Domino, Notes and videotape
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Barry RosenThe Norwegian IBM Collaboration Solutions User Group’s (ISBG) spring meeting was held at PwC in Oslo on June 7th and 8th. Around 60 ISBG members, presenters, IBM-partners and people from IBM were there during the course of those two days.

Wednesday started with Roger Johannessen wishing everyone welcome for the very last time as leader of ISBG. From there we moved straight on to Mac Guidera’s keynote. His focus was on how employees today are flooded with too much information. It all just turns into noise. He therefore talked about how IBM’s collaboration solutions can, with the help of cognitive technology, can filter, delegate and prioritise for you.

The systems will lift up what’s important to you, so that you can focus in a much better way. IBM’s solutions will also learn how you work and will help to organize your working day for you.

He talked about IBM Verse, IBM’s web and mobile based mail solution that runs on Domino. You can read his entire presentation here.

What should you choose?

Morten MyrstadMorten Myrstad from The New Company has just become an IBM partner. The first thing he talked about were weather the rumors about the death of the corporate intranet were exaggerated or not.

His point was that the focus should be on people and a change in the company’s culture. You should choose your tools based on this. The keywords are: Management, solutions and learning.

He did a presentation of various solutions for collaboration, like Sharepoint, IBM Connections, @Workplace, Slack, Google Apps, Office, Episerver and some others. It was all a very good walkthrough the various solutions strengths and weaknesses. You can see Morten’s presentation here.

Detective Watson

Oliver BusseBecause of a misunderstanding on part of the soon to be leader of ISBG, Hogne Bø Pettersen, the two next presentations had to switch places. The next presenter was therefore IBM Champion Oliver Busse from We4IT. The techies among the audience loved this presentation and welcomed everything he told about how you can use IBM’s Watson technology in your IBM Notes and web applications with open arms. You can see his presentation here. Demo not included.

The world’s fastest growing IT industry is right now sophisticated attacks on and hacking of companies’ IT systems and infrastructure. Most of the time you get hacked without realizing it until a year or so later. Espen Skjøld from IBM Norway talked about the challenges surrounding  this.

He also spoke of IBM’s service QRadar Advisor, which also uses IBM’s Watson technology to evaluate and validate security measures in a company. This was a very interesting presentation many people liked. You can read it here.

Human Information Processing

Arne NielsenAfter lunch, it was time for Arne Sigurd Rognan Nielsen. He is a former IBM employee. These days he runs his own consultant business called Brainworker. He has worked with a lot of big customers and have helped them to start using collaboration solutions in an effective way. In his session he talked about how he has done this, and via examples from various customers he demonstrated that what’s important is the knowledge and attitude, not the technology. You can read his lecture here.

Next one out was Felix Binsack, IBM Champion and owner of the TimeToAct Group, which were gold sponsors. His company has had great success with their product XCC, which they’ve now sold to IBM. It has now changed its name to IBM Connections Engagement Center (ICEC). This product makes it much easier to transition IBM Connections into a well functioning intranet which can also act as a digital workplace for both web, mobile and pads. Unfortunately we never received his presentation.

Future of web and video conferencing

Thomas Sigdestad from Enonic held a fantastic lecture about progressive web apps. The trend is that the number of mobile apps are decreasing, and instead people develop web apps. This means web web solutions that consists of one dynamic web page, which acts like an app, and which also works offline.

In his presentation he showed several examples, and it’s also a great presentation for Star Wars fans. You can download it here.

Bo Holtemann from IBM Denmark was next. He talked about the partnership between IBM and Cisco. This means you can now integrate WebEx with IBM solutions like IBM Connections. A lot of people have wondered whether this means that IBM’s own video conference solution, Sametime, has been abandoned. But this was refuted by IBM.

The partnership means IBM will be selling Cisco’s WebEx solution for video conferencing. IBM will then take their cognitive technology into this platform. This will make it possible to get your own personal assistant and other helpful functionality. You can see all the details here.

Balloon towerAnd then it was time for speed sponsoring where everybody had to visit one of the sponsor stands. The sponsors then had two minutes to present themselves and their products, before you moved on to the next one.

This was followed by the team competition, which included an audio play, questions, bribing the judges and the building of balloon towers. After this it was a short break before the magical dinner with prizes, speeches, thank you gifts for the board members who are now stepping down and not least Rune Carlsen’s incredible magic show.

An old friend

The next day everybody was up and looked fresh and awake(?) to receive some information from the ISBG board before Barry Rosen from IBM gave his keynote about IBM’s plan for the IBM Notes/Domino platform. He talked about the fact that after you have upgraded to version 9.0.1, there will be no other versions. After this, what you will get are feature packs. These will include upgrades, bug fixes and new functionality.

He also presented a string of new functionality that has already arrived for the platform, and what is expected in the near future. He also presented the fact that you now can choose to use IBM Notes, IBM Verse or Microsoft Outlook with Domino. Both on premise and in the cloud.

Uffe Sørensen then took over and he talked about the “bring your own client”-strategy. It all turned into a very passionate discussion about Notes/Domion. It’s obvious that a lot of people still have great love for the platform. Read the presentation here.

Miki BanatwalaIt was then time for another IBM man. This time it was Miki Banatwala. He told us about IBM Connections Pink and what that platform really is. The idea is that after upgrading to IBM Connections 6, there will be no more new versions of IBM Connections. The idea is to do agile developing and push one update at a time. This is just like Facebook does it. This means you can add functionality and upgrade Connections without the need of creating a big project out of it. Read all about it here.

Germans

Andreas Rosen was next up. He talked a little bit about the German user group and what they had done to increase participation from their members. After his he talked about Salesforce, which is a platform a lot of Notes developers have moved to. This is not strange, because a lot of the principles of the two platforms are very similar.

Rosen told how you can integrate Salesforce with Connections, Domino and the OnTime calendar. Read his presentation here.

Peer PrieserThe next German up was Peer Prieser. He talked aobut how We4IT can help you analyse, develop and modernize your Domino applications. He also talked about how you can use Watson here. Download his session here.

Paul-Christian Garpe from Peda, which were this year’s Platinum sponsors, was next. He talked about the new directive for the protection of personal data that the EU will introduce in 2018. Even though Norway isn’t in the EU, we will be affected by this too. He talked about how IBM’s technology can help you in the preparation for this. Download the presentation here.

REST easy

It was now time for a delicious lunch again, before Anton Löwmar from Edgeguide in Sweden told how their technology could be used to develop and modernize your Domino applications. He also talked about how, with the help of their product, you could integrate data from Domino with Sharepoint and other platforms. Read the presentation here.

Ipad winnerKjetil Herpaasen from Item was the last man out. He did a session that especially the developers in the audience were ecstatic about. He gave us an introduction in Swagger, OSGI-plugins and REST-services. Everything done on the Domino platform. Read his presentation here.

It was then time for the annual ISBG meeting where a new board was elected. I now became the leader, after serving as second in command for the past year. It was then time for a Kahoot quiz. Since it was about Star Wars, I won, but I couldn’t get a price since I’m a board member. There was also prize drawings, and when that wrapped, this year’s spring meeting was over.

The evaluation and feedback afterwards have been great. And the message is clear: We should continue with the spring seminar in the future. In what fashion, remains to be seen. The new board will start working this autumn on what we should do to move forward and meet the drop in attendees. But I can assure you we are motivated!

Bob Voith did his own summary of the spring seminar in his blog here

Oliver Busse also did one

And you can see the entire photo album from the spring meeting here:

ISBG Spring Seminar 2017

Barry Rosen commentFirst of all: A huge apology for my mistake in my third blog posting from Connect 2017. In this I wrote that Domino for iSeries would not be supported in the future. This is not true! I had misunderstood and the blog posting is now corrected. Sorry to IBM and all IBM partners and customers who have contacted me in the past few days (some in panic). So to sum up: You will still be able to use Domino, as well as get all new feature packs, on iSeries. Ok?

With that cleared up I would like to talk a bit about the part of the conference that we who go there sometimes talk and blog too little about. Maybe that’s because employers and organisations pay us good money to go there, and we don’t want it to appear as if we are just partying for four days. By all means, we are partying, but that’s only part of it.

Panagenda

Mingling is one of the big reasons to go to Connect. Going into the sponsor area to talk to IBM partners is a wonderful opportunity to both get and give help and tips. The same goes for the opportunity that you have to talk to IBM’s product managers as well. Two years in a row now I’ve managed to solve big problems that my employer, customer or myself have had. And that’s just by a five minute conversation. This is at times invaluable.

For me personally, this year was also a wonderful opportunity to meet potentially new customers or employers. I’m currently freelancing, since I’m temporarily laid off from my day job because of the company’s financial situation. But I’m also looking for a new day job, if I find it to be a good opportunity. So I did three job interviews while over in San Francisco.

I’m also the second in command for the Norwegian IBM Collaboration User Group, and I recruited several potential speakers for the spring meeting that will take place on June 7th and 8th (You are more than welcome to come, and if you want to do a presentation, get in touch with me).

Closing sessionAnother good thing about the social bit is that you get to meet people you normally only communicate with via blogs, twitter, Facebook, IBM Connections, chat, email or phone calls. The ICS (IBM Collaboration Solutions, formerly the Lotus crowd) club is a very welcoming and including one. Meeting face to face over a beer (or five) and discuss frustrations, ideas, positive experiences, new solutions and stories is very educational. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has given me assistance or help with something I’ve been struggling with, or simply given me great ideas on how to proceed on a big project. Hopefully I’ve done the same with others.

Which brings me to the IBM Champions program. I became IBM Champion for 2017. During the conference the champions got some special perks, like a lunch, a carousel ride, t-shirts, badges, a discount on the conference fee and most important of all: We hung out together, furthering our bonds and friendships. They are a great bunch of people, and we were duly taken brilliantly care of by Amanda Bauman and Libby Ingrassia.

ExploratoriumThis is the first time the conference wasn’t in Orlando. This means that IBM couldn’t take us to an amusement park, as they always used to do in the past. Instead they took us the the brilliant Exploratorium at the piers in San Francisco. It’s a museum that teaches you about technology and nature, and you can try experiments yourself, hands on. Perfect for a family outing, as well as for nerds. There was also loads of good food, drinks and music. And it was yet another chance to mingle, get to know people, bond and try out fun stuff.

I’m not sure where my future lies these days. It can go anywhere. But I know I’m very happy that I got to go to the conference this year. Because I learned, nurtured, grew and shared. Both personally and creatively. And that is why an employer should let their employees go to these things.

With a slight headache I got out of bed as late as possible (07.30) and went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast with Christoph Adler from Panagenda and Stephanie Heit and Arshad Khalid from BCC.

The conference was held a five minute walk from the hotel, so I was there in good time before Roger Johannessen, ISBG leader, did a short introduction.

Lars Schorling from Intravision then talked about the mobile app for their brilliant OnTime calendar. Their product is very good (I’ve tested it), and it looks darn nice too, design wise. I’ve been trying to get Brunvoll to invest in it, and with the new possibilities that you have if you use the product with Events in IBM Connections, I hope I can get the right people at my company become more interested in it.

IBM KeyNote – A New Way to Work

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Luis Guirigay. Photo: Oliver Busse

Luis Guirigay, World Wide Executive IT Specialist at IBM, then delivered today’s keynote. It was split in two. The first part was a presentation of IBM’s philosophy of a flexible client strategy. With Project Hawthorne, it will be possible to use Outlook as your mail and calendar client, without having to migrate from your trusted Domino server.

This means that if people who are used to Outlook start working in your company, and they really don’t want (or neeed) to use IBM Notes, you can give them a choice.

Not only is an email migration from Domino to Exchange a big and expensive project. Remember that IBM Domino is really, really easy to upgrade from an old version to a new version. Not so for Exchange. A lot of companies are still on Exchange 2010 because upgrading is a huge and expensive project.

In part two he gave us a demo of the functionality. He showed us that everything you can do in IBM Notes, you can also do in the Outlook client. I wrote more about this in this blog posting from IBM Connect in Orlando back in January.

Experiences modernizing an IBM Notes application with AngularJS

isbg_markMark Luesink of Viaware Food Contact Software & Services is also a freelance consultant for my company. He did a presentation on the work we are doing with modernizing our IBM Notes applications.

We have two major applications used by the sales department, that are incredibly important. These are now being modernized, consolidated and put onto the web. The idea is that all the data should still be stored on Domino. This means no data migration.

He talked about the infrastructure of the servers, how the various technologies communicate and on the struggles of single signon (ADFS). The system is also communicating with Infor M3 and Infor IDM (document management tool). Right now are facing a challenge on how to get ADFS to work with these.

The technologies used are Nginx, Angular, Jquery and the Domino REST API, as well as Java for communicating with M3.

The session was very good and a lot of people were interested in this. I hope we can do a demo later this year on the before (IBM Notes) and after (on the web). Some people expressed disappointment with the fact that there was no demo this time. Other than that, only good feedback for Mark’s presentation.

Admin Tech Clash: Discussing Best (and Worst) Administration Practices from hundreds of customers

isbg_ytriaBen Menesi, Head of Prodct at Ytria and Christoph Adler, Techincal Account Manager in Panagenda, shared their experiences of administration of IBM’s Collaboration isbg_panagendaSolutions.

Both me and Gunleif Ræg of EVRY, who helps me administer our Domino servers, picked up a few tips here. It was also fun to hear some worst-of-stories.

Integrasjon og utvidelser I Connections Cloud GUI

isbg_inforteRuge Hegge, Sension Consultant and CEO of Inforte As and his colleague Arnstine Kjellevold gave a great presentation on how you can integrate an isbg_inforte2existing user interface in to IBM Connections Cloud. I was very surprised on how many opportunities you have with this. I thought we would get less opportunities if we moved to the cloud, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

They showed us some great demos, and gave us direct links for resources. Very nice! One of my favorite sessions this time around.

Unfortunately attending this meant I had to miss Erik Borse of Item’s presentation on using IBM Connections as a social intranet.

IBM Hybrid Cloud

isbg_camillaCamilla M. L. Tønnestad of from the IBM Social & Smarter Workforce was a first time attendee and presenter at the conference. She lead us through IBM’s Bluemix platform for developing with APIs and thereby integrating existing solutions in your company with brand new ones.

I knew most of this beforehand, but I was surprised on how much more evolved the platform has become since I played around it with myself.

Annual meeting

Then it was time for the annual meeting. After a going through the agenda, accounting and other stuff, I was up for election as a new board member. Long story short:

I’m now a board member of the Norwegian IBM User Group (ISBG). Yay! Thanks to Rune Carlsen for the great work through the years. I got a lot to live up to.

Competitions

Competition time! Once again it was a Kahoot competition. The quiz was about James Bond! Finally I could put some of my useless trivia knowledge to good use. I was leading for a long time, but then Rolf sidelined me and went off with the AppleTV instead of me. That darn… err…well done, Rolf!

Then it was time for prize drawings. The rule is that if your name is drawn you have to be present to win. If not, they draw again. So when one guy I know won an AppleTV, he had to forfeit it because he had already left. I sent him a message that he had just missed winning an AppleTV. I promptly got a reply saying: “I think the words is fuuuuuuuck!”

Then the meeting was over. I gathered a bunch of people who met for drinks afterwards. Unfortunately, quite a few people had to go home after a while, but some of us went to dinner at Hell’s Kitchen in Oslo.

The evening was finished by going to Tilt. A pub with old arcade games, flipper games and shuffle boards. And they had Crystal Castles! And shit, do I still rule in that game:

crystal_castles

The first level is shaped after the name of the person who has the high score!

crystal_castles2

Whodda man! Whodda man! Photo: Christoph Adler

Thanks for a great conference, once again. The next one will be on me and the rest of the ISBG team. Yikes!

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The view during our dinner. Photo: Oliver Busse

The annual Norwegian IBM User Group spring conference for 2016 is now a thing of the past. I arrived home yesterday, and after having been away from home for almost fourteen days, I arrived to an empty living room where workers are still fixing my ceiling. In addition, the battery on my car was flat, my bike needed to be fixed and I had two episode of Game of Thrones waiting for me. So the summary I always write had to wait until today.

Oliver Busse does a great write up on the social aspects of the conference (no, I don’t mean IBM social but real social stuff, dinner, people hanging out together and stuff like that), so I won’t repeat much of that.

We4IT

We4IT was the platinum sponsor of the event, so they got to do a short presentation of their products and services.

IBM Strategy Update

HuguetteIBM-er Huguette Ranc, Social Business & Smarter Workforce Unit for Europe was up next and did a 15 minute presentation on what IBM’s thoughts for the future are. Highlights:

  • Research shows that in the US 80% of your time is spent at work with meetings. Phone calls and email. That leaves a small amount of time for real work
  • We spend on average 15,5 hours a day reading news and articles. That’s 174 newspapers
  • She talked about IBM’s platform Toscana that will make it even easier to create seamless integration between various collaboration platforms
  • IBM will soon start more strategic co-operations. Today they are doing this with Facebook, Twitter, The Weather Channel (which IBM own), Apple and DocuSign

Cognitive Collaboration – the next breakthrough

Koplowitz

Next up was IBM-er Rob Koplowitz, Program Director of Watson – Enterprise Social Solution strategy. His session was spread over two hours. He mostly focused on IBM Watson, the technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.

In short: Watson is a robot that can process a huge amount of data, and is able to learn from it. And he gave several examples on how they used Watson in various situations.

Koplowitz described Watson as a young athlete. You can see the potential, but he has to learn, train and grow for the greatness to shine through. Watson is like that. The more questions and answers Watson receives, the more it learns and understands. The system is self learning.

He told a story on how Watson was used for support. When someone asked how to delete an email, Watson told the person how to delete his entire mail account. Today Watson is able to come up with answers and suggestions that people would never think of themselves.

What’s special about Watson compared to other IT-systems, is that it’s ok if Watson gets the answer wrong. The reason is that 1) Watson learns from it when given the correct answer and 2) Often the wrong answer can generate good ideas and other ways of looking at a problem

The principle is understand, reason, learning. And while we used to be able to look at experience from the past to make plans for the future,  technology now is changing so fast that this is no longer an option.

Unstructured data is a huge challenge for companies. We’ve been talking about this for 25 years, but nothing much is happening. In addition, we have companies like Uber, Airbnb, Tesla and Facebook who do things completely different from the way business was conducted before.

In the second part he gave a demonstration on how Watson helps you prioritize your email and communication. For example suggestions for who to include in email conversations, who to include in meetings, what files you might like to share and so on.

IBM has never been famous for design, but there’s a new principle at work at IBM now. Designers are a part of the process all the way these days. And part of the design is that Watson should not be intrusive (like the annoying paper clip from Microsoft Office a decade ago).

IBM Connect 2016 – The way forward

ISBG Ego

Me doing my stuff. Photo: Oliver Busse

Then I was up next. I won the ISBG scholarship last autumn and was therefore able to go to Connect in Orlando in January. A part of the scholarship is that I had to blog every day while over there, and I also had to give a presentation on what I learned.

I told basically what you can find in my blog postings from Connect, so go read them.

The feedback afterwards was really good, and I got quite a few shout outs on Twitter for some of the stuff I said. IBM was also pleased, and I didn’t say anything wrong, I think.

I did warn everybody that if they hated the world social, they should be ready to hate cognitive, which is the new buzzword from IBM. I got a chuckle from several IBM-ers, as well as from the audience and on Twitter.

I also told people that they should know that moving from on premise to the cloud is a project, and not just copy and paste.

IBM Connect 2016 – The tools we love

I also did a presentation after lunch on what is new and up and coming from IBM Collaboration Solutions (IBM Notes/Domino, IBM Connections and so on). I was very humbled and happy that so many people turned up that it was standing room only when I started.

Are you approaching adoption like holding a ball under water?

BjellerupThe next session I went to was IBM-er Peter Bjellerup’s session. He is Executive Consultant, Social Business, Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing. He talked about the challenges you face doing self-sustained adoption. The users have to want to change and keep using the new tools and ways to work.

All of this is a challenge that most of us are familiar with, and I kept nodding most of the time, because I’ve been through most of them.

MittEA – Social Intranet with IBM Connections

For the final session I was torn. I really wanted to go to Item’s session on how to use third party services, like Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to sign in to your IBM Cloud solution

Instead I went to the session on how Euro Accident had created a social intranet, pretty much what we want to do at Brunvoll. This means using IBM Connections as our intranet, and then skin and adapt it like we want it to look. Got a few helpful tips in this session.

Team competition

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The team leaders are gathering for the competition. Great fun. Photo: Oliver Busse

Then it was time for some fun. The team competition, which also includes a speed session where all the vendors and exhibitors are given four minutes in front of each team where they give a presentation of their products and services.

I still say that the premise and conclusion for the riddle of the green eyes (check it out!) was wrong, but I guess you can’t argue with Math, can you?

Dinner and after-drinks

After the competition, I completely rewrote my after dinner speech, which I had been asked to give. This was because I had originally had written it in Norwegian. However, since I did my first presentation in English earlier that day because there were so many foreigners in the room, I realized I needed a new one in English. Puns don’t translate well…

It was then time for dinner, and I was lucky enough to be seated with two wonderful women from IBM (Renee and Camilla), my colleague Gunnar and Rolf from Moderne Byggfornyelse. We were served a three course dinner at the top of the PWC building in Bjørvika in Oslo (where the entire conference took place). We had a great view over Oslo, and the food was great. As usual we had a magic show, and the finale with the coin trick was amazing!

I did the after dinner speech, and with all my puns and jokes it went from pain inducing groans to big rounds of laughter and applause. So I’ll take it as a win.

We then went on a drinking spree and I’ll spare you the details. Come back later for a summary of day 2, where I’m up for election as a new board member for the Norwegian user group. Exciting stuff!

External users in IBM Connections

External users in IBM Connections are easy to spot

One of the main reasons for using tools like IBM Connections is that you can share information with a lot of people at the same time, without having to use email. This means that the information is open for everybody who has access to it. This instead of being hidden in someone’s inbox, upon which you have to ask them to forward you a message, a file, a task and so on via an email.

This works very well internally in your organization. It does not help you minimizing email contact with your customers, business partners, suppliers and other people outside your organization. In turn, this often forces you to use email instead of Connections also inside your organization since projects with external partners mostly also involves several internal people.

In IBM Connections 5.0 you can get around this by inviting external users into communities on your IBM Connections server. If you do this, you can share information also with external people, without having to resort to email. Garbriella Davis from The Turtle Partnership gave a very good presentation of this during the ISBG meeting in Larvik.

The first thing on any administrator’s mind is security. What is it that an external user can and cannot do? An external user cannot:

  • See public content
  • Create communities
  • Follow people or add them to their network
  • Search for users
  • See anything under Recommended
  • See the menu selection Profiles
  • See @-mentions
  • See already existing tags (but can add new ones)

An external user can:

  • Only access the community he is invited to
  • Use, edit and share files in the community
  • Post and reply in forums inside the community
  • Comment and like content inside the community
  • Only share files directly with the community, or with users inside the community if he knows the exact email address

Only selected people can create external users and communities for such users. It’s not open for anyone to do this. There are also other issues that must be addressed:

  • How should external users be registered
  • Who should be given the rights to do this
  • What sort of password policy should you enforce
  • Where should the users be registered
    • It’s recommended that you use a separate LDAP-server or a separate branch
  • You should turn off Anonymous user access on all IBM Connections applications
  • Make sure reader is not set to Everyone on any IBM Connections applications
  • Turn off public caching in LotusConnections-config.xml (you should do this anyway!)

You can also set up self registration. This means that you can create a community for external users and then send out invitations to join it. When the external user clicks on the link in the invitation, he’s asked to register. Domino is very good for self registration and there are Xpages based solutions for this.

Other security information:

  • All communities with external users are clearly marked with a huge yellow sign
  • If you share a file with a community with external users via the web version of Connections, you are given a warning
  • If you share a file with a community with external users via one of the plugins you are not given a warning. This means that one should have well established routines around this
  • A community with external users can be converted into an internal community where no external users have access.
  • You cannot take an existing internal community and convert it to an external community, not even if the community is a former external community that was converted to an internal one

Sharing information with external people does have its pitfalls, but I think these pitfalls are far outweighed by all the benefits.

IBM has launched IBM Connections 4.5.1. To promote how you can work better with the product, they have created a demo which quite brilliantly demonstrates how you can work much more effectively in your organisation instead of relying on just email.

Via blogs, where users can come up with suggestions and ideas that can be voted on, document review processes, chat and status updates, you can work in a way that is much more user friendly, immediate and more meaningful than what you do via other more traditional tools.

Check out the demo in the video below. Note that you can click on the video to watch it in full screen mode. The video is in HD quality, so that you can see all the details.

When Facebook announced that they were going to introduce hashtags as part of their service, the reactions could be categorised into three groups:

  • What now?
  • Why, oh dear Lord, why?
  • Finally!

Personally I’m in the last category, but I will go through each category here. First of all because I’d like to give people who don’t know what hashtags are, or how they can be used, an introduction. But I also would like to go through the pros and cons of the use of hashtags.

What now?If you don’t know what hashtags are, here is a short intro: Hashtags are keywords that are used to categorise something you’ve posted. It’s heavily used on social sites like Twitter and Instagram, and to a lesser extent on Google+ and LinkedIn.

hashtags

Hashtags can be used to search for postings about a certain subject

You create a hashtag simply by putting the #-character in front of a word or phrase. The phrase can’t have any spaces in it. So if you for instance posted a photo of your breakfast on Instagram, an all too frequent occurrence I’m afraid, you could tag this post with the phrases #breakfast #food #morning or something similar.

These hashtags will then become links. If people click on any of them, Instagram will do a search for you and present other photos tagged with the same hashtag.

During big world wide or national events, people tend to agree on specific tags for the event. So during the Eurovision Song Contest people who posted on Twitter about it used the hasthtag #esc.

When a hashtag becomes very popular, it turns into a trending topic, and Twitter often display trending topics for you via the hashtag.

So is this useful for you? Yes, it makes it much easier to know what to search for and to find postings about subjects you care about.

In addition it makes it easier for others to find your own postings. Now, this could make it very tempting to pepper your postings with hashtags, but please don’t. I’m guilty of doing this myself, but if you use too many hashtags, people or services might consider it as spamming.

In the image above, I’ve searched for the hashtag #eiendomsskatt (property tax) on Twitter. I could easily have done this on also Instagram, Google+ or LinkedIn. And now you can do it on Facebook.

Why, oh dear Lord, why?
I was a bit surprised to see that people who are using social media sites a lot were completely against hashtags on Facebook. However, I think I know where they are coming from.

Hashtags, especially on Twitter, can sometimes be used in a very bad way. Very often you will find people using a hashtag they have invented, like #mymommaisagreatcook. Naturally, these hashtags don’t lead to any other topics about this, and are therefore just meant to be funny or clever.

Facebook is full enough of junk as it is, and if people start creating hashtags like #ohwhydomydogdothistome just to get a feeling across or to be sarcastic, Facebook certainly isn’t going to get any better any time soon. And I don’t even want to think about all the spammers and the tagging they will start doing on Facebook now…

There are also safety issues. Remember that hashtags are meant for searching and sorting topics. So if you tag a posting on Facebook, will this posting then be visible for everybody who do a search on that tag? Or will is just be visible to you and your friends?

A friend of mine tagged his posting with #molde, which is the name of the town where we live, and I clicked on it. I got a long list of postings tagged with #molde, and I only knew a few of the people who had done these postings. Now, does Facebook also list postings from accounts that are protected from anyone but friends? I don’t know. I choose to think they don’t, but you never know.

On top of this, a lot of people don’t know what their security settings are, so if you start using hashtags, please make sure that you’re settings are set to a level that you feel comfortable with. I’m afraid we are going to see a lot more examples of people finding postings they thought were only presented to a closed circle out in the open.

Finally!
Now to my group. I love hashtags! I’ve used them, and I’ve abused them. I frequently do searches via hashtags on most services I’m on. Even on LinkedIn. Just take this blog for example, the tags for my postings here can be thought of as hashtags. Just click on one of them in any of my postings here, and give it a try. Even flickr has had tags since the beginning. They’re not hastags, but the principle is the same.

I’ve therefore often wondered why Facebook haven’t introduced hashtags, since they for years were leading the way for social media. They have fallen a bit behind in recent times, but hashtags are a welcome addition now that they’re finally here.

So, please use hashtags. But use them wisely. Use them so that people easier can find your postings and use them to generate traffic based on how interesting and relevant you can make the tags. But do not use 10-20 tags in a posting.

Let’s make a deal. From now on, I will from now on only use three hastags for every posting I do, and you will do the same. Deal?