An All New Monktoberfest, Putting Society First

Trips to Portland are never complete w/o some Speckled Ax coffee to jumpstart the day & the brainIf you’ve spent any time around me in the fall, you know that my favorite conference, by far, is the annual Monktoberfest. Hosted by Redmonk every year in Portland, Maine (aka Real Portland), Monktoberfest operates at the intersection of technology and social. I like to think of it as taking craft technology, craft beer, and mixing it together to find ways to make the world a better place.

This year Stephen O’Grady took it up a notch. The 12 months since the previous Monktoberfest have been, at best, tumultuous. This is not a phenomenon of any single industry or country. It feels like the coming to head of various forces in society that is making people of all walks of life realize that they have had enough.

Seeing, and feeling, this unfold made Stephen create the most important non-technical, tech conference you need to attend.

Principles, Values, and Doing the Right Thing

The conference started with Brian Cantrill. I was excited because the energy Brian gives off during his talks is phenomenal. He grabbed our attention and didn’t let go as he looked at the concepts of principles and values.

Likening principles as those “inalienable rights” found in the Declaration of Independence, Brian said that many companies conflate the two. I see this more in tech than in the rest of the business world but the key is values. What does your organization prioritize as desired behaviors? Values should be reflected in every decision that an organization makes.

After taking down Amazon’s “principles”, Brian eviscerated Uber. As he deconstructed their values, it was quickly obvious why Uber is in the trouble they are in. Their values are not designed to lead to good decisions or a healthy culture.

Four values in particular were called out by Eric Holder and Tammy Albarrán, partners at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, in their report when Convington investigated Uber’s behaviors earlier this year.

  • Let Builders Build
  • Always Be Hustlin’
  • Meritocracy and Toe-Stepping
  • Principled Confrontation

Brian tore into these values. As he mentioned some of the bad acts by Uber, he would quickly cited a value. Brian saying, “Always be hustlin’,” will be echoing in every attendees brain for quite some time.

Organizations need to look at their principles and values. What do they stand for? People at all levels need to understand what their work is going to be used to do. Are you creating the next Greyball to allow your firm to skirt the attention of regulators? If you’re creating algorithms to control cars, are you putting safety first or are you letting your cars run red lights at crosswalks near schools?

Stepping Up

Sitting on the sidelines is clearly no longer an option. Many talks educated attendees on different challenges in society. We learned the reality and numbers behind Gerrymandering and how innovation impacts the entire job market. There was a great talk by Clara Beyer who funneled her skills into creating websites to help people make a difference and not simply sit on social media complaining.

We also learned that the successful take a few moments to realize they are really making a difference and doing things the right way.

There were a multitude of conversations, inspired by the talks, talking about not only what we can do but how to make a bigger difference. How can we influence more people to sit up, take notice, and do something?

Drawing the Line

It all starts with personal responsibility. Educate and act. You don’t have to start a movement. There are organizations galore out there to help any cause you feel most passionate about. No matter what drives you, do something!

If you don’t have time, give money. Setup a monthly donation of any amount to help. If 1% of the US have $10 a month to a cause, that’s $32 million a month. That is enough to create a movement.

That said, find the time. Getting society to a point where we are no longer dealing with what feels like a weekly, or sometimes daily, crisis is worth spending time to address.

  • Show up to a rally to get counted.
  • No rallies near you? Make 5 phone calls.
  • Defend people when someone acts out of hate. Say something!
  • Bring your skills to the table.

Is the work you do daily meaningful. Are you building the next juicer or finding a way to provide services to those in need? Are you working to fix things or are you just blindly executing tasks that can be used against the greater good?

I’ve studied a lot of history. I’m going to leave the gloomy predictions out of this. TV is handling that just fine. I will say that individually, if you can make a difference in just one person’s life, that is worth doing. Collectively, if we each make a small difference, together we can make a difference in society.

Perhaps each of us can inspire others to act.

That’s what Redmonk and the Monktoberfest speakers did this year. They inspired action. Now let’s see where that leads.

Focusing on the Local by Joining the NCC-AIIM Executive Committee

Hanging out at AIIM Nats night w/ (left to right) Mark Mandel, AIIM Vice-Chair Mark Patrick, and dedicated AIIM staffer Theresa ResekI’ve talked a little bit here about the need to improve the local communities for information management. It is an area that ARMA does better than other groups in the industry but their focus and members can be intimidating for those who aren’t records managers. AIIM chapters are a decent alternative but there are a lot of challenges.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been chatting offline with some chapter leaders from both associations, brainstorming ideas, and trying to think of ways to improve the local community. Some of these discussions became more focused when Kevin Parker became the president of the local AIIM chapter, NCC-AIIM. During one of these discussions I agreed to join the chapter’s executive committee.

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Book Review: Women In Tech

This is the book you need to buyIt’s been a while since I wrote a book review, mostly because I’ve been reading fiction and history, neither of which really fit this blog. However I just finished a book that definitely deserves a review, Women In Tech.

First, the TLDR: Read the book!

Women in Tech was written by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack in conjunction with women drawn from across the tech world. It is a blend of a career guidebook and inspirational stories written by women from different backgrounds. Each woman has made their unique mark in the industry.

Before I get much further with this review, it must be noted that as a man, I am not the primary target for this book. That is not to say I didn’t gain value from reading it. Far from it.

I learned a lot and enjoyed reading the book. Women in Tech is well written, humorous at times, and I highly recommend it for anyone in the tech industry. One last note, as women were the primary audience, my perspective on the book should be considered in that light.

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Information Governance, Moving on from Content

Has Content build holding us prisoner, making us miss the bigger picture?When I dove into the debate on Content Services and ECM, my conclusion was fairly straightforward.

Look at your information flow. Follow it and find new ways to make it flow faster. If you can do that and know where your information is at anytime, you are done.

There is a lot of detail buried under that relatively straightforward statement. Content Services is part of a broader trend in the content management space and is here to stay. It has been here since CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) entered the picture almost a decade ago but now people are seeing it as more than a way to integrate systems.

The problem is that ECM (Enterprise Content Management) is still just part of the picture. Even if we use the latest tools without regard to the latest buzz words that define them. If we just focus on the content we are failing to solve what needs to be solved.

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ECM, Content Services, or Just Doing It?

"It's deja-vu all, all over again." - Yogi BerraRecently, Gartner issued a note announcing The Death of ECM and Birth of Content Services. This has been met with several, mixed responses. Many pointed out to Gartner that many of us have been talking about this for years. I wrote a post on Content Services, Not ECM back in 2013. Going even further back, the concept of Content Services is core to Content Management Interoperability Services. In 2009 I outlined the three fundamental use cases for CMIS, or any content service.

I could spend all day linking to old posts but I want to take some time to bring something new to the discussion. A lot has changed over the years and perspectives have been refined. The last few days have seen my mind wandering and debating this whole topic in my spare, and not so spare, time.

Let me sum it up for you, it is a false dichotomy. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is not a thing you buy. It should not be taken into isolation. Content Services is useless as a replacement as it is completely different.

Let me break this down.

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Revisiting the Content Management Frontier

Scene from the movie Alive, dead bodies in the snowTwo years ago, a journal was discovered while excavating in the Trough of Disillusionment of Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technologies. The journal told a story of fear, distrust, and desperation.

Today another tome was discovered. Written hastily in the margins of an IDOL manual was the following text. It is estimated that this was written two days after the conclusion of the previously discovered journal (which you should read 1st). The author is unknown.

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Saying Goodbye to Documentum

One year ago, when Dell announced it was buying EMC, I wrote,

If you see Open Text or CA buy the ECD, start lighting the funeral pyres because Documentum would be officially brain dead and waiting for the machines to be turned off.

Well, it happened. OpenText acquired Documentum. This brings to end the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) wars that began almost 20 years ago. Back then, the leaders were FileNet, Documentum, Oracle, and OpenText. FileNet is buried at IBM who is flirting with Box. Oracle is struggling to reestablish itself after bringing on former Documentum leaders but they are fading away.

This morning, OpenText announced their acquisition of Documentum. I was hesitant to predict that OpenText was going to buy Documentum. It was the obvious prediction and I knew that it would be a chunk of change. $1.62 billion was the final price which covers the $600 million OpenText raised in May and another billion of debt commitment provided by Barclays for this transaction.

I suspect that nobody else was willing to pay EMC that much.

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