Clash of the Titans 2020 - Peter O'Kelly

September 7, 2020 · · Posted by Peter O'Kelly

ImageRevisiting Communication/Collaboration/Content Competition, ‘Co-opetition,’ and Culture: Opportunities for Traction Software and its Customer Community, my 2010 Traction User Group (TUG) presentation, it’s fascinating to realize how deeply the product strategies of the leading enterprise communication, collaboration, and content (3C) vendors were disrupted over the last decade. It’s also frankly a bit discouraging to realize how much 3C potential has yet to be realized by most mainstream enterprise end users, although that’s somewhat offset by the knowledge that Traction customers have been benefitting from the ongoing refinement of TeamPage’s pioneering collaborative hypertext journaling system the entire time. In this post, I’ll share perspectives on what has changed in the 3C product families of the vendors identified as enterprise 3C titans in the 2010 presentation along with some highlights of vendors that weren’t part of the 2010 discussion but are important 3C competitors today. I’ll close with some thoughts about where Traction fits into the current enterprise 3C landscape.

Revisiting 3C Market Dynamics

For some high-level context setting, it’s useful to start with a review of some market dynamics that disrupted all enterprise 3C vendors over the last decade. It was clear by 2010 that the internet architecture had prevailed – that modern 3C products built on HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript were the future, and that proprietary formats, protocols, and APIs were frowned upon by enterprise IT decision-makers – but there were also some surprises.


Revisiting the list of market dynamics enabling 3C optimization in 2010:

  • The target for contextual applications shifted from PCs to smartphones and tablets, and that, from a 3C perspective, typically meant reverting to basics such as email and chat apps along with file attachments. Slack and other 3C startups were able to build momentum against the enterprise 3C incumbents in part by starting with relatively simple mobile apps (with backend services usually hosted on AWS).

  • Social content and social networking didn’t go according to the c2010 “Enterprise 2.0” vision. Many of the wiki-focused startups faltered, and some of the market leaders were acquired and subsumed into broader product portfolios. In the consumer market, blogging and microblogging were generally disrupted by Facebook and Twitter, and many activity stream-focused enterprise offerings were similarly disrupted by the basic Internet Relay Chat (IRC) model revitalized by Slack.

  • The XML information architecture that was gaining momentum in 2010, despite developer grumblings about its complexity (with XML Schema, XQuery, etc.), was disrupted by the advent of JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). JSON had already been around for nearly a decade by 2010, and XML hasn’t been completely vanquished, but JSON’s growth during the last decade has led to some major information architecture disruption.

  • The integrated work and personal tools I described in 2010 did not, for a variety of reasons, come to fruition. Apple’s Messages and FaceTime apps are popular for people using Apple devices outside of work, for example, but they often aren’t practical in the mixed-platform enterprise world. Microsoft Teams was another surprise in this context, rushed to market in late 2016 to compete with Slack and still mostly limited, by mid-2020, to intra-enterprise 3C needs.

  • The “software + services shift” described in the 2010 presentation was also disruptive. While Google G Suite has been a cloud-based offering from the start, it took Microsoft many years to transition from the basic Exchange Online and SharePoint Online services in its early BPOS suite to its current Microsoft 365 product family. In the meantime, startups such as Basecamp, Slack, and Trello leveraged the “mobile-first, cloud-first” transition to build large customer communities.

Tumultuous Titanic Transitions

Turning to a review of the 3C product portfolios of the vendors highlighted in the 2010 TUG presentation, I’ll follow the same sequence (IBM, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, and Cisco) and briefly address some of today’s market leaders that likely weren’t on the 2010 enterprise short list (or didn’t exist then).

IBM had an exceptionally difficult decade. Its overall business was severely challenged, especially by the enterprise shift to cloud platforms. IBM was unable to make cloud data center investments at the level required to compete with Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, and it also couldn’t sustain its historical investments in its 3C product families.

The IBM Notes/Domino installed base has been a primary migration target for Microsoft and Google for many years, especially for enterprise messaging, and IBM’s 3C platforms based on WebSphere and its cloud acquisitions and ports, the company’s big 3C bets in 2010, failed to build market momentum. IBM attempted to leverage the activity stream model with IBM Verse (with, inevitably, Watson-powered “cognitive bots”), and expanded into human capital management and other collaboration-centric market segments, but those initiatives were also generally unsuccessful.

IBM quietly sold nearly all its 3C products to HCL in 2019. Many enterprises worldwide still use Notes/Domino, Sametime, Connections, and other former IBM 3C products, and it’s possible HCL will be able to at least slow migrations from the products by investing in the former IBM products that still have unique capabilities (e.g., Notes for 3C app development), but it’s unlikely IBM’s former 3C product lines will amount to more than an installed-base play at this point. Incidentally, IBM is also one of Slack’s biggest customers today.

Microsoft’s 3C journey has also been a bit bumpy over the last ten years, but it has been far more responsive to changing market conditions than IBM was, and it had the financial resources to make massive cloud platform investments that IBM couldn’t match. Microsoft’s 3C success required a few strategic acquisitions and a lot of enterprise customer patience, but it is now in a strong enterprise 3C market leadership position.

SharePoint’s shrinking role was one of the biggest changes in Microsoft’s 3C portfolio since 2010. At that time, SharePoint was Microsoft’s primary focus for collaboration and content, but its .NET-based architecture and server-generated user experience model (which generally felt a lot like a circa 1996 intranet platform) made it difficult for Microsoft to keep up with faster-moving competitors, and the company made several major acquisitions (e.g., Skype in 2011 and Yammer in 2012) in attempts to address changing enterprise customer needs. SharePoint in many ways now resembles Lotus Notes: both were enterprise 3C leaders (starting more than a decade apart) with large installed bases and partner communities, but generally lacking enthusiastic end users.

SharePoint was relegated to more of a supporting role by the time of the 2015 Microsoft Ignite conference, coincident with the launch of Office 365 Groups and with emphasis on newer Office apps such as Delve, but the SharePoint customer and partner communities remained committed, and a year later, at the 2016 Ignite conference, SharePoint was again back at the center of the Microsoft collaboration and content strategy.

A mere five weeks after the 2016 Ignite conference, however, Microsoft essentially threw away some SharePoint-centric parts of its 2016 Ignite script with the surprising introduction of Microsoft Teams, which became known as Microsoft’s “Slack killer.” Teams, which builds on services spread across Azure, Exchange, and OneDrive, and SharePoint, has since become very popular. The legacy SharePoint app developer community also continues, but even Microsoft’s 3C-centric tools strategy has been disrupted, with a shift to Power Automate (originally named Flow) and Power Apps.

Google also had a bit of a bumpy enterprise 3C experience during the last ten years. There had been longstanding questions about the extent to which G Suite was considered a hobby to Google’s leadership team, with the Google consumer platform app/service teams periodically throwing code over a Googleplex wall to be extended for enterprise deployments, a perspective reinforced by Google’s relatively small investments in enterprise customer support programs.

Like IBM, Google also had more strategic business challenges to address, especially Facebook’s rapid growth in the digital advertising domain. Google attempted to directly challenge Facebook with Google+, launched in mid-2011, and had high hopes for its consumer-oriented collaboration potential (which would subsequently be added to G Suite), but Google+ failed to disrupt the social networking domain and was shut down in 2019. The enterprise version of Google+ was scaled back and rebranded as Google Currents.

With Google appearing a bit ambivalent about its G Suite business and Microsoft hitting its stride with Office 365 (later renamed Microsoft 365), Microsoft was able to regain some competitive ground lost to Google earlier in the decade. In late 2018, however, Google hired Thomas Kurian, a seasoned enterprise software leader with more than twenty years of experience at Oracle, to lead its Google Cloud and G Suite businesses, and Kurian in turn hired Javier Soltero to lead the G Suite business.

Soltero was previously a Microsoft Office Corporate VP, having joined Microsoft when the company acquired Acompli (of which Soltero was co-founder and CEO) to create Outlook Mobile. Soltero recently introduced a new and streamlined version of Gmail, consolidating a range of communication and collaboration capabilities (mail, chat, rooms, and meetings) in a streamlined user experience.

Overall, despite some detours and missteps over the years, Google now appears to be poised for resurgence in the enterprise 3C market. A lot is riding on G Suite’s success, in part because every Microsoft 365 customer is also an Azure customer, making it more difficult for Google to build enterprise momentum for Google Cloud.

Oracle and Cisco, the last two “titans” highlighted in my 2010 TUG presentation, both had experiences more like IBM’s than Microsoft’s or Google’s. Oracle Beehive failed to build significant customer momentum, and Oracle’s enterprise customers today are likely to be far more interested in integrating Oracle’s app suites with Microsoft Teams or Slack than they are in using any 3C Oracle products.

Cisco had an even more difficult decade. Rather than expanding its real-time communications and WebEx web conferencing businesses into a full suite of 3C apps and services, as it hoped to do in 2010, Cisco is now facing unprecedented competitive challenges from a group of former WebEx executives who left Cisco in 2011 to create Zoom. By early September 2020, Zoom, accelerated by the abrupt shift to people working and learning from home triggered by the 2020 pandemic, was worth more than $107B (at that time approximately 62% of Cisco’s market cap, and closer to 97% of IBM’s market cap).

Some Enterprise 3C Disruptors

If I were to present a similar enterprise 3C “titan” presentation today, Atlassian would follow Microsoft, Google, and Slack, in terms of overall enterprise 3C importance. Founded in Australia in 2002, Atlassian started with Jira, a project- and issue-tracking app that has been broadly successful with development teams and has been expanded into other business domains (such as general-purpose project management).

In addition to Jira, Atlassian became a leading wiki platform competitor with its Confluence platform, introduced in 2004, and Confluence has remained a popular collaboration and content solution while other early commercial wiki platform vendors (e.g., CubeTree, JotSpot, and Socialtext) were acquired and subsumed into broader product suites. Tangentially, the hype-to-reality index on wikis got so far out of control during the “enterprise 2.0” marketing wave that Atlassian doesn’t promote Confluence as a wiki platform at this point; you won’t find a single instance of the word “wiki” on the Confluence product overview page.

Atlassian was also an early enterprise chat competitor with HipChat, and later launched Stride, a more advanced Slack competitor, but subsequently opted for a strategic partnership with (and investment in) Slack in 2018 and retired its own chat products.

Atlassian also acquired Trello in 2017, expanding its project and task management portfolio. Overall, while Atlassian has generally been a somewhat quiet, engineering-driven company, foregoing aggressive marketing campaigns, it had grown to become a more than $45B public company by early September 2020, and its Slack partnership is highly complementary.

Slack, of course, was arguably the biggest 3C disruptor of the last ten years. In hindsight, it might seem improbable that Slack was able to transform a reimplementation of IRC (including IRC-style bots), admittedly with modern mobile apps, a globally scalable architecture on AWS, and a vibrant community of integration partners, into an enterprise 3C leadership role. Slack was broadly deployed by the time Microsoft introduced Teams in late 2016, however, and its approximately $17.5B market cap, by early September 2020, provided the company with a lot of leverage for expansion.

Salesforce is another major enterprise vendor with a strong 3C value proposition. Its 2016 acquisition of Quip provided a modern productivity app foundation in which Salesforce can integrate its line-of-business app suite with streamlined and hypertext-based contextual activities.

Zoom is also well-positioned as a future enterprise 3C titan, of course. While it’s currently considered primarily a web conferencing vendor, Zoom has some significant market expansion opportunities and a phenomenal amount of financial leverage.

As a final titan-level vendor note, Amazon has been primarily mentioned in reference to AWS so far in this post, but Amazon also has a variety of 3C offerings including Amazon Chime for voice and video meetings, Amazon WorkDocs for file storage and sharing, and Amazon WorkMail for enterprise messaging. Amazon Honeycode, for no-code and database-driven mobile and web app development, was introduced in mid-2020 and has some 3C potential, but its launch does not appear to have garnered much enterprise interest so far.

Amazon also faces a classic “co-opetition” conundrum, however, in that most of the 3C apps/services not currently controlled by Facebook, Google, or Microsoft are likely to be hosted on AWS. With its financial leverage, Amazon could seek to acquire leading vendors such as Airtable, Atlassian, Box, Dropbox (which launched on AWS but later migrated to a private data center network), and/or Slack, but AWS leadership may assume the revenues AWS earns by hosting many 3C market leaders and its vibrant ecosystem of 3C partners comprise a better strategic bet. At this point, in any case, Amazon is not, directly, a strong enterprise 3C competitor.

Traction: Still the Collaborative Hypertext Journaling System Pioneer

A decade after my 2010 TUG presentation, I continue to believe Traction TeamPage best exemplifies the hypertext 3C potential that industry legends including Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and Andy van Dam envisioned more than fifty years ago. While the enterprise 3C titans have been constantly disrupting their customers and partners with major changes to their product lines over the years, Traction’s team has remained focused on a consistent vision that’s delivered by its robust (and patented) collaborative hypertext journaling system architecture.

Although Traction is still a relatively small vendor, its sustained focus on substantive customer solutions and ongoing refinement of its platform make it a vendor to consider for all organizations seeking to benefit from the transition to the types of contextual activities that remain central to the overall 3C value proposition.


Clash of the Titans - Peter O'Kelly at TUG 2010

August 31, 2020 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageI'm happy to present a transcript and quotes from Peter O'Kelly's TUG 2010 talk Communication / Collaboration / Content Competition, "Co-opetition," and Culture: Opportunities for Traction Software and its Customer Community. Or, as I'll call it here Clash of the Titans. Peter draws on his career as Lotus Notes product manager at Lotus Development Corporation and IBM, IBM Director of Business Development, Groove Networks product manager, MacroMedia vice president of strategy, Microsoft Solutions Architect, and senior analyst or director with the Patricia Seybold Group, the Burton Group, and O'Kelly Associates - see Peter's LinkedIn page and personal blog. I asked Peter to write a 'Where are they now' follow up post, and he cheerfully agreed! Look for it here next week.

Peter's TUG 2010 talk was based on both his experience and his lively interest in hypertext and compound/interactive document models. In 2006, Peter wrote:

"Hypertext is simply a better form-follows function fit (than print-centric approaches) for the way people actually think and work. Compound documents facilitate focusing more on information work than on disparate technologies and tools, and foster more effective content management. Interactive document models are used to automatically and unobtrusively offer supplemental resources and actions in context, providing opportunities to more effectively leverage tools and metadata without disruptive context shifts."

In his TUG 2010 talk, Peter outlines a 25 year view on what he calls a 3C framework: Communication, Collaboration, and Content.


Using this 3C framework, Peter analyzes the history and culture of competing titans: Lotus / IBM, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, and Cisco - and where Traction TeamPage fits.

Peter O'Kelly 1:54 I'm going to talk about the Battle of the Titans that's going on right now because there's a very intense platform versus focused or best of breed, player kind of battle going on right now. Then I'll talk about where I see Traction fitting in and talk about a few cultural considerations. It's interesting for me, especially having been involved with Notes going back to the late 1980s. It's interesting to hear, these are perennial challenges, the sorts of things we've been discussing this morning.

Peter O'Kelly 2:22 So I'll try and share some good news. And again, bad news on that. And then discussion, my guess is we're going to run a little bit short on time because we're going to be hungry. So for discussion, I'm going to be around through lunch through the clambake tonight and also be around tomorrow afternoon because things they want to go into more detail on.

Peter O'Kelly 2:38 So: a very brief history of 3C. See the crux of this slide is this stuff's not new. People have been doing this for a long time. It's sort of good once in a while to stand back and say, really, why are we doing this, what we're doing this in order to get things done, we can get very creative about definitions of words like communication, collaboration and content, but ultimately the measure of this has to be 'Is it useful for getting work done?' Does it help people work together more effectively, as we've discussed this morning. From my view content, it's interesting if you do look up things in the dictionary once in a while I consider it procrasti-research to go out and check them...

Peter O'Kelly 3:52 It's a lot easier these days because people understand as you mentioned, you should do this you may be on your way to Guantanamo or you might just be unemployed. You know, you don't want to be the one who has problems with information, governments regulatory compliance. And again, everybody is just incredibly burdened for effective time and attention management, both at work and in things we do outside of work as well. So with that, one of the things are just again on a brief history on this tip of the hat to Vannevar Bush - some people say Vannevar Bush - as well. I'm sure many of you have been in the Traction community for a long time understand 65 years ago, in July 1945 there was this seminal article in The Atlantic Monthly ‘As We May Think’ there's a link behind this you can go look at as well if you want to check it out. I'm pretty sure he was from another planet because he was so prescient on what he was able to deliver he in turn influenced Doug Engelbart and it just kind of went from there with Andy van Dam, Alan Kay a bunch of others.

Peter O'Kelly 4:51 It's we've been doing this for a while. Another one that's kind of interesting is with Plato, which doesn't get a lot of air play in this. The Plato group had it 50th anniversary as well, and Ray Ozzie's down there. So Plato begat Plato Notes, VAX Notes, Lotus Notes other things, again, you see a very long term history of this. And it was interesting, then a couple of points this morning, the idea of conceptual models or using models of working with these things have has come up. And I think the products that have lasted the longest, the ones that have been most influential are ones that had a really clear sense of what they were trying to accomplish. And I'll come back to that later on in a comment about Traction.

Peter O'Kelly 5:32 One of the things that's kind of challenging about this space is marketing people tend to get very creative. So for some vendors, everything is about communication. Collaboration is a subset of communication, Eg Cisco thinks everything's about communication. For others, communication is a subset of collaboration, very squishy, and you're using common names and synonyms and not being clear on it. So one of the things I found is useful is to start with just a vendor and product independent framework that says, what are we talking about and how these pieces fit together.

Peter O'Kelly 6:00 Very briefly communication is just about the transmission of information from point A to point B. That's it usually comes in different communication channels, items and channels. Collaboration is joint purposeful work. It usually happens in workspaces with shared artifacts. Everybody gets it that communication is that is asynchronous communication. emails, the biggest one there I'd argue are blogs, and some NNTP or Usenet style discussion forums are also communication channels. Most people understand real time or synchronous communication is dominated by telephony and instant messaging, web conferencing for synchronous collaboration, most people understand that probably at least participated in web conferences and things like Live Meeting, and WebEx.

Peter O'Kelly 6:44 But this last one, which is central to what we're talking about today, is the asynchronous collaboration. That's sort of the wild frontier for a lot of people still so you've got document libraries, lists, wikis, workspace based discussion forums, I think that's the one that's least mature in the market right now.

Peter O'Kelly 7:00 It also turns out to be one that has an incredible return on investment if you play it well. So I'm just putting this framework up here, because I'm going to come back in a couple minutes and talk about IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Google, and we are going to eat lunch at about 12:30!

What about Traction TeamPage?


See the live live transcript, video and slides from Peter's TUG 2010 talk below for an insider's story of a competitive market in flux. At that time IBM alone had a long list of competing models and product families - Notes Domino? Quick Place? Quicker on Domino? Quicker on WebSphere? SameTime? which SameTime? Workplace? OutBlaze? Lotus Slide iNotes? Web Dialogs? "So if you're an administrator, an end user, an architect working on applications, you have a lot of opportunity to learn different things, I guess."

Other titans were similarly riding off madly in all directions. Do you remember Google Buzz? Google Wave? Oracle Beehive? Microsoft Lync? Cisco Quad? Peter does! Look for Peter’s ‘Where are they now?’ follow up which he’ll post here next week.

Peter O'Kelly TUG 2010 transcript

Peter O'Kelly TUG 2010 video

See also


More Observable Work - Transcribing Jim McGee's TUG 2010 Keynote

July 22, 2020 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageWorking from home like much of the world, I thought it would be a good time to try out a new tool to transcribe Jim McGee's Doing and Managing Knowledge Work TUG 2010 keynote. The 2010 Traction User Group theme was Observable Work, with Jim's opening keynote, a closing keynote by Jon Udell, and a four hour Observable Workshop moderated by Jon on the last morning of the meeting, see 12-15 Oct 2010 | Fifth Annual Traction User Group Meeting, TUG 2010 Newport

Jim and Jon spun out the value of 'observable work' in blog posts from 2002 through 2010. In 2002, Jim wrote:

"One thing that differentiates knowledge work today from other craft work is that, except for final product, knowledge work is essentially invisible. All the important stuff takes place inside knowledge workers's heads. This has not always been true of knowledge work and need not be true...

One unintended consequence of today's technology environment is to make the process of knowledge work less visible just when we need it to be more so. The end products of knowledge work are already highly refined abstractions; a financial analysis, project plan, consulting report, or article. Today, the evolution from germ of an idea through intermediate representations and false starts to finished product exists, if at all, as a series of morphing digital representations and ephemeral feedback interactions."

In 2010 Jon wrote:

"In the pre-industrial era, education and work were: Observable, connected
In the post-industrial era, they are: Non-observable, disconnected"

I don’t think the notion of visible work or observable work is new: mentoring, apprenticeship, and letting trusted folk watch, learn and use what they see on their own is how law, medicine and other professions were originally taught and refined as collaborative practices - and it's still so today. But as Jim points out, we've lost some of the habits of observable work - to some degree intentionally, to some degree due to blinders added by the tools we've grown comfortable using.

I believe that principles of open, observable work – like open book financial reporting to employees – is a simple and powerful principle that people at every level of an organization can become comfortable using. In my opinion, wider adoption of observable work principles can succeed with support and encouragement from true leaders at every level of an organization, as Peter Drucker defines that role: "A manager's task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weakness irrelevant—and that applies fully as much to the manager's boss as it applies to the manager's subordinates."

Jim's opening keynote set the stage

Jim McGee 18:14
I had an insight many years ago when I was trying to understand why it was that we weren't seeing take up of the system, the knowledge management systems we were deploying. What was, why weren't we getting knowledge sharing? Why wasn't it happening? And what I realized in the shower one morning, where all best ideas occur, I got it. I knew who the lazy SOB was, wasn't doing the share. It was me six months ago.

Jim McGee 18:49
I wasn't sharing with myself. I wasn't paying attention to what I needed to do when I did it. And so I couldn't I couldn't find my own work. And I can't find In my own work and on the other knowledge workers in your organization can't find their own work.

Jim McGee 19:27
And the sharing takes places, the sharing if you look at the social dimension of knowledge sharing in most organizations, it all starts with a conversation or a phone call. You never find anything useful going directly into the knowledge management system. Never. You always find something useful talking to someone who will point you to - and we keep thinking of that as a bug, not a feature.

Jim McGee 19:59
But that's really the only way it's going to work.

Jim used a two dimensional diagram to show artifacts of work, with individual to socially constructed artifacts shown vertically, and informal to formally structured artifacts shown on the horizontal axis. In broad categories he talked about 'Ideas and Notions' on the left, 'Working Papers' in the center, and 'Deliverables' on the right.


Jim McGee 31:13
So if you get if you get too focused on deliverables you lose sight of what sort of what comes after the deliverable, which is the decision or the action. So, but you start with deliverables and you start making you start tracking and you keep you pay attention.

Jim McGee 31:28
But the next piece is then you move back to a concept that I learned back in my days when I had to work in an auditing firm. I was a consultant, but it was it was Arthur Andersen and they wanted all of us to pretend that we knew something about auditing. I actually had to go into a vault once and literally count stock certificates and bond certificates as part of an audit.

Jim McGee 32:05
But one of the brilliant things that auditors did is they created this notion of working papers. They were all paper that but you know all of the documents and memos in the in the intermediate products that they worked with along the way to get to the... Cause the deliverable for an auditor was it was a two page letter. Right?

Jim McGee 32:27
And in fact, 90% of that two page letter was strict boilerplate. So what they needed to do in order to justify it to themselves and to their clients, but they needed to, they needed to be able to demonstrate what work had gone into creating a deliverable. We reviewed this many accounts, we sent these letters out to, you know, shareholders, we did X we did Y we ran this analysis, we found that and so this notion of working papers is a useful one to recover and to think in terms of as you do the work work you're doing is to think in terms of the intermediate products because the intermediate products are the ones where real reuse is going to be possible...

Jim McGee 33:42
Okay, now I got to source the data differently, but the analytic piece still holds. Now if it's buried in a deliverable I can't I can't find it. So you know, I can I you know, what, what you'll do if you're if your knowledge system is only working with deliverables is you go in, you open up a bunch of deliverables and you skim through it, you look for the graph, and then you try, then you hope you can find the particular analyst who did the work.

Jim McGee 34:10
Because, you know, damn well the partner doesn't understand what went into the analysis and track that individual down and say, you know, Mary, what, how was it that you did that? Right? And what was the creative? So, you know, I think the next piece of this, you know, to attack is going after work again, creating those intermediate objects and making those visible with tags, nothing, nothing exotic

.Jim McGee 34:39
You just, you want to be able to find them when you need them. And give a little bit of thought to that. And eventually, you know, I think we're gonna get back to capturing scraps of ideas and notions and whatnot. I saw over there. I Oh, and I always have paper on, you know, little notebook in my pocket, just because you I'm old enough, if I don't capture it, if that idea comes, it's going in a hurry. If I don't get it as it goes by, it's never coming back.

Jim McGee 35:15
And so you do those and then and then the other thing that I've learned with you that you then have to write it down a second time. If to take a little note and you have to read the note and reconstruct what you were thinking when you wrote the note. Right? And if you do that within 24 hours that usually works. If you wait 48 hours, it's -- I can't actually I can't read my handwriting after about 72 hours.

Traditional notes and working papers have been limited to textual documents or playable media files. The content of live conversations and meetings have either been lost, or locked in a playable audio or video file that's easy to listen to or watch again, but difficult to skim quickly, search, or quote. Transcription of personal dictation or meetings has long been expensive and time consuming. With the advent of affordable machine learning technology, automated transcription has become cheap (starting at free), easy, and a new part of the fabric of online life and work. Now a lot of the conversations in the course of work become more observable and useable. I decided to experiment with and Observable Work offers live interactive transcripts of Zoom meetings with an for Teams or Zoom Pro subscription. At present Otter.AI transcribes English only (It is pretty good with strong accents), but expect more languages tone added as grows.

I ran across on Twitter based on it's review in TechRadar's Best speech to text software in 2020: Free, paid and online voice recognition apps and services:

Otter is a cloud-based speech to text program especially aimed for mobile use, such as on a laptop or smartphone. The app provides real-time transcription, allowing you to search, edit, play, and organize as required.

Otter is marketed as an app specifically for meetings, interviews, and lectures, to make it easier to take rich notes. However, it is also built to work with collaboration between teams, and different speakers are assigned different speaker IDs to make it easier to understand transcriptions.

There are three different payment plans, with the basic one being free to use and aside from the features mentioned above also includes keyword summaries and a wordcloud to make it easier to find specific topic mentions. You can also organize and share, import audio and video for transcription, and provides 600 minutes of free service. [per month]

The Premium plan comes in at $8.33 per month when paid annually, and on top of existing features also includes advanced and bulk export options, the ability to sync audio from Dropbox, additional playback speeds including the ability to skip silent pauses. The Premium plan also allows for up to 6,000 minutes of speech to text. [per month]

The Teams plan comes in at $12.50 per user for a minimum of three users, and also adds two-factor authentication, user management and centralized billing, as well as user statistics, voiceprints, and live captioning.

I experimented several alternatives, including the Free tier before upgrading to the Premium plan for its longer transcripts (up to 4 hours), flexible audio and video import as well as personal note recording, custom vocabulary, and up to 6,000 minutes per month.

Image is a great audio note taking device with real time AI voice and written transcripts - cloud synchronized and shareable across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Android Apps. I particularly like the time tagged segments with AI speaker identification (needs a little training, but comes up to speed quickly). The Apps make it easy to edit a transcript to correct mistakes and split or merge segments to make the transcript more polished, but with decent quality audio, does a surprisingly good job on its own. Apps can play back the audio in synch with a highlight that moves through the transcript text at speeds ranging from .5x to 3x real time. This becomes a an enjoyable 'speed reader' style performance as well as an editing aide. If you see a mistake or stutter, click to edit the transcript and will resynch the audio and text to match. The Apps not only share transcripts across your devices, but they also allow you to invite individuals or groups to transcripts you put in folders, or even share a public link to a live transcript, see below.

Cloud based speech to text software has become a lively market, but based on its charm as a personal note taking App that spans all of my Apple devices - including Siri and my Apple watch - and its utility when importing audio or video files for transcription, is my choice for now.

Jim McGee TUG 2010 Keynote transcript

Jim McGee TUG 2010 Keynote video

See also


Enterprise 2.0 and Observable Work

I really like Jim McGee's Jun 23, 2010 blog post Managing the visibility of knowledge work. Jim makes the excellent point that "Invisibility is an accidental and little-recognized characteristic of digital knowledge work." and points back to his 2002 post Knowledge Work as Craft Work to reflect on what Jim calls a "dangerous tension between industrial frameworks and knowledge work as craft work". Early in his 2002 post McGee says:

"The Importance of visibility in craft work Almost by definition, the final product, process, and intermediate stages of craft work are visible. Consider your experiences at a glass blowing workshop or touring a silversmith's workshop. The journey from apprentice to master craftsman depends on the visibility of all aspects of craft work."

Jim continues with an exceptional analysis of what he calls "Knowledge work today as invisible craft"

"One unintended consequence of today's technology environment is to make the process of knowledge work less visible just when we need it to be more so. The end products of knowledge work are already highly refined abstractions; a financial analysis, project plan, consulting report, or article. Today, the evolution from germ of an idea through intermediate representations and false starts to finished product exists, if at all, as a series of morphing digital representations and ephemeral feedback interactions." See blog post

Two connections sprang to mind (and I didn't need a hyperlink to divert my attention - mea culpa):

1) Jon Udell's April 2009 talk at the April 2009 Open Education Conference. Udell says:

"In the pre-industrial era, education and work were: Observable, connected
In the post-industrial era, they are: Non-observable, disconnected"

Jon notes that only recently have work processes become network observable, and that this was rare in practice for all but software people. Jon speculates that software folk's norms of feedback, iterative refinement and testable outcomes seem aligned with principles of observable work - and they've become comfortable with networked technology after using the Internet for collaborative development of software and standards over many years.

2) Thomas Stewart in his book The Wealth of Knowledge (and my personal experience working on projects at the Naval Research Laboratory many years ago).

"A whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard," said Herman Melville's Ishmael; when it came to learning my job, circulating correspondence was mine. Reading my superiors' letters opened a window into how they conducted business with the world outside; I aped things more experienced colleagues did, and saw how they handled tricky situations; I copied useful addresses into my Rolodex (another antique). I learned who knew what, and that made me better at asking for advice."

I don’t think the notion of visible work or observable work is new: mentoring, apprenticeship, and letting trusted folk watch, learn and use what they see on their own is how law, medicine and other professions were originally taught and refined as collaborative practices - and it's still so today. But as Jim McGee points out, we've lost some of the habits of observable work - to some degree intentionally, to some degree due to blinders added by the tools we've grown comfortable using:

"With e-mail, word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation tools, maintaining visibility of your knowledge work (at both the individual and workgroup level) requires mindful effort. An office full of papers and books provided clues about the knowledge work process; a laptop offers few such clues. A file directory listing is pretty thin in terms of useful knowledge sharing content. In an analog process, it’s easy to discern the history and flow of work. When an executive takes a set of paper slides and rearranges them on a conference room floor, a hidden and compelling story line may be revealed. You can see, and learn from, this fresh point of experience. That’s lost when the same process occurs at a laptop keyboard at 35,000 feet. The gain in personal productivity occurs at the expense of organizational learning."

I believe that Enterprise 2.0 principles open the door to making most work observable throughout an enterprise. There are important exceptions to protect the privacy of employee medical, financial and personnel records as well as Board and other discussions which require an exceptional degree of privacy until approved for release or for a longer term. I believe that Enterprise 2.0 collaboration principles apply equally to these more private domains within the enterprise as well as domains open to most employees. With appropriate attention to security and privacy in context, most collaborative work with external stakeholders including clients, customers, suppliers can also be made observable throughout the enterprise while simultaneously respecting privacy among clients, customers, suppliers, and all internal stakeholders. (read rest of blog post for more...}

Enterprise 2.0 and Observable Work: Brian Tullis and Joe Crumpler, Burton Group Catalyst 2010 Santa Diego

Brian Tullis and Joe Crumpler did a lively talk on Enterprise 2.0 and Observable Work at the Burton Group Catalyst 2010 North America conference in San Diego. See their Abstract quoted below and the enthusiastic Twitter stream from 29 Jul 2010! Brian posted Enterprise 2.0 and Observable work slides and speaker notes, see inline Slideshare below. Sounded like a super session.

12-15 Oct 2010 | Fifth Annual Traction User Group Meeting, TUG 2010 Newport

Wed 13 Oct 2010 will feature an opening keynote by Jim McGee followed by a TeamPage update by Chris Nuzum CTO and co-founder of Traction Software, a talk by Attivio VP of Engineering Rik Tamm-Daniels, customer stories, and a closing keynote by Jon Udell. The TUG 2010 page includes a complete schedule with videos and slides from keynotes, customer talks, and the 15 Oct 2010 Observable Workshop. New: I'll post transcripts of TUG 2010 keynotes and talks over time. See More Observable Work - Transcribing Jim McGee's TUG 2010 Keynote, Clash of the Titans - Peter O'Kelly at TUG 2010.

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style

Understand how TeamPage connects people and their work. When Mr. Dithers shouts: "Bumstead! Where are we on the Acme Account?", the most timely, frequently discussed and contextually relevant version of Dagwood's Acme tasks, projects and work should pop up near the top of the result list, along with the cloud of tags and people who have touched or talked about tasks, projects and other related to the Acme account and its associated activity streams.

The important requirement is making tasks, projects, pages, discussions and other work products first class sharable, named objects that can be connected to each other and what you're working on, discussed, tagged, tasked, and navigated as well as found using search. Being able to talk about tasks and projects relating to Acme captures one important part of your interest and behavior graph (activity stream), and links these items to the names and behavior of other people working with or discussing the same objects.

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart

Like much modern thought on collaborative work, I'd trace the origins of Observable Work back much further than 2002 - to Douglas Engelbart, starting with his Augment/NLS project in 1968. In 1992, Doug described his model for work this way:

"A result of this continuous knowledge process is a dynamically evolving knowledge base as shown in Figure-7 below, consisting of three primary knowledge domains: intelligence, dialog records, and knowledge products (in this example, the design and support documents for a complex product).

Intelligence Collection: An alert project group, whether classified as an A, B, or C Activity, always keeps a watchful eye on its external environment, actively surveying, ingesting, and interacting with it. The resulting intelligence is integrated with other project knowledge on an ongoing basis to identify problems, needs, and opportunities which might require attention or action.

Dialog Records: Responding effectively to needs and opportunities involves a high degree of coordination and dialog within and across project groups. This dialog, along with resulting decisions, is integrated with other project knowledge on a continuing basis.

Knowledge Product: The resulting plans provide a comprehensive picture of the project at hand, including proposals, specifications, descriptions, work breakdown structures, milestones, time lines, staffing, facility requirements, budgets, and so on. These documents, which are iteratively and collaboratively developed, represent the knowledge products of the project team, and constitute both the current project status and a roadmap for implementation and deployment. The CODIAK process is rarely a one-shot effort. Lessons learned, as well as intelligence and dialog, must be constantly analyzed, digested, and integrated into the knowledge products throughout the life cycle of the project.

ImageFigure-7:: The CODIAK process -- collaborative, dynamic, continuous.

Figure 7 itemizes the evolving knowledge base within three categories: (1) Dialog Records: memos, status reports, meeting minutes, decision trails, design rationale, change requests, commentary, lessons learned, (2) External Intelligence: articles, books, reports, papers, conference proceedings, brochures, market surveys, industry trends, competition, supplier information, customer information, emerging technologies, new techniques (3) Knowledge Products: proposals, plans, budgets, legal contracts, milestones, time lines, design specs, product descriptions, test plans and results, open issues."

from 'Toward High-Performance Organizations: A Strategic Role for Groupware' Douglas C. Engelbart, Bootstrap Institute, June 1992 (AUGMENT,132811) see the full paper, courtesy of the Doug Engelbart Foundation.

Ineffective meetings - Here's an answer

June 11, 2020 · · Posted by Greg Sassen

Are you are a business owner, executive or senior manager? Then you’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of management meetings.

Management meetings are the heartbeat of any business and are in place to keep teams productive, accountable and focused. Meetings are the primary channel for communication and goal alignment throughout the business.

If you and your teams are dissatisfied with the quality of your meetings, then you are fortunate enough to have a giant improvement opportunity in your business, with low implementation cost and high reward.

When you think about it, the actions that come out of your meetings are the smallest unit of improvement of your business. The rate at which you and your teams close tasks is the real rate of improvement of your business. It is a measure of engagement and agility. Tasks matter.

The Pain

Your meetings hurt you? You’re not alone… Our customers vary in size and maturity. They also operate within different industries and they all experience the same issues, online or in real-life.


Invariably, meetings are essential and if they are inefficient or serve no purpose, then they carry a hidden cost to the business. Therefore we MUST refine and improve them continuously to ensure that we extract maximum value from them.

Our Customers have this to share

When asked the question, How has impi! and our technology, TeamPage, changed your meetings? This is what some of our customers had to say:

David Walker, Director at Common Architecture

"The TeamPage Meeting module gives us a dynamic way of managing actions that come out of our meetings."

Actions can be given a due date and assigned to different team members. In addition to the task title, there is also space to record more information needed to complete the meeting task.
To ensure that our meetings are purposeful, our decisions are also recorded when we log the meeting actions.
Overdue actions from previous meetings stand out so that we only review by exception. Actions that have been completed since the previous meeting are visible and are reviewed during the meeting as well.
We use TeamPage to manage our design projects as well and it is useful to be able to attach meeting actions to our various projects.
Overall, it’s a really great tool that helps us record our meetings quickly and reduces the risk of forgetting our commitments from previous meetings.

Anton Claassens, Finance Director at Conversation LAB

"We have been able to stick to the rhythm"

Since engaging with impi!, we have been reminded on the value that effective meetings deliver to businesses.
Our meetings have therefore been more regular as a result…we have been able to stick to the rhythm.
Our discipline inside our meetings has also improved by sticking to the allocated time for agenda items and moving other ‘non-agenda’ items outside of our meetings. We are keeping it focused and productive.
By using TeamPage, our task and decision management is easier during meetings and having our agenda automatically generated each time we open a session has been handy. There is no need to spend time writing minutes after the meeting, everything is captured live on TeamPage.

Thomas Cogdell, Knowledge Coordinator at Athens Group

"It used to take us 2-3 days to consolidate information for our monthly quality meetings. With TeamPage and impi! it takes us 5 minutes"

We began using TeamPage in 2009, as a document management system for Quality Management, our Industry Knowledge Base and our Training Curriculum. Essentially this served as our company Intranet.
We later added other TeamPage & impi! solutions to track, manage and document our onsite QMS activities. The Nonconformity & Corrective Action solutions are examples.
We have been able to build links into our meeting space to gain direct access to our QMS documentation and reports immediately during our meetings. We review and log comments on our reports in a liveenvironment during the meeting so we don’t need to go back and make adjustments to our reports after the meeting nor do we have to create meeting minutes. Our meetings have become more efficient since.
It used to take us 2-3 days to consolidate information for our monthly quality meetings.
With TeamPage & impi! it takes us 5 minutes.

Our Solution

Through observation and experimentation with our customers, we have identified 6 aspects that are critical to running effective meetings within your business.

In addition to these critical aspects, we also advise our customers to make use of digital platforms for their meetings. Today, there are many different tools & platforms that can be used to enhance our productivity during and between meetings. It would be a shame to not take advantage of the technology available to support our key business processes.


We, and our customers, use our technology platform, TeamPage, to support all of our key business processes including our management meetings. We have modelled our meeting module on TeamPage around these key aspects.

Together, through discipline and repetition, we have broken through our own pain barriers and have gained maximum value and enjoyment from our meetings.

Originally published on Impi! blog, see Welcome to impi! for more.

The parable of the four unfit friends

August 19, 2019 · · Posted by Pierre Bienvenüe

ImageIn this article we tell the parable of four friends and some of their life choices.

Four unfit friends make a decision for change

Amelia, Bradley, Charmelle and Dimba became friends at university and over the years kept in contact. Now in their mid-thirties they realised that time was acting against their body. Somehow, around a conversation, they agreed that they had to do something about their fitness level, waistline and change their lifestyle.

Amelia had friends, the Jones's, who had built a gym in their mansion. She thought it was a brilliant idea and since she had a spare room, she shopped around and bought herself a few fitness machines. She started to practice, but since she didn't know much about pumping iron and persistent effort she soon stopped using them and would rather show the room to visiting friends. Once a year she'd spring clean the room and get a handyman to repaint the machines before a professional would inspect them. He'd tell her that they could do with more usage and then he'd send her his bill.

Bradley superficially considered joining the gym but when he saw the annual subscription cost he told his friends: "this gym thing is quite expensive and if you can't show me an immediate return, I'm not interested". So he continued with his lifestyle thinking that life was good and he would take a chance.

Charmelle and Dimba decided to join the gym. They started to go three times a week and once a week they shared a coaching session. Since it was a good facility with good equipment, affordable and competent coaches, they kept going. After a few weeks, they realised that their energy level had increased. It felt good training. Coach advised them to adjust their diet which they did. This resulted in pleasant weight loss. After a while Charmelle felt bored and because she was going through tough time at work and a change of season at home she started to skip sessions.

Dimba kept going and joined another group at the gym who shared coaching sessions. Obviously there would be some low times when he would fall back, but since he had a clear vision for his lifestyle and fitness objectives he would pull himself together and resume regular training cycles.

Seven years later

Seven years later, Amelia sold her machines on the internet for 20% of the purchase value. She is overweight and because of that she has high blood pressure and shows early signs of Type 2 diabetes.

Bradley, well, Bradley is in Stage 2 lung cancer. Ironically he wouldn't subscribe to the gym because it was too expensive but never stopped buying cigarettes. His bad habits are killing him.

Charmelle is not too happy with her fitness level, but she occasionally attends a few classes of pilates or Zumba or anything trendy. Oftentimes she'll swap her card just to keep her membership going. She's plodding along.

Dimba ran his first half-marathon four years ago, three marathons last year and is currently training with his new friends for the Ironman in Holland this summer. He started to coach disadvantaged kids to improve their fitness and build healthy life habits and relationships.

Four unfit organisations make different strategic choices

So what does the story of Amelia, Bradley, Charmelle and Dimba mean for businesses?

Every organisation moves along a life cycle curve and in the various stages they will experience normal maturity problems but also abnormal ones that they need to manage. Top leadership level of courage, sense of reality and vision will determine if they grow a healthy and prosperous business... or not.

Amelia represents organisations that embark in ISO9001 certification for the wrong reason: their customers are demanding it. Execs in these organisations have the wrong perception of what ISO9001 really is. They see the certificate as a qualifier for engaging in commercial activities when actually ISO 9001 provides a path to prosperity. Resources and money are spent to establish the Quality Management System, they barely use it, turn their Quality Assurance personnel into policemen. They scramble once a year to repaint the system for the surveillance audit while naively thinking that the auditor won't pick up anything. A real pain. What a waste!

ISO 9001 is designed to support the drive for organisations to be profitable through sustained customer satisfaction. The framework forces the organisations to answer the three questions:

  • Tell me how you run your business;
  • show me how you run your business and;
  • if what you show me is different from what you tell me, then show me how you are improving your business..

Bradley represents Execs in organisations whose drive to change is lower than the perceived cost of change. They are dissatisfied, but not nearly enough. They don't have a long term vision nor risk-based thinking and therefore can only consider change from an accounting angle. They expect an instant return to any investment. They may think that avoiding to invest in people and processes is a sure way to improve their business. They confuse cost saving and cost cutting and forget to notice that most of their past decisions haven't yielded any sustainable improvements. Edwards Deming puts it this way: "it is not necessary to change; survival is not mandatory".

Charmelle represents the Execs in many organisations with a disconnect between the strategy and its implementation. They also fail to consider the business as a whole organism. They like the idea of pursuing operational excellence but don't have a clue on what it looks like, how to get there and the discipline it requires. So based on market conditions, tax incentives and latest management hype, they'll invest in ad hoc initiatives, a bit of lean, some training and development, leadership courses, mentoring program, motivational workshops, pieces of software. Since they don't have an integrated approach to strategy implementation, nor coordinated plan they fail to develop a culture of continuous improvement. Brian Wilson, co-founder of the Beach Boys made this amusing jest: "beware, the lollipop of mediocrity, lick it once and you'll suck for ever."

Dimba represents Execs that have established a vision for their organisation and understand the need to develop healthy leadership habits that bring about transformation. They understand the value of discipline and persistent effort. In their journey towards excellence they integrate best management practices (Quality Management), and continuous improvement practices (Lean Management). They develop their people all the time. Even in difficult times and when facing set backs, they stay the course, humbly, one small step at a time. The organisation becomes a great place to work, with loyal employees and life time customers. Prosperity.

A call for action

impi! is to organisations what the gym is to people: an enabler for transformation. Impi! is altogether a platform, sets of tools and methods, and competent coaches that provide a transformation strategy, adapted routines, sound advice based on the reality of the organisation and most importantly accountability for the execs to keep pressing on their Lean safari even during the tough times all organisations experience.

The Execs make a decision to change. impi! help them action the decision. It offers them the tools to understand better their current reality, refine a vision of their desired future and provide practical means to get there by engaging their teams who improve their processes. Dimba is in for the long haul.


Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe - founder of impi Business Improvement Solutions Pty

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo? - Discipline and creativity

Aug 2018 | TeamPage ISO 9001:2015 Solution adds integrated Risk and Improvement Project Management

impi! and TeamPage Reduce Administration of Document Control

May 3, 2019 · · Posted by Pierre Bienvenüe

ImageIn this article we build a case for using TeamPage and impi! wiki templates to save administrative time for document control and support the intent of ISO9001:2015 to distribute the responsibility of the Quality Management System to the leadership of the organisation.

In 2018, Impi Development engaged in business development talks with a manufacturing company in the Durban area. The organisation had completed the transition to the 2015 version of ISO9001. The QA manager was still managing writing of standard documentation on behalf of the other heads of department (HODs). The Durban company's document management system was still Word and Excel based. Maintenance of the document change control and register was thus still manual as was the risk register. The QA manager reckoned that document management would account to one week per month or 3 months per year of administration.

In May 2019, Pierre enquired with Liezel Eksteen, Quality Assurance (QA) manager at CounterPoint Trading ( about her workload to manage the firm's TeamPage/impi! based document management system.

CounterPoint was successfully accredited for the ISO 9001 Quality Management System in April 2019. From her past and current experience in developing and maintaining such management systems Liezel would have spent three weeks per month to build up the documentation on the ramp up to accreditation. With TeamPage/impi! her engagement was about one week per month. Maintenance of the system necessitates about 8 hours per month or five times less than that of a manual system. Liezel points to two main reasons: technological and systemic.

Technical benefit of using TeamPage.

The moderation capability allows for wider collaborative content change, but easy content control and monitoring. This means that content can be created by multiple users and yet conform to the company requirements.

The audit trail records all changes – not just edits – including tag changes, publish / draft actions. There is no need to maintain a document register; TeamPage does it for the QA function.

Systemic benefit of using impi!

The organisation of the documentation in a wiki type, access to a multitude of standard templates and the use of signature requirements makes it easy for process owners to take procedural responsibilities. The onus is now on the HODs to manage the content of their own documentation, review it and insure its relevance. This is one of several intents of the transition from the 2008 to the 2015 version of ISO9001: responsibility for the quality management system is distributed throughout the entire organisation.

So the time that Liezel saves in non-value activities that the Durban QA manager still performs manually makes up for a large share of the cost of the annual licensing for TeamPage/impi!, but is now being applied to the improvement of the quality management system in the areas of Non Conformity, risk and internal auditing.


Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe - founder of impi Business Improvement Solutions Pty

Jun 2016 | ISO 9001:2015 Requirements Met By impi! Solutions - Meeting ISO 9001:2015 requirements using the impi! model

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo? - Discipline and creativity

Dec 2016 | Business Process Improvement with impi!, Plug-in extensions, TeamPage improvements

How to create a simplified custom front page for TeamPage

December 13, 2018 · · Posted by Takashi Okutsu

ImageThe other day, I helped a Japanese IT Support company build a client support site with TeamPage.

Their main request was to make the top page ("front page") of TeamPage simple as possible to be more welcoming and prevent clients from being confused. So, I (1) put the large icons and buttons on the top page and (2) removed tabs and sidebar etc.

In this blog post, I will briefly introduce how I did the customizations using a TeamPage plug-in developed and delivered to the company.

How? Why TeamPage?

Let me introduce how TeamPage allow us to build a client support site with private and public spaces.

The structure of the support site by TeamPage

A "space" is like a "room" in a TeamPage building. An administrator is like a janitor of the building. He or she creates private rooms for clients who purchase IT support services from the company. The TeamPage server also has spaces for internal staff, and public spaces to post information shared with all clients and internal staff.

  • A client can not enter the private rooms for the other clients.
  • Internal support staff including the administrators can enter all rooms.

For example, the support requests, on-site remedy schedules, and the other articles and comments posted in the "Client A" room are allowed to be viewed by Client A only. They can not be seen by the other clients.

On the other hand, the internal staff has a high level overview of everything.

The company decided to start using TeamPage to build their support site because they had found Teampage as the best tool to manage the information security, track the latest situation for all clients, and research support records posted in the past by search.

Why We Simplify The Top Page

The top page before customization had the following interface.

  • There were 3 green buttons, "Inquiry Form for PC", "Request via Phone", and "Request via Email".
    • The buttons were embedded in an article and I put the article on the top page.
  • The blue button "Go To Members' Page" was supposed to lead a client to his/her private space.
  • The New Articles section showed the 5 newest article so that people could catch what was going on quickly on the top page.
  • The Customer Information section showed the 5 newest articles with the "Customer Information" tag so that the internal staff can take a look quickly on the top page.

Before Customization

I thought this was simple enough and sufficiently refreshing, but my customer wanted me to simplify more and more. Their requests were;

  • Let the clients understand "Go to the membership page first" and do not allow them to do other operations on the top page.
  • Add attractive graphics including a fancy character. The top page with text and buttons does not look inviting and may turn off the clients.

TeamPage has lots of links and buttons on the page. This allows people to select their favorite ways to do an operation. One of them may do something by selecting a tab in the top navigation bar and another may do the same thing by clicking a link in the sidebar.

It's designed to be flexible. However, my customer didn't like it. He said "If there are several ways to get the same goal, people may be confused to choose one. They need only one way. Remove the unnecessary links and buttons as possible from the top page so that there will be only one way to get to the members' page."

I think this might be because of the difference of the educations in the U.S. and Japan. I've heard that the kids in the U.S. are taught to be independent, have their opinions, and make decisions. On the other hand, the kids in Japan are taught to follow the others to be a part of the teams first rather than express their opinions. Interesting, isn't it?

How to customize

Okay. Now let me introduce how I simplified the top page and made my customer happy.

Hiding the unnecessary parts

First of all, I had to hide unnecessary tabs and buttons as much as possible. Please see the animation shown below. I hid the black parts.

Comparison - The black parts should be hidden

Home icon on the top-left

The "home" icon for returning to the top page is unnecessary on the top page because you are supposed to be already on the top page. I hid it by using the following stylesheet (CSS).

.view-home #loc .loc-home {
  display: none;

The stylesheet can be set on the "Design" dialog or Proteus Custom JavaScript & CSS plug-in.

Customize CSS

Setup and Invite menus

The "Setup" menu shows up only when a user logs in to TeamPage as an administrator. Since clients who post inquiries are not administrators, this menu will not be displayed. Therefore, customization is unnecessary.

The "Invite" menu shows up only when a user logs in to TeamPage with a user account with the "Invite" permission. This permission is allowed to everyone by default, so I configured the permission is allowed only to the administrators.


The tabs in the header bar is a frequently-used navigation In TeamPage. You can switch the tabs by your needs. For example, if you want to the tasks and/or projects of your team, you should select the "Tasks" tab. If you want to check the due dates of the tasks and/or your meeting schedules, you should select the "Calendar" tab.


The tabs may be unnecessary for clients who are not familiar with TeamPage, but they are convenient and powerful navigation for those who are accustomed to TeamPage (such as administrators).

So, I decided to set up "to hide the tabs for clients and display the tabs for administrators".

The plugin-in that I recently created for this purpose is Set Special Class(es) to The HTML Body Tag plug-in which checks whether a logged-in user account belongs to a specific group and adds a special class(es) to the HTML <body> tag.

I set it up to add class="is-admin" to the <body> tag if a logged-in user belongs to the administrator group.

This allows me to display the tabs to the administrators only with the following stylesheet.

body:not(.is-admin) #sect-nav {
  display: none;


Hide/Show Side Column plug-in, which is installed by default, has an option which allows users to select collapse (hide) or expand (show) the sidebar by default. All I had to do was selecting "hide by default" there.


I disabled the sections in [Server Settings] > [Front page] configuration page. It was easy.

Coloring the notification badge

The notification badge tells you the number of your notifications. You receive a notification when someone comments on your post, someone changed the status of your task, someone posts an event (a schedule) with you as an attendee, and so on.

Default badge

... but I wanted the badge to be noticeable by making its color red. The default color is lightened color of the background bar. Don't you think it is inconspicuous?

It was also easy to color the badge red. Just add the following CSS.

Red notification badge

.menu-notifications .notifications-count {
  background-color: crimson;

A Fancy Character

I asked a web designer in the IT Support company to draw an image of the top page with a fancy character. Now, how do I put it on the top page of TeamPage?

Image of the top page with a woman

TeamPage has (1) the "Embed Content" plug-in which allows me to put any HTML code in an article and (2) the "Dashboard" capability which allows me to display a specific article(s) on the top page. With the combination of the (1) and (2), I thought I could achieve the goal.

However, it turned out that there was a problem. Putting the green buttons and menus in the picture above is OK because the link target is fixed and the same for everyone but the destination of the "Members' Page" (the blue button) in the picture below must be different per client.

Go to the members' page

The "Members' Page" means "the dashboard page in the client's private space". So the blue button must navigate a user from the client "ABC Company" to the "ABC" room ("ABC" private space) and a user from the client "XYZ Company" to the "XYZ" room etc.

So I created a special small plug-in that checks the private space of a logged-in user and put the space name into the destination URL.

Each client user is supposed to have the read permission in his/her private space and some public spaces. The plug-in gets the list of the spaces where the user has the read permission and exclude the public spaces from the list.

<!--- Create a comma-separated list of the spaces where the user has the read permission,
      and put it into the "readableSpaces" variable. -->
<var.set name="readableSpaces">
    <loop.last not>,</loop.last>

<!--- Create a list of the public spaces
      and put it into the "publicSpaces" variable. -->
<var.set name="publicSpaces">Bulletin,FAQ,Forum</var.set>

<!--- Check each space in the list.
      If a space is in the public spaces list, do nothing. -->
<foreach list="${readableSpaces}">
  <compare.contains "${publicSpaces}" "__foreach.current__">
    <!--- Ignore! -->
    <!--- Draw the blue button. -->
    <a href="/traction#/dashboard&proj=__foreach.current__">Members' Page</a>

The programming language for TeamPage customization is called "SDL" (Skin Develop Language). It looks like HTML and XML. You can modify the existing behaviors and create new features just like you create a web page. If you are interested in the SDL programming, why don't you come to our support site? It's free!

After customization

Ta-da! Finally, the top page customizations are done.

The IT Support company liked the simplified face of the top page. "It is quite simple and easy to understand! Customers will not get lost any more."

Customization Completed


On the standard front page of TeamPage, you can arrange sections such as "New Articles" and "New Tasks" like a newspaper, or you can put a specific article on it like a poster.

In addition, you can change the landing page from the front page (the team-shared dashboard) to your own page.

Using JavaScript, CSS, and TeamPage's SDL programming language makes it possible to further customize.

The TeamPage plug-in architecture makes it simple to install the customization, and allows the company to install new TeamPage updates without having to re-install the plug-in.

One of the IT Support company said: "It was surprising and inspiring to me to know that TeamPage has such wonderful flexibilities and possibilities. I asked you many requests and you did never say "No, it is not supported." All our requests came to existence. Wonderful!" I was so glad to hear that!

If you are interested in customizing TeamPage, please feel free to contact us. You can learn to do this customization yourself, ask us for TeamPage SDK training and support, or ask us to design, deliver and support a plug-in extension to match what you want to do.

Related articles

Working Across Boundaries ... There's no reason to settle for a collaboration and action tracking solution that only handles internal collaboration, or assumes that everything happens in a building with glass walls and no doors. Real business value and sustainable competitive advantage often depend on working easily within and across boundaries that need to be in place to do business.

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style ... A work graph consists of the units of work (tasks, ideas, clients, goals, agenda items); information about that work (relevant conversations, files, status, metadata); how it all fits together; and then the people involved with the work (who’s responsible for what? which people need to be kept in the loop?).

お客様が迷わない!スッキリ簡潔なトップページのカスタマイズ例 Japanese language version of this blog post, on the Traction Software Japanese Business Office website. Follow @TSIJPBO on Twitter for TeamPage news from Japan!

Why, How and What of the impi Standard Meeting Plug-in for TeamPage

January 25, 2017 · · Posted by Pierre Bienvenüe

ImageThe new impi! Standard Meeting Plug-in for TeamPage enables easier, faster and more accurate minute taking for recurring meetings which agenda is standardized. It augments the impi! solution: Goal Alignment - Mini Business Units Deployment. To learn more about this plug-in and impi's Business Management System solutions built using TeamPage, please contact Traction Software.

The task is the unit of continuous improvement and the MBU meeting the delivery forum

In a Lean enterprise, the unit of continuous improvement is the task or action. It needs to be explicit and time bound. Members make themselves accountable by first agreeing on the tasks and then taking responsibility to carry them out. The best forum to review progress is the mini-business unit (MBU) meeting where accountability is achieved with transparency and simplicity. This is one of the reason why visual management is much prevalent in Companies seeking excellent processes and people. At operational level, a wall is well suited to communicate priority tasks and decisions. Together with Key Performance indicators and other succinct and essential information, the priority tasks are recorded on a board. The traditional supervisor black book is now replaced with an information medium available to all. The interval between two meetings is short (from a shift to a week) and the priority tasks are straight forward. The meeting is recurring and its agenda is standardized: there isn't a need for minute taking.

Visual management is not restricted to a wall. TeamPage provides electronic visual management

However, for MBUs where the nature of the standard meetings is more systemic or strategic, tasks become more complex and numerous. Decisions need to be recorded too. Even general information and detailed minutes can be needed. This is typical with cross-functional operational meetings, management reviews, monthly executive or sales meetings, multisite meetings where new information and intelligence are shared. An electronic solution is required. Here, the wall, board and pens are replaced with the screen, projector and computer; this is still visual management.

The Standard Meeting Plug-in leverages the capability of TeamPage for task management and contextualizing information. Our development drive has been to offer a solution that would be intuitive, easy to use and offering simple and deep ways of finding historical tasks, decisions, and minutes. Additionally the ability to see at one glance all historical decisions associated to a particular meeting profile, provides a coach insight into the chairperson management style.

The plug-in is a productivity tool and a time saver

We researched examples of minute taking templates (some of them very complex in the Quality Assurance domain) and observed for two years the habits at CounterPoint Trading our industrial partner with whom we experiment all impi! solutions. We came to the conclusion that the five following areas were sufficient to document a standard meeting:

  1. The administrative information that identifies the standard meeting e.g. meeting name, location, attendees, etc.
  2. The Meeting profile that describes the 4 P's (Purpose, Players, Preparation and Plan - the agenda)
  3. General Information or Detailed minutes
  4. Decisions made during the meeting
  5. Open and closed tasks from the current meeting and open tasks from past meetings.

The resulting solution allows the team to capture on the go tasks and decisions associated to the meeting profile. Past open tasks are always on the radar screen, thus reinforcing accountability. Information retrieval is immediate in the context of the meeting. The plug-in is a productivity tool and a time saver. Example of usage of the standard meeting plugin would be for management and senior management meetings, project reviews, management reviews, compliance/governance meetings, multisite meetings, etc.

CounterPoint Trading interview

Here are the first impressions on using the plug-in from the original users at CounterPoint Trading:

How does it work?

A standard meeting is defined by its 4Ps. impi! users define the detailed meeting profiles in their Knowledge Central space alternatively the 4Ps will be defined in the meeting profile article created in the relevant space.

proteus view

A standard meetings section is configured In MBU spaces (e.g. BU3 operational) or special purpose spaces (e.g. Environmental Management).

proteus view

By adding a meeting profile in the meeting section, we create a container where all the meeting minutes will be collected in sequence for that particular profile

proteus view

We can navigate from to the previous and next meeting directly from the current minutes. Also, a new meeting minutes can be created In the Meeting profile itself or alternatively from the latest meeting minutes.

proteus view

Open tasks from past meetings are shown in the current meeting minutes

proteus view

Learn More

Here is a more detailed tutorial on how to use the Standard Meeting plug-in:


Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe - founder of impi Business Improvement Solutions Pty

Jun 2016 | ISO 9001:2015 Requirements Met By impi! Solutions - Meeting ISO 9001:2015 requirements using the impi! model

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo? - Discipline and creativity

Dec 2016 | Business Process Improvement with impi!, Plug-in extensions, TeamPage improvements

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo?

July 16, 2016 · · Posted by Pierre Bienvenüe

ImageImpi is a Zulu word for any armed body of men. It also bears in English a connotation to the art of warfare. In the early part of the 19th century the Zulu nation, then a relatively small tribe rose to a prominent nation. Under the leadership of King Shaka its influence span across Southern Africa. Shaka deeply transformed the art of warfare in the sub continent drawing from traditions and innovating. Aspects of warfare covered army structure and deployment, leadership, training, agility, logistic, weaponry, etc. Shaka's organisational development and leading of his impis were characterised by discipline (standardisation) and creative improvement.

Shaka's influence in improving the impi was sustained to the point that 71 years after his death, at the battle of Isandlwana in 1879, the numerically superior Zulu impi defeated the British despite a vast disadvantage in weapons technology. "The British Army had suffered its worst defeat against an indigenous technologically vastly inferior foe." (See Wikipedia article).

Relevance to our project

impi! as a set of solutions offers a disciplined and structured approach to establishing the Business Management Systems (ISO 9001 compliant) of organisations based on continuous improvement. It relies on the transformation of individuals that become a thinking people by improving processes through discipline and creativity.

So if an organisation and its employees constitute an impi, who would be the enemy? The various risks associated to operating a business and the wasteful activities embedded in the processes are the enemy. And it goes on: the age-grade regiments are the MBUs; the Bull-Horn formation is part of the management systems; the shields are the standards used to protect; the spears are the methods used to improve (problem solving, innovation, improvement projects) i.e. atrophy the risks and eradicate problems.

Reference to Lean principles

Social Structure and Technical Structure of an organisation as per Paul Adler (1999).

A stunning observation of the evolution of the impi under King Shaka is the level of innovation and creativity stemming from the cultural traditions and the simultaneous increase in discipline. In the Lean manufacturing approach, leadership intentionally develops a thinking people on the foundation of strong structures and standards.

A common view of organisational structures is to look at discipline and creativity as the two ends of the same structural continuum. Jeffrey Liker in a footnote of the Toyota Way (2004) makes reference to Paul Adler's paper on Building Better Bureaucracies (1999). Adler's model shows that creativity (enabling Social Structure) and discipline (strong Technical Structure) are two favourable features of an empowered organisation. The Intern (2015 film) makes an interesting point in the balance between discipline and creativity (although the critics would have missed in the movie the case for enabling bureaucracies).

ImageLong before we started building the blocks (the solutions) for impi! in 2012, we wanted to lay a foundation: a dynamic model that would help understand how a customer driven company operates. Business Management Systems are constructs designed to manage knowledge. In the words of Peter Drucker, "the essence of management is to make knowledge productive". The Core Cycle is an integrated model that attempts to make the statement actionable. It consists of five interrelated factors namely: contribution, best operating practice (BOP), best improvement practice (BIP), leadership and structure, and empowerment.

Back in 2005, the author became a champion for the implementation of a continuous improvement programme. He created the ancestor of the Core Cycle as a theme to communicate the change about to happen in the organisation. It consisted in a shield representing the discipline in the organisation and a spear representing innovation or improvement. With the shield, one can defend. In the case of the organisation, this means defending a business model, people, environment, shareholder value. But an organisation that only defends systems defined in the past cannot sustain without improvement: attacking to craft a future for the organisation by continuously improving. Improvement and Discipline have been identified as success factors of the impi.

Defending with the shield; attacking with the spear.


The evolution from this picture to the Core Cycle happened over the years. The shield became the Best Operating practice (BOP) and the spear became the Business Improvement Practice (BIP).

Rooted in our values

As we develop a relationship with our clients, partners as well as a nascent Community Of Practice, we hope to strengthen our values and live by them:

  • We care relates to the protection offered by the shield. We care for others, the business model, the systems and processes, shareholder value, etc.
  • We Continuously Improve relates to the spear and carving a future for impi!, our partners and clients.
  • We Contribute by defeating the enemy: risk and waste (value addition).

Revealed in the impi! logo

ImageThe impi! logo below represents the i of impi! and the exclamation mark; continuously spinning, like Deming's wheel, the PDCA cycle. We standardise, improve and sustain, like King Shaka did with the impi.

And by the way, why an "!" at the end of impi! ?

Because the impi is powerful, compelling and exciting. Listen to Johnny Clegg, relating the battle of Isandlwana in his song impi!


Welcome to impi! - an evolutionary business improvement system for the digital era.

Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe - Concepts impi! uses to build business management systems. Convergence of Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement.

ISO 9001:2015 Requirements Met By impi! Solutions - ISO 9001:2015 requirements based on lessons learned working with one of my clients since July 2015 under the guidance of one of the contributors to the new version of the standard.

A Fabric, not a Platform

June 21, 2016 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageApple and Google are competing to build a fabric that connects everything you own and use, working outward from the globally meshed supercomputer you carry in your pocket. Both apply deep learning technology to AI assistants, and are opening up their AIs and bots to other apps, bots, and cloud services. This richly connected fabric makes bots useful and AI assistants valuable by teaching them how to identify objects you're talking about as well as understand what you want done. The same applies at work. Making this happen requires a shift from the traditional definition of a platform to a fabric which makes it possible to connect people and the actionable objects they use, in context.

Juggling Plates

First of all, work is not all done in one place. The things that people talk about and use to get work done are scattered across a handful of silos and apps. For some people it's a scary, dark forest of silos and apps, but most people rely on a handful of places to get their daily work done - and are reluctant to venture outside the places they know.

This isn't a bad thing:

  • Nothing is ever done in one place; work is intrinsically intertwingled. People will use their own smart phones and apps to route around omissions and ugly bumps that IT provides.
  • Trying to stuff all work into one big box is much, much worse: I remember the global bank whose Lotus Notes repositories spent almost all of their cycles synchronizing with each other.
  • In a competitive marketplace, progress is made in fits and starts. New apps, platforms and services are far better, cheaper and more fun to use than apps fossilized by IT for a small captive, internal audience, written and maintained by the lowest-cost outsourced bidder.
  • It's an opportunity for companies like Salesforce and others to build big service platforms to create cozy places for familiar activities, lowering friction and adding guardrails for guidance.
  • Sharing platforms like Box, Dropbox, and Google also aspire to become platforms for work, trying to convince customers and developers to choose their platform to build cozy places for specific activities.
  • But having a multitude of channels repeats the plate juggling problem if you have too many places to look when you try to get organized, see Group Chat Doesn't Suck. The Way We're Using It Sucks

How can we make work actionable?

Actionable Work

I hope you all agree that one way to make life easier for people trying to get work done together is to make their work observable. I believe it's also valuable to make work actionable - by individuals, teams, apps, bots, and AIs. Think "actionable" in the sense of actionable intelligence: "information that can be acted upon, with the further implication that actions should be taken." Think "work" in the sense of "work product" like tasks, documents, CAD files, transactions in system of record, as well as the trail of actions taken and resources used by people, apps, or bots to get work done.

In an ideal world, the information you want, things you need to work with, and people who you should talk with should be just a click - or a "Hey Siri" - away. I'll call this actionable work since it expresses a desire to make what you or others have done, used or talked about in the past usable to get work done in the future. Effortlessly findable. Easily usable. It should fall readily to hand. How close can we come to the ideal? What's needed? What stands in the way?

Objects - Documents, pages, messages, tasks, discussions, and transactions need to be findable, addressable, and usable as objects of action verbs, whether than verb is an action taken using a click, API call, message to a bot, or request to an assistant like Siri.

Context - To make work actionable, you need to implicitly or explicitly identify the context of an action's reference; context itself becomes an object of actionable work.

Although this sounds like something that only a programmer would say, think about how you reference objects in a conversation: "How are we doing on the Acme Products proposal?" A human being you work with either has a pretty good idea of what you mean in some shared context, or will ask you a question to clarify.

A good reply might be "We're waiting for Chris. He should approve it or get back with questions by Wednesday close of business". Could a bot do this? Even if you're not using a bot, could a request like "How're we doing on the Acme Products proposal?" give you a link to the relevant status and related activity rather than just a link to a document named Acme Proposal?

Software objects have addresses or names that can identify that object in the context of some open domain like the web or a closed domain like a database. Although some objects of actionable work have human sensible names, few of these names are unique. Unique names are themselves unique in a context like names in your address book, names in corporate directory, or assigned names like invoice numbers and permalinks in a system of record. Many objects of actionable work don't have human sensible names, but become addressable when a click on a screen or command like "reply" enables a software system to identify the object you want to act on.

Work Graph - Whether shown on a screen or mentioned in a relevant context, context makes objects of actionable work findable, usable, and fall readily to hand. By "fall readily to hand" I mean easily accessible to human beings who talk about related objects of work. People, bots, and AIs need to understand what humans means when they say "Send this to Jordan and see if he agrees", or "Open a trouble report on this." Building on a term coined by Justin Rosenstein, l call this representation of related people, objects and trails of actions in context a work graph.

Work like the web - You don't need to get into arguments about the world of apps versus the work of the web so long as the underlying objects you use are addressable and usable with standard W3C protocols. It doesn't matter if you use Facebook's mobile app or Facebook's web browser interface so long as both user interfaces show and use the same objects and content under the covers on the server side. You also want to: 1) identify yourself once, and use that identity consistently; 2) rely on web services to consistently grant or deny access and other permissions based on that identity; 3) rely on web services for actions, permission-aware search and navigation throughout an interoperable fabric.

We're close to this basic interoperability using nothing more than a web browser, web standards, and web addressable services. See the Internet Archive's 2016 Decentralized Web Summit and my two cents in Reinventing the Web II

A Fabric, Not a Platform

Traditionally, "platform" refers to a software product with APIs used to construct or extend applications and services, like the original version of Lotus Notes. With the advent of the web, service business like Salesforce, SAP, and others began opening up their cloud platforms to entice builders to add complementary capabilities that "work like Salesforce" etc.

Sharing services like Box and Dropbox began opening up their platforms to enable apps as well as people to share documents and handle closely related activities. Likewise Slack is building out its messaging platform, adding bot and message button extensions to use external services from within Slack, and connectors to enable sharing and other services to use Slack for messaging.

Platform wars - The fact that all of these services are available via the cloud makes a basic level of W3C-based interoperability possible, if not exactly easy or pleasant. It's plate juggling time, even for organizations that try to stuff all of their work into the same box. Customers, partners, and employees find it's even easier to use their phones and favorite services to route around what's missing or awkward to use at work. The good news: market pressures are driving platform builders to compete on their ability to connect and interoperate with complementary or competing services.

At the same time, the shift to mobile first drives adoption of bot and AI conversational interfaces since: 1) there's no room to show a long list of results or screens that look like an old fashion airplane cockpit on a mobile screen; 2) people aren't willing to put up with the clutter; 3) people feel comfortable with a conversational interface that reliably understands what they want done and asks for clarification or confirmation when appropriate. A great conversational interface requires a good way to model context, whether the conversation is driven by text messages, voice, or a sequence of screens.

I believe what's needed is a fabric for actionable work that lives over traditional cloud platforms and services. Not one big box where all the work gets done, but a thin layer of pages, messages, and trails of activity using identity and a work graph to enable people, bots, and AIs to understand what people want to do, how to find the right objects, and how to do it.

Transactional and other work done inside a system of record or a selected service platform will still be done using that platform, linked from the actionable objects in the work graph using standard W3C links or vendor API services.

For example, Traction® TeamPage offers social enterprise web capabilities (summarized below) that automatically index the content of any external web reference, and make that page an actionable object which can be discussed, tasked, tagged, and searched from within TeamPage. A simple browser plug-in or single JavaScript call planted on an application page can add a TeamPage discussion box (similar to Disqus) and tasks to web pages representing orders, CAD designs, and other objects in an external system of record.

TeamPage permissions make it easy to define who can see and use actionable objects, expressed in the context of a business activity like Quality Management. Customers, partners and employees build a shared fabric of actionable work, relying on TeamPage to clip references to related work that's more private than they're permitted to see.

The work graph and its actionable objects are the right resources for bots and AI's to learn how to make what you care about effortlessly findable, easily usable, and accessible to bots and AI's you trust. Hey Siri - how're we doing on the Acme Products proposal?


From The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style

"...A work graph consists of the units of work (tasks, ideas, clients, goals, agenda items); information about that work (relevant conversations, files, status, metadata); how it all fits together; and then the people involved with the work (who’s responsible for what? which people need to be kept in the loop?).

The upshot of the latter data structure is having all the information we need when we need it. Where the enterprise social graph requires blasting a whole team with messages like “Hey, has anyone started working on this yet?”, we can just query the work graph and efficiently find out exactly who’s working on that task and how much progress they’ve made. Where the enterprise social graph model depends on serendipity, the work graph model routes information with purpose: towards driving projects to conclusions." Justin Rosenstein, Wired 9 Oct 2013

TeamPage Work Graph

TeamPage watches what you do, and automatically maintains two-way links and relationships as you edit, keeping an accurate version history of everything so you can easily see what changed, when, and who did what.

TeamPage's work graph automatically connects articles, comments, status messages, tasks, milestones, projects, links, shared references, and relationships stored in TeamPage to the TeamPage profile of the person who created, edited or tagged the work, along with a time stamp for the action.

This concept of a work graph is helpful in describing what TeamPage automatically creates and maintains as you work.

But what counts is how TeamPage uses its work graph model to cut clutter, make it much easier to work with people anywhere inside or outside your organization, and make files and records already in IT systems easily accessible to get work done.

The same work graph information is organized and presented two different ways: by person, or by unit of work. This enables TeamPage to show activity feeds, dashboards and calendars of people, linked to the work they created or edited, as well as activity feeds, dashboards, and calendars for specific tasks, projects, and spaces where many people work together.

Working with external and internal teams - use permission rules to clip what the work graph lets you see

TeamPage's work graph model includes permissioned access that automatically clips content to show just those work items, relationships, and search results each person is allowed to read.

This makes it simple to use TeamPage for work that can cross boundaries, linking customers, suppliers, partners and internal teams with different permissions to different business activities on the same TeamPage server.

TeamPages' work graph model allows you to put a private comment (or task) in a more private space where it's only visible to a smaller group. For example, an internal team discussion on a customer's question.

Typically each external client has a private space (like separate clients of a law firm), and internal team members have a birds eye view across all clients and most or all internal spaces. TeamPage makes it simple to set up granular access rules for spaces based on individual names, Active Directory, LDAP, or TeamPage group membership.

Extending the work graph to content on the public Web, Intranet pages, and siloed systems of record.

TeamPage's Social Enterprise Web enables you to share, tag, task or comment on any page your browser can see on the public Web or on your private intranet. Just install TeamPage's Web browser plug-in extension for modern browsers including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

The Social Enterprise Web also lets you add a TeamPage share button (like Facebook or Google+ share buttons) or comment box (like Disqus) to any public or intranet Web page your organization controls. Comments are stored in TeamPage , and link back to the external Web page, which is treated as part of the TeamPage work graph.

As a bonus, the content of a page linked to TeamPage with the browser plug-in, share button, or comment box is automatically indexed for TeamPage search and drill down navigation.

The Social Enterprise Web makes pages on the public Web or your organization's intranet simple to see, share, find and connect to TeamPage tasks. A task or question on an internal purchase order page can tracked and used part of TeamPage's work graph without complicated or expensive custom integration.

For example, add a TeamPage comment box to an Purchase order page in a Web based ERP system by adding a JavaScript snippet, and see something like this:

You can then search, share, task, tag or comment on any work item in these external systems, making live external transactions part of your TeamPage work graph, including integrated TeamPage and external content analysis, search and navigation.


Reinventing the Web II (2014) Why isn't the Web a reliable and useful long term store for the links and content people independently create? What can we do to fix that? Who benefits from creating spaces with stable, permanently addressable content? Who pays? What incentives can make Web scale permanent, stable content with reliable bidirectional links and other goodies as common and useful as Web search over the entire flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web? Includes links to the 2016 Internet Archive Decentralized Web Summit and other resources.

Continuity and Intertwingled Work (2014) A level above an Internet of Things: Apple aims to deliver a seamless fabric spanning what's in your phone, tablet, car, and home, for you, your family, and trusted services at work.

Google::Apple is the new Microsoft::Apple (2016) A two player race between the most valuable and capable enterprises on earth. "It could be ML/AI/NLP/Cloud is new OEM licensing Achilles heel, as one example? Conversely, did Android inherit ecosystem fracturing? @stevesi" "IMO only Google and Apple have a sufficiently well-connected fabric of personal information, mobile platform, apps. @roundtrip'' An annotated Twitter conversation with links to Google and Apple fabric references.

Contextual Computing At Work (2013) Peter Morrison argues that the future or work isn't mobile, it's contextual: "Always-present computers, able to sense the objective and subjective aspects of a given situation, will augment our ability to perceive and act in the moment based on where we are, who we’re with, and our past experiences. These are our sixth, seventh, and eighth senses."

Intertwingled Work (2010) No one Web service or collection of Web servers contain everything people need, but we get along using search and creative services that link content across wildly different sources. The same principle applies when you want to link and work across widely diverse siloed systems of record and transactional databases.

Enterprise 2.0 and Observable Work (2010) Jim McGee wrote: "One unintended consequence of today's technology environment is to make the process of knowledge work less visible just when we need it to be more so. The end products of knowledge work are already highly refined abstractions; a financial analysis, project plan, consulting report, or article. Today, the evolution from germ of an idea through intermediate representations and false starts to finished product exists, if at all, as a series of morphing digital representations and ephemeral feedback interactions." We need to make work observable.

Introducing impi! - Pierre Bienvenüe

May 28, 2016 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageI'm happy to introduce Pierre Bienvenüe, founder of impi Business Improvement Solutions Pty, a South African business improvement firm and TeamPage solution partner since 2012. Pierre has great experience in helping mid-size companies organize and run effective quality improvement programmes. impi! works with clients as partners from concept definition, initial rollout, through improvement of the quality program itself. Pierre has worked with Traction Software and clients to develop templates, plug-in extensions, and a methodology for using TeamPage to support the impi! business improvement model, with solid results to report. This post is an introduction. You'll hear more from Pierre as an expert guest blogger on this page, in Traction Software's TeamPage customer forums (free registration), and across the web.

Pierre Bienvenüe writes: Since 2012, the trigger to develop impi! was primarily the realisation that mid-size companies couldn’t afford quality improvement programmes à la TRACC, 20-Keys, Mission Directed Workteam or BMGI offering. Furthermore, they didn’t want an improvement programme but needed a business management system (BMS). Something that would outlive the consultant… (btw they didn't want training either, but coaching.)

Additionally, for a few years now we have experienced the convergence of Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement. The latter becoming the enabler of the former. Since July 2015, I've had the privilege to contribute to the ISO 9001:2015 implementation at one of my clients (my official guinea pig!) under the guidance of one of the contributors to the new version of the standard. impi! has proven itself to be a solid and flexible platform to work through the implementation and manage the required documentation. As a result, the current impi! solutions are supportive of the new standard.

Why choosing mid-size companies? Their systems are usually less mature than that of large corporations and therefore, the implementation of an IT system underpinning the BMS wouldn’t usually clash with legacy systems. Also, most importantly, top management in mid-size organisations are more likely to get their hands dirty coaching the teams (changing the nappies) rather than the consultant-nanny who too often ends up raising the kids by implementing the programme bottom-up (which always fails in my experience).

A few concepts to build a business management system

impi! is applying the Lean tools and techniques other programmes offer (and probably not as well due to my limited experience and resources to develop the content). However, there are a few concepts, possibly original, that I’d like to share with you:

1. Integration of document management and improvement, blurring the lines between creativity and discipline, short term operation and long term systemic improvement.

The question here is how to ensure that improvement results in standardisation and standardisation in sustainability. There is always a tension between moving fast in improving and taking time to properly document, train and even audit.

Another tension exists between the daily operation (immediate) and its systemic improvement (essential). Here, a footnote on the Toyota Way led me to Paul Adler's article: “Building better bureaucracies” (see also attachment) on enabling vs coercive structures. And gave me hope that discipline and creativity should coexist in the workplace.

My response to the two challenges is:

  1. A dynamic business model, the Core Cycle, summarised by Drucker definition of management: “the essence of management is to make knowledge productive”. This model helps me to have an integrated view on how a business operates and therefore develop interlocking solutions to build its BMS. I attach a presentation of the Core Cycle, a subset of the foundation course I train my clients with;
  2. A technology (social media for companies: TeamPage) as an enabler of the Core Cycle that provides an integrated work environment, flexibility, ease of use and at the same time provides structure and visibility. With the technology we can have knowledge workers and even supervisors to collaborate, share, task, project manage, create and manage documents, etc.

I experimented and now understand that the technology - social media for companies (Enterprise 2.0) - and the philosophy - the Toyota half-way (see attachment) - share many principles: collaboration, transparency, accountability, emergence (pattern of improvement: pushing the knowledge threshold by doing).

2. Management needs to become a routine, implementing a routine is a project, starts at the top, everyone is responsible for improving the organisation. entrench the routine of change before planning to roll out at operational level. Rather than starting an improvement programme - typically with business goal alignment, we first need to build the structure for improvement.

I found that a two-weekly cycle of project review sets up a pace for the company and puts the right pressure on both top management and project leaders. I borrowed that idea from a 6-sigma project management method.

Everyone with a computer runs an improvement project (initially) related to their processes. The project leader gets some face time weekly (20 to 60 minutes) with a sponsor (the process owner = top management). Every two weeks, project leaders stand up and give an account of progress before top management using TeamPage. This is show time. Coaching and learning naturally happens. Con artists are exposed. We get to eat together. We celebrate project closure. The improvement champion (internal or external) can use that time for short training time at the point of need (e.g. what the hell is the Toyota Kata? What is a Pareto analysis, how and when to use it?). The forum is also used to get the teams to contribute to the Long Range Planning process.

Then implementation of any system is pushed through that improvement process. It is logged and managed as a project e.g. establishing standard meetings, rolling out KPIs, ISO 9001 implementation, 5S and of course improvement of business and operational processes. So we guarantee alignment to strategic objectives and make the workload of project leaders obvious.

3. Mirror the social media spaces to the actual Mini Business Units (MBUs). Harmonious mix of electronic and manual visual management

We create spaces for the systemic, strategic and selected operational mini-business units. The more the team uses the platform for its daily operation for communicating and tasking, the easier it becomes to use it for project management and documenting: it is the same platform. A bonus feature is that email traffic diminishes. Visual management (e.g. KPI tracking) is still displayed on the walls, yet in some cases is duplicated electronically. Tasking and minute taking is captured live by the team members in the relevant MBUs. Knowledge can also be created in the context of daily activities with threaded discussions. The discussions are usually informal but they are searchable and can be tasked.

4. Use the BMS to provide knowledge

Sharing of knowledge is woven into the BMS. Firstly, in the central repository of standard documentation (Best Operating Practice - BOP), secondly in the project templates themselves (e.g. DMAIC, Business Process Improvement), thirdly in the MBU spaces as described in Para 3:

  1. All impi! solutions are built on TeamPage on a wiki space and are standard documents. Every solution starts with a Policy (the why) and a Standard Operating Procedure (the how). The SOP is the hub that links all the other documents (the spokes). The templates used for these documents are the same that the client can use for their own controlled documentation in their own wiki space called “Knowledge Central”. Two outputs of every improvement projects are a) an operational improvement and b) documentation in Knowledge Central. The project templates used to run improvement projects comprise standard articles that will naturally become elements of the BOP (e.g. SIPOC, business process maps). When the project leader reaches the Control or Adjust part of the project, large chunks of the documentation would have been written. Using the capability of TeamPage simplifies the linking and tagging of documents. The organisation steadily builds its very own Wikipedia, and it’s ISO 9001 compliant. The risk of deadwood documentation is reduced: team members create their own documentation, hyperlinking contextualises the documentation and tagging and search capability ease retrieval of information.
  2. Several templates are available for improvement projects (e.g. PDCA, DMAIC). With each project milestones are associated standard articles e.g. project charter, project checklist, Fishbone diagram, business process “AS IS". To each milestone there are also associated tasks. In each task is a tutorial on its own with tips and links to glossary terms, One Point Lessons (e.g. How to use a risk assessment matrix) or external reference in the public domain, e.g. Wikipedia, Lean Institute.

Finally, here is a one page summary of impi! and the synopsis of one of the three solutions that Traction and I have released thus far and are currently being used at clients.


Voilà - I hope there is enough meat here to stimulate a conversation or two.

Since I have only developed impi! thus far with my clients and for my clients, I haven't started a public website. It will be up this year. Immediately though, I will value the comments and interactions @Pierre on Traction Software's TeamPage server (free registration) or email In the meantime, gazing a last time at the horizon of this South African part of the Indian Ocean, I'm aiming down to the engine room, pondering how I am to navigate this blue ocean.


Jun 2016 | ISO 9001:2015 Requirements Met By impi! Solutions - Meeting ISO 9001:2015 requirements using the impi! model

impi! What's in the name? What's in the logo? - Discipline and creativity

Dec 2016 | Business Process Improvement with impi!, Plug-in extensions, TeamPage improvements

Why, How and What of the impi Standard Meeting Plug-in for TeamPage - A customer interview and walkthrough of one new part of the impi! BMS solution

Chris Nuzum Hyperkult XXV Video | Tripping Up Memory Lane

May 15, 2016 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageWatch this video of Chris Nuzum's Tripping Up Memory Lane talk at Hyperkult 2015, University of Lüneburg, 10 July 2015. Traction Software CTO and co-founder Chris Nuzum reviews hypertext history, his experience as a hypertext practitioner, and the core principles of Traction TeamPage.

Live video Christopher Nuzum: Tripping up Memory Lane Hyperkult XXV
Adobe Flash required for desktop Chrome or Internet Explorer 10 and earlier.


"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts |


Tripping Up Memory Lane - Chris Nuzum's written notes for his Hyperkult XXV talk.

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart - About Doug Engelbart's Journal and Traction.

Original Traction Product Proposal - Hypertext roots and evolution of Traction TeamPage.

Doug Engelbart | 85th Birthday Jan 30, 2010 - "Doug Engelbart sat under a twenty-two-foot-high video screen, "dealing lightning with both hands." At least that's the way it seemed to Chuck Thacker, a young Xerox PARC computer designer who was later shown a video of the demonstration that changed the course of the computer world."

Thought Vectors - Ted Nelson: Art not Technology - "To give up on human understanding is to give up hope, what we call in English 'a counsel of despair.' I think there is hope for much better and more powerful software designs that will give ordinary people the power over computers that they have always wanted - power with complete understanding. But that requires inspired software design, which I believe is art and not technology."

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style - The social dance of getting things done, dealing with exceptions, and staying aware of what’s going on around you

Introducing the TeamPage iOS App

May 13, 2016 · · Posted by Christopher Nuzum

I was delighted to find that our TeamPage iOS companion app was published on the App Store this morning. We've been enjoying the app for the past few months, and are excited finally to be able to share it with you.

A Simple, Useful Start

We've often thought about what we wanted in a mobile TeamPage app. Our ambition set a pretty high bar.

The app that we released today is not the app we thought we needed to build.

It's the app that we were tired of living without.

It has a simple objective: make it easy to stay in the loop when you're living your life away from your desk. So you can dash off a quick response while waiting in line for a coffee; read and respond to last night's posts on the train; or add an incoming request to your worklist before you turn off the light.

Two Views, for Two Ways of Dealing with Information


TeamPage provides dozens of ways to slice and present information: feeds and dashboards scoped to spaces, projects, and milestones; task lists; section tables; tag change and history views, cross-references and audit trails.

Desktop TeamPage, that is.

We boiled the mobile app down to two views: Notifications and Discussions.

Notifications are:

  • Low volume, focused on what you care about and what you need to know.
  • Great for responding to @mentions, seeing tasks assigned to you, following discussions you've participated in, and tracking activity on projects you own, spaces you subscribe to, and people you follow.
  • Perfect for individual contributors, engineers, and people who prefer to work with headphones on, since it keeps the level of distraction to a minimum.

Discussions are:

  • For when you want to, or need to, scan everything that's going on.
  • Perfect for analysts, support staff, and managers who need to scan for activity of interest and either jump into the conversation or follow up in detail later.

Personally, if it's been a while since I checked in, I review my notifications first, and then scan through discussions.

The list view showing notifications and discussions uses a new unread tracking capability built into TeamPage and synchronized with the iOS application to give you a snippet of the next unread message in the thread, while showing you the avatar of the person who posted it.

The discussions and notifications views are ordered based on how recently the thread was active, so you only need to scan down the list until you've reached an item you've seen before to know that you're all caught up. The yellow highlight on unread items also helps with this, making it very easy to stay on top of what's new.

A New Detail View

The Desktop version of TeamPage uses nesting to visualize replies in context, which works very well for getting the big picture and for threads you haven't read.

proteus view

In the app, to facilitate catching up on the latest additions, we organize the replies chronologically, and use the unread tracking to scroll you down to the next unread reply.

iOS app detail view

We also make it easy to swipe left and right or use left and right arrows to go to the next or previous thread in the list, which makes it very easy to catch up on activity using only one hand.

Two Actions, to Put Your Mind at Rest ⋮

When it comes down to it, when something comes to your attention on your mobile device, you either can deal with it then and there, or you can't.

iOS context menu

If you just need to answer a question, you can use the Reply via Email action to type or dictate a quick reply.

If you need to come back to it later, you can add it to your Worklist, where it will show up on top when you get back to your desk.

And if you need access to the full TeamPage web interface, e.g. to assign a task to someone, you can open a browser to the current discussion by switching from the preview tab to the WWW tab.

toggle iOS vs web view

Finally, you can use the Share Sheet to share a post's URL with other iOS apps.

iOS Share Sheet

That's It

For starters, anyway. We've focused on making it fast, functional, and friendly, while laying a foundation for future features. Behind the scenes, there's a new REST API on the server side; you can learn more about that in my next post, Behind the Scenes of the iOS TeamPage App. We'll be extending that API in concert with new features for iOS and other clients.

What's Next?

We welcome your feedback, ideas, and, inevitably, bug reports. We know our 1.0 isn't perfect, and it certainly isn't complete, but we find it indispensable, and hope you will too.

Depending on how you use TeamPage, you'll probably have a different opinion about what should come next. If you use it for ISO 9000 compliance or Quality Management, you might want to be able to compose new Quality Issues with photos right from the phone (today you can email them in). If you're a Competitive Intelligence professional, you might want access to Advanced Search. If you're a project manager, you might want to edit your project's tasks, or your team members' worklists.

Please send questions and feedback to, or post in the TeamPage Forum.

Note: The TeamPage app requires a TeamPage server version 6.1.14 or later. If you're a hosted customer, you're ready to go. If you have an on-premise TeamPage server, you'll need to upgrade before you enjoy the iOS app with your TeamPage server.

If you're interested in how we built the app, stay tuned for my next post, Behind the Scenes of the iOS TeamPage App.

Daily Report 日報 = Observable Work: Takashi Okutsu

March 29, 2016 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageTakashi Okutsu of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office recently posted an update to his Daily Report TeamPage plugin. Takashi writes: "In some Japanese companies, it is common to look back what an employee did in the day, write a summary, and submit it to his/her boss. This is called "日報" (daily report or daily journal) and it's a way of sharing information between employees and bosses in the hierarchy. If you are interested in the ways of business in Japanese companies, you may find this blog post interesting." This example of Observable Work is very simple to understand and use. Quality Management and other TeamPage solutions follow the same pattern.


Takashi's plug-in adds a Daily Report form to post and edit daily reports, along with a Daily Reports tab that includes a feed view, summary table, calendar view, and optional ranking. In addition to making it simple for employees to post a daily report, each report can be discussed, emailed, searched, and used like any other TeamPage article. For example, a visit to a customer which includes a suggestion or identifies a problem can be tagged with a follow-up task pinned to the original report and person who reported it, easily tracked from start to finish.

Like other TeamPage plug-in extensions Takashi's Daily Report is packaged as a single file that can be uploaded and installed with one click. Plug-in extensions add or override TeamPage capabilities, add new tabs, views and new setup pages to configure the appearance and behavior of the plug-in. TeamPage extensions include localized resources so the same plug-in can support many different languages - Japanese and English in this example.


See Takashi's Daily Report Form post for screenshots and examples. For a free TeamPage Forum and support account click here.


Shaka, When the Walls Fell

November 22, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd


In Shaka When The Walls Fell (The Atlantic, June 18, 2014) Ian Bogost poses a challenge based on Darmok, a 1991 Star Trek New Generation episode. Star Trek's Universal Translator knows how to translate the aliens words, but it's completely useless at telling Picard what the Tamarians mean. If that's how Children of Tama communicate, how could they ever have become a starfaring civilization?

"... after hailing the alien ship upon arrival, contact with Children of Tama proves more difficult than Picard imagined:

DATHON, the Tamarian captain: Rai and Jiri at Lungha. Rai of Lowani. Lowani under two moons. Jiri of Umbaya. Umbaya of crossed roads. At Lungha. Lungha, her sky gray.

(no response from Enterprise, looks at First Officer in frustration)

(slowly, deliberately) Rai and Jiri. At Lungha.

In the Star Trek universe, a “universal translator” automatically interprets between any alien language instantly and fluently. Unlike today’s machine translation methods, the universal translator requires no previous experience with another language in order to make sense of it. Such is the case with Tamarian, at least on the surface, as the Enterprise crew is able to comprehend the basic syntax and semantics of Tamarian utterances. “The Tamarian seems to be stating the proper names of individuals and locations,” offers Data, stating the obvious. But Picard quickly sums up the problem, “Yes, but what does it all mean?”

Picard calls the Tamarian's communication model metaphor, Troy calls it image, but according to Bogost's analysis they're both wrong:

"If we pretend that “Shaka, when the walls fell” is a signifier, then its signified is not the fictional mythological character Shaka, nor the myth that contains whatever calamity caused the walls to fall, but the logic by which the situation itself came about. Tamarian language isn’t really language at all, but machinery."

Read Bogost's essay for a fascinating dive into what Bogost calls “procedural rhetoric”—the use of computational processes to depict worldly processes.

I was struck by a simpler point: If the Tamarian's communicate using shared references, this implies:

1) A shared corpus of events known by every member of the Tamarian civilization;

2) A shared means of economically denoting a particular significant event in that corpus, with little likelihood of ambiguity or error;

3) A biological, technological, or technologically augmented biological means for every Tamarian to choose the appropriate event to communicate the desired interpretation (or logic in Bogost's analysis).

This seems like a tall order, but consider that most of us now live in a civilization that assumes that no factual question need go unanswered for more than a few minutes, after poking or talking at pocket sized supercomputer screens meshed with an associatively addressable, world spanning corpus that's glued together by annoying commercials, a few giant companies, and unicorn dreams of VCs.

What Tamarian's need (or have) is a culture spanning version of Doug Engelbart's Journal, a shared, addressable record of Tamarian history and its logic. I'll toss in Vannevar Bush's Memex too, for corpus spanning associative trails, if only we knew how to build the Memex's code book.

Doug on the screen in San Francisco. Dealing lightning with both hands.


In Shaka When The Walls Fell (The Atlantic, June 18, 2014) Ian Bogost. "In one fascinating episode, Star Trek: The Next Generation traced the limits of human communication as we know it—and suggested a new, truer way of talking about the universe."

And here's what Enterprise 2.0 looked like in 1968 | Dealing lightning with both hands... "Doug Engelbart sat under a twenty-two-foot-high video screen, "dealing lightning with both hands." At least that's the way it seemed to Chuck Thacker, a young Xerox PARC computer designer who was later shown a video of the demonstration that changed the course of the computer world." from John Markoff's What the Dormouse Said.

Thought Vectors - Vannevar Bush and Dark Matter Vannevar Bush's 1945 concept of trailblazing, across the dark matter of the Internet.

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style Addressable work. ... A work graph consists of the units of work (tasks, ideas, clients, goals, agenda items); information about that work (relevant conversations, files, status, metadata); how it all fits together; and then the people involved with the work (who’s responsible for what? which people need to be kept in the loop?)

Original Traction Product Proposal

August 24, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

I hope you'll enjoy reading the original Traction Product Proposal, dated October 1997. Many early Traction concepts carried over directly to the Traction® TeamPage product first commercially released in July 2002, but we've also learned a lot since then - as you might hope! The Proposal and its Annotated References may be helpful to students interested in the history and evolution of hypertext.

Motivated by Chris Nuzum's recent Tripping Up Memory Lane talk at HyperKult 2015, and Takashi's Design Concepts followup, I'm happy to continue the Traction history theme. I've removed the Confidential markings from the Proposal, and released it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license (CC BY-NC 4.0), so you're welcome to read and use it for non-commercial purposes with attribution. Please link directly to this blog post.

Traction Software folk may make occasional blog posts referencing the Traction History project on this blog or on Twitter. Please follow @TractionTeam on Twitter, and feel free to message me as @roundtrip if you have questions.

The scribbled picture above from about the same time was my visualization of the Traction goal: To link and use anything that would cross a business person's desk using the Web as a platform, rather limiting hypertext to content stuffed inside silos like Lotus Notes.


When we introduced TeamPage in 2002, the word "blog" was often dogmatically defined as the unedited voice of a person. It was a tough slog to introduce a chronological stream of content created by a group of people rather than a single individual. The concept of an activity stream or Slack channel - a group of people talking in a shared space or channel - better captures what TeamPage does.

TeamPage extends the concept of an activity stream or channel to include:

  1. Editable entries with a full audit trail, including wiki history
  2. An extensible family of entry types (task, status, ...) and relationships (comment, ...)
  3. Dashboard and other views that collect, organize, and show entries in context
  4. A unified permission model that makes it simple to roll up entries across spaces and navigate or search by topic, context, author, or other criteria, see The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style

Clay Shirky got the concept in his 2003 review: Traction: Weblogs grow up in Social Software: A New Generation of Tools, Release 1.0 Vol 21, No. 5 (pdf). So did Jon Udell in his 2002 InfoWorld review: Getting Traction - Traction's enterprise Weblog system gets a grip on corporate KM.

"Somewhere around your 30th responses to a response to a response in Notes, you start to wonder where all this group discussion leads. Somewhere around the fifth time a document marches by with yet more groupware annotations and digital yellow stickies attached, you wonder if it is really all that wise to have all of that group editing taking place. After all, isn’t the purpose of a group to tap the greater intellect represented by all those fine thingies in the group and, once tapped, move quickly to a better decision? Shouldn’t the purpose of groupware be to build more intelligence rather than more features into the product?

While it’s useful to share documents, hold ad hoc discussions and post groupwide projects, the essence of groupware may be the ability to manage a business outcome by divining a group's thought process."

Eric Lundquist, The Next Big Thing in Groupware PC Week 1 July 1996.
Team Problem Solving from Traction Product Proposal Oct 1997 

The core Traction concept was granted US Patent 7,593,954.

The original business case for TeamPage cited project work as the most important use. We've learned that it's valuable give people a straightforward way to link action tracking, messaging, and collaborative content creation. By creating and tracking tasks that can be directly attached to TeamPage or external content, it's easy to see and stay on top of what's happening for you, by person, by channel, or in context of a specific TeamPage project.

We learned how to model permissions to extend work across many internal as well as external groups such as the clients of a consulting firm, or the suppliers and customers of a manufacturer. The TeamPage model of multiple permissioned spaces was added soon after the 1997 proposal. You can focus on any space (like a channel) as well as search and navigate across all spaces and entries you have permission to see.

By adding individual and group permissions to a space with an ACL model, internal and external groups share the same TeamPage server while seeing and participating in just the set of projects and activities that are appropriate for every individual. Comments, tasks, and tags can cross spaces - so it's simple for internal team members to have a more private discussion linked to a more public paragraph or question posted by an external customer. Streams, discussions, notifications, digests, navigation, tag clouds, and search all obey permissions defined by business rules to show you what you're interested in and have permission to see and nothing more - enforced at the core level.

Email and TeamPage has an interesting history. The 1997 proposal describes Traction as an alternative to broadcast email, but cites email as an important source for information to be be recorded and shared. An emailed Digest was one of the first features added to TeamPage based a beta customer's request. The Digest includes title links and content snippets gathered from the stream of events posted since the previous Digest was emailed. The content of each Digest is clipped to conform to what that person is permitted to see.

The Digest remains a popular features of TeamPage, later augmented by email notifications with auto threaded email replies: your reply to a TeamPage email notification is posted as a comment by you, linked at the right point in the discussion thread - requested by major consulting firm. I agree with Alan Lepofsky's point that email is one of many channels for messsages: we should flip our perspective to the stream of messages rather than the channel used to deliver each message, see Takashi's Eat your spinach post.

This combination of capabilities is particularly valuable for projects that intertwingle collaborative writing, team communication, and action tracking such as: quality management, product development, product support, consulting, and competitive intelligence. See The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style and TeamPage Solutions.

A note on links: Although some of the links in the proposal still work, many point to sites which have been moved, including Doug Engelbart references which have moved from to In most cases a bit of creative Googling will find the referenced page in a different location. If people are interested, I'll publish an editable version of the Annotation References section that can be used to share updated locations. Please message @roundtrip on Twitter if you're interested and willing to pitch in to tracking down current references. Sigh.


"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts |


Tripping Up Memory Lane - Hyperkult 2015: Hypertext lessons learned talk by Traction Software CTO and Co-founder Chris Nuzum

Teampage hypertext journal: Design concepts, by Takashi Okutsu Director of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart - About Doug Engelbart's Journal and Traction.

Enterprise 2.0 - Letting hypertext out of its box - "I believe that the radical departure is the Web as the context of work: the universal medium, universal library, universal marketplace, and universal platform for personal as well as enterprise communication... In every previous generation hypertext system, the ability to read, search, link and communicate came with a terrible price: it might work well, but only if you were willing to put everything you wanted to work with into some sealed box, and convince everyone you wanted to work with to use the same box. From the earliest days of Vannevar Bush's Memex, the vision was universal, but the implementation was a siloed."

Intertwingled Work - Working and scaling like the Web. "... in the past, conversations could only be intertwingled across paper memos, faxes, written reports and email. Until the advent of the Web it wasn't possible to intertwingle conversations, networks, analysis and work in near-real time and global scale. Now that's trivial and essentially free with basic Web access."

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style - The social dance of getting things done, dealing with exceptions, and staying aware of what’s going on around you

Teampage hypertext journal: Design concepts, by Takashi Okutsu

August 7, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Takashi Okutsu of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office wrote a blog post, Teampage hypertext journal: Design concepts. Starting from Chris Nuzum's Tripping Up Memory Lane presentation, Takashi explains how TeamPage's append-only journal models editable content, links, and relationships − while maintaining a full audit trail. See this Google English translation.

Teampage's model was inspired by the work of Doug Engelbart, who in 1975 wrote:

Our Journal system was conceived by this author in about 1966. I wanted an underlying operational process, for use by individuals and groups, that would help bring order into the time stream of the Augmented Knowledge workers. The term "journal" emerged early in the conceptualization process for two reasons:

  1. I felt it important in many dynamic operations to keep a log (sometimes termed a "journal") that chronicles events by means of a series of unchangeable entries (for instance, to log significant events while evolving a Plan, shaping up a project, trouble-shooting a large operation. or monitoring on-going operations). These entries would be preserved in original form, serving as the grist for later integration into more organized treatments.
  2. I also wanted something that would serve essentially the same recorded-dialogue purpose as I perceived a professional journal (plus library) to do.

Compcon 75 Digest, Sep 1975 pp 173-178, Douglas C. Engelbart THE NLS JOURNAL SYSTEM see the full paper, courtesy of the Doug Engelbart Institute.

Working from Chris's presentation notes (pdf), Takashi explains how to Teampage builds on Engelbart's model to support editable, stable two-way links, relationships, and content.

Takashi uses an animation cel analogy to illustrate how the effect of multiple entries in a TeamPage journal can be superimposed to show the effect edits at any point in time. For more detail, see Teampage's US Patent 7,593,954.


Tripping Up Memory Lane Traction Software co-founder and CTO Chris Nuzum talk on hypertext lessons learned, Hyperkult 2015 conference, Lüneburg Germany, 10 July 2015

Traction Roots - Doug Engelbart About Doug Engelbart's Journal

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style Understand how TeamPage connects people and their work

Tripping Up Memory Lane

July 16, 2015 · · Posted by Christopher Nuzum

Last week I gave a talk at the Hyperkult 2015 conference. It was an honor to present there, especially since it was the 25th and final time the conference was held. This was my proposal for the talk:

Sometimes it seems like collaborative software projects are designed in an ahistorical vacuum. Like all our ideas are new. Maybe that’s because so much software is designed by young people fresh out of computer science programs heavy in programming and data structures, but often paying little more obeisance to the history of software than to acknowledge that once people programmed on punch cards, however that worked.

In 1996, after celebrating the 50th Anniversary of As We May Think at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and inspired by a long, encouraging talk with Doug Engelbart, I co-founded Traction Software (originally Twisted Systems, Inc.) and set out to design a memex-inspired literary machine for the augmentation of collective intelligence. In this talk, I’d like to demonstrate how the Traction Hypertext Journaling Engine underlying Traction Software’s TeamPage product borrows from and builds on insights and ideas from Vannevar Bush, Doug Engelbart, and Ted Nelson. I’ll also talk a bit about what ideas we’ve abandoned and why, and end with some thoughts on ideas that I think haven’t yet had their day.

I'd never given a talk in Germany before, but since the German word Vorlesung means "reading", I thought I had better be prepared with something I could read, even though that's not how I'm used to presenting.

For anyone interested, I've posted the script I prepared for the talk: Tripping Up Memory Lane Script.pdf (14.2MB). The PDF also includes high-resolution versions of the images I used in my slides.

I hope you'll enjoy.

Update: See the University of Lüneburg's video of this talk. Adobe Flash required for Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 and older.

Eat your spinach: Email is good for you, but it could taste a lot better

July 3, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Takashi Okutsu of Traction Software's Japanese Business Office says that email is like spinach. It may be necessary for a healthy business, but not everyone likes spinach. He says that it's not reasonable to think that Social Network Software replaces email. It's better to look at how SNS extends and complements email. Takashi's July 3, 2015 blog post explains how, see this rough Google English translation.

Takashi often works with customers who depend on email for external and internal communication. In his blog post he uses several examples:


It's simple to email content into Teampage. The article or comment is automatically logged with the correct Teampage account based on the incoming email address. It's also simple to CC: email to Teampage when you want others to see an outgoing email to a customer or other person you are working with.

People can receive an email notifications when an article they are interested in is posted to Teampage. You can choose to receive notifications based on: comments added to articles or spaces you watch; comments added to articles you wrote or commented on; articles with a tag you watch; articles that mention you.

When you receive an email notification, you can reply to the email to automatically add a comment to the threaded discussion. Only the content you write is added to the thread, not a copy of the entire email thread.


But too many email notifications can be overwhelming. Teampage also provides an automatic email digest that summarizes articles and actions of interest, customized for the preferences (and access permissions) of each Teampage user.

You can use email notifications for your highest priority interests, and use the email digest to catch up on everything else. By default the digest is emailed once a day, but each person can choose to get a digest for a longer period (once a week), or several times a day.

Takashi concludes (in Google translation): "I think you have done already the spinach by e-mail. Why not been investigated in-house social us to support it. Just add a little plus of 'CC in TeamPage', you can get a big plus."


Understanding Spinach Update: Takashi writes that the Japanese word ホウレンソウ (HORENSO) has a literal English translation "spinach", but it is used to refer to a Japanese practice that aligns members understanding and synchronizes actions. Thanks to Takashi and Google Translate, I've learned that: 1) Japanese people have useful terms for communication practices that don't have an English language equivalent. We should adopt them; 2) Teampage is very good for ホウレンソウ !

"HORENSO is a way of information sharing by way of aligning members' understandings and synchronizing actions about changing circumstances that happen in and out of an organization." from NNA post. See also definition of HOKOKU.


Constellation Research Analyst VP Alan Leoposky aka @alepo frequently debunks claims that "email is dead" (or should be), pointing out: 1) Email is universal. No introduction or specialized software required; 2) Email is a firmly established habit. Habits are hard to change, and often shouldn't; 3) Email enables every person to filter, organize and prioritize what they see; 4) Email is one of many channels for messsages: we should flip our perspective to the stream of messages rather than the channel used to deliver each message. I agree.

Dec 2014 | TeamPage @ Mentions Bring any TeamPage item to someone's attention, bring them into the followup conversation

July 2014 | TeamPage Notifications Introducing inline notifications

The Work Graph Model: TeamPage style Understand how TeamPage connects people and their work

My Part Wor ks

May 22, 2015 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageAbout 50 years ago, Andy van Dam joined the Brown University faculty with the world's second PhD in Computer Science (earned at the University of Pennsylvania). Today many of Andy’s friends, faculty, students and former students are celebrating his 50 years at Brown with Stone Age, Iron Age and Machine Age panels. [ June 9, 2015 update: See event video: Celebrate with Andy: 50 Years of Computer Science at Brown University ]

I’m part of the Stone Age cohort. In 1968 Andy and his Swarthmore colleague Ted Nelson gave a medicine show pitch to convince skeptical undergrads to sign up for an an insanely demanding one year, four course sequence then called Applied Math 101/102 and 103/104. I bit.

Starting with a tiny, two person department - and as a matter of principle - Andy recruited undergraduates as teaching and research assistants, a tradition that continues to this day. In an essay on the history of the Brown CS UTA [Undergraduate Teaching Assistant] program Andy said:

“Offering teaching and research assistant opportunities to undergrads,” he says, “was even more unusual, indeed was viewed with everything from skepticism to outright hostility. Hardly anyone said, ‘What a fantastic idea!’ Everyone was used to four years of preparation as an undergraduate, then n years of graduate work before you could contribute to a science. But we’re different. CS was and is young, experimental, and open for undergrads to contribute. And undergraduate participation in research in all fields has become commonplace, especially in the last decade.

In 1965, a single, intense full-year course could cover much of the breadth, if not the depth, of the systems-oriented portion of the discipline, not including theory, AI, numerical analysis, and a few other topics. Andy insisted that students couldn’t learn to be good programmers by solving small “toy” problems; they had to write significantly-sized programs, each taking multiple weeks.

Not just checking for the right answer but giving useful feedback on structure, style, and efficiency required careful reading and one-on-one help with concepts and debugging. In a class with forty students, it was impossible for one graduate TA and a professor to provide this level of attention, no matter how little sleep they were getting, so van Dam asked for help from students who had taken a prior programming course. In that first cohort, he remembers Bill Adcock; Dan Bergeron, who also subsequently got his PhD with Andy and became Chairman of the CS Department at UNH and went with him and a group of six other of Andy’s students for his first sabbatical in 1971 at the University of Nijmegen in Andy’s country of origin; and Dennis Ruggles, among others.

“The undergraduate teaching assistants,” Andy explains, “though they were initially called graders, didn’t just grade programs -- they not only provided one-on-one help to students but also became active participants in course design and in subsequent years read research papers and brought new ideas into the curriculum. In fact, they did everything graduate TAs did, becoming producers and not just consumers of education. We kept modifying the course as we went along, but the one constant was the highly-appreciated UTA system.

Few people appreciate it more than Ed Lazowska ‘72, who will lead the first (“Stone Age”) panel for Celebrate With Andy. He says, “I’m a faculty member precisely because of the UTA program. I went to grad school because Andy told me to. In some way, everything I do professionally today is due to him.

To provide feedback for the course, students wrote detailed, multi-page evaluations, something that was almost unheard of in 1965. As Bob Munck recalls, “Also after every class, the graders would sit around on the floor of Andy's office (later my office) and critique the lecture and him. I'd never seen anything like it.

On his commute home from work, Andy would listen to tape recordings of his lectures, filling the empty minutes with self-critiques: “Boy, was that a clumsy explanation! Get rid of the ‘um’s and the ‘you know’s.” Presentation skills are still something that van Dam is keenly interested in. “Today’s equivalent of ‘you know’ is ‘like’, which I try to stamp out in all students who work with me. I’ve given up on ‘awesome’.

An interesting aspect of the UTA program is that the system has essentially never been challenged by students due to the built-in checks and balances. “By having rotating TAs and detailed rubrics,” Andy says, “you create fairness. It’s a system that’s at least as fair as having a single faculty member grading. Besides, a single faculty member, even assisted by a few graduate TAs, can’t begin to read that many programs at the required level of detail, and students recognize that. Part of the checks and balances is that faculty members are responsible for assigning the final grades, and I personally review all borderline grades, hoping to find evidence for promotion to the next grade bin.

Originally something made up as they went along, the UTA program matured over a period of decades. Iteration and gradual regularization brought cross-course norms and standards that are used today by almost all Brown CS courses. “In my opinion,” says Andy, “We have the most systemic TA program, and there’s a well-defined appeal system in place to address any grading errors.

You can read about Andy’s honors and achievements on his Wikipedia page, and Professor Shriram Krishnamurthi's answer to Why is professor Andy Van Dam (Andy) so cool? Here are two short stories from me.

After Dinner

Photo of Andy on WBGH Boston’s After Dinner show, broadcast live at 7:30PM Monday October 20, 1969.

After Dinner featured Andy van Dam, Chris Braun, Bev Hodgson (then Brown Daily Herald editor), Al Basile and myself talking about hypertext for 30 minutes on a stage set that was supposed to look like a professor’s living room, right next to Julia Child’s WGBH TV kitchen. Andy is pointing to photo of Chris Braun at the IBM 2250 Hypertext Editing System (HES) console.

AvD writes: You might mention that the topic wasn’t just hypertext per se, but the use of hypertext for non-linear narratives, esp. hypertext fiction as a new literary form (Montreal Expo (68) had just shown an audience-influenced branching movie, Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and Nabokov’s Pale Fire had been published, and experimentation was in the air. I’m sitting in the audience at the YURT inauguration symposium, listening to organizer John Cayley talk about “Cave Writing” and related spatial (immersive) hypertext projects that he and his students craft.

My Part Wor Ks

Brown Computer Science circa 1969. Original edition.

The story as I recall: Most people chose an individual final project for AM 101/102. However, a few folk chose the two person assembler project.

A grader did an in person review with a two person team, noting a problem. One team member replied: “My part works, but he keeps passing me garbage.

It became a team programming mantra.

The first part was made into a button, with Wor ks spelling. The second part was the AvD equivalent of a secret handshake. Until now.


"Thoughtvectors in Concept Space badge" by @iamTalkyTina my posts |



Andries van Dam - Wikipedia page

Celebrate With Andy: 50 Years Of CS At Brown - May 2015. An essay celebrating "the three golden anniversaries for the Brown CS family: fifty years of the UTA program, undergraduate involvement in research, and Andy van Dam at Brown."

Why is professor Andy Van Dam (Andy) so cool? - Quora, Jan 2015. I agree with Brown CS professor Shriram Krishnamurthi.

Pastepost - One more AvD story. The first public document from the first Hypertext Editing System was a press release announcing its own creation.

As We May Work - Andy van Dam - Tokyo 2008

The MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium - Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Bush's As We May Think. Organized and MC'd by Andy van Dam

Hypertext Editing System - Wikipedia page. Photo by Greg Lloyd.

Enterprise 2.0 - Are we there yet?

November 21, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageAndrew McAfee writes Nov 20, 2014: "Facebook’s recent announcement that it’s readying a version of its social software for workplaces got me thinking about Enterprise 2.0, a topic I used to think a great deal about. Five years ago I published a book with that title, arguing that enterprise social software platforms would be valuable tools for businesses...

Why did it take so long? I can think of a few reasons. It’s hard to get the tools right — useful and simple software is viciously hard to make. Old habits die hard, and old managers die (or at least leave the workforce) slowly. The influx of ever-more Millennials has almost certainly helped, since they consider email antediluvian and traditional collaboration software a bad joke.

Whatever the causes, I’m happy to see evidence that appropriate digital technologies are finally appearing to help with the less structured, less formal work of the enterprise. It’s about time.

What do you think? Is Enterprise 2.0 finally here? If so, why now? Leave a comment, please, and let us know."

Andrew – As we’ve discussed in the past, I don’t believe there’s a specific ‘Are we there yet?’ for Enterprise 2.0.

The lessons I learned from your excellent book and research are still relevant today. Enterprise 2.0 technology enables but does not guarantee organizational change. Some organizational change is invented and purposeful, some is serendipitous and emergent.

The effect of new technology on an enterprise is too often like picking up and shaking a sleepy beehive.

We’ve come a long way towards the vision that software and devices used inside a company will become more like software, Web services and mobile devices people use at home. Enterprise software and services need to meet the same expectations for clarity, any time / any where access, and easy of use that people expect at home, which shakes markets as well as assumptions. Tracking the relationship of Apple IBM from Nov 2009 through Nov 2014 (and their market cap) is an instructive example.

As Peter Drucker taught, organizations need to adapt and innovate to make use of these capabilities, which opens the door to new technology, capabilities, and markets for enterprise software and services at every layer of the stack. Which opens the door to new organizational challenges and opportunities…

I’m not surprised that this takes time - and like Bill Buxton’s analysis in his Long Nose of Innovation article from 2008.

I’ll also keep my faith in Peter Drucker and Doug Engelbart as the twin patron Saints of Enterprise 2.0. As I said in Nov 2009, you have your own sub-numinous stake in the game!



Enterprise 2.0, Finally? Andrew McAfee, Nov 20, 2014 (This blog post was originally posted as a comment)

Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization's Toughest Challenges Andrew McAfee, Harvard Business Review Press, Nov 2009

The Long Nose of Innovation Bill Buxton, Bloomberg Business Week, Jan 8, 2008

Enterprise 2.0 Schism Greg Lloyd, Nov 9, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day | Emmy Noether, Mathematician

October 14, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Ada Lovelace Day celebratesImage the contributions of women in science and technology, follow @FindingAda for news and events. This year I've chosen to write about mathematician Amalie "Emmy" Noether. At the time of her death in April 1935, she was described by Pavel Alexandrov, Albert Einstein, Herman Weyl, Norbert Weiner and others as the most important woman in the history of mathematics. Noether’s First Theorem is a fundamental tool of modern physics and the calculus of variations: every symmetry corresponds to a conservation law. "It was her work in the theory of invariants which led to formulations for several concepts of Einstein's general theory of relativity." [J J O'Connor and E F Robertson, 1997]. Of her later work, Nathan Jacobson said: "The development of abstract algebra, which is one of the most distinctive innovations of twentieth century mathematics, is largely due to her – in published papers, in lectures, and in personal influence on her contemporaries." Einstein wrote Noether's obituary in the New York Times, May 5, 1935:

"Within the past few days a distinguished mathematician, Professor Emmy Noether, formerly connected with the University of Göttingen and for the past two years at Bryn Mawr College, died in her fifty-third year. In the judgment of the most competent living mathematicians, Fräulein Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began. In the realm of algebra, in which the most gifted mathematicians have been busy for centuries, she discovered methods which have proved of enormous importance in the development of the present-day younger generation of mathematicians. Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. One seeks the most general ideas of operation which will bring together in simple, logical and unified form the largest possible circle of formal relationships. In this effort toward logical beauty spiritual formulas are discovered necessary for the deeper penetration into the laws of nature.

Born in a Jewish family distinguished for the love of learning, Emmy Noether, who, in spite of the efforts of the great Göttingen mathematician, Hilbert, never reached the academic standing due her in her own country, none the less surrounded herself with a group of students and investigators at Göttingen, who have already become distinguished as teachers and investigators. Her unselfish, significant work over a period of many years was rewarded by the new rulers of Germany with a dismissal, which cost her the means of maintaining her simple life and the opportunity to carry on her mathematical studies. Farsighted friends of science in this country were fortunately able to make such arrangements at Bryn Mawr College and at Princeton that she found in America up to the day of her death not only colleagues who esteemed her friendship but grateful pupils whose enthusiasm made her last years the happiest and perhaps the most fruitful of her entire career."

Princeton University, May 1, 1935

In The Most Important Mathematician You've Never Heard Of Dr Dave Goldberg summarized Fräulein Noether’s life, her academic struggles - championed by Göttingen mathematicians David Hilbert and Felix Klein - and contributions to the foundations of modern physics.

"Hilbert and Noether skirted the rules by listing Hilbert as a course instructor and then having Noether as the perennial guest lecturer, though this didn't extend to getting Noether any sort of paycheck. It wasn't until 1922 that the Prussian Minister for Science, Art and Public Education gave her any sort of official title or pay at all, and even then only a pittance. As Hilbert described it in his memorial address for Emmy Noether:

When I was called permanently to Göttingen in 1930, I earnestly tried to obtain from the Ministerium a better position for her, because I was ashamed to occupy such a preferred position beside her whom I knew to be my superior as a mathematician in many respects. I did not succeed. . . . Tradition, prejudice, external considerations, weighted the balance against her scientific merits and scientific greatness, by that time denied by no one.

In all events, bringing her to Göttingen turned out to be an incredibly good idea. Almost immediately upon her arrival, Noether derived what's become known as Noether's 1st Theorem and by 1918 had cleaned it up enough for public consumption. And this is where we pick up the physics part of the story."

Fräulein Noether’s name and contributions to mathematics will live forever, despite the obstacles she had to overcome as a mathematical genius of the first rank - who happened to be a woman.

No woman should require the endorsement of mathematical legends like Hilbert, Klein, Einstein, Weyl, and Weiner to pursue and excel in the mathematical, scientific, or other career they love. We need every Fräulein Noether born in whatever place or circumstance, and need to support and encourage all who are inspired by her work and example.

Update See Marie Curie [ and Emmy Noether ] cartoon by xkcd "You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process. So don't try to be the next me, Noether, or Meitner. Just remember that if you want to do this stuff, you're not alone." via @ValdisKrebs

More Finding Ada Blog Posts

Ada icon by Sidney Padua From the Thrilling Adventures of Babbage & Lovelace for your iPad (free). Enjoy Babbage and Lovelace adventures, backstory and more on Sydney Padua's 2D Goggles Web page.

Named Data Networking - Boffin Alert

September 8, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

ImageOn Sep 4, 2014 the Named Data Networking project announced a new consortium to carry the concepts of Named Data Networking (NDN) forward in the commercial world. If this doesn't sound exciting, try The Register's take: DEATH TO TCP/IP cry Cisco, Intel, US gov and boffins galore. What if you could use the internet to access content securely and efficiently, where anything you want is identified by name rather than by its internet address? The NDN concept is technically sweet, gaining traction, and is wonderfully explained and motivated in a video by its principle inventor and instigator Van Jacobson. Read on for the video, a few quotes, reference links, and a few thoughts on what NDN could mean for the Internet of Things, Apple, Google and work on the Web. Short version: Bring popcorn.

For a short non-technical introduction, see Wade Roush's Sep 2012 piece on Van Jacobson and Content Centric Networking The Next Internet? Inside PARC’s Vision of Content Centric Networking. Background: Jacobson's work on CCN begot the NDN project, where he is now a Principle Investigator. A few quotes from Roush's story:

The fundamental idea behind Content Centric Networking is that to retrieve a piece of data, you should only have to care about what you want, not where it’s stored. Rather than transmitting a request for a specific file on a specific server, a CCN-based browser or device would simply broadcast its interest in that file, and the nearest machine with an authentic copy would respond. File names in a CCN world look superficially similar to URLs (for example, /…) but the data in a name is used to establish the file’s authenticity and provenance, not to indicate location.

It’s easy to see how much sense this makes compared to the current client-server model. Say I’m using my Apple TV box to browse my Flickr photo collection on my big-screen TV. To get each photo, the Apple TV has to connect to Flickr, which is hosted on some remote data center owned by Yahoo—it could be in Utah or North Carolina, for all I know. The request has to travel from the Apple TV over my Wi-Fi network, into Comcast’s servers, then across the Internet core, and finally to Yahoo. Then the photos, which amount to several megabytes each, have to travel all the way back through the network to my TV.

But the photos on Flickr are just copies of the originals, which are stored on my camera and on my laptop, about 15 feet away from my TV. It would be much smarter and more economical if the Apple TV could simply ask for each photo by name—that is, if it could broadcast its interest in the photo to the network. My laptop could respond, and I could keep browsing without the requests or the data ever leaving my apartment. (In Jacobson’s scheme, file names can include encrypted sections that bar users without the proper keys from retrieving them, meaning that security and rights management are built into the address system from the start.)

“The simplest explanation is that you replace the concept of the IP address as the defining entity in the network with the name of the content,” says Lunt. “Now all the talk in the network is about ‘Have you seen this content?’ and ‘Who needs this content?’ as opposed to ‘What is the routing path to particular terminus in the network?’ It’s a simple idea, but it makes a lot of things possible...

“One of the things that’s intriguing about not having to go to the source is that you could start to think about implementing applications differently,” Lunt says. “You could build apps that don’t have any notion of a server at all. So you could have Twitter without Twitter or Facebook without Facebook—that is, without having to have a major investment in hosting content, because the network is caching it all over the place.

Such architectures might give users more control over privacy and security of their data, and let them share their own data across devices without having to go through proprietary services like Apple’s iCloud, PARC executives say.

“What Apple is trying to do with iCloud is to say: You shouldn’t have to care which device you got an app on, or which device you took a photo on, whether it was your iPad or iPhone or MacBook Air. You just want your content to be on the other devices when you want it,” says Steve Hoover, CEO of PARC. “That validates our vision. But the way they are solving that puts more load on the network than it needs to, and it requires consumer lock-in. So Apple may be a user of this [CCN] technology one day, because it will make it easier. On the other hand, they could also hate it, because it will make it a lot easier for other people to provide that capability of getting the content whenever you want.

In my option, one of the technically sweetest characteristics of NCN is its relationship to current TCP/IP and networking protocols (quotes from NDN Architecture: Motivation and Details):

Like IP, NDN is a “universal overlay”: NDN can run over anything, including IP, and anything can run over NDN, including IP. IP infrastructure services that have taken decades to evolve, such as DNS naming conventions and namespace administration or inter-domain routing policies and conventions, can be readily used by NDN. Indeed, because NDN’s hierarchically structured names are semantically compatible with IP’s hierarchically structured addresses, the core IP routing protocols, BGP, IS-IS and OSPF, can be used as-is to deploy NDN in parallel with and over IP. Thus NDN’s advantages in content distribution, application-friendly communication, robust security, and mobility support can be realized incrementally and relatively painlessly...

Communication in NDN is driven by the receiving end, i.e., the data consumer. To receive data, a consumer sends out an Interest packet, which carries a name that identifies the desired data (see Figure 2). A router remembers the interface from which the request comes in, and then forwards the Interest packet by looking up the name in its Forwarding Information Base (FIB), which is populated by a name-based routing protocol. Once the Interest reaches a node that has the requested data, a Data packet is sent back, which carries both the name and the content of the data, together with a signature by the producer’s key (Figure 2). This Data packet follows in reverse the path taken by the Interest to get back to the consumer. Note that neither Interest nor Data packets carry any host or interface addresses (such as IP addresses); Interest packets are routed towards data producers based on the names carried in the Interest packets, and Data packets are returned based on the state information set up by the Interests at each router hop (Figure 3).

The router stores in a Pending Interest Table (PIT) all the Interests waiting for returning Data packets. When multiple Interests for the same data are received from downstream, only the first one is sent upstream towards the data source. Each PIT entry contains the name of the Interest and a set of interfaces from which the Interests for the same name have been received. When a Data packet arrives, the router finds the matching PIT entry and forwards the data to all the interfaces listed in the PIT entry. The router then removes the corresponding PIT entry, and caches the Data in the Content Store. Because an NDN Data packet is meaningful independent of where it comes from or where it may be forwarded to, the router can cache it to satisfy future requests. Because one Data satisfies one Interest across each hop, an NDN network achieves hop-by-hop flow balance...


NDN design assumes hierarchically structured names, e.g., a video produced by PARC may have the name/parc/videos/WidgetA.mpg, where ‘/’ indicates a boundary between name components (it is not part of the name). This hierarchical structure is useful for applications to represent relationships between pieces of data. For example, segment 3 of version 1 of the video might be named /parc/videos/WidgetA.mpg/1/3. The hierarchy also enables routing to scale. While it may be theoretically possible to route on flat names (see ROFL), it is the hierarchical structure of IP addresses that enables aggregation, which is essential in scaling today’s routing system. Common structures necessary to allow programs to operate over NDN names can be achieved by conventions agreed between data producers and consumers, e.g., name conventions indicating versioning and segmentation.

Name conventions are specific to applications but opaque to the network, i.e., routers do not know the meaning of a name (although they see the boundaries between components in a name). This allows each application to choose the naming scheme that fits its needs and allows the naming schemes to evolve independently from the network.

I haven't quoted from short sections on Data Centric Security, Routing and Forwarding, Intelligent Data Plane, Caching, or Intellectual Property Approach and open source. You should read NDN Motivation & Details, then much more from if either your head exploded, or you are jumping up and down in your seat with questions and objections.

Much of this is QED Marketing - I told you how it works, not what it means for you. Here are a few thoughts:

1) Secure efficient transport of content crossing many boundaries is a hard problem, getting harder as the number of people, things, and places on the Web grow, and as people look for a seamless and trusted way to deal with things they care about at home and at work. For example, how could Apple (or Google) leverage NDN to deliver on an internet of your things? How might players other than the giants leverage NDN to compete?

2) NDN offers the possibility of doing a lot of the hard work at the network level, which is a win if it offers a economic benefit to those who pay for the fabric of the internet, and opportunities to invent and grow scalable businesses more effectively. For example, what could change if Amazon offered NDN as an Amazon Web Service?

3) NDN might offer an appropriate secure, flexible framework for connecting people to content at work. Businesses use siloed applications for for transactional data for good reasons: they are simpler to build, (potentially) more secure, and (potentially) more flexible than old style monolithic business applications if they become sources of content linked together at a higher level of an application stack. NDN might be a great protocol to build flexible, secure, extensible business applications connecting people to the content they want - and are allowed to use.

With respect to the network issues, I'm a fan, not an expert, but the NDN proposal seems to share many of the (relatively) simple, scalable, decentralized characteristics that fueled the growth of the Web and evolution of TCP/IP. NDN seems to be most attractive for big content, particularly where multicast style delivery and caching can delivery big bandwidth and responsiveness improvements, but it looks like a lot of thought has gone into efficient localized delivery. Likewise, management of a very large, frequently changing name space is a challenge, which also seems to have gotten a lot of intelligent attention.

With Cisco and Huawei on board as founding industrial partners of the NDN Consortium, you can bet that a lot of caching routers can be sold, and NDN routing technology will take the fast track if there's economic payback for NDN, which will drive better payback, faster adoption, etc.

The good thing is the program has advanced to the stage where many of these questions can answered by experiment - we shall see.

Will the NDN Consortium take off? Will Google, Apple and Microsoft jump in? Or will NDN join the queue of technically sweet solutions that never really get off the ground? I'm optimistic that NDN has the right technical characteristics and pedigree, with smart experienced people leading the charge. With the Internet of Things and secure content distribution efficiencies as economic drivers, I hope we'll all benefit from NDN's content delivery model as the next stage of the Web's evolution. If you're not in the battle, bring popcorn and watch - it should be a good show.


Named Data Networking Architecture: Motivation & Details The best short technical overview I've found of the objectives and approach of the Named Data Networking project. Read the overview to get quick idea of how content is named, the NDN security and caching model, how NDN works over (or under) TCP, scaling issues, and more.

A New Way to Look at Networking - Van Jacobson's Aug 2006 Google Tech talk on TCP and Content Centric Networking (CCN). CCN is the title of Jacobson's Xerox PARC project, which became "the single biggest internal project at PARC." CCN led to the formation of the Named Data Networking project as a National Science Foundation funded Future Internet Architecture program in Sep 2010. Jacobson is currently a Principle Investigator of the NDN project. See Van Jacobson speaks on Content Centric Networking for a longer (three hour) and slightly earlier version of Jacobson's CCN talk presented as a Future Internet short course, including slides.

Reinventing the Web II (Aug 2014) The Web won vs "better" models by turning permanence into a decentralized economic decision. Why isn't the Web a reliable and useful long term store for the links and content people independently create? What can we do to fix that? Who benefits from creating spaces with stable, permanently addressable content? Who pays? What incentives can make Web scale permanent, stable content with reliable bidirectional links and other goodies as common and useful as Web search over the entire flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web? NDN is the sweetest and most credible global technical approach I've seen.

Continuity and Intertwingled Work (Jun 2014) A level above an Internet of Things: seamless experience across devices for you, your family, your health and trusted service providers, at home and at work.

Intertwingled Work (Jul 2010) No one Web service or collection of Web servers contain everything people need, but we get along using search and creative services that link content across wildly different sources. The same principal applies when you want to link and work across wildly diverse siloed systems of record and transactional databases.

Thought Vectors - Ted Nelson: Art not Technology (Jul 2014) Ted Nelson should be smiling - but I won't hazard a guess. From what I see, everything in NDN seems compatible if not influenced by the Docuverse, Tumbler, and fine grain content addressable network architecture that Nelson described in detail in his 1987 book Literary Machines. I believe NDN provides secure, scalable, fine grain, and upwards compatible networking that could connect the front end and back end Xanadu architecture that Nelson describes in Literary Machines. I'll follow up on this with a separate Boffin alert.

Linked, Open, Heterogeneous

August 31, 2014 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

Image Art, Data, and Business Duane Degler of Design For Context posted slides from his 5 April 2014 Museums and the Web talk, Design Meets Data (Linked, Open, Heterogeneous). Degler addresses what he calls the LAM (Libraries, Archives, Museums) Digital Information Ecosystem. I believe the same principles apply when businesses connect internal teams, external customers, external suppliers, and partners of all sorts as part of their Business Information Ecosystem. Read Degler's summary and slides, below:

"The tide of available information continues to rise. The opportunities that come from open access, linked data, sharing resources with other institutions, and standards-based data are enticing - and perhaps overwhelming?

Emerging design approaches help you find ways to make the most of your opportunities for new types of interactions and engagement with Information Objects. They focus on:

- Exploration, serendipity, use: Rich, relevant design requires an intimate understanding of information and the way people interact with it. It's more than attractive styling - although that's important. It's about people engaging in ways that stimulate the intellect and the experience. People need to find information, use it, relate other information to it, and share it for decades to come.

- Scalability, persistence, authority: Rich, relevant design also takes the long view. Understanding that the integrity of the information matters. This is increasingly important as we move toward more linked, open, and born digital cultural information.

Your institution becomes a gateway to an ecosystem of artistic imagery, scholarly insights, history, perspectives, and related objects. Other people will use your information to create new interpretations and works, which then build on what you hold. Curating information may be perceived as a burden (to be made easier!), yet it is a significant opportunity to reinforce the value and authority of institutions that enhance the information ecosystem."


Dark Matter by Michael Peter Edson 19 May 2014. "The dark matter of the Internet is open, social, peer-to-peer and read/write—and it’s the future of museums" an important essay on the opportunity and mission for museums and cultural institutions: "We’re so accustomed to the scale of attention that we get from visitation to bricks-and-mortar buildings that it’s difficult to understand how big the Internet is—and how much attention, curiosity, and creativity a couple of billion people can have."

Thought Vectors - Vannevar Bush and Dark Matter (2014) Inspired by Michael Edson's essay. Just as Bush suggested in July 1945, I believe there's a need for people to act as explorers, guides, and trail blazers over knowledge they know and love. You can experience that personal knowledge and passion on a tour, at a talk, or in a conversation on a bus, at a party - anywhere you meet someone who loves one of these institutions. I think it's particularly valuable to have trail blazers who are also skilled professionals personally represent and communicate the values, knowledge, and heritage of their museum, just as a great reference librarian becomes a library's ambassador.

Reinventing the Web II (2014) Why isn't the Web a reliable and useful long term store for the links and content people independently create? What can we do to fix that? Who benefits from creating spaces with stable, permanently addressable content? Who pays? What incentives can make Web scale permanent, stable content with reliable bidirectional links and other goodies as common and useful as Web search over the entire flakey, decentralized and wildly successful Web?

Intertwingled Work (2010) No one Web service or collection of Web servers contain everything people need, but we get along using search and creative services that link content across wildly different sources. The same principal applies when you want to link and work across wildly diverse siloed systems of record and transactional databases.

Hello! Greetings from Takashi Okutsu

July 10, 2014 · · Posted by Takashi Okutsu

TakashiHi everyone. I am delighted to introduce myself to you as a member of the Traction Software Team. As some of you know, my name is Takashi Okutsu, and I am the director of Traction Software's Japan Business Office, located in Yokohama.

I have worked for Applied Knowledge in Japan as technical support staff, and have a long association with TeamPage since 2007. During this job, I helped many customers to improve their business with TeamPage and got lots of experience.

I am very happy to keep supporting these customers, introducing our products to new clients, and consulting with all TeamPage customers based on my experience. I believe our product TeamPage is a flexible and adaptable tool and service for many customers and business areas, and hope you like it.

If you should need additional information regarding me or Japan Business Office, or if you need any help regarding TeamPage, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can email to I am looking forward to talk with you.

皆様、こんにちは。私は、奥津岳と申します。横浜にある Traction Software の日本支店(トラクション・ソフトウェア・インク)の代表を務めています。

TeamPage には 2007 年から長く関わっています。前職では、株式会社アプライドナレッジにて技術サポート スタッフとして、TeamPage を通じて多くのお客様の業務改善のお手伝いをさせていただき、たくさんの経験を積むことができました。今年からはトラクション・ソフトウェア・インク代表として、お客様へのサポート、製品の紹介、経験に基づいたコンサルティングなどご提供しております。

私たちの製品 TeamPage は、とても柔軟性があり、様々な業務に適用できる製品/サービスであると自負しています。多くの方々に気に入っていただけることを願います。

トラクション・ソフトウェア・インクや製品/サービスにご興味がございましたら、お気軽に私のメールアドレス までお問い合わせください。皆様からのご連絡をお待ちしております。

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