Monday, 30 June 2008

How to create an RSS Feed

A few people have asked me whether it is difficult to create an RSS feed since I posted it is one of the easiest ways to help people gather information from your website, and thus help share and spread information.

First you need to get a feed for your site then you need to embed it.

To get a feed there is a natty website to help you. has easy to follow instructions and will provide you with the code you need to then instal on your relevant webpage where you want to instal the feed. It's as easy as that. Feed43 even supplies you feeds for pages that don't have feeds so you can keep up to date - perfect if you are waiting for someone to instal feeds...

Remember, a feed allows someone to subscribe to your webpage so that every time you make a change they will then get the changes, the update etc sent to them in the form they asked for it to be sent to them - usually in a reader though someotimes by email. This is much easier than them remembering to come back to visit you or you having to send out newsletters.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Dirtie Bertie; good practice communication

It's cute, it's simple and it works. The UK Department of Health is running a campaign "Catch it, Bin it, Kill it." to reduce infections spread by coughs and colds. I remember the "coughs and sneezes spread diseases" poster of my childhood". Well this is the latest version.

It is a wonderful good example of targetted communication. The Dirtie Bertie comic strip tells a relevant story and you can download the strip in classroom sized handout. On the website there is also a nursery rhyme mp3 to download for a singalong and you can get a transcript of the words.

While the germs don't need to be spread, this communication package certainly does deserve so.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Tips for sharing information via the web

I'm always looking for quick and efficient ways to share information. Here are three that I use and find really helpful. There is some crafty webware available to help the process and it's changing all the time.

1. Social Bookmarking. I use If you're still bookmarking to your browser then consider using social bookmarking. Want to know what I am bookmarking then find me on this site - my username is sfraser881. You can find others who might be bookmarking thinsg like you - it is a whole new world of search, discovery, annotation and sharing.

2. Highlighting. Ever found a great paragraph in a website and wnated to point that out to someone? You end up sending an email to a friend with a long winded note explaining what it is all about. No more - use the tool from Easy to use, you go to the web page you want, use the highighter and it then prompts you to either email the link or share. Here is an example from my book reviews blog

3. Google notebook. If I'm collecting a variety of resources from the web on a specific topic and then want to share those resources often I'm stuck. I now use Google notebook (sign up on iGoogle). You find the web page, right click, add to notebook and it then saves to the notebook you want. When you're ready you can then share that notebook with anyone else. They can then see your web research as well as any comments you may have in there.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Benefits are in the behaviour not the software

For every problem you have there are probably at least three technology solutions out there that can help you. Though is a technology solution always the right answer? Sometimes, yes. However, the first step might be to check out what you're using.

For example, many people I come across at the moment are looking for ways to keep track of their relationships with their customers and clients. So they are tempted to buy in complex customer relationship management (CRM) software. These additonal programs mean they need to record their transactions with each customer. Yet what they may not realise is that for many of them, a solution may already exist that meets their modest needs. If they use Microsoft Outlook then already every email is tracked by contact (check the Activities tab under the contact name) and if you set up your Journal preferences you can do a heap more. If you have the business contact manager add in then this has an almost full relationaship system and it integrates with much of what you use at your desktop - and does so without you doing any additional tasks. Whatever you use, what I have worked out is that if you end up having to do extra tasks, then you are unlikely to use it. So get something that integrates and works in the background. Not may software programs have that sort of ego.

Other software that causing angst is where we want to collaborate. Some use Sharepoint, other Windows Office Live, others Google groups etc. I personally prefer Windows Office Live as it integrates well and is less clunky than other programs. I can save directly from my desktop - no additional steps and it also comes with Shareview where we can share screens, all very quickly if we are on a telephone call and want to share and talk about a document together.

All the software comes with bells and whistles but they are irrelevant if they are not used. Think about your washing machine. How many of the fancy programs do you really use? In our house it is just the two. A quick wash and a regular wash. Heaven knows what all the other options are for.

If we're needing others to adopt the use of some technology as part of our better practice implementation then a good idea is to find ways to integrate it as much as possible into existing systems and to minimise the bells and whistles.

Creative Commons 2008 Sarah Fraser Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derviative

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Knowledge is in the network not the innovation

At many of the courses I run on the topic of spreading good practice we often have the debate on how to define the "what" of good practice. The issue being what it is you want to spread to others - is it a thing, a behaviour, an attitude, or what? This debate is so "Knowledge Management 1.0" as most often participants on the courses focus on the things like guidelines, manuals, products etc.

A few years ago we hit "Knowledge Management 2.0" which considered the issue that knowledge lay in the person and then frameworks were developed around understanding how the tacit knowledge in individuals gets made explicit, and then becomes tacit again as part fo the knowledge capture and transfer process. All interesting stuff.

Nowadays we are in the "Knowledge Management 3.0" stage where the essense of knowledge is deemed to lie in the networks between people. Then sentient processes are felt to have properties of value. The network is greater than the sum of its parts.

There are some advanced thinkers about the world on this topic so if you're curious then start doing your own searches and see what you can find of value in the the networks.

Creative Commons 2008 Sarah Fraser Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Contributors, consumers and conduits of information

In the past few weeks I have been involved in a number of different virtual, web teaming activities most of which involve one or more of the following activities: the use of chat groups, uploading of documents to share, editing of a shared document using collaborative software, creation and editing of a wiki, telephone conference calling and webinars. It struck me through this process that the virtual world is no different to the face-to-face world. Some people are contributors, some are consumers and some are conduits.

There is a rule of thumb (rough, as I haven't found any research evidence to prove it) that for online chat groups you can expect around 1% of the signups to be active contributors in the sense they provide information, resources and editing effort, 10% to be participants in that they will discuss and use what is made available to them, while the rest, if they engage at all, will be passive. A small number of those who engage may also act as conduits of information for those outside of the participating system.

For online groups there are a number of techniques to improve and increase the rates of participation and good virtual facilitators and moderators will use these. Similarly in conference calls and other virtual web teaming tools there needs to be guidance and leadership to help those who may be unfamiliar with the techniques.

However, let's look at regular communication.

To spread good practice we need people who will contribute to the generation of new ideas, who will help adapt existing practices to new contexts. This takes effort. We also need conduits who pass information along. Then there needs to be willing consumers of the messages sent out. I'm not sure what to call those who are not contributors, conduits or comsumers - I know some people will fall into that category!

For the next project I'm working on in spreading good practice and encouraging others to adopt better ideas I'll do some analysis on how many and who we think in the specific system are contributors, conduits and consumers of the ideas. And then develop communication and action plans accordingly.

Creative Commons 2008 Sarah Fraser Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derviative