Posts Categorized: Technology

Wikis becoming mainstream

Via Seth Godin is this reference to EditMe, which is a commercially supported wiki service. Most wiki software is open source, and can be a pain for non-programmers (like me). EditMe offers hosting, support and a better interface for a reasonable fee of $5 to $25 per month. I was involved in a recent healthcare project that used a wiki, and the learning curve was a bit steep for some people. EditMe seems to be an easier tool to use, which would mean less time to accomplish the goals of a collaborative build project.

Canada drops to 11th place in e-readiness rankings

From the BBC News World Edition are the e-readiness rankings [defined as: connectivity and technology infrastructure; business environment; consumer and business adoption; social
and cultural environment; legal and policy environment; and supporting e-services] produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Canada has dropped to 11th place while nordic countries, with Denmark on top, are holding their own.

According to the EIU, "for most countries – particularly the top-ranked ones – the change has had a dampening effect… because broadband adoption is still very low".
The US, for example, slipped to sixth in the survey from joint third a year earlier. The Netherlands dropped to eighth, while Switzerland fell to 10th, Canada 11th and Australia 12th.
"In a digital world, new technology will constantly move the goalposts," the EIU said.

This is where Canadian governments and businesses have to constantly work together – in creating the necessary infrastructure for innovation.

Stephen Downes provides this view on the flaws in the methodology of this report, as well as last year’s report.

Blogs in Business

Seek and ye shall find. In response to my question, the Otter Group’s Kathleen explains some of her current business-related blog & RSS projects.

I believe blogs are ideal peer-to-peer learning and communications channels. Because they are so inexpensive to produce and maintain, they can be cost-effectively used for small groups and small projects.

It seems that the participation levels are higher with blogs. This was an issue that we had a few years back with a community-building project using a hefty document management system (think expensive) – it was just too cumbersome. This post is much more practical than what was reported in the NY Times on BloggerCon II and blogs for business, via Weblogg-ed.

Thanks Kathleen!

Buyers’ Review – Web Conferencing Tools (22 Apr)

Are you looking into the purchase of a web conferencing system? Robin Good will be reviewing a number of web conferencing, live presentation and real-time collaboration tools on Thursday, April 22nd at 12:00 EST (1:00 PM Atlantic). Kolabora Live is free, but you will have to pay to view the recorded presentation. I won’t be able to attend, so I would appreciate any comments on this presentation.

Many thanks to Robin for offering this to the buyer/user community.

Democracy in the Workplace?

More on Tom Malone’s new book "The Future of Work", this time from Fortune Magazine. According to the author, Malone expects that pervasive information technology will force businesses into becoming more democratic. Malone envisages four potential organizational models:

Loose hierarchies (e.g. open source)
Literal democracy ?��Ǩ��� voting for your boss
Outsourcing through specialized guilds
Markets within organizations

I have not read Malone’s book yet, but it is now high on my to-do list. Via Stephen Downes, who makes this pertinent point in yesterday’s OLDaily – "… if democracy is actually the best form of governance, why don’t we use it in our institutions?"

“It is difficult to overstate the significance of the Internet …”

From the University of Prince Edward Island, Mark Hemphill’s end of course notes from "Networking, Knowledge & the Digital Age", discussing eBusiness, enterprise software and the social and commercial forces of the Internet. Some of Mark’s observations:

Web-like Internetworking provides us with a new freedom, and allows us to grow faster than we ever could when we were fettered by the hierarchical classification systems into which we bound ourselves.

Networking offers an opportunity to reclaim our real voices and restore real human relationships.

We are hurtling through an era of unprecedented change – a transformation of unimaginable scale and proportion. Much of the existing complex has been undermined and is slowing crumbling around us. Legal, ethical, and social institutions are lagging far behind our technological evolution.

Great technological shifts of the past, such as the advent of speech, fire, writing, and the printing press, can help us to understand our current transformation.

Lots of food for thought. Worth the read, and worth some reflection. It’s great to see this use of social networking software in our region’s universities. Keep up the good work Mark.

Amazon’s A9

I wasn’t going to comment on the latest release of Amazon’s A9 because I thought that it would be in all the media outlets before lunch, but the way the news was released is interesting. My first notice came from Jay Cross but this post from Common Craft says that Amazon decided to release the news through a blogger, instead of the mainstream media.

What could this mean? First, that Amazon believes that the blogosphere is a viable marketing and communications channel. Second that some folks in advertising agencies may soon be looking for new jobs. Third, that bloggers could be used by vendors to sell their wares; so bloggers beware.

A9 beta seems to be an innovation on the Google Tool Bar that lets you do all kinds of specialised searches and files those searches for your own knowledge management system. I haven’t used it yet, but probably will. So how much extra market leverage will all of this additional data on user behaviour give Amazon?

Update Thursday Night: Amidst the increasing hype and noise, there is another word of caution from Mark Federman.

Innovation and the Learning Industry

Dave Pollard in A Prescription for Business Innovation Part 1 cites six basic principles of the innovation process:

Need Drives Innovation
Innovation starts with the Customer
Innovation Drives Technology
Innovations are Interconnected
Stories Transfer Knowledge
Innovation Requires Discipline & Patience

Having just completed an analysis of the learning industry in New Brunswick, I had the opportunity to reflect on global issues relating to the industry and make suggestions on how the industry could better position itself. Using Dave Pollard’s principles, what could the industry infer?

Since need drives innovation, a solid understanding of customers is essential. Build it and they will come, will not work. Neither will products that are developed because they have new features. Learning companies have to fill a real need ?��Ǩ��� and there are lots of learning needs; just listen to the customers.

If innovation drives technology, then your competitive advantage is the ideas you can generate, not your technology, with its ever shortening half-life. Not only are creative people necessary, but they need a creative environment. Too many learning companies are still structured around the industrial command and control model.

The interconnectness of innovations means that you have to be looking outside your industry, your discipline and yourself, in order to see the connections. Perhaps magazines like the Utne Reader should become required bathroom reading.

If stories transfer knowledge, why do most companies (including learning companies) insist on PowerPoint slides with lists of bullets that are read out loud. Having survived another ?��Ǩ?�death by PPT?��Ǩ�� presentation last night, it seems to be obvious to everyone, except the presenter, that no one is interested in reading a bunch of bullets. Tell a story. Tell your story. Share your stories. Remember that "markets are conversations". For example, all learning companies should be encouraging blogging so that they can look outside the region, sharing their stories and learning. Get the conversations going.

Like blogging, innovation requires discipline and patience. As Ms. Rice says, there is no silver bullet.

Emergent Learning

Jay Cross gave an animated session on the web this afternoon. This webinar, using HorizonLive, featured Jay talking about emergent learning, the end of industrial models and even "smart learning objects". The commentary on the chat was fun and fast. The audio on the HorizonLive synchronous classroom platform was excellent, and I did not notice a single technological glitch. Having used various synchronous web platforms, from both sides, I can say that I’m impressed. Kudos to Matt Wasowski at HorizonLive for hosting this excellent webinar, which included over 60 people from across Canada and the USA.

Jay has followed up from his "?ɬ� la carte" menu of this afternoon with a dessert menu of topics for further reading and discussion. Here is one of his comments on emergent learning:

Emergence is the key characteristic of complex systems. It is the process by which simple entities self-organize to form something more complex. Emergence is also what happened to that ?��Ǩ?�utopian dream?��Ǩ�� of e-learning on the way to the future. Simple, old e-learning has combined with bottom-up self-organizing systems, network effects and today?��Ǩ�Ѣs environment to morph into emergent learning.