Killa Hertz & The Case of the Missing Documents – Part 1

[All Episodes]

The exciting story of Killer Hertz, a private eye, who specializes in tracking down the missing …

Killa Hertz & The Case of the Missing Documents – Part 1

It was a warm evening. Not a pleasant warm, but a sticky, humid, clammy warm where you feel like someone had soaked their woolen socks in a hot bath and

An ECM Detective story - Killa Hertz and the case of the Missing Documents then wrapped them around your head.

The phone rang.  After a quick shot of whatever was in the cup on my desk, I picked up the receiver. There was a dame’s voice on the other end, and it sounded like there was trouble. I took another swig from my cup and inched closer to the open window.

The dame was upset.

She introduced herself as Trudy and started to tell me what was wrong. Her voice was like a poorly tuned violin. But then, I was in no place to be critical – my voice wasn’t gonna win any beauty contests, either. She told me that the search engine at the place where she worked, (some high-class lawyers outfit) was holding out on her, and she wanted me to find out why.

Killa Hertz - ecm private eye

My name is Killa Hertz, and this was my sort of case.

Pulling my jacket on, I headed for my car. I knew that it was gonna be a long day…

The drive uptown was exciting as porridge. I went over the details in my head like a Tommy gun being fired by a madman. It didn’t make sense.

I pulled into the only open space in front of the building where Trudy worked, I looked around. Nothing looked out of place. I went inside. The place was air-conditioned, and there were groups of men in suits huddled together like sardines sitting at an AA meeting. I could smell the panic.

Trudy met me in the foyer, and we sidled into a small conference room. “Tell me the specifics,” I said to her…

to be continued…

Part 2

Recommended Content on Amazon

Case Study – A social Content Management system

social Content Management system

A social Content Management system

What is a social software system? In this post, I discuss this very question and look at a fictional company to determine whether they have a social Content Management system, or not.

7 Social Software Elements

Seven Social Software Elements

In a 2007 post, Gene Smith defines seven social software elements.

These were:

  • Identity – a way of uniquely identifying people in the system
  • Presence – a way of knowing who is online, available or otherwise nearby
  • Relationships – a way of describing how two users in the system are related (e.g. in Flickr, people can be contacts, friends of family)
  • Conversations – a way of talking to other people through the system
  • Groups – a way of forming communities of interest
  • Reputation – a way of knowing the status of other people in the system (who’s a good citizen? who can be trusted?)
  • Sharing – a way of sharing things that are meaningful to participants (like photos or videos)

Each social software system had three or more of these elements (but not necessarily all of the elements).

Case Study - A Social CMS

Case Study

Using Gene’s list, I decided to do a case study where I analyse a fictional document management system and see how it measures up.

The Company: Wet Cleaver Drywear

Background: Wet Cleaver Dry Goods designs and manufactures ready-to-wear clothing for farmers. This includes rainwear, winter clothing, informal dress clothing, hats, gloves, etc.

It has factories in three different countries. It uses an Oracle-based Content Management system to store and manage, clothing designs, as well as operating procedures, sales information, customer feedback, and press releases, etc. Designs and patterns are sensitive and need to be tracked. Operating Procedures need to follow a Review process before being available for use. Press Releases need to be routed to the appropriate managers for sign-off before being released, and customer feedback has to be routed to the appropriate department heads. Security is applied to the documents ensuring that they can only be edited by members of each particular department. Each user has an Active Directory account, and a matching account in the CMS. Exchange is used for e-mails.

To provide users with a more “accessible” interface, SharePoint has been used to create a Portal. Each department has its own site which is populated with special web parts that provide access to the documents in the Oracle-based Content Management system, as well as its native functions.

Each web site has been designed by the IT department, based on discussion with the end-users to meet the “requirements” the department the site is intended for. SharePoint groups have been created for each department and populated with the users’ active directory accounts. Each site is secured so that only members of each department can access the related site, and, to ensure that a consistent look-and-feel is maintained, as well as to reduce support issues, the users do not have the right to create new sites themselves, or to customise the sites (“My Sites”). If users from different departments need to work on a document together, a SharePoint site is created along with a SharePoint document library. The required documents are placed in the document library by the CMS administrators, and specific users are granted access to the site. Further to this, a SharePoint Search Center has been created, and with the use of a special protocol handler, is able to index the contents of the oracle-based CMS. Users, however, are only able to find documents that they have rights to.

A separate SharePoint site has been set up to store FAQs, lists of who is in each department, etc.

Analysis: Does this system have three, or more (or any) of the elements that Gene listed? Lets have a look…

  • Identity – In this system, each user needs to be logged into the network to access the Portal. Pass-through authentication is used. Thus, each user can be uniquely identified.
  • Presence – Although the user can see that they are logged on (their username is displayed on the screen), there is no way to know who else is logged into the system at the same time.
  • Relationships – The Portal has been designed to provide a slightly easier way of performing the tasks that would normally take place in the CMS. That is the processing of documents. As mentioned above, there is a separate site that lists who is in each department.
  • Conversations – When users need to communicate with each other they use Exchange. This is, however, separate from the CMS/Portal.
  • Groups – The Portal is strictly controlled. IT can create special sites that meet specific requirements, and then users are granted access on an as-needed basis. The CMS administrators export files out of the CMS into the site’s document library where the users can work on them. While this can be considered as a type of community forming, the fact that it is strictly controlled, and not an ad-hoc process negates this.
  • Reputation – Apart from the fact that a list is maintained (on a separate site) of who works in each department, and their positions, there is no way to determine the “reputation” of a particular user (e.g. the person who has created the most operating procedures, or has provided the most valuable feedback during a review process).
  • Sharing – The only sharing that occurs is the routing of documents. This is not done in an ad hoc fashion but is defined by business rules, and pre-defined workflows. As such, there is no sharing.

Social Software Honeycomb

Something else that Gene had done in his post was to create a social software honeycomb.

Each element is represented by a hexagon. Each hexagon is shaded depending on whether the particular system supported the social element.

Looking at the Document Management system of Wet Cleaver Dry Goods, the honeycomb would look like this:

CMS Social Software Honeycomb

Clearly this system does not contain three, or more, of Gene’s social elements.


  • Identity – a way of uniquely identifying people in the system
  • Presence – a way of knowing who is online, available or otherwise nearby
  • Relationships – a way of describing how two users in the system are related (e.g. in Flickr, people can be contacts, friends of family)
  • Conversations – a way of talking to other people through the system
  • Groups – a way of forming communities of interest
  • Reputation – a way of knowing the status of other people in the system (who’s a good citizen? who can be trusted?)
  • Sharing – a way of sharing things that are meaningful to participants (like photos or videos

* Identity – a way of uniquely identifying people in the system

* Presence – a way of knowing who is online, available or otherwise nearby

* Relationships – a way of describing how two users in the system are related (e.g. in Flickr, people can be contacts, friends of family)

* Conversations – a way of talking to other people through the system

* Groups – a way of forming communities of interest

* Reputation – a way of knowing the status of other people in the system (who’s a good citizen? who can be trusted?)

* Sharing – a way of sharing things that are meaningful to participants (like photos or videos)

  • )
  • Why isn’t my SharePoint Environment Social??? – SharePoint … (

Natural vs. Mechanistic Learning


Natural vs Mechanistic Learning

Robert Paterson wrote a fascinating post about the difference between natural, and mechanistic, learning.

While natural learning is something done as part of life, mechanistic learning separates the learning from life (in a manner of speaking).

With his permission, I reproduce it his post here:


“Life is Learning” – Learning Design – Natural vs Machine

If we are to design the new, we have to be very careful not to use the assumptions of the old. An assemblage of the new features in a body does not make a new tool.


Recall that HMS Inflexible on the left had all the gear of a modern warship. But it was Dreadnought on the right that was the breakthrough. Why? Because Dreadnought was built on the assumption that battle would be fought at the most extreme distance possible. As a consequence, all its systems were configured around this objective, Inflexible still held to the Nelson doctrine that real men fought face to face. Dreadnought had the power to sink the entire German Navy on its own who at the time still held to the Nelson doctrine themselves.

Christopher Alexander is again very helpful in explaining the difference in assumptions behind a mechanistic view and a natural view of design.

In the traditional mechanistic design, the entire process is aimed to a known and specific end. After all, the core metaphor is a machine. In education today, that end is a credit or a passed test.

As this is a machine design where everything is separated: the teacher from the learner, math from English. Many important sources of growth are outside the box. Sport is outside. Food is outside. Home is outside. Work is outside. Learning from life itself is not counted. Only what is in school is in.

In nature, everything affects the other in an integrated and in a dynamic process. The acorn has the potential to be an oak tree just as the infant has the potential to become the adult person. All information about how to be a tree or a person is inside it. What the acorn and the baby need is the right set of linked processes to interact with so that all this potential can be released. For a tree, it needs the community of other trees and all the substrata of bacteria that links the forest under the ground. It needs the community of the animals that propagate it and defends it from enemies.

The core process for babies is the interaction with the parents and the home. For 4 million years all the tremendous achievement of humanity was generated by this process. This is where our world view is created. It is the foundation of learning. Are we safe or secure, loved or worthless, can we wait for things or not, do we have power or not. Our current view of learning separates and devalues the influence of the home. The only learning process that counts is the school. As the family crumbles so does the foundation.

The second core process was interaction with the immediate community. Today most of our communities are mere dormitories.  So there is no one to learn from naturally in the physical community. What did we learn? We learned how to behave. We learned about how we interacted with the natural world. We learned all the domestic skills. We learned our people’s story. We learned our context as a person. Now we only interact with other peers who are as lost as we are. Instead of neighbours, we have the TV! Without a community, we have no social context.

The third core process was work. Today we have separated work from community and from family. Work is a mystery to most kids. To gain a work skill we then spend lots of money later in life to pass a course. Some kids are lucky like my neighbour Logan who has been working as a carpenter with his Dad since he was 5. How will a grad from a community college compete with Logan? How will a Compu College grad compete with say Jevon who has been under the hood  since a small boy? Without a vocation, we have a declining base of skills.

The fourth process that I can see is the learning of mystery. We have lost wisdom and we have lost the interaction between the elder and the neophyte. Instead, we have told ourselves that we will never die and we shunt our elderly in waiting rooms for a death we deny. So the mystery of how we will meet our end and its revelatory power to help us live is also lost. We look to priests and to churches instead and we hope that some book will help us. Without a sense of how we fit into the universe, we have only consumerism.

We have put all official learning into the space of an institution. In the institution, everything outside does not count. But in reality, we learn in the context of the space of a community – in the context of many communities. We learn by doing and observing and most of all by conversing with others. Our mechanistic view is all about separation and hence works against learning.

Any design for a learning tool that continues the idea of separation will fail. The design that will work will the design that brings the individual back into the communities that we need to be human.

Learning itself, of course, is not a separate function from any part of our lives. This is the ultimate failure of the old system in that it has made this separation between life and learning. There is no “life long learning” at an institution, there is only life itself.

Life is learning!


Robert Paterson’sBooks

If you liked Mr Paterson’s blog post, check out some of his books…

The true value of CMIS

True value of CMIS

In this post, I delve into the true value that CMIS will dish up to the ECM world.

Improve Interoperability

John Newton has written a blog called “Irrational Exuberance on CMIS?

In it he describes how he…

“… believes CMIS can transform the ECM industry, allow for significant growth and spawn whole new companies and markets.”

John was on the CMIS panel at AIIM and relates how others on the panel didn’t have the same enthusiasm for CMIS as he did.

(Before I go any further -if your asking “What the heck is CMIS?”, I recommend you click on this link and read what Wikipedia have to say about it.)

True Value of CMIS

I agree with John’s comment in his post – CMIS isn’t going to expose all the functionality of the various ECM systems, but it will improve interoperability, and this will be BIG.

A document management’s repository will now be accessible. Not only through the client for the specific enterprise content management system, but also from other enterprise content management systems.

Is there a hidden agenda?

This is great news! I am really stoked about this. I think that it has great advantages. However, the cynical part of me looks at this, and thinks “Hmm..”. Why? Because the cynical part of me understands that Microsoft was one of the first companies involved in the CMIS initiative. And if you were trying to sell a wonderful new system such as SharePoint, one of the biggest hurdles for companies will be the fact that a lot of companies will have many, many

And if you were trying to sell a wonderful new system such as SharePoint, one of the biggest hurdles for companies will be the fact that a lot of companies will have many, many documents stored in costly, established ECMS.

The fact is – SharePoint is a great application. It provides a wonderfully customizable, familiar user interface, and is great for collaboration. It is also quite good at being an ECM system (with SharePoint 2010 starting to show some real teeth), but companies are unable to just dump their existing ECMS (which usually meets the particular requirements of the business grandly) and switch to a new Microsoft product. There is usually too much tied up in licence costs, as well as processes, and the cost of a migration is something that cannot be taken on without a great deal of planning, and soul-searching.

However, if there was a way that SharePoint could “easily” talk with the existing ECM in a friendly way, it suddenly becomes a lot more attractive. A SharePoint interface could be created that allows users to work in a way that is familiar while connecting to content stored in the existing, built-for-purpose ECM system. The value of Microsoft’s application has increased.

And further to this, with CMIS, there is the opportunity for new applications that can take advantage of the ability to interoperate with multiple disparate Enterprise Content Management system.

This means that the repository will no longer be the silo.

Related Posts
  • CMIS is here … but where?
  • AIIM’s CMIS Product Guide!!!
  • Latest CMIS survey from Generis
  • CMIS – what are the adoption plans for 2011?

Let’s share! – the benefits of sharing information.

sharing information and knowledge

The benefits of sharing information and knowledge

In this post, I discuss some of the benefits of sharing information and knowledge within companies, and within teams.

In a post titled Why do people share?, Oscar Berg talks about Information Sharing and the value that this sharing can bring.

Oscar’s blog makes reference to a number of other wonderful articles about the sharing of information. Even though you can read more about them in his blog, I’ll mention them here briefly because they really made me think about the real value there is in sharing.

They were:

  • “Why We Share Information” by Prescott C. Ensign and Louis Heber, MIT Sloan Management Review
  • Forwarding Is the New Networkingby Tom Davenport
  • “Pay it forward’ pays off”, EurekAlert
  • “‘Will You Be E-Mailing This Column? It’s Awesome” by John Tierney, The New York Times:

I recommend that you read them. I found them inspiring.


On the whole, the social benefits connected with information sharing seem very positive.

And it is actually best when done altruistically. That is – share for the sake of sharing. Don’t make getting something back a requirement.

In a work environment, sharing relevant and useful information has numerous benefits.

Relevant information could include:

  • A description of  a particular technology that someone is using, or
  • an explanation of how someone solved a particular problem, or
  • a link to a relevant (and I mean relevant) article on the internet, or
  • a summary of a report that someone has read.

On the whole, the social benefits connected with information sharing seem very positive.

The value that this would give would include:

  • Team building
  • A better understanding of something, not only be the recipients, but by the person who sent the information (the best way to learn something is to teach it, or explain it, to others).
  • Build up a reputation (naturally this depends on the quality of the information sent to the others). And not only of the individual, but also of the group as a whole.
  • Increase the overall knowledge of the team.

The examples of relevant information, and the benefits are not exhaustive. There must be many ways to share information and knowledge.

The important thing is that what is shared is relevant, helpful, or adds value.

(Just typing something into a search engine, and then sending the link of the first thing that appears to the others is not valuable. )

  • Why do people share?
  • The Content Economy by Oscar Berg: Why traditional intranets fail today’s knowledge workers
  • Oscar Berg: ‘Collaboration Pyramid’ Improves Enterprise Communication
Would you like to learn more?
Here are some resources that I handpicked fom Amazon…

PDFs – What are the different types?

The different types of PDF's

PDFs – What are the different types?

In this post, I describe the different types of PDF formats that are available.

OK – I know that PDFs are a file format used for portability, and that the format was developed originally by Adobe in the early 1990’s.

I was also aware that PDFs are pretty damn popular. And useful. We use them in our Regulated Document Management System to ensure that the documents are “locked”, and that the content cannot be easily modified.

What I did not know was that the PDF format was released as an open format in July 2008, and was published by the International Organization of Standardization as ISO 32000-1:2008. Here is a definition of the standard from Wikipedia:

ISO 32000-1:2008 specifies a digital form for representing electronic documents to enable users to exchange and view electronic documents independent of the environment in which they were created or the environment in which they are viewed or printed. It is intended for the developer of software that creates PDF files (conforming writers), software that reads existing PDF files and interprets their contents for display and interaction (conforming readers) and PDF products that read and/or write PDF files for a variety of other purposes (conforming products).

I was also aware that there were various “flavors” of the PDF format. I just never really understood what they were.

The different types of PDF’s

The following is a brief description of the various kinds:

PDF/Archive, or PDF/A.

This is the electronic document file format for long-term preservation. Documents stored in PDF/A will always be able to be viewed by future versions of the Acrobat Reader. To achieve this a PDF/A document needs to be 100% self-contained. It cannot rely on information from external sources.


This is a PDF format that is designed to enable reliable transmission of files from one print site to another. It has several printing-related requirements that are not found in standard PDF files. These include the requirement that all fonts are embedded and that the color of all objects be expressed in CMYK or spot colors, prepared for the intended printing conditions. A later version of the format allowed a bit more flexibility with regards color.


This PDF format describes how PDFs should be used for the transfer of engineering and technical documentation. A white paper from Adobe describes how this is done. Using version 1.6 of PD, it includes settings to ensure low storage and transfer costs (vs. paper), a trustworthy exchange across multiple applications and platforms, and that the document is self-contained.

PDF/Healthcare or PDF/H.

In 2008 AIIM published version 1 of A “Best Practices Guide”describing attributes of the Portable Document Format (PDF) to facilitate the capture, exchange, preservation and protection of healthcare information. This is intended to develop a secure, electronic container that can store and transmit relevant healthcare information, including: personal documents, clinical notes, lab reports, electronic forms, scanned images, photographs, digital X-rays, and ECGs.

An X-ray captured as a PDF

Keen to learn more?