free online conference

21 04 2009

jay cross is at it again.

he’s created a free online conference on innovations in organizational learning that will run for the next two days.  conversations about learning and organizations features conversations amongst and with leading names from around the world.  sessions are running around the clock today and tomorrow.  drop in on a few of the discussions or brew a pot of coffee and try to take all of the sessions in.

knowing jay and many of the moderators, it will be a tremendously stimulating conference.  check it out!

the web is almost legal!

13 03 2009

happy 20th birthday to the world wide web.  march 13, 1989 is the day that tim berners-lee is credited with inventing the world wide web.  check out scientific american’s tribute to this world changing event.

having used the internet for 18 years or so, it just doesn’t seem comprehensible how far we’ve come so fast.  one of my favorite stories is from the 1992 when I was working at heinle & heinle and the five editorial directors got t-1 access to our desks.  i gophered to singapore national university’s web site and downloaded their campus map.  five or six colleagues stood around my desk – oohing and aahing.  seriously!

the internet in 1985

the internet in 1985

One of my favorite artifacts from the development of the internet is a map that marty lyons created in 1985 that shows the entire internet as it existed then on one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper!  (click on the image to the left to see a larger version.)

to think that today it’s nearly impossible to create a site map for an average blog on one sheet of paper helps put the progress we’ve made.

as short a time ago as 2001 i was working on a project that would depend heavily on metadata tagging and microtransactions.  two things that at the time were questionable as to their viability.  Now millions of sites process billions and billions of transactions everyday and social networking has turned metadata tagging into a normal practice for everyday folks like my Mom.  that campus map i downloaded 17 years ago took several minutes to make it to my computer.  today we can watch real-time broadcast television on our cellphones!

so happy birthday world wide web.  go get a fake id and tip back a pint or two.  you deserve it.

work at learning/learning at work blog carnival

17 04 2008

in march, dave ferguson started a new blog carnival centered around topics in workplace learning. blog carnivals are “events” in which bloggers contribute posts on a given subject which are listed on a host blog. The host blog usually rotates from one blog to another on a regular basis.

Check out the first work at learning/learning at work blog carnival event on dave’s blog.

Manish Mohan has taken on the task of hosting the next event on his blog Life, The Universe, and Everything about eLearning and Content Development. Manish is particularly looking for contributions from learning and development professionals who are working from outside North America. He asks that you provide a permalink for your post and a short intro, but he doesn’t give clear direction on where to send it. I received his call for contributions through facebook so you can try there. You can also find him on LinkedIn and of course through his blog.

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the dark side reaches the blogosphere

9 04 2007

while the timing tells you how far being on the news i am, imagine my surprise when, as i was sifting through my rss reader late last Sunday night working on a project due on Monday, my sleepy eyes stumbled across these four words:

death threats against bloggers

what the…..? of course, i immediately clicked through to kathy sierra’s creating passionate users to see what this was about. no, it wasn’t another odd marketing technique from kathy. it was a post announcing that she feels compelled to stop blogging because of the death threats and other heinous comments being made both to her blog and in posts on other blogs about her.

as i read the post, which she has moved off of creating passionate users and links to from there, i was in total shock. shock that kathy has been enduring this hell for months. shock that the outrage hasn’t been louder (after all, i’m just now seeing it). shock that one of the very best blogs in the blogosphere has been swallowed by the black hole of puerile pranks, at best, or a sociopathic stalkers in the worst case.

as i’ve previously written (see The Future of Media, Part 2 on Learning Circuits Blog) there are those who are predicting some dark times ahead for the internet. perhaps, if they are correct, and i wouldn’t bet against them, the anonymous threats against kathy are likely just the tip of a much larger iceberg to come. why might i feel this way?

throughout history, whenever society was presented with new technologies, there was a ramp up time in which scammers and folks with other nefarious intentions were able to take advantage of a public yet unaware of how to identify the authentic from the fake or otherwise protect themselves. when paper money was introduced, counterfeiters had a field day exchanging fake bills for real. when i was a teen, the newly introduced, credit card-sized driver licenses were a snap to fake. postal scams and telephone scams both were prevalent as those services spread to every household. atm’s and public phones had their dangers until we learned to silence the beep-boop-beep’s that told the sharp eared scammer standing just out of sight that you pin is 3-2-3.

why would we think the advance of the internet isn’t going to be the same or worse. most of the innovations i mention above were regulated as they were introduced. but the internet we’ve created is regulated by no one. and we’re proud of that. we should be. but let’s not be naive and believe there won’t be a downside to that freedom. currently there is no way to truly verify that someone is who they say they are on the internet. even those cryptographic “words” we have to decipher to enter a comment on this and many other blogs and websites don’t keep out the spammer’s robots (just look at the recent comments over there in the right sidebar and you’ll see what i mean). in the discussion of tim o’reilly’s blogging code of conduct, several people point out that requiring an e-mail address means nothing because there are numerous ways to get an email that doesn’t identify you nor can be linked to you. is it more anonymous for me to be “anonymous” or to be “diane armstrong”? (even kathy suggests in her last post to her blog that she might create a fake persona to continue her blogging under.)

maybe we thought the blogosphere was a different part of the internet. a safe haven from the ills of the world due to our collective commitment to authentic discourse and honest disagreement. in many ways it is true. the rallying behind kathy has been much like a neighborhood watch being formed. the blogosphere has shown it’s compassion and willingness to protect it’s turf. but even neighborhood watches often can’t do it all. fortunately, organizations like sxip, openid, lid, oasis/saml, pingidentity, and others are working on solutions. the question is, will they be just in time or a little to late to avert widespread scams?

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a bangladeshi student on social networking

26 12 2006





in this video, atif sattar, a 16-year-old 11th grader in dakar, bangladesh makes a case why social network software like is valuable to him. do we really need to worry about "fixing" the schools worldwide? or should we enable students to follow atif’s example?

(found via news via Julie Lindsey’s blog)

knowing knowledge

23 10 2006

i’ve been waiting for chance to talk about george siemens’ new, self-published book, knowing knowledge.  this is the cornerstone theory of george’s new theory of learning which he calls connectivism.  i had the great fortune a few months ago to edit george’s manuscript of the book for him.  having spent a great part of my career in the pubimage of knowing knowledge coverlishing industry, i have alway enjoyed the excitement  that I feel when I’ve had the priviledge to  preview a book that is going to have impact.  knowing knowledge I think is such a book.

in part 1, george takes on the traditional challenge in books on knowledge and learning of trying to define these term. he posits a theory that many will blast as relativistic, but he avoids the cartesian trap by placing knowledge in the connections between people and objects.  connectivism allows for a priori knowledge without falling into fatalism and  a posteri  knowledge without the atomistic, self-centered world view of many followers of descartes. learning then becomes a matter of pattern recognition and personalizing our experiences.  we are continuously assessing and hypothesizing what we have learned vis a vis the new data being presented to us now.

this is powerful stuff in that it not only explains common everyday knowledge and experience, but explains how breakthrough knowledge and innovative thought appear next to the mundane.  michael jordan talks about "just knowing where the ball is going to be."  football quarterbacks sense the openings in the patterns.  evidently individually we all have different abilities to decypher different patterns with varying degrees of ease.  thus you find someone like albert einstein saying to the reporters who were constantly hounding him, "why are you following me, i’m just a scientist."  quantum physics is just a set of patterns, no different to einstein than the patterns that make up the concept "breakfast."

in part two of knowing knowleimage of change process chartdge, george turns to the question of "what does this mean in the real world?  if your journey to understanding elearning has involved frequent visits to then this section will feel very much like home to you.  it’s "siemens-ism" at its best.  george runs through a host of issues around the social nature of learning and knowledge, the interaction of learning and organizations, what this all means for education – both personal and societal.  clearly, these are the patterns decyphers with jordan-esche ease.

he concludes the book with a 5-domain implementation model which outlines how connectivism can be implemented system-wide in an organization.  while it may seem daunting, that is only a reflection of the complexity of the organization, not connectivism itself.   one concern i do have is that george states that the implementation model is triggered by an organizational change having occurred.  it seems odd to me that the model wouldn’t either be involved in the change process, or perhaps even precede it  – participating in the creation of the need for change.

despite the amount of information covers, knowing knowledge is an accessible presentation of a complex set of concepts.  his use of a non-linear writing style makes reading through sections of the book easier, encourages reflection, and invites the reader to  "dip in" to refresh your memory on any particular section.


knowing knowledge is available through george’s new site knowing knowledge.   you can download pdf files of the book for free!   the links are found on the blog in the entry entitled knowing knowledge – pdf files.  The various charts in the book are in black and white in the pdf’s.  to link to the full color charts, you can find them on george’s flickr site under the group knowing knowledge.  finally, true to his theory, george has posted the manuscript to a wiki where he’s invited everyone to come and help make knowing knowledge better.

eventually, printed copies will be available for purchase through

imagining the internet

22 10 2006

my latest time sink has been a site called imagining the internet: a history and forecast.  it has been created and maintained by faculty, staff and students and elon university with the support and funding of the pew charitable trust’s internet and american life project.  Imagining_the_internetthe site is a great interface sitting adopt  of a database formed by the data from three "predict the internet" surveys pew conducted in the 90’s, in 2004, and 2006.

what’s fascinating about how imagining the internet has been put together is that not only does it look forward 150 years in to the future, but it goes back 150 years and looks at predictions around the then just emerging new media of telegraph, telephone, and television.  now i have to admit that i’ve always been a bit jaded when i hear an expert say "in 100 years, humans will……"  but i’ll be a little less so after reading these quotes from the late 1900’s:

on the future of telephones

as reported in the book  "bell" by robert v. bruce, kate field, a british reporter who knew bell, predicted in 1878 that eventually:         

"while two persons, hundreds of miles apart, are talking together, they  will actually see each other."

(she’s talking about video chat two years after bell patented the phone?!?!?!)

at&t chief engineer and electrical review writer john j. carty projected in his "prophets column" in 1891:

"A system of telephony without wires seems one of the interesting possibilities, and the distance on the earth through which it is possible to speak is theoretically limited only by the curvation of the earth."

(he’s talking about cell phones 115 years ago!?!?!?  – although he was abit off on coverage gaps.  curvation of the earth? i wish!!!)

on the furture of television

a report in the indianapolis xtar apcril 9, 1927:

"spectacles may be staged in distant cities and be transmitted for the entertainment of individuals hundreds of miles away.  onversations may be held across the sea and the          parties see each other as clearly as though they were gathered in the same room. distance will be annihilated for sound and sight and the world made immeasurably smaller for the purposes of  communication."

(i checked thomas friedman’s grandfather did not pen this for the star.)

so now I’m thinking that these predictions probably bordered on being considred lunatic by these writers’ temporal peers.   so i looked at the predictions fo the future from today and looked for the lunatic fringe amongst them. 

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