Wednesday, February 26, 2003

M. Scott Peck's community-building process

Mark Hurst, who worked with the Foundation for Community Encouragement during fun and less-than-fun times, e-mailed a description of the FCE's community-building process. I've put it on my wiki, under the general category of GroupProcessTechniques.

In the summer of 1991, I attended a Peck community-building workshop at the Omega Institute, which influenced me quite a bit. I like Peck's general notion that many of the "communities" we live in are actually pseudo-communities, and that these often have to undergo a trial by fire (his "chaos" stage) in order to achieve something more like true community. A profound experience I had during the workshop helped me realize that the blustery guy I had dismissed early on was really amazingly like me -- that we were connected in some mysterious way.

Inspired by the Peck workshop as well as some time spent on The Source, CompuServe, various MUDs, Echo and The WELL (remember them?), I wrote about virtual communities in the June and July, 1993 issues of Release 1.0.

You can read about Peck's ideas in his bestseller, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace.

Hie Thee to a wiki!

I've been a quiet fan of wikis for some time now, but it's time to turn the volume up. Wikis are sprouting everywhere, from the Melbourne WiFi and sites, to the Blueoxen Collaboration Collaboratory. Of course, there's the Ur-wiki and the wiki of wikis.

Wikis are subtle, not flashy or fancy. Wikis are the ultimate social software. They don't work because of the software, they work because the participants figure out how to participate.

From a writer's perspective, wikis are also a novel way to communicate interconnected thoughts in a pithy, useful way.

Wikis are still evolving, but they are already influencing knowledge management and education (in wonderful ways). If I had a classroom of fifth graders, I'd show them the Wikipedia, give them access to their own wiki, and ask them to use it to build a description of something they cared about in the world.

So at least get acquained with the Wikipedia and skim their NPOV page, which describes the process they developed for getting contentious issues into the wiki. If you want to go deeper, I put an entry point called WhatsaWiki on my wiki.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Meetups in Hong Kong

I'll be going to the Slashdot Meetup this Thursday (at Staunton and Graham streets), then the bloggers Meetup March 19. Should be a nice way to meet like minds here.

Debunking management gurus

John Pourdehnad of the Ackoff Center for Advancement of Systems Approaches (ACASA) steered me toward an article that he, Russ Ackoff and General Motors strategist Vince Barraba wrote last year titled On Misdirecting Management (PDF, republished here with permission).

The trio take management gurus such as Peters and Waterman, Stephen Covey, Arie de Geus and Gary Hamel to task for coming up with quick-fix solutions without doing statistically meaningful fundamental work. Read and enjoy.

Travels in Beijing

I've posted a bit about our recent trip to Beijing on our personal blog, WorldBees.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

SoWiki: The credibility crisis of 2001 - 2003

Reflecting on the state of the world toward the end of 2002, I began using my wiki to catalog the amazingly varied ways that the people who run many of our major institutions have damaged those institutions' credibility, from Enron and Adelphia Communications to the Catholic Church and the current US Administration. It's a sobering list, when you see it all at once.

The list kept growing. The wiki pages wouldn't find closure. They're to quite finished yet, but they're ready for your review, use and comments.

From Beijing I can blog, but I can't get my e-mail

Posting this from Beijing, where I've been amazed by the city and frustrated for two days of not being able to get Outlook to fetch my (POP) mail.

In-room broadband at the Trader's Hotel offers good Web access (with a few puzzling glitches, like no images on the NYTimes site) but no Outlook mail. Tried my AGNS world dialup account, which surprisingly fared no better. Then had a chance to try a third route: WiFi in the Kerry Center Hotel lobby, supplied by China Netcom. Still no luck, even with two great tech support guys who showed up (!) to help me out.

My ISP (XO) sez my account's paid up, working fine, and visible from there (I can't bring up from here). He thought it might be China's Net filters at work.

So I'm off off e-mail until I'm back in Hong Kong on Saturday... but I can blog. Go figure. IM works, too.

More news soon, from China.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Wish List: Tapping the Energy in Gyms

Why don't we link up all those StairMasters, Nautiluses, elliptical trainers, steppers, treadmills and stationary bikes to a big flywheel or some other energy storage mechanism?

What's the deal? We could power whole neighborhoods.

Instead, most of those machines are plugged in and sucking electricity all the time. Let's get efficient!

Real WMD

Wednesday evening I attended a panel in Manhattan discussing bioterrorism, the most memorable part of which was one of the experts' reply to a pretty straightforward question (both of which I'll paraphrase).

The question: You're both medical professionals. If you really wanted to kill as many people as possible, what would you do?

The steel-tipped answer: I would withhold condoms and clean needles from people at risk of contracting AIDS.

Nicely put.

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