Coevolving Innovations

… in Business Organizations and Information Technologies

RSS readers: both for full content and for excerpt-only

It’s been six months since I last wrote about revisiting RSS reader choices. I decided to do a little housekeeping on my computer, and ended up switching to Feedreader.

I’ve been using GreatNews as my RSS reader, but have been disappointed that multi-selection is still not available. This means that a lot of articles have been building up, and I have to delete them one-by-one.

As I was posting an entry to a forum using Thunderbird, it occurred to me that Thunderbird actually supports RSS feeds, too. It works a lot differently from GreatNews (and RSS Bandit) though.

How much for a Safari browser?

When I’m doing web development work (actually mostly editing Cascading Style Sheets), I can’t avoid that browsers render markup differently. Yes, there are standards, but there’s the market reality. Thus, although I edit using Firefox (my regular browser), I really need to check with Internet Explorer.

So, how much of the browser world does my work cover? According to statistics for December 2006 from TheCounter, here’s the top 8 browsers in use (from their list of 18).

1. MSIE 6.x filled barempty bar 19691823 (70%)
2. MSIE 7.x filled barempty bar 3491913 (12%)
3. FireFox filled barempty bar 3070730 (11%)
4. Safari filled barempty bar 830311 (3%)
5. MSIE 5.x filled barempty bar 367278 (1%)
6. Unknown filled barempty bar 254895 (1%)
7. Opera x.x filled barempty bar 163697 (1%)
8. Netscape 7.x empty bar 98265 (0%)

Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science

I’m not the biggest fan of Buckminister Fuller, but I do respect people who follow his work. I was reading a blog entry on “A sentence about yourself“, where Flemming Funch cited Buckminister Fuller’s “one-sentence statement of his life objectives”. This contained the phrase “Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science” … which I hadn’t seen before.

There’s a section on Design Science at the Buckminister Fuller Institute where there’s a description. Looking at the Design Science Methodology description, the approach looks to be pretty teleological (i.e. where do we want to be, where are we now). This is much in line with idealized design approach developed by Russell Ackoff.

Both Fuller and Ackoff were architects, so parallels shouldn’t be surprising. However, I’ve fallen off design-oriented (teleological) philosophies towards situated practice (phenomenological) approaches. I started with situated learning (from Etienne Wenger), and then dug in farther with theory of practice (from Pierre Bourdieu) and disclosing new worlds (Charles Spinosa, Fernando Flores and Hubert Dreyfus).

Still, I was intrigued to find a book by Amy C. Edmondson on A Fuller Explanation: The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller. It’s the type of book that I would probably buy, except the 1987/1992 book is out of print (and really expensive, used). I may have to check it out of the University of Toronto library … after I’m doing working on my dissertation!

Another reason for triggering on this thread was that I’ve seen Amy Edmondson (from Harvard) visiting at the Rotman School Integrative Thinking seminars.… Read more (in a new tab)

Place as a process rather than an object or container

I follow Paul Dourish‘s work because I find that his philosophy of science, combined with his corporate research background, puts him close to the way I usually think. In “Reimagining the City: The Cultural Dimensions of Urban Computing“, he and Amanda Williams say …

…. we argue for place as process rather than object or container. [p. 42]

The article is actually centered on mobile information technologies (e.g. the Internet on your phone, while you’re in a city), but the idea frames the idea of place in a different way for me.

Firstly, treating cities as generic (i.e. urban is not rural) doesn’t reflect that each city has its own merits, demerits and “feeling”.

… we view cities as culturally and historically specific, rather than homogenous, and are attempting to open up new perspectives on urban computing by exploring their cultural dimensions. [p. 38]

This rapidly send us into what is meant by “cultural”.

The word “cultural” can be interpreted in two different ways. The taxonomic view recognizes that cities in Britain are different from those in the US, Australia, or Asia. Though it allows for categorization and classification, the taxonomic view of culture obscures a deeper meaning.

We are more concerned with the generative or interpretive notion of culture, which recognizes that cities reflect and reproduce cultural values, and that encounters with cities represent opportunities for cultural work. [p. 38, editorial paragraphing added]

The way I read this, cities not only shape urbanites (the people in the cities) … but urbanites also shape the cities.… Read more (in a new tab)

Work-and-playstations, networked in your home

I’ve verbally relayed high points from presentations that I heard in the IBM Technology Leadership Exchange last March, about the Cell processor. This is an 8-way processor that has the computing power of a mid-range IBM server. It’s also the key component in Sony PlayStation 3, which is famous for its short supply this past Christmas.

I was reminded of this when I was in the basement, and my son Noah asked what the WEP key on our wireless router is. He was lent a PlayStation Portable by his friend, and it supports wireless Internet access.

20061220_PSP_NPI.jpg

Comparative systems analysis at Cal Poly Pomona

I really wish that I had the time to join this course … but I’m trying to stay focused on completing my dissertation over the next few years!

At the Sonoma 2006 meeting of the ISSS in July, Len Troncale, Lynn Rasmussen and Todd Bowers had a workshop describing the study of 80 systems processes. They’re now maintaining a blog with a report of their experiences from fall 2006, and have announced of a new session beginning January 2, 2007.

In my work with the ISSS, one of my concerns is that the systems movement needs to advance and continue to move forward. A lot of people in business come to systems thinking through writers like Russell Ackoff, but I claim that the last significant influential systems writing in management was published by Eric Trist in 1981, for the Ontario Quality of Working Life Centre. (When was the last time you heard about Quality of Work Life?)

The problem that I have with systems theory is that a lot of it is really modernist, and most continuing research streams acknowledge postmodernism, if postmodernism isn’t already a central philosophical foundation. Having systems theory stagnate in the 1980s helps no one, and it’s arrogant to believe that 1980s researchers knew everything.

When David Hawk encouraged me to continue doctoral studies at the Helsinki University of Technology, he said that I really should complete the degree, but the way to do that was to continue to study my natural interests.… Read more (in a new tab)

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