Category Archives: Productivity

Repurposing Content (actual Wiki article I wrote at work months ago)

Just what does it mean when we say that content is being “repurposed”?

In a nutshell repurposing means taking existing content and using in different ways to reach a wider and more varied audience.  The focus here is trying to get the most mileage out of the content that companies invest in.  Rather than restricting production and distribution to a single product in either print or PDF online, take the whole work or even pieces of it and create an entirely new product to meet a different demand.  XML (Extensible Mark Up Language) plays a large part in the ability to be flexible when these opportunities present themselves.

For example, in a recent author discussion about a forth coming book, which surveys topics in American Law for first year law students, the following repurposing opportunities were identified:

  • Content Feed to Open Web Projects – Using parts of the book to provide content in practice area primers on the New Attorney Hub, a LexisNexis open-web site that caters to the needs of 3Ls and recent graduates.  While there is no revenue attached to such an effort, excerpts can be used to promote the original book, the authors and their projects outside of the Lexis system.  Here, the author gets exposure for their projects, the book gets exposure, and the New Attorney Hub gets content.
  • Introducing the Content in an Online Menu to the International Market – a book like this, which is not your typical case book, could easily be adapted as part of an International menu on b/c attorneys around the world are always looking for comprehensive and condensed overview material on U.S. Law.
  • Creating Forms for Practitioner Use – original commentary or checklists could be extracted into forms that can repackaged to the practitioner market.
  • Podcasts of the Book – in the Millennial generation (today’s average law student) everyone wants to multitask and learn how they want to learn.  Offering a downloadable podcast of the book which could be created easily by the authors with simple and inexpensive tools.  These can even be automated through a service like Odiogo (see my post about this & subscribe to my audiofeed to the right).
  • Contribute to Rule of Law Knowledge Banks – there are many sites devoted to the Rule of Law around the world.  Often attorneys working to establish or defend this cause do not have the funding to access premium information.  Content can be donated to knowledge banks or open web projects like the LexisNexis Rule of Law Resource Center to promote these worthy causes.

The point is this: traditional publishing involves a receipt of content from the author, a period of editing, production of the content into a PDF file, and the publishing of a single book.  When a new edition is needed rinse, lather, repeat …

With new technologies we have an opportunity to stretch the life of the same content across platforms and audiences.  When it comes to repurpose, we are only constrained by imagination and willingness to be think in different boxes. Opportunities like the ones cited above embody the essence of repurpose.  This is not a call for abandoning the current course blindly for wild and unpredictable trends.  It means positioning content development to use current resources in different ways to maximize value, while keeping relevant, profitable, and innovative.



Filed under Productivity, Technology

Building An Employee Community

Employee communities, internal social media platforms built for employee engagement by the employer, can be a wild success and source of innovation or an incredible flop. I have seen examples of both first hand. So how do you make your employee community an engaging place that workers will care about?

There are three primary tactics for building a powerful employee community:

1. Usefulness and relevance to day to day work, and a genuine value placed on engagement by senior leadership

2. Incentives

3. Passion for community and real opportunities to make a difference through it

Usefulness, Relevance, and Value

Leaders must make participation in the community useful to achieve the day-to-day work of the employee.  This may mean diverting conversations away from email and onto message boards.  Really progressive companies may want to get rid of email ENTIRELY and use only their internal social networking platform for messaging.  To do this of course, your system would need to have the functionality to tag, sort, and archive in-mail messages, but the key to abandoning email for community discussion platforms is changing the behavior of employees to have primary discussions on public or private threads rather than on fragmented email chains.

Expectations in business today are not always reasonable.  We’ve all heard that “build it and they will come” doesn’t apply to online communities.  Fostering true engagement and participation means making what goes on in the community relevant.  To be relevant, the conversations, content, and other activity within the community need to translate to real-world objectives, action, and results.  Any community platform you build for your workers is a tool – just like putting in a phone system didn’t start making employees innovate, putting in a community with fancy tools is just the first step; it will not cure your innovation problem.  What a community platform can do, however, is level the playing field for ideas to be heard.  That is what we mean by relevance.

Beyond the day-to-day behaviors moving to new tools, is the work product on your system valued?  When people put out ideas on the community who champions them?  Do you have a way of measuring the best contributions (not just the most)?  All these questions hint at the value placed on what goes up in the community and the value extracted from it.  Again, these are just tools.  Let me say that one more time: these are just tools.  They have the potential to change the way we work and add incredible value, but only if we first see how our old tools can be replaced.


Money is one of the last on this list.  The most powerful incentive is when someone believes what they are doing is important.  Without this our efforts in a community or the very work we do just seems aimless.  How can you make what is going on in your community important?  This is the million dollar question, but a good place to start, what is important about the work you are doing now?  What are the goals of your company?  How you better reach them by using your community to communicate the mission, objectives, steps, and progress?  These questions all go to making the work you do on your community focused and important.

Beyond this, the community is a place where senior leaders can become real to employees, much the way celebrities have used social media to interact with fans.  Try having an executive write a regular blog where he solicits feedback and responds to comments received.  Another tactic is to create an innovation lab forum, where employees are invited to submit ideas for new directions the company can take the business in.  The highest rated ideas can be green lighted and those individuals or teams chosen to work directly with top level people to make them happen.  These are just some examples of non-tangible incentives that resonate with employees.  Give them a stage.

Passion and Making a Difference

Find your cheerleaders early.  Even better if they are people others in the company already respect.  Create a team of superusers, not just in name.  Make it part of their work to meet regularly, grow the group, and lay out a clear path for others to join their ranks (this is not so much an exclusive club as it is a milestone).  These users are the ones along with senior leadership who should be listening and fostering engagement in the community.  Hiring a dedicated community manager is also a good idea.

Passion that doesn’t translate to change is just enthusiasm.  An organization needs to commit to the new course that the group conscience of the company begins to plot.  Your community is worthless if it can’t change things in your company.  If you are “the decider” ask yourself: am I just going to do what I want anyway?  If so, your community exists to give the illusion of progress.  And what a shame, because it will be a missed opportunity to take your business to the next level that you know it needs to hit.

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How to Listen on the Web

Social media makes everybody …

A NEWS STUDIO – sites like Daily Me allow republishing of personalized news

A MOVIE STUDIO – “You Tube Video Lands $30 Million Movie Deal

A PUBLISHING COMPANY – social publishing

A GOSSIP COLUMN Perez Hilton became one of the most read columnists in Hollywood.

With everyone contributing something on the web, attention becomes our most sought after commodity.  How is anyone supposed to listen with all this chatter?  The way I do it is pretty simple.  Between Google Reader and Alerts, my iPhone, and Twitter I can keep a pretty good tabs on all the things I want to hear.  This is my abbreviated step-by-step guide to filtering out the noise.

Get a Google Reader account.

This will allow you to aggregate subscription content from webistes through RSS feeds usually by clicking the little icon that looks like this:

You will then get updates whenever the site content changes.  The best way to use your RSS Reader is to scan the headlines for anything that looks like something you want to digest.  Star items that you want to come back to or email them to yourself (there are other applications for reading RSS items later, such as Readitlater or Instapaper, but I want everything in one place).  Google Reader keeps starred items in a separate folder for you.  Using this method will allow you to get through your RSS inbox rather quickly, keeping it from piling up.  If you’re anything like me you get about 400 updates per day – reading everything is not an option and stopping to read while you are doing your sorting will only result in more pile up.

Get a Google Alerts account.

RSS subscriptions are great for keeping up with the sites you know about, but what about those sites you don’t know about?  To listen on the web you need to be able to customize what content gets fed to you.  Enter Google Alerts, step 2 of setting up your listening post.  Simply type in the term you want to receive alerts about, change the preferences to receive updates in your Google Reader, and you are done.  Anytime that term or terms hit Google’s index you will be sent an RSS alert.  You can customize alerts for immediate delivery or daily digest.

NOOB quick tip: put terms like “social media” or other multiple word searches in “quotation marks” so that Alerts look for the full term.

Get an iPhone

We are not going into the details of getting an iPhone, but the takeaway here is that having a mobile device to read your feeds makes filtering, maintaining, and digesting the information much easier.  I will check and filter feeds while walking the dog, waiting in line, and sitting on the bus.  The app I use to read my feeds is called MobileRSS, a totally free reader that has a lot of functionality.  My favorite feature is the ability to send feed items to Twitter, Email, or other places with 1-click.  This allows me and my network to follow up on items of interest that I find.  For example, after seeing and scanning Martin Reed’s post Online Community Metrics: numbers you need to pay attention to, I emailed the item to my team from MobileRSS.  While I filtered the rest of my RSS list and then came back to the post to read it in depth, other team members had set up a meeting to discuss metrics in our community, drafted an agenda, and looked forward to discussing the issue.  We recently had a productive meeting and figured out some new strategies based on this golden nugget from my listening post.

A Word About Twitter

Besides Google alerts, I also use Tweetdeck to listen.  Tweetdeck is a 3rd party application that lets you maintain columns which monitor Twitter.  The columns can watch your network’s activity, mentions about you, direct messages, Twitter trends, or any topic you specify in search.  The usefulness here is when I’m working on Twitter related items and don’t want to keep checking my Google Reader.  Since I have Tweetdeck open anyway to send messages for the company, I can simultaneously monitor Twitter for chatter about our company or any subject I am interested in.  We will have to see how Google Real-time Search changes the usefulness of Tweetdeck, but for now I find it to be a good tool in the box.

So there you have it: the ways I listen on the web.  What are your methods?  Do you use any of these tools or something different (ex/ Net Vibes)?  Does your company use a service like Radian6 to professionally monitor?

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    Three Tips for Work-Life-Online-Balance

    Admitted, I’m not the best when it comes to time management. There are so many things that interest me finding time to do them all is no easy task. There is work, of course, which I have to make time for, helping with the kids, and my religious obligations (daily prayer), but what about the other things, like exercise, kung fu, writing, blogging, all those things that pepper the interest column on any online profile? Finding time for those things is difficult. Here are three tips I use to get the most out of balancing my multiple life interests.

    1. Setting minimum blog posts per month – right now mine is at least two posts per month. I like to do two per week or more, but have had a hard time posting on consistent days. Perhaps this can be a New Years resolution?

    2. Mobile multi-tasking – I’m writing this post on my iPhone (please excuse typos) while watching Shana play in the garden. Getting things done on the go has been helpful to me. Some of the best tasks for this situation are reviewing email, checking RSS reader feeds, and making to-do lists.

    3. Exercising on-the-go or in ten minute increments – one of the best things about moving to Jerusalem has been riding my bike. I use it to get everywhere and even pimped it out yesterday with a basket and baby seat. In the meantime, I am getting a ton of exercise while commuting. Another trick I use is exercising in ten minute bursts throughout the day. When I used to work in an office, I’d go to an empty conference room, run through a series of Kung fu or breathing exercises, and finish off with some push ups and sit ups. In my home office I can do this right in my workspace.

    I’m going to go do some balancing now and build a walker for Gilad, but I’m imterested to know what your tips for balancing work, life, and online participation are. Do you set a schedule for yourself, make lists, or just wing it? What activities work best on the go? How important is this subject in your life?

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    How to Use a Double Stroller as a Cart for “Light” Shopping

    Here is a lifehacker tip from me about how to use a City Mini Double Stroller as a cart for “light” shopping.

    Out with the kids for some "light" shopping. Yes - my daughter is a candle for Chanukah.

    And here’s how to use the shades on the City Mini to secure canned goods and other items:

    See how much stuff you can stick in the folds of the shade?

    Also, you can stuff things in the two netted pockets attached to each seat and the bottom basket.  Happy Chanukah and happy shopping!

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    Where the Hell is that Email: Searching Microsoft Outlook

    This is a really quick post (promise) b/c I am being picked up for the airport in 25 minutes.  What is the best tool for searching in Microsoft Outlook?  Let’s admit, the native search on Outlook 2007 sucks (sorry for the potty mouth but it is the only way to describe it).  I have been using the Xobni plug in and highly recommend it.  Not only does Xobni offer lightening fast search, but it creates profiles and statistics on everyone who sends you email, including pulling pictures and information on them from sites liked Linkedin.  Now a friend of mine at a bankruptcy firm swears by a program called Look Out.  Problem is this thing is a dinosaur.  If you can find a copy to download, it basically just works as a search function.  Now maybe that is elegant and streamlined and all that, but I expect more from my tools these days.  What other Outlook tools have you found that are must haves for search and mail functions?

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    Synergy – My New Holy Grail

    So I’ve got this sick set up in my office right?  24” iMac, Dell laptop going into dual screens through a docking station, and a nice new desk to sit it all on (no more card table for me!).  One problem though (make that two), I’m sitting here with two sets of peripherals (keyboards and mice). This is just entirely too much clutter for a minimalist like myself.

    Enter Synergy, my saving grace.  It is a program from Sourceforge that made a big splash in 2006 for its ability to allow a single mouse and keyboard to run across multiple operating systems.  If I could get this to work, then I could just keep my slick mac keyboard and mighty mouse, and move between all three screens.  The tutorials and videos out there all touted how easy setup would be (see below).

    Yet here it is, two weeks later and I still can’t get it to work.  Well, that’s not entirely true; today I managed to get the mighty mouse on all three screens.  One problem though, I can only do this when I am not connected to my VPN.  Since I live and work in Jerusalem, VPN is my lifeline to making a living and it is the only way I can access a lot of my tools for community management.

    Synergy does not work with VPN.  At least that’s the general consensus out there.  One possible solution I found involved a bit of work:

    Since I don’t have a static IP for my DSL connection, I 1st had to setup dyndns so that my IP is findable via DNS. I then had to set up a port forward for synergy on my router to always send the synergy port to my PC that acts as the server. Then my VPN’d box is a client of the server, and uses the dyndns host name to reach it.

    Not really sure if this will solve it b/c the guy had a physical KM switch (hardware that manages the keyboard mouse switch) for Synergy failures, but it may be worth a try.  It’s driving me nuts to have to switch back and forth between peripherals all the time.  Does anyone have a solution for me out there?


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