Tomorrow I'm off to TechLearn in Orlando. Yes, I'll be taking pictures and blogging.
How long have I been making this annual pilgrimage to the kingdom of the mouse? Too long. If I'm not attentive, I go onto auto-pilot.
Kissimmee, with its sprawl of T-shirt shops, discount outlets, fast food joints, cheap motels, and pancake houses, laying in wait for wary Disneyworld turistas, is the state champion for tackiness, and given that this is Florida, that takes some doing. Not that I'm complaining. Kissimmee gave me my first time at the controls of an airboat, my first ride on a jet-ski, and my first glimpse of an alligator leaping 5' out of the water to snatch a chicken from a clothesline suspended over the water. I've had good $4 meals, 50-cent beers, and stayed in some fellow's condo for a week for free.
Just this evening, I went on the net to score my room for TechLearn, a "suite" with fridge, microwave, free phone calls, and a nearby lake for $23 a night. Outside the "Kingdom," there's still a near depression, and bargains abound.
Here are reports from TechLearns past. I'm about to finish an article for an academic journal -- 9,000 words and not yet finished -- and the annual migration to TechLearn is one of the rhythms of the piece.
This coming week, I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. Cathy and Elliott are masters at making people feel comfortable and gregarious.
If you see me at TechLearn, please say hello. I'll be the guy in the zany Hawaiian shirt up near the front. Florida is so unreal for me, an adoptive Californian, that I get these Hunter-Thompsonesque urges to wear funny clothes, drive around in a convertible, and get out of control. I think it's something they put in the water.
And if you're not here, watch this blog for gonzo journalism and highlights.
Corante has a tasty, daily blog-piece called Brain Waves: neurons, bits, and genes. The author, "an evolutionary biologist, enterprise software marketer, and economic geographer," today discusses Neuromarketing to Your Mind.
This week's NYTimes Magazine article There's a Sucker Born in Every Medial Prefrontal Cortex highlights how one neuromarketing firm, BrightHouse, is pushing the boundaries of understanding how and why people buy different products. As the article explains, "marketers in the United States spent more than $1 billion last year on focus groups, the results of which guided about $120 billion in advertising. But focus groups are plagued by a basic flaw of human psychology: people often do not know their own minds."
Neuromarketing has a long road to travel though as neuroeconomist Kevin McCabe wisely suggests, "While the first step is to look for reward processing in the brain, it is not the last step since demand itself is an emergent mental construct involving cognition, emotion, and motivation."
The Sunday New York Times told of a neuroscientist who used brainscans to study the "Pepsi Challenge," where people prefer Pepsi in blind tastings but much prefer Coke when told what they're drinking. The scientist "demonstrated, with a fair degree of neuroscientific precision, the special power of Coke's brand to override our taste buds."
The Times describes the work of the BrightHouse Instittute, which is studying consumer reactions to products with cerebral MRIs:
Kilts was excited, for he knew that this region of the brain is commonly associated with our sense of self. Patients with damage in this area of the brain, for instance, often undergo drastic changes in personality; in one famous case, a mild-mannered 19th-century railworker named Phineas Gage abruptly became belligerent after an accident that destroyed his medial prefrontal cortex. More recently, M.R.I. studies have found increased activity in this region when people are asked if adjectives like ''trustworthy'' or ''courageous'' apply to them. When the medial prefrontal cortex fires, your brain seems to be engaging, in some manner, with what sort of person you are. If it fires when you see a particular product, Kilts argues, it's most likely to be because the product clicks with your self-image.
In other words, we identify with our product choices:
Big brother is not quite ready to come out of the closet on this stuff. The Times article, There's a Sucker Born in Every Medial Prefrontal Cortex, concludes that "The brain, critics point out, is still mostly an enigma; just because we can see neurons firing doesn't mean we always know what the mind is doing. For all their admirable successes, neuroscientists do not yet have an agreed-upon map of the brain."
There are lessons here for those of us who are trying to improve learning in organizations. Emotion trumps reason. Build your internal brand. If you have Pepsi-quality training, repackage it in Coke bottles. (It never hurts to improve the taste, too. Just don't call it "New Coke".)
Market your training. That's a central message of Lance Dublin's and my book.
A year after publication, people are still downloading our free Template for Developing an eLearning Implementation Action Plan, which walks you through the basic steps of creating an in-house eLearning marketing plan.
Head Start is testing small children. Today's New York Timtes notes:
The test reflects the philosophy and principles behind the No Child Left Behind law, which emphasizes literacy and math, and has imposed testing for children starting in the third grade as a key to raising academic achievement.
But critics say the test is flawed and meaningless for such young children, whose development is in enormous flux.
We don't need no education.
We don't need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teacher, leave those kids alone.
Hey, Teacher, leave those kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.
Imagine you are the Chief Learning Officer of a successful high-tech firm in SIlicon Valley. You hear about a new eLearning title, "Mavis Beacon Teaches Reading." It takes four hours to complete. It's self-instructional. It's delivered via the web. A learner can take it in small chunks. It guarantees to improve anyone's reading speed by 20%. It costs $39/person. Would you post this course on your corporate eLearning menu?
Of nearly fifty eLearning professionals presented with this question, not a one would put Mavis into their curriculum. Why? Some did not want to insult employees with something so basic. Others were 100% focused on improving business and customer service skills. Reading skills seem trivial in the grand scheme of things; there's so much everyone already has to learn.
Why wouldn't every CLO jump at an opportunity like this? I blame short-term thinking. If my time-horizon is only a week, investing four hours learning in order to save two hours is a losing deal. It's certainly not worth taking the risk that someone up top might brand me as expendable.
Expand the time-horizon to a year, and the economics become compelling. Today's knowledge worker spends at least two hours of every workday pouring over emails, memos, web pages, newspapers, brochures, journals, notes, presentations, and bulletins. That's five hundred hours a year! The reading course guarantees to save a hundred of those hours. At $40/hour per worker, fully loaded, that's $4,000 saved in the first year alone. A 100:1 payback!
Longer term, the value of improving a process becomes apparent. Process improvement is a gift that keeps on giving. But some people simply do not think this way. One person's process is another person's content. To envision a world of processes requires taking a broader perspective. It doesn't come naturally.
Chris Argyris has preached the benefits of "double-loop learning," i.e. improving the learning process, for decades. John Seely Brown told me he is investigating why double-loop learning has never caught on.
Doug Engelbart has dedicated half a century to augmenting human intelligence through process improvement and its derivatives. When I asked Doug what organization best exemplified his philosophy, he replied "None."
I blame schooling for discouraging systems thinking. Questioning the system is not in schooling's DNA. After all, schooling started with rabbis and priests explaining the word of God to illiterate believers. Critical thinking was blasphemy. Shut up and listen; this is God talking.
Two separate groups of college students were given a paper on urban sociology. The first group was told, "Read this. You'll be tested." The second group was told, "Read this. You'll be tested. And by the way, some of this material is quite controversial." The second group scored higher on the test. Why? Because uncertainty engages the mind.
School classes and corporate training would be more effective were learners initially told "This is our best thinking. It might be wrong. How do you see it?" That's a meta-learning tactic that would improve results without adding costs. You could preface all eLearning with a reminder that learners should look for ways to improve the content, drop thoughts in the electronic suggestion box, and that they organization is always on the lookout for ways to improve its service. Positioning a learning event as inquiry instead a recounting of someone else's truth puts a touch of humanity back into eLearning that's often sterile.
Getting the concept of meta-learning to take hold requires acceptance that nothing is set in stone. There are no givens. The world is uncertain. Everything is relative. People can learn to learn better by taking a long term view in which learning answers the inevitable query of "What's in it for me?"
David Grebow, saying what a lot of people feel on the Learning Circuits blog.
Why do I feel like I cannot wake up, that I’m the only one screaming and listening to my own voice echo off the school walls, as the Hall Monitors race down the corridors of my mind, intent upon shutting me up, and quietly sending me away to some endless detention?
Why are you all facing forward and being so quiet? Knock, knock. Anybody there on the other side of the glass?
Well, aren't you going to say something???
Interoperability? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. It's funny -- funny-strange, not funny-ha-ha -- that cyber-catastrophe seems to know the precise time to needle the user for maximum effect. Gonzo programmer that I am, over the weekend I decided that rather than simply add a few menu items in the sidebar to my blog, I should shift the entire site to CSS. No more tables, just blocks of stuff floating here and there. Professional. In one touch, I could recast hundreds of pages in Halloween orange and black if the spirit moved me.
Of course, I tried to do this without manuals. It's like riding a motorcycle without a helmet or swinging from the high trapeze without a net. I fell. The new site looks wildly different in each popular browser. Things look great in Mozilla, iffy in Internet Explorer, and unworkable in Opera. Oh joy.
Looking for navigation and links? Page-down. They're down there somewhere.
I am up to my ass in alligators at the moment, so I was going to leave further gossip about the Click2Learn/Docent merger to my friends and colleagues. Then I received a flock of emails about the merger this morning and felt compelled to express my somewhat contrarian viewpoint.
For background, check eLearning Guru Kevin Kruse, Bersin & Associates, Learning Circuits, Upgrade Program, Click2Learn's press release, Docent's FAQ, and the Saba letter which I said was "like a white tiger pouncing on an aging Las Vegas entertainer."
Overall, make sure you know what you're trying to accomplish, and buy only what you need. And consider financier/philosopher Bernard Beruch?s advice: "Never follow the crowd."
On Friday, October 24, 2003, eLearning Forum participated in the inaugural meeting of BLT at the University of California at Berkeley.
BLT stands for Berkeley Learning Technology. Its goal is to foster coorperation among the many learning tech projects on the U.C. Campus. BLT is a community of practice.
Every month, a member of eLearning Forum's Board takes on the role of meeting coordinator to oversee the entire production. The buck stops there.
We met in the charming Joseph Wood Krutch Theater on Cal's Clark Kerr Campus.
Jim Slotta organized the event and was master of ceremonies. Jim is director of TELS, a NSF-funded research consortium.
He explained that today's speakers represent three independent areas on campus, a mere sliver of what's going on at U.C. Berkeley in learning technology:
I've lived in Berkeley for twenty years but I'd never heard of most of the projects the panelists told us about.
Brandon Muramatsu , Digital Libraries Project, www.smete.org (Learning Content Collections)
Teaching and learning resources (e.g. a problem set). K-12 and university. Supports collaboration. May be resources from others, slightly modified in their re-use. SMETE = science, math, engineering, tech, and education. Focus on teaching and learning. Goal is to elevate social aspects of developing ?educational? digital libraries to the same level as technical ones. 9.25 million users. 42,000 online resources. Cooperation with Merlot, Math Forum, BioQUEST, etc., etc., etc.
Awards competition. www.needs.org/premier/ CD-ROMs are the big winners thus far. Challenges include identifying quality resources, integration of external collections, and social aspects. Teachers aren't accustomed to using materials developed by others.
Raymond Yee , interactive university project (Learning Content Collections)
The goal is to use technology to democratize the content and community of the campus by opening UC resources to the public, especially K12. There's a wealth of materials out there: California Digital Library, MIT OpenCourseWare, UT Austin Knowledge Gateway, UC Berkeley Interactive University, art museums, etc.
Better tools are needed. Now have data silos. Need interoperable content.
The goals are worthy but the approach strikes me as strong on content but weak on context. That's okay as long as the users provide the coaching, mentoring, instruction, and support. Wired magazine recently touted the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative, suggesting that students in remote developing countries would be learning the equivalent of an MIT degree by reading lecture notes. What a pipedream!
Mike Clancy , Computer Science Division (Learning Content Application)
Mike has taught programming at UC since '77. Skeptical about how technology can help us ? ?because I've seen a lot of screw-ups.? eLearning must include learning. Their direction has been to decrease lecture (passive learning) while increasing online labs (active learning). UC-WISE (Web-based Inquiry System for Engineering) delivers content, quizzes, etc. Mike poured all content and activities into the UC-WISE environment. Now includes gated collaborations and online note-taking.
Benefits of the ?e?. Convenience (online, tracking), new activities (collaboration, focused discussion), aids to autonomous learning (hints, interactive programming tasks), monitoring (in real time, which enables ?targeted tutoring?), more detailed picture of each student (misconceptions, coping), and convenient course revision. Everyone has to participate, not just the volunteers. There's so much more detail about students' learning; ?I feel like the first chemists to look through electron microscopes.?
This is blended learning. It supplements the traditional student/teacher relationship rather than replacing it.
Note to self: When I rant about university training, I need to remember people like Mike, who are making exactly the right moves. I wonder what the ratio of Mikes to old-time faculty is on campus.
Jim Slotta , Open Web Learning (OWL) (Learning Content Application).
What are the most effective designs for curriculum and assessments? How can instructors adopt innovative tech and pedagogical approaches?
The Web came along as the project began. Lots of great content but no scaffolding to help learners use them. Inquiry maps, cognitive guidance, meta-discussions, visualizations.
WISE on the web: curriculum map in left column. Content includes reference notes.
Theoretical frame: make ideas visible, learn from each other, accessible models, autonomous learners.
TELS is a new research center, funded only last month. TELS = Technology Enhanced Learning in Science.
In theory, this sounds right on the money. I hope TELS is a great success. Of course, as Yogi Berra says, "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."
Turadg Aleahmad , technology architect, OWL for UC-WISE, describes ambitious web platform shared among many partner institutions. Open data models. Turadg's bandwidth is too high for note-takers. (Learning Content Application).
Fred Beshears , Education Technology Services (Learning Management Systems/Open Source)
ETS is developing scaleable learning management systems. 15 years ago, tech was a flea on the tail of the eLearning dog. Now tech is perhaps the tail itself.
Fred's the ?Learning Technology Scout.? He brings them back for the wagon masters to choose from. Standards are good, e.g. assembling components beats hand-hewn logs for your cabin.
Mara Hancock , Educational Technology Services (Learning Management Systems/Open Source)
ETS integrates tech and learning campus-wide. It even coordinates the activities of the campus radio station, KALX. Learning systems includes faculty development as well as learning tool development; multimedia services is a new addition.
Moving to single-system, open source LMS.
Professor Marcia Linn is a pioneer whose work was the genesis of many of the projects we heard about from the panel. She engaged the audience on three pieces of the learning technology puzzle:
Our meeting got off to a late start -- a combination of introductions we hadn't planned for and some members getting lost on the way to the Clark Kerr Campus. Sandwiches arrived as we broke into groups to discuss each of the three areas, so discussions continued over lunch.
Neologism alert! WIKISTORM. (Like brainstorm, but on a wiki rather than in person). Coined by Jim Slotta.
Notes from the discussions and from the panelists will appear on the wiki set up for BLT.
|Tata Interactive co-sponsored this event. During the break, Santosh Abraham and Veena Adiga showed samples of the simulations Tata has built for University of Phoenix.||
Rick Huebsch, eLearning Forum's remote participant champion, brought several dozen people from all over the world into the session.
eLearning Forum is currently using remote meeting technology from Interwise. Participants described this event as flawless.
|If you're not familiar with wikis, you probably should be. Take a look at the Wikistorms from our session.|
Here's an example of the cluetrain stopping at an unlikely spot.
Bob Scoble is using blogs to put a human face on Microsoft. Think that's impossible? Check this out.
In all my travels throughout the blogosphere, I've met quite a few people who viscerally hate Microsoft. In fact, a few even admit it openly on their weblogs.
So, I figure I'd write a guide called ?how to hate Microsoft.? The problem is, there are two types of people:
1) Those who hate Microsoft.
2) Those who hate Microsoft but want to see it improve.
So, if you just plain old hate Microsoft, here's what to say:
?I hate Microsoft. Your monopoly is the only thing keeping you in business. You guys are unfair in business. You are weasels. Your software sucks. You smell. Anyone who works at Microsoft is a shill. Why do you keep bringing out software that infuriates me??
If you hate Microsoft, but want us to improve, here's what to say:
?I hate Microsoft. Your monopoly is the only thing keeping you in business. You guys are unfair in business. You are weasels. Your software sucks. You smell. Anyone who works at Microsoft is a shill. Why do you keep bringing out software that infuriates me??
Whoa, there's no difference between the two, right? Might look like it on the surface, but the person who wants us to improve will keep reading. After all, if you just hate Microsoft, why you reading a Longhorn blog?
If you want us to improve, now we're getting someplace. Take a deep breath. Relax. Feel better?
See, next week we're doing something different. We're asking you to help us improve Longhorn so it's an operating system that you can't hate.
Why is this a massive change? Everytime we've released a version of Windows before we kept it secret. We made anyone who saw it sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Even many of those of you who signed NDAs weren't really given full access to the development teams and often if you were, it was too late to really help improve the product.
Let me explain. I've only been a Microsoft employee for five months. Back in the good old days I was a beta tester. First with Windows 95 and NT, later with 98, ME, 2000, and XP.
I never really got to work with the development teams while the software was in a ?pre-beta? state. I never had a weblog where I could tell them ?I hate the UI? years before the software will ship. Yeah, we had secret newsgroups back in the good old days. Some of us even got invited to meet with the development teams. But, never did Microsoft ask me to write on my public weblog all of its dirty laundry so that it could improve.
Next week, that's exactly what we're asking for. Tear into Longhorn and tell us what you think. more.
Bob Scoble is hardly the sharpest knife in the drawer at Microsoft, but he's helping create a more friendly, personable side of the Evil Empire. This may be worth more to the future of the company than its tech trickes. Scoble's so honest, he's disarming. After the rants die down, people will respect Microsoft for this -- if they take the advice they're being offered.
That's just my opinion. I may be wrong.
The choice of these two companies to merge is a curious one, because it is their customers who seemingly will get the least benefit. Neither company has upgraded their core technology to a new platform and their products, sales organizations and market coverage are largely overlapping. Both Docent and Click2Learn customers are going to face some difficult decisions.
Benefits from this "Event"?
Typically, when a merger like this takes place the benefits are readily apparent. In analyzing the early information on the announcement, it is not clear who actually benefits.
|Customers and prospects?|
|Given that the product road map and technology platforms are undefined and that cost cutting will occur, innovation and customer service will clearly suffer. New prospects will have to choose between two platforms nearing the end of their useful life on the promise of future innovation on a third platform.|
|Click2Learn appears to be taking the lead on product strategy, which is not surprising given that the product leaders at Docent left the company some time ago. For all practical purposes, the Docent product has been rendered obsolete. This organizational structure indicates a leaning toward Click2Learn's Microsoft-centric architecture. Neither company has an enterprise-class J2EE platform today, nor it does it appear that the new entity will head in that direction.|
|Both Docent and Click2Learn are unprofitable, with a combined loss of $4.1M in their most recent quarters. To make this merger worthwhile from a financial perspective, the combined entity will have to cut its costs dramatically. The companies have publicly admitted to a plan that involves cutting at least 20%. We believe that number is artificially low. They will have to do a substantial consolidation in sales, customer support and R & D.|
|Neither company gains an expanded market footprint from this merger. Both operate primarily in North America and have many of the same system integration and distribution partners. There is also a customer overlap that will limit future revenue growth.|
|The management teams are the most likely beneficiary of this merger both from vesting of stock options and buyouts. Customers should look closely to see what benefits are being directed to the management team.|
does this mean to the industry?
In the short-term, this announcement will create confusion for individuals who have either recently made a purchase decision with either of these vendors or were considering either of these vendors for a planned purchase. Companies and partners dealing with Click2Learn or Docent should immediately question the vendors on the implications of this announcement and its impact upon product direction, product support, company leadership and viability.
On the positive side, there will be fewer vendors, further highlighting the value propositions for companies like Saba that have stayed focused on the long-term objectives. Now more than ever, organizations considering the purchase or expansion of an enterprise learning suite should carefully evaluate the strategy and motivation of their vendors. "Merger of Equals" transactions often result in lowered customer service and innovation. Mergers for the sole purpose of consolidating cash and buying customers are transparent to the market and the customers themselves. No decision maker wants to be in a situation where they have purchased a product line that is soon to be discontinued.
does this mean for Saba and our customers?
We have always been focused on the long-term success of our customers. Four driving principles continue to define Saba's leadership position in this industry.
|1. Customers' Success|
commitment to customer satisfaction has never been stronger.
Saba just completed highly successful user conferences in Chicago
and Amsterdam where hundreds of our customers and partners continued
to reiterate their support for Saba, enthusiasm about our product
strategy and broad endorsement of our global presence and deployment
capabilities. We have made continual and substantial enhancements
to usability in each release of our product line and we have
expanded our team of services professionals who are able to
provide expertise that is specific to the industries where our
customers are deploying
2. Product Leadership
|Over the past two years, Saba has invested heavily in R&D to build and deliver the fully J2EE-compliant Saba 5 platform, continued to innovate on our 3.x platform, most recently with the delivery of Saba Enterprise Learning 3.5, expanded the Saba Enterprise Learning Suite with Saba Analytics, the market's most powerful learning analytics solution, and for the first time, expanded beyond our core learning market with Saba Enterprise Performance 5.0. As the only company to have delivered an integrated learning and performance offering on a J2EE platform, Saba is uniquely differentiated in our marketplace and continues to be the leading innovator in the Human Capital market.|
|3. Leading Delivery and Execution|
|In addition, Saba is the market leader in delivering business solutions among our competitors in North America and worldwide markets, including Europe, Asia Pacific and Japan. More and more of our customers choose Saba because of our unmatched ability to deliver and deploy enterprise-class solutions on a worldwide basis. None of these fundamental strengths are challenged, let alone addressed by this merger of second-tier players.|
|4. Industry Leading Vision|
|As a pioneer in enterprise learning, Saba continues to define the future direction of the industry. In our market, true business performance is driven through the intelligent integration of learning and performance and measured by industry-leading analytics solutions. This is a core part of our vision and it is the heart of our product platform.|
Thank you for your continued support and interest. Please contact your local Saba representative if you have any questions or would like to share your perspective on this announcement.
The Saba Team
|Copyright © 1997-2003 Saba Software Inc. All Rights Reserved.|
This message just arrived from Kevin Oakes, CEO of Click2Learn:
Today, we announced that Click2learn (NASDAQ: CLKS) and Docent (NASDAQ: DCNT) have agreed to form a new company in a merger of equals transaction. The combination will bring together two of the strongest and most innovative business performance and learning management software companies to create a single company well positioned for long-term global leadership.
Congratulations, Kevin! And hats off to all my pals at Docent!
I'm much too tactful to comment on inter-faith marriages until after the reception, so Mazeltov! With rich uncles like Accenture, Deloitte, Exult, IBM, Microsoft, NEC, Primedia, Thomson Learning, and Paul Allen, this couple could go far.
Rather than the bride taking the groom's name, or vice-versa, this is a wonderful opportunity for both of the newlyweds to drop their dorky names. "Docent" reeks of academia and musty museums. "Click2Learn" has that old unblended, dot-com feel. Maybe rename the company "Aspen," move everything up to Washington State, and make a tree the logo.
About a dozen years ago, I arrived in the Sierra south of Lake Tahoe just as the aspens were turning from dark green to brilliant yellow. Walking in the hills next to Sorenson's Lodge, I was surrounded by white-barked trees that resembled surreal torches.
eLearning Forum meets this Friday at Cal. Arrive a bit before 8:30 am for coffee and schmooze.
University of California, Berkeley has been a source of many landmark trends in technology and education. The university continues to be home to cutting-edge research and an incubator for innovation destined for commercial success -- particularly in learning and technology.
The October 24 meeting will offer an inside look at several high profile elearning projects at Berkeley. Join us as we discuss what the future of elearning in university, school, and corporate environments might look like.
Speakers will include:
Interwise will webcast the event.
More information at eLearningForum.com
Examples were everywhere, most notably Sony, Honda and Toyota; the minimills in the steel industry; the succession of minicomputers, personal computers and notebook computers; even the community college movement. They all delivered what Professor Christensen labeled "disruptive innovations," as opposed to "sustaining innovations," improvements to make top-of-the-line products even better.
Let's think about this in the context of the eLearning marketplace. Who are the senior players, those who've had the opportunity to get to version 3.0 and beyond? Off the top, I think of:
These companies are all working hard to deliver what their customers are asking for. In Christensen's view, this renders them vulnerable. This is inevitable.
The only way to escape this vicious cycle is through "generating a consistent flow of disruptive innovations." That's the topic on Christensen's new book, The Innovator's Solution.
Remember, the dilemma comes about because a replacement technology slips in under the radar because the established players don't respect it as worthy.
You get the idea.
Any established vendor that doesn't nurture innovations that depart from the norm will be in decline within a few years. Set up a portfolio of skunk-works projects. Now. This takes more than thinking out of the box; it requires funding and setting up totally independent boxes to think in.
If Christensen's message in the eLearning context is unclear, wire three thousand dollars to Internet Time Group LLC. We'll join you for a day on the island of your choice to help you figure it out.
JOHO blogs Virginia Postrel at PopTech:
We are in the Age of Aesthetics. That means that on the margin we try to make things special, "enhancing the look and feel of people, places and things." And there's more aesthetic competition: it's a key part of product design and store "experiences." There are more aesthetics in more aspects of life. Everyone uses fonts and pictures when doing the simplest of documents.
This is a big change. For a hundred years, the big news was that you got stuff. We wanted it to be standardized, e.g., hotel rooms and fast food. Function but not style. Now we want more. And not just in hotel rooms: 71% of US women 45-54 dye their hair to cover gray, and 13% of men. But color sales among young men are up 25% in 5 years. Teen boys spend 5% of their income on hair color.
Aesthetics is becoming the killer app for information technology.
I got hit with another 8 Spam comments last night. All came from Romania:
Dinca, Valerian [email protected]
cartier rovine bloc A45 ap 4
Craiova, dj 1100
40251562493 Fax --
I may cut off comments until this crap stops. For the present, I've cut off HTML in postings.
Chief Learning Officer magazine just arrived in the mail. I've become a semi-monthly columnist for CLO, and this marks my first appearance. The title of my column: effectivenss. Take that, you efficiency experts.
The article: Informal Learning: A Sound Investment Chief Learning Officer (2003). "Workers who know more get the most accomplished. People who are well connected make greater contributions. The workers who create the most value are those who know the right people, the right stuff, and the right things to do."
Other articles I've written.
Last month a few bots posted Spam in the comments field of entries here at internettime.com. The content was childish graffiti, a string of porno URLs and a comment like "Nice blog". This minor vandalism offered no payback aside for ego-boo for some wacko street artist, so it did not proliferate.
Today my blogs were hit by more sophisticated Spam bots. The new bots parse text from an original post that might trick the unsuspecting reader to folllowing the link in the comment. For example,
This links to a "service" that offers to Spam 10,000,000 people for you every morning.
IP Address: 188.8.131.52
Name: Frieda Zonnenfeld
Email Address: [email protected]
Success people know the things they need to know to be successful. And when they need information, knowledge, or skills and talents that they don't possess, they find someone who does possess them.
This links to an ad for fake Rolex watches.
Now the vandals have an economic incentive to spew their garbage onto individual blogs. It matters not that it may take millions of messages to sell one fake Rolex if the sender pays nothing for the mayhem that ensues.
These sneaky automated comments have the power to stifle the blogging community. In a matter of days, every outpost in the blogosphere could be facing hundreds of spurious comments. Were this to happen, the give-and-take commentary that enables interaction among blogs would resemble my email: more noise than signal.
Blocking the Spamsters' URLs won't solve this. The garbage appearing on my blog appears to originate from some village in China. Surely the criminal who wrote the blog text-parser can find a way to spoof URLs.
I don't have an answer. If you do, leave a comment. Help sound the alarm.
Margaet Mead wrote, "Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever does."
I hope it's we who do the changing, not them.
It doesn't get much easier than this.
Macromedia has added a training module and a virtual classroom to its Breeze platform.
The live module is the equivalent of Centra or WebEx, including a webcam capability, application sharing, automatic capturing and publishing, and the usual controls. The training module adds course creation, learner registration, self-enrollment, quizzes and surveys, and tracking.
Add all this together and you get a hosted solution that includes a simple learning management system and requires no programming.
If I were short on time but had money in my pocket, I'd be tempted to implement an entire eLearning infrastructure on Breeze.
Caution: That's my enthusiasm for what's described at Macromedia's website. I don't know what Breeze costs or how well it scales, nor have I had the opportunity to kick the tires.
If their product is as good as their vision is clear, Macromedia is destined to become an eLearning powerhouse.
|Santa Clara, California. October 14, 2003. I took in this show the way people read wordy webpages. Quick skim. That leaves me with a few impressions which could be way off target. I am a learning and performance guy, not a knowledge guy.|
Knowledge Maps for Communities of Practice
"For you guys, let me explain. This is a map." What followed was the standard presentation for Generic Corp. Analyze, plan, implement, assess... And a map gives you direction, a picture, access paths, etc. Zzzzzzzz....
|Very cool pattern analysis software that lets you pull data from D&B, Lexis-Nexis, patent databases, and other sources. Point, click, reform, analyze. This would be wonderful...if you've got many sources of information laying around. Developed for the intelligence community, Anacubis is no doubt a star at the CIA. I have to wonder how many corporate users really need something like this.|
The exhibit floor did not excite. Fewer than three dozen exhibitors attended. Some of those were selling books and magazines. Several of the others couldn't tell me what they had to offer.
|Inxight and Convera had cool, snappy technology. Useful, scalable organizing systems. Unstructured information management, automated categorization. Try their online demos.|
|HyperWave is like the Swiss Army "Champ" that has every blade you'll ever need|
|Winner, dumbest name contest.|
I kept trying to ask this guy about his expert locator software but I couldn't get to him.
Pointing to experts is a worthy application -- just think of the time it can save. Some of the algorithms for identifying experts seemed a bit flaky to me.
|Wherever the KM market is, this isn't it. Two years ago, 1600 people attended KM World. Last year is was 800. This year, KM World and Intranets 2003 were combined, so attendance figures are murky. Vendors told me lots of the people walking the aisles were consultants hungry to cut deals.|
A chilling observation from today's New York Times:
Pondering learning and why ambiguity is easier to mesh into one's worldview than dogma.
Start with a network of associated ideas in one's head.
Bombard with sensory inputs, a small fraction of which will make it through the individual's protective firewall.
The individual's unwitting internal translator reforms the surviving inputs into new entities. These link into the existing network of thoughts. Sometimes there's a delay factor, while the mind looks for the best fit. This occurs during reflection.
Some inputs are too large or rigid or alien to ever establish links, i.e. be learned.
Obviously, the learner plays a large role in what's learned. The richness of the pre-existing network, the nature of the firewall, the range of the internal translator, the effort devoted to reflection, and the desire to increase one's scope all impact how much one learns.
Here are some of my whistlestops in the coming quarter. I'll be wearing the loud Hawaiian shirt. Please say hello.
KMWorld & Intranets 2003
October 14-16, 2003
Santa Clara Convention Center
Santa Clara, California
October 24, 2003
University of California
November 2-5, 2003
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Lake Buena Vista, Flawda
eLearning Producer 2003
November 11-14, 2003
San Francisco, California
ASTD TechKnowledge 2004
February 9-11, 2004
Seeking a kick-ass meeting room for 60-75 people for four hours in November to conduct monthly meeting of the eLearning Forum. A broadband Internet connection would be nice to have. Rewards are prestige, honor, free admission to event, recognition on our website, and our enduring thanks. Email me.
Tacit emergence, by David Weinberger
The most important tacit knowledge isn't simply explicit knowledge that hasn't yet been uttered. Humans aren't databases just waiting for the right queries to be run. The tacit knowledge that lets a senior technician diagnose problems faster and more accurately than others, or the tacit knowledge that lets a CFO see in 10 seconds why a proposed merger is unlikely to work, is emergent knowledge. It comes from a rich, confusing context of memories, heuristics and associations that the technician or the CFO may not be able to explain. In many cases, she or he will form a judgment incredibly quickly and only afterward will try to analyze why.
So, the attempt to make explicit the tacit knowledge in an organization may in fact be an attempt to short-circuit the chaotic process of emergence. But that's exactly what emergence doesn't allow. In such cases, a KM system can nourish the intelligence from which wisdom emerges but neither replace it nor make it explicit.
Oliver Sacks is amazing. I started riffing through the July 28 issue of The New Yorker while waiting for an appointment with my physician and landed on A Neurologist's Notebook, The Mind's Eye, What the blind see. Sacks begins:
Soon, Sacks is asking philosophical questions:
Sacks fills the next eight pages with inquiries and stories about how the blind construct reality. The answer? In wildly different forms. Some become hypervisual, others go into "deep blindness," with no images at all. Not only that, the same is true of sighted people. Finally, Sacks concludes that answers are illusive.
And I sometimes end up a reefer myself when I contemplate the nature of learning. (Learning is simply adding to one's thinking, isn't it?)
At this level, one can no longer say of one's mental landscapes what is visual, what is auditory, what is image, what is language, what is intellectual, what is emotional -- they are all fused together and imbued with our own individual perspectives and values.
This echoes in my memory, for I've been jotting down "There is no theory of everything for learning" in my journals for the last few weeks without being able to take it much further. In learning, as in physics, everything is relative; every layer you peel off the onion reveals another onion. The closest we get to explanations is a set of probablities, tiny things whose existence is uncertain, and fever dreams about string and infinity.
Well, of course there are accidents. Aren't there?
The same issue of New Yorker concludes with a piece, "Strung Out," by Woody Allen. Woody writes:
The latest miracle of physics is string theory, which has been heralded as a T.O.E., or "Theory of Everything."
Woody and I are in sync.
The concept that there's no Theory of Everything is liberating because it enables one to talk about the pieces without referencing the whole. It chucks the absolutes out the windown. It defeats extremism. It replaces this:
and, as Martha used to say, "It's a good thing."
Shikshantar has a provocative site I look forward to exploring. Example:
I love the fact that this is coming out of Udaipur. The global brain at work.
My subconscious mind (AKA "the boys in the back room") has been working on new visions of what it means to learn, a follow-on to my posting several months back that it's productive to look at learning as optimizing the connections of one's neural network (wetware).
The big ah-ha, which I attribute to the heretofore unhearalded hallucinogenic properties of summer truffles, is the important role of ambiguity in learning. Give me chunks of the story, somewhat fuzzy in meaning, and I can weave them into the internal narrative of my conscious thoughts. By contrast, give me unmalleable, absolute information, and unless my wetware is perfectly attuned to it, I may have a tough time accepting it into my worldview.
Oliver Willis writes:
What seems to have happened is that the fundraising success of the Howard Dean campaign has become the blog equivalent of the Netscape IPO. That public offering opened the floodgates to thousands of unprofitable companies and created the stock market bubble that was great for some, but probably set the web industry back a few years after people realized it was not The Answer to all their problems. That cycle appears to be happening with blogs now. During the BloggerCon conference it would be easy to go home thinking that any problem of note in the world could be remedied by a simple addition of "blog" to it.
I'm not ready to drink the Kool-Aid just yet.
During one of the Saturday sessions a member of the audience referred to the assembled crowd as "utopia". Now, yes, I loved the blog camaraderie but quite frankly I don't want to be the only black person in utopia. I was the only black person in that room, and was one of a few minorities. I'm not whining about that, but simply stating the fact that a technology that is mostly the pursuit of upper middle class white males does diddly to change the real world. I'm a geek through-and-thorough but when I hear tooth gnashing about issues like copyright as if they were the most important issue in the world - it tells me that the blog world is somewhat out of touch.
Again, it is quite similar to the web bubble. For a while when you were inside the industry (as I was) it would be easy to think: everybody is doing this. When the truth of the matter is that they weren't and they aren't. The vast majority of Americans are not online, and even those that are online only a small portion of them are reading blogs, and an even smaller amount are reading politically oriented blogs. That small percentage does tend to be quite influential (particularly if they're a part of the media) but it is our duty as bloggers to understand that we aren't exactly changing the world yet.
That came out in the campaign bloggers panel where people like Dave Winer hammered the candidates for not plugging the money they raised online back into the web. What we are forgetting is that the web has yet to elect anyone. The reason we have campaigns are that candidates meet and greet the people they want to vote for them, and those they can't meet they "see" in tv ads. The overwhelming majority of Americans will pick their next president between two men they see on television and not someone they saw on the web much less a blog. We have to keep perspective.
Blogs are transformative tools, they're doing amazing things and they are enabling wonderful advances. On a personal level, if it weren't for blogs I wouldn't have improved as a writer (debatable, I guess) and there is certainly no way little old me would have made it on the front page of the Boston Globe. That's great for me on a personal level, but it ain't changing the world.
Dave Winer writes of the Rule of Win-Win:
The Rule of Win-Win says that by choosing to participate in the Web, I can promote my own interests, but I must acknowledge the existence of others and their interests. I don't sacrifice the truth in furthering my cause. In fact, if you accept the Rule of Win-Win, the truth is your first cause, it comes before all others.
In a sense, if you belong to the Win-Win club, you're a sales rep for my stock. When I meet with someone whose feed I want, you get it too. So when I win, you win. When my stock goes up, so does yours. Our interests are aligned.
The purpose of the rule is to create trust and then build on it. I first wrote about this in Que Sera Sera, in 1996: "Nothing will be announced unless it can be shown that someone else will win because of what you're doing. How much happier we would be if instead of crippling each other with fear, we competed to empower each others' creativity.
On The Rule of Links, Dave writes:
I wonder if this will become a trend for community building: attendees were invited to post their name, website, institution, and RSS feed, and most of them did. Talk about networking possibilities! Wow!
Blogroll for BloggerCon
Last update: 10/9/2003; 12:14:15 PM Eastern.
Huh. List truncated by Movable Type. I didn't realize entries have a built-in limit on how much text you can stuff into them.
October 07, 2003
Free Webinar Tomorrow
Wednesday, October 8, 2003
2:00 pm Eastern/11:00 am Pacific
Jay Cross & Lance Dublin on