We are all scientists
CIO magazine has an interview article on enterprise wikis with Ross Mayfield from Socialtext, but don’t think you will just come away with wiki knowledge, this article has some of the best quotes on why KM 1.0 has failed.
This is explained so perfectly from the workers point of view…before you get into KM 2.0, if you want to begin to explain to someone what’s wrong with KM 1.0, these quotes will do the job:
“The way organizations adapt, survive and be productive is through the social interaction that happens outside the lines that we draw by hierarchy, process and organizational structure. The first form of social software to really take off to facilitate these discussions was email.”
“Most employees don’t spend their time executing business process. That’s a myth. They spend most of their time handling exceptions to business process. That’s what they’re doing in their [e-mail] inbox for four hours a day. Email has become the great exception handler.”
“Unfortunately, what it means is all the learning disappears because it’s hidden away in people’s inbox. It’s not searchable and discoverable…”
“So at the edge of your organization, there are all kinds of exceptions that are happening. If you handle them appropriately, you can adapt to where the market is going. You can adapt to the problems you have in your existing structures.”
“…the greatest source of sustainable innovation is how you’re handling these exceptions to business process.”
I met Ross back in 2002 or so, at a meeting in Palo Alto. He has been ahead of the curve on this. Wikis help move tacit information from inside people’s heads and in their inboxes OUT, so that others can see, interact and innovate this into new knowledge. Blogs can do something similar. Wiikis are good for many-to-many conversations. Blogs are good for one-to-many dialogs. But both require more than software. They require an understanding of what people actually do each day. Something many businesses do not have a clue about.
I am including almost all of the post bt David Gurteen for a reason. It brings together in one post the ideas espoused by several other people. So, I quote David, who quotes John who quotes Michael. Every step in the transfer of information is stated and linked, providing the very openness and transparency discussed in the post. David then brings in his personal experience and ands another wrapper with the article on Science 2.0.
All of this to weave his view on openness into the other views. I hope my small addition provides some more insight into the need for openness and transparency for Science 2.0 aproaches to be useful.
I wrote a Gurteen Perspectives article for Inside Knowledge Magazine recently titled Open and transparent? where I talked about the concept and need for openness and transparency in the way we work today. So I have been delighted to see others say similar things:
“The real paradigm shift in Web 2.0, I believe, is the blurring the line between publication and collaboration. In the old days, people collaborated in private. They talked to their friends and colleagues, wrote letters. Later they sent emails. All the real thinking happened in those private conversations. Eventually, once the key insights had been extracted, refined, and clarified, they published: books, articles, speeches, blast memos, etc.”
“…the really exciting thing that’s happening in Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 is that more and more of those private “pre-publication” interactions are happening in public (or at least semi-public). I think of this as the dawn of the “Work in Progress” culture. We no longer think that something has to be finished before we let strangers into the conversation.”
And then Gerry McKiernan in this post on Science 2.0.
A small but growing number of researchers–and not just the younger ones–have begun to carry out their work via the wide-open blogs, wikis and social networks of Web 2.0. And although their efforts are still too scattered to be called a movement–yet–their experiences to date suggest that this kind of Web-based “Science 2.0″ is not only more collegial than the traditional variety, but considerably more productive.
Take a look. How might you work more transparently?
Transparency and openness are the lubrications that allow human social networks to create knowledge rapidly. If any one person prevents the flow by holding onto critical information, the power of the network can be degraded.
This can be a problem in hierarchies, where information flows through a few chokepoints. A well connected, diverse social network can deal with this problem.
In fact, small groups of humans have always been able to identify who these people are and often use social norms to either make them comply or to shun them, particularly if other sources of the information can be found. If these chokepoints no longer are getting any information, the power they hold is greatly reduced.
Now, this may not always happen because of someone’s unique position in a small group. But the huge scaling properties of the Internet, the Long Tail and its enormous potential, means that it becomes much less likely that a single point of failure will damage the network.
The Internet was designed to route around ‘damage’ and so can diverse, connected human social networks. The Web makes it much less likely that one person will hold unique information. Thus it weakens their advantages.
Power comes from weaving information into unique knowledge – knowledge to make decisions.
The positive effects of openness and transparency can very rapidly overcome any small advantage of an individual holding information close. They lose any advantage they might have because very little information is that unique.
If these information hoarders gain little advantage by being closed, and if the social network uses peer pressure to identify free riders and to deal with them, then it would appear that behavior would rapidly converge towards openness and transparency.
In fact, the groups that can more rapidly create knowledge using human social networks will be the first to solve many of the complex problems we face today. Groups with choke points will be much slower and, in the type of natural selection we see all around, will become extinct. At least where the need is to understand complex processes.
At the just held online EDUCAUSE Online Spring focus conference, Andreas Brockhaus and Martha Groom, both at UW-Bothell, just around the corner so to speak, discussed unusual aspects to classes taught by Groom. She required the students to either create a new page on Wikipedia or to substantially add to a previous page. No term paper. It was going up on Wikipedia.
Befitting a discussion about using new technologies in the classroom, you can see the Powerpoint presentation and hear the talk online. Almost like being there.
While there were some barriers to break through, the effect on the students and their writing was almost electric. Normally, only the teacher and a few other students might see what was written.
In this example, the entire Web could see what they wrote. To ameliorate this somewhat, she had the students work in groups.
Martha Groom has been using this approach for the last few years. There are still a few things to work on. Writing for an encyclopedia is different than working on an essay.
She has added a recursive approach to the project, with proposals and peer review before it hits the Web. The community nature of Wikipedia required the students to really give up proprietary feelings about the essays. Sometimes the give and take of online discussions could be a little harsh.
But Martha has continued to tweak the approach. Generally, the students were very happy with the results. The quality of writing was very high also. With such transparency, the possibility of plagiarism is infinitesimal. It really highlights the need for proper sourcing of the work. All very good things.
And, if a really good job is done, the student can point out the page to others as evidence of their scholarship. All in all, much better than a one-off term paper.
I have mentioned several times that km 2.0 is a social way of doing work, it’s not a separate task, instead it’s blended in our work routine.
Firstly people are working this way on the open web, and they are also using social computing tools in the enterprise, these people are sometimes referred to as IT rogues. The second difference is the fact that the new interest in KM (by early adopters), is being initiated by the workers…social productivity. Whereas the first wave of KM was more a mandate by management, KM 2.0 is coming about by workers saying to management, “I’m really productive in a social way, it’s how I get things done, can we use these social computing tools”…and management would say, “Is this the new KM way to share tacit knowledge”, and the workers would say, “I’m not too sure what KM is, but I get things done by collaborating and connecting with my network.”
Anyway I want to once again point to the Transparent Office blog (this is becoming one of my favourites), Michael Idinopulos posts about the real essence of the new KM. It’s about thinking out loud, more open collaboration, your workings out are visible (less private). People get to share, engage and nuture, insights and works in early stages or in the thought stages…before all the cream is sorted, and formalised into a final product.
Perhaps KM 2.0 is like showing all the workings out of your maths solution…we get to see how you got there. It’s this “how you got there” that we are trying to tease out, actually as you are sharing, others can help shape your path, and bring you to perhaps a better place…the social capital at work. Also, others can read about the stages in your path, and utilise that know-how for a totally different work at hand, eg. an approach, experiences and insights a blogger shares about her workings towards a “engineering” deliverable, could very well be usable by an HR person.
A HR person is not going to read an “engineering” deliverable, but if they happened to come across a post (a fragment) about a research method the engineer discovered and applied in the “engineering” deliverable, the HR person may be able to use that info in their research task.
KM 1.0 was usually a top down approach where the transformation of tacit knowledge into explicit form was non-obvious. It often did not fit the way many people actually work. But Web 2.0 approaches allow people to use low level technologies to make this transition (tacit to explicit transformation) themselves, using the path they find useful.
And in doing this, they often make much clearer the path they took. This makes it easier for others the learn (explicit to tacit transformation) as well as help (explicit to explicit).
Web 2.0 approaches greatly accelerate the creation of knowledge by easing these transformations. The easier tacit and explicit knowledge can be moved and changed, the faster knowledge can be created, permitting a wider range of problems to be attacked and solved.
So, Web 2.0 approaches are firstly important and useful for the individual user. They have to be or no one will use them. But, an almost emergent property of these approaches is that normal human social networks can vastly leverage these individual actions to create a large storehouse of knowledge.
Of course, the organization really likes the fact that tacit information, hitherto only found in someone’s head, is now in a location that the organization can access and use. At least some organizations. The ones where the creation of knowledge is a core value.
You can see my slideshows here.
Better still you can embed people’s slideshows in your blog or personal website just as you can with YouTube. Here is an example:
Until we get Flash working correctly, you have to view this directly at David’s Slideshare site.
Just as the ability to post photos online, and share them with others, so Slideshare allows people to share their presentations. While not a wonderful as being there, it is a very good way to see how others are presenting information. I expect that scientific conferences will begin to use something similar. At the moment, you can go to some, such a the Pacific Symposia on Biocomputing, and see the written materials for each of the last several years. Having slides would be very nice also.
I’m not sure if anyone can see this or if you need a subscription. But, this being the Information Age, you can read the abstract of the paper itself and download a PDF of the paper. It discusses work done at Microsoft examining the connections used by its IM customers. The researchers examined the data from one month. this worked out to “255 billion messages sent in the course of 30 billion conversations among 240 million people during June 2006.” A lot of data.
After crunching the data they found some interesting numbers regarding this network – the average number of connections between people on the network, its width, was 6.6. This is very similar to what others have reported, even though the approaches were quite different.
Interestingly, these other reports used much smaller groups of people. One, in the 1960s, used only 64 people. Another in 2003 used 61,000. All three, using very different methodologies arrived a similar numbers for the width of the human social network. This is not too surprising since human social networks adopt a scale-free configuration. The hallmark of a scale-free network is that the average number of links connecting any two nodes, or people, does not increase substantially as the size of the network increases. Here the scale increases almost 4 million-fold, yet the average width of the network is still about 6.
Information in a well connected social network can percolate very rapidly. Using Web 2.0 approaches can harness the power of the Internet (another scale-free network) to disburse the information into an even larger social network much more rapidly than by utilizing face-to-face approaches.
[Via One Big Lab]
A very interesting progression from first draft to final approval. Exactly what one would expect for an Open Science advocate. While not all Science 2.0 approaches may be suitable for exposure on the open web, this was certainly a wonderful exercise to follow. And I learned something about the process they went though, just in case I ever want to do something similar.
I may have to find myself in Hawaii early next year, at the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing. It’s the Big Island.
This is the fifth report of the ‘Publishing on OpenWetWare’ series. In brief, I am writing an article on OWW from start to finish: initial writing -> collecting comments -> publishing on arXiv.org -> presenting at a conference. For other articles, see one, two, three, four. In this report, I’ll share my experiences in presenting the work at Pycon 2008.
This is the most recent part in a continuing series by Julius Lucks about publishing on OpenWetWare, an example of Open Science. Initially, OpenWetWare was a great site to find protocols of all sorts. It has been expanding very rapidly to incorporate many facets of Science 2.0. This is one such. It led to a presentation dealing with his work and you can read the ‘paper’ dealing with his topic: Python All A Scientist Needs. Python is the programming language used here and it presents many advantages useful for scientists. It includes a special package, BioPython, just for biologists, which is supported by the Open Bioinformatics Foundation. So, we see an entire network of Open Source organizations that produce tools that not only make their work easier but also the work of others. By embracing these tools, one can engage the entire network and help use all the knowledge contained in it to help solve problems.
We are still working on the website to permit embedded Flash. Until we do, you will have to click the link above to see Jill Taylor’s presentation.
Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened — as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.
This is a great presentation. Some science. Some personal experience. The TEDTalks offer great examples of how to present difficult subjects. There are some with pretty standard approaches but they are often the best of their type. And, thanks to the Internet, we do not have to be attendees in order to see this.
But some of them display a unique method of presenting and are very useful for gaining a better understanding of HOW to present. Check out this one from Larry Lessig.
Technorati Tags: Science
by Hamed Saber
Last week I gave a talk at the American Association of Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing (AAP/PSP) meeting in Washington, DC. I was part of a panel discussion on “Innovative and Evolving Websites in STM Publishing” along with representatives from the New England Journal of Medicine, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Chemical Society. While the other talks were a bit more evangelical, or mostly presented a look at new technologies that had been incorporated into the societies’ own journals, I tried to be a bit more practical, taking more of a hard look at what’s currently being tried, whether it’s succeeding and the reasons behind that success/failure. I’m posting my talk below, in hopes of receiving further feedback. This talk was delivered to a room full of publishers, so it’s directed with that audience in mind. In a few months, I’m giving a similar talk to a meeting of scientists, the users of these sites rather than the creators. So I’d love to hear from users as to your thoughts on how Web 2.0 is serving your needs.
There are some very important points in this article. Essentially, researchers will not just jump on these new technologies. They do not have the time to learn. They do not see the reasons why. Now most of the difficulties described here deal with academic researchers and the problems with using Web 2.0 ‘in the wild.’ They have concerns about priority, the effect on tenure, Facebook makes no sense to their work, etc.
Many of these problems stem from the fact that no scientist can see what is in it for them. Few of them do anything that does not make their life easier, as do most people. An example – researchers have little time but they always (or at least the good ones do) take time to put together a good lab notebook. This is not time used for experiments but everyone knows how vital it is to a career. So they take the time to do it right.
Similar things can be done with Web 2.0 approaches. Make them understand the personal benefit. For example, most scientists will think a blog is useless and a waste of time. But show them how to combine newsfeeds from scientific journals with a blog, and now they can have a very quick repository of interesting/important papers that they need to read. They can ‘clip’ these articles rapidly and then come back to read them at their leisure.
This directly affects their productivity since staying current with the literature is normally a time-consuming endeavor. I can scan over 1000 articles in 30 minutes and put the ones I want on my blog. The researchers that do this will be ahead of those that do not. But they have to be shown the direct personal benefits first.