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Information at your fingertips, 20 years later

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Nov. 12, 1990. Las Vegas. Bill Gates was giving his keynote address at COMDEX, one of the largest computer tradeshows in the world. His speech was titled "Information At Your Fingertips," in which he presented his vision of personal computing where you could use your computer to get any information you wanted.

It goes without saying Gates' prediction proved be a major game-changer for the industry. In Inmagic's spring 1991 newsletter, Phil Green (then President, now CTO. We'll get to Phil's Inmagic evolution in another issue) pontificated about Gates' prediction.


As I read Phil's reaction, I couldn't help but think how his ideas about information at your fingertips can be applied to today's Enterprise 2.0 landscape. Here are some notions from our old newsletter article that still resonate today:
Improved collaboration. While you could say we've achieved information at our fingertips through Google and other technologies, we are a demanding bunch and "[relevant] information at our fingertips" is something we still strive for to improve collaboration across our organizations.

Great expectations. Phil wrote about how Inmagic had just gone through a corporate network upgrade. With this newfangled technology, employees at Inmagic would no longer stand for a network glitch where they "can't use the network for a day." A DAY? I shudder at the thought. Certainly expectations of our technology applications have gone up, and with them our demand for proof of effectiveness.

Increased productivity. Because of the network upgrade, employees wanted to use e-mail to communicate. The problem? "Now, we all have a new time-consuming activity: reading and responding to e-mail messages," wrote Phil. Sound familiar? Replace the last part of the sentence with "social media" and you've tapped into the great debate of the early 21st century: Will social technologies help or hinder the productivity of your organization? If we can take a lesson from e-mail, we should see social technologies as a strategic part of how we communicate and do business, not a productivity drain.
Philosopher and writer George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Throughout its history, Inmagic has consistently conveyed the importance of keeping business objectives in mind when implementing technology. Evidence can be seen in our spring '91 newsletter.

Phil wrote, "When making the decision to upgrade our network, we looked closely at the intended results." And in his recently contributed article to TechNewsWorld, Phil said, "Any E2.0 rollout big or small -- pilot or no pilot -- should be tailored to an organization's own culture and structure, and tightly align focus and context to the overall business objective."

And finally, I'll leave you with this quote from the guest columnist of this newsletter, David Strickler:

"As you find yourself lost in a river of data, think of Inmagic as a delta where diverse data flow together forming a coherent body of information. It is as much of a resting place for archived data as a retrieval bank for you latest corporate and personal knowledge. It is a valve that channels information, presenting it in a manageable format."

Have a look-see at our newsletter to read more first-hand.

Win a Kindle by registering on Inmagic.com

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Amazon Kindles are one of the most popular gadgets among our info pros community. I can't blame you. :) So we are indulging your desire for wireless reading on the nifty 8.7-oz. device by giving away a free Kindle to a lucky info pro who registers on Inmagic.com.

Be one of the 250 registered Inmagic.com users to download any one of our Know and Go resources, and you'll be entered to win. Then keep your eyes peeled on our blog to see if you're the winner.

After you register on Inmagic.com, you'll have access to all Know and Go content. From archived webinars to white papers, the series of resources provides you up-to-date information on KM trends and topics to help you shape your organization's social knowledge management strategy.

They're available on demand whenever you need guidance. And if have any questions or want to learn more about something you see, feel free to contact us.

Good luck, and get registering!! :)

5 steps for successfully deploying Social Knowledge Networks

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The success of your Social Knowledge Network strategy is measured by the outcome: how well you achieve your business objectives, whether they be increased productivity, improved collaboration, improved knowledge transfer and knowledge retention, or what have you.

But a successful output is contingent upon quality input. Just as we say "garbage in, garbage out," the opposite holds true. Quality in, quality out.

In our work with our customers deploying Social Knowledge Networks, we've identified five key steps to ensuring a successful output. The editors of CMSWire invited me to detail them in a contributed article, which hit their site this week.

In it I explain the five steps for deploying a successful Social Knowledge Network strategy, including:

1. Define the problem
2. Pick your people
3. Find a fearless leader
4. Make content your king
5. The rules rule

Hit CMSWire to read about each step in detail. And feel free to let us know your feedback in the comments. Thanks to CMSWire's editors for taking my piece.

Presto 3.5 Discussion Forums and Report Generator

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On Tuesday we introduced our latest Presto release, version 3.5. We took a few screen shots of the platform to help show you some its new features. You can click each image to enlarge it.

Below you can see the interface for Presto's Discussion Forums. These forums let you move important discussions out of e-mail and into a central forum, moving from one-to-one communication to one-to-many. This helps consolidate information silos, preserve discussions, and retain knowledge for future use.


And here is a shot of Presto's Report Generator. It's easy to use and integrates with Presto permissions for secure report generation. It displays only the appropriate records/fields for an accurate and tailored view of information.

How to turn employee turnover into an advantage

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Economic pressures or not, employee turnover is a constant challenge companies face. When employees leave -- for whatever reason, be it getting laid off, getting fired, resigning, retiring -- they take their manpower and knowledge with them. High turnover rates can also erode morale and team spirit.

So how can companies maintain high employee performance and productivity under these circumstances? I found some advice in this Wall Street Journal article by Dr. Gervase Bushe, Professor of Leadership and Organization Development at Simon Fraser University.

He breaks down four primary challenges that teams with fluid membership face, and his recommendations for addressing them. I think he has some wise advice to share, especially about increasing knowledge retention.

For instance, Dr. Bushe writes, "Managers might create knowledge-management systems to store team information. For instance, an engineering team might keep a blog to chart a project's progress and the roles and responsibilities of team members involved."

Piggybacking off of that, this evolving workforce is clearly driving the need for enterprise social technologies to support collaboration across teams and organizations. Teams that are focused on a business objective can achieve cohesion and less disruption, and the result is a more collaborative approach to reaching their individual and corporate goals. But more on that in my comment I left on the article.

I'd encourage you to flip over to WSJ and read through Dr. Bushe's advice too. Anything you'd add, or disagree with?

CMSWire notes Presto 3.5's new social and security features

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CMSWire's Chelsi Nakano covered our release of Presto 3.5 yesterday. She highlighted a couple major new features, including Presto's Discussion Forums, Report Generator, single sign-on security, and others. So allow me to direct your attention to her article to see what else she had to say about Presto 3.5. And as always, feel free to leave feedback in the comments. Thanks for featuring us, Chelsi!

Presto 3.5 released with new access and control functionality

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Striking the right balance between access and control of your knowledge repository is a constant challenge for information workers. On one hand, you want to foster adoption and encourage collaboration among employees. On the other, you need to ensure information security and control so employees work within your organization's processes, policies, and culture.

This challenge was the impetus driving our development of Presto 3.5, which we released today. The updated version of Presto has new functionality surrounding access and control to help information workers manage their organization's knowledge within the context of both their collaboration and security needs and objectives.

For more information on the new functionality, I'll direct you to our press release we issued this morning. It helps explain the new features and how you can use them to bring greater control and access to your knowledge repository.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, feel free to drop us a line or leave a comment.



Latest Version of Inmagic Presto Broadens Collaboration Capabilities and Deepens Security Elements

Enhancements enable KnowledgeNets, providing business users easy access to secure, relevant information that is tied to specific business objectives

WOBURN, Mass.--August 24, 2010--Inmagic® released the latest version of Inmagic® Presto, an application that enables non-technical business users to create and manage KnowledgeNets™, Social Knowledge Networks (SKN) that are tied to a specific business objective. Presto 3.5 delivers enhanced functionality to customers that include discussion forums, which facilitate topic-specific collaboration; extended single sign-on (SSO), which authenticates third-party applications; and improved overall performance optimization for large enterprise organizations.

Meeting business objectives with Enterprise 2.0

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Conversations about Enterprise 2.0 have come a long way in the past year. Dialogue surrounding the novelty of bringing Web 2.0 and social media behind the firewall is increasingly being replaced by analysis focusing on bigger picture business objectives that companies are trying to achieve with these technologies.

A few of those stories can be found in this round-up that Kristi Grigsby, Senior Director of Marketing at INgage Networks, put together last week. She featured some recent articles that she feels "reinforce valuable insight that is critical for successful adoption of Enterprise 2.0." I'd encourage you to click over and give them a read.

By the way, you might also notice that Kristi included our own Phil Green's recently contributed article, "To Pilot or Not to Pilot Enterprise 2.0?," which appeared in TechNewsWorld earlier this month. Thanks for featuring us, Kristi!

Flip on over to Kristi's post to see the other articles that made her top picks, and feel free to leave some feedback.

How social media is affecting the DIKW hierarchy

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In June I wrote a blog post about how social media is changing the notion of the Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy within enterprise organizations.

The editors of CMSWire recently invited me to contribute a guest article elaborating on the topic, and I was more than happy to oblige. My piece went live yesterday, so if you're looking for more information on the topic, flip over to CMSWire.

In it I included more detail on how the line between information and knowledge are blurring with enterprise adoption of social media. As always, feel free to leave your feedback here or on CMSWire.

Enterprise 2.0: To pilot or not to pilot?

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A few months ago I wrote a post on our blog about why we should kill E2.0 pilots. If you were looking for more of a drill-down on my argument, you've come to the right place! The editors of TechNewsWorld invited me to contribute a guest article on the topic, and it went live this week. Hit their site to read my recommendation for how to decide if an E2.0 pilot is right for your organization.

The short answer? Yes and no. That's because every company is unique, and while launching a pilot might be the best solution for one, it could be a failure for another.

As I explain in the article, the relationships between data, information, knowledge, staff, management, experts, applications and platforms vary greatly among enterprise organizations. Companies are not as concerned about the pilot as they are about achieving business objectives and finding answers to the unique problems they are experiencing.

But there are several factors to think about when considering if a pilot is right for your business, so flip over to my article to read about them. Feel free to leave your own recommendations here too.

CMSWire's list of collaboration technologies to have on your radar

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This week on CMSWire, Barb Mosher put together a round up of technologies organizations are using for enterprise collaboration. Her list is especially insightful, because she breaks down tools that have an established base across the enterprise (e-mail, databases, conference calls), followed by new, more highly evolved collaboration approaches that are enhancing, and in some cases, ousting them.

After reading through Barb's evaluation, it's clear to me that the enterprise is moving to a more social, multi-way workplace in which employees communicate, team, and share knowledge in virtual communities. In fact, one of the new collaboration technologies Barb includes on her list is Social Knowledge Networks, like Presto.

Her round up is worth a look-see. What do you think of her list? Anything you'd add, delete, or change? What technologies are you using now, and what ones are considering using in the future?

Innovation in all its forms is good for all of us

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Woody Allen might have put it best, "If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."

As a 30-year technology software marketing veteran, every time I see technology-driven ideas from organizations like Google (who, by the way, are still searching for their identity inside the workforce), my skeptic antennae goes up.

To date, new technologies like Google Wave end up changing very little, other than creating a buzz and giving developers a chance to play around with the latest hot, new concept. But when it comes to making enterprise workgroups successful, the purpose of technology always comes down to one thing and one thing only: serving the needs of the business and end-users.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for innovation. And I suppose we all owe Google a thank you for helping us challenge the way we think about collaborative applications and technology. Certainly software vendors like Inmagic have benefited by incorporating a few interesting constructs and kernels into its products, but we have once again learned that it’s not just about the technology.

Now that Google Wave has been sucked into the undertow of technologies that have failed while in search of a market, we can all get back to work making products and software solutions that start and end with delivering real benefits to our customers and the industry.

In the meantime, Google, please keep trying, and failing, and succeeding, and innovating. We can all benefit from your efforts in some shape or form.

Inmagic newsletter archives: February 1999

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We pulled this company newsletter out of the archives because, really, haven't you always wondered where Inmagic got its name? Test out your deductive reasoning and guess which conversation happened in 1984 that determined the company name:

a) "We're really on to something with this idea. We just stepped in magic!

b) "I hope you believe in magic because David Copperfield has nothing on this software."

c) "When I saw what the software could do, I said, 'It's magic!'"

If you selected C, you're right! Inmagic actually stands for Information Magic. In this issue, the company founders recap the first 15 years of the organization, which I discovered was officially founded in December of 1983. Who knew! As you'll see in the Q-and-A in the old newsletter, many of the core philosophies and principles still hold true.
  • "Our customers - information managers, really - needed to manipulate and retrieve their information in a way that was familiar to them." Yesterday that was DOS. Today, Google is the way we work.
     
  • "We have a very basic philosophy here: we listen to our customers and provide them with what they ask for to make their jobs easier." A mantra that drives the company and its products today.
     
  • "We view the Web as simply another platform." So is SharePoint.
     
  • "Special librarians are demonstrating their leadership by using our Web-based products to spread the use of information throughout their organizations." And today we see special librarians at the intersection of people, content, and the wisdom of the community.

Also, in the section, Inmagic Presents a Clear Roadmap to the Web, it discusses how Inmagic technology could deliver information to end-user desktops, anywhere, anytime via a Web browser. While we've had that checked off our to-do list for some time, the basic premise of enabling non-technical business users to engage in information management is still ingrained in our products and has always set Inmagic apart from other technology applications.

Yesterday, it was DB/Text Web Publisher Pro. Today, Social Knowledge Networks provide virtual environments that bring together content, people, and tools for information access and discovery -- specifically for end users. Kind of makes you wonder where we'll be 15 years from now. Maybe accessing information in our flying cars and having meetings via hologram (we'll make a note to put that functionality in version 22).

What I learned on your summer vacation

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That's right, this isn't about me and my vacation (which was lovely, thank you). It's about you and your vacation. It's August, and if you're like many, you're part of a skeleton crew holding down the fort as people head to the beach, the mountains, and their backyards for some hard-earned rest and relaxation.

You also are probably familiar with "the list." The list from your co-worker of open items, things that might come up, projects that might need completing, questions that might get asked, etc., that you are responsible for until their return.

You also know that little feeling of panic when someone comes to your desk urgently asking for "X," when you know Mr. Flip-Flop is the only one who knows how to deal with "X."

Vacation: A small window into the importance of knowledge retention, and a big opportunity to improve how your organization captures and retains knowledge.

As social technologies take hold, we have a new opportunity to improve how information and knowledge is captured and transferred amongst staff. As we learn all too well in the summer months, much of an organization's knowledge is stored within individuals. Capturing, retaining, and transferring that knowledge is crucial to preserving intellectual property and accelerating innovation.

Take a look at past revenues and chances are you'll see the lag in Q3 simply because of summer. Why? Because it's hard to get anything done with so many people (and their knowledge) out of the office. What if you could reduce that lag by keeping the people that are in the office more efficient, productive, and able to capitalize on the knowledge of their coworkers -- even while they're not in the office?

Social Knowledge Networks (SKNs) provide a way to unleash this knowledge so employees can share information, update, and enrich core content to create a dynamic, living knowledgebase. By bringing together content, people, and tools to support corporate objectives, SKNs let organizations improve the transfer and retention of knowledge, foster collaboration, and increase productivity.

Until we take a hint from Europe and shut our doors for the dog days of summer, we can take a hint from our vacations and work on improving our knowledge retention abilities. In the meantime, just be thankful Mr. Flip-Flop is back on Monday.

Google Wave all washed up

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While momentum around social technologies has been great, understanding how to most effectively take advantage of these tools is still evolving. The recent crash of Google Wave is clear evidence of that. The naysayers might chalk this up as another failure of social technologies, but I think it's just the opposite.

The demise of Google Wave simply validates that the right kind of social technology is positioned for great success. At Inmagic, context has been our bread, and content our butter since entering the social scene in 2008. In a September 2009 blog post, Inmagic CTO Phil Green summed up that which makes Inmagic different:
"Social knowledge networks (SKNs) created using Presto are differentiated because the core product capability begins with having an existing knowledge repository (or 'information honey pot'). Presto then enables that content to be socialized in a controlled environment.
Why is this approach different? Because it is not based on sharing for sharing's sake. Sharing for sharing's sake will likely be the demise of many vendors because it requires mass users and frequent input to get the system going and ingrained in the everyday workflow."
Organizations have failed to achieve their social objectives because social technologies have been simply added on to their existing intranets or portals, without much thought given to what this means to the end user.

What benefit does an R&D scientist derive from having access to a social technology? How does Web 2.0 help a marketing professional get their job done faster and better? How does an engineer gain insight into the proposal development process?

In Social Knowledge Networks (SKNs), context is everything and always has been. When given context, people using social technologies have a reason for connecting, and begin to extract the true value of these technologies.

Context is achieved through content. For the R&D scientist, it is the drug discovery report written by a colleague in another department. For the marketing professional, it is the market research analysis written by a coworker in a field office. For the engineer, it is the comments written by company experts on a proposal document.

People will connect when there is context, because they have a shared reference point, a reason to connect. Collaboration happens and problem solving accelerates because the socially connected people have a basis for their discussion, not merely because they can now post their comments.

Content is the backbone of a successful social knowledge management strategy and context is the lifeblood. It's not just about connecting people together. It's about how we use that interaction and bring people together to solve a business problem.

Inmagic KnowledgeNets resonate with association market

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I'm excited to announce that the Human Resources Professionals Association and the American Society of Association Executives are the newest associations that are implementing PrestoWe issued a press release today with the news.

You can give it a read below to learn more about these associations, and how Inmagic is helping them improve service levels, knowledge retention, and better overall information dissemination throughout their associations.

Inmagic KnowledgeNets Resonate with Association Market

Associations turn to Inmagic to better service members, increase renewal rates, and boost retention

WOBURN, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Increasing demand among associations for better collaboration and member self-service has led the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA), and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) to select Inmagic® Presto® to make information more accessible for both internal staff and members, and to provide better overall service.

Presto allows us to consolidate a vast array of resources -- articles, reviews, white papers, webinars, seminars, books, website content, video, third party media, public and subscription-based search, blogs, RSS feeds, and other news -- into one simple, intuitive interface that invites member participation and collaboration,” said Chris Larsen, Director, Marketing and Membership at HRPA. “All of which significantly increases value to members, their level of engagement and ultimately their satisfaction and retention. Integration with our Microsoft CRM platform also allows us to use Presto’s authentication capabilities to further secure and personalize our members’ information experience.”

Associations are information-rich organizations. They are tasked with collecting and disseminating industry information on a timely basis and to a targeted audience or affinity group. Presto creates KnowledgeNets which facilitate topic-specific collaboration, making activities such as monitoring regulations, self-service information access by members and staff, and the creation of true knowledge-based communities swift and seamless. The result is improved service levels, greater productivity, improved membership attraction and retention, knowledge retention, and better overall information dissemination throughout the association.

“Connecting people, ideas, and information is at the heart of the associations industry and is core to servicing ASAE’s broad and diverse member audience,” said Nancy Matthes, Research Librarian at ASAE. “The better we can equip our Knowledge Center to serve and support member inquires, the better we are prepared to increase awareness, provide relevant information quickly, encourage patronage, and help members advocate their causes more effectively.”

The latest shift towards business social software has made the promise of effective information management and collaboration a reality, and crucial to the success of business-centric associations. Because Presto sits at the intersection of content consumers and content producers, it is an ideal solution for associations that want to improve the business of its members.

“Associations have long been part of the Inmagic customer community throughout Inmagic’s 25-year history,” says Mike Cassettari, Vice President of Marketing for Inmagic. “Now more than ever, associations are recognizing the benefit of content-centric socialization, where core knowledge is collected, organized, made accessible, and enhanced by the wisdom of the community.”

Other Inmagic customers in the association and non-profit sectors include, MRA, Ophea, The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The National Endowment for Democracy, and The San Francisco Symphony.

ABOUT INMAGIC, INC.

Inmagic® is a leader in developing and implementing Social Knowledge Networks (SKN) for enterprise organizations. For nearly 30 years, Inmagic has helped information and knowledge-driven organizations manage, access and publish information. Today, our award winning Inmagic® Presto SKN application helps business users access and search relevant content and community insight across enterprise silos to create an environment focused on addressing high-value business processes and objectives. Organizations across a range of industries including ACLU, City of Edmonton, Laureate Education, Maple Leaf Foods, MRA, NASA, The Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, the San Francisco Symphony and Wyeth Consumer Healthcare (now Pfizer), rely on Inmagic to improve productivity and collaboration, retain and preserve knowledge and foster greater innovation. Find out how much your organization really knows. Visit Inmagic at www.Inmagic.com.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

PRESS RESOURCES

Press contacts: Alicia Buonanno, alicia@GregoryFCA.com, Carolyn MacNeill, cmacneill@inmagic.com

Inmagic: http://www.inmagic.com/

Inmagic press room: http://www.inmagic.com/news/press_room.html

Inmagic RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/inmagic

Inmagic blog: http://blog.inmagic.com

Inmagic company fact sheet: http://www.inmagic.com/company/Inmagic-At-A-Glance.pdf

Contacts

For more information, press only:
Gregory FCA
Alicia Buonanno, 610-228-2096
Alicia@GregoryFCA.com
or
Inmagic, Inc.
Carolyn MacNeill, 781-287-6277
CMacneill@Inmagic.com

Inmagic newsletter archives: We're going back ... wayyy back

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It's one thing to hear that Inmagic has been around for more than 25 years. It's another to physically see the evidence.

In 1985, founders Betty Edison and Karen Brothers really put the Inmagic brainchild into motion and started a newsletter communication to customers. And one of our long-time, dedicated customers, Karen Evans, librarian at the Anglican Church of Canada, diligently saved -- and archived, of course -- the Inmagic print newsletters dating back to the summer of 1986.

In 1986 I was listening to Duran Duran on my Walkman, watching "Top Gun" on a VCR, Ferris Bueller had his big day off, and everyone held Hands Across America with swatches on their wrists. And as a former Long Island'er now living in Boston, I'll always have conflicting feelings about 1986. You know what I'm talking about (cough, Buckner, cough cough).

Inmagic has come a long way and it's nice to see the history, progress, and growth of a long-time software company that has embraced today's Enterprise 2.0 movement without losing its core base of customers and development principles.

We thought our old newsletters were just too good to leave sitting in the archives. So we're going to post them to the blog over the coming days and weeks. And there's no better place to start than at the beginning, so here's the front cover to one of our first newsletters. (Click to enlarge.)


While we get to work scanning more newsletters, here are some interesting excerpts from the archives I've been reading:
  • "When we first began to sell Inmagic in the early 80's, we found that libraries and law firms were among the first industries using computers to manage text." -- 1986
  • "It may surprise you that in the next seven to ten years, computers will give you [a] multifaceted environment for your data." -- 1986
  • "As a society, we are well on our way to becoming computer literate, but we are still far from being information literate." -- 1990
  • "Intranets: Why They're Here to Stay." -- 1997
Back to the future for now, more to come later.

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