April 30th: Queensday / Koninginnedag
Today is a national holiday in the Netherlands. On Queensday we traditionally celebrate the Queen's birthday, but really it is the one national holiday that counts. Today the country will turn into one big street festival, with music, fleamarkets, games, drinks and food. The biggest party will be in Amsterdam attracting tens of thousands from outside the city, but Queensday is also very much about local community. About seven years ago, together with my old university buddy Danny de Vries, we joined the committee organizing festivities here in the city, with the aim to rejuvenate the committee and give the celebrations in the city a boost. I left the committee three years ago, when the changes had been effected for the most part. I am more of a change agent than a line manager :) Danny is still going strong.
For the past few years our city (Enschede) has seen a music festival on the evening before Queensday, and different festivities on all the squares in the city, with a huge flea market/bazaar connecting the squares. With more than 20.000 visitors on the night before and over a hundred thousand in the city today, it is bound to be a great day again today. The sun is shining...so let's put on some orange clothing (being our national color) and head out into the city.
If you can not make it to the Netherlands today, you can always join the programme in Second Life at 'Our Virtual Holland'. (SLURL)
Or have a look at the Flickr photostream of the photo's I made at Koninginnedag
Wearing orange is the thing to do today (here on the canals in Amsterdam)
Photo by marie-II
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Others dye their hair...
Photo by transairn
Katrina: Foreign Aid 95% Unclaimed
At the time Katrina hit (see my blogposting Lake George) I noted that the US Government seemed to be unable and/or unwilling to accept and be helped by foreign aid:
[...]US Government has not requested, and in some instances refused, international offers of help, although offers abound. (Meanwhile the press harrasses UN officials why the international community isn't doing more, to which everytime the answer is that the US Government must ask and allow itself to be helped.)
Now the Washington Post reports that my impression is supported by fact: Most Katrina Aid From Overseas Went Unclaimed.
Not only was U.S. government turning down many allies' offers of manpower, supplies and expertise worth untold millions of dollars, while assuring the scores of countries that had pledged or donated aid at the height of the disaster that their largesse had provided Americans "practical help and moral support" and "highlight the concrete benefits hurricane victims are receiving", until now also only $40 million of the $854 million (less than 5%) offered additionally in cash and oil for rebuilding has been claimed. A number of countries eventually rerouted their aid into the area through private organisations, like the Red Cross.
I know that the Dutch navy had a ship equipped for disaster relief efforts at the Louisiana coast after 4 days (it went there without waiting for formal acceptance of aid first), and that they were on the ground there for a number of weeks. But apparantly other help that got accepted went to waste:
In one exchange, State Department officials anguished over whether to tell Italy that its shipments of medicine, gauze and other medical supplies spoiled in the elements for weeks after Katrina's landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, and were destroyed. "Tell them we blew it," one disgusted official wrote. But she hedged: "The flip side is just to dispose of it and not come clean. I could be persuaded."
A sad story of systemic failure, mismanagement, and misperception of what it means to be part of a (global) community.
Two side notes:
This time the WaPo had to dig for the figures and statistics. After the Tsunami in 2004, a year later relief organisations here pro-actively published overviews of how they spent the donated money. A nice step towards transparancy I thought.
The Washington Post uses the word 'allies' where I would write neighbours, friends and/r empathizing and sympathetic strangers. Allies to my mind is war rethoric: it divides the world in allies and enemies, which is a rather simplistic picture of the world. It also feels as if it obscures the reason and motive behind the offered aid. Allies are/feel duty-bound to give it, friends and neighbours help because they want it, because they're human.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Map Your Name on Map My Name
.....and help a couple of Portuguese students determine the 'exact number' of internet users within a month.
Right now they are on day 4 (it start April 22nd) and so far my home town Enschede boasts 21 internet users. With almost the highest broadband penetration in the world here in the Netherlands I have a hunch that there might still be a few more.
Funny. So, if you like, go add your name on the map.0 Comments and 1 Trackbacks | Permalink
How to Be Owner of Your Own Learning Path?
Elmine and I had been discussing if it would be possible to predict viable social software tools and niches based on the affordances people actually need to be able to consciously learn things. This as a result of our paper for the BlogTalk Reloaded conference where we suggested using community critical success factors, and the work of George Siemens (Connectivism) as design principles for tools.
Opening up this discussion with Valeri Souchkov helped focus on the singlemost important question that surfaced in our exchanges: how do you get to own your own learning path?
This is a bigger question than we started out with, but it is the ultimate conclusion of trying to approach things not in a tech-driven, or functionality focussed way, but by focussing on an individual and on being empowered to reach your own goals.
Starting from the question How to be owner of my own learning path?, we distinguish a couple of prerequisites:
1) Knowing what to learn
2) Knowing when to learn it
3) Knowing how to learn it
4) Knowing when you've learned it
5) Being in an environment that allows you to own your own learning path
Building on this quickly branches of in all kinds of directions.
Those branches allow a more detailed look at things like:
Monitoring, evaluating, shaping and balancing your environment as fit for learning. Which connects to my earlier work on social networks as filters, as well as the second BlogWalk on self-directed learning.
Detecting the need, and right time to learn things against the background of continual changes in the world, and in light of your goals.
Shaping your learning steps with interventions that fit your goals, environment and context, and being able to establish when you've learned something and can move on to the next learning goal.
Each of these 'fields' need to be supported with their own group of skills and tool box.
And this is where I start to see the contours of what existing tools should look like in different contexts of usage, and what type of tools are missing. When it comes to environment think of visualization e.g., and when it comes to monitoring change, look at pattern hunting.
Because it helps integrate and connect different pieces of your efforts and actions (e.g. it already helps Elmine see how her consulting and research work fits together in a new light.), it helps you think about the type of affordances you need and from which type of tools to get them.
That is an entirely different approach than the one that went 'round the blogosphere in the past week on the building blocks of social software. That was more about describing tools, but not starting with the intended usage of those tools.
Nice for descriptive efforts, less useful for user centered design
This is all still a bit vague, and in part deliberately so.
We hope to take this to Reboot at the end of next month, as a conversation with an introductory presentation. So we will keep building on it.
I hope that it will give us a means to proactively define the tools I need, to determine better what type of feedback to give toolbuilders (like I've been doing at different BarCamps) and perhaps spot a niche or two for start-ups.
BlogWalk Eleven: Amsterdam, May 18th
After a long hiatus, it is my tremendous pleasure to announce BlogWalk Eleven for May 18th 2007 in Amsterdam!
The focus will be Digital Bohemiens.
Digital Bohemiens are (relatively) young people, fully adapted to the digital lifestyle. They see a city as their home, and are connected in European and global networks. They flock to conferences as their meeting places.
If we look at this (somewhat exaggerated) portrait of the avant garde of internet users, what can we say about things like:
the tools they use
how they learn and develop themselves
how they support a highly mobile life style
the organisational models and business models that fit these networked individuals
As you see this is a broad subject that allows for enough space for wide ranging but deep conversations and dialogue.
With this BlogWalk the series will undergo some changes. Having toured Europe, North America, and Australia with BlogWalk in the previous years we are partly consolidating the format. We have decided to do two fixed BlogWalk sessions per year, one of which will be in Amsterdam in the spring, the other in southern Germany in the fall. Next to those two fixed sessions there will be room for one or max. two ' travelling events' for which suggestions are welcome.
Otherwise we will keep the sessions as they used to be, bringing twenty-odd thinkers and practitioners together for face to face conversations around a social software related theme. Using free or sponsored venues, an after-lunch walk through town, and generally keeping to a zero-budget. As always in the end participants will decide on the spot how the event takes shape, facilitated and moderated by Lilia Efimova, Sebastian Fiedler and/or me. As in the previous BlogWalk events, participation will be by invitation only. But remember, invitations are not meant to make things exclusive, but to make sure everybody knows up-front who is coming. So make yourself known if you want to be there.
For now suffice to say:
BlogWalk Eleven is taking place May 18th in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Feel free to add your thoughts and suggestions, here in the comments, or in the newly styled blog and workspace where all BlogWalk related information can be found. The first wave of invitations has been sent. Look at the wiki for a list of invited and confirmed participants. If you are interested in attending please get in touch. BlogWalks are by invitation only, but that is primarily to ensure that we know who is coming.
Sebastian, Lilia and I are looking forward to meeting you in Amsterdam next May!0 Comments and 1 Trackbacks | Permalink
The Death of YASN As Usual
Last week at an so-called executive update for a big publishing company I talked about YASNs in the context of communities and networks.
How YASNs are walled gardens.
How they often are positioning themselves as the 'only' channel of communication.
No export, no migrating your content, let alone your network, to another platform.
And then I heard myself say it:
"they are also seperating your real live networks and communities from their digital representation on-line.
That is why it is exciting to see services that allow you to take your digitally represented network with you into the physical world. With tools like Jaiku (and not Twitter!), Plazes and Imity, a bridge is build between your real world interaction and your on-line interaction. Augmenting eachother, strengthening eachother. They're mobile clients as well as yasns."
The death of YASNs.
I've said it before, but this time I heard new meaning in my own words. The coin dropped so to speak.
So when PeopleAggregator is an answer to the walled gardens, and maintaining too many profiles...will it also start allowing me to take my network with me to the place where it matters: my physical world movements and face to face interactions? Marc? Paolo?
Or will the Plazes's Jaiku's and the Imity's take yasns to the next stage of evolution?
I now wonder when I will be deleting my profiles at LinkedIn, Xing, Tribe or Hyves and such. On the other hand, I still have a profile at Orkut and Ryze.... ;)