Cognitive Edge accreditation – Day 2

Published by Richard Hare on


Day two and I am on schedule, catching the 6:42am train and settling down with an episode of “Cold Case”. The journey is trouble-free and I collect a coffee en route to the London Wetlands Centre which looks cheerier under blue skies.

Social Network Stimulation

The morning session begins with some commentary on natural numbers – 5 (7 +/- 2) the number of items you can keep in memory, 15 the number of people you can trust and 150 the number of acquaintances you can maintain and have knowledge of. This leads nicely into applying the Cognitive Edge technique Social Network Stimulation communities. Dave applies the natural numbers to communities as follows:

  • < 5 - crisis community - chaotic domain
  • < 15 - informal community - complex domain
  • < 150 - expert community - complicated domain
  • > 150 – formal community – simple domain
  • I can think of examples in most of the domains, but I need to give this more thought. Could make an interesting sidenote to some of the community research I’m involved in.

    Distributed Cognition

    The advantages of using Distributed Cognition to deal with complexity should be self evident. Running an internal blogging site, we choose not to police the posts – and I’ve argued against it at meetings of our Intranetters community, to general incomprehension and bafflement – instead telling employees what is considered acceptable and giving them the power to report anything they feel falls foul of the guidelines. No one ever has.

    In this session we are introduced to different aspects of narrative and anecdotes. Some I am familiar with, others I’ll need to work through again. These are powerful tools and which we could benefit from using more of.

    I’m happy to note the positive light Dave shines on the cynic when he says “cycnics care” while those who parrot back the party line generally don’t and that “negative storytelling in healthy” while sticking to the script isn’t. I can only agree.

    We also consider complexity using fine granularity objects like narrative fragments – anecdotes, videos, photos – and disintermediation – allowing access to the fragments rather than providing summary reports. Dave tells how US Army staff preferred to read each other’s blogs during the Iraq conflict, an interesting update to the Centre for Army Lessons Learned Knowledge Management case study which I’ve seen so many times.

    These ideas sound like a possible way forward and I feel excited thinking about potential applications.

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