Networks

My son, Sam, has just written a post about systems and networks (link). I found the post really interesting in a paternal sense and an epistemological sense.

The paternal part of me is delighted to read a blog post by Sam and to learn about his observations and reflections as a member of the #INF537 (link) Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) online at Charles Sturt University.

The epistemological delight is in my commitment to self organising networks hinted at in Sam’s post. I have written a lot about networks (link) and have been thinking about these issues a great deal since the distributed, open course CCK08 (link), and becoming an accidental connectivist (link).

I am keen to persuade Sam privately and publicly to explore self organising networks (link) and to read more about Stephen Downes’ (link) and Alan Levine’s (link) work. I appreciate Sam’s particular working environment constraints (systemic) but am determined to explore the action possibilities he can address as a community driver and facilitate network flourishing within those constraints (link).

I sense that with energy anything is possible even in constrained contexts.

Photo Credit

The Maze (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

Clearinghouses and a Fourth Age of Sport Institutes

I have had the good fortune to be included on the Australasian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN) mailing list for a decade. The network is hosted by the Clearinghouse for Sport (previously the National Sport Information Centre) at the Australian Sport Commission.

The Clearinghouse was established in 2012 as:

a central access point for the Australian sport sector, to serve the needs of users of a specific body of knowledge, and provide information in an audience appropriate manner to support the transfer and development of knowledge.

I received an alert this week that saddened me. It signalled a change in the work of the Clearinghouse. The email header was Discontinuation of the Clearinghouse for Sport, Daily Sports News (DSN).

The email shared this news:

DSN will not continue in 2018. The Australian Sports Commission’s new strategic direction and re-prioritisation of its existing resources were key considerations in the decision to cease the service.
I’d like to thank all who have supported and promoted DSN over the past 10 years. We’re very sad to see it go, but I know many here will not miss those early morning starts.

A colleague replied:

Very disappointed to read this news. This service has played an important role in informing the Australian sport sector of results, news and issues. There is no such service in Australia that covers the breadth of sports and issues in a consolidated way. It was also an important way of informing the Australian sport sector of very worthwhile work of the NSIC/Clearinghouse in terms of ground breaking sport research in and outside AIS/ASC, Clearinghouse portfolios and the recording and availability of seminars and SMART Talks.

In particular, it has allowed me to keep up to date with developments in sport policy which helps my extensive voluntary work in creating and updating Clearinghouse for Sport portfolios in areas such as Australian Sport Policy, Sport in Rural and Regional Communities, Role Models in Sport, Funding for Sport, Country Profiles and new AIS Sport Alumni websites.

The Australian sport sector has been very well served by the NSIC since it was established in 1982 as the AIS Information Centre. It is still a world leading sport information service and one of the few advantages has in the world of high performance sport. Access to information and research has allowed Australia to punch above its weight in world sport since the 1980’s.

Well done to the NSIC staff in their commitment to delivering service to inboxes before 7am. The culture of the NSIC/Clearinghouse has always been about prompt service.

I understand that the Australian Sports Commission is considering how to structure its digital communications. Back in 2009, in a presentation titled A Fourth Age of Sport Institutes, I tried to articulate what such a communications structure might be.

My thinking about this fourth age was profoundly affected by the practices of the then National Sport Information Centre (NSIC). I had engaged with the NSIC from the mid 1990s and had the good fortune to meet them in person when I moved to work at the AIS in 2002.

I found their modesty, diligence, enthusiasm and energy to be a wonderful, infectious guide to my own work. From them I learned the power of invisible service.

I have always thought the NSIC Clearinghouse to be a jewel in the crown of the Australian Sports Commission’s service to national and global sport.

One of my regrets is that I left the AIS in 2007 and could only be an external advocate for the NSIC thereafter. I am hopeful there will be a role for the Clearinghouse staff in Australian sport’s digital future. They have been world-leading for a long time with a modesty that prevents them from saying this. Their world-leading activities are in their practice not in the rhetoric that goes with world-leading aspirations.

I revisited my 2009 presentation following the AUSPIN announcement. I thought these slides embody my concerns. (With my apologies for the red emphases.)

I do hope that the Clearinghouse’s custos role might enable them to be part of this opportunity:

Photo Credit

View towards Bruce, ACT from AIS grounds (1982) (ACT Archives, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Technocracy and Transparency

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to listen to Radio National’s Saturday Extra program. One of the items was a conversation between the presenter, Geraldine Doouge, and Parag Khanna.

Their discussion about the characteristics of governance in Singapore and Switzerland encouraged me to think about how sport might benefit from a sensitive merging of enlightened investment in and engagement with technology with transparent discussions about decision-making and civic engagement.

Parag calls this merging ‘direct technocracy‘. He points out:

This approach combines the virtues of direct democracy with the benefits of meritocratic technocracy, which leverages data to make long-term, utilitarian decisions. Simply put, a direct technocracy marries good ideas and efficient execution.

I think the marriage of ‘good ideas and efficient execution’ is made possible by transparent discussion of the kind evident in ‘the hyper-democratic Switzerland’. Parag says of Switzerland and Singapore:

their records are impressive: both countries boast good health, ample wealth, low corruption, high employment, national military and civil services, and massive state investment in innovation. They respond efficiently to citizens’ needs and preferences, apply international experience to domestic policy making, and use data and alternative scenarios for long-term planning.

There is an interesting blend occurring here: ‘responsiveness’, ‘international experience’ and ‘long-term planning’. All of which encourage me to think about how we adapt better practice to local circumstances.

It seems to me that given the opportunities sport has to generate data, a ‘direct technocracy’ responsiveness to long-term performance should have immense appeal.  I sense that this requires us to re-imagine how we lead and follow in sport organisations.

Photo Credits

Singapore Night (Bailey Cheng, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Switzerland (KP Tripathi, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)