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L2A Links for December 2nd

  • Assembly Line: Instructional Designers as Content Curators by Stacy Friedman : Learning Solutions Magazine – Stacy Friedman's article hits some of the points I've been espousing for years (it's good to have someone agree!). Not just for learning, but for all performance improvement solutions, there is so much already available that we need to be adept at building solutions using the content and platforms available instead of reinventing wheels.
  • Flipped Classrooms in Corporate Learning: Concept or reality? – The ways of Training and Learning in the corporate space are changing. With the advent of technology-enabled learning, corporate trainers are exploring newer ways of reaching out to learners. From a very ‘course-centric’ focus, trainers are now leaning towards ‘learner-centric’ models which require learners to take a more active role in their own learning

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L2A Links for April 19th

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L2A Links for June 29th

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L2A Links for April 20th

  • Enterprise 2.0 Blog » Blog Archive » There is No Such Thing as Culture Change – Venk’s original blog post that sparked the debate on culture change (see next bookmark).
  • Venkatesh Rao and Stowe Boyd on E2.0 Culture – Stowe Boyd interview Venkatesh Rao about his keen ability to voice broad generalizations that push peoples buttons and generate conversation in the Enterprise 2.0 space. In his latest he proffers that an organizations’ culture cannot change so it must wait to be destroyed from without instead of changing from within. Scary stuff for all the Organizational Development and Industrial Psychology professionals (not to mention the leaders trying to lead change in their organizations).
  • Why Wikis? : Wikis in Education : THE Journal – Ruth Reynard provides a great overview of how wikis are the latest technology to effectively support the the goals of instruction at various levels

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Learn to Adapt Links for December 5th through December 7th

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Learn to Adapt Links for November 18th

  • Voice in Google Mobile App: A Tipping Point for the Web? – O’Reilly Radar – Tim adds thoughts to the building evidence that the Web (which should now really be considered the Cloud) is going mobile. The iPhone has freed our interface design limitations and the Cloud content and services will continue to become more accessible on all devices as we incorporate a more device agnostic philosophy to our product development.
  • Are Our Technologies at War with Each Other? – Andrew McAfee – Andrew weighs in on the debate Venkat and I started on his original post and my response, both of which got reposted by Social Computing Magazine. (Had I know the debate was going to get such attention I wouldn’t have shot so passionately from my hip ;o)

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KM vs. Social Media: Beware the Warmongers

In a stark example of ageist bigotry parading as insight, Venkatesh Rao is trying to instigate a war that does not, and need not, exist.  He believes that knowledge management (KM) advocates and social media (SM) advocates are at odds with each other.  His divisive post imagines a war between KM and SM.  Evidently, after encountering resistance to his polarized view of SM, he authored the dense tirade as a call to a war that does not exist.  His post brings to mind William Randolph Hearst’s quote, “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” (Although that is history and Rao dismisses the importance of such institutional knowledge.  He’s doomed to repeat a great deal of history, I suppose.)
I see no reason why we should respond to Rao’s call to war.  His evidence in support of war are little more than petulant responses to people’s inevitable resistance to change.  He supports his opinions with fallacy in an attempt to create generational conflict.  My personal favorite: “…RSS and Mash-ups are culturally Gen X ideas…” I wonder how Dave Winer, the primary inventor/advocate of RSS, would feel about that statement since he falls solidly in the Boomer generation that Rao seems to disdain.  Statements like “The Boomers don’t really get or like engineering and organizational complexity,” beg a cultural flame-war.  But I will resist.  Instead, let me make a case for KM and SM peace.
A few bad apples don’t spoil the whole bunch. All change champions encounter resistance – sad fact of the human condition.  And many entrenched incumbents can be especially resistant to the status quo.  But we paint with too broad a brush if we let a handful of stubborn dinosaurs define an entire group of people.  I have been in KM for over a decade and have been active in SM since the term was coined.  And amongst the advocates of both, I see many more examples of integration than I do of segregation.
Social media actualizes the idealism of KM. In the workshops I deliver on Enterprise 2.0, I often refer to it as “KM 1.53”  This alludes to the fact that the goals of E2.0 are nearly identical to the goals of KM.  E2.0 (SM in the workplace) delivers the platforms and tools necessary to reach the KM ideals we have sought for years.  While the inherent ungoverned disorder of social media seems radical to some KM administrators, most KM advocates welcome these tools in their quest to free information and improve performance.
Most KM practitioners recognize the value of SM.  I have presented keynotes and workshops on SM at KM Australia and KM Asia.  At both, I have found many more eager adopters than resistant dinosaurs.  Based on my experience, most KM practitioners are excited about SM tools and platforms and are looking for ways to incorporate them into the current KM strategies as soon as possible.  As for the less structured aspect of SM, the response to my “Abandon Your Content Management System – KM in the age of GooTube” presentation at KM Australia was very positive.
Rao ended his post with his prediction of how the war will end.  Please read it yourself, but I would summarize it as: the old resistant people will die and the young righteous people will prevail.  I will close with my prediction of how the peace will continue:  Our technology and society will continue to evolve; people will continue to be resistant to (but finally adapt to) change; youth will continue to disdain their elders until they become tempered by wisdom; and the opportunities to learn and prosper will continue to grow for those wise enough to do so.

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From Knowledge Management to Knowledge Ecosystem

This post is based on the keynote I delivered at Knowledge Management Australia this summer (I know – but better late than never).  I entitled the talk “Abandon Your Content Management: KM in the Age of GooTube”. When I developed it I was under the questionable influence of two books: Clay Sirky’s Here Comes Everybody and David Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous.  But here I want to share the main premise of the talk: that we should focus less on managing our information and focus more on capturing it and then making it discoverable.
(A note before we begin.  I will be using the terms “information management” and “content management” in place of what many people would refer to as “knowledge management.”  I define knowledge as “information in action” – and that action can only take place in the human mind.  Since I’m not fond of the idea of mind management, I believe “information” is actually what we are managing, not knowledge.)
Most traditional information management or content management systems and programs follow a highly centralized model:

Traditional CMS Model

Think about those three verbs: Gather, Organize, Publish.  Those are the verbs of centralization and governance.  It implies one system (or group) is responsible for information management.  And often the majority of the resources within that system are devoted to “Organize” – organizing (and controlling) the information in the system.  In an age when search makes unorganized information easily discoverable, this is probably a waste of resources.
The focus on organizing grew out of natural human reaction to trying to understand an increasingly complex environment.  There was so much information available that we had to develop ways of organizing it in order to cope.  Over time, this resulted in what David Weinberger refers to as the “three orders of order”:

The three orders of order

  1. Organizing the objects themselves based on shared traits. This does have some basis in logic and is exemplified by placing flora and fauna into related Kingdom, Phylum, Class, etc. or in organizing a department store into clothing items, kitchen items, electronic items, etc.  But even this has its limitations.  Does an under-kitchen-counter TV go in the kitchen department or the electronic department?  This order of order is based on organizing the physical objects themselves.
  2. Organizing “pointers” that represent the actual objects based on some arbitrary system. This order of order evolved to address the sheer volume of objects that needed to be discoverable.  We could create new smaller objects that “point” to the real object and then organize those “meta-objects”.  The arbitrary way these meta-objects were organized (think alphabetization or the Dewey Decimal system) often removed any “natural relations” they might have.  And again, their use and discoverability were limited by the fact that they were still physical objects.
  3. Digitizing the objects (or meta-objects) allows us to return to the “natural state of chaos”. This new order of order reconsiders the reason we organized objects in light of our new digital world. The core driver of our past organization was to make objects easily (and hopefully logically) discoverable.  But in the digitized world, we can discover without the need for organization.  Search is the key that unlocks the chaos of information.  So, Weinberger’s (arguable) proposal is this: In a digital world power by full search, we no longer need to order (organize) our information to be able to find and use it.

If Weinberger is correct and we can return to chaos comfortably, it brings us to a more natural state of knowledge capture and discovery.  To illustrate this, let’s first consider a (grossly simplified) picture of an ecosystem:

Ecosystem cycle graphic

Within ecosystems, resources (food, energy) are circulated within the environment from producers to consumers and then (again, grossly simplified) back around to producers again.  If we apply this ecosystems model to our old information management model, we will see “Organize” drop out entirely, “Gather” become “Capture” and “Publish” become “Discover.”

Think about these new verbs, Capture and Discover.  These are not centrally controlled and they abhor governance.  Given an open system, anyone can capture information as they create it (or discover it) and then everyone can discover all that has been captured (via search – as well as links, recommendations, etc.).  And if the ecosystem (i.e., information management system) is designed properly, every act of discovery is automatically an act of capture that returns value to the ecosystem.  Let’s consider the ideal application of the two verbs in more detail:
Capture. All the content (information) in our knowledge ecosystem is generated by people (people who need people – sorry…).  We should design our work applications and procedures to capture everything that people produce as they work.  There should be no separation between the tools of production and the tools of information capture.  And, of course, those tools should have discovery built into them.  Imagine if every time information of value to the ecosystem was generated – whether in a spreadsheet, database, e-mail, conference call, IM or Tweet – it was immediately captured, indexed and discoverable through search, cross-linking, and extensions.  People working in that that ecosystem would thrive.
Discover. First and foremost, our information ecosystem must have comprehensive search.  In addition, it should incorporate every tool or process for improving discoverability such as tagging, syndication, linking, the “database of intentions“, and recommendations.  Moreover the system must recognize that the information is being captured and discovered by people (people who need people – damn! sorry…).  As we move from the information age into the connected age and the importance of social networks increases, the system must support the socialization of information.  Our ideas and information are satellites orbiting us just as the people in our social graph do.  The ecosystem must recognize that information and the people who created or discovered it should be inseparable.  We gain far greater value from social information than orphan information.
So how does one go about building a knowledge ecosystem? What are the basic requirements of a system to support the continuous cycle of capture and discover? That’s what the buzzword d’jour, “Enterprise 2.0” (aka “Knowledge Management 1.53”) is all about.  By applying the social ideals and platforms sweeping the Web to the enterprise, we can approach (carefully) a knowledge ecosystem.  One of the best (though techno-centric) models to capture the elements needed within a knowledge ecosystem is the FLATNESSES checklist created by Dion Hinchcliffe (based on the original SLATES checklist created by Andrew McAfee):

Hinchcliffe's FLATNESSES checklist

I encourage you to review it and the other “Enterprise 2.0” information out there.  Applying those ideas can help you begin to shift from knowledge management to knowledge ecosystem.

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Learn to Adapt Links for September 22nd through September 23rd

  • Should Knowledge Workers Have Enterprise 2.0 Ratings? – Andrew McAfee's latest post posits the performance management standards that an organization might employ to measure/motivate employee use of Enterprise 2.0 (aka Knowledge Management 1.53) tools for collaboration. This is incredibly important as the greatest challenge to the success of E2.0 deployments is fostering the cultural change. By measuring/rewarding participation the organization demonstrates the importance of E2.0 collaboration.
  • Examples of eLearning 2.0 : eLearning Technology – Tony Karrer pull together a nice list of tactical examples of how different organizations are using Web 2.0 social technologies in their learning and business practices.

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Dining Down Under – Longrain Gets 4 Stars

I rarely wax poetic about restaurants, but I had such a wonderful experience in Melbourne that I wanted to share it. I was down under to deliver a keynote and masterclass at KM Australia 2008. (I promise I will have the summary of the keynote posted soon!)  While there, I had the great good fortune to join some members of the Knowledge Management Roundtable Victoria for dinner.  The ringleader for the evening was Michelle Lambert and through her sheer determination, we were able to land a table for eight at Longrain Resturant and Bar. (Much thanks to Geri Overberg for modeling the restaurant’s shingle in the photo!)
The menu is nouveau asian fusion and because we had a large group we ordered a banquet menu.  The banquet include a wide range of dishes and each of they was simply delicious.  From the curries to the seafood, from the silken tofu to the young coconut gelatin – everything was simply delicious!  If you are ever in Melbourne, be sure to make Longrain part of your trip.  You will not be disappointed!
Despite it being mid-winter down under and my only have a few non-working days, I did get out to see a bit of the city. If you would like to see the smattering of photos from the trip that I posted on Facebook, just click the picture below:

Trip to Melbourne Photo Album

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