Updated: 6/30/2005; 11:32:41 PM.


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  Friday, September 10, 2004

  'Trying to be a researcher' confession.

When I was in school I was always more interested in finding a way to solve a math problem than in documenting and justifying the solution.

The same with doing research: I have more fun connecting ideas into a whole than proving them with carefully designed, carefully implemented and even more carefully documented studies. I tend to take shortcuts and it takes a lot of discipline to explore and connect all the loose ends.

Useful as an exercise, but don't think I'll enjoy doing it for the rest of my life. Hope I'm patient enough to finish my PhD :)

See also: PhD: experiential research and everyday grounded theory

More on: PhD 

  Role of RSS in weblog conversations (2)

Just connecting the dots for myself:

So, it's about

  • just in time
  • awareness
  • of a conversation and conventions between its participants
  • persistent over time

And those with news aggregators know how it works :) Others will have to get one or wait till I (or someone else) explains it better...


  • too many assumptions
  • may be news aggregators are not necessary (what else then?)
  • are there conversations without a community behind? and what are conditions for those?

This post also appears on channel weblog research

  Role of RSS in weblog conversations

Paolo on keeping RSS traffic in control:

There seem to be an idea in the air which I absolutely don't like: aggregate feeds only once per day.

Quite often weblogs host conversations and in conversations timing is important. I want to know asap when people I often have conversations with post something to their blog, it can't wait 24 hours because it would make my reply old (let alone further replies). I also use my aggregator to be up-to-date with my colleagues, and even in this case I need to be updated frequently.

This quote and me picking it up illustrate well a few things about weblog conversations:

  • timing is important; a conversation can develop fast
  • notification about contributions is important; RSS subscriptions seem to play an important role in it (are there alternatives?)
  • conversations may easily develop in not intended directions: Paolo's post is about possible solutions for RSS traffic problem (e.g. Peter Breuls continues this line), but I picked it up to illustrate totally different idea

  Successful conversations: visible conventions and social visualisations

Thomas Erickson (2004). Designing Online Collaborative Environments: Social Visualizations as Shared Resources (.pdf). Proceedings of the 9th International Working Conference on the Language-Action Perspective on Communication Modelling (LAP 2004), New Brunswick, NJ, 2-3 June 2004.

Abstract. How might online collaborative environments be designed so as to better support coherent interaction amongst their users? Drawing from a case study of an example of coherence in an online system, I argue that one way to improve online environments is to provide visualizations that depict the presence and activities of their users. I discuss our approach to creating such visualizations using the concept of the social proxy—a minimalist representation of people and their activities in a particular context—and describe systems we have designed and deployed. I conclude with a series of concept pieces that illustrate the breath of the concept.

Came across this paper a few weeks ago and loved it. The case presented by Tom (a game that involved collectively generating limericks) is an example of long-running, productive conversation. Tom attributes the success of the conversation to the well-defined nature and visibility of it conventions (conversation rules).

Next to the case there are examples of social proxies (visualisation that make collective activity visible); those are good for thinking as well. 

There is another paper with more details on the "limerick game" case - Erickson, T. (1999) Rhyme and punishment: The creation and enforcement of conventions in an on-line participatory limerick genre. Just a quote from there:

One of the intriguing features of this conversation is that even though it has a very clear and simple set of conventions, participants have to do quite a lot of 'work' to support those conventions. Even the basic set of conventions that make up the raison d'être of the limerick topic need some enforcement. And, even more so, some participants need to be shown how to follow the conventions.

Meta-blogging note: I was in a middle of writing the post that is coming after this one and then realised that I had to write about the paper first :)

  Personal KM: one-person enterprise

Still thinking of personal KM... There is a very funny analogy here with KM in general: some people are fixated on PKM technologies and others saying that this is wrong (next to it, of course, there is a whole discussion on using the "wrong" term to label the phenomenon :)

For me the truth is somewhere in between. You can hardly think about successful KM initiatives that do not employ any technology at all, but at the same time it's almost obvious that technology is not the solution, but only part of it and, probably not the most critical part. It's about why and how you use technologies and, most important, how they fit working practices and social fabric behind them.

Explaining my PhD research and ideas behind personal KM I find one-person enterprise metaphor useful (please, note that I stole this idea and some others from time management book by Gleb Archangelsky).

So, think of yourself as about a knowledge-intensive company:

  • What are your main products?
  • Who are your customers and suppliers? How do you manage relations with them?
  • What functions do you have? Which departments? Do they work well with each other?
  • What technologies do you use to support your work? Do they integrate well?
  • How do you optimise your work?

I'd say that my PhD work is mainly about functions/departments of one-person enterprise and their relations...

Unrelated note: there are several blog discussions on PKM that I'm following without being engaged much because of time constrains... Hope I'll be able to add soon...

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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

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.

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