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Hi,

As you may be aware, JointContact.com has recently gone through a change of ownership and I would like to take this opportunity to inform you of exactly what this means to you.

In short, nothing is going to change. All of your data and current projects along with all existing user information on our site will be kept intact. All of the tools and functionality that you have come to rely on to share and manage your project information will remain unchanged.

The transition of ownership will take place during this week (01/31/2011 to 02/05/2011) and for this period, the website will be unreachable at some times as we process the transfer to our new servers.

Once the transfer is complete, we will make available a survey to determine exactly how we can improve the site and its features for all of our user accounts. Of course, we cannot improve the site without including the one essential element that we hope will never change: you. As part of our survey, we will be finding out exactly what it is that you love about JointContact.com and where you think we could use some improvement.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the transition, please feel free to contact me at the following email address: support@jointcontact.com

Thank you for your time,

Sincerely,
JointContact

At Joint Contact we’ve heard from a lot of people interested our use and adoption of Twitter.  While many speculate if Twitter can actually be used for something useful, we are having no problems seeing how it can be used in our service.  This includes the ability to communicate project status, as well as the ability to organize Tweets.

 
With our latest release, Joint Contact now includes the ability to send automated Tweets when users add documents, images or tasks.  A function usually reserved for email, now team members can receive these messages through Twitter and its many tools.

Why do this?  As written in a recent article from ReadWriteWeb, communication with team members can now extend beyond the desktop because Twitter supports native text messaging (SMS).  This means that a manager can receive project updates using just their cell phone, even without internet access. Also Twitter is just plain fun – many professionals already use the platform for quick messages and basic communications (2 million users and counting at the time of this posting).

One question you may have is “Isn’t that insecure?  Using Twitter for business doesn’t make any sense unless I can secure it like email.”  We’ve also thought of this and would like to show how you can start using Twitter for business using Joint Contact and protected updates.

Twitter Notification Using Protected Updates
In this example we are updating an existing  Joint Contact task.  At the bottom of the interface we’ve set the option for “Send to Twitter”.  Once saved, our changes are updated in Joint Contact and a summary of the event is sent to Twitter.

The Twitter account used is a special account type known as a protected profile.  Protected Twitter profiles have the following properties:

1. Protected updates are not searchable or viewable by the general public.  This means that people cannot access these Twitter updates by simply typing in a URL.  Each user who views your updates must be authenticated by Twitter.  Here’s an example of someone trying to access our protected account without the proper authentication. As we can see access to the account is blocked.

2. Protected profile owners must approve “follow requests” to allow new people to view their updates.  This means you are in direct control over who views your messages.  It also means spammers cannot read your updates or send you unsolicited messages.  Here’s an example of what the approval window looks like.

If you are looking to establish Twitter for business communication we suggest configuring each team member’s account to support protected updates.  This way your group can gain all of the service advantages without sacrificing security. 

Let us know what questions, thoughts or ideas you may have. To learn more about Joint Contact and Twitter visit What’s Your Status as well as Why Twitter Matters to Joint Contact.

In our blog posting entitled “Why Twitter Matters to Joint Contact” we announced plans to integrate Joint Contact with the popular microblogging service called Twitter. Since then we’ve received a lot of media attention as one of the first (if not the first) to consider Twitter for business communications.

 

The folks at WebWorkerDaily had a chance to catch up with us and we had a great discussion about project collaboration and the role social media could play in business productivity.

 

At Arbutus we think business professionals are increasingly using social media technologies to communicate. Examples include blogs, wiki’s, and social networks. Twitter, however, is still thought of as a fun, casual way to stay connected with friends and co-workers.

 

While early adopters use Twitter as a social communication tool, we acknowledge Twitter’s potential as a business communications platform. Why? Because there’s a growing trend of people using Twitter as a replacement for email. As a result we’ve been able to implement some straightforward powerful features that build on our goal of integrating project collaboration and social media.

 

What’s your status?
For our latest product release our goal was to answer this question.  In addition to sending Conversations titles directly to Twitter, account holders can now update their current work status using their profile. For example, a team member can type “Organizing the committee meeting,” send that to Twitter, and other team members can access the Tweet using their cell phone, iPhone, desktop computer or another Twitter enabled website:

 

 

Your status is also saved to the Joint Contact Team Profile.  (The Team Profile provides contact information for members who share at least one workspace with you).   The Team Profile now becomes a manager’s dream-come-true as interested parties can always check on a group’s current status.

 

 

Making it work with your business
Ready to give it a try? If you’re already using Twitter we recommend that you create a second Twitter account for business. That way you can separate your business and personal Tweets. Once established, just add your Twitter credentials to your Joint Contact profile settings.

 

One advantage Twitter brings to business is its ability to be accessed by more devices / services than email. For example, a Tweet from Joint Contact can be received on a cell phone as text message.

 

Don’t Twitter? No worries! You can still use everything in Joint Contact without Twitter. This includes providing team status updates through the Team Profile as well as all the functionality in our Conversations module.

We are pleased to announce that micro bloggers can now post entries from Joint Contact directly to Twitter!   With the Internet world in a craze about Twitter we wanted to explain not only why Twitter matters,  but why we think it matters to Joint Contact.

 

The Concept
Twitter introduces a new concept in online communication known as micro blogging. Unlike a traditional blog, or even a text message or IM, a micro blog through Twitter limits your text communication to 140 characters.  Since the message size is limited, people use mirco blogs to send quick messages for communicating status.  Online services like Twitter have proven to be an innovative solution for up-to-the minute marketing, as micro bloggers can broadcast quick messages about a new website, blog entry or product launch.

 

Micro blogging meets project collaboration
By integrating with Twitter, Joint Contact allows individuals to communicate their project status with other Joint Contact users as well as their Internet followers on Twitter.  Since people access Twitter messages using mobile devices as well as PC’s, it allows users to receive project messages from any Twitter enabled device. This includes the iPhone as well as popular desktop applications like Twhirl).

 



 

How it works
To get started, create a free Twitter account, then add your Twitter credentials to your Joint Contact profile. Once added, you can automatically send the title of any Joint Contact Conversation (aka message or discussion group) directly to Twitter.  Why Conversations?  This is place where messaging and group collaboration occurs.

 

 

The Twitter integration is an option available with any new or existing Conversation. Since Twitter only supports 140 characters per post, Joint Contact paragraph bodies are not included Twitter postings.

 

The ability to send Twitter messages from Joint Contact also solves another micro blogging challenge – managing your postings.   In our example below Twitter messages (Tweets) have been created based on a series of Joint Contact Conversations. Since Conversations are assigned to workspaces, Tweets can be organized by project folder and can also be combined with other actions. Here we see a few Conversations that have been linked to Documents and Images (see icons). These messages were also sent to our Internet followers as Tweets.

 

 

The integration of Twitter with Joint Contact opens up a new world of possibilities in the area of project collaboration. For those looking for a more robust Twitter client (and that’s a lot of us) it provides a means of not only being able to track Tweets, but the ability to manage Twitter communications with other related work items.

 

Note: To learn more about Joint Contact and Twitter check out our latest blog entry entitled What’s your status?

Crowdsourcing and coworking.  Two words that sound similar and are indeed connected.  Related to alternative work methods, coworking and crowdsourcing allow groups to join together to solve problems and create business value.  This article attempts to defines these trends and explores the ways in which they are connected.

 

Coworking 101
Many independent professionals dream of having their own office for conducting business with employees, partners and customers.  As is often the case, reality sets in and we discover that negotiating a lease as well as hiring a realtor, lawyer and subcontractor could put us out tens of thousands of dollars.

 

The alternative?  Starbucks or Tully’s.  Being able to meet with colleagues, grab a cup of coffee and perhaps check email while on the go is a great way to get business done and stay productive.  The coffee shop option can work, provided that your meeting topic is conducive to the location.  For example, it may be a great place to discuss ongoing projects, but may not be suitable for a first time meeting with a client or potential investor.

 

A new option that is gaining momentum is coworking.  Coworking combines the benefits of a traditional office with the coffee shop model.  The idea is that you come to work each day (to an actual office), but work in cubicles, small workstations or desks like you would at a coffee shop. Coworking allows you to network and connect with like-minded individuals,  allowing you to share common interests and potentially share resources.  The fact that each worker represents a different company or interest actually strengthens the network, allowing groups to form that represent various backgrounds and experiences.

 

Crowdsourcing 101
The term “crowdsourcing” relates to large groups that are organized to solve a specific problem.  Mentioned frequently in relation to Web 2.0, crowdsourcing is often associated with other terms like “mass collaboration”.    The crowdsourcing model can been seen in many Web 2.0 applications currently being used to today such as Wikipedia and Joint Contact.

 

Building on the idea of a traditional printed encyclopedia, Wikipedia solves the problem of content  management and creation by permitting anyone (anywhere) to contribute to its online archives.  An enthusiastic volunteer force of contributors provides not only an adequate number of topics to rival Encyclopedia Britannica, but redefines our notion of an informational resource by providing a number of unique and diverse subjects.

 

Joint Contact also supports the crowdsourcing model by allowing groups to create documents, tasks, discussions and other items related to project management.  Joint Contact solves the problem of information management, allowing professional groups to build supportive models that foster communication and collaboration.

 

Making the connection
Crowdsourcing and coworking provide tremendous benefits to the small business community.  Under a coworking model, individuals who have complementary skills can work together to answer questions, provide different points of view and create value.  As mentioned,  the benefit of gaining different perspectives when faced with a problem are usually better than working in isolation.

 

Crowdsourcing relates to coworking in that both groups (virtual and physical) are likely to produce more than if they where to work independently.   For example, conducting an in-person project review meeting will always produce diverse and interesting results.  In some cases, more questions may be produced than answers which may result in your project taking a new and unanticipated direction.

 

Social networking websites like LinkedIn represent the coworking model in the virtual world.  One example of this concept is through the use of LinkedIn’s “Answers”.  Using Answers, people submit questions to the LinkedIn community that may be related to business, marketing, technology or human resources.  Under this crowdsourcing model thousands of people instantly access this information, allowing them to respond, contribute and add value.

 

Lastly, both models allow small business owners to benefit from economies of scale, allowing entrepreneurs to reduce their monetary cost by spreading any expenses with their peers.  Surprisingly, crowdsourcing and coworking are based on a similar pricing model, if cost does become a factor.  In small business, this provides great flexibility as circumstances often change.

 

Even though coworking is not a definitive technology, it can be associated some of the most widely adopted technology concepts and services available.

Many of you have enjoyed the rich document management functionality included in our service. As a result we’ve been looking for new ways to enhance these capabilities to make it even more simple, safe and secure.  Our answer – document based security permissions.

 

How it works
When adding documents you can now set your documents to have “Workspace” or “Specific” permissions. As the names implies, documents set with “Workspace” permissions are accessible to everyone that is assigned to a folder. As seen the file “dataport.jpg” has been assigned the default permissions of “Workspace”.

 

 

To change permissions just select the appropriate link under “Permissions / Details” and then choose “Update File Permissions”. The new security window allows you to grant permissions to everyone in your workspace, just yourself or a select group of workspace participants.

 

One of the nice things about the last option is the ability to grant file permissions by entering a series of email addresses.   Joint Contact will validate each email address, ensuring each account has permissions to the assigned folder before updating the record.

 

 

People who are file owners have the ability to set/edit file based permissions. File owners include anyone who uploads a new file. Account administrators have access to all document management capabilities and can set permissions on any uploaded file.

 

Why it works
File based permissions allow you to extend the traditional “Workspace” security model, allowing for greater control and flexibility – almost like file management on the desktop. For example, a graphic designer can create a single workspace entitled “Project Documents”, assign all their customers to a single workspace, then limit which documents each customer can see through the use of file based permissions. The result being each customer will see different files using the same project folder.

 

File based permissions are also convenient for managing document drafts. Files can be uploaded to a selected workspace and permissions restricted to a few people. Once the document is complete one can update the permissions for access to an entire group.

 

We hope that you enjoy this advanced functionality and use it to discover new and interesting ways to manage your files!

Getting overwhelmed trying to manage projects using email and spreadsheets? As part of the Web 2.0 movement the emerging trend called project collaboration is allowing people to connect with others to share, manage and coordinate on small and big projects alike.

 

What is project collaboration? Consider the difference between a Gantt chart and email. A Gantt chart is typically used as a planning tool for upcoming projects. Gantt charts are also useful as a tracking mechanism to ensure that active projects stay on time and on budget. On the other hand, email acts as an important communication tool that is used throughout the course of a project. For example, email may be used to used to distribute important messages, status reports, documents or tasks.

 

Web based collaboration tools allow you to extend your own project management toolset, allowing you to manage and organize the communication aspects of your active projects. At Joint Contact we call this “working on the present”.

 

What’s wrong with using email?
Easy and convenient, most of us have become accustom to using email for all types of communication. Now that we’ve entered into a Web 2.0 era most of our business communication is done through email which can often lead to challenges such as:

 

  • Attempting to track a group of messages for a specific project
  • Trying to locate the most recent version of a document
  • Bounced messages due to large file attachments
  • Attempting to share a contact list

 

Another challenge is “email bankruptcy”. Coined by Lawrence Lessig in 2004, email bankruptcy occurs when the amount of messages you receive per day outweigh the number of messages you can view or respond to. As a result you’re always behind in your work which causes you to throw up your hands in frustration and declare “bankruptcy”.

 

How project collaboration can help
At Joint Contact people use our service for everything including timekeeping, employee getting started documentation, team announcements, feature tracking, document management, managing images and contact management. For many folks items that were getting “lost” in e-mail are now organized in a separate online tool, easily accessible to team members and partners.

 

Since we specialize in project collaboration we often talk with others who are overwhelmed at the sheer number of other tools available on the market. “Collaboration” is a popular Web 2.0 buzzword, so how do you know which tool is right for your group? Since we’ve covered some of the basics, here are our suggested guidelines for choosing the right service.

 

Make sure it’s easy to get started
Make sure you are comfortable with the tool before making your decision. As manager or group leader you should also envision how your group members will use the tool. A good rule of thumb is if you think you’ll have to train other people on how to use the tool (for more than 30 minutes), there’s probably an easier service out there.

 

A good strategy for beginning is to start using the tool for your yourself, mastering a single area of the application (like documents) before exploring other modules. As part of your development envision how your team members will also use the tool. If you can see how it will work for both yourself and your group you’ve probably found the right service.

 

Make sure the tool works on Mac OS as well as Windows
A colleague recently told me that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system now has 7% of the overall PC market.

 

Even though 7% seem like a small percentage, this translates to roughly 6.3M desktops based on recent global statistics. As a result, chances are at some point you’ll need to access the website using an Apple computer using Safari or Mozilla Firefox as a web browser. Make sure that your investment adopts leading standards and provides flexibility that you may need in the future.

 

Make sure the tool can handle a lot of big files
Your project collaboration solution should also allow you to share and manage large files, (or a large quantity of small files) with your group. Some vendors do a good job of mentioning this information upfront before you purchase, while others bury this information in the hopes you won’t find it.

 

The pitfall we often see are people that get excited to use a free tool, only to discover that the tool doesn’t support large fie sizes (e.g anything over 500K), won’t allow you to upload certain file types, or doesn’t support multiple document uploads. These lack of features may be a minor inconvenience for a student, but could halt business for a graphic designer, accountant, business consultant or lawyer.

 

Make sure the vendor will support you
Most collaboration services are measured by their features and overall usability. However, in the event that you have a pre-sales question or need customer support, ensure someone will be able to answer your questions in a timely fashion. If you’re not sure, explore the vendor’s site to ensure you can find a support number. You may not need to use it, but the fact that the vendor is confident enough to publish their number shows they are willing to support you when needed.

 

Will a Wiki work for me?
Wiki’s (the Hawaiian word for “fast”) have also gained in popularity in recent years, with the obvious successful example being Wikipedia. If you’re working on a large internal documentation project a Wiki could be good fit, as group members could dynamically create and edit web pages. Examples of documentation projects include creating help documentation, or keeping track of feature requirements on a new product or service.

 

One drawback of wiki’s is time. Most wiki’s are designed as a set of tools that are left up to the end users to set up and configure to their liking. These often go beyond the level of technical expertise of most business professionals, as users are left to decide how to design and publish the pages used within the wiki system. If you have a technical person on board that can help implement a wiki – great. Otherwise you’ll probably be better served using a more conventional tool.

Learning RSS & XML

With Web 2.0 we now have tools and technologies that can deliver content directly to our desktops, web browsers or mobile devices. We’ve gained familiarity with this model through the use of email, but new standards like RSS (Really Simple Syndication) allow the automatic delivery of news, events, or any kind of interesting timely information.

 

What is RSS?
Definitions of RSS will differ (depending on whether you speak with a business person or engineer) but it’s safe to say that RSS is regular text formatted so that it can be understood by different software applications or websites. RSS files are usually referred to as “documents” and are part of a larger family called XML (Extensible Markup Language). When RSS is applied to an information resource it is usually referred to as an “RSS Feed”.

 

What else is XML used for?
Other popular standards that make use of XML include WSDL (Web Service Description Language) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). Combined, WSDL and SOAP work to connect software systems and Internet websites through the use of “Web Services”.

 

Another related Web 2.0 trend are “Mashups”. Mashups are sites based on the combination of several web services (e.g Zillow.com). Web services and Mashups are not directly related to RSS technology but deserve to be noted as they all make use of XML.

 

Open standards mean better choices
RSS and XML are considered to be open technology standards and are governed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Thankfully, Internet standards like RSS and XML are not owned by any specific company (e.g. Google, Microsoft), and are available for anyone to implement and use. The result is that you will find software and websites that support RSS running under Mac OS, Linux and Windows.

 

Tracking Blogs Through RSS
At some point someone figured out that adding an RSS feed to a blog was a great idea. With thousands of blogs being updated each day there can be a lot of content to track (imagine having 20 newspapers delivered to your home everyday). Accessing blog content through an RSS feed allows us to automatically receive the latest info whenever the publisher adds something new – almost like e-mail. To keep track of different feeds companies have built “RSS Readers” that allow you to organize your sites under one roof. Most RSS readers are freely available and can be downloaded as desktop application or are web based. The readers we like include Google Reader and NewsGator.

 

If you’re interested in setting up your own blog make sure your software supports RSS feeds. It will provide your audience with more options and will ultimately increase your readership.

 

RSS Beyond Blogging
At Joint Contact we like that RSS technology can be applied to solve many problems. Here are some neat ways companies are using RSS technology to stay in touch with their customers and increase business value.

 

The Seattle Networking Guide – Managing Events
The Seattle Networking guide is a site where people can find the latest information on networking events in the Seattle area. The site provides the ability for people to submit information about upcoming events, and allows users to search for content relevant to their business or industry.

 

Seattle Networking Guide

 

In addition to seeing event information by visiting the site regularly, people have the option of accessing the event content as an RSS feed.

 

The Seattle Networking Guide also supports Internet Calendar (iCal) technology. iCal technology achieves the same goal as RSS but is designed work with calendaring applications. A lot can be written about iCal technology as it is also very useful. Additional information about the iCal standard can be found here.

 

Joint Contact – Managing Tasks
Hopefully Joint Contact does not require any introduction. For those who don’t know, Joint Contact is an online project management and collaboration solution that enables people to share and manage group information such as documents, images, tasks, contacts, notes, discussions and team information.

Joint Contact Task Management

 

In this example a new task has been created called “Create Internet Calendar support for Tasks”. To the left of the main heading one can click the RSS icon to obtain an RSS feed. The users RSS feed will list all tasks assigned to them, and any tasks created by them.

 

In this example Joint Contact delivers the latest tasks using RSS – logging onto the website is not required. For people who specialize in project management (e.g project managers, freelancers, business owners) this saves time and keeps things organized. (Joint Contact also makes use of the iCal standard reference earlier).

 

Podcasting with iTunes
Apple’s iTunes (the software needed to synchronize your iPod) also makes use of RSS technology. Apple is famous for being secretive about how they develop software, but we do know their podcasting platform employs RSS technology.

Podcasting with iTunes

 

Surprised? When you submit a podcast to iTunes you do so using a special XML file that is based on RSS (for those interested in publishing podcasts technical information can be found here). Using RSS, publishers define the details of their show which typcially include the podcast title, description, categories and location of multimedia files. Once uploaded, a user can “subscribe” to a podcast and the content is automatically downloaded to their computer as new content is available.

 

Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park
Our last example is Olympic Sculpture Park Guide hosted by the Seattle Times. This site provides a virtual walking tour of the park but also includes audio files you can download through using iTunes (hyperlinks are located on the lower left of the illustration. Click on the image below to see a full size image). Providing multimedia content as an iTunes download is another Web 2.0 trend that provides a win-win situation for content providers and their audience. We’ve seen this same technique applied to radio stations, schools, colleges and universities.

Olympic Scuplture Park

A Richer Experience

We’ve taken our service one step further by giving you a richer experience when using Joint Contact! Here are some highlights:

 

Rich Text for Conversations and QuickMail
No more plain text for your Conversations or QuickMail! The most notable new enhancement is the implementation new HTML / Rich Edit controls for the Conversations and QuickMail windows. Create HTML automatically as you type, or edit HTML tags directly using the source editor. Edit windows are also equipped with wizards to create lists, links, tables, different colors, fonts and styling. You can even write HTML to reference images and content from other blogs or websites.

 

 

With this new functionality you can use Joint Contact as a robust note manager – great for helping you to track meeting minutes, blog postings, classroom notes, etc. By linking your notes to Documents, Images or Tasks, you have a great documentation tool for any project.

 

Upload multiple Images at once
The multiple-upload feature was originally for documents, but is now available for images! Now you can upload a entire directory of images in a single click – a great feature for graphic designers and marketing folks.

 

HTML signatures when sending QuickMail
As part of our Rich Edit implementation, administrators can now save an HTML email signature as part of their settings (why can’t Gmail can do this?). Once setup, the corresponding signature will be appended to all outgoing QuickMail messages.

 

Redesigned Contacts interface
The Contacts interface has been redesigned for greater ease-of-use. Based on user feedback we’ve also provided the ability for you to convert a Contact into an Account with a single click! (For those who don’t know “Accounts” can log in to share documents and other content their group; “Contacts” don’t have this ability.) You can also now e-mail your Contacts directly using QuickMail.

 

 

We are very excited about this release and look forward to hearing your feedback. Log in to your Joint Contact account today and let us know what you think about the richer experience. Feel free to post your feedback at our new Customer Forum site located at support.jointcontact.com.

Learning Web 2.0

Coined by Tim O’Reilly and O’Reilly Media in 2003, “Web 2.0” speaks to how the collective minds of people bring value to everyone through the use of the Internet. At Joint Contact we like to think of this as the “Power of Us“. Although exciting, the Web 2.0 movement has ushered in a host of new business trends and technologies that can leave one feeling dizzy and often confused. This article attempts to unravel the mystery of this growing technology trend.

 

What happened to Web 1.0?
In trying to define Web 2.0 many of us still don’t grasp the concept of “Web 1.0” and how things have evolved in the past few years. Although we haven’t heard of any organizations or think tanks that have come up with an official definition, our group defines Web 1.0 as the “Power of Me“. If we go back to the late 90’s, businesses began to harness the power of the Internet in order to extend brick and mortar businesses to reach customers in places they never thought possible.

 

Soon it became clear that the Web could not only allow companies to increase sales, but could help reduce costs by providing self-service tools and processes. Now banks, grocery stores, investment firms, travel agents, department stores and airline companies all use web based tools to help them reduce organizational costs by promoting online customer self-service. Companies like Dell Computer were also quick to see its advantages and were able to shrink their supply chain by selling computers direct to consumers, bypassing the need for storefronts and product resellers.

 

Current Trends
Now that most of us have adapted to the first version of web, “Web 2.0” is allowing us to extend the 1.0 model by connecting with others. At Joint Contact we see Web 2.0 as a combination of sub categories. These include “connecting with people we don’t know” and “connecting with people that we do know”.

 

Connecting with people that we don’t know
Examples of this trend are seen with “Social Networking” sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Linked-In. Chances are that if you’re reading this article, you understand the basics of this model, and probably use one of these sites on a periodic basis.

 

Lately we’ve been hearing the phrase “Social Media”. Our assumption is that the idea of connecting with people that you don’t know extends not only through web pages and blogs, but through other types of media including audio and video. Podcasting (audio or video) through iTunes and YouTube are great examples of services that increase in value based on the collective participation of its contributors.

 

Creating value with those you don’t know isn’t limited to business or personal networking. Ongoing projects such as Wikipedia, Linux and the Mozilla Foundation (e.g. FireFox) are initiatives based on the participation of people working together to build online encyclopedias, desktop operating systems and software.

 

Connecting with people that we do know
On the other side of Web 2.0 are services and technologies that allow us to connect with people that we do know. This is a nice bonus of the Web 2.0 movement, as people are now discovering they can also use the web to collaborate and share information across vast distances for relatively little cost.

 

Before Web 2.0, sharing computer data within groups to was limited to establishing a local or wide area network and setting up the appropriate software to connect each computer. Information retrieved was also limited to the desktop which meant you couldn’t easily share your list of contacts or files with your colleagues that used Mac OS or Linux (yes we are assuming you run Windows).

 

Under Web 2.0, the goal is to share information without any limitation in technology or infrastructure. This popular trend has created a foundation for open standards such as HTML, XML, RSS, OPML and iCalendar formats that are used to connect people with information – regardless of platform or device type. Building on these standards many companies (including Joint Contact) have built web based solutions that transcend the need for a LAN by providing these applications as a software “service”.

 

Similar to their social media counterparts, SaaS (Software as a Service) applications are designed to enhance communication for groups that need to share information. Examples of SaaS based applications include Document Management and Collaboration (e.g Joint Contact), Customer Relationship Management, Timekeeping, Wiki’s, Calendar Management, Task Management, Defect Tracking Systems and Project Management.

 

Where do blogs fit it in?
Because blogs are easy to setup and update, blogging is one of the fastest growing areas of the Web 2.0 movement. Joint Contact considers blogs to be hybrid of Web 2.0 categories as they can be implemented to meet different needs. For example, a blog can keep customers informed of product announcements (like ours), provide help documentation, or can voice opinions on news, politics or technology. One trend that we see emerging are small groups coming together in a “co-op” fashion to blog on a number of closely related topics. Successful examples of this can be seen at sites like Slate, SimpleTalk, Digg, ReadWriteWeb and WebWorkerDaily.

 

Blogs are also unique Web 2.0 solutions as they incorporate technologies like RSS that are traditionally used in SaaS based offerings (Click here to learn more about RSS and XML).

 

Beware of Buzzword Bingo
Now that you understand the basics of Web 2.0 one item you should be aware of is “Buzzword Bingo”. Buzzword Bingo occurs when people use cool technology phrases like “Web 2.0” to describe anything technical, and is usually unrelated and nonsensical. Why do people do this? As with anything in business, people like to show off and demonstrate how they are more in touch with the latest trends than the next person. Here’s a great example from IBM of Buzzword Bingo in action:

If you hear your colleagues talking about “value added, disruptive, AJAX based, SEO applications” as being a part of Web 2.0 movement, take what they say with a grain of salt.

 

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this overview but hopefully things are starting to make sense. This tutorial is continued with an overview of RSS and XML technologies.