There are a number of changes coming up for both myself and Off Course - On Target (OCOT), so this posting will be a bit different to provide you with a quick overview of what's coming your way.
Through to the incredible support of my company, Autodesk Inc., and my boss (thanks Kelly!), I'm going to be off work through January 25th, 2008, and busy using up my large collection of years of accumulated vacation time. I'll be using this time to finish getting my sailboat, the good ship Learnativity, all ship shape and ready for some upcoming extended world cruising. I'll start posting more details for you on my new adventures at sea in the new year and Elliott Masie and I are going to join forces in a larger context as he too sets out to live, learn, and explore this great planet of ours. We've dubbed our collective effort as the "Grand Learning Expedition" and will have a variety of ways for you to participate and learn along with us in the new year.
With all my time and attention devoted to this and all my online time spent learning more about all things nautical, including finding the best sources and prices for the seeming unending supply of equipment a seaworthy sailboat requires, my one regret is that I won't have any time to devote to Off Course - On Target until I return to work at the end of January. BUT, never fear, there are some very interesting alternatives and additions for you, and we'll continue to ensure that OCOT remains "serendipity central" and lives up to being the place "where unexpected paths lead to great discoveries."
New Perspectives, New IQ Points?
I've always been intrigued by and have often quoted Alan Kay's estimation that:
"A new perspective is worth 80 IQ points"
and this quote came to mind as I was pondering what to do with OCOT while I'm out. Of course, one perfectly fine option is to simply hang up a "Gone Sailing" sign and give you a rest and a chance to spend more time on the many other sites I'm sure you are trying to stay up with.
But I thought of some other options as well. For example, I've long been interested in having more diversity of content within the blog format, and I think we need to understand more about the boundaries of that format before we switch to another one, such as a wiki or newsletters or shared documents or e-mail threads. I've also been planning doing some interviews, and featuring new perspectives from others to add to my own. Now I have the luxury of expanding upon this. In keeping with our theme of experiential learning being such a great teacher, I've picked out a small group of people I know who come from extremely varied backgrounds, professions, locations, and interests, and of course, perspectives. I've asked them to consider sharing their thoughts and ideas with you here on OCOT in text, audio, or video. I've left it completely open to each individual to decide everything from topics to format to frequency, and have simply asked that they choose topics they have a passion for and ones they think would be of interest to you. I'm excited by the prospect of having OCOT be a forum for the range of ideas and points of view this eclectic group will undoubtedly come up with, and am very confident you'll really enjoy it immensely.
I'm also interested to see how this works for the invited guests. I've purposely picked a very broad range of individuals, and some have their own blogs, so this is in part an experiment to see if it makes sense for them to use OCOT as an additional outlet or to speak through their own blogs and use OCOT for connections I might make, providing comments, etc. Other invitees don't have a blog, but may be considering starting one, so this is a chance for them to experiment. For others who don't have the time or desire to commit to a regular flow of content that a blog requires, this opportunity provides an outlet for them whenever they would like to use it. You can come up with many other options I'm sure, and again, this will be a chance to experiment and discover some of these combinations, and learn more about the variety of presentation that works within blogs and what needs to go beyond these boundaries.
We'll keep this wide open and informal, so just how many of them can find the time to contribute and just how often they choose to do so remains to be seen. I see this in keeping with our focus on experimentation and discovery, rather than being very directly tied to my being out for awhile, and my hope is that we find this works out very well and we can continue to play with this additional type of content on OCOT long after I return. My goal is to bring you interesting people and perspectives, along with the extra IQ points you can gain from visiting OCOT! So be watching this space over the next few weeks for some additional new posts by these individuals, and let us know via your comments, how it works for you, your reactions to both this new type of content, as well as the topics themselves.
My thanks in advance to those guests who took me up on this offer, and have fun with the experiment.
OCOT 2.0? Looking for a Few Brave Beta Testers
Finally for today, I'd like to talk about one last but very exciting bit of new experimental and experiential learning we are going to be starting. We're adding entirely new capabilities to OCOT. As per my previous comments about exploring the boundaries of blogs, I'm also anxious to learn "beyond the blog" and to join forces with you to try out new forms, formats, and features that continue to improve and grow our mutual communication, collaboration, and value. For example, I'd like to learn more about when a wiki type of format is more appropriate for soliciting more direct and detailed input from the rest of you. I'd like to have us learn more about when the voice of a single author makes sense, and when the collective voice of a group of people creating, editing, and evolving content, conversations, and knowledge make more sense. I'd like to see how well we can blur the boundaries and barriers that formats sometimes put in our way. Is there a more transparent and blended way to have content be "just right" for us and matched to our constantly varying moods, context, and conditions? As we have more and more options and ways to communicate, we will need to become better at choosing the right tool for the task at hand.
To do all this, I've been working with a talented developer, Tony Freixas, to create a test site with a whole new look and feel and a mashup of many different features and capabilities that might make sense for the next iteration of OCOT. At this point, we have the first prototype up and running as a temporary test site, and we're looking for a few brave and curious volunteers to take this prototype for a test run and get their feedback on the experience to help guide future directions and capabilities to bring to all of you out there in OCOT land.
If you have a few hours in the next 2 months and would be willing to try out this new OCOT experience and provide us with your reactions, experiences, and suggestions, please send a short e-mail to Tony and he will send you instructions on how to participate and contribute. My thanks in advance to those volunteers. We'll be back to the rest of you with results in the New Year.
As we all begin to wrap up yet another year that seems to have flown by, and ramp up for the start of 2008, I want to thank each and every one of you for reading, listening, and watching OCOT. I take it as a great honor that you would choose to spend the most valuable currency there is—your time and attention—and I hope you continue to find it to be a good use of both (why else would you come?). I hope that OCOT continues to take you down some very unexpected pathways, which lead to even more unexpected and even greater discoveries. I'm about to head out on some grand new adventures, journeys, and discoveries of my own, and look forward to sharing and learning more with all of you next year.
Thanks for helping to make 2007 such a truly great year, and here's to making 2008 even better!