January 31, 2003


This is a new meme in blogging: a persistent page. I plan to keep adding links on this page, sort of a catch-all. Also, it will soon be joined by some semi-permanent "living" pages of reference material. Life comes in more than last-in/first-out day-by-day entries.

Blogroots is home to the book We Blog. The chapter Using Blogs in Business is online, as is Navigating the Blog Universe. Don't miss the Resources Center.

infed.org, The Home of Informal Education, is simply awesome. Check out The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. As an example, see the section on Communities of Practice. The Top50 reads like a book of essentials. Includes many seminal texts. I found this site via elearningpost; thanks, Maish!

ERCIM, a quarterly journal in support of the European Community in Information Technology. Pan European. Recent issues have covered Semantic Web, eGovernment, Ambient Intelligence, HCI, and robotics. The current issue is about Imbedded Systems.

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ASTD TechKnowledge 3

Survey after survey finds that PowerPoint is the most popular tool for authoring eLearning.

PowerPoint presentations with narration or good notes can capture the content of a presentation effectively. But you and I know that many PowerPoints are slapped on the web with no voice-over or notes. Trying to devine their meaning is akin to reading a newspaper written in a foreign language you don't understand.

On the flight from Orlando back to California, I leafed through several handouts from TechKnowledge, in search of the rare PowerPoint slides that were able to stand alone and convey their messages. Some of the more effective:

For success with online community, you need:
  • A clear work-related purpose
  • The right membership
  • A technologically feasible solution
  • Measurability
  • Strong facilitation
  • The ability to work asynchronously
  • To allow for non-work
  • Customizatin to the culture
  • To think through incentives
Diane Hessan, Communispace
The Dimensions of Learning Activities

Classroom Discussion

Web Conference

Online Community

Not Interactive

Watching a video

Hearing a lecture

Reading a book or document

Listening to a tape

  Synchronous Asynchronous

Diane Hessan, Communispace
What we expected


  • just in time, just-for-me, anytime,
    anywhere, 24x7, interactive, streaming,
    real-time, asynchronous, pervasive,
    motivational, emotional, collaborative,
    multimedia, rich, engaging, strategic,
    empowering, scalable, consistent, efficient,
Ellen Wagner, Eduworks Corporation and Learnativity
What we got

  • Scalable, consistent, efficient,

Ellen Wagner, Eduworks Corporation and Learnativity
Internet Thinking


    Information needs to be share and unified

    Processes are based on associations, relationships and influences. They are not linear or hierarchical.

    Organizations must place the individual first, making them full partners in the enterprise.

    W. David Stephenson 2002 Infowarcon Keynote September 4, 2002

Ellen Wagner, Eduworks Corporation and Learnativity
Marc Rosenberg, Diamond Cluster
Stakeholders = Customers
Jay Cross & Lance Dublin
Lance Dublin & Jay Cross


Death by PowerPoint

Gettysburg Address in PowerPoint

Finally, here's an item from today's T+D Extra newsletter:


Blogs (short for Weblogs) are informal Websites where people publish stories, opinions, and links--often on a daily basis. Learning Circuits's first blog began in April 2002 with commentary from a select group of industry experts. Six months and 18,836 words later, that starter blog, unfortunately, has sputtered to a halt. Now, a new Learning Circuits Blog is up and running with a few additional features that make it easy for anyone to add his or her two cents.

BLOG: http://www.meta-time.com/lcmt/

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ASTD TechKnowledge 2

TechKnowledge concluded today with Bill Horton, Allison Rossett, and Marc Rosenberg answering questions posed by Lance Dublin and a surprisingly large audience waiting for the fat lady to sing.

Lance: What is eLearning?

Bill: eLearning occurs whenever people use technology and their brain changes for the better. Allison: Yes, but if eLearning is only about technology, we miss the people dimensions. Marc: I will tell you what eLearning is not: eTraining – that concept is so limiting and narrowly focused. Apprenticeship is a proven model; the interaction of one master and one apprentice produced real learning. But we ran out of masters, and schools attempted to scale by having many apprentices per master. eLearning promises a better clone of apprenticeship.

Lance: Tell us about how you personally use eLearning.

Marc: Microsoft’s Carpoint taught me what I needed to know about buying a new car late one evening – just what I needed, when I needed it. Allison participates in numerous listservs; I read them every day.

Lance: And the downside of eLearning?

Allison took a mediocre course that led her to write an article titled Confessions of a Web Dropout. It was an info-dump with no connection to her life. Marc noted the eLearning doesn’t have an exclusive on mediocrity. Tons of classroom learning is crap, too. Bill: Classroom learning has been with us for 50,000 years. We’re only three seconds after midnight of the first day in the life of eLearning.

Lance read some wildly optimistic statements about eLearning he had found on Google (“my favorite eLearning tool because you can find out about tree frogs while searching for information about eLearning”).

Bill: There’s a perception that eLearning is failing because the mediocre stuff is being swept away. Actually this shows that the market mechanism is working.

Marc: the training industry is in a recession but eLearning is moving ahead.
Go into a company, and you find tremendous investment being made in performance support -- getting information to customers, coordinating with suppliers.


Bill: Imagine you’re at a medical conference, and a speaker describes a life-saving technique that always works and, in fact, is so vital that people couldn’t live without it. You’d be disappointed to find out the speaker was talking about breathing. Blending is like that. Thank goodness people are getting away from sandwich model (online, classroom, online, classroom, online, classroom, etc.) If we’re going to blend, let’s blend instructional strategies.

Marc: It’s always about people and needs, not courses and LMSs.

Everyone I talked with as we filed out of the ballroom and into the sunny patio surrounding the pool had nothing but good words to say about TechKnowledge. Small is beautiful. eLearning hype was at an all-time low. People left with plans to take back to the office or at least a broader perspective than they came in with. TechKnowledge has become a great conference for newbies with flashes of insight for old-timers.

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January 28, 2003

ASTD TechKnowledge

ASTD TechKnowledge
Orlando, Florida

ASTD president Tina Sung opened TechKnowledge this morning with an analogy to taking her daughter to the Buzz Lightyear ride in DisneyWorld and advancing from novice to commando (360,000 points!) in only four rides. Our challenge at this conference is to become eLearning commandos in three days.

Tina noted that the results of eLearning are mixed. Columbia just pulled the plug on Fathom.com after investing three years and $25 million.

The theme of TechKnowledge is "Truth in eLearning," although I don't think anyone can lay claim to absolute truth in this mega-hyped market slice. eLearning was invented as a marketing term, not a discipline.

Roger Schank

Roger Schank followed with a well-received keynote. Following the "Truth in eLearning" theme, he set out to reveal 15 eLearning fairytales. Roger is a guy people either love or hate. He's a brilliant, iconoclastic, devilish, gourmet professor-provocateur with a distinguished background at Yale, Northwestern, and Carnegie Mellon. Very full of himself. The issue is whether you feel he deserves to be or not. I love the guy.

Myth #1 is that good training (and thus good eLearning) copies school. School is boring and largely irrelevant, teaching a curriculum devised at Harvard in 1898 for training future professors.

Myth #2 is that schooling (and also eLearning) is preparation for work. Maybe if you're a professor. For the rest of us, who needs algebra?

Myth #3 is that people can learn by being told. When I'm talking, you're internally reacting to what I'm saying; you keep thinking while I keep talking. You can't actually hear a lecture. You can be inspired by it… Don't tell anybody anything. Does anyone get to argue in your eLearning?

Myth #4 is that learning can take place without real driving goals. Roger gave us the 757 exam. Six questions. How many exits on a 757? What do the red & orange lights mean? What do you do if the slide doesn't inflate? You've heard it hundreds of times but you don't remember it. No associated goal. The whole art of teaching is the art of awaking the natural curiosity.

Myth #5 is that useable knowledge can be explicitly stated. Actually the stuff you can state is not what you need to know. How hard do you have to stomp the brake pedal to stop a car going 60? The answer's in your eyes, your legs, etc. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. If your eLearning system is about anything other than practice, people aren't learning. Replicating existing courses on a computer doesn't work. Why? Courses suck. Learning requires emotion (how come?), exploration (what happened?), frustration (got to fix this), explanation (maybe that's why), and realization (aha). And, above all inspiring curiosity.

Myth #6 is that eLearning is a way to save money on training. (You figure it out.)

Myth #7 is that you need an LMS. "Never give a sucker an even break." VCs took over the eLearning business. Let's make a shell. You're going to figure out how to do eLearning. Don't buy the tools first.

Myth #8 is that blended solutions are best. "Blended" is an excuse word. (Don't throw anything away.) Were there things you could do in the classroom you couldn't do in eLearning? Not many. What are the primary modes of education? Story telling, story living, software sim, live sim. Prelimary processes: real projects, Socratic mentoring, goal-based scenarios, apprenticeships.

The remaining myths:

9. Schooling will always be the same. Learning by doing is how we learn. Carnegie Mellon West is Roger's proof by example. Real learning requires an apprenticeship model. Always has, always will. Simulated job.

10. Curricula have been handed down by God (or Charles Eliot). What do they need to practice? What will they do after the course? What are their typical mistakes? Where are the experts?

Socraticarts.com for projects from CMU
www.west.cmu.edu for online master's degreees

11. Training is different from education. What stories do you want your employees to live?

12. You can learn something in an hour.

13. Sims/online are expensive.

14. You can't build it yourself.

15. eLearning does not involve instructors.

eLearning works, so long as you don't believe in fairy tales.

Great stuff!

Sam Adkins

Sam Adkins, a business analyst with extensive nontraditional learning experience, addressed the convergence of enterprise systems and eLearning. (Disclosure: Internet Time Group is publishing Sam's reports on this.)

The real-time enterprise is at hand. Imagine ERP+CRM+SCM+ eLearning, all glued together and functioning seamlessly. We're about to see a battle between best-of-breed (the eLearning providers' refuge) and broadest reach (PeopleSoft, Oracle, SAP, Sun, Siebel). Until now, automation has been the key business driver. Now, "integration" is replacing it.

This has tremendous implications for eLearning, performance support, KM, and related areas. Turbulence in eLearning? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Download Sam's free overview.

The Expo

I was a little burned out by the time I hit the reception in the Expo. Then I balked at a cheesy buffet and a cash bar. Kevin Oakes was manning the Click2Learn booth -- one of the few CEOs of a major player with the humility to talk with the prospects. Enspire's Bjorn Brillhart and Seth Kaplan were wowing the crowd with their simulations. Nothing in the Expo knocked my socks off, but perhaps I simply wasn't in the mood.

The Event

A couple of years ago, I was down on TechKnowledge. I didn't attend because it felt like an arranged marriage between two conferences that couldn't stand on their own, the name seemed to rip off Elliott's TechLearn, and it took place in Chicago in the winter.

Last year I attended because Las Vegas is an easy flight from my home outside San Francisco, and I was participating in a virtual press conference. Spoiled as I was from working with big vendors, I thought TechKnowledge was dinky. As I talked with attendees, however, I found that it was serving a valuable purpose. The attendees were looking for basic lessons and they were getting them. Most of these people would have gotten lost at a larger show. ASTD is a membership organization and this was serving the members.

This year in Orlando is much the same. There are people here who have never assembled a PowerPoint presentation nor clicked the right button of a mouse. (I am NOT making this up.) They are getting their arms around a subject they're dedicated to figuring out. If I were in ASTD's shoes, I'd be tempted to offer TechKnowledge every quarter -- each time in a different region of the country. Host shows for the disenfranchised trainers who can't afford to go to the big shows.

Hurricane damage

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January 25, 2003

The Textbook is Toast

The textbook is history, reads a post in the Duhblog.

Staying at a country inn in the English countryside decades ago, I found a plaque on my door that read, "Samuel Pepys slept here." In the mid-1600s, Pepys recorded his daily life in a diary written in code. Since he was heavily involved in building the British Navy and chasing skirts, his words make an interesting read. The Pepys Project has posted his diaries to the web as a blog.

The Pepys Project says:

    Samuel Pepys' diary is famous, and historically valuable, because of Pepys' eye for detail and unerring recounting of events both magnificant and mundane; from the Plague in 1665 to the Great Fire in 1666, to the coronation of Charles II; from where he ate, with whom and at what time he returned home; from chastising household help, to walloping his wife while they slept, Pepys' account of his world offers an incredible glimpse into the daily life of someone who lived 340 years ago.

    In my opinion, you can learn more about day-to-day life in post-Cromwellian times reading Pepys' vivid entries, than you could from a dozen strightforward history texts.

I'm not usually drawn to English history, having had my fill at prep school long ago, but a recent review in the New York Times ("I've Seen Fire, I've Seen Plague") piqued my curiosity. When a notice of the Pepys blog floated past in the blogstream, I took a look that turned into forty-five minutes of looking over Pepys's shoudler as he played politics and got laid.

Today I was following links to meta-learning on a Danish site when I came upon this:

    Duhblog: You need to spend all of about five minutes on PepysDiary.com to realize the textbook is history as the primary pedagogical tool.

    PepysDiary.com is not a demo. It is not even a prototype. It is the real thing. This is the revolution we were promised.

    I clicked on the Fleet-street annotation link toward the bottom of the January 1 1659/60 entry, and got a page of links including a map of London pointing out Fleet Street and links to other sites about Fleet Street. Or look at how easily and elegantly these now maturing tools and content base handle information about Lord Fairfax, a person mentioned in the diary. But why take my word. Go see yourself. It is all just a click away.

    Visualize the text books you used in school. Recall the careful selection of a single image (often reproduced in black and white) to illustrate a page of text and a sentence or two caption. Look at what is here! More drill down information than could ever be included in a text book. More content than could ever fit on a CD-ROM. More genuinely interesting IP than you could ever afford to clear rights. And all centered about a truly interactive experience with the original material.

    Look at example being set here, dammit, and shut-up about whether networked computers are useful educational tools. I can't read a dam paragraph without learning something.

"Situated learning" is instructional-design speak for dealing with the genuine article. Most often it refers to learning the job on the job. Reality trumps virtual reality. Why simulate a situation when you can just as well deal with the genuine article? (Which would Pepys have preferred with his maid, real sex or simulated sex?)

Unless you've got a time machine handy, you won't be visiting seventeenth-century England, but reading Pepys and using your imagination will get you closer than any lecture or history text or eLearning session.

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January 24, 2003

Listening to Learn

In Learning Circuits,
The Auditory Advantage
By Lenn Millbower

The abstract: E-learning often lacks instructionally designed audio. And yet history suggests audio is critical to success. Given a choice, people fled video-alone formats for audio-video combinations. Films and video games have created audio parameters applicable to e-learning. E-learning programs that establish emotionally warm environments through integrated audio will gain competitive advantage. Here’s how to enhance e-learning with sound.

I am such a zealot for visual learning, my heart leaped when I saw the title of this piece in Learning Circuits. Another arrow in the meta-learning quiver?

Of course audio is important. eLearning without sound can be unbearable.

Unfortunately, this article covers only music. It describes the importance of the live music to silent films. Which leads me to wonder, What about the talkies? What other ways can sound increase the effectiveness of learning?

Back in the days of CD-ROM training, everyone had sound. After all, it helps keep the multi- in multimedia.

Every developer seemed to miss one element in their soundtracks: ambience noise. The working environment is not as quiet as an isolation tank or the middle of the forest. Most eLearning featuring dialog would be well served to put a few barking dogs or distant sirens or modem squeals in the background. It would make things less sterile and more real.

I wonder who is studying this stuff?

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High Touch

Lance Dublin and I will be speaking on Implementing eLearning
Jan 29, 2003, 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM in Salon 5/6 at TechKnowledge in Orlando

Session Abstract:

    Some companies get more bang for their e-learning buck than others. These companies have integrated proven techniques and approaches from change management and consumer marketing into an effective implementation plan. Underperformers generally fail to appreciate that e-learning is more than simply another new technology. It is often a significant change requiring new ways of learning and working, new relationships, new frameworks and priorities. Lance and Jay are the co-authors of the new ASTD book, “Implementing e-Learning.” Come and learn what has worked and what hasn’t. Hear the horror stories of e-learning gone astray. Learn how winners are applying a comprehensive framework for implementing e-learning successfully. Find out how to become one of the stellar companies that maximizes its return on their e-learning investment.

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Tired of eLearning Headaches?

You could outsource your eLearning management to Intrepid Learning Solutions.

Why would you want to outsource training? Intrepid suggests:

    Constant change New initiatives, continuing product and service introductions, new competitors and ever-growing regulatory requirements can overwhelm in-house training resources. Outside training experts can help your company meet all of these challenges, precisely aligning training efforts with business objectives.

    Outdated employee skills
    More than 50 percent of employee skills become obsolete in three to five years. Outsourcing can give you leading edge training programs, built on best practice learning methodologies. Your employees gain the right skills to sustain high performance.

    Cluttered learning marketplace
    Corporate training departments face a dizzying array of learning content and technology vendors. Outsourcing to a training specialist eliminates the clutter while allowing you to stay at the forefront of learning management.

    Cost pressures
    In a highly competitive economy, companies must continually reduce administrative costs while remaining competitive. Outsourcing can give you a leading-edge training effort at a significantly reduced cost. You’re freed to focus on core business priorities.

The LGuide team -- Chris Hedrick, Sam Herring, and Mike Flanaghan -- are the nucleus of the new company, as you might guess from the models on the new site:

What would you pay to hand off your eLearning process?

The dictionary defines intrepid as "Resolutely courageous; fearless." Synonyms include dauntless; resolute; brave; daring; valiant; heroic. Do you think they'll need to be? Do you think Intrepid will be successful?

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Add this to your bookmarks

J. D. Lasica's awsome list of Research & reference tools covers current events, people, business finders, area and zip codes, search engines and directories, shopping comparison sites, map services, and more.

Tomalak's Calendar of web design events

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January 22, 2003

New Stuff from the Nation's Capital

We've spent the week in Northern Virginia seeing my parents and the sites.

Today Learning Circuits published my article on decentralized eLearning, and eLearning Guild published my eLearning: You Built It -- Now Promote It.

In my leisure time, I've been researching one of the next big things in eLearning: integration with real-time extended enterprise systems. This is going to consume the minds and budgets of the Global 2000 about midyear, and I want to be ahead of it. You heard it here first: Workflow-centric learning is going to take the place of learner-centric learning. More on this in the coming weeks. Now you've already got two new articles to check out.

The thumbnails are clickable.

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January 15, 2003

Alumni Presentation

This evening I had a 90-minute dialogue about eLearning with 36 members of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Northern California. Since a lot of you have to explain eLearning to "outsiders," I’ll share the structure and content of the talk with you here.

After introductions, I opened by saying we'd changed tonight's topic from this:

To this:

I always look at eLearning as a tool for generating business results.

The major points of the presentation were:

Don’t confuse learning with education or training or classes or school. I introduced a video of “a learning authority from Marin County,” Father Guido Sarducci, describing his “Five-Minute University” (where you learn everything the average college graduate remembers five years later). Peals of laughter over the ineffectiveness of rote memorization.

eLearning was born of the convergence of learning and the net. To appreciate the full-blown, wonderfully optimistic vision for eLearning, we walked through a two-year old SmartForce presentation describing a robust global infrastructure populated with 35,000 learning objects, reconfigurable into personalized learning paths for each learner, and customized to the look, feel, and needs of the customer organization. Too bad it never worked quite that way.

Only six months after SmartForce unveiled this vision to the world, virtually every former training company positioned itself as an eLearning company. Most had changed their labels, not what was inside the package. Often they simply automated the worst aspects of schools, as if computers could replace instructors without sacrificing quality. They missed the opportunity of making things better for the learners.

In time, organizations rejected these first missteps in favor of eLearning that dramatically boosts revenues, improves customer service, shortens time-to-performance, and increases market share. Unisys boosted revenue $100,000,000/year by accelerating certification and billability of its consultants. Dell turned a customer service nightmare into a competitive advantage with free software training. eBenefits turned a 95% customer rejection rate into a market leadership position by helping small businesses learn HR procedures. Sun cut the time-to-proficiency of new-hire sales people by nine months, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in new business.

At this point, audience questions pointed where the discussion went next. In response to questions about learning, I pointed out that:

    Learning is social. 90% of corporate learning is informal yet 80% of corporate investment is in formal learning. Building community, fostering collaboration, and setting up virtual water coolers returns a bigger bang for the buck than loading on more courses. IBM’s Big Blue training is successful not only because it’s well crafted but also because the learners form enduring networks that last for years.

    Learning is ephemeral. Wait a day or two before applying what you’ve learned and half of it will have disappeared. It’s best to integrate learning into work. Unused knowledge atrophies.

    Learning requires engagement. Two groups were given the save paper to read. The group that was told the information in the paper was controversial remembered it better – because they’d tossed it around in their minds. Shouldn’t all learning events begin by asking the learners to become engaged?

Can eLearning teach soft skills? Of course, assuming they are well-designed courses. We laughed our way through a few ridiculously poorly designed examples of how not to do it.

Who should be in charge of eLearning? Well, it’s more important than it’s usually given credit for. Perhaps you need a Chief Learning Officer at the top. If eLearning is decentralized – there’s a lot to say for marketing/sales being in charge of customer eLearning for example – then a single CLO may not be so hot an idea.

What about performance support? Is that part of eLearning or is it something separate? My take on this is that performance is the bottom line. eLearning is going through an evolution.

    Allow me the latitude to compare eLearning to food. The first eLearning was like an old-time sailor’s diet: the same hard crust of bread day in and day out. Then came “blended,” a sandwich of on-line and off-line, computer and classroom, sometimes piled into towering Dagwood sandwiches but always on, off, on, off, online, etc.

    The next step is bouillabaisse eLearning, where the learner can pluck out lobster or sea bass or performance support, knowledge bites, online instruction, or whatever suits his or her taste. This is bad news to people who sell measurement systems but a stronger boost for performance.

What’s the role of motivation? Most eLearning fails. People don’t sign up and those who do drop out. This is not universal but it is common. Why? A host of reasons. Motivation plays a role; eLearning isn’t internally marketed well. Technical problems are rampant. The learning environment is crummy. The host organization lacks a learning culture. It’s like Napoleon’s march to Moscow. Learning needs management attention. Learners need to be treated like customers.

Cross-posted* to Learning Circuits Blog.

*Double entendre.

Lnks to additional information:

Communities of Practice, especially the work of Etienne Wenger.

K12, The 21st Century Learning Initiative (UK)

Colleges, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Online education issues, The Technology Source

Technical Horizons in Education

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January 12, 2003

Enterprise blogging

Blogs refine enterprise focus

By Cathleen Moore
January 10, 2003 1:01 pm PT

"BUILDING ON THE success of Weblogs for personal Web publishing, enterprises are starting to tap into blogs to streamline specific business processes such as intelligence gathering or to augment traditional content-and knowledge-management technologies."

While many freeware vendors also offer fee-based software and services for corporate users, a newer crop of vendors is stepping up to extend Weblogs to specific business processes such as corporate intelligence gathering and market research.

I've been talking about this for more than a year. IT'S ABOUT TIME something is happening. I may join the movement myself.

These enterprise-specific blogs from companies including Traction Software, Tech Dirt, and Trellix use the same core user-friendly Web publishing approach with added features to regulate access control and security and to bolster functions such as search.

Traction Software's TeamPage Enterprise Weblog software includes a permissioning structure that moderates access to content, rich search capabilities, archives, and bidirectional linking to show relationships between ideas.

"Moreover, Weblogs can be used as a way to augment traditional enterprise collaboration tools that provide file-level document management, whiteboards, e-mail, and online meeting spaces, Simonson said.

Minneapolis, Minn.-based software developer Notiva uses Traction Weblog software for a variety of efforts, such as project management, competitive intelligence, intranet search, and knowledge management, according to Tim Dawson, lead technical architect at Notiva.

Meanwhile, Foster City, Calif.-based Techdirt offers outsourced competitive intelligence services delivered via its Weblog software, including searching, aggregation, and artificial intelligence components. A blog is a good delivery format for corporate intelligence data because "it summarizes important points and puts the information into a system that archives it as well," said Mike Masnick, president of Techdirt.

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January 11, 2003

You know why they named it Flash, don't you?

Style vs. Design


Most of all, I worry about Web users. Because, after six years of commercial Web development, they still have a tough time finding what they're looking for, and they still wonder why it's so damned unpleasant to read text on the Web — which is what most of them do when they're online.

As long as our society values Style over Design, surface over substance, this situation is not going to improve. Of course, I think the same every four years, when I have to vote.

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January 10, 2003

Veni, vidi, wiki

Exploring Denham Grey's KM Wiki is hard to get your head around. Wikis let anyone and everyone post and edit posts. While you'd expect this to lead to chaos, somehow it works.

The dream
A virtual space where we gather to collect, comment, anneal and refactor our thoughts, links, insights and questions around knowledge management.

Welcome, this Wiki is a truely collective effort, you are encouraged to post, have your say, annotate and cross-link. We have been going for 4 years - slowly building our repository and extending our reach. AboutWiki gives the rationale. This is a chance to influence both the structure and the content.

If you have never visited a Wiki, I recommend it just to see something really different.

I'm here to dig into what's up in knowledge management.

Knowledge Mapping

Home page of Baruch Lev
Accounting for knowledge and other intangibles

Knowledge Links
that seem worth exploring

KM links

Geez. All this information and there's no search function! I can't find any pages on Open Source or Zope. Nor are graphics permitted.

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Those of you who've read my thoughts on ROI know that I believe cost/benefit analysis is manditory and most ROI calculations are utterly worthless. Thus, I was delighted to come upon Enough Already! Getting Off the ROI Bandwagon by Kevin Kruse (mistakenly identified as Kevin Kenexa) in the current issue of Chief Learning Officer magazine.

Kevin writes that:

    First came the articles, then the books, and now I see that an entire conference is devoted to the ROI of training. Obviously we’re seeing a backlash against the orgy of IT spending of the late 1990s, and against e-learning initiatives that fell short of expectations. Personally, I think it’s all hype, and I’ve had enough.

    First, many senior executives don’t care about ROI. In Jack Welch’s book, “Straight From the Gut,” he tells of his decision to invest millions in GE’s new Crotonville training facility, even while undertaking massive layoffs. He didn’t have an ROI spreadsheet to tell him training was a good investment; he just knew that investing in talent was critical to GE’s future.

    Second, ROI is an imperfect science that often involves making educated guesses at potential savings and gains. Senior executives know this, and they also know that there are many variables that can’t be captured by a formula.

    Third, ROI “guesstimates” are often a cop-out for tougher measurements of results. How about measuring employee engagement scores before and after management training, or doing pilot studies of sales training programs that measure closing ratios and time-to-close?

The article in Chief Learning Officer ends with "Related Articles: No Related Content Found." I'm sure you can find some at Kevin's site, but just in case, here are three white papers on the topic from Internet Time Group:

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January 09, 2003


John Graham gave a presentation and demo of Open Source Software for Education and Science at yesterday's meeting of the EOE. I was blown away.

John walked us through a free content management system he'd configured in Zope (more on Zope below; it's a framework for building web applications.) Not coded, but downloaded and installed. We saw an extensible, relational database system. Very flexible. Very cool. Topics can hold documents, images, blogs, webpages, syndicate feeds, etc., etc., etc. John edited images online, put in an ISBN and started a discussion on the book entry that popped up, and more.

    Question: Is there documentation? Answer: A lot of these products are only 2 to 3 days old.

    Question: What does this run on?
    Answer: It's truly interoperable. Linux, Solaris, Windows. As of last week, Zope enterprise objects enables you to replicate into Oracle and other databases.

I drew this graphic nearly two years ago. I think its time is almost here. There is no reason eLearning has to be exorbitantly expensive.

The Open Source movement is an amazing effort. I'm glad to see another example of an innovative, robust product coming out of the environment. I plan to devote some time to getting to know more about Zope and its Open Source brethren.

From The Zope Book

What Is Zope?
Zope is a framework for building web applications. A web application is a computer program that users access with a web browser over the Internet. You can also think of a web application as a dynamic web site that provides not only static information to users but lets them use dynamic tools to work with an application.

From a business perspective, there are three key ideas to understanding what Zope can do for you: powerful collaboration, simple content management, and web components.

Zope History
In 1996 Jim Fulton, the CTO of Zope Corporation and Python guru, was drafted to teach a class on CGI programming, despite not knowing much about the subject. Jim studied all of the existing documentation on CGI on his way to the class. On the way back from the class, Jim considered what he didn't like about traditional CGI based programming environments: its fragility, lack of object-orientation, and how it exposes web server details. From these initial musings, the core of Zope was written on the plane flight back from the class.

ZopeNewbies blog



Squishdot is a popular weblog, written in Zope

John Graham is an innovator in the technical field of broadband and wireless collaboration technologies. He is a member of the Board of Directors for Schooltone Alliance, and the director of Project LearningBird. John is one of the founding members of the Ohio Consortium for Advanced Communication Technology who operate NASA's Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) for educational events and research. John founded BroadWare Co. to provide solutions that address the demand for audio and video capabilities over the Internet. As the company's chief technologist, John is responsible for the technical vision of the company. Prior to launching BroadWare in 1996, John provided a variety of consulting services to a broad client base on corporate Internet and Intranet architecture and implementation. He spearheaded large consulting projects for Sun Microsystems and Access Media. John was the Technical Coordinator for the 24 Hours in Cyberspace project, the largest international event for interactive communications and publishing on the Internet and was technology advisor for the 3Com Planet Project in 2000, a global poll on a variety of subjects. Prior to his consulting work, John held positions as the Systems Engineer and Scientist for Park Scientific Instruments, where he collaborated on the design of scanning probe microscopes and traveled worldwide to speak on the subject. Graham participated in, managed or launched the following projects:

Scanning Probing Microscopy Industrial Associates Program Laboratory at the Arizona State University
Exploratorium 2002 Belize Bio-diversity Laboratory Visit.
Exploratorium CERN Anti-matter Decelerization Ring Robot Camera
Jet Propulsion Laboratories Deep Space Probe Network Robot Camera
Jet Propulsion Laboratories Marsyard Robot Camera
Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope Robot Camera
AAEM TelePresence Microscopy Site Materials MicroCharacterization Collaboratory
PlanetFest 1997 Mars Pathfinder Landing
PlanetFest 1999 Mars Polar Lander

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Buckminster Fuller

Yesterday Bonnie DeVarco gave a talk on Buckminster Fuller at the monthly meeting of the EOE.

Bucky Fuller! His name brings back a flood of memories, among them: The domes, of course. And buckyballs. And dymaxion houses. The dymaxion car. The globe without Mercatur's distortions. Five-hour lectures that people might understand a few days later. Spaceship earth.

In the sixties, Bucky was sufficiently renegade, eccentric, visionary and out of the mainstream that you had to read him.

For six years, Bonnie administered the Buckminister Fuller Archive, so she certainly knows the material. See, for example, her Invisible Architecture, The Nanoworld of Buckminster Fuller. Bonnie treated us to a concentrated dose of Bucky. Here are some tidbits:

    Characterizations of the man Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th Century Poet of Industrialization Engineer Saint Anti-academician “I Seem to be a Verb” I am a random element. I am a comprehensive anticipatory design scientist.

    His thinking
    Micro-incisive and macro-inclusive
    Nothing is static; everything is dynamic
    The importance of charting trends
    Being comprehensive rather than general
    The importance of thinking out loud
    The importance of INTUITION
    Dare to be naïve

    Among his paradigms
    Newtonian to Einsteinian universe
    Wired to wireless
    Ephemeralization of information
    Accelerating acceleration

Bucky's 1932 conning tower concept described what we today know as the web, an amazing vision for the man who pointed out that "When I was born in 1895, reality was everything you could see, smell, touch and hear. The world was thought to be absolutely self-evident. When I was three years old, the electron was discovered. That was the first invisible. It didn't get in any of the newspapers; (nobody thought that would be important!) Today 99.99% of everything that affects our lives cannot be detected by the human senses. We live in a world of invisibles."

The Dymaxion Map

Buckminster Fuller Institute
The R. Buckminster Fuller FAQ
Synergetics (full text). Synergetics = The study of the coordinates of Universe -- the Geometry of Thought.

A Fuller Explanation. The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller

To play with a phrase from HP (remember them?), if Jay only knew what Jay once knew.

Until Bonnie's talk, I hadn't thought about Buckminster Fuller for twenty years. Now I've forgotten many of his lessons I didn't have a use for when I read them. Where's my lifeblog when I need it?

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 07, 2003

Salary Survey

The eLearning Guild is conducting a salary survey targeting those who are involved in the design, development or management of e-Learning. It takes but 3-5 minutes to complete.

The Guild's David Holcombe says, "Please encourage your co-workers and industry colleagues to also complete this survey - You do not have to be a Guild member in order to complete the survey. We would like as large a cross section of the industry as possible."

Posted by Jay Cross at 04:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2003

Point, Counterpoint

Life would be so much simpler if we spoke the same language. Half an hour ago, I posted this plea on the Learning Circuits blog:

My business school alumni association hosts monthly "Technology Roundtables," interactive events for two hours in the evening. Past events have featured the CEOs of Google, Handspring, Brocade, The Chasm Group, Ariba, Ask Jeeves, and others.

They've asked me to lead a session on eLearning on January 14.

I have plenty of experience preaching to the eLearning choir but very little with generalist executives.

I'm struggling to put together a brief but gripping presentation. My problem is too much information, not too little. Right here, you've already brought up the power of collaboration, informal learning, the learning process, focus on results, enterprise integration, learning culture, community, peer-to-peer, and more.

If you were in my shoes, what nuggets would you share in your presentation?

Please respond with a Comment.

[Give me your opinion if you like.]

The counterpoint was an email I just received from The Training Shop, announcing such specials as "Buy ONE Smiley Face Balls and get one FREE Goofy Smiley Face Ball."

Not to be a curmugeon, but I fear this is what a lot of executives think goes on in corporate classrooms.

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 03, 2003

The bloghome page

Last night I combined Internet Time Group's homepage and daily blog into one. You are reading the blog; the homepage content is in the column on the left.

For years, I've ranted about the growing importance of time. It no longer makes sense to hide my most timely material down a level in the site.

This set-up will be buggy for a few days. Please note any glitches in the comments to this post.

Posted by Jay Cross at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Powers of 10

For a wonderful visual treat, you must look at this Powers of 10 exhibit. This Flash piece expands on the famous film by Charles and Ray Eames from fifty years ago.

This is a small slice of the Molecular Expressions gallery of micro-photographs.

Posted by Jay Cross at 01:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 01, 2003


2003! Amazing, isn't it?

One advantage of sitting at the dashboard of one's organization is the ability to steer things however you want, whenever you want.

The "Just Jay" category on this blog, former home of tangential blogposts, sick jokes, and whatever catches my eye, has moved to www.jaycross.com. In line with my belief that timliness is ever more important in our accelerating world, you'll see that I've spliced the Just Jay blog into my personal home page.

I may well do the same with the Internet Time Group home page. Any thoughts on that? Shouldn't the freshesh news appear on the front page?

Related items and links

"[...] If you write everyday, your writing improves, your thinking improves."
Right on! The magic of blogging revealed at last.
Its brain-training.

    Weblogging is changing our view of the world. Mainly because we are now writing about our own views. Instead of watching the editied for tv version we are taking the time to collect, rearrange, codify and publish our own version of what we see. We are exercizing our brains, making them stronger, linking them with others who are also emerging from the hypnotic depths of mass-media.

    The training wheels are about to come off.

    Make no mistake, Television is only going to get bigger and stronger. It's audience will grown perpendicular to world population. Yes Virginia, a sucker is born every minute.

    And while weblogging won't change the nature of the forces that propell the tube, it will shift some of the money flow.

    The first flow has started, its for the infrastructure and tools. Next we figure out our [renewed] values. Placing a value on anything attracts money.

    I personally don't believe you can place a value on 'content'. No mass medium does, value there is based on access and scarcity.

    The only asset we all own and value is time.

    Blogs are closely related to time. They span time, archive over time and take time to write and read. Time is a big deal.

    Adam Curry

Here's another fellow who is doing something similar, merging blog and homepage.

Adam Curry has something called RSS BoxViewer that appears to let one put chunks of syndicated material wherever you plop in some HTML.

Ben Hammersley.com - Content Syndication with RSS

I am warming up to this concept of blog+homepage. Just spiffed up the look & feel of jaycross.com.

I will also have reference pages that are blogged.

Posted by Jay Cross at 01:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack