Top Two Features of Real Genius (it’s not giant popcorn bombs…)

Sand bucket on the beach of Punta del Este, Uruguay. David (CC BY 2.0)

What makes up a Genius? Most of us in North America imagine the “geniuses” who come up with great new ideas as people who seem to have everything lined up, who don’t need anyone else because it’s their singular genius that makes the day. True brilliance shows in people who get everything done the right way, quickly and efficiently. They are born that way, ready to go.

The science writer B…

The Problem of “Universal” Speech

In this post, I’d like to continue a thread about “Universals”, or ideas that are higher than Strata 5-8’s (“abstract conceptual”). I will go over some of the previous discussion, talk about the problems of 6th Order communication and maybe make a point or two. If you are coming to this site from outside the theoretical framework, you may want to first understand Elliott Jaques’s argument on…

Knowledge Sharing

An article by James Roberson (“CMb 2004–16: ‘Knowledge sharing’ should be avoided”) got me thinking about the problems inherent in the dictive to share knowledge. You know what happens: the boss, who is too small to be your real boss even though he’s your boss’s boss, gathers everyone together and points out that y’all missed some great opportunities because what one group knew…

The Social Nature of Knowledge and Learning

I’ve been reading The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. They have an interesting chapter on knowledge and learning, making the point that you can’t capture knowledge: it’s resident in the social network of your group. Sure, individuals have knowledge, but that knowledge is socially created. And you can’t give it away very easily:

Curiously, if knowledge will go…

“Ready, Fire, Aim”: Intuition, Analysis and Tacit vs. Explicit Knowledge

Devizesbowmen shooting a recurve bow at archery target. (c) Jethrothompson (CC BY SA 3) Via Wikimedia.

By investigating the solutions as you are trying to determine the problem, you get farther ahead. If you knew what they problem was, it wouldn’t be much of a problem: you’d just go ahead and fix it. Most of what we do we don’t truly understand what will work or why. We move around by intuition, using analysis to then determine whether we’re on the right track or how to sharpen our focus.

Mintzberg Quoting Mozart on Composing

For whatever reason, there’s something about the “Aha!” nature of genius that resists deconstruction. Or reduction. Or even reducing to a broth. One of the problems with many of the current KM theories and practices is that they basically ignore this. It’s as if knowledge and knowing were somehow the big secret. The big secret is guessing and doing. Then figuring out why that might have mad…

Knowledge and Abstraction

Illuminated incandescent replacement curly fluorescent light bulb

I’ve been reading KM articles and discussions lately. Again. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of the problem of different levels of abstraction.

Just because I’m in Software Development doesn’t mean that I want the same level of detail as the guy down the hall. I tend towards big picture thinking, wanting to see the details of the program, more than even any particular project. The guy down…

Communities of Practice: Social Theories and Uses

Looking down to Château-d'Oex after a snow on a sunny day. © E. Forrest Christian

Marketing and technical writers never really understand poets, either. Poets have more in common with scientists than they do with tech writers. I’ve worked with a couple of young poets, the real deal slumming in tech writing to make some cash. Poetry is the basic research of writing.

Empty Space and Learning

One of the things that Block talks about is for managers to let their subordinates live with uncertainty. When they demand to know your vision, tell them the truth: you don’t know where the company should go right now. “Where do you think the company should go?”

I started thinking about that as I read “Structural Holes and Good Ideas”, a paper to appear in the American Journal of Sociology by…

How Berners-Lee Finally Built Hypertext By Taking It Back 30 Years

Victorian woman walking between two men in bowlers. Vintage Field and Garden, small business / blog license.

There were lots of more interesting and much more robust systems that provided better access to knowledge. But they didn’t have Berners-Lee and his peculiar mix of vision and practicality. That mix was uncommon, and for innovators to be successful with bringing technology to change the world, they have to believe that they work for a greater good.

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