LIVE from Accelerating Change 2004

Dan Gillmor just took the podium at the Accelerating Change conference at Stanford. He’s here to talk about We The Media. The notion that anyone can publish is quite powerful.

On election night 2000, Dan was in Hong Kong. He listened to a RealAudio feed of National Public Radio and watched CNN. He realized that even though he was far away, he was getting more and better news than people watching television.

On 9/11, Dan was in Africa, on the way to Zambia. Dave Farber was emailing news in bulk. Dan received a aerial photo of Manhattan — his first grok of the magnitude of the event. Bloggers picked up the story; blogging was a new phenomenon back then and this brought it national recognition. One blogger: “Now I know what a burning city smells like.”

Trent Lott was nostalgic for Strom Thurman’s segregationist Dixiecrats. Bloggers fans the flames and chastised the mainstream media back in 2002.

Columbia explodes and a blogger posts a weather photo showing the debris field.

Journalism has been a lecture. You buy what we sell. Or not. Now journalism is becoming a conversagtion or maybe a seminar. The story is the beginning of the conversation. Dan’s foundation principle: The readers know more than the reporter.

Dan was blogging Esther’s PC Forum. Joe Naccio, head of Qwest, was complaining about his tough job. “What’s so tough about running a monopoly?” asked Dan. A guy in Florida tapped into the SEC database and emailed Dan that Naccio was selling off his stock like crazy. Soon the news media picked it up. The “guys in pajamas became the pajamadin.”

Now it’s harder to keep secrets. Consider Abu Ghraib. The Army wanted to ban digital cameras.

Social project extradinaire.

Ooof. Looking back on this post, I see a LOT of space for misinterpretation.

How do we make money from this? (Web journalism, not Abu Ghraib or other American atrocities.)

The Tip Jar. | User-submitted content. | Niche markets (e.g. Gizmodo).

Dan Gilmour is a great reporter and change agent, but there have to be other models for making moolah than tip jars and other forms of begging.

Informal Learning

I just completed an email questionnaire on informal learning and am going to recycle my answers here so I have time to get a bit of work done today.

How do you define “informal learning” in the USA and what rating does it have?

Informal learning encompasses all unscheduled, impromptu learning. Common examples are conversations among colleagues, knowledge sharing in communities of practice, finding things out on Google or Amazon, calling the Help Desk, trial-and-error, reading the manual, asking a friend, copying the behavior of someone successful, or reading a magazine article. Studies find that 80% or more of learning in corporations is informal.

How do you measure informal knowledge and what kind of benefit can be expected of it?

The measure of any form of corporate learning is whether workers are getting the job done. Are customers satisfied with the service they receive? Does the organization fare well in benchmarking comparisons with peers? There’s really no test at the individual level.

Where do you see the difference between collaboration and knowledge sharing on the one hand and professional knowledge management on the other?

“Professional knowledge management” is a fuzzy term. I will assume you mean formal, traditional, top-down approaches. Most of the attempts I’ve looked at are failures. They don’t focus on what workers need to know, they don’t change with the times, and consequently, they are rarely utilized. Knowledge “management” isn’t as important as what David Snowden refers to as “knowledge exchange.”

Informal, bottom-up approaches work better because they provide answers at the time of need, are structured for rapid access, contain advice on how things really work rather than how they work on paper, and are continuously adapting to fit new circumstances. The better informal systems offer multiple means to get answers: search, chat, mentoring, prompts, phone, simulation, etc.

KM Blogs

Nice list of KM blogs from the wiki supporting KM World 04

Good KM Blogs

Accelerating Change 2004

I am totally jazzed about a conference I will be attending at Stanford this weekend. Accelerating Change 2004 includes sessions with Will Wright, Jim Spohrer, Jaron Lanier, Gordon Bell, Shai Agassi, Dan Gillmor, Brad Templeton, Clark Aldrich, and others. The theme, Physical Space, Virtual Space, and Interface, analyzes the intersection of three monumental trends:

  • Accelerating interconnectivity of the physical world
  • Increasing accuracy of the simulated world
  • Growing intelligence of the human-machine interface.


Why Should You Attend? Accelerating Change promotes high-yield, multidisciplinary, and critical understanding of accelerating technological change in service to personal, executive, and professional development. You’ll meet uniquely broad minded, synthetic-thinking practical futurists and change-makers here, and the connections you make will be among the most important, productive, and informative in your life.

Who Should Attend? Anyone with an interest or responsibility for trend tracking, forecasting, investing, competitive intelligence, strategic planning, policy analysis, product development, business development, and change management.

This is right up my alley. The issues around accelerating change are what I was trying to get my arms around in my article on the Business Singularity. Ray Kurzweil, linked from the AC2004 site, expresses the idea a thousand times better than I could:

We’re entering an age of acceleration. The models underlying society at every level, which are largely based on a linear model of change, are going to have to be redefined. Because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress; organizations have to be able to redefine themselves at a faster and faster pace.

The Law of Accelerating Returns is the acceleration of technology, and the evolutionary growth of the products of an evolutionary process. And this really goes back to the roots of biological evolution.

Evolution works through indirection. You create something and then work through that to create the next stage. And for that reason, the next stage is more powerful, and happens more quickly. And that has been accelerating ever since the dawn of evolution on this planet.

The first stage of evolution took billions of years. DNA was being created and that was very significant because it was like a little computer, and an information processing method to store the results of experiments, and to build up a knowledge base from which it could then launch experiments and codify the results.

The subsequent stages of evolution happened much more quickly.

In the first stage of human-directed technology, it took tens of thousands of years, which is what you would expect for the next stage via the wheel, or stone tools, and that kept accelerating, because when we had stone tools, we could use them to build the next stage. So a thousand years ago a paradigm shift only took a century, like the printing press. And now a paradigm shift, like the World Wide Web, is measured in only a few years’ time. The first computers were built with screwdrivers and were designed with pencil and paper, and today we use computers to create computers. A CAD designer will sit down and specify a few high-level parameters, and 12 different layers of automated designs will be done automatically. The most significant acceleration is in the paradigm shift rate itself, which I think of as the rate of technical progress. And all of these are actually not exponential, but double exponentials because not only does the process accelerate because of our evolution’s ability to use each stage of evolution to build the next stage, but also, as the process, as an area gets higher price performance, more resources get drawn into that capability.

The whole 20th century, because we’ve been speeding up to this point, is equivalent to 20 years of progress at today’s rate of progress, and we’ll make another 20 years of progress at today’s rate of progress equal to the whole 20th century in the next 14 years, and then we’ll do it again in seven years. And because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the 21st century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress, which is a thousand times greater than the 20th century, which was no slouch to change.

Technology-based innovation these days requires collaboration between different disciplines. This is because innovation today typically involves interdisciplinary work. So one thing that you need is experts in each of those areas.

If anyone else is headed to Accel 2004, you may want to book a room nearby. I just reserved a $79 special at the Red Cottage Inn, right up the road in Atherton, about 100′ from the Menlo Park border.


Sunday, as I wandered through the house resetting clocks on walls, kitchen appliances, desktops, the nightstand, the shower, and elsewhere, I wondered how humankind burdened itself with a nuisance as idiotic as Daylight Savings Time.

I remember reading somewhere that in the 50s, the Russians forgot to set their clocks back one year and the oversight went uncorrected for several years because no one wanted to be first to speak up and it didn’t make a hell of a lot of difference anyway. Unfortunately, I’ve read too many books and articles to remember where I read this, and it appears to be beyond even Google’s reach to retrieve.

In addition to my confusion about whether I’m supposed to fall forward or fall back, I don’t grok time zones intuitively. Let’s see, is New York three hours behind or three hours ahead? If the sun sets in the west, that means the earth is spinning away from it, so New York saw it set hours ago, and that means they are ahead.

It’s easier, not to mention more reliable, to take a look at the World Clock. Here’s my custom version.

What happened?

George Lakoff is a cognitive linguist, a scientist who studies the nature of thought and its expression in language. He teaches down the hill from me at Berkeley.

Since the mid-1980s he has been applying cognitive linguistics to the study of politics, especially the framing of public political debate. He is the author of the influential book, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, (2nd edition, 2002). In addition to his work on political thought and language, he has been active in his academic discipline. He is currently on the Science Board of the Santa Fe Institute (1995-01), has served as President of the International Cognitive Linguistics Association and on the Governing Board of the Cognitive Science Society, and is co-director with Jerome Feldman of the Neural Theory of Language Project at the International Computer Science Institute at Berkeley.

To find out why Americans just voted for four more years, read Lakoff’s manifesto at ChangeThis.

Lakoff explains why progressives need to pay more attention to conservatives’ most powerful weapon: framing. He explains what framing is, why it’s so important, and how progressives can use the tactic to their own gain. Read his section on “How to Respond to Conservatives” for examples on how progressives can win arguments with conservatives.

Lakoff explains how neo-con think tanks framed the major issues so they would always come out on top. He then suggests how progressives can frame the issues resulting in a frame-by-frame, fairer fight.

Lakoff’s ideas apply to organizational life as well as politics. For several years, I’ve advocated treating learners like customers — and selling them on the value of learning. Lance Dublin’s and my book, Implementing eLearning, explains how to build a marketing plan for learning, step-by-step. We urge managers to “position” their training, the same way a car manufacturer positions a new car. Positioning places a product in a virtual space in the mind of the buyer. Lakoff’s framing takes refines the boundaries of the space.

Senior managers who can’t figure out how to frame their organizations’ issues need one of two things, a new vocation…or advice from someone like Internet Time Group. If you can’t get the basics right, all the work with the details will bring you no more success than it did John Kerry. [Sigh.]

By the way, ChangeThis is an instructive site. Take a look at the graphics of this manifesto as well as Lakoff’s to see how they package information.

Relections on KM

All or nothing, the bi-polar rant of extremists, is alive and well in the world of KM.

“The knowledge management industry (if you can call it that) has always taken a pretty high-falutin’ attitude about ‘the enterprise,’ and it’s possible that its well-documented image problems stem from that strategic flaw,” writes Andy Moore, editorial director at KM World in the ironically named Best Practices in Enterprise Knowledge Management.* He continues, “KM has long been touted as an all-or-nothing proposition…. The evidence is mounting that the famous ‘departmental point solutions’ that many of us thought were mere baby steps to a greater goal, are, in fact, the end game.”

Makes sense to me. Rather than try to boil the ocean, KM needs to apply the 80/20 rule and focus on things that make a difference. Most of these thngs are bottom-up. Many of the vendors at this year’s KM World Conference don’t see it that way. Commissions on enterprise deals pay off a salesperson’s mortgage; departmental sales cover a month’s car payments.

On the all-or-nothing spectrum, the next author in Best Practices in Enterprise Knowledge Management is in the all camp. He tells us “…total knowledge management is driven by the need for organizations to have a unified access and view to all business content across an enterprise…. The ultimate goal of the total knowledge strategy is to enable an organization to have one single version of the truth; unified access to all enterprise content….” It’s all or nothing.

This raises some thorny issues. First of all, the only organizations that have a single version of the truth are sole proprietorships, and even one-man shops change their interpretations of reality on the spur of the moment.

The third writer in this pamphlet says “…the primary difference between information and knowledge is relevance.” Presumably, the all-or-nothing guy (who in real life markets “a state-of-the-art integrated enterprise content management platform”) would have us index and store irrelevant information alongside knowledge.

At least our brethren in KM are consistent. I don’t need to change my definition of KM in the Internet Time Glossary.

Knowledge Management. Whatever you want it to be. Also, whatever I have to sell you.

*Best Practices is online.

KM World 2004

Yesterday I drove to Santa Clara for a day at the KM World Conference and Exhibition. Actually, it’s KM World plus Intranets 2004 in conjunction with Streaming Media, also known as “The National Conference and Exposition on Knowledge Management, Content Management, Intranets, and Portals.”

KM appears to be on the comeback trail. Last year I reported “In 2001, 1600 people attended KM World. 2002 it was 800. This year, KM World and Intranets 2003 were combined, so attendance figures are murky. Vendors told me lots of the people walking the aisles were consultants hungry to cut deals.” The number of participants is up from last year, if only slightly so. 38 vendors were showing their wares. While the participants still wander around lamenting that their field doesn’t have a catchier name, they are once again talking about real projects rather than simply chasing jobs and quick deals.

The Elements of User Experience

The first session I attended was The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett, a wonderful romp through a powerful approach to design and development. Jesse focuses on web pages, but his approach is also appropriate for designing instruction. In fact, his “user-centered design” is awfully close to the performance-centered design at the heart of Workflow Learning.
User-Centered Design:

  • a philosophy of product development
  • the product is a means to a larger end, not an end to itself
  • the product is a means toward the end of providing a good experience for the user
  • a suite of methods emphasizing understanding people rather than technology

Look at an Amazon page. Jesse removes the color. He blurs the text. He points out zones, The page begins to look like a Mondrian painting. Of course, a page doesn’t exist in isolation; it’s part of a structure of related. More abstract than this is a checklist of features: the scope. Underlying that is a strategy that specifies what we want the user to do.

I’ve been a fan of Jesse’s work since first seeing his levels of use experience graphic three years ago. This formed the structure of his presentation. It’s also the backbone of his book, so I’m not going to go through the detail here. (But do look at the full-blown model.)

User Research – the best way to discover user needs. Many techniques, ranging from quick and cheap to lengthy and expensive. Best source: Observing the User Experience by Mike Kuniavsky. But be careful not to treat people as data-points. That’s why we need Personas (character sketches based on user research).

Site’s functional specs focus on “what it does,” not “how it works.” Content requirements answer “What info will users need of want from the site? What form should it take? Where will it come from? Who’s responsible?”

Jesse shows three maps of San Francisco: 1. the tourist map with cable-car lines, 2. the transit map (because San Francisco has the lowest ratio of parking spaces:residents of any major city.) and 3. a cyclist’s map that shows the steepness of each street.

Why bother with this stuff?

  • Plan before you build.
  • Have conscious reasons for your choices
  • Articulate them explicitly
  • Make things that people love.

Thanking him for his talk, I mentioned that his planning schema was an ideal road map for conceptualizing and building instruction as well as websites.


[email protected]

Implementing Knowledge-Based Relationships

Ross Dawson, CEO, Advanced Human Technologies

Ross is author of Living Networks and Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, two visionary books about networking human relationships. (Disclosure: I am a fan.)
Ross enters a restaurant in India; they bring him a goldfish in a bowl, saying “We thought you might like to company.” Want another anomaly? In the last twenty years, the GDP of the US has doubled, but the weight of the GDP has stayed about the same — intangibles are where it’s at.

Knowledge flows in relationships:

  • knowledge to
  • knowledge from
  • knowledge about
  • knowledge blending
  • knowledge co-creation

Key sources of lock-in

  • You know your client better
  • Your client knows you better
  • You’re embedded in your clients’ processes

Stages of relationship development
Engaging Aligning Deepening Partnering

Ross has posted his presentation, but I think you’ll find his books more satisfying.
Ross and I are thinking of experimenting with new forms of remote delivery. Stay tuned.
His blog. | Coordinates

Free Software + Security = New KM Software

I wandered through the Exhibition several times. KM vendors sell a mix of search tools, content managers, discovery tools, collaboration tools, taxonomy builders, web publishing engines, and document management software. I hadn’t heard of most of them: Ovum, RedDot, Morphix, New Idea Engineering, Ixia, and Sane Solutions, for example. I talked with several vendors who had taken ideas from Open Source, made them robust, and added a layer of secure access and measurement to create corporate software that struck me as reasonably priced for what you get.


Traction provides blogging software to corporations and government. Why would anyone buy what’s available on the web for free? Because Traction provides security and access levels. By name or position, you can specify who sees (or can change) various pages. Corporations aren’t flocking to this. After two years, Traction clients include Fleet Bank, the Atlanta Constitution, Verizon, and others. Cost is a $10K per server and $125 per named user. (Named users can edit, see things selectively, etc. There’s no limit on fully public blogs, inside or outside the firewall.) Compared to free, this is pricey; compared to any other KM solution, this is dirt cheap.


Gartner predicts that within two years, major corporations will need fourteen times more bandwidth than today. Distribution of video files is the main culprit behind this “gridlock.” What’s a company to do? They could buy more hardware? (Pricey.) They could buy more software. (Also pricey.) They could multicast. (Ditto.) Or they could buy Kontiki’s software. Kontiki takes advantage of idle cycles on a company’s existing PCs. (Think NETI.) Kontiki distributes the downloading to individual PCs. On the web, this is akin to BitTorrent. Kontiki claims they can squeeze a ten-fold gain out of existing networks. If you’re downloading gobs of video, this is an attractive proposition.

The Emergent Learning Business Case

Learning Econmics Group/Emergent Learning Forum

The Business Case for Learning – Tips, Hints, What Works, What Does Not Work

Joint meeting at SRI, Menlo Park.
November 17, 2004. 8:30 – noon, Pacific time.
Remote participation will be available.

We have invited learning professionals from Apple, Shell, Bechtel and elsewhere to share recent presentations to management making their case for elearning/learning initiatives, projects or programs. In addition, they will discuss what worked about their approach and what did not – which offers insights into issues for framing future research, and forums on learning valuation and learning economics. Prior to these presentations, Eilif Trondsen and Tom Hill will frame the discussion and observations on trends on learning alignment to business objectives from the point of view of the SRI Learning on Demand Program and Learning Economics Group.

Training Fall 2004, San Francisco

Training Fall

San Francisco

October 11-13, 2004

The former Online Learing Conference has morphed into Training Fall in conjunction with Online Learning. To the right, an unregistered participant at Moscone West.

Since the Workflow Learinng Symposium was a conference within Training Fall, I couldn’t attend many of the regular sessions. The three non-workflow events I did get to go to were great!

Marty Seligman, founder of the positive psychology movement, is one of my heroes. Why settle for simply not being off-scale crazy when you can shoot for being better than normal?

To be happy, live your motivated values. Don’t know what they are? Go here to find out. Search for “seligman” on Internet Time for more.

I was reading David Weinberger on the web long before he wrote The Cluetrain Manifesto and Small Pieces, Loosely Joined. Now an NPR commentator and columnist for Darwin, David’s JOHO Blog is the best analysis of knowledge management you’ll find and one of the funniest things on the web.

The third session that grabbed me was Booz-Allen’s Mark Oehlert on M-learning. Frankly, I’d considered the M-learning scene pretty ho-hum. Mark made me realize that I had it wrong. M-learing is not substituting mobile devices for PCs; it’s providing anywhere access to the net. What matters is Location! Location! Location! Check out

Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer hosted an author party at the Chieftan, a pub a block down the street from Moscone Center West.

Starting with the white blob in the lower left corner, here are Bill and Kit Horton, Allison Rossett, Jennifer Hoffman, some autograph hunter, Nanette Miner, Saul Carliner, and Marc Rosenberg. One terrorist bomb could have wiped out most of the thought leadership in eLearning today. (Not pictured: Clark Aldrich, Clark Quinn, Eileen Clegg, Kevin Wheeler, others.)

Here, Insync’s Jennifer Hoffman and Nanette Miner are carousing with Instancy’s Harvey Singh and Pfeiffer’s Lisa Shannon.

The Workflow Learning Symposium featured six breakouts, a keynote, and numerous related sessions. Pictures, summaries, and video will soon appear at the Workflow Institute site.