The most important finding in this research, confirming a major theme in the literature, is that leadership and value are critical to the success of open-source collaborations in the public sector. Collaborations with a strong leadership structure, and more importantly a single leader who is persistent, passionate and willing to spend a great deal of time maintaining and improving the organization are much more likely to succeed. Value is also a … Read more
In typical conference fashion, there are too many simultaneous presentations and each panel is filled with such a diverse group of individuals that the overall experience is almost like going out for dim sum. You get a taste of a lot of things, but by the time you stumble onto something truly satisfying, there just isn't enough to leave you fulfilled and you find yourself looking around you in the hopes that him or her crosses your path sometime in the near or distant future.
Right now, I'm sitting in on a panel focused on collaboration. JD Lasica is moderating the panel, and Kent Bye is speaking about his collaborative documentary The Echo Chamber Project. Kent's project has fascinated me ever since I first learned about it over a year ago and he's developed some rather robust tools to help establish a distributive editing process.
BEA Systems in July will ship a series of corporate search and collaboration products designed around Web technologies.
The three products--Aqualogic Pages, Aqualogic Pathways, Aqualogic Ensemble--will initially be aimed primarily at customers of BEA's portal products but the company expects them to have broader appeal. Each will be sold individually, said Ajay Gandhi, director of emerging products at BEA's Business Interaction Division.
The infrastructure software company showed off early versions of the products at its customer conference last year and originally divulged plans for the product line back in 2005.
The common theme of the three products is … Read more
Mindquarry's core product is a collaboration server that allows teams to collaborate on documents, as well as via wikis and shared tasks. It's an interesting product now, but should get much better with the release of its email integration, due out this summer according to the company's roadmap. All in all, it feels like a simple alternative to Sharepoint or Basecamp, a comparison the company has made.… Read more
CHICAGO--Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers disagrees with BusinessWeek's recent article that claims the telecommunications industry has risen from the dead.
In Chambers' view, the telecom market is simply entering the second phase of its life cycle--a cycle he claims to have envisioned some 15 years ago when Cisco pledged to change the way people work, live and play.
"BusinessWeek got it wrong," he said. "Telecom is not back from the dead. It's merely in phase 2 of its development. In this second phase, collaboration or sharing with a large group will change the service model … Read more
Google has added a new option to Google Docs and Spreadsheets to make files open for others to look at without the need to register or sign in with a Google account. To make any doc or spreadsheet open, users can click option for "invitations may be used by anyone" in the "Share" tab. Once enabled, any invite to view the spreadsheet will take users right to it, bypassing any annoying log-in screens. Users will still need to log in and be on the collaborators list to make any editing changes, but this should open things … Read more
Review Basics is a collaborative workspace for small teams and businesses. It runs right in your browser, and offers a fairly simple and straightforward way for others to share and leave feedback on photos, video files, and office documents. The interface runs entirely in Flash, so there are no special extensions to download, or programs that need to be installed on your computer. Just start up a workspace and go.
Review Basics works with a variety of common office document standards like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF. It also can handle uploading an entire zipped folder, so if you get a zipped attachment in an e-mail, you can upload it straight to the service without having to unpack it and send files one at a time. Review Basics also handles videos, although they have to be in the .FLV Flash format, which despite its popularity on the Internet, isn't a consumer-friendly standard compared to .MOV and .AVI. Files are capped off at 25MB apiece, so if you're working with any video clip over a minute or two, it's likely to be too large.
Annotating media is fairly simple. Users get five different tools to mark what's on the screen: boxes, arrows, a highlighter, call-outs, and emoticons. There is no drawing tool, which is one thing I enjoy and make use of on other collaborative workspace services like ConceptShare [hands-on] and Octopz [hands-on]. I think at a basic level it makes things feel familiar, like using a pen. There are still boxes which can be resized and color coded, but for irregularly shaped elements, you're out of luck.
To separate which feedback is being displayed, you can toggle each person's edits on and off. It's a lot like PhotoShop when you show or hide layers, and useful when you have more than two or three people working on a piece of media at a time, as things tend to get crowded.
Review Basics is very versatile for a free app, but it's missing a few things I think would make it far more competitive in this space. I'd like a way to leave audio or video notes. Some people (like me) find it easier to hit a record button, say something and move on, instead of writing it out. I'd also like to see live chat or live video conferencing, something that can take telephones out of the equation for both businesses and customers. The service is planning on moving to a paid model in the future, adding these things would certainly put it in the realm of some of the other services charging monthly fees.
The team has put together a series of hands-on demos you can play with to get a feel for the service. [More screens after the break.]
Octopz (pronounced 'Octopus') is a Web-based, online collaboration tool for small groups. It's one of the many companies presenting at next week's Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco, and is making its public launch on Monday.
Octopz runs in its own browser window and uses Adobe Flash to mix a whiteboard space with live text, voice, and video chat. The workspace has an area to upload and share files with other group members. Each uploaded file gets its own folder, which houses any edits made by group members. For example, if you're making notes on a digital photograph, other members can create a copy of that photo and add their own notes. Each version is neatly stacked underneath the original. All group edits are saved and stored, and can be shared and edited later for asynchronous collaboration.
Things get a little tricky with Octopz's multiuser controls. Anyone can grab control of the workspace at any time, which in testing led to some minor power struggles. There's also not a way to keep track of which group member made which edits, either with a history or differentiating colors per each user. Despite these issues, Octopz handled a four-person conference from three different geographical locations smoothly.
Octopz comes in at $99 per month per license, which is twice the cost of the standard version of Adobe Connect. However unlike Acrobat Connect, Octopz lets businesses create an unlimited amount of rooms and users, something you don't even get with Adobe's professional level of Acrobat Connect service.
Update: Fixed pricing clarification regarding comparison to Acrobat Connect. Also, Octopz was picked as one of our Top 5 favorites from the Web 2.0 Expo earlier this month.
For more screenshots of Octopz in action, keep reading.
Box.net, the online storage service, has updated their embeddable widget with a new group sharing feature for members with premium and professional accounts. Users can password protect a shared folder, which can then be accessed privately by others with the code. Storage owners can opt-in to allow user uploading, which lets anyone with access add files. The company is gearing it at businesses, whereas its previous widget incarnation was aimed at users with social networking profiles.
For group users to keep track of updates to shared folders, each share gets its own RSS feed. Once subscribed, the name and … Read more
Wetpaint, the wiki editing and hosting service, added private and group messaging this morning. The new service allows users to communicate one-on-one just like e-mail, and gives wiki administrators a new way to communicate to those moderating and contributing to their pages.
Sending a message in the service is pretty simple. If you're signed in, just click a user's name to pull up a "send message" pop-up. If you want to send out a group message, just start typing in names and the service will pull them up (like Gmail does).