90% of everything is crap

Currently, I have written 3,170 posts on this blog. I don’t have any surveillance technologies (analytics) here, so I don’t know how many people read my work, or how much they like it. I do use Feedly as my feed reader and subscribe to my own site, so I can ensure that the RSS feed is working. Feedly also gives me an idea of how popular a post is. The number [second column from left] represents some algorithm based on how much more popular a post is than the average one. I don’t know how they determine this.

Over the past 6 years that Feedly has been keeping track of my site I have written over 1,000 posts. Of these, only 13 have been wildly popular. Most of my posts have a popularity rating in the single digits. This aligns with Sturgeon’s Law“90% of everything is crap”. It’s hard to write a great post every single day. But writing the not-so-good stuff prepares you for the odd good post. (more…)

just checking the box

Were the two recent crashes of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft a result of inadequate training, or design and safety flaws resulting from a lack of regulator oversight? I don’t know and I cannot speculate. However, I am interested in how training design decisions are made and what role Learning & Development (L&D) professionals play in the relationship between building aircraft and flying them. Is there something to learn here?

“The captain of a doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight did not practise on a new simulator for the Boeing 737 Max 8 before he died in a crash with 156 others, a pilot colleague said … The 737 Max 8 was introduced into commercial service in 2017, but pilots of older 737s were only required to have computer-based training to switch, according to Boeing, airlines, unions, and regulators.” —CBC 2019-03-21


elites are bad

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

@chriscorriganElites are bad: to the left, elites are those with money. To the right, elites are those with education.
Successful people are good: to the right, those with money are successful. To the left, those with education are successful.”

@rhappe“Why do we need arts, writing, & history education? Because it requires making decisions in ambiguity. Where do I focus? What do I leave out? When am I done? This is a critical skill in a world of information abundance, it requires practice, & it is the only way to make progress.”

“Searching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal … because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes.” —Hermann Hesse in Siddhartha via @connecto [seek > sense > share]

“An ounce of information is worth a pound of data. An ounce of knowledge is worth a pound of information. An ounce of understanding is worth a pound of knowledge.”Russell Ackoff

connected thinking

“… it’s easy, and it’s seductive, to assume that data is really knowledge. Or that information is, indeed, wisdom. Or that knowledge can exist without data. And how easy, and how effortlessly, one can parade and disguise itself as another. And how quickly we can forget that wisdom without knowledge, wisdom without any data, is just a hunch.” —Toni Morrison (2019) The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations

Data needs knowledge to understand it. Those who have this knowledge can then create information about the data to help others understand it. This is why there are so many different interpretations of complex issues. We have limited data and limited knowledge. Therefore experts often disagree. Each expert comes with a different story. Some groups share a story which influences their judgement. But wisdom is being able to understand knowledge and data in context and then make appropriate decisions. Without enough good data, we have no foundation for our knowledge. (more…)

constant outrage

Many of us are getting depressed and pessimistic about  the state of society, whether it be the big one — climate change — or the many smaller problems facing us — populism, extremism, anti-science movements, xenophobia, etc. One of the biggest frustrations is that the various camps just do not talk to each other with any intention of understanding. In addition, social media — the preferred source of news for many people — tend to increase the outrage. The medium is the message, said Marshall McLuhan, and this medium is all about emotion. Often, our self-perception of knowledge acquired through social media is greater than it actually is. Social media have created a worldwide Dunning-Kruger effect. (more…)

beyond government and markets

The key to our transformation toward a network society is citizen sensemaking. The thinking that got us into our current state of affairs will not get us out. Hierarchical leadership, even in democratic governments, is inadequate for the complexity of a networked society. Our governments seem to be completely unprepared to regulate surveillance capitalism, let alone climate change. Leadership on these issues is coming from outside government and in spite of the market. “We want leadership distributed because this is too much weight even for the mightiest of us.”Jennifer Sertl. A new form of cooperative leadership is needed today. It is emerging.

What network organizational models can we develop to address complex global issues? One local/global example is an initiative to adapt our forests to climate change, connecting governments with the market, through a non-profit — Community Forests International. One of the biggest climate change initiatives is being led by a 16-year old student from Sweden — Greta Thunberg. Now is the time to continue experimenting with new models, such as platform cooperativism.

My focus for over a decade has been to help people learn together. I have been a champion of social learning and developed the personal knowledge mastery framework to help people learn in networks, communities, and at work. The reason that learning is the work today is that our existing organizations and institutions do not have the answers. We have to create new ways to address what governments and the market cannot. First we have to be able to describe and discuss them. This kind of learning — making sense of our collective condition — has been ignored by schools and institutions. There is no curriculum to prepare us. (more…)

self-perception of knowledge

Sensemaking does not have to be a complicated affair. I have recently had several conversations with people who have simplified their sensemaking processes — using fewer tools and streamlining processes — quite often accepting the fact they won’t capture everything. I have described personal knowledge mastery made simple to show that you can start without having to learn a whole bunch of practices and procedures. A core part of PKM is adding value — for yourself, and others. If you are not adding value, you are making noise.

It seems that social media are influencing how people read, especially when viewing links and summaries in a news feed. My own experience is that only 0.04% of people who view my Tweets on Twitter click on the link to read the full article. It is reported that 67% of Americans get their news from social media, particularly Facebook [I am not on Facebook], however — (more…)

unintended consequences

“Welcome to Magic School. Here is your schedule.”
“Thanks! But…”
“This is just ‘Ethics’ and ‘Human rights’ and things like that.”
“Correct, that’s the first year curriculum.”
“Do we have to learn all this?”
“Of course! What do you think this is, software engineering?”

  • Some unintended consequences of automobiles are pollution, gridlock, and manslaughter.
  • An unintended consequence of using cement as our primary building material is large CO2 emissions.
  • An unintended consequence of Facebook is false narratives.
  • An unintended consequence of consumer social media platforms is a surveillance economy.
  • An unintended consequence of a digitally mediated society is constant outrage.
  • An unintended consequence of online services like Über is “low-paying work that deliver on-demand servant services to rich people“.


applied imagination

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

@RitaJKing“I advocate for calling AI applied imagination instead of artificial intelligence. We need to start thinking.”

@LynnBoyden“Why is there no place in any car for me to put my purse?”

@WhiteOwl“We think we design jobs for organisations but really we design organisations for jobs.”

@MayaDrøschler“I heard two scientists on the radio discussing men’s and women’s shame. Men’s shame is about being weak, women’s shame is about not being likable. Men must be strong and protective to escape their shame, women must be nice and popular. Both men & women reinforce this structure.”

@rhappe“Why do we need arts, writing, & history education? Because it requires making decisions in ambiguity. Where do I focus? What do I leave out? When am I done? This is a critical skill in a world of information abundance, it requires practice, & it is the only way to make progress.” (more…)

learning as disservice

It is time to revive an insightful comment by a friend and inspiration, David Jonassen — as his Wikipedia entry says, Dave wrote about “learning with media, not from it”.

“Every amateur epistemologist knows that knowledge cannot be managed. Education has always assumed that knowledge can be transferred and that we can carefully control the process through education. That is a grand illusion.” —David Jonassen

Knowledge is personal. Knowledge is human. Knowledge cannot be managed. (more…)