OK I am not the first person to say this and many have tried and failed to fix it.

Before looking at why email could be broken it is worth looking at why it is so popular and useful (and yes it is useful):

  • It’s quick and easy
  • You can send to many people at once reducing any duplication of effort
  • It’s cheap
  • It’s private
  • There is an expectation of an instant response

Now let’s have a look at some of the reasons why email is not so great:

  • It’s (too) quick and easy, too easy to send an email when may another method of communication may be better (e.g. a telephone call).
  • You can send to many people at once reducing any duplication of effort, this can often mean that multiple people can be included who often do not need to be. Of course if you are on the first email of the chain you are probably on the last reading each one just to check that you were mentioned or required
  • It’s cheap – that’s why we have so much spam! 2 millions emails sent who cares it’s cheap.
  • It’s private – two main disadvantages a) some people may say things that they would not say in public but funny when gets sent or forwarded to people you may not expect. b) more importantly much of what goes on in emails, in organisations and projects, would benefit many others hence why so many emails are forwarded
  • Expectation of an instant response – many of us are stuck constantly checking email because we thing that an instant response is expected.

So what’s the answer? Clearly email is not going away any time soon and neither should it but I think we would benefit from changing our attitude to email and reducing the amount of email we send and finding better communication platforms. Email coming in from externals is often to be welcomed especially if it is from customers and prospects but what about internal email. The larger the organisation the more of the email that can be generated internally with multiple cc’s (and probably more bcc’s than is good for us). Even in SME’s internal email can blight your inbox with either irrelevant information that very few people need or very important information that everyone needs to see but can’t because it is in your email.

In the last 10 years we have seen Social Media become a formidable public communication platform. I would imagine that a lot less email has been sent because of Facebook (there has to be some upside) and thank goodness it has reduced the dancing cat videos in my inbox.

So could Social Media platforms reduce email in organisations. Clearly much of what is said (typed) is not for public consumption, mainly for boredom reasons as much as competition, but there are many private social media platforms for corporates. It is great to hear that Automatic has no internal email at all, as all in-house communication (which is across many countries) is done on P2 a WordPress blog which is customised for that very purpose. There are also many other platforms out there with Slack (great name) possibly leading the field with a corporate twitter-like microblogging platform.

So next time you are about to hit the ‘send’ button, with multiple cc addresses, stop and think is there a better way for me to communicate. I for one think that ‘yes’ maybe the answer.

Google + 2nd birthdayGoogle+ is celebrating its 2nd Birthday with some new profile buttons for profile and pages:





Have a little clear up on this blog as I want to test some of the Google+ features especially as Google are releasing new features all the time on the Google+ platform

I have removed most of the social sharing buttons from this site and will start to add Google+ options to see the functionality and track.

As an aside as looking at the Google+ options I came across the the Google+ profile button that you can add to your site. Grab your Google+ profile URL and pick your size and you can get the code to produce a button like:

Small

Standard

Medium

Tall

I was recently asked about my small collection of social badges on the top of my blog in the sidebar. These are created by the excellent WordPress plugin SocialGrid:

socialgrid

The question related to how to get a similar grid for blogs which are hosted on WordPress.com. Although essentially the same software, as I host my own WordPress blog, I can add plugins like SocialGrid but on a WordPress.com hosted blog you can not install plugins. You only have the options of the widgets available. You can add your own code to a widget via the basic but very flexible ‘Text Widget’ although it will not allow javascript which many of the social sites use to create collections of badges. However it does allow you to write your own HTML code (the language of web pages) so I thought I would have a go at recreating my SocialGrid style badges in a HTML table for WordPress.com even using the same great social media icons which are freely available (feel free to leave them a donation).

I have a few WordPress.com sites but used this one I set up for some WordPress.com training courses put on by OutserveWeb the web training company I work for. The end result looked like this and I have put the code below if it helps anyone.

wpsocialbadgers

Change the links and the image urls of course and copy the code into the text widget and drag to your sidebar, images can be uploaded directly through the Media options in your WordPress.com blog. It should be relatively easy to change the grid from 2 x 4 or use other or different size icons.

Html code:


twitter


linkedin icon

Youtube

delicious

flickr

google icon

rss icon

Magento is an open source (or open core if you prefer) ecommerce systems. Similar to WordPress with plugins, the great blogging platform, Magento has an architecture that allows extensions. Extensions allow 3rd party developers to add functionality to the core system. Over on Magento Connect the official Magento extensions site there are over 3000 extensions from erp/crm integration through to iPhone support both free and open source to some quite expensive premium extensions.

I am currently working on a few Magento sites and below is a quick list of some of the extensions I am planning on trying out:

I have been lucky enough to have helped out at both of the first two Birmingham Social Media Surgeries for Voluntary and Community Projects. I have really enjoyed both and have also learnt a lot from the people I have met.

I should hopefully be able to attend the next Surgery which will be held on Wednesday 28th January. Full details can be found on Nick Booths Podnosh blog:

http://www.podnosh.com/blog/2009/01/21/birmingham-social-media-surgery-for-voluntary-and-community-groups-iii/