From what I've seen, the main objectives of online social networks in companies are: to facilitate idea-sharing around a theme or topic (e.g. “Our Brand”); help users find out more about their peers; form useful insights to solve particular challenges; and for the network itself to become a useful repository of resources (ideas, inspiration, files, people) for participants.

However, the technology itself won't guarantee these results - it needs to be managed or curated effectively. Here are 20 subjective criteria I've used to help evaluate contributions to these networks:

1. Relevance to the stated objectives of the network
2. Poses questions to the group
3. Sparks discussion and comments
4. Enhances a lecture, discussion, debate or theme related to the purpose of the network
5. Makes a relevant statement
6. Responds to criticisms as well as compliments.
7. Builds on the ideas and contributions of others on the network.
8. Acknowledges the contributions of others.
9. Shares unexpected insights
10. Stories - especially from personal experience.
11. Recommendations to peers
12. Empathy - readability; humour; use of formatting; respect for other perspectives
13. Lists e.g. “Top 10…”, “Best ways to…”, “Our favourite”
14. Thought is given to topic before posting
15. Creativity or originality of ideas or the way they’re expressed
16. Clarity of expression.
17. Well structured arguments.
18. Mixes opinion and data.
19. Uses graphics to illustrate ideas
20. Contributes to the learning experience of others on the network

What you want to ultimately see is that the group is co-creating a knowledge ecosystem - so that if you want to explore any idea that catches your fancy further, you could find out who the contributors to it are.

In his book, “The Wisdom of Crowds”, James Surowieki reveals that the smartest groups are those that allow space for people to individually form and express ideas, independent of the group, which can then be “aggregated” into more cohesive solutions. This is one of  the key advantages of using the online network as opposed to discussing everything in person: it allows space for more ideas around a particular topic to be expressed simultaneously.
Are all your profiles up to date? Are you tired of filling out your profile on websites and online applications? Wouldn't it be useful to just maintain one or two central profiles that would automatically update all the others?The promise of "portable profile" is just that. You can use one profile across the web, and sign into sites without having to fill out all the usual registration stuff.Of course, this raises major privacy concerns. Each site that you use your portable profile on will have access to your full profile information, as well as possibly knowing what other sites you're registered with.As a website owner, there are benefits to allowing users to register with their portable profile:1. You can personalize their experience by knowing more about them,2. There's a  lower cost of password and account management, while drawing new web traffic.3. It lowers user frustration by letting users have control of their login.There are a number of companies offering portable profile, internet ID, and single sign on services already such as Verisign, OpenID, and my favourite Chi.mp

However, Facebook Connect seem to be leading the way with regards to the promise of taking your network of friends and connections around the web with you. There are, of-course, concerns about whether we should trust a commercial enterprises with our precious identity. Nevertheless, I'll highlight Facebook Connect as the principle is important.

From the Wikipedia page on Facebook Features:
Facebook Connect is a single sign-on service that competes with OpenID. The service enables Facebook users to login to affiliated sites using their Facebook account and share information from such sites with their Facebook friends. 
The price of Personalization is Privacy. I don't mind sharing my information if it's going to get me more relevant information and personalized service, but I would expect to be able to control what different people (and sites) can see on my profile. Another concern with single-sign on is the danger of someone getting hold of your one password that opens the doors to your life online. I guess these are the risks we all have to live with. I'd like to get Dominic White's perspective on this.
Creative Commons licenses are built on traditional copyright. They may be free, but they are proper legal documents and are enforced using the same proceedures as traditional copyright law. They are simply a way to allow creators to easily communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of other creators.

There are some basic clauses that enable this:

Attribution Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give credit the way you request.

Noncommercial Noncommercial. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only.

No Derivative Works No Derivative Works. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

Share Alike Share Alike. You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

Interestingly, when these licenses are applied to online works, they contain meta-data that describes them and allows the works to easily be found online. This is why the CC search functionality built into Firefox is so useful - it helps  people easily find works (e.g. pictures) to re-use legally.This can enhance the pass-along (aka viral) effect of some creative works.

Lastly, the fact that these licenses are free should not be overlooked. Hiring a lawyer to license a work appropriately can be expensive and complicated. When you apply a CC license to your work, you're bringing to bear some of the most outstanding legal minds in the world today. These licenses were designed to work in today's hyperconnected world.
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AuthorDave Duarte
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Later this week I'll be going to Kampala, Uganda for the Africa Media Leadership Conference (AMLC) in Uganda.From Wikipedia:
The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa, bordered on the east by Kenya, the north by Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by Tanzania

The following is from the conference press release:
AMLC is an annual meeting among African media bosses. This year it is focusing on how the continent is embracing new media technologies to serve the changing needs and interests of their customers.

The conference will be attended by 40 senior editors and CEOs of media firms stretching from South Africa, Namibia and Swaziland in the south to Kenya and Ethiopia in the north and from Senegal and the Ivory Coast in the west.

The topic of the talk I am presenting is: How African Traditional Media can Tap Into New Social Media and Blogs.
The conference is co-hosted by Rhodes University’s Sol Plaatje Institute for Media Leadership (SPI) in South Africa and Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation.

“This year’s conference is looking at a range of digital media platforms that have emerged and continue to emerge around the world and the challenges that face media companies in Africa in adopting and adapting these platforms for their competitive advantage,” said Francis Mdlongwa, Director of the Sol Plaatje Institute (SPI).

“Given the breath-taking technological changes which are re-shaping and even redefining the entire media industry, we felt that Africa should pause, take stock, look at what works and does not work in our part of the world and why, and plan ahead,” he added.

The SPI is Africa’s only university-level institution offering high-level media management and leadership training programmes to both practising and aspirant media leaders from across the continent. It runs a post-graduate programme in media management and leadership and a series of certificated management programmes for senior editorial and business media managers.
Frank Windeck, the head of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’s Sub-Sahara Africa Media Programme, the sponsor of the Africa Media Leadership Conference series, said: “These meetings give Africa’s top media people a unique opportunity to network at the highest level and to examine key industry and other issues which concern them and to seek practical solutions by examining case studies drawn from Africa.”

The conference series was launched by the SPI and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in 2002 to promote high-level interaction among Africa’s media chiefs and to seek practical, innovative and creative solutions to challenges faced by the African media.

The conference meets annually in an African country, and past conferences have debated topics such as Revenue Generation for Robust African Media (Cape Town, South Africa); South Meets East: Strategic Challenges for African Media (Nairobi, Kenya); Managing Media in Recession (Mauritius); and Policies and Strategies for Media Viability (Maputo, Mozambique).
I'm looking forward to the trip, and to meeting and engaging deeply with the ideas of some of Africa's top media people. I will, of course, be sharing as much as possible of the knowledge I gain with you on this blog.
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AuthorDave Duarte
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iCommons LogoCalling the Opensource Community (Content, Education, Software and Business): Next Saturday, Cape Town is hosting 1 of 50 parties that are happening all around the world in the interests of connecting people who have a shared interest in Opensource stuff.

Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia and head of the Wikimedia Foundation) and Heather Ford (Exec Director of iCommons) are coming to town for the gathering, and will be sharing some ideas and insights for open projects and community development. Mark Surman (Shuttleworth foundation) also happens to be in the country, and will hopefully be sharing some thoughts with us too.

Attendance at the event is free. However we ask that you offer to contribute something to the Commons - a picture, an article, a Wikipedia edit, or even an application of your skills or connections.

Lastly, a little bit of sponsorship would go a long way... If we can get contributions totalling around R2000 then we can use that to pay for corkage on some wine Stormhoek has offered us, get a proper AV system, and perhaps even a musician. Please mail me or pop your name on the wiki if you can help out with the whole amount, or a contribution to it (the donation will be processed through iCommons, a registered NPO).

UPDATE: Ronald Wertlen of eKhaya ICT has put forward the whole R2000 that we needed to zoop up the party:) Thanks Ron!
And Stormhoek is providing the wine:) Thanks Graham!

To sign up to attend, please pop your name on the wiki >>HERE.

UPDATE: The Times wrote an article about the party:  50 Fabulous Parties just for the fun of it. Thanks to Carly Ritz:)
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AuthorDave Duarte
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Late lastnite I made a status update on Twitter saying that I was looking to name a new business venture*. It was an arbitrary musing, and I didn't really expect anyone to take notice - Twitter and Facebook status updates have become cathartic to me, they serve an end in themselves.

Within minutes, however, a guy by the name of Krikor Ohannessian, who happens to be in Lebanon, messaged me back to say that one of his hobbies is coming up with names for Web2.0 companies.

Krikor runs a site called Wikinomy which a well-respected web guy in America, Robert Scoble, introduced me to via a Facebook group invite. So there was a sense of inferred trust.

I sent Krikor more info, and this morning he sent me some brilliant suggestions, as well as one of those coveted Pownce invites. Awesome.

Anyway, it's a cool story of seamless global collaboration. And I thought I'd tell it to remind myself not to get too caught-up behind the Boerewors Cluetrain (i.e. just thinking and operating within the South African diaspora).

*ps. I'm not leaving Cerebra, as some people presumed - it's a related business.
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AuthorDave Duarte
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