Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

screen capture of the jobs.gc.ca search widget

The jobs.gc.ca search widget

Last week, I learned about a search widget for the jobs.gc.ca site. It’s a simple little badge that can be deployed in the right column of any gc.ca site (I gather it’s only being distributed with the GoC realm at this point). Users can start their job search from the widget. See the widget in action on the Public Service Commission site.

Love the idea of widgets as a means to extend your presence beyond the confines of your own site. Widgets also have the advantage of allowing people to take complex actions — such as starting their job search — from wherever they happen to be encountered. Compare this to email or RSS, where often, the action that can be taken is limited to clicking through to your landing page (and then doing whatever it is that you wanted them to do in the first place). A difference of degrees maybe, but still.

I already knew about the widget for Working in Canada from HRSDC. But are there more out there? I searched a little the other day but couldn’t find anything. But I’d be surprised if there weren’t others. If you know of any, please drop a comment or otherwise flag me down.

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Yesterday, TechCrunch posted some numbers showing that Facebook drives 44% of social sharing. Which is great, except that the cutesy pie chart does not include email as one of the forms that social sharing takes. And I think email is still pretty key, so I went looking for some numbers to test that assumption. Here’s what I found.

Data from ShareThis

Back in December, the makers of the ShareThis sharing widget reported on data gathered from their network in October 2009. Guess what? They found that email is still the most common method that people use to share online content. According to the data, when it comes to how folks share, email outdoes Facebook and crushes Twitter.

According to ShareThis, Email still leads Facebook as a means to share links by a healthy margin, and Twitter is far behind.

This is the second time I am aware of that ShareThis has published data on how people utilize their widget. Back in  August of 2008, they reported similar results:

pie chart showing sharing activity on the ShareThis network

According to data from August 2008, email accounted for 35% of sharing activity on ShareThis

So if you compare the August 2008 numbers with those from October 2009, it would appear that email has actually increased in popularity as a sharing method, from 35% of shares to over 46%. Worth noting also is that during this span, Facebook rocketed up the charts, going from 10% to 33%.

Leaderboard from AddThis

Now I figure that the popularity of various sharing methods will vary from one provider to another, since each of these networks is finding different niches and markets, so I went looking for evidence from the makers what is probably the most common sharing widget, AddThis. Couldn’t find a post about their data, but it looks like AddThis maintains an evergreen leaderboard.

Top Ten Sharing Methods from AddThis

Top Ten Sharing Methods from AddThis, as of 17 Feb 2010

Here the results are somewhat different — while email is one of the top sharing methods for AddThis, it isn’t #1. Facebook takes top spot with a third of all shares (interestingly very similar to the numbers from ShareThis, incidentally), while email is a distant second place with 13% usage.

However, I noticed that AddThis maintains several separate email service options, such as both an Email overlay and a relatively new Email App (which kicks you over to your email client). Further, there’s also separate listings for the main webmail services – Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail. If these are not lumped together in the AddThis leaderboard, then we’re not really getting a true sense of where email falls in the top ten. If anyone can confirm one way or another, let me know in the comments.

So Is Email Still King?

If the data from ShareThis is taken at face value, then yes, email is still the king of sharing online. However, social media (Facebook especially) has taken its place alongside email as a significant driver for sharing content. So for now, it looks like both email and other forms of social media are important to consider when looking at how people share online. How long with this last? It’ll be interesting to see more numbers in a few months.

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A while back I blogged about Finance Canada’s use of the AddThis widget to facilitate sharing their website content. Just noticed that the AddThis button has vanished from www.fin.gc.ca. Bummer!

Here’s to hoping that it will make a reappearance once whatever issue they had gets sorted out.

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“Government 2.0” means many things to many people. Here’s a list of a few variants, with some (slightly) tongue in cheek observations. :+)

  • social media focus: using social media for government communications/marketing/outreach. This is about the outward face of government, mostly the domain of government communicators and marketers of the digital persuasion. Oh and” social media experts.” Looking into using Twitter, Facebook or blogging to replace , er, complement more traditional forms of government communications activities. Worried about user-generated content and approval processes. Convinced that the press release is dead.
  • web 2.0 tools focus: using web 2.0 tools for improving work processes in government. This is the most inward looking “stream” within government 2.0. Concerned with improving efficiency and effectiveness in the daily work of a wide range of public servants. Looking into collaboration tools such as i.e. wikis. Worried about workplace silos and restrictive rules. Convinced that technology is the answer.
  • transparency focus: releasing more government data online in usable/re-usable forms. This is a strain that’s perhaps more common from the outside looking in, as various activists and stakeholders want to get their hands on, er, aim to improve public access to  government information. Worried about a healthy democracy. Convinced that there’s a hidden agenda.
  • mashup focus: government as a platform that citizens can customize or build from. This is also a common approach outside of government, overlapping with the transparency folks. Looking into new service delivery models where end users benefit from an intermediary layer of tech-savvy entrepreneurs or philanthropists who repackage government services for citizens online. Worried about — actually I’m not sure what these folks are worried about, because they’re … Convinced that they know better.

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On 29th April Professor John Naughton, the first of our ‘Big Thinkers’, presented his view on the growth of internet and its implications for comms. He made 7 key points:

1. We need to see the ongoing changes in our digital ecosystem in some kind of long-term perspective. In that sense, what happened with print is probably the best historical analogy we have.

2. Most people still don’t understand the Internet. Firstly they tend to regard the Web and the Internet as synonomous. They’re not. The Net is the infrastructure on what everything else runs and is much bigger and more important. Because of its open and permissive architecture, it’s an enabler of disruptive innovation. Disruption is a feature of the Net, not (as politicians, content industries and governments believe) a bug.

3. Ecology provides a better analytical framework than economics for thinking about what’s going on.

4.The emerging digital ecosystem is immeasurably more complex than the one it’s replacing. Only those who can handle that complexity will thrive in it.

5. The Web isn’t static. On the contrary, it’s constantly evolving before our eyes. Examples: the amount of javascript programs that now run inside a single web page; mash-ups; RSS.

6. The network — not the PC — is now the computer in many contexts.

7. We need paradigms (mindsets, mental frameworks) in order to operate effectively. But paradigms also blind-side us. Thus to broadcasters the idea of “user-generated content” is an oxymoron. It can’t happen in their paradigm. So they didn’t see YouTube, Flickr etc. until it was too late. Ditto for newspapers and blogging.”

Just stumbled across the UK government’s Big Thinkers blog and this post caught my eye. Good summary of the big picture. i.e. what’s going on with the shift to digital.

BTW John Naughton is a perfesser type in the UK with a fancy title – “Public Understanding of Technology.”

He blogs at http://memex.naughtons.org/

Posted via web from Peter Smith’s Posterous

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This morning, David Eaves plotted where he thinks various GoC 2.0 initiatives fall against Gartner’s hype cycle. I very much agree with his overall impression that in terms of adoption of “Government 2.0,” the Canadian federal government is at a very early point.

This got me thinking about how other federal governments are doing. Here’s my highly unscientific impression:

Government of Canada lags in terms of Government 2.0

Highly unscientific impression - Government of Canada lags in terms of Government 2.0

So why did I put the US government at the peak of inflated expectations? Well, that’s how Gartner analyst’s Andrea Dimaio sees it, and I can’t quibble with that.

And as for the UK? Well, they’ve had their big 2.0 taskforce and are well into implementation on a number of fronts. They are comfortable with bureaucrats participating online. They are integrating 2.0 aspects into many of their core web presences (random examples: DFID, BIS, No. 10). And last but not least – they base their official tweeting on actual strategy. ;+)

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From the Wikipedia article on Gartners Hype Cycle

From the Wikipedia article on Gartner's Hype Cycle

From Andrea Dimaio at Gartner:

Government 2.0 is rapidly reaching what we at Gartner call the peak of inflated expectations. This is the highest point in the diagram called “hype cycle”, which constitutes one of our most famous branded deliverables to our clients and that often feature on the press.

Almost all technologies and technology-driven phenomena go through this point, at variable speed. A few die before getting there, but many  stay there for a while and then head down toward what we call the “trough of disillusionment”, i.e. the lowest point in that diagram, to then climb back (but never as high as at the peak) toward the so-called “plateau of productivity”, where they deliver measurable value.

If one looks at what is going on around government 2.0 these days, there are all the symptoms of a slightly (or probably massively) overhyped phenomenon. Those that were just early pilots one or two years ago, are becoming the norm. New ideas and strategies that were been developed by few innovators in government are now being copied pretty much everywhere.

Read the full post: Open Data and Application Contests: Government 2.0 at the Peak of Inflated Expectations.

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A word cloud of Web 2.0 themes, from Wikipedia

A word cloud of Web 2.0 themes, from Wikipedia

In explaining the business value or advantages of web 2.0, we often have to rely on analogy and metaphor. It’s a common technique to make sense of the unfamiliar in terms of what we already know.

In making these comparisons, it’s useful to juxtapose web 2.0 with what came before – Web 1.0. (We didn’t call it web 1.0 back in the day, the term was called into being only once we came up with web 2.0.)

However, this juxtaposition is often presented in black and white.  As if web 2.0 sprang forth fully formed, in complete opposition to what preceded it. A clean break with the so-called 1.0 era. Some might even refer to it as a revolution.

I think it’s important to avoid this — we should recognize that the seeds of what we now consider Web 2.0 were planted way back in the early days of the web.

Today’s commenting systems on blogs have their roots in email newsgroups and internet forums. Twitter has its roots in text messaging and IM. And so on. It’s only when the social, participatory elements that have always been present in the web hit a critical mass that “web 2.0” surfaced.

Why is this important? It lessens the shock of the new. It emphasizes that today’s web represents an evolution not a revolution. All of which makes it less threatening for people experiencing it for the first time.

I do recognize that today’s participatory web has great potential for social transformation — the documentary film Us Now makes a great case for this. But in a slow-moving, risk-averse bureaucratic context, talking revolution is unlikely to encourage decision makers to take you seriously.

And if you are trying to convince skeptics (your bosses perhaps) to “get social” or at least unblock access to the social web, it might be good strategy to point out that web 2.0 is not such a new thing after all. That the status quo will not be turned upside down from using a wiki or starting a blog. Rather, it makes sense to position these innovations as the logical next step in updating your web presence or your work environment.

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Wordle: Wordle From Gov 2.0 Summit Notes

via Wordle – Wordle From Gov 2.0 Summit Notes.

Notes the creator:

Thought it would be interesting to see how my 8 pages of notes from the recent Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington DC turned out in a word cloud.

The words “people” and “data” pop out first. Nice.

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Detail from topo map available in the CanMatrix data set on GeoGratis

Detail from topo map available in the CanMatrix data set on GeoGratis

Last week I lamented the relative lack of GoC participation in the #gov20 trend towards providing government data in an open and reusable matter.

But whither the Government of Canada? Are there any examples of our federal government moving in this direction? Is there an example of a GoC API out there? Some easy-to-use XML feeds? I’m not aware of anything. But then I’m just a lowly digital communicator…

Then on the weekend, a @dbast tweet (I’m sure he saw my post heh) alerted me to the existence of something really neat — the GeoGratis service from Natural Resources Canada:

Geospatial data available online at no cost and without restrictions!

GeoGratis is a portal provided by the Earth Sciences Sector (ESS) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) which provides geospatial data at no cost and without restrictions via your Web browser.

The data will be useful whether you’re a novice who needs a geographic map for a presentation, or an expert who wants to overlay a vector layer of digital data on a classified multiband image, with a digital elevation model as a backdrop.

Looks like there are 81 data collections available, including base maps used for the Atlas of Canada (available in a couple of formats at a range of scales), various sets of topographic data generated from the RADARSAT-1 satellite, and print-ready versions of those classic topo maps. These last ones are seriously awesome — I’ve been using these maps for years when camping and canoeing, but had no idea I could simply download them for free!

Most of what I saw when jumping around was data or images that can be downloaded. Not sure how much of this stuff is available as a feed or via API, so I don’t know how easily this stuff could be re-purposed online on the fly by machines in that modern mashup style. But regardless, GeoGratis cool example of open and freely available Government of Canada data online.

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