Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Communities and collaboration

Keith February 20th, 2011

We know all about explicit knowledge – it is visible and tactile, and has been recorded in libraries since Sumerian times. Tacit knowledge, however, is somewhat harder to tie down. This is the knowledge inside peoples’ heads. We often attempt – with varying degrees of success – to convert it into an explicit form so we can better measure and account for it. However, one of the best ways to handle tacit knowledge is for people to simply work together with it, and talk about it. This article investigates one of the most effective ways of dealing with tacit knowledge in organisations – Communities of Practice – and why helping them to grow and flourish requires a better understanding of the words “community” and “practice”, as well as an understanding of the place of technology.

So begins the latest version of my thoughts on Communities of Practice – this time, in an article in the Thomson Reuters publication Online Currents. A full copy of this article is now available on this site.

This extends the ideas in my earlier article The theory and practice of communities.

Tool Time

Keith June 18th, 2010

I wrote here some time ago (almost two years!) about Patrick Lambe’s KM Method Cards.  This is a pack of quick reference cards covering 80 approaches, methods and tools that can be used in Knowledge Management planning, assessments and implementations. You can get the cards from the Straits Knowledge online store.

I finally had a chance to use them in a guest lecture I delivered recently at Victoria University (where my son was doing a KM unit as part of his business Master’s degree).

The game is described in full on the methodcards.net wiki site. 

In essence, it was used to support a presentation on KM technology, tools and techniques.  The full slide pack for the lecture is on SlideShare.

The first part of the lecture gave a general overview of KM tools and a case study scenario – an outline of the environment and cultures of a business where a KM program was introduced.  The students were then split into four groups, and cards were distributed to the groups.  Each group was then asked to select the approaches, methods or tools that they considered would be the most appropriate to address the case study scenario. 

After the selections were made and presented, the choices were then discussed.  The remainder of the lecture covered the tools actually used in the case study, with further discussion of how the students’ choices matched the real-world example.

Of course, there are no absolute “right” or “wrong” answers in this exercise – it’s the conversation that is most important! The main point is for the students to become more familiar with KM approaches, methods and tools, and to think through which would be most helpful in a given scenario.

For the full details, see the description on the wiki.

Picture the Future: Australia

Keith March 23rd, 2010

Yesterday, on World Water Day, Siemens delivered a presentation outlining their technology blueprint for a cleaner, greener Australia.  Using Siemens technologies in the fields of water and energy, they have put together a “technology blueprint for energy and water sustainability in Australia by 2030.” Impressive stuff.  Most impressively, they claim that even: “current available technology, with some fuel switching, could reduce the emissions from the electricity sector by up to 30 percent”.  Over the period 2000 to 2050, Australia’s population is expected to grow by 75%. The challenge is to reduce emissions over the same time period by 60%. Siemens claim that this can be done with the right mix of technologies, and without purchasing CO2 certificates from offshore.

Now if we could only get governments to pay some real attention to this…

Footprints

The issues

There are four Mega-trends in the world at the moment: Climate change, Demographic change, Urbanisation and Globalisation.  Energy is linked to all four, and water plays a role in two of the four.

Although we definitely have a number of crises on our hands in Australia, we sometimes forget that we are amazingly well-off compared to many parts of the world – for now.  We have plenty of water in Australia; it’s just not all in the right places.  We have excellent access to all known forms of energy; we are currently relying too much on coal & oil, the sources with the highest per capita emissions.  Our immediate survival is not under threat.  However, the time to act is now – before things get worse.  The “do nothing” option means that we can expect an increase in emissions of 50% over the same 50 year period.

We also often tend to see only the costs of the solutions. We need to remember that new technologies also create more jobs. There are sound economic reasons for changing the game. However, “changing our view of the future can be unsettling”. It would be much better for our economy to invest in technology rather than buying in offshore CO2 certificates!

What kind of future do you want?

Siemens have applied their “Picture the Future” innovation approach to these issues; this approach is:

Concept > Research > Scenario >Validation >Picture

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Who are you?

Keith February 23rd, 2010

There was some recent discussion at actKM about automated online profiling systems.  These systems trawl the net collecting information on people by name, and put together a “profile” of the person.  This can have interesting results.  A single person can end up with multiple disconnected profiles; or many people with similar names may find themselves merged into a single profile.

Some of these systems allow you to take control of your profile, and edit and update it.  The business models used by these sites can also be interesting.  Some are free, and offer premium services for a fee.  Some only allow you to take control of your profile for a certain fee. The information collated on the site may include details that are correct or incorrect; and the information may be current or out of date.

One that I have registered with is ZoomInfo, which allows me to log in and take control of my profile free of charge. I have been able to clean up the information there – although since my first clean-up, a heap more out-of-date info has been added, and a second profile created based on a mere mention of my name on another site with a link to a blog post here.  I have been able to easily merge this in to my existing profile. (Although some of the changes I made today may still take some time to appear on the site!) The site also keeps cached copy of the content that they found my name in – some of which is now up to four years old, and no longer exists at the original site. It seems that although I can edit my profile, I have no control over what out-of-date info they store about me in their cache. 

This has mostly been a positive experience, although I don’t remember seeing a lot of security to stop anyone else (whether of the same name or not) taking control of a profile.

I did once have a similar experience with a site called “Spock”, which seems to now have been subsumed into “Intelius“, purporting to be “The world’s largest and most accurate public record source.”  Although this does still provide links to some relevant sites on the search results, it no longer gives me any control over a profile, and all of the  “more detail” links refer to a name only vaguely like mine, and all results are within the USA. This seems to me to be a rather limited view of “the world” – as I understand it, the USA only accounts for 4.5% of the world’s population (according to the US Census Bureau).  However, for those in the USA, the sort of information stored here can supposedly include criminal records and “background checks”, which you have no apparent control over. 

This trend highlights the great benefit of occasionally searching for your own name on the net – that’s how I found out about ZoomInfo. It’s worth occasionally finding out what others are saying about you online. However, this is easy for someone with a name like mine – a Scottish first name and a French surname. So far as I know, I am still the only “Keith De La Rue” on the net. I pity all the “John Smiths” out there, and those with names of similar popularity of other ethnicities. (The secret is to choose your parents wisely – or change your name!) 

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Realising Our BroadBand Future

Keith December 7th, 2009

Can’t believe I forgot to post to the blog for all of November!  At least I have something new to post now…

The Government is hosting the “Realising Our BroadBand Future” forum on 10 and 11 Dec, to map the applications and business models that will thrive in Australia’s high speed broadband future.

Thanks to John Wells and co at CivicTEC, I am facilitating a parallel session in Melbourne that will generate some contributions to the discussion.  The session is at 8:30 to 12:00 next Thursday 10 Dec. Deloitte are very kindly hosting us at 550 Bourke St. This is a free session, but you must register. See the details, and click through to register here.

We’re talking about our connected future. This isn’t about technology, it’s about how we can all use it – to connect communities, build businesses, improve our education and health systems, create and innovate, improve our quality of life for all.  For those of you wishing to come along, please register as quickly as you can, as there are limited places available!  Read more in the Press Release.

I have circulated this to various networks in Melbourne – social media people, creative people, trampoline attendees, geeks, telecoms consultants and knowledge managers.  There should be some diverse points of view.  If you can’t make it, follow us on Twitter at #bbfmel.

The theory and practice of communities

Keith March 8th, 2009

Without clear thinking, valuable work may grind to a halt

The following is the introduction to an article that I wrote, published in the November/December KM Review.

Despite everything that the modern KM practitioner knows about communities, collaboration and technology, communities of practice (CoPs) often fail and collaboration often breaks down. In order to establish an effective CoP, it’s necessary first to think about the nature and structure of a community and recognize that it’s an entirely different entity from a work group or a project team. As such, it must be treated differently, too. In this article, author Keith De La Rue examines the pitfalls associated with CoPs and why helping them to grow and flourish requires a better understanding of three words: “community”, “practice” and “technology”.

Read the full article.

Mr. Conroy, you are Talking Cock!

Keith November 13th, 2008

Talking Cock (v.): A Singaporean term meaning either to talk nonsense or engage in idle banter.
 
- The Coxford Singlish Dictionary

Over the last few years, I have had the privilege of traveling to Singapore on a number of occasions to speak at conferences.  I have greatly enjoyed the experience - both the conferences, and wandering around Singapore as a tourist.  I have met some fantastic people there, and have greatly enjoyed the culture – and the food!

Singapore is a land of contrasts.  It is richly multicultural, with all public signage in four languages.  The population is predominantly Chinese, yet most of the public institutions are as British as they were before independence.  It has earned a reputation as a non-democratic nation, yet the country is alive with art and innovation, and not in the least like a totalitarian state.  I feel safer walking around the streets anywhere in Singapore than I do in some parts of Melbourne.

Some would like to portray Singapore as a place where freedom of speech is suppressed by the government, yet Singapore is now becoming increasingly open. One friend I have made in Singapore is Enrico Varella.  Enrico introduced me to a fantastic local web site – Talking Cock.

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Paycheck

Keith October 23rd, 2008

US researchers said they are able to selectively erase memories from mice in a laboratory, raising hopes human memory afflictions like post-traumatic stress syndrome can one day be cured. 

An initial step has now been taken towards the ability to erase memories.  This takes us one step towards the scenario in Philip K Dick’s story – now also John Woo movie, starring Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman – Paycheck.

In the movie, this capability is used for less altruistic purposes. 

Even though most science fiction writers deny that they predict the future, it is always interesting to see life imitating art…

What about the workers?

Keith August 28th, 2008

Now everybody wants one:

Mistake makes ‘iPhone girl’ a celebrity

“A Chinese factory worker has become a celebrity after her smiling face was accidentally loaded onto an Apple iPhone and shipped to the other side of the world, her employer has said.

“The unidentified worker flashed a smile and made a peace sign to a co-worker whose job was to test the device’s camera in the southern city of Shenzhen, said a spokesman for Foxconn, which assembles the phones for Apple.  The woman’s colleague apparently forgot to delete the photo from the phone, which was sold to a consumer in Britain, who posted it [to MacRumors.com] on the Internet, Foxconn spokesman Liu Kun told AFP on Wednesday.”

Apparently Apple have no plans to adopt this as standard practice, but this raises an interesting question:

“As one person wrote in an Internet post: ‘It would be great for every Chinese worker who makes your iPhones to take a snap of herself or her factory friends … a hello from a person you would never otherwise meet.  Globalisation in practise.’”

A new social networking technology?

Danger, Will Robinson, danger…

Keith July 31st, 2008

Apologies if you have visited this site any time in the last 12 hours or so, and noticed that it didn’t look quite right.  Something caused complete chaos…

I realised that I hadn’t checked for dead links for ages, and ran LinkSleuth.  In fact, I may never have used it since setting up the WordPress blog.  This is a great little program that has always worked very nicely in the past, but this time it apparently caused complete chaos.  Half the posts on the site vanished, the theme changed back to the basic old WordPress look, and all the Categories vanished.

I am still not quite sure what happened.  I may have entered the URL into LinkSleuth in such a way that it behaved incorrectly; the way I have my site set up with redirects may have upset LinkSleuth; or LinkSleuth may just be a bit dangerous with WordPress for some reason.  I’m not sure about this, but I can’t find anyone else complaining about it on Google.

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