Compendium Tutorial on Monday, November 28

Maarten Sierhuis is offering a free Compendium tutorial tomorrow, November 28, 11am-1pm PT, via telephone and WebEx. If you’re interested in participating, drop him an email at msierhuis-at-mail-dot-arc-dot-nasa-gov, and he’ll forward you the call-in information. This is a great way to get some real exposure to Compendium quickly. See Maarten’s original announcement for more information.    (K1R)

Also, proceedings from the Compendium Institute Workshop earlier this month are now available. You can download the PDF of the papers or view the maps of the presentations.    (K1S)

Why I Love Compendium And You Should Too

I just spent two outstanding days at the Compendium Institute workshop in Washington, D.C. Folks, if you are interested in collaboration, you must learn about Compendium.    (JZU)

Compendium is a conversation mapping (or Dialogue Mapping) tool that, simply put, makes meetings better. When paired with a relatively straightforward methodology, Compendium can make a huge difference on the quality of your meetings.    (JZV)

But Compendium is about much, much more than meeting facilitation. If you scratch below the surface, you’ll discover deep thinking about collaboration, hypertext modeling, visual languages, Collective Memory, Shared Understanding, and the art of listening.    (JZW)

Simon Buckingham Shum had a great line at the workshop: “Compendium is like Excel for knowledge.” He’s absolutely right. Just as mortals can build sohisticated number crunching applications with spreadsheets, mortals can easily build useful knowledge applications with Compendium.    (JZX)

But Compendium is about even more than that! Compendium, to me, represents an incredibly rich community of practitioners, deep thinkers, and overall good people. I talk a lot about the importance of bridges — folks who speak the languages of multiple cultures or disciplines. Almost everyone in the Compendium community is a bridge of some sort. To be a Compendium guru, you need to have a knack for facilitation, a brain for visual modeling, and comfort with computers. Everyone in the community has at least two of these traits, and some folks even have all three.    (JZY)

Of course, the best measure of the quality of this community is that several members of the extended Blue Oxen family — Simon, Jeff Conklin, Al Selvin, Mark Aakhus, and Karl Hebenstreit — were at the workshop, and I fully expect others who attended to become part of the family.    (JZZ)

I first learned about all this at a two-day workshop on Dialogue Mapping in 2001 from the supreme guru himself, Jeff Conklin. Since then, I’ve blogged a bit and written a few papers about Dialogue Mapping and Compendium. The workshop this past week has motivated me to dump even more thoughts into the blogosphere. But my writing hasn’t and won’t do proper justice to the topic.    (K00)

The best way to learn about Compendium is to experience it for yourself, and then just do it. Fortunately, there are easy ways you can do this:    (K01)

Al Selvin, who along with Maarten Sierhuis, is responsible for Compendium, likens the art of facilitating with Compendium to playing jazz. A great way to learn how to play is to jam with others. How do you find folks to jam with? There are practitioners all over the world. In the Bay Area, there are lots of practitioners (of course) — myself, Jeff, Maarten (who’s doing crazy stuff with Compendium and the Mars project at NASA), Nick Papadopoulos, and others. In D.C., the good folks at Touchstone Consulting use Compendium every day with their clients, and they’ve built an active Community of Practice there.    (K05)

The best way to find folks is to join the mailing list and ask questions there. One outcome of the workshop is that we will probably convene an online jam session, so that folks anywhere can participate. I’m happy to jam with anyone who wants to learn — either face-to-face in the Bay Area or online. Contact me if interested.    (K06)

Finally, if you’re in the Bay Area, you should register for Jeff Conklin‘s upcoming workshop in Redwood City, November 29-30. If you’re a project manager, facilitator, or consultant, or if you deal with groups regularly (who doesn’t?), don’t wait. Sign up and go.    (K07)

New iBook G4

Folks who know me best know that, while I like to keep track of cutting-edge trends, I myself am the classic late adopter. Part of it is practicality — if it works, why replace it? Part of it is excessive sentimentality. Up until a few years ago, I was still using a wallet my parents had given to me in elementary school!    (1JC)

For the past seven years, my laptop of choice was a Toshiba Satellite Pro 425. I had upgraded the memory twice and the hard disk once, and it ran Windows 95 and Linux. About a year ago, I started having hard disk trouble. That, combined with my desire to run Compendium and to have wireless access compelled me to finally replace the machine… a year later.    (1JD)

A few weeks ago, I purchased an iBook G4. Reasons for going Mac:    (1JE)

  • I wanted a machine that ran Mac O S X. There are a lot of interesting applications that run only on Mac O S X, especially those in the collaboration space, such as SubEthaEdit. Mac O S X also is based on FreeBSD. I can run most of the UNIX applications I use regularly while also having access to Mac O S apps.    (1JF)
  • These Apple notebooks are simply beautiful. I’ve been enamored with the form factor and ergonomics of these machines ever since they first came out, and I haven’t been disappointed.    (1JG)

The alternative was an IBM Thinkpad X series notebook. I also think those are beautiful machines, and they have features that I really miss — thumbpad mouse, two (!) mouse buttons, etc. Plus, as much as I’m enjoying the Mac O S UI, there are still quirks I haven’t gotten used to. For example, Command-Tab doesn’t work exactly as I would like; I haven’t figured out how to cycle through windows as opposed to apps (although I’ve quickly learned that F9 is my friend).    (1JH)

Nevertheless, I am very, very happy with my purchase. I’m also enjoying the new mobility and flexibility that the small form factor and built-in wireless affords me.    (1JI)