Monthly Archives: November 2009

Can BuddyPress serve the enterprise social networking market?

buddypress-logoWordPress is one of the best known PHP-based blogging platform. It serves as a trusted platform for both personal and enterprise blogs, including brands such as AMD, Best Buy, Ford, General Electric, and Wall Street Journal (source). It is also very extensible: WordPress bloggers can customize their blog by installing one of the many free (or pay) themes and extensions that provide enhance the functionality (like Twitter Integration and Ratings & Reviews). Overall, WordPress is a flexible, lightweight blogging platform.

Recently, the WordPress development created multiple flavors of their platform. One of the flavors is called BuddyPress. It is described as a social networking layer on top of a multi-user WordPress installation. The primary difference between the standard WordPress platform and this flavor is that BuddyPress is pre-configured with standard, social networking functionality, including:

  • User Profile
  • Statuscasting (Activity Stream)
  • Buddylist
  • Forums

The WordPress team recognizes the future convergence of blogging and social networking platforms, especially for internal collaboration. Both kinds of platforms allow users to participate in two way communications, which is the hallmark of Web 2.0 websites. Microsoft has also recognized this trend and has responded by releasing SharePoint 2010.

As an internal collaboration solution, BuddyPress posses slew of social networking features that enterprises require, including LDAP/AD integration (thank you @apeatling). But enterprises also require LDAP/AD integration capabilities to assist with user management (since one would expect more users/employees at enterprise installations than at small business installations). The shear number of users/employees makes LDAP/AD integration a critical user management feature to enterprises. However, employees may start the collaboration process via a tool other than a blog (eg: a Wiki, an email, a chat session, etc.). And regardless of where they start, enterprises need to utilize a social measurement tool to better understand the value of their community to their members. These tools are present in enterprise solutions such as Telligent (see Harvest social measurement tool). Of course that comes at a price.

For now, BuddyPress is the prefect social networking solution for companies where the conversation originates in a blog or forum.

Desparately seeking a Google Wave client

I’m constantly looking at new technologies at Engauge. So when Google announced that I can set up my very own Wave Server, I naturally jumped on this opportunity. To speed up the process, I set up an Ubuntu server on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and followed their instructions. And after some pain (and some help), here’s the result:

google-wave-console

The above is a screenshot of the console client of me connecting to our Wave Server. If you’re old school, you’ll recognize the telnet-like screenshot. Unfortunately, it is nothing like the slick Wave client that Google provides.

That got me thinking — are there no good Wave Clients out there?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used Waveboard and I think that federating a Google Wave server is cool but what I really want to do is to share the Google Wave love with those at our company that do not have a Wave account at the moment.

Google Dashboard gets Google ahead of privacy police

Last week, Google rolled out a new service called Google Dashboard. The service was designed to help users better understand what information Google collects about them:

The dashboard is a welcomed service for two reasons:

It is an initial privacy control mechanism. While Google remains heavily dependent on search, Google continues to expand their services offering. In reviewing these services, it has become clear that Google controls every medium of communication with the exception of fax and snail mail:

google-services

NOTE: Google has Gmail (Email), Google Chrome (Web Browser), Google Wave and Google Talk (Chat/IM/Video), and Android and Google Voice (Mobile, Phone).

If Google decides to continue their acquisition streak, Google may find themselves in the eyesight of privacy advocates that are worried about Google owning too much information about you. If Google sits on the sidelines, Google may be forced eventually to disclose personal information to their end users or to limit the information that they can collect. The Google Dashboard gives Google leverage over privacy advocates in that they give you control over your information.

It prepares users for Google Chrome OS. A few months ago, Google announced the development of an OS for netbooks (source). Additionally, Google is known for their exceptional user experience. It seems that the Google Dashboard makes an initial attempt at consolidating account preferences into a single view, a feature that one would expect when Google releases their OS.

While the Google Dashboard is by no means perfect, it is a fine start.