Graffiti 1.2 released

Graffiti 1.2 is now available for download.

This release includes a number of updates and bug fixes (yes it was a long time coming). We’ve also published the product roadmap and all current customers will get a free upgrade to the 2.0 version.

I also want to apologize for us taking so long on getting some of this information published. When we initially launched Graffiti we didn’t anticipate its popularity and staffing plans for the product weren’t properly made. We’re fixing these problems and making some bigger investments in both the platform and our thinking for how people will use Graffiti in the future (more on that with the 2.0 release in 2009).

Measuring Social Media

It’s not that often that I’m right (and probably much more often that I’m wrong!), but there are several things that Telligent called before the market that I don’t hesitate to see us take credit for:

  1. Before there was “Social [Networking | Media]” we had a vision for building a community platform that integrated in a suite of tools. This is what became Community Server, our main product.
  2. Nearly 2 years ago we started investing in tools to help measure activity. This became Harvest.

This morning someone forwarded me a paper that Peter Kim published, Social Media Predictions for 2009. One of the macro points at the end was, “Measurement needs to be addressed, soon“.

I couldn’t agree more!

We’ve been working on this problem for nearly 2 years now and it is why we hired Marc Smith, whose doctorate is in sociology, to help us think through this problem even more. Version 3.0 of Harvest is due out in early 2009 and will help answer questions about usage that usually required traditional web analytics tools tying them back into the social analytics. In fact, you can see some of the roadmap details here:

So yes, Measuring Social Media is going to be a critical success factor for 2009 (and beyond). …and Telligent has been there from the beginning.

BTW, you can watch a quick video overview of Harvest on YouTube here:

Information vs Knowledge Worker

I’ve spent the past couple of days in Redmond, WA at Microsoft’s Enterprise Partner Summit. A term Microsoft uses just about everywhere is “Information Worker”. They have entire business units formed around “IW”.

This nomenclature is inaccurate, in my opinion, in describing the customer or people that it is being applied to.

Information these days is everywhere, is useless by itself, and has only minimal value. It’s only when you can apply organization and intelligence to the information thereby converting it to knowledge that makes information useful and valuable.

The term coined by Peter Drucker in the 70’s is more appropriate for describing the people that do this: knowledge worker. A knowledge worker applies expertise to information to create products, make decisions, etc based on the expertise of the subject material they are responsible for. The people within your organization that poses the talent of converting information to knowledge should be some of the most valued assets you have.

An information worker is akin to workers hired to manually go through and pick tomatoes. The crop by itself has value, but the value can be increased substantially when a knowledge worker combines a variety of resources along with their skills to produce something more valuable.


Knowledge workers add value to the information and make information more than just noise. Information work can be automated, knowledge work is not so easily replaced.

As organizations navigate their way through this recession it is the knowledge worker and the unique skills and talent that organizations need to guard and protect. Because it is the unique knowledge of the organization that is ultimately its most valuable resource and will be in the most high demand both during and after the recession.

Social Fingerprints

One of the really innovative things that the team has been working on, and that we showed at the in.Telligent conference, is something we’re calling Social Fingerprints. This is included in Harvest 2.0 which we’ll release in the next few weeks.

The concept is that each person in a community has their own unique contribution style or fingerprint that they they leave on a community. While finger prints from a variety of individuals may be similar they will almost always be unique. For example, here is mine:


I tend to skew heavily towards “Asker” meaning that I ask lots of questions or start lots of discussions.

Now compare this to Joe who is the program manager for Evolution who tends to skew more towards the contributor/answers side:


The fingerprint is built around how the user contributes in the community and their profile changes over time.

We think this is a pretty interesting way to think about how to categorize and classify groups of people too. Depending upon the type of community you are creating you would expect to have a fingerprint for the overall community type too. That is, a support community should look different than an enthusiast community. We’ll eventually tie this data into predictive profiling of users – so you know what types of users turn into high contributors, etc.

While this is only version 1.0 of our work in this area we’re going to be investing a lot of time and energy into helping customers use this kind of information to improve and measure.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

image I almost let it pass without realizing it. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This is an issue that I’m personally connected to. When I was 21 breast cancer killed my mom. It started when I was about 14 and finally spread into her liver and through-out her body. Technically it was liver failure that killed her. She had it all: chemo, double mastectomy, the works. In her day some astronomical number of women – like 1 in 3 – had a chance of having it.

So it runs in my family and I’ve got an 8 year old daughter.

Advancements in medical science due in larger part to the donations of millions of people have helped save countless mothers and daughters. But there is always still more that can be done. The folks over at the National Breast Cancer Foundation are running a donation campaign on Facebook:

Their goal is to raise $500 in October for under-served women. So far 9,322 members and only $345 in donations? In my humble opinion they should have made that goal in a day (as in the first day).

I’ll commit to another $500 if they reach their $500 goal. Come on folks step up. It’s a great cause.

Email is part of the DNA of Social Software

I don’t understand why email is so often disregarded when it comes to collaboration software. Everyone wants to talk about how their software gets you out of email – whereas when you look at how organizations operate email always plays a fundamental role in how information is shared.

When we set out to build Community Server 4 years ago one of the bigger problems we wanted to solve was how to remove technology as the barrier for creating communities. Much of my own motivation for this was from my time at Microsoft where I worked with communities. The communities were typically either newsgroups, in-person meet-ups, web-based discussion, or email list based. The problem was that while all communities could benefit from one another they were separated by technology boundaries, i.e. those in the email distribution list community didn’t participate in the newsgroup communities largely because of technology reasons.

Community Server was the first community platform to integrate email into our offering and we’re continuing to innovate here. In fact, we did the same thing for newsgroups too – but this integration is really most popular with super-technical communities.

Email integration today consists of enabling any forum or blog to be setup with a unique email address so that users can send/receive content. For a blog it simply means an ability to publish via email, for forums it enables any forum to behave similar to a distribution list and then transcribe all content back to the forum.

With the recent release of Community Server 2008.5 we’ve done even more to enhance email integration:

  • Groups & Micro-communities – each group or micro-community receives its own unique email address. Plus when integrated with an email system like Microsoft Exchange this also becomes a tool for managing the creation and membership of Microsoft Exchange Distribution Lists (something that was supported previously by a tool called AutoDL in the Exchange Resource Kit). This takes the burden off the IT team for creating and managing Distribution Lists.
  • Smart Archiving – content sent over a email list integrated with Community Server is automatically separated into body and thread and then transcribed into a forum. Now the content is re-discoverable, indexed (searchable), and picks up a number of other attributes associated back to the user’s profile.
  • Attachments – attachments sent via email are automatically stored and versioned in the Community Server media gallery. Once in the media gallery the attachments are also then indexed by the search engine and also support comments, ratings, and other tools for sharing the attachment.
  • Business Intelligence and Analysis – most importantly once content is within Community Server it is analyzed by our BI tool to give credit and reputation to the author as well as to track how important content is.

We’re doing even more with email integration in our next major Community Server update. Building social graph information from email as well as building additional archiving tools are all things we’ve discussed. Ultimately though its users that benefit the most from the email integration work.

Email integration makes social software more accessible and user friendly because it doesn’t force people to change the way they work… it just improves it.

World Golf Tour

imageThe new community for World Golf Tour launched today.

This online game with its stunning visuals and great game play feels like a throw-back to the days of Links mixed together with the Electronic Arts Tiger Woods game. You can even create profiles and participate in online tournaments with more features to come.

The game launched as a beta — but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Forrester Groundswell User Technographics Reports

The latest version of our business intelligence tool, Harvest, is nearing completion. One of the new included reports is the User Technographics report popularized by Groudswell:


The User Technographics report breaks down the user base into 7 categories: creators, joiners, collectors, inactives, critics, spectators, and overseers [1]. Jeremiah has some posts that details what all of these categories are.

This report breaks-down trending of users over time. We’ve also added in another graph so you can see the actual trend lines – it still needs a few tweaks:


We’re creating these types of reports to make sure we’re aligning with what customers are reading – such as Groundswell – about how to measure their communities. Of course there is still more to come 🙂

[1] Overseers are the administrators and moderators that help manage the community.

College ranking by the people

image Customers email me quite often showing off the sites they’ve built on top of Community Server. It’s always really fun to see what innovative new ways people are introducing social tools to an audience.

Jon, who built Vast Rank ( on Community Server, provides college ranking on a number of different characteristics like social life, housing, professors, sports, and more. The reviews of course also include an overall score based ranks along with comments from students or alumni.

Google recently added Vast Rank as a featured project for extending their Maps ( and Search APIs (