In the coming week expect light blogging, or no blogging at all. I will be enjoying a short vacation, travelling with the Drents Symphonic Orchestra to Vaduz (Liechtenstein), in which my partner plays as a stand-in. We'll be attending a meet-up of European amateur symphonic orchestras. It is also a chance to meet with some friends that live in the same area.
Please refer to the blogroll for interesting reads to feast on.2 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Back at home, after Blogtalk, it is time to evaluate, what this conference meant for me and what lessons to learn. And also it is time to say thanks.
When I came into the conference room on the first day, the first thing I did was set up the laptop and link up to the LAN. Everybody seemed to be in a sort of geek fest mood. We tremendously enjoyed blogging live, even if it at first took away attention from presentations.
Maria has written about that, and I agree in part with her. My conclusion is that live blogging is ok, but I have to learn to restrain myself in it: no surfing for links to include or anything like that, just use it to post the notes I would otherwise have written in a text-editor or on paper (you know, the white foldeable stuff you can smear ink on). Reflection is something to do afterwards.
But the pleasure of being with all these enthousiasts in one room, and trying to beat the other to the punch of course was something we had to experience at least once. Now we have done that, and can become sensible about live blogging again.
Meeting other Bloggers
It seems that when you read stuff that resembles your own position and opinion, you start attributing a mental picture to the author that resembles your own appearance. That must be why Martin Roell thought I would be smaller than I actually was, and I thought he would be bigger than he turned out to be. We modelled our expectations to our own physique. But most of all it is a bit weird to meet people of whom you know a lot about concerning a small part of their lives. Discovering they all have a whole range of other interests, and are complete human beings is of course not very surprising, but it showed to me that at least in some part I had forgotten about that somewhere along the way.
Conversations are the most important part of any conference. In that sense it was a shame that delays in the program were compensated by cutting down on breaktimes. However interesting the presentations, and most of them were, I would have welcomed more individual face to face time during the day. The fact that at the last evening noone seemed able to detach himself from the group, and everybody stayed on till 4:30 in the morning to continue the conversations, totally unaware of their surroundings, supports this feeling.
One or two presentations excepted, all of them were very worthwile. Some of the presentations have been covered in this blog, others were covered elsewhere. Find a list of bloggers covering Blogtalk at David Weinberger's blog. For the papers and sheets turn to the Blogtalk website.
First of all my thanks go out to Thomas Burg and his team, for giving us the opportunity to meet and have an inspiring two days in Vienna.
Then I would like to thank, in no particular order, David Weinberger, Martin Roell(great to finally meet you), Lilia Efimova(let's meet at home some time as well), Maria Milonas(for pointing to the problems of live blogging), Ulrich von Stipriaan(hat spass gemacht nebeneinander zu bloggen), Rebecca Blood (for her warnings of groupthink), Gilbert Cattoire(for his moving account of Sarajevo Online), Scott Hanson (I think 'plumbing' is underestimated as a profession), Joerg Kantel (for holding his keynote in English unprepared), Heiko Hebig (for taking pictures), Haiko Hebig (Danke fuer die tolle nachtliche Fahrt durch Wien), Nico Lumma (ebenfalls, who needs a map), Sebastien Paquet (peutetre la prochaine fois en Montreal?), Andrius Kulikauskas, Oliver Wrede (for the discussion in the pub), Sebastian Fiedler (hat mich sehr gefreut dich zu begegnen!), Dan Gillmor (for his insights in blogging and journalism), Jeremy Cherfas (for making us cry with laughter and letting us learn at the same time), Gabriela Avram, Jose Orihuela (for telling us there is a beer for out of a job monks to brew), Steve Cayzer , and Phil Wolff (for presenting his 'bullshit' and being a wonderful guy), for being there in Vienna to engage into conversation with. You made my stay a great event.
And then there are the pictures (coming tomorrow)
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Blogging this from the airport, I am now leaving Vienna for Amsterdam. Having met all these wonderful people, it is difficult to turn away now. The conversations lasted up to the gate to the plane.............
Thanks everybody for making it such a great visit! Will blog and reflect more later.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Phil Wolff: Blogging refrigerator
While Phil is talking passionately about what is lacking in current blogging tools, and in his crystal ball sees his car, the tools in his shed and his refrigerator blogging, as does his Tivo equipped television already, I scroll through the referrerlog and find this post by Robert Paterson (from Micah Alpern) on RFID tags, which somehow falls in nicely with what Phil is telling us right now.2 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
More pictures from Heiko
While I'm struggling to get my pictures edited and uploaded, Heiko Hebig puts some shots of today in the net.
My laptop next door neighbour, but normally hailing from Dresden Germany, Ulrich von Stipriaan got ftp to work here, so there is still hope, and posted these pictures.
Also here at edings an impression. (in German but with pictures)0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Blogtalk Keynote: Rebecca Blood
Rebecca Blood talks about the effects of blogs on catching up with news, and forming our opinion. Every group, whether large or small, is prone to groupthink. "Most blogs function in a echo chamber of their own making", since it is a human trait to believe and to primarily turn to sources that reflect the same underlying assumptions.
Rebecca has no doubt that blogs can foster dialogue discussion, but warns to not fall into the trap of believing that the world is in agreement with you, just because your circle on the web does. This because this circle is merely a slightly wider form of your 'irl' circles in terms of geography and not in opinion. I can see Denham nodding his head vigorously in front of the screen, as this is I think precisely Denhams point on the absence of dialogue in blogs.0 Comments and 1 Trackbacks | Permalink
Blogtalk: Day 2
And we're off to a good start (only 15 min late) on the second day of Blogtalk. Judging by the faces of the people yesterday evening was also a tiring part of the program :)
Yesterday I could not get ftp to write files, due to restrictions of the proxy here. Hopefully it'll be possible to switch off the proxyserver, and upload the pictures I took yesterday.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Afternoon panel session
Now on is Sebastian Fiedler about alternatives to learning processes, not focussing on learning as an activity that is organised by another for you, but is organised by yourself. Presentation is here. Weblogs are a phenomenon that takes this more personal stance to learning. It's recording and representing of thoughts and digesting new concepts etc. Great to hear Sebastian talk, he certainly fits the picture I had of him based on his weblog.
Next up is Martin Roell (paper) on business applications of weblogs. Am curious about his views. Would like to use blogs in our own company to help glueing our recently acquired sister-organisation together, by making groupblogs for the different areas of expertise.
Martin is actually a lot of fun to listen to. Things learned sofar: Luxembourg is an actual country, big enough even for a plane to crash in. Also managers are to be talked to in extremely simple terms, promising them no risks but great revenue. Now he has launched into his talk proper.
Let companies start with one blog, a projectblog or something and then slowly build from that. It's the 'oil-stain' approach I advocate for change myself. He builds from projectblog to groupblogs to individual (k-)blogs.
Now to Oliver Wrede, from the Aachen University of Applied Sciences who let's his students blog during the courses he gives. (blog)2 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Second Keynote: Joerg Kantel
Joerg Kantel, aka der Schockwellenreiter. is the second keynoter talking about Learning from Weblogs: Community, Peer-to-Peer and Authenticity as a model for future knowledge collections.
The paper is in German.
Basically he starts out explaining, just like the original internet aimed at, that with large collections of knowledge you are very vulnerable if this collection is concentrated at one point, thus you have to distribute the collection. Tools bloggers use are suited to bring this distributed knowledge collection into existence.
One example would be the use of CSS and templates by bloggers. If the content of a collection (maybe packed in XML) is stored independent of the template, different organisations can serve the content in their own style.
Trackbacking, pinging and RSS-syndication would keep the distributed collection together.
Also (probably to the delight of Lilia and Dina, who have been arguing for this already) you would need some alternatives to HTML as 'humanities scholars can't be expected to know anything about html or worse xml' to be able contribute to such collections of knowledge.
The other important thing is meta-data.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Some pictures of Blogtalk0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
The second panel today on Blogtalk explores blogging in coutries that the panel host mr. Prillinger deems 'exotic' such as Poland, spanish speaking countries and Iran. Hossein Derakhshan from Iran, currently living in Canada, speaks about Iranian weblogs. Aroud 12.000 Iranian blogs are out there.
Are the styles any different than we've come to expect in the Anglo-Saxon blogosphere? Common styles in Persian weblogs: Literate/poetic (few links, many picutes, many comments) Technological with many links and few comments, and News. Interesting enough Iranian bloggers don't blogroll nor link to each other much. Maybe this is the background for the large amount of comments in the non-technological blogs.
There has been some discussion lately (haven't got the link handy) on why in e.g. k-logs the commenting is scarce. I feel that conversation is primarily done across blogs, and not in the commentsection. Could we turn it around: the presence of many comments points towards the absence of conversation, and the emergence of deeper more trusting relationships amongst bloggers? ( I am of course counting the readers amongst the bloggers as well, most of my readers are bloggers. ) This would coincide with the fact that broadcasting blogs with large audiences tend to have more comments.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Man vs Machine
Andre Kulikauskas comments on the man - technology relation.
'It's as if humans exist to make the life of machines easier' Let's turn that around. And that is why I am taking classes in philosophy of science.
Tscherteu and Langreiter: Mapping Blogosphere
In this presentation (watch out, Powerpoint download), Tscherteu and Langreiter talk about mapping the blogosphere. Now this is interesting, presenting information in a graphical way, containing "spatial" information (based on similarity between blogs) and also a time dimension (Gary will be pleased with that! ;) ) where you can trace the road of topics and terms through the blogosphere. Cool! They are showing the application now, and you see "Blogtalk" spread through the blogosphere, red dots popping up as it gets mentioned and linked.
Keep an eye on Blogosphere.com
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More live blogs
Live blogs on the Blogtalk website. Also check the blogs of Martin Roell (see blog roll)
Got to listen now......
Anyway, there are at least 15 bloggers sitting around me hacking away at their laptops (mine is the odd one out, as it is already more than 3 yrs old), and blogging their fingers bleedy. Should be enough to google up.
Blogtalk: keynote David Weinberger
David is the first keynoter and immediately begs the question "Why do blogs matter?" (My first answer: because I enjoy it........)
"Internet is just at the beginning"
It's not about information highway, informationspace, nor commerce. It's about people getting voices, and having conversations. It's 600 million individuals engaging in conversations, in this new public space called Internet.
30 sec. History of Blogging:
1st phase: geeks, diary
2nd phase: after emergence of tools, teenager writing about their Angst
3rd phase: it's about links, blogs conversing through links, moving away from being columns or broadcasting outlets.
There is no definition of a blog, but generally an often updated site with short texts in reverse chronological order and containing links. Again links being the life blood of the conversation. One blog = one voice.
So it's not about technology.
Exciting aspects of blogs:
No time to rewrite your stuff, you're publishing rough drafts. This adds to the authenticity of your voice. Blogs make for persistant webpresences, and thus construct a public self.
Is this authenticity real? Can you fake it? The web is only public, so there might be a disconnection between the 'inner self' and its outer representation.
So which selves?
Blogs favor good writers
Pushes for self exposure
Favors the unemployed.......they got time on their hands :)
If we translate the discussion about self, to one about truth, with an inner truth and outer truth.
Journalists claim objectivity, but in fact they are humans too.
Subjectivity acknowledges the role of the observer (Heisenberger), but it could emphasize the observer too much, leaving you with raw data etc.
Now with blogs we get to multisubjectivity......we can build our own "objectivity" by filtering through the subjectivities of many voices, and looking at what the picture that emerges tells me. Might this change the things we will come to expect of journalistst? David thinks that we will get to see more of the journalist behind the news, acknowledging that it is yet another picture.
Why blogs matter:
They're persistent records of an individual voice in a new public space.
I arrived in Vienna yesterday in the early afternoon for the Blogtalk Conference that takes place today and tomorrow. Did a bit of exploring yesterday, after having coffee in the Burggarten, next to the former Imperial palace. Vienna is together with Prague and Budapest what constitutes central Europe to me, and the only one I haven't visited before.
Vienna is full with neoclassical buildings, cropped close to eachother which makes it hard to get a good impression, or take a picture that says it all.
Anyway, after a quick stroll around I spent an hour in the Albertina, where a great exposition of Edvard Munch was on. The loneliness and existential fear of the people in his paintings is haunting.
Strangely enough in the museum store they only featured postcards of the more colorful and less dark pictures of Munch. So when I'm back I will have to look for on-line pictures to show you what I found intriguing in this exposition.
Then on to dinner at Oswald und Kalb, with the local "Tafelspitz", and cheese with a great glass (actually two) of Traminer for dessert.
Now on to the conference, am in the room now, and Thomas Burg is starting his opening speech.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Finally I have added something that was on my wishlist for a long time: photos in my blogroll. Sebastian Fiedler uses photographs in his blog, both in the postings he cites and his blogroll. I think it adds to the conversational feeling blogging gives me to add faces to the names, and the voices in my blog.
Part of the pictures in the blogroll are directly drawn from Sebastians server, some others reside on my own. Sebastian proposed storing all pictures on one site, so that people have only one place they need to go to, if they want to change their picture or have it removed. This will probably mean that my picture might end up on his server in the near future.
If one of these pictures is you: I have used your personal picture since it was already online, and took that as a sign that me using it would be ok. If you don't want to see your picture in my blog, just drop me a line and I'll remove it immediately. Of course you can also contact me if you want me to use a different picture.
Next step will be adding code to detect which blogs have been updated recently and featuring them on top of the roll.
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Jim McGee posted a couple of great posts, combining a lot of the interesting things I saw passing by the last days, and didn't have time to blog. Thanks Jim.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Digital Camera Wanted
I am on the lookout for a digital camera. However the market for these products isn't very transparant, with literally hundreds of types in the stores, it is impossible to get a clear picture of what to take in account and what not. Searching on the internet it turns out that most sites do not offer search functionality based on minimum requirements, only on products and price and producer, nor explain what use the more obscure specifications could be to me. (or at least I only found one)
I had hoped to be able to bring my new digital camera to Vienna next Thursday for the Blogtalk Conference, as to publish pictures to my blog during the conference. Probably I will have to take pictures as usual and will have to scan them at home, before publishing. *sigh*
Update: Or maybe I really can stop scanning images............ I just ordered a new camera. Hopefully they will keep their promise and deliver it to me no later than Tuesday. This goes to show that with every change the results are just a few steps beyond the point of desperation ;)
Here's the new toy:0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
KM Europe 2003
Last year it was in London, and I had a great 3 days on the conference. Interesting speakers and workshops, not so interesting vendor exhibition, and most of all a great opportunity to meet familiar names from on-line discussions.
So what do you say? A K-loggers meet up at the KMEU 2003 in Amsterdam?0 Comments and 1 Trackbacks | Permalink
Tipping Point, Continued
Gary points towards the absence of time in the Tipping Point structure. I might be a Maven now, but could be a Connector next year. The three types of people Maven, Connector, and Salesmen, represent different sorts of knowledge. Know what (to say), know who (to say it to), and know how (to say it), and you can spread your own little epidemic. But knowledge isn't an unchanging commodity. It's contextual, personal and changes over time. This change is not a part of the picture and it is precisely that that reminds me so much of the command and control systemics of the industrial management style. Thanks Gary, for making me realize that.
From my perspective most blogging today seems highly personal, the number of public community or cooperative blogs very limited. Of those personal blogs I see two kinds. First the blog done for primarily for intellectual interest, and second the blog that is part of an economic engine. While I see examples where coding solutions and new memes spread rapidly what clients want when it comes to thought-leaders is a safe place to engage. So blogs aren't just thinking tools or communicating tools, they are also learning tools. It just how we apply them and how we create access. For them to really work some new business models must emerge around them.
And then goes on to name some characteristics of such a model, that could be put together and tested.
Update (May 18th 2003): See also Dave Pollard on the Tipping Point, and the comments where the demand for this theory being predictive is repeated.
Blogroll in MT
Rick Klau shares a useful solution he found to add blogrolling to Moveable Type weblogs, in stead of using blogrolling.com, which is almost the last third party service, I still use in this blog. Since the whole point with moving to MT was taking complete control over my content, and to stop dependency on third party servers and services, this is good news. Thanks Rick, for sharing it!2 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
David Pollard Saves the World
David Gurteen pointed me to David Pollard's weblog in his Knowledge Letter.
David has put some thought into the role of blogs as KM tools in a business environment. Will need to read these three posts:
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Pollard's weblog is called "How to save the world". Added him to my blogroll.
What Blogging Archetype Are You?
Take the test to find out!
Apparently I am a loosely joined small piece:
You are a David Weinberger.
You are smart, savvy, interested in why people do what they do,
enjoy questioning yourself and are not balding.
Take the What Blogging Archetype Are You test at GAZM.org
What archetype would David Weinberger himself be? :)1 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Tipping Point Questions
In my last post I talked about the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The point of view it offers is certainly intriguing, but at the same time I formulated several reservations. I'll try and list my questions here.
Law of the Few
Three specific type of people, Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen, are the ones to target for creating your own epidemic. These types of people are proposed to be scarce, yet "everybody knows one" in their own circle. I'm not bothered with the classification, and I do know several people who would fit the profiles, but what about all the other people. The poor saps that aren't one of those three, what's left for them? The role of sheep following the lead of their herdsman?
It's not so much that I believe everybody should have a 'special' role, but it's the sheer absence of a place in it all for ordinary people and the total passivity that that seems to imply that I find odd. It reminds me of the mindless consumer mass marketing wants to target. In the end it is all the John and Jane Does that make your little epidemic a success, isn't it?
As to finding out who the Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen are that you need to target, could Social Network Analysis help you find them?
The Connectors would be the easiest to spot with SNA I think. They're the community straddlers, the ones linking different circles. Mavens might be found by asking specific questions when collecting data for your SNA. Questions like "Who in your community would you go to with questions about......." And the same goes for salesmen, I think, if you ask who you think has authority on certain issues in your community.
But SNA probably would only work within a small and well defined setting, such as a SME, or a neigbourhood community. It's not the route to spot all connectors that could matter to you within the EU. How to find them then? Mavens probably could be found through forums, mailinglists etc. Salesmen? Connectors? I don't know.
This is an interesting part. Stickiness in the book is an elusive concept. The cases it describes summon a picture of rigorous testing until you find the right packaging of your message that sticks with your target audience (again, leaving out looking at the message itself).
But that is precisely what you cannot afford to do if you're the one without extensive means that wants to create big change with little to go on, the one that this book says to provide hope for.
Testing your message until it sticks brings to mind testing panels, going into communities and groups and see what doesn't work. And then going back again after each adjustment to do it all again until it works.
I am very curious what Lilia Efimova comes up with regarding the stickiness of blogs. (And would she also be able to say something of who blogs? Mavens, connectors and salesmen alike, or in different proportions?)
All in all I think in order to say something more about stickiness, the cases in the book provide too little substance. But I bet in communication sciences and even marketing as well as pihlosophical aspects of language clues can be found as to what might be sticky and what not.
Power of Context
Two aspects are mentioned in the book. One, the effect our living space can have on us and our emotions. Two, the size of our social network we are able to handle. These are both factors Malcolm Gladwell says can be used. Other contextualities, such as broader cultural traits, and individual history are not mentioned. Because they can't be influenced, at least not by the small changes sought for? Nevertheless they will probably influence acceptance of the idea you want to spread.
The sizes of network we can handle, with the magic number of 150 as a limit, based on our channel capacity is interesting if you compare it with what amongst others Ross Mayfield has been blogging about types of blogs and their audiences. Maybe I did not read the text closely enough but Malcolm Gladwell seems to say this 150 is a definite maximum. I think it is more like not being able to handle more than that in a given situation, but very possible to handle multiple networks of that size, just not at the same time. Otherwise Connectors would be in dire straits wouldn't they?
The challenge: starting an epidemic
What I really would like to see, and I wrote that yesterday as well, is a predictive application of these epidemical concepts. Can we, a group of let's say twenty bloggers, think up a message or idea we want to spread, and then purposefully start or own little epidemic? I would love to experiment with that. Maybe Blogtalk in Vienna is a great place to get together and discuss this more vigorously. In the mean time we could start by proposing what message to spread and whom to spread it to. Any takers?
The Tipping Point
How little things can make a big difference is what Malcolm Gladwell sets out to show in his book The Tipping Point. He does this by outlining how epidemics can be characterized. This book certainly was an interesting read, as it offers a way of looking at change from a different perspective. Because how is it that a brilliant idea might not become a huge success, and other lesser ideas turn into the biggest current thing?
(interview with the author)
The standard reaction, stemming from a century of command and control mass production, of managers would probably be that there must be some big and crucial factors at play in such a situation. Malcolm says it’s more likely to be trivialities that determine the outcome. Trivialities that turn your idea into an epidemic. Or do not. The tipping point is the moment in which something suddenly spreads in exponential fashion, and becomes epidemic.
There are of course technological examples of how trivialities determine outcome. We now all have electrical refrigerators humming in our kitchens in stead of the more efficient and totally silent gas operated ones, because one of the original players in the market in the 1920’s and 1930’s, GE, also had a stake in energy production, and added $0.50 worth of revenue for electricity consumption per annum for every refrigerator sold. Now this is a trivial fact, but clearly not a trivial business decision. Here evidently the better idea lost out.
The problem with technology assessment as with predicting the future in general is what inputs to adhere weight to and not. Usually this is easily done with 20/20 hindsight, and that is also the bit that bugs me reading the Tipping Point. The big question that remains after reading this book is, how to apply this, how to combine this very interesting epidemic perspective with my own decisions and e.g. attempts to implement KM ideas in organisations? And also very important, how to apply this without it becoming pure manipulation? In short I would like to see planned for epidemics documented which took this book’s construct as a basis for action, in stead of cases that in hindsight fit the description.
But let’s have a look at a summary of the book to familiarize yourself with its terminology. (or read a summary by Robert Paterson)
Central to the book are three theories regarding epidemics:
The Law of the Few
This ‘law’ says it takes only a few, but crucial, people to turn something into an epidemic. Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen. The mavens are knowledgeable about a certain topic, the Connectors know a lot of people and can spread ideas from one circle to another, the Salesmen ‘sell’ the idea within their own circle. It takes one or more of these chains of maven connector and salesman to make an idea reach a broader audience and become a success.
The Stickiness Factor
Now an idea can be great and it’s spreading can be huge thanks to the types of people above, but if a message is not sticky it will only be a temporary blimp on anyone’s radar, and then die. No buzz, in short. Stickiness is the packaging of a message you have to choose in order to make it irresistible. Stickiness in this book remains somewhat elusive, except that stickiness might be greatly enhanced by knowing a lot about the people you want to reach with the message and design the packaging accordingly, and that simple changes to the packaging if it’s not catching on are often much more effective than total repackaging. But in the end, there is a simple way to package information, which under the right circumstances can make it irresistible. You just have to find it In Dutch we would call such a statement kicking in an already open door.
The Power of Context
Context is also important in reaching the Tipping Point. Malcolm Gladwell names two contextual factors, environmental aspects, and our social networks.
The first factor, environmental aspects, is based on the notion that our emotions and actions can be shaped by the space we live in. If a street is full of graffity and broken windows, the resulting atmosphere attracts crime like street robbery etc. However if it’s neat and clean, with flowers from every window that chance is much smaller. Likewise if next to a waste bin at a bus stop there is already one piece of litter on the ground, chances are people will add to that. If there’s nothing on the ground, people tend to throw their litter in the bin as well. Change these environmental factors and you can change behaviour. It is on this notion that the New York City Police based its zero tolerance policy.
The second factor is the number of people around us. We have a limited capacity in dealing with keeping track of the relationships between us and the individuals of the group we live in, and those between other individuals in our group. This channel capacity is seems to lie around the number of 150, with a much smaller group of about 12 to whom we feel the strongest ties. Go beyond the 150 and alienation between individuals will occur. Nomadic tribes seem to adhere to these numbers, as do military units.
For an idea to become epidemic you will have to keep this threshold of 150 in mind. It will not do to convince a whole stadium with 15.000 of something; the mass will go home not remembering you. But reach a 100 of those groups of 150 and you’re rocking. Now the book seems to imply that each of us functions in a context of about 150 people.
That does not sound right to my ears, especially if I look at the examples given. For instance a company is mentioned that is organised in independent business units of 150 people. But each of those 150 employees will have a life outside of the company as well, so even if those workers indeed know 150 people, they won’t be all colleagues. Is Malcolm Gladwell implying we can only keep track of a group of 150 people at any one time, but can easily switch groups, because that is what seems to fit my own experience more? Or is it that I’m more the connector type that I think that threshold of around 150 people doesn’t hold up?
What seems to be unsettling to me in this book is that, even if it places human interaction, and especially face to face conversations, at the heart of epidemics of ideas, it also seems to provide a mechanistic, command and control like approach to stuffing you ideas through someone’s throat. Find the right people, find the right package and you’re in business. Or did I miss the part where he says that if the message stinks, or is some bogus marketing line, an epidemic will not happen even if you got the right people and message?
Nonetheless the book is intriguing, and well worth reading, because it promises the possibility of success, of reaching the tipping point without having access to vast resources. In the next post I’ll try and go into questions and consequences.
Broadband for Rural Communities
My brother in law works with 1st Broadband, a company that sets up wireless broadband internet infrastructures in rural communities where the big telco's are unlikely to provide wired infrastructure any time soon. They've just kicked off their first project in Penwith in Cornwall, UK. I think these are great initiatives.
First of all they only start a project if a community is explicitly asking for it. So there is a lot of community effort behind these projects, and it is always amazing of what community initiatives can achieve with next to nothing to work with in terms of funding and material. The generation of that kind of energy is a benefit in itself, and something many companies might learn from. Second connecting villages to the internet positions them closer to the outside world. Not geographically of course, but as David Weinberger said in his book, nearness on the net is determined by interest.
This works in two ways. It reduces the villagers distance to outside sources of information, enlargening their scope of what the world is they live in. And also it reduces the distance of us to the village as well, possibly making these villages more attractive for us city dwellers to locate a business or do business.
The former, enlargening scope, based on research, is an important in improving independence and self sustainability of people and communities. The latter might help in turning around the trend of a slowly depopulating countryside because jobs are found elsewhere, leaving less and less people behind, until there are not enough people to sustain primary services like local schools, foodstores etc., which in the end kills the community entirely.
Now three villages in Cornwall have indicated they want to do this too.
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And after all, if broadband is available in the countryside, it might even be possible someday to start living 'outside' and still enjoy all the connectivity I'm used to here in the city. ;)
Planning to Move
After writing this blog at Blogspot for 6 months now, I have found that it increasingly bothers me not to have personal control over content and comments and being dependent on third party services, that sometimes proof unreliable. Not really surprising since these are all free services.
Since I think the experimental phase of my blog is now over, in the sense that blogging has become part of my regular activities, I have decided it is time to take things into my own hand. For that I am now configuring Moveable Type on my home based server, and have bought two domain names.
I could not choose between the two, so I took both. The first is www.zylstra.org, which I took because it is nice to have a domain featuring my own name. (it's a .org because all others are taken, also my name is spelled with ij in stead of y, but that has proven to be too difficult for non-Dutch.) The other is www.interdependent.biz since I think Interdependent Thoughts is a good name for a blog, and sort has become a brand in that respect. However Interdependentthoughts is probably not so attractive, thus I decided for interdependent.biz. The .biz again because all others had been taken. What do you think about these domain names?
In the coming days I will move everything from this blog to the new server, and then stop using Blogger. I will not take Blogger of line in order not to let all the references rot. Maybe I'll rewrite the Archive pages to point to the new site, but that is not on my list of priorities now.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Or in English "Queens Day", is a national holiday in the Netherlands, celebrating the Queens birthday, even if April 30th isn't her birthday, but her mothers. It's just that her own birthday on January 31st isn't exactly the ideal time of year to turn the country into one big open air festival. Koninginnedag is the day the country turns brightly orange, after the name of the Royal Family which is the House of Orange. It's the day everybody turns out to what must be the biggest jumblesale and open air festival and party in one. I am on the local committee in my home town organising all the events, and for me it is sort of the busiest and funniest day of the year. Had a great time!0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Jose Luis Orihuela (blog: eCuaderno) has posted his paper for the Blogtalk Conference, titled 'Blogging and the eCommunication Paradigms'.
Lilia Efimova has posted some of the collected data for her paper online as well, and struggles to keep to her schedule.