Friday, October 28, 2005

life hacking

Meet the Life Hackers

By CLIVE THOMPSON (NYT) 4977 words
Published: October 16, 2005

For Mark and Czerwinski, these piecemeal efforts at coping pointed to ways that our high-tech tools could be engineered to be less distracting. When Czerwinski walked around the Microsoft campus, she noticed that many people had attached two or three monitors to their computers. They placed their applications on different screens -- the e-mail far off on the right side, a Web browser on the left and their main work project right in the middle -- so that each application was ''glanceable.'' When the ding on their e-mail program went off, they could quickly peek over at their in-boxes to see what had arrived.

The workers swore that this arrangement made them feel calmer. But did more screen area actually help with cognition? To find out, Czerwinski's team conducted another experiment. The researchers took 15 volunteers, sat each one in front of a regular-size 15-inch monitor and had them complete a variety of tasks designed to challenge their powers of concentration -- like a Web search, some cutting and pasting and memorizing a seven-digit phone number. Then the volunteers repeated these same tasks, this time using a computer with a massive 42-inch screen, as big as a plasma TV.

The results? On the bigger screen, people completed the tasks at least 10 percent more quickly -- and some as much as 44 percent more quickly. They were also more likely to remember the seven-digit number, which showed that the multitasking was clearly less taxing on their brains. Some of the volunteers were so enthralled with the huge screen that they begged to take it home. In two decades of research, Czerwinski had never seen a single tweak to a computer system so significantly improve a user's productivity. The clearer your screen, she found, the calmer your mind. So her group began devising tools that maximized screen space by grouping documents and programs together -- making it possible to easily spy them out of the corner of your eye, ensuring that you would never forget them in the fog of your interruptions. Another experiment created a tiny round window that floats on one side of the screen; moving dots represent information you need to monitor, like the size of your in-box or an approaching meeting. It looks precisely like the radar screen in a military cockpit.

In late 2003, the technology writer Danny O'Brien decided he was fed up with not getting enough done at work. So he sat down and made a list of 70 of the most ''sickeningly overprolific'' people he knew, most of whom were software engineers of one kind or another. O'Brien wrote a questionnaire asking them to explain how, precisely, they managed such awesome output. Over the next few weeks they e-mailed their replies, and one night O'Brien sat down at his dining-room table to look for clues. He was hoping that the self-described geeks all shared some common tricks.

He was correct. But their suggestions were surprisingly low-tech. None of them used complex technology to manage their to-do lists: no Palm Pilots, no day-planner software. Instead, they all preferred to find one extremely simple application and shove their entire lives into it. Some of O'Brien's correspondents said they opened up a single document in a word-processing program and used it as an extra brain, dumping in everything they needed to remember -- addresses, to-do lists, birthdays -- and then just searched through that file when they needed a piece of information. Others used e-mail -- mailing themselves a reminder of every task, reasoning that their in-boxes were the one thing they were certain to look at all day long.

In essence, the geeks were approaching their frazzled high-tech lives as engineering problems -- and they were not waiting for solutions to emerge from on high, from Microsoft or computer firms. Instead they ginned up a multitude of small-bore fixes to reduce the complexities of life, one at a time, in a rather Martha Stewart-esque fashion.

Many of O'Brien's correspondents, it turned out, were also devotees of ''Getting Things Done,'' a system developed by David Allen, a personal-productivity guru who consults with Fortune 500 corporations and whose seminars fill Silicon Valley auditoriums with anxious worker bees. At the core of Allen's system is the very concept of memory that Mark and Czerwinski hit upon: unless the task you're doing is visible right in front of you, you will half-forget about it when you get distracted, and it will nag at you from your subconscious. Thus, as soon as you are interrupted, Allen says, you need either to quickly deal with the interruption or -- if it's going to take longer than two minutes -- to faithfully add the new task to your constantly updated to-do list. Once the interruption is over, you immediately check your to-do list and go back to whatever is at the top.

''David Allen essentially offers a program that you can run like software in your head and follow automatically,'' O'Brien explains. ''If this happens, then do this. You behave like a robot, which of course really appeals to geeks.''

O'Brien summed up his research in a speech called ''Life Hacks,'' which he delivered in February 2004 at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. Five hundred conference-goers tried to cram into his session, desperate for tips on managing info chaos. When O'Brien repeated the talk the next year, it was mobbed again. By the summer of 2005, the ''life hacks'' meme had turned into a full-fledged grass-roots movement. Dozens of ''life hacking'' Web sites now exist, where followers of the movement trade suggestions on how to reduce chaos. The ideas are often quite clever: O'Brien wrote for himself a program that, whenever he's surfing the Web, pops up a message every 10 minutes demanding to know whether he's procrastinating. It turns out that a certain amount of life-hacking is simply cultivating a monklike ability to say no.

''In fairness, I think we bring some of this on ourselves,'' says Merlin Mann, the founder of the popular life-hacking site ''We'd rather die than be bored for a few minutes, so we just surround ourselves with distractions. We've got 20,000 digital photos instead of 10 we treasure. We have more TV Tivo'd than we'll ever see.'' In the last year, Mann has embarked on a 12-step-like triage: he canceled his Netflix account, trimmed his instant-messaging ''buddy list'' so only close friends can contact him and set his e-mail program to bother him only once an hour. (''Unless you're working in a Korean missile silo, you don't need to check e-mail every two minutes,'' he argues.)

Mann's most famous hack emerged when he decided to ditch his Palm Pilot and embrace a much simpler organizing style. He bought a deck of 3-by-5-inch index cards, clipped them together with a binder clip and dubbed it ''The Hipster P.D.A.'' -- an ultra-low-fi organizer, running on the oldest memory technology around: paper.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Designing the Learning Space

Educause Review
July/August 2005

As Malcolm Brown, of Dartmouth, states in Educating the Net Gen, "Net Gen students, using a variety of digital devices, can turn almost any space outside the classroom into an informal learning space."1 What, then, becomes the role of spaces such as faculty offices, hallways, plazas, courtyards, dormitories, and food service areas? Designers have traditionally studied courtyards, plazas, and hallways for usage and flow patterns. Learning space designers must now consider the instructional implications of these spaces. Although discussions about these spaces still need to be concerned with usage patterns, a more important issue is: What types of learning activities should be facilitated in these spaces, and what type of infrastructure is needed to support these activities?

Phillip Long and Ed Crawley have proposed a different view of the design process. This new view, based on the Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate (CDIO) process of engineering, begins with seeing the learning environment as a "product" to be developed rather than simply as a space to be redesigned.4 The product has certain characteristics that are based on the institution’s values about learning, or "learning principles." These learning principles become the driving force within the design process and are the benchmarks through which progress is measured and decisions are made. Throughout the entire process, the client (the department, college, or university) remains the expert in the product—learning—while the architect remains the expert in space development. To guide this process, the client should appoint a full-time champion who has the domain and departmental expertise necessary to see the project through. Thus, the learning needs of the discipline drive the planning process.

Metalearning from How People Learn: Expert learners have a more developed scaffold of experiences and knowledge that allows them to assimilate and process new information quickly. Novice learners will fare better if they can reconcile new information with prior knowledge. Expert learners are able to transfer problems and data from one context to another with greater ease than novices. Self-conscious reflecting on learning, or meta-cognition, is a particularly effective tool to promote deeper learning.

To achieve these outcomes by the time they graduate, students need to have spent a good deal of their time communicating, calculating, inquiring, taking action in the wider world (e.g., service learning), exploring other cultures (sometimes by actually going to other places while staying in touch with their institution and faculty), working in teams with people from other cultures, and pulling together the strands of what they have learned in order to tackle authentic problems in their fields.

If institutions are to achieve demonstrable gains in these five outcomes, students and faculty will need their facilities to support several fundamental activities that will occupy much of their time:

A typology for such specialized learning spaces might include the following:

  1. Thinking/conceiving spaces (spaces for deliberating)
  2. Designing spaces (spaces for putting structure, order, and context to free-ranging ideas)
  3. Presenting spaces (spaces for showing things to a group)
  4. Collaborating spaces (spaces for enabling team activities)
  5. Debating or negotiating spaces (spaces for facilitating negotiations)
  6. Documenting spaces (spaces for describing and informing specific activities, objects, or other actions)
  7. Implementing/associating spaces (spaces for bringing together related things needed to accomplish a task or goal)
  8. Practicing spaces (spaces for investigating specific disciplines)
  9. Sensing spaces (spaces for pervasively monitoring a location)
  10. Operating spaces (spaces for controlling systems, tools, and complex environments)

Our ability to imagine the classroom of the future is shaped by changes in our own beliefs about learning spaces:

Outsource here!

Sunday, October 23, 2005


A company had a vast scrap yard in the middle of a desert. Management said, "Someone might steal from it at night." So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job.
Then management said, "How does the watchman do his job without instruction?" So they created a planning department and hired two people; one person to write the instructions and one person to do time studies.
Then management said, "How will we know the night watchman is doing his tasks correctly?" So they created a Quality Control department and hired two people. One to do the studies and one to write the reports.
Then management said, "How are these people going to get paid?" So they created the following positions, a timekeeper and a payroll officer; then hired two more people.
Then management said, "Who will be accountable for all of these people?" So they created an administrative section and hired three people; an Administrative Officer, Assistant Administrative
Officer, and a Legal Secretary.
Then management said, "We've had this command in operation for one year now and we're $18,000 over budget. We have to cutback on overall costs."

So they laid off the night watchman.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I unsubscribe.

Posted October 20, 11 comments

I finally am back to 0 unread items in my feed reader, after over a month of around 1500 new items a day. How? I unsubscribed from several feeds, and decided to take some hours reading, thinking and taking notes. But the whole process led me to think about something I’ve been meaning to write for a long time - too much information.

The problem with the web has always been the same for now over 10 years - more information than humans can manage. Solutions to this problem have come in what I call ages, and I believe we’ve seen 3 so far and are about to see another. Allow me to specify:

The directory / browse age

Happened from the early web days until let’s say 1995/96. The web had too much information for people to memorize. Even for a very small set of people using only a few pages, it was overhaul. Too many, too long urls that took too much time to write down, type and click. So, the solutions were directories of links, categorizing each page to make them readily available in an easy to manage form. Yahoo! was the most attractive approach to the problem at the time, and others followed.

The search age

From 1996 to 2003. The amount of pages with information increased so much that the directory paradigm wasn’t enough to acomodate all the data - search came along, waiving the need to remember any URLs, or any directory. You type in what you’re looking for and a search engine gives you the relevant resources. Cool.

The subscribe age

Late 2003 to the current date. People don’t want to search: people want content delivered to them - they want to subscribe. Subscribing to pages and information leads people to spend less time actually looking for information, and spend more time reading what they really want to read. Information delivered to your doorstep is the coup du jour.

The future?

For some, the future is here already. We’re seeing too much subscribed information. Again, too much data we can’t handle by ourselves (it seems data keeps running ahead of the human ability to deal with it). For me, the next couple of years will be about finding new solutions to this new problem imposed by the subscription era. We have too much information delivered to us - most of it, we probably don’t even care about.

Solutions need to be put in place that keep us away (again) from information overload. Because data will not stop showing up unless we relinquish control. What the next age will be called, I don’t know - but I definitely want a way to get the information I care about (and only that information), delivered to me automatically. A combination of search, filtering and subscription seems to be the key, but I’m still to see the ideal product emerge from these ingredients.

How do you manage your information? Do you see too much of it? What do you think the solution is to that now?

In my opinion, the solution will come when more complex social networks mix with the current blogging scene. I shouldn’t have to looking for information, it should come to me - and only the information I care about. Relevance is based upon not only what topics I find interesting, but also how relevant my friends have found it - a trust web of sorts. Stumble Upon meets RSS meets

Friday, October 21, 2005

f2f eye contact

msnbc article on presentation

Giuliani gets it. People associate eye contact with honesty, trustworthiness, sincerity, confidence — all the traits you strive toward to make yourself a great business communicator. We like people who look us in the eye. Venture capitalists tell me that when entrepreneurs look down during their presentations, the energy drains from their performance.

Presentations fall flat when you can't see someone's eyes. Donald Trump thinks so. During one of the now-famous board meetings at the end of "The Apprentice," a young man named Troy was arguing his case in front of Trump, pleading with the billionaire not to fire him. I remember Trump barking at Troy for relying on notes he had written on a pad. Trump said he hates it when people read from notes. Troy was, indeed, fired.

learning 2.0

stephen, in elearn

the Web was shifting from being a medium, in which information was transmitted and consumed, into being a platform, in which content was created, shared, remixed, repurposed, and passed along. And what people were doing with the Web was not merely reading books, listening to the radio or watching TV, but having a conversation, with a vocabulary consisting not just of words but of images, video, multimedia and whatever they could get their hands on. And this became, and looked like, and behaved like, a network.

What happens when online learning ceases to be like a medium, and becomes more like a platform? What happens when online learning software ceases to be a type of content-consumption tool, where learning is "delivered," and becomes more like a content-authoring tool, where learning is created? The model of e-learning as being a type of content, produced by publishers, organized and structured into courses, and consumed by students, is turned on its head. Insofar as there is content, it is used rather than read— and is, in any case, more likely to be produced by students than courseware authors. And insofar as there is structure, it is more likely to resemble a language or a conversation rather than a book or a manual.

The e-learning application, therefore, begins to look very much like a blogging tool. It represents one node in a web of content, connected to other nodes and content creation services used by other students. It becomes, not an institutional or corporate application, but a personal learning center, where content is reused and remixed according to the student's own needs and interests. It becomes, indeed, not a single application, but a collection of interoperating applications—an environment rather than a system.

It also begins to look like a personal portfolio tool [18]. The idea here is that students will have their own personal place to create and showcase their own work. Some e-portfolio applications, such as ELGG, have already been created. IMS Global as put together an e-portfolio specification [19]. "The portfolio can provide an opportunity to demonstrate one's ability to collect, organize, interpret and reflect on documents and sources of information. It is also a tool for continuing professional development, encouraging individuals to take responsibility for and demonstrate the results of their own learning" [20].

This approach to learning means that learning content is created and distributed in a very different manner. Rather than being composed, organized and packaged, e-learning content is syndicated, much like a blog post or podcast. It is aggregated by students, using their own personal RSS reader or some similar application. From there, it is remixed and repurposed with the student's own individual application in mind, the finished product being fed forward to become fodder for some other student's reading and use.

More formally, instead of using enterprise learning-management systems, educational institutions expect to use an interlocking set of open-source applications. Work on such a set of applications has begun in a number of quarters, with the E-Learning Framework defining a set of common applications and the newly formed e-Framework for Education and Research drawing on an international collaboration. While there is still an element of content delivery in these systems, there is also an increasing recognition that learning is becoming a creative activity and that the appropriate venue is a platform rather than an application.

In the future it will be more widely recognized that the learning comes not from the design of learning content but in how it is used. Most e-learning theorists are already there, and are exploring how learning content-whether professionally authored or created by students— can be used as the basis for learning activities rather than the conduit for learning content.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Euro Report on Informal Learning Validation

This report on national policies and practices on validation of non-formal and informal
learning is intended to open up a more systematic exchange of experiences in Europe. It is our
hope that this effort will support the development of high quality methodologies and systems
for validation at national, regional, sector and enterprise levels. This report is the first step
towards establishing a European inventory of validation of non-formal and informal learning
which it is hoped will contribute to more coherent, high quality and cost effective methods
and systems for validation.

By linking ‘lifelong’ to ‘life-wide’ learning, the Communication signals that there is a need to change perceptions of when learning takes place (cradle to grave) as well as where it takes place. To succeed, a knowledge-based society must be able to link together the full diversity of learning processes and learning outcomes, irrespective of the institutional setting. Continuity of learning is central.

This report covers Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the
Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It includes
information on eight new Members States (Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta,
Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) and two candidate countries (Bulgaria and Romania). The
European Training Foundation (ETF) provided an overview of initiatives in the countries
which, at that time, were candidate countries.

informal learning is defined as learning resulting from daily life activities related to
work, family, or leisure. It is often referred to as experiential learning and can, to a
degree, be understood as accidental learning.

The Communication on lifelong learning (European Commission, 2001) defines core
concepts as follows:
(a) formal learning is typically provided by education or training institutions, structured (in terms of learning objectives, learning time or learning support) and leading to certification. Formal learning is intentional from the learner’s perspective;
(b) non-formal learning is not provided by an education or training institution and typically it does not lead to certification. However, it is structured, in terms of learning objectives, learning time or learning support. Non-formal learning is intentional from the learner’s point of view;
(c) informal learning results from daily life activities related to work, family or leisure. It is not structured (in terms of learning objectives, learning time and/or learning support).
Typically, it does not lead to certification. Informal learning may be intentional but in
most cases, it is non-intentional (or incidental/random).

Other countries (France, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) do not refer to the
term non-formal or informal learning. This applies in particular to Ireland and the United
Kingdom where terms like prior learning and prior experiential learning are used. In France,
the term acquis de l’expérience professionelle is reported and points to validation of already
acquired learning outcomes. In the Scandinavian countries, the term Realkompetanse has been
established in relation to the developments in validation (Nordic Council, 2001).
Realkompetanse covers the entire scope of learning outcomes, from formal to informal, and
has been criticised for being too broad. However, the concept is important in addressing the
totality of qualifications and competences held by an individual.

This is nutty. The Europeans define informal learning as both unplanned and unintentional. What I call informal, they call non-formal, unless of course they happen to be in France, Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK, or Scandinavia.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Gluing Open Source Together

> Teemu,


> Thanks for your email. I just pointed to the blog. I'm interested in
> what you're doing, coupling open source tools. Did you record or
> summarize the session with Stephen and George? I'd love to know more.

See the site, a summary is there, including an interesting discussion
between George and Stephen.

I also tested skype+S5+CGI::IRC a few weeks ago in a different setting,
which worked very well (more collaboration between students to steer my/remote
presentations through chat to a direction the audience was interested in). I also
used my Open Source Blog+Wiki+Aggregation+Forums Dicole software that time:

So the modified S5 to handle AJAX we did for this conference was a good example of remixing
technologies to do what we wanted.

Dorgem (Open Source) was today used for sending webcam pictures every second to a server
which had a small skript to display the webcam. I had it running in the corner of our
web-based chat.

The mobile capability was implemented with an SMS gateway (getting messages) which
was linked to an IRC bot sitting on our chat channel, which was implemented with IRC
technology of course (open source based server). The bot displayed the name of the
sender or phone number and the message.

I wanted to use blogs in round tables for people to guest blog their key ideas but we run
out of time. I also wanted to create podcasts from tables, but once again it was hectic.

The blog was implemented in Wordpress and we used Flickr for getting images quickly
in a usable form. Audacity (Open source) was used for the single podcast we did.

I had recording capability, but forgot to press record. I also forgot
to take videos / pictures as evidence of the session but I know a
portable recorder was used, but I don't know about the quality yet.

The whole point of the session was that our budget was 0$. We did the same what pro-amateurs
and pro-sumers do online every day these days. Tim Berners-Lee original vision of web as a
read/write platform where people build things is becoming a reality.


Learning TRENDS by Elliott Masie - Oct 12, 2005.
#356- Updates on Learning, Business & Technology.
51,405 Readers - - The MASIE Center.
Learning 2005: Oct 30 - Nov 2 - Orlando, Florida.

WebQuests: An Idea from Schools for Corporate Learning

WebQuests - a simple and powerful learning method that has become quite
popular in elementary and secondary schools that can be leveraged and
adopted for corporate learning.

A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the
information that learners interact with comes from resources on the
internet. Bernie Dodge, from San Diego State University has advocated and
pushed this concept forward as both a powerful teaching method and also a
way to increase collaboration and critical thinking skills.

Tom Marsh extends that definition: "A WebQuest is a scaffolded learning
structure that uses links to essential resources on the World Wide Web and
an authentic task to motivate students’ investigation of a central,
open-ended question, development of individual expertise and participation
in a final group process that attempts to transform newly acquired
information into a more sophisticated understanding. The best WebQuests do
this in a way that inspires students to see richer thematic relationships,
facilitate a contribution to the real world of learning and reflect on
their own metacognitive processes."

Here is a simple example of a WebQuest designed by a classroom teacher to
explore the music of Mozart:

From a corporate experience, imagine building a new employee orientation
as a WebQuest, leveraging both the corporate intranet and other web
resources to have teams of new employees build their own employee

There are dozens of great resources on WebQuests:

* Search on "webquest" on Google or MSN Search
* Here is a key link to a portal page on WebQuests:
* There is even a cool on-line authoring and design tool, QuestGarden for
teachers and instructors to use to create a webquest:

We will conduct a "conversation" at Learning2005 at one of our general
sessions about adapting the core educational threads of a WebQuest for
adaption as a corporate and organizational learning tool. Information on
the event (Oct 30 - Nov 2 - Orlando) at

Let\'s keep looking across the "river" for effective learning innovations
developing in the K-12, college and religious education spaces that can be
adpated for corporate learning.

Yours in learning,

Elliott Masie

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",1] ); //-->as a WebQuest, leveraging both the corporate intranet and other web
resources to have teams of new employees build their own employee

There are dozens of great resources on WebQuests:

* Search on "webquest" on Google or MSN Search
* Here is a key link to a portal page on WebQuests:
* There is even a cool on-line authoring and design tool, QuestGarden for
teachers and instructors to use to create a webquest:

We will conduct a "conversation" at Learning2005 at one of our general
sessions about adapting the core educational threads of a WebQuest for
adaption as a corporate and organizational learning tool. Information on
the event (Oct 30 - Nov 2 - Orlando) at

Let's keep looking across the "river" for effective learning innovations
developing in the K-12, college and religious education spaces that can be
adpated for corporate learning.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Friday, October 07, 2005

web 2.0 and the lightness of being

The web 2.0 conference is on and the new mantra may be that web 2.0 changes everything. the founder of 37 signals has a sensible approach to software that makes old-style development methods look ancient, industrial, and wasteful. lightweight design once again:

Jason Fried, founder of lightweight, Web-based applications maker 37signals, offered his five-point formula for software development success to the audience at the Web 2.0 conference. Traditional software development is expensive, resource-intensive, and born of a Cold War mentality, Fried said. His advice is to "think about one downing, instead of one upping, and underdoing competitors"–beating them with less.

According to Fried, in the era of lightweight apps and simple products you need less money, people, time, abstractions and software.

Fried believes that money mostly buys salaries and you only need three people–a designer, programmer and utility player, which he calls a "sweeper." The feature set should be scaled for the headcount. Having less time is also an advantage. "You spend time in unproductive meetings and overanalyzing the product. Less time forces you to spend less time on better things," Fried said.

He suggested 30 hours per week per person, which "forces you into building better products and being creative with your time." And, if you have less time, you have less time to think about abstractions, such as functional specification documents, which Fried characterized as a waste of time. "Instead, build the product and start from the user interface customer experience first; then wrap with the technology," Fried said. "The interface screens are the functional specification."

Finally, building less software means fewer features, less documentation, minimal support and less confusion in selling the product. "Less software is key to building very specific tools. There are a million simple problems to solve with less. Competitors solving complicated ones are most likely to fail," Fried said. "For Web-based software there are plenty of simple problems to pick from and you can nail."

So far, Fried has shown that the basic less is more model (although he probably puts in at least 60 hours a week) is working with his set of subscription-based products, but just wait until users or customers start requesting more features, faster time to market and competiton peaks. Small and nimble teams, and software, right-sized for the Web, can be highly efficient, but having the discipline to stay that way is really hard…

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Don Tosti

Don Tosti
October 5, 2005

I described the Tom Malone thesis on networks. Don pointed out that we retain vestiges of tribalism. When tribes such as “marketers” meet a tribe such as “engineers,” sparks fly. If a person goes to the other side to try to patch things up, he is branded as disloyal. His tribe fears he has “gone native.”

A bank disbanded its executive dining room…and found its executives had no place to schmooze

Quality movement: reduce variance rather than innovate. It’s deficiency-driven.

GAP has been perverted. The goal was once to bridge the gap between initial condition and desired state, not to fill it.

Gilbert’s world view was limited to three inside variable and three external variables

The culture Job Aid: express concern by “playing this card.” (Boss warns to temper it with respect.)

UI vs delivery
What does it take to win?
Delivering the branded experience. (BA)

Ask operations the same questions as the board. Shows respect.

Merger madness: BEA (former bomber pilots) + BOAC (fighter pilots)

Legitimization. Yeltsin climbs on the tank.

It is us. Acculturation. Legitimize training. (Send Don the Cluetrain)

“Ownership” because it’s our lives we’re talking about.

Work backward from results, not from top down.

Little girls run the distance. At end, motivational feedback: You did great! At the new beginning, normative feedback like “This time run a little faster.”

Managers get no feedback. It’s fluency vs competency.

EI: why the E?

Most problems are lack of clear instructions and direction.

Forced card sorts. What do you need to do every day to fulfill the promise to your customers? 2nd Sort: Which are you doing? Which are you vaguely aware of? Which are under the radar?

No gurus, no norms…. Just what you said you want to accomplish.

GM course on positive leadership rather than communications when facing down unionization of white collar workers.

Don's article in the current Performance Express goes after the limitations I see in traditional ISD:

by Donald T. Tosti, CPT, PhD

There are several ways we can view improvement in any situation. One way is that which is exemplified in quality efforts. This approach focuses on reducing variation and, therefore, searches for the root cause of the variation and corrects it. Such a “mind set” is a logical development since quality grew out of industrial quality inspection. Inspectors look for defects and errors. So those who use quality improvement methods strive to reduce or eliminate as much error as possible. They can be seen in the current, most popular quantity method called Six Sigma. The name refers to the goal of reducing variance to one part in a million.

A second approach, which is often termed an engineering approach, characterized much of the early development in the field of Human Performance Technology (HPT). Our field has its origins in the psychological learning and performance laboratories. There the focus was on determining what facilitated or inhibited performance. Rather than focusing at what reduced variance in behavior these researchers were more concerned with what could be controlled to shape it in a desired direction. When these people left their laboratories, they were more inclined to take an engineering approach to finding ways to achieve their objective.

Both are legitimate, but each starts with different assumptions and, therefore, often leads to different outcomes. They also use somewhat different processes, although there is a great deal of overlap between the two.

Michael Liebman (2005) describes what this difference is: “Unlike those who tend to approach problems from a ‘bottom-up’ perspective by collecting data and seeking patterns, engineers take a ‘top-down’ approach, probing a specific system for clues, taking it apart and considering how each component can be handled in a tailored solution.”

Henry Petroski (2005) says, “Engineering is more akin to writing or painting, and that it is a creative endeavor that begins in the mind’s eye and proceeds into new frontiers of thought and action, where it does not so much find as make new things.”

The biggest difference is that engineering improvement focuses on means and enabling it, and quality improvement focuses on cause and eliminating it.

Engineering solves problems more through analysis and design than through troubleshooting and repair, although both are accepted as legitimate processes.

Over the years, some feel regrettably so, HPT has tended to drift more toward a quality or correction approach than the engineering or innovation approach to problem solving it used in its formative years.

My concern and those of others in the field (Wittkuhn, 2004) is that a linear focus on cause is incompatible with taking a true systems approach. Systems logic views everything as interdependent. Hence, there is any number of alternative ways to produce a given result. A range of “solutions” is possible, not just one that addresses a “root cause” issue.

An engineering perspective treats the organization as a system or a set of subsystems that has been acted on differentially by many elements that influence its state at critical points over time. Our job as HPT analysts, then, is to identify the various critical points to determine which can be controlled to produce the desired improvement. The requirement is to select from a number of possible interventions that would be most cost-effective given the resource requirements. There is almost never one solution, although there may be one best solution.

Quality is popular. It promises managers cost reductions and greater efficiency. Because it sells so well, the tendency within our field is to allow ourselves to be solely defined as “fixers” rather than “innovators.”

We have learned much from the quality field, but it threatens to limit our perspective to repair and correction as our main problem-solving focus.

If we also focus on innovation and the power of using HPT engineering methods in addressing performance issues, we can open new opportunities that just being gap fixers never would provide. It also can position us at a more strategic level in the organization since innovative solutions are more likely to impact revenue and competitive issues.

Through a wide range of present and yet-to-be-determined innovations, we can help individuals and organizations do a better job of creating value for all those who are their stakeholders. We are only at the threshold. The real promise of Human Performance Technology and its benefits is unlimited.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Lee LeFever on Microsoft blogging

Microsoft is Serious About Blogging

(ARCHIVED IN: Weblogs and Business Weblogs and Business )

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with the folks at Microsoft, like Bill Reid, Korby Parnell and Jonathan Grudin, to learn more about blogging at Microsoft for a related project at the company. Here are some of my broad observations:

Sunday, October 02, 2005

feynman & greek stretch

Welcome to Weblogs in Higher Education
This blog / weblog is devoted to understanding the best pedagogical and other uses of weblogs and wikis in higher education. Join in...
Sunday, October 2, 2005
Feynman on blogging. Not really, of course. But in the October 20th issue of the NYROB Freeman Dyson reviews the new volume of letters written by the late Richard Feynman. Dyson mentions an account by Feynman of modern Greek education. There is, says Dyson, an "overwhelming emphasis on the glories of classical Greece, [giving] children a bad start in life [by] teaching them that nothing they do can equal the achievements of their ancestors." A system of education, then, that subordinates children to a source of knowledge that is and will remain beyond them.

and weinberger

The Value of Connections
One of the things I really like about David Weinberger is his interesting, unique vision of what is happening to knowledge because of what is happening on the Web. That and the fact that he pushes my own thinking so much. He’s a perfect example of that whole "the teachers we find are better than the ones we are given" potential of the Read/Write Web. He (and a few select others which I mention here often) challenges me in ways that are relevant to me, to my passions, leading me to new insights and connecting me to new teachers.

Another example of this is his latest essay "The New Is." It’s a further evolution of what he articulated at his NECC keynote in Philadelphia earlier this month, and it’s a mind bender, at least for me. So this will be one of those scary "work through it in a blog post" type of posts. And maybe, the beginnings of a conversation.

Start with this:

We are entering the age where to understand something is to see how it isn't what it is.

As opposed, I would guess, to an age where to understand something is to think we see what it is, right? An age in education when we teach by the "here it is and here is what it means" method based on a system of structured knowledge with absolute answers. An age in which, because we’ve had limited access to other voices and other sources, there is an urge for everyone to conform to traditional understandings.

But on the Web, Weinberg asserts, structure is a problem because very few ideas fit so neatly into the traditional schemes. Most ideas, most understandings are nuanced in ways that make them more personal rather than one size fits all. In fact, meaning and knowledge is evolving through millions of conversations and interactions that were not possible before, with different people "tagging" similar ideas in dissimilar ways, creating a messiness that he says is a sign of "successful order."

We don't need perfect knowledge in an age of knowledge abundance. We just need pretty good knowledge, and that's something we don't need perfect gatekeepers for. To the gatekeepers what looks like chaos and the degradation of learning to Netizens looks like an exponential increase in intelligence.

And who are the gatekeepers, you think? I can’t tell you how much angst this “exponential increase in intelligence” is causing in certain circles, and we’ve all heard it, I know. "It can't be trusted." "What authority does the source have?" "How do you know that?" All legitimate questions in certain circumstances. But questions whose acceptable answers are not changing, as of yet, with the new realities of information and knowledge.

And then there’s this, one of my favorite Weinberger riffs:

The difference in views occurs in part because the Net explodes the old view of intelligence as the containing of lots of knowledge. This container model is reflected in how we talk about documents: We say they have contents even though print is as 2-dimensional as a shadow. On the Net, documents – pages – get their value to a large degree not from what they contain but from what they point to.

I just love that concept, and I love the way it relates back to George Siemens and Barbara Ganley who see that not only are their texts not simply containers any longer, neither are their students. And isn't that how we’ve thought about students, really, for a long time, ultimately as containers of the information we impart? But with the Web, they become much more than that, because, like pages and online texts, then can connect their own messy knowledge to the messy understandings of others and, in the process, exponentially increase their intelligence. I am so struck by how limiting I see the traditional classroom any more, the restrictive nature of it. (Much like what I think of paper anymore, btw.) So look at the last quote again and think students, not documents.

On the Net, [students] get their value to a large degree not from what they contain but from what they point to.

That’s a bit of a shift, huh?

And so what does all of this mean for instruction? I think he starts to paint that picture as well.

If you want to know about an idea, you could go to an encyclopedia and read what an expert says about it. Or you could find a blog that talks about it and start following the web of links. You'll not just see multiple points of view, you'll hear those points of view in conversation. That's new in the world. The old dream of finding a single knowledge for the entire world – having knowledge be like reality, in other words – is dying rapidly. The connectedness of the Net has made it too clear that the world is not going to come to agreement and be able to write its single encyclopedia, covering everything we need to know without dissent… To understand now means to hear the multiplicity of meaning talked about across the world. The more of the world we get into the conversation, the more the world will mean.

And that then becomes the task, to get teachers and students to enter into the conversation, to get them connected (in more ways than one) to the idea that understanding and meaning and knowledge is no longer quite as easily defined, that we find them in negotiation and interaction, in the "continuousness of conversation" as he puts it.

How tough could that be?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Web 2.0 O'Reilly

Web 2.0 Design Patterns
In his book, A Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander prescribes a format for the concise description of the solution to architectural problems. He writes: "Each pattern describes a problem that occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice."

The Long Tail
Small sites make up the bulk of the internet's content; narrow niches make up the bulk of internet's the possible applications. Therefore: Leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head.

Data is the Next Intel Inside
Applications are increasingly data-driven. Therefore: For competitive advantage, seek to own a unique, hard-to-recreate source of data.

Users Add Value
The key to competitive advantage in internet applications is the extent to which users add their own data to that which you provide. Therefore: Don't restrict your "architecture of participation" to software development. Involve your users both implicitly and explicitly in adding value to your application.

Network Effects by Default
Only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of adding value to your application. Therefore: Set inclusive defaults for aggregating user data as a side-effect of their use of the application.

Some Rights Reserved. Intellectual property protection limits re-use and prevents experimentation. Therefore: When benefits come from collective adoption, not private restriction, make sure that barriers to adoption are low. Follow existing standards, and use licenses with as few restrictions as possible. Design for "hackability" and "remixability."

The Perpetual Beta
When devices and programs are connected to the internet, applications are no longer software artifacts, they are ongoing services. Therefore: Don't package up new features into monolithic releases, but instead add them on a regular basis as part of the normal user experience. Engage your users as real-time testers, and instrument the service so that you know how people use the new features.

Cooperate, Don't Control
Web 2.0 applications are built of a network of cooperating data services. Therefore: Offer web services interfaces and content syndication, and re-use the data services of others. Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely-coupled systems.

Software Above the Level of a Single Device
The PC is no longer the only access device for internet applications, and applications that are limited to a single device are less valuable than those that are connected. Therefore: Design your application from the get-go to integrate services across handheld devices, PCs, and internet servers.

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