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Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Tipping Point Visualization

This classic graph shows a Tipping Point in action. It shows the adoption by farmers of a new seed.

The top line is a geometric curve. The lower line is a Bell curve. When about 5-10% adopt ( the Bell) the take off threshold is reached and the system "Tips" [Robert Paterson's Radio Weblog]

10:44:04 AM    comment []

Keep It Simple, Stupid

John McDowall on the unnecessary complexity of groupware and knowledge management tools:

Effective Social Networks on Ross Mayfields blog brings up the point of the complexity of groupware tools - I would add to this the whole field of knowledge management as being guilty of the same sin. There is a self perpetuating myth that there needs to be a complex set of software to manage large amounts of unstructured information. The myth appears to be that this information is hugely valuable and needs sophisticated tools to ensure you can squeeze the last drop of value out of it. One of my professors taught his class a key rule in any engineering project - always do a rough estimate for any calculation/project to get an idea of the size before doing a detailed analysis. This serves several purposes - makes sure you understand the variables in the problem and makes sure you do not misplace any zeros in the detailed analysis. Doing the same in any groupware or knowledge management application is a similarly revealing exercise - take a representative sample of information and reduce it to the key facts - it quickly shows there is not much there and what is there does not benefit from complex tools. So what is all this unstructured data - mainly attempts to create the evidence to prove the few facts that we are all trying to reach agreement on. Perhaps we should be looking for tools to assemble evidence in favor of the few key truths that we all hope exist.

Besides the resulting cost of complex tools, there is an even larger problem -- people don't use them.

9:28:14 AM    comment []

Listening, Sharing and Relationships

Ton tells a great story on the role of Blogging in Knowledge Management.  Below I reweave his story with excerpts from his posts on listening as the road to obtaining new knowledge, blogs and knowledge sharing, and knowlege relationships

Action, Context and Acquistion of Listening 

. ... listening has at its core the concepts of action ( I decide the things I pick out of a story), contextuality (only within my personal context does what I listen to gain value) and knowledge acquisition (the value gained from listening).

Storytelling for Me and for You

My stories are stories I use to accomodate my listening, I recount, and thereby interpret and give a place to what I listened to in my own mental context. By telling these stories publicly I also put the information I can barter you as a listener for in the window. This is not something I can do in a forum, or on a bulletinboard, because there it is not only me that determines the context of my stories. In my blog I do, you can retrace my steps by scrolling down on this page, and see the amalgam of impressions that went into forming my opinion for yourself. I think that is important, more important than the actual outcome, to be able to see the road that led there, and which sideroads were passed. So that I, or someone else can decide that it is time to retrace my steps and turn into the sideroad. I hate minutes from meetings that only say what was decided. I can see that from your actions. I am much more interested in what made you decide: a blog works at making those processes visible. Wikis only make the (collective) product visible in comparison, even if that product is never quite finished (and thus fulfilling David Weinbergers 1998 prediction about the end of doneness).

Dialogue Discovery

Dialogue in the blogosphere is somewhat hidden from the casual observer, especially if this observer is used to e-mail or forums. ...And I have to discover these responses for myself....In this fashion the read thread in any blog is always the evolutionary thinking path of the author, presented linear because of the chronological order, but as twisted curved and looping around as my brain. Dialogues are always a cross-section of a set of blogs at some point in time, thus nicely representing the limited validity of shared meaning I talked about with Denham.

Conversational Cloud

The effect is a sort of conversational cloud that resembles closely the way dialogues flow between me and my personal friends: we talk on the phone, meet in private, meet in public (bars, theaters, political rallies whatever), we e-mail, write the occasional letter. And even when we haven't met in months we pick up the conversation where we left it off the last time.

Now this is the sort of dialogue, prolonged in time, over many different media, in a dozen different spots, that contributes largely to the evolution of my thoughts. You talk, let it rest for a while, get prodded by a few others, read something in a paper, hear something on the news, and you talk again. There is no way of reconstructing that on-line, let alone in one medium, and I don't want to either. My blog however gives clues to who and what makes up this cloud of conversation around me, and it's the better at it than other media to date.

Conversational Relationships

The most astonishing thing in my experience when I started blogging is that by the strength of my ideas and original postings alone, a new social network came into existence...

My blog draws attention from people purely on the basis of ideas, and a conversation results. Later on you start filling in the general details, which you would normally get to first. But now you already know you've found someone worthwile, where outside the blogosphere that proof is in the last bite of the pudding, not the first. After four months of blogging, people I've met through my blog I also have met face to face, and they have become part of my wider, general social network as more and more of their own conversational cloud became visible to me.

9:14:59 AM    comment []

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