Category Archives: Blogging

Six topics for the price of one

I’m spending the first quarter of the year learning experientially by walking around and trying new things.

This blog is turning conversational. It’s me to you. Informal. Personal. I’m returning to the impromptu, stream-of-consciousness style I used when I began blogging a dozen years ago.

I’ll be narrating my work, describing my discoveries before I mesh them into white papers Continue reading

10 most popular posts of 2012


Google Analytics tells me these are 2012′s greatest hits on


pinkDan Pink’s new book

Dan Pink has written another best seller. (The book won’t be released until December 31 but is already in its third printing.) The U.S. Government reports that one worker in eight is a sales person. Dan disagrees. He thinks we’re all sales people, even though a lot of us are engaged in “non-sales selling.” Instructors, lawyers, doctors, bankers, and you and I spend a lot of time persuading, influencing, and convincing others to do something even though it doesn’t ring the cash register.


Learning by Doing


Sitting Kills

eamesThe science is still evolving, but we believe that sitting is harmful in itself,” says Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor of health services at the University of California, Los Angeles.



The Coherent Organization

Organizations and their people are members of many different types of networks, for example, communities of practice, the company social network, and close-knit collaborative work teams. You need to optimize participation in all of them.


A Puzzler

What do the following people have in common?

(They did not graduate from college.)


Formula for Happiness

Here’s the overall prescription.

  • Relationships. Nurture your connections. Be compassionate. Express your gratitude. Love others.
  • Flow. Enjoy peak performance by doing what you enjoy. Seek appropriate challenges. Apply your signature strengths. JFDI.
  • Mindful. Pay attention. Count your blessings. Savor the good stuff. Be open. Express your joy in life. Favor positive emotions over negative.
  • Calling. Embrace a noble cause, something bigger than yourself. Take note of your progress. Don’t let the bastards get you down.


Giving My Computers a Break

Could my outbursts against the computer be stressing me out? Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has demonstrated that the slightest emotional transaction can color one’s mood for hours. And I was swearing at my computer whenever I hit a glitch, which translates into one rant every fifteen or twenty minutes throughout the day.

Would it make me happier if I stopped griping about the machine? I decided to find out. (It’s working.)


Nothing Personal

What does the phrase Don’t take this personally bring to mind?

Being fired?

Not being selected for the new project team?

Being assigned a task you don’t want to do?

Who’s kidding whom? These things are very personal.


Why Corporate Training is Broken And How to Fix It

The world of business is undergoing a profound shift. Workers are making more of their own decisions. They don’t want to be told what to do. They want to learn but they don’t want to be trained. Learning is shifting from top-down to bottom-up and sideways. Collaboration is replacing command and control.

It’s not that training departments have started screwing up; it’s that the world around them has changed. Training departments push training, while workers search and ask for the information they need. Both just want to get the job done, but they’re operating in different eras. The disparity creates a power struggle that the workers are destined to win.


Flipping Corporate Learning
More important for learning outcomes, the time spent in class can be put to more productive use. Learners convene to get answers to questions, discuss examples, put what they’ve learned in context, debate, explore, and extend their knowledge. Instead of passively listening to an instructor, they actively engage the material. Instructors, freed of the need to mouth the words of lessons, focus on helping learners understand things and coaching individuals. These activities can take place online, and people can learn from one another in virtual communities and support groups.

My elements of style

Caveat lector.

As my research shifts focus from informal learning to well-being, I’m gaining new readers.

Welcome! Let explain where my blog is coming from.

When I began studying informal learning eight years ago, I decided to exemplify what I was talking about. I gave PowerPoint a rest. I became transparent in my work. I began thinking out loud. I shared ideas that were not fully formed.

Soon after Informal Learning came out, I arrived to give a speech to sixty people just as the curtain rose. I blurted out how happy I was to be here because I was looking forward to hearing what I was going to say. That spirit continues to this day.

I’ve been blogging for more than a dozen years. My blog is where I think in public. I’m cantankerous. I like to tease. I go to extremes sometimes, trusting my readers to pull me back from the brink.

I’m getting on in life. I am claiming the oldster privilege of being feisty. I’m opinionated. If you don’t like my opinions, let’s debate. If we find our agreement is fundamental, please go away. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Life’s too short.

Lurking’s cool. I consume lots of information passively. However, I would like to hear from you once in a while. Make a comment. Take issue with me. Expand on what you find. Offer suggestions.

I write whatever’s on my mind. This blog is opinion, not news. I write from experience. Don’t expect footnotes.

What level of objectivity can you expect? I will never knowingly lie to you, but my recollections may be off. I may tell an impressionist variation of a story to capture the moment, so long as the meaning is preserved. In the story of the speech above, there might have been thirty people in the room; there may have been a hundred. I don’t remember. They didn’t have a curtain but that better conveys what was going on than my telling you I was whisked up to a veneer portable podium. Did I lie? Not in my book. The gist was right. This is not The New Yorker.

Speaking of which, I shed a tear for Jonah Lehrer. To me, the manufactured Bob Dylan quote was not that big a deal. I can’t imagine being in Jonah’s shoes: keeping up with neuroscience, being cutting edge, writing three great books, churning out articles for Wired, WSJ, and The New Yorker, appearing in the media, being showered with money, and heaven knows what else. Instant celebrity. He could have been delirious when he answered the phone and lied about the source of the Dylan quote. Give him a break. I don’t consider that such a big deal. All nonfiction is fiction anyway. That’s inherent in interpretation. I’d be surprised if I don’t tell the same sort of white lies here. I also self-plagiarize, retelling tales I’ve told before.

On this blog, timeliness trumps dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. The “b” in blog stands for beta. Expect typos.

I’m not aloof. If you’d like to interact, get in touch.

What else do you need to know?

I have a good track record at describing the future. I was promoting the web, eLearning, blogs, and informal learning before most people had heard of them.

I understand business. I’ve managed start-ups and have a string of accomplishments in marketing, product development, sales, and management. I have an MBA but I am not a business person at heart. I would prefer to be an artist than an investment banker.

I am a optimist and I have faith in the goodness of most people. I give people the benefit of the doubt. Most people are well-intentioned and live up to your expectations of them. My calling in life is to help people improve their performance on the job and satisfaction in life.

I am contrarian. I like to consider all the options, kosher or not. Convention rarely constrains my thinking.

I am playful. Beware of jokes, puns, and double entendres.

I am a generalist who innovates by force-fitting models from one discipline into another. My mind enjoys toying with such things.

I am visual. Well, we’re all visual, but in my case I go to sleep if there’s nothing but text on the page. I take snapshots. (I have 25,000+ photos on Flickr.) I rarely write a blog post without some sort of graphic.

I am edgy. I enjoy spicy food, bold wines, and stirring ideas.

I can be socially obtuse. (Insensitivity goes along with the ability to hyper-focus.) If you feel I’ve stepped on your toes, call me on it. I probably didn’t mean it.

I am re-reading The Elements of Style. I want to write sentences that grab you by the throat and shake you up. Please help become a better writer by critiquing my writing when it is not working for you.

I believe in the karma of the web. I love to share discoveries. I give to the web and the web gives back. I’m generous but I’m way ahead thus far.

Peace be with you.

Share this, Related posts

I’m simplifying and cleaning up my sites for the new year. I’m not quite finished weeding this online garden, but things are a lot more tidy than last week. I’m particularly happy with the way the Stocks & Flows page is turning out. My home page is less cluttered but still suffers aesthetically.

Who’s got a site worth stealing ideas from? What are your “Oh, wow” favorites?

I’m experimenting with WordPress plugins this morning. Chris Brogan recommends these:

ShareThis” was a cinch to install. In the plugins panel, search for it and install. The little tags that let readers forward posts to Facebook, Twitter, eMail, etc., automatically appear on every page now.

Yet another related post” selects and displays related posts. You can tweak the selection algorithms. I made a minor tweak to the way the list is displayed.

Since mobile is increasingly the way of the world, I’m alos going to try WPtouch.

    WPtouch: A simple, powerful and elegant mobile theme for your website. WPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone applicatio

    Description Installation Faq Screenshots Changelog Stats
    WPtouch automatically transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme, complete with ajax loading articles and effects, when viewed from an iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Opera Mini, Palm Pre, Samsung touch and BlackBerry Storm/Torch mobile devices.

    The admin panel allows you to customize many aspects of its appearance, and deliver a fast, user-friendly and stylish version of your site to iPhone, iPod touch, Android, Palm Pre, Samsung touch and BlackBerry Storm/Torch visitors, without modifying a single bit of code (or affecting) your regular desktop theme.

    The theme also includes the ability for visitors to switch between WPtouch view and your site’s regular theme.

Wordcamp 2010

Conference hosts should take a lesson or two from Matt Mullenweg. Today’s Wordcamp San Francisco was simply great. Great line-up of speakers. Glorious weather. Some participants were so enthusiastic as to call for revolution and world domination by WordPress. (They see it as a platform, not a mere blogging tool. Most participants were making money from designing or installing WordPress sites.)

Wordcamp 2010 SF

Admission was $50. It costs about $250/head; the difference is made up by sponsors. I didn’t hear an attendance figure: I’m guessing we had 600 people in attendance.

Wordcamp 2010 SF Wordcamp 2010 SF

Ex-Google, ex-Zillow Vanessa Fox gave great SEO tips. Vanessa has a new book out. She’s one hell of a good marketer. (Her personal site used to be “” No, there weren’t any pictures, just lots of visitors.)

Wordcamp 2010 SF Wordcamp 2010 SF

Barbecued brisket & chicken and live jazz and great conversations.

Wordcamp 2010 SF Wordcamp 2010 SF

Many opportunities to schmooze.

Richard Stallman

Some people think Richard Stallman a god for writing Emacs and inventing Free Software. No matter what his accomplishments, he struck me as a mean-spirited jerk. Criticizing the Apple “iGroan” and the Amazon “Swindle” is one thing. Saying that anyone who doesn’t openly give away his code is malicious and manipulative is nutty.

Wordcamp 2010 SF Wordcamp 2010 SF

Host Matt Mullenweg is friendly, suave, well spoken, and simply cool. His staff are super-competent happy people.

Hacker Attack (Help!)

For support, I rely on the kindness of strangers. That may be you.

Hackers are polluting this blog and

When I search for a prior post, I often find nothing but names of drugs repeated again and again as both title and content. I click…and get back to the original post.

These are WordPress blogs that I host. Running the latest version.

Well, my friends, any pointers?

"Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow."

“Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”  — Eric Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar; Release Early, Release Often.

Last week I posted links to a conversation on YouTube about How Managers Learn.

A systemic error broke most of the links: they took you nowhere.

Of the hundreds of you who read this blog, I’m confident that some of you clicked on the broken links.

No one notified me.

PLEASE do me this favor: When you find something broken here, drop me an email or make a comment. You’ll be helping those who visit after you.

Do the right thing; do not steal

The web and social networks are evolving their own conventions of appropriate behavior.

People have learned to avoid cluttering mailboxes with broad cc’s. Flames are far fewer than in the old days. Most bloggers no longer feel they must blog every day. Most people know that it’s worthwhile to lurk when joining a new community to identify its standards before jumping into the fray.

One area that noobs fail to understand is that it is not cool to “scrape” other people’s blogs. By scrape, I mean taking an entire web post rather than taking an excerpt and linking to the original.

Google Alerts emails me when sites take my content lock, stock, and barrel. Every week I come upon sites that break one or more of these taboos:

  • Do not re-post someone else’s blog posts in their entirety.
  • Do not imply that you wrote a post if you did not.
  • Do not strip out author names and links.
  • Do not use frames to make it difficult to get to the original post.
  • Do not remove links to the original material.

I’ve been happy to share my thoughts in blogs and free articles for more than a decade. I enjoy the exposure. But I don’t enjoy being abused.

One association takes my every post, puts it behind a members-only wall, and puts its copyright notice on the bottom of every page. A now-defunct university posted an entire white paper by Clark Quinn and me but stripped our names from it. Several automated blogs repost my work with ads alongside. My colleagues at Internet Time Alliance are experiencing the same phenomena.

What’s your take on this issue?