Notes on stuff

Tagged Posts: Collaboration

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Can paragogy help technology production?

A sticky idea…

Howard Rheingold has thrown up a new idea – Peeragogy – which has found a sticky resting place in my brain.

In a blog post written as a pre-cursor to his 2011 Regents’ Lecture at the University of California, Berkeley he reflects on his experience to date with collaborative learning, and sets out the stall for his next project – to collaboratively create a guide to collaborative peer-to-peer learning:

I’m calling it “peeragogy.” While “paragogy” is more etymologically correct, “peeragogy” is self-explanatory. In my lecture, I’ll explain the evolution of my own pedagogy and reveal some of what I’ve discovered in the world of online self-organized learning. Then I will invite volunteers to join me in a two week hybrid of face-to-face seminars and online discussion. Can we self-organize our research, discover, summarize, and prioritize what is known through theory and practice, then propose, argue, and share a tentative resource guide for peeragogical groups? In theory, those who use our guide to pursue their own explorations can edit the guide to reflect new learning.

This idea has definitely struck a chord with me – and slightly tongue in cheek I tweeted:

Is it me, or is #peeragogy about doing learning in the way a lot of “real” work is done?

More going on

As is so often the way, I then read further to discover that someone else had not only spotted the connection but grounded it with references. Rheingold acknowledges the work of Joe Corneli and Charles Danoff, who have termed this area of study Paragogy, have co-authored a paper on it, and are writing a book. In their paper Corneli and Danoff make an explicit link between Paragogy and Peer Production.

Relating this to technology production

When I tweeted, what I had in mind were the complex loops of idea exchange implicit in any kind of technical product development (either for external customers or internal company users):


Most, if not all, of these conversations imply some sort of mutual learning:

  • what sorts of things might surprise, delight or downright disappoint the customer/user
  • what sort of product and business model might work
  • what are the technical options
  • what does the industry provide
  • how can we adapt the current technology to meet the needs
  • what would we like the industry to develop next
  • and so on…..

If the future of work is learning, or more bluntly work is learning- so what, how can we exploit the developments in paragogical theory and practice to make such work work better?

My questions

it’s turtles all the way down, but a few starter questions that spring to mind are:

  • does treating these processes as learning exercises lead to better performance? (and how might we measure that?)
  • what support do teams need to surface learning goals around their work?
  • what team and organisation culture will best support rapid learning?
  • how beneficial is it to make the learning explicit?

Right now this is mostly a “lightbulb” – I need to do more thinking and have some dialogue to explore further.

if any of this strikes a chord with you, please comment.

Links for 2012-01-29

Bookmarks I’ve shared on 2012-01-29:

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Links for 2010-12-16

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Links for 2010-02-14

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Links roundup for 2008-03-06

Shared bookmarks for user Synesthesia on 2008-03-06:

Web 2.0: Deploying, measuring and succeeding with Social Software

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Deploying, measuring and succeeding with Social Software

Ian McNairn, IBM SWG

What does success mean – critical mass? application use? customer delight? increased profit? in other words be clear what you want.

Know what to measure – communities and social networks are different things – determine the business outcome (look for linked indicators) – get clear about the changes you want to get – think about cause and effect. Just because it’s easy to measure, doesn’t mean it means anything…

Measure impact and usage – based on the business outcome. examples, Knowledge Currency, tagging, polls, linking, availability vs. time-to-complain

Pitfalls to avoid – don’t decide on metrics without thinking about context, don’t measure the past, beware “build it and they will come”, don’t try to boil the ocean, don’t expect all users to have equal understanding.

Deployment tricks to increase success – pre-populate with content, engage the members in interaction, on-demand in-context help, make enrollment easy, reward contributions by example.

Web 2.0: Who’s Afraid of Identity?

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Who’s Afraid of Identity?

Tom Ilube, Garlik

Garlik aiming at the “mainstream digital consumer”

Explosion of personal data on the web in last 18 months. Equivalent huge rise in ID theft.

Consumers don’t understand identity management…

But people make decisions about us based on our web status…

And then the talk ended – mostly a “here we are” pitch for Garlik without actually saying anything about what they do…

Web 2.0: The Power of Film

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business

The Power of Film – Adding video podcasts to the communications mix

Joyce Lewis, University of Southampton

First video podcasting news service in any UK university (March 2006)

“People don’t care about cold facts. They care about pictures or stories” – Nancy Green, Donovan and Green.

ECS website has 827,000 pages(!). Video podcasting backs up a lot of the messages .

Inclusion and empowerment – for example, use of videos to support staff through a major upheaval after a key building was destroyed, adding emotional depth.

JE thought – how is this “Web 2.0″? – feels just like broadcasting to me…

Web 2.0: Social Media In Action

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Social Media in Action

Adrian Moss – BOTTLE PR and Focus Business Communications

Poundland Case Study – using social media to support a retail operation.

Number 1 single price discount retailer in Europe. IT driven retail distribution. Lots of short-run and end-of-line product.

Blog experiment to promote Xmas lines – aiming for <£1 cost per visitor

12k visitors in 10 weeks. <50p CPV. Lots of links from blog to company website. 100 active subscribers / Facebook friends. Typically each Facebook friend has 50-100 other friends. Echo chamber effect – 360% increase in referrals to website. Blog probably worth £0.5M already. Extrapolate to a full year, turnover ~ £1.5M <=> 0.5 of a store.

Key was planning. Audience, tone/style/format. Core objectives: engage with key targets, regular posts (3-7/wk), note new product lines.

Lessons: listen to feedback, adjust and adapt go with the flow and the rules, if you make a mistake, acknowledge

Web 2.0: KM Goes Social: From KM 1.0 to KM 2.0

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

KM Goes Social: From KM 1.0 to KM 2.0

David Gurteen

Impact of social tools on Knowledge Management – growth of “KM 2.0″

Techno-centric KM (tools) vs People-Centric KM (attitudes, soft tools)

KM in the doldrums – over-promised, under-delivered in business terms

Social tools are fundamentally about sharing knowledge – personal/social KM! (but not usually coming from the KM community or tool vendors)

Everything is 2.0 now – i.e. participatory. Can be seen as disruptive and subversive.

Combine people-centric KM and social tools to form KM 2.0

Managing tacit knowledge

KM as part of everyday work (thinking out loud) rather than extra work.

Floor comment from Ian Hughes – the importance of allowing lurking as a way of building comfort.

Web 2.0: Business in Virtual Worlds, How we got here with Web 2.0

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Business in Virtual Worlds, How we got here with Web 2.0

Ian Hughes, Metaverse Evangelist IBM

  • What are metaverses and virtual worlds and why are they at a social media conf?
  • And why do IBM care?

It’s all about people… In virtual worlds the visible presence and (e.g.) body language provides strong social signals.

Fundamentally no different from blogs, IM etc – still about people and conversations

About user-created content – just like blogs / wikis / flickr

Real-life sensitivities – e.g. the tribute band U2 in SL… except that U2 and the record company seem to have worked out that this doesn’t hurt the U2 brand.

But online reputation counts… identity is important, but some protection in people recognising imposters through inconsistent behaviour.

Intraverses – virtual worlds inside the firewall

Virtual World Guidelines – treat it as a new country, learn and observe, connect and talk with fellow (insert company name), act with integrity, it’s the internet – beware and be broad-minded…

“Web 2.0 is Web Do”

Web 2.0 and Beyond: Technology Brings Power To The People

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Technology Brings Power to the People

Crispin O’Brien KPMG

Recent survey published – Enterprise 2.0 The Benefits and Challenges of Adoptions

John Chambers CEO Cisco – Cisco moving into enterprise Web 2.0 because old space they compete in is becoming too crowded…

So what has all this stuff got to do with business? And what do you let through the firewall?

Internal benefits – find stuff, keep track of what we know, share who and what we know

External benefits – get really close to customers, harness ideas (LOTS of ideas), find and nurture partners / suppliers

The human dynamics of encouraging people to share and contribute – possibly tie in some part of reward to sharing behaviours?

Email and intranet is bilateral, sequential, run centrally and DULL

To find stuff we use Google – why not use those sort of tools in business

Corporate blogs – ideally uncensored…

Controlled collaboration – walled gardens

The power of tagging.

Innovation and sharing – successful companies of the future need to take heed of all their stakeholders.

There are risks of course, but need to update the controls and risk management.

Web 2.0 and Beyond: Facilitating Open Innovation in A Distributed Community Using Free Social Software Tools

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business

Facilitating Open Innovation in A Distributed Community Using Free Social Software Tools

Claire Reddington, iShed & Ed Mitchell, Ed Mitchell Consulting

iShed is spin off from Watershed media centre in Bristol, to bring together media and R&D – investing in 6 SMEs to research into media blue sky stuff – including Aardman Animations.

Have used project blogs etc. for years. This time wanted to do something different.

Media Sandbox – looking at pervasive media – want to create a commmunity of interest and support a community of practice.

Quoted Charles Leadbetter

Three year project – three times one year. Want to learn and adapt.

Blogs, mailing lists, 3rd party apps like flickr, physical gatherings, workshops etc.

Preparation, launch event, open innovation, progress and final results…

Collaborative R&D with small SMEs is a big thing – they find it hard to make space to do this blue sky thinking.

By the community for the community – the media community helped shape the criteria for grant award

Question they posed – how can this online stuff help us measure (various success criteria)

Web 2.0 and Beyond: Social is Good for Business

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Social is Good for Business: Snockles

Neil Burton, Web Spiders

Enterprise Snockles – a corporate version of Snockles – yet another social messaging app which looks like another Twitter.

Aimed at creating a corporate social network to build better commercial and team relationships, improve knowledge management, build communities, speed up innovation.

Web and mobile phone integrated.

Key thought (JE) – why would I want my employer to own my social graph?

Web 2.0 and Beyond: A Whistlestop Tour Round Web Marketing 2.0

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Case Study: A Whistlestop Tour Round Web Marketing 2.0

Will Wynne,

“Old” web marketing – paid search, natural search, retention marketing, PR, Affiliate Marketing, Comparison Shopping, Conversion Rate. Cost, Competition, Risk, Growth, SEO Optimised page <> Friendly page.

Using social media – video

Host clip of a BBC story, “About Arena” video, Show the team, shows that they do their own flowers, used for job ads, embedded in eBay listing using, total views 5k. Blog alongside the main site – good google juice, good for morale, human face to business, 4 times the £/page of rest of site. Fun app on Facebook sending virtual versions of the products and sending traffic to main site.

Backend systems are all web-based, faster to change, cheaper to deploy.

Web 2.0 and Beyond – Social Computing and the Knowledge-Powered Enterprise

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Social Computing and the Knowledge-Powered Enterprise

John Davies, Next Generation Web Research Group, BT

Social computing & Web 2.0

(user-generated, user-tagged content; social networking tools)

  • 3rd generation KM – emergent social networks, opt-in, self-organising, tools chosen and integrated by the community
  • social computing landscape – Ad-hoc-Structure, Personal-Enterprise. Link technologies to objectives.
  • Knowledge-powered Enterprise – most knoweldge worker activity not based on formal processes – in people’s heads or unstructured documents. Most knowledge workers need to draw on knowledge from colleagues and from outside the enterprise.

Case studies

  • BT: “Hubbub” Web 2.0 customer community as support and self-service channel. Business case: call deflection and improved service. 20% of user base for covered products have used the system.
  • IBM: “Dogear” – social bookmarking for the enterprise. Expertise location, improved quality of recommendations. Enhances results from enterprise search, use bookmarking as a quality indicator. Using individucal’s bookmarks to derive user profiles, team bookmarks as project resources. Integrated into Lotus Connections.

Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web (web 3.0)

  • Extending the web to use computers to do more linking of meaning.
  • Ontologies provide a formal description of an information domain – a taxonomy is a simple example of an ontology.
  • “Scruffies” and “Neats” – bottom-up folksonomies vs. top-down ontologies. Not mutually exclusive
  • SemanticWiki – currently only keyword search, no consistency checking. Experiment – extend Wikipedia by adding type tags to links.
  • Project ACTIVE

Web 2.0 and beyond: Social Tools Hit The Mainstream

I’m at Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Social Tools Hit The Mainstream

Lee Bryant, Headshift

Ideas behind social tools now ready to challenge lots of existing IT and Internal Communications practices inside organisations – Tim O’Reilly

The social stack:

  • Personal tools – organise your “stuff” by tags- personal portals, manage networks and feeds.
  • Group Collaboration – wikis and group systems
  • Blogs and networks
  • Bookmarks and Tags
  • Public feeds and flows

Proven benefits:

  • Simpler, smarter, cheaper enterprise computing.
  • Better personal productivity – move stuff email that doesn’t need to be in it, social network as information filter, better findability.
  • Network productivity and presence sharing – “flow”formal
  • Better informal collaboration and sharing
  • Collaboration and networking – including with other businesses you are partnering with
  • Open innovation
  • Internal communications – more interactive engagement, combination of tools and media two-way not just broadcast.
  • Recruiting and retaining emergent talent – the “digital native” expect to participate. Many of their IT skills being wasted by forcing them into traditional IT environment.
  • In-context, continual informal learning

Success factors:

  • Start with small, simple self-powered projects.
  • Create conditions for shared meaning e.g. a shared account – share social objects


  • Enterprise IT sucks badly – IT industry still centralising, internet is about intelligence at the edges.
  • Try to put IT in the hands of the users – IT governance processes can slow things down so much that costs can be an order of magnitude higher.
  • Moving from .doc and email to the wiki way
  • Iterative approach, agile development. Get something done, expose it to users, adapt to feedback.
  • Enterprise Information Architecture – moving away from a priori taxonomies to folksonomies. Individual tagging actions lead to collective benefit.
  • Information Professional become network nodes.
  • Support the early adopters, but avoid it being a geek ghetto. Make more intimate collaboration environments. Everything needs to be based on a real-world use case. Think of the web as an innovation lab.

Three Myths

  • Social Networking is a waste of time – recognise that online life is distributed, don’t cut it off when they come through the door.
  • New security risks? – yes, but the old ones are worse, because people work around bad old unusable IT
  • Sharing is dangerous? We cannot stem the tide of sharing – better to teach responsibility than police use

Conference Blogging – Web 2.0 and Beyond

I’m blogging Web 2.0 and Beyond – Applying Social and Collaborative Tools To Business .

Web-based Mindmapping

Until now, mind-mapping has been one of the key aspects of information-management that has not been well-supported on the web.

Granted, Freemind has been platform-neutral since the beginning (through its use of Java), and somewhat-integrated with WikkaWiki, but this still very much relies on an individual providing their own server-based architecture. Other tools such as word-processing, calendaring and spreadsheets have had web-based incarnations for a while, but my frustration has been the lack of a truly web-enabled mind-mapping tool: on the desktop I now use MindManager as my core tool for organising and creating information, dropping out to other applications only when a specific treatment of information is required.

At last, companies are rising to the opportunity of this gap in the market – the two best known being Mindomo and MindMeister (still in private beta – subscribe to newsletter to get invitation). Chuck Frey has just published a first feature-comparison of these plus and Thinkature (although as Chuck points out, the latter two are not really mind-mapping in the traditional sense).

Chuck’s initial conclusions show that the two main products are taking different approaches to development – Mindomo seems to be focusing on UI features whereas MindMeister is providing a basic feature set coupled with good ability to import and export from/to other applications and websites. The collaboration model seems to be different too, with MindMeister offering real–time shared editing.

It will be interesting to see what happens to these products – my guess at the moment is that they will appeal to slightly different groups for whom the differing feature sets create a value distinction. Extrapolating from the sorts of things that people do already, both on- and off-line, I think there are two main sorts of workflows for which these online maps wil be suited:

  1. Long-term collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst a group, where the Mindmap becomes the primary repository; and
  2. Dynamic brainstorming, possibly primed with information prepared offline, and where the results of the collaboration are taken away for further work.

On the face of it, although both tools could do either, Mindomo seems to be heading in a direction best-suited to approach 1, whilst MindMeister looks to be a good fit for approach 2 as well. Obviously these workflows are not decoupled, rather they are places on a continuum, but it will be interesting to see which gains most traction first.

One of my main concerns about using an online service such as these is the stability and security of the offering – none of us wants to invest time in creating information only to find that the platform we have used for storing and sharing it has evaporated overnight. (Nick Duffill makes a related point) For that reason I suspect that workflows nearer to (2) will be the better initial match for these online mindmapping tools, which in theory should give MindMeister an advantage. Let’s see!


Eric Blue has issued a call for action for a common mind-mapping file format, and Kayuda is another online product that looks worthy of investigation…

Links Roundup for 2007-02-08

Shared bookmarks for user Synesthesia on 2007-02-08

Collaborative Note-taking

Steph Booth gives a really clear explanation of Taking Collaborative Notes at BlogTalk
[via Chocolate and Vodka]

Dream weblog / wiki tool

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“Lilia Efimova”: is writing about her “dream weblog / wiki tool”: Some really interesting ideas about how to combine the tools to support her “favoured approach”: of blog to capture inital thoughts and wiki to refactor into output documents. I think the only factor I would add would be good support for an integrated drawing tool in both the blog and wiki – many systems-related ideas are much easier to convey in pictures than words…

Collaboration Pattern: Lightning Conductor

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When I “blogged”: “Sam Ruby’s”: “slides”: from his “presentation”: at “ETCon”: on lessons learned from running the “!Echo wiki”: I noted that I thought he had hit on the basics of several collaboration patterns.

I’ve put together the first draft of “LightningConductor”: (named in honour of the metaphor “Sam uses”:


Lightning Conductor


Group of people working collaboratively on a project or problem, especially if they are from diverse backgrounds or interest groups.


Discussions become emotionally-charged, often in a negative way. Some people may deliberately act in ways that impede or disrupt the group effort. The “HiddenAgenda”: “antipattern”: may be apparent.


* Perceived historical slights
* Vested interests
* Unwillingness to negotiate over desired local outcomes in interest of better overal lresult
* Lack of training / experience with collaborative working
* Malicious intent from some


One or more members of the group adopt the role of Lightning Conductor – allowing themselves to be seen as representative of the overall effort, allowing themselves to be made a target for emotional attacks and choosing their responses carefully to avoid escalation.

*Resulting Context*

The negative emotional energy of the collaboration is discharged and diffused, allowing work to proceed more effectively. Many participants find it possible to work constructively together once they have expressed their negative feelings or concerns. Others, who perhaps had malicious intent, will become frustrated at the lack of a matching emotional response and drift away in search of more responsive prey.

Wiki Lessons Learned

“Sam Ruby”: has posted the “slides”: from his “presentation”: at “ETCon”: on lessons learned from running the “!Echo wiki”: He notes:

bq.: If you have a coherently aligned and focused community, a wiki can be a very powerful thing, allowing collaboration to proceed at an astounding pace.
If you have a community in imperfect alignment, a wiki will accurately reflect this state. Given a group with a genuine desire to align, a wiki can provide a powerful and positive feedback loop.
But what happens when you have an unbounded community with divergent goals?

He also mentions the enormous energy that has gone in to the project, resulting in over 1000 pages on the Wiki – some of that energy is deliberately disruptive or destructive – resulting in the need for a role he describes:

bq.: In addition to host, a role that I have played is one of lightning rod. A number of hurtful and untrue things have been said about me, and the company I work for.
“A grounded metal rod placed high on a structure to prevent damage by conducting lightning to the ground.”
Note the recurring theme of energy production, absorption, and dissipation…

He compares the characteristics of “mailing lists”: and “blogs”: with the wiki; flags the importance of “snapshots”: ;and concludes with the following lessons:

# “Time counts”:
# “Cultivate contributors”:
# “Use a mix of strategies”:

It strikes me that there are some good candidate “collaboration patterns”: here – I’ll play around on the “Synesthesia wiki”: and blog when I have some drafts…

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