Monday, April 19, 2010

Breakout Session Notes from DigitalNow 2010 - 1

I attended several breakout sessions at DigitalNow that, as usual, provided lots for me to consider as I look at WATDA's limited budget and try to gauge the wants and needs of WATDA members.

From the session on the Semantic web: What is wrong today is that we have to sort through results based upon key words. The system only understands words as a token and there are problems when the same word has different meaning, e.g. tea party; or different words have the same meaning, e.g. organization/company; or different words have related meanings e.g. "organization" meaning company, charity or trade union.

Semantic programs pull information index and tag it and then add context so that when you access the information you don't have to sort through multiple results with widely disparate meanings in order to find what you're searching for. Semantic programs also add sentiment rules so that when you say good/lousy the software "understands" what you mean.

What does semantic web mean for WATDA? Not much at the moment. What it would probably be wonderfully useful in accessing our legal database, it is too costly a product to purchase for something we currently give away free to members.

My hope is that we'll start seeing semantic rules cropping up in search engines (bing supposedly has some) and that we'll eventually be able to have semantic search without cost.

From the Disney session on innovation: Keys to a Collaborative Culture include

  1. passion for the purpose
  2. shared values
  3. communication - people want to be a part of something - get them to buy-in
  4. trust - when I put my idea out there it will at least be heard and considered
  5. variety of perspective - not just from those in the board room

Also use "Yes, and..." and "Yes, if..."statements instead of "No". For example, Walt wanted to have a zoo at Disneyland, CA. Instead of telling Walt no, his team said, "Yes, and we'll have to figure out where we'll house the animals when they aren't on display," and "Yes, if we can find space to store their food." By using the "Yes, and..." and "Yes, if..." method, Walt's designers were able to help him to see that live animals at Disneyland weren't feasible because of the space involved -- without telling him that animals were a bad idea. Walt went on to build animatronic animals to accomplish the experience he was hoping to achieve. And, 40 years later, Walt's dream was realized at Animal Kingdom in Disney World, FL.

A few other brainstorming tactics:

  1. Pick a card - using index cards (involve people from all areas of business)
    Enter an opportunity sentence, for example "Employee paychecks will be electronically deposited in a weekly basis."
    Select 4 critical words to spark thought - pass the cards around have people write 1 word per card and then go through the pile and pick the best 4. In the example, "paycheck, electronically, deposited, weekly"
    Assign colors of index cards for each word look/write words that come to mind.
    Take the cards and develop a slogan or message that is relevant and understandable.
  2. Blue sky - this is a round robin imagining session. Example: I have a bag of rocks and I'd like to start a coffee shop. How can I relate the two?
  3. Storytelling - begin traditional brainstorming with story so that everyone understands the meaning of their activity.

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