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The Future Of Work In A Social World – Part 1 — GigaOM Pro →

I posted the first half of a two part series summarizing my recent Social Now keynote over at GigaOM Research. 

Stowe Boyd, The Future Of Work In A Social World – Part 1


Work — at the level of the economy, business, and individual — is changing more quickly that it has ever changed before. We all need to understand the forces impacting us as a society, as participants in businesses, and as individuals making our way in this world. Where is it headed, and why?


I’m starting with the bottom line first. This is where we are headed in this talk: this is in fact one of the final slides, the conclusion. My purpose is to get across that these tightly interlinked terms represent a break with the ‘present of work’, not as a fad, but as a necessary adaptation to economic and societal changes that are larger than business, like urbanization, the rise of the social web, and the increased levels of competition in a globalized world economy, and what that means for us all as business leaders, professionals, and individuals.

 [… 20 something slides and comments]

That’s one half of the talk. I will post the second half early next week, but here’s a teaser: Based on the narrative above, I will take a close look at the differences between the postmodern institution of business processes and the emerging postnormal reliance on social networks, which I believe are being displaced. Lastly, I propose the 3C Model of Organizational Culture, a psychosocial approach to characterizing the changes in our organizations as we struggle to thrive in a fast-and-loose postnormal world that relies on networks and pull rather than processes and push.

Here’s a peek, without the juicy details:


Prezi Releases New Interface

Prezi, the infinite canvas style presentation tool, has released a new interface. The company is making an effort to simplify the somewhat arcane user experience of what is now known as the ‘classic look’.  Which means the distinctive — but counterintuitive and slow — ‘bubble’ menu is gone.

In particular, the new approach creates a default ‘path’ — the sequence of screens in the infinite canvas that define a presentation — based on the order of frames created in the canvas. This default can be overridden, but making the path explicit and always present will decrease the cognitive load of Prezi.

I will take another, longer look at this tool, which I tried a few years ago but rejected because of the nausea-inducing swooping in transitions. I never understood why I couldn’t simply move from one frame to another without animation. A quick look suggests that this is still not an option, which is a shame. A Visual Thinking Tool

I am always interested in new tools to help me think visually, so I immediately took a look at when I first heard of it last week. provides a shared canvas – a mural, in their terminology – for visual ideation, and the tool borrows from a number of innovative and conventional approaches. It appropriates the Powerpoint idea of text boxes and images, but does so on a Prezi-like gigantic canvas. also lifts the Prezi notion of a sequence of framed areas as a way to make a presentation, but it does so without the nausea-inducing shifts in perspective that Prezi provides. And uses a Google Docs-like sharing model, where a group of collaborators can edit a shared mural, and even chat in real time through the tool as they are doing so.

Murals can be private – available only to those invited – or public – visible to the entire web (although only editable by collaborators). And they can be exported in a variety of ways, including embedded into other web pages or sites, like Tumblr or Wordpress.

I created a small mural to experiment with, and found the tool relatively straightforward, based on my experience with Powerpoint, Prezi, and Google Docs. Here you see one part of my mural, which is theoretically about Innovation In Pizza Cutters (you can see the mural here:

mural elements

mural elements

I am the author of the mural, so I am presented with the authoring tools along the left margin, with the ability to add images, paste text, manipulate shapes and arrows, change backgrounds, and so on.

I found the tool’s features adequate, but I really wanted more options with text elements, like lists and individual styling: currently any changes in text style affect the entire text object, so you cannot highlight a single word, for example. Also, I was baffled by the provision of text boxes, comments, and post-its all with different limited options for fonts and styling.

The real-time chat is simple, but I can see it being very effective (although at present it seems to disappear at logout, so there is no history, which is a shame).

mural chat

mural chat

And the frames implementation – which allows the collaborators to create a sequenced walk through the canvas – is a great tool, as I said earlier, largely lifted from Prezi. I would like to see the capability for more than a single map, though, since different collaborators might want to wander through a body of information in different ways. Or a single researcher might want to collect a very large body of information and insights, and build different traversals for different purposes or audiences. As with Prezi, I found myself missing the capability of objects appearing as part of a slideshow animation, but a great deal can be done with movement, instead.



And lastly, I wanted to be able to record a walkthrough with voice and capture as a movie: this would be an awesome capability, since the tool supports embedding in other locales. I guess I could use a third party tool, but that would step outside the collaboration and sharing model the tool supports already.

Bottom Line

I need to experiment with in a larger context – more collaborators, more materials – before I can tell exactly how rich the experience is, but my sense is that is already a great adjunct to brainstorming and group ideation, and with just a few more features could be indispensable.

SlideRocket Goes Mobile, Because We Are

SlideRocket, the web presentation tool, has announced that the company has made its presentations work with HTML5 so they can be shared on the iPhone, and other mobile browsers.

The motivation is simple: more presentations are being shown on mobile devices. And in bars, it seems.

Ben Kepes, SlideRocket Goes Mobile with HTML5

SlideRocket are also timing this release with the release of a survey that found that around a quarter of business travellers frequently leave heir laptops at home and are beginning to rely on mobile devices for their business needs while on the road – by providing for presentations while mobile, SlideRocket gains an advantage over other offerings.

Interestingly enough, the survey found that 30% of respondents actually make sales presentations in a bar – while I can take or leave the metric itself, the reality is that sales professionals in particular are seeing their role become less constrained and are expected to be able to perform their role anywhere and anytime – mobile tools (witness the uptake of the BlackBerry over he past decade or so) are enabling them to achieve this.

While the survey can’t be regarded as a highly accurate statistical test, some of the findings are worth reading about:

  • The majority of professionals (90%) deliver sales  presentations outside of the office, with 45% presenting over a meal; 30% presenting  over drinks at a bar and 13% presenting on an airplane.
  • iPads rank second to laptops as the preferred presentation tool with projectors and bar napkins falling behind.
  • 56% percent of professionals carry both a Smartphone/iPad and a laptop. *Neilson Company Survey, 2010

Here’s a screen shot of the Social Cognition preso I will be giving tomorrow at Defrag.

I won’t be using my iPhone for that one, though.

Stowe Boyd: Building Social Applications

It is a day for presentations, it seems. Laurent Haug pinged me this morning, letting me know that the video of my presentation from the Lift conference in Geneva is up. He had some kind words to say about the presentation, Social = Me First, and the workshop that I had given there, Building Social Applications.

I thought that I had written a “Social= Me First” post, but I haven’t per se. Here’s one that touches on the theme.

I’ve uploaded the Social = Me First presentation:

Here’s the video:

The core takeaway:

Social = Me First

People are online for discovery. It looks like its about things, but its not. They go to ‘places’, but really to find people. And below it all, they are involved with people to discover themselves.

This is not a high-minded philosophy pitch: it just practical. If you are trying to build social apps you have to understand that, even if the people using the apps think that they are merely trying to find new music, or better shoes, or the best extreme karaking trip in Hawaii.

As more of the web moves toward this model, more power moves to the edge. Users want control, they want to make the rules, choose their terms, friends, networks. Only the players that understand this will succeed. People will find meaning from relationship with others, not by membership in organizations or groups.

There was no video of the workshop, alas, but I have uploaded the presentation:

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