Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Amazing Blog Reporting from WSIS Prepcon in Tunisia

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth is hardly a waste. What a hurculean blogging reportage. WOW! Complete with video clips. I'm now wondering who else was blogging and what the aggregate would look like - the different perspectives that are inevitable at such meetings. Blogging and the civil society in action!

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Blogging Myself - Now THIS is Weird

I'm tickled to be a guest blogger over on Corante's Many2Many blog. I blogged the same thing I blogged here -- Many-to-Many: Roller Coasters vs. Driver's Seats: Design and the Concept of Situational Control. Is that cheating? Now I have to figure out something just for there.

Mmmm... Sometimes I feel like I'm in a house of mirrors when I'm online. Am I there? Am I here? Am I anywhere but my chair in front of my computer? Maybe I just need to go eat some more chocolate.

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Research on Learning Styles

I'm on a firehose roll today. Via Stephen Downes I checked out this report on Should we be using learning styles? : What research has to say to practice. It is a fantastic recap of the research. In my work in online interaction, I have often thought about the role learning styles plays in how we experience the online environment. My strongest hunch has been around the differences between global and sequential learners. This report has given me a lot more food for thought.
"Summary: Learning style instruments are widely used. But are they reliable and valid? Do they have an impact on pedagogy? This report examines 13 models of learning style and concludes that it matters fundamentally which model is chosen. Positive recommendations are made for students, teachers amd trainers, managers, researchers and inspectors."

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LearningTimes Network - "LearningTimes"

Dan Balzer shares his experiences and lessons learned from doing blended live facilitation - he presenting F2F, his co-presenter joining online. You have to join LearningTimes Network - it's free and it is a very interesting community concerned with all aspects of learning.
In this case study, LearningTimes member Dan Balzer reflects on the unique aspects of presenting a conference session to a face-to-face audience with remote co-presenters/participants live online.

Some of Dan's gems:
Lessons - what I will do differently next time

  • I will plan the session with specific interaction questions that the virtual facilitator injects into the session.
  • I will have a "blogger"/moderator in the room working with the virtual facilitator and being his/her eyes and ears.
  • I will place additional microphones throughout the room to pick up classroom comments. It’s easy enough to do with a multiple jack adapter.
  • I will see if I can set up a camera showing both presenter and room.
  • I will encourage participants to engage the virtual presenter with questions as well. Eg. A participant commented that learners in the corporate setting would not be as amenable to participating in the story-telling activity that we used as an opener. Since Randall has more experience in the corporate setting I restated the question and let him address it.
  • I will provide more information at the beginning of the session for the virtual facilitator -- ie. number of people in the room, transitions being made.

    Observations about what’s "different" about blended facilitation
  • In blended facilitation, some previously invisible "process elements" become part of the mainstream interaction. At times, it is necessary to make process comments to the other facilitator in the hearing of the participants. E.g. As I turned over the segment on the case for scenario-based elearning to Randall I said, "I’m keeping an eye on the clock and let’s do this segment in 3 to 4 minutes". The response from Randall was, "OK, that’s no problem." In a 100% virtual setting, these kind of interactions are typically done using the private chat feature. In the f2f setting these process adjustments are communicated either nonverbally (e.g. Pointing at a watch) or in side conversations during transitions. So the facilitators have to be comfortable letting the participants in on their decision-making process to a greater degree than in the non-blended settings.
  • Blended facilitation brings together the personal touch through the presence of the on-site facilitator with the voices of experts in the virtual world. My hypothesis (yet to be tested) is that the immediacy of this kind of interaction can increase motivation for learning and enhance engagement.

  • In what contexts would a blended facilitation approach add value to the training that you do?
  • What role would you play most effectively in a blended facilitation event?
  • What "means for learning" (i.e. technology tools) do you have readily available that you could combine in a new way to create a learning event?

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    Technologies for Personal Knowledge Management

    Knowledgeboard is kicking off a new section on Technologies for Personal Knowledge Management.
    "Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), the set of processes a knowledge worker needs to set up in order to get the best out of his knowledge during his/her daily activities, has often been considered as the missing block in most KM plans within knowledge intensive organisations, as Davenport and Prusack reckoned in their KM classic 'Working Knowledge'."

    I think I fall somewhere further on the spectrum of belief that KM is more of a group thing, than a personal thing (a la Denham), but I certainly believe that PKM is important. If nothing else, it keeps one a bit more employable.

    That said, I'll be interested to follow the technologies. Judith Meskill pointed to one today whose website totally alarmed me. What a poor first impression it made on me. The PPT bored me with so many slow meaningless builds I bailed after two slides. And this from a company that professes to understand how the brain works! In any case, I'm trying to follow technologies more closely as part of the CoP Tech Report Update with Wenger, Smith and Rowe.

    Related links from KnowledgeBoard's email alert:

    Steve Barth's website

    Paul Dorsey's "What is PKM?"

    David Gurteen's "Opening Thoughts: Defining IPKM"

    Denham Grey's "PKM" weblog post

    Lilia Efimova's "My personal KM" weblog post

    Dave Pollard's "Confessions of a CKO; what I should have done"
    weblog post


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    Roller Coasters vs. Driver's Seats: Design and the Concept of Situational Control

    In an online discussion today, someone was commenting on the lack of functionality of the discussion threads used and suggested that the designer could have done it better/differently. I replied that we each experience the interface differently, have different preferences and that the designer probably designed for their preference and perspective.

    Then I saw this article by Rashmi Sinha. Roller Coasters vs. Driver's Seats: Design and the Concept of Situational Control. This planted the seed of the idea about doing more thinking about situational control (and more generally about control itself!). Here are a few quotes that caught my attention:
    "...much of what we know about human cognitive behavior tells us that there is a tendency to over-attribute the role that individual agency play in shaping our behavior, while under-attributing the role that the situation plays in our behavior."

    "What are design strategies for dealing with lack of situational control? The typical response is to vie for attentional focus (always a challenge in todays era of sensory overload). There are bad ways of grabbing attention e.g., (like flashing banners and pop-ups). More benign ways might be to make the application or the content engaging. If the New York Times article I am reading holds my attention, then suddenly the lack of situational control ceases to matter. My attention is completely focused on the paper in front of me. The coffee can get cold, the cell phone gets turned off, and everything else recedes into the background. Situational control does not matter, because the design artifact has my attentional focus. Such a state of focused attention and intrinsic enjoyment has been referred to as flow (Hoffman & Novak, 2000). Making the experience immersive by using more realistic graphics is another way of gaining attentional focus. Storytelling can be another way of engaging the user, of gaining their attention.

    These questions are important because the design challenge and possible solutions are shaped accordingly. They also impact how designers define their work."

    I wonder what would happen if you analyzed the situational control elements for a group before you configured software for them? Can you design software to respond to those situational and control issues?

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    Monday, June 28, 2004

    Providing a guide to blogging for groups

    Jonathan Briggs on Getting to grips with personal media: providing a guide to blogging for groups: reengage in UK politics, communications, complexity and more. Make sure you catch Tom Smith's comment about blogging (creation) being the flip side of RSS (consumption). Can you have one without the other for very long?

    Source: David Wilcox

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    Blog Crazed Woman Update - Blogroll as Personal Reflection Tool

    Today's posts were mostly info links, so I thought it might be a good time for a little blogging reflection.

    If you are still reading, you can see I'm still at it. In the last week or two I've been paying attention to which blogs on my bloglines list I'm still reading, which have fallen to the wayside (143 new posts!) and what I'm adding. I am getting more selective. I have to. I still have to make a living, be a mom and wife and have a little bit of offline relaxation time. It is hard because I love to read, love new ideas and information and can easily get sucked into a 2 hour web adventure. This is not for the undisciplined!

    I have also been noticing my odd organization pattern in my bloglines subscriptions. They reveal my biases so strongly, I have resisted making my blogroll public. It is like "I don't want you, dear readers, to know this about me." Which in itself is interesting to me. I want to get it a bit more in order before I take the plunge, but I will leave the categories, at least at first, so you can get a glimpse into my weird mind. But some of it clearly reflects biases that I'm not totally comfortable with in myself. Who'd have thought that one's blogroll was a source for personal reflection.

    Here is one surprising organizational observation for those that know me well. I have a folder for food blogs, but no separate folder for chocolate blogs. HORRORS!

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    Ultraversity Student Reps Talk About Intervention in Communities

    More intersections from my time on the Ultraversity Hot Seat. I was pointed to this blog: Ultraversity Student Reps. Some great stuff related to what they'd like to see from their facilitators based on the tool/platform. (First Class is the LMS they use for some of their work):

    Learning Facilitator Intervention

    Level of intervention in communities:
  • More intervention, leadership and initiatives from facilitators requested, especially in the quieter small communities
  • Archiving discussions whilst they are still going on not welcome
  • Don’t summarise a discussion unless finished
  • Beware of summarising killing discussion
  • Facilitator can come in and add support to issues raised and so encourage further participation
  • Facilitators encouraged to start threads
  • Facilitators also encouraged to comment on key issues raised by researchers
  • Facilitators discouraged from speaking ‘ex Cathedra’ and so closing down discussion.

  • Does chat discourage the use of the asynchronous discussion? Are people using chat and therefore diluting the open discussions?
  • Both chat and asynchronous discussion have benefits and may suit different people and learning styles.
  • Attributable communication in the discussion areas may limit users’ willingness to discuss
  • Chat may be useful in learning sets.
    Posted at 12:16 am by lmhartley

    First Class
  • First Class has opened up communications with facilitators more generally. Researchers have access to a wider range of LF advice and this can sometimes lead to confusion.
  • Some find First Class heavy going and liked JellyOS. This may be connected with learning styles and also with researcher’s feelings of ownership of discussions in Jelly OS.

  • People with multiple school roles do not fit neatly into any one community so that it becomes hard for them to see themselves as part of their small community.
  • Community structure is problematic. Some communities work better than others
  • Same few people always participate in some communities.
  • Size of group not necessarily a key factor in participation
  • Nature of people perhaps more of an issue than software in terms of participation
  • Don’t keep adding more communities – (not referring to specialist communities such as Gardening)
  • Some people need the security of a small group others find it too constraining.
  • Technically First Class is more reliable
  • Cohort 1 to help mentor Cohort 2. This is envisioned for yr2. Issue with numbers in C2
  • Members of Cohort 2 may need contact with Cohort 1 in similar job roles.
  • Cohort 1 will not grow further. Shrinking numbers may mean fewer groups will be viable anyway.
  • Is First Class software able to handle the dynamic reforming of groups? This to be checked with tech support.
  • Small First Class groups need more specific tasks with a clearer purpose defined for groups
  • Self directed learning needs to be encouraged but not at the loss of community purpose

    Posted at 12:09 am by lmhartley
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    Andy Roberts' Blog: Forums vs Threaded discussions

    Andy Roberts blogs in living color on Forums vs Threaded discussions.

    First, I love the color. It's like I can hear all the different voices inside of Andy's head. But hey, content matters. Andy offers some opinions on linear discussion forums and also points out that we often use the same terms for things, but mean something completely different. Check out the comments that follow.

    We have been having some of these discussions in a private Ultraversity hot seat discussion. It has been really interesting to see the conversations spill out into the researchers' blogs and email discussion lists. It is very rich, if someone hard to pin down in (at least) three different toolspaces. But what is most interesting is how the writers' voice changes between the hotseat discussion and the blogs. This has given me a lot to think about. It echoes some of the helpful feedback I got when I started blogging. One of the observations was that my "voice" here in my blog was different than my voice on the online facilitation list.

    Verrrry interesting!

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    Papers from the 13th Intl' World Wide Web Conference

    There are tons of papers on this site. Here are a few that look interesting

    Table of Contents

    Propagation of Trust and Distrust
    (page 403)
    R. Guha, R. Kumar, IBM Almaden Research Center
    P. Raghavan, Verity, Inc.
    A. Tomkins, IBM Almaden Research Center

    A Community-Aware Search Engine (page 413)
    R. B. Almeida, V. A. F. Almeida, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

    Session: Web of Communities
    Chair: Liddy Neville, La Trobe University

    An Outsider's View on 'Topic-oriented' Blogging (page 28)
    J. Bar-Ilan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-IIan University

    The Role of Standards in Creating Community (page 35)
    K. Martin, Drexel University

    Network Arts: Exposing Cultural Reality (page 41)
    D. A. Shamma, S. Owsley, K. J. Hammond, Northwestern University
    S. Bradshaw, The University of Iowa
    J. Budzik, Northwestern University"

    Session: Adaptive E-Learning Systems
    Chair: Wolfgang Nejdl, University of Hannover

    Model Based Engineering of Learning Situations for Adaptive Web Based Educational Systems (page 94)
    T. Nodenot, C. Marquesuzaa, LIUPPA—IUT Bayonne
    P. Laforcade, LIUPPA—faculté des sciences
    C. Sallaberry, LIUPPA—IAE

    KnowledgeTree: A Distributed Architecture for Adaptive E-Learning (page 104)
    P. Brusilovsky, University of Pittsburgh

    Authoring of Learning Styles in Adaptive Hypermedia: Problems and Solutions (page 114)
    N. Stash, A. Cristea, P. De Bra, Eindhoven University of Technology

    Session: Business Processes and Conversations
    Chair: Susan Dumais, Microsoft Research

    A Framework for the Server-Side Management of Conversations with Web Services (page 124)
    L. Ardissono, D. Cardinio, G. Petrone, M. Segnan, Università di Torino

    Decentralized Orchestration of Composite Web Services (page 134)
    G. Chafle, S. Chandra, V. Mann, M. G. Nanda, IBM, India Research Laboratory

    Personalization in Distributed e-Learning Environments (page 170)
    P. Dolog, N. Henze, W. Nejdl, University of Hannover
    M. Sintek, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH

    Active E-Course for Constructivist Learning (page 246)
    H. Zhuge, Y. Li, Chinese Academy of Sciences

    Are Web Pages Characterized by Color? (page 248)
    N. Murayama, S. Saito, M. Okumura, Tokyo Institute of Technology

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    Saturday, June 26, 2004

    Martin Terre Blanche on ATutor OS Collaboration Tool

    Martin Terre Blanche writes in his blog, Collaborative Learning Environments
    The people who made ATutor (University of Toronto's Adaptive Technology Resource Center) have now created ACollab "a fully accessible, open source, multi-group, Web-based collaborative work environment" which they say is "ideal for groups working at a distance developing documentation, collaborating on research, or writing joint papers, and ideal for online educators who wish to add group learning activities to their ATutor courses".

    I gave the demo a very brief try-out. The design is generally simple and fairly elegantly brings together some of the obvious things a group may need to work together: Member sign-on, group membership, member and group administration, events calendars, (threaded) discussion forums, simple text chat, and document libraries (i.e. the ability to upload, download, organise and comment on shared documents).

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    Friday, June 25, 2004

    A Partially Definitive But Slightly Abstract Guide To Why Blogs Are So Successful

    Via Seb, Tom Smith's A Partially Definitive But Slightly Abstract Guide To Why Blogs Are So Successful :

  • Bad Is the New Good ( It Really Is )
  • Some Things Just Don't Work (And Never Did, Let's Get Over It)
  • People need to PeripherizeTM, Not Focus ( There is Too Much Information )
  • Thinking Out Loud ( The Best Place to Do It )
  • Informality Fucking Rocks ( Everybody Hates the Suits Really )
  • You Don't Know What You Know ( Really )
  • You Probably Know Too Much To Even Begin Writing It Down ( Really Really )
  • A Little And Often is Best ( Your Mum Was Right )
  • The Link is God ( Which makes Google the Devil )
  • Person Centric not Place Centric (You can only be in one place at a time)
  • Personal Taxonomies (Let Dublin Core catch up rather than dictate)
  • You Own Your Blog ( You Are Your Blog )
  • Information Exists in the Context of People (And Always Has)
  • If It's Not Documented, It Really Doesn't Exist
  • Democracy is the Least Worst of the Alternatives (Let's Get Over It)
  • Reflection is the New Black (Who'd have thought?)
  • Lets Plan To Start Now, Plan Later (That's The Plan Anyway)
  • Passwords Blow Goats
  • Distributed AND Centralized (not OR)
  • Nobody Owns the Blog Concept
  • If Blogs are the Songs, RSS is the Home-made Compilation CD (RSS is cool)
  • People Can Cope With Simple ( Just about, but not always )
  • Don't Try And Make The Computer Do Things It Can't And We Can ( i.e Manage Knowledge, Make Sense, Inspire, See Connections, Make Jokes, Cock Up)
  • Google for 'Small Pieces Loosely Joined'"

  • I'm hitting on "If Blogs are the Songs, RSS is the Home-made Compilation CD." So does that mean the community that emerges from blogs is a remix?

    (Edited to fix funky headline)

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    danah on a roll: "Autistic Social Software"

    danah boyd's crib notes from her Supernova presentation are a must read: "Autistic Social Software" :: Supernova 2004. I debated and debated which snippet I'd post, but there is too much good stuff. Read it. Here is a temptation: the conclusion:
    I'd like to conclude with a quote by Douglas Adams in "Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet" - "Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do."

    Let's stop trying to dumb down people through technology. Let's step back and build technology that will make sense in the everyday lives of those who use it, that will empower them to use their evolved brain in a meaningful way.

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    danah finds a great one: spirtual perspective on community

    apophenia: spirtual perspective on community
    'A community can represent many things and be directed toward a definite goal, but community itself is the focus of a spiritual science that inspires universality. Day-to-day living in a community fosters a very practical concept of existence. Community life represents the frontier between the macro and micro in terms of human organization, making it possible to experience all levels of human existence. The community is, therefore, a vast landscape for a material realization whenever each person enters into contract with the gifts, virtues, and shortcomings of its members. It is also the immense spiritual and psychic laboratory that enables our spirits to develop.'

    -Alex Polari de Alverga
    in Forest of Vision: Ayahuasca, Amazonian Spirituality and the Santa Daime Tradition"

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    Reinvigorate // Visual Speller

    Want to check your blog or webpage for spelling errors? Check out Reinvigorate // Visual Speller. It ain't perfect, but it sure is a handy dandy little tool. I'm also experimenting with Reinvigorate for tracking website statistics.

    KeyIdeas: Blogging starts technically simply, it gets complicated REALLY fast!

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    Welcome to the Blog World, Elana

    A friend and colleague of mine, Elana Centor, started her blog in the wee hours last night. Elana is a multi-talented woman and one of those talents is writing. Her passion is writing about life in the business world. The things we often think about to ourselves, but rarely speak because they are, well, um, not so business-like. In her intro Elana writes:
    This column delights in telling tales out of school. It’s about what really goes on in corporate America. The focus is on the story, not who’s telling it, or what company the story is about. I’ll leave that to the investigative reporters.

    Check out her first column, The Office Bio Break. And welcome her if you are so moved, into the community. I have been telling her of my blogging experiment and the most lovely experience I've had with the wider blogging community.

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    The Invisible, Immutable Power of Cmmunity

    Read the story here. A lovely story of community.

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    Thursday, June 24, 2004

    Resources from Impact Alliance

    A few handy links for folks interested in the use of online interaction in development. The resources, however, are more generally applicable. Part of Impact Alliance's Resource Center

    Online Communities and Online Community Resources.
    Online Facilitation

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    Sensible Blog Research Approach from Liz Lawley

    Liz opines with a ton of common sense: Many-to-Many: blog research issues
    I don’t think it makes sense to lump all research and observation about blogs together under one rubric. Right now, I there are at least five different approaches to studying blogs that I’d like to see explored in more depth, and I suspect that readers here will add a few more.

    Forshortened, here are the five areas:
    1. First, study of the form itself.
    2. Second, related to the last bit above, is the study of interactions between blogs and blog authors, and the clusters (or communities) that are forming in this context.
    3. Third, the kind of ethnographic studies that I referenced above, but done not in “the blogosphre” (if there is such a thing) as a whole, but in those clusters and communities that we’re able to identify.
    4. Fourth, analysis of the content and style used in weblogs.
    5. Fifth, study of the use of weblogs as tools in specific organizational contexts.

    I'd add, of course, how people bridge between blogs and other tools - the wiki/blog combo has gotten some attention recently, but there is more. How does our RSS reader experience influence the community formation between blogs, for example? The tools shape the culture and the culture shapes the tools.

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    Heath Row Blogs Supernova

    Here is a a sample panel Heath blogged. Man, that man can TYPE! Fast Company Now

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    Backchannel at a F2F Event

    Jason Defillippo captures so much with this picture of backchannel at Supernova.

    I'm a multi-moder, so I have no problem backchanneling on a laptop while still paying attention. But boy, do I feel sorry for the presenter. Why be F2F?

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    Strategic Questions as a Tool for Rebellion

    The facilitator's soul in me lit up when Chris Corrigan pointed out this site, Crabgrass. Working for Social Change.

    Questioning is a basic tool for rebellion. It breaks open the stagnant hardened shells of the present, revealing ambiguity and opening up fresh options to be explored.

    Questioning reveals the profound uncertainty that is imbedded in all reality beyond the facades of confidence and sureness. It takes this uncertainty towards growth and new possibilities.

    Questioning can change your entire life. It can uncover hidden power and stifled dreams inside of you... things you may have denied for many years.

    Questioning can change institutions and entire cultures. It can empower people to create strategies for change."

    Later in the page my current favorite theme comes up, bridging...
    In these times of tremendous diversity and conflict we are challenged to find ways of building bridges and co-creating new ways of working together to meet common goals. An important feature of strategic questioning is to put one's own opinions to the side and strive to find new ideas and ways. When Barbara Walters asked Anwar Sadat what kept him from going to Jerusalem to meet with Menachim Begin, suddenly Sadat was examining the obstacles in the way of this goal in a fresh way. In the way she phrased the question, Walters enabled Sadat to think freshly about the political realities and envision a different reality of his own making. She was identified as a neutral. I believe she was just honestly asking about the obstacles in Sadat's way of change. He found his own way through those obstacles under good questioning.

    Strategic questioning is a way of talking with people with whom you have differences without abandoning your own beliefs and yet looking for common ground which may enable both parties to co-create a new path from the present situation. In every heart there is ambiguity; in every ideology there are parts which don't fit. Strategic questioning by someone who is perceived as neutral may help the questionee think beyond old answers. New policies may be envisioned, whistle blowers encouraged. This is one of the most important features of strategic questioning.

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    What does Chocolate Cake have to do with learning?

    I'm doing an online conversation with the researchers at Ultraversity this week and next, so I've been browsing some of their logs. Today luck brought me to Linda's and a recipie for Chocolate and Almond Cake. Check out the rest of her blog -- there are some great notes on learning!

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    Wednesday, June 23, 2004

    The Power of Many: Genesis file of Electric Minds

    Christian Crumlish (who is writing what looks to be a very interesting book - the Power of Many) posted a link which brought many memories and feelings flooding back. It is an archive of the History of Electric Minds conversation topic. The take a peek back in time! It is weird to see the words of others and my own which were such an important part of my life in 1996-97 and really, where I learned what this crazy online world is all about. Thanks for the pointer, Christian! And Electric Minds lives on -- it has morphed over the years, but it lives on! I'll have to go pay a visit.

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    Slides from Joe Cothrel and Jenny Ambrozek's Presentation at Infonortics VC

    Harry Collier has put up the slide decks from the 2004 Infonortics Virtual Communities Conference held in The Hague June 14-15. Fair warning: slide decks don't convey the content, context nor experience of any of the presentations. If one piques your interest, post a comment and we can try and build some of that context.

    At the conference (besides taking a risk and making a bit of a fool of myself as my colleagues and I tried to stretch the form of 30-minute conference presentations with our bit on "Improvisation in distributed communities of practice" - I still need to write about it!), I was very interested in the survey Jenny and Joe completed on the state of virtual communities in the business sector. They are currently working on a report which will come out soon. I'll be sure to blog it!

    Their data overview can be found here.

    A couple of things struck me:
    • Dang, it is great to see an overview, a reflection of where we've been. Wow! Thank you Joe and Jenny.
    • The five strategies synthesized out of the recommendations from the respondents felt very familiar and common sense to me. Again, there is some smile of relief to have one's ideas validated in some ways. (I'll post them below)
    • The data made me wonder what I understood to be the "network" of people working in this field called "virtual communities." It used to feel clearer to me, but now the application of group online interaction tools flows across far more sectors than it did in the late 90's. Even the word community is at questin (and rightfully so in my view.)
    • Where is my place in this network? What is my community within the network that allows me to hone and grow my practice of online group facilitation? It too is much more diffuse and rather unconnected.
    • I am used to hearing the voices of academics and bloggers and I notice their absence of sorts in the summary results. I recognize that this is a survey in the business context which impacted the survey sample. But it made me recognize that the things that influence me are far wider ranging. I had not realized that. This was really helpful for my thinking processes. Or maybe I don't recognize their voices in this report and expected something different. Food for thought.
    • What is the role of visualizing networks? (half baked question)
    • How do we help build this field? I do believe it is a field, but it is still very unformed.

    Here are the 5 recommendations from Joe and Jenny:
    1. Think local and real: real and virtual and local and global are merging. What opportunities exist for your community?
    2. Get Networking: social networking software is the latest community tool. Try it and apply your learnings to your online group.
    3. Empower the People: People want to participate in new ways. New media and mobile are only the start.
    4. Raise the Bar on Data: What data are you currently capturing? Don't stop at ROI - insights from discussion can be just as important.
    5. Advocate and Educate: Your community knowledge has value. Find better ways to articulate what your community is and does.

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    From the site:
    Upcoming.org is an event calendar, completely driven by people like you. Enter in the events you're attending, comment on events entered by others, and syndicate event listings to your own weblog.

    Fleeing here back to offline life in a second, but coordinating events is a critical part of a distributed community. I have to check this one out further.

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    Shaping the Network Society - Schuler and Day

    Doug Schuler and Peter Day have a new book coming out worth a gander - Shaping the Network Society: The New Role of Civil Society in Cyberspace. Here is the table of contents . (MIT Press)

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    Furl - Your web page filing cabinet

    Thanks to Jerry, I am now playing with Furl - Your web page filing cabinet. I am fascinated by the fact that this tool not only allows you to save webpages, but has a RSS feed and email subscription options to alert yourself and share your collection with others. I'm going to start using it today. (Goodie a cool new tool for sharing! I, like Jerry, did not quite "get" the del.icio.us interface!)

    My FURL RSS is http://www.furl.net/members/choconancy/rss.xml

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    Tuesday, June 22, 2004

    Stephen Powell: Discourse framing and presentation

    I'm currently a "hotseat" guest at Ultralab's Ultraversity so I was interested to see Stephen Powell's post about Discourse framing and presentation
    Reflecting on the difference between the discourse in the Ultraversity First Class conferences and the Hotseat tool, I am struck again by the 'tangible' difference in the learning experience that different online tools can provide. The fragmented nature of FC conversations is in stark contrast to the rich flow of ideas possible where contributions are displayed sequentially on the same page. Take a look at an screenshot of the Hotseat Tool and FC to get an idea about what I mean. It is also worth pointing out that there are a range of bulletin board systems that fall somewhere on a continuum between the two.

    Tools impact our impression and participation. They also influence the style of discourse. I have no doubt about this. The question is how do we understand the impact on individuals and build that up to a group experience. With very strong personal preferences between tools, that old briding issue pokes its head up YET AGAIN!

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    Bridging Practitioners With Experts

    Bravo to Stephen Powell of Ultralab New Zealand for this initiaitive: Practitioner/conference keynote presenter links

    Dear Colleagues. As a part of the NAVCON2K4 conference we are seeing to recruit 30 teachers to take part in a pilot project to look at how we can support classroom practitioner through undertaking small scale action research projects linked to keynote presenters at the conference.

    The project will start in the beginning of August and will finish in November when a research paper on the success of the project will be shred with the Ministry of Education and published online along with the individual action research projects. The project is a an action research project in its own right and as such everyone involved is a co-researcher and contributor to the research paper.

    To support this, we will use Blog technology to help researchers in developing ideas, planning, and undertaking their action research. The project will be facilitated by Stephen Powell and Anne Trewern who have experience in supporting students through the action research process in online environments.

    I've been ranting about individual/group bridging, but there is a HUGE need to connect practitioners and researchers working in any kind of online distributed work. What other bridges can we facilitate and build?

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    Mopsos - My presentation in Lisbon

    Martin Dugage shares his ppt from a Knowledgeboard Meeting in Lisbon, June 2004. I appreciate the care Martin takes with both his thoughts and visuals -- the ppt alone communicates quite a bit. Check it out: "Mopsos - My presentation in Lisbon". I really like how he is playing around with the idea of our multiple identities. His reference to "family" on slide 12 had me cheering. I think be ignoring that we now work and trespass across our multiple roles and identities across the 24 hours of a day is foolish grasping at a past where we did segment our lives more distinctly.

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    Monday, June 21, 2004

    For When We Try and Share F2F - A PowerPoint Blog

    beyond bullets is Cliff Atkinson's offering to the world - a blog on PowerPoint. Now regardless of where you fall on the PowerPoint love/hate spectrum, it's always nice to have some insight on the deployment of a ubiquitous tool.

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    Digital Communities: Award Winners

    Via Howard on Smart Mobs - Ars Electronica: Digital Communities: Award Winners. Wikipedia and The World Starts With Me are the winners! Bravo!
    Digital Communities are about emergent collective action, citizen empowerment, social as well as economic entrepreneurship, the ingenuity of the users of technology and their power to actively shape their media, the future evolution of new tools and social forms, the improvement of culture and alleviation of suffering, the humanization of technology, openness and inclusiveness, and the sheer fun of making things together. Digital Communities can save lives, bridge differences and the Digital Divide, multiply knowledge, enable markets, revitalize democracy and provoke civic engagement ­ but only if people seize the power that technology provides and wield it thoughtfully.

    Although sociologists Barry Wellman and Keith Hampton provide a more formal definition of "community" as "networks of interpersonal ties that provide sociability, support, information, a sense of belonging and social identity," we further define "community" for the purpose of this competition as "a web of relationships, sustained over time, among people who care about each other," and we define "digital community" as "a web of relationships that is enabled, enhanced, or extended by digital tools."

    Wikipedia and The World Starts With Me, the two winners of the first Golden Nicas awarded for the new Digital Communities category, exemplify the complementary aspects of virtual discourse and face-to-face action implied by the name of the category. The "digital" part of the definition does not imply that technology alone can create community — only people can form social groups, although alphabets and Internets can enable those people to act in ways that weren't possible before. And the "community" part can include many different kinds of groups who have fun, organize political or civic action, create art, engage in commerce, provide peer support in medical or family crises, learn and teach, start businesses, and fall in love.

    We hope that the two winning examples, one existing almost wholly in cyberspace with the aim of creating public knowledge, the other one using digital media in Uganda for serious health education in the physical realm, establish an example of how broad the term "digital community" can be. Wikipedians created something that would not be possible without Internet-based communications, and The World Starts With Me uses digital media to improve a vital task in the face-to-face world that can be done without sophisticated technology but might be done more effectively with appropriate digital tools.

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    Online Communities and What The Heck Do We Mean By Facilitation?

    Pete Bradshaw's recent post about learning communities spawed a thread on facilitation that caught my eye. Pete and Andy Roberts, also of Ultralab (there is a thread here today! All Ultralab, All the Time!)Pete referenced a paper from 2002 that talked about the importance of facilitation. Andy asked if it was time to question this approach. In the interchange, I sensed two different interpretations of facilitation, which begged me to scare up a few of the classics:

    The Concise Oxford Dictionary:
    Definition: Facilitation: v.t... make easy, promote, help forward, (action or result); hence ~A’tion.

    Brad Spangler at BeyondIntractability.org includes the neutrality issue in his definition. Can we be neutral when we are from within? (This brings up some comparisons to the role of the researcher in action research):
    Facilitation (or group facilitation) is a process in which a neutral person helps a group work together more effectively.

    Ned Reute on the International Association of Facilitator's site wrote:
    A facilitator is someone who uses some level of intuitive or explicit knowledge of group process to formulate and deliver some form of formal or informal process interventions at a shallow or deep level to help a group achieve what they want or need to do or get where they want or need to go.

    The folks at Facilitate.com (consultants) describe a facilitation core competency which suggests that facilitation is not a role of one member.

    So What the Heck do We Mean in the Context of Online Groups?
    First of all, I don't think we can make any sweeping comments as context varies between groups and matters enormously. A small, longstanding group may self facilitate with ease and finesse. A large network-like group may also self facilitate (or is it self regulate?) and it means something completely different. A short term, diverse group may greatly benefit from the hand of a facilitator. In complex situations, pairs of process and content facilitators may enable a group to achieve it's goals.

    So when Pete references a facilitated model in his paper, I think it is helpful to think about the possiblity that there are many facilitated models and that the very notion of facilitation can be different across them. Not all facilitation is external. It can be self-facilitation. It can be various combinations.

    The one thing I would say is that there is something quite different between facilitation and coercion. I have seen a lot of stuff written about facilitation as a top down, controlling activity. In my book - and my biases and values are clearly showing -- facilitation is about helping people do things for themselves. Not doing it for them, nor controlling how they do it. There are times when leaders, for example, are facilitative. There are other times they are directive or controlling. There is a difference.

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    A good Cartoon is hard to beat

    Lee LeFever points us to a good one...

    This raises a process question - a linking question... Lee pointed to Jeff Veen as his source. How far does a blogger have to carry this attribution thing? Somebunny -- tell me!

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    Andy Roberts' Blog

    Andy Roberts of Ultralab posts a pointer to another bridging discussion, this time between blogs and Usenet. The full thread can be found here. Peter Kleiweg wrote:
    I have started a blog. And then another, on language. Writing in
    a blog has advantages over writing on usenet. It is a personal
    space you take care for yourself, and becomes a repository to
    sort your arguments. On usenet, your arguments tend to get lost
    somewhere in the threads, and you end up repeating yourself. A
    blog is a bit more permanent. I also think I try to compose a
    blog message more coherently, take more time to write something.

    I have comments enabled on my language blog, but I don't really
    like it. Sure, I want to get responses, want to know I get
    noted, but I don't really want to engage in a discussion in the
    comment section of my blog.

    What I would like in my blog is to remove the comment section,
    and tell visitors of my blog the following:

    - If you want to contact me personally, write to me by e-mail

    - If you want to express your view and opinions about
    something I write here, do so in your own blog, and if you
    link to my blog entry (and use that link at least once), then
    I will take notice of your writing

    - If you want to have a discussion about something I wrote here,
    please post a response on usenet in the following group:
    I am reading that newsgroup, and will respond if I like

    The only tool bridging pattern I've discerned from this and other previous stuff I've linked to is the issue of personal preference for a tool for a specific type of interaction... and that these preferences appear PERSONAL. Is anyone researching this? Useability folks? What can we learn from these to apply to collaborative work situations?

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    Saturday, June 19, 2004

    Hall Richmond Starts Blogging

    The lead on Bigger Pictures came from Hal's Blog. Welcome to the blog community, Hal! (And thanks to Seb for pointing out this welcoming practice!)

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    Bigger Picture DK - Graphic Facilitation

    I have long been interested in the role of images in facilitation, both online and off. The folks at Bigger Picture have created a nice intersection with their blog reporting of the F2F graphic facilitation work they did at the Shambala Institute earlier this month. Take a peek.

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    Liz Lawley: blog networks as faculty commons

    I'm catching up on blog reading today after being gone and am enjoying picking up links to ideas that relate to the things I've been ruminating on here. Liz Lawley brings up the connection thing for faculty, the intersections offered by tools such as blogs and the persistent role of F2F at some point in time.

    Last night Seb and Jill and I were talking about how the connections we’ve formed through our blogs are actually more important to us in terms of collegiality than the connections we have to people that we work with. I “know” Jill and Seb better (at least professionally) than I know most of the people in my hallway. I think this will be increasingly the case for academics—social software tools will foster and support collaborative networks that cross disciplinary and institutional boundaries, and those networks will become the important spaces in which creativity research develop. As Jill said, these social-software-supported networks have become closer to the ideal of the faculty commons than anything on a real campus has ever been.

    So, what happens to research and scholarship—what happens to the current concept of a university, in fact?—when these formerly invisible colleges become not only visible, but more important than the traditional, geographically and disciplinarily (not a word, I know, but there isn’t one for what I want) bound colleges we’re accustomed to?

    Virtuality simply isn’t going to replace physicality in toto; there’s too much value in physical presence. That’s why Jill and Seb and Clay were all willing to trek to Rochester for this panel—it was worth the expense (in time and money) to be able to connect in a physical space. Location matters—I live where I live for many reasons unrelated to my job, and that’s true for most of the people I know. So how do we blend our modes? How do we get the most out of the emerging blog commons? I don’t have answers yet, just questions.

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    David Weinberger on Individual and Social Elements of Tools

    Ah, more on the individual/group nature of tools. (Hm, why do I shy away from the word social? Have to think about that.) In Many-to-Many: Internalizing socialization David asks:
    Are individualistic tools adding social components, and are we using those components?
    What was fascinating was a comment from Todd Richmond who questioned the social/individual dichotomy and instead posited the notion of a "slider." He wrote:
    There is a danger is trying to label all of the bits as “social” or “individual”. In the end, pretty much all media is both: I imagine two sliders from 0-100 for individual and social (this is part of my object theory for media, but that’s another rant), but in this case, neither can go all the way to zero. Even the most social tool and media element has individual components, and in fact the “final” meaning is determined by the individual’s engagement. And the most individual element has some social aspect, even if it is just shared between multiple personalities of the same person (we’re all Sybil at heart).
    Most excellent! Worth a virtual truffle!

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    Connecting Weblogs and KnowledgeBoard

    Via David Wilcox - an example of ideas to connect blogs and forums on KnowledgeBoard . For those of us visually inclined, see the mindmap.

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    Friday, June 18, 2004

    Andy Roberts: More on this "bridging" thang!

    Andy Roberts' Blog. Glad to see the questions are floating around for others as well.

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    CPSquare Amsterdam Meeting

    OK, time to capture my random thoughts on the CPSquare F2F gathering at the Tree House in Amsterdam on June 13th. Fifteen bright, interesting souls spent Sunday talking about a wide range of issues loosely bound around the topic of Communities or Practice. We had some long-time CPSquare members plus some great new friends from the blogging world. As always, it is fascinating to get a peek at how we each experience these gatherings and the ongoing sense of always feeling like we are the outsiders. Are there really any insiders?

    Others have blogged about the structure of the day, so I thought I'd write a bit about the things that have persisted, buzzing around in my head.

    Designed for a Group, Experienced as an Individual
    In our lovely morning breakout group Mary Ann started us out with a story about a research project she did with a partner at the University of Waikaito (check spelling) in New Zealand. They had a lot of material to gather and organize so they wanted a web space. One partner wanted to use a blog, the other a more traditional web based discussion space. Each of them preferred the space they had organized and it was a challenge for them to work in the others' space. Fundamentally, both were intended as containers for sharing content, yet each user experienced them in different enough ways to create a divided experience.

    Why? Is it habituation on the platforms we first experience? Learning style? (I trotted out my long held observation that global thinkers adopt to a wider variety of online tools and experiences faster than sequential thinkers and that blogs are very suited to global thinkers. See Lilia's cloud theory. Whatever the cause, there is a very real experience gap so when we are thinking about online interaction tools in a group or team setting, we have some serious challenges. Just because it works for one or some does not mean it will work for the group. We need to figure this out better and think about solutions that bridge individual experiences into a more shared experience WHEN THIS is critical to the purpose at hand. (It isn't always -- important caveat!) So I'll keep harping on this designed for a group/experienced by an individual thing.

    This segues into the question about why there are some very strong feeling camps and distance between camps in the blogger/discussion board/wiki arena and how can we move past advocacy for one over another and instead look for bridges?

    The Group That Eats Together Communicates Better?
    Finally, the two highlights of Sunday revolve around meals. Our lunch was a collaborative pot luck including some great red wine from the Basque region of Spain, fresh danish from Denmark, Dutch cheeses and meats, US chocolates and lovely fresh fruit and bread. Many hands cleared the decks for lunch, we had a laughter and conversation filled 90 minutes and then poof, all hands cleared things away so we could continue our conversations. It was seamless and it felt efortless to me. Was it the wine? The company? The companionable act of sharing food?

    Later that evening we had to get to Den Hague where many of use were participating in the Infonortics Virtual Communities conference. It was getting late, we had to prepare for the next day and there were no restaurants nearby. So we walked across the street to the Shell station, bought and heated up Indonesian foon in the microwave and had another amazing dinner eating food from a gas station sitting in the parking lot of a fancy-pants hotel. I still smile when I remember it!

    Summing up? It is great to be in a community of practice on communities of practice. And it is great to punctuate our ongoing online interaction with F2F meetings with fresh ideas, old and new friends, wicked complicated problems and always, the communal meal.

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    emerge 2004 - Blended Learning from Southern Africa

    emerge 2004 will kick off June 28th through July 10th. This online conference focuses on Blended Collaborative Learning in Southern Africa. There are also some F2F events for those in the region. (I wish I were!)

    I'll be co-presenting a 5 day online workshop on online facilitation the first week with one of the conference organizers and friend, Tony Carr from University of Cape Town. Although the conference focuses on folks in Southern Africa, it is open to others for a very modest fee. Come support learning!

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    Thursday, June 17, 2004

    Supernova 2004's Online and Distributed Elements

    I've been experimenting with online elements complements F2F meetings. For the last 4 years I've used online interaction tools pre, during and post-event for learning and community events. It is great to see others doing the same such as the upcoming Supernova Community Connection.

    Value for Registrants/Onsite Participants

    It has been easy to see the value that online opportunities in preparation pre-gathering (relationship building, agenda negotiation, building content background, etc), note taking during (wiki, IRC, blogs, simple note taking for later sharing) and post-event wrap up and synthesis. The biggest challenges I've found is the effect of unqual participation across the group, but this happens offline as well. F2F synchronous backchannel deserves some attention in a later post. ;-)

    What is the Legitimate Participation of Remote Folk?

    The blog and wiki for Supernova are available to non-registrants. The question is what is their role? I've peeked into events like this from a distance. I enjoyed being part of an IRC chat for a couple of hours at PlanetWorks earlier this month. But mostly because I knew some of the folks in the chatroom. Other times I've found it primarily a pretty solitary activity. A case of barely legitimate peripheral participation? Do onsite folks want to waste precious time with non registered offsite folks? Registered offsite folks?

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    Digital Note Taking - ClearBoard

    A nice little pointer via McGee's Musings to ClearBoard
    is a handy tool that magically converts a photo of a white board, a flipchart, a piece of paper, or any drawing on a relatively uniform background into a crystal clear image as if you were actually drawing on a computer. ClearBoard is designed from ground up with the latest and most sophisticated image processing technologies.

    Hm, this would help with some of the notes we took last Sunday! I've been using digital pictures of flipchart notes for post-f2f work. This looks like a tool that could come in handy!

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    Home Again - The Effect of Travel on Blogging

    Now home from Amsterdam, the CPSquare meeting and Infonortics VC conference. Phew. Ready to sleep. Have lots of notes to share, but had far less time and connectivity than I had anticipated. It has been interesting to note how this disruption felt. I wanted to blog at the conference -- could not get the wireless to work with my laptop. Intended to blog at night but the long Dutch evenings were far more conducive to picnicing in parking lots and dining on the beach. Treasure and maximize the F2F. More in the coming days. In the meantime, here are a few of my fellow bloggers captures:
    Erik's notes
    Lilia's notes
    Ton's notes

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    Friday, June 11, 2004

    Lilia on Weblogs as Social Ecosystems

    I want to note this post as context for the meeting we'll both be at tomorrow. I'm hoping to talk through some of my experiences as a blog crazed woman. Weblog networks as social ecosystems (and all the wealth of links in this posting and the one right before it!)

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    In Amsterdam

    ...and already have been lucky to have an amazing conversation with some colleagues in the international development sector. On Sunday at the CPWeek gathering I'll get to meet knowledge bloggers Lilia Efimova and Ton Zylstra and others. I'm excited. Pardon my poor spelling. The jet lag has just set in and my body realizes it has had no sleep since Wednesday. This is probably it for today!

    More travel and chocolate details in the TravelBlog!

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    Thursday, June 10, 2004

    PixelBlocks: Digital Stained Glass

    OK, this is totally off topic, but VERY COOL! PixelBlocks: Digital Stained Glass: Introduction. Another way we can represent ourselves?

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    Storytelling in Practice from Chris Corrigan

    I'm just about to head to the airport so no time writing. Just wanted to post the links to the first of three parts from Chris on Story Telling. What is great about this and the subsequent two posts is how Chris grounds his thoughts in his practice. I can feel it.

    Storytelling is one way to communicate context, which is critical in online communications. What Chris writes about applies online as well as offline.

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    Wednesday, June 09, 2004

    Stuart Henshal and Leadership in an Always On World

    Stuart Henshal Moves Further into the Audio Dimension
    Stuart has to be one of the most passionate advocates for voice communication in the distributed world. He turned many of us on to VOIP applications. I was reading his latest on the Online Presence Spiral Two when this bit caught my eye:
    "Leaders facilitate conversations. We will only spiral the velocity and flow of conversations if we find ways to make encounters more appealing and integrate with the ways that people want to use them."
    Ah, the lovely intersection between technology and practice. What does leadership mean in an always on world? Does it require that design savvy along with the more traditional leadership skills? Does it ask us to be always ready to improvise in changing, multi-modal situations? How do we gain and hone these skills? Who values them?

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    Lee Blogs Lilia : Weblog EcoSystems and Cities

    Short and sweet:
    Weblog EcoSystems and Cities. This blog entry is worth a read and is reflective of my new blogging experiences. Read down to the quote about introducing others to blogging.

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    Difficult Conversations (offline and online)

    Heath Row blogs in his Fast Company blog some suggestions from Ellyn Traub on difficult conversations. These are both common sense (if we pay attention to it) and a craft that improves with practice. I'm copying all of them because it seems the world needs to see these things in as many places as possible (blogs being a useful tool here!)
    * The "What Happened?" conversation. There is usually disagreement about what happened or what should happen. Stop arguing about who's right: explore each other's stories and try to learn something new. Don't assume they meant it. Disentangle intent from impact. Abandon blaming anyone and think in terms of contributions to the problem.
    * The "Feelings" conversation. Every difficult conversation also asks and answers questions about feelings. Are they valid? Appropriate? Should I admit them or deny them? What about the other person's feelings, will I hurt them? What if they get angry? Often feelings are not addressed directly and so they interfere with the conversation even more.
    * The "Identity" conversation. This is where we examine what's at stake: what do I stand to lose or gain? Am I competent or incompetent? What impact might this have on my career,self-esteem, our relationship? These issues determine the degree to which we feel off-centered and anxious.

    She also recommends several steps to take when engaged in difficult conversations:

    * Decipher the underlying structure: what happened, what the feelings are, how identity is involved
    * Interpret the significance of what is said and what is not
    * Identify the erroneous but deeply ingrained assumptions that keep you stuck
    * Manage strong emotions, yours (you can only control yourself) -- remember people are just giving you information- it is your choice as to what you do with it (ie get angry, stressed).
    * Spot ways your self-image affects the conversation, and ways the conversation affects your self image
    * Look at what you can change instead of what you can't
    * Listen to understand (not listen to argue)
    * Ask questions to clarify and to move the conversation forward

    How does this translate online?
    The methods themselves translate very well online if the participants in the conversation are willing to engage in what is usually a more drawn out interaction, particularly if asynchronous modes are used. The common wisdom is to pick up the phone or go F2F in conflict mode, but in many situations that is not possible, so developing the skills to slow down and get in to productive, difficult conversations is valuable. For some, the more thoughtful and relaxed response times of asynch are a plus...IF we approach it with that intention. Intention. Hm, there is something worth more contemplation.

    The difficult parts are pretty well exposed in the second list above. We either have to have ESP to pick up the subtle layers of communication (F2F embodied in tone, body language, style) in writing, or we have to take the time to be more explicit in our communication. We have to pack feeling, acceptance or resistance to an idea, confusion -- all in to our text. We have to slow down and read more carefully, more generously. For many of us, rushing and impatient, this is the point of failure. Above all, we have to ask more questions! I am in TOTAL agreement with Ms. Traub on that.

    More Resources on Challenging Online Situations
    * Avoiding Conflict Online, White and Moussou
    * Online Interaction: Social Argument compiled by M C Morgan, Dept. of English, Bemidji State University.
    * Dispute Resolution And The Global Management Of Customers' Complaints: How Can ODR Techniques Be Responsive To Different Social And Cultural Environments?
    * John Suler's great article The Online Disinhibition Effect
    * Conflict in Cyberspace: How to Resolve Conflict Online, by Kali Munro, M.Ed., 2002
    * A Netizen's Guide to Flame Warriors - Mike Reed - a little humor to help the situation.

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    Tuesday, June 08, 2004

    Categories, Community, Collective and Individual Voice

    In a work avoidance moment (dear reader, have you detected a theme from the blog-crazed woman?) I was cruising Scoble's blog and was pointed here: Community Blogs should be categorized. What was cool was not just the sensible suggestion in the post, but the diverse points of view in the comments. Harking back to my themes of individual/collective identity and experience, there were some great gems:

    Darren writes:
    Perhaps community blogs could expose “Global” categories and bloggers could choose to optionally post entries to them. This way I could subscribe to a community's feed for Exchange Server, Recruiting, Security or whatever, or I could subscribe to the sitewide feed or to individual bloggers feeds."

    This might also be a group forming thing around common areas of interest. Group experience.

    James Avery then comments:
    "I think the problem is that with too many categories, and category specific feeds, you start to lose the personal aspect of it all. The main feed of weblogs.asp.net has the same problem, which is why I don't subscribe to it anymore. When I read a weblog I am usually interested in the person and what they have to say, whatever it happens to be about... for category specific stuff I usually just go hit up feedster or google. "

    So, this leads us back to individual - context, identity, etc. (She mutters to herself, bridge, bridges...)

    Back to work. I have to get all the resource materials for my presentation at eMerge2004 (Based in S. Africa/held online) done before I leave for the Netherlands. Am happy that both the presentations for that trip are MOSTLY done. Collaborating with 3 and 4 people is mind bendingly wonderful, but a huge time sink!

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    Let's Talk America and More Bridging

    For my US friends:
    Seattlite and friend Susan Partnow is one of the folks behind this effort to get people talking to each other, not just hurling one liners about who we like or who we dislike. It is F2F conversations facilitated through online connections - another example of a bridge. Click to Let's Talk America - sign up to host, volunteer or take part in a conversation in your local area.

    This reminds me of the National Coalition for Dialog and Deliberation's "Calling the Question" project. The project is sponsored by the Mainstream Media Project and the Harvard Global Negotiation Project, in cooperation with MoveOn.org It is designed to impact call in radio shows here in the US, but I sense the technique is applicable in much broader ways and across other borders. They are using online asynch discussion boards (run by MoveOn) for feedback and coaching of the volunteers doing the radio talk show call ins and have developed a really great looking training program for the volunteers. Nice blend of web, phone, radio and F2F (I believe some of the local volunteer teams meet F2F.)

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    Blog Crazed Woman - the story continues (Netherlands Note)

    I am jamming on work and upcoming travel, so my blog cruising and posting time will dwindle to nothing over the next 10 days. I am NOT abandoning the project, just letting life intrude. Good thing. (Side note: I'll be in Amsterdam and The Hague next week. There is an informal gathering at the Treehouse in Amsterdam on Sunday the 13th, speaking at Infonortics VC Mon-Tue, open for gathering on Wednesday! Email me.)

    What I have noticed about sharing my experiences is that people generously offer feedback -- both on the online facilitation list, via comments and private email. It is like I'm getting free coaching from the universe -- QUALITY coaching. It's fantastic.

    On the blog reading side I have of course been following blogs related to online interaction, KM, new techologies for interaction etc. But I have also decided to follow a few niche areas to see another view. I've been following a bunch of food blogs, blogs of women in technology and then some random cool voices. Which reminds me... I still haven't done the blogroll and it probably now won't get done until after my trip.

    So in summary, I'm settling in. Calming down a bit. Enjoying the ride.

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    Sending Gmail Invites for a Good Cause

    Have gmail invites? Want to use them in a way that gives out and up? Check this out: Do Some Good.

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    Monday, June 07, 2004

    Visual Bridges: Feeds & Faces

    Piers Young (who posted a great comment below) wrote a bit on the impact of a visual clue of a bloggers identity in a blog post. This reminds me that when I'm muttering about bridging, I have been focusing on bridging between tools and between the individual and collective experience. He reminds me in his thoughts about people's faces attached to their blog posts that we can bridge modalities as well. And the stuff we've been playing with here about audio. Is this bridging with modalities about forming shared experiences? Is this a way (or one layer of the ways) to help bridge the individual/community space?

    Edit monday afternoon: Shirley has faces on her blog posts! http://shirley.blogdrive.com/

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    Chris Corrigan and Bridging Between Blogs and Wikis

    I've been ruminating the past few days about the bridge between blogs and mailing lists. Then this morning as I was skipping down my bloglines list I saw this wiki page from Chris Corrigan. OpenSpaceWorldNET: DeeperOpenSpaceWeblog. Chris wrote:
    I keep a weblog at my site called Parking Lot which is where I take note of the world around me and post thoughts about Open Space, among other things. Since starting my weblog, I have discovered people and places that were previously unknown to me, and I have noticed how weblogs extend the breadth of a person's online presence. But, even though I have a comments application on my weblog, it still misses depth. Weblogs are great at extending, but because they are time dependant, they aren't so good at being spaces in which people can drill down deeper into issues. Wikis on the other hand, do exactly that. Thus the marriage of a weblog that extends span and a wiki that extends depth seems to be the most holistic way to explore ideas in the online world. So this wiki is about topics raised at parking Lot having to do with Open Space.

    In this way, it should be pointed out, the marriage of these two technologies create a situation not unlike those created by Open Space Technology. The weblog becomes one part invitation, one part bulletin board and the wiki becomes part market place, part small group discussion and part proceedings document.

    This echoes Susan Nyrop and Lee LeFever's comments. So the pattern is getting consistent. We have these emerging patterns of practice associated with tools. We notice what is missing (the bridge) and we are experimenting with different ways to weave the experiences together when we want to move past personal reflection or publishing.

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    Sunday, June 06, 2004

    Seb's OpenMind: Bloggers With An Interest In Community

    Oooh, I almost wish I had not found this. I really need to clean the house! Seb's OpenMind: Bloggers With An Interest In Community (I fixed a few typos too)

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    Collaborative Music Play Lists: Playlistlogging

    Seb, Lucas and I have been playing around with the intersection of shared play lists of music and online interaction. Lucas suggested the creation of a group playlist using a wiki and the "play this" feature of WebJay. So Seb started a wiki based list. From that page he pointed to a nice FAQ about PlayListLogging. This morning's list is nice ane mellow for a Sunday morning. Join us! Maybe one day we can do a chat with the music synched up and see what happens.

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    More on this "Individual/Collective" Thing

    Sebastian Fiedler posted on the relationship between self-directed learning and the nature of blogs -- the way we "own" our blog. Now this was interesting and if you are looking at the role of blogs in learning, do read the full post. I think he's nailed something essential about blogs. But I want to take a small turn off on to a side road.

    What I'm wondering about is how do we balance the amazing power of self learning, of the autodidact, with learning in community and things such as Communities of Practice? Again, I'm seeing this gap between the individual and the collective which online seems to be reinforced by the nature of the tools we use to do and express this stuff.

    Blogs feel strongly individualistic. They publish. They speak outward. Wikis are communal and individual ownership can be blurred or obliterated. Discussion forums are great for divergent discussions, but require a degree of dedication for convergence that not many hang in there. Telephone calls create their own set of barriers. RSS has been suggested as the glue, but RSS connects. It does not create or "hold the space" for the negotiation of meaning between individuals ideas and knowledge.

    Where's the bridge and what is the balance? Is this individual/collective thing something we should think about? Worry about? Devote resources for tools and processes?

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    Saturday, June 05, 2004

    Dave Pollard on The Wisdom of Crowds

    There have been a flurry of blog posts on James Surowiecki's book, The Wisdom of Crowds. Dave Pollard's terrific review really encapsulated the issues that I'm paying attention to when working with distributed groups: how to avoid group think and individual arrogance while still achieving group goals.

    Dave writes:
    Groupthink can be prevented, he (Surowiecki) says, by ensuring the group has intellectual diversity, independence (from each other) and is neither too centralized nor too decentralized. A group with these qualities is inherently more knowledgeable and its judgement more sophisticated, informed and reliable than any CEO or 'subject matter expert' that business, with its cult of leadership, tends to rely on for making critical decisions.

    In the distributed communities I work with, I see a need for constantly balancing control and emergence. Groupthink and singular control both sit at one end of the spectrum. At the other end sits another pair of unlikely siblings, chaos and inaction.

    I agree that diversity, independence and the balance between centralized and decentralized is important to avoiding groupthing or tyranny by one arrogant individual. But for creating meaningful "work" -- output, convergence, creation, learning -- there also needs to be some bit of interdependence as well. Or perhaps it is more like letting go of ego. Listening. Being willing to change your mind and see another point of view. Distributed work cannot JUST be about individuality collected into a group. It also has to be able to embrace some part of the communal.

    This balance is not just the science of process, but the art of thinking, feeling human beings. And it is very challenging online.

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    Nigritude Ultramarine - Because Blogs Can be Games Too!

    Anil Dash wants to win an iPod in this competition.

    Hell, I don't KNOW Anil. I read one of his blogs. But it's the weekend. I'm playing!

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    Diary of a Blog-Crazed Woman!

    Well, the second week of my blog/onfac list blending is wrapping up. I thought I'd share my thoughts on both platforms (blog/list) as both worlds are helping me. I appreciate the coaching/feedback/welcome from my blogging friends and support from my ongoing list buddies.

    Two Tools, One World?
    I feel the inherent tension between groups of people who prefer different media. We have these preferences for very good reasons. Style, preference, habit are an intrinsic part of our trying to make sense of a group online interaction that is essentially experienced as individuals. Really an odd thought, eh? I wonder if there has to be some sort of sacrifice between one or the other, or if I can bridge between.

    I have not been posting everything on both the blog and the email list. Yesterday I just posted a link to the list that I did not put on the blog. (So why do I feel guilty? Mamma mia!) I can't handle consistently doing both. I worry about spammish feeling, or at the least, fire-hose behavior of TOO much (which is typical of me!). Duplication seems, well, wasteful!

    As a result of my inconsistencies, RSS readers get some here, some from the blog - both via RSS or the websites. I have to figure out is an easy method for feeding the blog posts to the onfac list IF that is desirable for the email only readers (I think there are RSS readers that plop things in your email box, but that requires each interested person adding a new tools. ) Guidance for you, gentle readers: If you want content, links, and leads, the blog may be the way to go. If you want questions, discussions and messy wonderful conundrums, the interactive nature of the list seems better suited. In any case, I'm having a bit of trouble juggling both. And where do comments and back channel email stimulated by either tool go in this classification scheme (I think about 40 so far)? Grin.

    I have no idea how much the audience is duplicated. The blog main page has 649 hits as of May 31st and I put up the first post May 26th. 707 requests for the feed file. 3177 hits on files in the weblog directory. That compares with 55,000+ hits on the directory that holds my online community toolkit from Feb 28 - May 31 (hm, why do the stats stop on May 31? Call ISP!). I have no idea how many people read the pages, nor how many people actually READ the onfac list. We have over 1000 subscribers. I suspect a lot of deadwood. Then again, "getting hits" is not why I do this, so why am I worrying? Maybe it's because I'm good at worrying. And face it, it is really cool to know!

    Keeping Content Organized
    On the process side, I REALLY wish blogger had categories. I'm blogging about a range of stuff that is going to be a mess pretty quickly. I don't keep a very narrow focus. In my year long procrastination about blogging, setting up categories was one of my key demons. I think it was worth worrying about. I should have worried more. Will I regret going with blogger?

    How Much Time am I Spending?

    Don't ask. Too much!

    Technology - Ease of Use and Features

    The reason I started with Blogger was because it was really easy to set up. My main snags were getting the proper paths set up on my webpage (I am not using Blogger's hosting). A few wrinkled eyebrows. I needed a pointer to the feed information - it was easy, but not so obvious to me. (Thanks, Bill). But now I am getting into the many subtleties of blogging - plugins, formatting options, blogrolls, profiles, trackbacks. Although blogging is tagged as "easy web publishing," it quickly gets into a much geekier pursuit which requires more knowledge, skill and frankly, patience for some of us!

    On the "Blogging Community"
    I don't know how much of it is the network I already exist in or how much is the blogging community, but it has been "hella nice" (as my son might say) to experience the welcomes I have received and to see my blog on the blogrolls of some mighty find bloggers. I hope I live up to their trust. It makes me nervous every now and again, which is a healthy thing.

    Next Lessons
    I want to get my "blogroll" up - links to other blogs I'm following and build some publicly viewable blogrolls and link lists at www.kinja.com and http://.del.icio.us -- all sorts of interesting stuff out there. I want to get trackback working and hate to admit that I do want to know who is linking to my blog. I have registered at http://www.technorati.com and as of Friday evening I have 23 links from 19 sources. Can I say it is research instead of vanity? Please?

    I'm sure I'll find both tools and methodologies to make it better as we go, but YOU here, let me know what you want/think. You are the main reason I do all this!!

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    Report: Community Tech Isn't Reaching Those Who Need It (if they do)

    I have just skimmed the report, but David Wilcox posts a fulsome review of Loader and Keeble's literature review of community informatics initiatives. I have shared David's past musings on the interface between academic and practitioners in this strange field called "Community Informatics," and "Virtual Community Informatics" (list here). I have some good friends who are researching in this field, but I always had this sort of side feeling of "hey, why do these guys keep having meetings in cool places? Why are they not working out in the field?" How do we do a better job at interfacing between the important academic work and the nitty gritty of practice?

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    Friday, June 04, 2004

    Ruby's Report from the NTEN Conference

    Although I theoretically work with technology and NGOs, I am not as hooked into the US NGO/Tech network as I should. I read about them and know some of the folks. (As an Indy, I go to few conferences). It was great to read Ruby Sinreich's lotusmedia.blog posts from the March NTEN event. There is also a conference wiki.

    Ruby's blog is a wealth of links for those interested in technology and NGOs/NPOs. And she lives in a beautiful part of the world that I still miss (until it gets hot and muggy!) Thanks, Ruby! (And does the Cat's Cradle still exist in Chapel Hill?)

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    CPsquare Open House in the Netherlands, June 13th, 2004

    While some of us are in town for the aformentioned Virtual Communities conference, it seemed like a good idea to convene a F2F for members and friends of CPSquare (a CoP on CoPs). So we are self organizing a CPsquare open house . We are gathering 10am to 5pm Sunday, 13 June, with a break to wander out for lunch. It looks like it will be in Amsterdam at the Tree House. JOIN US! Feel free to let me know if you have anyquestions.

    I'll be in the Netherlands from the 11th - 16th. Give me a shout out if you are there! We may be doing a workshop on Distributed CoPs on the 16th if there is enough interest. (I suck at marketing.)

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    Collaborative Learning Environments Sourcebook & eMerge2004

    Collaborative Learning Environments Sourcebook - Looks like a promising and growing collaborative collection on collaboration from Martin Terre Blanche, Vasi van Deventer, Nthabiseng Motsemme, Chris Janeke, Johan Kruger, Piet Kruger, Lazarus Matlakala, Cas Coetzee, Matshepo Nefale and Louise Henderson.

    It is great to see visibility for the work of colleagues in South Africa and other places outside of N. America and Europe. I'm convinced that most of the really creative stuff is out there, out of view.

    I'm looking forward to learning about more of these activities at the eMerge conference (all online! June 28 - July 10. Disclaimer, I'm on the presenting team doing a duo gig with the fabulous Tony Carr from University of Cape Town!)

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    Games, Mobiles and Mah-Jongg

    Amy Jo Kim blogged this today and I can't help a quick comment - then I really will get to work. Mobile mah-jongg a $3.8 billion game | CNET News.com. AJ was one of the first people to point me to the implications of games in this new distributed world. Mah-Jongg is a structured game. What will happen when we get better at improvisation online? Games without the structure?

    John Smith, Alasdair Honeyman and I are going to play with this idea a bit on June 14th at the Ifonortics Virtual Communities Conference. A hint for those going. We plan to disrupt things a bit. A game? No, far more than a game. Improvisation!

    John Smith, Nancy White and Alasdair Honeyman
    Improvisation and design in distributed communities

    Learning is a fundamental aspect of community experience. It is arguably an improvisational activity, as are facilitation and community cultivation. But the discourse about online communities of practice usually focuses on design, not on improvisation. Why is that? What if we looked at how we design technologies from the point of view of learning and improvisation? Does it change what we think and say? From our experience the answer is yes. Design seems to imply the arrangement of known elements. But we all work on a global, multi-cultural and multi-literate stage where nobody can know all the elements involved. Among other things we give examples of how:

    * Design is an ongoing activity.
    * Design is the (re)-arrangmenet of known and unknown elements.
    * Everybody is (potentially) involved in design.
    * Straddling technologies changes the game once again.

    In practice, what elements are more appropriately improvised or invented on the spot? What is the difference between design and improvisation?

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    Pollard: Wweblogs are Excellent Communications Media, But Lousy Communications Tools

    Dave Pollard plays a few more soulful notes on the conversational fugue around tools and human beings online. He plays off of Ton's post on Blogs as Personal Presence Portal, which sites a slew of other people who I sense are willing both think AND practice what it takes to have a fulsome online communication experience. Presence is the central theme right now. I'd like to know how that expands from personal presence to group or collective presence, which includes such arts as listening!

    Lots to chew on in both Dave and Ton's postings. Or did I just totally mix my metaphors? Music? Food? It's all good.

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    David Coleman on Social Networks and Collaboration

    Social Networks and Collaboration is the latest "guru's corner" (what the heck is a guru any more these days?) by David Coleman of Colllaborative Strategies. He focuses how does SNA adds value, rather than how can social-network related offerings make money. Ah, fresh air! (There is also a great thread on SNA and CoPs on John Smith's ComPrac list - RSS feed here).

    David's newsletter is always worth a read. (Though the more I look at his map of collaborative tools, the more I think I disagree with it -- and with most attempts at tool categorization. But I can't quite yet put my finger on what bugs me. More on that later.)Caveat: know that if you select the "text only" email option, you may get empty emails. Is there a prejudice against those of us who prefer text only? (Try dialing up from Kenya and you'll know FAST!)

    I'm feeling flippant. It must be Friday!

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    Streaming Media Without a Dedicated Server

    ONE/Northwest , a great resource on tech issues for non profits/NGOs, pointed to an article by RealNetworks on streaming media without a dedicated server.
    HTTP streaming is an alternative approach to serving RealAudio and RealVideo files on the Web without the added management requirements and expense of server-side streaming software. Although this techniques is not well-suited for high-volume sites serving numerous simultaneous streams, many smaller Web sites can benefit tremendously from this simple and inexpensive approach.
    I picked up on this because I'm very interested in how we integrate audio and visual elements into online communication. Bandwidth, file size, etc. are all still VERY real issus for the populations I work with in 2/3rds worlds, but keeping the "warm" in "electronic communications" (Paradis, 1996?) is essential. Voice, music, images are all part of warm. Text written with attention to warmth is clearly part of it.

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    Thursday, June 03, 2004

    E-serenity, now!

    E-serenity, now! from the Christian Science Monitor via Jeffrey Veen.

    Uh, with my firehose of posts I think I am one of the candidates for an Information Sabbath. Definitely food for thought!

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    Webjay - "Mellow Chat"

    Thanks to a link from Seb here, I have now started toying around with a playlist of music that might be experienced by a distributed group while they are chatting. I'm not sure of the logistics yet - everyone has a second browser open and they hit "play" at the same time? Could people change the list? Add to it?

    Webjay - "Mellow Chat" by Choconancy

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    Wednesday, June 02, 2004

    Online Roles and Characters

    In 2001 I wrote a small piece on Online Community Member Roles. Over the years I've received email from people suggesting other roles, or roles that reflect a certain context. Somehow it helps people sense patterns of behavior. Of course it also runs a high risk of stereotyping. But it keeps popping up on the radar screen.

    In this evening's blogtroll, I came upon Meatball wiki on communities in the Power of Many blog. Hopping over to the Meatball Wiki page I found a wealth of work on online roles and characters. Also a link to Social Roles in Electronic Communications.

    OK, I'll stop blogging tonight. I know. FIREHOSE!! And I'm reminded by Judith that I need to get my blogroll up. SOON!

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    Instant Gratification - Get an IM when your site is visited!!!

    Instant Gratification - Get an IM when your site is visited -- I have been experiencing and playing with the "gratification" stuff around blogging compared to other online forms. It is a different sort of drug. Then I saw this. Endless!

    I tried it, but it seems blogger does not allow the script!

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    NMC 2004: SmallPiecesLooselyJoined

    Stephen Downes pointed to UBCWiki: SmallPiecesLooselyJoined a while back and I finally looked at it today. WOW! This is COOL! Especially after my previous post on conferences and precious F2F. I will be on the road so I can't toddle up to UBC (go if you can - it's a beautiful place) but I'm going to try and participate online. Now, to figure out of I a decentralist, centralist or fence sitter? I think it depends on how much chocolate I've had! I think I'm a meta fence sitter tonight.

    I'm REALLY looking forward to this!

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    Shirky: The backchannel and conference design

    Ah, one of my favorite themes about the intersection between online and offline interaction. Clay Shirky on Many2Many takes a look at the impact of online channels related to F2F events in Many-to-Many: The backchannel and conference design.

    I could blather about this for hours but here are the three thoughts I'd like to put out to the blogosphere.

    1. How can we best use our F2F time, including at "conferences?" - I think it was Pete Kaminksi, but I'm not sure, who said something like "our F2F time is too precious for work." Now my dividing line between those two is fuzzy as hell, but I totally agree that it is time to think about the precious F2F resource and how best to use it. This challenges ANY conference model, but in my mind it suggests more things like Open Space.

    2. What are the ways we can use pre/post online work to make the most of the F2F time? In the sometimes successful (yes, into every life a little rain must fall) Muckabouts I've been party to organizing, the use of pre for agenda creation and relationship creation/deepening and post for reflection and next steps has been powerful. I use this in my work in international development as well. It works. Furthermore, by starting online, people see how they CAN develop "real" relationships with each other as they verify what they first "sensed" online and then experienced F2F. Starting online also makes it easier to go back online. I know this goes contrary to a lot of "common wisdom" of starting F2F, but I believe in it strongly. Again, context and how you do it matters, of course!

    3. Control and Responsibility - The more we can support people taking responsibility for their learning and experiences, the better off I believe we are. This is really what those jargon words, "capacity building" and "sustainability" are all about. A few individuals can catalyze all they want, but change or forward movement requires the whole wave to wash upon the shore, not just a few drops! I think these online adjuncts (or are they central?) are one area to explore to support the wave.

    Now, the things I have been thinking about a lot in terms of technology in the room at F2F conferences (IRC,IM, wiki, group annotation, etc.)include:

    • How does this divide us? When is this productive? Deletory?
    • What are the preparation implications (tools, training, etc.)
    • When do you turn it off? Why? Who says?

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    Online Facilitation at Royal Roads University - 2003

    Susan Byrne and Linda Waddell wrote an interesting paper about the preparation and execution of online facilitation in distance courses as part of their Masters work in Distributed Learning at Royal Roads University (a lovely place just outside of Victoria, BC!)

    On page 66 they offer their recommendations:
    Based on the findings of our project, we believe that RRU
    could enrich learner and online facilitator satisfaction by:
  • Defining and developing an RRU online facilitation model and
    standards for facilitating at RRU.
  • Increasing competencies of online facilitators by providing
    more training in online facilitation.
  • Identifying and using a model of instructional design, which
    consistently promotes interaction and provides opportunities
    for more in-depth learning. This model of instructional design
    should also enhance online facilitation.

  • Bottom line: they wanted more interaction and presence from instructors and instructors feel pressured (time/competency?) by these requests. No surprise. The scalability of online interaction is a huge question that came right to the forefront with distance learning.

    The issues of standards is tougher. It is style? Substance? Freqency? And wouldn't these be contextual?

    It is an interesting read.

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    Explaining this Weird Online Stuff With Scenarios

    My acid test for explaining something about this crazy online world is to see if it makes sense to my mother or my husband. Both used to live mostly offline lives. My mother is getting wired so this is changing a bit! ;-)

    When I go off all passionate about some online interaction thing and faces go blank, I stop and check myself. I am speaking from an insider context. Poor, poor communications. I revert to a story or a scenario. Then the light comes back on in folks' eyes.

    When I came upon Dale Pike's note on a weblog workshop he ran at UNC in March I had a nod of appreciation for his use of scenarios. Dale wrote in his Stand Up Eight Weblog :
    "One of the greatest challenges to introducing weblogs to someone who doesn't know much about them is that 'weblogging' quickly becomes a huge and interconnected jumble of processes and procedures. As you get your mind wrapped around the concepts, you don't realize how significantly you are changing your own processes. Ask someone who religiously uses a news aggregator to stay current to explain the difference between weblogs and email or weblogs and discussion groups and they may have some difficulty articulating why the medium feels so unique. Threaten to take away their aggregator, however, and you'll soon see just how embedded the processes can become.

    I also started thinking of usage scenarios for weblogs. Everyone uses them for their own purposes, but there seem to be certain categories of use that are particularly well-suited to the medium."
    He goes on and gives some examples.

    One of the things that has REALLY ticked me off is how people draw conclusions about a tool based on their experience -- really one scenario. In fact we can probably surface a negative scenario for each positive one. And without this, we can't really understand the factors of success or failure -- tool, context, process -- the whole shebang.

    How can we build a collection of scenarios that show the multiple facets of both online interaction tools and techniques? Some wiki that we all contribute to? How do we bring the multiple perpectives we need to advance online interaction? And keep it from being a "this is better than that" world? Is this collaborative research? Is Wikipedia a model?

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    Tuesday, June 01, 2004

    A Checklist for Assessing: F2F or Online Meeting?

    Nancy Settle-Murphy and Penny Pullan of www.chrysalisinternational.com shared this checklist as a tool to help determine of you should meet F2F or remotely. Nancy had shared it on the Yahoo groups OnlineFacilitation list I facilitate. I offered Nancy this feedback:
    I really nodding in recognition with the second half, but the first half was harder for me to fall into step with. I think some of the characteristics you identify with F2F meetings are also REALLY essential to distributed meetings. 1-4 particularly apply to distributed mtgs. 8 can work really well remotely. 10 may be a reason FOR an asynch meeting.

    Can you share a little of your and Penny's thinking about these as stronger indications for F2F? Or is it the whole group together on the first table that is the indicator?
    Nancy responded (and kindly said it was ok to share this on my blog):
    Our thinking was that if the list of statements on page 12, taken together, were mostly answered with an "I agree," then chances are, a FTF meeting may help achieve objectives in less time, with richer results. We drew from our own personal experiences as meeting facilitators, and considered the conditions under which remotely-facilitated meetings can work well, and when FTF sessions typically produce better results. I emphasize "usually," since sometimes it is possible to, for example, have a useful in-depth discussion with people you've never met. It's just usually more
    productive and more revealing, given all of the ways we communicate nonverbally, to have these discussions FTF (yes, there are exceptions!). And yes, you're right that statements 1-4 can apply for those who wish to/need to meet remotely---we were thinking that if "yes," was the answer for all of these, then FTF might produce desired results more quickly. Again, this is based on our experience as FTF and remote facilitation over the years...
    What this reinforces for me is that any tool or process to help us identify how we might do something - F2F or online - needs to allow us to include context. My context recently, for example, is distributed groups that at BEST can be F2F once a year. I have many people call or email me asking me, "how should I choose a tool or remote prcoess for my group." My most common answer is, "it all depends."

    (This has an echo to Clay Shirky's essay Nomic World.)

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    BumpList: An email community for the determined

    Lee LeFever of CommonCraft is celebrating the one year anniversary of his wonderful company. Cheers, Lee. He pointed out this great group today. I had to join (and of course, the obligatory guilt of bumping someone!) because I'm fascinated by the dynamics (or lack thereof) in a mail list group. Check it out... BumpList: An email community for the determined

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    Feed Bleeps and Blops

    As a novice, I'm screwing up right and left and learning from it. I think I had my feed files in the wrong place. Testing now to see if I got it right. Otherwise, no one subbed will have seen the (many) posts since June 27th. Live, learn and always, EXPERIMENT!

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    Check The MetaWeb Graphic

    The Metaweb from Nova Spivak of www.mindingtheplanet.net

    I love the upper right quadrant, but I get a hit off of David Snowden's distrust of 2x2s which oversimplify issues -- or even misrepresent them. In this case the dichotomy of the two axis emphasizes the unnatural split between information connectivity and social connectivity.

    I'm struggling with a similar categorization problem in the Tech Study I'm collaborating on. We categorize to simplify and show patterns, but it is the categorization people remember, not the complex substrate from which it springs.

    Is this a problem or am I worrying needlessly?

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    Technology and Cultural Contexts

    Trolling my blog roll I came upon a link from Ross Mayfield to a story from May 9 in the Portland Oregonian. It resonated with a pattern I see in my work inside but even moreso outside of the US. People consistently use tools in ways designers -- with their particular experience and cultural contstructs -- never imagined. Of course, I think it is brilliant how people adapt tools to their needs. (I also worry about the cultural implications of how tools affect the community of users. That's a whole 'nuther kettle of fish.)

    What amazes me is that the results of the study seemed to be a surprise to the writer, but a given for the anthropologist. We are living in a global society, but in the US, we still persist in a US set of glasses. Ross referred to this as ethnographic disruptions. If we look at it from a global perspective, it is not disruption. It is common sense! It is only the blinkered who are surprised.

    Intel study upsets ideas of how products are used:
    "One of the things this project helped me see very clearly was the ways in which we were assuming the cross-cultural nature of the home, that there was a physical thing that was the home that would be the same everywhere. The assumptions around that got built into a lot of things that we and the technology industry more broadly were doing...

    In the West, one of the critical metaphors we use to divide up our time and our space is the idea of the negotiation between work and leisure. ... But what if there's a third set of activities that are really important? What if there are things around play, or religion or health and wellness that don't neatly fit into the work or leisure category?

    One of the things that became clear in Asia, and is becoming true in the West, but we're not really good at seeing it, is that people are using these technologies for those third activities. In Asia, it's visible in the way people use mobile devices to support religious activities. The nicest example is people using their mobile phones to find Mecca. LGE, a Korean handset company, has produced a Mecca-finding handset with GPS technology in it...

    ...In the U.S., we imagine that mobile phones are linked to individuals, and it's a mode of individual communication. In fact, the model of privatized ownership is one of our foundational social notions, even within the family. We have one of everything -- our own cars our own TV, PC . . . But people believe in different ways of ownership . . .There's a bunch of working classes and ethnic groups that own phones in common. The model is not individual-to-individual communications, but node to node, or social network to social network, and that model is proliferating, particularly as devices move out of middle classes and into a wider spectrum in society where people are never going to own them individually.

    I definitely saw women in middle-class homes in India who describe themselves as regular Internet users who had never touched a PC. The way they could say that was that they'd been dictating messages to children and grandchildren, and those messages were being inputted into the computer."

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