Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The documentation tool I was looking for ?

On my very first blog post I wrote "I found myself in a bit of a quandary about as to the best way to document [the roundtable]".

Well I don't think it's the final answer but I have to admit to be grudgingly impressed with Microsoft's OneNote. Having seen many blog posts talking about it, I finally downloaded a trial version to play with. Microsoft gives you 60 days after which you have to pay. Well I've got about 50 days left, but I'm already thinking I might just have to bite the bullet and contribute to Redmond's profit line.

So what is it that has impressed me ?

Basically, it's the ability to mix and match text, pictures, screen clippings; drag them around and position them in a non-linear way and create what looks quite a bit like a web page with very little hassle. And then you can output in various formats.
I've just used it to do a write-up of KIN's latest roundtable / masterclass and was able to incorporate pictures taken at the event with screen clippings of bits of presentations and annotate with bits of text in a nice free-form way.
I've tried generating a .mht web page which looks pretty but is way too big and consequently takes too long to load. (I'm probably doing something wrong here). I also generated a .pdf file which comes out very well (a couple of glitches, but not too bad at all).

KIN members can see the results of my efforts here.

I will continue to experiment and let you know how I get on. In the meantime, are there any other 'Onenote' users out there that would like to share their experiences. Also, are there any alternatives I should be considering ? Here is a post comparing Evernote and Onenote.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Moving to the Cloud ?

One of my earliest blog bosts was Thinking out of the Inbox - More Collaboration through less e-mail which referred to Luis Suarez's experiment in giving up email.

Partly inspired by that, partly by a series of posts by Aliza Sherman:

Official Google Docs Blog: Aliza's chronicles: climbing out of document hell
Official Google Docs Blog: Aliza's chronicles, part 2: surviving the computer shuffle
Official Google Docs Blog: Aliza's chronicles, part 3: collaboration and the long haul
Official Google Docs Blog: Aliza's chronicles, part 4: collaboration, quick and easy
Official Google Docs Blog: Aliza's chronicles, part 5: the personal stuff

I have decided as an experiment to see whether it is possible to migrate my KM work to 'The Cloud' and just how much it is possible to do with online tools.

I am already a user of Google Mail and Google Calendar so I am going to see just how much of my word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation work can be done using (mostly) Google Apps. I say 'mostly' because I will also plan to try out other tools such as Sliderocket.

I'll let you know how I get on !

Thursday, 31 July 2008

OK, Show's over

Well the run of The Taming of the Shrew has come to an end and I'm starting to catch up on my emails and Web reading.
Found this latest 'Charlie' gem which I thought I would share

Friday, 11 July 2008

Off Topic

Nothing to do with KIN or KM, but if anyone has noticed me being a bit slow with email replies lately, it's partly because I have been rehearsing for The Taming of the Shrew in which I am playing the role of Gremio, suitor to Kate's sister Bianca.

"Progress Theatre presents their yearly outdoor Shakespeare production between Monday, 14 July and Saturday 26 July (excluding Sunday). For 2008, the play is The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare's riotous comedy of the sexes. Breaking with traditional presentations, the show will be set in the Wild West with saloon brawls complementing the exquisite verse."

For more details (and to book tickets!)

We've just had our first dress rehearsal and we think we have a terrific show. See you there ?

Monday, 7 July 2008

KM activists, soundings, patterns and Learning Organisations

This week's blog post comes courtesy of KIN member Paul Whiffen. Thanks for letting me use this Paul.

Paul wrote:
"A couple of times lately I’ve used an analogy which makes some nice parallels with organisational learning. Thought I’d share it with you.

I used to do the navigation and positioning for 3D Seismic Exploration offshore. We’d be on a ship towing an array of airguns which every 10 seconds or so would detonate sending sound waves to the seabed and many thousands of metres beyond into the structure beneath. They’d reflect off the structures down there (anticlines, layers, faults etc) and rebound back up to the 100s of hydrophones we would also tow behind in streamers up to 4km long (would be quite normal to have 3 such streamers behind the ship). As you can imagine, navigating this thing around the place took a lot of planning ahead and negotiation with fishermen, oil platforms etc not to mention the guns shaking the ship every 10 seconds 24 hours a day!!

By sailing in a single line you get a 2D cross section of the earth’s structure and by sailing many of these lines in parallel you could build up a 3D model of what’s down there, hence it would become 3D seismic exploration. You couldn’t directly see the oil and gas, only the geological structure below and then you’d interpret where the oil and gas might be (that was the geophysicist’s job) – it’s not until you bring in a rig and drill that you’d know for sure.

(Incidentally, not that it’s particularly relevant here, but the surveyor’s (my) job was to ensure the precise positioning of the air guns and hydrophones to something like absolute 5 – 10 metres and relative 2 – 7 metres using radio nav systems (replaced by differential GPS), acoustic ranging (dozens of the things each filtered and then computed in a geometric framework) and also magnetic compasses every 300 metres on the streamers to give their shape (correcting for magnetic storms etc). Without the precise positioning of the guns and hydrophones you couldn’t “stack” the signal returns from the structure accurately and the picture below would become degraded).

The point is the sound waves go deep into the structure and tell the geophysicist what the structure is like down there, faults and all. By taking multiple soundings you build up the picture of the structure and geology, the lie of the land so to speak. The client was typically the head geophysicist of the field (Forties or Magnus, say).

This is analogous to every time we do an AAR or Retrospect (or whatever we end up calling these things) or indeed KRT - we get a sounding of the deeper learning in the organisation as well as the obvious technical issues. By seeing the patterns and links of what the signals are telling us we can see the wood for the trees and filter out the deeper long wavelength signals from the high frequency noise.

This is why an emerging role of the KM Activists is to look at the patterns that come from the learning processes. As we “sail up and down” the organisation pinging away and looking across the signals that come back to us from the learning processes, so we can connect up the dots and see that bigger picture emerging, breaking down both vertical and horizontal silos. This is what starts to show a genuinely learning and self-knowing organisation, it really begins to understand itself and can take action to get the best from itself in the knowledge of how it really ticks, both strengths and weaknesses.

You can also debate that the airguns and the signals are the “collect” aspect of learning and the streamers with the ‘phones are the connect aspect taking in the learning.

What do you think? Does this analogy work for you? If nothing else, it shows that at one time I did a technical job I suppose!"

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

OpenID - SSO for the Web

Most Enterprises go to great lengths to ensure Single Sign On (SSO) because they know their employees hate having to remember multiple passwords. Would that that were the case on the Web!

Are you tired of creating a new account on every website you use? Do you avoid new websites because they come with yet another username and password? Do you paste stickies with password hints all over your computer monitor? OpenID is an open technology standard that solves all of these problems. SSO for the Web!

OpenID eliminates the need for multiple usernames across different websites, simplifying your online experience.

You get to choose the OpenID Provider that best meets your needs and most importantly that you trust. At the same time, your OpenID can stay with you, no matter which Provider you move to. And best of all, the OpenID technology is not proprietary and is completely free."

Here is a video from one OpenID provider (there are many, including Yahoo!) which explains the concept


Here's what commoncraft blogger leelefever has to say about OpenID.
And if here's a suggestion if you should want to become an OpenID evangelist.

Friday, 20 June 2008

KIN Bookmarks

And now, for my next WEB 2.0 KIN experiment, I have set up a "KIN Bookmarks" group on social bookmarking site Ma.gnolia.com.

This is something I have been considering for a while but was finally inspired into action by the KIN Quarterly workshop which I co-facilitated yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed the day: the presentations, the member case studies and the networking opportunities.
(For KIN members, all the material presented at the workshop and more besides can be found in the Quarterly workshop site on the memberspace - this site will be being updated over the next few days)

During one presentation, I was reminded that during a visit to a member organisation internal forum the previous week, I overheard one person there commenting that they had learnt one new thing: they had never before heard of 'Social Bookmarking' but were now going to try it. So I wondered if there were people in our audience that also had never heard of Social Bookmarking. (Or some of the other tools mentioned such as RSS. When I posted a poll in the memberspace, I did get a few people saying they had never heard of RSS)

So first of all, a link to one of my favourite sites, The Common Craft show:
Social Bookmarking in Plain English

And for those of you who would like to have a go:
I decided to use Ma.gnolia because it allowed me to set up as a moderated group where contributors can be restricted to KIN members. So everytime I create a bookmark using Ma.gnolia I can send it to the KIN Bookmarks group. And better still, so can you !
First, create a Ma.gnolia account (if you don't already have one). Then click on the 'join' button at http://ma.gnolia.com/groups/KIN to join the group. That will make you a member (anyone can see this group and become a member). Then send me an email telling me you would like to contribute to the group and (provided you are a KIN member) I will make you a moderator so that you can.

You can see how I am using Ma.gnolia (not very much - yet!) at: http://ma.gnolia.com/people/PhilRidout

So have a go, and let me know what you think !

Sunday, 8 June 2008

WEB 2.0 and KM

The discussion thread about the KIN WEB 2.0 roundtable event has been continuing to grow and a mini debate seems to have started on the topic of "WEB 2.0 - the future of KM?"
I recently came across a couple of relevant blog postings along those lines which I thought it would be worth sharing (for those that may not have already come across them).

The first one "Getting into" Social Software and How It Is Changing the Role of Traditional Knowledge Management: is from IBMer Luis Suarez and introduces an article called "Getting into" Social Software.
Although the article is oriented towards extolling the virtues of IBM's Lotus Connections set of tools, the points made are interesting in themselves. For example:

Suarez has been involved with knowledge management since 2000, but the attitude towards it since then has become quite negative because the old methods didn't work very well. When Suarez first encountered social computing, he said to himself, "This is it. This is what is going to bring KM back into the spotlight because it allows businesses to place their focus where it should have been from the beginning - not on the tools, not on the processes, but on the people." His evangelism comes from wanting people to understand that "knowledge management is what they do every day, and now they are the ones in control of the conversation."
Social computing differs radically from the old KM paradigm and is more successful at achieving the ends.

The second one (also by Luis Suarez) is the first of a series that introduces and reviews a podcast of an interview with Dave Snowden on "The Impact of Web 2.0 on Knowledge Work and Knowledge Management"

"Dave comes to share how the main key differentiation from Web 2.0 versus traditional Knowledge Management from 10 years ago is how Social Computing tools "effectively self-assemble, self-organise and deal with informal connectivity learning", focusing more on the unstructured sharing of knowledge than on the structured one, which is what we have been exposed to so far for a good number of years . So in a way he mentions how if there is anything that works with social software is its immense power to connect people.

Dave seems to confirm that it is actually the people, and how they connect, that makes it all work together nicely and therefore the success from Web 2.0. So whoever was thinking that the focus should be on the tools and on the processes, probably should think about things again, because it is actually the nurturing of making those connections and empowering people to do so what actually matters in the Social Computing and Knowledge Management 2.0 space.

I actually agree with Dave 100% that if social software would have been available 10 years ago when KM was getting started, we would be talking now about a completely different story on knowledge sharing."

For those that prefer to skim read, then I recommend Suarez's series of posts:
The Impact of Web 2.0 on Knowledge Work and Knowledge Management by Dave Snowden and Jon Husband - Part I , Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI

For those that want to hear the word's from the horse's mouth, then follow the link on this page to the podcast.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Thinking out of the Inbox - More Collaboration through less e-mail

A few years ago, the team I worked in was merged with two other teams. One of the first things we did was set up a team Quickplace with a Q&A forum for team communications. One particular incident sticks vividly in my mind. In response to a question I posed on the forum, I got an email reply from the director. My reply to him was along the lines of, "thank you - you know the answer and now I know the answer. The point of putting the question on the forum was so that everyone in the team should get the benefit of the answer". He never did post the answer on the forum. I guess he just didn't "get it".

I am reminded of this whenever I see articles about reducing email traffic.

Hands up everyone who gets too much email. OK, so what are you going to do about it?

Some suggestions for alternatives to email were posted on the Thought Sparks blog, 13 Good Alternatives to Email : Thought Sparks some time ago. Worth a read.

But this guy has gone one better than just reading about it and is putting some of the ideas into practice:
A Refreshing New Way of Collaborating and Sharing Knowledge - Giving up on e-mail! (Part I)
This is the first in a series of posts where he tracks his progress. This is his most recent update: Giving up on Work e-mail - Status Report on Week 13

He has gone on to put together the following presentation. (Not as snappy as 'Meet Charlie', but there are a couple of gems in there - I particularly like slides 20-23)
Next08 - Thinking out of the Inbox - More Collaboration through less e-mail (Presentation Material):

So what have you tried to reduce the flood? (Use the comments facility to share your favourites).

To open the bidding, here are my two:
  1. Started using an RSS reader so I could unsubscribe from email alerts
  2. Started a Blog!

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Generation Y and WEB 2.0

For my first post in this series on WEB 2.0, here is the text of a post from Read/Write Web that caught my eye that addresses the generation question.

Why Gen Y Is Going to Change the Web - ReadWriteWeb: "Work Tools Need to Mirror Web Tools: Gen Y will drive adoption of 'Enterprise 2.0' products and services. Gen Y in the workplace will not just want, but expect their company to provide them with tools that mirror those they use in their personal lives. If socializing on Facebook helps them get a sale, then they're not going to understand why they can't use it at work. For more buckled down companies, if workers aren't provided with the tools they want, they're going to be savvy enough to go around I.T.'s back and get their own.

Companies wondering how Gen Y wants to use these tools at work should take a look at this - Sacha Chua's Gen Y Guide to Web 2.0 at Work (made for IBM):

SlideShare | View | Upload your own"

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The RSS Evangelist

The RSS Evangelist

After the recent WEB 2.0 rountable event, the more I thought about it the more I became convinced that as KM Evangelists (we are all KM Evangelists aren't we?) we ought to be making full use of the all the Knowledge Sharing technologies available to us. Hence this article about RSS. If you have yet to start using an RSS reader on a regular basis, I urge you to give it a try. Those of us that do use them wonder how we ever managed without them and how other people manage without them. They really are a valuable tool for keeping up to date on almost any topic. This article will concentrate on RSS use on the World Wide Web, but they also have huge potential for use within the enterprise.


In a KIN survey done a few months ago (do you use an RSS Reader), a quarter of respondents said that they did not know what RSS is and a further 12.5% said that they did not use one. Admittedly, the response rate to the survey was not high but extrapolating those results suggests that use of RSS by KIN members may not be all that prevalent. I admit that I have been using a feed reader for less than a year myself but in that time I have become a big fan. So the purpose of this post is to encourage KIN members who may not yet have tried using an RSS feed reader to give it a go!

What's in it for me?

RSS feeds can be broadly useful. Harvesting news headlines, classified ads, press releases, and even internal corporate project collaboration notes. News from the BBC, seasonal conditions from The Old Farmer's Almanac, product lists from Amazon; the list goes on and is growing daily. You can reduce email clutter by using a feed reader rather than receiving emailed updates to your already clogged inbox. (This was the prime motivation for me to start using RSS!) At a glance, you see what's happening all over the Web on topics that matter to you, without having to give up personal information or remember a load of URLs.Some examples of sites that may be of interest to KM practitioners that have RSS feeds: To pick just 5 sites at random from my own feed list.

Enterprise Use

How do you keep up to date with HR Policies and Practices? What about the CEO blog? And the company bulletin board? And changes your community space? Do you have to visit mutliple sites? Or are you lucky enough to work in an environment where all of these things come to you courtesy RSS ? Are there any KIN member organisations out there that are already using RSS to push information to their employees? If so, it would be interesting to hear from you about your experiences.

So what is RSS, how does it work?

Some of you, I know, have seen this before. Even if you are already an RSS user, RSS in Plain English from the Common Craft show explains it well!

"There are two types of Internet users, those that use RSS and those that don't. This video is for the people who could save time using RSS, but don't know where to start." BlipTV

OK, I'm interested - what 'Reader' should I use?

As I understand it (and I'm not an expert) you have three basic choices:
  1. Use the Feedreader that comes built-in to your browser (if it has one)
  2. Use a Web based reader
  3. Use a standalone program.
Which you choose will depend on a number of factors. I don't propose to examine the pro's and con's in detail in this post - (I will look for something posted by someone who knows much more about it than I do. But for what it is worth, this post looks at what other people use/think are the best readers available. I use the Web based, Google Reader (which seems to be a pretty popular choice) which I highly recommend. I like its interface and speed. Although it is Web-based you can use it offline courtesy of Google Gears. There are also some other neat features not least of which is the ability to easily share with others the posts I find that I think are worth sharing with other people in a separate web page (for the non-RSS users out there).

And Finally...

I have an ulterior motive for encouraging RSS use by KIN members. At the start of this article I mentioned the recent WEB 2.0 rountable event and one of my conclusions on reflection after that meeting was that it might be useful and helpful to start a Blog. So, as an experiment, that is what I am doing. And the best way for members to follow the blog... is by using RSS.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

My 'KIN Blog


We recently held a WEB 2.0 roundtable where a number of different tools and technologies were discussed. I wrote:

"I found myself in a bit of a quandary as to the best way to document the session. Having spent the day discussing a number of very interesting WEB 2.0 tools, I couldn't help feeling that there ought to be a better way than simply creating a document and posting it in the memberspace or in the discussion forum. However, for the time being, that is exactly what I am doing. In the end it is, perhaps, simplest to use the tools that are known and accessible to all KIN members, regardless of any of their shortcomings."

The more I thought about it the more I became convinced that as KM Evangelists (we are all KM Evangelists aren't we?) we ought to be making full use of the Knowledge Sharing technologies available to us. So, since that event I have fiddled around with various options but the one that seems to fit the need best (I'm open to alternatives) is a Blog.

My KIN Blog

So here it is. My first attempt at a Blog! Initial thoughts are Blog about things I think are relevant to KIN members:
  • KIN events
  • Non KIN Events
  • articles I find on the WEB
  • general topics of interest
I'm open to other suggestions. As I say, this was inspired by the WEB 2.0 roundtable event. It is fair to say that I am likely to post quite a bit about WEB 2.0 and other 'Cool Tools' because they are a pet interest of mine. I can (and will) 'tag' my posts with (what I think) are the appropriate tags. Blogger also allows you to display RSS feeds in a separate panel. So on the right of this post you will see a list of Blog items I have tagged 'share' using Google Reader (see my post the RSS Evangelist ) I am using 'Blogger' and as far as I can see, that will allow me to invite others to also submit Blog posts. So if you would like to contribute, email me and I'll add you as a contributor. Blogger has many other features as well which I will be exploring as I go.


Although this blog is KIN related, it's visibility is not restricted just to KIN members. So any KIN confidential information (including individual members' names) will only be posted in the KIN memberspace and linked to from the blog. KIN members posting comments (which I encourage you to do) should also take care not to include KIN confidential information.