Monday, 2 November 2009

Learning Power Laws

Great post by Dion Hinchcliffe - Twenty-two power laws of the emerging social economy where he discusses what Steve Balmer calls “the new normal”. Balmer talks about how a reset of economic expectations during the downturn has created an environment that is putting pressure on business to do more with less.  Some of the specifics of this transformation are captured in the following graphic:


This is lines up really well with a lot of what I discuss in Business of Learning and Trends in Learning.  The primary shifts he talks about are:

  • New resource constraints. Requiring that we find ways to accomplish our goals using fewer resources.
  • Value shifting from transactions to relationships.
  • Business flux.
  • Moving from change as the exception to change as the norm.
  • A shift of control to the edge of organizations.

Dion then goes through his 22 laws that are useful to understand what is going on with all of this shift.  Several of them I regularly talk about:

  • Amara’s Law (backstory) states that "we tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run." – I cite this in Work Skills Keeping Up? and Adoption of Web 2.0 and eLearning 2.0 Revisited and often use this during presentations.  It's easy to look at any one technology and go through a hype cycle.  We first think, wow this will really change things.  Then we realize go through a cycle where we think, it's not that big a deal.  But over time it often has pretty incredible effects that sneak up on us.  This describes a lot of what we see around web 2.0 tools.
  • Jakob’s Law roughly tells us that "users spend most of their time on other sites", and so you must be there too.  This has big impact on us as it forces us to think about being in the flow of where the work and learning will occur.  See eLearning Portal Integration as one example of this.
  • The The Long Tail which tells us moving from providing best selling products to a wider spectrum of offerings gives an opportunity for larger, potentially more lucrative market overall, if you can service it cost effectively.  This is a common theme in my posts:  Long Tail Learning - Size and Shape  and Corporate Learning Long Tail and Attention Crisis.
  • Principle of Least Effort notes that they will tend to use the most convenient method, in the least exacting way available, with interaction stopping as soon as minimally acceptable results are achieved.  This is important for things like Social Software Adoption.

Overall, Dion's post is a great source for helping to think through what's really going on at a macro level with learning.

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