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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

IBM Taps Employees for Innovation Using Blog Like Tools

On ComputerWorld, ran into an article IBM: Tapping Employee Brain Power you may find the print version easier to read (and on one page). The article mentions something that I had heard about from Tony O'Driscoll at IBM, but had not seen in print:

IBM’s new values, which include putting client needs first and fostering innovation, may seem obvious, but Truskowski says the participatory, grass-roots means by which they were developed gives them credibility with employees — something they would have lacked if they’d been developed by “a senior executive sitting in Armonk.”

Armed with the freshly minted corporate values, senior management charged business unit managers to find and close the gaps between those values and actual business practices. To help with that, IT rolled out in October 2004 a so-called jam ­— a worldwide brainstorming session that Truskowski describes as “a blog on steroids.” It drew ideas from 33,000 employees, and IBM later implemented the top 35 suggestions as determined by an employee vote.
More recently they've used "Jams" to look at innovative product/service ideas. This jam was open (somewhat) to outside input and it "generated 37,000 ideas from 140,000 people in 75 countries and 67 companies."

Google Acquires JotSpot

Just saw this on TechCrunch - Google Acquires Wiki Collaboration Company Jotspot. Interesting timing in that I just posted about Matt Glotzbach's presentation at the Web 2.0 event. This suggests that Google will have a Wiki tool (that's partyly aimed at the enterprise) as part of their Google Office. Google already has blogger. Google now has a great wiki tool. VERY INTERESTING.

Corporate Learning Laggards?

Last week I moderated a Technology Council event on Web 2.0 in Los Angeles. We had great speakers from IBM, Google, Sony, Microsoft, (Homestore) and others. There were lots of interesting things to be taken from the presentations that relate directly to what's happening in corporate learning, but one of the high level trends that made me think came from Matt Glotzbach, Head of Products at Google Enterprise.

The point that Matt made was the corporate IT has gone from leading technology innovation to being a laggard that adopts after consumers. It used to be that your corporate computer, your Internet connection, the applications that you used, all were better than what you used at home. Now the opposite is often the case. He attributed some of this to the fact that consumers have direct, easy access to services and because of Software as a Service, innovation happens really fast and gets to consumers quickly. Corporate IT just can't keep up and maybe shouldn't because they need to police what is done. Matt also pointed out that often Corporate IT makes different choices for itself than it does for the rest of the corporation. For example, they may have access to sites or have installed desktop search or have other things that they restrict from the rest of the corporation.

What's interesting in eLearning is that it used to be that corporations were way out in front of what was happening in the consumer space and even farther ahead of what I saw in academia. Back in 1993-4, I lead the development of a project for Lexus salespeople that had video-based selling skills simulations, an online reference, tools, and more. It was truly a ground breaking project that was ahead of what you would find in consumer multimedia learning.

Interestingly, as we transitioned to delivery over the Internet - did I mention that Lexus Labs was delivered on six CD ROMs so it came with a CD ROM changer? - we took a big step back. We've also stepped back as we look at doing things more quickly at lower cost to keep up with the pace of change. And now as things begin to transition to eLearning 2.0 what I see happening in the consumer space and in academia is far ahead of what we are seeing in corporations. Individual instructors are able to incorporate blogs and wikis into their classroom experiences much more readily than in the corporate land.

Is that our destiny in the world of eLearning 2.0? Is Corporate Learning going to continue to be a Laggard?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Why Wikis Are Conquering the Enterprise

Found via 7 Days and More, interesting article on - Why Wikis Are Conquering The Enterprise by Michael Hickins. Couple of thoughts from the article:
  • adoption is coming mainly from project managers and department-level executives not senior management (and, of course, corporate learning was not mentioned)
  • "In almost every big corporation, some group is already using a wiki," said Andrew McAfee, associate professor of technology and operations management at the Harvard Business School.

This echoes what I've been seeing as well. It's kinda like Web Servers, Open Source and other technologies creeping into the enterprise through the back door because it provides value, can be done by workgroups without corporate sponsorship, and provides immediate value.

Tacit vs. Explicit Knowledge - Decisions Learning Professionals Make Everyday

A post by Jack Vinson pointed me to What's so great about tacit knowledge? and What's So Great About Tacit Knowledge? - Cont'd. Basically, a lot of what we do in Workplace Learning is trying to extract tacit knowledge (in people's heads), make it explicit (write it down) and then we even turn it into something that can be learned so it will become tacit knowledge in our learners heads.

Much of the focus of Knowledge Management has been finding ways to support capture of tacit knowledge. As stated by one article:

The knowledge management and capabilities literatures are in love in love with tacit knowledge. Managing tacit knowledge, leveraging tacit knowledge, growing tacit knowledge these are seen as the keys to achieving sustained competitive advantage.

But they also know that tacit knowledge and human judgment based on it is often flawed:
He correctly points out that tacit knowledge may well be erroneous, to which it may be added that erroneous tacit knowledge is usually more of a problem than erroneous explicit knowledge, since the latter is presumably easier to correct.

A couple of things that this sparked for me as it relates to Workplace Learning. First, one of the things that has been argued against providing tools to end-users to create their own content is that they will create information that is not all that great or is wrong. I've always said that I'd rather have them putting the information down somewhere (in a Wiki for example) and making it explicit so that we can find it and hopefully correct it. The alternative is that they will hand it out below the radar, and we won't know that they are spreading it around.

Second, since much of the choice between eLearning 1.0 and eLearning 2.0 comes down to the cost of us directly working to make information explicit as compared to providing tools that allow the learners to make it explicit (or to create their own tacit knowledge). Thus, the authors suggestion that knowledge runs from:

knowledge-that-is-extremely-costly-to-articulate and knowledge-that-isn't-at-all as defining the two ends of a continuum.

This is where we live all the time. Deciding whether its worth the cost of extracting the tacit knowledge and making it explicit or not.

Finally, the author points out something that is quite controversial. He essentially argues that its only a matter of cost of extracting tacit knowledge. He states:
the literature on tacit knowledge sometimes reads as if there is tacit knowledge that is inherently impossible to articulate; no matter the costs If you go and look on Wikipedia's definition:
The tacit aspects of knowledge are those that cannot be codified..

So which is it? Can it be extracted or not? Well it really is about the cost of extracting it AND the cost of providing it in a form that can be learned so that it can be used or learned. So, my feeling is that it all can become explicit - and that's our job in a lot of cases - but we are constantly being forced to consider the cost.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Brandon Hall Network - Nicely Done?

I just saw a post by Mark Oehlert - The Brandon Hall Network - nicely done who said:
The functionality set looks good. The UI is pretty good - I find the initial color set to be a bit jarring but they do make the CSS available to you which will allow folks to really customize their profile page. So congrats on a nicely designed, functional network!

Maybe I'm in a grumpy mood because Brandon Hall got rid of their Yahoo Discussion Groups to provide this network. The network UI is hardly "nicely design and functional." It will take you a while to understand what you are doing and where you go to do what. Part of the issue is that there's not much content today so it feels a bit hollow.

Part of my reservation is that it is yet another social networking tool and a blogging tool. Do I need to use it in addition to Linked In and Blogger? Part of my reservation is that unless it achieves a large number of active users and displaces existing means of community, then it won't hold enough value.

Maybe I'm grumpy and missing the point? But my guess is that this is going to be a big failure.

Am I wrong? What does Mark see?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Informal Learning and Learning Management Systems

Saw an interesting post by Dennis Coxe - Sailing by the Sound: What Informal Learning Means To Me where he points out the conflict today between learning management systems and content access / informal learning:

But what really struck me is that from what I have read is that the real rebellion against formal training versus what is called "informal training" is
the slavish devotion to learning management systems. A learning management system is probably the apex of top-down training. It places toll booths inbetween the learner and the knowledge he or she needs to perform their duties. Informal learning proponents are saying "Tear down that wall." Make learning accessible.

While I don't necessarily agree with Dennis on "guilds" as the model and the profit center aspect, I completely agree that the LMS is a "toll" the learner must pay right now to get at the content. As I've saidm when you look at Do You WANT an LMS? Does a Learner WANT an LMS? the clear answer is that the LMS is a barrier to learning that provides management and reporting that corporate training functions want. That's not what they have to be - but it's what they are right now. As we continue to explore new paths in eLearning - we will continue to see LMS Dissatisfaction on the Rise and I wonder if we'll find that LMS Products are Two Generations Behind.

More on Modes of Information Consumption and Creation

In response to my recent post Personal Publishing - Balance of Blog vs. PPT Audio – Help Needed, I've received some good input via comments (you'll have to visit the page to see the comments - and then maybe you'll leave a comment as well). I also found a post Joan Vinall-Cox :: Weblog :: What Medium for What Purpose (or Perceptual Mode)? that responded with some interesting comments including something that really resonated with me:

Personally, when I want information, especially non-emotional, apparently 'objective' information, I like to read, to scan and dig. When I want to know about the context, the people involved, to get a sense of the whole (or the emotional space), I want audio or video.

This is very true! Voice, video or in-person gives you a much better sense of the emotional aspect of any discussion and a feeling of greater understanding. I continually push people to use the phone to discuss topics rather than relying on email because email can seem harsh.

But, what content that I'm producing needs greater emotional semantic value? I'm really not sure. Any ideas?

By the way, I just used the term "scan and dig" in my post ... but as I've been thinking about it, it really applies to a lot of what I do. I'm sure there's a better term. I just don't know what it is.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Size of Captivate Files

In reference to my article Captivate File Size Tricks for Software Training via Simulations, I was just asked:
I was hoping you could answer a real easy question for me?

For an enterprise wide LMS system, would a Captivate movie (file) that is 1.5mb or less too big? I think this file size is micro, and that for real good elearning a file size of 40+mb is getting to a threshold. But these are tiny files, and I want to make sure we don’t get any pushback from IT on slow load times being a result of file sizes.

First, when you ask a question, never say its "real easy" - at least not to a developer. Anytime someone says the word "easy" - you generally should look out! :)

Let me start my answer by saying that if you are doing this within the US only, and on high speed connections, then 1.5mb should be no problem. That said, if you are international and/or have people running on slower connection speeds, you should be aware of two possible speed issues: load time and streaming issues.

With Captivate, theoretically the movies should have some initial load time and then should stream the remainder of the content while you are going through the movie. I personally believe (but am not sure) that larger movies have longer up-front load times. Still, I wouldn't be all that concerned with a 1.5 MB file. I would with a 40MB file.

You should also check out what is being reported in the bandwidth monitor. As long as the streaming requirements are reasonably below the line of your slower connection speeds, you should be in good shape for streaming.

All that said, one of the bigger reasons for splitting up the files is just authoring / managing large files in Captivate itself. Again, though, our experience says that 1.5MB (with audio) is not that big.

If any blog readers have had challenges with Captivate file sizes and want to help, please comment.

Free iPod Nano for Conference Attendees

Just saw a post by David Warlick that said:

The CECA 2006 conference is giving each attendee a free iPod Nano.

The Nanos will come preloaded with a number of audio files about the conference, the theme of the conference, and pre-recorded highlights of many of the presentations, including the keynote address.

In addition, a team of podcasters has been assembled with missions to record specific presentations, with permission from presenters, and make them available as part of a central podcast feed.

As a result, conference attendees, after the conference, will be able to subscribe to the CECA feed and download all of those podcast presentations to take home with them.

Great idea! A nice perk for going. Of course, there's a question of whether this actually is all that great from a consumption standpoint.

Personal Publishing - Balance of Blog vs. PPT+Audio – Help Needed

I received a comment from Jesse Ezell that brings up an issue that I’ve been grappling with and I would love to get some input (comments) from everyone who reads this blog. Jesse saw a post where I pointed to slides from a recent presentation and he commented:

A PPT slide deck is a horrible way to convey anything significant. How about a link to audio, or better yet something like an Articulate Presenter or Breeze presentation that combines the audio and the slide deck? I would very much be interested in what you had to say in your presentation, but a PDF of the slide deck doesn’t do much for me.
I can completely understand his sentiment. How many times have I told someone that emailing around a PowerPoint slide deck to the sales people doesn’t constitute training. Yet, here I am posting my slides. Why am I willing to do that? The short answer is because the content already exists in that form and I’d like to leverage what I’m already doing – which is not unlike what we all face. But let’s drill down on this a bit.

Before I get too far, let me express a personal bias, shortcoming, style, or whatever you want to call it that has a big impact on how I decide to spend my time when I'm creating content:

I’m far too impatient to sit through an audio (MP3 or embedded) that goes along with a presentation deck.
The amount of content transfer vs. the time it takes is just too long. I also have a hard time sitting in a meeting, classroom or any other venue where I feel the pace is too slow. Having had to sit through a recent back-to-school night where the teachers were basically reading you what was in the notes was almost too painful to bear. Where’s the fast forward button like I’m now used to doing on TV shows? And before you tell me that with some presentations you can jump around, I know that and I use those controls when available, its still just that normally unless I’m extremely interested in a topic or it’s a particularly engaging presenter:

I’m more interested in written words that I can scan and drill-down on much more quickly.
As an example, take a look at Masie’s recent piece. While I think this is pretty good, I’d rather have had it written out for quick skimming and drill down – Is he going to say anything interesting on this topic? I skim, then I read in detail once I find some interesting stuff. Hard to do in audio. But several people mentioned in the blog world that they liked Masie's piece. Similarly, several people mentioned that they liked going through my presentation on What's Next in eLearning for ASTD Los Angeles even though you likely would need to have Interwise to be able to go through it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do like in-person exchanges on particular topics so that through Q&A you can find out what you want. Of course, I tend to be a person who is happy asking questions so that I drill down on topics that I find interesting. It’s almost the same as my reading style:
    • skimming = initial discourse
    • drill down = Q&A

So finally, let me get to the question … I’m creating content on topics all the time. Around the general topic of What’s Next in eLearning (or eLearning 2.0), I’ve created three presentations (one of which is recorded), written lots of blog posts, written an article (coming soon) and had lots of discussions. I have limited time to spend. So, my questions are:

  1. Given my content and my limited time, how should I choose my medium to provide the best value to people reading my blog?
  2. Do others share my bias about PPT + Audio value vs. written word?
  3. Should I personally spend more time recording audio that goes with presentation materials?

I’d would welcome any thoughts that folks have on this topic.

And this is especially timely for me, since I'm going to be making choices around it as I begin to pull together content for ASTD TechKnowledge and my blog on the topic of blogging and social bookmarking.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

IBM Bloggers - A Lengthy List - But No Worries

I've been reading Luis Suarez's blog for a while, and he just had an interesting post that pointed me to IBM's BlogRoll. While lots of the blogs listed there have interesting technical topics, I don't have the time to examine them each ... but I'm not worried. I've found that if they are blogging about topics that I'm interested in, the natural network effect of blogs will eventually get me there. (Or maybe I'm deluding myself.)

One thing that it does say is that corporate blogging is slowly taking off!

IBM Bloggers - A Lengthy List - But No Worries

I've been reading Luis Suarez's blog for a while, and he just had an interesting post that pointed me to IBM's BlogRoll. While lots of the blogs listed there have interesting technical topics, I don't have the time to examine them each ... but I'm not worried. I've found that if they are blogging about topics that I'm interested in, the natural network effect of blogs will eventually get me there. (Or maybe I'm deluding myself.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Social Bookmarking Tricks for Group Learning

Have I mentioned that I love getting questions. Recently I received two great questions, I'll address the first one in this post. The question was:

How are you posting the social bookmarking links on your site?
So let me answer that question first and then let me mention a couple of other things that you might want to do with Social Bookmarking tools.

Badges (Widgets)

The quick answer to the actual question is that I'm using a Yahoo MyWeb badge. You can see the badge creator and options (pages/cloud, tag filter, number of links, what to include) at:

It produces a badge that looks like:

Yahoo MyWeb Badge and gives you the code that you will need to either paste into your post, web page, blog template, etc.

You can do the same thing on and most of the other Social Bookmarking services have similar capabilities.

RSS Feed With Search Results (and Subscribing)

In my article on Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools, I described a scenario where a workgroup would independently research a particular topic, e.g., Rapid eLearning, and would share those links under a particular tag, e.g., "rapid".

One neat trick using Social Bookmarking tools, is that you can easily create an RSS Feed for a particular term. In Yahoo MyWeb, there's an XML Button in the bottom right of result pages. I simply click that button and it will show me a page with a bunch of XML code. Anytime that search results is updated the RSS feed will be updated.

Now, the really neat part. You can easily subscribe to that feed. The URL of the XML code might be something like:

For me, all I have to do is either manually go to bloglines and subscribe, or use the trick of putting "" in front of the URL, e.g.,

I now will see any pages that are being tagged with eLearning. There are several researchers who use this approach publicly in order to allow people to share links on services like See: for an example by Nancy White.

Which Tool?

If you look at the recent comparsion on Read/Write Web, you'll get a sense of some of the features of the different tools. But, I've commented before that I think Yahoo MyWeb better than, rollyo, for Personal / Group Learning and it comes down to:

  • Saving copies of pages
  • Limiting who sees what links
  • Full-text search of contents of bookmarked pages

I'm hoping that eventually Yahoo MyWeb and merge (Yahoo owns both after acquiring

The Learning Circuits Blog: DevLearn Handouts and A Success Story: Elearning and Instructional Design Musings

Whoops, yesterday I posted a link to my recent presentation on the wrong blog. You can find the post with my thoughts around a direct success story from the presentation on LCB at:

The Learning Circuits Blog: DevLearn Handouts and A Success Story: Elearning and Instructional Design Musings

and you can find my presentation at:

What’s Now and What’s Next in e-Learning: Technologies and Practices

edited 10/19 to remove the link to other handouts.

Ultimate Knowledge Bank?

I was just talking about how with Blogs, Wikis and Social Networks, we were on the path to trying to make it easy to have content get created as part of work and have it available to others in controlled ways. I said at the time that what we needed was something that would record everything we did or thought. I just saw this article:

It certainly makes you think about the longer term implications of learning and technology are in a world where we have access to all information stored by everyone.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

DevLearn: Ze Frank Keynote - Level of Engagement

Just saw an entertaining keynote at DevLearn by Ze Frank ( He creates social media spaces with the intent of entertaining and engaging his audience. One of the things that struck me was that he sees the same 1% rule across a very large audience but believes that there are many levels of audience engagement. And challenges us to find something to satisfy users (learners) who are:
  • passive
  • active
  • interactive
But later during Q&A, he talked about how he thinks through the challenge and he really tries ways to allow initial engagement in "one click." What can you do to begin to engage your audience with one click? A rating? A vote?

Monday, October 09, 2006

September Blog Clean Up

As I've mentioned before (eLearning Technology: Managing your RSS Feeds), I go through a ritual every three months to add and remove blogs. You can see the blogs that are in my highest priority reading list and not quarantined in the list on the right. Better yet, you can grab my OPML list and subscribe to the same list as me and then let yours evolve. See also: eLearning Technology: eLearning Blogs - Quick Way to Find Good Ones.

Move from Sept. quarantine to Front Page:
Communities of practice for development

Kept in quarantine (gave it another chance):

Technology For Communities - Note: partial feeds is really annoying (see eLearning Technology: Why You Should Provide Full Feeds (especially on Blogger))

The other 20 or so I ended up deleting.

December's crop looks to be a lot better.

I also probably need to go through my blogs listed on the right to clean out some. If you have suggestions of blogs that I should be reading that are on eLearning, KM, PKM, communities, I'm always happy to hear about them.

The LCB Big Question Reframed: Should More Learning Professionals Be Blogging?

Out of the original October 2006: Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging?, we've seen some pretty amazing discussion. But, we've also reached an interesting point. As Peter posted (The Learning Circuits Blog: Community Net Worth):

Now that the first wave of bloggers and blog-readers have read the initial results both in the form of serious utterances, straw polls and comic reformulations (thanks, Tony for that refreshing exercise), whither go we? Do we know more about our marketplace or do we simply know more about the individuals who have so far participated?
I would claim that I know a lot more about both the individuals out there and their perspecitves and also I know something about perception of the marketplace (but its skewed because people participating obviously have a built in bias towards blogs). More on this in a second...

Separately, Dave Lee (The Learning Circuits Blog: Throwing a Big Community Net) has provided a couple of interesting follow-up opportunities including keeping track of conversations across various posts that relate to the original post and a poll.

Personally, I feel great about how this discussion so far. It's actually gone way beyond my expectations. A few of the things that have struck me:
  • The speed of contribution was much faster than I expected. I thought this would take 2-3 weeks to get responses in order to have any chance of going into a "summarizing" mode.
  • I found that by going through and creating my lists (eLearning Technology: Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog), I personally learned quite a bit about reasons on both sides. It was a fantastic exercise for my own learning.
  • Maybe I'm deluded, but I actually think the list is a pretty good representation of some of the important issues.
  • There were a few "aha" moments and some great ideas. Including the suggestion - blog for a month (Karl Kapp).
  • I've also learned a bit about dynamic of blog community as compared to discussion communities. Not sure I can capture these differences effectively - it's just a "feel" right now.
  • I also found that there was signficant Mis-Understanding Blog Reading and Blog Communities especially in the world of discussion groups.

Peter - I get the sense that you also felt you learned something by participating. Maybe not? I would assume others did. Maybe not?

One thing that appears to be different about this exercise than in a discussion group, half of the response posts to any question is a response of "Here's why you are asking the wrong question..." Now before you assume that's negative, in most cases my firm belief is that having the right question is the whole battle - eLearning Technology: Be an Insanely Great Professional Conference Attendee (at eLearningGuild’s DevLearn). On the other hand, sometimes I feel that a discussion group immediately derails the conversation by forcing you into a question you didn't want to ask.

There were many posts that did challenge the question including my own. But, I didn't feel like we arrived at the next level of questions nearly as well as a discussion group might have. Or maybe I needed to look at the posts with a different perspective.

Certainly, some of the questions raised that I remember:

  • What's a learning professional? (ASTD - that's an ouch given that's how you define your audience right?) (several)
  • Given limited time, how do learning professionals decide how to use their time for learning, research, etc.? Then, where does blog reading and writing fit in? (several)
  • Should all learning professionals be actively engaging with the current developments in their discipline? If yes, then how? And where does blogging fit in? (Bronwyn Clarke)
  • What is the role of a professional should be in a networked environment? (Stephen Downes)
  • What and how should other applications be used by learning professionals to share and learn? (Dave Lee)
  • When do you use blogging vs. using other tools? (Bill Bruck)
  • Should all learning professionals blog at least once? (Mike Oehlert)
  • Should all learning professionals be aware of the potential of blogging? (Jane)
  • How can we better invite others to be part of our thinking? (Nancy White)
  • Should learning professionals shift some of their time from discussion groups to blogging? (Tony Karrer)

But what I think was the most appropriate next question, and probably the reason I thought of the question in the first place:

  • Should more learning professionals be blogging? (Barry Sampson)

Independently, Dave Lee suggested that question as well. It would seem obvious that the answer is "Yes" - if you answer anything else, then you would have to think that there's a few who should stop blogging.

Of course, then it raises a couple of questions:

  • Which learning professionals should blog?
  • When? How long?
  • Should we encourage them to blog? If so, how?

In discussing this with Dave Lee, I wasn't convinced that this is very interesting ground to go over. I'm not particularly missionary here. I want people to understand the value proposition (and draw backs) of blogging (my previous post). And, they can make up their own mind. At the same time, it does seem like we've not come anywhere close to 1%.

So, back to Peter's point - where to from here? I feel like I found out some really interesting things, and I'm not sure I need anything more. At the same time, I didn't go into this from a missionary position (sorry couldn't resist) and so I'm open to whether any further discussion is useful, interesting, etc. Maybe others have a different perspective and expectation of where to go from here.

Left on its own, this discussion will die off. Is that a problem?

I feel great about this whole thing. Do people feel cheated?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Blogger Permalink - Not Really

Over at LCB we ran into an interesting problem and I've just run into it as well on my blog. The situation reminds me of one of my favorite Seinfeld scenes when he goes to get his rental car, but they are out of cars:
JERRY: I don't understand, I made a reservation, do you have my

RENTAL CAR AGENT: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.

JERRY: But the reservation keeps the car here. That's why you have the

RENTAL CAR AGENT: I know why we have reservations.

JERRY: I don't think you do. If you did, I'd have a car. See, you know how
to take the reservation, you just don't know how to *hold* the reservation and
that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody
can just take them.

It turns out that the people behind Blogger (now Google right) don't really understand the concept of a permalink.

The intent of a permalink is a permanent link (a URL) that points to that blog post. That way, anyone in the blogosphere can point to the URL.

Well Blogger seems to mysteriously add version numbers in the URL as you edit the post. Thus, we started with a URL that looks like:

then we edited it and it became:

then it became

Now, it seems to have stopped changing at _04, but we aren't sure why or how it stopped or when it will change again. The same thing just happened on my own blog when I edited one of my posts.

Of course, this messes up everyone who linked to the post originally. And it messed up within the blog.

You see Blogger, you know how to make a permalink, you just don't know how to *hold* a permalink and that's really the most important part of the permalink, the holding. Anybody can just make them.

Why You Should Provide Full Feeds (especially on Blogger)

I've been talking recently about blogging for learning professionals and claiming that as a blog reader, you spend your time in the RSS reader. Someone pointed out that many bloggers use partial feeds which forces readers to their blog.

I did that for a while as well. I started with full feeds and then found myself curious about who my readers were. So, I added SiteMeter to my blog to track traffic. Then I realized that very few people who subscribe to my blog actually go to the blog - they stay in their RSS Reader. Ah, so to fix that I decided to change my feed to a partial feed so you only get the first paragraph.

What I've learned since:
  • Partial feeds are annoying as a blog reader, so I was being annoying providing a partial feed.
  • Google only indexes Blogger's feed (not the blog itself) - so search is terrible on blogs with partial feeds.
  • And, most interesting, when I switched back to full feeds, I didn't really see much traffic change. Readers rarely click through to the blog post in either case.

Bottom line: I would highly encourage anyone with a blog to provide a full feed.

I'd be curious if I've missed something here or if anyone who's providing a partial feed can convince me why they shouldn't provide a full feed.

Later maybe I'll start naming names.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Top Ten Reasons To Blog and Top Ten Not to Blog

Updates recent studies show additional reasons:

Update on Nov 21, 2007 - There's been a lot of discussion recently around using blogs for learning and I wanted to point to a few newer thoughts on this:

I must say that the response to The Learning Circuits Blog: The Big Question for October: Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging? has been fantastic and it's great to see such a wide variety of thoughts on the subject. I wanted to summarize, for everyone, the responses in a completely unbiased way. :)

Most everyone, who has at least half a brain, and certainly most of the responses made it over that hurdle, came back and said more or less what Mark Oehlert said “My answer is ..........yes........and no.” Even those who were pretty adamant quickly qualified their answer so that it was really a “maybe.”

The only consensus I found was that it’s a loaded, ambiguous and actually pretty lamely worded question. I wonder who came up with such a lame question. Sheesh. But, let’s try to muddle through this anyhow.

Oh, and before I offend anyone, I’ve taken a few liberties by paraphrasing what people wrote into their posts and comments and instead have included in this post what they really meant to say. However, if I used quote marks, they really said that. But I may have used them slightly out of context. :) Oh, and finally, to all of you who commented or put up blog posts already, if I didn’t happen to quote you out of context, I apologize.

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Blog

10. Because you stopped learning anything new a couple years ago and it’s about time you started again.

Or as Karyn Romeis & Barry Sampson both said - I’ve learned more via blogging over the past year than I learned in the preceding several years!

9. Because it forces you to do your homework (Rodolpho Arruda)

8. Because this is how you are going to learn in the future.

“This is the difference represented in the shift from traditional classroom based learning and network learning. The idea of the latter is that learning occurs when the learner immerses him or herself in a community of practice, learning by performing authentic tasks, learning by interacting with and becoming a member of the community.” (Stephen Downes)

7. Because if you don’t we’ll think you’re lame and don’t know how to do your job.

“What can you know about a professional who doesn't blog his or her work? How do you know they are competent, that they have the respect of their peers, that they understand the issues, that they practice sound methodology, that they show consideration for their clients? You cannot know any of this without the openness blogging (or equivalent) provides. Which means, once a substantial number begin to share, there will be increasing pressure on all to share.” (Stephen Downes)

6. Because it will change your life.

“there is something that happens to a person when they hit that "publish" button - you cross a threshold - you move from consumer to producer - you put your intellectual neck on the line and I really think that you aren't the same person after that.” (Mark Oehlert)

5. Because you’ll hook up all over the place.

“all learning professionals need to exchange ideas with others, to test their ideas, to question their assumptions, to learn from each other in ways that come with dialog. Blogging is great for forming networks based on weak social ties.” (Bill Bruck)

4. Because learning is conversation and that blogging lets you have more and better conversations (Harold Jarche)

“The lack of formality and the ease of cross-referencing other blog content or references means is great to accelerate discussion and promote broader thinking and understanding.” (David Wilson)

3. Because Professionalism is more than consumption, it is contribution. (Rovy Bronson)

2. Because it’s “a swap meet for the mind.” (Nancy White)

1. Because your job depends on it.

“If for no other reason than your job is changing, and you might want to be engaged in the process of what your new job will include.” (Brent Shlenker) and “They don't get what blogs are about and possibly never will. We just need to encourage them towards retirement.” (Barry Sampson)

Top Reasons Why You Shouldn’t or Won’t Blog

10. Because you are too lame

Dave Lee “that all learning professionals should be blogging is about as likely that your ancestors all wrote a novel when the printing press was created or wrote a tv script when the telly was introduced.”

9. Because if you live in the US you don’t know how to write (Peter Isackson)

8. Because you’re a scared little wuss - Fear of Blogging (Wendy)

7. Because you don’t have your priorities straight so you lack the time to read blogs much less write a blog. (almost everyone said this)

5. Because bloggers are narcissists (Peter Isackson) only interested in establishing a Cult of Personality (saw that in a discussion group) – and you’re so not that way.

4. Because you’ll screw up blogging just like you screwed up using PowerPoint. (Matthew N.)

Poorly implemented and/or designed learning technologies are an embarrassment to the field (think shovelware e-learning courses or boring PowerPoint lectures transformed to boring online courses). (Karl Kapp)

3. Because no one really wants to read what you have to say.

“Why should all learning professionals be blogging any more than they should all be presenting at conferences, producing papers, writing books or sharing their views, opinions and knowledge through any other medium?” (Barry Sampson)

2. Because “I know some people that would get nothing out of blogging” (Howard Cronin)

1. Because “my 9 and 11 year old sons have a deeper understanding of the tools” than you do. (Karl Kapp)

Blogs vs. Discussion Groups or Mis-Understanding Blog Reading and Blog Communities

On a new discussion group, eLearningAll, formed by disgruntled ex-Brandon Hall discussion group members, there's been an interesting discussion related to The Big Question on LCB. What's been most enlightening for me is the "bad rap" that blogging gets from people who've probably only visited a few blogs and have been inundated with a general media bias against blogging.

Below I've listed a few of the more interesting reasons that people don't like blogs:
  • "you have to go there to 'pull' out information"

    Most people participating in blog reading and especially those participating in the blog community do so using an RSS Reader such as Bloglines. They subscribe to the blogs (and other sources) that interest them. Then you just run through the content much like you do threaded discussions. The only time I am "going there" in the world of blogs is when I want to read related links or make a comment.
  • "A Blog often covers a wide range of topics. Some of it doesn't interest me."

    Yep, but again, with an RSS reader, there is little to no investment of time to ignore bad stuff. Further, people who produce bad stuff you never subscribe to or you unsubscribe. The same problem of topics that you aren't interested in happens in discussion groups.
  • "felt so ... old white guys club"

    Hmmm - I'm only 41 so "old" depends on perspective. But, in defense of bloggers everywhere take a look at two of my favorites: Creating Passionate Users by Kathy Sierra and Full Circle Online Interaction Blog by Nancy White. Now, before I get into trouble here - I would NOT say that I personally see much of a "female perspective" from Kathy or Nancy - they just say lots of really smart things and they aren't male. I'll leave it to Kathy and Nancy to defend their age status. Both are quite young at heart and both may actually qualify as not "old" ... whoops, what was I saying about not getting into trouble. Sorry.
  • "many of these blogs are one-way discussion mechanisms"

    Really? Most bloggers will tell you that they want comments. They would like people to respond.
  • "Success for blogs seems more based on ability to establish readership -a cult of personality. Why is it that the words "me" and "I" are so prevalent in blogs?"

    What a loaded statement. One of the things I least like about discussion groups is that you'll get those kinds of loaded terms being used - "cult" - cmon. And while all of us like to have people read our blog - better yet comment or post their thoughts on the topic - most of us will neverhave much in the way of readers. And bloggers who start out to only build readership will generally stop pretty quickly.

    On "I" ... Blogs are mostly written in first person because they are an opportunity to share your experience and your thoughts on the subject. Is that a bad thing? I'm not so sure. Part of the reason that I like blogs is because I get awide variety of perspectives and most people are clear that it's their perspective or their experience. See eLearning Technology: Perspective in Blogs (or how Guy Kawasaki almost ruined my blogging experience and especially look at the coments. Oh, and notice who the first person to comment was - "Guy" - that's pretty cool itself and suggests something about the world of blogs.

All I'm saying is sign up for an RSS Reader and give blogs a chance.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

eLearning 2.0 Adoption - Early Adopters

Interesting post Adoption of Web 2.0 and eLearning 2.0 Revisited that discusses adoption of these techniques. This relates to several of my posts about eLearning 2.0:
As a side note - I'm very surprised that the Personal and Group Learning Using Web 2.0 Tools hasn't received more attention. It lays out an interesting roadmap for the practical use of Web 2.0 tools as part of Learning. And it's done in a way that is inline with how most of us learn things every day.

One of the more interesting points in the post cited above: adoption will be driven by having a group of early adopters. But even more so, he gives practical advice on how to support that.

Monday, October 02, 2006

LCB's Big Question - Should All Learning Professionals be Blogging?

Over on LCB, The Big Question for October has been posted:

Should All Learning Professionals be Blogging?
This is an interesting question and it’s quite timely given recent occurrences.

Okay, so to me this is a timely question, but I want to avoid the "Should all do it?" question. "All" won’t happen anytime soon. Instead, but let me make a case for why YOU should.

Blogs are a Great Personal Learning Tool

As learning professionals, we should all be at the forefront of knowing how to learn ourselves. Writing is probably the single best way to codify personal knowledge. A blog is a fantastic way to do this and at the same time do it in a way that allows you to explore topics with others.

And as you gain experience with blogs, you can start to gain experience with other Personal Learning Tools.

Blogs are a Great New Community Mechanism

Take a look at Nancy White’s great paper - Blogs and Community – launching a new paradigm for online community?

What Nancy calls a topic centric community points out that as posts occur and other people comment on those posts or put up posts on their own blog, a discussion forms. Sure, it's messier than a discussion in a forum, but it allows communities to form in a more organic way (based on common interests). It also allows more of the person to come through. Personally, I’ve connected with several bloggers and have got to know them through their blogs. Brent Schlenker - Corporate eLearning Development - I met through blogging and through that he's going to be on a panel with me at DevLearn. I don’t feel the same sense of connection from threaded discussions.

On this topic, it's worth looking at What's Better to Build Community: Blogs or Forums? What struck me was:

  • In general, blogs are great at connecting and bridging to a NEW community.
  • In general, forums are great at harnessing and growing an EXISTING community.

Put in a different way, blogs allow us to grow a community without going to a single location. A forum or mailing list is most effective if everyone agrees to go to that single location and abide by those norms. Blogs allow community to be formed based on common interests and the community grows and evolves in a very fluid manner.

So, let me end this section by saying that YOU SHOULD take up starts with greatly improving your personal learning and includes a nice benefit of blogging to join an interesting community.

Now Let’s Examine Why You Won’t Start Blogging
The 1% Rule says that in collaborative environments, e.g., discussion groups, for every 100 people who sign up, 89 will lurk, 10 will participate in a limited fashion, and 1 will regularly post content. This has been seen across a variety of collaborative environments. So, history tells us that we should expect relatively low participation levels with Blogs (maybe 1%). However, learning professionals are way below 1% levels.

So, what reasons do people give?

  1. Cost or No Blog Tools Available

    Whoops, it’s free from a lot of places. Try

  2. Fear – Take a look at the post Fear of Blogging:

    I had to fight through ALL of these emotions when I started blogging. - Will I be accepted or rejected?- How much criticism will I get?- Will others discover
    that I am a phony and realize that I have absolutely no clue of what I am talking about?
    Note: Wendy got over her fear and does a great job raising interesting questions on her blog.

  3. Lack of Time

    How much time should you spend learning on your own each month about eLearning? Do you think you would be better served rearranging the time you spend to actually codify your learning?

  4. My Corporation Won’t Let Me

    Most corporations have no such restrictions. Of course, you shouldn’t come close to the line of divulging anything sensitive and should avoid calling your boss a jerk, but having a discussion around a topic like – "should we be blogging" – is a great thing to do.

My honest belief is that even if you don't post regularly on your blog, but do post around interesting challenges you are facing, you will find personal value in blogging. If you start, let bloggers know. Post a response to the LCB Big Question. Post a challenge you are facing. If you don't find value, then let me know - because I will be really surprised.

Come on in - the water's fine.