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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media: An Opinionated Digest by George Siemens - Feb. 23 08

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Today your strongest asset is your network. Your social network of informed, intelligent peers, is going to be the most valuable resource you have against the increasing landslide of information coming at you. It is in the wisdom of crowds, in word of mouth marketing, and socially built trust and reputation that a great part of your future success will need to find its key allies.

Photo credit: Tom Mc Nemar

Being "in the know", aware and informed about what is happening, is increasingly more important for anyone dealing with communication, media, technology today. This is why, every Saturday, guest contributor George Siemens, reports in this space relevant news and issues about technology, media, and their relevance to your every day life. In his digest this week:

a) A look at connective and collective intelligence brings to light how groups think and come to decidedly profound conclusions.

b) Employers prefer candidates who are well-connected in their industry, as opposed to experts in the field, because access to a well-informed network lends to productivity and profitability.

c) The topic of obsolete skills set one blogger's comments on fire, and inspired an entirely new community creation.

d) Attention has its own circuits, as one blogger points out, and money follows attention in a digitized economy, where copies flow freely.

e) Learn a new language through total immersion without leaving your computer, thanks to today's social media technologies.

f) Citizen journalism gets a shot at the mainstream, as CNN launches iReport.

g) Artificial intelligence is predicted to match human intelligence in 20 years, even with electronic chip augmentation in humans.

h) Continued experiments in Seesmic, as George himself becomes inexorably drawn to his new found "life sucking tool."


Sense-Making of Technology and Media: a George Siemens Weekly Digest

by George Siemens

Connective or Collective: Round 2

Photo credit: Google

After receiving a fair bit of feedback on my initial post on collective and connective intelligence, I posted some thoughts on my connectivism blog: Collective or Connective Intelligence?

Productivity in an Information Age

Photo credit: Piotr Bizior

While this comes from the school of "well, duh, of course", it does serve to make explicit the value of dealing with people who are well-connected to ideas, concepts, and people within a certain field (we used to hire for expertise, today, it makes more sense to hire based on how connected they are to the field).

Understanding productivity in the Information Age:

"...researchers found that information workers whose strong e-mail networks allow them to receive new information sooner than their peers -- or to receive more pieces of new information -- are likely to be more productive than their less well-connected counterparts.

Workers who are "information hubs" complete more projects in a given period of time and thus generate more revenue for their firm."

I like the idea being expressed, but I'm a bit disappointed in what appears to be a narrow research focus (e-mail networks? Hello, 1998) and vagueness in reporting results ("likely be more productive").

ED-MEDIA and Changing Conferences


Last year, while attending ED-MEDIA in Vancouver, I lamented about lack of opportunity for participation. This year, we're trying to add more interactivity to the conference through the use of blogs, wikis, and podcasts.

We've set up a conference blog and will continue to add interviews and resources as the Vienna event nears. I posted an interview (links to audio file) I conducted with Randy Garrison and Norm Vaughan on blended learning...

What's Obsolete?

Photo credit: France 3

A bit of a rash of comments on "what skills are obsolete". A wiki has been setup to share obsolete skills.

Scoble (the Paris Hilton of bloggers) has his own list. And, on a slightly more practical note, ACRLog has put detailed obsolete skills for librarians.

Wonder what types of skills educators no longer need...

Collective Intelligence? Nah. Connective Intelligence

Photo credit: Touchgraph

The NMC/EDUCAUSE 2008 Horizon Report (.pdf) is a great resource. Educators and administrators will do well to consider its contents in their planning.

I have a small concern. Something about the notion of collective intelligence doesn't sit well with me. I can't quite put my finger on it.

I can (and have) used the term myself to explain the combined efforts of "the many" in achieving an outcome, solving a problem, or determining the value of a resources (such as voting/rating systems in Amazon and Digg). As a term, it resonates with people - the value of being part of a larger community and sharing and creating information together is valuable, if not necessary today.

I'm not comfortable with collective intelligence - I prefer the notion of connective intelligence.

Derrick de Kerckhove explored this concept in 1997, well before we had the distributed collaboration tools we're using today. James Surowiecki explored a similar concept in Wisdom of the Crowds.

Surowiecki's book is often misunderstood. He makes the point that people do not think together in coming to certain conclusions, but rather than people think on their own and the value of the collaborative comes in the connection and combination of ideas. Each person retains their own identity and ideas, but they are shaped and influenced by the work of others.

The concept here is related somewhat to Stephen Downes's discussion of groups vs. networks. At stake in these discussions (Surowiecki, Downes, de Kerchove) is how we are to perceive the individual in a world where the collaborative/collective is increasingly valued.

Collective intelligence places the collective first. Connective intelligence places the individual node first.

At this point, the distinction between collective and connective intelligence may not be very pronounced for most people. As we continue to engage in collaborative work, I think the distinction will become vital.

For reasons of motivation, self-confidence, and satisfaction, it is critical that we can retain ourselves and our ideas in our collaboration with others. Connective intelligences permits this. Collective intelligence results in an over-writing of individual identity.

In fairness to the Horizon Report, their focus is more on self-correcting attributes of collective activities, while my criticism is leveled at what happens to the individual in the process.

Better Than Free

Photo credit: Kevin Kelly

Better than free:

"When copies are super abundant, they become worthless. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable. When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied...

In short, the money in this networked economy does not follow the path of the copies. Rather it follows the path of attention, and attention has its own circuits."

Chinese Pod... Curt Bonk... and NY Times

Photo credit: Steve Woods

A few nodes - Ken Carroll of ChinesePod and Curt Bonk - in my information network recently received coverage in NY Times: Learning From a Native Speaker, Without Leaving Home:

"The best way to learn a foreign language may be to surround yourself with native speakers. But if you can't manage a trip abroad the Internet and a broadband computer connection may do the job, too, bringing native speakers within electronic reach for hours of practice."

Curt provides additional commentary on online language learning options.

iReport: Merging Citizen Journalists With "The Establishment"


CNN appears to understand some of the foundational shifts occurring with how people create, share, and consume information - in this case, news.

In response to the popularity of citizen journalists, they have created an uncensored, user-created news resources called iReport. Take a few minutes and contrast the iReport site with the main CNN site. What's different?

iReport is more cluttered, more democratic (you can vote on stories), and more personal. Maybe I'm too much of a product of YouTube videos and blogs, but choppy video recording a steam pipe explosion in New York - complete with people scattering - is more interesting than a news anchor telling me what happened.

However, I don't think these two sites are in conflict. They augment each other.

Machines and Humanity

Photo credit: John

Machines 'to match man by 2029':

"Humanity is on the brink of advances that will see tiny robots implanted in people's brains to make them more intelligent, said Ray Kurzweil. The engineer believes machines and humans will eventually merge through devices implanted in the body to boost intelligence and health."

To quote Yogi Berra, the future isn't what it used to be. And predicting 20+ years forward is, at best, good for headlines (and it worked for me, obviously!). I suspect there is a degree of inevitability to computers matching our cognition.

The article is a bit confusing - on the one hand it talks about melding human and machine intelligence, but on the other, it appears to allude to standalone machine functioning of the human brain by 2029.

Regardless, I'll be convinced once I see/hear a computer laugh or cry. Of all the human traits, these seem to me to be the essence of life - the capacity for joy and sadness.

Seesmic... Still Playing


Ok, so, as mentioned yesterday, Seesmic is the latest life sucking tool I've found online (apparently they've received several million dollars worth of funding). It has Twitter like options for following others and replying to them.

Here's my seesmic post for today. I found Alan Levine in seesmic as well... replied to his video... but for some reason can't directly link to it here (which unfortunately robs the world of the rich exchange Alan and I had :)).

Once you're logged in, you can add friends as you do with twitter and start to respond (with video) to the video posts of others. As a learning tool, it could serve as a slightly different way of handling threaded discussions. As a time wasting tool, it could serve for the exact same purpose it has for me so far!


Originally written by George Siemens and published as weekly email digest on eLearning Resources and News. First published on February 22nd 2008.


To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

George Siemens -
Reference: eLearnSpace
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posted by Patricia Mayo on Saturday, February 23 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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