Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 240 - June 2020


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Gurteen Knowledge Letter: Issue 240 - June 2020


  1. Introduction to the June 2020 Knowledge Letter
  2. Zoom Knowledge Café An Introduction to Conversational Leadership
  3. Lashon hara or evil tongue
  4. Conversational Leadership Workshop - Virtual
  5. The Myth of Thamus and Treuth
  6. The book medium is a stronger message than its content
  7. Please help support my work
  8. Innovating Together
  9. Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2020
  10. Upcoming Knowledge Events
  11. Unsubscribe
  12. The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

Introduction to the June 2020 Knowledge Letter

Well, this is issue 240 of my monthly Knowledge Letter. I am sure you can do the math. It makes it 20 years since I published the first issue. It started out with about 300 readers in May 200 and has grown to over 20,000 today.

If your membership number is less than 300 then you have been along for the ride with me for 20 years!

Where did the time go?

Interestingly, I still have all the back issues online, although many of the links are long broken. This was the first one published 30 May 2000. I love what I had to say at the time about the Knowledge Letter.
One way of looking at this newsletter is as a "smorgasbord" - lots of tasty little bites to eat - some you may enjoy, some you may not and some may be an acquired taste. So nibble at the morsels you like and push the others aside. What you find food for thought may not be liked by others; and what others like - you may find tasteless.
As I write this issue, I cannot help compare it to the first issue. What a difference in the content! It shows how my interests have changed in 20 years.

Zoom Knowledge Café An Introduction to Conversational Leadership

My recent Zoom Knowledge Café "An Introduction to Conversational Leadership" had 28 participants from 13 countries and I have had some great feedback. In light of this, I have decided to run an identical event on Friday 10 July.

You can learn more about the Café and register on Eventbrite.

Conversational Leadership is far more than the name implies, check out the Gateway pages to my blook or take a look at my FAQ Page.

Lashon hara or evil tongue

I know little about Jewish history or culture, so when I came across the concept of lashon hara recently I was amazed.

Lashon hara, in Jewish religious law, means any form of speech or communication that may harm someone emotionally, financially, physically, or damage their reputation. It is forbidden to speak lashon hara, and it is considered to be a serious sin.

What makes the law of not speaking lashon hara so compelling is that it is forbidden to speak lashon hara even if it is true. Furthermore, it is forbidden to listen to lashon hara. If you hear lashon hara, you should reprimand the speaker or exit the conversation. Listening to lashon hara is seen as an even greater sin than speaking it. And, if you do hear lashon hara, you are forbidden to believe it.

It seems an almost impossible ideal to live up to fully. For example, It is difficult not to speak lashon hara when discussing politics.

I've long struggled with the self-imposed rules of who I should or should not respect and have written about it in my blook. In the light of lashon hara, I may need to revisit it.

Lashon hara represents the gold standard in "showing respect" - a set of rules that I feel we should all be striving for if we are to create a better world though I suspect a large number of people would not agree with me.

Having read and thought deeply about the subject, I've committed myself to do my damnedest not to speak lashon hara. I am more aware of my speech now and in trying not to speak it, I've realized just how difficult it is. But I will continue to strive to do so and see what I learn along the way.

I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of lashan hara, so if anyone out there is of the Jewish faith and can help educate me a little more, I'd appreciate it.

Conversational Leadership Workshop - Virtual

If you wish to explore Conversational Leadership in some depth, John Hovell and Donita Volkwijn are running a 5-day online workshop on Conversational Leadership August 3 - 5.

I am not directly involved in this workshop but am looking forward to making a guest appearance and facilitating a Knowledge Café.

You can learn more and register on Eventbrite.

The Myth of Thamus and Treuth

When we think about humankind's evolution, starting some 200,000 years ago, particular inventions were a significant step forward for our species.

The invention or should I say the evolution of language, the development of writing, the invention of the printing press, and then more recently the Internet and the World Wide Web were major information/knowledge revolutions.

But have you ever thought that some of these inventions might have been a bad thing, well maybe not bad but that they came with unintended consequences to which we have bene mostly blind?

We are well aware of some of the unintended consequences of the World Wide Web, such as fake news propagated by social media. What about writing? What about the invention of writing itself? And of course reading - the two go hand in hand.

Socrates questioned the wisdom of the invention of writing over 2000 years ago and made up a little story, the Myth of Thamus and Theuth that he told to Plato in the Phaedrus.
For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will, therefore, seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with since they are not wise, but only appear wise.

Interestingly, some of the writing/reading issues are at the heart of our educational problems today.

We all learn by reading books, but do we learn, or is the learning to some extent an illusion?

Students learn to churn out answers in exams, but how many of them really understand the subject matter.

Watch the two short videos in my blook by Prof. Eric Mazur at Harvard, where he demonstrates the problem and a better dialogic approach, as suggested by Socrates.

We don't best learn through reading or being lectured; we the best learn through dialogue.
Socrates: Yes, Phaedrus, so it is; but, in my opinion, serious discourse about them is far nobler, when one employs the dialectic method and plants and sows in a fitting soul intelligent words which are able to help themselves and him [277a] who planted them, which are not fruitless, but yield seed from which there spring up in other minds other words capable of continuing the process for ever, and which make their possessor happy, to the farthest possible limit of human happines

The book medium is a stronger message than its content

I recently came across these words from Mel Alexenberg, where he reports on a lecture some years ago by Marshall McLuhan - the Canadian philosopher.

Interestingly, it relates in a way to the story of The Myth of Thamus and Treuth by Socrates where he questions the wisdom of the invention of writing. Here Marshall McLuhan talks about the limitations of the book.

The rationale for the medium of my blook on Conversational Leadership does not go all the way but was designed to overcome some the of these limitations, in particular serial reading.
When I was teaching at Columbia University, techno-prophet Marshall McLuhan came down from Toronto to lecture there.

He talked about how the linear pattern of information resulting from print technology limited the thought patterns of people who learned from printed books.

Word follows word, line follows line, paragraph follows paragraph, page follows page, chapter follows chapter, in a single necessary order from the first page to the last.

Learning through a medium that is a one-way street prevented creative, flexible, associative, open-ended, multi-directional and multi-dimensional thought.

Instead of just being authoritative, books became authoritarian, demanding thinking in straight lines from a fixed point of view.

The book medium became a stronger message than its content.

Designed to be read in privacy, in seclusion from others, the book ended dialogue.

It conferred the values of isolation, detachment, passivity, and non-involvement.

So, although we could not have build our modern knowledge culture without the invention of writing and the book,they do have their limitations and unintended consequences to which we should not be blind.

Please help support my work

I have been writing and publishing this Knowledge Letter every month for over 19 years and most of you have been receiving it for 5 years or more. My Knowledge Café also had its 17th birthday last September.

If you enjoy my work and find it valuable, please consider giving me a little support by donating $1 (or more) a month to Become a Patron or making small one off contribution.

I am not going to get rich on this but it will help cover some of my website hosting expenses.

I have over 50 patrons so far. A big thanks to you all.

Innovating Together

I recently spoke on innovation and the role of conversation at the KIN Quarterly Workshop: "Summer 2020 – Innovation during Adversity" facilitated by Nancy Kinder.

I was in good company with Claire Hartnell, Serena Snoad and Rosemary Nunn.

You can watch recordings of all the sessions below.
If you are interested in having a copy of my presentation, you can download it from here.

And, you will find the resources I mention in my talk here:

Gurteen Knowledge Tweets: June 2020

Here are some of my more popular recent tweets. Take a look, if you are not a Tweeter, you will get a good idea of how I use it by browsing the list of micro-posts.

  • What Actually is a Belief? And Why Is It So Hard to Change? https://buff.ly/2OOdNLL #ConversationalLeadership

  • “Science literacy is important, but without the parallel trait of "sciencecuriosity," it can lead us astray” https://buff.ly/2AMuhuJ #ConversationalLeadership

  • Sense-Making in our Post AlphaGo World | John Seely Brown https://buff.ly/3e4t98e #ConversationalLeadership #sensemaking

  • DILBERT: That's not how any of this works https://buff.ly/2Nil4RU #KM #KMers #KnowledgeManagement / unfortunately, he is right

  • There is more to viruses than you might think. There are 10 million times more viruses in the ocean than stars in the entire known universe. They are not all bad. They profoundly shape our lives and the living world around us. https://buff.ly/2yM95rO

  • AllSides exposes people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so they can better understand the world — and each other. https://buff.ly/3hkcAar /check it out #ConversationalLeadership

  • The War on Sensemaking I | Conversational Leadership https://buff.ly/2Nil4RU #ConversationalLeadership #sensemaking

If you like the Tweets then subscribe to my Tweet stream.

Upcoming Knowledge Events

Here are some of the major KM events taking place around the world in the coming months and ones in which I am actively involved. You will find a full list on my website where you can also subscribe to both regional e-mail alerts and RSS feeds which will keep you informed of new and upcoming events.

I'm not so sure if some of these events will still take place and several may go online but I have listed them anyway.

TAKE 2020 - Theory and Applications on the Knowledge Economy
01 - 03 Jul 2020, Sttutgart, Germany

7th European Conference on Social Media
02 - 03 Jul 2020, Larnaca, Cyprus

Introduction to Conversational Leadership
Fri 10 Jul 2020, United Kingdom

Conversational Leadership Workshop
03 - 07 Aug 2020, United States

10th Knowledge Management International Conference
17 - 19 Aug 2020, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

21st European Conference on Knowledge Management
03 - 04 Sep 2020, Coventry, United Kingdom

15th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
17 - 18 Sep 2020, Rome, Italy

17th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organisational Learning
15 - 16 Oct 2020, Toronto, Canada

16th European Conference on Management Leadership and Governance
26 - 27 Oct 2020, Oxford, United Kingdom

19th European Conference on e-Learning
29 - 30 Oct 2020, Berlin, Germany

The 10th International Conference on Innovation and Knowledge Management in Asia Pacific
03 - 04 Dec 2020, Sydney, Australia

Twenty-first International Conference on Knowledge, Culture, and Change in Organizations
15 - 16 Jan 2021, Auckland, New Zealand


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The Gurteen Knowledge Letter

The Gurteen Knowledge-Letter is a free monthly e-mail based KM newsletter for knowledge workers. Its purpose is to help you better manage your knowledge and to stimulate thought and interest in such subjects as Knowledge Management, Learning, Creativity and the effective use of Internet technology. Archive copies are held on-line where you can register to receive the newsletter.

It is sponsored by the Henley Forum of the Henley Business School, Oxfordshire, England.

You may copy, reprint or forward all or part of this newsletter to friends, colleagues or customers, so long as any use is not for resale or profit and I am attributed. And if you have any queries please contact me.

Gurteen Knowledge
Fleet, United Kingdom

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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