After a sunny drive we're there. Time to Reboot.
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Diversity Session at Reboot
About two months ago I wrote here about how to celebrate diversity. I mused whether such a discussion might find a place at Reboot. Well it did and it does. Together with Lee Bryant and Martin Roell, the three of us will be hosting an open conversation session on diversity. We will try to keep things practical, and also very much welcome all contributions in terms of suggestions, questions and remarks in the wikipage of the Reboot site. Reboot takes place next Thursday and Friday in Copenhagen.
Basic premise behind the idea to have this session is that the cultural, lingual and historical diversity within Europe is a unique characteristic that can be leveraged as the driving force in working towards an innovative culture. It allows us to find a future oriented course that is not formulated defensively in relation to e.g. the USA and China. The latter is I think predominant in current discussions about innovation and a knowledge driven economy. We are in a position to employ our unique differences for creating value, because we have spend the last 50 years building enough common ground and trust to start from.
Head on over to the Reboot wiki if you like and add your thoughts.
Update: Nicole Simon recorded a Preboot podcast interview with me.1 Comments and 1 Trackbacks | Permalink
BlogWalk Salons Rethinking
In the past two years, Lilia Efimova, Sebastian Fiedler and I have been organizing a number of day long workshops / salons under the name BlogWalk. With ten sessions on three continents, in eight countries, we brought together roughly 200 people for day long dialogues on different weblogging related subjects.
To me it seemed that the energy I felt at the first two, three sessions was less present in the later sessions. Not because the newness of it all for me was gone; meeting groups of interesting people face to face is always inspiring. I think for me at some point my collector's attitude kicked in. My focus shifted a bit from doing great days of dialogue, to adding another city, another country, to the list of our travelling circus of BlogWalks.
Sebastian Fiedler expressed some of the same doubts I felt in the last six months or so, so when he visited us earlier this month for Lilia's and Robert's wedding, we took it as a great opportunity to have a little rethink of the BlogWalk concept.
Over at Seblogging you can read the notes Sebastian took, and the conclusions we arrived at. But before looking forward, I like to look back at the things that got in the way of my personal 'original BlogWalk experience'.
- Eagerness sometimes resulted in hastily organised sessions, leaving too little time for inviting the right people, and too little time to collectively prepare the day.
- A number of sessions were only done by one of us three, making it much less a collaborative experience
- Doing BlogWalks in conjunction with major conferences works good for getting a broader group at the day, but distracts as well: people flying in or out during the day, a few just looking to kill some spare time in a nice and useful way.
- Loosing sight of people, and especially of the spin-offs and effects meetings had for us.
- Staying at people's homes around a BlogWalk adds a lot to the experience, but takes time to prepare, and thus we ended up in hotels more and more.
So, looking forward Sebastian and I would like to re-energize our BlogWalk efforts:
- BlogWalks are facilitated by us as a team
- Themes will be chosen from the whole of social media, and not so much tool-centered as opportunity or problem focussed
- Three BlogWalks a year creates the needed preparation and follow-up time
- Choosing two fixed European cities lets us build on previously found local resources
- One BlogWalk will 'travel', and we'll look for local groups and institutions to help host it. For these meetings we will be looking for support for basic travel costs for our team
- These three BlogWalks will be stand alone events. If opportunities arise to do something in conjunction with a conference it will be considered, but the three stand alone events have priority
- We want to continue to voluntarily spend time and effort on organizing and facilitating BlogWalks
- BlogWalks will continue to be by invitation only and free of charge
- We want to track and document more of what BlogWalk meetings help spark.
All in all I think the ideas and thoughts we formulated help us create new energy and organize BlogWalks with a renewed sense of fun. It also means that to me this is no longer an experiment, it is something we do as part of our, mine at least, efforts to knit a wider European network of thinkers and doers from different fields. Something we need to help leverage our European diversity as fuel for innovative thinking.
A first practical result of leaving the experimental phase behind is that we will start moving the current BlogWalk wiki and BlogWalk website from their current subdomains to two new urls, blogwalk.net and blogwalk.eu.
I'd appreciate any thoughts or comments you might have concerning BlogWalk.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
No Man Should Want To Be An Island (Of Information)
Jeffry Phillips in his recent posting 'All men are islands (of information)' talks about how in an organisation individuals hoarding information and not contributing their knowledge to collective action become a bigger obstacle when organisations do more work with less people. This means the sphere of influence of individuals in organisations increases. And asks:
What happens when just a few of these knowledge workers hoards information, or simply refuses to share his or her knowledge about an issue or topic?
Other than coercion, how does a firm encourage people to participate in a stream of knowledge and add to that knowledge?
Jeffry names three possible ways of encouragement. Take away reasons for hoarding (job insecurity among them), reward sharing behaviour, and look at the processes in your organisation. I agree with reservations, as I will explain below.
Jack Vinson adds another thing: that your colleagues will simply start routing around you if you don't share (routing around damage), if you're not connected. And that I think is the most important point: it is rapidly becoming counterproductive to be an island of hoarded information.
Owning information becomes irrelevant
Hoarding information can be a source of influence in situations where information is scarce. Look around you. Information isn't scarce, there is an unending abundance of information. Owning information is becoming irrelevant, having access is very relevant, but rapidly becoming most important is how to filter all that abundance so you can turn it into actions.
Will you be my filter?
So Ardath Albee is right to think we need to become better filters. But not for ourselves, but for eachother. I need to become a better filter for you and Ardath, and you for me.
Navigating information abundance in my mind is not about internalising each and every item of info that reaches you. It is about seeing the patterns in all that information. Patterns that work with your objectives, and that work against your objectives. Patterns you want to stimulate, patterns you want to attenuate. Probe, sense, respond in David Snowden's words.
Filtering: pattern search through social context and feedback
For pattern searching two things are key. First, information can no longer be viewed as objective, but need to be seen as always embedded in subjective social contexts, and second that feedback loops are needed to make patterns emerge from the information abundance.
So for me to be effective in my own information use I need to have a very good social network that forms my filter. This means having a balanced set of relationships with a myriad of people (not: sources) who are willing to share their subjective views with me. They show me what matters to them on a daily basis, and what may warrant a response from me.
So for me to be effective in my own information use I need to share my information. Share traces (my bookmarks, my pictures), share information (blogpostings, e-mails, articles, bookmarks), share relationships (go talk to her, go meet him). Because through this sharing networks of meaning become visible: patterns emerge because what I share becomes part of the inputs of my social filter. It helps my relationships know better what to share with me (helps them become better filters), it helps my relationships to want to share with me, and in turn see me as part of their filter to make sense of the world.
I share therefore I am
If I don't share, I make myself deaf and blind to the world around me, because I make feedback impossible, and will not be able to make sense of the world I live in. It will mean I have no way of seeing the patterns of meaning in the information that surrounds me, and it will become either all noise or all important with no way to choose. I will succumb to information overload.
Encouraging sharing of information
So returning to Jeffry's original question on how to encourage people to share more, I'd list the following suggestions:
1) Show that hoarding is not the answer to most reasons for hoarding (such as job insecurity)
2) Show that hoarding only makes some sense when information is scarce, and that that is no longer the case
3) Don't reward sharing itself, but reward being part of the collective. And show that sharing is what makes you part of the collective.
4) Have a good look at your processes, and build sharing into it as a prerequisite to make them work.
Sharing in my organisation
With regard to the list above, how does sharing work in my own organisation? We are twelve people, all consultants, with no central office. Building organisational structures that ensure we need eachother for everything is a prerequisite for us to make the company a collective, and prevent it from turning into twelve one-man-businesses, twelve islands. Some practical examples.
Giving is one of our stated core values. To eachother, to clients, to all relationships. We select people on it that join the company, we reflect on our giving ability in our employee reviews. Clients describe us as a 'giving organisation'.
We collectively agree on what information we always need to share, and revisit that question regularly. Recently we altered the amount of information we share about our relationships. It now includes for instance some more private phone numbers I have of some people, or alternate e-mail addresses. How do I know it won't be abused? I don't, except for the fact that part of the simultaneously agreed upon behaviour is that you never contact one of your colleague's contacts or use their info, unless you first have talked to that colleague about it. Except for the fact that I know that abusing that info is not only a breach of trust with one colleague, but a breach of trust with ALL my colleagues, a breach of trust with the entire organisation. I know I would simply not get away with it.
At the start of the year personal objectives for that year are combined into, and shaped to fit into, our collective objectives as a company. My end of year bonus depends on how all my colleagues view the way I contributed to achieving those collective objectives and helped my colleagues reach theirs. Things that we collectively think have become important are build into the bonus system, things that we think have become less important are removed from it.
I earn more when I bring in a project for one of my colleagues than when I just land my own projects. Bringing in colleagues for acquisition of projects doesn't mean I have to share the pie I'd otherwise eat myself, but means that the pie we'll share simply becomes bigger.
In our organisation we understand giving and sharing as sowing. We won't reap unless we share.1 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Birthday-, Blogger and Other Parties at Maarten Schenk's
Today I received an invitation from Maarten Schenk to come visit his family for a party celebrating his and her 30th birthday, as well as the recent arrival of their second child, amongst other things. They would like to turn the party into an international meet-up of bloggers as well. I remember enough of warm summer nights with schnitzels and beers in Vienna with Maarten and his family to know that this is going to be a fun party! Sadly though Elmine and I will not be able to attend, as we will still be in Copenhagen after Reboot 8, another great place to be. In his invitation he asks however to spread the word about this party in our blogs. So if you would like to join the party in Belgium on June 3rd, make sure to let Maarten know on his wiki-page.
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Had a pleasant dinner yesterday in Amsterdam, meeting up with Marc Canter, Yme Bosma, Christel Slijkerman, Don Hopkins and Riccardo Cambiassi, for one of Marc's geek dinners. We were in the same dim sum place as last time.
Exchanged stories, and stuff we are working on. In the train over I tried to work out the notion I have that social software is about triangles. More on that later, but basically social software I think works because combines a person, a piece of microcontent serving as object of sociality, and some descriptive data into a triangle, and keeps those triangles alive on every level of aggregation. From each two you can explore the third. The great thing is that the descriptive data can be a piece of microcontent/object of sociality again as well, so you can start stacking these triangles: mashup is born.0 Comments and 1 Trackbacks | Permalink
Reboot 8 Google Calendar
Michael Heilemann of Binary Bonsai has created a Google Calendar for the schedule of Reboot next month. He promises to keep it up to date and also invites others to help him do that. You can add it as a public calendar if you use GoogleCalendar itself, or import the iCal file into Outlook (updating seems to then be needed by hand, but if not I'm happy to hear about that in the comments) or keep track in your feedreader with the XML file. The program is still sketchy now, as it is still being fleshed out by the participants. (found at the Reboot wiki)
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Rectitude and Certitude
Britt Blaser of Escapable Logic: We need to guard against our own Rectitude and its codependent, Certitude.
With Remembrance Day here tomorrow, commemorating our WOII dead and those that fell in the decades after '45, we'd do well to take the above into account. It is one thing to solemnly acknowledge the sacrifices made by others, and another to be able to find and do something about the blind spots in our own lives. Go read the entire article, if you have a few minutes to spare.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
New Drupal Release
There have been over 338 contributors to this latest release with over 1500 patches which is almost triple our previous record with Drupal 4.6 of 523 commits by 50 developers. Says Dries Buytaert, rightly proud of what's been done in the past year: a new Drupal release is available.
I am particularly intrigued by the number of people involved. Great effort, and a boon in itself.
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