November 28, 2003

Books for ID Team

A reader asks:

    Hi Jay,

    I'm looking for a mix of books for my ID team, which comprises junior learning designers and more senior folk such as myself. I'm interested in the learning design/learning model side rather than the technical side. Currently, I'm not too interested in books dealing with companies implementing e-learning strategy (I have some of these already). To give you some ideas, I'm already considering:

      New e-learning approaches (ish) - for me to learn more

      Sims and the future of e-learning - Clark Aldrich

      Digital game based learning - Marc Prensky

      More standard texts for junior staff
      E-learning and the science of instruction - Ruth Clark
      Michael Allen's guide to e-learning
      (n.b. especially the CD of sample programs)

You've made some excellent choices right off the bat. I like all of these.

I probably wouldn't turn to books since the web has such good stuff, e.g. Boxes and Arrows, eLearningPost, old LineZine articles, Big Dog for background, First Monday, MIT Future of Learning Group, Learning Circuits, George Siemens, CIO, HBR, the Learning FAQs, Stephen Downes' pointers, and my own Internet Time. Links to most of these are on my eLearning Jump page. The web is currently the only place to read and/or order information about Workflow Learning.

Of course, it's presumptuous of me to recommend books for people whose background and job responsibilties I know not, so I'll simply list books that have introduced useful frameworks and ideas into my thinking.

    The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid

    Blur by Stan Davis and Chris Meyer

    Future Perfect by Stan Davis

    The Future of Knowledge by Verna Allee

    The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

    Things That Make Us Smart by Don Norman

    Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie

    The Springboard by Stephen Denning

    Don't Shoot the Dog! by Karen Pryor

    Serious Play by Michael Schrage

    Visual Language by Robert Horn

    Information Architecture by Louis Rosenfeld & Peter Morville

    The Inmates are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper

    Emotional Intelligence or anything related by Daniel Goleman

    Education and Ecstacy by George Leonard

    Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

    Designing World-Class Learning or something similar by Roger Schank

    What Every Manager Should Know About Training by Robert Mager

    Living on the Fault Line by Geoff Moore

    Performance Consulting: Moving Beyond Training
    by Dana Gaines Robinson, James C. Robinson

    What Mangement Is by Joan Magretta and Nan Stone

    The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization by Thomas A. Stewart

    Intellectual Capital by Thomas A. Stewart

    No Significant Difference by Thomas L. Russell

    Information Anxiety by Richard Saul Wurman

    The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte

    Mindfulness by Elizabeth Langer

    Mindful Learning by Elizabeth Langer

    The Cluetrain Manifesto by Chris Locke, David Weinberger et alia

    any three by Peter Drucker

    The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes

    Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug

    Architect for Learning: Using the Internet as an Efffective Educational Environment by Philip J. Palin and Kari Sanhaas

I believe in wringing the ideas out of books. After I jotted down this list, mainly by touring my bookcases, I realized that I've talked or corresponded with more than half of these authors. Not that we're pals. Simply exchanging a few sentences with someone seems to plant their lessons more firmly in my head.

I also highlight books with yellow markers (I prefer the lemon-scented ones) and make marginal notes as I read along. Soon after finishing a book, I generally write a synopsis of what I want to retain. (You'll find reviews of most of the books on the list at ).

Most designers would probably better spend their time learning about the business they are in than finetuning their design skills through reading. For many years, I worked with financial services training. I read American Banker every day. I read Mayer's books on banking. I read every page of the Bank Analyst's Handbook. I read banking magazines. I talked with bankers about their concerns. The greatest designers in the world won't have credibility, or understanding, if they don't know the territory.

What books have you found essential?

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:14 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

John Patrick on Blogs

John Patrick on Weblogs
Contagious Media
By Marcia Stepanek, CIO Insight
November 25, 2003 in eWeek

Blogs in business.

    "John Patrick is president of Attitude LLC and former vice president of Internet technology at IBM, where he worked for 34 years. During his IBM career, Patrick helped start IBM's leasing business at IBM Credit Corporation, and was senior marketing executive during the launch of the IBM ThinkPad. Starting in the early 1990s, Patrick dedicated his time to fostering Internet technologies. One of the leading Internet visionaries, Patrick is quoted frequently in the global media and speaks at dozens of conferences around the world."

Credible guy. Probably more credible than you, dear reader.

    "Knowledge management wasn't overhyped," says Patrick, in an interview with CIO Insight Executive Editor Marcia Stepanek. "It was underdelivered. Blogs can potentially deliver the grassroots discussions and knowledge-sharing that top-down, corporate-sponsored efforts never could."

So true. KM is like some cat-Lazarus who keeps arising from the dead over and over...

    John Patrick: I think this blog phenomenon is one of those things that comes along every decade or so and gets completely underestimated by just about everybody. It's very much like what's going on with Wi-Fi now, and very much what happened with the Web ten years ago. Blogs are a whole new Internet channel, yet another example of how the Internet has made it possible for new ideas to come along and change the status quo. I think a lot of times people see something come along and they say, "What's the big deal? We had that in 1972,"—like knowledge management or artificial intelligence. When instant messaging started, a lot of people said, "oh, this is no biggie. We had this on the mainframe in the 1960s." It's true—we did. But what makes IM different is that now we have the Internet—the widespread sharing of information. That allows for collaboration, it allows for a global effort. So it spawns many more ideas, it allows a new thought to take off like wildfire.

    Why is this a big deal for business?

    There is no question in my mind that blogging is already beginning to reshape how information is created, published and shared. Blogs have the power to introduce new voices into the mix, which will enrich the quality of information available. Voices not necessarily heard before, thanks to limitations of money, access or hierarchy—you're not the CEO, you're just a guy with a big idea—now you can bridge those gaps.

I've been pushing the concept of blogging for almost as long as blogging has been around. My track-record at identifying the next big thing but failing to make a dime off of it goes back twenty years. I've been a raving champion of personal computing, online community, the net, the web, AOL before it was AOL, Cisco when you could count the staff on your toes, eCommerce, instant messaging in corporations, web cams, and more recently informal learning, workflow learning, contextual collaboration, and blogging.

It will morph into different formats and smart syndication will become prevalent, but trust me on this: blogs are going to be a driving force in business.

Posted by Jay Cross at 07:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 27, 2003

W4 k-collector

A very cool tool that aggregates RSS feeds and parses them into categories. Roland Tanglao explains:

    Organisations do not only move thanks to the efforts of individuals working for them but also because they are acted upon by external forces. Most often markets, competitors, customers and government bodies. The better an organisation can understand and predict these external forces, the more chance it has of achieving it's goals.

    This is where RSS aggregators help, and where K-collector, which is a topics-based RSS aggregator, can make the difference.

    K-Collector is a server based RSS aggregator that automatically builds an onthology of posts organised by topics which are defined by the users. The topics as markers for points of interest around which K-Collector can cluster information. In particular it can be used to filter and categorize content coming via RSS from newspapers, magazines, web sites, weblogs, email, data bases and other sources.

    Besides, being tightly connected to a weblogging environment, the K-collector aggregator allows an organisation to leverage the most powerful information filter available: ourselves. Each of us has developed the skill to quickly detect relevant knwoledge in the huge flow of information that we receive every day. By using weblogs and aggregators, each person can contribute by highlighting this knowledge and share it instantly with others.

    This allow the organisation to be aware of the surrounding world and to take timely action when needed.

W4 k-collector would let me pick the concepts I want to follow, giving me a personalized news board.

It's easier just to experience W4 than to read a description of it.

(thx to Stephen Downes for the link)

Another cool thing: a Reverse Dictionary. Start with a definition, get a word.

And an IMRC - Information Management Glossary

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Rebecca Stromeyer tells me this will be the biggest Online Educa to-date, with 1500 delegates from 66 countries when it kicks off next week in Berlin.

If you're in Mitteleuropa, you can still register. Unfortunately, I'm going to miss Online Educa this year, after thoroughly enjoying the mix of academics and corporate types in 2001 and 2002.

Christmas Markt on the Ku'Damm in 2001

The toy department at KaDeWe

The Brandenburg Gate last year

Posted by Jay Cross at 06:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MT Errors

A third of the time I post something, I get an error on the outgoing ping, for example:

    Ping '' failed: HTTP error: 500 read timeout

Am I alone in this? Is there a way to fix it?

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Serendipitous learning

The Japanese maples are the only trees showing fall colors in this speck of Mediterranean climate on the shores of San Francisco Bay. Our weather confuses the plants into blooming and shedding leaves one species at a time. Transitions are slower here than environments with more extreme seasonal patterns.

It's Thanksgiving morning, the wind is blowing leaves from those Japanese maples around the yard, and somewhere down below in the People's Republic of Berkeley, students or aging hippies are probably protesting Puritan brutality toward Native Americans at the first Thanksgiving. The pesky Europeans never paid for what they got! Who's the savage, the generous host or the ungrateful interloper? But I digress....

After taking a few photographs of leaves to get my priorities straight, I set out to do some shotgun learning. No, I'm not going after the squirrels, raccoons, and skunks that live in the back yard. Rather, I'm hopping onto the net to sift through items in some favorite hangouts just to see what's out there today. It's more edgy and less predictable than reading the New York Times.

I opened Stephen's Edu_RSS Feed. After a few items in German (too early in the morning for that) I came to a link mentioning The Web: Design for Active Learning. "This handbook will present the idea of interactivity as it applies to a cohesive design including high interface, content, and instructional design." This took me to the Carving Code blog, and that linked me to George Siemens'eLearngspace blog. Eventually I got to the original article, a piece by Katy Campbell, who's with Academic Technologies for Learning at the University of Alberta.

I got lucky. The Web: Design for Active Learning turned out to be exactly the puzzle piece I needed to add to my growing framework for Instructional Artistry.

You've heard it said that "You make your own luck." It's related to "Fortune favors the bold," Virgil's maxim that you've got to try hard to get anywhere. My pathway down the web was not entirely random, even though the result was unexpected.

For years I've maintained a list of links to favorite hangouts, the eLearning Jump Page. Stephen's Edu_RSS heads the list of Top eLearning Reference Sources. Stephen and I have met. We often read one another's work. I haven't met the author of Carving Code F2F, but I respect what I've read there in the past. I've been tracking George Siemens' work since his blog first appeared. George has addressed the eLearning Forum via Interwise. I'm delighted with the interview with me that George posted this time last year.

We who share our thoughts online, driven more by personal interest than commercial reward, are a loosely-knit Community of Practice. People ask where I find the time to blog. I explain that this is the way I think. It doesn't take much extra time to divert a few sentences into blog. That trail of words and images becomes a lure to people on paths that parallel mine.

I'm thankful to have a medium for starting conversations on things that interest me.

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 26, 2003

Berkeley Dinner with Dave Winer


Thirty of us joined Dave Winer this evening at the King Tsin restaurant on Solano at the Albany/Berkeley border for feast and conversation. We filled four tables. I talked with a couple of people who didn't know who Dave is!

Unlike the Chinese dinner event in Palo Alto a few months back, where everybody had a camera, I seemed to be the only one taking photos and rudely flashing at people as they ate. In the great majority of my shots, everyone has their eyes closed.

Dave's M.O. at these dinners is to start a new table when the one he's at fills up. This keeps the group from feeling like there are tables for adults and tables for children. Unfortunately, given this game of musical chairs, I didn't get to speak to Dave all evening. Next time I'll arrive late.

Mark & Chris contemplate the whole fish that arrived after we were stuffed.
These are both Scobelizers.

Sylvia pulled the group together.

Paul writes for Wired, among others.


Oh, boy, nothing like a big plate of broccoli for dessert.
← Tom Hunt, sys op and teacher at Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley, told our table that adolescents learning to program is parallel to their learning a foreign language. Do it early on and the student will speak fluently for life. Learn a language as an adult, and you end up sounding like Henry Kissinger. Tom believes that fluency in one programming language begets fluency in another. If schools were flexible (ha, ha, ha), wouldn't we map the curriculum to the plasticity of students' minds?

Yours truly. I told you we had our eyes closed.

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 25, 2003

Introducing the Workflow Learning Institute

Crashing wave logoWorkflow Learning Institute

Real-time enterprise learning

What is Workflow Learning™?

Enterprise software applications are converging into all-encompassing integrated systems. Their vendors are redefining learning as a core business process. IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Sun, SAP, Siebel, PeopleSoft, and others are incorporating contextual collaboration, learning management, workflow management, workforce analytics, personalization, and human capital management technology into their eBusiness suites. This creates a new form of learning technology that is individualized, immediate, workflow-driven, and contextual. We call it Workflow Learning™.

What is Workflow Learning Institute?

Sam Adkins and I believe Workflow Learning is the next big thing. It works. The payback is huge. We founded the Workflow Learning Institute to promote the understanding of this real-time, enterprise-wide learning in industry and government. We stay abreast of developments in Workflow Learning and distribute our findings in the form of research reports, articles, presentations, email updates, conferences, webinars, workshops, and consultations.

What do members receive?

Members receive the latest version of our ground-breaking report series, Workflow Learning: The Convergence of Learning and Web Services in the Enterprise. They also receive a combination to the Vault, a storehouse of articles, graphics, presentations, market intelligence, thought papers, and discussions on Workflow Learning. As new developments occur, members receive timely email alerts and interpretations.

To learn more:

1. Listen to Sam's presentation on Workflow Learning.

2. Sign up for Workflow Learning news. Subscribe Unsubscribe

3. Download free reports.

4. Drop by and bookmark the Workflow Learning Institute.

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Instructional Artistry

Most of the time, I read Maish Nichani's elearningpost for pointers to other people's stuff. Today I was impressed by his eloquence in describing his own learning at the BodyWorlds exhibit:

    But even with the explicit exhibits and the information cards, I would not have captured the entire essence of some exhibits if I did not happen to listen in to a doctor explaining the exhibits to his girlfriend. I found his explanations so interesting that I took his route and followed him till he became conscious of my omnipresence.

    Instruction and experience seem to take different routes in explaining. The informality of experience just seems to explain things a lot better, and at a higher plane too. We can call it the power of the narrative or it just could be that we humans (me at least) are hardwired to make sense of the informal. We are sense-making creatures and thus thrive on fuzzy conditions that force us to make sense of the situation. Maybe that's why we consider the formal to be mundane.

Maish's observation crystallizes an important factor in learning informally: fuzziness. This is akin to what lends a story impact -- enough left out that the listener's mind can create its own story, a joint effort of making meaning in a shared space. "I enjoyed the book more than the movie because the colors were better."

While old-school instructional design purists busy themselves with structuring learning, I seem to be working to dismember it. This lends new meaning to "back to the basics." Once again, the honest, friendly voice of The Cluetrain Manifesto trumps officialdom and hype.

Maybe it's time to counter the supposed efficiency of Human Performance Technology (HPT) with the effectiveness of informal learning head-on. ISPI describes HPT as "the systematic and systemic identification and removal of barriers to individual and organizational performance."

ISPI tells us to:

  • Be systematic in the assessment of the need or opportunity.
  • Be systematic in the analysis of the work and workplace to identify the cause or factors that limit performance.
  • Be systematic in the design of the solution or specification of the requirements of the solution.
  • Be systematic in the development of all or some of the solution and its elements.
  • Be systematic in the implementation of the solution.
  • Be systematic in the evaluation of the process and the results.

In my intellectual adolescence, I always took systematic to be a good thing. Now I have my doubts. The dictionary defines systematic as

    methodical; formed with regular connection and adaptation or subordination of parts to each other, and to the design of the whole; as, a systematic arrangement of plants or animals; a systematic course of study


    marked by thoroughness and regularity

Roget's entry on systematic lists "Arranged or proceeding in a set, systematized pattern: methodic, methodical, orderly, regular, systematical." Makes me think of McDonald's hamburgers.

If embracing HPT reduces design to things that are orderly and regular, I wouldn't embrace it. Nor would Edison, Galileo, Monet, Shakespeare, Bohr, Coltrane, Picasso, or Scott Adams.

Maish has kickstarted my thinking about replacing instructional design (which is really instructional engineering) with something entirely different: Instructional Artistry.

Posted by Jay Cross at 09:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 24, 2003

Time runs

The Race of the Time-Keepers, Elgin Ahead
Harper's Weekly, February 10 1872, Page 13

Note: A hundred and thirty-one years ago, time did not fly. It ran.

In other news, I just finished the first part of Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards.

I am going to take the plunge into compliant, semantic mark-up. If I do this right, you won't notice a thing except faster download of pages.

This feels like the right time to separate content and format for once and for all. I generate too many words to contemplate doing it later in life.

I used to do my HTML with Notepad. I've since done sites with HotDog, Fusion, HomeSite, ACEhtml, Cute HTML, and Dreamweaver 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and MX 2004. The most effective tech learning experience I've ever had was View/Source. See something I like? See how it's done. Do it. Marvellous. I'm afraid I'll be losing that with CSS stylesheets and so forth.

Today I had to look at some code from way back when. Geez. Line after line of superfluous cruft. So that nudged me into the revamping of all the content.

Of course, I'll consolidate and prune as I go along. If less is more, I don't have much of a site.

Posted by Jay Cross at 09:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Essential KM

Denham Grey has written a wonderful synopsis of lessons learned with knowledge management. He absolutely nails it. With no puffery. A must-read. Sample:

    We need to focus here!, is a common cry so please take your pick:, customer insights, solutions to common problems, mapping what we know, building yellowpages, inventory [intellectual, human, structural, customer] capital, building relationships, capturing product knowledge, monitoring competitors, mining transactions, capturing web behavior.

    Aha said the sage, what you need is balance, a bit here and some from there so: Start small, grab the low hanging fruits, avoid enterprise wide technology solutions, culture an ecology of communities, encourage an informal idea market, work on hiring profiles, start new web forums that cut across silos, play with language, cultivate the emergent activists, encourage boundary spanners, staunch the IC outflow through professional networks by listening to frustrations, always watch the outfield, make business intelligence & customer knowledge everyones job, listen to newbies, kill loosers fast......

    OK test yourself:

    * Do we really recognize and value knowledge creation (innovation)?
    * Do we reward learning (even when it comes from failure?)
    * Do we match quality talent with quality ideas even when they are not our own?
    * Do we cultivate relationships and show empathy for intellectual diversity?
    * Do we encourage deep dialog and creative abrasion
    * Can we discover, share and use key business rules?

Denham and I have yet to meet, but he's my primary source of KM wisdom. Go read the rest of his article; it's all precious.

Thanks, Maish, for pointing this one out.

From the "About Me" section of Denham's blog,

    Favorites: Verna Allee has written the top book on knowledge management IMO called 'Knowledge Evolution', while Marc Demarest holds my best spot for an article titled "Understanding Knowledge Management". My best link for learning is: New Conversations About Learning

Incidentally, Denham's "About Me" is the first resume page I've seen that doesn't list its subject's name. Extreme modesty?

Posted by Jay Cross at 08:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2003

EdBlogger reflections

I spent five or six hours today at O.J. Simpson's alma mater, Galileo High School in San Francisco, taking part in the first EdBlogger conference. Half the crowd was blogging the event live and chatting online and sometimes just reading their email.

I was the lone corporate guy (or maybe one of only two) amid a crowd of 40 ed bloggers. Just about everyone else had a cute little Apple laptop in front of them.

A few of the things that caught my ear:

    Learning objects. (This is a sentence; read objects as a verb.)

    Relationships are tough to put in a repository.

    The RIAA gets in the way of spontaneous access.

    What's the defining characteristics of a blog? New stuff on top, according to some.

    The atomic unit of a site is the page; the atomic unit of a blog is the posting; the atomic unit of a wiki is a change.

    More easily recognized in the schools than in business: phobia about writing in public.

    One participant introduced himself as "sys admin and principal."

Patrick Delaney, host & ringmaster

My BOF (birds of a feather) session drifted into talk about Wikis:

    The social context makes it or breaks it.

    Wikis first dealt with a project on pattern langauge in software. Many entries argued a position: "This is how it should be." The Wiki-words (links) were nouns. I wonder what a verb-word only Wiki would look like.

    Most Wikis are short-lived. The passion dies.

    "Wiki gardeners" tidy up unruly entries.

    (Jay:) Participants rarely seem to violate the trust implicit in giving them control over making/changing entries.

(Jay:) To encourage comments on ed-blogs, shouldn't commentary be graded?

The BOF continued down to Ghiradelli, with lunch at McCormick & Kuleto's. It was a beautiful day.

    Blog fodder -- ask five questions, show everyone's responses.

    Web culture in conflict with community-controlled school culture.

    What nurtures blogging? (1) Repression (So Polish girls blog about sex; boys in Iran talk politics.) and (2) No street life (As in frigid Finland or blazingly hot Sinapore).

    Social engineering, a future problem. One fellow's son receives spoofed messages from "teacher." Justin Hall's tales of sexual awakening -- without forewarning his partners -- could grow.

    Freedom. Not clear about student blogs and politics.

Dan Mitchell & Will Richardson

Back at Galileo, memes from panels:

    The Browser metaphor reinforces the concept of passive consumption.

    If blogs are digital paper in a binder, Wikis are erasable white boards.

    One great aspect of blogs is that you can review things that are still works in program.

    IT is so primitive now. Imagine if you had to call the Help Desk to use the toilet. Whoops, we have a toilet paper read error. Let me put you on hold....

Will RIchardson

Tim Lauer

Karen Claxton

Chris Kelly & Paul Allison

Phil Wolf

Posted by Jay Cross at 05:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2003

Learning works

A posting to Learning Circuits Blog last week stated that "Training doesn't work. Knowledge Management doesn't work. eLearning doesn't work."

Nonetheless, learning works. Workers in some organizations are learning to perform complex tasks in record time. If traditional training and KM and eLearning don't work, what do we call it when learning works? And who's in charge of that?

At eLearning Producer in San Francisco, Deloitte & Touche presented Creating an Integrated Blended Environment using Simulations, Coaching and Teamwork. Their challenge was to get 6,000 professionals up and running, individually and as teams, on a "methodology," i.e. procedures for a consulting engagement. Deloitte decided early on that the learning context would model the work context, involving teams, performance risks, peer interaction, and mentors. They gave a demo; it was quite engaging.

A primary element of the learning experience was a simulation of a project that was punctuated with decisions to make. After an introduction, all learning was learning by doing. Upon completion, the learners had experience applying the methodology, working with their team, using support services and help lines, and figuring out the best way to get the job done.

Notice that what's working for Deloitte bears scant resemblance to the standard definitions of eLearning. There's no course. You don't need an LMS. You learn with others. The boundary between learning and work is blurred. Deloitte hasn't developed a "program;" they call it an "environment."

In another eLearning Producer session, my friend Marc Rosenberg pointed out that we're learning all the time, not just in a classroom. Learning is formal and informal, explicit and tacit, trial and error, doing and observing, guided and unguided. Our sources are courses, instuctors, the web, experts, books, documents, friends, newspapers, and so on and so on. Sometimes it's appropriate to go after learning; other times it's better for learning to come to us. If you know where to find an answer, you may not need to learn it at all. Success comes from applying the right tools in the right proportions to accomplish the goal.

While Marc was making his eLearning Producer presentation, Conrad Gottfredson was in the next room, making much the same point. He bought a book in London, Learn Scuba Diving in a Weekend. Clearly a mismatch of medium and message. Rather than decry the weaknesses of eLearning, we must compensate for them so that the learning that needs to take place does take place. The toolkit must contain more than "class" and "online." As designers, we must match the learning modality (including animation, video, collaboration, e-labs, telephone, on-job coaching and the like) to the human requirements (rapport, perception, inspiration, prescription and so forth).

You've probably read my thoughts on this before. Give an instructional designer an eLearning hammer, and every analysis points to the need for more eLearning nails.

The new learning embraces such things as:

  • communities of practice
  • active collaboration
  • embedded support
  • simulation
  • informal learning
  • story-telling
  • dynamic portals
  • expert locators
  • social network analysis
  • learning on demand
  • give and take
  • learner control
  • co-creation
  • workflow integration
  • search
  • help desks
  • spontaneity, emergence
  • outsourced mentoring
  • games
  • keeping up
  • personal knowledge management

At the November eLearning Forum, we grappled with what to call ourselves. If eLearning doesn't embrace the items on the above list, we've got to dump the term. So what do we call ourselves? The Learning Forum is not compelling. Someone suggested the Distributed Learning Forum but many things on the list don't have to be distributed.

The Transformation Forum, The Community of Change, The Human Side of Enterprise, The Emergent Learning Network, The Know-How Group?
Part of the dilemma is that the basket of tools and techniques above has no home on the typical business organization structure. Responsibility shared by all forfeits responsibility by any. The effectiveness of our people is too important to hand over to the training department and too humanistic to give to the CIO. The chief learning officer was supposed to tackle this, but CLO has been much more successful as a magazine title than as a position with clout in organizations.

Help me out here.

What business are we in?

Posted by Jay Cross at 10:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 21, 2003


It's late. I should be in bed. But this simply cracked me up> EDS: Running with the Squirrels. Things have apparently changed since the days when Ross Perot was calling the shots.

Perhaps I'm easily amused this evening, but this quote from Michael Schrage also brought a smile to my face:

    "I think "knowledge management" is a bullshit issue. Let me tell you why. I can give you perfect information, I can give you perfect knowledge and it won't change your behaviour one iota. People choose not to change their behaviour because the culture and the imperatives of the organisation make it too difficult to act upon the knowledge. Knowledge is not the power. Power is power. The ability to act on knowledge is power. Most people in most organisations do not have the ability to act on the knowledge they possess. End of story."

More of the same

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:09 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 20, 2003

Stolen but unfinished

    Prodded by Maish's eLearningpost, this evening I re-read John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid's wonderful article, Stolen Knowledge. More than ten years old now, yet people are still absorbing the message. I gained new insights from my return visit.
      ... the best way to support learning is from the demand side rather than the supply side. That is, rather than deciding ahead of time what a learner needs to know and making this explicitly available to the exclusion of everything else, designers and instructors need to make available as much as possible of the whole rich web of practice-explicit and implicit-allowing the learner to call upon aspects of practice, latent in the periphery, as they are needed.

    The "Work in Progress" label atop this classic is wonderful. It's so honest. Nothing is ever anything but a work in progress, is it? Only religions and cranks lay claim to ultimate truth. A work in progress allows the reader to engage the content, knowing that he or she has the opportunity to take the work further. That's what engagement is all about.

    Posted by Jay Cross at 11:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 2003 eLearning Forum

This is an interim report on the November meeting of eLearning Forum. Our webmaster and CTO is busy building simulations for a client so I'm sharing some of the proceedings for those of you who are curious about what went on. Altus Corp recorded lots of the session; in a while you'll be able to listen in on your iPod.

We met at the Silicon Valley World Internet Center, which is housed in Leland Stanford's former winery. The Center is a warm, inviting space -- perfect for the think tank sessions that are held there and the eLearning Forum's session on where we're headed in the future.

The overarching theme of our first afternoon meeting was June 2005. What do we see up ahead? There are three aspects to this, and hence three parts to our session.

  • eLearning. What are the major trends in eLearning? What should be the scope of eLearning? We began wrapping our minds around the state of eLearning 18 months from now. Four members of the Forum led 15-minute, concurrent breakout sessions, which we repeated twice. Then we regrouped to discuss what had popped up on our radar.
  • eLeanring Forum. What should we be? How much should we grapple with? Alison Armstrong highlighted strategic issues the Board has been discussing. We encouraged members to pass along their thoughts to eLearning Forum's directors to be addressed at the next session.
  • Each of us. Where do each of us want to be 18 months out? What are our passions? Network with others to make connections to take us forward.

I'll continue this in the Continue... section for the benefit of the bandwidth-impaired.

Jay and World Internet Center CEO Susan Duggan

(Click for fullsize image)

Kevin Wheeler

Global Learning Resources

Clark Quinn

Ottersuft Labs

Soren Kaplan


Michael Carter

Jay Cross

Internet Time Group

What are the boundaries of what we seek to do?

Alison Armstrong

eLF Board

Should we drop "eLearning" from our name? Should we double in size? Provide more online activities? What do you think?

Richard Clark, Next Question


Simulation rules.
Replicable processes.
Informal learning.
Network effects.
Cost/benefit choices.
In vino veritas.

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eLearning in survival mode

Repositioning eLearning

On the first day of eLearning Guild's eLearning Producer conference, Damien Faughan, Charles Schwab's Director of Infrastructure & Technology, gave a presentation on eLearning in the Post 'New Economy' Business Climate: How to Successfully Re-position eLearning.

Most people who make presentations describe a world without flaws. Everything works, everyone's simpatico, it's smooth sailing, objectives are met, and the boss is happy. Back in the real world, we've endured a lengthy recession, layoffs, disenchantment with anything, and retrenching. Damien Faughan is the first person I've heard tell the truth about what should happen to eLearning in an economic downturn. I'm a Schwab customer and I respect them even more because they have folks like this fellow who faces reality and makes good decisions in response to a rapidly changing business climate.

What to do with eLearning when the economy heads south

Damien spoke about the preoccupation with 'cool' technology that puts coolness ahead of business benefits.  This "technolust" has manifested itself in the appearance of every kind of eLearning product -- few of which really served a real business purpose.  At the end of the day, all learning needs to be strategic and transformational, learner-centered and focused on contributing to the business.

Lessons Learned

What differentiated this presentation was the candor with which presenter extracted lessons learned from real life.  Learning professionals need to think like business people when business conditions change.  We can't remain married to learning solutions when business environment changes.    

Among the lessons:

  • Compulsory eLearning (Financial Services is heavily regulated) works but not without intervention -- so you have to create a lot more "instructional hooks" and a robust LMS.
  • Open catalogs of generic courses will bomb, consistent with ASTD research; very few eligible employees sign up for open catalog offerings (the exception being technology employees)
  • When eLearning courses are elective, drop-out rates are high.
  • Workers ask for classes and don't always see online learning as a preferred learning medium (i.e. there's a gap between what learners want and what they get).  We have to help learners understand how they learn.


Many things have changed:

  • Consolidation.  Business units can no longer afford to replicate corporate wide learning offerings -- it's too expensive, it's disconnected and ultimately confuses the learner when each business unit has its own brand.
  • Blended learning is the way to go.  Standalone eLearning products are too risky.
  • Even in a large company, one LMS should be sufficient -- it's rare that a business unit has a specific learning need that requires a LMS!  Many large companies have consolidated LMS's as the technology has matured.
  • The Corporate University is not very effective for business learning in an eLearning world.  Adult learning requires a more robust paradigm.
  • Learning needs to be transparen - i.e. not dependent on an organization or an activity, but a process built into many different systems and environments.
  • LCMS technology is still primitive. RLOs require a really sophisticated training organization. Usually they don't work. Having purchased and installed an LCMS it's authoring rules proved way too complex to ever support rapid instructional design and development.
  • Last year Damien went home from eLearning Guild event a zealot for Reusable Learning Objects. After two-three months, most of the zeal evaporated as the reality hit home: (1) RLO's is a difficult concept to sell (b) complex object models can really slow development and (c) the technology is not available to really support this work.  So, RLO's are simply not worth the time/effort.
  • In development, less 'design' and more templates. Templates are the way to go--but may make creative design talent feel underutilized.

Executive management should be engaged as sponsors of learning initiatives. They need to understand the role of learning and the appropriate use of various learning modalities. One of the ways this is accomplished is to create a Learning & Development Committee or a Curriculum Council comprised of executives who review and sponsors each new initiative.

A new vision

The learning/eLearning function must focus on:

  • Facilitating learning
  • Leveraging business connections
  • Being strategic (transformational)
  • Understanding the business and the appetite for different learning modalities
  • Connecting eLearning and performance
  • Working with HR
  • Marrying eLearning to innovation
  • Articulating the relationship between business drivers and learning products/offerings

In the past, T&D employees needed to be able to deliver stand-up classes, manage vendors, design, assess & evaluate. The new vision requires new skills, such as:

  • Business analysis
  • Relationship management
  • Writing and information design
  • Content development
  • Managing high-profile business sponsors
  • Outsourcing management
  • Change management

 Recap of How/What to Reposition

  • Involve senior business leaders
  • Focus on strategic/transformational products
  • Be clear about business drivers
  • Focus on blended solutions
  • Dump poor solutions (LCMS, catalogs, etc)
  • Reinforce the link with performance
  • Build your advocate network (e.g. HR, etc)
  • Review and upgrade skillsets
  • Forget about confusing ROI models
  • Implement standards where they make sense
Posted by Jay Cross at 12:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2003

Digital library night

Last Sunday I made my way down to the Hillside Club on Cedar for Berkeley Cybersalon: Libraries and the Future. I had no idea what I was getting into but figured it had to be better than TV. Besides, I don't get out enough.

Daniel Greenstein, president, the California Digital Libraries Initiative, explained the economics of research publications; it's not a pretty picture. Since '86, inflation has risen 75%; the fee for research journals is up 400%. A majority of the pubs are sold in "baskets" by commercial publishers. Changing things will involve faculty shunning the price-gougers. This is the same argument corporate training managers face. Vendors want to sell the whole store; customers want only what they want.

Anne Lipow, director of the Library Solutions Institute, is concerned about the human element in research libraries. Research librarians are often idle, awaiting patrons' queries. They can point people to the best sources, save time, and improve the quality of research. Where do librarians fit n the digital world? This, too, has a direct analogy in the training world. There the question is, "What happens to the instructors?" The answer is that some of them before facilitators, guides, coaches, and organizers, both online and in the real world. In the Information Age, surely there's a role for librarians -- so long as they don't refuse to budge from their comfort zone behind the counter.

Brewster Kahle, founder of The Internet Archive, was the real treat, an enthusiastic visionary. His goal is universal access to all knowledge, and he has plans on how to get there.

    • How much is there? 100 million titles (the Library of Congress has 26 million).
    • How can we access it? No matter where Brewster finds himself, he's always a one-day walk or less from an Internet cafe.
    • How to capture the info? It takes about 2 hours to scan a book. This doesn't cost much in India.
    • How to distribute the books? Vans outfitted with computers, scanners, etc., are printing books on demand in India, Egypt, Uganda.... Kids have 100,000 books to choose from. Production cost is $1/book. These are often the first book a kid ever owns.

Off line, Brewster described what it would take for universal access, Mind you, the Web is growing by a couple of terabytes a month. To capture the world's knowledge, Brewster sees the need for six locations with a petabyte of storage and gigabit/second access. Whew! Brewster is founder of the Internet Archive. See How the Wayback Machine Works. Before that, he came up with WAIS and Alexa.

Brewster is founder of the Internet Archive. See How the Wayback Machine Works. Before that, he came up with WAIS and Alexa.

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No means no.

Yahoo! was once respected on the Net. They just lost me for good. This arrived in today's email. It triggers that line that Doc mentioned last month, "What part of everything don't you understand?"

When you first registered with us and created your Yahoo! ID, our system presented a single "Yes" or "No" option for receiving all types of marketing communications. At some point you said "No," and after that we no longer sent any of these types of messages to you.

In March 2002, we began rolling out an updated marketing communications system. Instead of just a single "Yes" or "No" choice, we created a new Marketing Preferences page where you decide....

When this updated system was first announced in March 2002, we told you we'd begin sending you messages about Yahoo! products and services across all categories, even though you had said "No" to messages under the old single choice system. We also told you that you could still say "No" to these messages by visiting your Marketing Preferences. But we did not completely implement this change until now.

Starting January 1, 2004, Yahoo! will begin to send you messages, via email or postal mail, about our own products and services....

I guess they're looking out for me, giving me a default setting of "yes" to all this crap:
    These categories are for Yahoo! services only.
    New Yahoo! features and events. Yes  No
    Special offers, online sales, and shopping tips on Yahoo!. Yes  No
    Travel specials and exclusive deals. Yes  No
    Managing personal finances. Yes  No
    Entertainment, games, and sports. Yes  No
    Finding a job or an employee. Yes  No
    Meeting someone special or a new friend. Yes  No
    Staying in touch with friends and participating in online communities. Yes  No
    Managing my time and contacts. Yes  No
    Using Yahoo! for research and surfing the Web. Yes  No
    Building web sites for personal or professional use. Yes  No
    Ways to sell things on Yahoo!. Yes  No
    Tools for growing and managing a business. Yes  No

    See what you could be receiving. Check out some sample special offers from Yahoo!
Posted by Jay Cross at 06:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

EdBloggers D-2

Ed Blogger

Saturday & Sunday, November 22 - 23, in San Francisco

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

Whither eLearning?

The MASIE Center has just released:

Making Sense of Learning Specifications & Standards:
A Decision Maker's Guide to their Adoption

(2nd edition)

Eighty-two pages of cogent explanations, history, processes, and reference sources. This is one of those reference works, like a good dictionary, that you need at your fingertips for answering questions about standards you may be a little fuzzy on.

I do take issue with the report's "simple working definition of the term e-Learning" as:

    "learning or training that is prepared, delivered, or managed using a variety of learning technologies and which be deployed either locally or globally."

Isn't all learning or training is prepared, delivered, and managed using some learning technology? And deployed either locally or globally? By this definition, wouldn't the scrolls in the ancient library at Alexandria be eLearning?

At last night's eLearning Forum we talked about what we wanted to be known as. eLearning is divisive and carries too much bad baggage. We want to embrace KM, collaboration, simulation, and other things that don't fall neatly into the eLearning category. Our mission statement was projected on an erasable white board in the front of the room. Richard Clark walked up and crossed out the "e." I crossed out the "learning" and wrote in Doing. Someone suggested "Distributed Learning," but that doesn't capture it for me.

This is all sort of ho-hum compared to the response to Sam Adkin's post on Learning Circuits blog, We are the problem. We are selling Snake Oil. Sam begins by saying:

    I read these long tortuous posts bewailing the malaise of our educational systems. The problem is not "out there". We are the problem. We are selling snake oil. We now have ample data to show that:

    Training does not work.

    eLearning does not work.

    Blending Learning does not work.

    Knowledge Management does not work.

    Yet we collectively reify our denial and project the root of the problem out to an external institutional framework. We are the source of the problem because we are selling snake oil. It doesn't work but there is still plenty of money in it.

In a little over two days, thirty-five people have replied, generally with well-reasoned analyses. Is this the gunshot to kick off the new learning revolution?

My only comment thus far: You want to make an omelet, you break a few eggs.

Posted by Jay Cross at 11:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 18, 2003

What time is it?

World Timer Server

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November 17, 2003


eLearning Forum meets tomorrow afternoon at the Stanford Barn to talk about what's coming down in the next 18 months and what we plan to do about it. We've also put aside more than an hour for personal networking, lubricated with free-flowing two-buck Chuck.

I'm one of five concurrent opening acts. To put PowerPoint behind us, we asked Michael Carter, Soren Kaplan, Clark Quinn, and Kevin Wheeler to send in a single PowerPoint slide. We will blow these up to 3' x 2' at Kinko's and put on the equivalent of an academic poster session.

What talking points would you list if you were doing this?

Here are mine:

Click image for fullsize (50K) image

The fields I expect to be plowing 1½ years hence are the impact of web standards, contextual collaboration, and what to do about this nearly universal phenomenon:

Posted by Jay Cross at 01:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 13, 2003

Internet Time Outbound

(This is a letter to the Internet Time mailing list.)

It's been three months since the last issue of Internet Time Outbound. I'm better writing a daily blog than churning out a once-in-a-while newsletter. Nonetheless, I'll give you a brain-dump of some things that struck me as important this past quarter.

If you're not familiar with blogs, note that the first thing you see may be the tip of an iceberg. Click "Continue" for more.

Informal Learning. This is the low-hanging fruit of performance improvement. Think of it as "unauthorized learning." It can move mountains and it is dirt cheap. Vendors won't tell you much about it because they haven't figured out how to make money from informal learning. See this article in CLO or this white paper.

Blogs. Web-logs, or blogs, are finally catching on in business. Blogs are a new medium, both a very simple way to write and slap pictures on the web and a means of preserving and indexing thoughts and observations. A good blog is an online salon. Blogs are nodes in communities of practice. Third graders post their assignments on the web and are critiqued by their peers. I wish I'd been able to do that. The first Ed Blogger event starts in a couple of weeks in San Francisco.

Workflow Learning. Tomorrow we're throwing open the doors of the Workflow Learning Institute. I am convinced that the NEXT BIG THING in learning & performance is just around the corner. Workflow Learning rides on the back of web services; it's the real-time, on-demand learning that appears when it's needed. Sam Adkins and I are publishing research reports, setting up a subscription news service, and trying to get the word out through webinars, eLearning, and live events.

TechLearn. Earlier this month I returned to Disneyworld for my sixth TechLearn. I've blogged them all. Photos and antique observations are available from this page. This year's summary: (1) Let's get small. (2) Provide it when they need it. (3) Work = learning = work.

Webinars. It's fun to webcast to people all over the world while sipping one's own blend of coffee and surveying the redwoods in the backyard. Two or three hundred people attended my events this quarter, so I plan to continue them next year. I want to experiment. Today's webcasts resemble lectures, or infomercials; I would rather conduct a dialogue. Stay tuned.

La France. I had a wonderful time visiting friends in Southern France. photos For something a bit more zany, try the How Berkeley Can You Be parade or our week in Toronto

Richard Saul Wurman spoke at Online Learning this year. Memorable lines: "I'm not that smart but I'm incredibly curious. I love it. ? Users? I don't give a shit. I don't know what's in their heads. I only know what's in mine. I only write about what I understand." Were only all designers this honest.

    "I sell my desire to learn about things. That journey is what you take people on."

    Someone else's joke: I thought my brain was the most important organ in my body and then I thought, hey, look who's telling me that.

    Getting at perspective, Saul tells a Steve Wright joke: "Everything is in walking distance ... if you have enough time."

    It's one of the most important things we do, but no one receives training in how to converse. (A meta-learning observation.). By the way, the Meta-Learning Lab is seeking funding to develop a "black belt" facilitator program. We are out to fix the process, not the events.

Social Network Analysis is important. (Back to the informal learning thing.) I became a charter member of the Institute for Social Network Analysis of the Economy and talked with the professor who discovered the "strength of weak ties." The irony is that I have heard from the Institute since I gave them my dues. It's like the page at the Society for Organizational Learning site: "What We Do. Practice - - - This page is currently under construction." (And has been under construction for more than two years.)

In a webinar on personalization, I asked people to imagine a store that treated customers the way early eLearning treated learners. You bought an expensive item last week and come back into the store. No one acknowledges you or says hello. No one calls you by name. They've already forgotten you were here before. They have no memory of your purchase. There isn't much merchandise on the shelves and you're not allowed to try anything on before you buy it. We never follow up. You want a personal shopper? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. That's a good one. Is it any wonder people don't buy this stuff?


Jay Cross, Internet TIme Group, Berkeley, California

What's new with you? Send me an email or leave a comment below.
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November 12, 2003

eLearning Producer

Today I joined more than three hundred people at the Parc 55 Hotel in San Francisco for the first day of eLearning Guild's eLearning Producer. It was more than worth the time. Unlike the BS-laden events, David Holcombe and Heidi Fisk keep this event grounded in reality.

Will Thalheimer led a down-to-earth but eye-opening presentation on what works in eLearning. Properly applying spacing, repetition, and feedback can double eLearning's result and efficiency. (I'll fill in the details after I absorb more of the lessons -- and get some sleep.) Deloitte's Harold Cypress described the development and rollout of a simulation/coaching/teamwork situation to help thousands of professions learn complex methodologies. Damien Faughnan gave a cautionary tale of lessons learned at Charles Schwab.

Bill Horton and yours truly

Doug Upchurch, opening keynote

Will Thalheimer

Harold Cypress, Deloitte

Schwab's Damien Faughnan

Kit & Bill Horton, Patti Shank

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November 11, 2003

Simulations and the Future of Learning

Clark Aldrich has written a personal story about developing a new genre of leadership development program. He takes you along for the ride as he becomes disenchanted with eLearning, quits a prestige job to find a better way, surmounts numerous hurdles, and ends up with Virtual Leader, a product you can buy today. Unlike most books on learning, Clark's is well written and witty; it's fun to read.

"What would the world be like if eLearning truly worked?" If eLearning could bestow understanding and the ability to control things, the training organization would be more important than the lawyers. I'd be bragging about last night's learning experience.

Of course, eLearning has not lived up to its potential. It's mainly virtual classrooms and online workbooks. The lessons have been degraded to the lowest common denominators of bandwidth, packaging standards, and generality. eLearning is sometimes no more than the pre-reading in a "blended" solution.

There is an exception: the learning of people who must perform. Life or death. Soldiers, pilots, nuclear power plant workers, and Wall Street traders. They learn from simulation.

Clark posits three forms of content: linear (most of what we're exposed to), cyclical (hitting balls on the driving range), and open-ended (with multiple paths and outcomes).

He recounts the early days of eLearning from his perspective as the chief analyst in that space at Gartner. Vendors visit with dog-and-pony shows, some tripping themselves up irrevocably in the first ten minutes. Hundreds of companies and not one that was sufficiently compelling to inspire him. Or others. eLearning is to learning as fast food is to nutrition. It's all linear. It's crap.

Next Clark quits his secure, prestigious job at Gartner to create exemplary eLearning, the best-of-breed that the eLearning vendors never showed him. He?s out to build a 'concept car' that will guide the industry.

His chapter on "The Myth of Subject-Matter Experts" skewers leadership gurus mercilessly. They don't have the three forms of content. They don't have very deep models. They have anecdotes. They want a fortune to have their grad students cook something up. At a leisurely pace. If you're thinking about taking content from nationally-known authorities, read this chapter first.

After months of research, reflection, blind alleys, and enough tid-bits to cover the walls with Post-It Notes, Clark and his mates arrived at a model of leadership that had the ring of truth. Leadership is "Getting a group of people to complete the right work." This is great stuff.

I should know. Six years ago, my firm's EVP told me our clients needed a program on leadership. Could I come up with a model that could be the foundation of a workshop? Something compelling. (Worldwide, a million bankers had participated in our workshops. We considered ourselves the crème de la crème of bank training.)

I jumped on the project with gusto, reading Bennis, Kouzes, von Klausewitz, Peters, Drucker, my former professor John Kotter, and dozens of others. Eventually I boiled leadership down to a model of leadership and management accompanied by a page of bullet points.

I appreciate Clark's model and methods because they are so much better than what I came up with. Clark would call my results "linear," the ultimate slur. Clark's model is good enough to become a Harvard Business Review Classic.

About a third of the way in, the book totally changes direction. Clark takes us into the nitty-gritty of constructing the Virtual Leader simulation. We learn about principles of simulation, set design, character creation, animation, speech generation, control of movement, and magically making the cast autonomous, like Pinocchio turning into a real boy and wandering out of Gepetto's workshop. Some of this was fascinating but other parts of it read like Popular Science. The story from the first third of the book had turned into a how-to talk. This section was well crafted but it wasn't what I wanted to learn.

The final third addresses what happened when they flipped the on-switch, the futility of grades, why there aren't more simulations, and < a href="">what's wrong with schooling.

Summary: Almost all training is linear. The world is open-ended. This is why almost all training fails. Simulations are open-ended. They are expensive but they work. Simulations are the way of the future.

Many readers will enjoy this book: there's a lot of substance. But I don't expect many people will enjoy it thoroughly. You see, it's more like three books bound in a single cover. Even though it's pricey ($50 at Amazon), I'd buy the book for the first third alone. Only a fool would try to create a sim without reading the center section. Were I either buying or marketing simulations, I'd read the whole tome but the last third would ring my chimes the loudest.

Thanks for letting us ride shotgun, Clark.

Posted by Jay Cross at 09:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


An information and idea service
of VNU Business Media
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

    Online Learning News and Reviews has learned that the reader who recommended KnowledgeNet's products in the last issue of Online Learning News and Reviews ("Migrating to the Web," October 28, 2003) is actually the company?s field marketing manager. Therefore, the reader's recommendation may be biased.

FREE Webcasts of popular conference sessions from Training
magazine's Online Learning 2003 Conference and Expo, held
September 22 to 24 in Los Angeles, are now available online at .

Posted by Jay Cross at 09:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 09, 2003


Instructional | User Interface | Learning Objects | Graphic | Web | Information Architecture | Visual Thinking | Software | Industrial

I am a designer.

Design Principles for Clock of the Long Now (Hillis)

design is not merely an indicator of esthetic taste, but a social phenomenon that both mirrors and shapes how we think. Whereas objects of art reflect the personal vision of their makers, manufactured goods - which are designed to be salable and profitable - tend to embody more generalized beliefs about society, and so ''can cast ideas about who we are and how we should behave into permanent and tangible forms.'' Modern office equipment in ''bright colours and slightly humorous shapes,'' for instance, can help perpetuate the myth that office work is fun; just as modern, streamlined kitchen appliances can underline the contemporary faith in progress and technological salvation. SOURCE

design tradeoffs


IBM on Design

Tog's First Principles of Design

Color Blindness
Efficiency of User
Explorable Interfaces

Fitts's Law
Human-Interface Objects
Latency Reduction
Limit Tradeoffs

Protect the User's Work
Track State
Visible Interfaces

Living with Your Users by Marc Rettig. This is the way all major projects should be planned. Absolutely wonderful.

The Ferrari 355 F1 has a clutch but no clutch pedal. A computer changes gears, using data downloaded from Michael Schumacher's Formula One races. Floor it and you experience Michael's greatest hits -- shocking, slamming shifts that expand one's sense of the possible.

Design History in a Box

The Design Dimension, Product Strategy & The Challenge of Global Marketing, Christoper Lorenz, 1986

The designer's personal attributes and skills are:
  • imagination -- the ability to visualize in 3D
  • creativity -- a natural unwillingness to accept obvious solutions
  • communication -- in words & sketches
  • synthesis -- bringing it together into a coherent whole

Design & marketing -- united in the search for meaningful distinction

Shaker Design Guidelines
  • Industry: Do all your work as if you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow.
  • Honesty: Be what we seem to be; and seem to be what we really are; don't carry two faces.
  • Functionalism: That which in itself has the highest use possesses the greatest beauty.

Less is more.

Form follows function.

The one-size-fits-all approach to training ignores that people learn in fundamentally different ways. Most current training is highly discriminatory. Howard Gardiner

"The most outstanding design is that which is perfectly appropriate to what is trying to be accomplished."

"Design is one of the few tools that for every (dollar) you spend, you actually say something about your business." -- Raymond Turner, exec, BAA

"The designer's purpose is to stimulate curiosity, amusement and affection."

Achilli Castilgioni
Alessi, Art & Poetry

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Beautiful Things & Ugly Things

Design is in everything we make, but it's also between those things. It's a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda, and philosophy."
Erik Adigard

Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beautry to produce something that the world didn't know it was missing.
Paola Antonelli

Designer's Jumpola

The Psychology of Everyday Things
by Don Norman

keys to good design:

1. provide a good conceptual model

2. make things visible

3. good mapping

4. feedback

A reminder is (1) a signal and (2) a message.
(use different signals with different messages....)

why designers go astray:

1. aesthetics put first

2. they're not typical users

principles for design: 

1. use both knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head.

design model <-> system image <-> user's mode

"In the best of worlds, the manuals would be written first, then the design would follow the manual."

2. simplify the structure of tasks
Short term memory can't hold more than 5 (some say 7) unrelated items at once; the mitations of long term memory mean that info is better and more easily acquired fi it makes sense, if it can be integrated into some conceptual framework. moreover, retrieval from long term memory is apt to be slow and contain errors. limitations on attention are also severe.

provide mental aids.
use technology to make visible what would otherwise be invisible.
automate but keep the task much the same.
change the nature of the task
3. make things visible: bridge the gulfs of Execution and Evaluation

4. get the mappings right

Exploit natural mappings. make sure that the user can determine the relationships: between intentions and possible actions, between actions and their effects on the system, between actual system state and what is perceivable by sing/sound/feel, between the perceived system state and the needs, intentions and expectations of the users

5. exploit the power of constraints, both natural and artificial

6. design for error (Murphy's always there)

7. when all else fails, standardize

The nice thing about standardization is that no matter how arbitrary the standardized mechanism, it has to be learned only once. People can learn it and use it effectively.

Remember, standardization is essential only when all the necessary information cannot be placed in the world or when natural mappings cannot be exploited. The role of training and practice is to make the mappings and required actions more available to the user, overcoming any shortcomings in the design, minimizing the need for planning and problem solving.

Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context--a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.--Eliel Saarinen

Instructional design

Internet Time Group Methods of delivering eLearning

Time Capsule of Training and Learning from Big Dog
Product Development Process from Payback Training (now Avaltus)
Characteristics of a Complete eLearning System (Hambrecht)
Instructional Design and Learning Theory
Theory into Practice Database 50 theories relevant to learning and instruction

from the University of Denver School of Education: Theoretical Sources | Instructional Design Models
Instructional Design in Distance Education (IDDE) database of instructional theories and tactics to support the design of effective distance education

Training magazine's April 2000 issue had a wonderful article debunking the effectiveness of traditional instructional systems design (ISD). Why is ISD obsolete?

  • It's too slow and clumsy to meet today's training challenges.
  • There's no “there” there.
  • Used as directed, it produces bad solutions.
  • It clings to the wrong world view.

here's more on the subject...

Roger Shank's delightful Top Ten Mistakes in Education

The implications of the research literature on learning styles for the design of instructional material, Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 1999

source: Cisco

International Society for Performance Improvement
History of Instructional Design
Big Dog and Glossary
Yale Web Style Guide

Distributed Learning: Approaches, Technologies and Solutions
Lotus Institute (1996)

Fred Nichols

(This is why HPT won't work. It's Taylorism in new clothing.)

(It's a joke. Don't get bent out of shape.)

Remember: knowledge work must be configured not prefigured.

It is the day-to-day stuff of leading people, not of managing them or their work, that really affects productivity; it's the hand-holding, the encouraging, the going to bat for people, and the sharing of the hardships, the risk, the recognition, and the rewards that tempts people to contribute and sustains them as they strive for excellence. These leadership behaviors must themselves be configured not prefigured. In other words, conformity at the executive level is as deadly as compliance at the working level.

To sum it up, the era of compliance has ended, and with it has ended the dream of engineering individual human performance. The era of individual contribution has just begun and we don't even have a vocabulary suited to discuss the issue let alone formulate decisions and then carry them out.

Roger Schank interview with Cappuccino, Deloitte

Learning Objects

"Object-orientation highly values the creation of components (called "objects") that can be reused in multiple contexts. This is the fundamental idea: instructional designers can build small (relative to the size of an entire course) instructional components that can be reused a number of times in different learning contexts. Learning objects are generally understood to be digital entities deliverable over the Internet, meaning that any number of people can access and use them simultaneously (as opposed to traditional instructional media, such as an overhead or video tape, which can only exist in one place at a time). Moreover, those who incorporate learning objects can collaborate on and benefit immediately from new versions. These are significant differences between learning objects and other instructional media that have existed previously."

So states the online version of The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, a complete book on learning objects by David Wiley, David Merrill, Wayne Hodgins, and a host of others. Wiley: "Atoms, not Legos."

Cisco's Reusable Learning Object Strategy.

Objects of Interest, a nice intro

Terms like classes or courses don't capture the essence of personalized learning. I'm starting to think in terms of learning experiences. Here, between the section on instructional Design and User Interface Design, is the ideal spot to point out a really practical site, Good Experience.


1. Assess
2. Design
3. Develop
4. Instruct
5. Evaluate

Instructional Design grew up building courses. Courses are being supplanted by eLearning experiences. A new discipline is called for, Instructional Infrastructure Design. For most enterprises, you buy this from someone else. You can build your own from components, but often that's about as practical as assembling your own Chevy from bags of gadgets you buy at the auto parts store.


The Webby Awards for Education

Impact of different learning media

User Interface design

Human Computer (HCI) Interface Bibliography
Information Design
Nathan's Interaction Design Bibliography
Information Presentation for Rapid Knowledge Transfer
Review of Alan Cooper's The Inmates are Running the Asylum
Interface Design and Usability Engineering from Isys Information Architects provides great examples of what to do -- and what not to do -- in interface design.
Hans de Graaff's HCI Index, Jakob Nielsen's Recommended UI Books
Common Ground, a Pattern Language for HCI -- iffy, incomplete.

Personalization Consortium

Don Norman -- human-centered design

...major improvements in interface design are both profitable and moral — profitable because a good interface is cheaper to implement, is more productive, is easier to maintain, has lower training costs, and requires less customer support than a bad interface — moral because it brings smiles to the faces and erases furrows from the brows of users. One can do good and yet do well by rethinking interface design.

Jef Raskin, The Humane Interface

Future UI

"The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook" -- William James

Graphic Design

Edward Tufte Graphical excellence consists of complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision, and efficiency. Graphical excellence is that which gives the viewer the greatest number of ideas in the shortest time with the least ink in the smallest space. Avoid chartjunk! Burn USA Today. See also Tufte's reading list.

Patterns are a vocabulary for design. Christopher Alexander coined the term "Pattern Language" to emphasize his belief that people had an innate ability for design that paralleled their ability to speak. His book A Timeless Way Of Building defines a 'pattern' as a three part construct.

  • First comes the 'context'; under what conditions does this pattern hold.
  • Next are a 'system of forces'. In many ways it is natural to think of this as the 'problem' or 'goal'.
  • The third part is the 'solution'; a configuration that balances the system of forces or solves the problems presented.

    P.S. Christopher Alexander finally admits that he's not a designer. (His website demonstrates this well, as does the house directly across the street from mine.)

What is Contextual Design?

Explanation Graphics, Nigel Holmes

The Master

Charles Eames: the intersection that maintains the designer's enthusiasm.

Charles and Ray achieved their monumental success by approaching each project the same way: Does it interest and intrigue us? Can we make it better? Will we have "serious fun" doing it?

They loved their work, which was a combination of art and science, design and architecture, process and product, style and function.

"The details are not details," said Charles. "They make the product." A problem-solver who encouraged experimentation among his staff, Charles once said his dream was "to have people working on useless projects. These have the germ of new concepts." from Charles and Ray Eames

Powers of Ten

Posted by Jay Cross at 04:03 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Surfing Safari


These were sparked from reading today's New York Times.


Lamborghini's site is a quirky work of art. Absolutely beautiful. Great history. Fun to play in. Yet I could find no way to buy a car. (Not that I have a spare $160,000 for the cheap one.) More screen shots in the continuation.

Ducati lets you listen to the scream of its superbikes. I like the way they provide small pop-up windows with details like this. Unfortunately, I have to switch browsers to see them since my default browsers, Opera and Mozilla, shut out pop-ups.

This is Italian art. Why can't everything be this much fun?

Posted by Jay Cross at 01:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 08, 2003


It's about time

Time is all we have. Most of us can feel time speeding up. Many of us are enslaved by time. But most of what we consider "time" is actually in our heads.

"What part of now is it you don't understand?"
--Zydeco group Frog Kick

Click for Berkeley, California Forecast

Official U.S. Pacific Time

Industrious Monocraft Clock

TimeTicker gives you times around the world with sound effects and one-button correction of your computer's clock. Very cool.

Human Clock

Time around the world - 30 clocks


What is "Internet Time?"

Internet time is shorthand for the accelerated pace of business and life brought about by networks and eBusiness. The amazing growth of Netscape is frequently cited as an example -- in its first year, the firm accomplished what had taken others a decade or more.

Some say a year of Internet time equals seven years of calendar time, but there's really no absolute measure. It's a concept, like a "New York minute."


Timelines provide perspective. Check these out.

Powers of Ten: from 1 attosecond to 31 billion years

Timeline of Knowledge Representation

Time Capsule a la New York Times

Timely topics

> Timelines, for perspective
> Ideas from 50 books about time
> Essays on time from Forbes ASAP
> Clocks and Calendars
> How the average American spends time
> Observations
> Time is relative

On Time at the Museum of American History

"What then, is time? If no one asks me, I know. If I wish to explain it to someone who asks, I know it not. "
--St. Augustine, Confessions, Book II, Sec. 14.


Encyclopædia Britannica:

a measured or measurable period, a continuum that lacks spatial dimensions. Time is of philosophical interest and is also the subject of mathematical and scientific investigation.

time perception
experience or awareness of the passage of time.

The human experience of change is complex. One primary element clearly is that of a succession of events, but distinguishable events are separated by more or less lengthy intervals that are called durations. Thus, sequence and duration are fundamental aspects of what is perceived in change.

Swatch, the maker of curious looking watches, has brilliantly highjacked the term Internet Time, confusing millions of people into thinking that Internet time is "Swatch time." Swatch divides the day into 1000 beats and sets the prme meridian at Biel, Switzerland. While it's great not to hassle with time zones, you'd probably have to buy a Swatch to figure out what time it really is.

Why Time Matters in Business

Breakaway, by Charles Fred, is a marvellous book about the impact of reducing "time to proficiency" in business. Excerpts.

"Put your skepticism on hold and ask yourself if you and the people of your company can reach proficiency at the speed of the new economy. Can your current system for developing people fulfill the growth requirements of your shareholders, satisfy anxious customers, and excite your workers enough to keep them?"

is a French Medieval alchemy symbol for time.

Time concepts presentation (1999)


How the average American spends time

sleep 33 %
work 27.0
leisure 13.0
religion 1.4
eating 8.6
travel 10.0
illness 4.3
personal care 2.5

Ideas from 50 books and articles about time

Deep inside, I know people can lead more productive, happy lives if they overthrow the tyranny of clocktime. I've dumped my digital watch. Now I carry my Swiss railway conductor's pocket watch on days that I carry any timepiece at all.



" I decided to have plenty of time."

Unwinding the Clock “I circle around the arguments, coming back to them again and again, from slightly different angles, touching on them in slightly different places. I do this partly because it’s often the best way to learn—not through single events, and not through strict repetition either, but though variation. And partly because it’s impossible to resolve your relationship with time once and for all.”

If I can fool myself into thinking that I don’t have enough time, couldn’t I just as well fool myself into thinking that I have plenty of time? So I decided to have plenty of time.

In education it’s particularly important to look forward. it’s strange that we so often concentrate on previous knowledge. knowledge that precedes us is, of course, important, but it deals only with things as they once were. it’s just as important to consider things that point forward: expectations, hopes, objectives.

Faster, faster...

Time is speeding up. In agrarian days, time didn't matter so long as you got up around sunrise and turned in at sunset.

Railroads must keep to schedules -- and require people to agree on the time. (Before railroads, time zones were unnecessary--and often arbitrary.) Military coordination and air travel require even greater precision.

These days, two minutes to receive a message from the other side of the world feels agonizingly slow.

When I studied physics in college, we didn't talk about nanoseconds.


Are You on Digital Time? Fast Company's Alan Webber talks with BCG's George Stalk about time-based competition. February 99.


Prisoners Of Time
Report of the National Education Commission on Time and Learning April 1994

If experience, research, and common sense teach nothing else, they confirm the truism that people learn at different rates, and in different ways with different subjects. But ,,,our schools and the people involved with them are captives of clock and calendar. The boundaries of student growth are defined by schedules for bells, buses, and vacations instead of standards for students and learning.


Po Bronson describes Danny Hillis & the 10,000-year clock

The legendary designer of computer architecture, Danny Hillis ... is building a monument-sized mechanical clock that ... will continue ticking and counting time through the year AD 12,000. In essence, he wants us to stop thinking about what's for lunch and start thinking about how to feed the world.

"In some sense, we've run out of our story, which we were operating on, which was the story of power taking over nature - it's not that we've finished that, but we've gotten ahead of ourselves, and we don't know what the next story is after that."

According to Hillis, certain problems aren't solvable in three years, and it's people's nature not to work on problems they can't solve. If we can extend people's horizons, a whole range of challenges fall back into play.


An extraordinary timeline: 3,000 years of history in 2,000 linked files.


Caution! Dates in calendar are closer than they appear!

History of the calendar

When Do You Want To Go Today?,
an awesome list of calendars -- celestial, historical, religious

Calendar Home for links, 10,000 year calendar, no. days between two dates

This Day in History


"A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches does not."

"The clock is not merely a means of keeping track of the hours, but of synchronizing the actions of men. The clock, not the steam engine, is the key machine of the industrial age... In its relationship to determinable quantities of engergy, to standardization, to automatic action, and finally to its own special product, accurate timing, the clock has been the foremost machine in modern technic; and at each period it has remained in the lead: it marks a perfection toward which other machines aspire."

Lewis Mumford

CLOX is a free program that displays the time in as many timezones as you like on an array of clocks reminiscent of the wall of a newsroom. Digital or analog. Pop up a daylight world map. Set alarms and reminders. Have it automatically update the time via the Net every day.
The Royal Observatory at Greenwich.
Ground zero, celebrating the new millennium with exhibits. Also see Greenwich Electronic Time. Introduced with great Y2K fanfare as the new standard for e-commerce, the "What's New" tab contains nothing but the original press release. Interesting links.
One World Time is what Greenwich Electronic Time should have been, a time standard for e-commerce. Easy to use.
Also links to a history of calendars, an interesting (really!) history of Daylight Savings Time, Brittanica's Clockworks (neat animations), and more. Time Service Department, U.S. Naval Observatory.
Time in cities around the world.
Time in countries around the world.
People who think Switzerland is the center of the world
Great variety of time synchronization software.
Lots of software goodies Clocks and Time Horology site for books, magazines, organizations, museums

Geologic Time

Perpetual Headline News
Election in Doubt
Congress Defies Prez
Flood Waters Rising
Moore's Law Upheld
Politicians Found Corrupt
Conflict in Middle East
Industries Consolidate
Markets Fluctuate
Perception is Reality
Shit Happens
Taxes Rise
Time Flies
Entropy Increases
"No Free Lunch," Study Finds
"What's in it for me?" ask consumers

"Time is but the stream I go a-fishin in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It's thin current slides away, but eternity remains." --Henry David Thoreau

"So much of our time is preparation, so much is routine, and so much retrospect, that the path of each man's genius contracts itself to a very few hours." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I put instant coffee in a microwave oven and almost went back in time." --Steven Wright

"It's like trying to understand time other than linearly... So maybe we will just give up on leap years and all the seasons will shift slightly and the definition of a year will change and then we will all understand time as a series of concentric circles... or some other nifty metaphor that I can't predict from here in Flatland." Lemonyellow

"The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time."

Tom Cargill, Bell Labs


Getting It Done by Roger Fischer and Alan Sharp

"By formulating a statement of purpose in terms of proposed results over three or more points in time you can have: an inspiring distant vision, a mid-distant goal en route that is a worthy goal in itself, and some immediate objectives to start working on at once."

Continually shift your vision

The rapidly accelerating future and growing irrelevance of the past have thrown our sense of timing out of kilter. We need to look at the world through time trifocals. Each perspective has built-in plusses and minuses.

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, who often call themselves evangelists, speak with quasireligious fervor of "Internet time" – the apocalyptic sense of urgency caused by the fleeting half-lives of products and business plans.

Tim Race, Industry Standard, August 20, 1999

Save (and Savor) Time

Our advice on Making Time and enjoying it more.

Timing Is Everything
Time is all we have

I am retiring this from the Internet Time Group page in mid-2001 while buckling down to provide eLearning consulting.

Time is relative

Epigenesis... If things don't develop at their appropriate time, they are not going to develop at a later one.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry on Time

How do you know time is passing?

A lot of the differences among people are, in fact, based on their differences in time perspective. Zimbardo has found that students who are future-oriented tend to wear watches, take many notes in class and study for longer periods of time, smile more and laugh less than those in the here-and-now group. In the south Bronx where Zimbardo grew up, people live in the "expanded present," with no future or past. Some attributes of the expanded-present mode: greater enjoyment of sex, nerve enough to take risks, greater artistic creativity. "What's happening?" .

..research by Stanford's Philip Zimbardo.

"In the old days, you'd finish a day's work and announce, 'I'm done.' Nobody ever does that now. There's never enough time."

Elliott Masie

"The space of time separating George Washington's first inauguration in April 1789 from Lincoln's first in March 1861 was only seventy-two years, a mote in the eye of history. But that slice of history contained extraordinary events. From a third-rate republic, a sliver of sparsely populated seaboard extending inland from the Atlantic for a few hundred miles, threatened by foreign powers and dangerous Indian tribes, America had become a pulsing, burgeoning world economic power whose lands stretched across the entire continent." --Don't Know Much About History Here's one that's out of the box: non-solar time. Check out OmniTime. I am not a believer. Then again, I never thought FedEx would make it either.

from the first (October 1999) issue of CapGemini Focus... Yes, yes, yes. Somebody else gets it.

Thinking out of the time box
by Jayne Buxton and Crystal Schaffer

"Breaking time paradigms The way to approach the task of re-timing work is to think about it differently."

"First, consider that there are no jobs but, rather, that there is work to be accomplished. This requires a business to break down its jobs, analyze them, and reconstruct them as collections of work that need to be done as opposed to positions that need to be filled. As processes are pulled apart and put back together in different ways, re-thinking how we use time becomes easier. Some of the things once regarded as essential to effectiveness are seen for what they are: bad habits which developed to support a particular inefficient process. For example, the assumption that a manager needs to be on call five days a week, eight hours a day, disappears when work is restructured to enable employees to make more effective decisions themselves, and to take managerial input at specific times.

"How do you start this breakdown process? You begin with a long-term perspective."

"Companies that want to make the most of the time available to them must abandon their 'punch the clock' mentality, be it a full-time, part-time, or flextime clock. It is not enough to 'bend' work time; it must be broken up and reconfigured if the power of technology and human ingenuity and diligence to create growth opportunities in today's knowledge and service-driven economy is to be realized."

"Happiness may well consist primarily of an attitude toward time. Individuals we consider happy commonly seem complete in the present: we see them constantly in their wholeness, attentive, cheerful, open rather than closed to events, integral in the moment rather than distended across time by regret or anxiety." --Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

Current organization models are not time-based. They still operate in a three-dimensional universe of being rather than becoming. Notions of a real-time business and of an organizational life cycle are not widely held or used. --Stan Davis, 2020 Vision

"When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute--and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity."

Albert Einstein

Einstein's Dreams 1905-1999 -
The interactive adaptation

Einstein's Web

How much is that in Dog Years? It's a myth that each year of a dog's life is the equivalent of seven human years. Here's the real equivalency for an average-sized dog:

Dog Years/Human Years:
  1 /15 2/ 24 4/ 32 6/ 40 10 /56 14 /72 18/ 91 21/ 106


Every time we postpone some necessary event, we do so with the implication that present time is more important than future time.

--Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

Time is best spent when we are:

  • concentrating wholly on what we are doing
  • freeing our minds from thought altogether
  • communicating honestly with others
  • dreaming asleep or awake
  • planning
  • remembering

What is to be avoided is preoccupation and disordered occupation--the compulsive worry, the nervous escape from thought to thought, the scratching and hair-fluffing, the short circuit of distraction.

--Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

Henry Ford The month Henry Ford was born, July 1863, horses dragged Union and Confederate cannon to Gettysburg. The first gasoline-powered automobile was 23 years in the future. When Ford died, in 1947, one in seven U.S. workers held a job in the automobile industry. Ford said of the Model T, the only thing wrong with it is that people stopped buying it.

Lenk, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

A trail always takes longer the first time. Therefore, to extend time, be adventurous and take a lot of new trails. Avoid the familiar path. Stay out of ruts.


Clock time has lulled us into a wrong-headed sense of expectations.

"How much does he want per hour?" asked the fellow who was requesting some of my colleague's time. It's as if we churn out a good idea an hour, like working on an assembly line.

For creative knowledge workers, a brilliant insight may pop up in a matter of seconds. The world looks like this:

Nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, flash of brilliance, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada, nada.

In knowledge work with a high degree of discretion, a flash of brilliance before breakfast is worth a lot more than eight hours of nada at the office.

More chaos, fewer hours?

The User Illusion explains that consciousness lags reality (and then covers its tracks). Your nonconscious mind is a lot closer to "now" than you are. The Mind's Past reiterates this reality, saying that our internal "interpreter" chooses the slides in the show we see. The brain decides to hold up our right arm--and we think this is something we thought up. Hah!


excerpts from Islands in the Clickstream

Telling Time by a Broken Clock By Richard Thieme

Trying to understand what's happening using old words, old images, old paradigms is like telling time by broken clocks. The landscape created by speech, writing, print is being terraformed by digital humans, rocking in our boots, out of joint with our times. We are riding a ship on the river of time as the ship is being built. It will take time to finish that ship, and when we do, we will already have been becoming something else.

In the meantime, we live between, snickering at those who expect something immense in the Year 2000 because they are rowing to the rhythm of a river overflowing its banks, flooding our town and cities, rising like rain into the mystified sky.

Millenium's End

My machinery is wired to move pretty fast, and all my life people have told me - bless their hearts - to slow down. It always comes from people who move more slowly, never from those who are faster, so once in a while I reply, no, YOU speed up. But then they think I'm rude.

It's fashionable to equate being slow with being spiritual. There's something to that, but popular culture turned it into the Forrest Gump School of Wisdom, where life is never complex and wisdom is rules for the first day of kindergarten.

Fast and slow are relative. For some projects, cycles of a thousand years work best, for others, nanoseconds. Yes, we twitchers often find serenity when we take things down a notch, when we focus on something outside ourselves that induces a state of flow and short-circuits our habitual thinking. But it's also true that we relish those moments when our brains or bodies twitch like the fingers of a teen genius at a game of Quake, lost in light-speed heaven.

THE END OF TIME The Next Revolution in Physics. By Julian Barbour. Illustrated. 371 pp. New York: Oxford University Press. $30.

Warning: extreme complexity ahead. Deep relativity.

Time does not exist. Imagine collections of triangles, cubes and other geometrical shapes. Think of an entire three-dimensional universe as built up of them and all their spatial relationships. Any universe of shapes (a configuration) compares to another, not with respect to relations in time or space (they are not ''in'' time or space), but qualitatively, in terms of their internal, intrinsic properties. (Still with me?)

Posted by Jay Cross at 03:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Peering into the crystal ball

At TechLearn, Mark Oehlert presented his findings on The Future of eLearning Models and the Language We Use to Describe Them. Mark calls it like he (and I) sees it. This is a perceptive, on-target summary of where eLearning is headed. Mark's key findings:

  • While a more expansive definition of e-learning has been much discussed, requirements are now emerging that seek to make real some of those ideas (e.g. performance support, augmented reality, on-demand personalized instruction).
  • While cultural change continues to be cited as one of the main hurdles to successful implementation of e-learning, no e-learning vendors seem to be packaging change management with their products.
  • M-learning continues to gain buzz and momentum
  • Economic models for selling e-learning will have to shift away from ‘catalog’ shopping to a service-oriented model.
  • Gaming and simulation are poised to make huge impacts in this market space.
  • Copyright and other legal issues pose potentially great problems for the future of e-learning.
  • The ‘course’, as a meaningful unit of instruction, may well be doomed.
  • The cell phone is almost universally considered a learning device.
  • A continuation of the move toward “pay as you go” could actually allow smaller shops to get up and competing by providing lower barriers to entry.
  • Globalization is forcing a hard focus on US-centric practices and content

Here's Mark's Power Point. The William Gibson quote is absolutely brilliant and will eventually show up on my Time page

Mark interviewed Stephen Downes at length. You must read his unexpurgated version to get the full flavor of the exchange. Stephen:

    We need to stop thinking of online content as analogous to things. That’s the beginning and the end of it. Even if the language of ‘things’ is more suited to both contemporary academic discourse and commercial discourse, the reality is that when you find yourself immersed on an online environment it becomes evident and apparent that online content is much more like a stream than a collection of objects. That’s why I use analogies like the electrical system or the water system, and not (as Elliott does) analogies like bookstores or warehouses.


    At this point in history we not only have much greater powers of communication and expression than ever before, we also have access to greater riches than ever before. But there is a sense that we are at a peak, and with shortages in raw materials looming, there is a retrenchment happening, a vigorous conflict over the control of ideas, over the control of resources, and in the end, over control of people.

Clearly Canadian, Stephen gives his view of cultural imperialism:

    is the worldwide export of American culture, usually draped in the clothing of values and ideals. Many writers have remarked on this and so I don't need to go into a lot of detail: this not merely the export of McDonalds and everything it represents (wage-labour, corporate subservience, fast food production, massive advertising, and more) and Mickey Mouse (Scrooge style capitalism, greed, individualism and more) but also the twin towers of individualism and capitalism (and yes, I did use the analogy deliberately). These are wrapped in a dressing of 'freedom' and 'democracy', but these values are viewed very differently in the rest of the world. Americans, of course, are free to hold to these values, but those that must see them impregnating every book, movie, television show, and learning material (and also the IMF, WTO, and more) exported from the U.S. into the educational fabric must offer some form of resistance.

    Most of the world is far more communually oriented than the United States, far more than most Americans realize, and the political and social agenda that is offered under the banners of 'freedom' and 'democracy' are perceived, even in modern industrial democracies as Canada, as undermining hard-won social and cultural values. This is not merely a cultural facade; it will not be addressed by merely 'localizing' materials; it runs deeply into the selection and presentation of learning. Renaming the 'French and Indian War' to the term everyone else in the world uses, 'The Seven Years War', isn't just relabeling, it is a change of context, of protagonists, of history. Rewriting the history of the War of 1812 to reflect what actually happened, an opportunistic (because of the Napoleonic wars) American invasion of Canada that was rebuffed by a rag-tag army of First Nations (ie., 'Indians') and militia volunteers, isn't just a case of rebranding.

The exchange between Mark and Stephen is a wonderful example of a new form of online learning: the email interview. Aside from baiting the U.S. right (Stephen would fit right in here in the People's Republic of Berkeley), Stephen makes some great observations -- and you must read them in his own words to grok the message.

    The learning environment merges with the work environment; each, in turn, an extension of the worker, who with a new capacity for empowerment and self-actualization increasingly enters relationships of mutual association with a corporate structure - it is a dynamic relationship, full of tacit assumptions and convenient fictions (the corporation promises security, which the employee knows is an outright lie; and conversely the employee promises loyalty, which the employer knows will last only as long as the good times do). Learning, then, becomes a tacit agreement between employee and employer, selected by the employee with an eye to personal empowerment and development, aided by the employer, with an eye to developing native talent in- house (if not, any more, specific skills).

Another gem is Daniel Schneider's Conception and implementation of rich pedagogical scenarios through collaborative portal sites, although as the title alone tips you off, this one's quite academic in tone. I have yet to make it through all 40 pages but the topic is intriguing:

    Often, one associates new rich and open pedagogies are with “learner-centered”. We believe that being “learner-centered” is not sufficient, since main-stream content-transmission- centered e-learning also rightly claims to be learner-centered, since students can look at contents and do exercises and tests at their own speed. Good learner-centered pedagogics may also be very teacher-centered, since the role of the teacher can become very complex and demanding. Let’s recall the three principle roles that we attribute to the teacher-designer of structured, but active, open and rich educational scenarios:
    • His role as a manger is to ensure productivity, i.e. that learners do things.
    • His role as a facilitator is the help them in their choices and to suggest resources and tools that will help them to solve problems and get tasks done.
    • His role as an orchestrator is to create “story-boards”, i.e. to break down projects into scenarios, and scenarios into phases. He also may decompose problems into manageable sub-problems or alternatively encourage and help students to do so themselves.

    It is very important to respect a principle of “harmony”, to find an equilibrium of different
    pedagogical strategies and tactics and not (and we insist on this) to be tempted by
    over-scripting. In our philosophy, a teacher should think of himself primarily as a “landscaper” who uses ICT to build places where learners can “sculpt” according to some rule and with as much help as appropriate. Because of their modular architecture, a well trained teacher can configure portals and its “tools” according to his own needs. He can also hunt down new modules. He can re-purpose tools, e.g. he could use quizzes which are normally used for assessment as discussion openers. He can also suggest to the increasing number of technical support people that can be found in the school system to develop new tools. Since this technology is focused on “orchestration” and not content delivery, we believe that it will spread in the nearer future with almost the same ease as web pages did, but it will bring new functionalities. Teachers should have control over their environment and they can share their experience within teacher portals using the same technology and both fit the C3MS philosophy.

    [C3MS = Community, Content and Collaboration Management Systems]

    Finally, C3MS may be a chance to promote the open and sharing “Internet
    Spirit” to education, which is threatened by the philosophy of the closed so-called “educational platforms”, e-learning systems or whatever are called today’s main stream systems sold without as much success as they claim to the educational system. According to
    our initial experience, and despite many difficulties - like administrative hurdles, the time
    it takes to accommodate new pedagogical strategies, the disputable ergonomics of some
    software that we will have to overcome - teachers who engaged themselves “love it” and
    their students too.

    (via EdTech Post)

    The Semantic Web, Syllogism, and Worldview by Clay Shirky.

      The W3C's Semantic Web project has been described in many ways over the last few years: an extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, a place where machines can analyze all the data on the Web, even a Web in which machine reasoning will be ubiquitous and devastatingly powerful. The problem with descriptions this general, however, is that they don't answer the obvious question: What is the Semantic Web good for?

      The simple answer is this: The Semantic Web is a machine for creating syllogisms. A syllogism is a form of logic, first described by Aristotle, where "...certain things being stated, something other than what is stated follows of necessity from their being so." [Organon]

      The canonical syllogism is:

      • Humans are mortal
      • Greeks are human
      • Therefore, Greeks are mortal

      with the third statement derived from the previous two.

      The Semantic Web specifies ways of exposing these kinds of assertions on the Web, so that third parties can combine them to discover things that are true but not specified directly. This is the promise of the Semantic Web -- it will improve all the areas of your life where you currently use syllogisms.

      Which is to say, almost nowhere.

    To which I say, damn, damn, damn. I drank the KoolAde when Tim Berners-Lee wrote about the Semantic Web in Scientific American. This was supposed to solve problems, not compound them.

      Despite their appealing simplicity, syllogisms don't work well in the real world, because most of the data we use is not amenable to such effortless recombination. As a result, the Semantic Web will not be very useful either.

      The people working on the Semantic Web greatly overestimate the value of deductive reasoning (a persistent theme in Artificial Intelligence projects generally.) The great popularizer of this error was Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Sherlock Holmes stories have done more damage to people's understanding of human intelligence than anyone other than Rene Descartes. Doyle has convinced generations of readers that what seriously smart people do when they think is to arrive at inevitable conclusions by linking antecedent facts. As Holmes famously put it "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

      This sentiment is attractive precisely because it describes a world simpler than our own. In the real world, we are usually operating with partial, inconclusive or context-sensitive information. When we have to make a decision based on this information, we guess, extrapolate, intuit, we do what we did last time, we do what we think our friends would do or what Jesus or Joan Jett would have done, we do all of those things and more, but we almost never use actual deductive logic.

    Shirky is great. Consider:

      ...the pattern for descriptions of the Semantic Web. First, take some well-known problem. Next, misconstrue it so that the hard part is made to seem trivial and the trivial part hard. Finally, congratulate yourself for solving the trivial part.

      ...After 50 years of work, the performance of machines designed to think about the world the way humans do has remained, to put it politely, sub-optimal. The Semantic Web sets out to address this by reversing the problem. Since it's hard to make machines think about the world, the new goal is to describe the world in ways that are easy for machines to think about.

      There is a list of technologies that are actually political philosophy masquerading as code, a list that includes Xanadu, Freenet, and now the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web's philosophical argument -- the world should make more sense than it does -- is hard to argue with. The Semantic Web, with its neat ontologies and its syllogistic logic, is a nice vision. However, like many visions that project future benefits but ignore present costs, it requires too much coordination and too much energy to effect in the real world, where deductive logic is less effective and shared worldview is harder to create than we often want to admit.

      Much of the proposed value of the Semantic Web is coming, but it is not coming because of the Semantic Web. The amount of meta-data we generate is increasing dramatically, and it is being exposed for consumption by machines as well as, or instead of, people. But it is being designed a bit at a time, out of self-interest and without regard for global ontology. It is also being adopted piecemeal, and it will bring with it with all the incompatibilities and complexities that implies. There are significant disadvantages to this process relative to the shining vision of the Semantic Web, but the big advantage of this bottom-up design and adoption is that it is actually working now.

    Bravo! Check his home page for more.

    Posted by Jay Cross at 10:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 07, 2003

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management is a high-fallutin' buzz phrase for creating and sharing know-how. A hot item circa 1998, overuse watered down KM's popularity as a category (although it's still a hot item in Europe). To vendors, KM became "whatever I want to sell you," be it document-tracking or warehousing good ideas or building web pages or reinforcing innovation or focusing on intellectual capital.

Knowledge is like the sound of the tree that falls in the forest when no one is there: it doesn't exist unless people interact with it. Nurturing innovation and rewarding the sharing of ideas fertilizes seedling ideas. Setting up processes to highlight what's worthy and weed out useless undergrowth help grow heathly trees.

While it may carry a different name in the future, knowledge management anchors one end of the learning/doing continuum and is vital to improving organizational performance.

"Knowledge is information that changes something or somebody -- either by becoming grounds for actions, or by making an individual (or an institution) capable of different or more effective action." -- Peter F. Drucker in The New Realities (The same might be said of learning.)

"If HP knew what HP knows, we'd be three times more profitable." Lew Platt

Information and knowledge are the thermonuclear competitive weapons of our time. Knowledge is more valuable and more powerful than natural resources, big factories, or fat bankrolls.? Thomas A. Stewart, Intellectual Capital

Jack Welch of GE: We soon discovered how essential it is for a multibusiness company to become an open, learning organization. The ultimate competitive advantage lies in an organization's ability to learn and to rapidly transform that learning into action.And, in GE's boundaryless learning culture, the operative assumption is that someone, somewhere, has a better idea; and the operative compulsion is to find out who has that better idea, learn it, and put it into action fast.

In 25 years, knowledge will double every three months. What will that do for learning requirements? Doug Engelbart

"Knowledge Management is the broad process of locating, organizing, transferring, and using the information and expertise within an organization. The overall knowledge management process is supported by four key enablers: leadership, culture, technology, and measurement." American Productivity and Quality Center

A wealth of knowledge exists and can be generated among people with a passion for learning and a willingness to explore connections across traditional boundaries. Meg Wheatley

To Verna Allee, it's all a matter of making connections. I think she's got it.

KM=BS? An abstract of T.D. Wilson's The Nonsense of Knowledge Management

Life On The Internet: Could Blogging Assist KM? from Amy Wohl
Knowledge Blogs Are Tough

Denham Gray's amazing KM Wiki

What's knowledge?

Knowledge maps, knowledge architecture, taxonomies, and more from KAPS Group

On the rebound? Peter Martin, writes in CLO:

The Market Is Coming Back to Knowledge Management In hindsight, knowledge management was a recklessly defined initiative. Companies were going to be able to empower the intellectual capital of their enterprise--with ad hoc software purchases. Over time the initiative lost its cachet, very much like the "portal" -- a key element of knowledge management. As the meaning and value of the portal has risen from the ashes, so has knowledge management. The comeback for knowledge management can be traced to the economy, consolidation of vendors, technological advancement and enterprise software vendor buy-in.

Knowledge Management is a case of the blind men and the elephant. KM refers to one or more of these activities:

  • creating and populating a repository of in-house knowledge
  • measuring the dollar-value of chunks of knowledge
  • facilitating the transfer of knowledge
  • creating a knowledge sharing environment
  • building a corporate culture focused on innovation and knowledge creation

At a minimum, do these things:


  1. Corporate yellow pages
  2. Best practices system that captures lessons learned
  3. Competitive intelligence


  1. Groupware
  2. Empowered Chief Knowledge Officer


  1. Top-down belief
  2. Spirit of sharing and collaboration
  3. Experimentation encouraged

Five Basic Principles of the Mind

  1. Minds are limited.

  2. Minds hate confusion.

  3. Minds are insecure.

  4. Minds don't change.

  5. Minds lose focus.

Jack Trout



Come together

Tom Barron, drawing on the ideas of GartnerGroup's Clark Aldrich and others, presents an astute view of the impending merger of e-Learning and Knowledge Management in A Smarter Frankenstein, lead article in the August 2000 issue of Learning Circuits.

Take an eLearning course. Chunk it into discrete learning bites. Surround it with technology that assesses a learner's needs and delivers the appropriate learning nuggets. Add collaborative tools that allow learners to share information. What do you get? Something that looks a whole lot like knowledge management.

Just In Time

Embedded Help
Performance Support

Knowledge Management
Traditional KM
Combined eLearning/KM
Just in Case Classroom Replication
Self-paced courseware
Virtual classes
Skills-building sims

The training function is accustomed to limiting its scope -- offering a curriculum that provides grounds for assessment. KM is open-ended, encouraging participants to share whatever works without an intermediary to translate things into lessons. Oil and water? The accelerating pace of business is already obsoleting the authoring function -- there's not enough time for lengthy development cycles; intitutive authoring systems are replacing middleman authors by taking content directly from the expert's mouth.

An obstacle I've personally never overcome to my satisfaction is countering the hoarding of knowledge by those who believe knowledge is power, or are perhaps too self-motivated to contribute to the good of their organizations.


What to Blogs have to do with it?

Weblogs (AKA Blogs) are important. If you're not familiar with Blogs, read Rebecca Blood's excellent Weblogs: A History and Perspective.

1. Blogs are a free authoring tool that enables anyone with a net connection to publish content on the web. The doors are open.

2. You cannot keep up with the raw flow of information being posted to the web without a lot of help. The Blogs of people you trust point the way to the good stuff. For example, I read Camworld because it has proven worthy of my time; I've grown to trust Cameron Barrett -- I know where he's coming from.

3. In time, organizations will encourage in-house Blogging.



Tacit & Explicit Knowledge

Knowledge Creation Spiral

In an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, the one sure source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledge. When markets shift, technologies proliferate, competitors multiply, and products become obsolete almost overnight, successful companies are those that consistently create new knowledge, disseminate it widely throughout the organization, and quickly embody it in new technologies and products. These activities define the knowledge-creating company, whose sole business is continuous innovation. (source: Ikujiro Nonaka, The Knowledge-Creating Company, Harvard Business Review, November-December 1991)


Explicit Knowledge

Tacit Knowledge


You can write it down. Easy to share.

It?s tough to explain. Tough to share.


Left brain, pragmatic ? learned. Think classroom.

Right brain, idealistic ? internalized. Think watercooler.

Theory of organization =

Machine for processing information

Living organism with a purpose

Knowledge =

Formal, systematic, quantifiable

Know-how and ingrained mental models and perspectives. Subjective, hunches, intuitive, highly personal.

Metrics =

Quantifiable: increased efficiency, lower costs, improved ROI

Qualitative: increased effectiveness, embodies company vision, expresses management aspirations and strategic goals, builds organizational knowledge network.

Impact =

Increases immediate capabilities

Profoundly shapes how we perceive the world around us.

Communicated =

Via words, textbooks, CBT

Via figurative language and symbolism, metaphor, analogy, modeling.


Other sources

The Economics of Knowledge, Eric E. Vogt. "Knowledge is a perspective shared by a community which allows for some effective action. ...the economics of knowledge dictate that we think in terms of creating collection systems that allow for the instantaneous sharing of these new perspectives. Collection systems allow us to listen to the needs and concerns of customers. Collection systems allow us to tap into the global flow of creative ideas and fuel the imagination of our knowledge community."

Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization (JOHO). David Weinberger has the most level-headed approach to knowledge management you'll find anywhere. He's also a laugh riot. JOHO is one of my favorite reads on the Web.

Weinberger? He's a commentator on NPR, and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.
"Jay of, has put a link to JOHO on his site, We hereby declare to be the new Finest Site on the Web."

Knowledge Management News, Brad Hoyt. Sporadic ever since Brad joined a start-up but worth the wait. Pointers, reflections, jobs, events.

University of Denver: Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management

Karl Erik Sveiby's impressive "library" of on-line resources

ASTD on KM -- an overview of what's going on in the field

E&Y Center for Business Innovation -- a great resource

Scient sells KM as something that strengthens them and their customers

The Knowledge Management Paradox: How to Manage Your Most Strategic Asset, CPT

BRINT -- exhaustive and exhausting links and essays. More is more?

Thinking Business -- the document tracking end of KM

Leverage the Value-Hierarchy of Knowledge

Different skills produce different levels of impact. (Stan Davis)

Difficult to replace,
low value added

Staff jobs, skilled factory workers, experienced secretaries

?Know the ropes but don?t pull the strings.?
Don?t directly impact customers.


Difficult to replace,
high value added

Irreplaceable role in the organization;
nearly irreplaceable as individuals

Create the products and services
that draw the customers in


Easy to replace,
low value added

Unskilled, semi-skilled labor.

Success not dependent on these individuals.


Easy to replace,
high value added


Work is valuable but not this particular individual.


Often, the value added is the information subtracted.

A hired hand is not a hired mind. Routine, low-skill work, even if it's done manually, does not generate or emply human capital for the organization. Unleashing the human capital already resident in the organization requires minimizing mindless tasks, meaningless paperwork, unproductive infights. The Taylorized workplace squandered human assets in such activities.

'Informate' = change the work to add more value to customers.

Outsourcing frees resources to continue developing high-return expertise.

Capitalize means providing opportunities for learning. People need to feel they?re ?in the game,? and not ?being kicked around by it.?

How to Capitalize on High-Value Knowledge

Structural capital company property builds on corporate yellow pages, knowledge maps, speedy transfer. Do enough and no more; many overinvest. HP and others find that demand-driven approach is more effective than pushing information into people?s emailboxes. Avoid overinvesting by making it okay not to know everything ? leverage the expertise of specialists. When a manager brings in a problem, the experts teach her how to apply the lessons of a module to solve it.

Customer capital, the relationships of the company with its customers, is measured by market share, customer retention and defection, and profit per customer. This is the most valuable capital of all it's where the money is but ironically, it's also the least well managed. Tom Stewart has a wonderful line, The customer today can call the tune because he knows the score. The goal is to maintain an increasingly intimate relationship. Empowered customers deal directly with companies' databases.

Ten Principles for Managing Intellectual Capital

  1. Companies don't own human and customer capital. Companies share the ownership of human assets with employees. They share ownership of customer capital with suppliers and customers. An adversarial relationship with employees destroys wealth.
  2. To create human capital it can use, a company needs to foster teamwork, communities of practice, and other social forms of learning.
  3. To manage and develop human capital, companies must unsentimentally recognize that some employees, however intelligent or talented they are, aren?t assets. Invest in proprietary and strategic knowledge workers; minimize all other costs.
  4. Structural capital is most easy to control because companies own it, but customers are where the money comes from.
  5. Structural capital serves two purposes: to amass stockpiles of knowledge that support the work customers value, and to speed the flow of that information inside the company. Just-in-time knowledge is more efficient that knowledge stored in the warehouse.
  6. Substitute information and knowledge for expensive physical and financial assets.
  7. Knowledge work is custom work. Mass production does not yield high profits.
  8. Analyze your value chain to see what information is most crucial. The knowledge work is generally downstream, close to the customers.
  9. Focus on the flow of information, not the flow of materials. Information once supported the real business; now it is the real business.
  10. Human, structural and customer capital work together.

Source: Thomas Stewart, Intellectual Capital

Ideas @ Work

Diane McFerrin Peters

(Harvard Management Update, Vol. 5 #3, March 2000)

Most companies underestimate the importance of intangible assets such as knowledge, creativity, ideas, and relationships. All these account for more value in our economy than the tangibles. Yet it's difficult for companies to get their arms around intangibles, so they rarely protect them as carefully as they do bricks and hardware. What would you do if your smartest people suddenly left? How can you ensure that what one department or division learns is widely shared throughout the company?

1) Create a setting for sharing knowledge.
Access to knowledge breeds more knowledge, and the best KM techniques ensure that everyone's involved. Try an open meeting policy.

2) Eliminate communication filters.
Politics, turf, and implementation responsibilities can squelch ideas in traditional communication channels. Going outside the channels, for example, by allowing people to skip levels--leads to more ideas on how to do things better.

3) Prioritize the tasks.
Most companies' to-do lists contain twice as much as they could ever accomplish. A prioritization process can align brainpower and effort behind what's truly strategic. Senior leaders get together to rank all vital activities first to last, no ties allowed. The process lets people challenge assumptions about the value of long-running projects, share knowledge about what is being accomplished, and break down the departmental barriers that bottle up ideas and creativity.

4) Keep time budgets.
Few individuals and fewer organizations get a true read on where their time and effort really go.

Picasso had a collection of masterpieces in his home. They were hung slightly crooked, and visitors couldn't resist the temptation to straighten them. But Picasso felt that when a painting was straight, the observer focused on the frame around it. When the frame was crooked, the beauty of the image jumped out. It's the same with knowledge. Instead of trying to put boundaries around it, we should be letting it jump out of its frame.

Enlightenment Magazine on < href="">Collective Intelligence

George Por's Blog of Collective Intelligence

Posted by Jay Cross at 03:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 06, 2003

Building Community

Building community is like gardening: you plant the seeds and pray something worthwhile happens. Fertilizer helps. Care is indispensable. But you can't force them to grow.

Online Community Technologies and Concepts by Cameron Barrett

reputation management
content management
mail list management
document management
collaborative filtering


Well, duh.

Internet Time Group on building community (dated)

Beyond One-to-One: The Power of Purposeful Communities, ArsDigita
Building an Online Community (book), ArsDigita

Learnativity on Building Community

Nine Timeless Design Strategies for Community Building

(Amy Jo Kim)

Doblin Group's community bibliography

Joel Udell's Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration is a comprehensive guide to software for coordinating events, discussing issues, publishing findings, and making & distributing news.

These Sites Make Teams Work, Fast Company's comparison of five Web-based tools that are designed to help teams work better.

Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace by Rena M. Palloff and Keith Pratt
Distributed Learning Communities, CU Denver
Inhabiting the Virtual City, Judith Donath
The Nature of Nets, Doblin Group
Collaborative Strategies -- great case studies and astute analysis by SF consulting firm. groupware gurus.

Cafe Knowhow from The World Cafe (Juanita Brown)
Howard Rheingold handpaints his shoes,
group jazz hosts events

Electronic Learning Communities Research Group at Georgia Tech. (Amy Bruckman)
Sociable Media Group at MIT (Judith Donath)
Online Discussion Groups

Resources for Moderators and Facilitators of Online Discussion (Collins and Berge)

The Last Word: Where is the Future of Learning? by Nick van Dam, eLearning, November 2001

Yet, there are times when people need to see each other face-to-face for optimal learning. What are these?

Teambuilding—True teambuilding means being together—at the same place. Building trust, a sense of purpose, and commitment to outcomes requires an intimacy not possible through technology at this time.

Personal coaching—Feedback and coaching around performance issues is difficult, if not impossible, if the climate of trust and respect hasn’t been built in real-time, face-to-face.

Networking/Teaming—Getting a sense of an individual, exchanging thoughts and ideas, and crafting the invisible links that tie a network together require engaging the senses in the interaction.

Building culture—Organizational culture is built on a shared commitment to values. The shaping of these values to inspire and motivate performance need multiple face-to-face contacts with all involved—thinking, doing, acting, and reacting to embed the cultural values in each person.

The Invisible Key to Success, Fortune, Tom Stewart (1996)

Denham Grey's Knowledge Community has a great and growing selection of links on communities of practice, who's doing what, and who the players are. See also his Collaboration Tools (How can you have community without collaboration?)

Convergence is coming....

On-line Collaborative Learning Environments, a special issue of Journal of International Forum of Educational Technology & Society

Setting up a live eLearning session, a how-to by Bryan Chapman

Is "virtual community" just a Ponzi scheme?

Participating on The WeLL taught me more about community than anything since. They have a deal (until 3/31/01) where you can try it out for $2. Use me as your reference ([email protected]).The WeLL was acquired. The only way I could maintain my email address and access was to purchase Salon Premium. Good bye, old friend.

Wenger's Communities of Practice Home Page

Rheingold Associates


Community Building on the Web : Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities by Amy Jo Kim. ISBN: 0201874849 . $29.99. Check out the companion web site.

Don't leave out the fun.

The Social Life of Information

by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguit (2000).

Well-written argument that kontent is not king. The refuge of simplistic infocentric futurists: demassification, decentralization, denationalization, despacialization, disintermediation, and disaggregation.

Jay's notes on The Social Life

Communities of Practice: The Organizational Frontier

Harvard Business Reivew, 1/1/00
by Etienne C. Wenger & William M. Snyder

A new organizational form is emerging in companies that run on knowledge: the community of practice. And for this expanding universe of companies, communities of practice promise to radically galvanize knowledge sharing, learning, and change. A community of practice is a group of people informally bound together by shared expertise and passion for a joint enterprise.

Communities of practice can drive strategy, generate new lines of business, solve problems, promote the spread of best practices, develop people's skills, and help companies recruit and retain talent. The paradox of such communities is that although they are self-organizing and thus resistant to supervision and interference, they do require specific managerial efforts to develop them and integrate them into an organization.

Fred Nichols on Communities of Practice (2000)

Nurturing Three Dimensional Communities of Practice: How to get the most out of human networks, Knowledge Management Review, Richard McDermott, PhD (1999)

Key Hypotheses in Supporting Communities of Practice by John Sharp (1997)

Peter Senge: "Knowledge generation really only occurs in teams, where people engage in doing meaningful work." Teams are task-oriented and fleeting; they don't last. As the teams dissolve, people go off and reform in other teams. But they keep those networks of relationships, and they maintain those community ties." The Fifth Discipline... "was really about team learning and not very much about organizational learning. It took all our experience with member companies to recognize that communities are the place where this knowledge moves into, gets tapped, accessed, diffused and shared. Knowledge is contextual; it comes in the context of doing work. We send people off to training, we educate them, we give them tools and ideas. But that's not really knowledge generation. The real question is what happens when people try to use their training?"

Learning Organization (but read the above)

Telepresence just has to be part of the secret of online community-building.

Dance of Change

Peter Henschel, in LiNEzine

The manager’s core work in this new economy is to create and support a work environment that nurtures continuous learning. Doing this well moves us closer to having an advantage in the never-ending search for talent.

By sheer force of habit, we often substitute training for real learning. Managers often think training leads to learning or, worse, that training is learning. But people do not really learn with classroom models of training that happen episodically. These models are only part of the picture. Asking for more training is definitely not enough—it isn’t even close. Seeing the answer as “more training” often obscures what’s really needed: lifelong, continuous learning in work and at work.

That is one reason why preserving the integrity of these informal communities is so important. The worst effects of downsizing and reengineering come from their complete disregard for communities of practice. The fact that training deals only with explicit knowledge, while the value is often in tacit knowledge, is another reason training can get at only part of what is understood to be effective. The other main limitation of traditional classroom training is that it is episodic and mostly relies on “push” (we want you to know this now) rather than “pull” (I need to know this now and am ready to learn it).

Another dimension to the community idea is seldom discussed, but critically important: Learning is powerfully driven by the critical link between learning and identity. We most often learn with and through others.

What we choose to learn depends on:

  1. Who we are
  2. Who we want to become
  3. Which communities we wish to join or remain part of.

So, not wanting to be like “them” can be enough to keep someone from learning. That fact seems to hold whether we are talking about company apprentices, high school gangs, or seasoned software engineers.

But it gets even more interesting: IRL studies, among others, have shown that as much as 70% of all organizational learning is informal. Everyday, informal learning is constant and everywhere. If this insight is true even in a bare majority of enterprises, why would we leave so much learning to sheer chance?

Posted by JonKatz on Tuesday October 03, @12:00PM

from the de-bunking-the-utopians dept.

Berkeley scholar Joseph Lockard (a doctoral candidate in English Literature) claims the idea of the virtual community is a Ponzi scheme, promoted by benighted utopians and elitists who equate access to the Net and the Web with social and democratic enlightenment. This myth has been virtually unchallenged for years, he says, and in a provocative and interesting essay called Progressive Politics, Electronic Individualism, and the Myth of Virtual Community, Lockard claims that it's nothing more than a bunch of hooey. Does anybody out there think virtual communities are real?

Lockard's essay scores more than once. He's right in going after the hype that has surrounded the idea of the virtual community for years now. The tech world is rich and elitist, and becomes more so daily. Apart from developments like open source, which has done much to try and make technology more inclusive (though very few people will ever be able to successfully program) there are few signs yet that the Net is re-vitalizing democracy, or that virtual communities are supplanting or improving upon real ones. online, we see little organized concern for the technologically-deprived, or worry about the inevitable social divisions created by classes of empowered and tech-deprived people. It's already obvious that people with access to computing and the Net will have enormous educational, social and business advantages over those who don't; the latter face menial, low-paying jobs all over the planet.

Lockard also accurately points out that the largest communities forming online are corporate, not individualistic, and their agenda is marketing, not community. He calls the very idea of a "virtual community" an oxymoron.

"Instead of real communities, cyber-communities sit in front of the [late but not lamented] Apple World opening screen that pictures a cluster of cartoon buildings which represent community functions (click on post office for e-mail, a store for online shopping, a pillared library for electronic encyclopedias, etc.)" Such software addresses only a desire for community, Lockard writes, not the real thing.


...Certainly there are bulletin boards and mailing lists -- from sex sites to San Francisco's WELL, from media-centric gatherings from pet rescue forums to AOL's Senior Net -- that have functioned for some time as very real communities that foster conversation and mutual understanding, spawn friendships, generate support for members in trouble. Topical, community oriented Websites -- everything from, Kuro5shin and to Slashdot -- function as information or true cultural communities as well -- sometimes for idea-sharing, sometimes for material support and information.

The early cyber-gurus definitely got carried away by notions that everything would become virtual, a mistake now shared by all sorts of panicked businesses -- publishing comes to mind -- and starry-eyed utopians. Cyberspace is definitely a new kind of space, but there's as yet no reason to believe that it won't compliment or co-exist with the material kind. So far at least, virtual communities suggest a Middle Kingdom, existing somewhere in the middle between the utopian fantasies and Lockard's dismissive jeers.

Online people do make powerful connections and the virtual realm does permit us to share information (including software), research and commerce and and encounter all sorts of people in all kinds of places -- something that has never been possible before. But when the dust settles, and if the history of technology offers any clues, people will always hang out with their friends, get drunk. They'll still be logging off their computers to have sex, get married, fight with their parents, send their kids off to school and go to the movies, and seek out the company of human beings to meet human needs. The best virtual communities have always complimented that need, not supplanted it.

Corporate Culture in Internet Time

By Art Kleiner

Anyone who has tried to create a culture knows it can't be done on Internet time. Cultures aren't designed. They simmer; they fester; they brew continually, evolving their particular temperament as people learn what kind of behavior works or doesn't work in the particular company. The most critical factor in building a culture is the behavior of corporate leaders, who set examples for everyone else (by what they do, not what they say). From this perspective, the core problem faced by most e-commerce companies is not a lack of culture; it's too much culture. They already have two significant cultures at play - one of hype and one of craft.

...during most of the 20th century, as companies matured into mainstream corporations, other cultures - those of finance, labor relations, marketing and managerial bureaucracy - eclipsed and overwhelmed the cultures of hype and craft.

It is currently fashionable to say that the old, tightly knit mentoring relationships of bricks-and-mortar companies are dead, that individuals are now responsible for their own development and career growth. Unfortunately, this view is not sustainable; there are too many risks, even in a high-growth economy, and too much human waste. The task of developing people will move away from companies, since they are not stable enough; it will move to the team level. In other words, if success depends on building a new "culture," that effort will have a lot more effect at the team level than on any company-wide level. It's reasonable to expect, in the turbulent e-commerce business environment, that companies won't necessarily evolve intact cultures. But teams do; as one e-commerce veteran puts it, they're "islands of stability in a place where nothing else is stable."

Ultimately, I suggested to Jane, all the organizational-learning techniques in the world wouldn't do her any good unless she were willing to go to her bosses, the startup's founders, and say something like this:

"If you let me build my own team, and choose and develop the people, I'm willing to take on [name of tough, challenging project here]. But I want to take our own development seriously. I want to try some new ways of organizing the work, regularly evaluate them, and try to learn how to manage ourselves in this new territory. After a few months, we'll come back together and see what we've accomplished, and which of those innovations might apply to the other teams around here. But it will only work if you give our team enough autonomy to learn from our experiments."


12 Principles for Designing an Online Gaming Community

  • Define the community's purpose

  • Create distinct gathering spaces

  • Provide rich communications

  • Implement a rankings ladder

  • Evolve member profiles over time

  • Provide online hosting and support

  • Offer guidance to new members

  • Provide a growth path

  • Support member-created subgroups

  • Anticipate disputes

  • Hold regularly scheduled events

  • Acknowledge the passing of time

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

Work in the Information Age
First Monday, 5/2000

"It's not what you know, but who you know," could, paradoxically, be the motto for the Information Age. We discuss the emergence of personal social networks as the main form of social organization in the workplace.

NetWORK is our term for the work of establishing and managing personal relationships. These relationships can involve a rich variety of people including customers, clients, colleagues, vendors, outsourced service providers, venture capitalists, alliance partners in other companies, strategic peers, experts such as legal and human relations staff, and contractors, consultants, and temporary workers. These are fundamental business relationships in today's economy. As we have noted, studies that focus on narrowly scoped "teams" miss the vital work that goes into relationships that enmesh workers in a much wider, more complex social framework.

To keep their network engines revved, workers constantly attend to three tasks:

  1. Building a network: Adding new nodes (people) to the network so that there are available resources when it is time to conduct joint work;
  2. Maintaining the network, where a central task is keeping in touch with extant nodes;
  3. Activating selected nodes at the time the work is to be done.

NetWORK is an ongoing process of keeping a personal network in good repair. In the words of one study participant, "Relationships are managed and fed over time, much as plants are."

The reduction of corporate infrastructure means that instead of reliance on an organizational backbone to access resources via fixed roles, today's workers increasingly access resources through personal relationships. Rather than being embraced by and inducted into "communities of practice," workers meticulously build up personal networks, one contact at a time. Accounts of the "virtual" organization and organizations with flattened hierarchies have stressed the benefits of the streamlined, nimble, democratic workplace, responsive to contingency, empowering workers to make decisions quickly and independently. It seems however, that these transformed organizations also mean reduced institutional support, and that individual workers incur some of the costs associated with these corporate gains. In the Information Age, workers meet the challenges of diminishing organizational resources through who they know.

from Feed's loop discussion on community, Crowd Control

It is this discussion that has captured the categories we use to analyze the social impact of the Internet. The Internet has been drafted to serve duty as yet more evidence of the disintegration of "community", etc. As is sadly always the case in American intellectual discourse, complex social and historical issues get reduced as quickly as possible to simplistic binary oppositions which exclude by definition all the really interesting choices and developments (a good analogy here is our reduction of the categories used to analyze sexual behavior to either promiscuity or monogamy).

I do not believe the internet is an effective facilitator of community. And this fact is largely irrelevant to how we judge its impact on society. Instead, what the internet facilitates is friendship, and it does this in a very 19th century way - through writing. The modern replacement for traditional community is a web of self-chosen relations that can now span the globe. In this respect we are recreating the relations that existed among scholars and humanists in Europe before the modern era, except that now it is no longer just the elite that have this opportunity.

The development of friendship in this manner is I believe a very good alternative to traditional community, which, for all the "meaning" it bestows on life, is more often than not coercive, intolerant and closed-off. I see the disappearance of the one and the ascent of the other as a good thing, not something to lament. (Most of the intellectuals today whining about community would never put up with one in reality for a second, since they would never assent to the restrictions on their personal freedom that communities traditional require).

Participation Inequality

from Jakob Nielsen

A major reason why user-contributed content rarely turns into a true community is that all aspects of Internet use are characterized by severe participation inequality (a term I have from Will Hill of AT&T Laboratories). A few users contribute the overwhelming majority of the content, while most users either post very rarely or not at all. Unfortunately, those people who have nothing better to do than post on the Internet all day long are rarely the ones who have the most insights. In other words, it is inherent in the nature of the Internet that any unedited stream of user-contributed content will be dominated by uninteresting material.

The key problem is the unedited nature of most user-contributed content. Any useful postings drown in the mass of "me too" and flame wars. The obvious solution is to introduce editing, filtering, or other ways of prioritizing user-contributed content. One idea is to pick a few of the best reader comments and make them prominent by posting them directly on the primary page, while other reader comments languish on a secondary page. It is also possible to promote the most interesting postings based on a vote by other readers who could click "good stuff" or "bozo" buttons.

Collaboration is a lot more than communication and will eventually split off into a separate topic. See Internet Groupware for Scientific Collaboration.



Value discipline

Where it shines

Source of shareholder value

Global focus

End stage


Discontinuous innovation

Early market

Infectious charisma

Shared vision



Product leadership

Early, bowling alley, tornado

Pierce competitiveness

Measurement & compensation

Caste systems


Operational excellence

Tornado, Main Street

Relentless improvement

Business Planning



Customer intimacy

Bowling alley, Main Street

Perceptive adaptation

Customer focus


From Clock of the Long Now


The Learning HIstory Project is a combination of story telling and corporate culture. Very much in tune with the work we did at Oral History Associates.

Posted by Jay Cross at 03:10 PM | Comments (5)

TechLearn 2003 photos and finale


Soundbites from breakout sessions

Diane Hessan, Communispace: Don't ask what you can teach your customers; ask what you can learn from your customers.

Nancy DeViney, IBM. Learning has become mission critical. Learning must support overarching business goals. Learning is part of the overall package IBM offers. Strategy of future of learning at IBM: Customers demanding real-time, global, customer-focused situation.

Frank Anderson, DAU. Learning culture, imbedded, at point of use. Everything is changing these days. The issue is whether you're a facilitator of or an impediment to change.

Elliott Masie: Context management is going to be the largest major change to hit eLearning in the coming year.

On the state of the Learning Business

  • Learning tech is changing faster than its customers.
  • Must move from classroom to multiple channels. Nothing surprises me any more.
  • Business units are making more training decisions; training has sometimes been an impediment (says an audience poll).
  • Through 2007, 70% of the Federal workforce will become eligible for retirement.

Elliott says we've bought a lot of Learning Management Systems but haven't done that much Management of Learning.

Caveat: Get vendors to explain how people are going to become engaged. Diane has been building communities for five years. The first couple were a failure. It's not easy. If the vendor doesn't have a plan, get a new vendor.

Wayne Hodgins, on the future: Let's get small. Smallness is the way to get to uniqueness. Ultimate goal is personalized delivery to everyone on earth. 6.3 billion of us live on the planet, and we are more the same than we can to admit. It's possible to get "any" -- Any time, place, content -- but we haven't been able to spread it around. You want right time, right place, right content, not "any." Standardization leads to standardized uniqueness. Example -- Personalization by assembling many standard parts: Dell.

Phillip Dodds told me ADL CoLab's hidden secret is that they've achieved their mission. SCORM is nearly complete. The project is funded. Agencies are jumping on board.

Elliott stressed the importance of context, saying that if content is king, context is queen. His analogy is off. The age of kings is over; kings are mere figureheads. Also, kings can exist without queens, and vice-versa, but content cannot exist without context. In fact, content + context = learning. Jay's metaphor: Content is inside; context is outside; they are inseparable.

Consolidation continues. The acquisition of TEDS by Fidelity generated more intelligent discussion than the Click/Docent merger. And how about EMC buying Documentum?

Advanstar told me that LTI (neé eLearning) will stay in business but become a quarterly. Also, it will concentrate more on web content.

Elliott expects another merger before Christmas, and yet another by the end of the first quarter.

IBM unveiled its vision for the future of learning. (Press Release.) The gist is that push delivery is replacing pull delivery, in real time, as a component of work. IBM is more eloquent, saying, "Traditional learning tends to be a structured relationship between the instructor and the learner, with a prescribed curriculum. In the future, learners will be increasingly in charge of customizing their learning experiences. Advances in content and delivery technologies will enable learners to access relevant, compelling content and information from a variety of sources, offered on demand and whenever the learner needs or wants it."

I love this part: "IBM believes learning and work will be indistinguishable over time."

Nancy DeViney, general manager of IBM Learning Solutions, said "Learning in an on demand environment will be embedded into real-time work flows, enabling the productivity of individual employees and aligning employees and teams across a company's value chain for action on key business priorities." Wow. That's precisely the future Sam Adkins and I envision. It's reassuring to be in such august company.

Chris von Koschembahr, Big Blue's M-Learning exec, showed me a truly nifty mini-tablet PC. Compact enough to fit the hand -- or to prop up on the counter in a retail application. Wi-fi. Sleek. If IBM needs any product testers, I would love to get my hands on one of these beauties.



Tuesday night the entire conference moved to DinoLand. Unlike TechLearns past, where party food was "one ice-cream pop," Advanstar treated us to an all-you-can-eat buffet of grilled chicken, pulled pork, pad Thai, huge turkey drumsticks, and more. Fueled by an open bar, some daring souls boarded a rollercoaster. Most of us played whack-a-mole and other carnival games, winning plush dinosaurs and turtles.

Scooter, our DJ from years past, got nearly everyone dancing to often silly music.

Phase Change

1998 2003


It's the end of an era. The early TechLearn Conferences were like Woodstock , gatherings of true believers with smiles on their faces because they had seen the future. Training, coupled with the web, would save the world. We were filled with pronoia -- the delusion that the world was conspiring to help us.

Five years later, adios, Orlando . TechLearn feels more like the Bank Administration Institute's Retail Delivery Conference. Well, sort of. They don't have an enthusiastic, perceptive, big-hearted, and entertaining host like Elliott Masie. Conclusions from this year's event:

  • Corporate conversation assumes eLearning is there.
  • Learning can differentiate a business.
  • Readiness and response time are critical.
  • SCORM has by and large completed its mission.
  • Learning must support strategy.
  • Demand pull is replacing supply push.
  • The learner is central.

The best advice of the Conference came from DAU's Frank Anderson: "If you are riding a dead horse, dismount."

This is a work in progress. The continuation has photos of the event. If you don't have broadband and want to see them, click Continue reading... and go have a couple of cups of coffee while you wait.

Introduction by P.Point

Elliott arriving for Sunday Keynote on his Segway

with IBM's Nancy DeViney

Eileen Clegg recording the event in real time

DAU's Frank Anderson tries out the Segway

Pete Weaver. Working? No, listening to the ball game.

Time moves on. Last year Lance and I were signing books in this room.

Lance Dublin: "What part of everything don't you understand?"

Interwise pals

Two dozen simultaneous 20-minute sessions.
There's Unilever's Ron Edwards to the left.

DinoPark Party

Bully for brontosaurus

She won the watergun competition.

Nicole wins a stuffed animal for the little one.
I won two plush turtles which I gave to friends with kids.

Mark Oehlert and I doing the dueling cameras thing.

Self portrait

Seriously into Whack-a-Mole

I think some of these guys have been practicing all year for this.

Getting carried away with Scooter's music


The TechLearn kick-line getting ready for Radio City Music Hall next year:
Lance Dublin, Beth Thomas, Elliott Masie, Diane Hessan, and Nick Noyes.


And in conclusion

I am embarrassed to offer such fuzzy photos this year.
Wrong settings toward the end of the editing process.
I was going to delete this photo of Wayne Hodgins,
but then I thought to myself, Hold it! Wayne is fuzzy in person. What a likeness! :- )

Adios, Hotel Coronado.

And you thought I wouldn't post this didn't you?

Posted by Jay Cross at 12:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 05, 2003

Social Software

Many-2-Many on Corante

Clay Shirky

Ross Mayfield & Socialtext

The Social Software Weblog

Seb's Open Research

Are you ready for social software?

Cappuccino: When it comes to knowledge management and learning, "we may be witnessing the death throes of the command and control organization," according to Berkeley, California-based author and researcher Jay Cross. "The pendulum seems to be swinging from an institutional, top-down model to an individual, or bottom-up, model," he said. Learning, according to Cross, can be defined as optimizing the performance of your social network. You want to find information faster and cut out the less useful, or underperforming parts of your network. Social software makes this happen. "Reputation has to factor into it," he added. The eBay model for feedback may be relevant beyond the online auction business.

Posted by Jay Cross at 02:19 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 04, 2003

TechLearn Monday

After an hour in the "Learning Showcase," AKA exhibit hall, about 1,000 of us trooped into a large conference room to hear Elliott's state of eLearning address. Nealy half the group is here for the first time. After a PointPoint-as-leader skit, Elliott cruised in on a Segway scooter. He's been providing training guidance to Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. True story: When Bush fell off the Segway, it wasn't even on! He returned from a tennis match, saw the Segway, and hopped on. Duh! Asked, "Why didn't you keep him from falling?", a Secret Service agent responded, "Our job is to keep him alive, not to prevent embarrassing moments.

Elliott downloaded some meta-tagged, freestanding, for-fee music objects (i.e. iPod). Trends for 2004:

READINESS. Be prepared, especially for surprises. Be ready to hire, to change your business, or to go to market. LMS must trigger this.

INTEGRATION. With systems, world processes

WEB EXPERIENCE. "Google is the interface of the future."

NANO-LEARNING. web services, personalization. Wayne says the chunks will be so small that an assembly of them will look like a liquid.

COLLABORATION EVOLVING, more and more just-in-time, when you need it.

USABILTY FOR LEARNING. Gotta pay more attention to this.

NEGLECTED CLASSROOM. IBM update of Apple's Knowledge Navigator. Now the fantasy includes collaboration.


MARKETPLACE SHIFTS. Consolidation, technology groups, integrator groups, procurement models.

Content without context is drivel.
Expect to see another large merger by Christmas and other before the end of Q104.

Verizon wins an award for a cross-training program for managers. 40,000 managers had to be ready to do field work in case of a work stoppage. In 72 hours, they took a course that originally took 3 months and had been boiled down to 8 1/2 weeks.


Elliott on compelling content. Get a fast start, as in a game; just jump in. Create some stress. Reduce that is to be learned. Take what I need to learn, subtract what I know, subtract what I don't ned to know, subtract what I can find, and subtract what I need to know but not for a couple of weeks.

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November 02, 2003

TechLearn - Sunday

The new, lighter model Elliott Masie whizzing down the hall on his Segway.
Elliott & Cathy Masie heading to a session.
Companies with deep pockets.

Sunday midday I grabbed my TechLearn bag o' swag and headed over to Celebration for lunch.

Celebration is the Stepford town conceived, manicured, and controlled by Disney to the southeast of Disneyworld. It's beautiful but eerie.

I lunched on gazpacho and paella at the Columbia Restaurant, an ersatz-Cuban place. Lunch was a taste treat. Looking through the swag bag, I found almost nothing but ads.

This is the last TechLearn in Disneyland. The 2004 event will take place at the Marriott Marquis in New York.

There's no Learning & Training Innovations magazine in the bag, although is listed as an event sponsor. The last four pages of the show directory look suspiciously like magazine pages. Makes one wonder if another magazine has bit the dust.

Tonight's the opening reception and Elliott's keynote. Gotta run.

Posted by Jay Cross at 01:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack