"3 Seashells" Back Story


You may be asking yourself ... three seashells?  Or hopefully, like me, you made the same connection between the new notification management features in Jive 5 and the subtle movie sub-plot in the 1993 "blockbuster" Demolition Man, also known as that other movie Sandra Bullock starred in before Speed.


For those of you who missed out, may not remember, or consciously repressed any knowledge of this mega-movie classic, here is a quick recap: (spoiler alert)

  • Rogue hero cop (Stallone) in a war-torn LA set in the "future" (1996), gets things done, breaks the rules, framed for crime by super villain (Snipes), both are cryogenically frozen for imprisonment
  • While frozen for 40 years, society becomes civilized and aggression is weeded out; however, super villain escapes from ice cube (not the rapper), city needs rogue hero cop to stop him
  • Too many cliche scenes about how different the future is to someone from the past
  • Bad guys lose, good guys win, and Stallone eats a rat burger.  The End.


Enter the three seashells.  Looking at the above picture, it is relatively obvious as to the use of the 3 seashells.  Right?  Wrong.  And the movie racks up comedy bonus miles galore by not explaining them to the audience (or more importantly, Stallone).  In fact, in one scene Rob Schneider mocks Stallone for not knowing how to use them.  How to use the three seashells (successfully) is no doubt one of the greatest mysteries left unsolved from the 1990s, topped only by the wild success of Pogs



Notification Management with Jive What Matters



Fast forward to July 2011 and Jive 5 implements it's own version of the three seashells.  Like crop circles in the night, these three icons appear in the new Jive 5 social platform.  (see right image).  What are they?  Where did they come from? What do they do?  If the purpose of these icons isn't immediately clear, I'll go ahead and break the suspense.  They are for notification management (apologies for the Shyamalanian twist) and they are collectively referred to as "Jive What Matters".


The Problem

We all know the problem, it stares us in the face every day.  In our web browser,  inbox, and even on dry-erase boards at our desks, we all have just too much to do.  Does the following sound familiar?

Ever since I started using [INSERT SOCIAL PLATFORM NAME], I've been flooded with too much information.  And the emails!  I'm hearing too much Garfunkel and not enough Simon.  How am I supposed to get things done?  It's literally like drinking from a fire hose.  Yes, Iiterally!  There's got to be a better way!!!!



The Solution - Jive What Matters

Jive What Matters is a collection of features added to Jive 5  that, when used together, can empower users to better align their social awareness with their social readiness. These features include:

  • All Activity - Allows users to observe the fire hose, defined as an unfiltered list of all content in all places by all people that is viewable for a given user. 
    • This is traditionally used for organic conversation discovery and recreational interest across all knowledge domains.
  • Followed Activity - Allows users to define rules to filter the fire hose towards specific content, places, and people
    • This is traditionally used for refined conversation discovery around specific knowledge domains.
    • Hide Filtering - Allows users to define exceptions to the Followed Activity rules.
  • Jive Genius - Service that analyzes a user's behavior across all content, places, people, and topics in an effort to predict high-quality conversations that are relevant to the user.
  • My Communications - Allows users to focus on active conversations where they are engaged or expressed explicit interest.
    • Untrack Filtering - Allows users to define exceptions to their tracking rules.
  • Actions - Allows users to focus on what they need to do, as defined by themselves, others, or applications.



When it comes to using tools to monitor social activity, people adopt two distinct behaviors:

  • Fear of Exclusion - Defined as people who prefer to see possibly more than needed so they do not miss anything.
    • Its like watching infomercial re-runs all night long because you don't want to miss the premiere of the next big, must-have doohickey.
  • Fear of Overload - Defined as people who prefer to see as little as possible, so they can avoid unnecessary noise. 
    • Its like turning on the TV at exactly 1:33am to just catch the ShamWow "buy now" special offer because really, there's sliced bread and ShamWows...and that's about it.


At any point in time, people adopt one of these two behaviors, but this decision isn't fixed.  As conditions change, so does the need to re-evaluate one's social behavior.   For example,

When doing research on a topic that is relatively new, it is more likely for someone to desire more content rather than less.  As they become more educated on the subject matter, it is more likely for them to intelligently select information sources that are in line with their specific information needs.  Same person.  Same topic.  Different point in time.  Different behaviors.

The funnel diagram (right) attempts to depict a user's collaboration environment, as it relates to these behaviors, Jive What Matters, and the activity fire hose.  In a nutshell,

For times when you need to be inwardly focused (high personal responsibility), Jive offers the use of Actions (just tell me what to do) and My Communications (help me keep track of what I'm already doing) to help control information overload.  For those who tend to be more socially responsible (by virtue of personality and/or job function), using the Followed Activity interface provides a great way to sift through what's going on.  Be sure to leverage the "Hide" and "Untrack" features in Activity and My Communications respectively to keep your streams more relevant.  Engage the Jive Genius recommendation engine frequently to discover new conversations, as well as to improve its understanding of what matters most to you.  Jive Genius fundamentally bridges the two distinct social behaviors offering "quality" missed conversations in an interface that is unobtrusive, and yet readily available.




When it comes to social software, notification management is THE 800 lb. Gorilla in the room.  Platforms that continue to ignore Giggles (yes, I named the gorilla) and provide sub-par tools to manage user notifications will find their longevity in the marketplace cut drastically short.  It is inevitable.  As users become more interconnected with each other, collaboration will organically flourish into a bountiful forest of notifications.  And, while that future sounds all lollipops and kittens, the reality is: notification mismanagement is the #1 deterrent to social software adoption.   Selecting a social platform capable of answering this challenge is imperative for long-term success


From what I've seen in Jive 5 and Jive What Matters thus far, I can only feel positive about the road ahead!



Some closing thoughts:

  • If you are considering a new social platform for your enterprise or community, I highly recommend that you consider evaluating platforms with a mind-set beyond the first six months to address this notification management problem head on.
    • How will the solution(s) empower users to manage this problem, when it occurs?  How many levels of granularity does it provide?
    • How will the solution(s) cater to both social behaviors, "Fear of Exclusion" and "Fear of Overload" on-demand?
    • How will the solution(s) compel users to keep them engaged in the system?  Will your users react accordingly?
  • If you are already using Jive 5 (or a previous version of Jive),
    • Take the time to provide quality training to users on the Jive What Matters interface(s), and how they can be used to promote an efficient  collaboration environment. 
    • Don't leave users stranded in a cubicle (or bathroom stall) staring perplexed at three seashells while getting overrun by excess notifications.
    • Don't mock users for being new to the future of enterprise collaboration.
  • Lastly, regardless of what Google might suggest from this article, watching Demolition Man will not make you an expert on notification management, Jive 5, or Jive What Matters.  At best, you'll want to tweet about your impromptu enchirito craving for Fourthmeal.


The more you know. 


Be well.


Ryan has over 10 years of experience in web technologies including Java, eMarketplace, ECM, CRM, Web Analytics, Email Deliverability and Collaboration. As the Social Business Architect at National Instruments, Ryan is responsible for orchestrating collaboration solutions that connect employees, customers, and enterprise systems.  Ryan is an MIS graduate of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.  You can connect with him online at @ryanrutan or on LinkedIn.