Monthly Archives: September 2009

Solving problems in the public sector

In Norway, we have a serious problem in the public sector, namely the merging of many social services (work, health benefits, etc. etc.) into one large organization (well, large for Norway, anyway) called NAV, which simply does not work. I have always thought that this could be solved by using technology to centralize information, then make it available to the case workers, could be the way to go. This presentation by John Seddon, I think, makes the same point, but with less focus on the technology and more focus on understanding demand and tailoring the organization for it:

Cultural change is free from Mindfields College on Vimeo.

Interesting not just for the content, but also for presentation style – though I think the severe criticism ("He’s a wanker.") would be hard to do outside England and with less of an Oxbridge enunciation.

No need to panic

Salon has an excellent interview with Dennis Baron, the author of A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution (and has a really interesting blog frontpage). His thesis is that the current panic about the Internet making us dumber or destroying the ability to write etc., etc., is a repeat of similar panics caused by previous innovations in content production and not to be worried about. From Plato (on writing) to Wodehouse (who certainly didn’t like dictaphones), pundits have obsessed about how the technology shapes our thinking and foreseen doom and gloom unless we return to the good old days, be it with handwriting or correction fluid.

This, too, shall pass.

(via BoingBoing)

Our search-detected personalities

Personas is an interesting project at the Media Lab which takes your (or anyone else’s) name as input and then determines our personalities based on what it finds about us on the web, generating a graphical representation. This is my result:


…which I found rather disturbing: Fame, sports and religion seems to take way to much space here. The reason, of course, is that my name is rather common in Norway, and, for example, a formerly well known skier skews the results, even though I seem to be the most web-known person with that name.

Anyway, if you have a rare name, it might be accurate – and if your name is John Smith, you might be left with an average, possibly tilted a bit towards Pocahontas:


Anyway – try it out. You might be surprised. And please remember – this is an art project, not an accurate representation of anything…

Update September 20:I somehow forgot to point to Naomi Haque’s blog post about Personas, with discussion of how social networking changes our perception of self.

PhD candidate sought – Social media for innovation

Here is the official text for this announcement. Please contact Asbjørn or me if you are interested, and/or to discuss a project proposal.

BI Norwegian School of Management and SINTEF ICT announces a PhD scholarship for the project ”NETworked POWER. Innovation by social software”

image BI Norwegian School of Management is an internationally leading business school, with a broad research production, a strong international network, and 18000 students at all levels. The school offers a four year doctoral program in business administration. The program features five areas of specialization: Finance and Economics, Strategic Management, Marketing, Leadership and Organization, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

image SINTEF ICT is an internationally leading research institute, delivering research-based competence, services and products.

NetPower is a four-year collaborative project between Devoteam daVinci, Innoco, Induct, Bengler, Seniornett, The Norwegian Labour Party, BI Norwegian School of Management (Department of Strategy and Logistics) and SINTEF ICT. The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council. NetPower has funding for a PhD scholarship, and is looking for a person to fill this four-year position.

Social media for innovation

The evolution of social media the last few years has created new challenges and opportunities at many levels of society. We see the emergence of a strong culture for sharing and exchanging knowledge and experience through new, technologically facilitated network applications. This forms the background for NetPower’s objective: To create social software for innovation, with a focus on private enterprises and non-profit organizations. Within NetPower, Induct creates solutions for Devoteam daVinci and Innoco, and Bengler creates solutions for Seniornett and the Norwegian Labour Party.

The candidate’s research focus will primarily be on the innovation potential of social media for businesses. A suggested research agenda may be 1) To identify and analyze the demands and needs of users and user organizations. 2) To find solutions to challenges around broad participation, privacy and security. 3) To evaluate and analyze solutions. 4) To create knowledge about how social media can be adopted within different organizational cultures. 5) To contribute to theory about social media and strategic innovation.

We are seeking candidates from a wide knowledge background – possible perspectives include, but are not limited to, innovation strategy, including open and/or user-centered innovation, disruptive innovation, strategy process, social network evolution, technology evolution and strategic management of knowledge and knowledge-based companies.

Formal qualifications and personal attributes

The position will be formally located at the Department of Strategy and Logistics, BI Norwegian School of Management, Oslo, Norway. A candidate should have a completed Master of Science degree with a grade B or higher, and be able to speak and understand Norwegian (for collecting and analyzing data within the target organizations). Relevant working experience is, of course, preferable. Appointment to a position as Doctoral Scholar is conditioned on admittance to BI Norwegian School of Management’s doctoral program in accordance with the admission requirements.

The Ph.D. project is central to NetPower – this is where most of the work on open innovation processes and the value of social software in business will be done. The position demands an ability to initiate and follow up relevant research work in close contact with the project partners Devoteam daVinci, Innoco and the software developer Induct. The results should primarily be academically directed, but also useful for the business partners. The candidate must be able to publish in English and deliver within tight deadlines.

We offer:

You will be part of two strong research environments. As a Ph.D. candidate your main place of work will be with the Center for Technology Strategy, a research center focusing on the relationship between technology evolution (especially within software) and the strategic potential and processes of companies. The research center, at this point, has two additional Ph. D. candidates, and is a part of the Department of Strategy and Logistics, currently with about 13 Ph.D. candidates and 45 faculty members.

As a project participant in NetPower, you will in addition collaborate closely with the HCI research group at the department of Collaborative and trusted systems at SINTEF in Oslo. This is the leading research environment on social media within Norway.

The four-year scholarship is set according to the Norwegian State Salary Scale, and currently pay NOK 344,200 per year. The scholarship involves 25% (35 hours) teaching and/or research assistant responsibilities.

For more information about the position as well as some guidance on the proposal, please contact Espen Andersen (, +47 4641 0452) or Asbjørn Følstad (, +47 2206 7515). Additional information about the doctoral program and admission requirements can be obtained from the Program Director Dora Sigurdardottir at BI Norwegian School of Management, (, +47 46 41 00 57).

The application should include the following:

  • Certificate of a Master of Science degree or equivalent with a grade B or higher, please include transcripts of grades
  • Other relevant certificates and transcripts
  • A project proposal (5-10 pages including topic, proposed method, schedule)
  • CV
  • Letters of recommendations from relevant employers/tutors providing evidence of your skills as a researcher (if any)
  • Certificates from previously completed courses at the doctoral level, if requesting approval of these for the PhD programme at BI Norwegian School of Management (see last section of § 3.1.1 in our PhD Regulations on BIs website)
  • A complete list of all publications and/or other documented relevant activities. Please note that certified documentation of formal qualification must be submitted in order to be evaluated.

Applications must be submitted electronically through BI’s website (, see under “vacant positions”, direct link here.). Women are encouraged to apply.

The Department Council of the Institute for Strategy and Logistics will evaluate the project proposals. Candidate
s may be asked to come for a formal interview. Thereafter the project proposal will be sent to the Doctoral Programme Committee for approval.

The application deadline for this scholarship is November 1, 2009. Documentation may not be submitted after the deadline.

Notes from Cory Doctorow talk in Oslo

Cory was here to launch the (New) Norwegian version of his book Little Brother, but, of course, this meeting is not as much about the book as about issues of intellectual property, DRM, legislation thereof, as well as the future of information industries such as publishing.

Cory started with “his usual talk” – interesting, as always – about how encryption works, how it is really strong but easily broken from the outside since the key must be distributed, and then on about how the publishing industry is locking up the work of artists in complicated and, given the technology evolution, largely self-defeating.

Cory structures this around three claims by the industry – that DRM works, that extensions of copyright is necessary to preserve artist’s income, and that the industry should have extra-judiciary powers to shut people out from the Internet upon accusation of copyright infringements. The last one is rather interesting, given all the things people do on the Internet today.

The issue is that we are all copyright infringers, because the rules are arcane and really geared towards the relationship between industry and professional artists, with lawyers and everything. That means that we are all vulnerable to capricious accusations, especially given today’s search technology.

(Not really a point in writing this down in detail, I guess, it will be all over Youtube and other places anyway.)

The debate featured Bjarne Buset, Bente Kalsnes, Eirik Newth and Cory. Bjarne Buset, head of digital strategy at Gyldendal (a large publisher) had the hardest task, since he argues in favor of DRM. Bente Kalsnes from, an online community, pointed out that the publishing industry has been very slow in developing alternative business models. Eirik Newth talked about how we need to sit down and do a typical Scandinavian solution, stepping off the rhetoric and focusing on privacy, users’ rights, and creators’ right.

I tried to make the point that this debate is getting too politicized. The market will fix this, it is called a disruptive innovation, and there will be a lot of noise and then some of the players will make it across and others won’t. secondly, the the debate is being polluted by a lot of idiots who say that stealing is OK, because music should be cheaper or Microsoft is evil. Like some of my (business school!) students, who copy Microsoft Office and justifies it by saying that Microsoft makes so much money and the product is too expensive.

Anyway, I had an interesting discussion afterwards with some of the usual suspects as well as Bjarne Buset. At some point him and I need to enter into a highly publicized bet as to the future of the publishing industry. In the meantime, it is rather depressing to watch the publishing industry go down the oh-so-noble road to self-destruction, just like the record industry.

Update Sept. 17: Forteller has a good post and a recording of the debate (86Mb mp3).

Update Sept. 20: Here is a (rather fuzzy) video of Cory’s talk, as usual he speaks (seemingly) ex tempore:

Doctorow @ Litteraturhuset from Veslebror Serdeg on Vimeo.

Gödel, Escher and Bach’s Crab Canon

This piece of youtubery illustrates the fascinating properties of Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Crab Canon (or, more precisely, the first of ten canons in The Musical Offering) where he takes a complicated theme and then proceeds to play it backwards, forwards, and both in unison.

This little piece is well known to anyone who has read Gödel, Escher, Bach: An eternal golden braid, which should be required literature on, well, any course, really. As my old boss Erling Iversen used to say, there are two kinds of IT people: Those who had read Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach and those who should. Consider yourself tapped.

(Hat tip to Joho).