05.03.14

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:31 pm by Administrator

Almost exactly 6 months ago The Black Swan Blog celebrated its 1st anniversary. It is about to achieve another milestone – 40,000 “reads” on the first site that I began blogging at – energyblogs.com.

At the same time that I was wondering if I should acknowledge this milestone I was attending the BCNET Conference in Vancouver which had the theme “Building Value Through Collaboration”. The presentations by two of the keynote speakers made me consider the value of my blogging and how I might be able to increase that value.

Jesse Hirsh made the case that traditional sources of “authority” from governments to professors to the legally recognized “professions” (i.e. doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.) are being challenged and in many cases discarded or ignored. He suggested that we are entering an age in which a person’s expertise and their ability to influence will allow them to become a “Cognitive Authority”. And he further suggested that by identifying such “Cognitive Authorities” each of us can “tune in” to the “signal” – the useful information – that is becoming more and more difficult to separate from the cacophony of facts and opinions that we are bombarded with every day.

The key message I took from Jesse’s remarks is that there is an important role and even a responsibility for those of us who express opinions on forums such as The Black Swan Blog. In order to earn the right to be considered a “Cognitive Authority” we need to provide significant value for those that choose to read the material that we post.

As far as I am concerned that “value” must incorporate the following principles:

  • The information should be presented with the intent to broaden the reader’s perspective and base of knowledge on the topic being discussed. There are many sides to every story and it is perfectly normal and even useful to forcefully support one point of view. But that point of view must be reasonable. In our legal system we use the concepts of “preponderance of the evidence” and “balance of probabilities” to determine the truth about a body of factual evidence. With The Black Swan Blog I mentally test the ideas I am writing about using those concepts before I publish a blog posting.
  • The information and opinions should be original to at least some extent. I would much rather provide a link to an existing “in depth” study than simply regurgitate ideas that have been expressed previously. The ability to easily refer to other material on the Internet is perhaps the most powerful new capability available to us in the information age. In my postings I make a real effort to refer to original material wherever possible.
  • In responding to comments from readers it is essential to be respectful in all cases and positive and supportive of comments that provide additional insights into a topic, whether or not they support the premise of the posting. However, there is also an obligation to firmly refute statements that are clearly factually incorrect or deliberately misleading. I would also not hesitate to delete any comment that belittles or is otherwise disrespectful of another participant in a discussion.

Another keynote speaker at the BCNET Conference was Dr. Alec Couros, Educational Technology & Media Professor. Alec challenged the audience to truly “think different” about approaches to learning at all levels. He used the example of the Nyan Cat to demonstrate that the content of a work was insignificant compared to the creativity and innovation that the work can inspire. He also emphasized the power of Youtube and Twitter to support rapid learning and the organic creation of groups of people with shared interests.

Alec urges us to move beyond the exchange of data and facts to begin “sharing our collective human experiences”. In a world where knowledge is becoming a commodity, with handheld computing devices leveling the playing field, a deeper understanding of the human experience is perhaps becoming the most important goal we can aspire to achieve.

I consider myself to be a “techie” venturing dangerously close to “Nerdville” but I have to admit that I have not been a very active user of either Twitter or Youtube. Based upon the what I saw at BCNET, including a great presentation on Enterprise Social Collaboration I will be trying to make better use of these tools in the future.

On a related topic I have been in discussions lately with a number of people about the urgent need for digital curators on the Internet. Within the context of a discussion thread a “Cognitive Authority” can play a role. But in the broader sense of information management there is a need to categorize, prioritize, and sort through the millions of documents, photographs, videos and other digital assets that are strewn across the Internet like the contents of a teenager’s bedroom. It is, I realize, an impossible task to complete but any efforts in this area will improve the current situation.

In the academic world authors provide abstracts and in the corporate world we use “Executive Summaries”. But within the Wild, Wild West of the Internet the closest thing we have would perhaps be sites like Wikipedia. We need to do more.

Having taken that position I have to examine The Black Swan Blog with a critical eye. My conclusion, to paraphrase Pogo is  “I have seen the enemy and he is me” .. or is it “I”?  The Black Swan Blog has no table of contents and no abstracts so, as usual, I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to implementing an action plan based upon my own recommendations.  But at least in this case I can remedy the problem relatively easily.  So watch out for a table of contents including abstracts which should be in place within a week or two.

761 total views, no views today

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.