13:51 11/06/2004 Mathemagenic: Mathemagenic
on personal productivity in knowledge-intensive environments, weblog research, knowledge management, PhD, serendipity and lack of work-life balance...


  Monday, July 29, 2002

  Brain power and usability testing

A bit from Jakob Nielsen's Becoming a Usability Professional

People frequently ask me what it takes to become a usability professional and get a job in the field. The answer lies in three characteristics that all great usability professionals share:
  • Knowledge of interaction theory and user-research methodologies, especially the principles of user testing
  • High brain power
  • Ten years' experience running user tests and other usability activities, such as field studies

Unfortunately, only the first of these characteristics can be taught. Usability expertise is mainly an issue of talent and experience rather than theory. Much of usability work requires pattern matching, which is why it's so dependent on brain power and past experience: Once you observe slight traces of a usability issue in users' behavior, you must deduce the underlying implications for design.

A bad usability specialist will report, "User 1 liked this, but User 2 did not." Not much help for the design team. A good usability specialist combines the observations across multiple users, distills the patterns, and arrives at a conceptual insight that can drive the design.

Two ideas:

(1) I guess it applies to any customer-centred something: it costs too much to adapt product for any customer, so you have to be able to recognise patterns and then offer related features to customise...

(2) I'm too fast for the patterns - I tend to jump fast to the patterns without describing "User 1 liked this, but User 2 did not". I guess, this is not good for a scientist: others have to be able to follow your thoughts as well...

More on: usability 

  KM and HRM: an article

KM and Human Resources Management: some pieces and thoughts (bold is mine)

There is understandably, a considerable overlap between human resources and knowledge management since
  • Knowledge creation is a human activity and managing humans is a HR activity.
  • Knowledge management is about management of intellectual capital and intangible assets and human resources management is about managing the sources of these assets.

This one I like :)

Knowledge management and human resources management initiatives are focused on harnessing the available knowledge assets and to prevent knowledge from walking out of the door. Hence, there is a need for the integration between the knowledge management initiatives and the HR policies of the organisation.

Links between HR and KM initiatives:

  • KM and HR systems - using KM system to handle HR data
  • recruitment - selecting people with right attitude
  • retention - retaining not experts, but knowledge sharing experts
  • reward system - recognising and promoting employees who adopt new behavior
  • performance management systems - changing performance measures to measure "right KM" performance
  • KM and organisational structure - adapting to leverage the value to knowledge
  • KM and organisational culture - changing with focus on trust and knowledge sharing
  • training and organisational learning  - this one I don't understand
  • exit - debriefing people and capturing their knowledge before they leave

Finally: was nice to read, but the quality is bad. I should think if I can refer to it...

More on: KM&learning 

  Friday, July 26, 2002

  Using blogs in business

Great: more things are coming. I guess I should do something to get blogs in my formal research agenda, otherwise I'll have to work in evenings :)

Using Blogs in Business. Thanks to [Rick Klau] for pointing me to Blogroots and their new book [Amazon]. [Gurteen Knowledge-Log]

More on: blogs in business 

  Cooperative learning links From Natalia:
More on: learning 

  Links: self-directed learning, meta-learning

More links:

  Citing from internet

Funny how you can come across something very useful reading something just 'nice to know'. I was checking Knowledge Sharing Incentives discussion at brint and found two things:

More on: motivation research 

  Thursday, July 25, 2002

  PhD proposal: notes

Criteria to compare informal learning studies:

  • definitions of informal learning (which one, meaning)
  • research questions
  • data collection instruments
  • conclusions

Formal/informal learning integration scenarios:

  • levels
    • cognitive level
    • organisational level (interventions)
    • technology level (systems)
  • benefits
    • what are the benefits
    • measurement:
      • level (Kirkpartick like, at least activities-outcomes-business value)
      • instruments
      • or way of showing connection between activities and business results
More on: learning informal 


I looked for an answer to my yesterday's question about using tacit learning term. As I expected: tacit learning is not a common term to use.

First I was happy to found something about tacit learning ASTD article and Peter Honey column, but became disappointed as they use it as almost a synonym to tacit knowledge (In any case I don't like learning to be used to define not a process, but outcomes, like "learnings"; probably this is due to my not-native English :)

To compare, I also looked for uses of informal and workplace learning:

This two are used more widely, but uses of informal learning could be confusing, and workplace learning could be perceived as a wider umbrella for learning at the workplace as contrast to the classroom (e.g. including e-training). 

Something to sort out :)))

More on: learning informal 

  Wednesday, July 24, 2002

  Learning On-Line vs. e-Learning; tacit learning

From: #238 Elliott Masie's TechLearn TRENDS:

Learning On-Line vs. e-Learning?  I was struck by how an answer changes depending on how you phrase the question.  I usually ask audiences at my keynote speeches about their experiences with e-Learning or On-Line Learning?  When I ask how many people in the audience have recently taken an On-Line Course, the response is often between 20 and 30 percent.

One day, my tongue got a bit tied and I asked the question with a few changes.  “How many of you have learned things on-line recently?” Suddenly, almost 98% of the hands in the audience went up.  I was shocked until I realized how I had fundamentally changed the question.

People are very aggressively using the internet as an active, informal and spontaneous  learning and knowledge tool. So, when you ask about the TACIT LEARNING that is being done on-line, the percentages so SKY HIGH!

Ask your colleagues the same question.  You will be amazed at the difference.  So, part of our challenge is to define our arena in the broader sense of both FORMAL and TACIT learning programs.  Taking a structured, beginning to end e-Learning program is likely to remain as small a percentage of yearly learning for a worker as the attendance in a formal classroom training session.

Funny: wording means a lot! Once I found out that in one company learning means training and other formal program with "HR roots". Contrary to that, learning in a community is called communication ("KM roots").

E-learning is a tricky term: I like it as better version of using internet for learning-related purposes or even on-line learning. But I guess that I'm too late with my interpretation and have to deal with standards: e-learning means e-training. Sad.

I have to find out which term I should use in my "e-learning" report not to make it confusing to readers. (E)-learning that we used in E-linCC report could be a good one, but it mean all kinds of learning including on-line...

Another thing that I really like is (logically) the focus on informal learning on-line and nice way of calling it tacit learning. I wonder if it's a common way to call it like that? It could be a good substitute for informal learning:

  • it captures the important qualities: embedded, hidden and difficult to formalise way of learning and, as a result, the iceberg metaphor of learning
  • it calls a connection with tacit knowledge, which is probably the one that is better addressed with informal learning

  Searching scientific literature

This came via SynapShots newsletter:

Resource (Digital Library) : CiteSeer (ResearchIndex) : "Earth's largest free full-text index of scientific literature … a scientific literature digital library that aims to improve the dissemination and feedback of scientific literature, and to provide improvements in functionality, usability, availability, cost, comprehensiveness, efficiency, and timeliness … indexing over 7 million papers"
* Retrieve or Submit papers
* A search for Knowledge Management revealed 1084 documents
* Examples include:
- Knowledge Facts, Knowledge Fiction (2002)
- Information vs. Knowledge: The Role of Intranets in Knowledge Management
* Papers are downloadable in multiple formats
* For each paper, you may find: Abstract, Similar Documents, Active Bibliography, Citations, Related and Articles on the Same Site
* Go to CiteSeer, provided by the NEC Research Institute

More on: KM research 

  KM & learning: why?

Just created this category... Why?

Given my HRD/training/learning background and my current research in KM, it's not so surprising that I'm interested in the connections between two. This piece from my PhD proposal probably explains it some of the current ideas:

...employee learning can be described by the iceberg metaphor: visible formal programs are complemented with informal learning, which is more difficult to recognise and measure. This probably explains the lack of studies on supporting informal learning, although it is recognised that it takes larger share of time and could be more effective than formal learning programs.

In practice formal and informal learning are addressed within different organisational domains (training&development and knowledge management) that results in unrelated interventions. We propose that considering the "learning iceberg" as a whole and aligning those interventions can improve the quality of employee learning and reduce associated costs.

I'm interested in all possible connections, from theoretical to just brainstormed ideas. And in non-examples as well :)

More on: KM&learning 

  The Downside of Knowledge Management

Came from Roland Tanglao: KLogs

The Downside of Knowledge Management. (SOURCE:"aklogapart")-This is all very true but k-logging is so compelling that if one person (who isn't necesarily so senior) passionately k-logs then I think this is enough to get an enlightened organization over the tipping point. If this doesn't happen, then perhaps it's time to find an more enlightened organization! A successful KM initiative needs:
* a compelling reason why each employee should buy in - rewards are called for

I like the ideas, but presentation is a bit difficut for me. Would cite it myself (bold is mine):

A successful KM initiative needs:

  • a compelling reason why each employee should buy in - rewards are called for training so that everyone appreciates the value of context. You want to tell me about SOAP, DRM, XYZ? Fine, but tell me what they are first or give me pointers. Do it every day because I won't retain much faith in KM if I have to search back three months through your blog to try to figure out what you're talking about
  • training so that people learn to write for an audience outside their own group of contacts. If I already know what you do I'm less likely to need to read your words of KM wisdom in the first place
  • training so that people understand that most knowledge is specialized. Within an organization most people don't know much about HR, nor about data modeling, nor about Customer Relationship Management, nor about the firm's plans for the next 36 months, nor about debt factoring. Some of this knowledge does not need to be communicated, but some of it does and the people who write about it have to learn to write for an audience that is, in the nicest possible sense, ignorant. When they can do that,  KM becomes truly valuable
  • much better initiation classes than most firms give. How can anyone write for that group over by the far window on the second floor if they don't know what that group over by the far window on the second floor does? If you're a developer and you talk about languages remember that your audience might be the Localization group - to them German is a language and C++ isn't
  • someone VERY senior to champion the KM cause. This person needs to actually read the KM blogs and give feedback. We're talking about a VP, not a Manager or a Director. If they sit back and just let KM happen, it won't
Funny, most of suggestions are to do with training - a couple of new ideas for my collection of "KM/learning synergy".

In fact, probably it's something to do not only with training, but with the whole set of HR/HRD initiatives - from recruitment and appraisal criteria to training, coaching and supporting informal learning networks (the last one is more KM than "HR" :)

Back to the article. Two pieces that I liked most (bold is mine):

Unfortunately there's a more fundamental issue that we have to address. Given a choice people tend not to communicate. Some don't want to share, some feel threatened or diminished by sharing, some fail to understand that most things lose meaning unless they have adequate context, some enjoy a feeling of superiority by talking about their work in a way that others will have difficulty understanding, some get a kick out of doing things but not out of explaining things, some simply lack communication skills. Remember, most offices are political environments. That doesn't help.

Three sides - people who don't want to share, don't have time to share and don't have rights skills. Training could be a solution in the last case... Could be a good idea to suggest an assignment or even a Master project for HRD programme, something like "depeloping KM curriculum" :)

Paradoxically the only people who will automatically use KM are those who would naturally communicate about their work anyway. They're the ones who don't really need it. The people who do need it won't use it without training. There's a lot more to KM than just writing stuff down.

Speaking in change management terms - early adopters will survive by themself :) By the way, it's a good idea to look to the adoption stages in this respect. KM is not much different as any major innovation...

  Tuesday, July 23, 2002

  Knowledge cycle and different types of learning

Organisational perspective (supporting learning)

  • First, knowledge is created via reflection/ communication/ informal learning - hidden K
  • Then, it's recognised by an organisation as existing - mapped K
  • Next, channels to distribute this K are created - channelled K:
    • K in formal learning programs (organisation-wide, critical, more or less easy to transfer, larger chunks) - courses and so on
    • K in "KM sources" (specific, critical, smaller chunks, audience or pay back are not clear) - communities, knowledge repositories 
    • embedded K - procedures, core competencies, organisational structures and so on
  • Finally, people learn, so we get internalised K and apply it (used K)

Individual perspective (learning)

  • Recognised K gap (I don't have it, but I need it) - missing K
  • Finding K sources - located K
  • Learning
    • K in formal learning programs - formal learning + side: informal, incidental learning
    • K in "KM sources" - semiformal learning + side informal, incidental learning
    • embedded K - informal, incidental learning (could be formal or semiformal if explicitly included)
    • hidden K - informal, incidental learning
  • As a result - internalised K and - if we are lucky :) -  applied K

Ideas on the way:

  No Cyrillic :(

I got a reply from Radio support that having proper Cyrillic is not possible. Now I'm thinking should I have my "life" blog here or move it to Blogger. I have an account there from January.

So, for the time being - sunnyse.blogspot.com

More on: Radio 

  Being a foreigner

Just have been reading a bit of "want to have a brake" articles at expatica.com and found something to add to my never-ending discussion about Dutch/being a foreigner in Holland discussion with friends and colleagues.

From Dutch women fight stereotypes in the workplace:

/"Turkey and Botswana, for example, have a larger percentage of women in management and the professions, especially academic positions (than the Netherlands)./" Jessica Silversmith, a director of the Meldpunt Discriminate Bureau

Another one, Dating the Dutch, seems to give a good portrait of relationships with Dutch people. At least it would be shared by my friends, but probably not by Russian-Dutch couples from RUS-NL forum.

It gives this strange feeling again: you live in the country, you somehow love it as a home (even temporary), but still you notice all kinds of strange things around that are different and most likely doesn't make you happy. You can't become Dutch, but you have to adjust... This brings a very strange feeling, mix of hate and love:

  • they are different, I'm not like that and I don't want to be,
  • but I enjoy those "strange things" as part of living here, and most likely I will miss them at home (I wonder if I would miss biking in the rain :)

I can discuss a lot "those strange Dutch", and it even looks that I don't like it here. But for me it's not like that: to be able to love you have to know and to understand. For me those discussions are never-ending attempts to understand Dutch and they bring some "strange love for the strange country and strange people".

More on: cross-cultural 

  Monday, July 22, 2002

  Having two PhD supervisors

From "hot to get a PhD" by Philliphs and Pugh.

Risks of having two supervisors:

  • diffusion of responsibility
  • conflicting advice
  • playing one supervisor off against another
  • lack of an overall academic view

"Golden rules" (p.111)

  • Insist on preliminary joint meeting where all three of you discuss how the project should develop
  • Ensure that your two supervisors have (at the very last) telephone contact with each other once a term
  • Try to arrange a three-way meetings once a year
  • Always sen each supervisor a copy of what you are currently writing but make it clear whenether it is for "information only" or "for comments". This will, of course, depend on how you have agreed to divide the work between your supervisors.
  • Keep each of them informed of what you are doing and how they are responding to that work
More on: PhD 

  How to manage your supervisor

From "how to get a PhD" by Philliphs and Pugh.

Most supervisors expect from their doctoral students

  • "to be independent" (but not too much :)
  • "to produce written work that is not just a first draft" (discuss it with other colleagues to have more elaborated version for the supervisor)
  • "to have regular meetings with their research students" (arrange in advance, be prepared)
  • "to be honest when reporting on their progress" (especially if experiencing problems)
  • "to follow the advice that they give, when it has been given at the request of the postgraduate" (otherwise don't ask)
  • "to be exited about their work, able to surprise them and fun to be with" (but they don't want to be choked :)

Educate your supervisor

  • about your expectations
  • about new developments and findings in a PhD work
  • about your topic (once you will become more knowledgeable about it :)
It may be necessary to educate your supervisor by giving information in a manners that assumes that your supervisor already knew about the things that are only now becoming accessible for you.

If you think that your supervisor is not taking it seriously, suggest it as a material for a conference.

Communication barriers

  • Discuss expectations and hopes: degree of guidance, type and frequency of meetings, fix the next date
  • Show that you appreciate all the time given to you - not only meetings and reading in advance, but also time given to thinking about you and your work.
  • Start open discussion about difficult "taboo topics", for example: Am I making enough use of the learning opportunities available? Do you think that I am managing to get enough work done in the time between our meetings? Are you satisfied with how I use your comments? How do you think we might work together more effectively?
  • Ask specific questions about "wrong pieces" of your work: conceptual design, relevance, location, language...
More on: PhD 

  Friday, July 19, 2002

  Becoming a scientist

Just thought that this is something that I definetely need: collecting things relevant for doing a PhD. I don't expect that I'll write often, but I definetely will write.

Interests so far:

  • writing in English
  • proper referencing
  • research methodology
  • scientific networking
More on: PhD 

  Blogs and teaching

Some of gRadio posts on weblogging in the classroom:

I'm thinking about it for the courses I used to teach (missing that a lot!) - how I would use blogs? Some ideas (in terms of learning activities):

  • before class reading - reflection and questions; may be peer-review of that
  • probably not logging the whole session, but definetely brainstorming sessions and exersices (hmm, better option than slides --> web-site)
  • definetely student "takeaways" from each session
  • collecting links as an exercise
  • commenting on posts of others
  • keeping log of project activities; posting drafts and ideas for peer-review (I can do as well, but it's much better to have it reviewed by other students ;)
  • reflection on the course

Wish I would have a course to teach right now...

More on: blogs and learning 

  Be Creative Or Die

Cited citation :))) I should read the original after all those meetings today.

My theory uses the three T's: technology, talent and tolerance. You need to have a strong technology base, such as a research university and investment in technology. That alone is a necessary but not in itself sufficient condition. Second, you need to be a place that attracts and retains talent, that has the lifestyle options, the excitement, the energy, the stimulation, that talented, creative people need. And thirdly, you need to be tolerant of diversity so you can attract all sorts of people -- foreign-born people, immigrants, woman as well as men, gays as well as straights, people who look different and have different appearances.

More on: innovation 

  Email vs. k-logging: from personal perspective

Hmm... Trying to cite it properly :)))

Email vs. k-logging. Email Email Everywhere.

E-Mail Storage Issues Facing North American Companies

According to a recently-released whitepaper from Osterman Research, 31% of North American companies say the average size of an e-mail mailbox in their message system is between 26 and 50 megabytes (Mb). Additionally, 46% of these companies say that e-mail users in their system send up to 50 messages per day....

There has to be a way for k-logging to help with this for at least a percentage of these people. Luckily, we don't have quotas in place at SLS or else my external email would be a real problem. Here I am with my own blog, I'm trying to move into k-logging, and I really haven't integrated email into that equation yet. How on earth am I going to get my staff to do this?

Are there any guidelines out there yet for how to integrate various information sources (web, email, chat, etc.) into a k-log, or is the format still too young?

[The Shifted Librarian]

» Too many good questions here I'm afraid.

My experience of KM leads me to expect that k-logging will not provide a turn-key answer to managing email.  What it will do is, in all practical terms, to kill email.  That's the solution.

Many of the business contexts for e-mail could be replaced by publish & subscribe RSS feeds and Wiki leaving e-mail purely for private correspondance.  If we could solve this spam thing too then you might see mailboxs drop back to pre-1996 levels again.

I'd be interesting to hear what other people think on this topic.

[Matt Mower]

Funny - those different citation styles :)

To the point - from my personal perspective k-logging can take over e-mail only in one case: if my people from my networks will use it too. I just started, but I have fun and enjoy it, I'm learning how to use it for communication as well. So, far I can subscribe to other posts, but these are new people. My people are not here yet. I don't know if/when they will join, so I rely on e-mail.

Think that it's something to do with Metcalfe's Law:

the value of a network grows by the square of the size of the network.

So, I guess I have to wait till "my people k-logging network" will be large enogh to provide more value than e-mail.

By the way, is it possible to subscribe to Radio RSS feeds by e-mail?

More on: blogs in business 

  Thursday, July 18, 2002

  Scenario 1. Communities and courses

From the same paper (a bit more readable):

One promising direction seems to be to look for an alignment and synergy between communities and courses.

From one side, communities of practice are becoming a part of work processes and culture, so they should find their place in orientation programs for newcomers or courses that aim to cover community expertise area.

From another side, communities’ knowledge and expert networks could be more than just a topic to study; they can help in shaping and delivering formal learning programs.

Community expertise could be used:

  • to define target and current competencies in a specific area,
  • to suggest priorities for developing courses,
  • to provide real-life examples and problems for learners,
  • to help with coaching programs or delivering courses,
  • to evaluate impact of training and so on.
More on: communities KM&learning 

  Scenario 2. Personal KM/learning tools

Piece from a paper (for KM Summer School) I'm trying to finish:

At learner’s level formal and informal learning are interrelated, contributing in different ways to building knowledge and competency. From this point it seems to be logical to provide one point access to networking, learning and competency assessment tools, giving each knowledge worker an opportunity to manage his own knowledge and learning processes.

In practice this means providing a hybrid between learner home pages in learning management systems, personal KM tools and communication tools. Then learning object methodology could be used to provide personalised access to content of both learning and KM systems coupled with communication, feedback and assessment tools.

  KM metaphors?

Just posted this to our internal discussion tool:

I’m collecting metaphors that used to describe KM or specific aspects of it.

Gardening is the one that widely used (as a balance between natural development and purposeful intervening). Marleen Huysman had criticised it as plants are not active, they can’t walk away, but people can. She suggested a farm (and stated that she is not happy with it at all).

Other people use “glue” that suppose to connect different pieces of organisation into a whole.

Do you know more?

More on: KM metaphors 

  Wednesday, July 03, 2002

  Technology for learning: summary of my interests

Topics that I watch out:

  • General
    • general e-learning trends (mainly corporate, but education a bit as well)
    • e-learning and KM tools: relating and integrating
    • e-learning tools vs. general (or wider KM) tools
  • Specific
    • learner acceptance
    • games and e-learning
    • multicultural issues in e-learning, localisation
    • business case (ROI, getting stakeholders in, implementation...)
    • blogs and klogs of course :)
More on: e-learning 

  Learning Circuits

Haven't been there for sometime:

  • They added e-learning blog with several gurus writing their comments (current discussion is about ROI). Are my feelings right? Is it getting there?
  • They closed some areas for general access :( Is it time to become ASTD member?
More on: e-learning 

  How MIT's OpenCourseWare Will Change E-Learning

Nice Learning Circuits article about implications of MIT's OpenCourseWare...

Five ways the e-learning industry can add value to the MIT content:

  • Increase interaction: face-to-face, teachers over Internet, computer-based (e.g. simulations)
  • Tailor, assemble, and repurpose [MIT] content
  • Become certification authorities
  • Innovate with technology: game-based e-learning, LMS & learning objects, rich content, purposeful linkage, dynamic integration
  • Innovate with pedagogy: adapting to learning styles, more support for learning ill-structured tasks, collaborative learning,
More on: e-learning 

  Tuesday, July 02, 2002

  Interorganisational communities and knowledge leaking

One more thing from last week workshop:

  • After trust is established people start sharing things without much thiking about protecting knowledge or their company. So, is it dangerous?
  • Not really. Ideally organisations would establish community for a common interest, so it is not likely that other ideas would be exchanged.
More on: communities 

  Links: knowledge sharing and e-learning localisation

Bad, I don't have time to write... And to read...

Those two I'd like to check later:

More on: e-learning motivation 

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This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

Last update: 3/25/2007; 10:25:45 AM.