Balancing Identity, Community & Trust

Whether we like it or not the Internet is changing how we see ourselves and how others see us. This post isn’t about the rapid pace of technological change but rather how this change is affecting how we communicate, form relationships, and trust one other.

Social Networks are not new but the need to architect your communities within these networks is. What happens if you ignore this evolution? Imagine everyone you know getting together in one big room with a giant display screen behind them advertising some of the most private details of their lived experience. A birthday party, the death of a parent, the personal impact of a recent natural catastrophe.

Some of these events you may want to share with everyone but mostly you want to target your message to specific people in your community. Before social media this concept was referred to as back room and front room conversations and was easy to manage. Social media has broken down the walls between back room and front room conversations and opened a window into back room behaviors.

What you need to know is that social media can be designed in a way to strengthen our broader relationships in a way that is manageable. This introduces the concept of trust and managing our trust relationships.

I found the following presentation through a tweet and it’s probably one of the most clear and comprehensive explanation that I’ve come across about the importance of architecting your social network and of understanding the underlying trust relationships. It’s written from a designer’s perspective but is relevant to individuals and businesses alike.

Synergy: Business Intelligence Communities of Practice & Learn 2.0 Strategies

Corporate e-learning is not a new concept in the workplace but strategies must evolve to keep up with the increasing proliferation of web 2.0 technologies. (Berry and Moore, 2008). Corporations are moving to leverage from the latest technological advances and in so doing are shifting to a Learn 2.0 paradigm. Learn 2.0 is adding to the long established benefits of e-learning of reduced costs, learning on demand, and formal training assessments by facilitating new opportunities for corporate community collaboration, knowledge construction, and peer assessments. These new benefits have a lot of value to the community of learners that make up the Business Intelligence Community of Practice (CoP).

The BI CoP instructional designer can leverage from the Corporate Learning Management System (LMS) to develop re-usable learning objects and by using learn 2.0 strategies can enlist the community to personalize training by developing microcontent thereby keeping information current, soliciting ongoing feedback, and building stronger relationships using internal forums, wikis, and expert blogs. (Bersin, 2007).

To gain the most in synergistic effects, the social network of learning can and should extend outside the corporate walls to take advantage of the expanded learning community that social networking affords. For example LinkedIn has evolved into a wealth of knowledge content with groups such as the Business Intelligence Group, The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI), and Visual Analytics, all with on-going discussions where knowledgeable experts weigh in on the latest problems posted by their peers. RRS feeds and Twitter links provide additional content and integration across applications. Embarking on a shift to Learn 2.0 can be done well when following an established model like the one developed by Joost & Yap (2010). Their model describes how workplaces can take advantage of the social technologies to engage employees, build relationships, and enhance learning.


Berry, K. & Moore, D. (2008). IBM virtual education center. In Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2008 (pp. 602-606). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved online Feb. 27, 2011 from

Bersin, J. (2007). Top trends in e-learning and corporate training. HR Magazine. Retrieved online Feb. 27, 2011 from:

Robben, Joost & Yap, Robin (2010). A model for leveraging social learning technologies in corporate environments. Proceedings of Network Learning Conference 2010. Lancaster, UK, Retrieved Feb. 27, 2011 from

BI vs BA

In Unplugged, a recent article in the Information Management Magazine, George Shen asks whether Business Analytics (BA) is overtaking Business Intelligence (BI). This question seems only poised to get our attention because what Shen is really promoting is the need for an analytics oriented BI architecture that would incorporate better advanced analytics and modeling. I don’t think he’ll find too much opposition to that pitch. However, I do see a problem with the placement of the Advanced Analytics before the business semantic metadata layer. Shen is clearly not unaware of the problems with data cleanliness nor is he a stranger to the challenge of more user friendly design. However, in the article I don’t see a connection between these two problems and the need for a well developed business semantic layer or an indication that the layer is required to be accessed by the advanced analytics tools. Shen places BA beneath the semantic layer and only shows a push upwards. The other problem with the architecture diagram is the lack of emphasis on data that is external to the corporation. Even though Shen discusses examples of valuable data available outside the corporation he does not show how this would be incorporated into the architecture.

I like Shen’s statement “BA needs to be integrated and embedded in business process to be effective”. Too often we see that this is not the case and training for Business Analytics is divorced from the business process. Business Intelligence systems are often a very small percentage of the budget of a much larger ERP project and as such is treated much like an after thought. To compound the problem training is often treated as an IT function and provided as ‘systems training’ with an emphasis on standard reporting. There is often very little done to make the learning experience authentic by situating it within the current business process and relating it directly to real business problems. While I agree with Shen that the BI vendors need to step it up a notch in terms of their offerings and integration of advanced analytics, I think there’s an even bigger problem with the typical BI training approach.

Blogging & Wiki

I started the Wiki activity by adding a post but I’ll need to wait a bit for a few others to add to it before continuing the evolution to discussions and summarizations. Right now the wiki is more like some type of rolling blog. In the meantime I moved onto the blogging assignment which will probably have a discussion forum open up next week. For now, here’s my thoughts.

At first I was nervous about commenting about this issue because I don’t have children nor do I teach children. However after watching the Fischbowl video and reading the Educause article about educational blogging I feel a lot more comfortable about the idea of grade school children blogging in a supportive environment. That is how Stephen Downes describes the environment in the Educational Blogging article. I was also swayed by the interviews in the Fischbowl video where the students listed the multitude of benefits like extending the classroom, having time to reflect, taking accountability for their writing because it will be read so publicly and they will need to be able to defend what they write.

Now, optimistic about the value of the exercise I ran the process and technology through Chickering and Ehrmann’s Seven Principles and the results were also encouraging:

☑  encourages contact between students and faculty,
☑  develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
☑  uses active learning techniques
☑  prompt feedback
☑  emphasis time on task
☑  communicates high expectations
☑  respects diverse talents and ways of learning

I do acknowledge that neither of the sources seemed to offer any critique or discussion of potential risks. However, based on my assessment using these materials, I will move onto the potential strategies.

First would be to have a discussion with the parents – possibly a dialogue with them and their children to hear out the concerns. I would recommend sharing the assessment about how powerful of a learning experience this is and to share the video with the parents. I think its a strong message in the voice of the ones that matter – the kids. I think another option is to look into having a semi-public blogging space that is only open to the educational community e.g. the whole school but not the whole world. I didn’t hear any specific statements by the students about the benefits of having ‘strangers’ comment on their work. The value for the students seemed to come from interacting with their peers in an extension from the classroom. However, this may limit the value of the exercise that allows the students to engage with the world at large in a supportive environment which seems to be a timely and necessary learning experience. I think that they made the right choice with selecting Livejournal given the policy, as stated in the Educause article, of only allowing new members who are recommended by existing members. It’s not completely controlled but it helps to foster a safer community environment. I also think that it would help to include regular discussions and reflective exercises about how the students feel and respond to negative and hurtful comments that appear in their blog. As a last resort I suppose you could allow students to opt out.

Chickering, A.W. & Ehrmann, S.C. (1996).  Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 49(2), 3-6.

Downes, S. (2004).  Educational Blogging.  Educause Review.  September/October 2004 Accessed online 25 March 2009. Retrieved from

Fisch, K. (2007). “Blogging: In Their Own Words,”The Fischbowl.  Accessed online 26 March 2009.

Educational Media Production – Design Process

After spending quite a bit of time in Flash trying to get various media components lined up properly within a time line as well as with effective transitions I realized I was not working in the best tool for this phase of the design process. I decided I wanted a product that would facilitate more of a storyboard approach. I’m a Windows user so my options are limited but I decided to try the Windows Live Movie Maker and was pleasantly surprised at how fast I was able to bring the components together.

It is very helpful to the creative process to be able to see a piece of work from start to finish – no matter how rough it seems. Once you have the storyboard complete it makes it much easier to go back to Flash to add the technical tweaks that will transform the product from draft to production ready.  Flash of course provides the additional capability of making the production interactive which is a definite bonus from an educational perspective.