Archives for June 2003

Put it on my tab

  • SyntaxError: invalid syntax

Python is driving me nuts with these goddamn errors.

And what's really annoying is how little information Python gives you to help you figure out what's wrong.

In this case it turns out that, even though I am using a supposedly Python sensitive editor (Visual SlickEdit) and even though it looks like there is only 1 tab at the start of the line, that there were two (verified by SSH'ing to the unix box and looking at it in vi).

So why can't Python say: "Ahem, I think you have an extra tab here sonny." ?

I'm sorry but so far I find myself longing for braces.

30/06/2003 14:20 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

My struggles with Python

I'm trying to learn a little Python, enough to be dangerous anyway.  So far it's mainly been dangerous to my state of mind though!  I'm not a convert to the indentation style of programming yet, although it doesn't bother me too much.  One place it really did give me a headache though, was in my first CGI.

For some reason every time I ran the script I would get an error from Apache about a blank missing header and premature termination of the script.  But when I ran it from the command line the script was producing apparently perfect output.  With much grinding of teeth I whittled the script down, ever smaller, to a case that looked like:

#!/opt/python/bin/python
print """Content-type: text/xml


1
Hello World!
"""

which still didn't work! GAAAAA! Of course the same lousy snippet written in Perl was working fine.

Well of course the answer turned out to be ludicrously simple.  As soon as I hexdump'd the output of my Python script I could see it.  A tab character in the blank line (the blank header line should have been the clue) between the Content-type and the declarations.  One little, invisible, tab that confused Apache.  One damned tab.  The original code had been in an indented block and I hadn't realised there was a tab on that blank line!

Oh well.  This experience may not have taught me much about Python but it has surely reminded me about the use of diff, od and hexdump!

28/06/2003 14:05 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Not a happy citizen!

Secret 'Justice' a Grotesque Notion. Jeff Jarvis, whom I greatly admire, takes me to task for this recent posting in which I pointed at this... [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

I've been doing some thinking about citizens vs. the state lately which, in my mind, dovetails neatly with the issues Dan is raising.

Something I have an increasingly hard time with is this:

  • By what right does the state keep secrets, any secrets, from the people from whom it derives a mandate to exist?

I find it impossible to sit here an be another happy citizen when the state acts without consideration for my feelings or interests beyond what it thinks will persuade me to it's agenda.  And don't tell me to vote for someone else because the politicians aren't the problem.

I feel that politics today is a symptom and not a cause of my unhappiness.  As a child growing up under Thatcher I grew to hate the Tories and their me! me! value system.  When I got the chance I voted New Labour and rousted them from office.  Am I happy now?

The government I elected (twice) is now eager to:

and so on.  But they didn't seem to eager before they got into office.  Are they just two-faced, chicken-hearted, backstabbers?  Or is something else going on?

I think the problem is that, in Britain and the US, the revolving door between corporate business & the beauracracy has delivered something new.  Politics is the show, like the waving of the stage magicians hands, the dirty business is going on out back.

This is why voter turnouts diminish year on year:  Changing the politician doesn't change the policy.  Collectively we are suffering the principle of learned helplessness.

I want to do something about all this, but I don't know what.

27/06/2003 15:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Finally I can join an organisation which is going somewhere!

Biggest Game of the Decade Released.

"I am feeling woozy, Wookie."

Star Wars Galaxies was released quietly today.  I predict that this multiplayer online game will be the biggest, longest running commercial multiplayer online game for at least a decade.  EverQuest and others will not come anywhere near its popularity.

[Don Park's Blog]

Does this mean I can finally join the Empire?

I've only been practising saying "you rebel scum!" for about 20 years!

27/06/2003 14:42 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Pretty boy aggregators... where's the beef?

FeedDemon Beta.

Nick Bradbury has released a beta version of FeedDemon, an RSS aggregation tool. I'l be trying this out.

[High Context]

Hmm... it fails the first test of ease of use for me.  Opening it for the first time I expected it to ask me:

  • Are you already using a news aggregator?  Would you like me to import your subscriptions?

instead I get presented with the stock list and left to fend for myself.  Which firstly involves removing all the stock subscriptions and understanding the difference between removing a channel altogether, and just from a listing.

After going through that I figure out what the listings are.  There are a whole set of 'em: Amazon, Blogs & Blogging, Lockergnome, the list goes on.  How do I get rid of all this shit?  I already have enough of my own!  Okay, I have to through and delete every listing.  Boring.  Oh and I still don't have my own feeds yet.  Have to go hunting for the import option.

Okay and what am I buying?  Another pretty interface.  But other than a news paper style and the fact that it's obviously got a very attractive UI what differentiates this from the raft of other pretty boy aggregators?

I'm sorry, I think I may still be a little heated from Don's Al-Kabir post...

27/06/2003 14:26 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Don grounds into a double play... too far off base

Destroy Majar Al-Kabir.

Stories about the six British soldiers massacred in Majar Al-Kabir upset me.  It reminded me of the Alamo.  Soldiers just doing their duty and getting killed by a crazy mob.  If Ghengis Kahn was in charge of the British forces, he would have destroyed the town with everything in it.

Since this is the modern age and Ghengis Kahn is long dead, I think the British forces should vacate the town and then completely destroy it to prevent similar thing from happening again in the future.  Letting them go about their daily lives without such a severe punishment will just get more soldiers killed.  I know this will be harsh to innocent townfolks but I don't think anything short of this level of response will work over the long term.

[Don Park's Blog]

Enough's enough.  Normally I think Don is right on but this is so not it's almost off the scale.

  • Destroying a town because it contains criminals?

Well it's justified isn't it?  And we all know that escalating violence bring peace right?  I mean you only have to look at Israel bulldozers destroying palestinians settlements to see what a good policy it is.

For the sake of argument though: what if destroying their town doesn't stop people seeing this as an unwanted force of occupation.  What if it doesn't bring the correct long term response?

Well of course you could go one better couldn't you?  Destroy a city next time.  Just to make sure they know you really mean business.

And of course, there are one or two people killed whilst "just doing their duty" in US cities.  I can't wait to see this policy employed back home!

Or maybe you'd like to think this one through again?

27/06/2003 14:09 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

RFID tags: Is nothing simple any more?

RFID Chips Are Here. Your privacy is at stake [The Register]

I think it is quite reasonable to insist that:

  • any item with an RFID tag should be clearly identified as such
  • there should be a way to permanently disable the RFID tag in any item you purchase

I think that is should also be optional as to whether an RFID is enabled in:

  • money you hold
  • your passport
  • your drivers license

I might very well want the RFID to work in my passport if that speeds me through customs & imigration.  But I want to be able to turn it on and off to suit me.

27/06/2003 13:45 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Support your local hacker

Why I'm Buying 'Hacking the Xbox'. MIT's Bunny Huang has written an important book -- "Hacking the Xbox" -- that covers more than its title suggest.... [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

Dan putting his money where his mouth is.

25/06/2003 19:14 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

The good, the bad, and the flexible

Bosses and workers split over flexi-working. Surprised? We didn't think so [The Register]

Employers who think this issue is going to go away are in for a nasty shock.  When people tell you that the benefits of flexible working are as important to them as high salary you are a fool if you don't listen.  So what do you do?

First you acknowledge that the problems inherent in a more flexible workforce are soluble and that there may be tangible benefits to be gained as well.  One of which is likely to be a happier, more effective, work force.  In the long run people who are more in tune with, who have balanced, their own lives are likely to deliver much more value for their employers.

Loss of productivity is cited as one problem.  If you have employed good people & they are properly set-up for home working then loss of productivity should be short-term and minimal.  If you haven't employed good people then maybe you have problems closer to home.

A big issue that I am very interested in is the potential breakdown in community.  The loss of face-to-face time and the weakening of the social fabric of your organisation.  That could have a huge impact on your ability to get the right things done.

This is very much an area that I am looking at for our k-collector software.  Helping an organisation which is at the breaking point of it's communities to rebuild those bonds and, where possible, to create new ones.

As I have said before I think that it is people and their relationships that drive business.  The better those relationships are, the greater your capactiy to make things, the right things, happen.

If you have a flexible working issue right now I suggest getting in touch with someone who really knows what they are talking about, like John Blackwell.

25/06/2003 13:31 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Echo: Stop the madness!

Log Format Roadmap. There seems to be quite some excitement around Ram Ruby's Roadmap. At first I was a little skeptical on the project (why not calling it YASF as in Yet Another Syndication Format?). After reading Tim Bray's why we need a new format at all I think that it's worth a try. Recent history tells us that the main divide was between people saying "It has to be powerful and thus not necessarily easy to understand, we will build tools to manage the complexity" and others saying "It has to be simple so that anybody will be able to hack new solutions using it without being an expert". Both positions make sense. You don't really need to understand how the jpeg format works to create cool images, but at the same time all of us learned html looking at other people's pages, because it was relatively easy to understand. Ultimately it's only a matter of a very little number of tools vendors, most of them small companies, agreeing on a new standard and changing the world. [Paolo Valdemarin: Paolo's Weblog]

My first thoughts were "don't we have enough format arguments as it is?"  I guess I am less skeptical now.  Maybe this is a chance to end the madness and get our collective shit together.

I like the sound of Echo as a name for the new format (much more than PIE).  I think a new name is essential to avoid getting into squabbles about RSS 1.5, 3.0, whatever...

I would prefer that it not use RDF unless that is absolutely necessary.  If there are advantages to having RDF available then Danny Ayers has already shown how this can be achieved.  On the other hand I would like to see some advantage taken of the work that has been done on topic maps, like XTM, XFML and ENT.

I'm also hopeful that Dave's comment (I was a little suprised not to find a permalink) indicates that he will support the new format although I notice he has not added his name to the list of supporters.

25/06/2003 11:17 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

The Past is the Past: Keep it there

Friends Reunited gives third reference. Watch your step [The Register]

The past is the past.  Much safer that way.

24/06/2003 20:08 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Birthday Greetings

Birthday low blogging. It's my birthday this week - 53! We will be indundated with visitors and blogging will be light this week [Robert Paterson's Radio Weblog]

Happy Birthday Rob!!

24/06/2003 20:02 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

To be or not to be?

Jim McGee: "Sites that provide no RSS feed essentially don't exist for me." [Scripting News]

Spot on.  I've given up complaining as well.  I used to email the site and hassle them about the benefits of offering me RSS.  These days I have too much shit in my aggregator already, I don't have time to ask for me.

"Welcome to the revolution!"

24/06/2003 20:00 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

The dark side of radio romance

Signs of death.

Got lots of emails pointing to Signals from Nowhere, by Walter Kirn in the NY Times Magazine. Outstanding recollection of what Real Radio was all about in its golden age, which ended when ownership deregulation allowed Clear Channel to buy up everything:

You used to be able to do that in America: chart your course by the accents, news and songs streaming in from the nearest AM transmitter. A drawling update on midday cattle prices meant I was in Wyoming or Nebraska. A guttural rant about city-hall corruption told me I'd reach Chicago within the hour. A soaring, rhythmic sermon on fornication — Welcome to Alabama. The music, too. Texas swing in the Southwest oil country. Polka in North Dakota. Nonstop Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs. What's more, the invisible people who introduced the songs gave the impression that they listened to them at home. They were locals, with local tastes.

I felt like a modern Walt Whitman on those drives. When I turned on the radio, I heard America singing, even in the dumb banter of ''morning zoo'' hosts. But then last summer, rolling down a highway somewhere between Montana and Wisconsin, something new happened. I lost my way, and the radio couldn't help me find it. I twirled the dial, but the music and the announcers all sounded alike, drained, disconnected from geography, reshuffling the same pop playlists and canned bad jokes.

What a miserable trip. I heard America droning.

Recently, I found out whom to blame: a company called Clear Channel Communications. The mammoth buyer and consolidator of hundreds of independent local radio stations — along with its smaller competitors, Infinity Broadcasting and Cumulus Media — is body-snatching America's sonic soul, turning Whitman's vivacious democratic cacophony into a monotonous numbing hum.

No matter where a person lives these days (particularly in Minot, N.D., where Clear Channel runs all six commercial stations in town), he's probably within range of an affiliate, if not three or four, since the company buys in bulk: pop stations, rock stations, talk stations, the works. Worse, quite a few of these stations don't really exist — not in the old sense. They're automated pods, downloading their programming from satellites linked to centralized, far-off studios where announcers who have never even set foot in Tucson, Little Rock, Akron or Boston — take your pick — rattle off promos and wisecracks by the hundreds, then flip a switch and beam them to your town as if they're addressing its residents personally, which they aren't. They don't even know the weather there.

What results is a transcontinental shower of sound that seems to issue from heaven itself, like the edicts of the Wizard of Oz.

Here's a fear: That local newspapers will get just as killed as local radio, by the deregulation of media ownership. What happens when Clear Chanel or Cumulus Media buys up the local newspapers?

[The Doc Searls Weblog]

Recently I listened to Garrison Keeler reading Radio Romance.  It's a wonderful tale of the beginnings of Radio and the characters who made it great.  Clear Channel would have Ray Soderbjerg jr spinning in his grave.

But what I really don't understand is, if it's so awful, why do people listen?  After all, without listeners there would be no advertisers and ClearChannel would be dust.

So who loves this shit?

24/06/2003 19:49 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

The Smuggler

Time and again Nasrudin passed from Persia to Greece on donkey-back.  Each time he had two panniers of straw, and trudged back without them.  Every time the guard searched him for contraband.  They never found any.

`What are you carrying Nasrudin?'
`I am a smuggler'

Years later, more and more prosperous in appearance, Nasrudin moved to Egypt.  One of the customs men met him there.

`Tell me Mulla, now that you are out of the jurisdiction of Greece and Persia, living here in such luxury - what was it that you were smuggling when we could never catch you?'
`Donkeys.'

[From the Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin]

24/06/2003 17:04 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Damned browsers can't print

Could somebody please tell me, given that we are half way to 2004 in the 21st goddamn century, why I cannot print a web page without losing 50% of all the words on the right hand edge of the page.  And it's not just IE, Firebird is just as bad!

24/06/2003 09:20 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

The petunia's had it

Replacing RSS?. It looks like various people are working on a replacement for RSS, the ubiquitous weblog syndication format.

I look at this and think one thing:

   why?

Why do you need to replace RSS? Why do all blogging tools and aggregators need a new format? Do they really need it, or can you do it with namespaced additions to the RSS 2 spec?


Comment

[Second p0st]

Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was "Oh no, not again."  Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.

24/06/2003 07:25 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Gurteen Knowledge Conference round-up

A quick post to round up the Gurteen Knowledge Conference 2003.

<%softShadow( "http://matt.blogs.it/GurteenKnowledgeConference2003/snippet.jpg" )%>

Overall I had a really enjoyable day.  David had arranged a fantastic group of speakers.  I am only sorry I got to see so little of the presentations by Euan Semple (Working in a wired world) and Martin Roëll (Introducing weblogs in organisations).  I was meeting Euan for the first time and he turned out to he a very nice chap.  Martin I had met in Vienna and, I think, once before that, although neither of us could figure out where.  After the conference Martin and I went on to meet Anders Jacobsen for beers.

I've managed to salvage a few of the photo's I took on the day (sadly - or maybe not - none of Dave Snowden, I was so wrapped up in his talk I forgot to get the camera out).  In future I shall attempt not to take pictures in backlit conditions!

Count me in for 2004!

23/06/2003 13:10 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Trusty goodness

Trust.

"Trust is the life-blood of an organization." - Stephen Covey

Say what you're going to do and then do it.  If you can't say so early, explain what happened, and what you're going to do about it.  Don't make promises you can't keep.

Covey puts it this way, "The only thing that can build trust is trustworthiness, which comes from always living - or conducting business - according to certain principles: honesty, integrity, respect, kindness, meaningful work, fairness, and justice. "

This is unrealted to my previous posts on Microsoft.  It's a reminder to myself about how to treat others and how I expect to be treated.

[Micah's Weblog]

Amen to that.

22/06/2003 23:26 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

The USA has no shame

Cuba prisoner puts BBC on spot. US authorities abruptly end a media tour of the Guantanamo centre after an inmate tries to start a conversation. [BBC News | World | UK Edition]

I think the citizens of the United States of America should be ashamed at the behaviour of their government.

These people should either be given a trial or sent home.

22/06/2003 23:06 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Camera envy

I've realised how much I want to be able to take photo's for my weblog.  And to be able to create albums easily (like Paolo does).

I wish I had a digital camera :-(

20/06/2003 17:39 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Bootstrapping the EFF in London

I think it's really sad that there seems to be no EFF presence in the UK.  I've signed up for, and seen cancelled, EFF meet-up's in London.  I want to do something about it.

I am in touch with Jon Lebkowsky who is president of the EFF Austin who would also like to see something happen and has agreed to help out.  All I need to do is find a few more interested folks.  Is that you?

20/06/2003 17:23 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

Please be my guest

To anyone who wants to use the

graphic that I have on my weblog - please, be my guest.

It was created with the

Kalsey Consulting Group

magic button maker.

I'm very grateful to them for making it available.

20/06/2003 17:03 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Weblog index

A useful adjunct to my weblog is an index of all my posts

using a macro from Rogers Cadenhead.  Many thanks Roger.

20/06/2003 12:14 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

This blog is now searchable

I hear you Terry.
20/06/2003 09:42 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Jon Thorne: Resourcing your knowledge intiative

Jon's session was very hands-on, group activity based so I don't really have notes.  This will be from memory.

Jon's thesis is that it is much easier to get a KM initiative funded if you focus on the benefits of your work rather than the approaches used or the specifics of the technology or situation.  He recommends to focus on the pain and outline the golden future without that pain.  This resonated for me with the Geoffrey Moore 'Leaky Pipes' stuff I was thinking about a little while ago.

What he then did was to outline a situation in a major corporation with an aproximately $9bn turnover.  They had moved from a situation of being very country focused with 30 brands in each country to a single set of brands across all countries.  Bringing everything together like this created a somewhat chaotic situation in their IT systems.  One example might be HR people inputting data on a tuesday which would be required for a payroll run on a monday.

Jon's challenge to us was to come up with a 5 minute or less pitch to the CEO of this company to persude him to fund an initiative addressing this problem.  He further came up with a list of banned phrases including all the usual suspects like knowledge, collaboration, communities of practice, solution, forums, etc...

We split into 3 groups with about 20 minutes to discuss our proposals.  I must admit that, at this point, I was highly skeptical of the exercise.  It just seemed a ridiculous thing to expect us to do this in 20 minutes.  However we discussed it and came up with something we hoped was short, punchy and to the point.

I think we were close, we delivered a 44 second pitch, but we did spend some time restating the problem.  Another group were closer than us and got within a hairs breadth of the real solution (since this was a real case study) which was:

  • We'll deliver the right information, first time, every time.

Now that's a real elevator pitch!

I guess somewhere around here I was having an "ah ha!" moment that made this a very worthwhile experience for me.  If a business is going to be investing in KM it has to be on the basis of meaningful results.  I realised that over the last year I have drifted away from that too far.  When the inner workings are fascinating to you it can be hard to realise that others don't share your opinion.

It's been quite a thought provoking experience.

19/06/2003 16:43 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Chris Collison: Making KM Practical

Chris Collison, Centrica

A key to successful KM is leadership behaviours.  These will determine whether organisational culture can change and whether it can be sustained without the centre.

Chris' wife is a school teacher working in a primary school which has adapted accelerated learning techniques.  This involves a morning "brain gym" where kids do exercises (such as rubbing your head and tummy at the same time) which requires the left & right sides of the brain to be work together.  Neuroscience says that this creates new connections in the brain and leads to faster learning.

We can make the metaphor of creating connections across the organisation to make it more effective.  KM becomes less about capturing bodies of knowledge and is instead about capturing the relationships, identify the people who know the recipe, getting them talking.  You don't use packaged knowledge without asking questions, so who do you ask?

You can consider a continuum ranging from capturing to connections. BP (of which Chris used to be a member) is very much at the connecting end of, whereas the US Army is on the capturing end.  There is no right and wrong only a question of finding the right balance.

Chris describes the situation in the aftermath of a hurrican in the southern USA in a state with strong connections to the president.  The 82nd airbone (an elite combat unit) is, rather unusually, asked to handle the situation instead of the reserves.  The colonel in charge is told: "No screw-ups!"  This is a combat "hot-action" officer who has never been involved in a civilian operation before in his life.

He goes to the website of the Centre for Army Lessons Learned and asks: What does the army know about hurricane support clean-up? Four hours later he has:

  1. a profile for deployment including types & numbers of troops, skills, budget, etc...
  2. the 10 Q's he will be asked by CNN in the first 30 minutes on the scene
  3. a list of state & federal agencies to be liased with including local army contacts for each
  4. volunteers for an advisory group including 2 generals & a colonel

A blend of resources and relationships.  A distillation of knowledge with case histories.  A committment to a relationship.  A total knowledge bundle.  This kind of knowledge bank captures the knowledge that can be made explicit and the relationships which can deliver that which cannot. 

Useful techniques:

Learning after doing:  The retrospect.  Sometimes, after a project is complete, people do not understand what it's successes and failures actually were.  The retrospect is held afterwards to find the lessons learned and highlite what has been achieved.

Learning whilst doing:  The After-Action-Review (AAR).  An army technique which is performed immediately an action has been performed.  It may only last 10 minutes.  It's very direct, asking 4 simple questions:

  1. What was the objective
  2. What was supposed to happen
  3. What actually happened
  4. What can we learn from this

AAR's are a good way to figure out: "How are we doing as a team?"

Peer Assistants: It is helpful to be able to identify groups of people who can help us on a project.  The idea is that what I know + what you know (i.e. what we know) leads to a greater sense of what is possible.  The key is in producing a diverse enough blend of people to avoid group think whilst not making it so big that it becomes impossible to achieve action.

A key to peer assists is a yellow pages service that allows you to identify people who you would like to assist you.  Chris disagreed with Dave Snowden's assertion that YP's always fall into disuse because they are too hard to maintain.  The idea is to create a personal home page that helps people identify with you (and your perspective) as an individual.

Chris mentioned Tacit which is a package that can scan data sources (such as email) looking for connections between people (probably based upon keyword analysis).  This is an alternative approach which may or may not be as effective.  Probably both together would be the best way to identify good peers.

What the tacit approach lacks is any sense of who makes a good peer since analysis of email cannot determine who is likely to volunteer information willingly.

What is clear that it is essential to make the system as informal as possible to help establish relationships even before people have actually met.

Lessons learned: Humans have a limitation on absorbing knowledge, repositories are not enough.  You need to create bundles of knowledge, distilled for a specific context and with the appropriate relationships to support the use of this knowledge asset.  This requires narrative, experience and links to the individuals involved.

19/06/2003 14:17 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

David Gurteen: Using Knowledge Productively

What are the barriers to making KM a reality in organisations?  It's not so much to do with the people who don't get KM as it is with us, the KM evangelists.

"What we have here is a failure to communicate."

KM at the moment is a movement not a discipline.  It has followers who are enthusiastic, sometimes zealous.  It also has a somewhat bad reputation.

To change this the KM Movement requires self-recongition, to shake off the tarnished image of "KM Envangelists", and to focus on actions and results.  Rejecting the labels we are assigned.

Steps to making KM a reality in organisations.

In good times KM means "Knowledge Management" in bad times it has come to mean "Kill Me."  There has been a clear failure to demonstrate the value to people in organisations.  They don't see what it's in it for them.  We need popular support.  As Dave Snowden says you can't force people to share and incentives can lead to the wrong behaviour patterns forming.

Asking "How do we make people use our KM system?" is asking the wrong question.  Buy in from Senior management is not enough it requires buy-in across the entire organisation.  David quotes the example of a company where no time was allowed to talk to the people who would actually be using a system because "management wanted the system yesterday."  This is stupid! stupid! stupid!

KM is about interpersonal communication.  Communicating value.  Bob Buckman says do it 'one person at a time' if necessary. You have to believe it yourself.

David referenced an article about the need to communicate within an organistaion to get across what KM is about.  [David link please?]

The real answer to addressing KM is to acknowledge that you don't do KM.  What you actually do is to solvebusiness problems.  KM is 'tool' (Cynefin) to help achieve this.

David told an anecdote about a senior IT manager telling him "I don't know why we do all this KM stuff, it can be outsourced."  To him KM was simply more IT infrastructure (which can be outsourced), he didn't have a perspective that allowed him to see the bigger picture.  He didn't understand the message.

Focusing on business results:

  • cut costs
  • improve efficiency
  • increase sales
  • improve customer retention

Jargon is a problem.  KM is an oxymoron, We must stop using Jargon & coming up with bad labels.  Instead we should talk in business terms.  Coming to a common understanding of terms is hard.  There has been a failure to differentiate between knolwedge & information. We must come to a common agreement as to what is is, a common framework.  It's noticable how speakers often gloss over these things saying "it's hard to agree."  We need to address the problem.

Focus on role of the individual.  Failed KM initiatives come from the top, not the bottom. Knowledge resides in individuals and is expressed by their actions.  The individual is essential.  No amount of money, coercion can make KM a success.

There was a point from the floor about how the "everyone is a knowledge worker" statement makes the term meaningless.  We need a new definition of knowledge worker.  David suggests "the do-ers, the self-motivated."  Coercion does not work, however subtle.  From the floor:  Not everyone is a knowledge worker, but everyone has the potential to be a knowledge worker.

We need to focus on decision making:  In times of rapid change, best practice can be actively harmful.

This reminds me of the arguments about effectiveness vs. efficiency and leadership vs. management.

  • Managers do things right.
  • Leaders do the right thing!
19/06/2003 14:00 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Dave Snowden: Cynicism and Serendipity

I've never heard Dave Snowden speak before so I was excited to finally get a chance and he did not disappoint.  His good reputation is certainly well earned; Normally the idea of listening to someone speak for 90 minutes at a conference would fill me with icy dread but Dave held us spellbound as he wove ideas around us faster and faster.

He's been described as a 'radical Welsh philosopher' which is a label he warms to, he revels in the ancient celtish practice of ribbing the English.  Nevertheless there is no shortage of philosophical underpinning to what follows.  Please also note that this isn't a literal transcription, I may have inadvertently introduced errors or changes of meaning.

Cynicism and Serendipity: A just in time approach to KM

The basis of successful KM is an understanding of philosophy and cognitive psychology.  More important than computer science or business management which he describes as dead disciplines.   Understanding of human nature is the gateway to the future.  "Re-establishing the importance of human beings."  He describes himself as an optimist and sees that, whilst there is a long way to go, things are moving in the right direction.

Dave described a little of the adventure behind the founding of the Cynefin centre and how, at times, IBM execs had tried to have him and his group thrown out of the company.  But he also said that, paradoxically, it can be much easier to innovate in large companies like IBM because there is no tight management.  You can often hide your project away by not arguing with the processes and justing getting on with things 'fying under the radar.'  Getting funding and agreement whilst operating this way requires a lot of human knowledge.  He said that John Pointdexter spoke of IBM as making the government look beauracracy free.

However from nearly being thrown out they had worked to get to the position of being asked to train IBM's top 100 in a new initiative.  This lead to a joint project between IBM and the University of Cardiff and the founding of the Cynefin centre.  Dave was very enthusiastic about this development seeing an opportunity to bridge the divide between academics and practitioners.

Moving on to the subject of their work Dave suggests there is a lot of confusion of properties with qualities.  The typical behaviour of management consultants is to attempt to generalise from a hypothesis about company behaviour:  e.g. successful companies have 'flat management structure' ergo flat management structure leads to success.  Dave suggests this is logically incoherent that it is like a man who steps off a boat in France and see's that everyone is wearing glasses.  He assumes that all French men wear glasses.  The management consultants then go on to assume that wearing glasses will make you French!  Life is more complex than this.

Next Dave suggested banning of the term "best practice".   He went on to suggest that best practice is past practice, and usually a bad thing in a fast changing environment.  He also lamented the way Government keeps copying industry when the forces at work are completely different.  Without the profit motive there is no pressure to force things that don't work out of the system, and many of these things are incompatible with the service culture.  Why does it happen anyway?  Why does government keep taking up things which industry has abandoned as useless?  (E.g. balanced score card).  He suggests that consultants who have learned that business won't buy their methods look around for some poor dupe and government is it!

At this point Dave said something that really resonated with me and the work that Paolo and I are doing:

  • Major consultancies know that knowledge transfers through informal networks!

About the name Cynefin (pronounced kin-nev-in):  They choose the word from a "Language that only a few other million gifted people speaks" because it's meaning was less likely to be overloaded and confused.  Literally translated it means 'habitat' or 'place' however the word has a deeper meaning: 'The place of your multiple belongings.'  This is suggestive of the idea of multiple paths which profoundly influence who you are but about which you are only dimly aware & can never hope to fully understand.   This is reflective of the idea that methods based on predicting the future based upon cause & effect are fundamentally flawed because you are dealing with uncertain pasts.

There are two schools of management:

  • Technofetishists who believe that people are just there to enter data and that everyone wants to spend their lives in virtual chat rooms.
  • New age fluffy bunnies who believe that technology is the spawn of Satan and that everyone should hug at the beginning of a meeting.

What is required is a more holistic approach that balances the spiritual with the empirical.  This view acknowledges that technology is a useful tool (by which we mean it fits the hand and can be used to do meaningful tasks).  But if you have to reengineer your hand to fit the tool then something is wrong.  Cynefin is about applying real scientific rigour to soft aspects of organisiations using the new sciences arising from biology & chemistry: complexity and chaos.

It is worth noting that systems thinking, complexity, and Chaos are fundamentally different approaches.

Dave introduces the story of Mulla Nasrudin and the falcon (from the exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin).  These are Sufi stories.

Nasrudin found a weary falcon sitting one day on his window sill.
He had never seen a bird of this kind before.
"You poor thing," he said, "how ever were you allowed to get into this state?"
He clipped the falcon’s talons and cut its beak straight, and trimmed its feathers.
"Now you look more like a bird," said Nasrudin.

The purpose of the story is to highlight what happens in organisations when people are faced with things that they don't understand but need to pay attention to.  When faced with something successful people want it to look like something familiar.  This is a big problem.

Dave claims that worst practice systems are far more useful than best practice.  What spreads fastest: stories of success or stories of failure?  Spreading stories of failure is a more important learning exercise.  We are cognitively detruned to stories of success.   Best practice doesn't work!  As an alternative he suggests that narrative databases create learning environments based upon serendipitous encounter.  These spread the net wide to get at experience but are not directive.  He asks: Why are we building other types of systems when they do not work?

The word manage comes from the French meaing 'the ability to ride a horse in a dressage event.'  The horse executes perfect movements according to a plan.  Business consultants want to replace the horse with a mechanical horse that can execute these movements even more perfectly.  But managing complex knowledge requires disruption of expectations.

The importance of the difference between categorization & sense making.

Q:Why do we do KM?
A: To improve effectiveness of decision making and create conditions for innovation.  Hence: action & innovation.

Too many in the field have lost sight of this.  Dave says that knowledge management is a transformatory process shifting from Taylorism to the "new age".   The Cynefin centre looks across all discliplines.

How do you improve decision making in conditions of extreme uncertainty and change?  How do you avoid the talon clipping problem?

For 20-30 years we've operated a model of the human brain closer to cybernetics than neuroscience.  The assumption is that thought is a logical, rational, linear process.  This is wrong.  So is Myers-Briggs and all these other attempts to put people into boxes.  It is reminiscent of Brave New World:

"Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don't want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They're too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I'm so glad I'm a Beta."

The human brain is adaptive.  The way we see the world changes according to context.  Disruption changes brain patterns and the key thing in human intelligence is patterns.  We match stimulus against patterns to know how to act.   The brain creates patterns.  Hence KM has a problem: We cannot codify patterns for use in text books.

As proof Dave offers an anecdote about how he met a bunch of macho developers at a seminar who wanted him to come do an intensive week with them.  Not wanting to spend a week in the Mid West of America with a bunch of macho developers he said "Okay.  It'll be £5,000 a day plus a 1st class air fare."  To his horror they agreed.

During the week he found a lot of resistance to the idea that patterns cannot be codified.  So he offered them a challenge:  He would take their executive team for a day.  If at the end of the day they still didn't believe, he would refund his fee.  If they did, they would double it.

That day he took them to a builders yard set up with a wall that needed plastering and all the correct tools and materials to do the job, along with copies of "10 easy steps to plastering" (an acknowledge good text book).  The challenge: Plaster the wall.   Towards the end of the day, when there was more plaster on the them and the ground than on the wall and they were arguing the ethics of bringing in a sanding machine to make the wall flat Dave introduced them to an old guy.  In 40 minutes he had a fully flat wall.

They paid double.

Dave calls Nonaka; the model that launched a thousand failed KM projects.  If you imagine you can make tacit knowledge explicit you only have to try the following test.  Use Google to translate a paragaph from English => French => English => French => English.  The process of making something explicit loses context.  You end up with rubbish.

"Story virus."  Never get a celt angry: Blood unto the 7th generation.

Human knowledge is stored in patterns far more than raw skills and artifacts.  Knowledge is in the fingertips and needs to managed in a different way.  This is both our power & our downfall.  It also means that you can't get knowledge from people by interviewing them because:

  • I only know what I know when I need to know it
  • The way we know things is not the way we think we do things
  • "I know more than I can say.  I will always say more than I can write down.
  • Knowledge can only be volunteers it can't be conscripted

This last is very important because it means that incentives and other attempts to make people share produce the wrong behaviour.  People will either camouflage, or dissemble.

3rd generation approach to KM (Post-SETI - Nonaka) separate knowledge into:

  • context
  • narrative
  • content management

Content: Very high cost associated with proper codifications.  Only where it's needed and we have stablity of knowledge.  Knowledge goes out of date before you complete the documentation process.  (A big problem in government).

Narrative: What I can speak but not write down.

Context: What I can neither "say down", nor write down.  Context is the basis for the success of apprentice schemes and the reason they are being re-introduced (e.g. Cynefin's IBM Inside programme).  The most effective way of doing complex knowledge transfer.  You only qualify once the master agrees you've got it, exams are not enough.

Cynefin is doing work in social network stimulation.   The idea is to design the informal network of an organisation for use in mergers.  They have identified that in a merger the the side with the most rigid processes tends to dominate.  This is because they tend to have an established beauracracy which can be made common to both sides.  This is a bad thing.  In the process of the merger informal networks get destroyed.  It can takes 4-5 years to build the networks back which is why mergers often fail.  The approach is to stimulate the informal network quickly.

You need all 3 pieces but most current KM are only content management systems.

It's a problem of perspective.  When electrons were particles, we looked for particles & found them.  When they became waves we looked for waves and found them.  In the same way knowledge is paradoxically both a thing and a flow.  But content manages only acknowledges flows.

Expertise management systems are effective.  Connect people when they need to be connected.   If we are asked a question about something which we know and care we tend to respond with honesty, some examples:

  • An old friend asks you a question.  You understand what they mean by it and how they will understand your answer.  Knowledge moves freely.
  • An unknown colleague asks the same question.  Normally you will help but you will be inhibited as you consider what they mean and to what end they might put your knowledge.
  • An idiot CKO wants to "know what you know."

Dave thinks that the knowledge is power motive not that strong, fear is much stronger.

How did KM throw common sense out the window?

The answers lie in cognitive psychology.  Nobody makes rational decisions.  What actually happens is a first fit pattern match with previous experience.  2 minutes later you have rationalised it retrospectively.  This is a key concept when dealing with complexity.  The nature of the decision is a pattern match.  Note not best fit, but first fit.  What happens when there is no pattern?  We hypothesise patterns until we find the first pattern that fits.

You can see this in the American reactions post 9-11.  There were no patterns.  Now patterns have been hypothesized.  But they are patterns for dealing with the past - the terrorists won't use planes next time.

The stories we develop as children & grow up with are very dominant.  Growing up in the 70's you learned that if you didn't occupy the University at least once per term you weren't a real revolutionary.  You could differentiate 16 types of marxist.  In Washington today anyone slightly to the left of Tony Blair is a raging communist.  You can differentiate 16 varieties of the religous right.  Patterns are based upon stories which determine how we see things.

Perspective is vital

We all suffer from pattern entrainment.  Dave offers up an advert to consider:

  1. At first you see a mean looking skin head with a police offer hot on his heels.  An obvious thug.  What does this suggest to you?
  2. Then you see that he is running towards a guy with a briefcase clutched to his chest.  Obviously a rent-collector stereotype, the case is full of cash.
  3. Finally you see the skinhead pushing the guy out from under a load of falling building materials.  Saving his life.

The caption is "For a different perspective, read the Guardian."

Faced with a thug you don't rationalise, the patterns you have entrained guide you quickly to a decision.  This is a big issue in decision theory: "When do you stand still?"  "When do you rationalise?"

Patterns allow faster processing.  Human language is not a serial change from animal languages.  Dave seemed to reject Chomksky's view that it differs by bigger vocabulary and accumulated complexity.  However cognitive science teaches that human beings start with abstractions and then move to the "read world."  Human beings are permanatly in a phenomenological state.  When the patterns go wrong there is disaster but the next group learns from this.  Decision making requires learning about patterns.

It's wrong to take more time to understand patterns.

How do you tell if someone has winked? or blinked?  It's a very important question:  In a bar late at night you can get your face slapped.  In international dimplomancy is can be the difference between war & peace.  In the Cuban missile crisis did Kennedy wink or blink?

Is behaviour intentional or unintentional.  Our assumption tends to be: Other people do things intentionally we do things by
accident.  This can lead to creating circumstances you try to avoid.  Accidental results of pattern entrainment, not rational intentional acts.  This has a huge impact on KM.

Blair can do no wrong.  Blair is a spin doctor.  Blair is a liar.  Patterns.  How humans work.

Human beings don't have unitary identity.  We are not ants.  We all have multiple identities which we move between without thinking about it.  This is not a sign of mental illness.  It's fundamentally how we work.  Dependent upon the context we will see the world a differnet way (father, son, husband, lover).

Fluid identities, non-rational thinking.   In contrast with current management thinking which assumes rational behaviour and unitary identity.

Strong attractors create patterns around themselves & the patterns create meaning.  Gas under pressure, becomes vapour.  Then water.  This phase shift happens suddenly.  Stability. Same thing in human interactions.  Not pre-ordained.

There is a distinction to be made between ordered and unordered systems.  Ordered systems lead to targets, optimization and a cause & effect view.  Unorder is characterised by possibilities, inconceivability, complex systems.  Unorder: "It's order Jim, but not as we know it."  Characterized by non-repeating relationships between cause & effect, i.e. things repeat as long as they repeat until they don't.

These asymmetric collapses create deep shock.  However once the phase shift has happened you can't go back - the energy required to return to the original state is too high.  Working on the past doesn't work because the patterns have changed.  You are learning the wrong lessons.   Terrorists next time they will do something different.  Human dynamics: Conflict is critical to detecting weak signals.  Without conflict you end up playing follow the leader and destroy the capability for innovation.  Unordered systems are matters of managing patterns.  This is the key to survival.

Tom stewart: Managing with your gut (Business 2.0)  There is a science behind 'gut feel'  The way we manage a complex space is the way we manage a party of 12 yr olds.  Do you have a process plan and incentive schemes?  If you do you're a very sad individual.  Instead most people draw a line in the sand "Cross it and die" with multiple interventions to stimulate the creation of beneficial patterns.  You manage a complex space by managing the patterns.  Create boundaries, do interventions, stimulate attractors.

Not the same as managing order but not abrogating managing.

Disorder:  The state of not knowing where you are.

This leads to the basic Cynefin framework:   A sense making framework not a 2x2 consultantany model.   They did a test with a group of management consultants.  They gave them 500 items of which only 200 would fit in the 2x2.  The consultants made all of
them fit and believed that they did.

Category thinking is closed down to new opportunities.  Tendencies to categorisation is rigid in management science.   Sensemaking is the process of creating boundaries between things so you can make sense of them.  Definied by their own histories and futures.  Boundaries emerge from context and are not pre-given.

Domains of order & unorder
Unordered Domains Ordered Domains
Complex: The domain of many possibilities: Cause and effect coherent in retrospect, repeat accidentally.  Looks like Empirically knowable from the past.  Empirically knowable: The domain of the probable.  Cause & effect separated over time but repeat.  The domain of experts.
Chaos; The domain of the inconceivable:  No Cause & effect visible.  You have to do something. Emperically known.  The domain of the actual.  The only place where best practice makes sense.  Inappropriate in other domains.

The average life span of a Fortune 500 CEO is now 11 months.  When they have been successfully was it what they did?  Or did they just get lucky?   An interest experiment by spammers:

Take 500,000 email addresses and split them 50/50.  To the first 50% claim a stock will go up, the second 50% claim it will go down.  Let's say the stock goes up.  Ignoring the second 50%, take the first 50% and split them.  Repeat the experiment.  You eventually end up with a small group who absolutely believe in your ability to predict the stock market: ready to be scammed.

Decision Models
Probe
Sense
Respond
Sense
Analyse
Respond
Act
Sense
Respond
Sense
Categorise
Respond


Understanding the phases is key, knowing whether you are in complexity or chaos.  The Cynefin framework leads to you being able to make the right decisions.  Many corporations don't understand the unordered domains and treat everything as belonging the ordered domains.  This is a disaster as the decision models are completely wrong.   The anti-terrorist problem is the the same as emerging market opportunties from a management perspective.

Network linkages:
Weak central
Strong distributed
Strong central
Strong distributed
Weak central
Weak distributed
Strong central
Weak distributed

The goal of management is to move from chaos to complexity to the knowable in a watchful fashion by sending out multiple probes and watching the results.

  • Patterns we don't like disrupt.
  • Patterns we like we reinforce.
  • Shift to the left to exploit it.

Mathematical approaches to complexity fail.  Humans can impose order, ants are condemned to be constantly complex.  Shifts to the right are temporary expediencies.  Most organisations oscillate between known and knowable.

Creativity is not innovation.  Creativity is neither necessary nor sufficient for innovation.

Trust is not a property.  It's an emergent property.  You can't make people trust each other.   You can't train people to have qualities.  It doesn't work.

To be useful Communities of Practice require regular sheep dipping into Chaos.  A CoP should be destroyed after 12 months.  If it's valuable it will go underground and reemerge. Funded CoP's become a huge conservative force.  Look at the histroy of science.  Innovation is not a logically planned process.  Dipping into chaos to create new complex patterns.

The Cynefin programme

Cynefin dynamics:  Innovation cycles.  Just-In-Time KM focuses on creating environments that allow complex systems to emerge and move into expert environments.  Complex acts of knowing.  Rounding level in large organisations is $250M.  $49M gets rounded down to 0.  A different world!

Shifting consultancy from a utilization model to a software model.  Fed up with teams of consultants.  Email detoxification: Cold turkey organisations to get them out of bad email habits. Surving in their own environement represented as a metaphorical model.   Sensing organisational structures which will work post-merger.

Culture. Trust. Collaboration.  Big problems that companies have but don't know how to solve.  Cynefin will tackle 1 problem per year.

Looking through a complexity lense puts things into a context where you can shift R->L, from looking at order to unorder.

Western canada is a fabulous example of aborigine integration.  Shamans are heart surgeons and nurses.

PERSPECTIVE. PERSPECTIVE. PERSPECTIVE.

New patterns emerge from complexity.

Flagship discovery program.  A huge mutli cultural experiment.

Corporate values.  Rituals in absence of belief.  Singing the company song.  Create rituals that align people with belief systems.

I got caught up at the end.

[I wanted to ask a question about patterns and pattern languages but felt a bit intimidated.]

Questions: Paradox program.
Questions: Knowledge Audits.  Never ask a direct question.  Identify knowledge use (decision, judgements, resolutions). Cluster to entities to create a meaningful context.
 Heuristics are more common than explicit knowledge.  What experience is vital to what you do?
 Create coherent knowledge objects which can be managed and organised to affect core processes & activities.
 Portofoli of knowledge managament (amortises risky projects in terms of the tangible benefits of low risk activies)
 2-stage emergence:  Dissolve patterns in the spce.  Stimulate the space to form new patterns.  Rinse & repeat.
 Never tackle the low hanging fruit in KM.  Tackle high vulnerabilit to loss of knowledge areas which core processes depend upon
Questions:

19/06/2003 11:12 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Intro to the conference

Yesterday I spent the day at the Gurteen Knowledge Conference organised by David Gurteen in association with BizMedia.  I've known David for nearly a year know through attending meetings of his Knowledge Café and it was a great pleasure to be able to go this is event.  Being David conversation was a central theme of the day which made a nice change from the standard conference fair.  I think he has succeeded in doing something different and am keen to see how this develops.

I took a Wi-Fi card in the hope of maybe doing some live blogging but alas the Novotel London West has not taken that bold step into the 22nd century yet.  Subsequently my posts about the conference will probably be more substantive but have less of a 'now' feel to them as I edit them into shape.

Sadly also it has to be said that I am not much of a photographer and the lighting in the conference rooms defeated me for the most part.  I have some excellent candidates for shadow puppet theatre but not many shots where you can identify the speaker.  Oh well.

After coffee and pain au chocolate the day started with a brief introduction by David, who quickly handed over to Dave Snowden for his keynote.

19/06/2003 09:01 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Dave Snowden

Dave Snowden thanks David Gurteen for his work connecting so many people via the GKN.

"Radical Welsh philosopher"

The basis of successful KM is understanding of the philosophy and cognitive psychology.  More important than CS or business management.  "Dead disciplines."   Understanding of human nature is the gateway to the future.  "Re-establishing the importance of human beings."  Optimist.  Not there but moving in the right direction.  Poindexter: "IBM makes government look...."

Large companies are able to innovate:  You can hide away.  No tight management.  Go under the radar.  Don't argue with the process.  (Human knowledge at work here)

Training top 100 of IBM.  New initiative.  Hard work.   =>  Cynefin centre.   A joint project between IBM and the Uni. of Cardiff.   Bridging the academic/practioner divide.

Confusion of properties with qualities.  Cannot generalise from a hypothesis about a company:  e.g. 'flat management structure'   =>  Logically incoherent.  "Not all french man wear glasses."   "Assumes wearing glasses will make you french."    It's too complex.  Imitiation of "best practice".   Ban the term.   Best practice is past practice, i.e. a bad thing.   (Proof: Market for management consultants is shrinking, funding is shrinking).   Government should not copy industry, no profitive motive (balanced score card / profit pressure).  No pressure to force things that don't work out of the system.   Service culture that does not apply to industry.  Government nearly always copy things that industry is abandoning.  Consultant sales "who CAN we sell this shit too!"  No credibility.

Major consultancies know that knowledge transfers through informal networks!

Cynefin.  "Language that only a few other million gifted people speaks"  =>  Meaning is not confused.  "The place of your multiple belongings" (Literal/Trivial: Habitat or place).  Multple paths with profoundly influenec who you are but about which you are only dimly aware.  Never hope to fully understand.   Cause & effect prescripture future methods are fundamentally flawed because you are dealing with uncertain pasts.

Spritual/Empircal.

3 approaches to life:

techno-fetishing school of management: people are data entry units.  Everyone wants to spend all their time in virtual chatrooms.
new age "fluffy bunnies".  Technology is the spawn of satan.  Go back to hugging at the start of each meeting.  Talking stick, etc...
Holistic view is important.  Technology is a useful tool (fits the hand, can be used).  If you have to reengineer your hand to fit the tool then something is wrong.  Avoid extremes.

Applying real scientific rigour to soft aspects of organisiations.   New science from biology & chem: Complexity and chaos.

Systems thinking / Complexity / Chaos;  fundamentally different approaches.

Mulla Nasrudin (Idries Shah).  The exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin.  Sufi stories.  (Octagon Press, London, 1985).  "Nasrudin found a weary falcon"   What people do in organisations when faced with things they don't understand but have to pay attention to.  When you're successful people want to make you look like something familar => where everything goes wrong.

Worst practice systems are far more useful than best practice.  What spreads fastest: stories of success or stories of failure?  Spreading stories of failure is a more important learning exercise.  Wea re cognitively detruned to stories of success.   Best practice doesn't work!!!    Narrative databases create learning environments based upon serendipitous encounter.   Spread the net wide to get at experience.  Not directive.

Why are we building other types of systems when they do not work?

Manage:  Comes from the French.  Ability to ride a horse in a dressage event.  Horse executes perfect movements. 

Managing complex knowledge requires disruption of expectations.  Difference between categorization & sense making (Imprtant)

Why do we do KM?  To improve effectiveness of decision making and create conditions for innovation.  (Action & Innovation).  To many in the field have lost sight of this.  Blind leading the blind.  KM is a transformatory process shifting from Taylorism to the "new age".   Title will change over time.   Shift from KM to Cynefin centre which looks across all discliplines.

How do you improve decision making in conditions of extreme uncertainty and change.  How do you avoid the talon clipping problem?

For 20-30 years we've operated a model of the human brain closer to cybernetics than neuroscience.  Assumption: logical, rational, linear process.  This is WRONG.  Myers-Brigs.  Brave New World "I'm so glad to be a beta."  Putting people in boxes.  The human brain is adaptive.  The way we see the world changes according to context.  Disruption changes brain patterns.

Key thing in human intelligence is patterns.  Match stimulus against patterns to know how to act.   Brain creates patterns.  KM problem: Cannot codify patterns for use in text books.

Stuck in the mid west with macho developers.  Brisih never say no.  £5000+1st class fair.

Nonaka;  the model that launched a thousand failed KM projects.  Google Translations English => French => English => French => English.  Gives you gobbledegook.  Process of making explicit loses context.

"Story virus"

Never get a celt angry: Blood unto the 7th generation.

1 day with the exec team.  Refund the fee / Double the fee.  Angry.  2 days later, exec board.  All the tools a plasterer needs + 10 easy steps to plastering wall.  Good book.  Told them to plaster the wall.   Far too many management programmes.  More plaster on the wall than on them & the ground but a close run thing.  Old guy plastered it, yard went silent.  40 minutes a fully flat wall.   Is it ethical to bring in a sanding machine.  Fee got doubled.

Human knowledge is stored in patterns far more than raw skills and artifacts.  Knowledge is in the fingertips and needs to managed in a different way.  Both our power & our downfall.

I only know what I know when I need to know it (interviews don't work in KM audit)
the way we know things is not the way we think we do things (interviews don't work)
knowledge can only be volunteers it can't be conscripted (camouflage behaviour)  => no incentives, produces wrong behaviour.
"I know more than I can say.  I will always say more than I can write down."

3rd generation of KM (regretable title):  Numbers is a mistake.

Post-SETI generation.  (Nonaki SETI).  Separate knowledge into

context
narrative
content
management.

Content: Very high cost associated with proper codifications.  Only where it's needed and we have stablity of knowledge.  Knowledge goes out of date before you complete the documentation process.  (Problem in government).

Narrative: What I can speak but not write down.

Context: What I can neither "say down", nor write down.  Apprentice schemes.  Most effective way of doing complex knowledge transfer.  Being introduced into Cynefin "IBM inside".   Master agrees you've got it, exams are not enough.  Social network stimulation.   Design the informal network of an organisation for use in mergers (most beauracratic dominates) => create common process.  i.e the organisation with the most rigid process will dominate - a bad thing.  Explicit stuff is more visible.  All informal networks get destroyed.  Takes 4-5 years to build the network back.  i.e. stimulate this network quickly.  volunteer network.

You need all 3 pieces.  Current KM are content management systems.

Electrons are particles, so we look for particles.  We find particles.  Now waves.  Find waves.

Knowledge is paradoxically both a things and a flow.  Content manages flows.

Expertise management systems are effective.  Connect people when they need to be connected.   If we are asked a question about something which we know we respond with honesty:

An old friend asks you a question (you know what they mean by the question and how they will understand the answer).
Unknown colleague asks the same question: Normally you help them.  Inhibited.  Not sure about it.  Valuable knowledge concern of abuse.
idiot CKO wants to "know what you know."
(Knowledge is power motive not that strong.  Fear is stronger)

How did KM throw common sense out the window?

Nobody makes rational decisions.  Actually first fit pattern match with previous experience.  2 minutes later you have rationalised it retrospectively.  (Key in complexity).  Nature of
the decision is pattern match.  Not best fit, but first fit.  No pattern?  Hypothesise patterns until you find a first pattern that fits.  Post 9-11, no patterns.

Stories we develop as children & grow up with a very dominant.  Didn't occupy at least once per term you weren't a real revolutionary.  Differentiate 16 types of
marxist.  Washington:  Slightly to the left of Tony Blair is a raging communist.  16 varieties of the religous right.  Patterns based upon stories which determine
how we see things.

PERSPECTIVE IS SO IMPORTANT.  Pattern entrainment. (Thug|Rent Collector|Pull into the doorway to save his life) 3 point story "You know there is another thing coming."  See things
from a differnt perspective, read the guardian!   Faced with a thug you don't rationalise.  Issue in decision theory "when do you stand still?"  "when do you rationalise"
Patterns allow faster processing.  Human language is not a serial change from animal languages.  Chomksky: Bigger vocabulary, more complexity.   We know now that we
start with abstractions and then move to "real world."   Human beings are permanatly in a phenomenological state.  When the patterns go wrong there is disaster but the
next group learns from this.  Decision making requires learning about patterns.

It's wrong to take more time to understand patterns.

How do you tell if someone has winked? or blinked?  Very important question:  In a bar late at night you can get your face slapped.  In international dimplomancy is can be
the difference between war & peace.  Cuban missile crisis.  Is behaviour intentional or unintentional.  Assumption: Other people do things intentionally we do things by
accident.  Leads to creating circumstances you try to avoid.  Accidental results of pattern entrainment, not rational intentional acts.  Affects KM.

Blair can do no wrong.  Blair is a spin doctor.  Blair is a liar.  Patterns.  How human work.

Human beings don't have unitary identity.  We are not ants.  We all have multiple identities which we move between without thinking about it.  Not mental ill health.  It's
fundamentally how we work.  Dependent upon the context we will see the world a differnet way (father, son, husband, lover).

Fluid identities, non-rational thinking.   In contrast with current management thinking which assumes rational behaviour and unitary identity.

Strong attractors create patterns around themselves & the patterns create meaning.  Gas under pressure, becomes vapour.  Phase shifts.  To water.  Phase shift (suddenly happens).  Stability. Same thing in
human interactions.  Not pre-ordained.

Distinction between ordered systems (targets, be careful what you optimize, cause & effect) and **unorder**.  Possibilities & inconceivability.  Complex systems.  Unorder "there
is order there Jim but it is not order as we know it."  Non-repeating relationships between cause & effect.

Things repeat as long as they repeat until they dont.  Leads to shocks.  Asymettic collapse (once you go over a phase shift the energy to go back is too high to ever do
it).  Blair, infallible to not infallible.  Working on the past doesn't work because the patterns have changed.  You are learning the wrong lessons.   Terrorists
next time they will do something different.  Human dynamics: Conflict is critical to detecting weak signals.  Without conflict you end up with follow the leader and destroy
the capability for innovation.  Unordered systems are matters of managing patterns.  Key to survival.

Tom stewart.  Managing with your gut (business 2.0)  There is a science behind 'gut feel'  The way we manage a complex space is the way we manage a party of 12 yr olds.
Do you have a process plan and incentive schemes.  If you do you're a very sad individual.  Line in the sand "Cross it or die" with multiple interventions to stimulate
the creation of beneficial patterns.  You manage a complex space by managing the patterns.  Create boundaries, do interventions, stimulate attractors.

Not the same as managing order but not abrogating managing.

Disorder:  The state of not knowing where you are.

From here to the basic Cynefin framework:   A sense making framework not a 2x2 consultantany model.   500 items, only 200 fit in the 2x2.  The consultants made all of
them fit and believed that they did.  Closed down to new opportunities.  Tendencies to categorisation is rigid in management science.   Sensemaking is the process of creating boundaries
between things so you can make sense of them.  Definied by their own histories and futures.  Boundaries emerge from context and are not pre-given.

Ordered domains
BR: Emperically known.  The domain of the actual.  The only place where best practice makes sense.  Inappropriate in other domains.
TR: Empirically knowable: The domain of the probable.  Cause & effect separated over time but repeat.  The domain of experts.

Unordered domains:
TL: Complex: The domain of many possibilities: Cause and effect coherent in retrospect, repeat accidentally.  Looks like TR from the past.  Average life span of a Fortune 500
CEO is now 11 months.  Have you just been lucky.  The spam approach.  50% up, 50% down.  IT goes up so they go back to the 50% and do again..  eventually 5% get scammed.
BL: Chaos; The domain of the inconceivable:  No Cause & effect visible.  You have to do something.

Decision models.

PROBE SENSE RESPOND  | SENSE ANALYSE RESPOND
-----------------------------------------------------------------
ACT SENSE RESPOND  | SENSE CATEGORISE RESPOND


Understanding the phases is key, knowing whether you are in complexity or chaos.  The framework leads to you being able to make the right decisions.  Many
corporations don't understand the left hand side and treat everything as belonging to the right hand side.  Anti-terrorism is the same as emerging market opportunties
from a management perspective.

Network linkages:

WEAK CENTRAL    STROING DISTRIBUTED
STRONG DISTRIBUTED  | STRONG CENTRAL (Beauracy)
-----------------------------------------------------------------
WEAK CENTRAL   | STRIBG CENTrAL
WEAK DISTRIBUTED  | WEAK DISTRIBUTED


chaos => complex => knowable.  watchfully.
 putting out multiple probes
 watch the results

Patterns we don't like disrupt.
Patterns we like we reinforce.
Shift to the left to exploit it.

Mathematical approaches to complexity fail.  Humans can impose order, ants are condemned to be constantly complex.  Don't understand this point.

Shifts to the right are temporary expediencies.

Most organisations oscillate between BL & BR.

Creativity is not innovation.  C is neither necessary nor sufficient for innovation.

Trust is not a property.  It's an emergent property.  You can't make people trust each other.   You can train people to have qualities.  It doesn't work.

CoP: Regular sheep dipping into Chaos.  Destroy a CoP after 12 months.  If it's valuable it will go underground and reemerge. Funded CoP's become a huge
conservative force.  Look at the histroy of science.  Tesla.  Innovation is not a logically planned process.  Dipping into chaos to create new complex patterns.

Cynefin dynamics:  Innovation cycles.  JIT KM focuses on creating environments that allow complex systems to emerge and move into expert environments.
Complex acts of knowing.

Rounding level in large organisations is $250M.  $49M gets rounded down to 0.  A different world!

Shifting consultancy to a utilization model to a software model.  Fed up with teams of consultants.  Email detoxification: Cold turkey organisations to get them out
of bad email habits.  Grendel game.  Surving in their own environement represented as a metaphorical model.   Sensing organisational structures whcih will work
post-merger.

Culture. Trust. Collaboration.  Problems that companies have but don't know how to solve.  1 problem per year.  Big problems.

Looking at things through a complexity lense puts things into a context where you can shift R->L.

Western canada is a fabulous example of aborigine integration.  Shamans are heart surgeons and nurses.

PERSPECTIVE. PERSPECTIVE. PERSPECTIVE.

New patterns emerge from complexity.

Flagship discovery program.  A huge mutli cultural experiment.

Corporate values.  Rituals in absence of belief.  Singing the company song.  Create rituals that align people with belief systems.

I got caught up at the end.

 


PATTERNS => PATTERN LANGUAGES

Questions: Paradox program.
Questions: Knowledge Audits.  Never ask a direct question.  Identify knowledge use (decision, judgements, resolutions). Cluster to entities to create a meaningful context.
 Heuristics are more common than explicit knowledge.  What experience is vital to what you do?
 Create coherent knowledge objects which can be managed and organised to affect core processes & activities.
 Portofoli of knowledge managament (amortises risky projects in terms of the tangible benefits of low risk activies)
 2-stage emergence:  Dissolve patterns in the spce.  Stimulate the space to form new patterns.  Rinse & repeat.
 Never tackle the low hanging fruit in KM.  Tackle high vulnerabilit to loss of knowledge areas which core processes depend upon
Questions:

18/06/2003 14:13 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

David introduces.  Hopes the conference will be a bit different with opportunities for networking and a round-up at the end to help everyone share what they have learned from the day.  A participatory conference.
18/06/2003 08:27 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

At the Gurteen KM Conference

On Wednesday (18th) I am at the Gurteen Knowledge Management conference at the Novotel London West in Hammersmith.  Since I am probably the last person alive who hasn't heard Dave Snowden speak I'm looking forward to that.  The day has a number of sessions in the morning and afternoon, all of which look good.  It's just a shame you can't go to them all!  Decisions, decisions...

17/06/2003 23:05 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Listen to Bill

If you're a Bill Hicks fan here are some audio clips you might like.

17/06/2003 09:03 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Microsoft's Latest Anti-Linux Move

Microsoft's Latest Anti-Linux Move. IDG: Linux Version of Acquired Antivirus Product Doomed. Users and resellers of RAV AntiVirus, especially popular on Linux platforms, are... [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

16/06/2003 12:19 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Trackbacks data in RSS?

I'd like an easy way to ping a trackbackable item when I post in Radio.  It seems to me that the easiest way to achieve this would be to have the trackback id embedded in the RSS item (much like the GUID is).  This would allow me to pre-load the URL to ping when posting a commentary on an item.

Has someone already come up with an extension for doing this?

Update

My thanks to Phil Ringnalda who sent me the link to the trackback module for RSS which provides a way to associate the trackback ping url with an item in a feed.  Exactly what I was looking for!  However when I checked my copy of MovableType I notice that the module is not used by either the 1.0 or 2.0 templates (at least as of 2.63).

What gives?

14/06/2003 12:35 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Implementing Trackback for Radio Userland in 3 easy steps

Paolo was wondering whether we could setup the standalone Trackback server and use it to implement trackbacks for Radio Userland.  It turns out (as this post proves) that the answer is yes!  All that was required was to install the CGI and then write a macro for Radio Userland and embed it in the #itemTemplate.txt.

The macro is supplying the RDF metadata that Trackback depends upon.  In order to allow the standalone trackback server to serve multiple blogs I have added a unique prefix (in my case @matt.blogs.it) to the unique post ID's supplied to the trackback server.

14/06/2003 10:24 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Solving the problem of broken topics:

I'd like to propose a change to the way the cloud/topic roll works to enable us to handle problems such as mispelled topics.  The idea I have in mind is to add a change serialization format to the spec.  This would make it distinct from other topic mapping formats in that it would acknolwedge this as representing a "living document."

Some examples of the problem at work:

The Marc Canter topic was created, accidentally, as a What and not a Who.  The problem is that this topic has been propagated to clients so even if we correct it at the server they will need to be corrected as well.

The Gradisca Topic is messed up.  This topic will need to be renamed (i.e. not just create a new topic).

The proposal

What I have in mind is that the topic roll will have a serial number, starting a 1 and being increased by one each time the roll is updated by adding, removing or changing a topic.

Either within the roll, or as a linked file we will publish an XML feed of changes which relate to a specific serial number.  Such a change might indicate that a topic was removed, or renamed, or changed type, etc...

Any client with a version of the topic roll can simply scan the list of changes from their serial number forward to know what to do (e.g. renaming the topic associated with posts).

 

 

13/06/2003 11:45 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Notes from the meeting with Steve

Met with Steve Donald today.  For reference Steve was my MD at Hipbone and prior to that MD of WebMethods UK.  He has also held roles as Sales Director in other companies.

Here are some of the things we talked about:

The proposition

You've heard of B2B and B2C, we're doing:

E2E - Employee 2 Employee

Support informal knowledge sharing + social networking.

Metaphor: Like Grid Computing:  Getting value out of the spare capacity of your people.

=>Anything that fosters internal communication & community is a GOOD thing
=>How you treat people in a business context

(Note: This gives us criteria about companies we can sell to since authoritative "culture of fear" organisations just will not fly this kind of thing)

Get rid of the term weblogging altogether -- No mention of it.  "Beatniks on the internet"  It doesn't help.  Come up with another name:  Brainstorm around the terms:

  • sharing
  • informal
  • knowledge

Metaphor: Post-It notes for the intranet

Emphasise teams:

Name Ideas (not actual suggestions but ideas): Knowledge Cafe, Continuous Communities

Positioning

80/20 : Companies acknowledge that 80% of the knowledge is hidden within the heads of employees.  We give you the chance to make up some of that 80%.

"Puppy dog sale"  "Intuition Play"

Providing a software platform for accessing that knowledge => Company derives business value

Informal Knowledge => Informal Knowledge is a good thing.  Encourage it.

Facilitating the human process

Complementary to existing information infrastructure: Knowledge Management, Email

Commercials

Scalability is an issue

Avoid per-seat cost, organisations don't like it

Avoid a la carte menus, choices make people think => you want them to say yes & have a done deal

Story

Sweet spot is companies moving past the point of natural community.

When you're all in the spare room together knowledge sharing is shouting over the monitor screen.  When you get a little bigger knowledge sharing a shared notice board.  As you grow it becomes more and more difficulty to preserve the sense of community and culture.

Challenges:

  • People
  • Separation (functional/departments)
  • Locale
  • Time
  • Coincidence (loss of serendipity)

"The difference between chance and success."

Looking for a philosophy that says: "Sharing ANY and ALL information is a good thing."

Seeking a climate & platform for getting maximum value from each of your employees.  You provide the climate, we provide the platform.

Threats

Dealing with the alternatives: "I don't need your stuff because I've got...." e.g. email, chat, notice boards and so on.   Why should they use our stuff?

Target

Companies who are growing beyond their original sense of community => bring back the sense of a tight knit community.

Small companies growing fast.

Identify communities that exist within large corporations (e.g. people working on AIDS within pharmco's).  People with a common thread linking them but geographically separated (e.g. multi-site/time zone).  Communities of Practice.

Possibilities: Chambers of Commerce, Professional Groups => Share knowledge & best practice.  For the group a way to hold on to existing members/draw in new members (by providing as a value added service, e.g. Ecademy).  A 'passed-on-value' proposition.

People not interested in the technology but interested in the dynamics of human interaction:

  • Organisation Development
  • Human Resources

 

12/06/2003 17:15 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

k-collector DMOZ style

Richard Soderberg is wondering whether there is utility in linking k-collector with a DMOZ style directory.  The principle is that DMOZ editors have already come up with a wide-ranging category hierarchy so let people re-use it.

I can see this being of benefit to a public k-collector server such as our beta but perhaps of far more limited utility for a company or team using k-collector internally.

What do people think?

12/06/2003 07:34 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

Progress on k-collector for MovableType

With some much needed help from Richard work on the k-collector client for MovableType is proceeding.  I won't say smoothly, my perl is too ancient, and rusty, and MovableType too complex for that, but it is proceeding.  We're hoping to invite the first beta testers to get involved sometime next week.
11/06/2003 19:38 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

The most rewarding experience you can get on the web

Yes but.... Yesterday Dave Winer wrote:

You'll get an idea you wouldn't have otherwise gotten. A business contact. A bug report. An old friend finds you. You get a job. You hire someone. You get an answer to a question. These are the benefits of running a weblog.

It's very true, every single item of this list happened to me at least once in the last year. But blogging can also be hard. First you need time. Unless you are "blogging only for yourself" or you want to post totally boring stuff, you need to spend some time every day thinking about what would interest your readers, doing some research and reading other people's blogs. I didn't post anything for a week here and I lost approximately half of my visitors (thanks to the few of you still here :-). Weblogs are also the ultimate reputation building tool. It's true that hey tend to be authentic (as Phil Wolff said "I don't write to be authentic. I am authenitc when I'm writing.") it's still tricky to write on a weblog trying not to get flamed, not to piss off anybody, to be smart, accurate and correct, and possibly to get linked from somebody in order to get some additional visibility. If you happen to get into troubles with some A-List blogger your life could become miserable because of the amount of traffic, visibility and attention they control (like it or not, this is how it works). Being a social environment with possibly a very wide reach you need to be careful about how you use it. Not everybody can or want to deal with all this, many people I like and respect have stopped blogging in the last year, I don't know why they did but it probably has something to do with the challanges above. But anyway, if you have never tried you should absolutely open a weblog now, it's the most rewarding experience you can get on the web. [Paolo Valdemarin: Paolo's Weblog]

I would certainly never have met Paolo but for blogging.  We talked about this very thing on the way back from BlogTalk where a whole bunch of people got together who probably never would have but for their blogs.

I like it.

11/06/2003 19:15 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Gurteen Knowledge Conference

I shall be attending the Gurteen Knowledge Conference being held in London next wednesday (18th).  David has a good looking line up including Dave Snowden (a keynote speaker at KM Europe 2002), Euan Semple, and Martin Röll.

If you're going to be there I'd love to hear from you.

11/06/2003 09:36 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Comments in trouble

This is a post to see if the comments system is still screwed up.
10/06/2003 08:56 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

PHP based Wiki systems

Does anyone have any experience of PHP/MySQL based Wiki implementations?

I have a friend who is considering:

Does anyone have any positive/negative comments about these?  Or an alternative suggestion?

09/06/2003 18:12 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

Strange omission

Here is something that suprised me:

Mozilla's show source doesn't list line numbers or provide a 'go to line' facility.

This makes it fairly pointless telling me which line a Javascript error occurred on.  Quite a strange omission in my eyes.

09/06/2003 16:27 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Meeting Richard Soderberg

I've just had a great conversation with Richard Soderberg who kindly offered to help me with some of my Perl questions.  He was able to fix me up in about 5 minutes for which I am very grateful.  My problem had to do with my not understanding how a hash (returned from an XMLRPC::Lite call) was being treated as a scalar.  The answer: Use % to cast it back to a Hash.  Thank you Richard!

We then went on to chat about how you meet people virtually in a number of different ways (and sometimes even in person), about languages, and about k-collector.  Of course with Richard's help I am a little closer to implementing the k-collector client for MovableType.

Good to meet you.

09/06/2003 11:31 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

One PageRank to rule them all

To Google, what is a blog?.

I haven't really commented on the "should blogs be in Google search results" debate, but one random question. What is a blog? What's the technical difference (from the perspective of a search engine) between my blog and The Register? I don't see how you can "filter" blogs. You can obviously change the page ranking mechanism to give certain types of sites an advantage or disadvantage, but I don't see how you can filter blogs. My blog is just a bunch of html created by a content management system.

If more people think that the google search results are poor because the top results are not "relevant" it means the ranking system is broken, not that something has to be "filtered". The whole point of a search engine is that it searches everything and finds the most relevant pages.

By Joichi Ito jito@neoteny.com. [Joi Ito's Web]

Joi's question was pretty much the question I had in mind when this first came up -- how will they do it?  I mean if they could detect a blog by analyzing the page this would be pretty cool because they might be able to come up with a "garbage filter" algorithm at the same time!

Joi then goes on to make, for me, the right analysis.  The issues are with the ranking system and, perhaps, that one ranking system does not fit all.

Maybe the time has come for Google user accounts?

09/06/2003 10:00 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

Akkkk Fooo

Goddamnit Perl has changed a lot since I last used it.

Any Object Perl experts out there who can help me with a few (probably) simple questions by IM?

07/06/2003 22:29 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

A metric of movable success

Here is something that caught my eye.  I joined the Movable Type support forums on 27th May 2003.  I note that a responder to one of my questions, Stepan, joined 29th April 2002, a little over a year before me.  Yet his member number is 713 and mine is 11,424!  If I'm reading this correctly it means that an average of nearly 900 people every month are joining the MovableType support forum.  That seems like a lot of people.
07/06/2003 17:39 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

Rich Wage Class War on Poor and Middle Class. Michael Kinsley: Bush and the new tyranny of the rich. The recently enacted tax bill is such a shocking and... [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

Is it wishful thinking to think that they would realise by the next election?

06/06/2003 17:18 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Getting linked in

I didn't get LinkedIn until today (can anyone tell me how to find the URL for my profile?)  I was already a member of Ecademy (which I don't use much) and Ryze so why join another of these things?  I basically joined because Marc Canter sent me an invite, looked around for a bit (it looked intimidatingly confusing) and then left.  I don't think i've been back since.

Today I had a reason to go back and the experience has made me see LinkedIn in a new light.  I've been trying to make contact with someone without much success.  I was speaking to Ross about it and he suggested he could help, could I send a message via LinkedIn?

I found the person I wanted to make contact with, who is connected through Ross.  I created a message and when I submitted it, I was shown the path from me, via Ross (intermediate steps hidden) to the target.  I added a note for Ross and sent it off.  He then has the opportunity to approve or reject it & add his own comments before passing it on.

Actually using this process I see a value that wasn't apparent to me when I simply thought about it after first joining.   I shall definitely be looking into LinkedIn a bit more closely.

My thanks to Ross for pulling me in & holding my head under the water!

06/06/2003 17:10 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Call for help: Cross domain scripting

We've run into a problem implementing the MovableType client for k-collector:

Our approach has been to bootstrap development by reusing a lot of the Radio client code (moved onto the k-collector server) and having the MT client call that as far as possible.  We made some good progress this way however we've hit a snag.  When the server side code needs to send information back to MovableType we hit the 'ol Javascript same origin policy problem.

What we need is a way for the pages serverd by MovableType to allow the pages from k-collector access to some of their properties but without having to use signed pages (which appears to be a minefield).  Since the one should be allowed to trust the other I am hoping there is a way.  Is there?

06/06/2003 16:19 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Fly in the Firebird ointment

Okay I can really see myself replacing IE with Firebird for all my day-to-day browsing needs.  It's just a superior browser.  However what I can't live with is editing posts in a poxy textarea with
and friends.  It just aint gonna happen.  None of my searches for a solution yielded any results.  Does anyone know what is the state of play for WYSIWYG editing in Firebird?
06/06/2003 11:35 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

Fail while daring greatly

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face in marred by dust and sweat and blood;  who strives valiantly;  who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;  but who does actually strive to do the deeds;  who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;  who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

06/06/2003 11:28 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Dissapearing the opposition

UK ID cards - the incredible shrinking consultation. Disappearing the opposition - every Home Secretary's dream... [The Register]

I really never imagined when I voted for them that I would grow to hate New Labour almost (but not quite) as much as I hated the last Tory government.

In particular I have a real problem with David Blunkett and the Home Office over this and over other legislation they have come up with this term.

So, who do I vote for next time? If I want to vote for someone I trust maybe I should stand myself...

05/06/2003 19:29 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Goddamnit Firebird fly!!!

I've been running Mozilla Firebird on my backup (Win98) laptop for a few days now and really liked it.  Now that my WinXP laptop is back up and running and it seemed natural to get Firebird going there and phase out Internet Exploder.  But I'm damned if I can get Firebird running.

It hangs every time I try to open it.  Usually just after displaying the opening window with the status bar saying "resolving host www.mozilla.org".   This is so frustrating!

I've tried both the Nightly build version and the 0.6 release.  I've uninstalled regular Mozilla 1.4b and deleted all the pre-existing profile information but Firebird won't fly.

Colour me very disappointed...

Update...

Since writing this I have found that Firebird has suddenly started working and that Internet Explorer has started to play up. It's obviously realised the game is up!

Also Paul Freeman pointed me at some useful Mozilla Firebird tips including how to make Firebird open links from external apps in a new tab. Thanks Paul!

So all I need now is a good solution to HTML editing for Radio... I really, really hate the idea of hand editing my posts!

Updated, update... Micah I fixed the link to the Mozilla tips

05/06/2003 16:23 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

Bad Mojo.

I just read Mark's bitching comment about his ex-neighbor, so called crazy old Howard.  I left a scolding comment, but still can't shake the bad taste his post left me.  Same shit is happening everywhere: disrespect for elders.

....

During twenty-eight years of my life in America, I have been heckled and humiliated occasionally, mostly by elderly white Americans in Archie Bunker-style.  Even one of my neighbors called me Chink to my face.  Still, I understood where they are coming from and let things be.  It's not that they are evil, they are just trying to cope with changing times.  I saw myself in them.  When you are relaxed and comfortable, you are more forgiving.  When you don't understand what is going on and terrified of the future, you start talking non-sense.  So, I just smiled and never wished a bad thing for them.

I hope Mark learns to look out from crazy ol' Howard's eyes and understand a little of what is going on there.  I wish people will understand that it is not the elders' mind that is at stake, but our own.  By losing respect for elders, we lose a large chunk of ourselves.  Giving respect is placing value where we wish value should be.

*sigh*  Maybe it is too fucking late after all.  Forget about Social Software and piss on Emergent Democracy.  What use are they against deterioration of Self?  Argh.  I am going to stop before I get asked to speak at the next Republican Convention.

[Don Park's Blog]

05/06/2003 12:26 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

SO 505i.

SO505i.jpgJust got my SO505i yesterday.

The good news first. It does flash. Hirata pointed out a 6K flash RSS reader written by Yasuhisa which SHOULD work on my phone. This will be very cool. The 1.3 Megapixel camera works and feels like a real digital camera. The screen faces out so that you can use it like a camera without opening the phone.

The bad news. Emailing the 1280 x 960 images is impossible because of the size and because they phone doesn't let you even try making this silly mistake. It uses a new, yes a NEW memory stick format called Memory Stick Duo. I can't find it in stock anywhere and I need a NEW adapter for my Mac. Ugh.

The address book still sucks for English speakers because there is only one tab for english names in the address book.

Things that I MIGHT be able to get used to but are still weird: The antenna sticks out of your chin, the phone opens by twisting, not flipping, there is a little white LED that you can turn on and no flash. I can see how this might be more power efficient than a flash, but I haven't found it to be useful yet to light up subjects. Also, it's a bit big and heavy. It doesn't have GPS and location info so I'm sure I'll have GPS envy.

Now I have to figure out how to thumbnail in python and add it to my moblog...

By Joichi Ito jito@neoteny.com. [Joi Ito's Web]

There is clearly something very wrong with me:  I don't want a phone that takes pictures.

I now feel left out of the whole "cool next gen handset" lifestyle.  I preferred it when all anyone wanted from a phone was that it be tiny (like my faithful vader).

05/06/2003 07:39 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

Scary numbers from SpamNet

I just registered for CloudMarks SpamNet service today.  I've been using the beta service for a while now and found it to be an excellent, non-intrusive, solution to the spam problem.   The price is only $1.99 a month for the first year which is just about within my present means so I did it rather than wade through spam again.

Backing this up was the stats: SpamNet has stopped 13,548 messages from hitting my inbox!

04/06/2003 19:28 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

If I haven't responded to you.

By the way, if anyone has emailed me recently and not had a reply in the length of time they normally expect from me please resend it.  As I mentioned in an earlier post I had a disk fail on Sunday and have lost email back to about May 14th.

Apologies to anyone so affected.

04/06/2003 15:36 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

What M$crosoft can do with IE

Microsoft goes to rehab?. Following up on my righteous indignation of last Friday, CNet gets some props for trying to get MSoft to comment more officially on the status of IE updates.

Given that the author of the quote was a security guy, one might think that security updates will require Longhorn, but that the statement can't be generalized beyond that. CNet quotes a MS rep:

"There will be continued innovation and improvement"

Yeah, continuing where they left off in 2001. How can we convince Microsoft to acknowledge IE's mismatch with standards and commit to a course of action for getting in synch?

In the long run, the Mozilla  public bug database, where one can actually be heard with regard to feature requests and issues,  could be a major factor. 

A final note on this issue, without the blogging world, I doubt CNet would have picked up this tidbit.
[Surf*Mind*Musings]

On the basis of the original article I decided to take a better look at Mozilla and installed the new Firebird release.  For reasons I find hard to explain I found Firebird a much nicer browser than vanilla Moz and could even see myself using it as my every day browser if two problems could be solved:

  1. When I click a link in another application I want Firebird to open it in a new tab automatically
  2. I want to be able to edit Radio postings using WYSIWYG mode

With these conditions satisfied I am happy for M$crosoft to stick IE where the sun don't shine and good luck to them!

04/06/2003 15:18 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
More about:

The buzzing sound of death.

This is a bootstrap posting.  I've been suffering from severe posters block which wasn't helped by my hard disk falling prey to the buzzing sound of death on Sunday and losing two weeks worth of work & email.

Given that this is the second of those drives to fail inside 12 months I shall not be using Toshiba drives again in future.  Fortunately Dell came through this time and delivered a correct replacement drive the next day (I can't relate the tale of the previous replacement, it's too painful).

04/06/2003 14:33 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:

The value of backups

I had a bit of a set-back this week.  On Sunday my hard disk started buzzing in a most unpleasant way and 5 minutes later was dead.  Fortunately Dell were pretty good this time and I received a replacement this afternoon.  I'm also glad that I had imaged my disks (using Norton Ghost) only a couple of weeks ago so I haven't lost too much data.

03/06/2003 14:57 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments: