efficiency and opportunities for innovation. In networks of any size it is not possible for everyone to be connected to everyone else, nor is it desirable. An indiscriminate increase in connections can be a drag on productivity. A crucial benefit of network analysis often comes from discovering excessive relationships. The discovery can help managers develop ways to alleviate over-burdened people and decrease time-consuming connections.

What else can network analysis reveal? The detail is in the attached paper, but the following is a brief summary of what a well-informed manager could glean from a network analysis approach:

  • Bottlenecks – individuals or groups that provide the only connection between different parts of the network.
  • Number of links – insufficient or excessive links between departments that should coordinate effectively.
  • Degrees of separation connecting all pairs of nodes in the group. Short distances transmit information accurately and in a timely way, while long distances transmit slowly and can distort the information. This can also show the number of nodes that an individual would have to go through to get an answer.
  • Isolation – people that are not integrated well into a group and therefore, represent both untapped skills and a high likelihood of turnover.
  • Highly expert people – that may not be utilised effectively.
  • Individuals whose potential departure might result in the loss of unique knowledge to the organisation.
  • Organisational subgroups or cliques – can develop their own subcultures and negative attitudes toward other groups.
  • Emergent leaders and informal experts.
  • Linking patterns amongst blogs.
  • Emergent communities.
  • Tracking growth of on-line communities.
  • Staff movements and location (e.g. for optimising office use). ‘What if’ analysis can be performed to predict the outcome of your organisational and social change initiatives.

Find out how Social Network Analysis (SNA) can make the ‘invisible work, visible’ (see attached PDF). Having a better understanding of how your networks work is the first step in achieving more effective collaboration and improving workplace efficiency.

I’ve become convinced that how networks work has become an essential 21st Century literacy. Harold Rheingold.

Image courtesy of higyou (Shutterstock)

Social Network Analysis Proposition

Posted in Communities, Knowledge Management, Social Network Analysis, Social Networking Tools | Tagged , | 5 Comments