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April 22, 2008


Stephen Downes

Jane Hart has been doing this for a couple of years: http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/top100.html

The Kelly stuff is just the digerati jumping late onto the bandwagon.

Instead of stealing Hart's thunder, the Masie Center should be thinking about how to reward and highlight her work.

Wayne Hodgins

Thanks for the comments and the pointer to Jane Hart’s good work, Stephen. A couple of corrections and comments are due:

1. To be clear there is no connection here between my recommendation for more sharing of “Cool Tools” and the Masie Center. The reference to The Masie Center was only relative to my description of Tom's role with them as a Masie Fellow. I take full responsibility and blame for these suggestions.

2. My focus and that of Off Course – On Target is not specifically or uniquely about learning per se. We have great sources (such as you) for that. Rather, I focus on overall human performance improvement in any and all forms, contexts, and pursuits. Hence, my interest in tools and technology, as well as my discussions with Tom, were about the breadth and depth of such tools and the stories behind our discovery and use of them.

3. One of my purposes for the post and reasons for championing this theme of “cool tools” is to raise awareness of the many other sources of similarly interesting, diverse and valuable lists of useful tools and technology, of which I suspect there are probably hundreds, if not thousands. I chose to mention only a few that I suspected may be less well known and which show some of the diversity I think we want and need. You helped with this goal very quickly and efficiently, as usual, by noting Jane Hart's list. Far from "stealing her thunder", I would see this as helping to add to the awareness and contributions to her list and the many others out there, as well as possibly encouraging others to start their own.

4. I believe that there is a very wide scope for these kinds of “cool tools” lists, and I could not imagine that there would be any single list that would cover them all. As you’ll see with some of my own cool tools contributions in future posts, the range of topics is extremely diverse. This diversity matches with my promotion and celebration of our uniqueness as “snowflakes”.

5. Top Ten type lists such as Jane’s are most informative in giving people a sense of what the majority of others are using and finding most valuable, and I too think these have good value. However as a big believer of the long tail theory of distribution and along with my focus on diversity and uniqueness, I try to balance the mass popularity type tools with a greater range that appeal to smaller audiences perhaps, but are also so very “just right” for the right person at the right time. I suspect that each of us has some of these tools and technologies that we may only use occasionally. But when we do use them, they have that great quality of being just the right tool for the task at the time and give us such great satisfaction and results that we tend to smile inwardly and feel good using them. Hence my desire to encourage more sharing and discovery of a greater range of “just right” cool tools that are lurking just out of sight and are unlikely to ever appear on a Top Ten type list.

Thanks for your interest and for taking the time to alert everyone to Jane’s good work, Stephen. Much appreciated.

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