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  • The dramatic increase of smartphone technology

The dramatic increase of smartphone technology

Insight: The dramatic increase of smartphone technology which now accounts for 20% of 3 billion mobile devices globally, and the continuous shift towards mobile accessibility, is an important signifier of the times we live and operate in. As users access more applications and services on their mobile devices, businesses need a unified approach to managing the mobile networks.
...information must be made seamlessly available on any device. ~ Tim Berners-Lee
View the video here.

Photo credit: Janitors / Foter / CC BY
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  • Technology and Society - Postman (1998)

Technology and Society - Postman (1998)

Last night I watched Neil Postman's speech, a series of seven YouTube videos. In total it lasted over an hour. It was most interesting listening to him slice and dice media and technology; especially interesting was where Postman saw no evidence how technology would have any part to play in the classroom. Here is part one of the seven videos.

During his entire talk he focused on six key questions relating to technology, which I've transcribed. I find it an interesting set of questions that could be used as a road map and even be applied today by #developers.

1) What is the problem to which this technology is a solution?

2) Who's problem is it? Who will benefit from it and who will pay for it.

3) What new problems may be created because we have solved the problem?

4) Which people and what institutions might be most seriously harmed by a technological solution?

5) What changes in language are being enforced by new technologies and what is being gained and lost by such changes?

6) What sort of people and institutions acquire special economic and political power because of technological change?

Shortly after watching these videos, I also watched a three part, 30 minute interview with Aldous Huxley, he was interviewed by Mike Wallace in 1959. Referring to technology and power Huxley answers...
"...these are all instruments for attaining power... it's extremely important not to let any one man or any one small group have too much power or for too long a time..."
As I was watching it I began to think of the recent overwhelming success of Facebook, and Google for that matter, and whether or not Huxley was indeed referring to exactly this type of instrument.

It's all left me wondering what lessons are to be taken away from this...?
What are your thoughts?

Photo credit: US Department of Education / Foter / CC BY

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  • Working Smarter in Berlin with Jay Cross and Harold Jarche

Working Smarter in Berlin with Jay Cross and Harold Jarche

After a pleasant six hour journey north to Berlin I was quite tired on arrival, and the last thing I needed was to be reminded that without a valid passport I'd be sleeping on the streets - ahh! Yes, I'd forgotten to bring my UK Passport. Hoping that a credit card, a driving license and insurance card would suffice as identity, was, unfortunately a waste of time, it wouldn't.

The only solution available was to call my (non-tech) wife and present her with the ultimate challenge: photograph my passport and attach it to an email for me to print out in #Berlin. After what seemed like an eternity, and having used all my powers of patience, the email was sent and printed and I was shown to my room - phew!

Bright sunshine filled the hotel room on Saturday morning, which was most pleasant and it helped me to forget the passport incidence. We'd arranged to meet at 10:30am at the Savoy hotel. I had no idea how the day was going to pan out and whether we would only have time for a short meeting or...?

I set off across the city with plenty of time in hand. On route I found a Starbucks and settled into some last minute reading and a cappuccino.

The moment had arrived... it was 10.20am as I entered the Savoy. I introduced myself to the receptionist and found a comfortable spot on one of the huge leather sofa's. Right on cue, Jay and Harold appeared in the lobby. My first reaction was, hey I know you two :-)  With very little formality, Jay explained the plan for the day and Harold advised me just to go with the flow and follow Jay... which was, throughout the day, excellent advice.

The plan for the day was built around promoting the book and shooting video at key locations around the city. I was designated camera man, which seemed like a cool deal. We left the hotel and went across the street into the stock exchange for the first shoot. As expected on a Saturday morning it was very quiet which gave us the ideal opportunity to break the ice and shoot the first film clip.

Jay whipped out his iPad and showed me the next version of the book in digital format - it looks pretty cool folks. It was actually the first time I'd seen an #iPad and the first thing that struck me was how small it was, I thought it was much bigger?

After filming the first clip we got the tube maps out and began making our cunning plan for the day... well actually Jay did, and me and Harold waited for the next set of instructions.

The next location was the famous landmark at Potsdam Platz, one of the places where the 'wall' divided East and West, almost 20 years ago to the day.

While looking around I found a side show where a uniformed guard was giving out information and allowing photos to be made by tourists. I'd brought my copy of Working Smarter as Jay had forgotten to sign it when he'd sent it a few weeks ago. I was pleased I had it with me as it could now be used as an ideal prop :-)  I gingerly asked the guard if I could photograph him and the book (which Harold captured, below), he kindly agreed, although he did warn that it might not help with with international sales :-o)

Using my new and very nice HTC Desire I snapped a shot, thanked him and scuttled off with a grin on my face to find Jay...

I found Jay looking for the ideal place to conduct the next video interview, he'd found a graffitied section of the wall and seemed to be checking out lighting or other such technical considerations... I pushed the HTC under his nose and this was his reaction, superbly caught on camera by Harold.

After another short filming, Harold and I were informed of our next destination. We'd often look at each other and simply say "Follow Jay" :-)  Not too far from this location is the Sony centre and this was to be our destination... On route, and still giggling from the German guard gag, I photographed Jay and Harold under a big yellow Lego giraffe? Why? Well, because it was colourful...?

The Sony centre is pretty impressive. We walked around looking at the various exhibits and admiring the architecture. Jay noticed a film Museum, which he'd not previously visited, and so this became our next destination.

We were not advised before that photography was forbidden, but it did not take us long to get the attention of those working there. Here are some crazy shots of us photographing into mirrors - don't ask why, it's complicated. Shortly after this we received our first warning (a sobering moment)... notice the book on the floor...

A strange photo, to say the least...

This picture below was to depict how Working Smarter can help save us from the scenario in the film > "The film is set in the massive, sprawling futuristic mega-city Metropolis, whose society is divided into two classes: one of planners and management, who live high above the Earth in luxurious skyscrapers; and one of workers, who live and toil underground."

As I took this photo one of the curators appeared from behind a wall (almost like in a haunted house film) and issued us with a final warning (oops!)  Sadly to say there are no more photos from this museum, but at the risk of being thrown out, we behaved ourselves for the remaining time there.

After the excitement of the Film museum it was time for lunch. We found a nice restaurant at the sony center and took a great seat overlooking the main concourse. Before lunch another short film was recorded with the Sony centre as the backdrop.

After a few glasses of wine / beer and a hearty lunch we were ready for the next destination on the tour... Jay, where are we heading now... follow the leader, said Harold :)  Our next destination was the 'Brandenburger Tur'. On route we passed by the Jewish memorial which had an eerie feel to it...

I'd not really figured it out until we arrived at the Tür, but tomorrow (Sunday) was the 20 years East/West reunion celebration. A carnival was in motion, a band was playing music, a choir singing, really nice, whole area was filled with a positive buzz.

After soaking up the musical atmosphere the tour continued... Jay wanted to visit the location where Hitler had burned all the books from the Humbold University. We walked behind the Tür and were greeted by an array of excellent promotional photo opportunities - or at least that's how I saw it...

We strolled down to the University in search of the location where the books had been burned. On arrival there was a protest about something, not sure exactly what as it was all in Italian... anyway we found the location and began to snap away... we drew a small crowd of interested spectators, who seemed amused that we wanted to photograph a book in this location...

As can be seen the bookshelves are empty, we thought it a fitting place to photograph the Working Smarter book :-)

We then sauntered over to the University where a book sale was in full swing. Once again this provided an ideal opportunity to make some more shots of the book...

With a little more risk taking, we took these amusing shots... luckily the security guards took our actions with a pinch of salt and we were not arrested!

It was time to leave the Univeristy and once again follow Jay into the unknown. The final destination of the day was the Pergamon Museum. The Pergamon houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of parts transported from Turkey.

It was clear on arriving in the Museum that we were allowed to take photos, which gave us a sense of relief. There were some really interesting exhibition pieces and we could have quite easily spent another few hours there... as it was we were the last to leave. In one of the rooms Jay decided that it would make an ideal place to conduct an interview with Harold and I about the benefits of #Amplify. There was no time to prepare, Jay just gave Harold the microphone and the interview began :-)

Just before closing time, Jay wanted to film another short clip. We began filming and within a few minutes a curator came towards us looking most disgruntled. He said "No, no, no... oh, there will be problems", he turned on his heels and disappeared in search of reinforcements. A few minutes later his boss turned up and asked what we we were doing. We told him we were tourists making a film of our day out.  The big boss looked at the young worker, shook his head and allowed us to carry on filming - I actually think we were lucky not to have been thrown out, but sometimes you need a bit of extra luck ;-)

Tired and thirsty, we began the search for a coffee shop, somewhere to rest our aching legs... by chance we came across a Bavarian brewery along the way and thought, that'll do. We pulled up a few chairs and enjoyed a well deserved beer.

It was a great way to end a very enjoyable and fun day. I'd not expected the day to turn out this way and it is with much gratitude that I thank both Jay and Harold for making it just perfect.

We've all added our photos to Flickr if you want to see the whole collection:

Jay Cross: http://bit.ly/bpR0UO
Harold Jarche: http://bit.ly/cHD4UM
Paul Simbeck-Hampson: http://bit.ly/bYg5fo

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  • Switch2Health reward you for your physical activity

Switch2Health reward you for your physical activity

Insight: Some months ago I bumped into this concept and fell instantly in love with it. The general idea is to encourage fitness through an engaging social experience where you are rewarded for sport and activity. The wrist watch records your pulse and each level of activity is recorded until you reach 60 minutes, after which you receive points. You link the data directly to the net where your points are recorded; once you have a enough points you can redeem them for prizes like an ipod or wii fit etc...

The possibilities are endless and with a world who's infatuation is now heading away from junk food and obesity this company have used innovation and technology to the maximise a creative approach to health - it certainly gets my thumbs up... I'd like to see this implemented in schools across Europe ;-)

Via: www.s2h.com

*unfortunately shutdown in April 2014, but fitness apps from Google and Apple (et al.) the race to keep fit using technology continues.
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  • Why We Like to Keep Busy

Why We Like to Keep Busy

I think its about a natural balance of idleness, playfulness and busyness surrounded by lots of sport, sleep and love. What's your take on keeping busy?

Insights from psychcentral.com by John M Grohol PsyD
Do people like to keep busy for no reason? Or is being idle okay with most of us?
The researchers also found that people were happier when they were busy, even if they were forced into busyness. 
How can people be happy being busy, if that busyness serves no purpose? Why do people prefer to be busy doing something, anything? The researchers speculate it may be rooted in human evolution: 
In their strife for survival, human ancestors had to conserve energy to compete for scarce resources; expending energy without purpose could have jeopardized survival. With modern means of production, however, most people today no longer expend much energy on basic survival needs, so they have excessive energy, which they like to release through action. Yet the long-formed tendency to conserve energy lingers, making people wary of expending effort without purpose. 
Their conclusions? 
If idle people remain idle, they are miserable. If idle people become busy, they will be happier, but the outcome may or may not be desirable, depending on the value of the chosen activity. Busyness can be either constructive or destructive. Ideally, idle people should devote their energy to constructive courses, but it is often difficult to predict which actions are constructive (e.g., are business investments or scientific discoveries always constructive?), and not every idle individual is capable of constructive contributions. [...] 
We advocate a third kind of busyness: futile busyness, namely, busyness serving no purpose other than to prevent idleness. Such activity is more realistic than constructive busyness and less evil than destructive busyness.
Photo credit: WanderingSolesPhotography / Foter / CC BY
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  • Up to 24 million Chinese youths are addicted to the internet

Up to 24 million Chinese youths are addicted to the internet

A classic case of cure not prevention. "We have to use military-style methods such as total immersion and physical training on these young people." I don't really want to imagine the lack of empathy or sympathy these kids receive  :-(

Chinese Boot Camp Prison Break
Up to 24 million Chinese youths are addicted to the internet – and half of those are “obsessed” by online games. Treatment centres have popped up around the country, aiming to ‘cure’ these young people from their terrible affliction.
An official at these camps has gone on record to explain what goes on:
“We have to use military-style methods such as total immersion and physical training on these young people. We need to teach them some discipline and help them to establish a regular lifestyle.”
Understandably, it’s not what you’d call fun – and last week, a group of inmates at the Huai’an Internet Addiction Treatment Centre decided they’d had enough of the “monotonous work and intensive training”. Working together, they tied their duty supervisor to his bed and made a run for it.
Six months at the Centre for a cost of 18,000 yuan (US$2,635).
“I don’t think there is any problem with the training methods at the centre. They are for my child’s own good.”
The Chinese government supports these centres, releasing a white paper on the topic, which details their commitment to the “online safety” of minors, and promising to take measures to prevent young people “overindulging in the internet” – but it’s not an opinion shared by everyone.
Article Source: www.gamepron.com

Photo credit: RonInMcR / Foter / CC BY-SA

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  • Regaining Perspective in Our Cluttered Minds

Regaining Perspective in Our Cluttered Minds

Today's posting follows on from yesterday's thoughts on shallow thinking and the effect technology is having on our minds and brains.

The first part of this post is clipped from Our Cluttered Minds (via NY Times - http://nyti.ms/dnGo1t), By Jonah Lehrer, Published: May 27, 2010: it is, in essence, a review of Nicholas Carr's book: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

Secondly, I found an interesting quote from Jim Taylor, Ph.D., an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco (http://bit.ly/9Sg1Ti) and although the quote is referring to 'Popular Culture', I believe the advice can be broadly applied to the topic of Internet usage.

In the final part of the post I've found some useful quotes from Dr. Kern, a leading behavioural addiction specialist; listening to his advice via the link offers a range of practical solutions.

NY Times Article - Our Cluttered Minds
Socrates started what may have been the first technology scare. In the “Phaedrus,” he lamented the invention of books, which “create forgetfulness” in the soul.
In the 17th century, Robert Burton complained, in “The Anatomy of Melancholy,” of the “vast chaos and confusion of books” that make the eyes and fingers ache.
By 1890, the problem was the speed of transmission: one eminent physician blamed “the pelting of telegrams” for triggering an outbreak of mental illness. And then came radio and television, which poisoned the mind with passive pleasure.
In “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” the technology writer Nicholas Carr extends this anxiety to the 21st century.
Carr argues that we are sabotaging ourselves, trading away the seriousness of sustained attention for the frantic superficiality of the Internet.
“Once I was a scuba diver in a sea of words, now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
This is a measured manifesto. Even as Carr bemoans his vanishing attention span, he’s careful to note the usefulness of the Internet, which provides us with access to a near infinitude of information. We might be consigned to the intellectual shallows, but these shallows are as wide as a vast ocean.
Carr insists that the negative side effects of the Internet outweigh its efficiencies.
Consider, for instance, the search engine, which Carr believes has fragmented our knowledge.
“We don’t see the forest when we search the Web, we don’t even see the trees. We see twigs and leaves.”
Why is it that in a world in which everything is available we all end up reading the same thing?
...he’s horrified by the way computers are destroying our powers of concentration.
And so we lurch from site to site, if only because we constantly crave the fleeting pleasure of new information. But this isn’t really the fault of the Internet. The online world has merely exposed the feebleness of human attention, which is so weak that even the most minor temptations are all but impossible to resist.
He argues that our mental malleability has turned us into servants of technology, our circuits reprogrammed by our gadgets.
The incessant noise of the Internet, Carr concludes, has turned the difficult text into an obsolete relic.
Psychology Today Article - Popular Culture: Too Much Time On Our Hands. What is with our obsession with celebrities? Published on September 9, 2009 by Jim Taylor, Ph.D., an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco.
So what do we do? I think it's safe to say that our culture isn't going to help us to make changes. Ultimately, our culture doesn't care about us, only about making money and accumulating power. Instead, it is up to each of us individually to decide that a different road is necessary if we wish to find what we seek.
We must start by regaining perspective on the role that popular culture plays in our lives. Our worship of popular culture has caused many in America to search for meaning and connectedness in all the wrong places. The only place to find real meaning is by immersing ourselves in our own lives and the people and activities that actually mean something to us, rather than turning to the contrived-and ultimately unsatisfying-meaning that popular culture tries to sell us. We need to rediscover connectedness with real people instead of accepting the virtual connections that are readily available with modern technology. But for this to happen, we must first admit how truly unimportant popular culture is, reject its allure, and recommit our time and energy to the search for real meaning and connectedness.
My personal opinion is not quite as dramatic as Jim's final sentences and I would suggest methods in developing a healthy balance of virtual and face to face communication.

Yesterday I was reading and listening to Dr. Kern's (http://bit.ly/aCOVkN) take on Behavioural Addictions using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and what I particular found interesting was the idea of harm reduction and not abstinence. The link above leads to a series of short video's, I can highly recommend taking the time to listen to Dr Kern inspiring answers.

To conclude: in my view, it is essential we begin developing guidelines for Internet usage that can be segmented for different parts of society; starting with Kindergarden age and working through school, college, university, work and leisure groups. As is often read, but perhaps not fully understood, a balanced lifestyle is one key to health and happiness ~ Dr. Kern. This, for me, underlines the overall principle on this topic.

Image source: https://goo.gl/LgqGVx
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  • Social Media - Inspired by Scott Gould

Social Media - Inspired by Scott Gould

If you want to follow someone who know's what's going on in social media and you'd like to get better at blogging and social sharing, then start reading what Scott's writing; bookmark his site after reading this.

Why? Because he's nailing it, proper!

While researching the keywords 'like minds' I discovered Scott's website some weeks ago, and after some basic research, I found out that he lives not far from my parents on the South coast of England. Taking this coincidence further I began skimming his blog and read a couple of articles in full, I quickly realised I'd stumbled across someone very talented.

Digging a little deeper through Twitter and Facebook I began to know more about where he was coming from and got a glimpse of where he's heading. At one point I just thought, I want to talk with this guy, so I found him on Skype, and we did just that. Scott very kindly obliged and we chatted informally about this and that, then the office began to pick up and it was time to say goodbye. The next time I'm back home I'm definitely going to pay him a visit, perhaps on a Sunday at his parish church.

Since this conversation we communicate on Facebook from time to time. Interestingly Scott said that he really likes Amplify, but as he's committed to his own blog it's not practical to do both; although he does send interested parties in Amplify's direction.

Below I've snipped some of the key points from his latest post in order to give you a flavour, but I recommend getting to know Scott better by clicking through to his site and reading his posts in full, there is also a great video library called insights that should not be missed.

@Scott, thanks for continuing to inspire my daily work, I already see the differences, and although there's still lots of room for improvement, it's nice to know you there if I get lost, cheers mate.

Clipped from scottgould.me

4 Issues With Comments, And Why Most Blogs Are Anti-Social

I have four issues that I’ve drawn from the comments you made, and bolded the main points, as this has turned out to be a longer post than usual.

Why Comments Matter

- connections trump community
- documented online

The Issues
1 – Readers don’t know what to comment
who is writing about being a better commenter?

2 – Bloggers don’t know what questions to ask
skills of facilitation are really absent in a lot of bloggers

Start valuing people – I mean really valuing people – individual people.
when was the last time you really engaged in a comments section and were retweeting it because of the comments?

4 – We don’t understand Social
Social is all about people and relating with them (not to them).

The Main Point

Blogs that don’t ask meaningful, thought through questions and don’t engage in meaningful responses don’t value their readers and are anti-social.

Your Leading Thoughts

My question for you is:
Do you invite people to your house to then just talk about yourself, and reply to nothing your guests have to say?

Read more at scottgould.me
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  • A Gardener's Delight

A Gardener's Delight

After reading Jay's article, I was initially surprised to hear the reality of today's organisational uptake of social and informal learning, even though it is considered a relatively new vein of learning and collaboration. But then I had a flash back to a conversation with Barry Sampson, from Onlignment, a couple of months ago. He encouraged me to consider that in-fact the core group of adopters and supporters could actually be far smaller than appears in social networks such as twitter, a prediction that is qualified in his article.

Barry and I discussed that within our small group of excited evangelists the fever for social learning innovation is running high, but that did not necessarily mean that everyone else was getting it yet. In a way this gives me great inspiration to know that the market is still luke warm, perhaps not even on-the-radar yet.

Recently I just completed the first "leap frogging" for a client. There were no pilot schemes, no long winded lengthy processes, we just dove in and gone on with it.

The initial blueprint for their new ecosystem was designed based on free Web 2.0 software, which may or may not change as time goes by, but as a means to start, it's was agreed to be ideal and relatively risk free. Their process of gardening has started, instantly in-fact, but now comes the work of maintaining the garden; they need to hoe the ground, spread the seeds, water and protect the vegetation, and most importantly, nurture all the diverse life forms within the ecosystem. To succeed, the process must never stop and actually it needs to continually improve. The head gardener has the responsibility to lead the charge, and is tasked with not only motivating those around him to partake in the growth and success of the garden, but also to get their hands dirty with the others.

Over the coming months I'll be posting updates on how this first garden is developing including the highs and lows, adoption issues and any tweaks, including the teething problems that will turn up, greenfly for example!

I totally agree with Jay's point at the end of the article, "In the end, these human elements of innovation are likely to make the most important difference between success and failure." And I would add that it is important to begin the process of adoption with senior support; it is only by their adoption and enthusiasm that any lasting change will stand a chance of becoming an effective process adopted by everyone. This principal is the foundation of my consultancy, one for all and all for one. If I don't get a resounding 'yes we can' from the those who influence others, then I'm likely to walk away, citing that they are not ready to manage their own garden. 
Go straight to the finish line by Jay Cross 
However, in our debrief yesterday, both Jane and Charles reported that many attendees are only just starting to shift to delivering some eLearning. Social and informal learning are not on their radar.

Opportunities are being left on the table. Today, there is little evidence of collaborative and user-centered approaches in corporate and government settings, though there are suggestions of influence to come in the future. It is the same for mobile devices, ranked last in reported current practice, and jumping closer to the top of the list as practitioners look forward. The virtual classroom and blended learning were also less prevalent in reported practice than anticipated. 
There are many reasons why disruptive innovations fail... 
They fail because proper attention was not paid to the organizational and cultural changes
In the end, these human elements of innovation are likely to make the most important difference between success and failure.
Photo credit: Cath in Dorset / Foter / CC BY-ND

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