Dunbar’s 150, or is it?

I read Seth Godin’s post Dunbar’s Number isn’t just a number, it’s the law and found that the idea there resonated with me, there is a limit to how many people you can truly keep up with.

It was in fact the first time I’ve heard of Dunbar and his ‘magic’ number of 150, further reading showed that it was in fact not 150, but is 148, or 147.8 and is commonly rounded up to 150.

This number of 150 has become “Dunbar’s Number” and has been popularized by various very popular business books such as Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (summary), Duncan J. Watts’ Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (review) and Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks between Order and Randomness (review), and Mark Buchanan’s Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks (review), the ideas from which are the foundation of the various Social Network Services that I’ve discussed elsewhere in this blog. – source: Life With Alacrity

All of which shows that a lot of people believe there is an upper limit to how many people you can meaningfully interact with in before you start losing productivity/efficiency/usefulness. This is certainly true of the popular social media sites.

What it does for me is make me think how I can use this information to make myself more useful to the social networks I’m involved with. Does it mean I should follow fewer people on twitter? Or does it mean follow them by the bucket load and simply ignore those outside of my ‘Dunbar’ group?

What do you think? Perhaps you have some ideas that I’ve not thought of, if so, please let me know.

Novice to Expert

After spotting a link to both the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition and Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware, I’ve read the original 1980 paper by the Stuart and Hubert Dreyfus (A Five-Stage Model of the Mental Activities Involved in Directed Skill Acquisition)which made for interesting reading.

It describes (suprise!) 5 stages one goes through when learning a skill:

  • Novice
  • Advanced beginner
  • Competent
  • Proficient
  • Expert

I’ve yet to read the book Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware, but the two chapters that are online (“Introduction” and “Journey From Novice to Expert”) and the mind map shown all lead me to believe that the book uses the Dreyfus Model as a basis to then provide practical measures to implement in order to make your way from novice to expert.

This is of interest to me because since October 2008 I began working with a product called ACT! which is a Contact and Customer Relationship Management product. When I began I was a Novice at using and implementing ACT!. My employer provided great training which got me to the Advanced beginner stage. Constant use and troubleshooting got me to the Competent stage, which was validated by my passing the ACT! Certified Consultants Exam. Now I’m chipping away at the Proficient stage, made just a little more interesting by the fact the the software has just been updated to version 12 (ACT! by Sage 2010).

But enough about me, what have you been working on becoming an expert on?

Command line terminal server

I’ve just come across a terminal server that wouldn’t let me log on. Turns out the maximum number of users the terminal server is licensed for has been exceeded.

Thusly, from another machine on the network, we open a command prompt and type
qwinsta /server:<servername>

This will give a list of the terminal server sessions on that server, note the ID number (aka sessionid) as we use them in the following commands.

We can reset a session by using
rwinsta <sessionid> /server:<servername>

or we can disconnect the session with
tsdiscon <sessionid> /server:<servername>

or we can logoff a session with
logoff <sessionid> /server:<servername>

Dan Rigsby has more info as does Scott Forsyth.