Like many of us, tracking major trends in the following areas: mobile, workforce of one, micro-tasks, big data, automation, text-image, synchronous-asynchronous, networking, augmented reality, squeezed middle.

But there is a meta-trend that governs all these: granularisation. 

Non-linear systems self-organise so as to dissipate energy efficiently. But energy dissipation is never perfect in a structured system – so as the residual energy builds up (or the required rate of dissipation increases) the complex structures break down, transitioning through a chaotic period before reaching a new metastable state.

Characteristically, this new state will have smaller ‘cells’, re-expressing the structure at a lower state of granularity.

At best, half my life went by before I noticed it: that we were different.

During that time I thought talking to be sufficient: it took an age to realise that superficial similarities were just that. A full ten years passed during which all I could think was 'Why can't I make myself understood?' Far too late I realised that understanding moves at a glacial pace; that what I can say is only what can be heard. That 'understanding' is a collective noun.

What if your real job was learning elimination?

Learning is generally a sign that something hasn't been well designed. Learning is like friction - it's costly, inefficient and indicative of dysfunction. For a business, learning says 'something needs fixing here'.

The wonderful thing about an iPad is that you can give it to an 8-yr old or an 80-yr old and they don't need a manual. My first computer was the BBC Micro B. You had to program it in basic.

Thinking back over HRTech last week, the highlights of were the conversations: especially with Charles, Euan, David, Kate, Nicole and Ray.

@Euan ran an excellent session on social media - in a refreshingly conversational format - and it struck me how much people are still struggling with both the concept and the practicalities. Some of the issues (for example industry regulation) are pretty intractable - but I'd like to tackle a couple of the tractable ones.

Here’s a piece of research that might be more interesting than Ebbinghaus: students who read only summaries of chapters recalled more information than those who read entire chapters. Not 60%. Not 80%. More.

Learning is abandoning us.

Back when I was a philosophy student, one of the most talked-about books was Douglas Hofstadter’s The Mind’s I – fantasies and reflections on Self & Soul. First published in 1981 it consists of a set of thought-experiments that tend to make you unsure of some of your most fundamental beliefs.

As a generalisation it is fair to say that education describes a set of techniques aimed at forcing people to recall unimportant information. Within the world of education it is also fair to say that spaced repetition is effective - as are tests and other forms of intimidation. But judged as a whole this is a peculiar and inefficient activity - our minds were not designed for it, and it says almost nothing about normal learning.

I felt I ought to write this piece, after reading today that investment in e-learning is due to grow to 107 billion in 2015 & this Andreessen Horrowitz podcast on the ‘software eats the world’ theme – referencing education. Yes, I know I said it’s a zombie conversation, but with headlines as big as these, I just can’t resist taking another stab at it.

Why is there a problem with online education?

Because we’re throwing money at something that is broken.

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines learning as 'knowledge acquired by study'

This is not true. Learning is not the acquisition of knowledge. Not in the sense of 'storing information in your head'. Learning is the encoding of reactions. A collection of reactions (what I have been calling 'affective context') make up an episode - or a story. We use these stories to generate 'knowledge' when it is needed.