Saturday, November 27, 2004
It's harder than I imagined, to be alone. I suppose I might get used to it, like an empty canvas you slowly begin to fill. [The Samurai's Garden]
And then feel it emptiness, almost scary, as white space is promising and teasing, never telling you what is about to appear. Then drafting, trying out and retreating, looking for motives that would take over the emptiness, would engage white in a slow dance with colours. And then feeling it coming, searching for the right shades and strokes, slowly, as walking on ice, being afraid of a wrong move that could spoil the picture that is starting to emerge... Then getting confidence, diving into it and letting your passion to drive you through as this is the only way to turn empty canvas into life... And then...
...then looking back not being able to believe how far the invitation of an empty canvas could take you...
Friday, November 26, 2004
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
We are going through rounds of discussions with colleagues on information overload, which is going to be one of our research topics for 2005. Those discussions provoke some associative thinking - on conversation overload (I'd define conversation overload as a stress of not being able to participate in conversations one wants to participate).
Another trigger for this thinking is a discussion at AOK mailing list on online communities. It's very timely (re: paper on weblog communities), very interesting and very frustrating at the same time.
The frustration comes from the fact that I'm not able to participate in the discussion... I guess there are several reasons for that. First, there is a usual bad luck - all interesting AOK discussions happen when I'm heavily offline. But there are other reasons as well:
- It's "high traffic" + "deep thought" discussion, so you need to spend a good effort to get into it, to follow different turns and arguments before you can jump in and comment.
- The discussion is organised in a way that's difficult to digest with tools I have at my disposal:
- there is no threading as all posts are moderated, so I can't use Gmail's great thread display to focus on most interesting threads
- there is no RSS feed (at least I couldn't find it), so I can't use news aggregator to treat messages as posts
- it's not public, so I can't bookmark interesting messages to come back to them later
It's may be my personal problem (am I so addicted to blogging that I'm not able to follow mailing lists anymore? :), but it makes me wondering why I'm less stressed in a case of weblog conversations.
This is what I suspect:
Weblog conversations are easier to "jump into" in a middle - as each weblog post have to be meaningful on itself (see also Jill on good hypertext), bloggers make more effort summarising earlier arguments or at least linking to them. In case of a mailing list without threading you have to read all messages to get into the context of conversation).
Weblog conversations are "relaxed": of course, timely response may be important, but you know that nothing awful happens if you react a couple of months later. In a case of a mailing list reacting in a couple of months can easily turn your message into "off topic", as conversation moves to new areas and context is lost.
Parts of weblog conversations are easier to "wave" into your own thinking. It could be a "personal KM researcher" bias, but I could hardly do without connecting discussions I have with others with my own thinking (re: conversations with others vs. conversations with self). I participate in a discussion not only for an altruistic reason of helping others and not only for the fun of "creative abrasion", but also to learn myself and to develop my own ideas further. This could often mean that I also need a way to organise messages in a discussion ("collective" artefacts) in my own way to make them my personal as well (e.g. by selecting and reorganising them in my own way with as bookmarks).
I guess I'd go and post these ideas to AOK mailing list - may be my life will become easier :)
Socialware for learning environments at HICSS-38
At KM Europe John Seely Brown mentioned a workshop on weblogs at HICSS... I was wondering "what and when" for some time, but then discovered it clicking on a link that looked pretty innocent :)
HICSS-38: Socialware for Learning Environments (Tuesday morning, January 4, 2005):
Social software (socialware) enables users to collaboratively create and use information while also providing a community context. Socialware has been applied to learning environments for many years, predominantly through shared discussion forums/BBSs. Recently new socialware technologies have become available, notably weblogs and wikis. Their use is yet in the early stages, and has remained for the most part un-researched.
The goals of this workshop include: (1) introduce various social software tools, (2) provide examples of their use in the edu space, (3) discuss other possible applications, (4) outline a research agenda concerning how social software is used in academia, and (5) create connections for collaborative projects and studies.
Hope it doesn't coincide with Persistent conversations minitrack I'll be attenting (with conversational blogging paper), so I can be there... Going to find out more.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Blog research repository?
Anjo on supporting blog research:
Blog research, seems to center around the following themes:
- Communities. Or "virtual settlements" see the recent paper by Lilia Efimova and Stephanie Hendrick.
- Conversations. A set of posts, distributed over several weblogs, which relate a particular topic.
- Language analysis. Analysis of the vocabulary used in a weblog, for example to classify favourite topics of the blogger. Sigmund is an example.
Support for researching these themes requires different kinds of information from weblogs. Communities mainly requires link data, Conversations in addition requires shallow text analysis of particular posts and Language analysis obviously requires (all) full posts.
The question therefore is whether it is possible to create a Blog Research Repository that accomodates the above themes. The data acquisition methods described in the paper by Lilia and Stephanie illustrate that blog research is by-and-large only supported by hard work and regular expressions (or tools that know what regular expressions are :-)).
Motivated by the themes, and practical considerations, the proposal is to organise the repository around the following types of data-sets:
- Structure. This is essentially the same as an RSS feed without the content of the posts, but with all links that can be found in posts.
- Content. Identical to full post RSS feeds.
- Abstractions / Aggregations. Any number of data-sets that contain abstractions or aggregations on a weblog for a particular research purpose. For example, Sigmund requires a data-set that contains the relation between terms in posts.
The practical considerations regarding efficiency are that the structure can be kept in memory for a fairly large set of weblogs (say 10,000), the content can be retrieved from disk on demand, and the abstractions can be defined on-the-fly.
The repository should use public standards for representation. For the structure RDF(s) appears the obvious choice. A basic structure that includes classes like weblog, post, link (etc.) provides a starting point that can be refined. Content is represented as the de facto standard RSS 1.0. Abstractions and aggregations are represented in RDF where possible to preserve the relation to the structure and content.
Brian Dennis on parallel effort:
So I find this to be really odd. At the WWW 2004 blogging ecosystem workshop, Cameron Marlow (blogdex) and Maciej Ceglowski (blogcensus) propose and present a new, open, blog indexing service, called upflux. Even though the service is vapor, there is zero mention of it in the blogosphere.
I wonder if there are others working on the same. Hope for synergies between different efforts: as a researcher I just want to spend a bit less time chasing teasing data and a bit more analysing it :)
This post also appears on channel weblog research
Weblog research challenges: 'teasing' data
The public nature of weblogs makes them an easy target for a researcher, providing a record of personal interest and engagement in the posts, as well as links that indicate influences and relations with other bloggers. Most weblogs have a simple and well-defined structure (e.g. the weblog post usually has a title, a permalink and a date/time stamp), generate web-feeds (RSS or Atom) representing weblog content in machine-readable format (XML or RDF), or notify centralised weblog tracking tools (e.g. weblogs.com) about updates.
The relatively simple structure of weblogs and widespread adoption of standards (RSS, XML-RPC, Blogger API) by weblog tool providers enable a variety of tools and services that allow tracking and analysing weblogs. For example, one can visualise a weblog neighbourhood (related weblogs) at Blogstreet, check weblog popularity ranking at Technorati, track ideas contagiously spreading in a weblog community at Blogdex or read a selected subset of weblogs online at Bloglines.
Publicly available weblog data and a large number of tools to analyse it raise expectations about availability of this data for research purposes, although the practice of weblog research is dramatically different (e.g. Anjewierden, Brussee, & Efimova, 2004; Herring et al., 2005, for explicit indications of challenges of obtaining weblog data). Most weblog tracking and analysis tools index only a subset of weblogs (e.g. those that registered with the system); include partial weblog data usually representing fresh updates (e.g. links from homepages or content from last 45 days); or index only data in machine-readable formats (e.g. RSS/Atom feeds that are not always present or include excerpts of weblog posts instead of full-text).
Developing data collection tools for a specific study meets a variety of challenges as well. These include distinguishing a weblog from other types of web-sites and taking into account differences between structure and layout of weblogs due to use of specific functionalities of different weblog platforms, user-modified templates or different practices of using weblog tools. As a result, many weblog researchers have to limit themselves to working with convenient samples (e.g. restricting data collection to a specific weblog platform as in Merelo-Geurvos, Prieto, Rateb, & Tricas, 2004) or rely on manual work that limits number of weblogs and weblog characteristics to be included in the analysis. Choices made for data collection in those cases can heavily influence the results of the analysis.
- Anjewierden, A., Brussee, R., & Efimova, L. (2004). Shared conceptualisations in weblogs. To be published in Proceedings of BlogTalk 2.0, Thomas N. Burg (ed.), Vienna, July 2004.
- Herring, S. C., Kouper, I., Paolillo, J. C., Scheidt, L. A., Tyworth, M., Welsch, P. et al. (2005). Conversations in the blogosphere: An analysis "from the bottom-up". Forthcoming in Proceedings of the 38th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38). Los Alamitos: IEEE Press.
- Merelo-Geurvos, J. J., Prieto, B., Rateb, F., & Tricas, F. (2004). Mapping weblog communities. Submitted to Computer Networks.
Other posts on Weblog research challenges
This post also appears on channel weblog research
There will be no BlogTalk 3.0
Thomas Burg (via Martin Roell)
BTW: since many people asked about that. There will be no BlogTalk 3.0. I'm thinking of something broader and different. So I'm looking forward that someone will step forward to organize the next international weblog-conference.
- if there is a need for a specific conference on weblogs in Europe?
- what is that "broader and different" that Thomas has in mind? :)
This post also appears on channel BlogTalk
Thursday, November 18, 2004
In search for a virtual settlement: An exploration of weblog community boundaries (draft)
As promised, the paper :)
In search for a virtual settlement: An exploration of weblog community boundaries by Lilia Efimova & Stephanie Hendrick
Abstract. Although weblogs are perceived as low-threshold tools to publish on-line, empowering individual expression in public, there is a growing evidence of social structures evolving around weblogs and their influence on norms and practices of blogging. Emerging from connections between weblogs and their authors, weblog communities often do not have a shared space, clear boundaries and membership, challenging researchers who want to study them. The purpose of this paper is to get an insight into methods of finding "life between buildings", virtual settlements where weblog communities may reside. We use Jones (1997) theory of a virtual settlement and archaeological metaphor to address research challenges of locating weblog communities, suggest an iterative approach that includes refinement of research methods based on assumptions about community norms, practices and artefacts, and propose which artefacts could serve as indicators of a community presence. A pilot study is presented, where a social network analysis of links between weblogs is used to identify a community of knowledge management bloggers.
This is a slightly updated version of what we have submitted to Communities and Technologies 2005. Still work in progress, so comments are very welcome.
This post also appears on channel weblog research
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Roses of weblog communities
Stephanie with reflections on our work on weblog communities:
Before I saw blog network structures like a an orange…an inner tightly structured core with a thick outer peel that could be easily penetrated. There was a hard core in the middle and a periphery network with fuzzy boundaries. I now look at blogs more like a rose with several layers of cores, each with a fuzzy boundary that is easily penetrated through topic. If you open up the flower, you notice the little microcosm of life moving fluidly between the petals. These little microcosms (we have called mini-clusters) often represent a common meme or hot topic spreading around the blogoshpere. It is here that new members can enter into a core layer. Each core is made up of a group of bloggers that share a strong (usually thematically related) tie. These mini-clusters often share common interests, but not to the extent of core membership. It is only when the same topic is discussed that they share communication with the core group. If a mini-cluster member stays on-topic long enough, he or she can obtain core membership.
here is a view of our network which is not in the paper (which will be blogged about soon)
Funny: the most beautiful image is not in the paper :)
May be I should give up and stop trying to polish the paper "just a bit more" and release it as it is now, otherwise both of us will keep teasing our readers talking about "the paper" :))
And, once I'm talking about beautiful things - BicycleMark's poetic account of his weblog neighbourhood...
Weblog research challenges: an overview
As a result of conversations with other blog researchers (both online and offline), reflecting on feedback from anonymous paper reviewers and some Sunday morning thinking, I'm trying to write down an overview of weblog research challenges.
It's going to be a part of an academic paper, but I'd like to publish it in pieces to get feedback and keep myself motivated by nice feeling of hitting the "post" button once a piece is finished.
Preliminary structure (will add links here once posts are published):
- Moving target
- Uneven structure of the blogosphere
- "Teasing" data
- Culture-specific artefacts
- Degree of participation
This post also appears on channel weblog research
Power of articulation
Isn't it great how explaining yourself outloud to others, allows you to self reflect better then mulling it over in your own mind.
I always need a conversation for growing my ideas. This is the main reason I blog. Even if no one comments, blogging makes it a conversation: I come to the idea next day and I can discuss it with "yesterday's Lilia" :) Of course, articulation helps growing ideas as well.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
I have an idea for a research that would require visualisation of something like that
- frequencies of items over time
- relations between items over time (relations vary in degrees of strength)
- ideally both in the same picture
Any visualisation experts over there who want to chat about it? If so, please email or Skype me.
Monday, November 15, 2004
Life between buildings
A piece from the paper:
An individual weblog is not likely to represent a community, while shared social spaces seem to emerge between weblogs, like in a city where life between buildings accounts for many social activities of its inhabitants. As in cities, blogger communal spaces are not evenly distributed: some neighbourhoods are full of social activities and conversations, while others look like a random collocation of houses where inhabitants have nothing in common. Blogger communal spaces may have visible boundaries, but more often indicators of a community are subtle and is difficult for a non-member to distinguish. Just as a local garden is not likely to have a sign indicating that there is a chess-player community that inhabits it every Sunday, blog communities do not delineate obvious community boundaries.
Somehow city metaphor was hitting me hard during last half a year...
I guess it's started from A city is not a tree. Then it was reading Emergence and talkings about communities, shared spaces and weblog reading at BlogWalk 2.0, Ton's post on founding a City in Cyberspace, Torill's Dialogue in slow motion at BlogTalk.
And a post by Anna Vallgårda pointing to Life between buildings by Jan Gehl... Just a quote from this book:
Life between buildings offers an opportunity to be with others in a relaxed and undemanding way. One can take occasional walks, perhaps make a detour along a main street on the way home or pause at an inviting bench near a front door to be among people for a short while. One can take a long bus ride every day, as many retired people have been found to do in large cities. Or one can do daily shopping, even though it practical to do it once a week. Even looking out of the window now and then, if one is fortunate enough to have something to look at, can be rewarding. Being among others, seeing and hearing others, receiving impulses from others, imply positive experiences, alternatives to being alone. One is not necessarily with a specific person, but one is, nevertheless, with others.
As opposed to being a passive observer of other people's experiences on television or video or film, in public spaces the individual himself is present, participating in a modest way, but most definitely participating.
And it's got connected with lurking, degrees of strength in relation building and some others things that I can't articulate yet...
This post also appears on channel BlogWalk
The best part...
That was tough. Rare case of hardly blogging during working on the paper :)
Anyway, we finished it. The paper title is "In search for a virtual settlement: An exploration of weblog community boundaries" and it is started from a conversation at BlogWalk 3.0 in Vienna.
I guess we'll publish the draft or at least some pieces - I'm too fascinated with the topic to keep it quiet (actually, some of it was blogged by Denham - nice example of backchanneling that travels back to blogs :).
And the best part of it is not about finishing the paper and even not about getting new insights on the topic, but about getting to know Stephanie, going together through stress and fun, ups and downs, personal and work... Steph, thanks for the great company :)
Friday, November 12, 2004
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
KM Europe 2004: highlights
Back from KM Europe... Some highlights:
- VIP pass from Knowledge Board team so I could go to all keynotes
- Bean bags in a coffee area that worked well as a metaphor a couple of times: talking about technology that shapes around you and thinking about shaping workplaces to make you happy.
- Getting a group of people for lunch, promising to show them "a place with a better food" and discovering that all "better food" places in a congress centre were closed.
- Free WiFi area given that commercial rates are pretty high (Martin Roell suggested that this was an intended hole in a network made by geeks for other geeks :)
- Fun of introducing people in a meaningful (I hope :) way
- KMwalk in Red Light District
- Thinking on "amplified networking" inspired by Karl-Erik Sveiby and Dave Snowden
- Martin Dugage walking to the coffee corner when I was sure he wouldn't be at KM Europe
- 40+ people at personal KM workshop, energy of conversations in the room and thrill of facilitating it
- PKM dinner fun: people, talks, cockroach killed, food, collecting dinner payments from 35 people, more talking…
- Future PKM research planning with Piers Young and Florian Heidecke
- Finding out that Roberta Cuel comes to Enschede (this is where I live :)
- Not finding energy to join Heiko Haller for a tango party, but finding that I can actually dance it in a middle of coffee area
- Invitation from Richard McDermott to join his workshop and discovering his work on knowledge work
- Talking with John Seely Brown about weblogs, wikis, legitimised theft and meeting at Hawaii
- People I have never met recognising my face or my name or telling that they read my weblog
- Not being able to visit any vendor stands
- Meeting people, conversations and a sense of community
- "Amplified networking"
- Personal productivity factors
- Managing "personal knowledge managers": simple rules and emergence, getting things done, organisational support and critical mass
- Triggering reflection
- "Fear factor": fear as a barrier, fear as a driving force
- Different types of networks
- Learning to be
- Defining community and community boundaries
Many notes drafted, hope to post them during coming days (and if you want to help you can cross your fingers to make C&T 2005 deadline extended, so I can blog :)
This post appears on channel KM Europe
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
KM Europe: pre-workshop anxiety
Since there are just a few hours left before PKM workshop my anxiety builds up... It's not that I'm scared, but it seems to be a way to concentrate and to focus, to get to the state of alertness that makes me sensitive to subtile signals in a group and helps to react...
Somehow I can't think about anything else at the moment. It's strange that given all the preparation, Ton as co-facilitator and lots of friendly folks who are going to be there, I'm still anxious more than I'd expect from myself.
Actually writing it up makes it lighter :) Keep your fingers crossed for us... And hopefully I'll post more on interesting sessions and talks in between after we are done.
This post appears on channel KM Europe
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Friday, November 05, 2004
Cynical perspective on defining weblog communities
Struggling with thinking on finding who belongs to a weblog community for a paper: there is no good way to define weblog community boundaries.
A very cynical perspective - what is included or not in a particular weblog community depends on:
Definition of a community used. There are all kinds of problems here, especially those about distingushing group - community - social network.
Dataset analysed. Including all weblogs in the analysis is almost impossible; in all other cases it's about "where to start from?" and "when to stop?". Selecting weblogs from a specific platform? Those self-selected in a list of "weblogs on X"? Snowballing?
Measures used to identify relations. For example those are likely to give different resutls: community as defined by linking, by common topic, by network of social relations between bloggers...
This post also appears on channel weblog research
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Management as making it difficult for people to get things done
From Peter Drucker:
Ninety percent of what we call 'management' consists of making it difficult for people to get things done
Morning teaser for waking up brains: what are those ninety percent?
Some points from my list (not necessary the most severe ones, but those I care about most):
- Thinking in terms of interventions, not personal productivity (re: personal knowledge management)
- Thinking in terms of formal organisational structures, not social networks and communities
- Measuring what could be measured, not what matters (re: invisible)
- Holding controls instead of giving responsibility to people (re: attitude change)
- Managing weaknesses, not strengths (re: strengths finding)
- Fitting businesses around market changes and equipment life-cycles while forgetting about natural rhythms of people and fun of flow (re: work-life balance)
- Relying on codified knowledge and pushing codification
- Managing conveyor belts, not social ecosystems (re: middlespace)
- Lack of reflection and skills to facilitate reflection of others
See also: leadership as releasing energy of others
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Lois Ann Scheidt:
At the The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (IS_SoTL) conference I was present during a panel discussion where a conference attendee asked the presenter about the "role of a critical friend." The term grabbed me and I knew I had to spend a bit of time finding out what it meant. After some web searching I found the following definition and citation.
A critical friend can be defined as a trusted person who asks provocative questions, provides data to be examined through another lens, and offers critiques of a person’s work as a friend. A critical friend takes the time to fully understand the context of the work presented and the outcomes that the person or group is working toward. The friend is an advocate for the success of that work
Costa, A. and Kallick, B. (1993) Through the Lens of a Critical Friend. Educational Leadership 51(2) 49-51
I have been blessed with a few wonderful critical friends who, through their prodding and reservoirs of insight, help me hone my arguments and craft my over all presentation to make the best use of my points, and often they simply keep my spirits up so I can continue working on whatever I am working on at the time. I value their input and hope that I come close to providing the same level of catalyst for their work as well.
I like the term "critical friend," someone whose input is critical to the process and from whom one can expect friendly criticism. Both very necessary to an academic life.
I guess this is pretty much my definition of a friend :)
I woke up still hoping for the best only to find out maps of US in red everywhere. Time to do some workout learning to control my lizard brain...
Each generation must learn anew that real strength lies in mastering oneself, and not in applying force to one's imputed enemies. Sometimes it's everything we can do just to overcome our inner dragon.
More reasons to work on understanding how people learn thinking...
I don't talk much about politics anyway, but today seems to be special. Just a few notes:
1. It's facinating to see the story unfolding through weblogs: arguments, actions, hope, voting reports, quiet hope, dissappointments, getting back to life thinking what could be done with it.
2. I haven't realised how divided is the country. Looking at blue-red-blue US map is self-explanatory, but Alex puts some qualifiers on it. Kerry Victory Speech:
Good morning. I am proud to announce that I am the new leader of the Democratic Union of West and East Coasts (DUWEC). Late last night, it became clear that our nation is divided. On one side, the progressive and liberal secular values that made America, on the other, a radical expansionist, fundamentalist, faith-based project (Christian Reactionist American Patriots). This division is tearing our nation apart, and it has become clear that the differences are insurmountable.
[...]89% of states in DUWEC rank over the national average for knowledge workers, 79% rank over the national average on innovation capacity, 75% rank over the national average on measures of globalization of their economies, and 84% rank above the national average in terms of their digital economies. Given these numbers, it’s no surprise that the average income is 22% higher in DUWEC states than in CRAP states. The average state in the DUWEC has 104 post-secondary institutions, while in CRAP, the average state has 68. Not surprisingly, then, the percentage of people with bachelors degrees is far higher in DUWEC states. [continue reading...]
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Personal KM and self-organisation
Talking with Steve Barth on Skype brought me to the PKM section of his website again. Don't know if he had changed a lot or it's me who looked at it in a new way because this time I paid attention to something that I left unnoticed before: how Steve connects personal KM and self-organisation.
I’m calling this work "self-organization" because it lets me make three key points about personal knowledge management: that you don’t have to be organized to be effective; that these days the "self" is the basic organizational unit; and that self-organizing systems are the nature of professional teams and communities today—and therefore the foundation of knowledge work.
Monday, November 01, 2004
Preaching to the converted: PKM is not about methods and tools, but about attitude change
This is the topic that surfaces again and again: heated discussions about 'pushing' people into self-organised learning with Sebastian Fiedler, recurring "personal KM is about taking responsibility" with Ton Zijlstra, one more "parallel thinking" line discovered with David Gurteen last week... And finally this line from an article on adult learning pointed by Cindy Hoong:
Efforts to lure people to new educational technologies and to promote a culture of life-long learning resemble a case of preaching to the converted, according to a new UK study.
Why there is such a high degree of autodidacts or self-imployed people between bloggers I know?
Do we put put the cart before the horse providing people with great methods and tools when they don't have a need for them? Not surprising that methods and tools stick only with those already converted.
I don't know how to put these things together in a coherent text, but I can make a bulleted list:
- There is no "sponsor" for my research on PKM as there is no "sponsor" for life-long learning. Organisations want agility from their people, but they care more about todays and tomorrow's profits than about employability of their employees in 20 years.
- The change is up to an individual.
- Change starts from a need more often than from an opportunity (= unless you are an early adopter having good tools is not enough to change way of doing things).
- Change is painful and unless there are visible threats not many people would go out of their comfort zone.
- If you want people to take responsibility for their own lives you have to respect their choices. Including the one about not taking responsibility :)
Coming down to personal KM:
- Taking responsibility for one's own life (or work :) is a main challenge for personal KM: it's both rewarding and risky (more).
- It's not about methods and tools, but about attitude change. Attitude change is difficult and there are many ethical issues around (more).
Fun of playing with forces of middlespace :)