13:51 11/06/2004 Mathemagenic: Mathemagenic
...giving birth to learning...


  Tuesday, April 29, 2003

  BlogTalk paper: data

You can find the data for my BlogTalk paper on-line. So far there is only answers to open-ended questions there, but I'll be adding the rest soon.

I used two questionnaires to collects the data: one for people who have a weblogand another for those who don’t have a weblog. I called them bloggers and would be bloggers, although I have five categories in total and I’m not sure yet where to draw the line.

Five categories I have are result of the answering question 2, “Please select the statement that describes you best”:

  • People with a weblog (“blogger questionnaire”)
    • Blogging has became part of my regular activities --> Blogger
    • I'm trying out blogging --> Trying-out
  • People without a weblog (“would be blogger questionnaire”)
    • I have decided to start a weblog, but don't have one yet --> Decided to start
    • I'm considering should I start blogging or not --> Considering blogging
    • I'm interested in blogging --> Interested in blogging

Originally I expected 10-15 respondents for each questionnaire and I was going to post answers of each of them on-line. I used question 18 to ask for the permission and level of anonymity (e.g if I could provide name and reference). In fact I’ve got more than 80 responses in total, so it is not feasible to post all of them on-line. So, I choose for posting aggregated results. The main rules are: 

  • answers are grouped in five categories (between blogger and interested in blogging) 
  • open-ended questions 
    • answers of people who had not agreed to post them on-line are excluded 
    • empty answers are excluded
    • similar answers are grouped 
  • multiple-choice questions
    • all not-empty answers are counted

I also posted names of the participants and references to their web-sites (those who gave their permission while answering questionnaires). I’m ready to add names of the participants who agreed to present their results anonymously, so if you are one of them please let me know.

More on: BlogTalk paper 

  Friday, April 25, 2003

  Blog navigation bar

Some time ago I improved my templates with (finally!) adding activeRenderer menus to my weblog pages. I used two:

  • about my weblog and me (including conferences I'm going to attend, so you can meet me :)
  • "Ecosystem" with links to people, RSS subscriptions, tracking, comments and all other tools that can help understanding context and roots of my weblog

Today I added the following explanation for the "Ecosystem" menu:

I believe that blogging is not about personal publishing. It’s about finding your identity in conversations with others. Blogging tools are not mature yet and for an occasional reader it’s difficult to see the roots of blogging dialogues. I hope that this collection of links can help you to trace conversations that feed my thought and writing.

More on: blog ecosystem 

  Thursday, April 24, 2003

  BlogTalk paper: data overflow

I'm not writing because I'm analysing 82 responses to my questionnaires. I didn't expected so many, my initial analysis strategy is not applicable any more, I'm trying to find out how to deal with the data overflow, but I'm really happy that I didn't go for multiple-choice questions about motivation because a lot of interesting things emerge from the answers... Just teasing, I'll work on it tomorrow and post more :)

So, the plan is:

  • go through the aggregated answers for open questions, spot patterns, post "raw data" and initial interpretations on-line;
  • finish calculations of quantitative answers per each blogger/"would be blogger" category (I have five of them), spot any differences, post on-line;
  • go thought initial interpretations, decide about grouping and extra analysis;
  • write draft - post on-line - revise - ready.

The funny thing is that after my first looks at the data I'm not sure that I will find a difference between "bloggers" and "would be bloggers". Although I feel that several interesting things are emerging...

More on: BlogTalk paper 

  Wednesday, April 23, 2003

  Knowledge work and knowledge worker: references

New piece at Quaerere SIG/Knowledge BoardKnowledge work and knowledge worker: references (selected references from the dissertation 'Defining Knowledge Work: A British and Hispanic Cross-cultural Study' by Jennifer Yau).

The list is far from full, but there are several important things about it:

  • Jennie used Knowledge Board to initiate the discussion on her research and to support data collection.
  • She doesn't forget to inform the participants about the outcomes of this work.
  • It's student (and not "expert") sharing resources she used with others.

I know that this case it's not perfect: we had to go via "author-editor" cycle several times to post it and it's not easy to add new things (only via comments and not in a "wiki" mode), but I believe that even if we start such a "low scale" sharing knowledge and resources we can achieve a lot of collaboration between different research institutions.

Note: this is my association with Knowledge Angels Network of Excellence proposal focused on supporting integration of European KM research.

  Back and BlogTalk paper news

I'm back from a short vacation and I found that my home page was empty for more than 5 days. Let's see if this post can cure it.

BlogTalk paper news:

  • 19 "would be bloggers" and 61 bloggers have answered my questionnaires. I didn't expect so many answers :)
  • I'm starting to analyse the data and I have to decide what to do with questionnaires (I guess I will close them).
  • Happy to know that paper revisions will be possible after the deadline (which is in the week!)
More on: BlogTalk paper 

  Wednesday, April 16, 2003

  Community straddlers and innovation: asking right questions about communities of practice

George Por about community straddlers and innovation (better read the whole post)

...for radical innovation to fly, KM, innovation management, and R&D, they all need to perform foreground/background shift in their thinking about communities of practice. Picture the CPs of your organization as a parallel structure, a network of nodes with strong or weak links or no links between them, Corporate CP-support teams are typically focused in helping individual CPs getting off the ground or unstuck, or providing ongoing facilitation in some cases. For enabling CPs to foster radical innovation somebody has to focus not on the nodes but the links between them. That somebody has also to perceive and assess how well the pattern of those links is aligned with the organization’s innovation strategy.

Who can be that “somebody”? Anyone who cares enough about the organization to dramatically increase its value to all stakeholders, its customers and members alike. The more, the merrier.

I know, what I’m saying in this blog entry is easier said than done. I do hope raising more questions than answering. I believe this is a ground-breaking inquiry, and would welcome your comments and questions to further it together. So, if you feel an urge to jump in, don’t restrain yourself J , don't hesitate to click on the "Comment" link below. If you have authoring access to this blog, post a new entry and select “Innovating with CPs” for one of the categories, under which you list it.

There’s more background to my thinking about "radical innovation with CPs" in my whitepaper of the same title.

For me George contributes to answering not an easy question from practice "how can we support a community of practice in moving from problem-solving to innovation". The question is not correct: this is not about a community, this is about an ecosystem of communities.

  Why weblogs are rarely used to document research (2)

Research Blogging? by Sven-S. Porst

Lilia Efimova wonders Why weblogs are rarely used to document research. This question came to my attention recently as well and my best guesses were:
  • Nobody wants to read it: Research work tends to be too specific and technical to document it to the public. I guess it wouldn’t appeal to the average reader - rather scare them away.
  • Writing things down properly takes a lot of effort and time. This somehow contradicts that I’m blogging mostly to relax and in my spare time
  • I don’t (yet) understand many of the things I’m looking at well enough to write about them as clearly as I would like to.

I like the idea of having research weblogs:

  • Pro: It would be a way to document what you’re doing and enable you to go over things again after having erased them from the blackboard.
  • Contra: Writing things down would be quite a large overhead.
  • Pro: It’s easier to stay in touch with what your friends/colleagues/tutors/students are doing.
  • Contra: It’s not quite as easy as walking over to their office and seeing them face-to-face.
  • Pro: It would enable you to have better contact to people in the same research area living elsewhere in the world.
  • Contra: Actually turning this into something useful requires technology to be present for everyone and everyone being willing and able to put in the extra work.

Thus, I think the benefits from having research weblogs could be great. In fact they are as is apparent for anyone who ever bumped into John Baez’s This Week’s Findings in Mathematical Physics. It can be helpful for the reader looking something up, the reader following his work and probably himself for having to clarify everything to himself before writing it up.

Some of the Contras can probably resolved, e.g. providing your students and employees with easy access to weblogging tools (how much does it add to the IT budget?). And while at that the topic of what happens to your blog once you leave your university should be addressed as well. Others, like the fact that writing things down may be a lot of effort, could be harder to overcome. Also, the feasibility of blogging your research probably depends on the area you’re in.

Better quesses than my own :) I think that audience is important: if I know that people interested in my research are reading my weblog then I'm more likely to overcome "writing lazyness". And after that I can enjoy all the fruits of articulation...

More on: blogs in research 

  Found on-line

Already forgot how I found this - 31 Flavors of Blog - it was open at my desktop for the whole day.

Notes on the Background of Back-Links with a bit of history of Internet and differences between referer and Trackback.

More on: blogs 

  Statistics on Webloggers?

Claudia Musekamp asks me by-mail:

Are you familiar of any statistics on Webloggers? For example: Percentage of male and female bloggers, age, social status etc.

Any hint will be highly appreciated.

I'm not an expert of that, so I came with a few names from my readings:

Phil Wolff collects data about numbers of existing weblogs at Blogcount (about it).

Ross Mayfield posts something from time to time on weblogs trends and statistics in his weblog (recently Annual Weblog Growth and Live Journal Over Time, for the rest I guess you have to search his web-site).

Sébastien Paquet did a survey of 170+ weblogs, you can find some insights there.

Do you know more?

Later: Michael Fagan points to Seb's Weblogs By The Numbers
More on: bloggers 

  Why weblogs are rarely used to document research?

Follow-up thinking about why I don't use my blog to document my PhD research.

I know that many people in my subscription list do research (as part of their job), but I don’t see many of them explicitly blogging about it. Reading their blogs I get a feeling of a situation similar to my own. I’m blogging bits and pieces only loosely connected to my main “research job” and you probably can’t explain what I’m doing in my PhD from reading my weblog. I wonder why it works like that.

Two ideas for now:

  • I’m not so passionate about my PhD as about my blogging topics. – This is not true: I had a chance to define my PhD questions myself and I want to do it.
  • There is something else… I don’t know yet… Only guessing.
More on: blogs in research 

  Putting things in context: why I blog by Dave Pollard

Dave Pollard in Putting things in context: why I blog [via Blogging from the Barrio]

One of the great challenges in knowledge sharing, and in asynchronous communication, is to provide your audience with enough context to understand where your message 'comes from' -- what mental models, preconceptions, hidden agendas, historical baggage and motivations filter and taint what you say. Conveying this context makes it easier for the recipient of your message to internalize what you're saying more accurately and fully. It can also prevent misconceptions that lead to argument or disparagement of your point of view. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to let you know not only who I am (in the sidebar About the Author ), but also why I blog -- what motivates me, on top of a heavy business workload, to spend at least 25 hours a week reading blogs and other resources, and writing my own blog posts. So here goes:

I do this for three equally important (to me) reasons:
  1. Improve My Writing Skills: [...]
  2. Institute Weblogs in Business: As Chief Knowledge Officer of a large professional services company, I've been grappling with two major cultural obstacles to knowledge sharing - employees' reluctance to contribute their knowledge, and the absence of context sufficient to make knowledge that is contributed easy to assess, internalize and re-use. I think employee weblogs might solve both problems.
  3. Environmental Activism: [...] ...I'm hoping that by blogging environmental manifestos like How to Save the World and The Third Way, SETI-like, I will be able to find like minds with whom I can work to drive a powerful, effective, broad-based environmental movement.

For those that have read my posts before, is this helpful? Should we make it part of the blogger culture that each of us provide some context for our writing with both a bio and a 'why I blog' summary?

I'm thinking about another research idea - collecting and analysing "why I blog" posts from different weblogs :)

More on: blogs stickiness 

  Knowledge management, weblogs and action research (2)

I decided to make two posts instead of one long... From the AREOL course - Approaching an action research thesis: an overview

For thesis purposes, you will also find it desirable to ensure that you document your procedures as you go. In particular, you will want to keep a record of:
  • the emerging interpretations, and any changes in these
  • the changing methods, any refinements in them, and any conclusions you can therefore draw about them
  • the literature you access, and any confirming or disconfirming information you obtain from it
  • quotes from raw information which capture well the interpretations you are developing.

Without adequate documentation, it will be very difficult to reconstruct this when you prepare the eventual thesis. It is much easier to keep good, if selective, records as you proceed.

After reading it I quickly realise that it's very close to what I do working on the BlogTalk paper - I use my blog to document the process.

Now I have to think hard why I don't do that for my PhD research. First reasons seem to be:

  • confidentiality - many things in the project require formal agreement to go public and sometimes it's safer to keep silence instead of trying to draw the line between confidential and open
  • complexity - I don't know where to start documenting it
  • lack of shared context - with the BlogTalk paper I don't have to explain much, but there is a long story behind my PhD ideas

I guess it's time to start internal weblog. I'm ready, my colleagues are ready (at least for my weblog ;), so it's just a matter of finding time. I hope I do it after all April's deadlines are passed. I really feel loosing something from my PhD work because of not blogging it. (Is this a sign of addiction? :)

  Knowledge management, weblogs and action research

Jim McGee: Knowledge management and weblogs 

Knowledge management has been premised on the notion that the knowledge to be managed already exists and simply needs to be collected and organized to obtain the promised benefits.

One reason that so many of us find weblogs exciting in the realm of knowledge management is that weblogs reveal that the most important knowledge needs to be created before it can be collected and organized.

This is similar to the argument about the important split between tacit and explicit knowledge but much simpler. There is a category of knowledge that lies between explicit and tacit--what a colleague of mine, Jeanie Egmon, labels as "implicit." This is knowledge that is actually fairly simple to write down once you decide that it's worth doing so and once you have tools that make it easy to do so. It's the knowledge of context and the whys behind the whats. It's the knowledge that's obvious at the time and on site, but mysterious even to its creators six months and six hundred miles later.

In the knowledge economy that we all live in, even if we keep trying to stay comfortably ensconced in the industrial economy that used to make so much sense, we need to reflect on and learn from experience on a daily basis in order to maintain any sort of edge. That reflection and learning depends on having high quality raw material to work with. That's what weblogs provide.

Albert Delgado:

It is called Praxis, which deals with the construction of knowledge in the here and now. That cyclical endeavor of making sense of our endeavors in light of new insights and information. It is lifelong learning in the concrete. If anything, this is the stuff that we need to be passing on to our students. We need to model this behavior. As a faculty, we need to practice this behavior as a group. If a faculty is not about focusing on practice and refining it, then there is no praxis on an organizational level, and most likely lacking at the classroom level. That is why I think that weblogs may be one tool to expose our practice.

Sebastian Fiedler:

A good part of the potential benefits of personal Webpublishing lies in the somewhat self-referential loop that is supported by this emerging practice.

The number one readers of my published items is me, myself, and I.

Of course, this is an exaggeration, but it points to the immediate benefit that a continued collection and publication of experiential "raw material"holds for the author. Loads of it would normally slip out of consciousness and memory in a matter of hours or days.

I wouldn't say that the mere collection of this material already ensures reflection, elaboration, and deep, personal learning. But sifting through my self-created content becomes and increasingly important activity within my own learning projects.

For a last few days I kept thinking about another parallel - weblogs and action research. I participate in AREOL distance course on action research (actually I don't do it properly as it is not visible in my weblog, but I hope to write about it later :)

In my interpretation action research is about regular and well-thought reflection on your practice. Looking at examples of reflective activities I that see many of them are about note-taking, diaries, debriefing, reviewing... So close to my blogging experiences...

More on: action research blogs 

  Tuesday, April 15, 2003

  CSS Column Design Tool

High Context:

CSS Column Design Tool. This page allows you to format a mulit-column CSS layout via a web form. Get it set how you want and then strip out the source code for your own templates. Great tool.

(Spotted at the Shifted Librarian.)

Finally something that can help me to have the style I want to have. Now I need only some time to test it :)

More on: blogging tools 

  Meet Bloggers in Vienna

If you plan to go to BlogTalk check this forum - Meet Bloggers in Vienna.

More on: BlogTalk 

  What's Hot at the KnowledgeBoard

I found out that Knowledge Board has What's Hot page. I'd like to have the same for Quaerere SIG because now I try to do something similar manually...

More on: KnowledgeBoard 

  Sunday, April 13, 2003

  Recent comments to Mathemagenic in one page

A bit tweaking and here it is: recent comments to Mathemagenic in one page. To do the same:

  • use comment monitor by Phillip Pearson to generate RSS feed for your Radio blog
  • create a story with viewRSSBox macro included (using the source mode)
  • change macro to include link to your comment RSS, your own title instead of boxTitle, desired width and amount of maxitems

Other options include: using macro in the template, making a page with several boxes with latest posts of your favourite RSS...

Later: I have discovered that separate page will not have much value - it seems that it will be updated only when I republish this page. So, it's better to use this macro in the template.

The problem I have in this case: links to comments to stories are too long and they will break the menu table.

More on: Radio 

  Radio resources

I did a bit of Google search to fine-tune Radio. Between other things I came accross Essential Blogging, Chapter 7: Advanced Radio UserLand with two links to Radio resources:


More on: Radio 

  Friday, April 11, 2003

  Learning webs

Sebastian Fiedler writes about Learning Webs and comments on technologies that would support them:

Given recent announcement of Easy News Topics for RSS2.0 I feel that something very tasty is cooking... Topic-based RSS chuncking and repackaging - yammy...

  Results of Seb's "weblogs and knowledge sharing" survey

Seb's Open Research: Results of Seb's "weblogs and knowledge sharing" survey

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I have been conducting a survey of weblog use for knowledge sharing. 176 people have heeded my call and answered the survey that was graciously hosted by Blogstreet. As promised, here's the data and the first pie charts to come out of the oven: Seb's "weblogs and knowledge sharing" survey results.

Unfortunately I don't have time to provide an analysis right now, but the result I personally find the most interesting is in the answers to question #16 and #17 - they suggest that weblogs provide a unique opportunity to create meaningful links between people in different fields. This correlates with my personal experience as well. I believe that deep insights often come out of such occasions for "creative friction".

More on: blog research 

  Rocket Roadmap Project

Rocket Roadmap Project (large EC funded project): full title doesn't say it well, description too, but I see focus on KM/e-learning connections :)

[Objectives] Rocket will prepare a strategic roadmap for future developments in organisational learning relevant to the education of engineers and knowledge workers.

[...]How to link knowledge management (KM) at the level of an organisation, with KM and E-Learning at the level of people working within an organisation or moving between organisations, so that knowledge that is new to someone can be captured and shared more readily and so that people can cope better with changes in their working life and their environment (including new colleagues, ever-changing tasks and processes, certification requirements, etc.)

I guess this site it something to mine if you don't know where to start looking for general overviews of KM/e-learning issues (state-of-the-arts, user requirements - see deliverables).

More on: KM&learning 

  Weblog cemetery

I found a good source for someone who wants to study "not bloggers any more" - the official cemetery for weblogs, journals and online diaries.

More on: blog research 

  BlogTalk paper: motivation and assumptions

Somehow this paper disturbs me at work, so I better write it down.

My motivation for this study:

  • I don't want to be "blogs will save the world" person trying to convert people who don't need a weblog into bloggers. I would like to help people finding if there is something for them in blogging. This is exactly what I call "blogging adoption" - making well-informed decision to use weblog or not.
  • I have some ideas about blogging adoption process that emerge from my experience of answering many questions of "would be bloggers" and helping them to become bloggers. This study is a way to get a bit more clarity on it.

At this moment I assume that there are two important break points in the blogging adoption process:

First one is the moment of moving between thinking about starting a weblog and starting it. My experience is that many effects of blogging could be hardly explained before you tried it, so trying out is the best way to find "what's in it for me". At this moment there are many roadblocks ranging from technical difficulties (e.g. translating ideas you have into technical issues like software to use, hosting and so on) to lack of clarity on what blogging gives you. One of my friends is struggling with technical issues since last September (she was the one who asked me all the possible "how to" questions :) and I'm still not able to give her enough help to start.

The second break point is not a moment, but process of embedding blogging into your daily life - moving from trying out to regular use. I guess this process depends mainly on recognising and finding your own ways and motives to blog. For me the main danger at this stage is having "wrong weblog configuration" that does not allow discovering all benefits of blogging (e.g. without RSS and news aggregator person is less likely to discover social effects of blogging).

So, if I would make a short list of things that can make this process better I would say:

  • Make good stories of how weblogs add value.
  • Lower technical threshold to start. Ok, I know that it's quite easy comparing to many other things, but some people are still struggling. Even understanding concepts of weblog, RSS, news aggregator requires some effort.
  • Lower the risk that person starts with "wrong weblog configuration". Don't ask newbies to RSSify their weblog, but make sure their software has all the pieces of "killer app".

It seems that I started to write paper conclusions before analysing the data :)

  BlogPulse - Automated Trend Discovery for Weblogs

Just found: BlogPulse - Automated Trend Discovery for Weblogs

BlogPulse Key Phrases are mined daily from over 30,000 weblogs using machine learning algorithms and natural language processing techniques.

BlogPulse Top Links are the most popular links appearing in weblogs today.

More on: blogging tools 

  BlogTalk paper: "would be bloggers" again and progress report

In the morning I see my first announcement of blogging questionnaires quoted in other weblogs. I'm glad to see it, but I'm also starting realise my big mistake: I didn't asked for help in reaching "would be bloggers" there and now it's too late - it travels without any control from me :)

So, I think what I could do else. The solution I found so far it to change questionnaire confirmation page and ask people for help in finding "would be bloggers" there.

I also decide to make history and progress page with pointers to all my posts about this study. Finally I can free my mind from it for some time and focus on other things I have to do at work :)

More on: BlogTalk paper 

  Thursday, April 10, 2003

  BlogTalk paper: need your help to contact "would be bloggers"

It's less than 5 hours since I posted blogging adoption questionnaires: I've got 10 bloggers and 1 "would be blogger" reply.

So I need your help. I guess that there are some people around you asking about weblogs and discussing how to start one. Could you ask them to fill in the questionnaire?

This is the link - http://blog.mathemagenic.com/blogtalk/wouldbe.htm

If we know their concerns we will be able to help them better :)

More on: BlogTalk paper 

  BlogTalk paper: questionnaire choices

As I promised: why it took me so long to get ready with blogging adoption questionnaires

1. I was struggling with the method. Main choices I considered were:

  • Survey (web-based): most of the questions are multiple-choice
    • pro 
      • less time for the participants - better response rate
      • I could quite easily make a list of answers even for the difficult questions like motivation (almost every blogger writes about it earlier or later :)
      • easier to process
    • contra
      • risk of missing important choices (we are only discovering blogging)
      • risk of suggesting answers that people would not think about themselves (especially with "would be bloggers"
      • more difficult to prepare
  • Interview (e-mail and/or phone)
    • pro
      • better understanding of important issues
      • better ratio between bloggers and "would be bloggers" (those are rare between blog readers)
      • I have to contact most of "would be bloggers" I know by e-mail in any case
    • contra
      • takes more time for participants (I mentioned to one of "would be bloggers" about 30 minutes and her reaction was convincing :)

There is another method I thought about - observation of bloggers. It doesn't suit this specific study (I can't observe "would be bloggers", but I think that this is a great way to study: read weblogs, note posts about specific issues, extract and analyse. I wonder if someone is doing it.

Back to the choices:

  1. I decided for e-mail interview and I asked several people to comment on the draft
  2. I've got comments that it's too time consuming
  3. I redesigned it: removed some questions and added multiple-choice answers where it doesn't provoke new ideas
  4. Then I found out that in this format it would be more logical to have it web-based rather than e-mail based, so I made on-line version

2. I was struggling with the target audience. 

In BlogTalk paper: would be bloggers I distinguished between professional weblogs and personal ones. After some comments it became clear that I was not convincing even myself, so I dropped it.

Then I also distinguished between three groups (note, this is the second iteration - there are two groups in the paper proposal):

  • "would be blogger - 1" - considering blogging
  • "would be blogger - 2" - trying out 
  • bloggers

What happened next:

  1. I made three questionnaires and realised that I have same questions for "would be blogger - trying out" and bloggers.
  2. I realised that "considering blogging" may differ between "interested" and "decided to start, but still choosing right tools and hosting".
  3. So, I made two questionnaires with some choices (the funny thing is that I ended up with 5 choice in total, similar to the stages of acceptance of innovation that triggered this whole study)

3. I also had some fighting with formulating questions to cover all what I wanted to know and my English :)

More on: BlogTalk paper research 

  Blogging as jazz (2)

Sebastian Fiedler comments on Blogging as jazz 

What a coincidence. I have just read through a German paper (pdf) about a change project in learning culture in which the authors make heavy use of the Jazz Band metaphor. Burow and Hinz suggest a "Jazz Band Model of leadership" for the intended change of learning culture in an educational institution. These are the characteristics they are focusing on:
  • people are getting together who are experts on a particular instrument
  • they choose a common theme (in a meaningful context)
  • they offer each other an 'open space'
  • to create something together they need to listen to each other (dialogue and participation)
  • if one takes the lead the others step back and support her/him
  • not everybody has to be able to do everything, but individual skills need to be integrated into the composition
  • everybody has to be open for new creations
  • participation can also mean that one remains silent, takes a break, and leaves room for a solo
  • the band does not need instructions or a conductor
  • instead it needs a set of shared, internalized rules
  • bands often emerge around a "point of crystallization"; a person who is able to articulate a shared vision and to support its realization
Burow and Hinz go one step further and extract "basic principles for self-organized team learning" from this description:
  • bands emerge through self-organization
  • bands need a manageable size
  • bands emerge through a time-consuming process of self-selection
  • bands create a "community spirit"
  • bands are based on division of labour and shared rewards
  • bands function through mutual challenge and stimulation
  • bands are based on win-win-games: everybody profits

The more I think about it the clearer become the parallels to what I see happening in niches of the personal Webpublishing and Weblogging community. It's not a bad methaphor, is it?
More on: learning metaphors 

  Blogging adoption questionnaires

Finally. Two questionnaires for BlogTalk paper are ready (paper proposal - Blogs: the stickiness factor).

The goal of this study is to understand factors that support or inhibit adoption of blogging by comparing bloggers and "would be bloggers". I would appreciate if you can spend some of your time answering my questions. I estimate that it should take between 10 and 25 minutes (I took me 15 minutes).

- if you have a weblog - http://blog.mathemagenic.com/blogtalk/blogger.htm

- if you don't have a weblog - http://blog.mathemagenic.com/blogtalk/wouldbe.htm

Later on today I will write why it took so long to come up with them :)

  Blogging as jazz

This day brings "Conversations" with Dina Mehta weblog. Dina writes on her Ryze page:

Chaotic rambles and butterfly wings and rainbows .... and am looking forward to many such interactions here. I see this space on Ryze as a piece of Jazz ... it reminds me of Doug Little, a jazz musician and a member of The Motion Poets, an improvisational jazz band. Doug described improvisational jazz:

"What I play will inspire the drummer to play something. The drummer might inspire me to play something. The musicians listen to one another and make spontaneous decisions. The possibilities are endless. It is always within the form and it is always interconnected with each person but it is never the same.

The joy of performing is the group sound. I can't play whatever I want whenever I want. Jazz is democratic music and everybody gets to solo but only within the context of the whole. The group is what is the most important thing. Sometimes the best thing for me to do is not to play. And to respect another's musical space.

When I do solo, I still have to pay attention to what the rhythm behind me is. I can't ignore it. I have to be a part of that. Playing in a group means giving up some of your space for the group. If a band isn't playing with any interaction, I walk out because it is no fun."

And I, still one foot in the discussion about blogging and dialogue, think - what a powerful metaphor to describe blogging: If a band isn't playing with any interaction, I walk out because it is no fun.

More on: blog new blogs 

  Tuesday, April 08, 2003

  Blogs, dialogue and identity building (3)

Jim McGee continues the discussion:

Denham suggests "thinking together" as preferable to "thinking in public" [...] I think he takes my notion a step farther than I was intending. I agree with Denham that the goal is to be receptive to the thoughts of others and that "thinking together" can indeed lead to better results than thinking alone (as does drinking together instead of drinking alone).

[...]One of the primary reasons that thinking together is hard is that it requires both that we think in public and that we think collaboratively. I suspect that thinking together fails at least as often because we don't know how to think in public as it does because we don't know how to do it collaboratively. Further I think that order matters. You need to learn how to think in public first. Then you can work on developing skills to think collaboratively.

Thinking in public is a precursor skill to thinking collaboratively that's been ignored. We want to get to the fun stuff (ooh, brainstorming!) and skip over the hard part.

Weblogs make the hard part easier.


More on: blogs stickiness 

  Ability to make effective use of overlapping scopes

Blogs, scopes, and human routers by Jon Udell [via Roland Tanglao: KLogs]

The crucial insight, for me, was that a new kind of skill is becoming relevant: the ability to make effective use of overlapping scopes. Here's how I put it then:

If I am seeking or sharing information, why do I need to be able to address a group of 3 (my team), or 300 (my company), or 300,000 (my company's customers), or 300 million (the Usenet)? At each level I encounter a group that is larger and more diffuse. Moving up the ladder I trade off tight affinity with the concerns of my department, or my company, for access to larger hive-minds. But there doesn't really have to be a tradeoff, because these realms aren't mutually exclusive. You can, and often should, operate at many levels. [Practical Internet Groupware]

Interesting read. Jon also gives an example of Microsoft employee crossposting between corporate and public weblogs. The last post is one more example of reflection of what blogs are. I especially liked this one: "The most fundamental building block of blogs is RSS."

  I wonder why it's hard to belive that weblogs are good

A follow-up thought from previous post: I wonder why so many people are sceptical about weblogs. I assume that one of the reasons is that "blogging is like a loving sexual relationship - you just do not realize how rich and rewarding it is until you have experienced it" (David Gurteen).

For example, I find it very difficult to explain to non-blogger why

  • blogging somehow builds trust to other people faster and better than other ways
  • blogging somehow gives me a feeling of "belonging" to my "blogging neighborhood" and loyalty to this group
  • I feel that blogging gives me better identity than any of my on-line profiles, my CV, list of my publications
  • I feel that my blogging conversations are deep and engaging
  • I feel that these conversations are dialogues with me and not "everyone on-line" even if they are public and distributed over several blogs

I mean, I can explain it to others, but it's hard to believe. In many cases you have to get you feet wet before you convinced :)

More on: blogs stickiness 

  Blogs, dialogue and identity building (2)

Sebastian Fiedler comments on Blogs, dialogue and identity building (bold is mine):

I don't quite understand why Denham keeps suggesting that peronal Webpublishing does not support to be "receptive to the thoughts of others - that listening & dialog thing again." Only a little while ago he made a very similar comment and I responded over here . "Phil Wolff" took the time to comment on this issue, too. He stressed the fact that we should not focus on one technology alone. Instead we should try to find the "right blend by aligning them to specific org/community goals and social contexts according to their respective strengths."

I don't think it is too hard to acknowledge that many people use Weblogging and personal Webpublishing not only as an outlet of their own ideas. Weblogs are also used as powerful listening devices as Matt Mower and "Ton Zijlstra" have suggested recently.

[... more examples ...]

To me it looks like there is a lot of people out there in the personal Webpublishing realm who are very receptive, who are listening, who are willing to grab the phone and call each other, who are switching to email and instant messaging, and who are looking forward to meet each other in person to finally engage in "deep" real-time dialogue and conversation. We will see what happens around BlogTalk... but I am very optimistic that we will have conversations that go beyond what is usually happening at traditional academic or business conferences. Why? Because we have already built some "conversational ground" through our personal Webpublishing relationships.

Also - Robert Scoble on weblog audience:

See, influence isn't about HOW LARGE your audience is. It's about HOW SMALL it is. The whole "weblogs are not influential because they don't have many readers" thing is totally missing the point.

Listen, if you're Cisco, one visit with the CTO of Boeing will make your day. He can buy more equipment, and influence more people, than 100,000 average Americans can.

So, what's my goal? I want only "lit" people here. I want to scare off those who don't care about technology. Go read the National Enquirer or the Drudge Report. I don't care. I want a very small, very interesting audience.

And he comments later

Nah, I don't only want influential people here. I want people who are interesting. That's a big difference.

Yeah, most influential people are interesting. But, so are many non influential people.

I don't want a mass audience. The noise level would get too high. I want high signal, no noise.

Interesting people bring me a high signal.

I would change a little bit: I want a very small, very interested audience. Just enough for a dialogue :)


More on: blogs stickiness 

  Blogs, dialogue and identity building

Denham comments on Knowledge management with a small k:

'Thinking in public' is a powerful metaphor - true to form, I prefer 'thinking together' as the way to go.

This brings us back to 'identity' again. As I slowly work my way into knowledge practices I'm becoming convinced that identity is as important as 'context' for appreciating knowledge flows.

Thinking in public is all about taking a stand, being open to alternative views and engaging in thought exchange. Here is where I think I differ from bloggers - the value of thinking in public is not about personal risk taking, publishing or pushing (your) ideas, it is about being receptive to the thoughts of others - that listening & dialog thing again.

My interpretation:

  1. identity is important to provide context for knowledge flows
  2. identity is built in conversations
  3. weblogs do not provide "proper" conversational ground

I fully agree with 1 and 2 (and I'm interested to hear more arguments about 1).

I do not agree with point 3, especially in this context. We can discuss if weblogs are good for a meaningful dialogue [see previous conversations], but their added value for identity building is more visible. Observing someone thinking, reflecting and participating in several conversations gives better understanding of his/her context than even in-depth discussions in one community. This is especially true for community straddlers who stretch between different communities/contexts.

Two examples from recent posts in my aggregator:

Robert Scoble: I know that I trust people who weblog more than I trust non webloggers. Why? Because I get to know their philosophy. Their point of view. Day after day after day. Look at how Dan Shafer and I get along. I know more about Dan than I know about most of the people I even work with. Seriously. How many people do you work with that you have passionate discussions about things with?

Robert Paterson: I am finding that this is true for me as well.  I have formed an opinion based on months of observation about a group of bloggers that I feel comfortable with. Trust is engendered because you have access to a quite complete perspective of the other. How often at work do you know how a colleague really thinks? You may know his opinion on a project. You may know his opinion of a person but I seldom was let in deep enough at work to understand the full person. Blogging gives us that chance to see below the surface.


  Sunday, April 06, 2003

  Radio trouble...

Finally. Clean reinstall of Radio and it upstreams. But now my templates are broken, html pages are generated in a wrong way and I have some macro errors in my local pages. Hope to fix it without one more reinstall...

Later: it took two more reinstalls to get it correct. Sorry for all the updates you were having.

More on: Radio 

  Friday, April 04, 2003

  Knowledge management with a small k

Thinking in public - knowledge management with a small k [McGee's Musings]

Think of it as knowledge management with a small k. The wave of solutions offered under the rubric of knowledge management prior to weblogs was largely driven by vendors with a centralized, top-down, organization centric view of the problem. At best they were attempting to solve the problem of knowledge management (whatever that might be) from the perspective of the organization, not the perspective of the knowledge workers doing the knowledge work. A good portion of the resistance to these knowledge management efforts is sensible resistance to extra work that has no demonstrable payoff for me as a knowledge worker.

  Wanted: RSS subscriptions -> customised HTML page

Jay Cross shares Stephen Downes' Edu_RSS.

Now I want it even more: tool that can show recent posts from a list of subscriptions as html page. Just simple piece of code that could be added to any web-page. PHPmySubscriptions can be twisted to do so, but it's not perfect yet (my version gives mistakes from time to time).

See also: Making An RSS Feed and RSS Feeds go mainstream via Stephen Downes.

  Radio frustration

Frustrated. Radio doesn't upstream (from 1 April, bad joke) and there is not much help from the community. And now I really need it working for my BlogTalk paper study. Bad luck. Waiting Friday evening to reinstall.

More on: Radio 

  Thursday, April 03, 2003

  How to improve Google results of the KnowledgeBoard

Knowledge Board has a lot of great resources, but much less influence as it is not well indexed by Google. The problem is that most of the articles are generated from the database.

I was curious to see which KB pages are indexed by Google and I found something interesting:

Google does not index articles if they are linked to as http://www.knowledgeboard.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=104693

But it does if you write it as http://www.knowledgeboard.com/item/104693 

So, I guess that problem could be solved if all internal links could be changed to the second format. This is only my hypothesis, so I wonder if it would work :)))

  Wednesday, April 02, 2003

  KM Summer School 2003: program progress

KM Summer School 2003 program is shaping, but there is still a lot of space for suggestions. So far we are planning for a combination of speakers + selected paper presentations + interactive sessions. We also planned 1/2 day "unplanned", so we can fill it later based on participant's interests.

I would be especially interested to have speaker suggestions / papers on the following topics:

  • social network analysis
  • weblogs, wikis and broader on social software
  • role of knowledge workers in KM
  • cases of KM implementations in practice (to be reflected upon with participants)
  • multi/inter/transdisciplinarity in KM: challenges and research methodologies
  • measurement in KM and KM research
  • KM and learning

If you have speaker suggestions, please, let me know ASAP (keep in mind that we don't have much budget for speakers :), but I would also encourage you to write papers on the topics above. Especially I would be interested to see papers about weblogs, as I'd like to raise this topic during KMSS and I can't write about it myself (sometimes I have to write papers more directly related to my PhD research :)

More on: KMSS 

  KM Summer School 2003: Call for papers

We are progressing with KM Summer School (7–12 September 2003, San Sebastian, Spain):

KM Summer School 2003 Call for papers - http://www.knowledgeboard.com/item/106109

The Summer School is aimed at researchers at Masters and Ph.D. level and at practitioners with an interest in research. Participants will gain insight into KM models, theories, technologies, learning models, and emerging and existing themes in the KM community of thinking. Research students will have the opportunity to discuss their work with other researchers, academics and practitioners in KM. They will be able to position and validate their work in the context of European KM research and ensure the practical and theoretical usefulness of their results. The pace and depth of the sessions will be adjusted to match the participants’ needs and interests.

Papers will be published in the summer school proceedings and on the KnowledgeBoard web-site. Paper submission deadline is 25 June 2003.

More on: KMSS learning event 

  Tuesday, April 01, 2003

  Stealth KM
Carol Tucker: No company is going to allocate dedicated resources to knowledge management unless there is a real rather than perceived need. To convince senior management and refractory Boards that there is a need, and that you have the answer, is a function of talking in their terms -- and that means lightening up on the jargon, folding it in with organizational development [strategic planning] and emphasizing the deliverables. Think of them as customers, or end users -- spouting off about ontology, learning organizations, conversing companies, narrative repositories and communities of practice makes their eyes glaze over, their ears close and their cognitive systems to shut down.

But start talking about how you can do what needs to be done more quickly, more effectively -- and you get their attention. To keep it, you have to show the value added. This is what I have been calling stealth KM.

Also in the recent destinationKM Communicator newsletter: Bridging Structured and Unstructured Data

More on: KM 

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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: 6/23/2005; 11:50:53 AM.