Corante Web Hub launches

I've got a spiffy new logo over in the right sidebar (and yes, I know
that I need a major visual makeover – real soon now). I'm very
impressed with what Corante is trying to accomplish and extremely
flattered to have been asked to participate. At the very least, it will
serve as another gentle reminder for me to make more time for writing
about this tremendous transformation of work and technology we're all
living through.

Welcome to the Corante Web Hub

Welcome to the Corante Web Hub. From the world's first blog media
company comes a new effort to gather some of today's leading voices to
articulate the exciting unfoldings of the Web.

To get started, I'd encourage you to view the complete list of the contributors.
After you have familiarized yourself with these folks, you can check
out some of their latest posts under the “More from The Corante
Network” section. These posts come straight from the contributors'
blogs, meaning that you receive unedited straight talk, perspectives,
and insights.

If you like what you see, consider subscribing to the Corante Web Hub Network Feed,
which is an aggregated feed for all contributors. For non-RSS users,
you can subscribe via email under the “Subscribe via email” section in
the right-hand sidebar.

As your editor, my work will always appear in the top section of the
page. I'll attempt to synthesize what's occurring both inside and
outside of the hub, highlighting the day's talking points and tying
together pervasive themes and important ideas.

Of course, we are just getting started and are very interested in your feedback. As we move forward, be sure to drop us a line and let us know what you like or where we could improve.

Here's to a bright future!

Ken Yarmosh
Corante Web Hub Editor

Can't we please try to solve real technology problems for real users?

Why does Scoble choose to deliberately misunderstand Tim Bray’s thought experiment about Microsoft using ODF as the underlying core document format for Office? Robert isn’t dumb, so I have to assume his response is a deliberate misreading of what Bray is suggesting. It’s reflective of all too many technical arguments.

As a user of technology, my devout wish is for technologists to make a real effort to make my life simpler. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have enough gray hair that I no longer have any expectation that the real world resembles the one I wish existed. Microsoft’s approach to making my life simpler, of course, is to persuade the entire world to use the same version of Office. In the world I live in (where 90% of my documents are simple paragraphs of text with a bit of bold and italics thrown in, as Bray suggests), I can’t even count on compatibility between different versions of Microsoft’s own differing versions of Office.

My solution over the last several years is twofold. First, when I do work on documents that are developed, reviewed, and edited by a group that frequently crosses several organizational boundaries, I end up working with lowest common denominator features and functions of Word, Excel, or Powerpoint. If I’m lucky I get to use maybe 5-10% of the features available. Don’t even get me started on Word’s notion of version control, Track Changes. If this part of my strategy is as common as I suspect it is, I might be trying to muddy the waters too. If Office did put ODF at the core of its file formats, I doubt that I would ever bother to use any feature that depended on a Microsoft specific extension.

The second element of my personal strategy has been to treat Office products and file formats as my final output formats only. I do somewhere between 75-90% of my knowledge work today using tools that help me create and manage ideas and substance first and foremost. I wait until the last possible moment to transfer this work into Office formats and tools and, when possible, bypass Office entirely. Frankly, I don’t really expect Microsoft to be terribly interested in helping solve my knowledge work problems. Making it easier to share my work among colleagues and clients would be a good step in the right direction. But, I expect that looks like a threat to the installed base that Microsoft will go to great lengths to avoid.

Tim Bray wants Microsoft to make Office support ODF.

Tim Bray just told me (and my fellow Microsofties) to do more work. He wants us to convert Office to support the open document format from OASIS.

Tim, I think you are GREATLY overstating the point when you say

Case-based learning and mindmaps

Some interesting thoughts on how mindmaps can work in the context of case-based learning.

I'll admit to long-term biases in favor of case-based learning properly
done. I come by these biases having worked all sides of the experience;
case method student, case writer, and case-based discussion leader.
Doing it well can be exceptionally powerful. Doing it poorly is also
much more immediately evident than doing other forms of teaching poorly.

One of the keys to success in case learning is active engagement with
the material and active engagement in the discussion process.
Developing a path of inquiry and analysis that leads to an action plan
is the goal, not finding the hidden “right answer.” This can be
immensely frustrating to students indoctrinated to believe in right
answers, but ultimately is hugely useful in a real world that
rarely contains right answers.

I certainly would have loved to have something like MindManager back in
my b-school days. I did use them from time to time as study tools, but
the process of generating them by hand didn't lend itself well to the
time constraints of three cases a night. More recently I did make
extensive use of MindManager and mindmaps as a tool to organize case
discussion and review when I was teaching knowledge management at
Kellogg. As a case discusssion leader I found mindmaps more useful than
powerpoint. This was because a dynamic mindmap let me more easily adapt
to the flow of the actual discussion. If I can find any in my archives
that look interesting I will post them here later.

Case Study-Learning with MindManager.

MindManager maps can make the life of business school students much easier.

Harvard Business School first opened its doors in 1908, the “case
method” was just an idea of the School’s first Dean, Edwin F. Gay.
Today, the “case method” is the heart and soul of how business is
taught at HBS and has been widely adopted by many other leading
business schools in the world.

“It’s action learning,”
says HBS senior lecturer Michael J. Roberts, executive director of case
development. “As professors, we have to distill the realities of
complex business issues and bring that into the classroom. Students, in
turn, want to extrapolate from that narrow experience to the world at
large. So, we have to pick good examples and maintain the relevance of
them.” Roberts believes that the case method continues to be the most
effective teaching technique because of its applicability to real
management situations. “Those who practice business are in the real
world making decisions that have real consequences,” he says. “The case
method is intellectually engaging for students because they acquire the
knowledge, skills, and tools to deal with the kind of problems they’ll
encounter in their careers. Because they go through this inductive
reasoning process to arrive at answers, the learning process is more

Mindjet MindManager
amplifies the benefits of this “action-learning” model and follows the
exact same logic that case studies do: capture, organize, and then
share information. With MindManager, learning groups can distill
complex issues into manageable “business topics,” chunks of information
that can be easily re-arranged and interconnected in the way they make
most sense to the students.


Have you ever used MindManager for case studies? Send us your maps and we will exhibit them in our map library.

Tim Leberecht, Senior Corporate Communications Manager

[The Mindjet Blog]

Helpful Phrase Dictionary for Readers of Dissertations and Scholarly Articles

I'm not sure which is more disturbing. The thought that I successfully
navigated my dissertation because my committee didn't know about this.
Or that they knew full well and let me graduate anyway.

Regardless, for any of you who need to decipher academic writing, this will prove helpful.

Helpful Phrase Dictionary for Readers of Dissertations and Scholarly Articles. A dictionary for those uninitiated in reading scholarly dissertations and articles, provided by anesthesiologist Clark Venable (who's obviously read a few too many.)

Translations of phrases often seen in dissertations and scholarly articles

  • “It has long been known” … I didn't look up the original reference.
  • “A definite trend is evident” … These data are practically meaningless.
  • “While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to the
    questions” … An unsuccessful experiment but I still hope to get it
  • “Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study” … The other results didn't make any sense.
  • “Typical results are shown” … This is the prettiest graph.
  • “These results will be in a subsequent report” … I might get around to this sometime, if pushed/funded.
  • “In my experience” … Once.
  • “In case after case” … Twice.
  • “In a series of cases” … Thrice.
  • “It is believed that” … I think.
  • “It is generally believed that” … A couple of others think so, too.
  • “Correct within an order of magnitude” … Wrong.
  • “According to statistical analysis” … Rumor has it.
  • “A statistically-oriented projection of the significance of these findings” … A wild guess.
  • “A careful analysis of obtainable data” … Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass iced tea.
  • “It is clear that much additional work will be required before a
    complete understanding of this phenomenon occurs” … I don't
    understand it.
  • “After additional study by my colleagues” … They don't understand it either.
  • “Thanks are due to Joe Blotz for assistance with the experiment and
    to Cindy Adams for valuable discussions” … Mr. Blotz did the work and
    Ms. Adams explained to me what it meant.
  • “A highly significant area for exploratory study” … A totally useless topic selected by my committee.
  • “It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field” … I quit.

By [b.cognosco]

Davenport, Prusak and Cohen are Blogging

This should be interesting to watch and likely will be a very welcome
addition to the ongoing conversations about knowledge management and
knowledge work. Tom, Larry, and Don have long been astute and
insightful observers of the world of organizations and knowledge work.
Both the opportunity to get an earlier look at their thinking and the
insights they are likely to develop as they immerse themselves in some
new tools should be valuable for all of us.

Steve Matthews writes that Davenport & Prusak are Blogging

Along with Don Cohen, they are publishing a collaborative blog titled The Babson Knowledge Blog. The blog is also connected to the Babson College's Working Knowledge Research Center, or WKRC.

They started at the end of September.
They are taking their time and writing longer pieces less frequently.
They deserve to take their time. It should be interesting to follow
what they have to say.


Design as a signature skill for knowledge workers – ESJ Column

(cross-posted at Future Tense)

Over the summer I wrote a column for the Enterprise Systems Journal that I neglected to point to at the time. The broad point I was trying to work out was that for all the recent attention to issues of innovation and design, the focus has been on addressing the needs of the organization.

Design thinking and design skill are equally, if not more, pertinent to individual knowledge workers. My wrap up there was:

Design is a talent, but it is also a skill, and whatever talent we were graced with, the skill can be developed. Few of us will rival MacGyver (few of us have a scriptwriter and props department handy either), but we can learn to start looking at the world around us as potential resources with more possible uses than intended. We can start to see opportunities to make small changes that will lead to a better fit between our resources and our problems. [ESJ: Design as a Signature Skill]

This is part of a more general trend of organizations needing to deal with how to strike a new balance between execution and design. In the last century, that balance was one person thinking design for every hundred to thousand doing execution. Today, that ratio needs to be much closer to one to one. Moreover, that balance will often have to be managed within each of us as knowledge workers. Perhaps that is one factor that accounts for the relative strength of small organizations versus large ones.