the last fortnight

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds. The next Friday’s Finds post will be on 24 September, as these will now be posted the last Friday of each month.

“Twitter is a place where you can watch people who don’t read books argue with people who write them.”Mark Safranski

“It’s far better to adapt your organisation to the future than to try and force everyone back into the past. This ‘return to the office’ has more to do with status symbols, fragile executive egos, and idiocy than shareholder value. It is bonkers — Hybrid [work] is just a way of saying ‘let us have the future but just like the past because we’ve spent lots of money on the past’. It never works but we never seem to learn.”@SWardley

“Vaccinated people are like wet logs, unvaccinated like dry kindling. COVID is the fire.
Can wet logs catch fire? Yes.
Can wet logs SPREAD fire once they catch flame? Sure.
But it’s MUCH harder to start a fire with wet logs, and nearly impossible when there’s no more kindling.”
@AuforGA (more…)

the social sweet spot

Continued from — social learning powers distributed work.

Social learning is about people in trusted relationships sharing and building collective knowledge. It is part of our common evolutionarily developed ‘social suite’.

In Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of A Good Society, Nicholas Christakis argues that this coevolution has equipped us with a “social suite” of traits that arose through genetic evolution and that have been amplified by cultural evolution, which has in turn influenced our genetic evolution toward propensities that support the social suite. These include the “capacity to have and recognize individual identity,” “love for partners and offspring,” friendship, social networks, cooperation, “preference for one’s own group (‘in-group bias’),” “mild hierarchy (that is, relative egalitarianism),” and “social learning and teaching.” —Howard Rheingold

These seven traits identified by Christakis can be arranged in how valuable they are to overall society.  Self-identity has high individual value while social learning is how we developed our second evolutionary strand — shared culture and knowledge. (more…)

social learning powers distributed work

Distributed work is here to stay, because many people like it, the pandemic is not over and there will be others, and market forces will seek to maximize profits and reduce labour costs. But Zoom calls all day are not going to create work environments where knowledge workers can deal with complex problems or create innovative solutions. The key to distributed work is social learning.

Distributed work is driving a work-from-anywhere culture and is increasingly reliant on asynchronous communication, as people move to multiple time zones. In order to share the necessary implicit knowledge needed for complex work, trust has to be developed. People only share with others they trust. This trust takes time to develop between people. How can they do this when they are not in the same office? (more…)

we have met the enemy

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

The Twitter Paradox — “I loathe the fact that Twitter is a place where I am exposed to profound thoughts and new experiences, as well as a breeding ground for hate and harassment.”@TheWorstDev

Before Tom Peters, before Peter Drucker, we had Mary Parker Follett by @TimKastelle

“There are three ways of dealing with difference: domination, compromise, and integration. By domination only one side gets what it wants; by compromise neither side gets what it wants; by integration we find a way by which both sides may get what they wish.” —Mary Parker Follett


top tools 2021

Every year, Jane Hart asks, “What are the most popular digital tools for learning and why?”. This is the fifteenth year Jane asked this question — and compiled the results into a valuable resource — and this is my tenth year responding.

Once again my responses have not changed much from my 2020 tools list. I explained last year why I used these tools.

Zoom has moved up, for obvious reasons given the pandemic and lockdowns. WordPress remains on top as it powers this blog, my online workshops, and our community. I have been listening to more podcasts this past year, so Overcast has moved into 10th place.

Two important sensemaking types of tools that everyone should use are feed aggregators and social bookmarks. Though the specific tools may change, everyone needs a way to control the push of information and a way to save, categorize, and annotate resources for later use. For the last two years I have I used Feedly and Pinboard. (more…)

learning with others

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds. After a two-week hiatus I will slowly get back to more regular blogging.

@PicardTips“Picard management tip: Keep group meetings short. Take your time with one-on-ones.”

@DThom_“Universities: let’s be leaders and innovate, innovate, innovate. Also universities: let’s not mandate vaccines unless everyone else does first.” (more…)

making meaning

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

“The hardest part of teaching: Having to justify to students that what they’re learning in school is relevant and will be useful in the future.”

The Most Precious Resource is Agency

Agency is the capacity to act. More subtly: An individual’s life can continue, with a certain inertia, that will lead them on to the next year or decade. Most people today more-or-less know what they are going to be doing for the first twenty-or-more years of their life—being in some kind of school (the “doing” is almost more “being told what to do”). Beyond that age there is of course the proverbial worker, in modern stories usually an office worker, who is often so inert that he becomes blindsided by a sudden yank of reality (that forces him out of his inertia, and in doing so the story begins).

Gaining agency is gaining the capacity to do something differently from, or in addition to, the events that simply happen to you. Most famous people go off-script early, usually in more than one way. Carnegie becoming a message boy is one opportunity, asking how to operate the telegraph is another. Da Vinci had plenty of small-time commissions, but he quit them in favor of offering his services to the Duke of Milan. And of course no one has to write a book, or start a company. But imagine instead if Carnegie or Da Vinci were compelled to stay in school for ten more years instead. What would have happened?



In 2013 I wrote that work is already a game. Adding badges or other extrinsic motivators to professional learning only detracts from the real game. Gamification also creates incentives that, when removed, may result in going back to previous behaviours.

In a Twitter thread Ana Lorena Fabrega discusses gamification and suggests that it is often ‘pointsification’.

“Pointsification ties to external motivation—free time, tasty treats, or bragging rights. It’s taking the things that are least essential to games and making them the core of the experience.
The problem with pointsification is that it’s not sustainable.

While it may help tweak some behaviors in the short term, it doesn’t work for long enough to build actual skills.

Pointsification ‘solutions’ miss the heart of what makes a gameful experience effective for learning.”


leadership in a distributed workplace

Distributed, remote, and even hybrid work have one similar quality — they expose cracks in the system that could be covered over in face-to-face settings. They make dysfunctional workplaces transparently obvious. Distributed work, like online teaching, has to be much more explicit. Both require excellent communication skills, especially writing, because the work becomes more asynchronous. In a global economy, work is distributed across both space and time.

Those in leadership positions — servant leaders — have to manage networked contributors working in environments that are transparent, diverse, and open. Anything less is sub-optimal. They need the skills developed by leading multiple players in online role-play games — creating highly motivated and remote collectives to battle elves or aliens or build civilisations. These skills are not taught in business schools and few senior managers or executives have them today. (more…)


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

“Always urgent, but never specific. That should get the result you want.”@MeetingBoy

“Saying it’s ‘post-pandemic’ because your regional lockdown is over is like saying it’s ‘post-climate change’ because the flooding in your town receded.”

“Vaccine efforts, and much of public health for that matter, are about convincing and manipulating people rather than providing them options, data, or decision-making tools. The base assumption is that the public is stupid and that the information they get must be carefully controlled and metered. That approach doesn’t work well in a networked information-rich environment. To compensate for this and achieve planned outcomes, network technology companies are being enlisted to actively control, censor, and manage public discussions on public health. NOTE: we saw this happen with [US] politics in 2019.” —@JohnRobb