Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Toogle Image Search

Toogle Image Search: "The most comprehensive image buggery on the web."

Try "chocolate"!

[via David Weinberger]

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The New York Times: Internet Bullies

This NYTimes (free registration required) article is garnering quite a bit of attention. Internet Gives Teenage Bullies Weapons to Wound From Afar:
"The episode reflects one of many ways that the technology lubricating the social lives of teenagers is amplifying standard adolescent cruelty. No longer confined to school grounds or daytime hours, 'cyberbullies' are pursuing their quarries into their own bedrooms. Tools like e-mail messages and Web logs enable the harassment to be both less obvious to adults and more publicly humiliating, as gossip, put-downs and embarrassing pictures are circulated among a wide audience of peers with a few clicks.

The technology, which allows its users to inflict pain without being forced to see its effect, also seems to incite a deeper level of meanness. Psychologists say the distance between bully and victim on the Internet is leading to an unprecedented - and often unintentional - degree of brutality, especially when combined with a typical adolescent's lack of impulse control and underdeveloped empathy skills.
What seems most important to pay attention to is the comment about how this bullying flies under adults' radar and less visibility of the effect of the work OF the bully by the bully. I see this dynamic show up in adult interaction as well, but usually with much less or little intent to do harm. But the individual experience on the receiving end can be devasting, particularly if it happened in a public online space or was rapidly forwarded among email networks.
It's like you may survive the earthquake, but the aftershocks get you -- to the core.

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First Monday: E–learning and language change

E–learning and language change — Observations, tendencies and reflections by Henrik Hansson and Sylvia van de Bunt–Kokhuis

This paper discusses the globalization of e–learning, changes in languages as an effect of distance technologies and the lingua franca of modern times, English, and its effects on other languages. Hybrid languages such as Spanglish (Spanish English) and Swenglish (Swedish English) emerges as an effect of the increasing interaction between non–English languages and the dominant English language. The need for speed and efficiency in communication and the adaptation to new technology changes language dramatically as is observed in chat and SMS–mediated communication. The complexity of modern human communication is discussed with a historical perspective — the old modes of communication can now be used via Internet but this transfer changes their characteristics.

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Creating a Learning Culture - New Book

Creating a Learning Culture, edited by Marcia Conner, is out. I have a few friends and colleagues with essays in this book -- it looks interesting. (I have to read a few on the stack before I can buy more.) Has anyone read it yet? Comments? From the PR:
Creating a Learning Culture features insightful essays from industry observers and revealing case studies of prominent corporations. Each chapter revolves around creating an environment where learning takes place each day, all day—fundamentally changing the way we think about how, what, and when we learn, and how we can apply learning to practice. Three sections address key aspects of learning culture: the modern business context and the importance of learning at every juncture; the organic and adaptive approaches organizational leaders can take to design enduring success; and the expanding role of individuals within organizations and the implications for business leaders, educators, technologists, and learners. Identifying the steps companies must take to remain competitive for years to come, this book explains how learning strategies applied to all aspects of every job can provide swift returns and lasting results.
Contributors include: Douglas K. Smith (Foreword); John Seely Brown and Estee Solomon Gray (Introduction); Harlan Cleveland; William M. Snyder and Etienne Wenger; Eileen Clegg and Clark N. Quinn; Karen Kocher; Mitch Ratcliffe; David Grebow; Laurie Bassi, Karen L. McGraw, and Dan McMurrer; Edgar H. Schein; Rob Cross, Lisa Abrams and Andrew Parker; Wendy L. Coles; Marc J. Rosenberg; Dori Digenti; Brook Manville; Brenda Wilkins; Gunnar Brückner; Garry O. Ridge; Cliff Figallo; Marcia L. Conner and James G. Clawson (Afterword)

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Evaluating Collaborative Policymaking

National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation: "New Report on Evaluating Collaborative Policymaking Processes
...the Center for Collaborative Policy just released a Hewlett-funded report called 'Is Devolution Democratic? Assessing Collaborative Environmental Management.' The report proposes a normative framework for evaluating the democratic merits of collaborative policymaking processes in terms of six criteria: inclusiveness, representativeness, procedural fairness, lawfulness, deliberativeness, and empowerment. The framework is then applied to random sample of 76 watershed-based stakeholder partnerships in California and Washington State. You can download the report at www.csus.edu/ccp/publications.htm."

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Blogger Fallout

I was at a 5 day meeting and had little time to blog. But I clipped a bunch of things in "draft" mode for when I returned. This evening, as I went to edit, everything is gone from yesterday and today. Poof! As if I could remember what I had snagged. Oi vey. I am not a happy blogger.

That said, I probably have 30 things in draft mode I could use. But it was TODAY'S stuff I wanted. Pout pout.

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Institute for Connectivity in the Americas

Connecting People. Connecting Ideas. Connecting the Americas.
"ICA showcases success stories, lessons learned, and best practices that support knowledge creation and capacity building in the Americas. In addition, the Institute promotes virtual collaboration networks to facilitate the exchange of ideas."

[Recommended by Steven Clift]

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Cliff Figallo: Communities don't die...

I'm hip deep in meetings for five days so am simply sharing stuff that has been thought provoking to me.

Cliff Figallo wrote a few days ago of how the net has reconnected him to an important community from his past. Communities don't die...:
"It's only been in the past 5 years that the Net has begun to serve as our reunion space. One of our email lists is called the Prayer List. On the Farm we lived as a spiritual community. That was what we called our first cause. We didn't have a codified religion; we simply believed that as humans we had a spiritual bond between us that deserved to be honored. Since we dispersed (most of the Farm's members left the Tennessee land and our collectivity in the early 80s) we've taken many different spiritual and religious paths.

The Prayer List is ecumenical, but it's a way to stay in touch to provide support for those of us who need it. And as we age, we find that we are naturally facing more illness, more suffering, more death. Our kids get sick, hurt and sometimes die. We want to know that people we trust are paying attention and praying for us, or at least projecting good wishes to us during our hard times.

It's amazingly powerful to know that hundreds of friends are aware when there is a crisis, and it's heartening to know that the Net can extend the loving relationships we worked so hard to build over 20 years ago. And to have it work through a simple email list is an illustration of how basic the tools can be to deliver the most essential messages of all."
This feeling that a community can be "there" for you, even though the "there" is dispersed, almost indescribable, rings true for me.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Full Circle Online Facilitation Workshop - Starts Sept 6

Hm. I realized I can use my own blog to market my work. Shocking, eh? In any case, I offer about twice a year an online workshop called "Facilitating Online Interactions." I've been offering this alone and with others since late 1998. It is three VERY active online weeks spread over five weeks. Intense. Perhaps too intense for some, but it gets participants to an experience that can open up possibilities they never imagined. There are always interesting participants from all around the world. It is mostly asynchronous, but we also have 2 telecons and weekly synchronous chats.

Interested? Details can be found on the workshop homepage. The two non profit/NGO scholarships are gone, but if you want to take the workshop and will commit to full participation, and you are broke or you work for an NGO, email me and perhaps we can find a way for it to work.

P.S. This workshop is a labor of love.

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ReliefWeb: Directory of Communities of Practice

Mark Hammersley has been doing amazing things connecting relief and aid workers using simple web based tools such as emails and webpages. Here comes another great contribution: Directory of Communities of Practice (for ReliefWeb)
"This is a work in progress, listing online communities for relief workers. Email discussion lists and other community resources have been selected for inclusion on the basis of relevancy and usefulness for humanitarian practitioners."

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Stiki Wiki - Wiki Subtleties

Stiki Wiki floated across my digital world this morning. I like it. I like it.

Go look at this wiki. What do you notice first? What do you notice after you swim around for a while in this lovely gray and sage pool? StikiWiki adds context. CONTEXT! (yes, I'm shouting). Intuitively I'm jumping up and down at my desk because that is what I sense baffles some people with wikis -- it can feel like there is a lack of context because it is presented to us in unfamiliar ways. I'm going to play with this wiki some more!

[via David]

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Common Craft - Differences Between Message Boards and Weblogs

Lee at Common Craft just posted a thoughtful piece on the difference between message boards and weblogs. I had the chance to see his draft and really appreciate the distinctions (and similarities) he is trying to articulate. As I reread the final post tonight, I'm more strongly hit by the coming convergence of these forms. Perhaps in a year, we will have new hybrids and combinations. Here is a snippet:
Worlds are colliding, people. Your friendly neighborhood message board is not alone in the online community world any longer...

...in the last few years, we’ve seen the arrival of a new set of tools and processes that offer additional opportunities for message board-based online communities. The appearance of weblogs have left many observers, including me, wondering about the differences between the two technologies and how they will be used inside online communities.

Are weblogs really that different from message boards? How?

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More Wiki Resources: DokuWiki

"DokuWiki is a simple to use Wiki aimed at a small companies documentation needs. It works on plain texts files and thus needs no database. It has a simple but powerful Syntax which makes sure the datafiles remain readable outside the Wiki. It utilizes GNU grep for fast text search."
Note from Nancy: Do you know of a distributed community of practice that uses wikis as their main online interaction tool? Please let me know. I need some case studies for a report some of us are working on. Thanks.

[Via Brian Dear]

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Blogs, Communications Possibilities and "WHY?"

The recent Tech Soup online conversation on blogs and this article in The Chronicle, Advocacy Groups Discover the Power of Blogs to Spread Their Messages, has gotten me thinking more about the role of communications in organizations, particularly organizations that have a large geographic spread or which are distributed (i.e. the members are rarely or never colocated - together!)

What kinds of communication do we need? How much is too little? How much is too much? How public? How private? How much inward facing? Outward facing? Blogs and other forms of easy distributed publishing open up doors that ask us to then think about our strategic communications choices. "How" has given us opportunity. The "what" abounds. The "why" of what we do becomes even more important than ever.

What kinds of decision making ideas do we have to get to the best "why" possible?

[via Vermont Nonprofit CommunIT]

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Sunday, August 22, 2004

Olympic Athlete Blog Blackout

I mentioned this news in the previous post. Thought I should blog it as context. USATODAY.com - Olympic athletes largely barred from posting online diaries
Athletes may be the center of attention at the Olympic Games, but don't expect to hear directly from them online — or see snapshots or video they've taken.

The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites.

An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games.

The IOC's rationale for the restrictions is that athletes and their coaches should not serve as journalists — and that the interests of broadcast rightsholders and accredited media come first.

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Why Don't We Hear this Story in the News?

First I reeled when I heard yesterday about the Olympic's athlete blog ban. What do they want to hide? Then David Weinberger blogged Tom Matrullo's experiences recovering from Hurricane Charely. IMproPRieTies: riders on the storm
The first moment after a disaster, we do not need news anchors unchained to any news, no shred of useful information, but plenty of unctuous sympathy. We do not need roads filled with NBC-2 vehicles containing anchorites powdering their noses in rear view mirrors. These we have, in droves.


Disasters happen. Some learn from prior experience. MCI, with its Big Blue mobile phone/broadband satellite trailer, with AC, water, snacks, has learned. They have been to Oklahoma City. To New York City. They have acquired some knowledge, and it shows. MCI’s unit posted itself near the worst hit area, but also near a Publix, (another company with some memory of what can be done), which reopened within a couple of days of the storm with generator power, and porta-potties. To these essential ingredients came people from Siesta Key offering burgers and hot dogs, cold water, etc. State Farm set up its mobile office. In very little time, a self-organized multiple-use node has replaced a distressed stripmall parking lot.
Later Tom wrote:
Mr. Bush, your disaster recovery agency is intensifying the lack of housing, taking up valuable space with its own infrastructure, and failing to take the simplest steps to alleviate a jot of the monumental problems here. I applaud FEMA's effort to undermine your political future; I simply do not wish anyone who is not the "beneficiary" of the agency's services to believe it has anything other than a hollow political purpose in being here.

I live in Southwest Florida under a mask called FEMA, a latter day Republican meta-agency. Its task is to mitigate the impact of any natural disaster upon the political fortunes of the Bush Administration -- the major disaster from which we all need immediate long-term relief.
We need peoples voices heard. Not stifled.

[via David Weinberger]

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Robin Good's e/merge Synchronous Collaboration Presentation

At June's e/merge online conference originating out of South Africa, Robin Good's Synchronous Collaboration live presentation won raves. You can hear/see/experience it now from the archives. Robin has put together a set of criteria then ranked a variety of tools and providers.

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Thursday, August 19, 2004

Resource: Open Source CMS Evaluation Site

More folks are looking not only at open source products. In the content management category (CMS) - an expensive option in the propriatary software world, it is nice ot see an option like opensourceCMS for evaluation.
"This site was created with one goal in mind. To give you the opportunity to 'try out' some of the best php/mysql based free and open source software systems in the world. You are welcome to be the administrator of any site here, allowing you to decide which system best suits your needs."
[via Stephen Downes]

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Snippets from Weblogs: The Promise for Nonprofit Organizations

Here are some snippets from TechSoup: Weblogs: The Promise for Nonprofit OrganizationsSome things (snipped) out – see the article for all the good stuff.
10 Reasons You Should Start a Weblog Right Now

1. Updating is easy. It can be difficult to organize information on your Web site. The better weblog tools (such as Movable Type's TypePad, WordPress and Blogger) have … templates that give you a functional site at the click of a button. (snip).

2. Links are valuable to your readers. Most weblogs are made up of separate posts that consist of a link with some commentary. These links to other sources of information give readers a reason to visit your site. Your organization's blog can serve as a clipping editor on a particular topic, pointing your readers to the best sources of information so they don't have to do all the sifting themselves.

3. You can become a trusted information source. The more you add useful links to your weblog, the more you become a trusted source for information. (snip)

4. A Weblog gives readers a reason to visit your Web site regularly. The useful information you post gives visitors a reason to come back regularly. Frequent visitors are more likely to engage with your organization's efforts online and off-line.

5. Weblogs provide a more personal communication vehicle. Writing a formal Web site takes a lot of work writing a polished presentation of your organization, your projects, and your fundraising efforts. The nature of the weblog medium, with its quick and frequent updates, promotes a personal voice that can engage users on a more human level. For example, Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth is a personal site. Andy's voice comes across. (snip)

6. Google loves weblogs. Google ranks frequently updated sites with many links (and many links to it from other pages on the Web) as more valuable than those with fewer links…. If your weblog comes in high, so will your organization's Web site, issues, and viewpoint.

7. Reverse chronological order is wonderful. The vast majority of weblogs display information in reverse chronological order, so that the newest information is automatically on the top of the page. This makes it very easy for your readers to find and follow what is fresh and topical.

8. It's easy to be topical. With the newest information at the top, lots of links, and easy content formatting and publishing, weblogs give you tools that make it very easy to be topical, pointing your readers to the most recent relevant issues and news. (snip)

9. You can use a variety of media. Look at Andy Carvin's weblog again, and be sure to check out the column on the left. There you will find an audio blog with posts that provide, for example, a narrative of what was going on outside of Fleet Center during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. (snip) By using other media in this way, you have other ways to engage with your users. And the blog tools make it easy.

10. The sum is more than the parts. The nine reasons cited so far work together to help you create a valuable, credible resource that points to outside sources, publishes a variety of media, and uses your own voice to engage your constituency in an ongoing conversation about the issues to which your organization is dedicated. (snip)

Okay, So Blogs Aren't Really for Everyone

The success of a Weblog depends on the strength of your message and your sense of audience. For this, you need people who regularly search for valuable information, relate it to your organization and audience, and posting it. Easy content formatting aside, this still takes work, time, and commitment. A weblog that was last updated six months ago does not build credibility, it begins to destroy it.

Not everyone enjoys reading them, either. In this TechSoup Community thread, you'll see that some people don't like having to follow links to follow a conversation. Sometimes links can even lead you in a circle, without a feeling that you've actually found any new information. Research indicates that weblogs are read by 17 percent of Internet users. That's around 4.76 million users. And some of them could be visiting your site.

What Weblogs Already Can Do
1. Allow you to informally gather information from your co-workers
2. Track a project at work
3. Point to outside resources related to your work
4. Provide a way for your constituency to engage with a less formal version of your organization
5. Make it easy to frequently update your Web site
6. Make it easy to turn a portion of your Web site over to your constituency, through commenting or authoring privileges
7. Serve as a personal knowledge management database
8. Allow you to share a variety of media, audio posts, images, and videos
9. Make Google love your Web site
10. Entice readers to come back to your site

What Weblogs Might Be Able to Do If We All Play Our Cards Right
1. Provide an opportunity for ad hoc collaboration
2. Raise the profile of important issues to a large, cross-organization constituency
3. Provide a World Wide Web-sized conversation in context
4. Provide access to tools to organizations that might not be able to afford them
5. Create a variety of win-win situations

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004


OD guy Dutch Driver pointed me to gapingvoid. Visual thinking. Irreverence (plenty of those four letter words my son tells me are a critical part of modern communication!) and some interesting ideas on creativity. I was chuckling at many of his cartoons like this one:

Clearly, I am not yet a commodity. I'm still trying to figure out how to explain what I do. Thank goodness for small favors!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Mapping De.licio.us Tags in a Mind Map

More visual thinking connecting into socially oriented software. Something about networks that says VISUAL!!

b r o w n h e n . c o m
Delicious Mind: I've been playing with Freemind again, a free Java-based mind-mapping application that also includes an applet for displaying browsable versions of your mind maps on the web. I tend to rotate through several different outlining tools, unfortunately—for fiction writing, for to-do lists, for just thinking.

delicious_mind is a Python script that makes a mind map out of your del.icio.us links, a web-based tool I've also been using/playing-with quite a lot. The script [pretty] [src] uses the del.icio.us api to get your tags and (by default) your hundred most recent posts and build a spartan looking mind map out of them.

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Bruce Sterling SIGGRAPH 2004 speech "When Blobjects Rule the Earth"

Too many succulent tidbits to blog tonight. Flying through them...

BoingBoing: Bruce Sterling SIGGRAPH 2004 speech "When Blobjects Rule the Earth":
"Having conquered the world made of bits, you need to reform the world made of atoms. Not the simulated image on the screen, but corporeal, physical reality. Not meshes and splines, but big hefty skull-crackingly solid things that you can pick up and throw. That's the world that needs conquering. Because that world can't manage on its own. It is not sustainable, it has no future, and it needs one.

It is going to get one from you."

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Collaborative Learning Environments

COSE Virtual Learning Environment
Another system that takes collaborative learning seriously is COSE from Staffordshire University. Similar in some ways to LAMS (see my previous post), 'the emphasis is on the learning opportunities provided for learners and the resources needed to enable the learners to carry them out'. COSE 'views a course as a group of people to whom learning opportunities are assigned, rather than as a body of content to which people are assigned'. It is free, apparently relatively easy to install, and last time I looked there were plans to make it open source. A new version (2.1) has just been released.
I appreciated the perspective on a course being a group of people, rather than a body of content.

[Via Martin Terre Blanche]

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Blogs and Bulletin Boards

In a conversation today with Lee LeFever, we were batting around the key differences of online interaction tools like forums and blogs. Then I stumbled upon Roland Tanglao's post in my blog reading tonight. He pulls a quote by Andy Carvin that he liked from a conversation on Tech Soup this week:

'blogs are diaries that can be read by the public, while bulletin boards are town hall meetings in which the public can all discuss issues equally.'

I think there's also a lot of insight in the ways that these two things can be used in conjunction with one another. The town hall quality of message boards can play off of the informational/journal quality of weblogs.

He goes on to comment:
"like the town hall analogy for bulletin boards. Not sure I like the blogs are public diaries analogy (IMHO blogs, in addition to being great diaries, are also great marketing tools, support tools, etc). My favourite definitions are still 'blogs are digital paper' and 'blogs are the unedited voice of a person'.

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Social and Temporal Structures in Everyday Collaboration

Danyel Aharon Fisher shares his dissertation draft at
Social and Temporal Structures in Everyday Collaboration
Dissertation draft in one 214-page file, and four happy megabytes of PDF.
From his intro:
"This dissertation shows that social networks and temporality can be used to provide meaningful, useful descriptions of the interconnections within groups of people. These descriptions allow the development of software that support the collaborative aspects of apparently individual work, by placing the single-user experience more explicitly in the wider social frame within which works takes place."
The details: Social and Temporal Structures in Everyday Collaboration, by Danyel Aharon Fisher, Doctor of Philosophy in Information and Computer Science, University of California, Irvine, 2004.

Congratulations, Danyel. I'd love to play around with the software you developed!

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Readings on web credibility -- the best list ever compiled

Readings on web credibility -- the best list ever compiled. I'm looking forward to seeing this. BJ Fogg reports that
Lab member David Danielson recently wrote a chapter on web credibility for the Encyclopedia of HCI... He did an excellent job bringing together the research relating to online trust and credibility.
Chapter Title: Web Credibility, To be published in Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction in 2005. Edited by Claude Ghaoui , Liverpool John Moores University, UK. For more info see http://www.idea-group.com/encyclopedia/details.asp?ID=4467

Danielson's Abstract
Unique characteristics of the World Wide Web result in differences between the Web and traditional media with respect to (1) the evaluative processes users employ in making credibility assessments; (2) factors impacting the credibility of the Web as a medium; and (3) factors influencing credibility assessments of Web information sources. Web credibility research seeks to understand these underlying evaluative processes, assessments, and influences. This chapter provides an overview of Web credibility theory and research, covering (1) conceptualizations of credibility that have either been produced within the field or influential in Web credibility research; (2) unique features of the Web as a medium with respect to credibility; (3) evaluative processes underlying Web credibility assessments; (4) research on factors affecting user credibility assessments on the Web; and (5) future trends in the field."
[Link BJ Fogg]

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The Future of Blogging - Snippets from Rubel and Gahran

I have picked a few snippets of this article. It has a strong PR/Marketing slant, but I think in a good way. ;-)

Radiant Marketing Group: The Future of Blogging, In Their Own Words, Part 3

The Future of Blogging, In Their Own Words, Part 3
Today, I want to feature two other commentators: Amy Gahran and Steve Rubel. [snip]


The future of blogging is that it will humanize business.

Do you remember what business was like in the first half of the 20th Century before the Information Age? ... People actually knew their butcher, their baker, their candlestick maker and everyone else they transacted with.

With each successive advance in technology, however, corporations became far more distant impersonal. [snip]

Blogging is significant because it is reversing this trend. It humanizes business. It gives consumers the ability to see and hear from the people inside the companies they love (and hate). And it gives companies the ability to do the same with customers.

In short, the future of blogging is public relations. This is not PR, but actually relating with publics.

...I don't think weblogs are a transitory media phase. I think they're here to stay, because the Internet is here to stay. I think blogs are an inevitable outgrowth of the Internet. They've become a valuable way for people to connect with each other, and to hear what individuals have to say. We might not always call them blogs, and their format and the tools used to create them will undoubtedly evolve.


... the unvarnished thoughts and opinions of average people matter too. They may not always be articulate, circumspect, or well-informed, but they're real and vital in a way that the mass media have long since ceased to be. Even though blogs are technologically based, at heart they're probably one of the most thoroughly human media channels around today.

Even better, blogs are about conversations -- another very human function. These conversations occur in comments to blog postings, and between blogs, and between blogs and online discussion forums or Web sites. In this way, despite their apparent chaos blogs actually can help integrate and synthesize the jumble of information on the Internet and elsewhere -- because ultimate conversations are about connections and sharing. [snip]

Influence is the essence of power, and it's far more effective and less costly than direct control or theft. [snip]

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Em duas linguas - Welcome to Blogging, Bev

Em duas linguas is my dear friend and colleagues blog. She is a boundary spanner: cultures, languages, ideas and her new blog shows off that strength. I am particularly drawn to her wonderings about living in many languages. Bev has spent a good deal of time looking at the issues of multilingual online learning environments and the effects of online learning in second (third, fourth) languages.

Welcome, Bev!

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Monday, August 16, 2004

Cycles: African Life Through Art

Cycles: African Life Through Art, a fantastic multimedia exploration of Africa Art. From the opening page (unfortunately in flash - hard to clip or blog): "Thousands of cultures in Africa see the stages of life bound together in a continuous cycle - a circle of birth, growth, maturity, transition and rebirth."

I like how you can zoom into different aspects of the pieces. What if you could do that with a distributed conversation? What would it look like? How can you keep the whole and the parts coherent? Is there a visual clue here?

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Figmento - Cliff Figallo Joins the Blog World

Figmento is Cliff's new venture into blogging. I read with interest his post today about "The Empty Cradle."

Welcome, Cliff!

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TechSoup - Blogging in the Non Profit World

Starting this week, Tech Soup community talks about Blogging for Non Profits. From a quick glance it looks like basic information on blogging starts the week.

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CorporateBloggingBlog: Six Types Of Business Blogs - A Classification

Ross Mayfield pointed to this blog post on categorizing types of business blogs. (Don't miss the comment conversation on Ross' blog.)

Are there "Six Types Of Business Blogs - A Classification"? Fredrik Wackå suggest that it is far more complex, but having some "buckets" helps people think about their blogging options.
Corporate (or Business, Organizational) blogs can be classified into six different categories. Each category shares common characteristics and the blog content can be expected to differ between the categories. Furthermore, there's differences in terms of target groups and purposes.

Even if we also see hybrid forms where blogs are examples of more than one category, an organization that professionally incorporates blogging into its communications strategy will likely prioritize one purpose (for each blog)."
I'm interested in this category of "culture blogs." Anyone have examples? Are they authentic? Manipulative?

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LMS and Leveraging Collaboration Among Institutions

Ira Fuchs on Learning Management Systems: Are We There Yet?, asks a question that I wonder about not just with LMS, but with any kind of collaborative tools. (Bolding in his quote is mine)
Learning management systems have been high on Mellon’s radar screen ever since we made a grant to MIT in 2000 to support the OKI project. The purpose of OKI was to create a new framework to facilitate collaborative development of the components that comprise a modern learning management system.

That eventual goal is still in sharp contrast with where we are today. Now, if an institution acquires a commercial, proprietary LMS, and then finds that the system is deficient in some way, they often must wait until the vendor decides it is financially viable to develop the enhancement—an event that may never occur. Ideally what we’re seeking is a situation in which the schools that want a new capability added to an LMS can, if they wish, develop it themselves, and then make it available to the higher education community so that others may benefit. That’s the point of leveraging collaboration among institutions.
[Via OLDaily]

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Mud Wrestling with Design Issues

I'm in the throes of a variety of projects that have 'design' as part of the task. The monumental reality of how we each differently perceive and experience an online space rears it's large, shadowy head again so I'm reading design articles. Again.

I am particularly looking for insights about the challenge of fitting content and process tasks to technology - especially when learning the technology is a secondary learning goal. Pointers appreciated. Right now I'm looking at two polarities: the polarity of simplicity and range of goals (which is like, but not quite the same as depth and breadth) and the polarity of short term efficiency with tools and long term gains of struggling with and learning new tools. If this is not clear, that is because I'm not clear. It's evolving and I'm reaching out in case someone has that insight or link which will help me go to the next level of thinking.

In my cyber strolls, I came across Uzanto, which offers an intriguing list of articles on design. Previously I've linked to their article on Roller Coasters vs. Driver's Seats: Design and the Concept of Situational Control By Rashmi Sinha, published on Uzanto.com, June 2004. Some of the other articles are:
  • Understanding Organizational Stakeholders for Design Success
    By Jonathan Boutelle, May 2004.
  • Cost-effective methods for rapid user research and usability testing. July 2002.
  • Beyond card-sorting: Free-listing methods to explore user categorization.
  • Persona Development for Information-rich domains. Sinha, R.
  • Interaction Design for Recommender Systems - Kirsten Swearingen & Rashmi Sinha.
  • Usability Testing as part of the Iterative Design Cycle
  • User Interfaces for Music Discovery. Presented at AudioIcon 2002.
  • Interfaces for Exploring Large Web-Based Databases: Recommender Systems & Metadata Based Browse Interfaces.
  • Beyond Algorithms: An HCI perspective on Recommender Systems
  • Collaborative Filtering by Humans and Computers. P

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Improvisation in Business Conference October 2004

The Applied Improvisation Network " is a community of practioners and clients who value the use of improvisation skills in organsiations." They are planning a conference October 13th to 16th. I have been playing around with collegues with improv - online and offline, so this caught my eye. (Unfortunately, I can't go due to schedule conflicts. I hope someone blogs it!) Here is their line up:
  • Two pre-conferences, one on facilitation with Thiagi (details here), and another on accelerated learning and improvisation with Sue Walden, Talia and Gail Heidenhain from the International Alliance for Learning
  • 18 concurrent sessions on Thursday and Friday, and two keynotes
  • a field trip to see several local improvisation troupeson one stage (Thursday night)
  • a banquet and improv jam (Friday night)
  • a Playback performance to complete the conference on Saturday afternoon
  • and an Open Space session all-day Saturday. On the final day of the conference, you are invited to join all attendees in exploring how we can put our conference insights into action. Using Open Space Technology*, this special session will allow you to engage with others and further the improvisation ideas you really want to explore."

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Some Articles from Lisa Heft

Lisa Heft is a facilitator out of the San Francisco area who has a particular strength in using Open Space Technology (a facilitator form - not a computer technology) She has offered some resources on her site, Opening Space

Opening Space for Collaboration and Communication (Swedish) (View in Word)
The Mouse and the Earthquake - An Introduction to Systems Theory (View in Word)
Brief Brief User’s Guide, by Harrison Owen (View in Word)
Behavior Change Theory and Organizational Change (View in Word)
Change, Grief and the Transformation Cycle (View in Word)

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Friday, August 13, 2004

Business Week withHoward Rheingold's Latest Connection

Howard Rheingold's Latest Connection

OK, so I'm a Howard fan. There are many interesting questions and answers in this article, but lets pick one for fun.
Q: Does the pushback by companies threatened by these trends, such as the record and movie companies, threaten innovation?
A: Yes. Never before in history have we been able to see incumbent businesses protect business models based on old technology against creative destruction by new technologies. And they're doing it by manipulating the political process. The telegraph didn't prevent the telephone, the railroad didn't prevent the automobile. But now, because of the immense amounts of money that they're spending on lobbying and the need for immense amounts of money for media, the political process is being manipulated by incumbents.
I'm picking up more and more the meme of "destruction by new technologies" along with "disruptive" and "destructive" technologies. It is interesting how we use language. The implication for me is that we have to tear down before we create. But is that true? Why are we using terms that generally have a negative connotation for something we find generative and positive? Is it part of the war or sports talk that drives the business world? Is it our fear or anger of that which we want to replace?

No answers. I just find it very interesting. As I read this particular answer from Howard, I realize I do have fear of how money is controlling things now -- and it feels like this is happening more than ever. Can I, by working via the net and creating and sustaining connections outside of a more traditional business model (as a small business owner) contribute to this change? Am I doing it now? More personally, I don't feel like I'm fighting the old powers, but inventing new. That gives me more juice. While others feel stronger with the idea of fighting a foe.

Language is very interesting. And I'm repeating myself. It must be Friday. I'm cooked! Blogging can offer one the opportunity to really send out half baked, if well intentioned, messages. So consider this a half baked cookie offering. Chocolate, of course!

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I Am an Idiot - Online Reputation

I had a wonderful moment the other day when a person cared enough to let me know that someone had classified me as an idiot. I can't thank the person directly as they emailed me anonymously. I'm hoping they see my thanks here. I appreciate that they cared enough to take the time to contact me. Here is the email.
TO: nancyw-at-fullcirc.com
SUBJECT: Website Inquiry
VISITOR_NAME: anonymous tipster
MESSAGE: Thought you should know that http://del.icio.us/maciej/idiot is actively spreading negative gossip about you and your company -- you can look at the link above. He has published a link to your company under the topic "idiot" which is read by hundreds if not thousands of people. His name is Maciej Ceglowski and he should know better than to behave this way! You should contact mailto:joshua-delicious@burri.to who is the admin of the del.icio.us site to complain about this person's slandering of your company and your professional reputation.
Of course I went to look at the link. My blog had been tagged with the label "idiot." I noticed that I was in good company. I knew and respected some of the other "idiots." Hm, maybe being an idiot is good in this strange cyberworld we live in.

I quickly decided that not only was I not going to complain to the website owner, but that I wasn't worried about it at all. Maciej is free to classify me as an idiot. That's one of the risks of blogging and having some sort of public online identity. So be it.

I thought a bit more an wondered, what made this person think I was an idiot and would he be interested in a dialog about it -- maybe there is something here to learn?

I recounted the story to a few other friends who offered to classify themselves as idiots as well, to keep me company and show solidarity. (I am blessed with wonderful friends.)

Thank you anonymous tipster, for caring enough to write. There will be people who agree with us, appreciate us, and others who will disagree. All I can say is it is simple to slap on a label. It is much harder to really find out if I am an idiot after all.

Welcome to the world of online reputations!

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Swiss Public Health Advertising

Ah, they say an image is worth a thousand words. From my friends in Switzerland here is a great example.
The full post here.

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Stephen Powell: NAVCON Blogathon

Stephen Powell is evangelizing! Here are his plans for a NAVCON Blogathon.

At the NAVCON2K4 conference we are going to explore the use of Blog technology as a means of increasing the impact of the conference. To this end we are developing the conference website around the Interact community software technology that also has a Blog built in.

We hope to do three things:
- introduce Blogging to those of the 1800 delegates who haven’t yet encountered Blogs (they all get a Blog!)
- pull together conference keynotes, speakers, delegates, and presenters who already have Blogs before, during, and after the conference
- perhaps most importantly, we hope delegates will individually or as groups Blog their critical learning incidents from the conference and then review these in PD sessions when they get back to their school.

Through doing the above, we are trying to increase the impact of the conference where it matters in the classrooms by easily enabling teachers to review and reflect upon their learning individually and as groups.
Learn by doing. Evangelize by doing. Show, then tell. Bravo!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Unbound Spiral: CEOblogs.com

Stuart Henshall throws down an interesting gauntlet: CEOblogs.com.
"Business blogging hits the headlines in this week's Business Week. It's a nice article and suggests a new opportunity. To my knowledge no one is yet syndicating top CEO blogs. The url www.ceoblogs.com is available! So here it is. Create a syndicated blog forum that captures Fortune 500 CEO blogs. By aggregating CEO blogs you get some unique opportunities. Afterall all you are doing is aggregating their blogs. They don't like it... they can stop blogging. Centralizing the most important ones will add new perspective to the investment community, corporate direction etc. The Fortune 500 is just one slice of this. CEOBlogs can be sliced by country, industry, turnover etc.

The criteria is they must be written or audioblogged by the individual. No ghostwriting. They must have a bi-weekly average frequency to stay on the list. When the list volume needs managing readers will become involved Slashdot style. There will be a special section for 'registered analysts' comments. Blogs will be assigned industry categories etc. The site may also provide some interesting traffic data. Additionally most commented on... most trusted etc could emerge. "
I can imagine this for many domains and roles. Non profit executives? Top sales folks? What are the risks? The benefits?

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Weblogsky: Extreme Democracy

My online colleague and pal Jon Lebkowsky has long been interested and active in the intersection between civil engagement in democratic processes and online interaction technology. His book, Extreme Democracy is going online.
Mitch Ratcliffe and I have been editing a book called Extreme Democracy, and now we're putting the book online. We've put the Preface, Foreword, and first 8 chapters online today, with more to follow. (The version of the book that's published will be different, partly owing to comments we get from the online verison.) Joi Ito posted a pointer today. Without Joi, the book would never have some to be (long story)."

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iPlan - Community engagement techniques and tools

iPlan - Community engagement techniques and tools.
You will find suggestions in Opportunities for engagement in the planning system on clusters of techniques that best suit each phase of plan making and development assessment processes. The same categories are used here, together with a long form description of a selection of techniques available in each category.
Take a click to this site from New South Wales to see the table of community engagement. I was really taken by their use of the concept of "promise to the public." What I have seen lacking in most public consultation is clarity on the promise. Why should I spend my time giving you input, Mr or Ms. Government, if I have no idea what you plan to do with it beyond claiming you provided a chance for public input. Look too at the link to tools. This is worth more time in my book! Also see their Strengthening Rural Communities kit.

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Wikifying the Blog?

Ton, thoughtful as always, share some thoughts on Wikifying the Blog?
Having a chat with Elmine, discussing creating links between blogs and wiki's, I came up with the idea of replacing the comment-function in a blog with a link to the edit-mode of a wikipage, that also contains the blogpost.

If you would hack the postingscript of your blog in such a manner that it would create a wiki-page with the same content (or if you'd hack the wiki-scripts to post an entry to a blog, if provided with the right credentials), then the comment function would become an invitation to either add to or alter the original post. Thus opening up a wider range of possible responces. Categories could serve to annotate/search the wiki as well. ...

What thoughts do you have if you play around with this idea? How would it alter your experience or behaviour, if at all? Let me know!"
Currently I'm playing around with a few pals with blending blogs, discussions and wikis. Each can bring a strenght to the online interactions we are working with, but I keep feeling reluctant to put them together because they are NOT blending. There are awkward jumps between interfaces which require separate learning curves. Not good for introducing people in a positive way to new tools. So I am intrigued by the ways we can imagine using these tools across, between, layered and every which way!

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Story Collectors

Gabriel Shirley of Big Mind Media pointed me to this example of a "story collector" - ways to easily electronically capture people's stories. Take a peek:
Giving Back to the Open Space Commons: Stories of people who have used Open Space in their work. If you use OS, add your story!!
I like the simplicty. In my work in other places in the world, there is often a shyness in sharing successes and a reluctance to share failures. But we can learn from both. Maybe by seeing others' stories and haveing an easy tool, more might be inclined to share.

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Every Single Vote Counts

Judith points to a great movement for those of us in the USA - Every Single Vote Counts via her Social Software Weblog. I do care who you vote for, but I care more that if you are a US citizen, you REGISTER and VOTE.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Journal of Educators Online Premiers

the JEO - haven't read it yet but here's the blurb:
The Journal of Educators Online (JEO) is an online, double-blind, refereed journal by and for instructors, administrators, policy-makers, staff, students, and those interested in the development, delivery, and management of online courses in the Arts, Business, Education, Engineering, Medicine, and Sciences. Welcome to the first issue!

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Looking at Blog Posts Linked to My Blog Posts

I was on hold with a bank today and started searching for links to my weblog. It was fun to see which posts prompted links in the past 10 days or so. I have not really mastered Technoratic, pings and trackbacks, so this is still a primitive part of my practice.

At Only Connect by Stephen Harlow did a masterful job weaving links to a number of blogs while cogitating between the difference between knowledge and information. (He also has a cool post on Narrative Therapy - which I should blog separately.)

My post on falling behind on blogging really had some great connections.

Blogging: No Point in Catching Up: Contentious Weblog by Amy Gahran, CONIECTO from Gabriela Avram recounting how attending conferences can interfere with blogging (I'm glad my post made you feel a bit better!), and Azzari Jarrett at hardscrabble offers some wishes on how to focus on WHAT to read when you are behind (yes yes!). It was a delightful little moment of kindred spirits in some way. Made my being on hold a much happier experience as well.

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Monday, August 09, 2004

Ambrozek and Cothrel Report! Online Communities in Business Report

I'm excited to share that Jenny and Joe's report on the survey they conducted about Online Communities in Business is now on the web. I was thrilled to be able to spend time with them in June to talk about the report and really anxious to share it out to my network. The full pdf report is here. Jenny and Joe are also hosting a wiki for reader feedback and to gather more insights and information. I encourage you to chime in. Instructions on how to participate on the wiki are on the report website!

Here is the intro:

It has been 25 years since online community found its humble beginnings via the first computer bulletin board. Since then, much attention has focused on the impact on society. But how have online communities affected business?

From February to May 2004, we conducted an online survey of people involved in, or deeply knowledgeable about, online community efforts in large organizations around the world. This survey was conducted in concert with the 7th International Conference on Virtual Communities, the largest and oldest annual gathering of its kind.
I have had some time to chew on the initial data and am now savoring the full report. It had both many things I expected as a practitioner, and a few surprises. The optimism of the value of online interaction (I tend to use the word community a little more sparingly!) is validated in what I see in my practice, and the familiar problems are VERY familiar: challenges with effectively measuring ROI and still a limited or non-existant understanding of online groups and communities.

I'll post a fuller review tomorrow (work calls!) but I really wanted to get the news out and spreading - so I'm blogging to do my part! But there is one piece I want to dangle out front.

The challenge the report delivers me is around the final issue noted by Joe and Jenny on page 4: "The discipline of creating and managing communities is poorly defined." That is something I, and WE can do something about. How can we contribute?

(Also posted on Many2Many)

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

Googling choconancy

I have a "handle" or name that is really an essential part of my online identity: choconancy. There have been variants: choco, choconan, but choconancy is a part of me that came to life when I joined my first online community, Electric Minds. I started out as Nancy White. Quite original. Then one of my mentors, a man named Michael (handle: bodhi) from Chicago said "I know too many Nancys. From now on you are choconancy to me." He died suddenly in that first year. My first experience of losing someone online too. (For more see this thread at the new Electric Minds.)

It stuck, like a fine dark chocolate glaze on a brownie. I shed my common Nancy White for something different. I liked it.

As I began to move professionally into the online world, I reverted more often to the "Nancy White" login. After all, who would take choconancy seriously. Yet the name came up again and again.

Today, in a continuing fit of work avoidance (that will soon have consequences crashing down upon me) I Google Searched: choconancy.1200 results.

A little perspective. There are 3,670,000 Google hits for Nancy White. But there are a lot of Nancy Whites. There is the fabulous folk singer, Nancy White, Queen of the Topical Song. The illustrator, Nancy White Cassidy. There's Nancy White Carlstrom, the children's author. And for some reason, there are a lot of references to geneological searches for Nancy White. Doubtfully my ancestor, since I married into this name (from of all names, Wright!) So yeah, I show up amongst those other 3+ million hits, but as a sliver.

Interestingly all of the references I found for choconancy had some direct relevance to me. Many were the result of using choconancy as a handle in an online interaction space (many were repeats or variants at a single site - that accounts for the volume). But it was still me.

I am choconancy.

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Friday, August 06, 2004

Seblogging: Psychology of Personal Constructs

Sebastian Fiedler posted this a while back. I appreciated it.

I am rereading George Kelly's The Psychology of Personal Constructs from 1955. Kelly's sound theoretical work was so much ahead of his behaviorist peers in psychology at that time that it still appears to be surprisingly current.
The substance that a person construes is itself a process - just as the living person is a process. It presents itself from the beginning as an unending and undifferentiated process. Only when man attunes his ear to recurrent themes in the monotonous flow does his universe begin to make sense to him. Like a musician, he must phrase his experience in order to make sense of it. The phrases are distinguished events. The separation of events is what man produces for himself when he decides to chop up time into manageable lengths. Within these limited segments, which are based on recurrent themes, man begins to discover the bases for likenesses and differences. [George Kelly]
This sort of fits nicely with some parts of my discussion about the usefulness of personal Webpublishing as a reflective conversational tool. By explicating some of the 'phrases' we set in a verbal, retrievable, archived, and accessible way on a global network we appear to gain one more tool to 'discover the bases for likenesses and differences.' [Sebastian Fiedler]

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Steve Dennings Book Blog: Leader's Guide to Storytelling

Steve Denning has put up a blog to share portions of his new book Leader's Guide to Storytelling
"This weblog contains advance excerpts of my next book, A Leaders Guide to Storytelling to be published by Jossey-Bass in 2005."

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Andy Swarbrick's Social Networks Knowledge Business Website

Andy Swarbrick's Knowledge Business Website : Knowledge Networks and Communities

From Andy's intro page, still in evolving form (I love transparently seeing someone's work and thinking!:
SNA in a Business/Enterprise Context
Having found myself in a position where I am inundated with notifications about the latest, book, research article and tools related to social network analysis (SNA). I decided that it would be good to try and share some of these good resources in a constructive way.? With the rapid acceleration of materials and interest in this topic I wondered if I might be able to provide some guide for people like myself learning how to use the network approaches, techniques and tools in a business context.

As the field of social network analysis now runs alongside the wider field of what is becoming known as ?science of networks? it can become quickly quite confusing. The science of networks looks at applying network based analytical and modelling techniques to explore everything from the behaviour of neurons in the brain of a flea to the flow of energy through a national grid system. This branching of network thinking areas of biology, physics, economic, social policy, spread of disease, destabilising terror networks etc, while deeply enriching to the field, makes it increasingly hard to navigate for newbie.

Therefore this part of my web site contains a number of books, papers and online resources that I think provide a good food for thought for the application of SNA in a business context.?? That is the direct application of the thinking, approaches, techniques and tools from SNA to organisational problems.?

In order to do my bit I will evaluate the all the resources for how appropriate and useful they are for people at different stages development of their network ness.

?? It is my own personal development life cycle (thought up in the five minutes before writing this document) so please do not take it as any kind of recognised classification of expertise within the field J.

NB The focus here is on people wanting to develop competence in conducting their own network analysis and less on those interested in the various network based products and services that are on the market. It does however, look to provide an idea of how people will be better able to understand and evaluate the value and impact of these offerings.

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Remembering (PART) of "Listening to the City"

National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation blog (Yay, Sandy!) published an article about the second anniversary of the F2F portion of "Listening to the City" gathering in NYC, a post civic gathering 9/11 about what to do about rebuilding.

The article recaps how the volunteer facilitators were recruited and responded. It is a lovely testement to volunteerism. My one sad moment was that it did not mention the online part, nor the cadre of volunteer online facilitators. I wonder why? Why do we separate the F2F and online elements of things this way? Is it accidental? Intentional?

As one of the LTC volunteer online facilitators, I confess I think there is still a small bur under my saddle. The experience with Weblab was challenging and some of us felt devalued in the process, as if we were some quixotic experiment to prove facilitators were not needed in the design. I deeply appreciate the value of self facilitation and hold it as a goal with groups I coach. I don't appreciate being a guinea pig to test someone's theory about small group online facilitation during something as emotional as LTC, particularly when it was not clear if this was or wasn't a design element. It felt like it. But we never really dealt with the issue because working with the folks in the groups was the priority and it took both intellectual and emotional energy. That was our focus, appropriately.

Seeing the online facilitators ignored in this article rekindled the itch of that bur. Is this rational? Probably not. But it is what I feel.

Here is a snippet from the article which does not even mention the online element:
On July 20, 2002, 4,500 people gathered at the Javits Center in New York to discuss the redevelopment of the World Trade Center Site, and to rebuild a sense of strength and unity as a people, following the single deadliest attack on American soil in the country’s history.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania, thousands of Americans flooded blood donation centers seeking a way to assist in the tragedy, to show solidarity with their fallen fellow citizens. Nine months later professional facilitators from across the country traveled to New York City to help guide thousands of New Yorkers through the process of dialogue and sharing around their values, hopes, and needs for the rebuilding of the site where the Twin Towers once stood.

That was Listening to the City. Now, two years later, we listen to them.
Do they listen to the online facilitators?

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Wikipedia:WikiProject Philosophy

From a facilitation standpoint, I have been interested in and fascinated to watch how the Wikipedia community has evolved its group processes. Working with ideas and definitions of controversial or nebulous topics is a process that holds relevance beyond their work. It is about helping to make meaning across diverse audiences in a text based environment. So when we can get a peek in, it is very helpful. This page on the philosophy project is worth a peek. The purpose, transparency and task organization are lovely.

This WikiProject aims primarily to coordinate the efforts of Wikipedians who are knowledgeable about philosophy in an effort to improve the general quality and range of Wikipedia articles on philsophical topics.

Because many philosophical topics are extremely nebulous, it often requires a firm grasp of the field to be able to produce a fair and comprehensive article. We therefore don't have the advantage afforded to Wikihistorians, who can simply look their topic up in a reference guide -- heck, half the time our reference guides flat-out contradict each other. For this reason, we need to pool our efforts -- work with those who specialize in a different subfield, ask each other to check our reasoning, etc. Let's put it this way -- do you think you understand everything there is to say about qualia? Well, neither do I, but maybe together we can get it straight.

Here are some open WikiProject Philosophy tasks:
  • Start from scratch: Critique of Pure Reason, entries in Timeline of philosophers that lack articles, Nicomachean Ethics
  • Major overhaul: Being, Bundle theory, Timeline of Eastern philosophers
  • Expansion: Physicalism, Philosophy of time, Jerry Fodor, Michael Walzer, Alphabet of human thought, Nelson Goodman,
  • Peer review: Philosophy
  • Copyedit: Theory of justification, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling
  • Un-Larry's Text: Dualism (philosophy of mind), ...more Larry's Text
Feel free to edit this list or discuss these tasks.

The goals of this WikiProject are as follows:
  1. To serve as a nexus and discussion area for philosophically-inclined contributors.
  2. To identify those areas of philosophy which lack sufficient coverage on the 'pedia.
  3. To improve those articles which need help.
  4. To create a general map of the philosophical articles and subjects on the 'pedia, and link the articles together accordingly."

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MSNBC - Online social networks go to work

MSNBC - Online social networks go to work Xeni Jardin's article of a few weeks ago.
While their use is still largely limited to less-than-mission-critical purposes, online social networking services are becoming more popular each day.

Dating, hobby-related hookups, and party announcements are some of the many trivial pursuits people seek on Web sites like Friendster, MySpace, and Tribe.net. But there is growing evidence to support claims that some social networking services (SNS for short) can be a powerful professional ally to businesses — in particular, independent entrepreneurs and smaller companies, for whom each new personal connection is a significant business building block.

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Appreciative, Inquiry

Appreciative, Inquiry: "A collection of questions to provoke new civic conversations for sustainability and innovation"

This is an interesting blog format. The blog post is a provocative question, the comments are readers' answer.

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What is Open Space Technology? Lisa Heft

Opening Space: "What is Open Space Technology?

This is a way to format a group meeting, retreat or conference that generates communication, collaboration, innovation, and other solutions to challenges and transitions. When your organization or community has a complex problem, you are completely out of ideas regarding a solution, you have a diversity of people that you can bring to the process, and the time for resolving this situation was yesterday --- this is a great time for Open Space Technology (OST). Group members emerge from the process invigorated, refreshed, and proud of their individual and collective accomplishments."

Read the whole article if you want a nice intro to Open Space Technology.

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SmartMeetingDesign - Main.WikiArticle

Surfing instead of working this afternoon/evening. Here is another meeting resource: SmartMeetingDesign - Main.WikiArticle: "This Smart Meeting Design Wiki page is an evolving list of articles, links, and resources."

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Wordcount:Tracking the Way We Use Language

WORDCOUNT / Tracking the Way We Use Language /
WordCount™ is an artistic experiment in the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonality. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance. The larger the word, the more we use it. The smaller the word, the more uncommon it is.
. Of course I had to look up chocolate. Rank: 4204. How can it be this low??

P.S. Work ranks #103. Play ranks 433. What is wrong with this picture?

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The Great Info-Knowledge Debate - Is Amy an "AND" person?

What Do We Know? The Great Info-Knowledge Debate
Amy Gahran asks "What's the difference between knowledge and information?" She goes on to write:
  • Information generally includes facts, observations, sensations, and messages. Information is content which informs our minds. It's fuel.
  • Knowledge, in contrast, is the human experience of information – it's what our minds DO with all that content. It's the fire in the forge.
  • Think verbs, not nouns. It seems much easier to grasp this distinction by focusing on the verbs "inform" and "know," rather than the nouns "information" and "knowledge." Try that one on for size in your next discussion on this topic.
  • This is a spectrum, not a duality. I think that hair-splitting KM professionals endure painful verbal contortions in this debate because it's often unclear precislely where information crosses into the realm of knowledge. There are many similarities between the two categories, after all. However, this gray area is OK because our brains can pick up with creating and managing knowledge where technologies reach their limit. This is why the human brain is an intrinsic and indispensable (but generally overlooked and undersestimated) part of any KM system.

In my weird little brain, it is more than a spectrum issue. For much of the "stuff" i deal with, knowledge and information are a package deal, inextricable from each other. Or is that just how my brain works?

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International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

IRRODL: Current Issue is now out, Volume 5, Number 2. There are a number of interesting looking articles and technical notes, some in multiple languages (Bravo!)

  • Blended Learning and Sense of Community: A Comparative Analysis with Traditional and Fully Online Graduate Courses - Fred Rovai and Hope Jordan, Regent University - USA
  • Reviewer Commentary - Dan Eastmond, Western Governors University - USA
  • Author's Response - Fred Rovai & Hope Jordan, Regent University - USA
  • The Relationship Between Self-Regulation and Online Learning in a Blended Learning Context - Richard Lynch, Woosong University - South Korea, Myron Dembo, University of Southern California, Los Angeles - USA
  • A Peek into the Life of Online Learning Discussion Forums: Implications for Web-Based Distance Learning - Mary Allan, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • WashingtonOnline Virtual Campus: Infusing Culture in Dispersed Web-Based Higher Education - Shalin Hai-Jew, Seattle University, USA
  • Interaction and Immediacy in Online Learning - Robert H. Woods, Spring Arbor University, USA, Jason D. Baker, Regent University, USA

Research Notes
  • Faculty Opinions Towards Introducing e-learning at the University of Bahrain, Muain Jamlan, University of Bahrain
  • Open University and Distance Education Coordination: strategies to consolidate distance education at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Citlalli Berruecos, National Autonomous University of Mexico
  • A Comparative Study of Dropout Rates and Causes for Two Different Distance Education Courses, Christos Pierrakeas, Hellenic Open University, Greece, Michalis Xenos, Hellenic Open University, Greece, Christos Panagiotakopoulos, University of Patras, Greece, Dimitris Vergidis, University of Patras, Greece

Book Notes
  • Advancing Online Learning in Asia - Editors: David Murphy, Namin Shin, and Weiyuan Zhang, Reviewed by: Insung Jung, International Christian University, Japan
  • Distance Education and Distributed Learning - Editors: Charalambos Vrasidas and Gene V. Glass - Reviewed by Ramesh C. Sharma, Indira Gandhi National Open University, India

Technical Notes
  • Internet Audio Products (3/ 3) Linda Schwartz, Adrienne de Schutter, Patricia Fahrni and Jim Rudolph, Masters of Distance Education Program, Athabasca University – Canada’s Open University
  • Using Internet Audio to Enhance Online Accessibility, Linda Matula Schwartz, Masters of Distance Education Program, Athabasca University – Canada’s Open University
  • Evaluating Digital Authoring Tools, Russ Wilde, Masters of Distance Education Program, Athabasca University – Canada’s Open University
  • Growing Virtual Communities, Debbie Garber, Masters of Distance Education Program, Athabasca University – Canada’s Open University
  • Synchronous Conferencing by a Community Advocacy Group, Patricia Fahrni, Masters of Distance Education Program, Athabasca University – Canada’s Open University

Yes, I'm in a bit of a catch up blogging mode this afternoon!

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Unbound Spiral: Metaphor Usage for Wiki Wins Praise

Stuart tips his hat to Eugene Eric Kim's post on Metaphor Usage for Wiki Wins Praise. Stuart writes:
"I believe there is not enough thinking going into how we shape the leaders and managers of tomorrow. They will learn to use these tools however the discovery and integration of them into learning programs must be focused on managerial and leadership skills and performance. They use them as part of the program. It happens without thinking and as part of enhancing their skills and how they will project themselves and manage their boss, peers and team. So go use the book metaphor and include a moblog learning journey around the organization. Do audioblog interviews of each other. Add in some leadership development or TMI programs. Discuss what it takes to be a principled blog leader etc. Consider management and leadership style. Then let them decide on what the benefits are who should do what and put a program into motion. I'd keep a group like this to 8-12 people and focus on accelerating the leadership of creativity and innovation.."
First, go look at Eric's post to see some concrete and usable facilitation and group interaction design ideas at work.

Second, the call to think about how integration of tools should be a leadership issue is worth attention and conversation. Today's managers and leaders are often called to facilitate work of diverse and often dispersed individuals. They need all the tools/techniques they can get to make it work. Where is this in biz school curriculums??

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Ted Shelton: Lets Reinvent Conferences

More on Reinventing Conferences. I have a slight fear I already pointed to this, but heck, maybe some of you dear readers are as short-term-memory challenged as I am and appreciate a rerun every now and again. But I think this is still fresh! I am intrigued by his "polyphonic channel" idea. I have very mixed feelings about the laptop/stage dynamic. I see the value of both. I'm still missing the connection of the two.

Ted Shelton: Lets Reinvent Conferences:
"Polyphonic Channels
At the modern conference we have wi-fi access allowing side bar conversations via IRC, wiki, blogs, IM, and email. Half the people in each session are typing away furiously on their laptops, more engaged in the blogosphere than in the meatspace. The challenge for conference organizers is how to bring these separate threads of conversation together, instead of allowing them to splinter. Can IRC, blogs, and wiki add value to the ongoing sessions in real time?

The suggestion was made at one point in the BlogOn general session to display the IRC channel on the main screen behind the panelists. Let everyone see the conversation amongst the attendees that was happening simultaneously with the panel discussion. For a variety of reasons this didn't happen, but the idea pointed in the right direction. For example, why should audience members go up to a microphone to introduce themselves and ask a question (which most often devolved into a statement... you know what I mean if you have been at one of these...) Why not have questions asked on the IRC channel and allow the moderator to sort out which of these really consitituted an on topic question?

Solution: This will require experimentation, but conferences such as BlogOn is the perfect place. Use technology to make these conferences a conversation amongst all attendees, not just a presentation by a minority."

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Blog Experiment - Join In!

This posting is a community experiment that tests how a meme, represented by this blog posting, spreads across blogspace, physical space and time. It will help to show how ideas travel across blogs in space and time and how blogs are connected. It may also help to show which blogs are most influential in the propagation of memes. The dataset from this experiment will be public, and can be located via Google (or Technorati) by doing a search for the GUID for this meme (below).

The original posting for this experiment is located at: Minding the Planet (Permalink: http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/2004/08/a_sonar_ping_of.html) - results and commentary will appear there in the future.

Please join the test by adding your blog (see instructions, below) and inviting your friends to participate - the more the better. The data from this test will be public and open; others may use it to visualize and study the connectedness of blogspace and the propagation of memes across blogs.

The GUID for this experiment is: as098398298250swg9e98929872525389t9987898tq98wteqtgaq62010920352598gawst (this GUID enables anyone to easily search Google (or Technorati) for all blogs that participate in this experiment). Anyone is free to analyze the data of this experiment. Please publicize your analysis of the data, and/or any comments by adding comments onto the original post (see URL above). (Note: it would be interesting to see a geographic map or a temporal animation, as well as a social network map of the propagation of this meme.)


To add your blog to this experiment, copy this entire posting to your blog, and then answer the questions below, substituting your own information, below, where appropriate. Other than answering the questions below, please do not alter the information, layout or format of this post in order to preserve the integrity of the data in this experiment (this will make it easier for searchers and automated bots to find and analyze the results later).

REQUIRED FIELDS (Note: Replace the answers below with your own answers)

* (1) I found this experiment at URL: http://www.zylstra.org/blog/archives/001379.html Web" or "An E-Mail Message": Newsreader Software
* (3) I posted this experiment at URL: http://www.fullcirc.com/weblog/onfacblog.htm
* (4) I posted this on date (day, month, year): 08/05/04
* (5) I posted this at time (24 hour time): 15:40:00
* (6) My posting location is (city, state, country): Seattle, Washington, USA

OPTIONAL SURVEY FIELDS (Replace the answers below with your own answers):

* (7) My blog is hosted by: myself
* (8) My age is: 46
* (9) My gender is: Female
* (10) My occupation is: online interaction/facilitation consultant
* (11) I use the following RSS/Atom reader software: Bloglines
* (12) I use the following software to post to my blog: Blogger
* (13) I have been blogging since (day, month, year): Which time?
* (14) My web browser is: FireFox
* (15) My operating system is: Windows 2000

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foe romeo - I LIKE Fiona's blog

foe romeo tickles, tantalizes and makes me spend too much time reading her blog. What a delight. Currently I'm enjoying the musings about kids and games, something that Dottie Agger-Gupta of the Fielding Institute turned me on to this January. THANKS, Fiona!

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Blackbeltjones/work: DIS2004: Day One: Bill Mitchell Keynote

These notes from Matt Jones are a trip into a chocolate store. One bit after another got me excited. Go read these notes with your imagination turned on!

Blackbeltjones/work: DIS2004: Day One: Bill Mitchell Keynote: "DIS2004: Day One: Bill Mitchell Keynote

He's given an excellent talk on how campus design and design for learning spaces have been changed by wifi and ubiquitous computing.

He gave a great quote by Charles Moore when showing Gehry's new MIT Stata Centre:

'the fundamental principle of campus design should be to figure out the exact spot that the next revolution should begin'"

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EmoteMail (Signal vs. Noise)

Ryan Singer got me thinking with his post about EmoteMail , as did his commenters about this piece:
EmoteMail is an augmented email client that inserts webcam snapshots of the author beside each text block as it’s entered and, perhaps more interestingly, shades each block to show how much time was spent typing it.

Is it valuable to see how much time the author spent on paragraph one versus paragraph three? Or to see that the message was banged out in a flash?

Those questions aside, this Media Lab baby neatly demonstrates how visual design in next-generation apps can go beyond “presentation” and contribute to the semantics of the interface.
Forget email for a second. What would be the impact of this sort of interface in any web text environment: blogs, wikis, forums, etc.? The image of the writer is familiar in some web forum environments and elicits everything from deep praise to horror from users. Would we read more carefully if we noticed how much time someone put into writing something? Would we scorn them? Are our writing pace/styles too diverse for such a metric to count?

How do we build in more indicators of attention and intention in text based communication?

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Establishing an intranet community of practice

James Robertson suggests that CoPs are a way to manage an intranet in his article Establishing an intranet community of practice
"Many intranet teams have struggled with the role of 'gatekeeper', setting standards and attempting to enforce them on the intranet authors and publishers.

An alternative approach involves establishing a 'community of practice' that involves all intranet stakeholders. This group then takes on shared responsibility for maintaining and improving the intranet.

This approach has been used very successfully by a wide range of organisations, in both the public and private sectors. Indeed, establishing an intranet community of practice is now seen as one of the 'critical success factors' for an effective and sustainable intranet."
My question is, how is this not a team? Is not the activity of supporting the intranet a clearly defined task? I wonder if we get confused about the differences and similarities of CoPs and teams. Alternatively, maintaining an intranet can be one of the tasks of a CoP on intranets, but it seems to me the key purpose of a CoP is learning. Doing is certainly part of it, but I'd suggest that anyone taking Robertson's suggestion make sure that maintaining the intranet is not the only activity of the community of practice.

I believe in "AND." Task and learning.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Paper: Metadata for Synchronous and Asynchronous Collaborative Environments

From Stephen Downes' OLDaily comes this pointer...

Yasuhisa Tamura, Norm Friesen, Toshio Okamoto and Rory McGreal, in their paper Metadata for Synchronous and Asynchronous Collaborative Learning Environments raise an issue that I've seen floating around, unaddressed, for many years: how do we make sense of group text interaction across platforms? Has this been one of the barriers that has blocked research about online interaction?

This paper proposes a data-model for the standardized representation of both synchronous and asynchronous text-based and other communications. Such communications are widely used in e-learning practice today, and have been studied under the rubrics of "computer conferencing," "Computer-Mediated Communication" (CMC), "Computer Supported Collaborative Learning" (CSCL), and many other names and titles. This paper begins with an overview of this rich research tradition to date, and of its relation to metadata and relevant standardization activities. It then considers the use of these communication and collaboration technologies in educational settings and software systems. It identifies specifiable uniformities in the structural and behavioural characteristics of these systems, and then uses these uniformities as a basis for its proposed data or metadata model. This paper then concludes by considering the advantages presented by such a standardized model, which extend from data portability and system independence to new possibilities for automated evaluation or analysis of communication data, and performance.

The conclusion offers up a few tasty tidbits and a provocative proposition:
By simultaneously enabling a wide variety of functions and leveraging their common characteristics, the standardized model proposed in this paper has the significant potential to increase the interoperability, sharing and reuse of collaborative educational applications and resources. This model extends data portability while supporting system independence. And it facilitates the automated evaluation or analysis of communication data, and performance.

Working in a global setting, I wonder if we can ever automate the evaluation or analysis based on our very diverse communication structures and styles. But trying to at least surface patterns that can inform the improvement of distributed communication would be wonderful. And it should include not only chat and discussion boards, but wikis, blogs and whatever is coming next!

Here is a link to the pdf, thanks to Rod

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Social Networking Niche: Matching Retirees With Consulting Gigs

We've seen dating, we've seen hobby/affinity matching and individual biz networking. But it seems there are niches which could really capitalize on social networking applications. Cynthia Typaldos, one of the folks tracking this sector, pointed to YourEncore on her WebCommunities list. It matches retirees with companies for specific problem-solving assignments.
YourEncore™ is a service provider connecting the technology and product development opportunities of member companies with world class talented individuals – experts in their chosen field who are ready to apply years of experience and talent from a lifetime of creative problem solving.

YourEncore™ is all about providing you with terrific people…some you may know and some from other companies or organizations…all can bring new innovation DNA to your company.
Cynthia flagged the initial sponsors: Eli Lilly and P&G. Talk about knowledge management!

My bleeding heart liberal soul wonders who is going to do this in the social services or international development sphere?

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Phone Recording Software, full-featured Phone Recorder - Call Corder

Yesterday I posted on some technologies related to capturing and transcribing telecons. Martin gave kudos to http://www.idictate.com and Scott Moore pointed me to :Call Corder. It looks interesting and worth a try:
"Call Corder - call recording software: Phone recording software that records phone calls directly to the hard disk using a modem.

Call Corder records telephone conversations directly to your hard disk with a single push of button, optionally playing a legal disclaimer before recording a call (ideal for use in business environment). It stores calls as standard Windows sound files, adding a memo to allow fast and easy call navigation. The software is Caller ID compatible so there is no need to type caller's number and name: call logging will be matched with call detail record obtained from the Caller ID information.

Record a phone call with a simple push of button, or enable automatic call recording."

Thanks Martin and Scott!

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How economics trumps 'Internet culture' in Africa

As someone who works in international development, specifically with online interaction, this article, excerpted below by David Brake, caught my eye. It resonated. There is a conflict between what we imagine is possible and the embedded socio-political-economic situations. We must pay attention to these deeper levels.

How economics trumps 'Internet culture' in Africa
Ethan Zuckerman posts about a thought-provoking lecture by Guido Sohne on the limitations of open source development in Africa. It’s worth reading his whole post but I will just note that Guido suggests open source development is limited in Africa because African programmers are too busy trying to earn a basic living to donate their time to creating open source code. Similarly, providing free wireless Internet access as many are doing as a volunteer effort around the developed world is much more difficult when the cost of providing that access relative to income is much higher in Africa.

In other words a lot of the benevolence we often take for granted online and consider part of the Internet culture actually relies on a certain economic base where programmers have free time and energy to work on projects they consider worthwhile and bandwidth and computing resources are ‘too cheap to meter’.

For a more optimistic view check out Dan Gillmor’s eJournal - Open Source a No-Brainer for Developing World.

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Distributed KM - Improving Knowledge Workers' Productivity and Organisational Knowledge Sharing with Weblog-based Personal Publishing (BlogTalk 2.0 Pu

Martin Röll shares his BlogTalk paper - it looks interesting, but I'm still in catch up mode.

Distributed KM - Improving Knowledge Workers' Productivity and Organisational Knowledge Sharing with Weblog-based Personal Publishing (BlogTalk 2.0 Publication by Martin Roell)

Improving the productivity of knowledge workers is one of the most important challenges for companies that face the transition from the industrial economy to an economy based on information and knowledge (Drucker, 1999). However, most "knowledge management" efforts have failed to address this problem and focused on information management instead.

This paper briefly explores the failure of traditional knowledge management to adress the problem of knowledge worker productivity and argues that a deeper understanding of knowledge work is necessary to improve it. It then explores knowledge work and how it is supported with information technology tools today, focussing specially on the email client as a knowledge work tool.

The paper introduces weblogs as personal publishing tools for knowledge workers and shows how personal publishing supports knowledg work processes, is personally beneficial to the knowledge worker and helps the dissemination of knowledge through an organisation.

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Vancouver Blogging Conference - Winter 2005

Want to present? Check this out!
Welcome to Northern Voice: "Back in the spring, it occurred to me that it might be fun to have a blogging conference here in Vancouver. I ran a little survey, and the results indicated that some other people were interested in the idea.

Along came Boris and Roland, who really liked the idea. We finagled Lauren--who has forgotten more about conference planning than the rest of us know--to join us and Northern Voice was born. Here's a photo of of us, apparently enjoying each others' company.

As the tagline says, the conference will be on Saturday, Feburary 19, 2005 at the UBC downtown campus. Registration will open September 1st, but we're already accepting submissions from speakers.

Be sure to check out the FAQ for more information and subscribe to our RSS feed."

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noise to signal: Nerds against Bush

David Adam Edelstein gave me my morning laugh, and reminded me why visuals are so important to me in online communication. I mean, I LOVE text, but you have to love this: Nerds against Bush. (Also check out David's amazing photos. It's like a long drink of cool water.)

Here is the image:

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Monday, August 02, 2004

Transcription Services and Online Events

In the past few years I have been doing more synchronous online events, including adding teleconferences to web based asych events. One service has become critical for me - taping and converting calls to audio files (I use http://www.audiostrategies.com). When I am a participant (not a facilitator or leader) I often take almost-real-time transcriptions, but I can't always do that. So I have been looking for a transcription service for these audio files. I was pointed to iDictate - Secretarial Transcription Services who say:
"iDictate is a revolutionary blend of technology and human interaction that enables you to dictate any document using a telephone, fax machine, or dictation device, and then receive the completed job back for editing via e-mail, more quickly and economically (just 1 cent per word**) than with typical in-house staff, and more accurately and easily than with voice recognition software. iDictate provides 24x7 access to a global pool of highly trained and bonded secretarial word processors."
A member of the Onlinefacilitation list reports that the service is "brilliant and extremely fast. The fee, if you upload a sound file is 1-cent per word. The turn around time is 24-hours (or less)." Anyone have any other recommendations of how we bridge between synch and asych with recordings and transcripts?

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Jerry on Jont - Music for Change

Jerry Michalski writes:
"About a year ago I had the pleasure to meet a great young singer/songwriter from the UK named Jont, who has a knack for building memorable songs from minimalist lyrics and guitar work, all beautifully paced and placed.

He has asked for a little help getting a particular song in the world that describes the mess the Bush Administration got us into. It's called World Gone Blind (MP3 format). Please feel free to mirror it, put it on Bittorrent, etc.

This song is also licensed under Creative Commons' Attribution- NonCommercial- NoDerivs License."
Pass it along.

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Sunday, August 01, 2004

Clff Figallo's Journal on Working Linkedin

Working Linkedin
"As of this morning, 16 out of 20 have accepted my connections."
Online community pioneer and consultant (yes, you can get hire him!) is blogging his experiment using Linked In to reactivate his social network. I found myself nodding a lot as I read it. Check it out.

P.S. I'm back home after my biz trip. Time to dig back into the blogging routine!

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