The Old Joining Dots Blog

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30 December 2009

Reviewing trends from 2005

This blog has now been running for over 4 years. I dithered a fair while before setting it up. Back then, starting a blog was usually an indicator that you're about to change your job. (I was.) These days, it's increased activity on LinkedIn that gives away an impending move... :-)

I'm not a fan of predictions. Nobody predicted Google or Facebook or Twitter etc. Most predictions are just expanding current trends into a more mature form. And most are 50:50 in accuracy when reviewed (and that's with rose-tinting). Instead I thought I'd start an annual review of the past and see if what I was waffling back at the mid point of the decade bares any relevance now we're at the end of it.

Here are seven of my favourite blog posts from 2005 that I think are still useful today.

What does Web 2.0 Mean?

Still my most linked to blog post and one that went global in references, from Le Monde in France to Computer Weekly in Vietnam. The image was even used as a background on MySpace pages. (Lesson learned: stick a watermark on your images, the source is always lost.)

"Blogs and wikis are still immature technologies but they will influence the design of future content management systems and collaborative workspace technologies"

Looking back over the post, there isn't much I'd change about it other than the slight leaning towards Microsoft which was inevitable since I still worked there when I wrote it (was my last week.) And I'm not surprised that, 4 years on, the workplace has yet to fully embrace the changes brought about by Web 2.0 technologies. I would be surprised (disappointed) if it were still the case in 10 years time.

Seven Productivity Tips

...that don't come packaged with the software.

  1. Who does the typing?
  2. Avoid micro-management
  3. Vaccinate against cc-itus and reply-all-itus
  4. It's good to talk
  5. Let people enjoy their work
  6. Practice versus process
  7. Avoid work

Looking back over these tips and the reasons given, I'm disappointed how many are still an issue today. Many organisations frown at the idea that people come to work and might actually enjoy themselves. I'm convinced in one hundred years time, our future generations will look back on horror at these weird notions...

From Data to Knowledge and Beyond....

  • A datum is a statement accepted at face value (a "given"). Data is the plural of datum.
  • Information is a message, something to be communicated from the sender to the receive, as opposed to noise which is something that inhibits the flow of communication
  • Knowledge is the awareness and understanding of facts, truths or information gained in the form of experience or learning
  • Wisdom is the combination of experience with knowledge to distinguish between the possible and the plausible
  • Cleverness is not wisdom. Wise people focus on the plausible whilst clever people get too caught up in the possible

Yes the title of the post was a hat tip to Toy Story. The post itself went through the definitions of data, information, knowledge and wisdom. It came about because in many meetings I found people couldn't agree on a definition for knowledge (which was a bit of an impediment if you wanted to implement a knowledge management system).

Reviewing those definitions 5 years later, much as I love social media tools like Twitter, I think they have trapped us all into becoming a bit too clever for our own good at times. Politicians, social media pundits and authorities regulating air travel seem particularly susceptible...

Knowledge is personal

A trolley train comes hurtling down the line, out of control. It is heading towards five people who are stuck on the track. If you do nothing they face certain death. But you have a choice...

Whilst I would write some parts of this post slightly differently, it's a healthy reminder of why knowledge is still such a hard concept to pin down. It tends to be different for everyone. The post includes a couple of tests to demonstrate how context and personal views influence our decisions and always will, as long as we are human.

KPA - the new KPI

Imagine organising a birthday party for a group of young children. Would you agree a set of learning objectives with their parents in advance of the party? Would those objectives be aligned to the mission statement for education in the society to which you belong? Would you create a project plan for the party with clear milestones associated with empirical measures of achievement?

A post describing alternatives to key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring success. Instead, how about the kids party approach (KPAs)? This was from an excellent article by David Snowden. And is this the missing piece of the puzzle for implementing social media in business? Until people can accept an alternate form of measurement, knowledge-based systems continue to struggle to demonstrate why they matter.

A portal won't slay the dragon

"There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path..."

My attempt at using a story to convey what a technology can and can't do for your business (the pre-empt for setting up Joining Dots). And a lesson learned in not closing comments too soon. I received feedback via email from some excellent people instead - lost link love.

Dashboard Dangers

It has to be said, the overall theme of many of my early posts was concern with the over reliance on statistics when making decisions. In this one, reviewing data for a 2 year period reveals a fairly low linear growth. But review 10 years and you reveal an exponential growth curve. In 1993, would you have acted? In 2000, you'd be kicking yourself for not.

There we have it. Seven posts from 2005 that wouldn't change all that much if they were to be written today. With systems, technology only ever gets you so far... that's why you need to join the dots ;-)