The un-workshop presentation files

Props for un-workshops….

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History of this Site

August 25, 2008

I think Learnscape Architecture is a bit snooty and intellectual. For now, the name is changing to Learnscaping. Furthermore, the role of the printed portion vis-a-vis the portion in the cloud is confusing. I plan to re-craft the print version into more of a tour guide and teaser, leaving the meat here. This is going to require tighter password control in the future.

January 4, 2009


From the Learnscape Community site:

    The un-book on Learnscaping faces an uncertain future. A mere handful of people ever visit the online site (one or two a day).The price of the published volume is $25 paper, $36 as a download.

    People bought 27 copies of the un-book from November 14 to present, a dozen in print and 15 electronically. People bought 24 copies from July through mid-November, a mere 9 in print and 15 electronically. Half a dozen friends and fellow authors have agreed to review the book. Weeks later, I have heard nothing substantive from any of them.

    Of the fifty people who bought the book, one left a comment and few have participated in discussions here.

    While Lulu prints a book in landscape 9×7 format, it can’t be put into more general distribution with an ISBN and distribution on Amazon. Hence, I just reformatted the un-book as a Word document for flexibility.

    Potential experiments:

    1. Decouple the on- and off-line versions. Could give the online version away, use it to fuel sales of the print version.

    2. Could comp online readers.

    3. Need to set up a gateway for capturing info on buyers. (Lulu hides buyer info from the seller.)

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Services

Bringing the Learnscape Architecture approach into your organization

Informal learning often falls through the cracks. No one’s responsible; you don’t find it in budgets or job descriptions. Generally, this most important of activities for sustaining performance and driving innovation is left to happenstance. As one of the few areas that has been neither managed nor streamlined, the upside for doing a better job of it is often enormous.

We can help your organization experiment with using natural, informal learning to:

  • improve corporate responsiveness to change
  • foster a culture of continuous improvement
  • facilitate teamwork and collaborative problem-solving
  • replace traditional training with self-service, on-demand learning
  • build on social networking and web 2.0 in learning
  • keep professionals abreast of new developments while reducing cost
  • raise the bar from passing the test to learning without limits
  • reduce superfluous email and bureaucratic bloat
  • attract and retain inquisitive, self-motivated talent
  • shift responsibility for learning from managers to workers

Every organization is different, so every engagement we undertake is custom. Experience has taught us that cookie-cutter approaches don’t work well when changing organizational cultures.

Where to start, what it will cost

Typically someone in the organization will have read Learnscape Architecture: Getting Things Done in Organizations and spotted an opportunity to give it a try in-house. In rapid succession over the course of a month, we walk through these steps together:

  • exploratory telephone conversation to talk over what you want to accomplish
  • conference call with members of project team to set direction
  • online organizational or unit survey of practices and attitudes
  • review findings, determine approach, and plan visit
  • select one or two dozen internal change agents to work with
  • webinar to explain learnscape architecture approach
  • onsite workshop to generate enthusiasm for informal learning
  • corporate license to Learnscape Architecture tools and reference
  • action plan for informal learning experiments going forward
  • change agents do internal selling to establish beachheads
  • conduct prototype Learnscape projects
  • assess results of prototypes and plan future Learnscape

Fees for a bundle of activities like this, including a workshop for your team, start at $6,000 plus expenses.



Similar services are available a la carte.

A day of consulting

Sometimes just spending time together, reflecting on critical issues, reviewing organizational readiness, exploring your learnscape, and brainstorming learning strategies is sufficient to get you going. Typical fee $3,500 for first day, $3,000 per day thereafter.

A session on the phone

Just need some quick virtual advice, brainstorming approaches, elaboration of a case study from the book, or personal explanations of learnscape issues? Let’s talk on the phone. Typical fee is $425/hour with a two-hour minimum.

Public presentation

We speak at conferences, trade shows, user group meetings, and educational sessions around the globe. Fees for onsite presentations start at $6,000.

Webinar

We deliver presentations and Q&A sessions for prospects, in-house groups, executive retreats, and sales meetings. Fees for a one-hour session start at $1,500.

Survey

Sometimes it’s useful to hold your organization up to a mirror to gather ammunition to convince others of the need for change. We prepare questionnaires, conduct surveys by email (anonymous or open), provide detailed reports of findings, and provide interpretation. Fees for a twenty-item survey, including all administration and reporting, start at $1,000.

Business
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Learnscape patterns

Getting things done with knowledge workers involves figuring out what you want to accomplish, collaborating with others to develop a concept, getting people on board, and proceeding holistically. This is tricky. There’s no cookbook. It’s not step-by-step. And your case is different from the next person’s.

Because every organization is different, same-size-fits-all approaches aren’t ideal for designing learnscapes. A more sound approach is to mix and match components that have worked well in a variety of situations in the past to assemble up hybrid models to try on for size. Just as words can be used to create an endless variety of sentences, standard elements can be reconfigured to create very personalized learnscapes. Renegade architect Christopher Alexander calls these timeless elements patterns, and we’ll do the same.

Patterns are rules of thumb. Some are quite specific; others are general. A pattern describes a situation, a way of dealing with it, and a story to illustrate its application. Patterns come on many levels, from enterprise strategic intent and long-term perspective, through values like trust in workers or openness to change, to infrastructure issues such as full internet access and offering places to meet, to practical aspects of sharing stories and using collaborative software, and eventually down to common sense things like learning from one’s mistakes.

The Learnscape patterns we are developing currently fall into five categories. A category called meta describes how patterns fit together and other aspects of improving organizational learning.

Learnscapes | Organizations | Business | Cognition | Toolbox

Learnscaping: platforms in lieu of programs, networks and internet culture, learning ecologies, transparency, trust, value-driven and do-it-yourself.

Organizations: getting things done in groups, phases of implementation, internal marketing, change process, core vs context, each one/teach one

Business: enterprise 2.0, let it be, loose coupling, community, distributed intelligence, talent, cut slack, KM, scope, group performance support.

Cognition: natural learning, learning life cycle, memory, group impact, identity, fulfillment, PKM, stories.

Toolbox: web 2.0 suite, virtual life, mobile, games, search, visuals, search, video, webinars, unconferences

Countless web pages, webinars, and books will tell you all you need to know about the mechanics of web 2.0 tools. It reminds me of the early days of personal computers when bookstores had to expand just to hold all the computer books, and people came together in user groups to figure out how things worked. The how-to stuff is out there.

The trouble is, the mechanics are the tip of the iceberg. It’s as if telephones were being introduced into corporations for the first time, and people flocked classes on dial tones, calling 911, and area codes. No, no, no. To make things work, you need to learn about phone etiquette, reasonable expectations on calling people back, and dealing curtly with telemarketers. That’s the sort of thing we’re working toward with patterns,

This is a work in progress. it took Christopher Alexander 14 years to document the 235 patterns in A Pattern Language. We’re on internet time here, but it will be a year before our patterns cross the chasm.

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About the author

Ten years ago I fell so deliriously in love that I neglected my work, lost my job, and flew to a Caribbean island to sort out my priorities. My mistress was the web, I love her still, and she’s been very, very good to me.

Computers

When I graduated from college with a degree in sociology and no technical background whatsoever, I took a job programming and selling mainframes. Computers are commonplace today but in the mid-sixties the popular press was full of articles about giant mechanical brains that might rise to take over human civilization. The initials IBM conjured up images of mile-high IQs, theoretical physics, The Outer Limits, space travel, and Albert Einstein. Computers were mysterious and cool. I learned COBOL and Assembler, and devoured Datamation magazine.

My freshly minted computer background enabled me to avoid the Viet Nam War by getting a direct commission into the Army, where for two years I oversaw mobile computer centers in Germany. I’ve skirted the edge of the software business off and on ever since. Generally my computer lust was like this thing I had for Catherine Deneuve: beautiful but distant.

Learning

In the late seventies, a group of academics hired me to research the market potential of an adults-only off-campus degree program in business. Firms up and down Silicon Valley were enthusiastic. I spent the next two years developing interactive workshops in management, marketing, finance, accounting, business law, and so forth for what morphed into the University of Phoenix. When the gang moved from San Jose to Phoenix, I quit to join a start-up in California to train bankers how to make sound loan decisions. A majority of the top 100 banks in the U.S. bought the idea, and for a dozen years I worked with senior loan officers, training directors, and instructional designers at big banks.

The Web

The Well (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) was a doorway to thousands of online conversations among digerati, deadheads, do-gooders, dabblers, degenerates, and co-conspirators. I became jaycross@well.com learned about online community from Howard Rheingold, Cliff Figallo, Tom Mandel, Robert Rossney, and dozens of others. I surfed the web when the only on-ramp was Tim Berners-Lee’s Next machine at CERN. I coded a web site when few people had ever heard of the web.

I became a web fanatic. Just imagine what could come of coupling learning to boundaryless computer networks. Colleagues grew weary of my rants. Our company was focused 110% on CD-ROM interactive multimedia. I left the firm and flew to a Caribbean island to figure out what to do next.

Web + Learning = Internet Time Group

The concept of Internet Time Group came to me whilst sitting amid the Mayan ruins of Cozumel. My calling would be helping people improve their performance on the job and satisfaction in life. My experience with the University of Phoenix and the Well led me to challenge conventional wisdom about how adults learn. Often networking was at the heart of it.

Back in the States, I talked with Silicon Valley companies about harnessing the power of the web to teach technical skills that were in short supply. I posted my thoughts on the web. When the CEO of the largest CD-ROM training company decided his firm needed to switch to hosted distance learning, the firm scoured the web for someone who knew the topic. My name came up 1, 2, 3, and 4, and for the following two years, I read the tea leaves and wrote the white papers at SmartForce, the eLearning Company.

Beyond the road less traveled

Oddball stuff is often regular stuff making a premature appearance.

When I began blogging (in the last century!), my friends didn’t “get it.” When I started writing about eLearning, Brandon Hall emailed me that he didn’t like the term; it wouldn’t stick. Others debated that eLearning would never be as good as what takes place in the classroom.

Traditionalists were not pleased with my observation that “Courses are dead.” People put down informal learning, saying it lacked rigor and was uncontrollable.

To the naysayers I have sparred with since 1998, I have but one thing to say: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

I believe we are at the gates of a new wave of human consciousness. Everything is becoming connected. The global brain is kicking in. The global heart won’t be far behind.

jay

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This is a travel guide

When you’re in Chartres, don’t miss the cathedral.
Continue Reading »

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Unlearning

Paradigm drag
In order to move forward, we’ve got to dump some mental baggage that’s no longer useful. This is not going to be easy. The last few centuries are but a blip in the history of the human race but we’ve convinced ourselves that have convinced ourselves that we’ve discovered eternal truth. Continue Reading »

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eat

 

Jason Fried

Why are we doing this? 
What problem are we solving? 
Is this actually useful? 
Are we adding value? 
Will this change behavior? 
Is there an easier way? 
What’s the opportunity cost? 
Is it really worth it?

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Genericorp

Genericorp is the triumph of form over substance.

Our mission

    We intend to hold a strong position in our industry by offering quality service to our customers, hiring the brightest and best people available, by nurturing a family type culture that extends to our partners and customers, and by focusing on efficient practices. We will seek to keep overhead low, while continually offering a strong value proposition to maximize revenue, thus leading to a profitable enterprise.Everything we do, everyday, underscores our collective dedication to this credo. Our objective is to earn the right to become our stakeholders’ vendor-of-choice, employer-of-choice, partner-of-choice, or investment-of-choice.

Continue Reading »

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Beta is beautiful

All hail the early adopters

The first people to try a new product or new idea are enthusiasts, visionaries, tinkerers, and experimenters. They are the crazy ones. They live on the bleeding edge. They put up with half-baked, pre-release products for the opportunity of reaping early rewards, bragging rights for beating others to the punch, and having vendors pay them respect.
Continue Reading »

internet culture
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Learning Architecture: Preface

The Informal Learning 2.0 Fieldbook. That’s what I called this growing heap of words back in May 2008. Then I realized I wasn’t writing a book. And my topic was broader than informal learning. I owe you readers an explanation.

Not about learning? Learning is the cognitive process of acquiring skills or knowledge. I am much more interested in doing. We’ve become a society of knowledge workers and learning is more important than ever, but if it does not lead to action it is simply a distraction. I’d use the title Getting Things Done if someone had not beat me to it. What’s more, we can now imbed knowledge directly into a job so that people need not learn it at all.

Not a book? Books freeze an author’s thoughts in time. The faster the world flows by, the less relevant the book. I want to create a work that keeps the pace of change. Books don’t do this; hence, this is not a book: think of it as an un-book.

An un-book is a perpetual work in progress. By responding to feedback, adapting to changing conditions, and building on new insights, un-books improve with age. Publishing an un-book consists of taking a snapshot for distribution. Un-books are always current; un-books are never stocked in inventory. Rather, they are produced on demand, assuring purchasers they’ll be receiving fresh information.

Traditional books are one-way. The author speaks; you listen. As an alternative, consider the Whole Earth Catalog, which pulled you in with information on handy tools and how to use them. Where you took it from there was your business.

And why confine things to a single author? That’s presumptuous. For almost any subject that comes to mind, I know people better equipped to explain it than I. Rather than try to re-tell their stories in my language, I’d rather introduce you, and give them the opportunity to speak for themselves.

And what about you? You won’t get much from this un-book if you’re not up for making some changes. Please release the notion that change mush be threatening.

When people perceive a potential threat, their ancient reptilian brains open up the adrenaline jets, preparing them for fight or flight. This heightened ready-state is stress. Too much of it can kill you.

Many of us feel threatened by imaginary gremlins. Anything new activates their hair-trigger fight or flight response. These perceptions wear them down. They confine themselves to a limited comfort zone to escape the stress.

Hiding from change does not work for long. The only people who escape change are the dead. The world of the living is continually rebirth. Adaptation to the new is a prerequisite for living a good life.

A natural way to reduce stress without withdrawing from the outside world is to embrace change instead of resenting it. Often change is wonderful.

Remember the day you graduated from college? The feeling you had when your first child was born? Your first sip of champagne? Your first kiss?

The shift from industrial-age consciousness to the networked era is inevitable. To prosper, look at the bright side. Open your mind to fresh ways of dealing with change. Look for the upside, and you may just find it.

Lorne Greene — you may know him as Pa Cartwright on the television show Bonanza — said in a commercial that Alpo dog food was so healthy, he fed it to his own dogs. Among software developers, using one’s own programs became known as “eating the dog food.” (Tom Siebel changed the phrase to “sipping our own champagne,” but what that makes up for in taste, it loses in vigor.)

Eating the dog food means doing it, rather than just talking about it. Let’s eat! Bon appetit!

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FAQ

Who came up with the term eLearning? When?

Many say I invented the term eLearning. This would have been late 1998 or early 1999. It didn’t seem that special at the time. In retrospect, I imagine many people came up with the term independently. I was almost certainly the first use of eLearning on the web. Elliott Masie’s bio says he is “acknowledged as the first analyst to use the term e-Learning.” Elliott told me he first heard the term at IBM.

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Ten Years of Internet Time

Ten years ago I fell so deliriously in love that I neglected my work, lost my job, and flew to a Caribbean island to sort out my priorities. My mistress was the web, and I love her still. She’s been very, very good to me.

Computers

Computers are commonplace today but in the mid-sixties the popular press was full of articles about giant mechanical brains that might rise to take over human civilization. The initials IBM conjured up images of mile-high IQs, theoretical physics, The Outer Limits, space travel, science fiction, and Albert Einstein. Computers were mysterious and cool. When I graduated from college with a degree in sociology and no technical background, I took a job programming and selling mainframes. I learned COBOL and Assembler, devoured Datamation magazine, and fixated on what was then called EDP (electronic data processing).

My purported computer skills enabled me to avoid the Viet Nam War by getting a direct commission into the Army, where for two years I oversaw mobile computer centers in Germany. I’ve skirted the edge of the software business off and on ever since. Generally my computer lust was like this thing I had for Catherine Deneuve: beautiful but neither let me score.

Learning

In the late seventies, a group of academics hired me to research the market potential of an adults-only off-campus degree program in business. Firms up and down Silicon Valley were enthusiastic. I spent the next two years developing interactive workshops in management, marketing, finance, accounting, business law, and so forth for what morphed into the University of Phoenix. When the gang moved from San Jose to Phoenix, I quit to join a start-up in California to train bankers how to make sound loan decisions. A majority of the top 100 banks in the U.S. bought the idea, and for a dozen years I worked with senior loan officers, training directors, and instructional designers.

The Web

The Well (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) was a doorway to thousands of online conversations among digerati, deadheads, do-gooders, dabblers, degenerates, and co-conspiratorss. I became jaycross@well.com and started writing web pages long before most people, I surfed to the web when Tim Berners-Lee’s page at CERN was about all one could see.

The web sucked up all of my mind share. Just imagine what could come of coupling learning to boundaryless computer networks. I was mesmerized by my vision of this future. I became a web fanatic. My colleagues grew weary rants. We had neither the money nor the mindshare to tackle interactive multimedia. I left the firm and flew to a Caribbean island to figure out what to do next.

Web + Learning = Internet Time Group

The concept of Internet Time Group came to me whilst sitting amid the Mayan ruins of Cozumel. I decided my calling was to help business people improve their performance on the job and find satisfaction in life. I would challenge conventional wisdom about how adults learn. Most of the time, I am Internet Time Group. I’m CEO, Chief Scientist, and typist. It has been great.

Back in the States, I continued calling smart companies about marrying the power of the web and the increasingly important need for professional learning. “Living the web lifestyle,” I posted my findings to the internet. When the CEO of the largest CD-ROM training company decided his firm needed to switch to hosted distance learning, his EVP scoured the web for someone who knew the topic. My name came up 1, 2, 3, and 4, and for the following two years, I read the tea leaves and wrote the white papers at SmartForce, the eLearning Company.

I am not an organization man. I am too scattered (some call it innovative) to thrive as a member of a formal organization. Told that I was a poor fit with an organization, I set out to convince my CEO that I didn’t have a problem. Rather, the organization needed more square holes for pegs like me. When faced with an obstacle to accomplishing what I feel is right, I am more likely to rewrite the rules than accept the obstacles in playing the game. Being my own boss eliminates the problem. Life without boundaries.

Oddball stuff is often regular stuff making a premature appearance. When I began blogging (in the last century!), my friends didn’t “get it.” When I started writing about eLearning, Brandon Hall emailed me that he didn’t like the term; it wouldn’t stick. Traditionalists were not pleased with my observation that “Courses are dead.” People put down informal learning, saying it lacks rigor, but informal learning works better than its formal cousin: how did you learn to talk? walk? kiss? Of course, I enjoy poking obsolete artifacts of times past in the eye with a sharp stick. (And unapologetically mixing metaphors.)

jay cross

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Un-books

learnscaping book

The Internet Time Portal was established as a companion to Learnscaping.

Learnscaping was the first unbook to be brought out of the informal learning flow, although initially it was titled Eating the Dog Food. It has since been joined by Work Smarter and What Would Andrew Do? These books all borrow from the thinking of Stewart Brand.

Brand’s books resonate with his awareness of the importance of ecology, both as a field of study and as an influence upon the future of humankind and emerging human awareness.

The WHOLE EARTH CATALOG functions as an evaluation and access device. With it, the user should know better what is worth getting and where and how to do the getting.

An item is listed in the CATALOG if it is deemed:

  1. Useful as a tool,
  2. Relevant to independent education,
  3. High quality or low cost,
  4. Easily available by mail.

CATALOG listings are continually revised according to the experience and suggestions of CATALOG users and staff.

PURPOSE

We are as gods and might as well get good at it. So far, remotely done power and glory — as via government, big business, formal education, church — has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing — power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the WHOLE EARTH CATALOG.

“When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation…. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along. It was idealistic and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.” Steve Jobs


Like the  Whole Earth Catalog, my unbooks and this site are designed to function as an evaluation and access device. With them, the user should know better what is worth getting and how to do the getting. As generous “users” said when the Catalog came out in the sixties, we’d love to turn you on. Unlike the Whole Earth Catalog, this un-book lists things that are readily available via the web.

One thing we should have out right now. You will encounter repetition galore here. Ideas are forever floating around in my head. When presented with an outlet, for example my column in CLO magazine, I open the spigot. The same idea will pop up in new places. It’s not as a bug; it’s a feature. Free reinforcement: maybe you missed it the first time around. For example:

Malleability, multimedia, and more*


CLOs know that extracting meaning from growing mountains of information is tougher than ever before. The walls between disciplines are falling. Specialization, knowing more and more about less and less, is no longer an option. Everything is connected to everything else.

Reality is an endless stream of knowledge, culture and ideas that flows faster and faster. Traditional books are snapshots of that stream. The swifter the stream, the shorter the life of the book. A book is an event. We need a process that outlasts the moment — a movie in place of a photograph.

“I AM OUT OF TIME. You bought the beta edition of this book. Things change so fast that all books are dated by the time they are published. The world is moving too fast for closure. Our lives are in beta.”

So began my 2006 book, Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance. The day it was published, my ideas were frozen in time, inert and unyielding to change. My author journey from outline to printed book took the better part of a year.

Something’s wrong here.

Books have been a mainstay of self-directed learning for centuries. CLOs may not break out the cost of books in the budget, but they assuredly invest heavily in them.

Books are not the ideal way to present subjects that change rapidly. Before I’m accused of calling for the death of books, permit me to say that works of art are timeless. Books such as Moby Dick, The Little Engine That Could, Catcher in the Rye, and David Copperfield are unbeatable. These novels and stories are whole unto themselves. That’s not the case for most nonfiction.

Wake-up call to the publishing industry: Why don’t you produce books that are current? Where are the pictures and maps? Why is the text all one size and color? Why don’t you provide updates on the Web? Why does it take a year to turn out a book? Why do most books come out as if one size fits all? Why don’t you encourage conversation with authors? How long do you expect to remain in business if you continue to act like fossils?

The publishing industry hardly has changed at all since the first paperback was printed in Venice. A page from the 1493 edition of Virgil’s Aeneid looks very similar to a page from The Social Life of Information printed 500 years later: rectangles of monochromatic text, no illustrations, page numbers in the corner and 1-inch margins all around.

books

A study by the Jenkins Group, a custom book publishing firm, found that:

    • One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.• 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.

    • 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.

    • 70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the past five years.

    • 57 percent of new books are not read to completion.

Increasingly, people hunt and gather what they want to read. Today’s activist readers pluck information from the blogosphere and YouTube and their friends on Facebook and MySpace.

To prosper in times ahead, we need to re-conceptualize our relationship with books, the role of authors and how to make books better. The shorthand for what I have in mind is the “un-book.” Here are some of the characteristics of un-books:

    • Unbooks are guidebooks for knowledge explorers navigating the flow of the news, information, sound bites, observations, debate, hacks, diatribes and memes that are the Web. Un-books invite participation. Participants choose how deeply they want to explore a topic and can remix content to create the learning experience they seek. Un-books link to the flow of knowledge, not sanctified facts. Treat that knowledge as community property, and the community will maintain and improve it. Many authors may write guidebooks to the same stream of knowledge, and a single author may create many un-books from a single stream• Unbooks are inherently multimedia. One of those media is paper. Paper is portable, familiar and easy to annotate. A hard-copy book conveys authority.

For the continuing saga of unbooks, visit the site.

*Effectiveness Column in June 2008 CLO magazine

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