March 29, 2004

Internet Time Outbound

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  Internet Time Blog

Psst! The economy is coming back. March 29, 2004


You signed up to receive sporadic email from Internet Time Group. This is person-to-person, how-Jay-really-feels sort of stuff. Forgive the typos and over-the-top language.


Leveraging unpredictability

Everywhere I turn this year, I bump into the meme of complexity . This is disturbing. Why? Because complexity challenges the bedrock of Isaac Newton, rationality, cause and effect, and an ordered universe. Nonetheless, I am buying the conecept because my old worldview no longer maps to reality. This new world defies logic. Anything can happen. Uncertainty abounds.

Letting curiosity take me where it will, I've been studying complex adaptive systems, social networking, contextual collaboration, content aggregation, value networks, realtime enterprise, Web Services, business process modeling, and the economic return from intangible assets. At first glance, this appears to be a dog's breakfast of unrelated subjects.

Last week, driving home from the annual think tank at IBM's Almaden Research Center, the threads began to connect, like a jigsaw puzzle magically assembling itself. MIT's Tom Malone had made a convincing case for new models of business organization: extreme decentralization with bottom-up management.The Workflow Institute has been finding parallels in the evolution of computing and workflow learning.

Organizations without bosses, software without programmers, a web without a weaver, and learning without instructors. Control is migrating from the top to the bottom in commerce, computing, and culture. My focus at Internet Time Group is shifting to helping people, particularly workers, be productive and happy in this new world.

If you share those interests, please get in touch.

Contact Jay


Workflow Institute News

Sam Adkins and I are delighted to announce that Gloria Gery has become our first Workflow Institute Fellow. Gloria invented Electronic Performance Support. Her concept of intrinsic EPSS was the forerunner of Workflow Learning. At long last, technology has caught up with Gloria's vision.

Workflow Institute now has a blog. If you want to keep up with real time learning, please check there.

We are busy as beavers doing market studies, developing sales tools, and tracking Web Services. However, since almost all of this is under NDA, don't expect to see the results for months to come.

Workflow Institute Blog


Emergent Learning Forum

The eLearning Forum is no more. In late January it morphed into Emergent Learning Forum. Here's why. This is a 17-minute presentation in Macromedia Breeze. Click a slide title to hop around if you like. In short, eLearning has become mainstream. We would rather focus on the future. Expect fireworks.

Membership is still free!

Following the instructions on many Berkeley bumperstickers, sometimes Emergent Learning Forum will "Think Globally, Act Locally." Instead of blowing half a day down in Silicon Valley, this month's meetings will take place informally, in neighborhood pubs. If you're in the East Bay, please join me for a very local gathering of people interested in learning the evening of April Fool's Day. The place: LaVal's on Euclid (Northside), Berkeley. The time: 5:30 - 7:30. The agenda: networking, fun, whatever you bring to the party.

Emergent Learning Forum


Jawboning and Writing

Upcoming Dialog

  • Jay will lead an online discussion of Emergent Learning for Horizon Live on April 13, 2004, 3 pm Eastern, noon Pacific.
  • Jay will be speaking on Metrics, A Pragmatic and Contrarian View at e-Learning: From Practice to Profit at the Queens School of Business, Kingston, Ontario. May 5-7, 2004.
  • Jay will be speaking on Collaboration at the ASTD International Conference in Washington. May 23-27, 2004.

Recent Talking

  • Sam Adkins' post on Learning Circuits Blog, We Are the Problem: We Are Selling Snake Oil, generated sixty comments and was splashed all over the net. In early February, Sam & I presented the antidote to snake bite in a sold-out Macromedia Breeze webcast. Here's the replay.
  • I gave the Plenary Address at eLearn International in Edinburgh In February. It was great to hob-nob with the likes of Etienne Wenger, Don Norris, and Don Clark.
  • Global Business Network's Jonathan Star and I discuss "The Edinburgh Scenarios", where eLearning is headed in the next decade. 34 minutes, Macromedia Breeze.
  • I participated in a panel on where eLearning is headed with Harvey Singh, Dexter Fletcher, Ellen Wagner, and Brenda Sugrue at TechKnowledge in Anaheim
  • I took part in a six-way webcast, What Experts Do to Prepare for a Killer Web Event, with Robin Good.
  • Shared the stage with Darin Hartley to open the eLearning Track at WebEx's first user conference, "Come Together." I asked marketing director David Thompson if they were aware of the double-entendre of the name of the show. He assured me WebEx understood. "WebEx advertising...," he began. I cut him off. Yeah, this was the outfit that blew their initial marketing budget on a Superbowl ad featuring transvestite RuPaul. Inuendo? Sex? Us? Got to talk with Regis McKenna, the marketing god (Apple, Intel, etc.).

Recent Writing

Recent Reading

Business Process Change by Paul Harmon
It's Alive by Stan Davis and Christopher Meyer
The Future of Work by Tom Malone
Creating Value with Knowledge by Eric Lesser and Larry Prusak
The Moment of Complexity by Mark Taylor
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
The Sorcerer's Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda by Amy Wallace
The 80/20 Individual by Richard Koch

Emotional Design by Don Norman
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

= Not finished. Too early to rate.
I review most of the books I read in the Internet Time Blog book department.


Internet Time Blog
Learning Circuits Blog
Workflow Instute Blog
eLearning Jump Page
Workflow Institute

"I think this may be a theme for the decade-that we're going to take packages of things and unbundled them and reassemble the parts. It happens with cultures and biological organisms. It also happens with governments." Danny Hillis

Jay Cross
Internet Time Blog

email: [email protected]
voice: 510-528-3105

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December 31, 2003

Internet Time Outbound

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  Internet Time Group

Carpe annum! January 31, 2003

  Happy New Year!

You signed up to receive sporadic email from Internet Time Group. This is person-to-person, how-Jay-really-feels sort of stuff. Forgive the typos and over-the-top language.

The Future

My predictions for 2004: Conflict in the Middle East, Taxes Rise, Time Flies, Entropy Increases, Shit Happens, Study finds "There's No Free Lunch," and consumers ask "What's in it for me?"

If you want to tackle something tougher, try looking at 2014. You need to divorce yourself from the present to get there. That's the role of scenario planning, a discipline for looking way out there.

The Edinburgh Scenarios focus on eLearning circa 2014. You're invited to take part. I'll be co-hosting a free webinar on the Edinburgh Scenarios the morning of January 20. eLearning Forum will take them as their January focus. I hope you'll share my enthusiasm for brainstorming the possibilities and shaping our vision of the future. Monitor for announcements and invitations. Since Scottish Enterprise is sponsoring the scenario project, some participants will win wool and whisky.

Metrics -- Does It Matter?

My eBook on measuring the value of eLearning has met with mixed reviews. A KM guru I truly respect wrote me, "I love this book! You have both the sizzle and the steak. Great style, great look, great content." Another industry leader emailed me, "Can't imagine anything I'd add or change ... for anyone looking for a real understanding of ROI, as well as various ways to calculate their return, this is the best A-Z guide I have read. And you hit the nail on the head ... it's ultimately about performance and the cost of improving performance." The only other comment I received was a consultant writing a book on performance evaluation who said, "I found it to be mostly a essay on various miscellaneous metrics topics, but it was not very useful. There was a lot on what shouldn't be done and the weaknesses of existing metrics, but not much on WHAT SHOULD BE DONE."

You can order Metrics for $25 and see for yourself.

How to Order...

Push and Pull

I enjoy reading the New York Times and the content it pushes at me. On the other hand, I prefer picking and choosing websites to catch up with rather than overloading my inbox with their email alerts. I go to sites that exert the strongest pull on me at the time. I asked a fellow at eLearning Producer how I could improve my blogs; he told me to add more push. Okay. (This is for you, my friend.)

I'll continue to send out sporadic emails, but if you want to keep up with my doings, or lots of blogs and news items, on your own schedule, you really need to get into RSS. Syndication. RSS ("Really Simple Syndication") lets you to sift though an amazing amount of information, only drilling down to detail when you are interested. A free program called BlogExpress shows me the headlines and a teaser from several dozen blogs I enjoy keeping up with. If I see something I like, I click for more. Bloglines, a free hosted service, tracks more obscure things for me. It alerts me to items that mention Workflow+Learning or Internet+TIme+Group. Take it from me, this is simple. Go to Edu_RSS to get a feel for what I'm talking about.


The 20/80 Rule

On Learning Circuits Blog last month, Sam Adkins posted an item entitled "We are the Problem. We are Selling Snake Oil," that declared that Training doesn't work, eLearning doesn't work, Blended leanring doesn't work, KM doesn't work." (Disclaimer: Sam and I are co-founders of the Workflow Institute.) Sam expected to start a debate, but instead he began a movement. His article was emailed far and wide. A record number of people responded on the Leanring Circuits blog. Few disagreed that learning and KM were out of touch with the requirements of business.

This lit up my cerebral panels. If Sturgeon's Law ("90% of everything is crap") applies to learning, isn't it time to take out the garbage? If lectures, courses, shovelware, PowerPoints, and assorted chrome aren't doing the job, let's flush 'em down the toilet. We can simplify our lives and improve out reputations by eradicating exercises that are irrelevant, unclear, poorly packaged, dogmatic, boring, unsupported, or not engaging.

We would become champions of purposeful learning that works. I imagine we'd be promoting discovery learning: watching others, solving problems, creating one's own vision, picking things up from others, and taking time to reflect. Conversation, dialog, and debate are great teachers. We'd make learning part and parcel of figuring things out, from Googling an answer to being prompted by a smart system. Teaching others works because it requires reflection and making our own connections. Storytelling works because our internal storytellers create our own private versions that relate to what we already know and believe.

If not now, when? If not us, who?

Workflow Institute

Sam Adkins and I have opened the Workflow Institute to promote the understanding of real-time enterprise-level learning in industry and government. We're giving presentations, writing white papers, helping vendors educate their customers, and providing a news feed on the convergence of learning and enterprise applications.

We're experiencing some pushback from people who think Sam and I are calling for turning ALL training into some Orwellian nightmare. For example, Stephen Downes wrote, "Honestly, if it's all about productivity, I want to pack up my computer and take up a new line of work. These predictions by Sam S. Adkins of the Workflow Institute seem well grounded, but they miss the wonderment that defines real change. 'Enterprise Application Integration accelerates.' Yawn. 'Productivity gains from new mobile technology explode.' Sigh. Where's the motivation, the urgency? He could have written all his predictions in one line: online learning will continue to be commodified and co-opted. Is all this what people really want out of our great new internet?"

No, we're not saying Workflow Learning is all people want out of the Internet. We are predicting a new era in corporate training fostered by enterprise application integration, web services, contextual collaboration, and learning at the point of need. The motivation and urgency come from replacing lackluster, ineffective training programs with something more effective and less expensive. Our vision is new, so we're groping along with too many four-syllable words and three-letter acronyms. Yawn. Co-opted? C'mon. Sam and I are trying to share some good news, not commodify our life's work.

Rendezvous in Q1?

You'll find me at:

Parting Advice

If you value your privacy, please follow my example by running AdAware and Spybot to kill off the spyware villains installed on your computer when you weren't looking. (Download these from or And don't tap anything into a computer at a cybercafe or at a conference's free email stations: they're probably sending your every keystroke to some dubious character.

Change your passwords. Frequently. And don't be stupid. Somewhere this year I read about a scheme that could crack into the systems of most major corporations. Bait senior executives with a free, high-quality porn site. Most of those who sign up will use their single, all-purpose passwords. Use those passwords to access their corporate accounts. Could this happen to you?

All the best!

Jay Cross
Internet Time Group

email: [email protected]
voice: 1.510.528.3105

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August 12, 2003

Internet Time Outbound

(This is the monthly push to subscribers to the Internet Time Outbound mail list.)

Circadian Blogging

The blogging community got into a snit about whether it's moral to edit blog entries after they've been posted to the net. One camp thinks this akin to time travelers altering the course of history when they've gone back in time; it's a no-no. The other team figures it's better to correct typos, meaning, and anything else the author feels like; updating is a-okay. I've concluded that in spite of daily entries, my blog is neither a diary nor a journal of record.

My blog includes reference pages. These are the former static topic pages on learning, design, psychology, and the other fields I track. My Metrics & ROI page was the first to get a makeover into a blog entry. Another dozen pages are in various stages of production. One neat aspect of taking these pages into blogform: Visitors can comment.

This Friday, eLearning Forum meets to grapple with the convergence of KM and eLearning. I'll be interviewing Verna Allee to lay the foundation for the meeting. Verna's is a KM luminary. She uses "value networks" to get to the heart of organizational matters in record time. Her recent book, The Future of Knowledge, is a must-read. Oracle is hosting the meeting. Join us if you can.

I have designed a cell phone for nonprogrammers and those with vision problems. Less is more.

You may have heard me rant about how early eLearning tried to take the people out of learning. On August 26, 11:00 a.m. PDT/ 2:00 p.m. EDT, I plan to vent on how to put them back in with my pals Sam Adkins and Ashwani Sirohi. Our webinar on Personalized Learning is free. Internet Time Group is co-sponsor. We plan to chat about:
  • eLearning vs. "me-learning"
  • State-of-the-art personalization techniques
  • Ideas about how to personalize your firm's eLearning
  • Key issues to consider when working with your eLearning providers
  • Assessing what personalization could be worth to you

What aspect of personalized learning would you like us to cover? Drop a note to [email protected]

What's your take on personalized learning? Take our mercifully brief survey. You might be one of four people to win a free copy of Sam Adkin's latest report.

If you want to join us, sign up here.

Want to hear a joke? It's the campaign for governor out here. Reality trumps fiction.

Blogging for Dummies, a four-minute introduction to blogging by yours truly.

I saved the best for last.

The first edition of Sam Adkins' research on Workflow-Based Learning is complete. Most of my day was consumed updating our Center for Enterprise eLearning site. This weekend I put together a 25-page synopsis of what this is all about. It's a free download. Friends are already grabbing copies to see if their company is listed in the index.

Next week the family is taking off for a week's vacation in Toronto. I haven't been there since 1973. If you have any suggestions, drop me a note.


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