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L2A Links for December 18th

  • Developing Razor Sharp Focus with Zen Habits – If you’ve just logged into Facebook or your email for the 10th time today or find yourself thinking in Facebook statuses throughout the day, it may be time to read Leo Babauta’s eBook “Focus: A simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction”.
  • Kurt Vonnegut’s Three Specialists for Change – Found an online passage quoting Kurt Vonnegut in "Bluebeard". One of my favorite summaries of how to put together a successful change leadership team.

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L2A Links for August 26th

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L2A Links for May 18th

  • Progressing Through Change – Resources – Great list of change management and change leadership resources. Includes link to the free online assessment to see how well you are progressing through change.
  • Are URL shortening services wrecking the web? – Wikinomics – Alan Majer voices the same concerns I have about URL-shortening sites building network effects on private networks instead of the public Web. If any of these services went under, I doubt it would break anything, but it might be a painful sprain of the Web’s “coin of the realm” – the link.
  • Drilling Down – Social Networks Eclipse E-Mail – NYTimes.com – The social shift has begun. People are now spending more time on social networking sites like Facebook than they are on e-mail. As the Times says, “signaling a paradigm shift in consumer engagement with the Internet.”
  • Understanding how you process information to help you get organized, part I | Unclutterer – Two very interesting posts from Unclutterer have you first identify your primary information processing style and then suggest ways for you to get organized based on that style. From the Site: “How you process information has a strong correlation to how you may want to organize your home and office.”
  • Social Media Blogs Top 200- NOOP.NL – Jurgen Appelo puts together a ranked list of the Top 200 social media related blogs. Great resource for keeping up with all things in social media. Surprised not to see TechCrunch on the list…
  • Connect.ed – The story of a girl | acidlabs – Stephen Collins (a colleague down under) puts his engaging spin on how our connected world changes how we think about education and learning. An engaging tour of how learning has changed.
  • Linked Data is Blooming: Why You Should Care – ReadWriteWeb – Great post from Richard MacManus giving an overview of Linked Data and the future direction of the Web. Includes an embed of Tim Berners-Lee talking at TED about the importance of Linked Data.

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Learn to Adapt Links for November 21st through November 25th

  • Get Rid of the Performance Review! – WSJ.com – Samuel Culbert posts an argument against the common practice of performance reviews. This echos a sentiment that I have long held. Reviews really only serve bureaucracy and passive-aggressive accountability. High performers don't need them and low performers should be dealt with immediately through a PIP (instead of passing the confrontational buck to the end of the year). Let's improve performance by managing it instead of reviewing it!
  • The Future of Online Learning: Ten Years On – Stephen Downes provides a vast overview of the state of education (it covers more than just online) by revisiting his essay of ten years ago.

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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 October 15th through October 23rd

  • Social Media Classroom – The Social Media Classroom (we’ll call it SMC) includes a free and open-source (Drupal-based) web service that provides teachers and learners with an integrated set of social media that each course can use for its own purposes—integrated forum, blog, comment, wiki, chat, social bookmarking, RSS, microblogging, widgets , and video commenting are the first set of tools. The Classroom also includes curricular material: syllabi, lesson plans, resource repositories, screencasts and videos.
  • Productivity 2.0: How the New Rules of Work Are Changing the Game | Zen Habits – Interesting post from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Despite the grating "Productivity 2.0" moniker, he raises some very good points about how technology empowers individual performance. Some of the ideas will be difficult inside incumbent organizations, but they do approach ideal performance. His "Just Start" echoes my long standing mantra of "Just Do It" (props to Nike) and I echo his "Don't multi-task" in my other mantra "Muli-tasking Kills". He also touches on the well established them of moving from hierarchy to wirearchy.

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Learn to Adapt Links for July 8th

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Learn to Adapt Links for June 23rd

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Learn to Adapt Links for June 15th

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