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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The literature review

The literature review
The Internet was down most of today so there was no getting away from it. I got stuck into the CIRN Prato conference where I'm co-writing a paper with Patricia Arnold and John Smith about "Memory and Forgetting: a review of narrative and technologies". The conference theme is: "Constructing and sharing memory: community informatics, identity and empowerment".

The deadline was today, but although we meet regularly on Skype (PT, DE, US) to talk about it and take notes, things didn't really start coming together until last night - and we got our request for an extension. It clicked once we framed memory in terms of voice and power. Who's voice is being heard? Whose story is being told? And whose is being left out? So whose memory is it?

My favourite quote from today came from Robin Usher et al (who clearly don't know my local universe):
“The quest for a ‘God’s eye view’, a disembodied and disembedded timeless perspective that can know the world by transcending it, is no longer readily accepted. What has taken its place is a loss of certainty in ways of knowing and what is known. What we are left with is not an alternative and more secure foundation but an awareness of the complexity, historical contingency and fragility of the practices through which knowledge is constructed about ourselves and the world.” (p. 210)

And these were some of my reflections on memory with this post-modern lens:

• Memories are produced through a process of languaging. Language is not a mirror held up to past experiences, it’s not a transparent vehicle for conveying memory. Memory can’t be separated from language, discourses and texts at work within culture. Language, discourses and texts are both the carriers and creators of memory.

• Memory is always partial and perpectival; it’s always shaped by language and discourse; it’s always situated within specific cultures which provide meaning and significance.

• We have to be self-reflexive about memory. We have to consider the implication of memory and power and unspoken values and the effects, or politics, of memory.

• Memory is a kind of story-telling – “constructing” and “reconstructing”. The advantage to seeing memory like this is that it foregrounds the illuminative, insightful and emancipatory possibilities of story-telling. But it can also be oppressive and dangerous.

Usher, R., Bryant, I. & Johnston, R. (1997) Adult Education and the Postmodern challenge: learning beyond the limits.London & New York, Routledge.

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shortText - saveTime?

A friend asked me what I thought of shortText today. I've had a play with it before but had put it in the Web2.0 toy basket and forgotten about it.

Then I got it out again today as I head-scratch over ingenious ways to manage lots of different projects at once and stick to deadlines!

One thing I'm learning about managing projects is to scoop and do things up as you go along rather than putting them on lists or waiting 'till the right moment.

For example, I always have to write an evaluation report at the end of a course. One of the worst things to do is to wait until the project is over before I start collecting feedback on the process; the second worst thing is to say I'll keep observation notes of the process; and the third worst thing is to go back and wade through the course documents and conversations looking for comments and feedback that people made during the process.

So at the moment Nancy and I are keeping a Whiteboard in Basecamp where we just copy/paste the feedback or reflections people are making. We also jot down our thoughts (finished or not) as we go along. By the end of the course we'll have a Whiteboard full of the things we scooped up during the process. That will make it easier - and more informative - in writing up the final report.

But I want to experiment now with shortText. With shortText you get a unique URL for a short text you write. So, this is my idea. We scoop up feedback and thoughts during the process of the course, putting each one into shortTexts as we go along. Save the shortText in with relevant tags e.g. Projectname, ProjectEvaluation ... Then at the end of the course all thoughts related to Project Evaluation (for example) will be neatly filed in under its own tag.

You can also make comments on the shortText and it has RSS.

I think I might have found a time-saver!

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Bunker Roy in Lisbon

Bunker Roy of Barefoot College will be talking publicly at two places in Lisbon this week about "Learning competences for sustainable technologies".

"Sanjit "Bunker" Roy is a product of Doon School and St.Stephen's College, Delhi. Since 1972 Bunker has been living in Tilonia, a village in one of India's largest, driest and poorest states, where he is founder and director of the Social Work and Research Centre (SWRC), a voluntary foundation better known as Barefoot College. "Barefoot" refers to rural people and the poor.

Barefoot College was founded to provide basic needs such as drinking water, health and education services, employment and energy to a population of some of 100,000 people spread among more than 110 villages in the Rajasthan desert state. The college provides nine different areas of specialization: drinking water, night schools, health centers, solar power, environment, income generation, traditional media, people's action, and women's groups. All students are equipped with basic literacy, health and first aid skills and are then urged to move from one area to another, understanding their inter-relationships and learning the principles of community building and sustainability.

Over the years Barefoot College has become more oriented towards the use of traditional knowledge and skills by the local people in the villages to develop their communities. The college has set up 150 night schools in 89 villages for children who work during the day to help their families. To date, 15,000 children have passed through these schools, where village culture, history and skills appropriate to the regional context are privileged subjects.

Bunker and his wife the noted social activist Aruna Roy have won many awards including the Arab Gulf Fund for the United Nations (AGFUND) Award for promoting Volunteerism, The World Technology Award for Social Entrepreneurship, The Schwab Foundation for Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs, The Stockholm Challenge Award for Information Technology, The NASDEQ Stock Market Education Award, and the Tyler Prize."

ISCTE - 30th May in Sala B204 - Edifiício II (18h00);
Alameda Universitária, Rorre do Tombo - 31st May (14h30). Simultaneous translation English-Portuguese.
Entrance - free.Information in Portuguese.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Doctorates in Portugal

Last month João Vaconcelos Costa and I didn’t manage to our blog translation, but we are now back on the case. I was interested in this article by Miguel Araújo (a guest on JVC's blog) because I have never given much thought to the different ways you defend your thesis in different countries. I’ll be defending mine in Portugal. I already find it interesting that I gave the name of an international seminal writer in my area who would like to sit on my Board - but I was told this was only possible if there was no-one in Portugal working in this area. Does that mean I must aspire to the Portuguese academic community and not the international one?

So this is my translation:

Doctorates in Portugal
Miguel Araújo

The discussion of a doctoral thesis has two objectives. The first is an academic evaluation of the work. The second is a public presentation of the results. In Portugal (as in Spain, France and other countries traditionally Roman) the defense of doctoral theses mixes both these components. The result is that neither one nor the other actually gets done.

The defense of theses are protocoled sessions where an excessive number of evaluators – one of whom, astonishingly – is the supervisor – puts forward half a dozen questions of no consequence. Rarely does a thesis fail and the key question is if the thesis deserves a “distinction and laudem”. As there are no objective criteria to classify the thesis the laudem is arbitrary, undermining its value and mostly indicating the sympathy and strength of relationship between the supervisor and members of the jury. So the defense of a thesis becomes a sad, formal ceremony devoid of content. Even more serious, they promote the practice of a “gentlemen’s agreement” which is fine in politics but not so good in Science.

In the United Kingdom the procedure is the opposite. The public presentation of the results is relegated to academic meetings and congresses for which the defense of the thesis is a discussion behind a closed door, with two evaluators where the supervisor can’t participate. The discussions are hard and without the formalities of protocol (I say from my own experience). In these discussions recommendations are often made to change the thesis, which could be one-offs (when all goes well) or more substantial ones (when things don’t go so well). To avoid being arbitrary the result of the evaluation is to pass or not to pass. The concept of “distinction and laudem” doesn’t exist.

The British system has the advantage of requiring work from fewer evaluators. It’s an advantage as it reduces the pressure on the market of evaluators. On the other hand you don’t invite evaluators just to make up the numbers. Those who are there have something to say. Getting rid of the “show” component reduces the unnecessary pressure on the candidate and encourages a more conducive atmosphere for a substantial evaluation of a thesis; an evaluation with consequences as it’s not common for a thesis to pass without alterations. The sad side of the defense of theses in the United Kingdom is the loneliness of the act. Countries with a Latin tradition like the show and the defense of the thesis is an important day in the life of a candidate.

To be sure of the seriousness of the evaluation and to give it some sense of show there is a third way: the Finnish one. In Finland the evaluation and the public presentation are separate events. The evaluation is done in writing. That is, you send your doctoral thesis to three evaluators. They have to read it and make the necessary suggestions. The candidate then has a certain time period to incorporate the evaluators’ suggestions. The editing work is reviewed by the president of the jury who could decide to resend the thesis to the evaluators. Once the final version of your thesis is accepted you can organize your public presentation. This presentation is started by a speech given by the doctoral candidate, followed by a debate with a world specialist of the theme. Their role is not to evaluate the thesis but to facilitate a public discussion about the thesis. The specialist’s role is to make the candidate shine. Never to humiliate.

Separating the process of evaluation from the show guarantees that each of these acts is productive and gratifying. It also reduces the costs of the ceremony, as there are only the travel and accommodation costs of an external academic. The evaluators are in written contact. With this process you also ensure the quality of the evaluators, as the criteria of geographic proximity doesn’t always coincide with the criteria of academic relevance of the evaluators.

A change in the system of the defense of theses is important to ensure the credibility of the act. Securing the credibility of the act would be contributing to the health of the Portuguese academic world and with it the quality of people doctoring in this country.

(Published inAMBIO)

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Technology - a woman's thing

The other day I was invited to suggest more women speakers for the SHiFT conference in Lisbon to take place in September.

Even though I had a million things on during that day, it doesn't explain why I didn't find it easy to immediately locate potential women speakers. And that got me wondering why I imagine that technology is a woman's thing.

Well, I have three sisters. The youngest is a senior interactive designer for the BBC website. She's a rare designer in that she was once an expert HTML coder. My other sister, since ever, has been installing computer hardware and software for large companies in UK and providing backup technical support. Years ago my third sister used to be a software developer for a company in Australia, but living now in the sticks outside Mombasa doesn't have access to Internet.

And of course, there was my mum. She had her personal webpage up before I had even heard of the Internet. Those were the days before Front Page - and when I look at what she did with photos, wallpaper and blanking out my face (*) I'm just gob-smacked at what she was doing ten years ago.

(*) Historic note: I was horrified at her for putting a photo of me on a WEB page, so she compromised by blanking out my face!

In fact my mum picked up her initial technology skills from me. Twenty-four years ago (gasp) I had an ALTOS computer with WordStar (and no mouse, of course) and my mum wanted to learn to use it. Separated from my dad she had made a big step going to live in UK and was looking for work. It was tough as her only work experience was as a telephonist for the Kenya police during the time of the Mau Mau in the 1950's. In her late 40's in Britain she didn't feel like she had much to offer. But she had put in a job application for a secretarial job which required good knowledge of WordStar. WordStar was an early word processing software, which she knew nothing about - so she came to stay with me so I could teach her. I was pregnant at the time and I will never forget us at the computer, me starting labour, and mum crying: "No, not yet Beverly, I've got to know know how to use WordStar first!"

Well, she did get the job and over the years moved on from there, eventually working for the British Red Cross in Devon, responsible for their office management and technologies.

None of us were trained in technologies - we all just fell into it. My designer sister studied as an artist, my technology sister studied child-care and sign-language, and the other trained in life experience. I'm in social sciences. When we get together - and stay away from political arguing - we talk people, food, cooking, clothes, sports and books - not technology.

So, I guess it's hardly surprising that in my mind - using and experimenting with technology has all the familiarity, warmth and tension of being a women's thing. That just seems obvious!


I heart Netvibes

While I was enthusing about Netvibes to Nancy I realised (again) how each person's experience of tools is so different. And if we don't talk about it, we don't know how other people are using them.

My browser opens straight into Netvibes where I have the feeds for my calendar, photos from Flickr contacts, feeds, and headlines from the BBC, Guardian and Publico. I love it when I open my browser and the first thing I see is the latest photo from my flickr contacts.

However, the life-saver for me in Netvibes isn't all the feeds that greet me as I start up the computer - it's the "Bookmarks" and their tags.

I have at least five different projects on the go at any one moment and each project uses tools that are the same as or different from the other projects. In the past I used Prototype, an Ajax start page, where I kept different panels for each project. So each panel has a project and quick links to each tool in that project. But it just became a big mess with lots of panels. Also, I would have liked, for example, to be able to click on Wiki and get a list of the Wikis I have in my different projects. But with the panels you can only categorise under one panel title

As my Prototype got too messy I found myself using my my feedreader (NetNewsWire) as a sort of project organiser. I keep a folder for each project which contains the related feeds. But I also use the folders as a route into the different tool spaces. So if I want to check the BaseCamp list of ToDos in "Project CIARIS", then I go to NetNewsWire, click on the folder for Project CIARIS and click into BaseCamp through the link there.

But this system is a couple of clicks too many and doesn't work if a project has a site with no feeds. I need, for example, to keep consulting the CIARIS website, but it doesn't have a feed. So I then have to use my normal Firefox bookmarks, taking me out of that centralised headspace I need to manage so many different parts of my life.

The way my brain is wired I need is a way of organising my project bookmarks where I can get to places either through their project name or through the name of the tool. And sometimes through the name of a person.

So that's where Netvibes, another AJAX start page, has been my sanity-saver. In Netvibes I have a Bookmarks panel where I bookmark every tool or site related to my different projects. Each bookmark is tagged. So, for example in "Project CIARIS", that I'm doing with Nancy, I use esnips, Basecamp, CIARIS website and Moodle. Each of those tools is tagged with "CIARIS" and with "Nancy". So through this little panel on Netvibes I can click on, say, "Basecamp" and get a list of the projects I'm doing in Basecamp or click on "Nancy" and get a list of the projects I'm involved in with Nancy. Or I can click on CIARIS and get a list of the tools, sites or people involved in Project CIARIS.

It's very neat and keeps me sane. But, in talking to Nancy I discover that she doesn't find it nearly so instinctive. And it made me realise how individual these tools are. They are tools for a collaborative experience, but your experience of the tools is very individual. And I'm intrigued to know how other people manage their different projects and tools.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Procreating bloggers

Today I did an afternoon workshop with colleagues from across our five schools (*)  to help them create a blog for their professional portfolio.

What did I re-feel in their experience as they started their own blog?

  • the delight in starting to construct an identity online;

  • the realisation that people are going to read it i.e. feeling accountable to something bigger than your department or School  ...

  • a dawning realisation that if you write in Portuguese, then your audience - and therefore your identity - will be quite different than if you write in English;

  • a hint of the potency of new technologies and a sub-conscious realisation of the new relationships they could generate.

I've put the feeds for all the blogs into a Superglu account, so all the blog posts now appear on one Superglu page. Does that mean I'm suggesting that a Web2.0 technology is responsible for bringing people from across disciplines and across School all onto the same page?

(*) School of Business, Schools of Technology (2), School of Education, School of Health.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

A great night!

If you thought this was one of Setúbal's famous freshly grilled fish, you'd be wrong.

And if you thought it was a normal bar of soap, you'd also be wrong.

No, it's a bar of soap made from recyled cooking oil. Luis of Reciclamos brought it to the blogger + friends dinner last Saturday night.

It was a wonderful dinner - food from Cape Verde, great company. And 3 iPods and a computer!!

Without even asking someone took on the organisation of the next dinner. It will be in another special, not very well-known place in Alcube.

Criteria for being invited, if you're not a blogger? Something to say about Setúbal Now - or just simply cool!

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Using blogs in education

Next Friday I'm giving a workshop - to my colleagues in the different schools in IPS - on the use of Wikis and blogs for creating a professional portfolio.

So my ears pricked up to see this interactive version of using blogs in education which is a remix of Scot Leslie's matrix of uses of blogs in education.

I think this remix could be helpful for getting people to think about the different ways of using blogs as a process - and not as a product.

My experience is that most people see online tools as a way of publishing or broadcasting their final product to an even greater number of people. Getting them to see that collaborative involvement in the process is where it's at is like speaking another language.

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Bloggers change Setúbal now!

Café Experimental, Setúbal is where it's at on Friday.

Seventeen cool people, mostly bloggers, from around Setúbal - including geeks, journalists, a photographer, an illustrator and colleagues from the local Business School have confirmed the African dinner, music and (if I have anything to do with it) dancing.

I needed a minimum of ten people to organise the dinner - but that quickly grew to 17 and there are at least eight people who couldn't come this time but want to come to the next one.

The Café is a new and unusual one for Setúbal although it's the same genre of those cafés in the early 80's in UK that sold alternative and Fair Trade goods - and a selection of worthy, herbal teas. For groups of 10+ they will do an African or an Indian meal (10 Euros a head).

Who knows ... maybe there IS a chance of stimulating local life in Setúbal. Maybe there's a chance that one of the most beautiful locations in Portugal won't fizzle out through apathy and mismanagement. We might even start getting people coming to Setúbal from Lisbon or Troia for a bit of a social life!

It's amazing what blogging can lead to. Sign up here for the next Setúbal party for bloggers and friends!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Oh no! Another fun photo thing from Tabblo. This is really neat - and I can easily upload photos from iPhoto, which I haven't found out how to do in Flickr. And you can easily integrate your photos from Flickr into Tabblo. Cool.

Zone 41 is responsible for my distraction this morning.


SHiFT 2006

Great initiative from folks in Lisbon, including some from Setúbal who I've written about before. It's a conference on "Social and Human ideas for Technology" in Lisbon in September.

Pedro Custódio of Centopeia describes it:
"We named the result of this ideas and intentions, SHiFT meaning Social and Human Ideas For Technology, and we hope it might create a central point for discussion of technology and it's role in society, whether the portuguese one or this new born global society we're talking about. SHiFT means essentially change, the idea that we're experiencing new developments every day as a society thru the use of technology. SHiFT for the principle that we don't have clear yet, what will this changes be, but we're assure that we're changing. A special desire for a SHiFT in the Portuguese society, that we want more and more technological. SHiFT for a more human approach to technology...

SHiFT aims to be simultaneous a celebration of technology and a gathering for people from different backgrounds with different experiences, working and living with this new emerging technologies. The main subjects for this year edition will be: People and Technology, Knowledge , New Forms of Economics, Blogs and Citizen Participation and last but not least, Liberty and Privacy on this new digital environments.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Online emergence

Andrew McAfee writes about the mechanisms of online emergence. The reason why Google and the Web works is not because it's a databank full of links - its an emergent system because it's the dynamic creation of countless people around the world interacting with each other via links as they create new content.

That is at the heart of the paradigm shift related to new technologies and learning. I can see that until that mindset click happens, people still use sites, blogs or wikis as a way of "sharing knowledge" i.e. passing on more links and information - whereas Web2.0 is much more than that. In this mindset tools and technologies are:

"increasing the number of people who are contributing content (and the ease with which they can do it), and increasing the number of ways to let content creators (and consumers) interact with each other. These new interactions are the further mechanisms, beyond linking, for emergence -- for letting patterns and structure emerge from low-level behavior."

Like a number of other researchers who take a complexity view of the Web, McAfee compares the Web with an ant colony:
Ant colonies are also highly decentralized, but they appear tightly orchestrated. Colonies have complex social structures and use sophisticated strategies to forage, defend themselves, and make war. This happens because each ant is 'programmed' by its DNA to do certain things (carry an egg, fight an intruder, go to where food is) in response to local signals (usually chemical scents from other ants, eggs, intruders, food, etc.). As ants interact with each other and their environment they send and receive signals, and these low-level activities yield high-level structure.

Complexity science uses the term emergent to describe systems like this. Emergence is the appearance of global structure as the result of local interactions. It doesn't happen in most systems; what's necessary is a set of mechanisms to do critical things like connect the system's elements and provide feedback among them."

While McAfee is referring to the workforce I can reinforce what he says in other contexts about the energy needed to help people feel comfortable with Web2.0 tools:
Everything I've seen indiates that the 'activation energy' required to get the current workforce comfortable with Web 2.0 tools, and so to create Enterprise 2.0, is pretty high. My executive education students usually have a deer-in-the-headlights look when we start talking about the new tools.

The tools themselves are not at all difficult to use. More complicated is the mindshift as you start incoporating them in your practice. 

He finishes with a question which is one that I share, and which I hadn't realised would be quite so difficult until I did a recent workshop about them:

What are the best ways to get a Web 1.0 workforce comfortable using Web 2.0 tools?

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Facilitating in a second language

I've been reflecting on my facilitation online in Portuguese, particularly on a workshop I recently finished. Online communication is almost entirely text-based so your literacies in another language are really brought into focus. This is what I observe about myself:

Time (I). It takes more than double the time to write anything. Full stop.

Time (II). Whereas in English I can reply quickly and without a second thought, in Portuguese I can't. Many messages (i.e. fine-tunings in the negotiation of meaning) go unsent because it takes too long to get round to writing even a brief message.

Non-happenings. What you write is what people see and what exists. What you don't write doesn't exist. Therefore a lot of things don't exist when you are doing something in a second language!

Tone. It is very difficult to get the tone right. The magic of facilitation comes in the subtle inflexions; how you say it is as important as what you say. It's very difficult to get the tone right in another language.

Social relations. Portuguese writing reflects the subtle and complex hierarchy of relationships between people and people's roles. I don't have a very good notion of my status in any language. While that doesn't matter when I'm operating in English (where the language is more equalising anyway), when I'm operating in Portuguese it adds another layer of newness for people already struggling with the strangeness of an online experience.

Risk-taking. The more fearful participants are about taking risks with the technology, the less confident I feel about taking risks or making mistakes with the language.

Identity. I'm still unclear about the ways this impacts on my identity, or my different identities in different languages, but I know it does.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

No Learning Patents

Sign the petition:

"This petition aims to alert European authorities and policy-makers to the dangers of software patents, and particularly to the negative impact they will have on education. The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to support and enhance teaching and learning, including e-learning, is now recognised as a key element in providing education which meets the needs and abilities of students, and prepares Europe to participate creatively, technologically and economically on a global level."

More on the FLOSSE Posse page.

Google knows ...

My personalised Google Homepage couldn't have come up with a more personalised Quote of the Day. It's from Pablo Picasso:

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

If you inserted "with other people", you would get also get the idea of learning in communities of practice.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Having a turn!

My body may look like it's just sitting on the sofa. But in reality I'm rushing from room to room, person to person, task-to-task in a social universe located inside my computer. 

Could that be the reason why me and my body keep getting out of synch? I can be talking to someone, brushing my teeth or giving a presentation when suddenly I feel like I've been dislocated from my physical self. It is very disconcerting. Today I found myself coming out of the lift on a different side of the lobby to my body!

Until I was around sixteen I used to think I was leaving my body at night. Sometimes when I got back to bed I lay in the opposite direction to where my body was - for fun. I had to be careful about falling asleep without getting me and my corpse back together otherwise I would wake up and crash into the wall as I swung out of bed. I thought, like masturbation, this night-time activity was something everyone did but no-one talked about.

Today I'm wondering if I'm showing symptoms of overdoing it ... or if my next post will be describing men in white coats!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The "C" word

As I got out of bed this morning I heard in the news headlines that "peritos" (experts) in Brussels were predicting that Portugal would be the poorest country in Europe by the year 2050.

Wow - thought I - people all over the country will be feeling very content. Yet one more story to prove how poor Portugal is. One more piece of the jig-saw puzzle - Portugal is in dire straights and that there is nothing we can do about it.

I have a theory, based on nothing empirical, that lots of people in Portugal love a story that shows how wrong things are. At risk of being seen as not-a-serious-person I wonder if there really is anything wrong in Portugal - or if it's just a story that has become so vivid and widespread that people have started to live it. To be trapped by it. To make it part of their ... C-u-l-t-u-r-e.

Except in education, of course. That's never a story. That's true!

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Design v. emergence

Andrew McAfee writes about Enterprise IT v. Enterprise2.0, but where I am it applies to Education and also non-profits.

He writes about the tendency to assume that collaboration technologies need to be thoroughly "set up" in advance, rather than letting the structure emerge over time. One of his examples is that users get identities before they start using the technology which assigns them certain roles, privelages and access rights and excluding them from others. The role is usually their role in the existing organisational hierarchy. For example, in a recent course I was involved in people were assigned names like "Expert", "Debutante", "Tutor"...

McAfee's point is: "How much of this structure is necessary? How much is valuable? Well, the clear success stories of Web 2.0 demonstrate that for at least some types of community and collaboration, none of it is."

His context is enterprise but it's what I see in my world of education too. Existing hierarchies are trying to use IT to maintain, reinforce and control work processes in the status quo and to broadcast their message to more people, not to indicate any mindshift about the nature of learning.

McAfee doesn't think the situation will last long because "freeform IT-based collaborations are yielding great results".

But I'm back to my ongoing question - can freefrom collaboration and learning work if people aren't ready for it? Do you have to structure learning environments so that people learn to be unstructured? Striking that balance between a structured design and emergence is a fundamental design parameter that's different for different people and for different groups. It's also a threatening one ... and a difficult one to get right.


Identity Crisis

Originally uploaded by Madge Webb.
A fab. drawing from Madge Webb of her different identities.

Today I think I'm more like Monkey girl but with aspirations to be glam.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The blogosphere: multilingual and deeply international

David Sifry writes part 2 about the state of the Blogosphere "On Language and Tagging". Technorati have started tracking the primary language of each blog that they track and getting some idea where the wordwide growth of blogging is happening and what were the trends. Here's his summary of what they found.
* The blogosphere is multilingual, and deeply international.
* English, while being the language of the majority of early bloggers, has fallen to less than a third of all blog posts in April 2006.
* Japanese and Chinese language blogging has grown significantly.
* Chinese language blogging, while continuing to grow on an absolute basis, has begun to decline as an overall percentage of the posts that Technorati tracks over the last 6 months
* Japanese, Chinese, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, French, Portuguese, Dutch, and German are the languages with the greatest number of posts tracked by Technorati.
* The Korean language is underrepresented in this analysis
* Language breakdown does not necessarily imply a particular country or regional breakdown.
* Technorati now tracks more than 100 Million author-created tags and categories on blog posts.
* The rel-tag microformat has been adopted by a number of the large tool makers, making it easy for people to tag their posts. About 47% of all blog posts have non-default tags or categories associated with them.


Dialog - memories and forgetting in Communities of Practice

Wonderful! Some of us in CPsquare have now booked the Veb Guest House in Florence for our Dialogue on Communities of Practice - memories and forgetting. It is a beautiful antique building just 10 minutes from the Duomo and has one of the highest terrace rooftops overlooking the city. I think we'll have a wonderful few days reflecting on our work and pursuing specific lines of questions - using each other as sources of inspiration. Master and apprentices welcome if you are interested in joining us (max. 20 people). The Dialog will run between the 5th and 8th October.

The questions we'll be starting with are:
* What are our practices for keeping track of memory and learning in communities of practice? What do we forget?
* When do our practices fail us?
* Similarly for claiming a role in the world, do we claim our contribution properly? Do we disguise it? Forget it?

* Through what relationships do we discover new skills and share what we know? How do we reinvent our view of the world for each other? How do we coach each other (before, on the spot and afterwards, at a distance)?
* What traces are we leaving for our work on communities of practice? What technologies and practices are there for supporting these traces? How do we get people to sponsor us in our practice?
* What is the nature of rigor in our relationships of sense making about our practice? How do we formalise the reputation that comes with our expertise? How do we live and engage with the ambiguities in our practice?

Who is here? Who is not here? Why?
* What does that say about how we’ve spoken about our learning in previous interactions? What relationships have we sustained and what relationships have fallen away? Is there tolerance of the ambiguity of being a peripheral participant?

Part of our own history and memory is the Lisbon Dialog (which took place in Setúbal, not Lisbon). At the end of that Dialog we did a one day presentation in the place where I work. After this Dialog in Florence we'll be presenting a short workshop with our reflections at the Community Informatics Conference at Monash University in Prato.