Saturday, 14 August 2010

Twitter as birth control


by Geek & Poke

Are Retweets just plain lazy? Twitter, sensemaking and adding value

Based on this video posted by the Archduke of Twitter, Stephen Fry, you’d think Twitter was a load of mindless guff posted by idiots who think we care about what they had for dinner.

But its so much more than that. It’s a huge library of knowledge, insight and information, whose value to others is constantly increased by the action of re-tweeting. Disagree? Think re-tweeting is just lazy? It actually creates value for your followers.

Sensemaking and personal knowledge management
I came across this post by Harold Jarche on Twitter which started me thinking... It applies a sensemaking approach to Twitter for personal knowledge management, or for any humans reading, keeping a handle on what you know and making sense of it.

Mostly it’s a post about how to manage interesting things you’ve found on Twitter – favorite them, review them, add to more context to them, and publish them in all their expanded glory . Jarche calls them Friday Finds

An example:

Tweet: @roundtrip – 10 ways the “world of work” will change in the next 10 years @Gartner_inc “non-routine” work = adaptive innovative

Additional information:
  • De-routinization of work
  • Work swarms
  • Weak links
  • Working with the collective
  • Work sketch-ups
  • Spontaneous work
  • Simulation & experimentation
  • Pattern sensitivity
  • Hyperconnected
  • My place

What I found interesting was the sensemaking model Jarche refers to, because they way he manages tweets, via his Friday Finds, adds value to the original tweet.


  • Filtering (separating signal from noise, based on some criteria): Some filtering (if you consider that particular tweet in relation to the chaos on Twitter) has taken place, in terms of content and in terms of the concept of “following” being a filter.
  • Validation (ensuring that information is reliable, current or supported by research): There may be some validation on an individual basis ie Jarche has validated the content of the tweet based on his personal knowledge of the person tweeting it.
  • Synthesis (describing patterns, trends or flows in large amounts of information): Tweets grouped by theme would indicate synthesis – this is a more complex and time consuming activity which Jarche hasn’t undertaken
  • Presentation (making information understandable through visualization or logical presentation): The way the tweets are presented makes them accessible and quick to understand
  • Customization (describing information in context): Customisation means that the tweets, information fragments which give little context, are given a “boost” by adding more detail.
I’d argue that synthesis is probably higher in the value creation list of this model than presentation, but that’s just an aside.

What Jarche is doing, he is doing primarily for himself, but its adding value to the basic information contained in a tweet. This is librarianship if I ever saw it but it did make me think about the concept of re-tweeting.

Consider the tweet – you read it, find it interesting, you retweet it. Referring to the model above, some sensemaking has taken place. By retweeting, by virtue of passing on a tweet you’ve filtered out something useful from amongst the millions posted and personally validated it. Congratulations - you’ve just added value to the tweet for your followers.

Nothing is new under heaven
I intended to say something clever and thought provoking about Twitter retweets, but in researching this post I find that like all my good ideas, it’s been done already. Its been done here and here and here . Obviously there’s a counter argument, based more on the number of available characters than on the concept of ownership of information, but in the interests of balance, see it here .

According to Twiterlyzer, my influence type is Spider, A Spider has “a mid-sized network” and is socially connected. Clearly I am not a Source, one who communicates original ideas (I love labels as get-out clauses ;-) So I can feel no shame in repeating what someone else has said. I’m just adding value...

Saturday, 17 July 2010

RSA Animate series

I feel the need to confess. It's been some considerable time since my last blog post, my Hail Mary's come in the form of these animated videos from the RSA. These are my favorite, there are more on YouTube should you be inspired to view them.

Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.



Smile or Die
Acclaimed journalist, author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich explores the darker side of positive thinking.



Crises of Capitalism
Radical social theorist David Harvey asks if it is time to look beyond capitalism towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that really could be responsible, just and humane?




Thursday, 29 October 2009

"Cross that you little bastards and you die..."

Thanks to David Gurteen (again) for pointing out this particularly brilliant explanation of complexity theory by Dave Snowden, using the analogy of a party for a group of 11 year old boys...







Saturday, 24 October 2009

These are fantastic videos satirising KM and tell you more about how it should be done than attending any number of KM conferences. Genuis (and I wish I'd thought of doing this).







Thanks to Green Chameleon for posting them.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The evolution of social media tools - more than just a hammer

Consider the building trade. Think about it...in't olden days, we had rudimentary tools - maybe an axe, a hammer, nothing very specific. As time moved on, tools have evolved to the extent that we now have a tool for everything you could imagine - there's even a thingymigig for removing old bath sealant.

Consider social media tools - to begin with, we just had a few basic tools - wikis, blogs, discussion groups. Now we have so much more. Variations on a theme, yes, but those variations make all the difference, and usability, just like with tools, means some things are better suited than others to the job. You want to write about the pros and cons say of communities of practice over action learning sets, you write a blog post. You want to share a link to a great presentation, you use a microblogging site like Twitter. You want to develop a policy document with 10 contributors, you use a wiki. You wouldn't try to develop said policy document via Twitter, you know it's not the best tool for the job.

Just like having the right screwdriver for the right screw, its clear that the right combination of social media tools can do the job better than using 1 tool alone ie writing a blog post then telling people you just posted via Twitter is a great way to let people know it's there. A discussion group to support the development of a wiki page based on an idea posted in a blog = an effective combination.

We're starting to adapt our ways of working to the tools we use. As we become more familiar with what these tools can do, it seems that we're also filling gaps, creating tools which do the jobs have but can't yet do.

This is quite exciting (I know, I should get out more). It makes me wonder what's being created by some enterprising person to help us collaborate and share to the degree that we have the equivalent of a thingymigig which removes sealant from the bath...

Maybe in sharing and collaborating using social media tools, we'll develop a sociological and psychological understanding which mirrors our grasp of construction, supported by exactly the right tools for the job.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Video is a truly effective learning tool

A couple of years ago I wrote this about "how-to" videos being a powerful learning force in the Web 2.0 armoury.

Now thanks to David Gurteen's knowledge letter, I have some scientific proof that they can have a real impact on the changing behaviours.

Paul Van Mele of the Africa Rice Center in Cotonou, Benin has undertaken a study where farmers were shown how to parboil rice using video and using traditional training sessions.

According to the New Scientist article:
"The team found that uptake of the parboiling technique by women who watched the video was 72 per cent, compared with just 19 per cent by those who attended a conventional workshop with a scientist or non-governmental organisation worker (International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability (DOI: 10.3763/ijas.2009.0438)".
An interesting study which I believe indicates that the success of the videos was due to their being shown in the evening, when most people were able to watch. The video also uses real farmers, enabling the viewer to connect with "like" people. It demonstrates that a story can be far more effective for encouraging new behaviours than and expert led training session.