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A Short Few Years

October 7, 2010

I am reading an article from the Harvard Business Review of September-October 1997 called “Strategy and the New Economics of Information”, by Philip B.Evans and Thomas S.Wurster.  Within they discuss the fundamental shift in, well yea the economics of information.  This would now also be termed the democratization of information from among others Chris Anderson, author of ” The Long Tail”
There were two points however made me laugh in the article.  The first was a reference to how “Little electronic tablets are not going to replace” newspapers very soon and the second was how bank officials are not concerned as “people worry about the security of on-line transactions and that consumers trust banks more than they trust software companies.”
A short few years indeed.

Information Overload

October 7, 2010

One morning last week I was talking about “Google Goggles“, the search by image tool you can get for your smart-phone.  I illustrated how I took a picture of a reference in a book I was reading last night and the phone scanned the text, interpreted it, and spat me out a list of sites to download the article from.  Within 60 seconds of wanting the article, I had it as a PDF file on my phone to read, another 30 seconds it was send to my printer via blue-tooth for printing.

Dont get me wrong, I am not complaining.  In fact if there is any complaint it is we now have so much Instant data at hand it is making us great collaters of information, but perhaps lazy, or complacent critical thinkers.  There has always been much research material available, and the more available the more considerations and viewpoints you need to interpret.  My problem now though, is that I have collated so many sources of various types, I am finding it hard to actually consume and consider the content.

ICT by nature is a fast moving industry where change is constant, trends are always in a state of flux, viewpoints are always being amended, and instead of going through rigorous testing and research, products are being released and modified on the go.  Great for the companies and the users, not so for a researcher trying to decide if adoption of technology can be a good thing.

We may need the the equivalent of Harry Truman’s one handed economist to be get to the real answer.

Availability of Experts

September 26, 2010

One major benefit of social media is how close we are to subject matter experts. We have the ability to connect with those who can help or inspire with a few clicks, no matter their status on the topic through the various social networks available.  Various sports people, actors, singers, and authors have all at some stage reached out to the masses on a personal basis to answer a question or chastise if appropriate.

I connected, through LinkedIn, with Ellen Gunning, the author of a popular text book on PR in Ireland and within a few hours I had a reply with a valid comment coupled with advice and possible connections to make in conducting my research. This small act on her part is a simplistic and crude example of how Web 2.0 tools increased my productivity and learning.

In reading “Socially Constructed Learning: A Commentary on the Concept of the Learning Organisation”, the author Joy Cullen includes Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist’s 1978 theory that cognitive learning occurs at the social level.  In the article the author says

“A key notion in socio-cultural theory is that individuals learn through exposure to experts in their environment. Vygotsky coined the term “zone of proximal development” (ZPD), to refer to the difference between the level at which a learner could function unassisted and the level to which the learner could be extended with expert assistance. More generally, the zone concept “refers to an interactive system within which people work on a problem which at least one of them could not, alone, work on effectively”

This is going to form a significant part of my primary research, and I will need to find a mechanism to measure this social learning if it currently exists either face to face or electronically.  Is there a difference between on the job and general subject matter in order to do a better job. My example is small and insignificant on its own, but coupled with other interactions I hope to have using web 2.0 tools over the next few months, I will end with a large repository of usable research.

Reference:

Cullen, J. (1999) “Socially Constructed Learning: A Commentary on the Concept of the Learning Organisation”, The Learning Organisation, Volume 6 · Number 1 pp.45–52.

Initial Mind Map of Topic Analysis

September 22, 2010

A quick idea through a mind map of the initial topic analysis I carried out before submitting my proposal.  Any suggestions for additions, amendments, and deletions are welcome.

Privacy Worries on Organisational Social Media Tools

September 19, 2010

One of the big talking points of social media platforms is that of privacy.  A recent example is that by the editor of Wired’s UK version David Rowan in Wired’s Epicentre blog as to why he isn’t and wont be using Facebook any time soon.  This post generated a series of tweets in reply to Mr Rowan from Jeff Jarvis, author of “What Would Google Do”, and who is currently writing a book about privacy titled “Private Parts” which was entertaining and uncomfortable at the same time.

So what are our privacy concerns, and how would they translate to an organisation wide social media platform?  If the platform is in-house hosted, then the data is completly internal and not subject to auction as would be the case on the likes of Facebook, or Twitter.  The organisation already has such information as national identification, social security, address, next of kin, bank account details, voluntary payroll deductions and the likes so identify theft can not be cited here.

On a company platform are we going to act in such a way as to come across as being un-professional or inappropriate, not saying that a point well made and relevant is both neccesary and should be expected by open and visionary organisational leaders.  In Bausch + Lomb we had a a set of cultures of which one was “Open and Candid Dialogue”.  Anyway, all e-mails are still stored centrally so if you think there is privacy there, even without hitting the “reply to all” option your mistaken.

David Rowan in the above mentioned blog post discusses the multiple identities we have in our on-line worlds.  For me these clones  don’t exist.  I am connected socially to quite a few connections from my professional and academic worlds and I couldn’t see myself acting differently if posting to my blog, Twitter, Facebook or a company hosted site.

ERP for the Knowledge Worker

September 18, 2010

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)  systems are used extensively in business to manage a multitude of processes in the day to day running of the organisation.  From customer orders to inventory management,  to scheduling,  procurement and finance, as well as the required resources.  They hold rules and logic of how each process should operate such as, required data for a new order or customer, what materials for a particular order, when to order  materials when stocks run low, when to send automatic reminders of a late payment,  and much more.

This is all essential functionality within the primary business activity, weather manufacturing, retail, logistics etc.  But how about the knowledge that the system users have.  How about knowledge of stand alone applications, or excel workbooks and formula’s that support process not covered by the ERP?.  Away from systems, how about booking meeting rooms,  where to order stationary and replacement water bottles, restaurant options close to affiliated offices when travelling, material from the last conference a colleague attended, or even a way of administering the office 5 aside soccer team or the Christmas office party.  All knowledge that is held by few but could be used by many.

Communication and information was handled by internal memo’s and then e-mail, but soon after many organisations adopted Wiki’s and Forums as organised open content creation, edit, store and retrieval tools to take conversations out of e-mail in-boxes and into public view for all to share. The idea is anyone could create a topic and anyone could add, amend or correct the content.  A self regulated environment where the latest and greatest information is always the most accurate.  There are now full social networking style applications available of course.  Applications that can sit on the organisations intranet and connect employees across cubicles, departments, branches or countries just like Facebook does in our personal lives, but how effective and how utilized are they as a true ERP for knowledge workers?

My personal experience is of some initial starts using various tools, but a flurry of activity would end with tumbleweeds swooping through the threads.  I will be conducting a survey of knowledge workers as part of primary research for the thesis and I will focus one section on tools, and peoples attitudes and experiences of using them.

What have your experiences been of social media tools in an organisation?  Have you used any Web 2.0 tools in your organisation, to what level of detail and what was the experience.

Tonight’s Research Path

September 15, 2010

Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences,  the way’s we learn and how they change over time

Pedagogy’s  – Strategies of instruction and how we teach.

Folksonomy – A new web term to describe the practice of tagging.

Interesting read: “The SNAP Platform: social networking for academic purposes”, Keith Kirkwood.

“Pointing to the evolution of the social web, the paper discusses the potential for the
development of e-learning platforms that employ constructivist, connectivist, and
participatory pedagogies and actively engage the student population. Social networking
behaviours and peer-learning strategies, along with knowledge management through
guided folksonomies, provide the backbone of a social systems approach to learning
support.”