Tech weenies, learning, and risk

Dorothea is starting a masters program in library science and finding herself one of the tech weenies in her group. She makes some interesting observations about the differences between those who are and those who aren’t comfortable with technology.

One asked me yesterday during break in reference class how I learned what I know. Being dropped in the deep end, I told him honestly. There s this weird sense that technogeekery is a higher calling, a priesthood. Nah. It s what ordinary people do to keep from throwing very expensive pieces of equipment out top-story windows.

There s also a sense that we technogeeks think what we do is a higher calling. And I suspect that s substantially our fault, and it irritates me because it makes techno-evangelism (when it s warranted) just that much harder. But and here I will whinge a little for all their techno-envy, these people will not stir a step to learn from me and people like me. [Caveat Lector]

One thing I’ve observed about the tech weenies I have known is a predisposition for learning in the “deep end” that others in organizations don’t seem as comfortable doing. If you are technically inclined you quickly discover that there is always more to learn and that it is dangerous to trust documentation (read authority). You learn by experiment and you become inured to mistakes and failure. All of these are characteristics that are associated with effective learning.

By contrast, think how many other roles in organizations interfere with learning. It’s little wonder that so many stay technologically illiterate. You can’t learn it in a training class and you can’t take the risks, small though they are in reality, needed to acquire workable knowledge.

Another new blogger without an RSS feed

Welcome another biz/tech blogger

Umair Haque is blogging from the UK at Bubble Generation. Among others, he's got interesting posts on the impact of RIAA policies on developing economies and cultures and why ibankers shouldn't be giving advice on tech venture strategy. Oh, and he thinks there's a bubble in social software. [Due Diligence]

Looks like some interesting material and good takes on a number of topics. No RSS feed I could find, so somebody let me know when one appears. Until then, I have better things to do than surf there in hopes there's something to see.

Here's my selfish rule for new and potentially interesting blogs I hear about. I make one visit. If, and only if, there is an RSS feed I will subscribe to it if the first visit seems promising. No RSS feed and I will probably never go back unless several of the weblogs in my subscriptions list point me there.

Building bridges back to the rest of the world

Jargon Builds Walls Not Bridges. David Giacalone: Jargon Builds Walls Not Bridges. [Scripting News]

David has a lovely rant here about the self-inflicted damage we’ve created with ugly labels like ‘blog’ for the powerful tools and ideas we’ve invested in ahead of the curve. Not that I would have been happy with some marketing type trying to package things up while we’re still figuring out what it is we have here. David sums it up nicely

Very few adults are looking for a clique, new religion, or (r)evolutionary movement to join. They don’t have the time or desire to learn a special new language or undergo some tribal initiation. Instead, if they are going to turn to sites that use the weblog format, it will be because gathering or disseminating information that is important to them is especially easy and rewarding on such sites. [Jargon Builds Walls Not Bridges]

My approach has been to keep conversations focused on the problems that people have before talking about tools of any kind. Even that can be difficult because the natural tendency is to shortcircuit the conversation to the answer before we’ve really agreed on the question. Jargon, for all its usefulness as shorthand, just gets in the way.

For all the progress that has been made over the last several years, it’s easy to forget how small and self-contained our little universe actually is. Time to start building some bridges.

The latest round of games in the instant messaging arena

Yahoo IM stupidity. Yesterday, I noticed that Yahoo! IM was refusing my connection through Fire, the multi-protocol IM client I run on OS X. It seems Yahoo has decided to stop providing access to non-Yahoo client software. CNET says this affects Cerulean Studios… [RatcliffeBlog – Mitch Thinking Out Loud]

Yahoo and Trillian aren’t playing nicely here, so my pain level has risen. I think Mitch is right to compare this to the phone company’s efforts in the 1960s to keep foreign devices off of their networks.

I’m wondering how to account for the rash of clueless behavior we see of late. The people at Yahoo (or the RIAA for that matter) aren’t stupid. So why do they do things that look so stupid from my perspective?

I have two hypotheses.

Hypothesis one is that modern training in marketing succeeds in conditioning marketing types that markets consist of statistical abstractions that have no connection to the living, breathing human beings they interact with on a daily basis.

Hypothesis two is that training in strategy ignores any notion of dynamic change or any notion that people outside the organization might behave in ways inconsistent with the assumptions in the strategic plan.

Thinking of KM tools

Thinking of KM tools. How do you slice and dice the many KM related technologies and tools? Etienne Wenger has done a great job methinks So what are the essential or core KM genre? 1) Document / content / publishing management (includes intranets) 2)… [Knowledge-at-work]

I agree with Denham here. This is a very helpful way to look at KM related tools and technologies. It does drive home the point that if someone asks you to solve their knowledge management problem, they probably only know enough to be really dangerous. Almost as dangerous as someone offering to solve your knowledge management problem with their one tool.

Watching blogs update across the dymaxion map

World-Island as a Blog. Oh cartographic bliss! Mikel Maron has added an alternate world-view to his suite of blog-mapping visualizations with the World as a Blog – dymaxion edition to show the latest pings across our… [TeledyN]

IIRC, I signed up for Mikel’s original blogmapping exercise. I like the notion that he’s now mapping posts onto a dymaxion format map. Seems appropriate somehow.

Skype – trying to get past the corporate firewall

Skype: joined the club.

Just to let you know – I installed Skype. Talked to Dina, Phil and Ton. Loved it.

I have no idea how to write CALL tag properly, so you have to look for me under mathemagenic.

Thanks to Dina, I know it now – <A href=”callto://mathemagenic/”>Call me on Skype (please, make sure that I recognise your name or you have a nice autorisation message – I tend to decline calls from people I don’t know 🙂


I want to join the club but our corporate firewall appears to be too locked down. Skype locks up on me when I launch it at work. Not sure that being able to use it from home or the road will be enough to justify it. Time to go chat with the folks in IT again.

Compatibility of Weblogs and ISSN

Compatibility of Weblogs and ISSN. This article, written for ISSN registrars, offers a fascinating glimpse into the issues faced by librarians with respect to understanding – and reacting to – the weblog phenomenon. ISSN is, of course, the unique number assigned to a serial publication. Weblogs are classically serial publications, and therefore, should be registered. But traditional authorities view weblogs with scepticism. I have tried to register OLDaily with an ISSN, but have had no success. But given especially that OLDaily is my primary point of publication (and that its archives, though complete, may be lost to the library community) this failure to register my weblog’s existence is a bit of a concern to me. If you work in libraries or serial registration, please read this article. By Joe Clark, September 24, 2003 [Refer][Research][Reflect] [OLDaily]

I’ve looked into ISSN a couple of times and retreated from the bureaucratic complexities coupled with technological ignorance I’ve sensed. Perhaps this will help.