28 November 2005

Google's Feed Reader

Has anyone else been playing with Google's Feed Reader?

I've been using it to track research. What works for me is being able to do a search and immediately save the feed.

Brand Innovation Practices

Sometimes I take for granted what I do for living. Helping companies build brand innovation practices into their way of doing things can open up opportunities, build new revenue streams and bring people into play with one another. And yet, how many companies are actually investing their time and money into brand innovation? The decision makers still think it costs too much to get a program like this started - or too invasive because it distracts people from attending to the tasks at hand.

With all these wonderful tools and applications and platforms from social media, we're headed into a new frontier in brand innovation practices. For such a long time, we didn't have the easy, affordable and accessible tools to support the programs we would set up for clients. Now, with WiFi and the click of the entry button on our laptops, we're set up and engaging people in teamwork. It enhances what people do because it captures the value of their networking. It's developmental and leads to those new ways, new markets, new opportunities.

What used to take weeks to put together is now accomplished in a few hours...and it's a lot more fun and visual.

27 November 2005


Hey, has anyone else noticed that Del.icio.us has had a makeover?

Goodbye, Mr. Miyagi

Though he played other roles, we will always remember Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid. He was absolutely zen-cool and made an impression on my son back in the days when very little beyond metal and goth got onto his radar. I wonder how many kids growing up in the 80’s and 90’s will remember him fondly. Couldn’t ask for a better role model with such a great twisted sense of humor.

Pat Morita was only 73 when he died in Las Vegas on 25 November 2005. Goodbye, Mr. Miyagi, and thank you.

26 November 2005

The Open Directory Project (DMOZ)

Everyone can contribute to The Open Directory Project. It is"the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web." You can become an editor and contribute sites that you run across to the various Directory classifications.

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster

Planzo.com The Online Planning Community

I found an online calendar for sharing with a group. It seems easy to access, share and use. Makes it a whole lot easier when others are trying to book you into their schedules for meetings and events.

Do you use any online planning calendars that you recommend?

Network Maps

Would it help us if we had visualized maps showing us where we are in projects, or with communications and contacts, or with our own personal information system? Wouldn’t it be great to hit a button at any point along the way, and – voila! – a map of all the connections and their hubs?

I've just finished finding all the photos, charts and illustrations for my article on "The Changing Business Model". It would have been so much easier to just have that magic little button labeled "create network map" from some selectively tagged words and images.

I want that button!

24 November 2005

What creates meaning for us?

What defines our lives? What really creates meaning for us? These are big questions that are touching my life right now. My work world is consumed by helping people get a grip on what creates value and how to use all the wonderfulness of social media to connect us up to do that value. I feel like a broken record sometimes when I keep saying, ”It’s not about the technology, it’s about the people.”

In my private life, my dad’s fragility of health has made me realize how precious simply having fun with someone is. My dad has been in and out of the hospital like a yo-yo recently. He’s in his 80’s and just physically deteriorating. We laughed the last time he came home – at least his shelf life wasn’t up yet.

Clint plays the sax in a band. He loves playing music so much that he goes off to weekly band practice in his wheelchair. It keeps him going and keeps him smiling. He’s been playing swing music since the 40’s, and our house was always filled with music and dancing. My parents met while my dad was playing and my mom was dancing. His instrument of choice has always been his “licorice stick”, the clarinet, which is only one of the instruments that he has played since childhood. His fingers aren’t nimble enough anymore to really work the keys, so he switched over to his sax, which requires a lot less finger action, and still gives him a place in the band. I think – in looking back – that he would have preferred to have played music for his professions than to have had a great business career. Imagine that. Playing music creates deep meaning for him in his life – and we grew up surrounded by that meaningful presence of music and dance. Basically, life is a party.

"Photo thanks to © Karlheinz Klüter from www.jazzphotography.us"

When we no longer can define our lives by stuff that creates meaning for us, what happens? Here’s another question: “Are we content with work when it doesn’t create meaning for us?” Is it possible to create a meaningful work life with everyone around us? What would we have to do? What kind of dialogue do we have to open with others?

How do we measure meaning? Instead of counting just money as the only measurement of value creation, what would happen if we could generate a list of stuff that creates meaning for us in the context of our work? Are we already changing how we come together to create value in our lives through our work? Is that why we are migrating with such ease into the new tool set available through social media?

For me, the beauty is in the relationships – and not just between people. I can change something by doing it in a different way and in a new context and get such joy from it. If the relationships are healthy and aligned, then I derive tremendous satisfaction from what I do. And…money follows that. I love doing what I do, and I made a decision to no longer work with people or clients that are bullies. I just say no to te stuff that no longer creates meaning for me.

I want to make a series of filmed interviews and podcasts on what creates meaning in our work life for my next creative project.

What’s the “music” that creates meaning for you in your work life? If you would like to share your thoughts about what creates meaning for you in your work, please let me know so that we can set a date to film this interview.

23 November 2005

Microsoft Sharing?!

Microsoft is making a stab at supporting the Creative Commons’ Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Under this Creative Commons License, Microsoft released the specification for Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE) , which turns RSS bi-directional. For example, SSE should make sharing calendars and contact lists easier.

The objective of Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE) is to define the minimum extensions necessary to enable loosely-cooperating apps 1. to use RSS as the basis for item sharing – that is, the bi-directional, asynchronous replication of new and changed item. Basically, it uses the reverse exchange of RSS.

I try as much as possible to not get entrapped by anything produced by MS. Being a committed Apple flag-waver, I believe in OpenSource, fair trade, sharing and collaboration. Because MS is making an attempt to share, I want to support their efforts…so they’ll do it more. Just hope we don’t end up with some strange leak into the etherworld.

Ray Ozzie, Chief Technical Officer of Microsoft, has a blog on MSN Spaces. In his posting on SSE, he talks about why the decided to do this. Wow.

Put Technorati Mini in Your Firefox Sidebar

I just read in the Technorati Weblog that they have launched a new feature called Technorati Mini. It keeps a blog search live in a pop-up window.

In his Micro Persuasion blog, Steve Rubel show us how to put Technorati Mini in the Firefox Sidebar

Follow Steve's instructions to get it into your Firefox sidebar.

1) Visit Technorati mini and enter your search
2) Bookmark the pop-up window
3) Change the properties of the bookmark so that "load this bookmark in the sidebar" is checked
4) Fill in the keyword field in the word box. Then all you'll need to do to activate Technorati Mini is to type that word in the URL field.

Neuroscientists decipher part of code for visual recognition

Neuroscientists decipher part of code for visual recognition>
We learn so much through simply seeing something. Up until now, scientists have not understood enough about how the brain codes and decodes information...though they do not so much more than a few years ago.

Just recently, neuroscientists in the McGovern Institute at MIT have deciphered part of the code involved in recognizing visual objects. An immediate application would be for computer algorithms used in artificial vision systems. This could enhance how they mimick these newly uncovered codes.

"We want to know how the brain works to create intelligence." According to Tomaso Poggio, the Eugene McDermott Professor in Brain Sciences and Human Behavior, "Our ability to recognize objects in the visual world is among the most complex problems the brain must solve. Computationally, it is much harder than reasoning. Yet we take it for granted because it appears to happen automatically and almost unconsciously." You can find out more through his lab - The Center for Biological & Computational Learning.

Since part of my fascination with life lies in the study of consciousness, I am continually impressed with the depth and capacity of our minds to explore the world of the unknown.


Want to see other stuff that's linked to what you like in music and film? Then LivePlasma is a fun tool to use to visually map out films, directors, music, or artists into a network of connections.

I had fun, but found it a bit annoying that the navigation tool sits right on top of what you need to see, and you can't move it...at least with Firefox.

21 November 2005

Semantics & Folksonomies

Tagging has raised all sorts of interesting behaviors in individuals – and assumptions as well. Even as we track the changes in how people tag different bookmarks over at Delicious, we learn that people have started using “Web 2.0” as a tag in place of “web”. Is this because they are influenced by what they’re reading? Are they effectively adapting their tagging to the lingua franca in use at the moment?

I’ve been using decks of photo cards to help groups and teams see how the same team members will each choose a different name or tag to describe the same photos. It’s also a fun way to open the issue about sharing a common language when we try to explain concepts to people. When one team member hears the other describing the same photo or concept, but completely differently than what another said, a deeper conversation begins to develop. They then realize that having a way to break through these assumptions is very important. If they want to have consistent engagement with their clients, they all need to share the same vocabulary to describe things.
Social Tagging Card
Great example: “Vlogging” is a term one of them used. Another jumped in and corrected him and said it was called “video-casting”. Another said it was called “video-blogging”. Another said he had never heard of any of these terms and simply called it a “film clipping”. Is there only one correct term to use? Or, is more important that we understand that we’re all talking about the same thing?

I think this a personal perspective on language use. It depends on what kind of person you are. If you are precise and rigid and follow a specific methodology, then you would choose a term that you think is the accepted term. If you are someone who is quick with intellect, flowery with description, you might choose different terms on different occasions. There are so many dimensions, perspectives, filters and mindsets.

Perhaps we will start congregating around the shared tags we use. If we use a common language and we can find others using the same, then that creates a new community for us. Joshua Schachter from Del.icio.us is busy setting up a social networking platform based on sharing tags and bookmarks. He says that Del.icio.us is about remembering.

This once again demonstrates a need for understanding what creates meaning for us. For us to be able to do that, we have to understand how different personalities play into one another. It changes our perspectives and filters for exchange and understanding. Meaning is very contextual.

What creates meaning for you - words, pictures, sounds, smells....????

20 November 2005

Geo-Tagging & Ambient Findability

After a conversation about geo-tagging with Ton Zijlstra last Thursday, my antenna are obviously now picking up on anything related to location, tracking and the possibilities that roll from that. This is a focus of his. Several months ago, he turned us on to Plazes.com, a nifty web service that let's you find people in your vicinity, and even available wifi. Plazes.com is cool because it visually brings you into an environment with photos and maps, so that you can see where you are in context of others - or in relation to the nearest available wifi. You connect through geographic accessibility.

Findability seems to be an emerging key strategy...not just people but information, connections, places, things.

With this in my head, I ran across an article from the Linux Journal on "Geotagging Web Pages and RSS Feeds", which is more about working with the technology for tagging websites than the networks it can create. Still, it fed into my thinking about how location technology enables us to do so much and to connect in so many different ways.

Last month, I read a great piece on Ambient Findability from Peter Morville. This led me to tracking the bookmarks at Del.icio.us/livlab/ambientfindability.

What I see happening is a convergence into web-based services sites that allow us to co-develop social applications that help us connect ourselves - our content, our location and our way of behaving with others - with others and their content, location and ways. This is another form of social networking based on finding others with a shared interest, purpose, or just location.

Visualizing what we need to find is also important to finding it. What if you had a tag cloud floating close by, continually fed by your Del.icio.us bookmarks. You could just have a peek, tap it and connect to your resources. Of course, this means we have to start refining our tags into relevant category streams.


Satellite Culture – Are we being watched?

Are we naïve? I watched a program about the power of private defense contractors to the military in several countries. It made me really think about how naïve we really may be.

Satellites can find us anywhere on earth through our mobile phones, our automobiles or some other digital signal. They can see and hear almost everything we do. This realization makes us aware of the importance of our own security and privacy.

This also works the other way around. With access to those satellites in space, we can make contact, see and hear almost anyone or anywhere. But, we are not the ones with access.

Who’s watching the space cowboys who are watching us? Do we need to be concerned? What are they doing with the information that they collect on us? Are we part of a program called Dynamic People Management?

Google Maps has people talking. The resolutions are minimal compared to the government satellites that can identify objects 6 inches apart. (This is certainly far better than plugging in your coordinates from your mobile to Google Maps and seeing your location.) That means “they” can read your newspaper over your shoulder from outer space. Who contracts the government satellites and how do they use the information they collect?

Who’s controlling space? No one owns it. Everyone puts satellites into space. How do we know that there are not satellites with laser capabilities aimed at strategic locations on earth?

Telelcommunication, GPS, weather satellites play role in our lives. Are satellites with military application in conflict with our beliefs if they can instigate war? Does satellite garbage endanger our telecommunications or weather? Can the nuclear debris from plutonium-enriched rockets that launch satellites into space fall back into the earth atmosphere and harm us?

What are the true benefits of satellites? Are we just moving forward blind to the consequences because we are too busy enjoying the benefits of expanded media and communications, our mobile phones and all the other toys coming into our lives?


13 November 2005

Load your Firefox Bookmarks into Del.icio.us

I forgot how handy this tool is. Since I've spent the last couple of weeks deep in the construction and writing of an article and a seminar series, I've been doing small tasks during my breaks.

One of those small tasks was taking all my bookmarks, organizing them into better categories and exporting/importing them into the three browsers I use. While doing that I ran across this wonderful tool from Julian Bez that had completely slipped my mind.

"The powerful del.icio.us loader loads your Firefox bookmarks directly into your del.icio.us account!"

Give it a try. Do not load more than 40 bookmarks at a time - oh, and have some patience.

12 November 2005

Personal Learning Environments

Stephen Downes writes an extensively researched and referenced blog about higher education that I follow and learn from on a regular basis. Last week he posted something that caught my eye for two reasons. The first was the logo:

The second was research on PLE - personal learning environments.
Stephen quotes
Graham Attwell from the Wales-Wide Web
: "Instead of the learner logging in to a university based system the leaner is able to integrate multiple contexts and sources of learning and develop their own 'learning mix'. Moreover this promises to be of use to the many, many thousands of learners who are not registered with educational institutions. It may even force institutions to reflect on their role in supporting - rather than defining - learning and knowledge."

He's referring to research by Scott Wilson from Bolton University. They'll present the Personal Learning Environment Theme at a conference this coming week. They are addressing the hard issues of conflict between proprietary VLEs (virtual learning environments) and the need for individuals to have cross-institutional or non-institutional PLEs (personal learning environments).

This interests me because we are continually building toward a platform that enables us as individuals to learn, share, work, collaborate, and create from own own center, irrelevant of the differents academic or professional or creative working groups.

9 November 2005

An Innovative School - Empire High

Students at Empire High School work in classrooms with a videoscreen instead of a blackboard, and each of the 750 students receives an Apple iBook laptop computer in place of a pile of textbooks. The teachers are using technology as context for tools, content and learning. "We want to educate students for the work world that they will soon be entering where technology is integrated into most jobs and careers."

Cindy Lee is Principal of Empire High School gave an interview on BBC World yesterday. She said their reason for developing a school like this was to face the challenge of keeping students engaged in learning. I like this mindset of teaching students how to learn rather than teaching them just about topics. I also think it will give students a chance to develop their own learning styles.

Finally, a school focused on preparing students for the future using the comtemporary tools that are shaping society today. By learning this way, students are not stuck with antiquated academic books that are their only reference to support what teachers are presenting to them. Now, they are directed to online resources that are up-to-date and reflective of contemporary contexts.

I can't wait to see how this impacts learning and knowledge absorption. I wonder if it will also cut down on kids skipping classes and leaving school before graduation. Hopefully, it will raise the current levels of academic standards in public schools.

5 November 2005

Paris Burning & Youth at Risk

This past week I've watched and listened and tried to understand what's happening with the Paris riots. I find these riots unsettling for several reasons. When people feel cornered, hopeless and unheard, they strike out. First, to get out of the corner. Second, because they think they have nothing more to lose. And third, because someone may actually listen. From everything I've read, no one seems to be able to connect with the youth that are rioting. They feel marginalized - by their families, the community and society at large. I think we have a great deal of youth at risk right now - a result of globalization and cultures thrown into together that are not given the tools to fit into the mix.

Even though I've had a rather privileged life, I grew up caught between conflicting cultures - and having money didn't make it any easier. Perhaps it made it worse because no one would even think children of successful parents may also be culturally marginalized. They have no idea what it is like to have two parents from two completely different cultures, value systems and language. I don't talk about this very much because I eventually grew up and learned how to make my own unique way in the world. The reality was that I never belonged to either culture because each culture refused to accept me because I was partly from the other culture. I fell into the cracks between the cultures and became a radical, acting out my anger and frustration.

Children depend on their families to love them, protect them and to help them grow. What happens when the family cannot see the struggle of the child because the child's struggle is between the family and a conflicting culture. The child doesn't fit in either culture and no one understands this except other kids caught in similar circumstances and under the same conditions. This is how gangs form. They create their own reality between the acceptable worlds of family and thier local society.

We are on the verge on something similar here in The Netherlands. No one knows how to connect with the kids who feel caught between cultures and families and are struggling to discover their own identity and value in society. We need to help them find themselves and see their value in the context of their own lives.

Online Library Blogs and Wikis

I have a great respect for librarians because of their ability to categorize knowledge. Back in the dark ages, I used to use the library like some people use their phones - all the time. It was the repository for everything I needed to know. Today, it's the Internet.

Jenny Levine is a librarian with a great blog - the Shifted Librarian, which covers a lot of territory to help other librarians get technologically savvy. Last week she posted a Blogs Vs. Wikis Presentation, comparing one selected library blog to one selected library wiki to explore what's working and what isn't with both tools. Remember, this about sharing and accessing information.

The take-away from what they experienced :
1. Technorati was a resource that pulled everything together that had been posted (if everything was tagged and pinged) - and made it easy to find things
2. Flickr was human and tagged and fun

How many of you still visit the real library?

3 November 2005

Mr. Mind & the Blurring Test

Mr. Mind & the Blurring Test is an engaging conversation with an articial intelligence program. After your conversation with Mr. Mind, he asks you to take a survey about your engagement with him.

Explore this dialogue as an experiment.

You can find out more about this project at the WebLab.

The Social Networking Landscape according to Pollard

I read Dave Pollard's blog - How to Save the World regularly. He is insightful and thorough and uses great visuals to help us understand concepts. In his blog from yesterday, he mapped out the parameters for how we network.

He explores these parameters within our personal communication strategy and how they impact our choice of tools. What he actually ends up addressing are our 10 biggest problems with existing tools.

Worth taking the time to read and digest because he touches on our most human characteristics.

Thanks, Dave.

Wolfram Tones: Generate a Composition

Stephen Wolfram is a particular kind of person. He's a physicist with an applied understanding of mathematics. Probably best known for his book A New Kind of Science, he has now taken this to new level - "...using a new kind of science to create a new kind of music".

On his website,
Wolfram Tones: Generate a Composition, you can create a ringtone and have it sent to your mobile phone. I enjoyed simply playing with the music generator for a bit until I found just the right combination of sounds that resonated with me.

You can make this complex or simple - your choice. that's what makes this so fun. If you have a little bit of understanding of the mathematics behind music and computer composition, you'll get straight into the composition controls: the generator, the instrumentation, the pitch mapping and the time controls. Otherwise, just click on jazz or blues or any of the 15 choices.

Give it a try and become a musician...create your own personalized ringtone.

A Hurdle in Collaboration

What do we do when we've spent all our energy focused on helping others to learn how to collaborate, and suddenly, we find ourselves in a space where we feel stuck? We've developed all the right tools, everyone loves them and uses them. Now, they want to contribute and feedback and participate in developing these tools further. Something doesn't feel right anymore...but you don't know what it is.
The Hurdle
Oops...we now find ourselves now engaged in a deeper kind of collaboration. One that requires us to open up and receive, not just give. This sense of sharing can be too intimate for some, treading on our personal space, forcing us into a more dynamic relationship.

We've always thought of these tools as a process. Now we realize that others see them as products. But, products seems so fixed, we think.

It's just perspective. Collaboration tools like platforms and workshops to get everyone on the same page are fantastic tools to the participants. To the developers, they are part of a continual process to refine, adapt, grow. We don't want our tools to become fixed products.

Perhaps we have to also broaden our perspective and see it from client logic. A client doesn't want a fixed tool either, but they want something fixed in time so that it's accessible, usable and reliable. That doesn't mean it can't be dynamic and connected and evolving. Accepting feedback and learning to share and disseminate the learning is all part of collaboration. We're teaching that to clients, right?

Even the developers of knowledge management tools need a bit of coaching in colaboration once in awhile, too.

I dedicate this posting to someone very dear to us, whom we have always relied on to always have the answers. Now it's their turn to let us help them a bit, too. It's our way of saying thanks and that we believe we can help you really bring this alive, and in the way you vision it. Share your concerns...that's also an important part of the collaborative process.

1 November 2005

Podcasts of Academic Lectures

On the Productive Strategies blog, there is a list of lectures from several American universities that are now available through iTunes in podcast format .

Reading through the comments, I also found several other links:
-- videos of MIT lectures along with other free speeches, audiobooks, etc.
-- University of Mary Washington series of "profcasts," beginning with poet Claudia Emerson reading from her new, Pulitzer-prize-nominated collection, "Late Wife."
-- UC Berkeley courses and events
downloads from Stanford
-- lectures from Princeton's University Channel

Ever since Jonathan turned me onto IT Conversations last year, I have become addicted to the lectures and talks that I download to my iPod. One of the most interesting and funny lectures was from Frans de Waal about how we as humans compare to primate politics. You can't help but laugh!