RSS & e-Bay

A follow-up on e-Bay and how the customer community is making the process of buying & selling online easier. How do you compete with a business model where customers help each other to use a web service? In this case, it’s an RSS feed to keep track of items for sale in your news aggregator. I don’t use e-Bay but I sure like their business model. From Seb.

Knowledge Work

Lilia has written an excellent paper on knowledge work and weblogs. The main uses she cites for blogging (personal knowledge repositories, learning journals, or networking instruments) are the same reasons that I blog. I find that writing about things that I find interesting or useful online helps me to create my own knowledge repository. With Drupal as a CMS, my repository is also searchable, so I can search my own blog to find something that I posted about open source a few months back. This is the main reason that I amalgamated my other blogs; so I could find stuff. The discipline of writing every day is a form of a learning journal, and is similar to what Stephen Covey calls "sharpening the saw". The more you write, the more skilled you become; I hope 😉

Another point in Lilia’s paper is that knowledge work is "discretionary behavior", in that knowledge workers have to be motivated to do knowledge work. Many companies are tryng to find ways to motivate their knowledge workers. This makes me wonder about Peter Drucker’s comment that the corporation as we know it won’t be around in the next 25 years (Managing in the Next Society, 2002). Perhaps the actual structure of work, especially the Corporation itself, is an obstacle to knowledge work. Instead of tweaking the mechanisms of the corporation, through job redesign or cultural initiatives, we should be re-examining the basic structure of the corporation. It is an industrial age creation, designed to maximize physical capital and may not be optimal for maximizing "knowledge capital".

The network, with its dynamic conversations, is where a lot of knowledge work gets done, and we should be looking at new laws to recognise networks in a similar way that we recognise corporations as legal entities. Is anything like this happening?

Conversations on e-Bay

One of the first things that Meg Whitman remarked about e-Bay was that ‘It looks like the experience people have with each other helps define your brand.’. The Monitor has an in-depth article on the current CEO of e-Bay, showing how peer-to-peer relationships and a small service fee are some of the keys to the success of this multi-billion dollar company. One more example that there are others on the Cluetrain, who are successful.

Vacuum Cleaner Salesmen

If you want to spend a few minutes enjoying a humourous story, then read Cam’s telling of a visit by the Vacuum Cleaner Salesman. Cameron lives in Sackville, and provides technical support for my website. After reading this story, what I really appreciate about Cam is that he didn’t give this guy my name. Cam’s site also uses the Drupal CMS.

More on Conversations

My previous blog on Blogs, Markets & Conversations, is nothing new. A detailed discussion from 1997 is provided by Juanita Brown, which was pointed out by Martin Dugage, who also hopes to see the end of corporate jargon as a feeble attempt at conversation with markets.

Blogs, Markets & Conversations

According to Lilia, in Mathemagenic, blogging is about conversations, and "Conversations are different from publishing, they require listening to others, require investment of attention and energy". This is also the central premise of the Cluetrain Manifesto, in that "Markets are conversations".

In order to have a lasting relationship between producers of goods and services and their markets, conversations are essential. This means listening, not just sending out marketing hype. There is a simple way to determine your markets. They are where you have the best conversations. Now figure out a business model around these conversations. Blogging can help you open these conversations.

Currently, my blog is mostly publishing, not conversations. Some of my previous blogs have produced some good conversations, and my aim is once again to publish enough blogs, so that I can get the conversations going. I participate in other blogs, where I am part of larger conversations about those things that interest me – learning, work systems, technology, sustainable development …

Better than Bloom?

A recent Google search for “Bloom’s taxonomy” reveals over 50,000 hits.

After almost 50 years, Bloom’s taxonomy is still being used by educators and trainers as a pedagogical tool for the analysis of learning objectives. Originally designed as a method for the development of test questions, the six levels of the cognitive domain (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) have become almost standard in the “learning business”.

I used Bloom’s taxonomy about ten years ago, while developing an estimate for the cost of CBT development.

We assumed that the higher the level, the higher would be the cost. With hundreds of performance objectives, we quickly reduced the six levels to three, but I now realise that there could have been many other ways to address the problem.

For instance, in Problems With Bloom’s Taxonomy [scroll down] Brenda Sugrue states that Bloom’s taxonomy is invalid, unreliable and impractical. According to Sugrue, the six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy for the cognitive domain ” … are not supported by any research on learning.” Basically the taxonomy was a “best guess” by some knowledgeable educators of the time. The six levels make for nice matrices and provide a simple tool for analysis and evaluation, but Sugrue shows an even more effective way to create a Content-Performance matrix. Sugrue is not the only person who considers Bloom’s taxonomy passé. Another critic of the taxonomy is Robert Lewis [dead link] Professor of Knowledge Technology at Lancaster University.

Unfortunately, old chestnuts like Bloom’s taxonomy stay around longer than they should, because after a while we take them for granted. Every once in a while, it’s good to take a long, hard look at our practices, and make sure that we are using proven methods, and not second-rate tools.

Update: Donald Clark adds to the fire, stating that, “The weaknesses are so strong that it is simply sensible to abandon it altogether.”

Also, Carl Bereiter & Marlene Scardamalia of OISE offer Beyond Bloom’s Taxonomy: Rethinking Knowledge for the Knowledge Age.

Quote of the Day

Here’s a gem from Jay Cross:

"This morning, when separating the e-wheat from the e-chaff in my mailbox, something compelled me to click open a mass mailing from ASTD." [bold is mine]

How much of our daily routine is spent doing this?

Books I Would Like to Read

This is my constantly changing list of books that I’m thinking about reading. Comments and suggestions are very welcome. While my list is relatively short, you can visit the GBN Bookclub Selection for a much more comprehensive list.

Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century, Edited by Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher and Michael S. Scott Morton, (2003)ISBN 0-262-13431-4

The Future of Knowledge: Increasing Prosperity through Value Networks by Verna Allee (2002) Butterworth-Heinemann (ISBN: 0750675918)

The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility: The Ideas Behind the World’s Slowest Computer by Stewart Brand, 2000 (ISBN: 0465007805)

Breakaway: Deliver Value to Your Customers–Fast! (2002) by Charles L. Fred (ISBN: 0787961647).

Survival Is Not Enough: Why Smart Companies Abandon Worry and Embrace Change by Seth Godin (2002) (ISBN: 0743233387).

The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life (2004) Richard Florida (ISBN: 0465024777) Perseus Books. for Dummies (2003) (ISBN: 0764542222)

Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, David Christian, 2004 (ISBN 0-520-23500-2) University of California Press.

The Ultimate Competitive Advantage: Secrets of Continually Developing a More Profitable Business Model by Donald Mitchell, Carol Coles, Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Pub; (March 2003) (ISBN: 1576751678).

Surfing the Edge of Chaos: The Laws of Nature and the New Laws of Business
by Richard Pascale (2001) Three Rivers Press , (ISBN: 0609808834)

Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations: A Practical Guide and Workbook by Michael Allison, Jude Kaye, 1997, John Wiley & Sons Canada; (ISBN: 0471178322).

Strategic Tools for Social Entrepreneurs: Enhancing the Performance of Your Enterprising Nonprofit by J. Gregory Dees, Jed Emerson, Peter Economy(ISBN: 0471150681).

Nonfiction Matters: Reading, Writing, and Research in Grades 3-8 by Stephanie Harvey Publisher: Stenhouse Pub; (1998) (ISBN: 1571100725).

The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth by Clayton Christensen, Michael Raynor (2003) Harvard Business School Press; (ISBN: 1578518520)

Leonardo’s Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies; by Ben Shniederman; (ISBN: 0262692996) 2003; MIT Press.

Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do; by B. J. Fogg; (2002) Morgan Kaufmann; (ISBN: 1558606432)

Performance Intervention Maps: 36 Strategies for Solving Your Organization’s Problems by Sanders & Thiagarajan (ASTD 2000) (ISBN 1-562862-93-6)

Handbook of Human Performance Technology: Second Edition
Improving Individual and Organizational Performance Worldwide
Edited by Harold D. Stolovitch & Erica J. Keeps (ISBN 0-787911-02-9); ISPI/Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer/1999

Visual display of quantitative information, E. Tufte, (2001)

Leveraging Communities of Practice for Strategic Advantage: Saint-Onge & Wallace (2002). Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.