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A Space for Knowledge

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“They are not pictures, I have made a place.”Mark Rothico

There are number of echoes going on now days on informal learning in and its importance. A branched discussion of that topic is “space & environmental effect on knowledge sharing”.
Well, no one need to convince me on the effectiveness of learning by the water-cooler, as a (almost) chain smoker I get the best knowledge sharing sessions with my colleagues at the smoking corner of our office. Nicotine apart, visionary companies and tertiary educational institutes already started investing good amount of resources to build “knowledge flow friendly” physical environments. Let me share with you couple of case studies.

One on Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning designed by IDEO and another on office space of Agnew Moyer Smith Inc designed by Steelcase.

[Coincidentally IDEO and Steelcase are closely associated too (Steelcase is the majority shareholder of IDEO). Read the IDEO innovation story from Business Week]

Office space of Agnew Moyer Smith Inc.: a case study from Steelcase website

Agnew Moyer Smith (AMS) and their design firm, Archideas, had specific business goals they believed Steelcase could help them achieve: better communication, increased innovation, and a more streamlined work process. AMS and Archideas used the Steelcase Community-based Planning design process to plan a dynamic redesign of their space. The result of the project is that now innovation measures are up 15% and work processes are 37% more effective.

Some of the interesting observations by Steelcase at AMS

AMS work processes are closely intertwined with the work environment. Clockwise from top left: progress review in project room; storyboard session; “driveby” critique; whiteboard session.

Steelcase used three unique CbP tools, designed to build spaces that achieve business results.

Observation: Using techniques developed by social anthropologists, the design team “lives” in the space to see how work really gets done. The team doesn’t simply compile an inventory of what’s there—they also seek to understand what’s missing by focusing on the patterns of interaction and the movement of people and information.

Network Analysis: Using an electronic survey that maps a company’s informal human networks, CbP creates reports that identify the relative strengths and weaknesses within those networks. These reports reveal who the “go-to” people are, how decisions are made, how structured or loose work processes are, etc. The network analysis focuses on enhancing five critical work issues: innovation, communication, decision making, work process, and learning. This analysis reveals essential relationship-based insights that an organizational chart never could.
Unlike a hierarchy, networks are made up of informal relationships that are based on trust. This chart shows the interactions between people for the social network, one of six networks examined in the study.

Co-design: Using structured exercises, the design team brings the space’s future occupants directly into the design process. They are asked to articulate ideas, identify needs, set priorities, and brainstorm solutions together with the designers. Network Analysis helps select the most appropriate participants from all staff levels, especially those who have the most connections to and the most influence with others.

[All corporations have formal lines of communication based on official hierarchies, and informal networks based on social ties. “These informal networks are self organizing structures held in place by relationships of trust,” says Karen Stephenson, a cultural anthropologist who has pioneered the study of social networks in organizations.]

Some of the unique solutions by Steelcase for AMS

Project rooms and the Square are used for formal and informal meetings throughout the day.

People within a project team needed easier ways to work together. Multimedia presentations were practical only in one high-demand conference room. Casual meeting spots were not available throughout the space.

Centrally located team islands facilitate impromptu meetings where staff can get input on key issues and make decisions quickly.

Group work is mobile. Modular tack/write boards can be quickly mounted or removed in nearly every work area. Teams take their work from room to room, take it to their personal workspaces, or store it away until it is needed.

The evaluation showed that networks that encourage collaboration are now 14% healthier. Innovation measures are up 15%, and the effectiveness of work processes is up 37%.

Stanford Center for Innovations: a case study from IDEO web site

Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning plays a critical role in forging new learning methodologies and technologies for Stanford University. To begin the design investigation for SCIL’s home at Wallenberg Hall, IDEO went in the field to broadly understand how learning happens at Stanford University. Emphasis was placed on out-of-classroom learning, as the research led us to key findings that revealed that crucial learning happened beyond classroom boundaries.

Some of the interesting observations by IDEO at Stanford

Students are incredibly flexible and can work virtually anywhere, given the necessary tools and equipment. Informal, outdoor classrooms provided ideal grounds for learning. The informality of sitting or lying on the floor created fun and interesting dynamics between students. The high visibility of these areas invited other students to drop in and join conversations.


IDEO also looked at informal systems of learning and communication between students at Stanford University. Everyday, low-tech tools for messaging (for example, a posting station) gave students permission to display information to the public. ..Without the need to establish rules, old information is either layered over or taken down.

Some of the unique solutions by IDEO for Stanford

In neighborhoods, front porches allow for informal social activities that are usually hidden behind a closed door. In Wallenberg Hall they do much the same. Front porches respond to IDEO’s research findings that revealed that important learning often happens in the moments just before and after the class, while students are preparing and anticipating. Traditionally, little is done to accommodate these threshold activities and conversations after classes are typically hurried and lost in hallway traffic. Front porches in Wallenberg Hall are outfitted with casual furniture to facilitate group work and informal conversations between professors and students.

All front porches are next to major circulation corridors in Wallenberg Hall, providing an easy way to bump into someone and transition into deeper collaborations. All hallways are significantly wider than typical academic hallways to address “collision” between students and the impromptu learning that happens in the corridors.

The rail system is an adaptable armature that accommodates both two- and three-dimensional displays, work surfaces, and tools storage. Removable dry-erase boards and large “sticky” pads provide staff and students with various means of drawing, writing, and messaging.

The tool kit is an adaptable collection of items to support prototyping exercises. A Polaroid camera and display sleeve tells the story of past usage and invite further storytelling. Basic materials for prototyping such as markers, scissors, tape and SCIL-branded Post-its support and encourage group work.

The wired mobile cart is adaptable and versatile and becomes a “landmark” when situated in a space. When closed, its exterior surfaces provide a place for temporary signage and posters for current events. It also provides centralized data and power connections. When opened, the cart becomes a privacy screen while still providing rewritable surfaces and prototyping tools.

Related Post: Dilbert’s Ultimate Cubicle

Written by anol

May 16th, 2004 at 3:39 am

Story telling: a thought aggregation

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At the center of every culture is a group of people seated around a fire telling of the heroes whose struggles transformed and remade their world. That’s true whether the fire is the burning embers of a cooking fire in the Amazon basin or the flickering pixels of a cathode ray tube in upper Manhattan. It’s true whether the hero is White Buffalo Calf Woman, whose gift of the sacred pipe gave birth to the Sioux nation, or Neal Armstrong, whose view of the world from the moon unleashed in an era of globalization. These stories do more than define a culture; they shape and move it, making a living thing.

As human beings, we communicate primarily through the telling of stories. We are bombarded by hundreds of stories each day –stories about which toothpaste is best, about terrorists lurking in the shadows, about new scientific miracles and eternal spiritual truths.

[Form Robert Dickman, Founder: First Voice] [Read the complete article here]

According to Robert the formal definition of a story-
A story is a fact wrapped in an emotion that can compel us to take action and so transform the world around us.

Passion: Every powerful narrative has passion, the emotion that is wrapped around our story’s central fact. Passion is the fire that attracts the audience’s attention and draws it into the story. It makes a story personal. It makes us care.

Whenever we see a movie or read a novel, two souls work inside us. One reflects as critic soul and another the involved soul, which tries to be part of the “story”. Passion encourages the involved soul.

Hero: All the passion in the world won’t do any good unless you have someplace to put it. That is where the hero comes in. It is the way the story is grounded in our reality. By hero, I don’t mean Superman or a grandmother who rushes into a burning building to save a baby, though these are examples of heroes, but the character in the story who gives the audience a point of view. This point of view has to be substantial enough that the story has “a leg to stand on’” but of a scale that allows us to identify with it. The hero is both our surrogate and our guide through the narrative. The hero’s vision of the world creates the landscape the audience enters.

Point to remember always – If the hero is too perfect, the audience rapidly loses interest.

[ Tell the story from the point of view of a single protagonist who is prototypical of the potential audience. – Steve Denning ]

Antagonist: For a story, problems are like air. They breathe life into the narrative. If no obstacles appear, the audience views the story as flat. A great problem, often personified as an identifiable villain, crytallizes the facts of the story and helps them come alive. It is very hard to find that focus without a good villain. Two-time Academy Award winner William Goldman says that every screenplay has to answer just three questions: “Who is your hero? What does he want? Who the hell is keeping him from getting it?”

Point to remember always: The purpose of the antagonist is not to create conflict, but to help clarify it.

Transformation: Transformation is the natural result of a well-told story. Our heroes take action to overcome their problems, and they and the world around them are changed. The audience feels satisfied when they see the hero emerge from the fires of hell a changed and better human being. Learning from the negative and moving on toward the good gives us all hope.

[ From a interview with John Seely Brown ] [ Read the Complete Interview here ]

Why storytelling? Well, the simplest answer to your question is that stories talk to the gut, while information talks to the mind. You can’t talk a person through a change in religion or a change in a basic mental model. There has to be an emotional component in what you are doing. That is to say, you use a connotative component (what the thing means) rather than a denotative component (what it represents). First, you grab them in the gut and then you start to construct (or re-construct) a mental model. If you try to do this in an intellectual or abstract way, you find that it’s very hard, if not impossible, to talk somebody into changing their mental models. But if you can get to them emotionally, either through rhetoric or dramatic means (not overly dramatic!), then you can create some scaffolding that effectively allows them to construct a new model for themselves. You provide the scaffolding and they construct something new. It doesn’t seem to work if you just try to tell them what to think. They have to internalize it. They have to own it. So the question is: what are the techniques for creating scaffolding that facilitate the rich internalization and re-conceptualization and re-contextualization of their own thinking relative to the experience that you’re providing them? Put more simply: how do you get them to live the idea?

Sharing knowledge was like uprooting a tree and transplanting it somewhere else. You called the tree, the “smallest portable context.” A story would be an example of the smallest portable context. You said that the roots of the tree symbolize tacit knowledge, shared practices (social and work practices) and understandings that may not be explicit. In order for the tree to continue to live after it is transplanted, there must be a certain amount of shared practices and tacit understanding.

[ From a interview with Steve Denning ] [ Read the Complete Interview here ]

People think in stories, talk in stories, communicate in stories, even dream in stories. If you want to understand what’s going on in an organization, you need to listen to the stories. Moreover, if you want to get anything done in an organization, you need to know how to use to story to move people.

Management theorists who claim to have a scientific approach to management are kidding themselves and their audiences. Management involves dealing with human intentions and purposes, which are not amenable to scientific observation and measurement. You can easily see this from the numbers of management advisers around.
In chemistry, or physics, or the other real sciences, you don’t have large armies of advisers floating around, advising on what’s the right answer to physics or chemistry or whatever. Scientists themselves can see what’s right or wrong. Something is observable or it isn’t—end of discussion.

In management, there is no such scientific clarity, and hence clouds of advisers swarm around like locusts, most claiming to have a scientific approach, which of course is just a story aimed at giving the speaker cognitive authority over everyone else and to call the shots. The activity is interesting, even exciting and important, but it’s not scientific.

(Footnote : replace Management by Learning Design, it should tell you the same story!)

People can’t absorb data because they don’t think in data. They think in stories. If you give people a story, then they can absorb the meaning of large amounts of data very rapidly.

Images can strongly reinforce the story. Amusing images, if well chosen, can be particularly effective in advancing the story.

[ From a post by David Pollard ] [ Read the Complete Post here ]

So a story can be effective, and hence a ‘good story’, to the teller, and/or, subject to the above-noted tendency for audience groupthink, to each member of the audience, and for very different reasons. It depends entirely on the expectations of each participant, and how each participant uniquely internalizes what they hear and/or say. Is there, then, any common denominator to good stories that the story-teller can draw upon?

Good stories, like good gifts, seem to have one or more of five qualities:

1. Evocative — they provoke a profound intellectual, emotional, or sensual response.
2. Transporting — they ‘carry the recipient’ to another place, another time, by imagery or memory or resonance
3. Persuasive — they cause a fundamental shift in thinking or perception
4. Memorable — they leave something behind that the recipient will hold for a long time
5. Useful — they make something the recipient needs to do easier, faster, or more pleasurableNow, how to take these great ideas into online learning experience design?
Going back to John Seely Brown
I’m taking storytelling so seriously that I’m now spending part of my time at the new institute for media literacy at USC. I’m particularly interested in digital storytelling, in new ways to use multiple media to tell stories and in the ability of kids, who are now growing up in a digital world, to figure out new ways to tell stories. They have the ability to build interpretive movies very simply and to lay sound tracks around the content. They condition or “sculpture” the context around the content. The serious interplay between context and content is key to what film – and rich media in general – are about. I want to understand what film people know about storytelling. I want to know what makes them such good storytellers. What are the techniques (and grammars) of film that help them create an emotional scaffolding around a story so that it connects first to the gut and then to the head?

Some great example of online story telling

America on the move
Anne Frank the writer – An unfinished Story
Theban Mapping Project
Becoming Human

I blogged before on “Inspirations from online interactive storytellers – Part – A”. For a proper flow you can treat this post as a prequel to that.

One problem faced by all of online story creator for learning. The use of media (Narration, Interactivity etc.) is expensive, complicated and time-consuming affair. Second Story came up with a unique solution for this in their America on the move project.

[ From Beyond On-line Collections: Putting Objects to Work ]

On-line Collections-based Storytelling

The administrative tools commonly used to manage content in an on-line collection stand in stark contrast to the tools required to publish interpretive presentations. While it is usually easy to add objects to and edit metadata in a collection database, most interpretive presentations are fixed programs that are difficult to modify. While many exhibition sites provide unmediated access to the objects in an exhibition, that access is most often accessible in a segregated part of the site, often connected but wholly unlike the mediated presentations that interpret the objects. What if the same kind of browser-based administrative tools that are used to easily update collections could be modified to enable museum staff to curate, annotate, paginate and publish custom collections? The flexible, fluid backend of an on-line database can lay the foundation for interpretive presentations that can be modified and expanded over time. Imagine curated collections, new stories, tours, on-line exhibitions, and media-rich presentations easily being added without involving designers, programmers or developers!

Turning Content Management Tools into Storytelling Tools
Museum staff, curators and invited experts use browser-based content management tools on an administrative site to edit any record or page of the site. Creating new stories is just as easy as adding an object to the database, with additional flexibility for a high level of customization. Once a new story is named, described and credited, the author decides which themes are relevant, related stories and links are identified, a custom color scheme is selected, and representative thumbnails are chosen. Then the fun of assembling the content begins. Site administrators can browse the collection and save records to specific lightboxes, and they can have as many unique lightboxes as there are stories they wish to compose. With a pool of objects and any amount of text (some stories are purely playlists while others are more like papers) ready to copy and paste from a text file, the creator can start authoring a page. Pages are comprised of varying amounts of horizontal components: custom containers for headers, text, images, audio and digital video.

When a component is added, the author must select from one of 20 different component styles: one big block of text, a block of text and two images with captions, an image, then text, then another image, etc. A new blank component is embedded in the editing page where text can be pasted in and images cropped, placed and captioned, right out of the author’s lightbox. As more components are added to a page, the cumulative page size is totaled so pagination considerations can be made in light of downloadability. At any time the components can be reordered, and edited, and the page previewed. Once all the pages are satisfactory, the story can be published; it is automatically interconnected in the theme finder, related records pages and any related stories pages, all without any designers, programmers or HTML authoring!

Written by anol

May 7th, 2004 at 3:23 am

Learning experience design

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Inspiration from out-of-the-box (Part I)
I am one of the people going through the metamorphosis from information design (from wild- wild web days!) to learning design. The fact is always haunting me is the mindset of all learning designer working towards “I teach you learn” process. ADDIE or CISCO RLO seems more like a software development life cycle to me too. There must be some better way(s) to do the things here.

Here what I planned to do – First doing a research on “Things what we can learn from out of the box in learning design”. For example from online storytelling and info-graphics designers, advertising/product designing world (how they analyze the user and work towards creating an experience), information architectures (over web and other places). Taking couple of interviews of –
A) Some of the advertising world
B) Some of information designer
C) Some of Learning designer, who doesn’t speak about SCORM or ADDIE when it comes to learning content design, and come up with some better method for design learning content or at least start the discussion.

Of-course I am going to blog every steps of my journey. Here is the first part –

Inspirations from online interactive storytellers -
Second Story creates informative and entertaining interactive experiences including media-rich storytelling presentations, online collections, interpretive installations and database-driven applications.
Since its founding in 1994, the Second Story team of creative artists, producers, writers, animators and programmers has developed over 60 award-winning interactive projects. The studio takes pride in providing clear and intuitive access to archives, artifacts and information as well as staging compelling storytelling features for the Web, kiosks and other digital media.

Here is the quote from Brad Johnson, Creative Director of Second Story –
“The evolution of interactive media means the story no longer flows in one direction, from the one to the many. We provide the characters, the stage, music, information, imagery and atmosphere that visitors use to weave their own story. The narrative is only visible in hindsight, when we piece together the visitor’s path through our work—the path that was their history, their story. This is the second story.”

“We begin each project by immersing ourselves in the content and identifying the most effective and compelling way to stage the story. Then we select the technology and media that best feature the content, heighten usability, and enrich the user experience. Only later in the process is the overall visual treatment established. This approach results in an experience where viewers build an emotional and intellectual connection to the content through their intuitive interaction with the story.” —Julie Beeler, Studio Director

I blogged their works before, catch them on – America on the move, Anne Frank the writer, The Valley of the Kings. But this time I got hold of one of papers on their process, philosophy and product at work kind of behind the stage story.

Beyond On-line Collections: Putting Objects to Work

There are two case studies of visual online museum collection display – The Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s exhibition America on the Move and the Peabody Essex Museum’s ARTscape – that go beyond the inquiry-retrieval model of an on-line collection as an end in itself, to one that provides the foundation for dynamic, extensible and diverse interactive offerings.

On-line collections offer an unmediated alternative to exhibitions and interpreted interactive presentations staged by museums. On-line visitors can directly access what they want, how they want, when they want. Visitors can select from a multitude of different pathways and a variety of perspectives; every image that appears in the site itself becomes a hub linking to every other instance (and hence context, story and perspective) of an object. Individuals can forge new, personalized paths through the site, finding new connections and meaning in the objects to reflect their own interests, experiences and curiosities This interconnected, cross-pollinated approach provides many intersections for interactive exploration to any subject matter.

The first step in extending the utility and value and of an on-line collection is to help audiences discover what they weren’t looking for. Interfaces that go beyond traditional inquiry-retrieval paradigms facilitating unsolicited discovery and meaningful browsing serve wider audiences and more diverse user experiences. When vague curiosities are rewarded as effectively as focused inquiries, an on-line collection can migrate beyond the mere ‘tool’ and start to be thought of as an experience.

ape – the fruits of every journey (online!) through the collection can be saved, shared and connected with visits to the physical museum. Across the top of the ARTscape interface is a persistent zone where visitors can ‘bookmark’ objects that they want to include in their personal collections. Results are selected and records are bookmarked, thumbnails of which are visible in the Bookmarks. If visitors are logged in, their sets of bookmarks can be saved for later retrieval, or e-mailed to friends, students or colleagues. This feature helps curators assemble exhibitions, teachers gather artwork for lessons, and visitors revisit their trips to the museum.

It’s interesting to call it a journey and being able to “breadcrumb” the journey is awesome. Here “breadcrumb” doesn’t mean only a usability paradigm, the context and experience is much deeper.

This record screen provides interpretive information and links to additional media for the object, including a narrated audio segment from the audio tour.

Here comes the best part. For long time we are buzzing around “blended learning”, but not quite able to establish the flow between online, offline and informal learning. These guys did it! I’ve never seen such a seamless flow before.

Bridging the Onsite and On-line Experience
As part of their admission to the museum, every visitor receives an Acoustiguide audio wand to use throughout the galleries. In addition to the traditional audio segments available for some works on view, these modified wands have an additional ARTscape button. Every single object on view has a five-digit ARTscape number clearly visible on its respective interpretive panel. Throughout a visit, audiences can enter the ARTscape number of any object of interest to them – hence bookmarking them – and their entries are recorded in the wand. When the wands are docked in any of the kiosks deployed throughout the galleries, visitors can interact with ARTscape where every object they bookmarked in the museum will be represented. Before leaving the museum, visitors can enter their e-mail address in a kiosk and an e-mail is sent to them with a link to ARTscape. When this link is retrieved on the home computer, the visitor can log into ARTscape and see a personal bookmarked path through the museum!

A visitor “bookmarks” a painting by entering its ARTscape number into the modified Acoustiguide wand.

At one of the kiosks deployed throughout the museum a visitor places the wand in a docking port and can learn more about the works earlier bookmarked.

Before leaving the museum, the visitor can enter an e-mail address in the kiosk with the wand docked and the bookmarks of the visit will be e-mailed to them.

At home, the visitors can retrace their steps, revisit their bookmarks, share their visit or find new connections to related objects in the ARTscape on-line collection.

These features transform an on-line collection into a powerful tool enabling museum visitors to revisit, extend and enhance their experiences on-line. A ‘breadcrumb trail’ is saved of their physical tour so more in-depth information about bookmarked objects can be accessed at any time. Through the Show connections fuzzy logic functionality, visitors can discover other objects that are similar or related to their bookmarks, such that each bookmarked object on view becomes a launching point for new journeys through the collection. As more records are added to the database over time, visitors figuratively weave between the exhibition walls and the storage stacks where every work of art – on-view or off-view – is an equal stepping stone in a unique personalized pathway.

Written by anol

April 14th, 2004 at 11:50 am

Individual vs. Collective learning

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In a recent post – how we learn, and why we don’t, David pollard mentioned -‘collective learning’, a subject I was already skeptical about even then: I was, and remain convinced that learning is an intensely personal, individual experience, and that we all learn differently. He also mentioned that – The purpose of learning is ultimately Darwinian.

I agree David, but I think this individualism is not in built in our learning psychology. It is something our ranking and certification based education system implanted into us. And the same learning culture is carried forward by people into organizations after “warming the seat in classroom” type learning for 16+ years.

If we consider four phased organizational learning – Introduction, Assimilation, Translation and Accumulation*, every phase could be enhanced (specially the accumulation of experience) by collective learning.

*Charls L.Fred

Let me share an experience from my own life. 16 years of my formal education taught me nothing! Not even how to learn. I got moderate ranks and collected all piece of papers which only help me to get a job, not in doing one. After my collage days I joined a post graduate diploma course in computer science. That was a complete different learning experience for me. There the ranks and certificates don’t matter much; instead the actual application oriented knowledge took precedence. 5 of us formed a group of learners and started collaborative learning. Each of us used to study different topic and teach others in the theory and lab sessions. We were able to cover more with less time. We were also amazed to notice the depth we achieved by sharing knowledge.

Going back to David’s post – He quoted David Kolb from “Experimental Learning” – where he described a four-phase learning ‘cycle’: Experiencing, Reflection/Observation, Conceptualization, and Experimentation/Application. If this is indeed how we learn, it is not surprising that ‘on-the-job’ learning trumps ‘book’ learning. If we learn by doing, it is hard to imagine a worse learning environment than the classroom or boardroom. And it also explains how stories, which are so engaging, so participatory, are such effective teaching tools: You are sharing your experience in the story, not merely your observations and conceptualizations. It also explains the popularity of Case Studies in the classroom and best Practices in the workplace, though both of these are extremely poor substitutes for first-hand learning. Kolb describes four basic ‘Learning Styles’: ” Diverging: most learning comes from experiencing and reflection ” Assimilating: most learning comes from reflection and conceptualization ” Converging: most learning comes from conceptualization and application ” Accommodating: most learning comes from application and experiencing.

But my greatest take from this post where David listed top 10 constraints to learning in our modern culture:
1. We don’t allow ourselves (and society doesn’t allow us) enough time for wonder.
2. Our workplace activities and our home routines are often repetitious and stimulus-poor.
3. We don’t do anything together anymore.
4. We get too much of our life experience second-hand (from books & movies, and online).
5. We suffer from imaginative poverty — we won’t let ourselves imagine, and now we’ve largely forgotten how to imagine.
6. Our lives are too organized and too scheduled to allow serendipitous experiences and hence serendipitous learning.
7. In this world full of terrible knowledge and awful realities, we are becoming afraid to learn. We cannot bear too much reality, too much bad news, and we don’t want to accept the awful responsibility that knowing and learning brings with it.

8. Everything about the current Western educational system impedes and discourages learning.
9. The media have addicted themselves, and us, to facts rather than meaning.
We have ‘desensitized’ ourselves — we process everything mainly with our left brain, so we no longer really see, really hear, really smell, really taste, really feel.

Before going back to original Individual vs. collective learning let me mention another post by David Wilcox about Why people don’t share what they know where he suggested some key cultural change in an organization to enhance knowledge sharing –

  1. A culture that encouraged bottom-up ideas development and sharing
  2. Some online enthusiasts – existing or potential
  3. People with influence and resources in the organization prepared to join in, even if they weren’t leading
  4. Preparedness to take a few risks and get out of their boxes

Recently Jay Cross posted “Collective Intelligence” originated by George Por’s “The emergence of CI, an online experiment” where he asked – How can a group of individual intelligences become truly collective intelligence? How can they escape into a more complex and capable collective intelligence, without sacrificing their autonomy? “Collective intelligence is a distributed capacity of communities to evolve towards higher order integration and performance through collaboration and innovation.”

What’s necessary to foster this collective intelligence (CI)? George suggests it’s

  1. Shared learning agenda
  2. Trusted relationships among members,
  3. Frequent opportunities to participate in conversation.

Tugging in the other direction are these inhibiters:

  1. Ego and turf-battles
  2. Conversations are not connected and facilitated for emergence
  3. The community’s knowledge ecosystem is week or poorly integrated
  4. New technologies are not leveraged to balance the constraints imposed by cultural, geographic, hierarchical and other barriers.

I would like to add couple more points on obstacles on CI -

  1. Organizational culture supports hierarchy based “divide and rule” policy
  2. The fear of being dispensable associated with sharing knowledge (this become more and more relevant when we talk about core tactic organizational knowledge)

Finally I would like to mention an article by Jon Udell The social enterprise where he mentioned – If individuals agree to work transparently, they (and their employers) can know more, do more, and sell more.

Written by anol

April 10th, 2004 at 11:32 am

Things I learned from my blog

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Time passes by, completed one month of my blogging; it’s time to reflect. But before I do so allow me to point out two interesting posts.

The first one is David Pollard’s BLOGGING AND PERSONALITY CHANGE, his reflection on a post in PTypes, which rates famous people, and bloggers, by personality type, and also draws linkages between three well-known personality typing schemas. He was surprised by the fact that ‘How to Save the World’ is identified as an ‘Inspector’s’ (ISTJ) blog’. He decided to re-take the Myers-Briggs test on personality type. You can find details in his post, but his most interesting observation – “my personality has changed markedly since I started blogging. I’ve plotted the shift on the charts above… I’ve gone in one year from iNTj (a Thinker) to eNfP (a Change Agent), after not moving on the test for a decade.” Hmm…Interesting.

A footnote here. The hyperlinking structure of the web has influenced my conversation style big time (in a positive way). I can feel it. Now I tend to branch my conversation from point to point, contextualize them, open a new thread as the main route or a detour (open a new window!) and still am able to trackback to my original topic – much better than before. So I don’t have a problem believing the – ‘How a blog saved my life’ kind of thing.

The second post is by Jay Cross on – The Schizophrenia of Blogging.
It’s a classification of bloggers according to their blogging activity.
“Some bloggers record current events. Others collect information for reference. The first is like publishing a daily newspaper or keeping a journal. The second is akin to maintaining an online reference book or content management system. The two personalities are at odds with one another. “

Now for my personal experience: I do hope my blog is helping out (in some way or other) my few (sigh!) readers, but certainly it’s helping me out quite a bit.

Learning & Resource management
After starting soulsoup, I could feel the pressure of a self- imposed responsibility of and hunger for more focused as well as diversified knowledge, every moment. Now, on an average, I visit 20 blogs and 10 websites per day! Blogging also helps me contextualize and house different post and articles together and add my own take on the matters for future reference.

Filtering Signals from Noise
During my pre-blogging days I used to backflip ( any article that seemed interesting and read them later. Through that process I gathered more noise than signals. Now I first backflip the interesting articles and posts, read them later and then blog the stuff which are really interesting.

Directed thought process
There are 3 different mindsets in action when we read something (borrowed from Stephen Downes) Refer, Research and Reflect. Blogging allows me to support all of them. I cross refer different posts and articles, dig deeper following the infinite hyper-linked web world (also by googling ), and reflect by adding my own viewpoint.

Blog is a proven social tool, I don’t need to talk more about that. It’s amazing how smoothly the thoughts tend to flow form one post to another. Trackback and auto-pinging are two wonderful tools provided by MT. Sometime it even works as a matchmaker service, in the thought- process of course! I blogged two different posts with auto-ping; the next day I found out one is referring another in a new post!

By the power of RSS
In the first point I mentioned visiting 20 blogs. It definitely seems quite time consuming, but actually it take less than half an hour! Beside FeedReader I am also thankful to RSS to JS converter made by Maricopa Learning eXchange. I build my own RSS feed page of my favorite blog sites. I will make it public after some minor face-lifts.

More than all of above I am having a great time blogging. My wife doesn’t have to suffer my chatterbox of wanton thoughts and reflections — I blog them!
Let the quest continue.

Written by anol

April 5th, 2004 at 11:32 am

Posted in Featured, Social Media