December 13, 2006


Reflections on the day

June 23rd, 2006

Today’s session looked at communities of practice, everything from Alcoholics Anonymous to the Boy Scouts. I think we packed more wisdom into our 90 minutes today than you’d get from reading a book or taking a semester-long course on the subject. Go to the wiki. Listen to the recording.

This is us. The connectors are Skype contacts with one another. We also read one another’s blogs, talk a little during our bi-weeklly sessions, and sometimes post to the wiki. This is the start of a community but it hasn’t reached critical mass.

Our task for Monday is more open-ended than most. We’re going to focus on making ours a vibrant, living community — or perhaps decide that this isn’t really a good fit with our current situation in life and remain passive.

See the front page of the wiki for your starting point. Set aside a few hours to take this seriously. If you want to learn, that’s the price. Attending the seminar sessions and not following through with others in the group and on your blog isn’t worth squat: you’d be missing the best part.


What goes where?

Please read Jim’s and Jennifer’s posts to their blogs this afternoon — and then add your own.

There’s a fine line between giving members of a community freedom and creating confusion by not establishing boundaries. Jennifer makes the point that we aren’t clear about where our conversation should take place: the wiki, the blogs, the Google Group, individual Skype calls, the Pub or by email? In a community that builds over time, members define their group’s norms by their actions. If no one emails but the Pub is a hot-bed of activity, the Pub survives. Our group doesn’t have time for things to self-organize, so I’ll tell you how I see it.

The informl wiki is the town square of our community. It’s our home page. When something important is added, let’s note that on the front page of the wiki. Looking for the link to an event? Check the wiki. The wiki is also our repository for lessons learned and new discoveries. This is a shared resources, our own Wikipedia. Add to it; make it better. Want to start a discussion? Do it on the wiki.

Google Groups is an announcement service. Use it only when you want to send a message to everyone. Google Groups is not a good way to communicate with one or two people; use email for that. People have said Google Groups is confusing. My suggestion: don’t even go there. Think of it as a mailing service. Don’t let it distract you — but do note how it works because you may want to add something like this to a program you design. I will write most of the messages.

Skype is our primary one-to-one or small group discussion tool. It’s free. It’s not complicated. It’s personal. Use it. Call a couple of people a week. You don’t need an excuse: just do it. At your suggestion, I’ve put you into three groups. (See the wiki.) Call the people in your group. If you color outside the lines, call people not in your group.

You’re already accustomed to email. It’s one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. But we’re not going to use email much among ourselves because we are focusing on experimenting with what we don’t know. Same goes for the telephone.

Blogs are your means of personal expression. When you have an ah-ha, share it with the rest of us by putting it on your blog. Blogs are so useful, as reference material, as a platform for expression, as input to knowledge systems, and more, that you owe it to yourself to get to know them. Until you’ve made at least a dozen posts, you really don’t know what it’s all about. Put a picture on your blog.

The aggregator is a handy way to read blogs, but not something that takes any additional effort.



December 13, 2006

Steve Rubell (PR guy) posted this list of 35 things you can do with RSS feeds (in addition to keeping up with blogs):

1. Track drunk athletes (RSS)
2. Identify key blog phrases and themes (RSS)
3. Real-time severe weather alerts (RSS)
4. Subscribe to personal reminders
5. See what sports is on HDTV tonight (RSS)
6. Get notified when that must-have item pops up on eBay (RSS)
7. Watch for new music on iTunes (RSS)
8. Monitor for airport delays (RSS)
9. Track new software releases (RSS)
10. Subscribe to movie reviews (RSS)
11. Watch for cheap Travelocity airfares or on Expedia
12. Get the latest currency exchange rates (RSS)
13. Subscribe to traffic updates (RSS)
14. Read the Bible one verse at a time (RSS)
15. Check out new recipes that come to you (RSS)
16. Track your favorite baseball team
17. Track your favorite football team
18. Track your favorite basketball team
19. Track your favorite hockey team
20. Get your horoscope (RSS)
21. Monitor the latest on bird flu (RSS)
22. Assess the latest computer threats (RSS)
23. Track the latest video games for Xbox (RSS) or Playstation (RSS)
24. Get the tides for virtually any coast in the world
25. Read the notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci one day at a time (RSS)
26. Subscribe to TV listings
27. Track the latest questions on Yahoo Answers (RSS)
28. Subscribe to tee times (RSS)
29. Peruse the latest photos on Flickr (RSS)
30. Scan the latest videos on YouTube (RSS)
31. Get hotel deals from Marriott (RSS)
32. Learn a new word every day using RSS (RSS)
33. Track the latest sales with Dealcatcher (RSS)
34. Subscribe to the Target circular (RSS)
35. Track the latest uses for RSS

story strings for berlin

November 21, 2006

My point of view: We became locked into our conception of training, an authority telling or showing you how it’s done, when the world seemed certain and predictable. The world is not certain. There is no longer an authority for most knowledge. If we don’t recognize other forms of learning and support them, we are leaving money on the table and people in ignorance.

Listeners: A mixed bag of academics, government officialdom, and corporate KM/training folks. Many nationalities,many cultures. From conservative/sheltered to innovative/plugged in. Need to avoid all jargon.

Benefits: Have more impact, keep head above flood of information, broaden scope to include informal, higher status,

Action steps: Turn them on. Supplement existing training with informal learning. Know where to recognize opportunities to use it. Come to to get a more complete picture.


like explaining sex to a virgin
encourage you to try supplement traditional learning with something more natural, what i call informal learning. easy. incremental. attitude.

for the left brainers
cheatsheet in back of book

Kaiser Wilhelm

democratization of the workforce
vituality, intangibles, service, industry gone, world of mind
rate of change, networks

informal learning
visible spectrum

hans mondeman
knives at the gasthaus || cars on the road

change is rampant. need to know how to look it up, what it means.
like the temperature. you look it up when you need to. F or C. context.
Unworkshop. what it is or where to find it? Web 2.0 was a page, now it’s a brief video or text of foundation and links to great sources. no other way to keep up.

Mining innovation

November 20, 2006

When I’m prospecting for innovations in learning, I look outside the discipline rather than within. My colleagues have already mined most of the nuggets in the field of learning. The odds are slim that I’ll unearth a major new concept in a field so well picked over.

I’m more likely to discover powerful insights in other fields, for example psychology or political science. Looking wider is more productive than looking deeper. Rather than start at the center of the learning field, I search for new ideas at the extremes, the boundaries where learning rubs up against other disciplines.

By my definition, informal learning encompasses such things as stress reduction, visualization, mirror neurons, and the flow of conversation, not the usual fare at your local ASTD meeting.

Serendipity is the happy accident of discovering something when you were looking for something else. The “looking for something else” is important because that’s what keeps you alert for the unexpected. Serendiptidy led me to think about unconferences, mindfulness, and the impact of interruptions on memory as opportunities for informal learning.

This morning’s email contained an invitation to visit Buzzfeed.

We automatically detect new buzz by crawling 50,000 of the very best web sites, blogs, and news sources. Then our technology crunches the raw data from these sites to identify new buzz that’s just starting to spread. We developed the technology to find new things just when they start accelerating in popularity and provoking interesting conversations.

In other words, Buzzfeed offers new ground to explore. Stumble! performs a similar function, coming up with web stuff suggested by others who like what you like. (Remember when collective filtering was all the rage? This is it.)

Where do you find innovation? Outside of your comfort zone.


aggregator blinders

from Communispace

October 9, 2006

Communispace, a client of mine that helps corporations develop closer relationships with their customers through online communities, has released a top ten list with some great tips.  I’ll reproduce them here because they deserve reproducing, and then of course I’ll add my own commentary because, after all, this is my blog.

  1. “Invite the right people.”  You bet.  Exclusivity is extremely important to social networking, and it’s really been undervalued.
  2. “View members as advisors.” Absolutely.  Too many executives think they’re driving the ship, when really, their customers should be at the helm.
  3. “Find the social glue.”  This one is harder to understand, but what they mean is you need to treat your online conversations like real conversations.  If you talked about yourself the whole time, people wouldn’t like you very much, and the same is true online.
  4. “Work at building the community.”  Like a good hostess, experienced community facilitators know how to give people reasons to strike up a conversation and making people feel comfortable.
  5. “Be genuine.”  Communities won’t work without trust and honesty; people pointed and laughed at McDonald’s blog when Bob Langert pretended the Happy-Meal Hummers were “Just toys, not vehicle recommendations”, even though they were part of a promotion paid for by the advertiser.
  6. “Just plain ask.” Important, although I would have broadened it a bit. It’s part of just having a normal conversation and not getting all uptight about “messaging” and “positioning”.
  7. “Listen more than ask.”  This is kind of part of 2 and 3.  What the community thinks is important is likely to be more important than what the marketers think is important.
  8. “Don’t squelch the negative.”  This is SO important!  Lots of companies still think that if they try to hide it, it will go away.  We see how effective that’s been with clerical abuse of minors and Mark Foley’s instant messages.  Cover-ups don’t work anymore now that we have the Internet, folks.
  9. “Don’t ask too much too often.”  Yep.  There’s a limit to how much busy people can pay attention to you and your needs.
  10. “Keep experimenting.”  This might be the most important one of the bunch.  There’s no innovation without experimentation.  New techniques are disruptive — and expensive — but they keep you on your toes and they keep you competitive.


October 9, 2006

October 5, 2006

‘Berkeley Squirrel’ On Black