28 February 2012

Philip Zimbardo on Time

This surprised me, as it actually touches on games and mastery and gamification.  It's worth watching all the way through, as are all the RSA Animate videos.

01 February 2012

Excellent presentation I found on SlideShare

Titled "Meaningful Play. Getting Gamification Right". Lots of good stuff here.

Three key attributes:

  • Make believe, Rules, challenges
  • Goals, Feedback
  • Free, safe play space, Shared toy objects

Time for me to wake up and get back into this. I've been sponsoring/supporting projects on KickStarter and thinking about the possibilities of defining a project and seeking funding through that mechanism.

25 July 2011

Where to start

This weekend, Shawn and I went for a walk and talk and took a bunch of photographs in downtown Austin. One of the main topics of conversation was Mastery Quest, and how we get started.

As you probably know, I have a strong emotional connection to the area of software development, and am committed to helping to improve the learning and recognition in that space. I've been wondering, though, whether that area is the right one for us to start in.  It's large, complex, has many nuances, lots of languages and environments and platforms. Is that too big for us to bite off right out of the gate?

Shawn, not being a techie, and sharing my love of photography, posed the question "How about if we start with photography?" While it's got no less nuances and richness than software development, it does seem to me to allow for a much easier start. It's an art, a craft, a science, an avocation, a career choice...

And as with software development, there are also many sites out there that already contain some part (even in some cases LARGE parts) of what we'd like to see as part of Mastery Quest.

Consider the Digital Photography School. It offers/they offer tips, challenges, a community. And the Photography Forum, which offers many of the same things. At this point in time, I would readily recommend either to someone who wants to learn about photography. What I feel they lack, however, is the combination of fun and structure that we want to create. There's no shortage of information or challenge. However, if I come along and say "I want to improve a bit every week, and I want to focus on certain areas," it's entirely up to me.

That's not a bad thing. Don't misunderstand me. I think it's important for each of us to take responsibility for our own growth and development and learning. But I also think it's important to integrate the lessons from gaming.

What I'd like to see us do is partner with these sites and figure out how to incorporate the lessons and tips and challenges they've created into a larger framework/structure. A lot of it is already there. Now let's add the fun, and the "experience points", and the recognitions.  Not prizes and awards, but recognition of things accomplished through avatars and badges and such.

What do you think? 

25 April 2011

Finished at Fifty: Is This The Future Abyss That We Are All Looking At?


My name is Peter Pilgrim and I am writing for Mastery Quest. This is a semi-joint blog entry from my original post on xenonique. This entry is about Ageism in our IT profession and why we should find it. Let us begin with a couple of Twitter messages.

@peter_pilgrim: Ow! I watched panorama via the iplayer finished at fifty http://tinyurl.com/3dm2yzn and the future prospects were bleak

@imccaffery: @peter_pilgrim i know the future is bleak i was on the programme

British Television viewers are probably very familiar with Panorama, the investigative journal program on the terrestrial BBC ONE TV. I watched this program using the iPlayer [sadly only available to the UK - This is the UK link to watch the episode on BBC iPlayer site]. The episode was called Finished at Fifty, and followed four individuals who were aged 50 or over as they attempted to find employment. The 30 minute programme included Lord Digby Jones, a former business leader, who volunteered his advice for free to the four individuals. Some of the advice was about changing career, other advice was to refresh the approach to job hunting, the other bits were uncompromising.

I found this report, Finished at Fifty, to be one of the most alarming looks into UK job market. I found it difficult to understand why people are labelled by business and society finished in their middle ages. I am not old enough yet to be in this upsetting age bracket, but I know plenty of people who are, and also the future prospects for all are being squeezed.

On the one hand, we have young graduates from university, who are struggling to find that very first job and with the other hand, industry is behaving in ageism way. Hence the twitter call in the first section of the article. I tweeted my feelings and empathy about prejudices against older people, and it was Ian McCaffery, one of the individuals from the Panorama report, a former bar manager, who lived in Salford, near Manchester, who got back with a response.

I know the future is bleak, I was on the programme - Ian McCaffery
How on earth is this entry tied with mastery quest?

  • Without stating the obvious, our industry is about knowledge share. If we as a society and collection of business do not value wisdom or experience, then it makes innovative endeavours like Mastery Quest defunct.
  • If we start to prejudice against younger and older workers, then ultimately we are hurting the future prospects of out industry. We should not allow business leader to select on band of the population for their exploitation or making a profit.
  • Mastery quest is about taking control back from middle persons, recruitment agencies, human resources and puts the knowledge share back in the minds and hearts of engineers, designers and developers.
  • You have to give respect in order to earn respect. I will observe for you that in many professional sports, there is always the incredible talent, the person who is the upstart, the usurper, the new king or queen in waiting to be next champion of whatever. Often you find that the new talent in order to become a great talent has to follow a unique destiny, a path apppointed and found by the sudent themselves, it usually is student who finds the master.
  • Ageism, the horrid principle of, the disenfranchisment of the old and wise generations, in at odds with the relative youth of our information technology profession. In much older professions such as engineering, science, law and medicine they have long-valued wisdom, experience and skills obtained from long-term practice
  • Ageism seems to be a business model 2.0 of a silver bullet / a short-term fix or gain to avoid or escape what is surely must-be long-term peril. Today, the new story is about the over-fifties, should tomorrow be the over-forties? This is morally wrong.

Mastery Quest is a very nice idea in that it aims to bridge inexperience with experience is some form as yet unknown. It could be start of a real change and thinking. I hope so.

This is slight difference to my original blog entry, which you can read here.

24 April 2011

Learning and Networking

I love the Mastery Quest idea, but I have little experience with World of Warcraft or other online games. My teammates play Quake every day, but I've only watched and listened to their girlish screams and giggles.

So I was interested to read an article in today's New York Times about couples who met playing WoW. The article says that WoW is not only a game where monsters are meant to be vanquished, it is also "a social networking experience." Players "meet and gab via the game's instant message feature, or through voice communication software."

This got me thinking. One of my most important sources of learning is my professional network. If I'm getting an error I can't figure out from some tool, or need to learn a particular new skill, I often ask one of the user groups I'm in or ping my tweeps. I've gotten a huge amount of help this way over the years. It's also how I find out about important blog posts, articles or books. Conversely, I try to pay this forward and help others learn.

Could Mastery Quest provide a professional network opportunity as well as a way to build and measure skills?

23 April 2011

The lightning keynote from ACCU2011

I recruited a fellow in the audience to record my lightning keynote with my Flip camera.  Here are the results.  I expect the more professional version to be up somewhere soon, too.

Peer recognition

One of the questions that I'm struggling with is this: "What does peer recognition look like in Mastery Quest?"

We all know that we can recognize when someone does and does not know something, or have a particular skill, once we get a chance to work with them. Some people leave us breathless with admiration, while others leave us astounded with disbelief.

"How did this person get through the screening?" we ask.  "How could we have let someone who so clearly does not have the skills we need get this far?"

I suspect that all of us have had this experience at one time or another. Someone has a great resume, writes a great cover letter, interviews beautifully, and answers every challenging question well. In the software developer realm, we may have asked them to do a code kata, and they wrote clean, elegant code and explained it well.

Then, we get them on the job, and discover that they're just not that good. Is it the process? Are we so easily hoodwinked?

One of the visions I have for Mastery Quest is that this kind of thing doesn't happen any more, because of a combination of experience points, reputation points, and peer recognition.  Those three are all interrelated, of course.

It's not enough to have the time spent doing something, although that counts.

It's not enough to have a knack for it, a talent for it, although that counts.

There are a number of important factors that will help both employers and professionals. One way to identify whether someone really has both the experience and the skill is through peer recognition. If I say I've done 10,000 hours of skill X, you have to take my word for it. On the other hand, if my colleagues are willing to put their names to my experience, then it has more credibility.

That means that when a manager wants someone who knows skill X, rather than testing the candidates or questioning the candidates, I want to see a system that makes it clear as to whether that individual has skill X or not.

What about those of us who have been around for a long time?  We'll need some method of grandfathering us in. I don't know what that looks like yet. I don't pretend to know how to get all of this done. That's why I've invited others to do this with me, and am delighted with the latest post from Shawn Thomas.

Coming up soon: gaming the system.