Category Archives: technology

Is the new Linkedin app a game changer?

I must admit I have had a love hate relationship with Linkedin.

Loved it for its contact management relationship building power and the amazing groups which I see as modern digital communities of practice, Hated it for the clunky nature of searching – you have to go looking for interesting updates, even the email alerts prove too spammy as they only tell you an update has been made, not its content.

Until recently it hasnt fitted into my online workflow as say Twitter or Flipboard has (scan, save to instapaper, read offline at leisure then archive to Evernote)

I say until recently … the new iPad Linkedin app I am begining to see as a game changer. It has been designed as a morning feed app – ie you can bring yourself up to date with news from your contacts and updates to groups over a morning coffee, and note interesting articles for reading later, With a similar concept to Flipboard, it brings a brand new look and feel to the social network, and its a pleasure to use.

Since using the iPad app I have discovered much more function and ease in using Linkedin, for example running conversations through the message function, and I have been using Linkedin on other devices for a good number of years.

I am looking forward to learning more user tips from expert Su Butcher at our Linkedin/Twiiter training workshop in Manchester next week. See you there?

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Construction in Crisis? BIM the solution?

Construction in crisis? buildings too complex? communication of knowledge rapidly changing? (Thoughts from the road)

Whilst I have long being a supporter of the need for the aims of BIM, it has been as seeing BIM as a technoloy to enable and enhance, better, improve collaborative working, not in a means to itself. In fact many agree collaboration in a digital age is or should be 80% people 20% technology.

In other blog posts here I have mentioned my thoughts on how BIM should in fact be FIM, Facilities Information Modelling, as the models set out or should set out the way the facilities will be used, managed, improved, adapted over time etc, not just the building. Ie the people aspects of building use. ( a recent example from a building designed on CAD, not quite BIM, being a student quiet zone for thinking and meditation littered with in the face fire exit signs and a large red fire panic button)

That BIM is being seen with both fear and salvation is interesting but not surprising, it will after all change the way the built environment sector works, and importantly works together and collaborates.

And yet BIM is perhaps just as the word processor is to creative writing, it may enable the articulation but not the creativity.

For BIM to be effective the people issues and desire for collaborative working need to be in place, to be well grounded and to be effective. To leap straight into BIM can be as ineffective as trying to write a creative masterpiece just because we have a new tool or piece of software available in the toolbox

Admist all the noise, news and promotion of BIM as a technology its therefore refreshing to read Randy Deutsch brilliant, BIM and Integrated Design, but perhaps his short but powerful summary that not only sums the book, but provides light on issues facing design, construction and fm. (extract below but view the article here: http://ow.ly/1vVNMJ)

(Update: Randy has reminded me You can read the first chapter here. Or buy a copy discounted online at Amazon, at your local bookstore or from the publisher.)

 

Q: How would you summarize your book in a single sentence?

A: The focus throughout this book is on people and the strategies they use to manage and cope with the transition to the new digital technology and the collaborative work process it enables as they initially adopt and then take the technology and process to a higher plane.

Q: Why do we need a book like this now?

A: There’s a crisis not only in the economy but in the profession. Buildings are becoming more and more complex and the way we communicate knowledge to one another is changing. At the same time the construction world is going through enormous changes, so is our environment.

We’ll only be able to tackle today’s complex problems through collaboration, and that takes work and a prepared mindset. You have to be disciplined, can’t just show up and wing it. Your teams’ efforts have to be coordinated and integrated. I noticed that there is a gap in learning along these lines in the profession and industry and this book seeks to fill it.

Q: There are a number of books that cover the subject of BIM. How is this one different?

A: Most books on BIM cover the technology or business case while this one focuses on the process that enables the highest and best use of the technology. BIM and Integrated Design focuses on the people side of the change equation, addressing BIM as a social and firm culture process and does so in four distinctive ways:

it addresses people problems, human issues, issues of communication and collaboration, firm-culture issues, issues of motivation and workflow related to working in BIM;

it explores the most commonly encountered obstacles to successful collaboration, as well as the challenges this technology and process create for individuals and organizations in their labor toward a comprehensive, successful BIM adoption and implementation;

it describes the social impacts and implications of working in BIM on individuals and firms, and how to overcome real and perceived barriers to its use; and

it discusses challenges to BIM collaboration including interoperability, workflow, firm culture, education, technological challenges, working in teams, communication, trust, BIM etiquette, one model versus multiple models, cost, and issues concerning responsibility, insurance, and liability.

#tweetchats … observations + how to

What is a tweetchat? In my view: a global online brainstorm: a fast paced collection of expert opinion, links, references, questioning, learning but above all sharing around the theme of the chat.

“A tweet chat is a pre-arranged chat that happens on Twitter through tweets that include a predefined hashtag to link those tweets together in a virtual conversation” Formal Twitter tweet chats are arranged in advance and occur at set times. They may include a formal agenda with a specific leader or “speaker”, or they might involve a free flowing discussion between all participants.

Dont attempt to make too much sense of it at the time, dive in, chat and share. Make sense of it later (which makes the output and transcripts very important). A brilliant use of twitter!

Having participated in a number of tweetchats over tha last few months #futrchat, #CSRchat and the more frivolous #sugarfreetweets for example, I recently took on the task of oragnising and facilitaing #GVisChat ‘Future of Energy in Buildings’ for Green Vision.

For an inaugural chat it worked well, with thought leaders and seasoned tweeters conversing and sharing with those who made their first tweet during the chat, which has to be a result.

Here then are my thoughts and observations:

Preparation:

  • Choose a hashtag and check it hasnt been used for another chat.
  • Most hashtags end ‘chat’ which has become a notation for tweetchat.Make the hashtag simple and memorable
  • Get the word out there – through twitter but also through related groups, forums both online and real.
  • Get the time and date agreed: Check there are no other big, subject related chats scheduled around the same time: Balance between working day time (9-5) and a global enthusiast though leader chat: It does seem the popular time is 7, 8 or 9 pm UK time for a global input. (and looking at a recent spreadsheet of existing scheduled chats, USA tweeters would appear to be more comfortable with the tweetchat format.)
  • Have instructions you can point to in order to help participants, for eg: How to take part in a tweet chat and How to join up to twitter (you don’t want to exclude those not on twitter who may see the whole twitter thing a bit of a dark mystery)
  • Agree roles – I think there are three, a facilitator, a subject driver and an amplifer See below  (I did all three so it can be done but … wow – it gets busy)
  • Agree Questions in advance, say 5 or 6 but be prepared to change and flex with the direction the chat may take.

Setting up to capture: 

Register the hashtag with  tweetchat.. Tweetchat provides a nice simple format that puts you in the ‘tweetchat room’ for the chosen hashtag and automatically adds the hashtag. Overall though I find tweetdeck easier to use during the chat.

‘Facilitating’ the chat:

  • Introduce topic, and the first question.  The start of the chat was probably the most ‘awkward’: unlike real meetings there are not many signals to pick up on that people are there and ready to go so you have to dive in. I had a sense of I was waiting for tweeters and they for me to kick off.
  • Welcome – be sure to welcome people as they enter the chat, that is make their first hashtaged contribution
  • Let twitter know the chat is running
  • Feed in the questions – the skill would appear to be in introducing next question at the right time, not too soon or too late – keep the fast pace going…
  • Amplify good points (ie RT and add to)
  • Praise good points being made, thank people for links (as you would in a real world brainstorm)
  • Challenge, question, throw in off the wall out there concepts to widen the discussion (eg future of energy chat led to possibility of building on the moon)
  • Give time checks, especially towards the close  – the 60mins flies past rather swiftly!
  • Watch for contributions from people forgetting or not using the hashtag and RT them so they get into the mix. (and remind people to use the # and Q and A numbering)

During the chat I used tweetdeck so I could have a DM channel open for closed communication with other hosts and a timeline to watch for related tweets from friends who forgot the hashtag!

Post Chat

Use a service such as the brilliant Tweetbinder to capture the tweets as well as statistics on the tweetchat.

Drop the tweets into Storify to create a transcript

Use the tweets and links to craft an interview sytle article for publication on blogs or elsewhere

Thanks:  These are my observations and lessons learnt from organising a tweetchat for the first time. I do hope they help and encourage you to get involved in a chat and to facilitate, they are great fun, generate a real buzz and to me prove the potential business and learning power of twitter is yet to be fully realised

I am indebted to Cindy @Urbanverse, a great friend and seasoned tweetchat expert for help and guidance

 

Gone phishing … changing passwords isn’t enough.

I had started writing this piece yesterday on a train journey back from Leeds, and as phishing was mentioned on Radio4 this morning, including @subutchers ‘to the point’ tweet about password strengths being read out, I thought I had better finish it and post.

I felt ‘obliged’ to post something on passwords and phishing as I encourage and support people/organisations to join up to, explore and use twitter for a number of reasons (another blog item there!), as for example at the well received presentation on social media that I and @epaul gave to the Black Country Construction Excellence Club during the week. As a result a good many people have taken  their first steps into the world of twitter.
Also a high number of trusted friends have succumbed to the recent phishing attacks
Phishing is just what it says on the tin, scams and cons to get you to part with your password and twitter account details. And as Su Butcher says the strength of the password is irrelevant if you give it away! Phishers don’t invest in time and effort in cracking your password – they simply ask for it. And get it.
So why do we give it away?
It seems twitter users see the community as a nice friendly place (it hasn’t until recently had the hard core spam that email for example has had) So when a friend suggests a nice application for increasing followers, monitoring twitter influence, testing your IQ,suggesting people you should follow etc, we fall for it and give up our high strength password. And of course re-tweet that we have done so.
In addition there are an ever increasing number of new twitter apps for pc’s mac’s and phones and don’t we just love trying them out? And of course we give our ultra high strength password away.
There are phish scams that offer to clear your tweets up if you have fallen foul to a regular phishing attacks, all you need to do is hand over your new unbreakable password. And it seems tweeters do, again!
As I mentioned in the Black Country to potential twitters: treat your password as though it was your bank account details. Don’t give access to others simple. Or and if you do, change it immediately.
More importantly though is to check and know who you have given access and authority to. You may be surprised – I was and I thought I was ultra careful.
  • Go to the web application for twitter and open your account. (with the far more sophisticated twitter apps available many do not ever go back to the basic web app, this is a mistake as it is here that your account details are held and can be changed)
  • Go to settings
  • Go to connections
  • Here you will see 

    You’ve allowed the following applications to access your account:

  • Revoke access if you have any doubt what so ever.
  • Save
  • Then change password
Do this regularly and don’t visit links in tweets if you have any suspicions at all
But of course phishing is very successful due to the viral re-tweeting of tweets. NEVER re-tweet a link without you have checked it, otherwise you become the phisher!
And if you see someone has been caught, let them know, and refer them to some good advice.

a transition view of the uk transition housing plan

A welcomed and important perspective on the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan was posted by Rob Hopkins on the Transition blog:

lowcarbonplancover

After many months of Ed Milliband putting himself out there are a Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change that actually gets climate change, finally his big Plan, the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan was unveiled on Wednesday, in a speech in the House of Commons that name checked Transition Towns and which is the boldest national vision for a low carbon society yet seen.  Many others have since pitched in with their thoughts, I thought it might be useful here to offer an analysis from a Transition perspective.  In his speech, Milliband said “we know from the Transition Towns movement the power of community action to motivate people..”, clearly an outcome of his attendance as a ‘Keynote Listener’ at the Transition Network conference in May. So how does the Plan measure up, and does it actually advance what Transition initiatives and the wider relocalisation movement are doing?

On Housing (of particular interest here) Rob Comments:

tpcommThe Plan restates 2016 of the date by which all new housing will be zero carbon, which is entirely laudable, although Wales has actually managed to introduce this 5 years earlier, by 2011.  It might have provided a good push to this had it been brought forward to, say, 2014. Much of this part of the report is as you would imagine, but it does contain the intriguing statement that “the Government is investing up to £6 million to construct 60 more low carbon affordable homes built with innovative, highly insulating, renewable materials”.

Does this mean that there is now £6 million for hands-on research into straw bale, hemp construction, earth plasters and so on?

Or does ‘highly insulating, renewable materials’ refer to Kingspan and other industrial oil-derived building materials?

At the moment ‘zero carbon homes’ refers only to a building’s performance once built, not the embodied energy of the materials it contains.

The role of local and natural materials in strengthening local economies is key.

My Comment: it is these points that need a wider, open and urgent debate as raised in a previous blog item here. If zero carbon is the solution what was the question? and are we defining zero carbon with enough insight?

Rob scores the Plan as follows:

Addressing Peak Oil:  1 out of 10.

Energy: 7 out of 10.

Transport 4 out of 10

Housing: 6 out of 10

Community involvement: 2 out of 10

Food and Farming: 1 out of 10

and Overall : 6 out of 10


using twitter in the built environment?

Next week, the 12 – 15th May, sees a series of built environment ‘events’ in the UK:

All of these will use twitter as a ‘backchannel’ to enable off line chat, discussion or commentary on the events.  Each of the events has a twitter hashtag   ( #be2campnorth   #sustnow and  #FACshow09 )

The use of twitter will also allow those not able to attend  to keep in touch with real time happenings within the events, and also enable input into sessions from more than just those attending.  All increasing the scope, reach and impact of the events

I did consider putting together a top 10 reasons and benefits of tweeting, why construction and facilities management should twitter, why managers should let their staff twitter and indeed why managers themselves should!.  

However, far better to get a collaborative list from built environment people who use twitter and realise its value (you know who you are!) 

So in preparation for the potentially unprecedented flurry of twitter use next week what are your reasons to use twitter? (add to comments below and I will compile)

Ada Lovelace at be2campnorth

I am delighted that Suw Charman-Anderson (Social Techology Consultant, Guardian writer and twitter-er) will be talking at be2campnorth on the 15th May in Liverpool on the inspiration of Ada Lovelace  

(Well actually Suw will be presenting from home via web and video link ups so that she can attend (as in walk to) another conference in London on the same day)

I had not heard of Ada until Suw started  her ‘campaign’ to ‘find the modern day Ada via twitter.  Suw wanted to highlight the contributions of women in technology and science so they can serve as role models for women. Reading responses and pledges to the Ada Lovelace day organised by Suw back in March, I soon recognised that Ada is still great inspiration to many women and men in computing, technology and social media.

Ada Lovelace (1815 -1852) was one of the world’s first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums

A number of the modern day Adas nominated (on finding Ada) are working in the construction or built environment related  sector.  It is fitting then that be2camp north will kick off with Suw talking about Ada, why she is such an inspiration, her relevance today and future plans for the finding Ada campaign.

So if you are working in or interested in finding out more about web and social technology in the built environment and looking for inspiration, both from Ada and Suw, be2camp north is for you.  And if you cant get there in person, register to attend online. 

Note: Suw spoke on ‘death to email’ at be2camp 2008 in London – the ustream video of which can still be found online at the be2camp network