How mini-feed and other streams revolutionized IT


Web 2.0 brought us a lot of interesting things, approaches and solutions, so it's hard to imagine how we ever managed without it. Most of us are half addicted to floating around in cyberspace, looking at what people are doing and talking to everybody at once. It is a little social revolution that we are witnessing, and it doesn't seem it will end soon. Web 2.0 changed our everyday lives, but for an IT expert such as myself, these new concepts also have a big influence on other sciences and in our case, they will change management, organization and corporate IT forever.

Besides the whole social networking concept, one feature of Web 2.0 stands our as one of the main building blocks of this new paradigm. Call it the news stream, mini feed, activity log or whatever, it is the little information report that makes you come back every hour to see what other people are doing and if something new happened. Without it, Web 2.0 portals and services would be boring and useless, and they definitely wouldn't be as attractive interactive as they are.

Besides being cool and addictive, the mini feed is also a major shift in the presentation of data and information. Until it came around, data was static, but now, we can notice that data has the ability to become dynamic. In Web 2.0, this feature was "invented" to amuse users, but this approach is also fully applicable to business oriented software. Imagine a corporate solution that is intended for project management, where projects are consisted of tasks that have people working on them. The simplified dashboard for a project would probably look something like the table below.

Two weeks agoToday
Write the documentation (John - Completed)Write the documentation (John – Completed)
Delegate tasks (John – Active)Delegate tasks (Mary – Complete)
Design wireframes (Mary – Active)Design wireframes (Mary – Active)
Enter data (Unassigned)Enter data (Simon – Active)
Make HTML (Simon – Active)Make HTML (Simon – Complete)

The two dashboards, even though they represent the same project two weeks apart, look quite similar, and they actually don't give those, who are not directly connected with the project and people working on it a lot of information about the flow of activities, data and work. This data represented is static. But if we add another layer of mini feed / activity report on the same case, things start looking more interesting and give a lot more information about the project. The data becomes dynamic. When we look at the dashboard above, we don't really know that this is what actually happened with our project.

  • 12 days ago – John changed the status of the task Write the documentation to Active.
  • 10 days ago – John added a new note to the task Write the documentation.
  • 10 days ago – John changes the status of the task Write the documentation to Completed.
  • 8 days ago – John made Mary responsible for the task Delegate tasks.
  • 8 days ago – Mary made Simon responsible for the task Enter data.
  • 6 days ago – Mary added a new task Contact client.
  • 5 days ago – Simon changed the status of the task Make HTML to complete.
  • 3 days ago – Mary deleted the task Contact client.
  • 2 days ago – John added a new file to the task Make HTML.
  • 2 days ago – Mary changed the status of the task Make HTML to Incomplete.
  • 1 day ago – Simon added a new note to the task Make HTML.
  • Today – Simon changed the status of the task Make HTML to Complete.

This dynamic component wasn’t available in business oriented software until now, except in the most sophisticated analytical systems, where data mining and other high level approaches provided dynamic information. Using Web 2.0 approaches such as the mini feed, operational and transactional information systems finally got the dynamic component too. Not to amuse, but to inform.

These are the approaches we use and things we think about when developing our software solutions. There are actually more useful applications of the mini feed we already noticed, but some mystery must remain. If you are interested, say hi to Neolab, one of the first companies in the world to offer fully integrated Web 2.0 features in business oriented software, all part of the IT 2.0 concept we are developing, for which already got an award for. Made in Slovenia, shipping worldwide.

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written 17.1.2010 17:59 CET on chronolog
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