29 January 2010

GO forth and Complexify!

A while ago David Snowden of Cognitive Edge commented that Chess and Go can be used to highlight the differences between the “Complicated” and “Complex” domains respectively.

happyseaurchin commented that it would be good to understand more about Go and then talk about it, and I decided I was the man to make such a thing happen given I have played Go since my teen years.

This week at KMLF in Melbourne, I had the opportunity to run a session and it seems everybody enjoyed it very much. I had such a great time I am looking forward to opportunities to run another one and spread word, both about Go and Complexity theory.

Below are the slides from the presentation. Apologies for the fonts. It seems Slideshare didn't like the one I used in PowerPoint. I will post an animated version with audio in a few days when the editing is finished.

For more about Go, check out the article on Wikipedia or an interactive tutorial. This 10-day introductory course is for the brave souls who would like to get a good grip on how such a simple game can be so complex!

26 January 2010

Trust, weak ties and building effective networks

The public has recently been introduced to the concept of the Dunbar number through a series of news articles about how we are all really only capable of maintaining relationships with around 150 people. Some have even suggested that we should limit our Social network connections in order to not break this number.

I read a great blog post by Jacob Morgan today that spilt some light on the way I was thinking about this issue and how networks are powerful way beyond those we actually know and interact with regularly. A response to his post by Robert Paterson claimed that Dumbar's number was still relevant because trust is critical for influence. As such I thought I would wade in with my 2 cents worth which I share with you below.

Access to a wider network of weak ties allows the "long tail" to be mined, both for information and for opportunity.

I agree with Robert in terms of trust to a certain degree, however trust takes time to develop and often it is credibility that can hold sway in a distributed network.

Each member of the network makes a value judgement as to whether their help is valuable enough to warrant their time and resources. Due to the nature of weak ties and early signal detection, sharing a very simple piece of information may have enormous impact for the searcher, giving a higher value to the effort.

Both the credibility felt by the remote giver and the indebtedness perceived (due to the effort and resources already invested into the network by the searcher) should also weigh into the value equation.

So building a network involves building credibility and indebtedness (some would say loyalty) which then through closer interaction may lead to trust and the two remote parties possibly becoming part of each other's "Dunbar group".
What do you think? Should we limit ourselves? If a valuable benefit comes to you at little cost from somebody you hardly know and share little in common with, is it any less valuable to you? And given your differences to them present a similar value, is trust as important as credibility and indebtedness at a distance?

Write your responses on $100 notes and mail then to me! I'm saving for an Apple iSlate :-)

21 January 2010


Well, although I began the QUiCK THiNK idea just to get people to think for 90 secs, many wish to share their answers and discuss them with others. The resulting excellent conversations between my Facebook friends from around the world and difference backgrounds has really excited me. Not just because people are interested, but because of the diverse views that are being respectfully shared.

My Facebook profile though, is just too restricted to do this justice. I have created a Facebook Group called QUiCK THiNK so anybody who wishes to can join in even if they aren't my friend on Facebook which I keep mainly for family and very close friends.

I will still post the QUiCK THiNKs on Twitter and Facebook, but I encourage those who want to talk about them to join the QUiCK THiNK Facebook Group and see how other people THiNK too!

16 January 2010

Take time for a QUiCK THiNK each day

What is knowledge?
Wow, what a question. What an important question. And yet such a hard one to answer.

I have heard David Snowden say that we have struggled as a civilisation for thousands of years to try and define "knowledge" and failed, so I along with David are highly sceptical when some management consultant spouts out a definitive explanation. Until Cognitive Neuroscience moves down to the detail of tracking individual neurons, nerves, synapses and hormonal systems I don't think we are even capable of guessing at the answer, and even then....

But despite this I do run across people every day who make simple mistakes, in business, in hockey, in relationships, in life, because they haven't sat down and thought about what it is to know and to think.

I constantly need to remind myself to reassess assumptions, to question social norms, to overcome mental shortcuts and stupid thinking. So I thought I might at least help my readers move a little way toward understanding knowledge through a daily reminder to quickly think about a question.

Ask yourself a question
We are all capable of so much more than we actually achieve. My hope is that if everyone just takes 60-90 seconds of their day to think about something to do with how they think, both individually and as a group, then I have made a difference in the world.

So keep an eye out on my Twitter stream @DeltaKnowledge for the QUiCK THiNK tweets each day. I hope they get you thinking!