Mont Ventoux, the echo chamber, web 2.0 and a good cause

There is a hill in France called Mont Ventoux, and some of us are going to ride up it for charity at the end of September. 

some stats from wikipedia

South from Bédoin: 22 km over 1610 m. This is the most famous and difficult ascent. The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.6%. Until Saint-Estève, the climb is easy, but the 16 remaining kilometres have an average gradient of 10%. The last kilometres have strong, violent winds. The ride takes 2-3 hours for trained amateur individuals, and professionals can ride it in 1-1.5 hours. The fastest time so far recorded has been that of Iban Mayo in the individual climbing time trial of the 2004 Dauphiné Libéré: 55' 51". The time was measured from Bédoin for the first time in the 1958 Tour de France, in which Charly Gaul was the fastest at 1h 2' 9".

Sig of thingamy  is game, as is Hamish of the Cardboard Spaceship, we are working on some others, and we welcome any other bloggers (and non-bloggers) to join us. I'm hoping to do sub 2 hours, but I will be happy just to get to the top.

We thought it would be great to see how blogging etc can help a good cause, and we are using a Wiki (thehughpage), the web and so on to help organise things.  No doubt Sig and Hamish will tap Hugh for a cartoon or two. (update Cartoon has arrived)

  Good old fashioned bug friends, family and colleagues  techniques will be deployed too. 

So we are looking for some fellow mad people for the ride, and of course, your cash.

War is a wicked thing.

Read hugh's post quoting W.H Auden, and then image it with children.

We have registered  at, raising money for warchild. But feel free to set up your own if you want, and link it to the wiki.

..( I learnt about the justgiving site from a colleague at SAP UK who ran the london marathon, it is a simple and safe way to donate.

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I knew English lit would come in useful one day.

 The other day, while searching the web for something entirely different I found this

(serendipity indeed), what a fabulous blog, and compared to many analyst reports and marketing materials, remarkably easy to read…(once you get used to it)

My gentil rederes alle, what merveilous werkes we see yn thys tyme. BSL! Several sithes within oon daies space ich am astonyed with the wonderful werkynges of the Internette. Trewely, yt beth a thyng of grete wisdam and power.

I especially liked this post, and the comment about java (see bold below)

Dear Geoff:

I'm changing the taps on a plastic bathtub. I've got a cranked spanner to loosen off the tail nuts, but I'm worried that the corrosion on the threads is so bad they're not going to come off, or that I might damage the fabric of the tub trying. Because I'm working in a restricted space (the cavity between the tub and the wall – about four inches) sawing would take ages, and the fact that the tub is plastic would make trying to burn the corrosion off pretty risky, too. I've tried loosening off with a synthetic penetrating oil, but all it seems to be doing is making the tails greasy.

What do you recommend?


Frustrated DIYer

My deere Mayster Frustratede Dyere,

Ich do much wondre that a welthy mayster of the Dyeinge crafte swich as yowrself sholde haue a fyne and riche bathynge tvbbe with runnyge watir and yet haue nat the moneye for to payen men wyse yn tvbbe-crafte whane ye nede repairynge of the aforeseyde tvbbe.

For no man in hymself ys sufficiente for al nedes, and therefor as Aristotelis saith in his booke of Politique, diverse men aren ygrouped togedir yn citees and reaumes for to svpplie eche othir wyth hire diverse skilles. Oon man cardeth the woole, oon man spinneth the woole, and an oothir dyeth the woole a fayre colour. Oon man ys skillede yn the husbandrie of beestes, an othir yn the preparacioun of java-basid onlyne gamblynge interfaces, and yet an othir in the produccioun of artificiale guacamole flavour for potato crispes.

Thus, Mayster Dyere, kepe ye to yowr owen crafe of dyemakynge and dyeinge of textiles, and employe sum maysters of tvbberye to fixe yowr bathtube. Also ye maye wisshe to haue installyd sum of those jacuzzi air-jettes; they are helle of swete aftir a longe daye of travel.

It would be nice if writers of software marketing materials would offer a similar glossary. 

Chaucer is a great rollicking read. He was the Hunter S Thompson of his day. The Canterbury tales is the orginal road tour.

Reading this, you can see the shared roots of  English and German. Actually, I have just realised that I don't actually speak German, just a form of middle english.

My regular readers may remember that English lit helped with a pivotal moment a good few years, described here.)

Deutschland, America, flags and the (fifa) world cup.

One of the many things that struck me when I’ve visited the USA is the pride with which many Americans show off their flag and are often openly patriotic. It is not unusual to see huge flagpoles with vast flags in relatively modest gardens.


 Americans often wear their patriotism on their sleeves, literally too. Some find this  jarring, but I don’t.  In business American based companies have used this well, and have effectively marketed the American dream around the world. 

This sense of cheeriness and optimism and belief in “the American way and dream” has helped American business tremedously. 

I think the likes of IBM are beginning to understand the limits of this (see the CEOS letter to the FT) He is dead right about the “colonial” model, and the need to adapt. This relates to software design too, but that would be a book, not just a post….

I grew up in South Africa, and one of the most hated symbols by many was the old flag. But the new flag is a fabulous rallying symbol to all, and is on cars, tee-shirts and flag poles all over the place.

German patriotism is a much more complex thing. Germany’s past is unavoidable, and most Germans are not at all open about being “patriotic” Germans rarely seem to give of the  impression that they are proud to be German, even if they may feel so inside. Instead, complaining about Germany is too cool, and easy to do, and is done too often.

The world cup is changing this, everywhere flags abound. Germans are out there supporting their team, and at the same time feeling good about being German and hosting this magnificent event.  It is helping to create a positive stimmung (feeling) that I havent felt in 10 years of visiting and living here.

I watched a TV programme this morning where one of the politicians was getting upset about this wave of German nationalism. (At least that is what I thought he was on about. political german is nearly as complex as SOA  German.)

I think he is so wrong. Maybe Germans are just realising that it is okay to be proud about where you are from. This is a good thing.

German companies like SAP should do more of the same. Germany is the world export champion at the moment. Here’s hoping that Germany win the World cup too.

MTV get it.

Enterprise 2.0….

Two blogs that I have found well worth reading on Enterprise 2.0 are Ross Mayfield and Andrew Mcafee.

Ross is the CEO of socialtext, which is a Enterprise 2.0 play. They have customers and a compelling story and funding. SAP Ventures invested in them. Socialtext is looking to capitalise on the use of wikis inside the enterprise, and I think it is in the right place at the right time.

Ross's recent post on enterprise 2.0 adoption and CEO awareness is especially interesting.

Andrew Macfee is a Prof at Harvard and he writes about Enterprise 2.0. This blog, more than anywhere else, has helped me understand what this enterprise 2.0 is all about, and more importantly, not about.( I'm a big fan of Max Weber too. I think there is much we can learn from sociology and political philosophy, but I'll save justifying my BA in politics post for another day) He writes clearly and explains things well.

He recently defined:

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers

He goes onto explain emergent, social software and platforms.

The term emergent deserves closer attention, Andrew links emergent to freeform, meaning that the software contains mechanisms to let structures and patterns become visible over time. It evolves. We see this with blogs, linking, wikis and so on. The concept is useful to describe the new wave of tools that aid collaboration, networking and so on.

Previous attempts to "manage unstructured" data and knowledge have largely failed because of the imposition of an apriori structure and overly complex set of rules. Tags, links, trackbacks and so on have worked brilliantly to help categorise the broader blogsphere in a way that a dewey decimal system type imposed structure could never have done.

This is good stuff. I would not like to be trying to sell a traditional KM or intranet system at the moment, because I think the wiki type approach will triumph. It is clear to me that enterprise 2.0 will revolutionise significant chunks of how organisations work with unstructured data. It will also have significant impact on recruitment, project management, succession planning, and other processes that involve informal unstructured interactions. (Jason blogged on myspace careers) It may well even impact how organisations are managed, removing layers of middle management and heirarchies and dramatically improve information flows. Companies like socialtext will thrive.

So far so good, but I have a problem with the term enterprise 2.0.

2.0 implies that is better than what came before. By implication then, enterprise 1.0 is obsolete. I don't think it is. Web2.0 may well make big bits of web 1.0 less relevant, but I dont think the same can be applied to the enterprise application space.

Enterprise 2.0 is by definition about social software. This is a small but important part of the enterprise application picture. Invoicing, paying people, availability to promise, constraints based demand planning, treasury, value at risk, ERP, creditor management, supply chains, compliance, tax and so on are based fundamentally on transactions.

the term is already creating confusion, and it is only a couple of months old. I don't agree with Charlie's point here about being  "In the Enterprise 2.0 space, the most promising platform is's recently-launched AppExchange"

Firstly, I dont think it is enterprise 2.0 (at least by Andrew's definition)

Secondly, I'm not sure that is really a platform. It may become one, but it isnt yet. 

My friend and colleague Jeramiah put it firmly in a recent comment on my blog, "I am looking forward the Market realizing that salesforce etc. are nothing more than johnny-come-lately service bureaus trumped up into tech titans. Schadenfruede."

Zolis post sums up what I'm saying better than I can.

Web 2.0, collaboration is great, it has it's place in the Enterprise, but so do those "ugly complex" transactional systems.  Don't try to run your supply chain on a wiki

Andrew, please come up with another name. (the problem is nowhere near as bad as soa 2.0, but I'd like to see a name without the numbers at the end.)

It is also tempting to neatly partition the data world into structured and unstructured, but the reality is there is a big grey overlap between the two. Let's not move from one set of silos to another. Something to think about for another post.

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Germanness, pimp my SAP and VW

SAP's CEO, Henning Kagerman, recently said somewhere, "SAP is a global company headquartered in Germany."  In a similar vein Shai Agassi mentioned  "Look, SAP is probably the most globalized company you can imagine. We have a headquarters in Germany, an hour south of Frankfurt. But the head of sales is in Paris. And the head of products is in Palo Alto. Our chairman is shuttling between all locations. We mirror our customers"

I've written before on the globalisation challenge at SAP. How SAP organises development clearly requies a global focus, and the HR and people management challenges are significant. I think, though, it is something that Kagermann and co take very seriously. SAP is probably one of the best examples of a global company, in that we don't force one dominant culture onto everyone. We make mistakes, but I think we understand how difficult it is, and that is the big part of managing this…

Over the weekend we had some Americans over to visit. Over coffee after watching a bit of the World Cup, they asked "have you seen the really funny new VW commercials showing in the US?"

 "obviously, no, haven't watched US TV recently, Duh" we said.

Then someone said "check youtube"  Here they are, courtesy of youtube. one, two, three 

This then got me thinking about SAP's marketing and positioning.

The VW adverts do a fabulous job

1) making fun of pimp your ride  

2) making fun of german stereotypes.

They cleverely position solid German engineering at the same time. Pretty cool.

I think we can learn a bit from the chaps in Wolfsburg about marketing in a global world.

1. Be prepared to laugh at ourselves occasionally

2. Being German is not all bad.

3. Enterprise software is serious engineering.

Like, VW, SAP is a global company, with sales, marketing, engineering and design spread all over the world. Like VW, SAP has a strong German heritage. This hasn't stopped VW making use of its German roots in its branding. shock horror,  the german engineering and design traditions and traits are pretty good building blocks for a great global software company too.???

German Engineering in the house….

 Another thought from the commercial….

It is trendy at the moment to focus on pimping enterprise software, adding a little cool bit here and this extra bit here with this funky new 2.0 thingy and so on. What makes VW cars cool in this advert is their design. SAP's long term success will be based on great software design, not the latest and greatest GUI fashion. 

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Gutenberg revisited…network neutrality and copyright

There is a significant issue at hand with network neutrality, like many things, I first read about it on Jeff's blog and I'd urge everyone to spend some time understanding this. It may have a big impact on the future of the internet, not just in the US but globally. Make your own informed opinion. Also check out what tim had to say 

Lawrence Lessig is a must read, buy this book and give it to your mates to read. Those of us that spend time and perhaps earn a living in the web need to learn more about how it is regulated and the challenges it faces. The US government has a tremendous global responsibly in its stewardship of the Internet. My request to you congressmen and congresswomen, "please don't mess it up."

As Vinnie notes, get on to your representatives to make sure that the views other than that of the telcos and the moviemakers get heard.  I'm not sure what we can do sitting here in Europe, but I'm not comfortable at all with these developments. A two-speed internet in the US, would be a bad thing for all of us.

Lessig and other clever law types have written a lot about Internet regulation, and copyright remains one of the most complex and fraught areas. The links between the changing nature of copyright and technology have been well documented, and are at the centre of the assault on network neutrality.  I found this article recently which is well worth a read.

I especially like the comment about the monks…

During the oral argument in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., Justice Stephen Breyer questioned whether the petitioners' counsel would apply the test proposed for the new technology to some once-new technologies, such as the photocopying machine, the videocassette recorder, the iPod, and the printing press. When the counsel quickly responded in the affirmative in each case, Justice Breyer could not help but quip, "[F]or all I know, the monks had a fit when Gutenberg made his press." While the Justice's timely observation unsurprisingly earned laughter from the audience, it also provoked us to rethink the nature, newness, and ramifications of the challenge confronting the entertainment industry today.

I'm worried that the US congress will worry about keeping today's monks happy, instead of defending the rights of the that see a way forward.

10 years ago John Perry Barlow  (who also wrote Grateful Dead Lyrics) wrote .

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I
come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask
you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have
no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address
you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always
speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally
independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral
right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true
reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You
have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not
know us, nor do  you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your
borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public
construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows
itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you
create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our
ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order
than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this
claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't
exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will
identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social
Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our
world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself,
arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications.  Ours is a
world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice
accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her
beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence
or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and
context do not apply to us. They are based on matter, There is no matter

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by
physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest,
and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be
distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our
constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope
we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis.  But we
cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications
Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams
of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These
dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world
where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust
your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly
to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of
humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole,
the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes
from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States,
you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at
the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small
time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in
bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate
themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own
speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be
another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world,
whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed
infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires
your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same
position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had
to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare
our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to
consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the
Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more
humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland
February 8, 1996

We are not in 1996 anymore, and there is a quaint woodstock to his words when we look at it 10 years later.  ( I thought it slightly naff even then)  But the message has never been more important.

The Internet today is clearly one of commerce and industry, but if we want it to continue as place of innovation and expression we need to make sure that the Internet's basic foundation, network neutrality remains intact, and isn't compromised because some existing companies can't make a business model that works. 

 Without web 1.0, there is no web 2.0.  So Hugh we need a cartoon.

PrivacyLaw and Global HR.

(normal legal disclaimer bits here….) 

I have been interested in the implications of the technology and privacy interaction for the last decade or so, and it amazes me that it isn't more of an issue in sales cycles and software implementations.  I wish it was, because German law is quite strict and our enterprisey software does alot to handle the German data protection law that software from across the pond often doesn't have a clue about. (I'll save that rant for another day)

(privacy is in the news at the moment partly because people keep losing laptops with James Bond's details on and the ECJ has ruled on the transfer of airline passenger data to the US, I won't comment on these here)

Why this post?

I received a mail from a US colleague this week, who asked me what to do, as his customer has been told by someone that "under German privacy law it is illegal to have a HR database with Germans on it outside of Germany"

The someone is wrong, but there are a number of buts and myths you need to manage. Privacy law, or Datenschutz is a bigger deal here than it is the US. The German law nowadays is based on the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. (not one for pithy law titles, us Europeans)

1. The law doesn't talk about servers. It rambles on for a while about processing. ('processing') shall mean any operation or set of operations which is performed upon personal data, whether or not by automatic means, such as collection, recording, organization, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, blocking, erasure or destruction;

It has nothing to do with where the hardware sits. The directive was written before the days of SOA, SaaS client server and the like. Someone using a laptop in Kuwait to access a server in Germany is in effect transferring data.

2. The directive is designed to improve the flow of data within the EU, so accessing or moving the data to another EU country shouldn't be an issue. You still need to manage the works council politics carefully though.

3. The directive doesn't like you to transfer data (weird term that) outside of the EU, unless it is to a country with an adequate level of protection. 

4. You can transfer the data to another country, even if it doesnt have a adequate level of protection (like the US) only if you follow certain procedures. This is where things can get messy and complicated.  The options include:

a. Join the safe harbo(u)r (if you are in the US)

b. develop a binding corporate code  This is a relatively new development, and the Schering example here is one of the few publicly accessable examples I could find. The Schering example was approved by the Berlin data protection authorities. GE's code was approved in the UK.

c. use intra-company model contracts (common practice now)

d. use consent (but this has its limits in the employment relationship)

and always treat the data as if it was still in the EU country. (so dont sell it to direct marketers or leave it on the back seat of your car)

I can expand on these in more detail in other posts, and provide a set of more extensive links, just let me know. I'd hate to bore you anymore than I already do.

I would suggest that anyone in the US needing advice on global HR privacy get in touch with Don Harris. He knows his stuff, and is a nice chap too. Ruth Boardman at Bird and Bird, and Christopher Millard at Linklaters are other experts I've worked with in Europe on Data protection issues. Despite being lawyers, they are personable, knowledgeable and a pleasue to work with.

So, if someone says we can't do a global HR system because of German privacy law, they are likely to be wrong, but be prepared for a lot of buts… My advice is to some reading, and get some advice from an expert consultant and a law firm who have real experts in this area.

If you think the Germans are tough on this, check out the Spanish. Linklaters recently reported on this. (if you are interested in more you should check out their site, it is a super example of a law firm using the web effectively to reach clients. The whitepapers are really useful, not just marketing. (software companies could learn  from them) It is risky cutting and pasting from a law firm website (see my earlier post on copyright), but here goes….

The fine imposed by the Spanish Data Protection Authority, the AEPD, on Zeppelin in this case is a salient reminder of just how seriously the matter is taken in some parts of the European Union.

Zeppelin is the Spanish producer of the television programme "Gran Hermano", the Spanish version of the popular reality TV format "Big Brother". Internet hackers managed to access details about 1,700 potential contestants on the show, and in some cases the information included details of their mental health, IQs and credit history.

While Zeppelin tried to claim that it was the innocent victim of illegal hacking activity, the incident brought to light various data protection infringements. Zeppelin was the unhappy recipient of a euro 1,081,822 fine, the highest imposed by the AEPD in a single administrative proceeding to date, and the highest anywhere in the European Union.

The breaches of the Spanish DPA committed by Zeppelin were listed as:

  1. not obtaining their express consent for the processing of sensitive data;
  2. not fulfilling the requirements for data processing by third parties, it therefore being deemed that a disclosure of data which had not been consented to had taken place; and
  3.  not complying with regulations on security measures.

Serious stuff indeed….

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