E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Learning

AutoRoll – Finding Out What Else Your Readers Are Visiting

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While some folks out there in the Blogosphere are chiming in sharing their experiences (Check out, for instance, the superb weblog entry review that John created over at Library Clips) about the potential business value from using the fine service of MyBlogLog, an offering that you would remember I have been talking about recently quite a bit, I thought I would go ahead and introduce you to another interesting widget that claims to take things further into the next level. That is right, I am talking about AutoRoll.

AutoRoll is actually another worth while checking widget that would take you about one minute to have it installed (Works successfully in several weblogging platforms, WordPress being one of them, too!) and that it would take about one week to see some more relevant results. Yes, that is right, this is one other widget that would allow you to get some further insights from your readership, but you would need to actually wait for a bit to see the first good and meaningful results.

So what is AutoRoll, you may be wondering, right? Well, it has actually been mentioned already all over the place, but basically, and contrary to what MyBlogLog is, it is the blogroll of your own readers. It is a widget that displays  links to weblogs that your own readers are visiting the most often. Nifty, eh? Ok, the way it works is that AutoRoll traces the number of visits of each unique reader on each weblog that has installed this particular widget. Then the more often a reader visits a specific weblog, the greater his / her affinity is with that particular weblog. It is getting better, eh?

Well, there is much more. Because this particular offering will eventually provide you all, the readers of this weblog, with a very enlightening and entertaining blogroll based on other readers with similar reading habits. At the same time, it will help get some highly qualified incoming traffic to this particular weblog, something that I am hoping would work out as mentioned on the Web site because it would surely help me out increasing my KM related blogroll (You can never get enough KM related reading, right?) based on your own reading habits. Not too bad, eh?

Thus as you may have been able to see, I have already updated the left column of this particular weblog template to include the AutoRoll widget (If you are reading this weblog entry from the RSS feed you may want to pop into the weblog and check it out) and I would encourage you all to give it a try as well and see how far it would take us all. I am not saying that this is going to be a permanent addition. I am just going to give it a chance, for a couple of weeks, and see how it would work out. If I find out that it meets both of your and my needs I will leave it as is, but if it doesn’t I will go ahead and remove it.

So far I like what I am seeing and the potential value add; we shall see if that would remain the same in two weeks time… Time now to let it build up further on our own weblogging experience.

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MyBlogLog – 9 Reasons Why I Am Still Using It Everyday and Loving It

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I am sure that you may have seen this already, but just in case, there have been quite a few folks who have been commenting on a recent weblog post that I created around one social computing offering in the weblogging space that I have been trying out lately and which I have grown to be very fond of: MyBlogLog. That is right. In MyBlogLog – A Proper Community around Your Weblog and 5 Reasons Why You Would Want to Install It I actually mentioned five different reasons on why knowledge workers would want to check out MyBlogLog to help them improve their social networks, amongst other things.

However, folks like Jack or Mike are actually wondering how I am actually making use of this particular offering myself. Basically, how I take advantage of this particular social computing tool in order to help me build up further my social networks. So I thought I would create a follow up weblog post where I will share with you all nine different immediate benefits I am getting from my extensive use of MyBlogLog. So without much further ado here you have got some of the main benefits I am getting from this application:

1. Find out some more about the audience of this weblog: Pretty much like Sergio Nascimento mentions already, I get to use MyBlogLog in order to find out who some of my readers are (Those who are also making use of this particular offering). I do know that there are a number of folks who read my weblog on a regular basis, based on the comments shared or IM or e-mails. However, I know as well that there is another group of folks who do read my weblog posts, but who prefer to actually keep a low profile, for whatever the reason. So with MyBlogLog I get to know those; who they are, where they come from, what their own weblogs are, those other folks who read from their weblogs, etc. etc.

So with MyBlogLog I am finding out a whole lot more of the folks who visit elsua.net and it helps me have a much better overview of who visits and stops over for a while. Regular statistics services in most cases do not offer this kind of extended data of your readership.

2. Find out other webloggers with similar interests: That is right, with this particular offering I have been able to find other KMers who also get to weblog about KM related topics, but that for one reason or another I haven’t been able to bump into their weblogs. Now, I check the main Web site a couple of times a day and I find the list of the most recent visitors. From there onwards I check out their profiles and those of their weblogs and those who are recurrent visitors and who weblog about the topics I am interested do get added into my blogroll. So in the last couple of weeks that I have been using it I have added already about 10 to 12 weblogs that are now part of my daily RSS reads.

Thus, as you can see, I am making use of it to help build up my own blogroll, because you can never have enough weblogs to read on the topics you are also passionate about. That is the whole point from social networks, if you ask me.

3. Find out about some other weblogs by digging further into their own communities: Yes, apart from helping me build my own blogroll from the folks who get to visit over here quite often I also get an opportunity to find out some more about their own weblogs and communities and therefore I get plenty of chances to build up my network(s) based on theirs. Take, for instance, the example from David Gurteen. His MyBlogLog profile gives you a good overview of other folks interested in KM, for example. From there onwards you can see how one of his community members is Nancy White (Her profile is here), who has got some other famous KMers like Dave Snowden (David has got him as well as a community member. Even Euan Semple is showing up in there!) or Jon Husband or Learning leaders like Jay Cross, Harold Jarche or Stephen Downes and the list goes on and on and on.

And before you know it, you find out yourself using that two, three, four, five or six degrees separation to build up your social network, and your blogroll, with very little hassle and with tremendous added value.

4. Identify common communities from my visitors: One key aspect of bumping into different folks, who read of my weblog and from their own weblogs and their communities, is that you keep finding out how folks who are part of your community are also folks who belong to other communities and before you realise it, you get a chance to create multiple complex relationships between communities because they share some of the community membership. This, on its own, is very helpful if you would want to get introduced to that other community by being able to send whiteboard messages to spark some further discussions and establish initial contacts. I have actually been introduced to a couple of communities that way. And from there discover some other interesting and relevant discussions that I probably would not have been able to in the first place.

5. Find out more about my readership with their extended contact details: That is right. I am not sure if this would be applicable to other folks but those folks who are into Knowledge Management have always got the tendency to fill in their profiles quite extensively all over the places they get to engage with. Just because of that, while checking different profiles I have been able to add a few contacts to my Skype contact list, or find out about their e-mail address or their preferred IM clients, their different profiles from other offerings like Flickr, LinkedIn, del.icio.us, Second Life avatar name(s) etc. etc.

I am not sure what you think about this, but considering that quite a few people actually takes the time to provide a bit of information details you actually get to know some more about them without necessarily having to ask for those. Nifty !

6. A picture is worth a 1.000 words: This is actually one of the main benefits I get from MyBlogLog. To be able to not only find out about my visitors, but to actually have a picture of what they look like or, if they prefer to use an avatar, to actually find out some more about them based on that image. It is incredibly powerful to be able to see the picture of those who follow you, because, you never know, you may be able to bump into them at some point and it is always a good thing to recognise them. Don’t you think?

I know that some people would not feel comfortable with having a picture available out there for others to see, but I am thinking that if you have taken the time to put one up in your weblog it wouldn’t matter too much to let other weblogs you visit what you look like.

7. Have quick conversations with those who read off my weblog: That is right. Some times I would get visitors who read off my weblog entries but do not leave comments because they may be on a hurry, or not have enough to say on the topic to add further on to it, or just simply because they have been diverted into whatever else. However, I am finding out that they keep leaving messages on the whiteboard from MyBlogLog. Some of them related to different weblog posts I have created, others on something that may not have anything to do with my weblog, but that it is still interesting as it helps build community and such.

Thus being able to get notifications of those whiteboard messages is actually quite handy, because it avoids cluttering your own weblog template and at the same time it is all placed into a single point of entry. Quite nice, if you ask me, since you, too, can also follow those public conversations. The private ones are just that, private.

8. Find out other communities and other webloggers who may not even get to visit my weblog: That is correct. In an effort to help build up new connections and conversations MyBlogLog also allows you to search not only for other communities of interest to you, but also other community members. So, even if I wouldn’t have any readers coming to my weblog I would still be able to build up a good social network by searching for other communities whose topics may be worth while following up on or find out about other members who I can find out just by looking them up.

That way, you get to build up your own social network making it as big and relevant as you may see fit for your own purposes. That is why mine keeps growing further and further …

9. And, finally, although I am not using that capability myself at the moment, the ability to keep track of some stats. I am actually making use of GoStats, but the fact that MyBlogLog allows you to keep track of some of those stats is probably also a good thing. Perhaps whenever I get tired of GoStats I will give it a try. Worth while remembering that the option is there.

And that would be it, folks. I thought I would be creating a weblog entry with five different benefits from making extensive use of MyBlogLog and in the end I came up with nine. And I bet that there would be other interesting uses of such a fine offering as this one. And I would surely be glad to hear about them. How do you actually make use of MyBlogLog? Does it meet your needs? If not, why not?

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Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us – On What the World Wide Web Was Ever Meant to Be?

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Remember when not too long ago I mentioned how I was actually quite content with having, once and for all, my blogroll updated over here and how I said we are all what we read? Well, I am really glad that I have made that statement, because in the last few days I have been reading from quite a few of the folks that I get to read on a daily basis an incredible video clip of under five minutes that tries to explain, and succeeds big time!, what Web 2.0 or social computing is all about.

Yes, I am talking about the fascinating YouTube video that Michael Wesch, from Kansas State University, shared under the title Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us. Goodness! If all along most of us have been struggling all over the place about explaining key concepts related to Web 2.0 or social computing, Michael has just managed to do that in under five minutes. Fan – tas – tic !

I know that plenty of people have been linking to this video from all over the place. And I guess some folks may be starting to get tired of it,  so reading through this again over here may not be the best use of your time, nor mine. However, there is a reason why I wanted to share it over here. Yes, that reason is that you can never link too little to such incredibly helpful resources as Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us. That is right. There may be over 55 million weblogs out there, but the number of Internet users is way higher than that, so we all need to keep spreading the message. The faster, the better.

The more Web end-users get exposed to key enlightening resources like Michael’s video on social computing the easier it would be for us all to take things into the next level: empowering knowledge workers to share their knowledge and collaborate with their peers in much more meaningful ways, even if that means we need to rethink "copyright, authorship, identity, ethics, aesthetics, rhetorics, governance, privacy, commerce, family, love …". In short, "ourselves".

And if on top of that you put together as well some really nice tunes to go along with it I guess "there’s nothing impossible", is it? So let’s keep spreading the message:

If the World Wide Web was ever meant to be something, I guess it will not be getting any better than this. That is for sure.

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Blogroll Finally Updated! – You Are What You Read

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If you remember, a couple of days ago, I created a weblog post where I was actually indicating some of the different issues I was having while updating the blogroll from this particular weblog. I probably should have created that weblog post some time ago, because, right after I created it, Miguel Guhlin was kind enough to provide me with plenty of different tips I could try out in order to fix it by creating a post directly in his weblog: Blogroll Management.

So after trying out a couple of things and different tools I have finally decided to go for the approach of making use of Bloglines in order to import all of the different links as part of my blogroll. Originally, I had about 700 Web feeds to work on, but from there onwards I have actually performed a bit of housekeeping for the blogroll and added those that I feel would be the most representative ones. 448 in total.

I still have got the other 250 which are basically aggregators, tools related blogs, etc. etc. Yes, that is right. All this means that I am not going to make use of Bloglines to manage my feeds. I am still quite satisfied with Omea Pro and will continue to make use of it for some time more. However, if you would still want to check out the feeds I regularly read on a daily basis you can find my Bloglines account over here. Or just simply read through the blogroll appearing now in the left column of the blog template.

I must say that I didn’t think that it would be just that easy to import the blogroll from Bloglines, but since they say that "you are what you read" I guess it made sense that in the end I would be sharing mine with you all so you would be able to see where I am coming from and what I read nowadays. More than anything else because, as you would be able to see, there are a number of different categories I have put together that will help me set up the direction I will be taking with elsua for what is left of 2007.

That is why you would notice how I would be talking not only about Knowledge Management and Learning, like I have been doing all along thus far, but also topics that deal with Social Computing: Metablogging, Social Media, Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0. At the same time, I have shared as well some of the different weblogs I am following up from the Spanish blogosphere, along with some other Technical Blogs.

And, finally, you will notice as well how I have been including a number of the different weblogs that I keep following on a regular basis from some of my IBM colleagues or from other folks who talk on a regular basis about IBM related topics, specially around the world of KM and social computing.

Thus there you go. After a long wait, my blogroll is now up and running and will be updated on a regular basis as we go along. I think that it is now time for me to go, have a good rest and get over that nasty stomach bug that has nearly knocked me down over the last day or so. But more on that later. Time to recover now…

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Deploying Social Software in Learning and Teaching Environments

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I am sure that by now most of you are somewhat familiar with such a fine offering as Slideshare.net. An online place where different folks get to upload slide decks on whatever the topic and then be able to share them pretty much a la YouTube fashion. It pretty much works the same in the sense that you can tag your slides, add a brief description, leave comments, save as favourites and share them with others through URLs or embedding the slide deck. Pretty slick if you ask me and something that is perhaps helping PowerPoint slides and PDF files get some more renewed popularity.

Well, one of the things that I have been doing lately, at least, once a week is to actually check out some of the different slide decks available out there and which would be dealing with the same set of topics that I get to discuss over here, i.e. KM, Collaboration, Communities, Learning and Social Computing. And I must say that there are lots of good stuff out there available to everyone. Like the slide deck that I have found earlier on today around the subject of social software within the learning environment. Check out Deploying Social Software in Learning and Teaching Environments.

The deck was actually put together by Dr. Steven Warburton, whose weblog I can certainly recommend as well to others who may be interested in learning and emerging technologies related to social computing. In it you would be able to see how Steve actually gets to build up a strong case as to why social software tools like weblogs could actually be a worth while option to consider within the learning environment for a good number of different reasons, but mainly for their versatility (See slide 7):

"a. Providing a rich set of writing techniques: writing as a process of self discovery
b Supporting conversational learning
c. Creating or augmenting social presence
d. Encouraging reflective practice (Through an inherent reflective, informal tone)
e. Developing a "critical voice"
f. Providing a record or portfolio of learning
g. Developing a community of inquiry
h. Creating learning networks, social networks
i. Developing and understand one’s identity as a learner (autonomy and ownership)
j. Tension between self and reader necessitates learning to trust and understand one’s own perspectives.
"

From there onwards Steven gets to share some further insights through a case study as to why weblogs would be useful tools for learners as opposed to just think that the may pose different challenges that students may not be able to overcome. Yes, there may be some challenges out there while working with weblogs within the learning environment, but there is no denying that the pros would actually outweigh the cons and Steven actually does a great job putting a very good and comprehensive account as to where the challenges are and also what would be the potential solutions.

This is certainly one of those presentations that I can certainly recommend to anyone out there within the learning environment (Although it would also apply to the business world, no doubt!) who is not sure yet as to what role social computing is going to play in all this. So for those folks interested further on the slide deck here you have got the embedded slide deck so that you can flip through the charts yourself while reading through further:

Oh, and now that you are done with that slide deck I can certainly recommend you check out the other three presentations that Steven has shared as well over at Slideshare because I am sure you would find them equally interesting because they all touch on how the world of social computing is actually changing the world of Learning.

Thus I guess that Knowledge Management is not the only discipline that is being affected by social computing. So is Learning and I must say that having a strong education background myself I am really glad to see that little by little Learning 2.0 is becoming a reality that we get to see more and more all over the place. So I guess that from now on, I shall be sharing some further insights about that fascinating topic as well: Learning and its social computing adoption.

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Knowledge Management and Learning – Separated at Birth? – Where They Really?

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  Yesterday Jay Cross created a brief but straight to the point follow up weblog post to one that I have recently shared myself over here around the subject of Knowledge Management and Informal Learning in which he was mentioning the interesting commentary on why KM and Learning belong to one another. Basically, on why there shouldn’t have been any separation between them at all from the very beginning like my initial weblog post seemed to have suggested:

"When the job environment changed but slowly, corporate learning involved acquiring the skills and know-how to do the job. Now corporate learning means keeping up with the new things you need to know to do the job. Maybe daily. The traditional barriers separating training, development, knowledge management, performance support, informal learning, mentoring, and knowing the latest news have become obstacles to performance. They are all one thing, for one purpose, and that’s performance."

He then wonders whether the "old distinctions serve a purpose in today’s world" or not and I just thought I would go ahead and create a weblog post on the subject, trying to add some more into the conversation.

I must say that while reading through his weblog entry I have felt very much identified with it and believe that he is just spot on! However, I believe that what he is talking about is just the way things are running at the moment in the space of KM and (Informal) Learning in the current workplace, because in the past things were just not like that.

As a starter, Knowledge Management was much more static and prone to not so many changes, even in the workplace. That command-and-control attitude was very much en vogue. It was all very much based on tools and processes that knowledge workers needed to follow and rarely was the focus on the people, which, if you ask me, is one of the basic key components from any good and worth while adopting Learning system.

That is right. At the time KM was having an extra emphasis on everything but the knowledge workers themselves; something that very few Learning systems would have in common. But Learning itself was not doing much better either.

Most of the Learning that took place up to not long ago was actually away from the workplace and in different classroom courses, without a context, with a learning programme that in most cases did not reflect the needs from the business, nor from the learners themselves and so forth. Mind you, I am not saying that classroom learning is that bad, on the contrary, it has got many many benefits that I will perhaps detail at some point in time. What I am saying that is pretty much like KM has been all along focused on one side of the spectrum (Explicit Knowledge exchange) so has learning just focusing on the formal learning aspects of the classroom as opposed to informal learning. Yes, indeed, pretty much like there is supposed to be a balance between tacit and explicit knowledge exchanges, for KM, the same would apply to learning: putting together the more traditional way of learning, through the classroom, with the informal learning happening while at the workplace.

So where have we gone from there nowadays? If all along we have seen how KM and Learning were not walking along hand in hand as we thought they were for whatever the reasons, their own reasons, what made them come together and convert into a single space nowadays where both Learning and Knowledge are two strong components that every knowledge worker has got a chance to get exposed to while getting the job done?

Well, if you ask me, I think that you probably know what I would be saying by now. Yes, indeed, Social Computing is what has made KM and Learning come together, move forward and become one. Main reason being the fact that with social computing we are witnessing what we may not have seen for quite some time now. And that is the fact that for the first time in a long while the focus is back at the people, both for KM and for Learning, which means that knowledge workers are much more in control of what they themselves know and want to share with others and also, at the same time, what they learn in the process and share with others, while performing and getting the job done.

Thus if you were thinking that KM is not very much related Learning, specially nowadays, I guess that you would have to think about it twice, because with the emergence of social software both of them are finally walking hand in hand and, much more importantly, at the same level. A level where the main group of beneficiaries are actually the ones who should have been all along: the knowledge workers themselves.

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