Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Call answering practices change -very- slowly

I had a sudden insight on Friday that was a bit shocking and funny at the same time. During a discussion about online 'openess' someone explained that his daughter answers the phone by greeting the person calling, she knows who is calling her. I realized I always say my own name when I answer the phone.. but in a way it is ridiculous, because on my display I already see who is calling me! It is just a matter of habit. It's an old habit from the time when you could not see on the display who is calling you... There is my age-group playing out a small act as if we don't know who is calling.. It shows clearly that practices change very slowly following technical solutions. The way we interact and communicate with friends is grounded in a lot of conventions. If a persons picks up the phone saying her name, you know she is from the era before the displays!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jaroslav Azhnyuk on education 2.0 in Ukrain

Jaroslav is 19 years old, lives in Ukrain, and started an NGO called Internet Initiatives. Is also a founder of Semantica Company.

What's education 2.0. Education + web2.0= education 2.0?? It is not as simple as that. First we need to educate people how to use the internet. A sixth of the population use internet, but mainly browsing and email. They don't use web2.0 tools, RSS feeds etc. Primary skills are using email; secondary skills are use of RSS feeds, slideshare, blogs, social networking, etc. How to use this, not only for fun, but also for business.

Hence Internet Initiatives organises:
- Barcamps where everyone can give presentations of about 30 minutes, a very open format. It's cool and fun. Barcamps were very inspiring and successful, starting a barcamp virus- 12 barcamps en monthly minicamps organized in a cafe. Lots of fun, beer and snacks. See blogcampCEE for an impression.

- New technologies on the Internet with 18 seminars on universities sponsored by EJC and Apple IMC. 6 topics, social networks, blogs, RSS feeds, search. Found out level of knowledge highly varies. Some students are deeply engaged, other don't know about it.

- Educamp in Kyiv on 8-9 november 2008. First day with prescheduled sessions, the second day with asked questions. For more information contact Jaroslav, he answers all his mails!

Heike Sperling on visual music and limerence

My second life-blogging blogpost! Heike Sperling works for the Institute for Music and Media. (IMM) She teaches visual music.

She talks about 3 subjects:

1. Her institute IMM
2. Visual Music
3. Current research project: music and limerence (?)

When she studied there were no computers. MTV started when she was in her 20's. Then works as a creative director. In the 90's she worked with clips and invested in experimental music videos. Now Managing Music Director of IMM.

1. IMM- based in Germany
Evolved from training sound engineers. Since a decade the IMM has incorporated video, which is unique in Germany. Sounds and visuals have different languages, so there is mutual learning between the students and herself. In October two new bachelor will be launched: program music and media, the other sound and media. The idea is to bring the two cultures together to inspire each other. Students enhance their personalities on the basis of an instrument.

2. Visual Music
Term is 90 years old. Visual music refers to the use fo musical structures in visual imagery. Many aspect of music are visual, think of the covers etc. From experimental films. Audio and visuals are considered as equally important. This is not common. They take a close look at the coherence between technical innovation, new artistic languages and contents. this requires constant dialogue and reflection. She learns a new language from the musicians. Audio and visuals together should be more than the sum. She shows a visual music clip called light/speed by Maurice Braun one of their students. The clip won a the visual music award. (she didn't tell us this, but I saw it when googling!). In visual music the musician and visual person need to communicate because they can not understand each other. the goal is to develop assertiveness, self awareness and communication skills, so visual music is rather the stepping stone, not the goal.

3. The next project: Limerence
Limerence is an involuntary coginitive and emotional state in which a person feels an intense romantic desire for another person (Dorothy Tennov). (in English: to have a crush)...
She is the only female teacher, all 40 students are male. So she thought to study a cliche topic for a woman: romantic love. It is a sort of tabu in the scientific world to talk about it. Limerence involves acute longing for reciprocation, and a general intensity of feeling that leaves other concerns in the background, amongst others. Love has been called a madness, which implies loss of control and inspires fear. Limerence hence conflicts with the idea that human beings are free and rational creatures. 85% of populair music concerns love and limerence. Limerence as an ideal is financially profitable. She will cook up a question for a project, whose ingredients will be identity, society and interface. Interface looking at the connection between limerence and music. Why is it so connected? Falling in love has the same effect as cocaine. Have you seen Stanley Kubric's films? If not, you have to see them as soon as possible.

I ask her whether she encounter a lot of conflicts between the two world, audio and visuals. She does encounter conflict all the time, but sees conflict not as something negative, but the reason to dialogue. Musicians sometimes say she doesn't understand at all. Especially when both are equal, you need to work through your conflicts. That's exactly what makes her so interested in it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reversing familiar ways of working stimulates creativity

During my last painting class, we did an excercise painting our model in negative (black= white and vice versa), a very good exercise that turns your thinking and way of looking at a model upside down. When I reversed later, it took some time to get used to 'normal' painting.

At Picnic, I was suddenly asked to interview Werner Vogels, the CTO of Amazon.com for the Picnic daily newspaper. We had only 5 minutes, I didn't have a clue who he was, so I proposed to do it with someone together, so Kerim Satirli and I worked together. My 'normal' interview mode is to listen to a person for a long time (eg. during a presentation or conversation), understand his view and then do an informed interview. In this case, we were advised to ask personal questions about his Picnic experience. Soon we found out the question: 'what's an idea that struck you so far?' didn't work because he had just arrived! Reflecting back, I think Werner might have been surprised that I asked him questions like 'what brings you to Picnic' when he is invited as keynote speaker :). But that may be refreshing too (hopefully!). The rest was improvisation.
The collaboration worked out well, without knowing eachother since Kerim knew the context better than I did, he had a video camera, I had a laptop, I started the questions and he added another one.

You can find our interview on the weblog of Kerim Satirli, the video will be there too- soon. The most interesting thing he said was that the way social media enterprises start is changing so rapidly, you don't need a lot of money to start something. On the other hand, everyone seems to want to design the next youtube or facebook and there needs to be more attention for sustainable models. I feel very much like a newcomer here, because I'm not a start-up, but rather a user of social media! (and not knowing the heros of the crowd like Werner Vogels..)

Paul Keller about Creative Commons

This is my first attempt at live blogging, I've never been in a conference or workshop where it's allowed to sit and type during a presentation.. I'm at the European Bloggers Lab of Picnic 2008 and Paul Keller from Knowledgeland is going to talk about Creative Commons. He has a t-shirt of Che Guevara, who wrote the motor cycle diaries, which is in a way one of the first weblogs...

The revolution of the internet is that it enabled small organisation and individuals to publish like all the big players leading to a more level playing field. No technical barriers left from getting your message across if you have a message and can write well- you can blog. Previously specialists in publishing were publishing and had access to lawyers etc to deal with copyrights. Copyright law had evolved as a complex system over the 19th and 20th century. Now come the internet where every body can copy, and suddenly these regulations apply to ordinary citizens.

Copyright basics: it is an exclusive right to interdict any uses of the copyrighted work. It arisen when a work of sufficient originality is created. Expires 70 years after the death of the author. It protects authors, artists, etc. Technical protection measures (DRM) forms a protective layer on top of it. Copyrights protect people to stimulate them to create.

Two types of copyrights:
  • Right to reproduce, modify or broadcast
  • Moral rights- to protect the integrity of her personality

Exceptions: the right to make quotations with proper attribution, educational exceptions and private copying, public interest, reuse of press materials by the press.

Now- there's an explosion of creativity for other motivations than rent seeking that's not really recognised by the copyrights. For most people the problem is not being copied, the problem is not being read/seen/ copied enough.. it limits authors and access to orphan works.

Creative commons was set up in 2002 by US non-profit corporation (by Prof. Lawrence Lessig) similar to open source licenses. As long as you adhere to certain principles, you can use it freely. Now in 44 countries though the concept of national licenses may be outdated. There are now more than 250 million CC licensed objects available on the internet, like good quality pictures on flickr. There are 6 different licenses that allow sharing, or transfer the work into another format. Give proper attribution to original author. licensor can choose if she wants to limit this to non-commercial uses of the work or include commercial purposes as well. You can choose to allow performance of derivative works. See the 6 core licenses here. Important is that they do not limit the 'fair use' rights and do not exclude the use of other licenses simultaneously.

Good news: Adam Curry has a flickr account with a creative commons account! Which the tabloids took to use in an article. Adam sued them and won (because it was commercially used), which was the first court case involving a creative commons license.

- By the way life blogging doesn't distract me it keeps me quite focused! though during boring parts you start to do other things on your computer and that's really distracting.. I wonder why the topic of copyright always seems slightly boring to me whereas it seems important enough.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Digital media and learning competition

I've been asked to spread the news about the digital media and learning competition. The focus is on Participatory Learning. Participatory learning is defined broadly: using new digital media for sharing ideas or planning, designing, implementing, or just discussing ideas and goals together. So if you have an innovative idea or project, give it a try!

Innovation in Participatory Learning Awards support larger-scale projects
that demonstrate new modes of participatory learning in a variety of
environments, by creating new digital tools, modifying existing ones, or using
digital media in novel ways. Collaboration is strongly encouraged. International
applications are welcome from eligible organizations

This year we are piloting international eligibility for our Innovation Award and will be accepting submissions from primary applicants in Canada, People's Republic of China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands,Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States; collaborators can befrom anywhere in the world.……

Application Deadline: October 15, 2008

Full information at: DML competition
Twitter: twitter.com/dmlComp

(You can find out about last year's winners here)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pathways into working in virtual teams

I'm working with Mark Turpin and Sibrenne Wagenaar on a study into impact evaluation of knowledge management interventions for the IKM emergent research programme. Since Mark is based in South Africa, and we are based in the Netherlands, we have to use online tools to communicate and organize our work.

When we had a skype conference call, we opened a chatroom to take notes. However, Mark couldn't see the chatroom and I explained what he should see on the bottom of the screen. He couldn't see it. Then it appeared he had a Mac computer and it was showing up at the top of his screen! It makes me think starting to work online has similarities to working in a different culture. You have to be prepared to open yourself up to new ways of working and alternatives to what you expect. It's a whole new world and you are a total stranger till you get familiar with it.

Sibrenne and I have worked online quite a lot, but Mark is new to our way of working. It's amazing to see how easy he is picking up on working with various tools, as compared to efforts to introduce tools in organisations! We are using skype, Unyte, various google docs and write for the giraffe weblog. Mark is enthusiastic about google docs and has started using it for other projects too, and has recently started his own weblog about learning and social capital in South Africa.

Linking this to the lessons about teaching web2 tools to researcher by Pete Shelton, I think you can say that Mark has experienced how it can work from peers (us) and is therefore able to apply it to his own work situation. And ofcourse we are great, patient co-workers that don't make him feel stupid when he doesn't know how it works (or do we?)...

I'm not sure if I linked already to the article that I wrote with Sibrenne about tools for virtual teams - (because it is in Dutch I may not have linked it on this blog but here it is for any interested Dutch speaking persons)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Defining the domain of a community.

Nancy White has a good blogpost about domain definition. I belief domain defintion is one of many powerful interventions that a coordinator/facilitator or advisor in a community of practice can make. Domain definition or re-definition can help a group to articulate the domain they are interested in and strengthen their focus and become attractive for newcomers. But what is a domain? Is it the same as topic or theme? Nancy provides the definition of Etienne Wenger:

A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of
connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of
interest. Membership therefore implies a commitment to the domain, and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people. (You could
belong to the same network as someone and never know it.) The domain is not
necessarily something recognized as “expertise” outside the community. A youth
gang may have developed all sorts of ways of dealing with their domain:
surviving on the street and maintaining some kind of identity they can live
with. They value their collective competence and learn from each other, even
though few people outside the group may value or even recognize their

From the definition you can see that a community of practice is a special type of network, one with a focus on its domain. By interacting, the members are forging common ideas and practices around their domain, and may achieve -slowly- innovation. Slowly, because there is a stage whereby the members need time to exchange and establish the common ground and bridge differences. You have to know what exists before you can innovate. What I can add from my experience is that there are no hard rule for domain definition. Yet, it is best if the domain is not so vast, that you start drowning and get too wide a group of interested people. On the other hand, it should not be so narrow that it becomes like a problem. You may have a 'name' and a 'description' for instance the e-collaboration community focusses on 'how to guide the introduction of e-tools into development organisations in a way that it improves collaboration (north-north and south-south) in development cooperation.' Probably 'teleconferences' would have been too narrow a focus and 'using ICTs' too wide a focus - in this particular case.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Here comes everybody: book review

I blogged a video with presentation by Clay Shirky before I read his book 'Here comes Everybody'. I'm happy to blog his book too, since I was very impressed by it, despite some weak parts.

To start with the weaknesses: I don't buy into his idea that social media will make organizations obsolete, because they will bring the power of 'organizing without organizations'. His explanation of the raison d'etre of organizations is very simplistic; when you want to organize something with a group of people, you start an organization. First of all he overlooks the fact that there are many more informal and formal forms of organizing - families, networks, associations, friendship groups etc. Secondly, he does not enter into a description of the different functions of businesses, governmental and civil society organisations. Each have a function to play in society and I don't think this function will disappear because people can organize things without costs by using online tools.

What I'm impressed with is his understanding of the impact of new communication tools. "communication tools don't get socially interesting untill they get technologically boring. The invention of a tools doesn't create change; it has to have been around long enough that most of society is using it". I think that is very well said. The tools don't change us. It is through experimenting with the tools, and becoming at ease with new tools that our behaviour changes. Shirky provides the recognisable example of the cell phone- now with cell phone, we don't make clear appointments, we say- I'll call you later. It's not the cell phone that makes us sloppy, it's the fact that we've become comfortable and used to cell phone that changes our appointment making habits. When anorexia patients meet over the internet, it's not caused by the internet, but it is a latent interest of anorexia patient to connect that gets crystallized into a network because of they make creative use of the new tools. I recall that when the students went on strike, the Dutch newspaper headlines were: MSN calls for strike! But in reality it's the students that called for strike and they were very effective in organizing themselves because they had their MSN networks. Online tools remove the barriers to collective action. He provides a very convincing example of the first groups that used Meetup to connect. They were not the well-established groups you'd expect. On the contrary groups that used Meetup to organize gatherings were groups with a latent desire to meet, but for whom it was difficult to organize it (for whatever reason).

As a result of experimenting, behaviour may change and the balance of power may change too. And that's the exciting - or revolutionary if you wish, part of the story. Clay Shirky: " the most profound effects of social tools lag their inventions by years, because it isn't until they have a critical mass of adopters, adopters who take these tools for granted, that their real effects begin to appear." So this is a stage of intense experimentation. There are definitely chapters of the book I'm going to reread.

By the way, you can find all the weblinks mentioned in the book (often annoying to retyp a paper weblink into your browser) here.