Archive for July, 2007

Excellent Primer Materials on Web 2.0 and Math Blogging

Judy from “Hey Jude” has put together a great overview on Web 2.0 and Web 2.0 tools including (blogs, podcasts, social networking, wikis, etc.) here:

http://judyoconnell.wordpress.com/

It’s always nice to have quick reference for introduction for people who are unfamiliar with the terminology. She also has a number of embedded videos on the definition of Web 2.0 posted at this site. Check it out!

I was also perusing the links on her site and I found The Teaching Hacks Wiki which has a terrific overview of Web 2.0 vs. Web 1.0 for educators. There is also a section (being developed) that includes suggestions for applying weblogs/blogs in a classroom environment and provides suggestions per difference curriculum areas or disciplines.

I like the suggestion for using student blogs as a place to journal their reflections on the concepts that they learn.

An online math journal through a blog offers anytime anywhere access for students to access multiple students conversations around a particular concept. Educators can offer open ended questions to journal about, students can reflect on concepts that have been discussed in class and exchange ideas around those concepts. Students can regularly reflect on their own thought processes and share their successes and opportunities to rethink their own solutions in audio, textual, graphical or video format. Educators and students can model the appropriate use of mathematical symbols and vocabulary through a blog.

amathsm.jpg

Image from the Morguefile by Darnok: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/?display=105605&

If you’re wondering how they can post mathematical formulas to the web on their blog other than writing them down and scanning them in. There is a Mathematical Markup Language which allows you to code for mathematical formals and notation to be published via the web. Though this may be hard to learn initially, there are some wysiwyg editors that can be used. I guess I would buy a cheap scanner for my classroom and have students scan in their formulas or diagrams to view via the web. All students therefore can share access to the shared formulas and either learn from their peers or help them solve problems that they are having difficulty with.

Some resources

 

Image Therapy Musings: Tekkonkinkreet and our ability to laugh

I drove by the Movie theater on 21st and saw that they were playing Tekkonkinkreet. I posted something on this earlier this month, and I have to say, I think this was probably one of my favorite movies out this Summer. The images were just visually stunning. There was a good deal of violence, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a kid flick for very young children. The play on light vs. dark was actually a little refreshing. It’s nice to be reminded that you can’t have one without the other and that light and darkness as concepts, moods, states of mind depend on each other. You cannot always live in one vs. the other.

The backgrounds, colors and details reminded me of the packaging from items from the Chinese Grocery store we used to frequent when I was a very young child. I think it was one of the few or only Asian grocery stores in town at the time… I think I just dated myself. I always felt really comfortable in there despite the fact that it seemed dark and confusing.

[Youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=IWOCf1wNlk0]

I was able to see the Simpsons movie as well. Despite the fact that I did feel like I was in the theater watching an extended episode or a string of episodes on a DVD, I did enjoy it. Who can pass up on the superb humor of the Simpson’s writing cadre? It was a nice way to end the work week: with laughter. I know it’s easy for us as a species to get all hung up on our ability to build magnificent cities, engineer impossible buildings or create works of art, but I think the ability to laugh and appreciate the comedic truly sets us apart from any other creature in the planet.

Why are we geared to laugh? Does it provide the same kind of physical release or satisfy an appetite like eating or sex? I’ve always felt that laughter is like exercising the heart. If you loose your ability to do this there’s a life or spirit in a person that may loose it’s radiance and ability to cope with all the darkness in this world. Look at all the cultures and social groups in our past (and even present) which really seemed to have a hard time with lightening up.  Can you imagine what life was for the Calvinists.  It’s kind of hard to find humor in things when you live under the guidance of the notion that you’re either doomed or you’re not (though most people are doomed*) or that human beings by nature are depraved and fallen creatures. You know if I was born a 16 or 17th century Calvinist I’d emmigrate from Switzerland  to Holland right away… either that or work hard and look forward to death because it would probably be a cake-walk compared to the hell on earth that they built. They’re always painted and drawn in art as if their tidies are in bunches.

*If that were the case and people were all doomed… I’d break out the pack of Gitanes and open a bottle of Pernod and say… “What the hey.”

Some related things:

My other blog about knitting

I started another blog a few months ago… sometimes your passions and interests can overflow… what can I say?

Click the bunny

bunnycloseup.jpg

I think I found my new litany for Change Management

From Manage to Change (a great find blog-wise). Post is here.

No one is better than me.

I am better than no one.

Architecting change is not a top-down exercise.

It’s top-down, bottom-up, inside-out, outside-in, and sideways!

Change may start with me, but for it to get much farther than that I’m going to need a team.

Teams are built on trust and respect.

Selfishness, arrogance, and superiority erode trust.

Repeat after me:

No one is better than me.

I am better than no one.

I’ll have to keep this on a ‘prayer card’ somewhere. Yes, I was raised Catholic.  The Manage to Change Manifesto pretty much sums up most of the life lessons I’ve had in the past 10 years.

Bridging the Tech Gap with Nice People

Via a search today, I just read this brief post on HBR from Tom Davenport from March: Why Enterprise 2.0 Won’t Transform Organizations.

He brings up a good point about:

Such a utopian vision can hardly be achieved through new technology alone. The absence of participative technologies in the past is not the only reason that organizations and expertise are hierarchical. Enterprise 2.0 software and the Internet won’t make organizational hierarchy and politics go away. They won’t make the ideas of the front-line worker in corporations as influential as those of the CEO. Most of the barriers that prevent knowledge from flowing freely in organizations – power differentials, lack of trust, missing incentives, unsupportive cultures, and the general busyness of employees today – won’t be addressed or substantially changed by technology alone.

Recently in a conversation I had at the PDX blogger dinner. I spoke with the Director of Product Marketing of Jive Software (sadly, I was not able to stay and see the demo of their alternative to Sharepoint. Any alternative to Sharepoint gets my attention). I noted that one of the biggest mistakes we make in project management is assuming that the tools (software, spreadsheets, web aps, etc.) will take the place of hiring good people, setting reachable goals, and building good relationships between team members.

Davenport is right. Technology won’t change things alone. But people can help, and especially ‘nice people’ who are passionate about what they do. When I think of really nice people like this, I think of Josh Bancroft. I used to work with Josh in IT at my former company. Josh has a real ‘can do’ (can’t believe I used that term) attitude about sharing what he’s excited about. He actually introduced a friend of mine and me into the worlds of podcasting and wikis. He was always excited about sharing his ‘geek’ knowledge, as he called it, with others and helping them learn and discover how to use Web 2.0 technologies. He inspired a few communities within the company that spawned new movements in applying collaborative technologies, some with some pretty impressive and cool results.

Davenport openly admits that he’s being a curmudgeon in regards to the potential of Enterprise 2.0, but Curmudgeons are important too. They force us to really take things into perspective. Though we should never let any resistance, negativism, criticism or cynicism shape our view or hinder where we want to take our imagination and creativity.

Though I disagree with Davenport on the matter of structuring of knowledge in the workplace. Structured information environments don’t necessarily need to limit or hinder the sharing of information. I can learn just as much about how to process a purchasing document in SAP or what the best transaction could be by networking with my co-workers and learning how they do things. That’s the problem with creating prescriptive or linear materials and documentation for tools like SAP instead of training people to ‘think for themselves’ or even learn from each other, you get people locked into automaton mode and you don’t build a workforce that can think on their feet, innovate or adapt quickly to change.

I have hope for Enterprise 2.0 despite everyone thinking that it is or was a big. Though still we have to let the curmudgeon in us rise up every now and then and question where we’re going. Sometimes questioning when done constructively can only open up new avenues or possibilities.

Somewhat to mildly related stuff:

Sometimes you just need a little positivism

I thought this video clip was appropriate for my mood today. Plus it’s Peggy Lee… one of my all time favorite artists.

[Youtube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=rgkKowKhxHI]

Here’s the entire playlist. I love how Youtube can basically capture your frame of mind via music and visuals.

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=5B6F7BB7E5781381

About blogging and thinking and acting like a blogger

Here’s a good point from the Portals and KM blog (commentary on articles featured in the post):

blogs are popular because they provide useful content, often not found elsewhere and written in an accessible style. Blogs cannot sound like PR.

This is a good observation, and it makes sense. No one thought it was cool when their parents tried to speak to them in their slang. It seemed stilted and poorly executed. I think that that’s the biggest failure of some corporate blogging endeavors when they start blogging they ‘try too hard.’ They allow the tones of their blogs to degenerate into a sort of weatherman speak. I just recently had a conversation with a former co-worker about being too forward in one’s corporate blog or even in one’s personal blog. I’ll be the first to admit that there really is a personal value to ‘not sharing every thing about oneself.’ It’s just healthy for most people to maintain at least a modicum of privacy. However, the charm and beauty of blogging lies in the fact that there is some level of transparency into the author’s personality.

Yes, it’s true that if you’re blogging within a corporate environment there should be some rules that you must abide by which may sound something like this. I have this sort of aversion to ‘letter of the law’ approach to enforcing rules:

Be nice, dude:

  • Never slander the company
  • Never directly attack an individual or a group

Use constructive confrontation (uh, what ever happened to that?)

If you are going to question something or express doubt* about company policy address the people who are responsible for that policy outside of the blog text. But this of course assumes that a true “Open Door” policy exists. Sorry, that’s the execs and management’s responsibility to waterfall this down via actions and attitude towards their staff. Note: if it’s clear that your company doesn’t have an open door policy and you want to keep your job, then it’s probably better that you don’t blog about work (or you find another job). Blog about crochet, gardening, building muscle cars, collecting ceramic dogs, poetry, or your love of Westerns.

Remember that blogging is about sharing what you love or are curious about

This should be self-explanatory. If it’s not then you just don’t get the point about blogging. Strangely enough, I love and enjoy various aspects of my job and am very curious and eager to learn and share about the cool things I find when learning about my work.

My hunch is that like anything else, art, life, general existence, if you’re really trying too hard, blogging or fostering a culture of transparency and openness that promotes connections and innovations in your company will probably fail. I have to stop and think, perhaps this type of environment and attitude (and therefore blogging) is not appropriate for all places. It’s really up to management to reflect on whether or they want to foster a corporate culture that values blogging and communicate effectively their policy on blogging.

Addendum:

I forgot to add one more guideline…

Ignore the Jerks and Trolls

The best thing to do with a bully is ignore him/her or work around them. Who wants to hang out with a bunch of looser-jerks anyway? No fun.

Some other interesting readings:

*I remembered that I did post something on expressing doubt in reaction to watching the film Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa. I guess one should perhaps ‘use this card’ sparingly or really when it counts. A good leader will probably be sensitive to the ‘good folks’ he or she hires when they are experiencing doubt.


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