For the Web is part of the Worldwide Web Foundation“established in 2009 by web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee to advance the open web as a public good and a basic right … fighting for digital equality — a world where everyone can access the web and use it to improve their lives.”

For the Web is currently asking for stories.

How has the web changed your life? What do you use it for? What are your hopes for its future?

Well I have to say that the web changed my life. My blog has given me almost everything that is positive for my work. It has allowed me to connect with a global network. In 2003 I started freelancing, working from here in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada — population 5,000. Even our timezone [Atlantic Time] is unknown to many people. In 2003 my professional network was comprised of my ex-military connections, a few university ones, and some professionals in our rural region. The Canadian Maritime Provinces —  New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island — have about 1.7 million people, with no large cities. The region has relatively high unemployment, no head offices of large companies, and my town is 1,000 KM away from the next major urban centre — Montréal or Boston. There are few regional opportunities for me to find good paid work. (more…)

network literacies

Distributed governance was part of the conversation at RESET18 in Helsinki last month, where I discussed networks, communities of practice, knowledge-sharing, and sense-making, in the context of the Finnish civil service. I concluded that a network society needs networked models for organizing and for learning. Governments and their departments need to transition to the network form. Each network form will be different, so there are few best practices to follow. New practices have to emerge from those testing the new methods.

New practices, and literacies, are needed to maintain our democracies and to help each citizen thrive in this newly connected world. Frameworks like personal knowledge mastery provide the key concepts and vocabulary to become network literate.

“The complexity of the media landscape today places high demands on our own digital and media literacies and the role of adult education, and indeed the entire education sector, is crucial if we are going to raise awareness of both the dangers and the opportunities of the digital world that is forming around us.

However, the task of enabling citizens to make sense of and navigate today’s ever-changing media landscape (i.e. media and information literacy) depends on a major coordinated investment in training and research involving many sectors of society. For this to happen we need coordination and incentives from governmental level, something that may be difficult in countries.” —Alistair Creelman

While in Helsinki I was interviewed on a number of questions that had been provided by civil servants, to inform part of a public sector training program. These interviews were put together as a five-part video and are available free online at eLearning Finland [eOppiva].

1. Civil servants using networks
2. Seek > Sense > Share model
3. Differences in working and learning in networks
4. Efficient networking
5. Civil servants in external networks

Several graphics are included in the presentation and I have put these together as a PDF — PKM for Civil Servants.


serendipitous finds

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

@haymarketbooks“No human being is illegal.”

Prof. Jason Stanley — Three Essential Facets of Fascism

  1. Conjuring a “mythic past” that has supposedly been destroyed (“by liberals, feminists, and immigrants”)
  2. Fascist leaders sow division; they succeed by “turning groups against each other,” inflaming historical antagonisms and ancient hatreds for their own advantage.
  3. Fascists “attack the truth” with propaganda, in particular “a kind of anti-intellectualism” that “creates a petri dish for conspiracy theories.”


understanding leadership

My introduction to leadership came fairly early, as I was in Army Cadets and took my first leadership course at age fourteen. Every Summer through high school I would go to Cadet camp, with other boys who looked, acted, and sounded like me. I finished school and joined the Army thinking I had leadership potential. The Army thought so, as I was accepted into military college to become an officer.

College was a bit like Cadet camp, with drill and military stuff that I was used to. There were no women until my last year, when the first female officer cadets entered RMC. So I had no female peers, and on graduation went to an Infantry unit, which was only men at the time. The introduction of women to an all-male military school was not without its challenges. Many years later one of the first-year students for whom I was ‘responsible’ — more like I was responsible for making their lives difficult — told me that she appreciated that I had treated the men and women equally in our section. Several of my colleagues had not. I’m not sure why I had this moral compass, but it’s likely from my mother who has lived a life of many challenges and raised us in a disciplined way. She had grown up in what could be called the Prussian military tradition. (more…)

a conversation on leadership in the network era

I write about leadership frequently, especially how leadership in a network requires different skills and abilities than positional leadership provided by the inherent power structure of an organization or institution. In networks, influence comes through reputation. In this online presentation/discussion, we will discuss how perspectives, and demands, on leadership are changing in a networked society.

In networks, we have to move away from traditional metaphors of the ‘great man’ military theories of leadership and look for more fluid models, such as cycling, because — the best leaders are constant learners.

“Pelotons are able to operate in the way that they do because learning and experience is embedded within them. Young riders are mentored by seasoned professionals. They learn through imitation, trial and error, developing both instinct and intuition, daring to experiment when the occasion presents itself. The sport is all about life lessons acquired on the road, the knowledge gained from numerous failures as relevant as that acquired through the occasional success. Teamwork provides firm foundations. But autonomy within loose frameworks, decision-making and accountability are all encouraged from early on. It is this crucial combination – individual action contextualised in relation to the collective – that the modern corporation, government agency and charity now need to learn.” —Richard Martin

Discussion Topics

  • Make your network smarter
  • A compass to steer by
  • Diversity
  • Learning & Leadership

Live conversation Wednesday, 14 November at 13:00 UTC*
07:00 CST, 08:00 EST, 13:00 GMT, 14:00 CEST, 15:00 EEST


  • 90 minute online video conference
    • 60 minute presentation on core topics
    • 30 minute discussion
  • Session will be recorded and available for registered participants
  • Online chat during session

Participants also receive a one-year membership in the Perpetual Beta Coffee Club to continue the conversation. Registration Closed. (more…)

first we kill the jobs

Donald Clark shows how WildFire, a machine-augmented instructional content development system, saved significant time and money to develop a global training program.

“We used an AI tool to deliver a project to a large multinational (TUI) with £16 billion in revenue. The project delivered 138 modules on the locations for its holidays, flights, airport codes and so on. Recognising that they could never have produced content on this scale and timescale, as the estimated costs for external development were just under £500,000, and it had to be delivered in weeks not months, they opted for WildFire. This uses AI to create content in minutes not months, along with supplementary curated content, also selected by AI. —Donald Clark

The future of work will more and more be human creativity augmented by the diligence of machines. New business processes will be developed to take advantage of both people and software. If you are not looking at ways to augment what has traditionally been human work, you and your business will likely be left behind. Businesses have to embrace automation and foster creativity.

“Creativity is a conversation — a tension — between individuals working on individual problems and the professional communities they belong to.” —David Williamson Shaffer


not the news

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

@white_owly“If you’re looking for obscene wealth it can usually be found right beside obscene poverty.”

The Most Important Survival Skill for the Next 50 Years Isn’t What You Think — via @titiabruning

“Basically: technological innovation and artificial intelligence are going to accelerate at a pace we’ve yet to really comprehend. (Fifteen years ago, Facebook wasn’t even around. Now it’s so efficient at micro-targeting that it helped sway a democratic election. Imagine what it might be capable of in another fifteen years.) That means automation will likely disrupt your current job (and your next one, and the one after that), and you’ll be the target of attention-grabbing, behavior-modifying algorithms so exponentially effective you won’t even realize you’re being targeted.

The best defense against that? An emotional flexibility that allows for constant reinvention, and knowing yourself well enough that you don’t get drawn into the deep Internet traps set for you.”


creative economy entrepreneurs

The co-founders of Creative Startups have published a book that is a guide for anyone interested in the creative economy at any level — Creative Economy Entrepreneurs. This book is a good read but it is more of text book, sprinkled with anecdotes and data, than a single narrative. I would recommend it for anyone working in economic development today. The authors share their 25 years of experience and compile a lot of information in an accessible form.

The premise of this book is that the fourth industrial revolution is changing the nature of work and the economy.

“Now, in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, economies are evolving to handle and process our enormous mass of accessible information. With so much information available and so many methods of analysis, access to knowledge is no longer the challenge. Everything is connected, and these connections happen instantly. The challenge for the Fourth Industrial Revolution becomes interpretation, reflection, and innovation. How do we create new value out of our hyperconnected knowledge?”



I have been encouraged by several people over the years to start podcasting. So far, I prefer blogging as my main public sense-making platform, but I am open to be interviewed or have a discussion on other people’s podcasts. Two podcasts done in the last year were:

  1. Teaching in Higher Ed
  2. Pushing Beyond the Obvious

Tom Palmer recently interviewed me for his Wired Roots podcast.

“In this conversation, Harold and I talk about how his 21-year career in the Canadian military influences his work as a consultant, how Amazon excels in team learning, and how L&D professionals can break through organizational short-sightedness by becoming skilled networked learners and gaining personal knowledge mastery.”


understanding the shift

“If you want a natively digital nation, or a state, or a city, or whatever, my message today is you actually need to be bold enough to create some new institutions; institutions that are of the internet, not on the internet.” —Making Government as a Platform Real

None of our institutions, and not even our markets were designed for the network age. This is the major tension of our times. We are between a societal form where markets, and to a lesser degree institutions, are the dominant way of organizing and now we are evolving into a network-centric society. What type of network society will be up to us — centralized or distributed?

As we make this transition, the confusion of post-modernism [background post on societal forms] clouds our vision of a positive future. It seems the traditional Left is focused on the Modern era, while the traditional Right yearns for a time even further back to the Pre-modern era. Few have a coherent vision for an emerging meta-modernity based on the network form. Understanding networks is the first step for governments to become ‘digital nations’. I would say it’s not a digital, but a networked society that should be government’s focus. (more…)