One of the most interesting and challenging talks I attended at Reboot 9 was that by Oleg Koefoed on Intuition.
Someone who says to be working for a center for ‘action philisophy’ can count on my curious attention.
It was a highly theoretical presentation, and I am sure I did not understand half of it. So I am eagerly awaiting the release of the videocaptures of the Reboot presentations, so I can go over it once more.
But I did listen to the podcast interview that Nicole Simon did with Oleg Koefoed and browsed through his weblog in the past days.
First, I like the general take that Oleg Koefoed has on philosophy. As he says in the interview: ‘Philosophy is about being sensitive. When philosophy stops to be sensitive it becomes an exercise in logic and analysis. That is not philosophy to me.’ Philosophy as a deeply human reflective activity.
Central in his presentation stood the concept of an Event. An event is an encounter between a subject and an object, or two subjects, where a certain tension is produced. Opportunity lies in that tension. Switching between who is speaking in a conversation is such an event. The tension lies in the process of this hand over. Where the speaker is winding down, and the listener is gearing up to become the speaker, by going through different levels of decreasing silence. I loved that term, decreasing silence.
Oleg Koefoed places intuition right at the center of an event, at the synapsis. Right in the center of that tension.
In an earlier blogposting he says about intuition and events:
Intuition is the crossing point coming alive. It is the meeting of tracks and trajectories crossing each other, speaking to one another as they pass by.
Voices are at play, but not voices of subjects. Voices that move within the infinite complexes of matter and movement in intersection at any point in time, any point in space.

And the event is the only space in which the voice of intuition will cross from the virtual into something that produces an actuality. Intuition has no power of its own, only virtuality coming out of itself and into the event.
Even though, like I said, I think I did not understand half of the talk (also because I was a few minutes late), this approach of intuition positioned at the center of an event intrigues me.
It understands intuition to be not something within me, something I own, but something that is some sort of a conduit between us. Personally this shift in perception of intuition I take as an opportunity to give it a more active role, as well as a more constructive one, in my interaction with others. There has been a time in my life where my intuition served as a primary line of defense to keep others at a distance by seeing ‘through’ them and stay hidden myself. When I no longer had need for those defenses I also did away with intuition as a ‘tool’. Koefoed’s approach to intuition seems a route to give it back its rightful constructive and empathic place again.

Oleg Koefoed ended his talk by asking how web 2.0 tools can help to make more intuition possible. I suggested that some of that may be found in the way different on-line traces of our lives (photo’s, blogs, comments, plazes, jaiku entries etc.) connect into a pattern. That pattern lets us read between the lines of the actual pieces of information, and that way a story unfolds. Is that where intuition lives?

During our session on Reboot 9, we started out with laying out the basic model.
This model consists of six ‘core nodes’ of factors that play a role in owning your learning path. (as shown in the illustration below)

For each of those six nodes we put up a sheet of paper to collect post-it notes on.
For the first part of the session it was interesting to see that most of the discussion and the captured thoughts and observations ended up on the ‘Having a Supportive Environment’ sheet. We were listing barriers in our environment basically, talking about the education system, the organisation we work in etc.
Only when George Por made a very useful intervention by asking us all to stop playing the blame game, post-its appeared in larger numbers on the other sheets.
This pattern strikes me as very relevant.

Especially as I see it happen time and again in other settings as well, particularly in discussions around (organizational) goal setting.
On the one end of the spectrum you have the archetypical argument that ‘we are/I am too small to change the system’. On the other end of the spectrum you find the archtypical argument that ‘I/we could change this, if only all other stakeholders would accept our/my authority’. Both are a fig leaf for inaction. They are based on the notion that you need control to be able to reach your goals.

What these arguments do is ignore the large space in the middle of the spectrum: your area of influence. In this area you don’t have control (at least not all the time, over all the relevant issues, and in all contexts), but you have influence (and control during short bursts of time over some issues in some contexts).

So instead of magnifying our problems/goals to the extend they become too big for us, or stating total control over our peers/stakeholders as a prerequisite for our ability to act, we need to focus on what steps can be taking now, in collaboration with willing others, or regardless of others. Without doing away with far reaching goals, high ambitions, or lofty values. (In essence this is what systems like GTD are doing for you as well)

In this area of influence we can feel in control enough to get moving, and take uncertainty about the results as a given at the same time. Our area of influence is where we can achieve flow, where we can make small steps towards a larger outcome.
In terms of owning your learning path this means that you don’t have to wait for the educational system to change, or for organizations to start behaving differently. You can own your learning path, within the educational system, and within traditional organizations. As long as you don’t let ‘them’ unilaterally set your goals.

I’ve taught a horse to ride a bicycle (street art in Enschede, April ’07)

On day 2 of the Reboot conference Elmine Wijnia and I hosted a conversation session around the topic ‘Owning Your Own Learning Path’. We graciously got two timeslots for this, and we enjoyed the beautiful weather in Copenhagen by doing the session outside on the grass in front of Kedelhallen.

We introduced the session on the Reboot site like this:
What does it take to be the owner of your own learning path, so that you can reach your goals?
And if we can say something useful about that learning path, does that give us the means to pro-actively shape the social software tools that give us the affordances we need?

During the session we started out with our rudimentary model, that we created in cooperation with Valeri Souchkov (also see my previous posting on this) The good comments we got on our proposal at the Reboot site got incorporated into our session, by mapping them on our model as examples.

Click the picture to see an annotated version of this model.

The transcripts of the post-it notes that we created during the session, and sorted along the lines of our model are now on-line.
If you have been at the session, please add your name to the list on the above link if you’re not already mentioned there.

photo by Jonathan Marks (originally licensed Creative Commons in 2007, but now listed as all rights reserved).

This posting is just to announce that the post-its have been transcribed. I will write more about the session itself.

Reboot, or rather my conversations with Martin Roell, triggered me to have another look at GTD.
I had build a GTD-system, sort-of, before but it failed as I chose the wrong tool as a dashboard, i.e. my local wiki.

Talking to Martin about work and effectivity, he also mentioned GTD again.
During a stroll through Copenhagen I asked him what the effects were for him using GTD. His answer was “I stopped dreaming about my work“.

Even though for Martin that was a pleasant side-effect, not the goal of implementing GTD, it is my trigger now.
In the past months I’ve had the feeling of constantly running behind, not being able to look ahead more than a day, with three more deadlines to go before the day is out. A lot of that stress is merely the result of having no system of emptying my head that I can trust. So I too dreamt about my work, or had a list of urgent points emerging in my head the moment I opened my eyes, or woke up during the night. Not good at all.

Strolling through Copenhagen

So, on returning from Reboot I started building a GTD system again. In the past week I merely created tasks-lists in Outlook GTD style and stuck to them. It already helped, so now I am designing the full system.
Some notes on how I’ve organized things.

Focal point of the system is the Task-list in Outlook 2003.
I’ve chosen Outlook because it is the one system that is always available to me. My laptop is always in sync with our Exchange server, which also keeps my Palm Treo in sync. So it is available at all times, both for professional and private purposes on my laptop, my mobile and through web-interface.
I basically only use one Taskfolder (only the main tasks folder syncs to Palm). Projects (p_name), contexts (@context) are categories for those tasks. Waiting For is a status. There is one other Taskfolder for Sometime/Maybe items.

I have hacked the display of tasks next to the Outlook Calendar view, much in the way Martin blogged it in 2004.
Currently I am still trying to find a way to hack the data binding in the Outlook Today view. Being able to determine how tasks are listed there would be good. Then Outlook Today would be a good dashboard, as it is merely a HTML page you can extract from Outlook and redesign at will (if you’re not afraid of command line editing your registry that is)

In my GTD set-up I make no distinction between private life and professional life. It is all too intertwined anyway, and I use tools that are all portable between the two contexts without problem.
The wiki on my laptop still serves as a projectlist (stating the overall goals), idea list, and inbox for conversation notes and rss-reading notes.

Next step, now the basic system is in place, is building the GTD Weekly Review into my routines. It is the one important thing that closes the circle of the system. In the coming time I will try and blog about my experiences with GTD.

Leaving Denmark, time to get things done

It was great. It was fun. Head still spinning.

A few random quotes:

How do you design a network? You just start it! (Jon Husband)
Get the starting parameters right, and nature will take care of most of the rest (Robert Paterson)
Save the world, get more sex. (Tor Nørretranders)
What makes us human: Dare Care Share (Tor Nørretranders)
Peer to peer is not a technology. It’s a societal principle. (Michel Bauwens)
This has been a conference where I have genuinely made new friends (Ewan McIntosh)
Baby Sitting Downstairs
How does intuition translate to Web 2.0? How, how, how, how, how? (Oleg Koefoed)
Leave the complexity in the people, don’t put it in technology (Ross Mayfield)

More coherent impressions later.
Photos on Flickr.
Thanks to Thomas, all members of the Reboot crew, participants. You all rocked.

There are only a few days left before we will be driving up to Copenhagen for this year’s Reboot conference.

Yesterday we worked out in more detail what we would like to do in the session Elmine and I proposed, called ‘Owning Your Own Learning Path‘. The proposal got a number of good comments, which we incorporated into the session.

For me the BlogWalk session of May 18th was also a preparatory step, as to me the Digital Bohemiens are a group of people that have formulated a different set of answers to the question of how to take your learning and development into your own hands. (about which another blog posting is due this weekend) Yesterday we took some more concrete examples and mapped them on the framework we have started to develop in the past months.

We did our preparations with Valeri Souchkov, a innovation and TRIZ expert. This session is really a session by the three of us, even though only Elmine and I will be there in Copenhagen. It was fun yesterday, digging into this topic deeper, developing our framework, as well as enjoy some nice food together.
Tomorrow our friend Jon Husband will arrive, and the day after Martin Roell as well. With the four of us we will drive to Copenhagen on Wednesday. So our trip up to Reboot will already be filled with inspiring conversation.