Euen Semple

Information fertiliser

Euen Semple

Thought you might enjoy this paragraph from the chapter in my book exhorting people to resist tidying up their information: Finding the good stuff is one of the functions of bloggers. Information rag and bone men who curate the weak signal and the long tail. Why not apply this to information and knowledge? Pile more rubbish on the bits of the garden you want to grow and employ gardeners who tend and care for your baby shoots rather than disinfecting your information spaces

Love at The Commission

Euen Semple

First of all I discovered an immense source of information related to so many areas in our work. This wonderful article, reproduced with her permission, by Maria Podlasek-Ziegler at The European Commission totally nails why social matters in organisations. Love’ at the Commission By Maria (DG EAC). I was rather sceptical when somebody told me about using Facebook, Twitter and so on.

Trending Sources

Organisational anarchist or corporate jester?

Euen Semple

Use it as a huge magnifying glass to see why people are not sharing information and helping each other out. Phillipe Borrowmans just posted a great post about the possibilities of truly social business which he titled "We need more Corporate Anarchists".

Intentional marketing

Euen Semple

I have no problem with being better informed, in a timely and appropriate fashion, about products or services I might be interested in. I am going to buy stuff, I might as well make better informed decisions about it. I am increasingly asked to work with marketing departments and run workshops for them on social media or "digital". This despite making no claims to expertise in the "profession".

Radical transparency

Euen Semple

Competitive business information or personal information about people we know like medical records for instance. There is information that we have no right to share without other people''s permission. How often have you told a white lie to protect someone you care about from information that would harm them? I am attracted to the idea of radical transparency both for individuals and organisations.

Telling stories.

Euen Semple

Present a human being with disparate bits information and we will try to make sense of them, to give them meaning, to get them to tell a story. We can''t help ourselves and do it all the time. We also try to get the world to fit our pre-existing stories. Those we learned from our families, our colleagues, our neighbours. We feel better when it does. In fact having our stories disproved unsettles us and challenges our very sense of self. We cling to them for dear life.

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Facebook vs your IT department

Euen Semple

Walter Adamson posted a really interesting article about the scale of Facebook and the way it is able to support terrifyingly large amounts of information, constant high levels of activity, and global reach to 1,000,000,000 people with almost 100% uptime on comparatively modest resources.

Defend your mess

Euen Semple

One was formal and managed, the other was informal and emergent. Half way through the life of our bulletin board at the BBC we came under pressure to make it more structured. Most of the early adopters, myself included, were happy with the really simple structure and organic growth that had helped it find its place in the organisation. But it was beginning to be noticed by other people; people who were less experienced on the web; people who liked things tidy and organised.

Schools and our online lives

Euen Semple

As she put it: We need to actively find ways to educate our children and ourselves in the basics of the Internet, of information, of data, of sharing, of algorithms – computational thinking. Schools and the online life. Emma Mulqueeny wrote a really interesting post today about the importance of teaching our kids the right things about the online world.

Data 48

That first CEO blog post

Euen Semple

Not falsely informal nor nervously official. Your first "hello world" blog post is hard whoever you are - and whoever you think is going to read it. But imagine doing your first blog post as a senior executive. You''ve probably only ever written business documents or emails on your own. Most of your more visible "communications" have probably been written for you by someone else - perhaps even a team of people.

Farming the meatware

Euen Semple

We know that Facebook makes its money out of the information we share and the patterns that that information makes. To varying degrees we are uneasy with that trade with the devil that we all indulge in to get "free" functionality depending on how Facebook treats us and our information. When I am asked what the next big thing on the web will be I say patterns.

Making pretty patterns

Euen Semple

If we generate consumer data let us all see it so that we can make better informed purchase decisions. For the last few years any time anyone has asked me to predict what will be interesting in the future of the social web I have said "seeing patterns, and what we do with the patterns that we see". I have also argued consistently over the years that what matters is the ownership and interpretation of the data and patterns that we generate.

What's stopping you?

Euen Semple

Rather than banning the tools they should be using them to keep their own teams better informed and to reconnect with their organisations. Last week I did three workshops for CIOs and CTOs on how using social tools could help them get back some of the influence they have lost in their organisations. As with HR Directors many of them aspire to be listened to at the highest levels but as I said, "How can you be a thought leader if no one knows what you think?".

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E to C

Euen Semple

They are anyway but have to pretend they are not or do so with only partial information. I have always struggled with "B to E" or "B to B" or "B to C" and the way these phrases are bandied about almost aggressively by people wanting to show how businesslike and in the know they are. For a long time I had no idea what they were on about!*. I am currently writing a chapter for a book on what I have called staff advocacy.

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace - John Perry Barlow

Euen Semple

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. Worth re-stating this from 1996 (ht Stowe Boyd ). Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

The Web At Work

Euen Semple

As I began to think about writing more frequently and more specifically on the use of the web for work I started off deciding to set up a new shiny, focussed blog with loads of "information products" and all the currently fashionable ways to package and sell information to others. Many experts advise that without a specific theme you can't be successful at blogging. I am not so sure. I have always wanted this blog to be a varied reflection of the things that interest me.

Working things out

Euen Semple

Even deciding if the information or images we see online is true or photoshopped and distorted is a source of stress. If we use it less to consume the ever increasing tsunami of information, and more to work things out, both individually and collectively, we might avoid the relativistic mush we are being sucked into Life used to be simpler. The people around us showed us how to live, schools taught us how to behave, and work rewarded us for doing so.

Paperless Field Guide

Euen Semple

Written by David Sparks , author of iPad At Work and presenter of Mac Power Users , it is packed with really useful information on how to go paperless using the various Apple devices.

Awash in a sea of truth

Euen Semple

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of information that we are bombarded with these days. I still maintain that a well managed combination of social networks can help to filter this incoming information but within those networks people can slog it out between polarised views and working out "the truth" about the various complex issues affecting us these days doesn't get easier.

Orange and the over systematisation of life.

Euen Semple

When I pointed this out I was told that they couldn't correct this simple bit of information and that I would have to start again with the ten day registration process. As some of you who have seen my grumpy tweets will know I have been having significant problems with my broadband access from Orange over the last few weeks. It would run fine for a while then go for days only managing to stay connected for a few minutes at a time - apparently more than 500 disconnections!

Good intentions.

Euen Semple

I can cope with marketing if the intention is to help me make better informed decisions about the things I want to buy. If your intention here is to have interesting and informed conversations that help us work out together how to make the world a better place then I’m up for it - even if I disagree with you. If the intention is to interrupt what I am doing to shout at me about s**t I don’t remotely need my brain is getting better at filtering it out and not even noticing it.

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Obligation

Euen Semple

One of the attractions of Buddhist thinking is the idea that we practice stilling those other voices, allow what is really happening at any moment to be more fully grasped, and make our next move based on that information. I have never been very good at should. You should finish your dinner”, “You should go to church”, and the overall gotcha ”You should be a good boy”.

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Critical Thinking

Euen Semple

His response was "Surely, instead of banning Wikipedia, we should be teaching kids critical thinking and how to check the veracity of sources of information.". If they are sufficiently careless to do that what other dodgy bits of information are they accepting uncritically?

Volume Control On Mob Rule (reprise)

Euen Semple

I don't feel at risk of missing out on information that is truly important to me, confident that stuff that matters will get to me through a network which I spend considerable time and effort trying to ensure isn't an echo chamber and is made up of a group of people thoughtful and astute about what they generate and share. Much is being made at the moment about fake news and the suggestion that we are living in a post-truth society.

Feelings

Euen Semple

Or what about all those documents they were so busy writing that may have been full of information – but made me feel as if my life was slowly draining from me! My friend Joan Keevill Recently referenced this Maya Angelou quote: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou.

The truth

Euen Semple

She arrives at a similar conclusion: "If we tolerate a political system which abandons facts and a media ecosystem which does not filter for truth, then this places a heavy burden on “users” to actively gather and interrogate information from all sides - to understand how they might be affected by the consequences of actions, and to know the origin of information and the integrity of the channels through which it reaches them.

Keeping up

Euen Semple

The sheer volume of incoming information, combined with the unfamiliarity of tools, which themselves keep changing, is all too much. Although people usually leave my workshops feeling fired up and enthused about the social web, they also frequently confess to feeling overwhelmed by it. A common response is to shut down and stick with what is familiar. When you already feel busy having another thing to attend to is the last thing you need. The problem is that some do manage to keep up.

Staying sane. Well, maybe…

Euen Semple

People often comment during my workshops about the increasing pressure to keep up with the amount of information coming into their lives and the pressure of an “always on” existence. For all the usefulness of our mobile devices they do expose us to constant interruptions from the outside world. Whether emails from our boss, updates from our favourite celebrity, or text messages from our family, there is a constant tug to look at those small screens we carry with us wherever we go.

Rigour

Euen Semple

Keeping a lot of information in your head like that takes effort and matters. I had a conversation with my Dad about education this week. He is a fan of the changes made by Gove, and of the view that we need to return to "proper" fact based learning. He says thing like "we can''t just look up everything on Google" and "Look at how much people on University Challenge know, we need more people like that".

Me and my outboard brain

Euen Semple

It was as if the Internet was passing on mood as well as information. Because of the time I spend online in an day, and the fact that I have been doing so for more than twenty years, the Internet increasingly feels like my outboard brain. It feels biological. It feels as if some of my neural networks extend beyond my skull and synapses fire off all around the world. Some ideas I can cope with within my own skull, some I need to push outside onto the Internet to deal with them there.

VOST

Euen Semple

They also curate information from diverse related agencies and news feeds along with Facebook, Twitter, even Pinterest, to give an overall picture of what is happening and people's reactions to what is happening. I have just had a fascinating Skype call with Marlita Reddy-Hjelmfelt about VOST (Virtual Operations Support Teams) - groups of online volunteers who help the emergency services monitor and curate social activity around things like forest fires and hurricanes.

Following your nose

Euen Semple

But experience shows that by allowing for serendipity you often find a real sense of place, or the really valuable information. I am visiting a lot of new cities here in Australia. Understandably the locals want me to see the best of their home towns, and I am making an effort to visit the odd honeypot site. However I also like to "go off piste". I like to wander, either on foot or by car, and just follow my nose.

Vander Wal on Sharepoint

Euen Semple

They continue, “There is great information being shared and flowing into the system, but we don’t know it exists, nor can we easily share it, nor do much of anything with that information.”. If your IT department has not yet deployed Sharepoint get them to read this post from Thomas Vanderwal which includes the following telling quote: “We went from 5 silos in our organization to hundreds in a month after deploying SharePoint”.

Meatware based search

Euen Semple

One the most powerful uses of the large forum we had within the BBC was as a way of finding information. Being able to ask tens of thousands of staff where to find the information you needed and say why you needed it and then having people suggest documents which from their perspective met your need and point to them with a URL was very powerful.

Ada Lovelace Day

Euen Semple

Her comprehensive knowledge of the programme, which has a steep learning curve and is highly customizable, means the videos are packed with information but they are also presented in a way that doesn't make the viewer feel stupid. Today is Ada Lovelace Day and in celebration of the first computer programmer Suw Charman Anderson has encouraged us to write about women in technology whom we admire.

Going back to my roots

Euen Semple

We need more people saying what they think and don't need tidy managed sanitised but ultimately boring information spaces. When I first started blogging eight years ago there weren't many of us around. There were much fewer blogs, no Twitter, no RSS, no Facebook and nothing called social media. Life was simpler then! One of the joys for me of blogging was the ability to form relationships with smart and interesting people but recently those people have begun to get drowned in the noise.

The true nature of bottom up

Euen Semple

That support includes discipline as well as training, tools, parts, direction, policies, procedures, information, etc. From a great comment by Bennet Simonton on a great post by David Tebbutt. Bottom-up does not mean that the boss is not in charge and fully responsible/accountable for outcomes.

Learn Informal Learning Informally

Jay Cross

Next month I’ll be offering an experiential workshop on Informal Learning through Jane Hart’s Social Learning Center. By the close of the workshop, you will be able to… understand what informal learning is, how it works, why it’s important. Informal Learning Just Jay

Pulling informal learning

Harold Jarche

Informal learning is mostly Pull. They are also more in control of who Pushes to them, through social networks and other sources of online information. Informal LearningTake a look at these 8 demand-side knowledge management principles by Nick Milton.

Informal Learning – the other 80%

Jay Cross

The start-up stiffed me but the paper morphed into the Informal Learning book. I’ll be leading a series of master classes on informal learning and working smarter in Europe. Informal Learning – the other 80%. Informal learning is effective because it is personal.