When I started my weblog in November 2002, it was clear to me it had to be in English, since most of my international network of people involved in KM either had an Anglo-American backgroud, or shared English with me as a foreign language. Already after one or two months I started thinking however about blogging in Dutch, my native language, and in German.
This to start building a web presence in both the Netherlands and Germany, and thus hopefully attracting more local contacts.
Today I fumbled around with the templates, and figured out how to get two blogs in one page. Thanks to Marysia, who gave me the vital clue (categories!), by explaining how she posted to her bilingual blog in Polish and English.
I'm not sure if I will be able to blog in all three languages frequently, but I will just wait and see. Anyway, the Dutch/German bilingual Interdependent Thoughts blog is now on-line.
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My partner who is soon starting her masterthesis at the University of Twente, communicational sciences department, had some difficulty introducing 'blogs' as a possible part of her thesis to her mentors. "What do we need on-line diaries for?" Well as a place to chronicle ones progress, for instance, which my partner intends to do in her own blog. So I guess she will be contacting Lilia Efimova, who works at the Telematica Institute on the university grounds as well, and of course tell her mentors that "even Harvard is doing it."
Dave Winer asked for references to educational bloggers, so I pointed towards Sebastian Fiedler and Oliver Wrede and to the new media team at the Donau University Krems who hosted the Blogtalk Conference in Vienna last month.1 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
I've had the pleasure and privilege to join them for a day of inspiring conversations last January, and it is extremely refreshing to hear marketers speak about trust, authenticity, self knowledge, and transparancy and be completely sincere about it.
Outlines of the chapters and profiles of the authors are available as well. And there is a standing invitation for comment and feedback.
Dropping Names, or, Who said that?
There's an old story that I've heard described as a Russion proverb. It says that if each one of us takes care of sweeping the sidewalk in front of our own home, we won't need streetsweepers. It's worth thinking about how that might apply to the world of knowledge work, both on the level of being an individual knowledge worker yourself and on the level of helping make the other knowledge workers that surround you more effective.
As Lilia is Russian, and the mention of a Russian proverb triggers her curiousity, she starts a search for the story and comes up with Tolstoy as a source. (An act Jim McGee appreciates as a gift, which is a beautiful posting in itself)
In the comment section Jay Cross offers that he's pretty sure it's something Goethe wrote.
My first thought on reading the story was "that could be something written by Vondel", one of the icons of Dutch literature. Sweeping the sidewalk in front of your house is a picture that reminds of the Golden Era which Simon Schama has written so eloquently and amusingly about in his "Embarassment of Riches". It sounds so cliche-fittingly Dutch, you know, it just has to be by Vondel.
Now how come we try and attribute things that apparently have a familiar ring to it to icons of our cultural background or context? Is it to reinforce the importance of what we're saying with names that carry authority? Or is it laziness, "let's attribute it to someone who might have written anything, saves me the time to look it up". Or even to get away with talking in clichés?
And do we bloggers do the same? If there is anything that pops up in your mind on the way we experience internet, do you think "ah, I probably read that over at David Weinberger's"? Are the A-listers our icons of blogospheric culture, whom we can attribute the stuff to we don't want to fact-check too closely ourselves, but do want people to listen to? Are we building up the reputation of A-listers, to be able to off-load all that general stuff, so we can forget about it ourselves, as Gary L. Murphy suggested recently (and which is backed I think by how Daniel C. Dennett views the evolution of our minds)?
So who did write that story about sweeping the sidewalk in front of your house?
Will the real author please stand up? I bet it is indeed Tolstoy, I trust Lilia on her word. Or is that just my way of escaping fact-checking it myself?4 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
The Tipping Point in the Blogosphere
Microdoc News: Social Network that Builds a Blogologue describes how innovative stories spread through the blogosphere. They can go largely unnoticed, only quoted by several 'early adopters', until a 'connector' (in this piece mainly A-listers) picks it up, and it spreads like wildfire. Basically what the piece is describing is the role of the tipping point.
This piece is a follow-up on an earlier article called Dynamics of a Blogosphere Story, and it looks like there is more to come:
Microdoc News is now collecting data of another twenty to thirty blogologues. We are collecting names of successful innovators, connectors, hubs and participants who act as voters or who take other parts. We are testing our concepts and identify other details as to how these blogologues work. Any help we can get from other bloggers is welcomed.
Now it is interesting to see how viral approaches to the networked structure of the blogosphere yield interesting perspective, but as I've stated earlier, it all is only descriptive. That is fine for searchingout structures, but how will we put it to use. Predictive use of these insights, now that would be really worthwile.
Can we do something like that ourselves, or do we have to wait until the spammers and on-line marketing people figure it out and bury us under yet another wave of bandwith guzzling sewage?
After a longer period of time of blogsilence, meanwhile probably being terribly busy, Andrea Janssen returns to posting to her blog. It's good to see you posting again, Andrea!0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Shooting your own foot
Checking the Orrin Hatch site myself just now, I find the following copyright statement for the menu:
Milonic DHTML Website Navigation Menu - Version 3.x
Written by Andy Woolley - Copyright 2002 (c) Milonic Solutions Limited. All Rights Reserved.
Please visit http://www.milonic.co.uk/menu or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Free use of this menu is only available to Non-Profit, Educational & Personal web sites.
Commercial and Corporate licenses are available for use on all other web sites & Intranets.
All Copyright notices MUST remain in place at ALL times and, please keep us informed of your
intentions to use the menu and send us your URL.
Either there never was a problem, or it has been discretely fixed.
Or maybe should we regard the US government as a commercial undertaking, now GWB II and his big corporate friends run the show?
More Blogtalk pictures
Haiko Hebig (not the other Hebig) has posted his pictures from the Blogtalk conference, including the pubcrawls at night, the conferencelocation at Donau City, and the street- and other signs the Viennese surround themselves with, to confuse eachother and amuse the tourists (I guess).
My own pictures, which I took with the brand new camera I received the day before I left for Vienna, have still not been posted, but I still hope to do that soon, even if Haiko's pictures are more worthwile.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
What is the real value of blogrolling
This is the question that David Buchan (thought?horizon) asks. I explained my reasons for having a blogroll in his commentsection, but would like to point to some instances where I wrote about blogrolling as well:
And then of course I use my blogroll to visit sites, whenever I can't be bothered starting the newsreader, or when it is not available to me.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Dina Mehta gives us a great description of how she is winning over her partner to blogging, with questions that speak to his attitude as a die-hard 'company man'.
She then goes on citing yet another of McGee's great musings on how to treat blogs in corporate surroundings.
At the same time Martin Roell is preparing for his presentation at the Gurteen Knowledge Conference, on how to introduce blogging in the workplace. His talk will be an adaptation of his earlier talk at the Blogtalk conference.
(Update: my assumption that it would be an adaptation was false: read the comments for an explanation)
As one of the focal points, to my pleasure, of the Gurteen conference is personal management, Martin promises to keep his story as practical and tangible as possible, and concentrating on individual weblogs.
In his talk he will:
See also: Rick Klau on trying out blogging in corporate settings, november 20022 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Do you know what day it is?
By removing the day headers entirely, I hope to shift the focus of this blog from religious daily updates to entries with a little more substance. I think the psychology of a blog's design is easily under-rated; I've already noticed that my blog entries have been getting longer since I started adding entry titles. At any rate, with this latest design tweak I certainly won't be rushing out poor quality entries before midnight any more.
For those same reasons I deleted the day headers from my template when I switched to Moveable Type a few weeks ago. I'd rather have my readers turn away from a posting because they think it's not worth reading, than because the day header says it's already yesterdays news.1 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Via Education/Technology - Tim Lauer, I was directed to a workshop Alan Levine developed to introduce staff at the Chander-Gilbert Community College to blogging and learning them how to set up a basic blog with Moveable Type.
Handy for me, as I learned a few things about MT myself, being only a recent user. But also handy as this could be the basis to work on when introducing blogging to other audiences.
I would add some more thoughts on why weblogs can be useful than Alan does, before diving into the how, but this workshop is a great idea, especially since the message is packaged in the topic of discussion itself: a blog. Therefore it is not merely a workshop that Alan Levine has created, but a Blogshop.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Through Elearningpost.com I read this article in Business 2.0 on a method called TRIZ. This method, developed by the Russian Genrich Altshuller (1926-1998), provides a framework to focus innovation efforts in technological settings.
It seems to have been embraced by engineers because it treats creativity as a discipline to be mastered, not as right-brain hocus-pocus. With my own technological background I can imagine the type of engineer that would love this, a method to treat a generally fuzzy process like creativity as just another algorithm that can be controlled and steered. None of those scary things like brainstorming, open ended dialogues, and psychological approaches needed.
However the self-proclaimed followers and devotees of TRIZ (I use these words because that's the feeling I get from the commercial websites on this topic), seem to miss the obvious here.
Basically, and apparently laudable so, Altshuller mined the archives of the Russian patent-office and came up with 39 engineering parameters, and 40 innovative principles, working from the premise that basic solutions to fundamental problems were probably already solved in some other branch or field, and that all innovation put together would show distinct patterns. He then made a matrix of the engineering parameters on both axis, with the innovative principles at their crossings as general pointers towards solving a conflict between two engineering parameters. (For a better explanation of its working and the resulting matrix look at the 1995 paper by Glenn Mazur.) So what he did was make a knowledgebase to focus your innovative efforts with. This to me does not make an algorithm out of creativity, it just helps focussing energy. I think you still need the right-brain hocus-pocus to create that energy. TRIZ provides a box to think in for those who shun out of the box thinking as that seems to be so uncontrolled. But within that box creative thinking is still needed. And the knowledge stored in TRIZ all has come about by that same messy process.
Now, Altshuller has made his TRIZ method for structuring technological innovation, and focussed on the results of past creative thinking, and not the process of creative thinking, to help you be creative yourself. What sources would we need to draw upon to make the same sort of tool for innovative services, in stead of pure technology? Is the McKinsey knowledgebase oriented in a way anything like this e.g.? Are there public resources geared in this fashion? Are there already tools out there, I just don't know about?
Conducting a knowledge transfer
In the past days I have been away, and had a great time in Liechtenstein. It was only a couple of days, but packed with new impressions, meeting old friends, enjoying music, being re-hypnotised by the immense beauty of alpine nature during a 5hr mountain hike, and enjoying the company of a full symphonic orchestra over beers at night. And somewhere in there I had even time to think about KM, on leadership and cooperation to be more precise, a bit, thoughts and observations I'd like to share here.
On the first night in Vaduz, Liechtensteins capital of 5 thousand people, I watched the Drents Symphonic Orchestra practice the pieces they would perform the next day. One piece would be played by a mix of this orchestra and musicians from another German orchestra. So I watched the two orchestras practice, and also the two conductors.
What got me thinking was the difference between the two conductors. One conductor was trying very hard to get the orchestra to do the piece technically perfect, and without missing a note. He treated the orchestra as his personal instrument, pointing out errors, and demanding their best efforts. The other took a completely different approach: he described what he would like to achieve, and how he wanted things different by eloquently painting a picture of the desired result, and exaggerating examples. He was direct in pointing out things that could and should be done better, but also very direct in his praise. He was having conversations with the musicians in the orchestra during rehearsal, being asked to make his point clearer, asking musicians their opinion, never forgetting that these were not professionals. Without it ever becoming unclear who was the decisionmaker, he was working together with the musicians towards a well defined goal.
The effect this had on the musicians was evident. Under the first conductor everybody did their bit and that was it. At the end of the piece they would stare in front of themselves. Under the other conductor people had all kinds of facial expressions during play, and looked and smiled at eachother afterwards, some congratulating others on some part or other of their effort.
The next day at the concert the difference was even more clear. The first orchestra played their music, good, but uninspired. The second orchestra started out on a different key: the conductor walked up, and said to the orchestra "Now let's make some music together." "Have fun." And they did, not hitting al the notes right, but making music. A group of people creating something that was bigger than the sum of their individual scores. The audience picked it up too. They were nodding towards eachother, and moving to the front of their seats.
My partner played as a stand-in on oboe, in this concert, and I had never heard her play in an orchestra before, only at home playing solitary. After they were done playing Puccini's earliest known composition for orchestra, Preludio Synfonico, she came down from the stage with misty eyes, moved by the beauty they just created together. And it was. Simply beautiful.
Some more pictures: (or go see them all)