Category Archives: General

TEDTalks are the best

TEDTalks: Jill Taylor (2008):
[Via TEDTalks (video)]

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.

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Something to watch for at any presentation

volcano by Clearly Ambiguous

A Groundswell at SXSW: How The Audience Revolted and Asserted Control:
[Via Web Strategy by Jeremiah]

For the second year, I experienced the SXSW Interactive Festival, an event attended by thousands who have love for media, the web, and gadgets. SXSW is a bubble of the tech elite assembling, in many ways it’s a glimpse into the future, exposed on a Petri dish today.

[A Groundswell Occurred at the SXSW Interactive Festival as the Audience Revolted And Took Charge]
Last year, Twitter gained traction at SXSW 2007, this year, it fully ramped up to be one of the most prominent and power shifting tools of the festival –we witnessesd a Groundswell. What’s a Groundswell? It’s a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions. Dan Fost, writing for Fortune Magazine reports that this is Social media is putting an end to the passive role attendees traditionally play at business gatherings.


The ability of attendees to communicate with one another in realtime during a presentation will become more and more prevalent. I expect few scientists currently use Twitter during a talk but the ability to carry on back channel communications will make its appearance some day. The example at SXSW was a little more raucous than I would expect to see at the annual meeting of the AMA but it might be as rancorous.

Part of the problem here was the relative anonymity of the chatter. That is, the speakers were not seeing any of this discussion and so were unaware of it direction. I would expect that as we progress, others will monitor the channels and help keep the presenter aware of just what is happening. How about tweets posted on a monitor for the speakers?

In my personal experience, I have seen some very creative approaches used by the audience to produce some wonderfully useful items. At the second ETech meeting several of us used a program then called Hydra, now called SubEthaEdit, that allowed users to create a collaborative document in realtime using WiFi to connect. Four or five of us would take notes, often catching items others would miss. Someone would add Web links for relevant items. We could write in comments, etc. and create a very rich document that was much denser in its information content than if any of us had written it by ourselves.

I am surprised more of this is not happening at meetings or even in class. Study groups could produce very robust documents for the group. I would imagine that there even might be a market for these sorts of notes, for those who slept through the presentation.

So audiences can be more than just unruly.

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The Government and Web 2.0 technology

pigs by artct45

Agencies Share Information By Taking a Page From Wikipedia
[Via The Washington Post]

The government seems to be jumping on Web 2.0 techniques faster than many corporations. Here they used a wiki to compile a list of earmarks. They accomplished in 10 weeks what would have taken 6 months before. This now makes it much easier to see where the pork is coming from. They maintain the wiki behind a security wall so that only invited members can post. This is easily done and can be applied to almost most wikis. The ability to allow rapid information flow and transformation makes a wiki a powerful tool. And if the Government can do it, and see immediate positive effects, then so could most organizations.

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Disruptive Leaders from the Gaming World

by aeu04117

Are Gamers Born or Made?
[Via Conversation Starter]

In an online response to our recent essay “The Gamer Disposition” and its discussion of leadership in MMOGs, Joi Ito wondered whether playing games creates the gamer disposition (bottom line orientation, embracing diversity, thriving on change, seeing learning as fun, and marinating on the edge) or whether they simply tend to attract the kinds of people that already have that disposition.The question Ito poses is the 21st century equivalent of the age old problem: Are leaders born or made? Or perhaps, in our context: Are gamers born or made.


Read the entire article to get a flavor for how management leaders coming from a gaming background attack problems in very different ways than old style, GE approaches. Leaders of online guilds view management problems as quests to be solved, not a specifications that they have to follow.

… he believed that part of solving the challenge/quest was finding the resources to accomplish the task. From his success in the game world he was confident that he could find skilled people and attract them to work on his quest no matter where they were in the corporation. Such attitudes, while disruptive in most corporations (jumping over silos and seducing folks to work on YOUR problem) are commonplace in games.

Businesses will have to get used to the gaming mentality as more and more people are entering the workforce with this sort of ‘experience.’ These leaders will gravitate to the companies that permit them to lead. Interesting that people learn management skills while playing a game.


“fun, easy-to-use, collaborative applications” …in the workplace?:

Sarah Perez has written an excellent piece on the new trend of Technology Populism – where “more and more people are functioning as their own IT department at work.”

More than anything, IT Managers need to realize that the power of individuals to provision their own applications, information, and social networks is a trend that’s unlikely to stop. They can block sites on their firewall, but as users venture out on laptop computers beyond the company’s walls, those sites become accessible again.

It’s like a hydra – cut off one head, proverbially speaking, and three more will grow it its place. People will use what they want to use.

For an IT manager to successfully balance the risks and rewards of technology populism, they must first embrace the trend to move forward, then they must address their particular company’s exposure levels.

Some IT managers dig their heels in and refuse to embrace the new trend.

But I think that group is smaller than one would think. Many more IT managers try to address and manage exposure levels – but the problem is they jump right to that step without first putting out the message that they embrace the new trend, and I think that leads people to think they don’t.


Read the whole article. There is a nice graphic dealing with the percentage of companies planning on using social media. It appears that many companies will be using these technologies without even knowing it. They are just too easy for any employee to implement. The take home message – a company may feel that it knows what is happening but often it employees are using the new tools whether the company plans to or not. Better to grab the tiger’s tail and hope to keep up than to just close your eyes. Because, very often, that tiger takes you on a trip that adds real value to the organization.

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