Signing in from western Canada

November 18, 2008

Jochum is a very tough act to follow! And it just gets worse when he tells us that he is new to blogging! So am I, but don’t expect the same quality.

But I should use “new to blogging” in a limited sense. I haven’t actually written a blog. But I’ve done something close with a Furl archive. And I have been interested in the concept of blogging as a locus of knowledge-creation for quite a few years.

I started University as a computer science major, and maintained an interest in the field as I moved into economics. This turned out to be a lucky thing, since when I entered the workforce in 1985 it seemed that the only people my age who were getting jobs were working with computers. I got even luckier by getting a job where I was the only “computer person” in a small, relatively isolated government agency. Over the next decade, I was essentially able to explore and proselytize as our agency moved from typewriters (the only computers were a specialized system to issue and track truck permits, which I maintained), to single-use word processors, to the wonders of PC’s.

As these PC’s became attached to networks in the 1990’s, I began to explore what was then called “groupware”. And I was lucky enough to read Understanding Computers and Cognition (Winograd & Flores, 1987) early in this exploration (I guess I should mention an earlier stint of philosophy classes, between my computer science and economics phases).

So I came upon blogging with a background of a lot of previous experience and experimentation – most of it failed. What immediately attracted me to blogs was that their core structure was built upon what I had come to realize were the only two permanent categories for a given piece of written content: who said it, and when.

Unfortunately, these essentials are often lost in many current blogs. The most common problem is a lack of obvious dates (probably due to self-consciousness about lengthy gaps between postings). And one of the limitations that I’ve noticed with this guest blog is that an essential part of the “who”, the bio that appears at the top, disappears when we move to a new guest blogger.

So, to follow the dictum rather than curse the darkness, light a candle …. below, for “posterity”, is a somewhat longer bio of myself (Dave will post the first few lines soon, at the top of the “guest blogger” spot). And below that is a repeat of Jochum’s bio, for those who are finding his postings sometime in the future (maybe even the very near future, such as after reading this entry!)

Keith Fortowsky is our guest blogger until November 29. Keith found Dave Snowden’s work through AOK in 2004, and attended the Amsterdam accreditation course in Sept. 2008. Keith is an Applied Economist (MSc, University of Minnesota). Keith’s professional interests focus upon using data to to support evidence-based “strategic conversation”. Keith is currently Coordinator, Institutional Research at the University of Regina (Canada). In this role he develops, maintains, and disseminates “institutional statistics”: the corporate-level record of performance at the University of Regina. Prior to his current position, Mr. Fortowsky worked for 20 years in economic research and policy positions in transportation (freight and supply chains) and agriculture. Keith was also an early and enthusiastic client of Trade Area Solutions. Since he couldn’t afford to “buy the company” he has happily settled for becoming an integral part of it’s advancement, as part-time Chief Technologist/Data Architect.

Previous Guest Blogger:

Jochum Stienstra

Jochum Stienstra is our guest blogger until November 15th. He was one of the pioneers in the use of narrative techniques in market research with over twelve completed projects and several more in the pipeline mostly in the Netherlands. He has co-authored one paper with David Snowden and his recent paper “Loser, hero or human being, are you ready for emergent truth” was adjudged the best methodology paper by ESOMAR a few weeks ago and is available from their web site.

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About the Cynefin Company

The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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