Archive for Collective intelligence
by Patti Anklam
Having covered the 3 KMs (Big, Little, and Personal), it seems natural to move along to the net work aspect of these. (Net work is my term for bringing intentionality into the way that we behave in our networks and acknowledging that it is, indeed, work.)
I need to start with personal net work, because I alluded to it in my last post, and because I will be talking about it this Thursday at the Boston KM Forum. I’ll start with some assertions:
- In the current “generation” of knowledge management, we look for knowledge in the network (as opposed to in documents and archives (1st generation) and in collaboration with others (2nd generation). Knowledge is literally in the network.
- As we learn and work (and vice versa), we need to know how to tap into that knowledge, and into the context in which it is expressed, when we need it, as soon as we need it.
- Our access to the context of knowledge in the network is through our personal connections, of which we must be mindful. We are, in a sense, our networks.
- The science of social networks has been advancing steadily since 1999/2000, providing us with ways to talk about the purpose, structure, style, and value-producing characteristics of networks.
- The tools we use daily (blogging, tweeting, generating and consuming content in multiple ways and multiple places) have co-evolved with the knowledge of the science of networks.
- We now have much more richly complex ways of understanding and managing our personal networks, to the benefit of our learning and knowledge sharing strategies.
1. Knowledge is in the network. I’ve previously blogged on this topic, referencing my first formulation of the 3 generations of KM in 2005. How little I knew at that time of Web 2.0 and its impact. We what want to know, what we need to know, what we may be delighted to know, is all out there, discoverable and available.
2. Tapping into the knowledge. It started with Internet search engines (anybody remember AltaVista?) and has progressed to include the ability to filter, through tagging systems, RSS feeds, and (when available) ranking and voting systems. It’s out there, really. Artifacts will always be with us, and now we are drowning in them.
3. We are our networks (our social networks, that is). If there were any doubts before about the impact of those around us on our behaviors, you need look no further than the amazing work Connected, by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler (a long excerpt appeared in the September 10 New York Times, “Are Your Friends Making You Fat?” ).
In our personal professional networks, we are also tied to the behaviors and sources of knowledge of those we interact with, where interactions include subscribing to and commenting on others’ blogs, sharing information on social network sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, responding to other’s comments on our own blogs or edits we have made to wikis, following and retweeting people on Twitter and browsing their tags on Del.icio.us. And most important: turning (when we can) our attention to their links, to topics they find interesting, people they enjoy reading or following, and gaining access to their network of networks.
These interactions — even if ambient — provide us the context. I know my colleagues’ areas of expertise, their hot buttons, their styles. If one of them is excited about something, I have context for looking at it and making sense of what it might mean to me. When a number of people tweet the same news or retweet the same bon mot, I know that my community is bonding around a shared meme. These may be small things, but I am the sum of all that my networks bring to me, of all the people in my networks. I am my network.
4. The science of networks. When I talk about the science of networks, I am talking about the research and discoveries in the multi-disciplinary field of social networks over that past half century or more. At the heart of this work is that you can actually draw maps of networks (“social graphs”) that will show you patterns of connectivity, interactivity, separation, similarities, and dissonances. We also have, through research by Rob Cross and colleagues at the Network Roundtable, a theory-based understanding of the characteristics of a good personal network as well as evidence that
- individuals with stronger personal networks
- managers who maintain awareness of the organizational networks
are more successful.
5. Our tools are co-evolving. I recently published a journal article, Ten Years of Net Work ($$) that provides my personal experience in how social tools have evolved over the past ten years. I live on the opposite coast from Silicon Valley, but my imagination conjures scenes of network scientists and software entrepreneurs talking about how to leverage this cool network stuff and coming up with LinkedIn, Facebook, and all the other tools we now take for granted. It is still the case that most of these platforms require us to create distinct “networks” and that these all overlap to a greater or lesser extent. It will still be a while before we can move freely among our networks, as ourselves, changing our frame of reference, but staying ourselves.
6. Managing our personal networks. This is the big, “So What?” If we say we are our networks, then how do we assert ourselves in our own definition? And what does it matter whether or not we do? It matters, and we can do something about it:
- Avoid the pitfalls of hanging out in too many networks where everyone thinks alike (I blogged on this in August). Think about the diversity of your network.
- Think about your network as a personal learning network. What engages you now, what knowledge will you need to take the next step (in your career, in finishing a work project, in solving a problem for your client, to research a topic for a conference presentation)? Do you have people in your network who have the expertise you seek?
- Follow people whose work you admire. Look for opportunities to retweet, comment, or interact. These interactions should be both authentic and of value to the person you want to connect with. Then look for opportunities to connect face to face at conferences, to collaborate, or to contribute to their work.
Lately, I’ve taken to hang out with hashtags. If someone tweets a conference tag, I follow the tag and usually find some of my friends, but new people as well. It also works to search on topic and and see it there is a hashtag. Follow the stream and find new people. Participate, ask questions, retweet.
Managing — being mindful — okay, let’s call it personal network mindfulness — your network also implies maintaining the existing relationships that are important to you. As we used to sing when I was in the Brownie Scouts, “Make new friends/but keep the old/One is silver/and the other gold.”
by Shiv Singh
At the Razorfish 9th Annual Client Summit, I presented five big ideas for social influence marketing. These were ideas that I felt would matter in the next two years. The audience for the presentation was 600 senior marketers but the ideas I emphasized have relevance to all decision makers within an organization. Here’s the presentation with the five ideas. Let me know what you think.
by Jim Ware
The answer: good things.
I’m just back from a conference in Vancouver, BC, where Jon Husband just happens to live. I was smart/lucky enough to have announced publicly that Charlie Grantham and I would be in Vancouver for a few days, and Jon was gracious enough to get in touch and suggest we meet (since we never had).
The three of us ended up having breakfast together last Friday, and then Jon was the perfect host, offering us a ride out the airport for our trips home.
Of course, Jon being the champion of Vancouver that he is, the ride took a little extra time (which we had plenty of) as he gave us a mini-tour of the downtown and surrounding area.
I had been in Vancouver before, but not for over 20 years, so it was an eye-opening tour. I’ve always had good feelings about the city (stemming from a wonderful summer in the mid-80′s characterized by many late evening dinners down near the harbor).
But even more important than enjoying Vancouver was enjoying getting to know Jon. We (including Charlie) discovered way more in common than any three older gray-haired guys who had never met before have any right to expect. As Jon described on his own blog last week (“Back to the Future . . . of Work“), we share many intellectual curiosities and probably even more views and values about organization, work, people, and even politics.
So here’s to the value of face to face meetings. In spite of our mutual fascination with what Jon calls “wirearchy,” we also agree wholeheartedly in getting together physically to share a real space, not just a virtual one.
Of course, that f2f meeting never would have taken place without the AppGap blog and our e-newsletter (where I’d announced the Vancouver trip in the first place), so I guess we owe some thanks to Hylton Joliffe and the folks at Intuit too for originally making Jon and me aware of each other.
But the nice part of now having “pressed the flesh” is that I’ll have a whole lot more context from now on as I read Jon’s blog comments. And I suspect we’ll see each other again in the not-too-distant future.
Thanks, Jon, for your hospitality and for your always-stimulating questions about the future of work and of management.
by Jenny Ambrozek
Appropriately via Twitter this morning I found a post by @johnt both marking the occasion of Twitter’s 3rd birthday and making the case for why Twitter is the Killer App.
Can Twitter really be 3 years old? Wikipedia confirms and provides this history:
“Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. It began in March 2006 as a research and development project inside San Francisco podcasting company Odeo. Odeo was co-founded by Noah Glass and blogger Evan Williams. In October 2006, the company was bought out by management, and Williams, Stone, and other Odeo employees started another company named Obvious Corp. to operate Odeo and Twitter, another startup Williams had been testing in the offices for about a year. Twitter had been initially used internally by Odeo’s employees and became a product of Obvious at this time.
The service rapidly gained popularity: In March 2007, it won the 2007 South by Southwest Web Award in the blog category. Dorsey, the man behind the concept of Twitter, gave the following playful acceptance speech at SXSW: “We’d like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!”
John Tropea’s blog post scanning the Twitter landscape and spelling out the case for microblogging as a productivity tool is recommended reading. (The AppGap’s Jon Husband is quoted.) However, the assertion catching my attention was this:
“Most of all it is the perfect example of defining a new generation, away from the economic model of self-gain, and more to a social connection, collective, and engaged model.”
Does Twitter’s rapid rate of adoption and popularity in fact signal the arrival of an economic model based on engagement?
If so, what are the implications?
~ Jenny Ambrozek
by Jim Ware
I’ve come across several posts and articles recently that have gotten me thinking about the pros – and cons – of working independently.
Generally I am a serious advocate of small firms and free-lancers and a genuine cynic about large organizations (but I’ll hold back and express that cynicism some other time).
A friend recently pointed me to a post by Tina Brown on The Daily Beast (one of those many, many political blogs). I don’t read the Beast very often, but this one isn’t about it politics - it’s about “The Gig Economy.”
“Gigs” are, obviously, projects – the things we free-lancers and small businesses depend on for a living.
Brown has become intrigued with what she calls “gigonomics” – the explosion of people working this way. She reports on a recent survey conducted by The Daily Beast and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. Five hundred employed U.S. citizens aged 18 and over were interviewed via the Internet on January 8 and 9.
Here’s what got Brown interested:
A full one-third of our respondents are now working either freelance or in two jobs. And nearly one in two of them report taking on additional positions during the last six months.
Just as startling, these new alternative workers are not overwhelmingly low-income. They’re college-educated Americans who earn more than $75,000 a year.
Welcome to the club Tina! Regular readers of this blog are probably all practitioners of gigonomics. So what’s the big deal?
Consider this, for one: none of the job statistics we’ve been hearing about daily since last September come close to measuring the impact of the economy-on-free-fall on small businesses. Traditional unemployment data comes from reports from large businesses and applications for unemployment compensation. It just doesn’t capture the slowdown or flat-out stoppages of work being experienced by all of us small business types.
Just about all the “gigworkers” I’ve talked with recently are reporting that while they may have a project right now, the outlook for the next gig is pretty bleak. In fact, that’s being kind – the outlook is grim indeed.
Now, there’s either going to be a whole lot of creative scrambling (and some pretty intense competition) for the next gigs, or there’s going to be a whole more people “on the street” (hopefully not literally) than even the most thoughtful economists and government leaders seem to be expecting.
This thing could get a whole lot worse way before it gets any better.
But there’s another side to this explosion of small businesses and gigs. And that’s what Jon Husband wrote about just the other day right here (“The Mass Customization of Work“). A more or less unrecognized consequence of this mass customization of work and the “atomization” of business is the loss of rhythm and synchronization that Jon highlighted.
When we’re all working independently and in our own offices (either at home or at Starbucks, etc) it takes a whole lot more effort and awareness to “sync up” with peers, colleagues, clients, vendors, and so on. We no longer have all those “signals” from the workplace that you see in large organizations – from the mundane clock on the wall to the progression of colleagues towards the cafeteria or the parking lot at lunchtime – let alone the boss scheduling meetings, directing your work, setting deadlines, and so on. And of course we’re not doing anywhere near as much “same time/same place” work as we used to.
As Jon rightly points out, thank god for the proliferation of Web 2.0 social networking tools – though we still have a lot to learn about people use them.
Anyway, this all something to think about on a Monday morning – and one that’s supposed to be focused on national service instead of ruminating on the future of work. I guess I’m just a bit out of sync with everyone else!
by Anita Campbell
Product forums and discussion boards are as old as the hills (well, maybe not THAT old, but almost as old as the Web, dating back to 1996). Most companies use discussion forums as part of a multi-layered strategy for providing customer support — along with email/chat/phone support; online technical specs and help files; and a searchable knowledgebase.
But one thing that is unusual is to find a product that pulls in discussion threads from the community right into the product itself.
Intuit instituted this new feature in its 2009 QuickBooks application. I’ve been reviewing QuickBooks 2009 and find it interesting to see how they’ve brought the community and the product together.
When you are in the Quickbooks application, to the right side of the screen is a small vertical box labeled “Live Community”:
There’s a question box right there, where you can ask a question without having to leave QuickBooks and navigate to the Community discussion boards. The answers will pop up right on your screen so you can scroll through them. In essence, you can bring the Community into the product and to you, instead of the other way around.
This is for the desktop version of QuickBooks 2009, that I’m talking about (not the online version). But of course you have to be connected to the Internet when using Quickbooks, to use the Live Community feature.
by Jenny Ambrozek
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GearLog was my introduction to Perceptive Pixel, www.perceptivepixel.com the New York based company behind CNN’s large flat-panel monitor used for displaying election results by states, real time and graphically.
A Google search indicates the broad coverage Perceptive Pixel’s technology received from the New York Times to Broadcast Engineering to Wired and CNet. The CNET article reveals Perceptive Pixel’s collaborative visual data display technology was never intended for broadcasting use. Rather:
“The applications for Perceptive Pixel’s technology run the gamut–from defense and government to private companies–depending upon how the software toolkit is used. The TV news applications are actually a small fraction of the current uses, Han said, although they are the most challenging and have the highest visibility.”
Gearlog explains “..these are organizations with vast amounts of data that needs to be displayed, interpreted and understood quickly.”
Reading about Perceptive Pixel’s “Magic Wall” technology and it’s early adoption by the defense industry I wondered what other uses will emerge? Can you see applications in your organization, and if so, how long do you imagine before such technology will be implemented?
~ Jenny Ambrozek