holistic technology

I first came across the work of Ursula Franklin through her CBC Massey Lecture series on The Real World of Technology.

Dr. Franklin died last week and I found this line from her obituary illuminating.

“[Ursula Franklin] distinguished between the holistic technology of creative artisans and the prescriptive technologies of large corporations and bureaucracies that discouraged critical thinking and created a culture of compliance.” – The Globe & Mail

In the book based on the lecture series, Franklin elaborated: “When work is organized as a sequence of separately executable steps, the control over the work moves to the organizer, the boss or manager. In political terms, prescriptive technologies are designs for compliance.” (more…)

we are the media

As we shift from a market-dominated to a network-dominated society, we do not lose our previous tribal, institutional, and market organizational forms. However, their relationships between each other changes. For example, print-based media now operate at electric speed increasing the urge to feel immediate outrage for events not directly connected to us. Short-form social media writing platforms like Twitter push the printed word to its limit and in so doing, reverse it to a new form of orality. A tweet is ephemeral and soon forgotten, like a quick spoken comment.

Social media can extend the emotion of our words, while obsolescing the linearity of long-form writing. They can retrieve the immediacy of oral communication, with the caution that this can quickly reverse into constant outrage. This is a danger when our existing institutions have lost much of their authority with the public.

“When the prevailing mood is anti-elite and anti-authority, trust in big institutions, including the media, begins to crumble.” – Katherine Viner, editor-in-chief Guardian News & Media


humanity in beta

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

Stephen Downes“Consciousness is, in other words, a community phenomenon, and not merely an individual phenomenon.”

The (not so) secret life of a networked and networking scholar, by @14prinsp

“Yes, I know Facebook uses my clicks and ‘likes’ to profile me. Yes I know the space is increasingly becoming creepy. I am increasingly guarded on what I share. I continuously look over my shoulder to see who is watching. I installed ad-blocking software, use Ghostery and my search engine is DuckDuckGo. I check my privacy settings almost on a daily basis. And yes, I know it will not undo the surveillance and the collection of my data.

But for now, I am playing with friends in the park, discovering, sharing, growing and learning. Yes, I am increasingly aware of those watching. But for now, Twitter and Facebook are my oxygen that allows me to breathe. For now…?”


principles and models for the network era

The End of the Market Era

Capitalism today is the ultimate expression of a market dominated society, where money is made from nothing, as financial traders manipulate stocks, currencies, and whatever else they can. Its final growth spurt was enabled by ubiquitous fossil fuels so that supply chains could take advantage of either cheap goods or cheap labour due to the human inequalities on our planet. But the age of oil is ending, and markets are being replaced by networks as the dominant organizing model. Nafeez Ahmed recently stated that the end of capitalism is inevitable.

“At the core of this radical re-wiring is a transformation of the human relationship with nature: moving away from top-down modes of political and economic organization, to participatory models of grassroots self-governance, localized sustainable agriculture, and equity in access to economic production.” – Medium.com

One theory that has informed my own work is David Ronfeldt’s TIMN (Tribes-Institutions-Markets-Networks) Theory showing that all four of these forms will co-exist as we enter the next evolution of society, but networks will dominate. This explanatory theory shows what has happened as we have previously transitioned from one dominant organizing form to the next and is a good starting point to discuss what we can do about it. (more…)

Group KM

PKMastery is an essential discipline, especially for knowledge artisans. However, practising PKMastery is not going to get work done. PKM is primarily a framework to facilitate learning in networks through cooperation. In order to collaborate, more structure is necessary, as well as agreed-upon rules for sharing knowledge. Group Knowledge Management (KM) takes PKMastery to the next level: getting things done. (more…)

from knowledge worker to master artisan

A Foundation for Modern Work

My Personal Knowledge Mastery model of Seek > Sense > Share is focused on helping individuals work better in teams, and contribute to professional communities by developing and engaging their social networks to continuously learn. This approach has been used in several organizations. Today, it is critical to take control of your own learning and build a professional network. Engaging with other people, especially those different from us, is the key to making sense of information.

One reason the PKMastery framework is getting attention now is because work in the network era is changing the nature of the job. PKMastery requires that individuals take more responsibility for their learning, and that organizations give up some control. Automation is removing routine work from people’s jobs, leaving only non-standardized and more complex work. In this network economy that thrives on creativity, people have to not only stay current but create unique ways of operating and connecting.

The discipline of PKMastery helps to ensure that we remain connected to our human networks in order to maintain our curiosity and develop empathy for others. It is only by empathizing that we can truly understand the relationships in our social networks. Machines can analyze but only humans can feel.  The network economy is seeing the rise of knowledge artisans, who create new meaning through cooperation and building value with their peers. (more…)

impact of the network era

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

Making Sense of the Emerging Economy with Yochai Benkler, via @lfbenjamin

“[Hierarchy] Uber rides on a brutal hierarchy. Financiers are at the top, then investors and directors, then engineers and managers, then drivers and riders, and finally everyone else, those people known as ‘externalities’.

[Privatization] Uber doesn’t pay for the cars, maps, driver’s licenses, roads, or the health insurance plans of their drivers. Yet they can build a thin layer of software on top of all that value and use it to hoover as much wealth as possible towards the top of the pyramid.

[Tyranny of the Margin] Uber combines the efficiency of high technology with the leverage of high finance to strangle one marketplace after another. The global ecosystem of cooperative taxi companies is rapidly being replaced by a monoculture of precarious independent contractors. If they have an ethical commitment, it is delayed so far as to be invisible.”


Jay Cross Memorial Award 2016

Reposted from the Internet Time Alliance website.

ITAThe Internet Time Alliance Jay Cross Memorial Award is presented to a workplace learning professional who has contributed in positive ways to the field of Real Learning and is reflective of Jay’s lifetime of work. Recipients champion workplace and social learning practices inside their organisation and/or on the wider stage. They share their work in public and often challenge conventional wisdom. The Jay Cross Memorial Award is given to professionals who continuously welcome challenges at the cutting edge of their expertise and are convincing and effective advocates of a humanistic approach to workplace learning and performance.

We are announcing this inaugural award on 5 July, Jay’s birthday. Following his death in November 2015, the partners of the Internet Time Alliance (Jane Hart, Harold Jarche, Charles Jennings, Clark Quinn) resolved to continue Jay’s work. Jay Cross was a deep thinker and a man of many talents, never resting on his past accomplishments, and this award is one way to keep pushing our professional fields and industries to find new and better ways to learn and work. (more…)

human networks connect through empathy

We are only as good as our networks. Our decisions reflect the diversity of our networks. Complex problems usually do not have simple solutions but require a deep understanding of the context. How do we understand the complexity of social networks? Empathy puts us in other people’s shoes. We try to understand their perspective. Empathy is a requisite perspective for the network era. Empathy means engaging with others. The ability to connect with a diversity of people is the human potential of the Internet. (more…)

tensions of modern learning

Clark Quinn, my Internet Time Alliance colleague, has presented a quick view of old and new ways to address organizational learning engineering. Clark created a table “representing just some of the tensions” between what we still do and what we now know about learning. I have appended these new practices with examples and elaborations of what Clark has presented.