Cirrus 111208

This week I found links to:

The TL Virtual Cafe’s Open Mic with Joyce Valenza that attracted 138 participants. Gwyneth Jones was the moderator.

Andrew Preater‘s discussion of ethnographies of next-gen catalogue users.

Phillipe Blanchard’s discussion of shared goals for sport.

I expect current sport industry leaders to engage in attempts to master all kinds of data necessary to increase their legitimacy on one hand and become the ultimate storytelling platform for their sport and the other hand.

Phillipe points to a Claire Ritchie observation:

For a modern global sporting event, not having a fully functional communications infrastructure capable of withstanding an invasion of the world’s leading opinion forming sports journalists, legion of tweeting athletes and smartphone addicted spectators is akin to not filling the Aquatics Centre swimming pool with water.

Claire provides an insight into the infrastructure in place to support the London Olympics:

  • WAN, MAN, LAN and TV and broadcast services.
  • 80,000 voice and data outlets, 16,500 fixed telephone lines, 14,000 mobile SIM cards, and 1,000 wireless access points.
  • The London 2012 Games website ready for 12 billion page views.
  • Six Gigabytes of multimedia data every second generated by 14,000 cable TV outlets, 20,000 accredited media personnel, and Live Site screens in UK city centres
  • High demand for data transfer with such things as real time video streaming

The core communications network has:

  • 160Gbps between POPs and 20Gbps delivered to each of the venues.
  • A dedicated communications network for Olympic Broadcaster Services London (OBSL), the host broadcasting organisation for the London 2012 Games.
  • High Definition (HD) images shared with billions of viewers.
  • A massive fibre ring around the Olympic Park in East London, and communications arteries that will reach out as far as Hampden Park in the north, the Millennium Stadium in the west, Weymouth in the south, and Hadleigh Farm in the east – an estimated total of 94 separate competition and non-competition venues throughout the UK.
  • All joined together with enough cable to stretch halfway from Beijing to London.

I listened with interest to Emma Marris‘s discussion of The Rambunctious Garden on Radio National’s Counterpoint program and thought about eco systems and learning.

Humans have changed the landscapes they inhabit since prehistory, and climate change means even the remotest places now bear the fingerprints of humanity. Emma Marris argues convincingly that it is time to look forward and create the “rambunctious garden,” a hybrid of wild nature and human management.

I heard about Nicholas Gruen’s Wellbeing Index via ABC666 and liked the points made about human capital:

One of the nation’s most valuable assets is not its physical assets, like buildings and machinery, but its human capital – the knowledge and knowhow embodied in our people. Education is the key driver of improvements in human capital.

The same ABC666 program brought me news of the canberra lab too.
canberralab is … the actualisation of a latent desire of a group of young architects to establish a discourse within Canberra’s design community. Through building a platform to critique/discuss/discover Canberra’s built environment the CL zine will foster and encourage an exoteric dialogue between architecture, design and art. More than that though, CL is about understanding Canberra… why it is the way it is, what works, what doesn’t …
Interspersed with these items were some great leads from Stephen Downes and OLDaily. I liked his links to sharing and friction, curation and new technology in research in particular.
Photo Credit


This is a brief post about Tim Harford‘s book Adapt.

A trail for the book observes that:

In this groundbreaking book, Tim Harford shows us a new and inspiring approach to solving the most pressing problems in our lives. Harford argues that today’s challenges simply cannot be tackled with ready-made solutions and expert opinions; the world has become far too unpredictable and profoundly complex. Instead, we must adapt—improvise rather than plan, work from the bottom up rather than the top down, and take baby steps rather than great leaps forward.

I listened with great interest to Tim’s interview on Radio National’s Counterpoint. He discussed:

  • Planning failures in a complex world … even in relation to toasters!
  • Error correction … “success is about error correction”. “We tend not to acknowledge failure.”
  • Willingness to accept independent evaluation is a sign of strength not weakness.
  • Show humility in acknowledging error.
  • Adrian Hewitt and the Merton Rule.
  • Encouraging differences of opinion and dissent in the discussion of strategic initiatives: lessons from the US military. (This is a fascinating part of the interview that introduces Irving Janis, Solomon Asch, H R McMaster, David Patraeus, and Major General Jack Galvin.)

Tim’s interview concluded with three principles for an adaptive organisation:

1. Try new things: expose yourself to outside influences. Accept the failure of tools … that is why you need lots of tools.

2. Make sure failures do not finish you off: have survivable small bets.

3. Make sure you know the difference between success and failure.

Photo Credit

Adapt or Perish

A Perfect Mess: on-line communication

I was driving home last night and came across an interview between Michael Duffy and David Freedman on Radio National’s Counterpoint. David Freedman is the co-author of A Perfect Mess. In the interview David outlined his view on the messiness of life. The book “demonstrates that moderately messy systems use resources more efficiently, spur creativity, yield better solutions and are harder to break than neat ones.”

As I was listening to the interview I was thinking about how messiness has contributed to my learning. In the last couple of years, particularly post CCK08, I have accessed a variety of on-line sources to explore learning possibilities. Occasionally I try to collect these sources here in this blog. As I was sifting through my early morning feeds today I happened upon a delightful post on the ABC’s Drum Unleashed page by Helen Razer. Now that I have read her post, Twitter quitter, I lament that I have not been organised enough to find her work!

Helen discussed her decision to delete her Twitter account and contemplate Catherine Deveney’s removal from the pages of a Melbourne newspaper. She observes that:

Derailment becomes possible with the invention of the locomotive. The air disaster becomes possible with the birth of aviation. I don’t know what to call the spite, rage and fervour that unfolds every second on Twitter, but I no longer want any role within it.

You might think professional writers would exercise a little more caution with this push-button publishing. The fact is we don’t. We’re right down there in the mud of the populaire rolling around like malicious, attention-hungry hogs.

This is a medium that has seen journalists of national reputation call me, sans any personal provocation a “Druggie”, “Shameful” and “A crap writer”. The last of which was re-Tweeted by a former editor with whom I’d never differed.

Helen’s post was published on the day she appeared on ABC’s Q&A’s discussion of the Future of the Internet (on a panel that included Kaiser Kuo and Brett Solomon.) I missed that too but caught up with that this morning. Helen’s Drum Unleashed post had received sixty-four responses by the time I read it.

One of the comments was from Beagle:

In the early days of the internet, I used an electronic term to describe what I experienced in my quest for information on “the net”. I equated my experience in locating specific information about a topic in terms of signal to noise ratio. Think about it as if you are in a car, listening to the radio. As you drive away from a rural town, the further you get from the transmitter the less signal you get and the more noise you hear. Eventually, you hear mostly noise and very little of the signal that is being broadcast.

In the beginning, the internet was very noisy (95% noise and 5% signal). My impression as we moved forward into the 21st century, was that companies like Google got much better at how they interpreted our requests and actually gave us a better signal to noise ration (50% signal – 50% noise). That relationship is drifting back towards more noise and less signal as companies like Google give us “Ads” dressed up to look like signal, when they are actually just plain noise. As an example, try searching for something you want to go out and buy, but are looking for local stores close to you that sell it. Almost impossible! Most “hits” you get will be for companies selling something online.

Twitter at the moment is (99% noise and 1% signal), Why anyone would put up with so much noise beggars belief.

The way I overcome the noise in my messiness is to have trusted sources. I find Stephen Downes’ OLDaily an essential part of my day and his links give me enormous opportunities to explore and connect. I have reduced my use of Twitter but follow 332 others who act as my guides in that space. Recently I have added The Scholarly Kitchen as a source of information and was delighted with the synchronicity of two of its feeds today:

I resisted the temptation to follow links from the XML paper but did pursue a fascinating link from Kent Anderson’s Facebook post. I found Ashwin Machanavajjhala, Aleksandra Korolova, Atish Das Sarma’s paper on On the (Im)possibility of Preserving Utility and Privacy in Personalized Social Recommendations. Their abstract concludes that “We … show that good private social recommendations are feasible only for a few users in the social network or for a lenient setting of privacy parameters.”

This connectedness is a perfect mess for me and one that is invitational and volitional. I take from Helen’s post that each of us can choose how we share our thoughts and that we enter any forum with our eyes wide open. I am attracted increasingly by slow blogging but realise that the remarkable efforts of others makes my blogging possible … now I need to understand XML to savour the prospect of semantic connectedness.

Photo Credits

Phone-wire tangle

World Class Traffic Jam