June 29, 2003

Another look at learning

Last night, preparing my keynote for the upcoming knowledge management conference in Graz pushed me to refine my recent thoughts about the process of learning.

Networks are everywhere.

Our era could well be called The Age of Networks. Humanity is awakening to the realization that everything's connected. If something's not a node, it's a connection. Each of us is enmeshed in social, communications, information, and neural networks.

People are networks, too.

Furthermore, our bodies and brains are networks. Scientists are still conceptualizing the human protocol stack but they affirm that our personal neural intranets share a common topology with those of chimps and other aniamals. Maybe recognizing that people are more similar than different from, say, squirrels, will rid us of the silly notion that mind and body operate separately. Learning is a whole body experience.


For the most part, we are unaware of the firewall that filters the connections between our personal neural nets and the teeming mass of networks on the other side. Many people have failed to change the default settings their personal firewalls came with, even though the factory-installed settings haven't been upgraded since 1 million B.C. Without changing our mental macro libraries, we continually snap into flee or fight mode. Being alert to minute movements is a survival skill on the savannah but not in the executive office.

A new definition of Learning

The point of learning is to prosper within our chosen communities. Learning enables us to enjoy relationships and knowledge. Learning involves exploring new ground, making discoveries, and clearing paths that let us go deeper. To learn is to optimize one's networks.

Taking advantage of the double meaning of the word "network," learning is making good connections.

A fresh set of instructions

Designers of learning environments can borrow tools and techniqes from network engineers. They would focus on such things as:
  • Improving signal/noise ratio
  • Installing fat pipes for backbone connections
  • Pruning worthless & dead material
  • Promoting standards for interoperability

I don't propose that this is the way to define learning. Rather, it is one of many descriptions. I'll see how it plays with an academic audience in Austria next week. If any of this resonates for you, please leave a comment.


Thinking Today as if Tomorrow Mattered: The Rise of a Sustainable Consciousness, by John Adams

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, by Steven Johnson

The Wealth of Knowledge, by Tom Stewart

The Social Life of Information, by John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid

Cultivating Communities of Practice, by Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott, William M. Snyder

Mindfulness, Ellen Langer

Simulation in the Enterprise: New Workflow-based eLearning Products Embedded in Enterprise Applications, by Sam Adkins

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June 27, 2003

Mind Share

Wired has published an article by Steven Johnson entitled Mind Share, BLOG SPACE: Public Storage For Wisdom, Ignorance, and Everything in Between. While the web was designed around documents, the rise of blogs makes it possible to look at it through particular personalities. You learn more about a person through their blog than anywhere else, short of shacking up.

What happens when you start seeing the Web as a matrix of minds, not documents? Networks based on trust become an essential tool. You start evaluating the relevance of data based not on search query results but on personal testimonies. ("This page is useful because six minds I admire have found it useful.") You can research ideas or breaking news by querying the 10 people whose opinions on the topic you most value - what Cory Doctorow calls an "outboard brain." A tool recently created by Dave Sifry of the blog analysis site Technorati lets you take any URL and automatically generate a list of bloggers who have commented on it. Almost anything you stumble across can be filtered through the perspective of other bloggers.
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Collective intelligence

Today George Por and I met for hours, talking of collaboration, how people learn, and our life journeys to-date. George and I were born the same year, and we both majored in sociology, have lived in Paris & Berkeley, and are true believers in blogs and communities of practice. Aside from that, we've followed very different paths to arrive at common ground. We dodged the heat by hanging out in the Berkeley Marina, concluding with a tête-a-tête at O Chamé (sashimi, squid, champagne oolong) before George BARTed back to the City. What a wonderful way to end a busy week!

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June 26, 2003

Designer, Food, Book

John Heskett's Toothpicks & Logos, Design in Everyday Life, is a beautiful book. The title, displayed in tasteful violet on a flat black cover, conjures up memories of Don Norman's classic Design of Everyday Things. The cover quotes Terence Conran saying "the best book I have read about the design process." Riffing through the pages, the paper feels good and the wide leading of the type gives a clean, engaging look. Photos of design icons such as the Aeron chair, the map of the Underground, and the FedEx logo adorn the inner pages. It's a pity that a delicious package holds so little substance on its pages. Inside is a dull, academic tract.

I highlight text as I read. In the opening pages, I marked this sentence:

"Design, stripped to its essence, can be defined as the human capacity to shape and make our environment in ways without precedent in nature, to serve our needs and give meaning to our lives."
I kept waiting to find out more. I never did. I didn't find any other memorable material. Yuck. Don't buy this one.

In contrast, Anthony Bourdai's
A Cook's Tour : Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines
is a great read. This guy is a gonzo gourmet. Like Hunter Thompson, he's so out of control that it puts you on edge. He thinks nothing of eating a few birds' heads or fugu or some snakes, often crouching with the peasants in the marketplace to do so. All in all, a delightful book. Not recommended for the squeamish.

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eLearning's Next Chapter

On July 22, join me online for a provocative discussion about the future of eLearning. It's a freebie, courtesy of Interwise. The webcast begins at 11:00 Pacific/2:00 Eastern.

Topics include:

  • eLearning today: over-achiever or corpse?
  • Big winners: companies that have made millions through eLearning
  • Big losers: companies that have lost millions through eLearning
  • Collaboration: putting people back into the eLearning process
  • Workflow-based learning: real-time, inevitable, and no more courses
  • Blogs, wikis, and gonzo learning

Get in your two cents' worth. Add to the agenda here..

Find out more and save your seat here.

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June 25, 2003

Bravo! QuickTopic Pro

For several years now, I've used Steve Yost's QuickTopic to coordinate discusssions and group activities. Setting up a discusssion is simplicity itself: it takes a minute or two. Instructions are in plain English. It's a well-honed application -- intuitive to use and unburdened with clutter. Did I mention that it's also free?

QuickTopic Pro was released a couple of days ago. For $49/year, the Pro version lets you customize the look & feel, and also upload pictures. That $49 lets me customize the dozen QuickTopic discusssions I'm running.

Take a look at my scribble space to see what I'm talking about.

The free version is still available. This is an exemplary marketing strategy: Try it; you'll like it.

Imagine using QuickTopic as an informal learning tool:

  1. Instant blog. Fast. Free.
  2. Community discussion space.
  3. Spot for sharing one's reflections.
  4. Free (albeit limited) website.

Help me think up more applications.

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June 24, 2003

A new home!

I just left my ISP of the past six months after a series of crashes, outages, and other frustrations. Friday night was the final straw. I spent a few hours scouring the net for an alternative provider. I needed an ISP that offered 500 MB of online storage and sufficient tools to run an ecommerce operation. Saturday I signed up with ipower.net This is my first blog entry on the new servers. I spent Sunday and Monday programming a new Internet Time Group Store.

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June 22, 2003

What am I supposed to learn from this?

My ISP told me my online store crashed last week because an .htaccess file in my home directory got the server wrapped up in knots. How odd. The file had been there for months. And that hardly explains why the site went down the next day. Also, the system status panel has been flashing a red overload light for days. So Friday evening I scoured the net for a new home for www.internettime.com.

Saturday I signed up for an account with ipowernet.com. $10 a month for 500 MB of storage. They support the Agora shopping cart, so I’m in the midst of coding and loading a new store. Then I’ll reload several blogs and upload 400 MB of content. While I’m at it, I’m converting my former website into a content repository so by this time next month I plan to be managing one giant floating blog.

I can’t hate the ISP I am leaving behind. They have cost me sixty hours of programming and hassles, indeterminable lost sales, and probably some prospects who think I’m out of business. But the word “hate” brings up an image of the Dalai Lama in my mind’s eye. When asked if he did not hate the Chinese, he softly replied, “They have taken my country. Why should I give them my mind?” Retribution is another matter. Stay tuned.

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June 20, 2003

SONY Qualia

In the factory they make electronics; in the store they sell emotional value.

See if this grabs you.

Run your mouse up and down the stacked paper monolith.

Click to read the pages of the booklet.

Products are like onions, wrapped in many layers of skin. You never buy the core. You buy the payoff you expect to get from the product. At best, you get a vibe off the package. Peel off a few layers and you may even get to features.

With Qualia, SONY is gilding the onion.

Don’t put all your eggs
in one basket.

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June 17, 2003


When you’re constantly fiddling with a site, as I do with this one, entropy creeps in. Patches upon patches obscure the underlying design. Things that should be quick fixes consume more and more time because you have to remember the workarounds, the funky naming conventions, and the non-standard elements that seemed right when put in place but look like a dog’s breakfast in the cold light of day.

At the same time, I recognize that when you’ve got thousands of readers, design must evolve. Gradually. Designers with empahty and maturity, a group of which I aspire to be a member, don’t switch horses like Wired magazine in the early days. “Let’s see how hard we can make this to read. How about white type on a light violet background with 4-point type that slithers around the page? That should hold us til next month.”

No, I vacillate between that gonzo-Jackson Pollock-Mark Rothko-Van Gogh wildness and logical Bauhaus tradeoffs like:


I’m changing my role, and hence the role of the Internet Time Blog from encyclopedic knowledgebase to a platform for commentary, from library to pulpit, and from school to store. Let’s see if you notice any difference. If you have suggestions, let’s hear them.

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Going to Graz

I-KNOW ‘03 - 3rd International Conference on Knowledge Management

Next month I’ll be giving the keynote on eLearning at I-Know 03 in Graz, Austria. Preparing a new presentation always gives me an opportunity to assess what I find interesting and promising on the eLearning horizon. Today it’s informal learning, informal KM, social software, business blogs and syndication, workflow-based learning, meta-learning, visualization, collaboration, and, of course, losing weight.

I always try to combine business with pleasure, and I’m really looking forward to visiting Graz, the capital of Styria and the 2003 EU cultural capital. The medieval quarter has survived intact.

Come join the fun on July 3rd. I’m speaking to the masses in English. My topic is The Rise and Fall and Rise of eLearning.

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June 15, 2003

Design Timeline

Communication Arts’ Timeline of Design. 40 years of graphic images.

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June 14, 2003

Enterprise Learning, Friday the 13th

Yesterday we had Friday the 13th, a full moon, and 13 panelists at the monthly meeting of eLearning Forum. Nonetheless, it was the best session we've ever had. More than a hundred people listened as a dozen prominent enterprise software and LMS vendors joined researcher Sam Adkins to talk about where enterprise learning is headed in the next 24 months.

I am a very happy camper. The discussion yesterday, which we'll make available as video, notes, reports, charts, and photographs, should shed light in a previously dark corner of our industry, thus accelerating the adoption of eLearning. This is the mission of eLearning Forum:

  • Promote understanding and use of eLearning in industry and government worldwide
  • Provide a forum for resolving issues impeding the progress of eLearning
  • Identify and publicize new developments and emerging best practices
  • Host a global virtual conversation of vital eLearning issues

We couldn't have picked a hairier topic. Enterprise integration is a rapidly moving target. It has been unclear whether ERP and LMS systems are symbiotic or competitive. Just talking about learning in the zero-latency enterprise requires mastering a sea of new acronyms: SCM, CRM, KPI, BPI, SOAP, UDDI, W3C, PLM. PDM, EDM, SFO, WFM, BPM, BAM, CPM, WPM, BI, CA, HCM, UKM, ERM, LCMS, ECM, PA, ECM (again), and more. Behind each set of initials is a company or group that's changing things almost daily. Standards are in flux. All these puzzle-pieces eventually have to fit together in a real-time system, riddled with learning at every junction. Our objective was to clarify where all this is headed and what it means in three and a half hours yesterday.

Today my brain still hurts from grappling with this stuff, but we managed to pull it off. We'll document the proceedings on eLearning Forum so what you'll read here is color commentary.

Here's the panel. Sam Adkins is standing. From the top are Chris Pirie (Oracle), Tobin Gilman (Docent), Amar Dhaliwal (THINQ), Ed Cohen (Plateau), Harry West (SAP), Stephen Burke (Knowledge Planet), Becky Mason (PeopleSoft), Mark Nation (Siebel Systems), Tamer Ali (VCampus), Grant Ricketts (Saba Software), Dale Cline (Knowledge Products), and Ashwani Sirohi (Click2learn). These companies, as well as IBM, Sun, and others had been recognized as "Pioneers of Learning Innovation" in Sam's extensive research project, Simulation in the Enterprise, The Convergence of eLearning, Simulation and Enterprise Applications.

Sam and I knew from the outset that we would need a solid model for the session if we were to keep things on track. OD sophisticates that we are, we fell back on the set-up and roles of the Mel Gibson/Danny Glover movie Lethal Weapon. Sam would play the good cop, and I, the crazy cop. In addition, Jerry Neece was our timekeeper. At the start of the session, panelists had up to three minutes to answer a question. This was reduced to 30 seconds in the final rounds. This kept the discussion focused. To my utter amazement, we hit every one of our timing marks on the nose.

I'd asked all the participants to check their guns at the door, but these companies had never been under one roof before and we were risking the possibility of a major catfight. Yesterday PeopleSoft rejected Oracle's $5 billion hostile takeover bid and sued Oracle for unfair trade practices. J.D. Edwards, contending that Oracle is messing with its proposed merger with PeopleSoft, sued Oracle for $1.7 billion. Professionalism won the day, we confined the conversation to eLearning, and reason prevailed.


Sam Adkins

Evolution of enterprise elearning --> Workflow-based eLearning

Key trends in eLearning:

* Ubiquity
* Collaboration
* Integration

Functional areas of the extended enterprise that elearning programs must serve:

* Product management
* Resource management
* Process management
* Colloboration management

Ashwani Sirohi
User collaboration and personalization will be key.
Amar Dhaliwal

eLearning technologies are now very mature, but customers still have a very unsophisticated understanding of how to use them -- especially analytic functionality.

Make sure you develop a working understanding of the web service features and benefits, because the model WILL have a big impact on elearning technology delivery.

It's questionable whether enterprise software vendors have the expertise to serve existing "best of breed" customers.

SCORM is here to stay. The onus is on vendors to make it work -- not customers or content developers.

Harry West

As outsourcing is taking off in HR, it will do so in elearning.

As a large enterprise software vendor, SAP depends upon "best of breed" practices and standards for product development strategy.

Limited bandwidth is often a variable influencing purchasing decisions.

Becky Mason

Learning is now becoming a more important focus than training in training departments.

"What" is delivered to the learner is more important than "how".

"I'd like to hear what the audience has to say about all this."

Mark Nation
Siebel Systems

Training managers are beholden to demonstrate how elearning programs impact performance and productivity.

Key performance indicators (KPI) are being used much more regularly by workers to plan and for managers to assess. eLearning solutions direct this critical need.

Web services is more of a competitive driver for "best of breed" rather than larger enterprise software vendors.

Competency management capability is critical, and requires personalization for learner to work.

Tamer Ali

Training managers need to reposition themselves as IT experts, and ensure influence over the architecture of eLearning technologies.

Trainers must be choreographers.

Grant Ricketts

Training people should focus on alligning their priorities with the core business segments served by elearning programs -- customers, sales, channels, strategic partners, OEMs, distributors, manufacturers/assemblers, & standard groups.

CEOs are geniunely concerned about the competency and skills of their workforce.

Innovation is still driven by "best of breed" vendors.

Corporate clients with a global presence have a very organized picture of local needs, and vendors have to find out how to access it.

Dale Cline
Knowledge Products

The opportunity for "best of breed" vendors is in the middle-tier solution market.

Nobody is doing personalization (role-based filtering), but delivering that functionality will be critical to compete in the future.


Ed Cohen

Training managers need to position elearning services as a profit center.

SCORM will become less significant as solution vendors transparently embed meta-data generation into their technologies.

Many customers demand competency management functionality, but very few of them end up using it.

Stephen Burke
Knowledge Planet

Training departments are looking at outsourcing non-core activities.

Critical that workers can assess how they are performing relative to their peers, partners, & customers.

"Best of breed" vendors must differentiate themselves as innovators and rapid responders to changing customer needs in order to survive.


Tobin Gilman
In order to become a core business process, elearning solutions need to be able to integrate and make sense of information stored and processed in other enterprise databases and applications.
Chris Pirie

Instructional design is becoming more important than innovative technology in elearning. Training people should focus on that area -- their area -- of expertise.

HR outsources because of the "self-service" functionality offered by third-party vendors. The "self-service" idea will also have a big impact on the elearning space.

The great challenge for elearning software vendors is to enable training managers to leverage the intelligence and analytics produced by ERP solutions.

It's more important for training departments to focus on the process of teaching rather than learning.

You can't compete as a vendor unless you have the capability to localize your solutions.

Jay Cross
Internet Time Group

Aside from KPI (key performance indicators), what's important for us to know and keep track of? Web services, enterprise integration, content management, collaboration, social network analysis, business process modeling....

Watch out! "Competency" is a slippery term. Like "Knowledge Management," it means whatever you want it to mean.

At our Learning Object Symposium last year, netG's Brendan Towle pointed out that you could string together all the movie objects you could find, but you'd never end up with Citizen Kane.

I encourage you to join eLearning Forum. It's free. We're quite open. Put yourself on our email list and you're in. Put it on your resume. Volunteer to help us out and you can put that on your resume, too.

Photographs by Jim Schuyler

Sources of quotes: Alex Gault's real-time notes

From ThnkEquity's Knowledge Notes Record attendance at eLearning Forumís LMS symposium Last Friday, we attended a symposium of major enterprise software vendors hosted by the Silicon Valley-based eLearning Forum. An all-star panel of product managers representing Click2learn, Docent, Global Knowledge, Oracle, KnowledgePlanet, PeopleSoft, Plateau Systems, Saba Software, SAP, Siebel, Thinq, and VCampus ensured record attendance at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View. Topics addressed by the panel included the future role of learning management systems within the broader enterprise software market; the evolution of enterprise learning within organizations; integration, globalization, and consolidation trends in the enterprise software market; corporate purchasing patterns; and customer demands. In addition, we had several one-on-one conversations with attendees and sensed great enthusiasm for the market potential of LMS products and strong strategic commitment to the category by large and small vendors alike. All of the vendors represented offer learning management functionality within their application suites, both as a standalone product and as part of a fully integrated platform. All the participants expressed their belief in accelerating demand for LMS functionality, driven by the desire for workflow optimization and its ability to drive down training costs. We were unconvinced by the happy assertions of room for all and left with the continued impression that the larger vendors lag the best-of-breed players significantly in terms of functionality.
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June 12, 2003

Down the Well

Since 1990, I’ve used [email protected] as my personal email address. I remember the WeLL fondly from the early, pre-net days. Loopy stuff from Blair until he snuffed his candle. Long, legendary posts from Howard Rheingold. Spectacular rants from Mandel. Food advice from Duck. Word duels between tnf and Jef. Jokes, poems, commentary on the news, classified ads. It was worth at least an hour a day.

The WeLL wrote me a few days ago explaining that it was time to renew my account. The only package that comes with email is the “Complete Account.” (Web and shell access to The WELL, extra search tools and services, 10 MB of storage, a WELL email address and web page, and access to Table Talk plus Salon Premium subscription.) Special deal for me, a customer continuously for more than a dozen years: $150.

I called the billing department. “You mean I have to pay $150 to maintain my email address?” Yep. I’d get Salon. Hmmm. Seems to me Salon’s been on the edge of bankrupcy for several years. I don’t want to be the one who pushes them over the cliff but neither do I want a ten month subscription to decaying content if they disappear. I paid $15 to have my email forwarded to [email protected] for six months.

I just took a final tour of the Berkeley Conference and the Jokes Conference. For me, the comraderie and the familiar names got lost in the transition to the web. I used to be a wellbeing; now I’m a blogger. Ten years in the future I”ll probably have a wireless connection implanted in my head. (You, too.) I guess it’s progress.

Good bye, WeLL. You gave me lots of memories.

Login name: jaycross In real life: Jay Cross
Directory: /home/j/a/jaycross Shell: /usr/local/shell/picospan
Mail Address: jaycross Registered: Mon Apr 16 15:17:18 1990

Please change your address book to my new address:

[email protected]

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June 11, 2003

Being Objective

Last year at the Learning Object Symposium at SRI, Brendan Towle pointed out that no one is ever going to assemble film objects and end up with Citizen Kane. The sum > the parts.

Stephen Downes has posted an intriguing presentation which says we’re looking at learning objects all wrong. They are multimedia fragments, not to be taken linearly. Words are the objects of which poetry is assembled but we don’t raise a fuss over the words, we laud the poet who put them together. Read Stephen’s PowerPoint. It will reshape the way you look at objects.

I just installed Moveable Type 2.64 and will soon install an RSS 2.0 feed here.

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June 10, 2003

PlaNetwork 9, Memes

Concepts that drove PlaNetwork:

augmented social networks
whole systems
group mind, co-creation
recreating the prairie (a la Kevin Kelly)
ecology & ecosystems
complexity and complex systems
salvation through software
find what works
open source
ship what you learn, use what you get, optimize your patch
Bucky Fuller
either/or becomes both/and
media bias

Doug Engelbart, his goal to augment the intelligence of all humanity, told me that age is destroying his memory.

the love economy
info: goods not bounded by private property
economics = linear = wrong

reusable portal infrastructure
pages & links becoming spaces & objects
online mirror of reality
taxonomy mirrors nature

digital stories
digital convergence

concentric rings of communities
social network analysis
I’m a node, you’re a node
social software
semantic connections

the library for dogs
emergence: let it be
cyberspace meets meatspace
digital lifestyle aggregator

layered on top
head, heart, mind process
put it back out there: wiki

Gail Taylor led the assemblers

phases of assembly
level playing field
create the problem

collective intelligence
dual recorders
integrated front-end

design = elmination of options
shared purpose

graphics as fragile as a sand painting
realtime blogs & IRC
created something we want to live with

Jim Fournier

deep trust of chaos
get peices of puzzle on the table and keep them face up
group mind

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June 09, 2003

PlaNetwork 8, ManyOne

Joe Firmage gave the opening keynote Sunday morning.

Previously I knew Joe Firmage only by reputation. He founded and ran a high-flying Internet company named U.S. Web. BIG bucks. If memory serves, and that is questionable, Joe was drummed out when he began talking about extraterrestials. Little green men do not play very well on Wall Street. I figured he was an interesting flake. I was wrong.

This guy gives great, inspiring presentation. His ideas are lofty but well thought through. This morning Joe opened the kimono for the first time on his awesome new venture, ManyOne.

ManyOne is a brilliantly conceived project to create what Isaac Asimov called the Encyclopedia Galatica — all the knowledge we have, available through your browser. ManyOne will play X-box class animations over a 22.8 modem connection(!). A reusable portal infrastructure will enable ManyOne to offer custom 3D portals to groups as small as 1,000. Joe’s looking to create a 3D mirror of reality. After all, we’re moving from a world of 2D pages & links to a 3D environment of spaces & objects. Joe gave a knock-your-socks-off demo. Imagine an image-driven browser with these modes: discover (education), inform (news), trade (barter goods & services), community (chat, place to hang out) and (coming soon) play. You can see all this at the ManyOne site. (If you’re okay with a 100 MB download and use a PC, not a Mac.)

Pipe dream? I think not. Joe has a compelling business plan. In shorthand, the plan is to “disintermediate AOL.” For less money than either AOL or MSN charge, ManyOne will offer a connection, email, and wonderful content. (Joe’s aim is to be seen as the PBS of cyberspace.) Convincing? I was one of the early ones in what became a full standing ovation.

If you’re into UI, you owe it to yourself to check out the ManyOne browser.

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PlaNetwork 7, Sunday

So what was this all about? I spent a couple of days in the Presidio.

The title was Networking a Sustainable Future. Calling PlaNetwork an event demeans it. Half the people in attendance were shaping the event itself, by making a presentation or feeding the assemblers or processing the content or spreading the word or figuring out what to do next. PlaNetwork wasn’t so much a meeting as an introductory meeting and bonding experience. Somebody’s got to save the world. How about you?

The idealism and big hearts of Bucky Fuller and Doug Engelbart wafted through the air. Bucky challenges:

It will take me a while to reflect on and document PlaNetwork. Luckily, most sessions were captured on video and in blogs that will appear on the PlaNetwork wiki. Here’s the index.

There’s a lot more to come. (The in-crowd is continuing PlaNetwork today.)

Check the Augmented Social Networks white paper.

Do you want to help create a sustainable world? Start by signing The Earth Charter.

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Brave New World of Learning

"Workflow trumps courseware in an emergent new world where the terms and tools are changing--and you need to aborb Web services, super-stack environments, zero latency, and a slew of acronyms. And, by the way, just-in-time is too late." So begins Sam Adkins' lead article in this month's T+D magazine.

If you're interested in the convergence of learning and enterprise applications, check out this Friday's eLearning Forum. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can attend in person. Otherwise, you can join our remote participants via WebEx.

If you're really interested in enterprise learning, you can buy your copy of Sam's major reports right here.

This will be the first time SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Siebel, Sun, IBM, Saba, Docent, Click2Learn, Thinq, Knowledge Planet, Plateau, Knowledge Products, Element K and VCampus have talked about learning in the same room together.

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June 07, 2003

PlaNetwork 6, Marc Canter

Yesterday at the first concurrent session at PlaNetwork I spied a boisterous, larger-than-life character I’ve read and read about for years: Marc Canter.

In 1984, Marc founded MacroMind which eventuallly morphed into today’s Macromedia. Lately, he’s been popping up on my radar as he voices his take on blogging, syndication, social networks, collaboration, Open Source, klogs, the fusion of art and technology, and more. Fasten your seat belt and look at Broadband Mechanics.

I told Marc I’d been to Broadband Mechanics the night before, and though the WebOutliner looked cool, I could not get it to work. He gave me a demo. What an awesome product! An open source front-end to web content of all sorts. The Outliner is a creative cockpit for writers, artists, and everyman — what Apple used to call “the rest of us.” It’s high-tech under the hood and the simplicity of sophistication on the outside. Marc chided me for not following the directions properly: “See where it says ‘Click twice’? You’re supposed to click there twice.” Duh. I’ll give a more complete review of WebOutliner after I’ve played with it some more.

Later in the day I was waiting to ask Marc a question as he advised some fellow on a new product that relies on web services as a carrier. Rattling off concepts at a staccato pace, Marc said, “So at the semantic level of the meta-meta-meta, it’s really simple stuff.” Deal with it.

From an interview with Marc that appeared in Corante:

    Broadband Mechanics is building new kinds of tool and tool environments which will enable average everyday people to create and maintain new kinds of on-line communities which integrate, aggregate and provide appropriate levels of customization to media, communication and personal publishing.  To help make this all happen - we’ll also be promoting the concept of open standards which will help all tool vendors, existing media vendors and end-users get this all to happen.

From The Marc Canter Show:

    Don’t think of this as just a web site. Scalable content should adapt to take advantage of the inherent capabilities of a media type.

    Marc Canter has been both a mentor and a pain in the … and there is
    nobody in the business whom I admire more. The Marc Canter Show
    is Marc’s vision of the future here on the internet. Sometimes I don’t
    quite understand some of his ideas, but if you ever visit the bleeding
    edge, you will find graffitti from Marc on the bathroom walls.

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June 06, 2003

PlaNetwork 5, Immersive Earth

Wow. Watched a 3-D fully real-time rendered cruise on the Martian landscape which was generated from Nasa data. Forty cheap Linux boxes assembled the sim for around $1500. Then we go to a simulation of the inside of the International Space Station. Is the cognitive overload changing the nature of astronauts’ reality.

Earth from afar has changed our concept of ourselves. Powers of 10 to the Presidio.

Bonnie DeVarco: Spherical media environments could be the next landmark experience.

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PlaNetwork 4, MediaSpace Power

Networking Power: Struggle and Transformation in MediaSpace

Wi-fi does not reach the west room where we're meeting; I'm writing this offline.

Aliza Dichter: Media is not just radio and TV, but also the net, billboards, and toys. Government handing the rights to a half dozen media companies is parallel to letting only K-Mart and Wal-Mart trucks use the public highways.

Thenmozhi Soundararajan: Third World Majority Hip-hop. Reclaiming our voices through digital storytelling is not just about us telling our stories; it's about reclaiming our dignity, our communities, and our histories. Disney, AOL, Fox, GE, and Viacom keep us where we are.

If you want a photo of my grandfather, you go up to the attic. A black woman might have to get grandad?s photo from the Hearst anthropology museum. 'These are stolen images.' It is rape of our people!

Look at the video game Custer's Revenge, where Custer, sporting an erection, goes after an Indian babe tied to a cactus. Could this be for real? Sort of. The Classic Gaming Page describes a brief unregulated period in the early 80s when games were unregulated. Custer's Revenge was sold under the counter. While revolting in concept, a primitive, buggy game like this wasn't the sort of thing to turn white boys into monsters. Besides, this was 16 years ago, hardly the best evidence for what's happening today. Here's what it looked like:

I?m sure Thenmozhi takes a lot of crap because she's female, black, and Asian, but her extremism detracts from her credibility. Yeah, the world is full of injustice but that hardly converts anthropologists collecting photos into rapists or young white males into drooling, blood-thirsty revenge seekers. (Memories of Andrea Dworkin.) www.cultureisaweapon.net

Ilyse Hogue. smart meme. Beware of false memes.

Control mythology. War on Terror. Wave the flag. Diamond rings for anniversary.

Santa's red & white came from Coke. Huh? (Update: This is an urban legend. Santa had the costume before Coke began its Santa campaign.)

Points of intervention. (vulnerabilities) Taking to the streets. Tree sitting. Greenpeace.

Battle of the story or story of the battle? When Bush was a kid, he put firecrackers in frogs to blow them up. Topple the Saddam statue.

  • Promote psychic breaks
  • Articulate values crises
  • Neutralize control mythology
  • Tell new stories

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PlaNetwork 3, Blogging

Blogs are a San Francisco phenomenon. It’s early enough that we’re able to have true pioneers with us today. Mena Trott of Moveable Type/Six Apart, Jason Shellen of Google/Blogger, David Sifty of Technorati, and Rebecca Blood, author and blogger.

Mena: In 2001, Six Apart began as a hobby. Mena and her husband Ben both had experience with CMS. It was techie, not something for easy set-up. Their new server based product will be easier to use is coming out in July. Typepad will have photo albums and other nifty features. Mena’s blog was for personal expression in a boring work environment. Now their target is to get everybody blogging. Languages, tools, mo-blogging.

Jason: Blogger started in 1999 among techies. It caught on because it was push-button publishing. Some folks in the audience didn’t know what “blog” meant, so Rebecca told them and Jason is now demoing the simplified Blogger interface.

Blogger is good at letting people write and post. They’re working with things like camera phones. Jason took this shot right before the session:

Blogging is becoming mainsteam. During the invasion of Iraq, a blogger

A blog is personal space where you can express your views. (It could be a group blog.)

At Google, they use BIG (Blogger in Google):

Blogs are more like conversations.

David Audience poll: 2/3 in the audience have a weblog. Half a dozen don’t have a clue. David likes blogging because it allows people to communicate an easy way to do it. Some are kittyblogs. But what turns David on is that lots of people are writing what they care about, and if you want to find out about these things, you can do it. (Mena and Jason are both blogging away even though they’re sitting on the panel in the front of the room.) Technorati has some great features; click Cosmos to see links from other sites.

Rebecca shows a variety of blogs. Some are mediating enemies, such as dialognow.com which hosts conversations between Indians and Pakistani. Or sluggerotoole.com which discusses Irish confrontation.

Too insular? Clay Shirky says there’s an A-list that dominates the blogversation. (It’s a power law distribution.) Rebecca says there’s more to it: some unknowns have risen to the top.

Publicity? Mena suggests that you write as if subscribers were paying a price.

Background: There are 450,000 blogs, 250,000 of them in English.


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PlaNetwork 2, Open Source

Mitch Kapor is preparing to speak -- after we solve a few technical glitches. I am disappointed to see that he has given up on wearing loud Hawaiian shirts. Open Source Software Applications. Open software is interesting beyond the software sphere. Desktop Computing: Stasis Which Is not Satisfactory
  • High initial and ongoing costs (Today a couple of hundred bucks for a desktop PC's hardware but $500 for the software -- more if you add in maintenance and updates.) In a corporation, people have a sort of third-world infrastructure. Sometimes it works.
  • The best tool software is very expensive and only found in big firms
  • End-users are disempowered. Grateful for what they've got but compared to how things could be, things are not good.
  • Egregious ease of use problems. Probably billions wasted just waiting for systems to boot. Learning curve probably getting worse, not better.
  • Failures to innovate
Desktop Computing Stakeholders. Big Enterprises ... Dynamics of a Market Failoure
  • Virtually impenetrable barriers to entry. No funding
  • Antitrust action fizzled
We don't know what wouldhave happened if Gore had assumed office... But our regime change in Washington presided over doing nothing to Microsoft even though found guilty of monopoly practices.
Richard Stallman, a flawed genius, truly believed that having access to source code is the sine qua non of programming; it's build by teams and should be shared. Conceived free software, created C compiler and EMACS. Problem was that Stallman saw everything from the programmer's point of view, not the user's. Then came Linus Torvalds.Let's have fun working on this together. This was the transition from free software to open source. Linux has gone from a hobby project to mission-critical software used by zillions of corporations. Mitch's Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF) is trying to bring openm source apps of uncompromising quality to end users. Chandler
  • Email has become the most important productivity app
  • Tools not defined for email taking such a central role
  • Radically underserved segments
  • Marketplace inertia, opensource maturation
Mitch's wife's 5-person business needed a shared calendar -- and had to install Exchange Server to get it. Overkill. Chandler: modular Outlook. Spirit of Lotus Agenda lives on -- databasesthe way people think. Premium on user experience: power and ease of use. Customizable and extensible. Look at Linux as a model for Chandler. Chandler was named for Raymond Chandler, the mystery writer ("because what it was was a mystery to us"), rather than the character on Friends. Oganizational dynamics: Community/have to keep some out. Transparency/let others see what we're doing. Our IRC is like an open door. This is both liberating and scary. It's as if the team is writing a novel, publishing one page at a time.
PlaNetwork is in ways a "gathering of the tribe." I keep bumping into friends I know from other networks: EOE, bloggerati, Meta-Learning Lab, eLearning Forum, addapt, SRI, Human Landscaping, publicity work from a dozen years ago, Cal Berkeley, the Association of Internet Professionals, and the Internet Users Group. Hi, everyone!! http://www.osafoundation.org [email protected]
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Elizabeth Thompson opened PlaNetwork at the Presidio with an eloquent plea not just to think globally and act locally, but to combine activism and the net to think and globally. She and Jim Founier founded PlaNetwork in the cocktail lounge atop the Hyatt a few years back. They are PlaNetwork.

Jim explained that this year’s conference is less rigid than their first one. It’s a three-ring circus. There’s an online collaboratory. The “Assembler Team” is using online and onsite tools to look for emerging patterns and connections, “aggregating information and steering it from one activity to another where it can have maximum impact. Our creative quest is to discover and design the shortest path to realizing our collective goals.”

    “Thoughtout the conference, participants will sign up for 90-minute blocks on the Assembler Team. Here all facets of the PlaNetwork community - artists, writers, engineers, designers, community activists, economists, and many others - will come together and weave a tapestry of emergent patterns and possibliteis and then feed these back into the conference for further iteration and design.”

We are to follow PatchWorks Rules (I’m now a “node”) which call for us each to:

  1. Ship What You Learn. Communicate as you go. Don’t hold the idea back until the end. In nature, everything co-evolves and co-emrges.
  2. Use What You Get. We need to understand problems and information from other areas. You don’t have to believe it or agree with it, but you have to use it.
  3. Optimize Your Patch. By “shipping what you learn” and “using what you get” each part will be recalculating its current state, constantly seeking its own optimization while creating the whole.

Hazel Henderson has just taken the stage on opening day at PlaNetwork. (I’m blogging this in real time.)

Homage to Bucky Fuller and Barbara Marx Fuller. Citizens + Computers + Communications = Commujnity. Hazel wrote this book in the early seventies! She’s been around. At the time she figured the future would be phones and smartcards. (Hazel is using transparencies. Remember those?) Sustainability has been an issue for a long time.

We’re being guided by this awful GNP model The economists only count the monetized costs, not the “love econoomy” and mother nature. The economists still control the political side:pay attention to only four factors — unemployment, deficits, inflation, and interest rates. But the world is more complex than that.

Ironic cover of The Economist: “The puzzling failure of economics”

The economists are linear and therefore can’t grok complex systems. A “Post-Cartesian Scientific Worldview” sees interconnectedness, redistribution (recycling), htererarch (webs), complimentarity (both/and), etc. In Washington, Hazel’s message did not go far because the traditional economists own the status quo. Hazel envisions three modes of resource use in national development: informatin, matter, and energy.

Bush: The fossil administration (coal to oil to hydrogen).

Time warp

While I blogged some of these words in real time, I have come back and added more words and the pictures the next day. This seems a little like manipulating photographs. It’s a “patchwork” synthesis, no longer a purely chronological blog but more simply an entry in my personal content management system. Maybe all my posts should carry a disclaimer.

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This morning Marc Rosenberg sent an email suggesting I take a gander at something called Star Tree from Inxight. Less than an hour ago I started playing with it (a free download) and I am hooked. Star Tree produces maps like this one:

I’ve loved these morphing tree displays since I frist saw the Plumb Design Visual Thesaurus.

Inxight Star Tree Studio lets you roll your own. Check out this Internet Time Group site map. Is that cool or what?

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June 05, 2003

Johnny Appleseed

I believe that we are in the midst of a second renaissance. Learning, culture, progress, and all of humanity will prosper (so long as we don't destroy ourselves in the process.) So when I have an opportunity to pound the drum in support of this vision of the future, I take it. That's why the mission statement of eLearning Forum begins with
  • Promote understanding and use of eLearning in industry and government worldwide
  • Provide a forum for resolving issues impeding the progress of eLearning
That's also why I respond to requests for interviews, often to audiences who will never hire me to advise them on improving their organizations' performance, write their white papers, or develop their marketing campaigns. This morning I answered questions from a report at a Greek new-economy magazine. I'll recycle them below. >font color="red">Q&A with Greek magazine reporter:

1. What is your own view (based on your experience) of e-learning?

"eLearning" is a marketing term. It's confusing because everyone has their own definition. In the broadest sense of learning + technology = eLearning, it is a powerful force, in the process of reshaping our world. Technology improves humanity's ability to learn. We've only just begun.

2. Why do organizations tend to ignore or trivialize learning as an essential element of competitive strategy? What is needed for that to change?

Learning is trivializedwhenexecutive management fails to see thedirect link between learning and business performance.Examples of companies using eLearning to increase sales, improve service, and cut costs are turning this around.

3. What about the balance between learning and technology? Currently it seems to be heavily technology focused. What is needed to achieve the proper balance.

Our attitudes about learningeither slant too far toward technology or too much toward people & relationships; a good balance is rare. In late 1998 we were headed to the numbers extreme. Web-based learning was going to cut costs, eliminate jobs, reduce face-to-face meetings, automate training, and boost ROI. Having found that you can only take that so far until it bites back, in 2003 the pendulum is swinging back into the extreme people-side. The focus is shifting from mechanics to community, connections, collaboration, social software, faith in worker self-determination, mentors, and coaches. In sum, the pendulum is still swinging to extremes and overcorrecting on its return.

4. What is the next great training movements? What top training trends will have staying power?

1. Training is becoming a core business process.

2. Training will be integrated intoenterprise application suites.

3. Informal learning will gain stature alongside formal learning.

5. What trends in the e-learning industry, are you expect to develop in the future?

eLearning started as "push," e.g. the organization tells the learner to come. It must become"pull," e.g. the learning comes to eLearning because it's relevant and useful.

6. What about the concept of _ blurring learning _ ?

By "blurring," I presume you mean "blended."

To me, the blended buzzword is overused, for all it means is 'apply common sense,' use the appropriate tool for the job.To help people learn, you use the best means for that particular subject. You don't learn to drive from a book; you don't learn to deactivate landmines by trial-and-error. A multiplicity of means always works better than just one. The only folks I know who are really going "Ah ha! Blended!" are people who duped themselves into thinking they could do everything with a computer (unblended) in the first place. I've never been party to that line of thinking.

7. What about the concept of "embedded learning"?

Embedded learning is a very important concept. Integrating learning intowork will accelerate its development. See http://meta-time.com/lcmt/archives/000514.htmlfor more.

8. There seems to be a lack of a defining e-learning industry community. Pockets of interest seem to bump into each other occasionally, but never seem to gel to create a vibrant community. Is this a symptom of e-learning as a young industry? What is needed to enhance the community focus for e-learning?

This is because eLearning is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The last thing we need is an inward-focused eLearning cabal that talks among itself. This is why knowledge management and learning, which are obviously two sides of the same coin, have remained separate for all these years. I'd prefer to see more multidisciplinary approaches, more looking outward and linking with other disciplines. This is one of the goals of eLearning Forum, which, by the way, your readers are invited to join for free. www.elearningforum.com
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June 03, 2003

Enterprise eLearning Forum

This email just went to members of eLearning Forum. You don't have to be a member to attend.

eLF Announcements Monday, June 2, 2003

On June 13, the eLearning forum is putting every major innovator in Enterprise learning in one room.

You don't want to miss this one.

Join the thought leaders of real-time enterprise learning for a discussion of:
- Learning as a core business process
- The shift from ROI to Key Performance Indicators
- The appropriate and likely roles of LMS, ERP, & CRM
- How enterprise learning will evolve in the next 24 months
- Findings of recent research on learning technology

You must pre-pay online, with a major credit card, for this event (http://tinyurl.com/db0o). This event will sell out, so please make sure you register early.

The eLearning Forum takes place from 8:45am - noon, when lunch will be served. Microsoft is hosting the event for the second month in a row - directions.

This month, we are also offering a bonus session that goes until 2:30pm. Take the whole day off!

For further details and Webex conferencing details (to be posted shortly), please check out the eLF web site.

Please note that you must pre-pay online for the June 13 eLearning Forum.

Do it here.

Click2learn, Docent, Element K, IBM, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Plateau, Saba, SAP, Siebel, Thinq, VCampus, and a couple of others will be attending. How about you?
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Grab bag

Notes from a few minutes idle time between long bursts of work:

    The cover story of the CIO magazine that arrived here by snail-mail today is Inside Outsourcing in India. The short version: It will save you money, but you’d better have some quality control. I’d think the same holds true for outsourcing to Alabama.

    Click2learn has posted a nice reference on eLearning Standards.

    If you’re clueless about Metadata, check this glossary for a quicky lesson.

    Now that Microsoft is going to bury IE inside Windows and has paid AOL to bury Netscape out of sight, you might want to consider other browsers. Mozilla’s new Firebird browser is fast, uncluttered, and concise. I’m using Opera more than anything else; it has great features and I love being able to zoom the page size.

    My friend Bill Daul reminded me that plaNetwork is taking place this weekend in the Presidio of San Francisco. With topics like social networking, collaborative networking, global systems, and using the Internet as a tool for mobilization, I couldn’t really pass this one up. A few of the presenters I want to hear are Brewster Kahle, Marc Canter, Bonnie DeVarco, Mena Trott, Leif Utne, Kevin Kelley, Mitch Kapor, Paul Hawken, and Rebecca Blood. My wife Uta’s comment when I mentioned that I’d be spending three days from early in the morning til late at night with friends at the Presidio: “Sounds like Woodstock.”

Resource Shelf, Resources and News for Information Professionals.

The World as a Blog displays real time blog entries on a globe that shows where they are originating.

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June 02, 2003

Why edu-blogging

Weblogs and Discourse

Weblogs as a transformational technology for higher education and academic research
by Oliver Wrede

This is thought-provoking if you’re contemplating the interplay of blogs and learning.

    In school, students have learned for years to circumvent teacher’s demands with almost perfect cleverness. This problem that can amount to a complete detachment from primary learning goals: many students (not all) start challenging the educational system by reverse-engineering implicit rules of performance approval and without actually complying with the goals of a curriculum.

»Students today: Cooperative and self-determined«

    How can a learning culture be changed over time? If educators want to help students to become more self-determined in a over-directed enviroment there is little option but to offer ways for self-expression and to honor any activity in this regard.


Table 2. Command & Control vs. Emergent Organisations.


Barabási, Albert-László 2002, Linked: The New Science
of Networks
, Cambridge, Mass: Persues.

Cooperrider, David 1990, ?Positive
Image, Positive Action: The Affirmative Basis of Organizing
?, in Srivastva
and Cooperrider et al Appreciative Management & Leadership, San Fransisco:

Crutchfield, James 1994, ?Is
Anything Ever New? Considering Emergence
? In G. A.
Cowan, D. Pines & D. Meltzer (eds) Complexity: Metaphors, Models and Reality,
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Darley, Vince 1994, ?Emergent
Phenomena and Complexity
?. ALife IV.

Goldstein, Jeffrey 1999, ?Emergence
as a Construct: History and Issues
? in Emergence 1:1 pp 49-72.

Hayes, Brian 2000a, ?Graph
Theory: Part I
?, American Scientist, vol 88 no 1.

Hayes, Brian 2000b, ?Graph
Theory: Part II
?, American Scientist, vol 88 no 2.

Holland, John H. 1995, Hidden Order, Reading, Mass:

Holland, John H. 1998, Emergence: From Chaos to Order,
Reading, Mass: Helix.

Kauffman, Stuart 1996, At Home in the Universe: The
Search for Laws of Complexity
, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Langton, Christopher G. 1986, ?Studying Artificial Life
with Cellular Automata? in D. Farmer, A. Lapedes, N. Packard and B. Wendroff (eds)
Evolution, Games and Learning: Models for Adaptation in Machines and Nature,
Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Conference of the Centre for Nonlinear Studies,
Los Alamos 20th-24th May 1985, Amsterdam: North-Holland,
pp 120-149.

Lewin, Roger 1993, Complexity: Life on the Edge of
, London: Phoenix.

Mihata, Kevin 1997, ?The Persistence of ?Emergence?? in
Raymond A. Eve, Sara Horsfall, & Mary E. Lee (eds) Chaos, Complexity &
Sociology: Myths, Models & Theories
, Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage. pp 30-38.

Miller, George A. 1956, ?The
Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for
Processing Information
?. The Psychological Review, vol. 63, pp. 81-97

Prigogine, Ilya and Stengers, Isabelle 1984, Order Out
of Chaos
, New York: Bantam Books.

Reason, Peter 1994, ?Three Approaches to Participative
Inquiry? in Handbook of Qualitative Research, Norman K Denzin & Yvonna
Sessions Lincoln (eds). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Reason, Peter 1997, Revisioning Inquiry for Action: a
Participatory View
. Invited address to Academy of Management, Boston.
August. Bath: University.

Reynolds Craig W. 1987, ?Flocks, Herds, and Schools: A
Distributed Behavioral Model? Computer Graphics, vol. 21 no. 4, pp.

Seel, Richard (2000), ?Complexity
and Culture: New Perspectives on Organisational Change
?, Organisations &
, vol. 7 no. 2, pp. 2-9.

Sentell, Gerald 1998, Creating Change-Capable Cultures,
Alcoa, TN: Pressmark International.

Stacey, Ralph 1996, Complexity and Creativity in
, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Waldrop, M. Mitchell 1993, Complexity: The Emerging
Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos
, London: Viking.

Watkins, Jane Magruder and Mohr, Bernard J. 2001,
Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of Imagination
, San Francisco:

White, Mark 1999, ?Adaptive Corporations? in Michael R.
Lissack and Hugh P. Gunz (eds) Managing Complexity in Organizations: A View
in Many Directions,
Westport, Conn.:
Quorum Books.

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Up with people! (Duh)

A Measurable Proposal

CIO: "He's back, and Tom Davenport's betting on a new, big idea: knowledge workers are people too. Can their processes be quantified? Can we help their plight? This might just be the new reengineering." [New reengineering = Next Accenture Cash Cow?]

Tom laments that:

    When it comes to knowledge workers, we pretty much hire smart people and leave them alone. No quality measurements, no Six Sigma, no reengineering. We haven't formally examined the flow of work, we have no benchmarks, and there is no accountability for the cost and time these activities consume.

The prescription for change?

    ...the next big process change initiative should involve knowledge work. Let's examine how we do strategy, marketing campaigns, mergers and acquisitions, and R&D programs. Maybe we could even take on the process of management.

I have mixed feelings about this.

  1. There's no doubt that there are a gazillion things organizations can do to leverage the productivity of their knowledge workers.
  2. Given Tom's role with Accenture, I see his newfound religion a covert way of creating new turf for Accenture consulting. "Tired of paying us to glue together applications too complicated for you to understand? Let us mess with your marketing campaigns, M&A, and even your process of management."
  3. I told you this was coming six weeks ago. Remember this?


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June 01, 2003

Back on line

After being locked out of my own blogs for a week, I’m back again. Lord this has been frustrating.

Why the blackout? I sell white papers and reports through Internet Time Press. The shop runs on the Interchange shopping cart, a freebie from Apache. Out of nowhere, the cart started crashing, giving the appearance that I was out of business. Geez. After three or four rounds of this, the ISP suggested that maybe the server my site was on was overloaded. Did I want to switch servers?

Well, sure, switch ‘em, so long as it’s totally transparent to users. The tech’s reply: “It should be completely transparent.”

Murphy’s Law broke out everywhere. I’m glad to be back on line, so I’ll stop kvetching for a while.

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