This is a great little animation by Evelien Lohbeck, who recently graduated from the Arts Academy in Breda, Netherlands.
Caught my eye as I am working with a group of teachers at Rotterdam University where we look at how web2.0 and especially the design approaches of these tool (sharing, mashing, networks, people and social objects) can be used to co-create the learning experience with students, and make learning more authentic. This to create a more compelling and engaged learning environment.
This broadly means two things
1) Weaning students from their expectations that the teaching will be of the full frontal conveyor belt type, something that has been the way of it in their past 12 years of education. If you want to get students involved you have to guide them to getting involved in an environment they were taught involvement would cost you.
2) Learning as a teacher to change your own role, take a different approach, to accept your students as knowledgeable and not blank slates. To see knowledge as social construct more and less as an object to transfer. Next to learning to work with the new tools.
(hat tip to Rene van der Burgt for the video pointer)1 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
New Service: The Web 2.0 Q&A List / European Social Media Consulting Network
As of this week I offer a new service, a European social media consulting network: carpe.com Consulting Network (CCCN).
It is a mailing list (currently available in English, German, Dutch and Danish), where subscribers can ask general questions about using social media in their work or organisation. All questions and answers will be available to all subscribers.
Currently the consultants involved in this network are:
Between us we share a wealth in experience on the full spectrum of the development of social media, the implementation, embedding and use in organisations, as well as the impact on the routines of knowledge workers. We've been part of social media right from the start. Also through us you can tap a worldwide diverse network of professionals
By subscribing to the CCCN-mailinglist in the language of your choice you
- gain mail-access to the carpe.com Consulting Network for questions and answers;
- gain insight from questions asked and answered by other members;
- can gain information from a diverse group of European consultants specialized in digital and social communication;
- are entitled to special consulting rates by CCCN-Members;
- profit from the global and diverse network of the consultants.
Information about pricing is available at the CCCN webpage.
Technorati Tags: cccn, web20, socialmedia, consulting, tonzijlstra
Blog Networking Study: Knowledge Management Blogger Interviews
In the past months Lilia Efimova conducted a number of interviews with me and other bloggers that write about knowledge management and learning topics. When she interviewed me last July, while Elmine and I were in Vancouver, she asked if it was ok for her to put a summary online of our Skype conversation (which she also taped for transcription), to which I of course agreed. The summary of the interview with me, and those of the other interviews, are now on-line at Blog networking study: interviews.
We talked about how I started blogging (to think out loud) and how all the resulting interaction and amazing new relationships kept me going, for a bit over 6 years now. And the effects that blogging had on me over the years.
The way we did the interview was a case in point of how blogging helped build connections to lots of great people: I did it from the living room of Cyprien Lomas and his family, while on an extended tour of our Canadian and Seattle blogging friends. Each and everyone a relationship and connection that started from weblog interaction. It's an amazing form of wealth that still never seizes to amaze me.
Reading through the transcript of all the interviews some things strike me as relevant. The way we adjusted to how deeper relationships don't scale well, while at the same time keeping up with a myriad of different people. The way we trust that 'important' information will find us, and are not afraid to miss anything. The way we all needed to find a way to deal with context collapse, and the different answers we found (even more transparancy, anonymity, closing blogs, opening more blogs, different languages). The way several interviews talk about finding out you're not 'alone' in your interest in KM. How some of us feel or express we somehow share a lot of values with those we are connected with (which I guess also says something about the state of the blogosphere at the time exactly when most of us first got exposed to weblogs, 2000 to 2002, even when not writing then), and how our blogs are stable low-threshold access points for others to get in touch or into interaction.
I am looking forward to reading more of Lilia's PhD writing that is steadily getting closer to completion, but going through these interview transcripts was already very worthwile in itself.
Technorati Tags: knowledgemanagementblogs, weblogs, blognetworks, communitybuilding, interviews
Shifting Cultural Categories: Mobility
This posting is part of a series of postings on how our understanding and interpretation of cultural categories is shifting due to our use of the two infrastructures internet and mobile communication.
This posting is about Mobility
Tranquil mobility in Copenhagen harbour
More Mobility is Different
Mobility is one of those things that immediately takes on new meaning and scope whenever an infrastructure comes available that reduces distances in time and space. Railroads, highways, telephone lines, mail, airlines all influenced mobility. Increases in the speed of exchanges, and the action radius an individual has within one day of travel were vast in the 19th and 20th century. Mobile communications and internet have a deeper impact however than the infrastructures that came before. More is different in this case and has a number of qualitative effects.
First, there is the impact of instantaneous speed-of-light communication with anyone on the globe. This creates an increased virtual mobility. Writing and mail are technologies that have allowed to transport our words, desires, commands, stories, love, sorrow, and accounts for ages. Transporting them across physical distance, and beyond that across time as written traces of our collective history. Internet and mobile communication increases this virtual mobility to whole new levels. Our virtual mobility means we don't really need to be 'away' when we are so physically. I've seen a father read bed time stories via webcam to his kids from a Danish hotel lobby, while his kids were being tucked in bed 6 timezones away in North America. His reading teleported him right into their bedroom. I've heard teenagers get cooking instructions from their mother, while she was on the same delayed train I was on several occasions. This fall I spent 5 days travelling to Portugal and back without my clients even noticing I was away, as I was responding to phonecalls and e-mail just as normal, and delivered documents on the agreed times. Where you are geographically no longer really needs to impact your ability to stay in sync with those important to you, or in touch with all those that expect you to do so. It must have felt that way for those that had access to telegraph messages in the 19th century as well. But there is an enormous difference between merely reducing the time delay between sending and receiving a message, and reducing that difference to zero. And not just in voice (like telephone) but in video and text as well, simultaneously if you want.
Being interviewed in Vancouver by Lilia in the Netherlands
That aspect of instantaneous exchanges other than through telephone also impacts how we perceive our online exchanges as socially close or more distant. When bandwith and throughput are scarce and slow you stick to exchanging essential information. When exchanges are cheap, unlimited in any meaningful sense, and instantaneous it doesn't matter what you share. All of a sudden we think it is useful to share via Twitter or Jaiku that we are having coffee, or that your bus is late again by 5 minutes. These trivial items of information we were used to sharing only with those geographically in our immediate vicinity (family, close colleagues etc.), because it was too costly to share them with a wider circle. Because of it we equate the exchange of those trivial facts with social proximity. Now however I know who in my circle of contacts is having coffee or missing a bus half a world away. And it makes them feel close to me. It makes their lives feel more real to me. They are teleporting into my social vicinity, and I am teleporting into theirs. It makes me emotionally more attached to them, effectively incorporating them into my circle of empathy.
Immersive virtual concert experience
A whole other level of virtual mobility is created by virtual worlds like Second Life and many others. They do not transport me to your place virtually, or transport you to mine, but transport both of us to a shared space that only exists in bits, not in atoms. Those shared spaces create an immersion that tremendously impacts our sense of being together. I look avatars in the eyes on the screen when I talk to them, even though I know full well that they can't see that. But it means I am actively engaged with the person behind the avatar, because looking someone in the eye when you talk to them is such a human gesture of engagement, that it isn't just an expression of it but also actively causes engagement. Going to a concert in a virtual space, and watching it with others, is a marked difference from seeing that same concert lifestreamed in your video application. You are transported into the experience.
All that increased and qualitatively very different virtual mobility, compared to before the availability of mobile communications and internet, is impacting our physical mobility in at least three major ways as well.
Virtual mobility also increases physical mobility
The first impact on physical mobility is, perhaps paradoxically, the increase in our desire to travel, to meet up face to face with those we usually meet virtually. In the past 6 years I have spend considerable amounts of time and money just to be able to meet face to face. Using conferences to meet up with people, or travelling to Antwerp, because it happens to be half way where I am and where Jon was at the time. Organizing our own events or planning our summer in Canada to include three more people, and their families, to meet and see them in their own home environment, adding a week and a couple of thousand kilometres in the process.
The second impact on physical mobility of our virtual mobility lies in the flexibility with which we can turn our desire to travel into action. If you give me a reason to meet you personally I can arrange for the trip online this same day. No middle man, no waiting time for the process involved. If I have the funds and the time, and the carrier has the capacity I can be on my way in the morning, having booked tonight and printed my own tickets, boarding passes and luggage tags. Flexibility also expresses itself in more mundane matters other than international air travel, such as being picked up at a train station. When I was a student I would call ahead before I left which train I intended to take and what my arrival time was, to be picked up when visiting my parents. That would be different now. Calling ahead doesn't make sense because my train might be delayed. Much better to call when I actually know when I will arrive, in other words, call when the person picking me up needs to leave to arrive at the railway station at the same time my train rolls in.
Working during my train commute, photo: Elmine
The third impact of mobile communications and internet is in the use we can make of our time spent travelling. My grandfather needed to plan a trip to the Hague at least a week ahead (about 200km, and currently 2.5 hrs away), and arrange for a place to stay, to be able to make it worthwile the effort. Arranging who to meet, and weighing the travel time against the time spent in the city. My father infrequently went to the Hague for a day for meetings. He used the time on the train to prepare for the meetings reading documents, and otherwise looked out of the window waiting to arrive at his destination. I travel multiple times per week, sometimes just for a 90 minute meeting. I can afford to, because I can use the travel time in much the same way as if I were at home in my office. (Even though working on the train is only comparable in effectivity if I have a direct connection.) Going to the Hague for a 90 min meeting means a normal 8 hour work day, with 5 hours spent working in a train. (In fact I am typing this crossing the country from the Hague to home by train, just having had a Weizen beer served at my chair by the German bartender on this train to Berlin, fully connected to the internet and 220 V, and just having talked to my wife Elmine that she better not wait with dinner for me as the train is delayed.) In short, I think nothing of doing a trip 4 times a week my granddad took a week to plan, and my dad made one time a month at the most. My granddad would have thought my commute impossible, my dad would/does think it insane. I think it effective, because of the affordances mobile communications and internet provide allow me to make it effective.
All this additional mobility, both virtual and physical, increase the dynamics around you, and the speed with which things can and are expected to be handled. If there is no longer any physical or technological reason not to receive or respond to an e-mail I receive while abroad the likelihood of it getting answered is high as well. If people have no way of knowing where you are anyway, any time is good to call as any, leaving me to decide to pick up or not, and expecting me to be there for them when I do pick up. When I pick up or respond to their e-mail I need to switch to their context. It used to be clients and contexts were affixed to geographic locations to a large extent. (I often named projects I worked on after the location the client was at) Not anymore, and because of it I see myself and loads of others make much more context switches during a typical day. In fact 'fast context switching' was listed as a core skill in the company I was employed at until last year. It still is a core skill for me. My client list used to be around 2 or 3 at a time. Now I handle three times that number of clients at times and their projects. That shift happened because it is much easier to keep the interaction with a client going now other than when you meet up. My list of current projects in my personal wiki shows that shift as well. It currently lists 34 active projects, in around a dozen different contexts. I 'visit' at least half of those contexts on any given day. My mental mobility is needed to get and stay in flow, as my increased virtual mobility turbocharged the way I stay in touch and in sync.
Anchoring, F2F Scarcity, and Co-creation As Result
All that mobility, in all three senses mentioned, all that highspeed switching, brings into focus several additional effects.
The need for anchoring increases with increased mobility. You need the quiet 'eye' in the 'storm' of mobility and dynamic change. Anchoring in the midst of all the virtual possible distractions and the information abundance is now an important information skill. Anchoring to a place you call home, being rooted, is equally important, to be able to do fast high volume context switching without loosing your footing.
Second the importance of face to face cross roads, where my path and that of others actually touch is increasing. Staying long enough on such a crossroads to create value together is the new place of scarcity. That changes the way I need to make sure that I am aware of those cross roads first. Dopplr, Plazes, and other location and context based services show me the potential crossroads and alert me to opportunities. It is how I first met with Peter Rukavina, and it is how I keep track of others if they happen to pass through 'my neighbourhood'. It means I need to arrive at that cross roads well prepared to make the most of that encounter (and 'making the most' can very well mean enjoying a beer together), it means leaving that encounter 'well prepared' as well so that the transfer into other modes of interaction is easy (i.e. next actions and follow up).
Meetings shift to other levels of collaboration
Face to face cross roads are a precious resource, and you don't want to waste them any longer with having to exchange information that you could have done through another channel before. This third resulting shift is impacting even meetings with people that are moderate users of both internet and mobile communications. Client meetings I attend increasingly are no longer about sharing information or sharing and allocating tasks but about co-creating something. Because that is the best use for your face to face time. It is a shift towards a higher level of collaboration when face to face because the lower levels of collaboration (sharing of info, division of tasks) are dealt with beforehand.
Internet and mobile communications are reducing distance in time and space in a qualitatively new way. Because of it our mobility is shifting.
Technorati Tags: philosophy, internet, mobilecommunications, mobility, virtualworlds, commute, futureworkspaces
Dealing With Customer Feedback at EA Games
(via Helge Fahrnberger)
A player of the EA Games product "Tiger Woods PGA Tour", calling himself Levinator 25, finds a bug in the game. Tiger Woods can be made to walk and play on water:
More than 680.000 people see this report on a bug in the game.
EA Games responds with a video of their own, that gets viewed 2.4 million times. Talking about tracking the way people talk about you, and giving the company a human voice. Marketing and PR departments can add this one to their 'good practices' collection.
Technorati Tags: eagames, electronicarts, branding, pr, marketing, youtube
0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Shifting Cultural Categories: Empathy
This is an article in a series of postings that explore how two new infrastructures (mobile communications and internet), and the affordances they bring, shift our perception of different cultural categories and concepts. Today: Shifts in empathy.
Empathy in a carton by Geoff Jones
The people closest to you
People are social animals. We love being connected to others. And through the ages we felt most connected to those directly around us. We feel closest to our family and to the community we are rooted in. A very tribal thing really, and deeply human. When our world became larger, we stayed close to our 'tribe', and if we happened to move to another location we would build our new connections right there. Because there was usually no way to maintain connection to your 'old' tribe.
How tight these connections can be (but also how suffocating at times) is demonstrated by stories not far back into history. In the early 1980's I met an old woman in a small rural village at the Dutch coast. She had been living there for over 60 years. She originally came from a likewise small village about 15km to the west, called Dirksland. In the village she spent most of her life she was still known as 'her from Dirksland' after 60 years. So closely knit was local community that she could be seen as an outsider after more than half a century.
My paternal grandparents (both long gone alas) were part of a farming community until the mid '60s, having lived there for about 40 years. This region until WWII was a largely moneyless society, where services and products were traded within a community geared to mutual help, trust and survival, called 'noaberschap' which simplest translation is 'good neighborship' but it runs deep with lots of meaning and tradition (at my grandmothers funeral when I thanked both 'noabers' and 'neighbors' seperately for their support of her, the audience murmured in approval of making that distinction as a 'city boy'). When, after retiring from their farm, my grandparents moved to a village 8km away they explicitly kept their bonds to their old 'noaberschap', and also entered into the 'noaberschap' in their new village. It was highly spoken of that they were keeping up their obligations to two of these closely knit communities. Because it is hard work, and it costs a lot of energy to be emotionally in sync with more than those directly around you. Your circle of empathy encompasses your close connections, your community. Within that cirlce you are accepted as a human being, and you accept others as human beings. Outside of your circle of empathy live 'hoi barbaroi', the strangers, the dehumanized ones.
However we have seen large changes in the radius of our circle of empathy in our recent history (19th and 20th century).
Students at Rottterdam University in conversation
Empathy and the nation state
In the 19th century the nation state as we know it came of age. Industrialization saw a massive rise in urbanisation, uprooting millions from their once tight rural communities. City neighbourhoods replaced them in part, but there they lived with people from all over the nation. They got to know people from every region of the country as human beings. Railroads, and daily newspapers shortened the distances within a nation. Making it possible to personally feel as part of a nation, to widen your circle of empathy to include all those within its borders.
Empathy and the internationalized world
The 20th century brought the entire world into all our scope of thinking. Airlines and the mass media shortened global distances and the time it took for global news to reach us. Cars and highways, and mass tourism let millions experience other countries first hand. But in most of our interaction with the wider world the nation state was our shorthand label for dealing with that world. We went to Germany or Austria for our summer holidays. Others to Spain, Italy, and France. To see another country, another nation. And when we were in those other countries we were Dutch, British, German, we were seen as representatives of our nation. When disaster struck somewhere around the world we extended our sympathy to nations, and responded with the nation state as middle man. Help Iran after the earth quake, Bangladesh after the flood, Egypt after the drought, Rwanda after the genocide. We built international structures by nations entering into agreements, like the UN and the EC. International and 'mass' are the key words of that era. We experienced the world through the middle man of nationhood. We recognized the world was inhabited by people, but our circle of empathy did not include those people.
New Infrastructure, You Are its Endpoint
Mobile communications and the internet are unlike other infrastructures that came before. They do not have a geographic location as endpoint. Railway stations, airports, harbours, mailboxes, old fashioned telephones, they all have a fixed location. When I need to reach you by train, plane, ship, mail, or landline phone, I need to know where you are. So I can put an address on my letter, dial the correct area code and phone number, or take a train to the station closest to you. Not so with internet and mobile communications. There you are the endpoint, your own address. I do not need to know where you are. When end points are geographical we think geographic. "I am flying to Portugal, to meet Pedro at SHiFT08". When end points are people, I think people. "I am calling Pedro, to ask about SHiFT09". But he may be anywhere when he picks up the phone or reads my e-mail message. That is why most mobile conversations still start with the question "Where are you?" Because we are still getting accustomed to this new reality that we simply don't know where the other is, and haven't realized yet that most of the time it is really irrelevant.
Lunch break conversations in Vancouver
Networked World of Globalized Individuals
Mobile communications and internet connect the world just as trains,planes, mail and landline phones did before. But they do so without geography, and the need for using the nation state as an intermediate or as a shorthand label is rapidly diminishing. Until two years ago name badges on international conferences would also contain your country of origin. None of the international conferences I attend(ed) in 2008 mention country anymore. Because it stopped being meaningful. (And I suspect it wasn't a conscious decision to let country off the badges, but that it simply did not occur to anyone to put it on the badges). In a lineair world or situation you need hierarchy to organize things and having nations as the intermediate aggregate level to make sense of the world helps. In a complex world however the most abstract and the most practical level actually touch, and the individual and global level are connected directly. There having the default filter and aggregation on national level obscures your view of events. It keeps you from accessing the original source, the raw data, the original people involved. So while the nation state helped us to reach a global view, internet and mobile communications now allow us to see those nations as an artificial construct needed in a time when we did not have the technology to understand, and mentally could not understand a nation as made up of millions of individual people, each with their own character and qualities that got filtered out in the national aggregate. Now however we can. Our infrastructure now makes individual human beings not only visible but also accessible globally. The movement against globalization was largely a movement against nation states cutting trade deals without looking at individuals. Industry's was a heartless globalization, it lacked empathy. No wonder lots of people saw it as dehumanizing. Our new infrastructures are working a new globalization however, a globalization of individuals. And it includes empathy as a prime ingredient.
Empathy in a Networked World
In a globally connected world, where those connections are between individuals and not nations, we can take in the news of the world from individual people. When there were forest fires in California, I did not hear about it first from mass media, I received a smoke filled picture in my e-mail from somebody I know, that he took from his balcony that morning. When bombs exploded in the London Underground, I called up a friend in the city to hear if he was ok. When trying to get a feeling of how the election of Barack Obama was received in the US (after urging all my American contacts and friends to go vote earlier), I did not check the headlines, I watched video of people celebrating on YouTube, read personal stories in blogs, read Twitter messages, and watched pictures in Flickr. Stuff people simply directly shared from their mobile phones. There is a big difference between a headline 'US celebrates election results' and seeing the personal photos of 2 dozen people celebrating on the side walks of LA, or a video of 40 or so college students singing the US national anthem in front of the White House and partying. I don't know all these people but they share a slice of their life. Which makes them human beings to me, and makes their story useful to make sense of the world around me. This type of directly connecting does not just apply to news, it applies to all of our exchanges. The son of a colleague is a longtime player of World of Warcraft (WoW). One of the people in his Guild (the tribes you form in WoW) died (in reality). All he knew about this guy was from the exchanges in WoW, but the mourning was real. They held a service for him in WoW.
Does this mean that all 6.5 billion people in the world now make up my circle of empathy? No. But they potentially do. Because as soon as I have direct interaction with them they do. We are forming new villages, new communities just as tight and tangible as the ones my grandparents lived in, but they're globalized villages, where the people that make up those villages are spread around the globe. It allows me to be firmly rooted both in local community as well as in a globalized community. Our new infrastructures make direct interaction with people anywhere possible, and make group forming very easy. Because of it our circle of empathy is shifting.
Technorati Tags: empathy, internet, mobilecommunications, culture
Internet of Things and Social Objects
The internet of things, increases the role of physical objects as social objects enormously, because it adds heaps of context that can serve relationships. Physical objects always have been social objects, but only in their immediate physical context. A social object is an enabler for human interaction and to form relationships around. Human networks grow, interact, change, take on meaning, through social objects. They can be the (temporary) subject of a conversation, relationships and group forming, and transactions.
Some 'internetted' things in our household: Nabaztag, Chumby, Arduino board, Tikitag RFID reader.
Making physical objects internet-aware creates a slew of possible new uses for it as social objects.
Think of aspects like:
Where has the object been, where is it now, where is it going?
Who has owned this object, who owns it now?
Where can you get it, how much is it?
What do people think about it?
Who is near the object now?
Who has handled the object?
What does it notice in its environment?
What can this object be connected to, part of?
What is it currently connected to or part of?
What parts does this object consist of?
What materials is it made of, what other uses have these materials?
What does it take to produce it, what are alternatives?
How can I reuse this object, where do I dispose of it?
Can you create/copy this object yourself?
What uses does this object have, what uses have people come up with?
Where can I use it?
How does it work?
Who designed or manufactured it, what else did they design or manufacture?
What are its physical attributes?
Is this object useful today, will I need it? (think connecting your umbrella to the weather forecast for today)
Why did the object change hands?
How does it relate to other objects?
What other objects did it interact with and where?
What other objects did it come in contact and where?
What does the object look/feel like, in different settings, colors etc?
What does the object look/feel like when used in different ways?
What other stuff do people that use this object use?
And if you add more sensors or actuators to a product (object hacks so to speak), the list grows accordingly.
My explorations into FabLab and transient technology are meant as experimenting around this internet of things.
Technorati Tags: internetofthings, socialobjects, nabaztag, arduino, tikitag, chumby
Random Thoughts: Conspiracies and Emergence, Politics and Science
Just a few random thoughts that came up while browsing the fringes of the political blogosphere about the US elections and the candidates running for the presidency as pastime this weekend.
Conspiracy and Emergence
There is an enormous amount of the most weird implicit assumptions, suspicions, lines of reasoning available, where any objection/proof of the contrary/reaction is treated as part of an orchestrated cover-up. Makes you wonder why they bother at all if they believe their conspiracy theory to be true themselves.
Conspiracy theorists see orchestrated malicious willful intent everywhere. Haven't they ever heard of emergence and trends? Or how complexity theory tells us the possibility of reconstructing causality afterwards does not mean that that chain of causality could have been planned or predicted? Or that logic dictates you can prove that something happened, but you usually cannot prove something didn't happen? Or about statistics and its correct uses? Don't they know it is the observer that sees the patterns, and that it doesn't mean the pattern actually exists or is observed by others?
Politics and Science
To my European/Dutch eyes the portrayal of Democrats as 'left' is amusing. To me it is all pretty much rightwing conservatism. My political views fall on the right-of-center here in the Netherlands, which puts me a couple of miles left of the US Democrats. Viewpoint and distance determine the amount of detail you see or need to see. (Kind of like how in the TV programme Big Brother very minor events were blown-up to enormous proportions by the participants, because it was the only thing happening) What looks like a huge gap to the candidates in the US elections, often seems as relevant to me as being able to determine a dozen subtly different versions of Marxism, and becoming bitterly divided over it. And on top of that it all seems so antiquated. Left, right, left, right.
What would new political movements look like if they were based on current scientific insights, from cognitive sciences, life and social sciences, complexity theory, system dynamics etc? Instead of insights from the 1700's where all our current political 'flavours' are scientifically rooted? What must have been very exciting then (I really mean exciting. You can feel the author's excitement reading books from that era), translating the latest insights in how society works into a political agenda, has become stale after over two centuries. Especially given what we now, through scienctific method (a gift from that same era!), know about how change works, how innovation works, how our minds work, how we decide things, how individual acts will or will not aggregate to a whole, and how social networks and structures function. Wouldn't it be exciting to go through our own Enlightenment?
Technorati Tags: uselections, politics, science, conspiracytheory, enlightenment, emergence, modernity