Internet Time Alliance Award 2019

The Internet Time Alliance Award, in memory of Jay Cross, is presented to a workplace learning professional who has contributed in positive ways to the field of Informal Learning and is reflective of Jay’s lifetime of work.

Recipients champion workplace and social learning practices inside their organization and/or on the wider stage. They share their work in public and often challenge conventional wisdom. The 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 announce the award on 5 July, Jay’s birthday.

Following his death in November 2015, the partners of the Internet Time Alliance — Jane Hart,  Charles Jennings, Clark Quinn, and myself — 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…)

the dark side of communities

Communities play a significant role in how we relate to others and perceive ourselves. I am a member of several online communities and manage one myself — the perpetual beta coffee club. Communities are more than social networks. Our open social networks may be great places for serendipitous connections but they are not safe places to have deeper conversations or to expose our points of view. Communities of practice, which are often short-term,  can provide the connective space between long-term loose social networks and temporary work teams. Communities are connectors. They are essential. We all need an inner circle to support our learning and make sense of our experiences.  (more…)

the challenge of the network era

“There’s no room for argument about whether hate-filled internet message boards encourage real-world violence: they do, and none more so than 8chan. It normalises racism, misogyny, and extremism – and helps turn nightmarish, loud-mouthed talk of action into reality.” —Destroyer of Worlds

This examination of the 8chan online community shows how anonymity can breed a very dark social structure that is impossible to control, even for the founder. It seems that even if this community was shut down, a new one will be created, as evidenced by the rapid migration of the Gamergate harassment group from 4chan to 8chan. The disruption of civil society becomes the raison d’être of these types of communities.

It is the structure of a chan site itself that radicalises people. “The other anonymous users are guiding what’s socially acceptable, and the more and more you post on there you’re being affected by what’s acceptable and that changes you. Maybe you start posting Nazi memes as a joke… but you start to absorb those beliefs as your own, eventually,” Brennan [8chan founder] says. “Anonymity makes people reveal themselves, but because there are other anonymous users – not just one person in a black box – it also changes what they reveal.” —Destroyer of Worlds


I heard the news today …

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

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” —David Bohm, via @cogden

@jhagel“If you don’t follow the news you’re surprisingly good at estimating the views of people with whom you disagree — you misjudge preferences of political adversaries by under 10%.  If you follow the news, you’re terrible at understanding your adversaries.” — discussing — study shows Americans have little understanding of their political adversaries—and education doesn’t help

“Unfortunately, the ‘Perception Gap’ study suggests that neither the media nor the universities are likely to remedy Americans’ inability to hear one another: It found that the best educated and most politically interested Americans are more likely to vilify their political adversaries than their less educated, less tuned-in peers.”


liberating meetings

In meetings, bloody meetings I covered some common issues with how meetings are conducted and also provided some ways to address these. Another form is the silent meeting, put forth by David Gasca at Twitter and used at Amazon as well. These meetings are based on the common phenomena that most attendees do not read material in advance and that a slideshow is not the best way to convey complex information. Instead, a ‘table-read’ narrative of not more than 6 pages is presented at the meeting and attendees start by silently reading this document.

This type of silent meeting requires:

  1. An agenda — includes goals, non-goals, suggested timetable, & if a note-taker is needed.
  2. The ‘Table Read’ — the main source of discussion, commenting, & reflection.
  3. A facilitator to synthesize comments & lead discussions.
  4. Commenting silently & then reading others’ comments before engaging in discussion.


hybrid sailors

According to The Atlantic 2019-07, the US Navy has been piloting a new way of manning its Littoral Combat class ships, which are modular by design. The crew are all multi-purpose, with several roles onboard and always learning new tasks. They operate with one-fifth the crew size of a regular ship. Specialization is a thing of the past for these crews. One reason for this is that specialized knowledge has an increasingly shorter lifespan, so generalists who are good learners can make for a more flexible, or agile, crew. This approach also has its downsides, such as fewer redundant positions onboard to mitigate combat losses, and lack of deep knowledge for some complex problems.

The key question from the article is whether this is the way of the future. Is a neo-generalist a better fit for modern workplace conditions? It’s a good question that will only be answered with time.

“Minimal manning—and the evolution of the economy more generally—requires a different kind of worker, with not only different acquired skills but different inherent abilities. It has implications for the nature and utility of a college education, for the path of careers, for inequality and employability—even for the generational divide. And that’s to say nothing of its potential impact on product quality and worker safety, or on the nature of the satisfactions one might derive from work.”—The Atlantic


mindful finds

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

“A writer ought not to be an opinion-machine … The job of the writer is to make us see the world as it is, full of many different claims and parts and experiences.”Susan Sontag

‘Apple: “privacy™️(TM) is a luxury good”
Facebook: “privacy = private comms (terms & conditions may apply)”
Google: “we need strong privacy laws that prevent third-party cookies & tracking because we are the first and only party (and we already have all your data)’
@hackeylawyer (more…)

sixteen years

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
Sixteen Tons

Last week marked sixteen years as a freelancer. I was traveling and I don’t blog much when I am on the road. I focus on spending time with and talking to people. Home is where I reflect and write. (more…)

our mediated lives

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

Can we all please stop using Medium now?

“Just so we are clear. Medium takes your content, rolls it up into a pretty SEO friendly package for themselves and sells it. Oh, and turns us all into seals waiting for someone to throw us a fish in the process. If you are lucky, you might even get a cut. You know. Like the sort of cut artists get on Spotify. Profit share I think the cool kids call it.”

The Atlantic — Social Media Are Ruining Political Discourse

“The politics of flow likely will continue to redefine political discourse in our country. Flow makes video games and social-media sites more engaging, but the phenomenon might already have refashioned political discourse and permanently changed the institutions that depend on reasoned debate. And yet, flow’s engagement is so gratifying for so many, it’s difficult to let it go. Even if the public decided that the civic costs of social media outweigh the private pleasures, it might be too late, and too hard, to turn back. If it triumphs, the best we can hope for is a new breed of media-savvy AOCs with good ideas—and a sensitivity to the cost of expressing them in social-media form.”


the status quo

In understanding the shift, I wrote that as we make this transition — from a market-dominated to a network-dominated society — the confusion of post-modernism clouds our vision of a positive future. The traditional political Right wants to go back to the Pre-modern Era — dogmatic, faith, truth — while the traditional political Left wants to stay in the Modern Era — doubting, science, facts. However, the way ahead is to a Meta-modern Era — seeking, knowledge, combining. This new path may be the most difficult because creating a status quo is more difficult than maintaining an existing one. (more…)