Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The difference between consonents and vowels
Though I could mention them (B = consonent, O= vowel), I found it hard to explain why a consonent is a consonent and why a vowel is a vowel. For my eldest daughter, this was easy. Since she had learned it in school a year ago, it was very easy for her to explain.
This shows that at times it is easier to learn from a person who has recently gone through the same process. The experienced person may have internalized the use and may not be able to explain how he/she makes certain distinctions or decisions.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
My blog in Arabic
We often encounter the question of working across different languages. It depends on the importance of the exchange whether you invest heavily in translations or not - by employing a certified translator.
An alternative could be to offer quick and dirty online translation services like:
- Prompt (upto 500 characters for free, thanks to Riny Heijdendael for showing me the tool)
- Google translation (used in this case)
- To a blog you can add a translator widget
Wouter tipped me about two resources explaining how to add translation services to your blog:
Britt Bravo showed me her blogpost explaining the Worldwide Lexicon project. Using open source, this project stimulates readers of website or blogs who are bilangual to translate parts of the website in other languages. It is somewhere in the middle of the machine translations mentioned above (weakness: mechanical translations) and professional translations (weakness: costly).
What's the best tool at the moment?
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Find Sinterklaas on his boat
This year, the intocht made me think about our own traditions around the Sinterklaas tradition. With some friends, we gather at around 11 in the morning at the same spot in Den Bosch and wait for Sinterklaas to pass by in his boat (see video clip). Then we go to the market square, to the pub, to wait till he arrives by horse, where he is welcomed by the mayor of the town. The program there is the same every year. The mothers have to sing songs, the fathers have to sing a song and the children have to judge whether the fathers sung better than the mothers (but they never do). Even though,the number of friends joining our group varies (as children grow up) we always stick to the same routine. You could think of a millions other ways, but somehow, it is easy to do the same old things. What could be reasons to change these routines?
Friday, November 16, 2007
The new shape of online community
She illustrates her point with the examples of the REM fan base, which started with a mailing list in the late 80s. Today, there are many other fan-created websites that co-exist. Plus there has been a rise in fan-authored MP3 blogs too. "Many of the bloggers link to one another through blog rolls, creating a multi-sited community of like-minded bloggers who interact through their posts and comments." With new incarnation of online fandom, the previous forms have not disappeared.
Mapping the boundaries becomes a challenge though. The Swedish indie fan community, for instance, is distributed throughout many places on the internet and off. Over time, active fans will bump into each other, and a sense of community may be formed, which has a lot of similarity with physical places. Few people visit every place in town, but in regular places, the same people may bump into eachother (school, sport clubs, restaurants, etc).
Apparently, it has been the norm for scientists to study an online space (as one URL) and study it. But that's a limited approach, given the interconnectedness of the various sites.
For developers it has consequences too; the challenge is to make sure site can serve as location of activity, and im- and export from other sites.
Ning is a good, positive example, I was able to feed my blog into my personal page on the forum, and to set up an delicious feed within 2 minutes.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Can blogging contribute to overcoming this bias/attitude? Probably only if a critical mass of different thinkers would write and blog and get read/heard. But it might be that a majority of bloggers have a similar bias.
For instance, it also resonates with the spirit of a lot of self-help projects that are springing up. Though I try to see the positive side of it, some of the projects are helping the 'pathetic' or 'zielige' mensen, and is really pure charity rather than development. Yet, it is mistaken as development work. For me, the basis of development work is that you respect the situation people are in, and their own aspirations. There needs to be some equality in the relationship.
By the way, Wouter is a very nice example of a person whom I met just once. We don't have time to work or get together. But through our blogs, we can lightly stay in touch and I'm my thinking is often sharpened by his critical thinking about development issues. Maybe what's more important, even if we would meet, we would probably not get to exchange some of the ideas that we exchange on the blogs!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Tools versus attitude
The toolkits fondness, I believe, probably derives from the desire to have something tangible, and to have a 'product'. Toolkits are not bad in themselves, but as Holger Nauheimer from the change management toolbook points out, the attitude of the advisor is so much more important. It's like the screwdriver without the carpenter. So a balance between focus on toolkits and attitudes is needed.
Once I read a remark by Etienne Wenger stating that a good toolbook (he probably said reification) fits the practice like a glove. So a good toolbook that suits the practice of a group of practitioners can really be helpful. On the other hand, a toolbook without the practitioners who work with it the way it was intended can become meaningless. An example is the Participatory Rapid Appraisal methodology, that became meaningless when used by people who did not apply to the basic principles behind the methodology.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Integrating a blog into your website
In my case, I have a blog and I want to build a website to make my advisory services clearer. I have already decided I would like to integrate my blog and the website, as I think a blog is a very powerful means, and I would like the site and blog to work together. Get clients now lists some reasons (in Dutch) why a blog can be more powerful than a website. I can summarize some for the non-Dutchies, adding my own experiences:
- With every blogpost, you can show some of your thoughts, qualities, knowledge
- You make it easy for people to point to some of your specific blogposts
- You end up quite high in google with the words that you use in your blog
With regards to the last one; Mark Fonseca talked about podcasting to the e-collaboration group and shared an anecdote about someone who scored quite high numbers of visitors with his blog (or podcast). He achieved this by using tags like Britney Spears... Personally I found out through today through a visitor to my blog that googling on 'first person to invent lasagna' puts my blog as number 1.... I feel quite sorry for that person that I chose such an irrelevant name for my blog.
Mark White also has more technical considerations on where and how to integrate your blog into the site. I'm still finding out how to work it out technically speaking, and whether to integrate the full page, or use a feed. I think I will try the first one. Any advice welcome!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Free online fora for hire!
I still can't believe how easy it is to set up these kind of forums as compared to software packages whereby you need a specially skilled webdesigner, webbuilder and webhost to design and build an online forum. On top of the length of the design and build process, there are often the translation problems. It is hard to explain all the features you want, and for the builder it is hard to explain the details of what exactly he is building.
I really wonder what the future of online forum design will look like. Some disadvantages of a free forum for use within an organisation:
1. There are advertisements in the free version (though if you pay something, it will be removed).
2. You may want the look of your forum to match your housestyle.
3. You are stuck with some design features and can not build it entirely according to your own design.
Especially in this phase of experimentation with online discussions, I think it can be a great solution to start with a free and easy-to-set up forum, so that you and the other users have time to find out what features they like/need/desire.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
The new knowledge worker
He spoke about the new knowledge worker who does not find enough space to be creative and to apply his/her skills in organisations, and especially not the way they are structured now. His idea is that we can learn from virtual gaming worlds where people are highly motivated and stimulated to develop their skills. What can we learn from this to change the structures and processes within organisations?
Though I'm not into virtual gaming, this is a question that I think is very important, and I experienced it throughout my own career in organisations. It's really hard to find an organisation where you get the space to innovate and develop yourself without managers getting in the way. Personally, I see a potential for communities of practice to provide that space. Jack Vinson had a nice presentation about the knowledge worker 2.0