Saturday, February 26, 2005

C sharp, B natural

C sharp, B natural
Originally uploaded by sebpaquet.
Seb flikrs my state of mind...

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Good Music to Work (Blog) Byau

It has been weeks of long days, few bits of time off. Today I escaped from monitors and keyboards and was sucked into the world of musical possibility: the racks of CD's at a local store. 5 CD and many bucks later I'm sitting here, working (Sat night, yes) and listening to KD Lang's FANFRICKINGTASTIC "hymns of the 49 parallel. What a voice. For those of us who spend much time online, music can be a leavening, a touch of humanity in the land of text. As mentioned months ago in a blog post, sharing the same music while chatting, sharing Webjay playlists -- whatever -- provides another link.

Next... Yo Yo Ma (Sounds of Yo-Yo Ma), Nanci Griffith (Hearts in Mind), David Grisman (Traversata) and Alicia Keys (the diary of alicia keys).

Music, music, music. Thank goodness.

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Friday, February 25, 2005

Lee LeFever: How the Weblog World Listens

Lee has another good, straightforward "plain English" piece on his blog today, How the Weblog World Listens
How does this happen? What enables a blogger to hear so well? Why can bloggers listen better than others?

The primary culprit of this new ability to listen is RSS and the use of RSS readers. I’ve written about RSS before and will not focus on it here. RSS is an enabler of the tools I will discuss below and having a basic understanding is a prerequisite for the discussion below. See: RSS Described in Plain English.

Below I’ll describe (in plain English) three sites (among many) that enable the weblog world to listen so well.

* Technorati
* PubSub
* Feedster

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Posting from the Soul

This week a link from Scoble took me to Lenn Pryor's blog post about the passing of his sister. Lori Ann Pryor April 27, 1976 - Febuary 22, 2005. I have been thinking a lot about how our humanity shows up in these electronic artefacts of ourselves we call blogs. Julie Leung at Northervoice, and posts like Lenn's are influencing how I am thinking about how I show up in my blog. Yeah, I want it to be of value in the practice of online interaction. But I want that in a warm electronic voice (idea from Michele Paradis)

Technorati Tags: , ,

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Ah, the glories of taking a break from work-work-work to check my Bloglines and see any referrers to my site (Dang, I've fallen down the black hole and succcumbed. What can I say?) I find a link to Mike's Manic Minute, a podcast that Todd referenced at NorthernVoice.

Well you have to hear Mike's Manic Minute. I think we are somehow related (as some who heard me at Northern Voice might testify.) Mike, how much of that speed is you, and how much of it is your technological processing? I listened and just had a great laugh. I think your podcast should be broadcast from an alarm clock to wake people up every morning. A new business! Take a listen to:ManicMinute-022405.mp3 (audio/mpeg Object)

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Community Creation: All About Apples Electronic Cookbook

I'm moved when a group of people create something out of love and passion. All About Apples, Scott Carsberg, Lampreia by Scott Carsberg, Hillel Cooperman, photographs by Peyman Oreizy is a little jewel box of an electronic cookbook/food story. Hillel, who runs the food sites/blogs and created the project after frequent dinners with friends at chef Scott Carsberg's Lampreia restaurant here in Seattle.

The free electronic book is worth a download for the beautiful photographs, recipes and exacting instructions. But what really caught me was the description of how the team worked together to create the book. It was also featured in yesterday's Seattle PI.

Just think what we can create together when there is passion for the work!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

My Mother's Volunteer Work Online

I don't usually blog about my family (that's worth a whole other post of its own) but I wanted to share a story of technology and community. My mother is a volunteer with Project Linus, a totally volunteer run group of people who make blankets and quilts for kids in the hospital or other traumatic situations.

As my mom got more and more involved with the organization, she turned to technology to help her work. Email to contact people, then an email list, then a website that a volunteer maintained, then a way that she could update the text on the site... and...and... and. Each new tool extended her reach or efficiency.

Last weekend they had their annual 2005 Make a Blanket Day. One of the volunteers got my mom a digital camera so she could capture blanket and volunteer pictures. And wow, look at them working.

My mom is a smart, determined woman. She would have figured out how to get this done without technology, but it really is fun to see how it has extended Project Linus' work in the San Jose area. Go Mom!

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Index of my Northern Voice Posts -- and Things are Now Linked

I have gone back in and tried to clean up most of the posts. Here is a list of the links for easy access, and for those of you on RSS, a way to find the cleaned up posts.

Robert Scoble's presentation
Stephen Downe's presentation
Todd Maffin's presentation
Tim Bray's Presentation
Panel on Blogging in Education (picture still screwed up)
Panel on Multimedia

(The rest are not changed)

Technorati Tags:

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Visualizing Blogger Reactions After the Tsunami

Intelliseek's BlogPulse || Tsunami Crisis offers a vivid picture of people connecting and responding. I was taken by the charactarization of this as "discussion."
"Tsunami-related 'buzz' in the Blogosphere spiked incredibly in late December 2004 and remained high into mid-January 2005, especially when compared with other natural-disaster events. Rarely do such spikes in discussion occur so quickly."

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Creativity techniques and creative tools for problem solving

Steve August of KDA research recently pointed this page out on the online facilitation list. Creativity techniques and creative tools for problem solving:
"Below are listed a number of creativity techniques to help with creative thinking. Like most tools these creativity techniques all have their good and bad points. I like to think of these creativity techniques as tools in a toolbox in much the same way as my toolbox at home for DIY. It has a saw, spanner, hammer, knife and all sorts of other things in it, they are all very useful, but you have to pick the right tool (creativity technique) for each job. We will try and provide a little guidance along with each tool to let you know whether it's best used for cutting paper or putting in nails.

The list is dizzyingly long. WOW!

There are at least 200 different creativity techniques and tools available, listed below are some of these. Special thanks to the Open University for their kind permission to use material from their publication B822.

If you have knowledge of any other creativity techniques then please let us know - we'd like to make a full set available for all to use."

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NewPRWiki - Resources.NorthernVoice05

NewPRWiki - Resources.NorthernVoice05 is an amazing compilation of the links from Northern Voice. Thanks Constantin Basturea!

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Kris Krug Aggregates Northen Voice Notes

'change, culture, creativity, community' - kk

Nice service, Kris! Sorry I did not get a chance to meet you at Northern Voice!

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Trying to Claim Again on Technorati (why I keep failing...??? Oi!)

I ranted at Northern Voice yesterday about the second phase of blogging where you get all caught up in little technological ins and outs. Claiming your feed on various services is one of them. Here I go again. Sheesh!

Technorati Profile

Technorati Profile

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Last Session at Northern Voice

Last session at Northern Voice. Anyone looking tired? I was on the lightening tools demo panel. I'll try and recap my notes when I get home, but now it is time for dim sum!
 Posted by Hello

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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Northern Voice and Spoon Hanging

Mimi hangs a spoon on her third birthday at the Northern Voice lunch. As I faded mentally yesterday, Mimi helped me reengage as we hung spoons together. Don't underestimate the value of play and silliness.  Posted by Hello

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Podcasts from Northern Voice & Multimedia Panel

I'm getting sloppy. The day is getting long and I have to do a demo at the end, so I'll be slacking off here shortly.

Many of the presentations from Northern Voice can be found at

There is also somethings at http:/ from Tod, a public radio geek.

These urls are from the Blogging Multimedia panel. I not verbatim blogging because Roland has bribed people to be brief. That translates into talking REALLY fast. I can't do them justice. So we'll let the podcasters send the stuff out to the world!

Couple of notes;

* Tod talks about vertical feeds to tap into feeds that are of particular interest to a person. Tod gets excited about taking public radio to the next level. He will be doing a blogwalk through the CBC broadcast center tonight instead of dinner. It will take about an hour. Meet Tod at 5pm at the back of the theatre on the left where the Blogosphere people are set up.

* Peter Bull - Jay Dedman's partner in crime. (I missed Jay's opener) Works for community technology center in MA. Creating method for people to share broadcast quality video over the web to be distributed over the web, public access stations. People who don't read blogs, those who do -- a real community thing. Excited about online collaboration and using video. Getting beyond geography. This guy can film it, this guy can edit it. (OH dear, I think I'm taking notes again.)

* Marc Canter - founder of Macromind, godfather of microcontent unification. Acknowledge wife and two daughters. Nice to travel to Vancouver. . One of the thing about multimedia content is to store it. It's not just the storage, then you have the bandwidth. We’re attempting two things with ourmedia: free storage and free bandwidth. Does anyone know how to solve Tod's problem to subscribe to Tod's vertical health care? Metadata. What got left behind with podcasting is metadata. Otherwise known as tagging. Attach to your podcast. The participants of the case, topic, the general information about the cast. There are lots of things you can "explain" about a podcast. That is referred to as metadata. OurMedia wants to standardize on metadata. The first repository for stuff is the Internet Archives run by Brewster Kahale. Sold Alexa to Amazon.
The books project. He has been storing petabytes of public domain materials. (1000 terrabytes). He has the entire Grateful Dead archives. We went to Brewster. Starving artists need a place to store artware. There is also a download tool which is hard on a webpage. We see blogging as just the beginning of a revolution on micro content. Now stretch your imagination. That chunk of text was a review. Those are all new standards we are working for a whole new platform for digital lifestyle aggregation.

Now open to questions from techies and humans.

Q: What is your vision of podcasting, implicit in this metadata conversation. Radio is one of the last community building, democratic, cross cutting media for things that people might not know they are listening to. What if they only listen to what they seek out.

A: Tod: This is one of the problems. If each of us self select our news the world would not know about many things. Headlines in newspapers catch our eye on the periphery. A news story that we weren't quite thinking a bout. Love to see an AI algorithm.

Jay: People scour the internet., instead of going to the NYT you go to your feed.

T: The irony of microniche, at some point we want to get back to the way it was, a trusted voice. There are reasons there are newscasters on for 22 minutes each night. I could choose her (the tagger) vs the news broadcast.

M: The difference between an expert is one that weaves a story that ties in all the other issues. Mamma expert. Knowledge and information is not compartmentalized. Keywords is artificial. At best it gives you help, but you need 5 - 10 - 15 tags. That's the difference about really good content.

Q: Thinking about feeds, Clearchannel and the anti community nature of radio in the US> What about Blogdex, delicious main feed, Google news. I'm still going to get some things pushed at me that I don't want to hear about it. Along sides RSS we have these feeds, Google Zeitgeist.

M: You should not choose just one thing. Nothing is one way or another. Radio did not go away when TV showed up. Everyone chooses how they balance it.

Q: Inclusionism. Learning to polarize. To move from one end of the polarization to the other and back again as a skill. Rather the whole idea of media has been about picking one spot and making a stand there. Learning to move back and forth.

T: there is great value in polarization if you have the full view. One of the cliche's on the radio... ending a radio piece is one of the hardest thing. You fall into the trap.. on one hand, or the other time... and time will tell, I’m so and so. That's the stream from one traditional channel. I can't disagree with that. BBC. Two extremes are just as valuable. People listen to podcasting are smart. They don't need to have it explained. BBC introduces comedy as if we needed a cue.

Q: I can see the practical implications of podcasting, but as far as the rest of the web, where else does it go. What are the practical implications.

A: Video blogging has only been practiced the last 8 months. New. View on computer. They are going to build boxes to view it. Distribution systems.

P: You're making a blog post that points to a torrent file and they can download it. (Bittorrent - a P2P system for sharing the cost of downloading.) If you combine with creative commons it is very powerful. You get all the pieces to put together your own work from the other sources. You listen to radio in the car. If you hear something in the car, you can't save it, send it to a friend, etc.

Set top boxes like TV you could subscribe to RSS audio or video feeds, you can make playlists and hit play. That’s already kind of happening with PVRs. TIVO has a thumbs up - it analyzes the metadata on the who, this great NYT article. This guy bought a TIVO, watched a couple of episodes of Queer as Folk and after that the machine recorded all the gay porn. That keywording brings it in.

TIVO is a closed system. That's a problem.

Q: If people are metatagging their own content. Does that scale. You have these meta keywords that become irrelevant.

M: A key part of our Our Media is that it is a community, the decentralized model. Clouds associated with particular communities. Your New Your City home boys, Canadian beer drinkers. Each would have their own clusters of keywords. Your musical event is my concert. Tags don’t scale up lineally.

That’s why I like tagging. You can put all you want and I can tag as well and use mine or others’ tag and folksonomies form, we’re using the same tags, connecting together. At the end of this year we are going to hit the scale issue. Then we’ll have new technologies. It is how I connect with other people. Communities. But you can’t have a community of a million people. Instead of a social network with a million members, think of a million communities with ten people in them.

Google – if you put in a tilde Google will find the synonyms and other key words.

Q: What about other languages

A: Our response is Wikipedia. Started with one language and grow. We’re not stopping it. We’ll give them all our source code. Starting from the bottom up.

Q: Business model?

A: No one can deliver exactly what everyone needs. No major radio station. So there is a huge niche market.

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Blogging in Education Panel at Northern Voice

The blogging in education panel at Northern Northern Voice: Stephen, Laura, Seb and Bryan on the Blogging in Education Panel. "Sometimes learning is the only option some people have. It gives some people options they never had." (Stephen Downes)

Here are a few more quotes...

"Associative intuitive cross-linking. Getting into blogging pulls me out of an established disciplinary domain. Making sense of that in a academic career can be difficult. My ideal is iterative publishing, but the tools are not there for it. Weblogging tools aren’t’ designed for iterative authoring. Chronological. Don’t include editorial tools. To be able to author in small bits, then meta author and flow it together into a journal publication or course context. Difficult to get above the dynamics of the blogosphere and pull that off. When it comes to peer review within the academic area, publishing in a blog is not yet accepted." (Laura Trippi)

Blogs are very live tools. I send them to LiveJournal and in 30 minutes they have elaborate sites. That’s not necessarily what my colleagues thing. I look forward to the day when someone gets tenure for academia. You can follow someone’s thinking on their blog. A public intellectual face that you would not get in the F2F space. Every new technology has a romanticizeation phase. When CMC showed up people worried about the lack of the intimacy of the classroom. Here’s another romanticization. “Peer review is great.” When I first got into this I thought this was going to transform education. Now I think it will be a war of attrition before we transform education. (Bryan Alexander)

We have to redefine for ourselves first and foremast what constitutes quality. Being accepted by 2 out or 3 referees who won’t even reveal who they are is not a measurement of quality. I got my job at NRC based on the footprint that I had online. Not simply the volume of my own writing, but on the ripple effect. If you write well, if you have something to say, if you put it online for people to read, you will get a wider readership than any journal article would and you will be recognized for it. Maybe not formally, but what is the purpose of the formalization? Define quality for yourself. Don’t let hidden review committees tell you what is good and what is bad. (Downes)

 Posted by Hello

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Northern Voice - Why we sit where we sit at conferences

The podcasting team in action at Northern Voice. Isn't it interesting who sits on the floor or at the back of the room? It is near the first plug in strip in the room. It is also a place where people can move, adjust. The back, the periphery, can be a powerfully creative space.  Posted by Hello

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Northern Voice - The spaces in between

Seb and Dan talk. This is the sweet spot for me at conferences. This time I feel more in the observer, reporter role. I am less inclined to reach out. Perhaps a factor of being tired from a crazy week. But it is also rewarding to be an observer. Just so long as I don't stay stuck there!  Posted by Hello

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Northern Voice - Giving my wrists a bit of a break

After lunch I could not pick a session. Blogging for Beginners? Promoting your Blog? Blogging in Education? I started in the promotion session because I was sitting in that room, but I have the "after lunch" disease. My attention span is too brief and my mind takes off on tangents. So now I have wandered into the blogging in education panel with Bryan Alexander, Laura Trippi, Seb Paquet and Stephen Downes. I'll see what moves me and will post accordingly.

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Stephen Downe's Talk at Northern Voice (now including links)

(Updated Feb 21 for formatting/links)

Stephen Downes, Northern Voice – Community Blogging

(Stephen's Powerpoint Here - 9 megs)

(This is raw, uncleaned up and unlinked... getting it out there as fast as I can.)

I come from the other coast of Canada, Moncton New Brunswick. I work for the National Research Council which means I work for the government and they own what I say.

I’m not talking about people coming together and blogging on the same site, but how blogging becomes a community and how a community becomes a group of bloggers.

Four sections, what constitutes a community, rant and rave against the long tail, about meaning and about distributed network semantics. Reframe your thoughts about what community is, what community on the web is, and what is a community of blogger.

What constitutes community?
We look around in the real world. What creates a community in the real world is proximity. We are part of a community because we live in the same place that others live. Even if you have nothing whatsoever to do with your neighbors. For a long time the concept of community online was based around the same concept. Hagel and Armstrong, Figallo. A community was a place. A website, a portal. Today a social networking site. The model from Hagel was set up a site, bring in the people, and retire to the Caymans. Didn’t work out that way.

My field of study is online learning. I don’t know much about social networks or blogs. In online learning, learning, schools, universities, are almost the prototypical communities. Gather into one place, get subjects together, slice and dice information for people to become obedient members of society. Online we have the learning management system or the learning content management system. Again, a site where you log in, you go to the room where you are allowed to talk to each other. Social networking is much the same thing., or you log on to Friendster, LinkedIn, Flikr. Going to that place. To the large degree a matter of proximity or perhaps also persistence. I challenge the perception that these are communities. They are simply people in the same place. I don’t think that this defines community. Not going to rehash what others have said. Figallo talked about the web of relationship, Bock - common interest, Paccangella – articulated patters of relationships. These accounts are typical, widespread, and in most of the online community work.

I want to draw out two major elements that are definitive of community. First of all that there is an idea that there is a network. Interact. Communicate. A place for discussion. In some sense a relationship, not mere proximity. They are connected in some way. The second, important thing is semantic. That these relations are about something. A common interest, values, a set of beliefs, and affinity for cats or bee keeping.

We have a pretty good understanding of networks. A much less refined sense of meaning. Fortunately one of my other jobs is as a philosopher studying meaning. I never thought that would be useful. I used to have a sign that said “you are not going to get a job.” Give up now. This will not prepare me for future employment. I’ll come back to meaning

I want to rant and rave. The long tail is a property of scale free networks. You get a lot of people linking to each other. If you map this you create a set of links. You get the phenomena of 6 degrees. You can get anywhere in the network in a number of hops. What happens in a network of this type is that some people get logs a links, other gets just a few. If you look in the world of blogging for instance, Boing Boing, Instapundit get thousands and thousands and of links. News Trolls gets one. You get a power law. You have instanpundit at one end with thousands of links, then the long tail of thousands with few links.

What creates the power law phenomenon. One thing is growth. The network grows over time. The other thing is preferential attachment. You are looking for something to link to. You are a blogger, you just listened to Tim Bray and you need something to look for. If you just go looking you will find Scripting News, Scoble’s site. Better than the newspaper so you link to them. Two things happening. Some people get linked to because they were first. As time went by they had the most links so they were most likely to be found by new people. The way a tree grows. You have a trunk of the tree. That is where the action is because it was first. The rest of the tree attaches itself to the trunk.

People have talked a lot about the long tail. Worship the long tail. Mind the long tail. All these people talking about the long tail have the unique quality of not being part of it. I live in the long tail. I can say from my perspective that people in the long tail would rather not be part of it, they simply want to be read. IN Canada we have socialists and they say they represent the working class. Like saying they represent the long tail. Policies that identify the working people. Ask the working people. They don’t want to be the working. So they support the policies of the rich. They don’t support the long tail.

(Branching cluster pictures)
What you should notice about a network like this is that it is hierarchical. The really important things are in the center.

Now, thinking about how this comes to be. If everyone linked to everyone there would be no long tail and we’d all be instapundits. Preferential attachment occurs only because there is a shortage, so that is why the power law exists in so many places. Like economic distribution in society. There is a shortage of money. If you want money you are attracted to people with money. Online it is a shortage of time. You can’t look at millions of blogs. Even Scoble only reads 1000. He must sit there at night and thing” I missed most of it.” The other thing that creates scale free networks is that the links are random. So you reach out for what is available, rather than what is good. Instapundit is available. Easy to find.

My approach to this, and the reason for ranting and raving against the long tail, networks are not a set of random connections but a set of semantically organized connections. Community as proximity – random connections. That’s how you find yourself in a meeting with a person from a different point of view on how the street. Community as networks of semantic relations. Connections between members of the community is based on the meaning of the members or entities in the network. IN order to create community, we pick the most salient connection. What does that mean? How does something become the most salient connection.

What does a post means? What anything means? What a resource means? What does this person say about the world? Once way of trying to fix meaning to a blog post is through tagging. Tagging has been the rage. I am also anti tagging. Take any post. What would a graph of all the possible tags of this post look like. You are gong to get a power law. You have a post about the Prime Minister. Martin. Tax Break. My goldfish tag. You are going to get a power law curve of tags. If you do it that way, then the meaning of the posts becomes the meaning of the tags the big spike. That that tag contains only a part of the meaning of the post. A very narrow, one dimensional look of something that might be more complex. The meaning of a post is not simply contained in the post. This is where we have trouble with meaning. We think we have a pretty good handle on how to say something about something else. What does the world Paris mean. It might also be where I went last summer. Where they speak French. When we push , the understanding of the meaning falls apart quickly. The meaning of the post is not inherent it the word, the post. It is distributed. It is in the set of relationships and connections that it has in use. Wittgenstein: Meaning is use. The meaning of the world becomes something very different. Family of resemblance. When I was looking for definitions of community I found this “community is like pornography. I recognize it when I see it.” There are two ways of looking at the world.

One ways it to look at the world from the point of view of words. The others is through patterns. (Diagram picture). That messy lines and dots is a concept. Your blog post. If you use words, you cut through that with a knife that gives you an abstraction. If you look at it from pattern perspective the meaning emerges. Emergent is a tough concept… fudging the example. Emergence is like when you recognize Richard Nixon on your TV. It is actually a whole bunch of dots organized in a ways so that when you look at the TV you recognize that organization of dots as being similar in form to Richard Nixon. I have never met him so that represents my understanding of him. Richard Nixon is not in the pixels, but in the organization of the pixels. The image of RN is emergent from the pixels. This doesn’t happen without a perceiver, without the capacity to recognize the pattern as RN. Take someone not around in the 70/s and show them a picture of RN == some guy. You have to have the context in which to recognize a pattern in a network. When we use words, we warp this. Going after the big spike. Words distort, pull the pattern into themselves. It isn’t. But if we focus on the spike, the meaning of the concept is derived form the word and the meaning becomes the word.

If we think of meaning as use, then what does a blog post talk about. What it means is contained in the network of relations it finds itself in. Comments, links, evaluations. Relations which will be used to characterize and individual post.

If we look at meaning as inherent in the post, describable in the word. We get an organization that looks like the network formed of random connections. I was looking on the NorthernVoice website, “when you are tagging please use…” They could have used anything. You end up with clustering that looks like one of these scale free networks.

If meaning is thought of as distributed, derived from the relations and not just the content of the word you get a very different pattern.

Why does this matter? If we’re deriving meaning and connection and community in a random fashion, everything flows from the big spike. Scoble talked about someone asking him to link. He said no, create something of value and I will decide if it is worth linking to. That is the big spike telling the long tail what to do. That is what happens when meaning is derived in the center. That sort of arrangement requires control. Look at Technorati tags. We have already got tag spam, some organized tag. “Everyone should do it this way.” Everyone who doesn’t is being chaotic and distributed. If the meaning emerges from the pattern, there is no one in control. Scoble can’t tell me what to write and it doesn’t matter if he does or doesn’t link. This creates meaning through diversity, not conformity. Two very different pictures of community.

So how do we pull this off? How do we kill the big spike? How do we transform from tagging from something for spamming that gets us to meaningful communities. We come back to online learning. In online learning, what’s happening slowly, with resistance. The big spike people don’t want to let go. University publishers, researchers, publishers. IN a classroom the teacher is the big spike and the students are the long time. What is happening slowly is a shift from centralized, place-based networks into something more distributed. Where learning resources are avail not from a given place or authority but out there on the network. Some of us are after is a way of being able to recognize in something that doesn’t require tagging 6 million items, the resources that are salient to us as individuals.

Now people don’t get that in the online world. IN social networking. We gotta standardize, standardize. I tell them the most popular form of XML is RSS, there is no standard and that’s the thing that is working. Educational communities the old way. Neat topics. Classes. This kind of structure both in schools and the blogosphere, where you have the flow from the top is ripe for abuse. JD Lassica influence peddling in the blogosphere. Companies are going to get good at this. 43 things had the entire blogosphere fooled for a couple of weeks and it fell apart. The Wall Street Opinion columns define from the top with others echoing the words.

Future learning environments place the individuals at the center, and a range of resources that they bringing from a wide variety of resources. He actually has 43 things in this diagram. You are able to draw out a theory of community

1. As a means of organizing input and experience
2. As a means of putting that into context
3. As a means of taking what you have done, remixed, repuprosed, so it can become part of someone else’ meaning

Community is antithetical to copyright. The community is defined as the relationship between the members with semantical … (missed)

People exist in relationship to things, people, resources.

We can’t just blast 8 million blog post and expect Technorati to take care of it. What has to happen is this massive set of posts has to self organize. There has to be filter that is not random, that is not spam blocking. A mechanism of determining what we want, easier than what we don’t want.

How do we do this? We create a representation of the relationship between people and resources. The semantic social network. We attach author information to RSS about blog posts. It kills me that this hasn’t happened. It is a huge source of information. IN the item, dc creator tag, but a link to FOAF file. Connected people with people with resources with resources. This gives me a mechanism to finding resources based on my placement within a community of like minded individuals. Really cool stuff will filter through. That semantic social network is just a first pass.

We want to create these connections on many levels. We want metadata not just by the creator of the post but readers. Third party metadata. We are starting to see that. Links, references, annotations. But it can’t be site based. That doesn’t create a network.

Create a tag, identify it and you add your third party meta data. SSN-commentary, type of third party. Who wrote it and what they had to say (I made up the terms). The way this should work in the educational community. As much of this meta data is created through automatic means. If I look at a resource while taking a physics class. So the context is physics. Even thought it might be a picture of a rabbit. The system would log it. What is relevant is that I looked at it any my data is attached to that. Rich…

My contention is that instead of the spike-based power-law based, when we get something like the semantic social network, patterns of organization will be created. We are not creating communities around word, but the community itself emerges as being created by or defined by that dense set of connections. I set up a primitive first pass EDURSS, an aggregator. There should be many instances, everyone would have this on their desktop. It pulls in data from my community, my network of friends. If you set up the network this way, you can stop worrying about searching; The network becomes the search; The stuff that comes out the other end is stuff that is of interest. These inputs come from the entire blogosphere rather than the top 100.

The community is the network. No centralized place. Only people, resources, distributed, acting on their own behalf and interest. Marvin Minsky “The Society of Mind.” Self selected relationships, contextual information to establish meaning. Not only defines the community and emerges FROM The community.

If you looked at the connections from those looking at wikipedia…your post in context of other wikipedia posts. I bet that’s what Google is up to. (I did not get all of that).

Audience comment: can’t hear what he is asking. Compare entire contexts to entire contexts.

Comment: The reasons top down KM, ontology and taxonomy systems don’t tend to work because the goal of those systems is to decontextualize information. Individuals have no interest in decontextualizing; If it works for you , it might work for someone else with a similar context.

Stephen: great summary. We live in a context laden environment.

Another quite comment from the audience (hey, remember the trick of repeating the question?)

There are things with tagging. People lie. Tagging is an explicit attempt to attach words to post. Not inherently wrong. But the word always under-describes the resources. It often mis-describes the resource. Soon as the spammers get into the tagging system, everything on the viagra sites will be about community. There is a big spike thing about tagging. Technorati. The big words are frequently used tags. They are useless to me. If I don’t know what I’m looking for, I’ll never find it. If I don’t know what the tag is I’m not going to get it from the top 100 tags. I have to search for it randomly. One step further. If I want to find a resource I have to conform to the tagging regimen that has been previously established. Like on Yahoo, you had to think like a Yahoo person. I don’t want to buy into that one. With tagging, there is only one community.

The following is conversation with the audience and I can’t hear most of what the audience members are saying:
Cantor: You are wondering why academics get a bad reputation. The Flikr tagging experience is a fantastic, folksonomy experience. If spammers get in, Stuart will kick them out If the folksonmy folks can enjoy themselves that is good.

It is fun, but it is useful? Who are you to say it is not good? It is not good to me.

Cantor: It’s the academics telling us what is good.

I find it is ironic who you puled in. Like you were long tailing us… (Can’t hear it all)
The second thing, I could say whatever I want, you would hear whatever you want, even if it is something you want. … can’t hear him. Example of the world Paris – we all don’t share the same meaning. Asking for a system that captures and recognizes the context. Tagging is context free. There is no relation…

It is the context of Flikr, of Technorati – of closed centralized systems.

links to this post  

Tod Maffin's Podcasting Talk at Northern Voice (formatted and linked now)

(Updated Feb 21 with links and minimal formatting)

Tod Maffin – Podcasting

I am picking up mid stream as I was fighting with Blogger to try and edit a post and did NOT get a cup of tea. As a result I’m eating chocolate without tea. Tolerable, but not ideal.

Podcatching clients – just like an RSS feed, you subscribe to a feed of a podcaster. It is a blog with audio content. Most people will set their servers to send once an hour. Guy in Alaska will shut your podcatching thing down if you are asking to feeds too often. If there is a new posting, it downloads the audio files, dumps it into your libray (itunes, windows media) then add it to your listening device (MP3). We get to publish this content and at the end it ends up in your MP3 player. CBC has one experimental podcast, testing to see how it works. What it comes down to is you can subscribe to radio content and play it on your MP3 player.

Lets first talk about the files. Web pages are saved as HTML. Audio files, uncompressed files. .wav on the PC, AIFF for Mac. This is great, perfect audio with enormous files, uncompressed. Like a bitmap file in the image world. JPG is the smaller version. MP3 are the smaller versions. Why small files? You are paying for bandwidth to store and stream. If you are streaming 3 gig files, you go over your limit. Most files are compressed far to high.

Kbps: Bit Rate
Two things you have to be aware of when encoding audio. The bit rate. The more details, the riddcer the story. More bits, better the audio quality. The other is kHz, the sample rate. Common recordings are done at 44,100. Computers only understand bits and bytes. You hear this on cell phones. Someone says hi there. If you sample 2/sec you might get I e. (He makes some nice cool sounds which I don’t know how to type). The computer extrapolates the sound in between. The more samples per second, the better it sounds. Most CDs at 44,1000. We can’t detect that. Professional radio uses 48,000 which gives us some problem. We have to upsample 44,1000. Recording studines use 96,000. 8Kz is what phone does on a good day. When radio shows go to a remote, the sound quality drops because they are on a compression system that compresses the audio at 15k sounding a bit muddy.

If your podcast is done on the phone you only need 8,000 because that is as good as it will get.

Examples of what this audio sounds like… (Sound time! You will have to listen to the podcast. I need to find a link). I will put these on my blogs. The in house audio does not allow a full discernment of the differences.


  • Have something to day
  • Clear show topic/focus (at the beginning all were about podcasting. We are done with that. Let’s move on to fishing and vegan food). You will build up a brand in people’s mind. Have a show about something. There will be an audience. That’s one of the great things.
  • Tell a story in it. Adam Curry’s “the daily source code” – it is about podcasting but he started podcasting. He told us this story, moving from the Netherlands to England. Trying to get bandwidth. People kept screwing up. He would talk about it in the course of the show. You had to tune in to find out what happens next. Radio is the most visual medium out there because there are no limits to what you see in your head. ON radio you just need good effects and a storyteller and you can make anything happens. The narrative is really important. Give us a read on to come back and listening. That develops you as a personality. There are far too many DJs out there. (DJ riff) You don’t know anything about these peoples. Perhaps something lodged in their anus that makes them talk funny. People who let you into their lives/personality. Dwayne and Drew show - a couple talking back and forth, unscripted, unproduced, live. IT is compelling because they are telling about their actual lives.
  • Speak to One person – there is no “everybody” – there is one person. This is also the magic of radio. Think of when you listen to radio. You are by yourself. We do studies about what people are doing when they listen. They are either doing housework or chores or in the car doing errands. Solitary activity. Coast to Coast AM – conspiracy show in the US – a compelling show because the guy has it. He speaks to one person. The guy on his morning job. Have that in your mindset. In public speaking they say “imagine everyone in their underwear. Don’t that’s stupid. Imagine them on their walk.
  • Be brief. Most people are in their car. You have a finite amount of time. If you produce a 45 minute podcast it had better be really good and targeted because it is the only show. So if it is not brief, it has to be perfect. So be brief, be regular and frequent. 8-10 minutes.
  • Mix up the sound a little bit. Boring drone on. Radio is difficult because there are no easy on-ramps. Headlines in the paper are on-ramps. Moments that let you return back in if your mind has gone elsewhere. This is what most podcasters don’t do right now. You can put stings (bits of music) in, every sitcoms have them. Those are your on-ramps. It could be verbally. Pause, take a breath and say “here’s a new topic.” They will turn right in. They are audio headers. Sweepers (he made sounds), can buy CDs full of them. There is a site that creates sweepers for each other. I missed the site.
  • Mike’s Manic Minute scripts 90 seconds of comment, then puts it into an audio program that eliminates every possible data error and it flies though. It is great that way


  • – meant to be near people’s mouths. In my job I produce a lot of radio freelancers and the mike is too far away and the tape is unusable. Listen to what is in this room even when not talking. It is not quite. Ringtone, ambient noise. Microphone up close 2 inches at an angle. If you are straight ahead, you end up getting pops. Sorry, audio guy, holy … Your P’s will pop and it sounds like crap. If you keep it at an angle, I was producing this woman yesterday, she was in Vancouver, her audience in Winnipeg. The analogy I used it was, you know when you are at the dentist.. she started to shake more. Forget dentist. Just let people know this devise as a pop-screen. (The black thing on the mike). However, here is one of the big myths in audio. This is not a popscreen, it is a wind screen. I can still pop. The round thing is the pop screen. (He makes all kinds of noise). Come up and look at it afterwards. This is so easy to make. Embroidery hoop and a pair of nylons. Stretch and snap. Cheap. In every arsenal.
  • Patterns – use pretty anything you want that is good quality. Omio, cario pattern, shotgun, parabolic microphones. If you can get one slightly directional, great. Omnidirectional works fine.
  • What about headsets? USB microphones sometimes have latency issues. It is sending it through the computer. Through jacks it goes right to the mother board. Get a real mic into a mic jack. Problem in lots of laptops there is no line in… a bit more difficult. One way around that is to buy a mixing board. Each is a channel for the microphone. One master control for the level and the rest adjust. Can set equalization. Adjust levels is really helpful. 200 bucks for the mixer. Eurorack. Eric Beringer.

More tips

  • Avoid verbal listening – Nodding heads on TV, in radio if you have uh huh, yeah, it’s really distracting. Especially as Canadians (making sounds). Don’t do it. It feels natural in conversation. Recorded it is difficult to listen to and tough to remove.
  • Double enders – you want to have really good quality you are trying to interview. Don’t want to do it on phone because it sounds like crap. But can’t get to Eric, so we do a double ender. I record my end of the conversation into my computer or mini disk. I’m on the phone with Eric. He’s recording his end on his mini disk or recorder. We are hearing the phone, but recording. He sends his half and you put them together in an audio mixer. TV does this all the time. You see someone being interviewed from some northern Inuit town. They recorded the audio on the tap and spliced it to the studio side.
  • I’m not a huge VONAGE fan. VOIP has poor (not his word) quality. Total recorder on PC. Audiohigjack pro. Whatever it hears on the soundcard it records. Not a huge fan of it but it works. Wiretap on mac? (comment from audience) An application called Line IN can do that.
  • How do you get past the need for a digital hybrid on the audio line…? Really geeky. Will answer that offline. Have a lot to say about that.
  • If you are going to edit audio, like outside. The stuff underneath the talking. If you don’t have audio of what was underneath you you will hear cuts. Whenever you change location you collect 30 seconds of room tone (Not ringtone as I typed earlier). If you need to cut, this show, This American Life in the US, we heavily edit the spacing of how people spoke for dramatic value. We use music in between. You can do this in radio to make the story come alive. You can’t put those pauses without the roomtone to fill in the blanks.
  • Any tips for studio mics? There are some good. Take it offline. You don’t need to spend. You are compressing to MP3 files, not high end CD. This is a cheap 50 dollar Sony mic. You get what you pay for. Senheiser, slightly directional. You can get away with almost anything. The mics on Mac laptops are far superior to PC mics. Worry about the sound around you. One of the great podcasts. Live from the Formosa Tea House. The problem is ambient sound, clattering dishes. Get as close to the mic as possible. Pick a quiet corner of the room. Carpeting, upholstery. Bedroom closet (see picture on – The bedroom closet is studio b. The clothing all around absorbs the sound. Carpeting, sofas.

Legal issues about the phone

  • It is legal in Canada to record the conversation without the person you are recording knowing it.. The law is that one person has knowledge. However, you are not necessarily permitted to broadcast. My advice is to ask someone’s permission. If you find a scandal and you have the scoop, go with it in the public interest.
  • This is not true in the states.
  • Verbal release is fine.

Capture tools:

  • audacity, multi track mixer, relatively stable, Samplitude, professional level, 800 bucks. It has the different colors of frequency ranges, tonal interview. I can visually tell. Mixing is simple. YOU can see where the music comes in, faded it down, You can do multiple levels of mixing. Demo of roomtone used. Otherwise you would have heard the edit. Roomtone is important.
  • Posting – use blog technology, any blog can do it. ID tagging is really important. Look it up on Google. The title, album, so people can skip through and find it, show notes of what you talk at at what moment.
  • Feed burner… you can point to your RSS feed. It takes the feed and looks to mp3 feed and converts it to an enclosure (if you blog software does not support attachments). Can get stats on your blog, etc. The downside of someone else hosting your RSS feed is they may go under or go to feed. Have to ask people to change their feeds.
  • Server space- Creative commons will let you post for free. It is not easy, they review the audio, but if you don’t want to host, if they approve it and you release it, they will pull the data off. Creative Commons is an informal non profit collective to freely license materials. Flikr.
  • Promotion and feedback – regular schedule, show notes, blog with RSS. You could ask people to go to your website and manually load. put it in your sig line, talk about it, hand out buttons.
  • Ask for feedback in the podcast. Comments in blogs. Incorporate that. You can sign in at which records comments, free, Washington state service. That is what most people are using right now. It is a great service.

Music and the Law: Myths.
  • Public radio is slow to adopt because of licensing issues. Music they have to license. We pay for internet streaming rights, but don’t have an agreement for internet download. Here are the myths. It’s perfectly legal to play if
  • I only play 15 seconds – not true
  • I talk over the intro of the song – not true
  • If I bought and own the CD – not legal, you are leasing private performance rights. The dentists office are paying a fee to publicly play the music. You get married, you playing MP3, the venue charges you 60 bucks to do that. I have my own opinions about that but am not going to say while the mic is running.
  • The artist agrees (you still need the label’s permission and sometimes their union’s) – not true. We find this with actors who don’t have the right to offer their voice. The union has the right.

About Fair Comment - mythology. A term in law that you have the right to comment on something. You can use bits of something to comment on it. If you do a story on Michael Jackson’s recording of Billy Jean. You can play a bit of it. It is a gray area. You have to be commenting on the topic. All these things you hear of Homer Simpson going HO hoh ho – illegal.

You can play music if you buy a license for it. If an artist is truly independent (label, union).
You can go to ASCAP and buy a license, $360/year if you have no revenues.
Not allow to have show notes that list the titles of the song. Not allowed to publish in advance so people can record it. Your listeners can’t choose the song. But some people are not in ASCAP. Some are in BMI. SOCAN. You have to buy rights, log and send quarterly reports., it’s a great site on podcasting, he loves cover music and tribute bands. He bought the rights.

Finally Daily Source Code
Doug’s Appplescript podcast – really well put together, short, nice pacing

links to this post  

Scoble's NorthernVoice Talk (now including links)

(I'm having trouble editing posts in Blogger, so I'm throwing this into a new post as a short term alternative. I'm not happy about this. I will come back and add in the links.)

Scoble: How I read a thousand blogs a day (Scoble's Link Blog)

I’m really honored to be here in front of people I read and really like. People kept going up to me and telling me I’m crazy. How do you read a thousand things a night. They want to see how I do it. On Channel 9 they ask if I can do a video.

I want to talk about some of the trends in blogging, and RSS. I was late today as I was blogging about a post at Microsoft that did not have RSS. They said no one is linking to this site. It is how I build relationships with people, companies and product team. If you don’t’ have an RSS feed I’m not going to point to you. He said it was a site for non geeks, for kids. I said then tell your non geek friends to link to it. The efficiency of the blogosphere, the tip of the iceberg of human experience. A grain of sand on the overall beach. With that tip I can get a sense of what people are taking and thinking about. I can also become a connector who connects two people together and make magic happen. That connect today happens through RSS. The bleeding edge people here understand and use RSS. If you go the political blogosphere and understand how they get their news, they are reading a large number of blogs in a news aggregator. The reason that works, and why we don’t use browsers. Lets say I’m reading 100 sites a night. If I have to go to 100 sites you wait 2 – 10 seconds to load. Second, I don’t need to read every site, just those who have published since the last time I read. Go to my news aggregator, you can see what I haven’t read in bold. If you want to keep up with me, have the same info access that I do, you have to visit all 20 sites every night. I don’t, just the ones with new. Right away I’m dramatically kicking your ass. If you go to – your mind has to load that page, parse it, remember what it saw last time. In other words, if you were here last night, you have to mentally think about what you saw. You can do this for 10-30o but not for thousands. Your mind can’t do that. I only have to read the items that were published. I’m between 10-30% more productive than someone using a browser.

Then you come into some other minor things. On slashdot you have to look at color and layout. Mentally deal with logos, ads, things around the content you care about. I don’t. I only read the content. No blinky crap distracting me. No advertising though ads will come to this. When you are publishing content you need to have a business model.

There are 2 approaches to RSS. Notification. Use it like an alert system to tell my readers I’ve published something. They just put headlines. I don’t subscribe to them any more. Headline and link to content but they want you to visit the webpages. The other approach is publishing, syndication mechanism. I’m going to let you do what ever you want with my content. Those two approaches are in conflict. USA wants you to visit their page. I don’t care, you can take my content and use it. Put it ion your own link blogs, whatever. There is value in participating in a system where we all share with some common rules. That’s the efficiency of what I’m doing.

The nice thing that now, in RSS, the other thing that is nice. With HTML I’m stuck with a browser. I can’t use this information in a new way in a new place. Howard Dean had a news aggregator, he build a new application that allowed him to do something new on a screen.

I like RSS in outlook because I live in Outlook. The power I bring to MS is I read things and pass it around. I read complaint to IE, I pass that on the to IM team. The listening them Tim talked about really resonated with me. That’s why I’m reading so many feeds. This global market is conversations all day long. If you aren’t involved in this conversation you are going to be out of business.

Some things we’ve seen in and out of MS – the efficiency of word of mouth is amazing. In retail in the 80’s most of the traffic was word of mouth. Ad brought in only 20%. Firefox – 25 million downloads in 3 months. Where did you hear about that? Though word of mouth, not the NYT. That’s the cautionary tale. If you don’t build the best product that people talk about it and recommend it, you are out of it.

During the tsunami it was interesting to see how the blogosphere… efficiency. I was involved with the 9-11 response to the blogosphere, interacting with people all over the year. When there is a news story like that, everyone goes online. Comparing notes, figuring what the story was. The tsunami – the first time I heard about it on Sunday, I went to a site called PubSub and created this little feed. It has thousands of items in it now. Called Phuket Tsunami – first place he heard about. It grabbed anyone writing about it and they would show up in that folder. Evelyn Rodrigues wrote about the tsunami from a hospital bed in Thailand. I was one of the first people to link to her and her writing about her experiences. She came to blogger con a month before. We had relationships, but I first saw her in this folder, not in her blog folder

Earlier this week I was at the Demo conference, talking to Steven Levy, Fred Vogelstein and Walt Mossberg. People like me kill to be next to these people and they are coming over to find out what I’m doing. They said they are all using pubsub and are earching on words like MS sucks, tech problem, technology, Longhorn. All the terms they care about. Any blogger with two readers shows up in that folder. If you write today that Microsoft Sucks, Walt Mossberg sees it. Should we pay attention to you or Walt Mossberg It is really complex. PR tells Robert to clean up the messes the bloggers create, but they are going to have to change to understand this new world. Really what they need to do is to understand how to build a movement. Study Firefox and how they got the word out. Firefox is not the only anti-IE, but they new how to feed the bloggers, getting them to talk about it. Things people talk about. It. They got me to link to them. That’s pretty impressive.

Movement start with 5 bloggers. I’m telling PR folks, the industry. If you want to do something, get 5 bloggers. You can do it the wrong way. Right out plea for links. It won’t help if you ask Dave Winer for a link. You don’t have an expectation of a link. Tell me about something cool. Blog I wrote this morning on the same thing. Tim said the same thing. That team EXPECTED me to link to them. You have to give me something to talk about. Play by my rules. The RSS rules.

My routine. I start at one end or the other. If I were starting today I would use onfolio, RSS bandit, Macs might use netnewswire. I use one in Outlook. Onfolio – (Comment from the crowd about the outlook interface but I can’t hear). I do my scan just once a day. Start at a and go down. Sometimes start at W and go up. Sometimes I don’t get through the whole feed. Maryam might want to take me out to dinner. She is why I am able to do this. She puts up with a lot of crap.

Different pages have different ways of showing RSS. You click on this page of crap you can’t read. It is XML. Tim could explain it. He invented it. This feed, is something you can subscribe to. Onfolio gives you a way to search for the feed. On Newsgator I just hit subscribe. (He doodles around on his computer) You add a website feed and you paste it. This is going to go away in a year. Autosubcribe features coming in browsers. This will become easier. It is now a bit of a pain. Some of them, if you go to, dada dee dee, some put XML icons, orange RSS, subscribe to feed buttons. It varies. Auto sub will take care of that. Now I can read this in newspaper view. A river of text that I just have to hit the down area and go through.

How do you read a 1000? I just poke at them. Some of them I don’t. You’ll see that I see the preview, if it is interesting I’ll read in depth. If it says my name, I’ll read more. If it is interesting I drag it to my blogosphfolder.

The reason I’m reading a 1000 feeds. Humans are random. We do weird things. Die, get married, have babies, come up with weird stories and experiences. If I read each of you individually in folders I can build a relationship with you in a deep way. Pubsub brings me purified sugar. If I type Sun, I get all the mentions. It is pure sugar, not nutrition, not relationship building. It alerts me. When I’m done I hit mark all as read, then I march through these things. Let’s do a couple . Here, enterprise library links, really boring, OSX, I’m not an OSX guy but I’ll check for something interesting. I’ll keep going though. Beeches reflection – just read it to see what this person is doing. Kids Beware, this is a funny link. I look for trends, for reputation. That tells me that it is something interesting to you. That’ catches my eye. What is more important for me to pay attention to.

Q: You do that in your brain? The 5 links? Yeah, that is how. When something is hot, you can tell it is hot. When we made an announcement about Longhorn. Within an hour 30-40 blogs had linked. During a hot new cycle, not only does my news aggregator tell me, but you are Iming and emailing me. If it is realy important then I’ll build a pubsub feed and start watching it as well. (Question from audience about outlook – could not hear. Robert ran through the tip really fast.) It’s documented somewhere. Probably on a blog.

How do I get rid of feeds? IF they turn racist, sexist, gone. If boring – maybe. If they don’t’ publish full text – probably. Headline only especially. You have to be Walt Mossberg to keep me subbed to headline only. I hate partial text feed. I read these on the plane. That’s why I don’t use bloglines because all your feeds are on a server. This has all the feeds locally. I can go to a park, read them in a cary while Maryam’s driving.

Pubsub is a website. Technorati and Feedster. Technorati looks at linking behavior between blogs. Pull up Google and Technorati news pages. They watch the blogosphere, filtering it in different ways. Technorati looks at linking behavior. You can click on this cosmos button and see who is linking to you. Hey Dave Winer’s on the phone. Should we talk to him? Anyways, Technorati if you look at Google news vs Technorati news. Google shows it the way a big city news editor shows it. 50000 people dead at top. News judgement. Technorati looks at what you guys are linking to. If you link to it, it’s at number one. Interesting to look at those two pages side by side every morning. Sometimes the same, sometimes not. We link to more blogosphere centric things.

Pubsub. Yeah. (Mutter mutter mutter while he does something. Time posts. Someone in audience says 200 things about this!) Hey man, if you can’t…mutter, wireless is slow. Pubsub is a site like Google. You don’t use it with a web browsers. You create an RSS feed and it brings you anything about a term into a folder. He shows links on Northern Voice that are already up. This is why podcasting went from being some idea in Curry and Winer’s mind to the NYT in six months. Now we can all start movements. I’m using NewsGator which only works within Outlook. The Outlook team might have an announcement about this later in the week. Dan Hackamovich is responsible for IE7. If you didn’t keep pounding on the team…keep asking them for features. What do big companies care about? Adoption. What is getting adopted, what is hot, what is interesting, what is Marc Canter building, where is the next Google, Office, Mac, what is tagging. Got to put that in my feedster thing. You can start studying trends, right? Incredibles. Over the last 5 months, I’ve seen hundreds of blog posts that say it is the incredible movie. I have not seen one that said it sucks. So the DVD opening is going to be huge. Halo 2 was going to be a big success because of the marketing. The movie trailer, people cheered. I knew it was going to be a successful first night, but I built a term for halo 2 for what the blogosphere say. They said it was they greatest F-ing game they had ever played and sales went through the rough. Come to my house at 3am to play. They started feeding the stuff into the blogosphere and it went on to sell a record number of copies.

(Question from audience that I can’t hear) We rely on people’s built in bullshit filter. There are going to be companies that try and take advantage of the blogosphere. Fake site, no RSS feed, no interaction. – the Dr. Pepper marketing site. It fizzled quickly. McDonalds tried one two weeks ago. People smell out fakery and then you will get derision. I’m going to call people on it. Microsoft. Steve Rubel talked about Google and it has been in major papers in less than three days because of the blogosphere.

Canter: Honesty and integrity, that might be a positive. Look at criticism and respond to it.

How to handle crisis. There’s a virus in your software, a product flaw with your locks (Kryptonite). It was in a bike forum, someone posted hey, you can pick the locks with a bic pen. Put up pictured. Picked up by Engadget with 250,000 readers and then the press picked it up. Get in Endgaget and it happens fast.

What they didn’t do it right, if I saw MS product flaw in my reader. I would acknowledge it right away, link to it. That acknowledgement will allow people to calm down and we can have a conversation about it. Kryptonite did not acknowledge it. They did not comment on Engadget. Say that we see the problem and we are working on it.

Saw Malcolm Gladwell talk a few weeks ago. The bodyguards of the president are debating if they should or not have guns on. If someone starts to shoot, in a blink you go for your gun. Instead you should have stepped in front of the president. Just by acknowledging it you get a couple of hours to meet with your teams and handle it.

Thin slicing. One of the reasons… comment from the audience – I can’t hear it. About the I Love Bees. They treated more like a game than a fake blog. Where McDonalds got banged up is they presented it like a blog with fake comments. I Love Bees was actually a game. People could interact with it. I have 700 emails I haven’t answered (he had a pop up). When you become a public face you become overwhelmed. Everyone is sending me email tryng to get my attention.

Applause and it is a wrap!

Coffee break then on to PodCasting session.

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Tim Bray's Northern Voice Presentation

Updated Feb 21 with links and formatting...

I’m sitting in the back of the room with 220 other people at NorthernVoice. As I attempt to blog parts of Northern Voice, the first keynote is just ramping up. What follows is my best attempt to capture verbatim Tim's presentation. I'll try and find the link to his slides.

Tim Bray – How a Good Blog is Like a Good Soup
What’s IN That Soup Pot

Tim Bray, Director of Web Technologies, Sun Microsystems

I launched my blog on Feb 27 2003, few days of anniversary. Had a full head of hair and no gray in the beard. Watch out for this. This is not an ordinary conference, not a blogging conference. Audience participation is compulsory and arduous.

The title of this presentation suggests that this is about soup. Soup as a metaphor for blogs. Water/transparency, onion spice. Turnips and radishes and the metaphor becomes laborious. So we are going to abandon that tack. (Nice picture of soup).

That doesn’t work because blogging is way more complicated in soup. If we discuss how to blog, we start with why to blog, what we are trying to accomplish by blogging.

Soup making objective: design goals are pretty simple. Tasty, nutritious, attractive. That’s simple and easy to understand. There is a bit of a blogging metaphor. When I present on this stuff to non bloggers. Successful blogging is a three legged stool.]: having something interesting to write about, being an interesting person and being a good writer. Two out of the three will do. Blogging is more complicated than soup.

What would the objectives be for blogging: That’s not simple at all. Make money, read the right people, find love, make the top 100, change the world, create something of beauty and power, boosting career, if I don’t get this off my chest I’ll kill someone. Can’t not write. Blogging is a better way to go for that last one.

Now lets get interactive. Lets do a little bit of polling. Let’s assume that everyone reads blogs. Or are there anyone totally new here – 10-20 hands. Welcome, we are ok when you get to know us. How many of you have blogs? Multiple blogs? (many hands0.

How many of you are basically happy with the experience and are going to go on or how many find it is not working. Troubled. Few hands.

So to start with, I want to try and rank these a little bit. Lets see if I’ve missed any. Open the floor at this point. Would any would suggest any reasons that aren’t on this slide.

  • Sharing information
  • Creating relationships
  • Bragging
  • My friends are doing it
  • All my friends aren’t’ doing it
  • Dave Winer told me to
  • To understand the practice of blogging
  • Learning
  • Back up brand
  • Memory
  • Google finds me

    (He puts them all on the slide. Sort of. He switches the screen around. Mutters to himself a bit.)

    Here we have the .... (missed a bit of reference to how he works with one of his teams) ...Working on the ATOM protocol and they do not vote. On occasions there are two ways to do something and you need to find out what direction to go. Instead of voting they do a group hum, sort of like a group hug. You enumerate the alternatives and when comes by you hum. Humming is a bit anonymous. You judge by the volume. Run through these and see which stand out for this group on why folks want to blog. A person in the front with pencil and paper was designated as scorekeeper.

    Trial calibration hum. You can do better than that. Shows the hum calibration slide. Look at this and then hum. (picture of cute baby). There is a picture associated with this picture that you can find on Google.

    (Find love did not get much of a hum. Reach the right people got some, money less, top one hundred a few voice, change the world got a lot, as did back up brain. Boost sales went low. Build relationships got a hum. Bragging. No admitting. Learning got a longer hum.

    The recorder will blog the results and Tim will point to it.

    Put the baby picture back up. Hopefully that has established why we are doing this and what we are trying to get to.

    Now some generic pieces of blogging advice. At one level that is sort of bogus because we added new goals. At another level I’m a newbie. But actually what I’m going to do here is go all corporate on here. The distillation of what we are doing at Sun. IN May of 2004 we opened the world and now 1000 people are blogging. We wrote a policy of do’s and don’t. Type Sun Policy into Google and is there. We’re had some triumphs, debacles and really worried lawyers. Pretty successful and a strong learning experience. So going to dive into some generic principles.

    If anyone feels I’m out to lunch, say so. There’s going to be an opportunity to fill in any that I missed. Having said that, let’s launch into the advice.

  • Write what you know. This is the first thing tell you in writing school because it is right. If you are an expert on brass etching or buzz saws, if you write about that you have a really good chance of being interesting, worthwhile and correct, which is a really good thing to be. This one personally applies to me. When I write about Search technology everyone reads me and when I write about politics no one reads me. If you look at society, and in the long tail, people are complex things and there isn’t a person in the world who isn’t an expert on something. Everyone is erudite on some small number of subjects.
  • Listen. The mythology of blogging is that it is a way to talk to the world. En masse, it is also a really good way to listen to the world. It is hard to talk to a company, but you can send email to a blogger and get their attention. The most important advice to those at Sun, before you write an essay, listen first. You know what? As Bill Joy once said, wherever you are, you live, you work, the majority of smart people aren’t there. They are somewhere else. If you run out and say something to the world before you listen to the world, you can say something that has already been said or ludicrously wrong. You will do better if you read before you right.
  • Link often. The smart people are mostly where you aren’t they are somewhere else. If you fill your blog with links, you do your readers a service. You owe it to them to show them what other people in the world are righting about. You should also link for self interested reason. Then other people notice it and they link back to you. Doing lots of linking is probably the single best way to build your traffic. And finally if it doesn’t’ have links it isn’t a blog.
  • Post often. Maybe a bit more controversial. Probably the most basic one, for any human activity, one of the human universals. The way to become good at something is to practice it. Violin playing. There aren’t as of yet any blogging academic where you do fake blog posts graded by grad students for two years. So the only way to practice blogging is to blog. The more you practice, the better you will get at it. I think that people who are dong this should push themselves a little bit. In purely self interested terms, people who post more get read more. At one level that is tautological. 10 posts, 10 readers. But there are second order effects. IN prolific periods, I notice the number of unique readers curves up;. I don’t know why, but people post more get read more.
  • Correct yourself. This is one of the single most defining things of blogging over other publishing. You know in journalism, painful, when journalist is overworked and hurried, they don’t know your area. It is wrong, makes you look like an idiot. Once it is published, the damage is done. We are different. We can undo the damage. I do screw up. The great virtue of blogging is when a reader tell you, you turkey you screwed it up, I go back and correct it, make notice of it at the top of the post. You are a turkey if you don’t do this. When it becomes apparent when you talk to a blogger, it goes slightly wrong and you correct it, and you go to a journalism and the CAN’T correct it, people will be more inclined to talk to a blogger.
  • Generalize. This is a bit abstract and controversial. The best things I read tend tom move from the specific to the general. Things start with something. An event. I had lunch with Joe and we talked about… I went to a movie and… This gives what we do flavor. A specific event, grounded in someone live. The good ones tend to go on and make some generalized point. Lauren posted something about a WordPress problem, how she went to WordPress to get help to fix, then went on to talk about product management and how WP had done it just right. A lot of people who cared about PM pointed to that. To the extent that you generalize it will be more interesting, more long lived, longer run.
  • Flame judiciously. Lets get controversial. This is probably where Rob and I part ways. He says in a log you should not say nasty things. I think one of the defining characteristics is unvarnished exposure to someone’s soul. To the extent that they do that is interesting. When they don’t it isn’t. The Cluetrain guys pointed to the lifelessness of business/gov speak. One of the flavors is anger. I see no reason (equipment malfunction) why, well I can see some reasons, but no deep reason and principle if you are feeling anger you should fail to share that with your readership. Among the goals, and one that got hum was change the world. Reasonable people never change the world. They accommodate and go along. Unreasonable people don’t and they change the world. So it is logical that bloggers can be unreasonable. Some of the best speeches have been renunciation. The philippics of Demothenes. He made a series of speeches denouncing Phillip. A well crafted rant is a delight to the eye and the mind. Something we can do and the conventional media can’t do as well.
  • Spell-check. For gosh sakes do not write blogs with stupid spelling mistakes. Audience disagrees- it is a very human thing to misspell. My blogging tool does not have spell check (Marc Canter) I think quality matters. Quality OF discourse is strongly correlated with spelling and grammar. Worth taking the times to do it write. (Audience- as long as it is who you are. ) Mark Cuban, totally wonderful blogger, does these huge multi paragraph rants. No apostrophe’s . High velocity writing style. (Marc say, but I can’t misspell. Now I know).
  • Look good. Not your personal face, but how your blog looks. Perhaps more controversial. It is hard to have a good looking blog. A lot of good blogging tools have lots of lame templates. (Scoble says it hasn’t hurt his. Bray says that’s cause everyone reads you in RSS.) So, it’s hard to do. I strongly advise going and talking to a friend who is a design geek and ask if it could be better. Then make it better.
  • Balance hubris and humility. The act of blogging takes immense hubris. How many people where have told people what to do and how to do it. The fact of doing that takes immense gall. And so you more or less establish that you have nerve. Having done that, it is really important to remember most of the smart people where you are and many people are wrong and that happens to you. When someone says something unkind or attacks you, the smartest thing is to link ot it. Absolutely necessary to have a relationship to the world and arrogance stinks and drives people away.
  • Be brief. Everyone has heard the story of apologizing for writing a long letter because they didn’t have time to write a short letter. Everyone who has professionally published know the pain of dealing with editors who tell you to throw half of that out. This really hurts a writer. What hurts even more when you realize they are right and it got better. There are very few pieces of writing that cannot be improved by being shorter. I stand that I write too long and don’t always follow it myself. If you write something and it is not totally sensitive to today, go to bed, pick it up tomorrow and tighten it up. We are all busy. I don’t have time to read your damn blog. If you are the type who goes on at length, don’t or add headings. If you do a 800 word piece break it up with subject headings and if you can, put anchors on the headings for commentors. (Marc – or tag it) Or tag to the particular paragraph.
  • Be intense. I think that this, nobody’s talked about this, but one of the defining characteristics of what we do. A cool, dispassionate, measured tone almost never works in blogging. That’s not what it is about. If I look at the people I read there is always edgy stuff. Funny, colorful, less than discrete. If you see a movie, say Catwoman, you say that was a stinky turd and then blog it was not so great, write how you really talk. To the extent, most people how they talk in the conversational voice speak in a colorful way. Don’t loose that.

  • Don’t tell secrets. There are substantial number of people out there who haven’t quite realized when they write on a blog it is public. Daughters who say “never read my blog.” A blog is actually an incredibly effective device for improving your listening power. The blogosphere, the long tail, is not a crowd of a million voices but a crowd of a million years. A quantum leap for us as a society to listen to what is going on. If you publish something controversial or secret, the world will find out. Blogging is kind of like being in junior high school. If you tell someone no matter how many times they promised to keep it a secret, it will get out. In a business context people are paranoid about this. There are private blogs, LiveJournal. But I kind of suspect that even publishing to your private circle of friends, you’d want to think about. The internet is not only a powerful listening engine, it never forgets. Something you write about today can and will be dredged up in a potentially embarrassing way.
  • Don’t ruin your life. Yes boys and girls, you can ruin your life by blogging. People have done it. Just be careful. You are playing for keeps. There are a lot more ways to get in trouble than telling a secret. Saying things you will regret later. Having said that I want to call bullshit on this recent round of media stories on firing for blogging. Hype, and what about the number of folks fired for other reasons. We don not have a trend here. In most cases those where were fired did something that violated company practices or their boss was a moronic person. They would have been fired anyway. Why is the media writing about getting fired for blogging. Do you think they might be worried? Having said then, doing something stupid in your blog is just as stupid as saying something stupid in a meeting. I occasionally, I write lots of blog entries that I don’t publish and I think that is a good thing. I save it, I go to bed, and then most times I don’t publish it. Those few times I have I have often wish I hadn’t . A dangerous game
  • Don’t blog on command. This is a problem we are having at Sun, 1000+ plus bloggers. Now management has started leaning on people There are a lot of smart people who hate writing who aren’t good at it. There are also those who can’t not write. There are enough people around. You don’t need to push people to blog. If you are being pushed to blog maybe you shouldn’t unless it releases a simple inner tickle. It is ok to put pressure on groups (i.e. to listen to customers). Probably really bad for a manager to look around a group and say, you; blog! Has anyone gotten fired for not blogging. I get calls from people asking how can we get our president to blog. I ask, can he write? The other place this rules applies is when you have a blog, someone (friend, colleague) comes then and asks you to blog about something. Not saying you should always say no. But maintain the integrity of your platform.

    Audience: How has blogging helped Sun. Having a 1000 bloggers has helped street cred. Jonathan has been helping get the message past the intermediaries. But most important is how it has increased our listening power. If Tim is blogging about something I care about I’ll email him in a flash. (Audience asked: I’m not familiar with your company) We make darned good expensive computers.

    SO anything should be added to these do’s and don’ts?
  • Be sincere
  • Never lie
  • Write for pleasure

    Hum test
    Listen 2/3
    Be brief – more
    Link often – loud
    Post often – a bit less
    Be intense – some loud hums
    Generalize – a bit less
    Look good – less
    Spell check – a bit more
    Correct yourself – strong hum
    Flame judiciously – varied hum
    Don’t tell secrets – loud
    Don’t ruin your life – loud
    Don’t blog on command – a bit less
    Balance hubris and humility – same
    Sincere –
    Never lie- a bit more
    Write for pleasure – had a hum off

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    Friday, February 18, 2005

    An Idea Doesn't Have a URL

    I was attracted by an idea that emerged... "The idea doesn't have a URL." In other words, a tag can somewhat represent and idea. A URL can point to one slice or view of an idea. But it cannot be captured with either a tag or URL. Posted by Hello

    (Edited Oct 2006. There was a typo that made the last sentence not make sense. Changed the last word from "idea" to "URL." Thanks for catching that, Nick.)

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    The Blogosphere, Long Tails and Alternative Views

    The blogosphere from two perspectives... the long tail and the other view. Stephen, does this have a name?

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    Seb and Roland at Northern Voice Open Space

    Seb and Roland during Open Space...

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    Northern Voice - BlogWalk Lunch - Vancouver

    We had a great lunch at the Fish House in Stanley Park. My brain went on park towards the end and all I could do was hang spoons on my nose with my new three year old friend.

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    Northern Voice Minus One

    The pre-Northern Voice gatherings kicked off with a round of great conversation, new blogging pals and a little spoon hanging (with Marc Cantor's charming daughter who turned 3 today.) First the early birds had coffee, then we went to Bryght's new digs for a morning of Open Space conversations about blogging and the long tail. I learned a lot and carried away even more questions. I'll write more when I'm not dead tired. Then we walked about a half hour to the Fish House in Stanley Park where others joined us for a giant long table (no long tail here) for lunch and more conversations. Now it is time to take a nice long bath and get ready for the full meal deal tomorrow. Pictures as soon as I crop.

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    Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - On-demand IM and blogs for teams

    So much software, so little time. Thanks to Stowe for the review. I'm going to check this one out. First, here is Stowe's much clearer and shorter description. (He is right, they should pay him to reposition there product. I found the page poorly written.)
    The basic schema is based on a list of groups. Within each group there are users, blogs, persistent chatrooms, and (James suggests) in the future other elements for coordination, like calendars, to dos, etc. They support RSS feeds from each group, although they are encrypted and require login, and not many RSS readers support that (though apparently Gush does).

    Now theirs: - On-demand IM and blogs for teams is an on-demand web-based IM service for business users. With, you can use IM to get business done without compromising security or privacy, or exposing your work environment to constant interruptions.

    ... revolves around the concept of workgroups - a small set of people with something in common, built user-by-user through invitations. For instance, if you are a sales professional, you might have daily interaction with your company's other salespeople, marketing department, pre-sales support, and of course, your clients. With, rather than lumping all of these people within a single buddy list, your IM system can work like you do: in small collaborative groups. You can create workgroups for each department you interface with, and then share IMs, conference rooms, blogs, files and transcripts with only those people within each distinct workgroup. Everyone in a particular workgroup automatically sees everyone else invited into the group, and can immediately start communicating in real-time.

    ...these workgroups give you the capability to coordinate your whole team with a comprehensive IM solution. You can even create project-specific workgroups for your team, as specific initiatives or partnerships come and go, and then destroy these groups when the project is finished....

    On the website, your workgroup can also share ideas and files easily with group blogs and permanent conference rooms visible only to your workgroup.

    [via Stowe]

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    Monday, February 14, 2005


    Lynnwood Brown offers some tips on facilitating in a wiki environment. WikiFacilitation i:
    "In order for WikiConversations to approximate the satisfaction and efficacy of face-to-face conversations, WikiFacilitation actively manages the evolving structure and content of a wiki topic to maximize the benefits and minimize the traps of the medium."
    Lynwood invites others to contribute. This looks like an emergent site. Contribute!

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    Emergent Learning: Social Networks and Learning Networks - Stephen Downes

    Stephen Downes takes us on a magical mystery tour of his recent thoughts on emergent learning. This pieces dances all over the place, skipping by links and referernces, pulling snippets and whiplashing through ideas. Downes delivers a doosie! Emergent Learning: Social Networks and Learning Networks - Stephen Downes

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    Online Groups: participation coaching

    GroupServer, a-soon-to-be open space online interaction platform, had this bit on their site about Participation Coaching. I found this definition a specific segment of what I consider online facilitation. They define it as something different.
    "Each Online Group has a designated Participation Coach. The Participation Coach initiates and encourages effective participation in line with the purpose and participation protocol of the Online Group. The Participation Coach also manages publishing items to the Documents area.

    All Members of an Online Group can act as Participation Coach. In fact, the more the role is shared, the better. This section of the Participation Guide is aimed at designated Participation Coaches and all Online Group Participants who wish to contribute to the success of their Online Groups."
    There is more good stuff... click into it. But here is the distinction they note from facilitation in terms of roles:
    The Participation Coach:

    * is the person who is most comfortable being in the Online Group
    * assists the other members to become as comfortable in the Online Group as they are
    * acts as "Keeper of the Faith" and maintains a vision of an Online Group that successfully achieves its purpose
    * is not a "Facilitator" of group process or leader of task-oriented activities - their focus is limited to effective participation in the Online Group

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    Sunday, February 13, 2005

    Silicon Valley Watcher: Why gmail could be a killer app in the third world

    The article, Silicon Valley Watcher: Why gmail could be a killer app in the third world, comes as no surprise to me. When I was in Ghana last year, being able to give out Gmail invites was a huge plus. Crippled with overflowing email boxes due to infrequent internet access can bring email based collaboration, communication and learning to a grinding halt. Gmail's 1 gig storage helps with that bottleneck.
    "Human rights activists, families in refugee camps, and media developers are all dependent on online communications. That's why George Lessard, an international development specialist with particular interest in radio, technology, and development, thinks Gmail is a particularly interesting application. "

    The rest quotes George Lessard's review of the pros and cons of gmail from a 2/3rds world perspective. And if anyone needs a Gmail invite, please let me know!

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    JournURL - Integrating Blogging with more

    Here's another tool to check out: JournURL:
    "LournURL isn't your average personal publishing tool. In constant development since 2000, it tightly integrates the expressive freedom of blogging with something that is often an afterthought: interaction.

    JournURL At-A-Glance:

    * From zero to blog in just a few minutes
    * Unique integration of personal publishing and communal discussion
    * Build photoblogs and photo albums
    * A sophisticated template language for complex sites...
    * ...and menu-driven templates for more basic endeavors
    * Mobile blogging (cellphones, PDAs, and laptops)
    * Basic accounts are free, although contributions are welcomed"

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    Saturday, February 12, 2005

    More Stuff

    From Ulises Ali Mejias, A study. I haven't had time to read it, but I seem to be on a roll collecting these resources this week.
    Bookmark, Classify and Share:
    A mini-ethnography of social practices in a distributed classification community

    Working within the constraints of a very limited data sample, this study attempts to identify some of the information management and meaning construction practices of an online distributed classification (a.k.a. free tagging or ethnoclassification) community. Specifically, this study seeks to investigate the social and communicative practices that emerge when users are encouraged to share web links with one another by using a metadata keyword, or tag, to demark a social group, apart from using other tags to classify links according to an emergent taxonomy."

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    Experimenting with Picasa and Hello

    Yesterday I played hooky and went to the lovely Seattle Flower and Garden Show. Today I have been working all day. Not so hot for a Saturday. But I decided to look back at the pictures I took and experiment with some easier ways of getting images in to my blog. I updated my old version of Picasa and was happy to see the Blogger interface, now that Blogger/Google owns Picasa. Their bridge between the two is an application called "hello." Are we confused yet? Ignore the names. Just click the buttons. It works!

    Now, to my heart's delight, the Founders Cup award, the top award of the show, went to the amazing Seattle Youth Garden Works group. Take a nice break and imagine being in this garden...

    The Seattle Youth Garden Works Winning Entry

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    Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
    I am now part of a flickr group that shares scanned images. Another aggregation point for community, I guess. Here is one of my scans.

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    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Micro Persuasion

    I was both heartened and a bit squicky about this one. CooperKatz & Company unveiled their new Micro Persuasion services. The concepts of engagement, particularly LISTENING, are critical these days, but the idea of "micro-persuasion" also reminds me that skilled people can influence others in a way that can be alarming. But this is really worth a peek. See what you think. I guess it all depends on your frame of reference. I think trust is the core issue.Micro Persuasion
    The initial Micro Persuasion service will have a laser-like focus on helping companies listen. Subsequent launches will help them engage, influence and empower consumers. As my regular readers know, I believe that active listening is the most essential skill a company must learn in a world where we the consumers now are the media. At CooperKatz & Company we believe that this represents a tremendous opportunity for savvy companies to establish a transparent dialogue with constiuents in ways that were not possible before.

    As part of our new service we will dig in and conduct a thorough audit a client?s overarching issues and vulnerabilities, develop a preparedness plan that might include the creation of special blogs, watch and closely analyze weblogs and other consumer-generated channels such as photo-sharing and link-sharing sites for bubbling issues, and strategize ways for clients to openly engage online audiences in a dialogue about their concerns. It's very consistent with what I wrote about last week.
    [via - all over the place. When I first bookmarked this I had stumbled upon it via a Technorati search. Now I see links popping up. Always amazing how the idea propagates across the network!]

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    Two Learning Resources

    Us.ef.ul (beelerspace) and A Moveable Feast: the web from
    Ruben R. Puentedura, Ph.D. are two resources that help show how to use the collaborative bookmarking/tagging site, There is something about that seems to baffle many of us mere mortals. That's why we appreciate folks like Ruben and John. Thanks, guys!

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    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    Emergent or Structured Reputation: Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia

    Jerry Michalski of Sociate shared a snippet from a presentation by Jimmy Wales at Standford this week:
    "Among other things, he drew a great distinction between two ways of looking at what makes Wikipedia work.

    * If it's an emergent phenomenon, merely the product of people trying to work together, none of whom are particularly significant, then it probably needs an explicit reputation system like eBay's.
    * If it's a community at work, where some members are powerful and should be respected, then reputation is just a natural outcome of everyone's interactions and needs no explicit subsystem.

    Jimmy believes the second perspective fits Wikipedia best."
    Jerry agrees. I agree. How about you?

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    "Two Roads Diverged in a Wood": Productive Digression in Asynchronous Discussion

    This article (free registration required... :-9 ) by Joseph Ugoretz gives some creedence to something I have experiences over the years about online asynchronous interactions. It supports divergence well, and with some thoughtful facilitation, can converge conversations again. If we want to!
    "Two Roads Diverged in a Wood": Productive Digression in Asynchronous Discussion
    "Digression is an obvious problem in face-to-face classes: It takes already-limited time away from planned activities and discussions. Most literature on this topic assumes the same for online courses, but Joseph Ugoretz makes a compelling argument to the contrary. Particularly in asynchronous discussion forums, he says, digression can create engaging and productive learning opportunities. Open, organic dialogue allows students to make deeper, more personal connections to the course material and to pursue threads that are particularly relevant to their scholarly interests. Ugoretz provides practical guidelines for creating flexible discussion forums, reveals how such forums can enhance both online and on-campus courses, and enumerates the benefits of letting students determine, to some extent, the direction of their learning experiences."

    [via Online Facilitation List and Joseph!]

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    Interact - Open Source Learning Management System

    I hate the term LMS, but am always interested in open source options, especially for my international friends and clients. Interact
    "is an open source Learning Management System. It could also be called an LMS, a CMS (Course Management System), or a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment).

    It is flexible enough to be used for building online communities or communities of practice in any environment, not just education."

    Tired of having to put your discussion in the "discussion forum" section of your online course - because it was convenient for the programmers to put it there, not because it is pedagogically valuable to separate things this way?

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    Propaganda techniques - SourceWatch

    Wow, what a wiki-wonderful-page. Propaganda techniques - SourceWatch offers the a-b of propaganda techniques. This is just one part of an amazing resource for people who want to get to the bottom of public issues. I am heartened to see these resources and will point many to them (particularly the students in high school and college I have the chance to interact with.) There is so much out there saying how rotten the content is on the 'net. I say, lets learn how to dig down to the key issues. Resources like SourceWatch are part of that solution.
    "Propagandists use a variety of propaganda techniques to influence opinions and to avoid the truth. Often these techniques rely on some element of censorship or manipulation, either omitting significant information or distorting it. They are indistinguishable except in degree from the persuasion techniques employed in social, religious and commercial affairs. Recently persuasion technology has come into common use, in all styles from digital image alteration to persuasive presentation and persistent telemarketing based on repetition, making these techniques impossible to avoid."
    From an online facilitation perspective, we as facilitators need to make sure we don't fall into any of these traps. It happens. Being aware of them makes it a bit easier to stay out of the trap, or at least admit when we have fallen in.

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    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    The economics of sharing

    A nice article in the Economist about the The economics of sharingTechnology increases the ability of people to share, but will they share more than just technology?
    BY NOW, most people who use computers have heard of the “open source” movement, even if they are not sure what it is. It is a way of making software (and increasingly, other things as well), which relies on the individual contributions of thousands of programmers.... therefore, open source involves two things: putting spare capacity (geeks' surplus time and skill) into economic production; and sharing.

    Economists have not always found it easy to explain why self-interested people would freely share scarce, privately owned resources. Their understanding, though, is much clearer than it was 20 or 30 years ago: co-operation, especially when repeated, can breed reciprocity and trust, to the benefit of all....

    ...The characteristics of information—be it software, text or even biotech research—make it an economically obvious thing to share. It is a “non-rival” good: ie, your use of it does not interfere with my use. Better still, there are network effects: ie, the more people who use it, the more useful it is to any individual user. Best of all, the existence of the internet means that the costs of sharing are remarkably low. The cost of distribution is negligible, and co-ordination is easy because people can easily find others with similar goals and can contribute when convenient.

    The question is, can sharing be used to supply more than just information?
    Good question! This seems to link by to my previous post on Global Public Goods (GPGs) which seem to suggest that information might be one of the lever to increase supplies of other things -- like food where there is not enough.

    [via Downes via Robin Good]

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    Collaborative Community Research

    Need to learn something? Turn to your community. That's what the Goiaba Brazilian Music: Survey on Foreign Dissemination does.
    "This article informs about a national, bottom-up movement to promote Brazilian music and music culture in countries outside Brazil. A working group of Brazilian musicians, interpreters, composers, producers and sponsors have developed a research project to obtain insights in how consumers and music professionals abroad appreciate Brazilian music.

    And you can participate in this research project, by filling out a questionnaire about your opinions and experience with Brazilian music! Your support to Brazilian music is warmly welcomed!"
    Love Brazilian music? Go and fill out the survey.

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    43 Folders says "Flame Yourself!"

    43 Folders has a suggestion to avoid the sorts of social gaffes online that we make when we post before we think. Seems to fit into my latest series on dealing with things that are difficult online. Seems like sound advice to me, except for those who tend to over flagellate!
    Flame yourself - Grab yourself a free email account from someplace like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail and use it as your private punching bag. Every time you’re tempted to send an ill-advised flame to the latest assclown in your life, send it to your dummy account instead. Log in every few months and read your own vitriol. Experience relief that a long-forgotten flame-out remained your little secret. (From 43F Board of Directors member, Ms. Leslie Harpold)

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    Audio of OSN 2005 Keynote

    Joi Ito has made the recording of the OSN 2005 keynote available on his blog, Joi Ito's Web: Audio of OSN 2005Keynote:
    "Howard Rheingold, Lisa Kimball and I had a telephone conversation to kickoff our keynote for OSN 2005. (17 min mp3 11.2 MB). It will soon be available in other formats on"

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    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Levengers Launches and Online Community

    I haven't seen the launch of many new public commercially linked online communities recently, so this one caught my eye. I am an unrepentant book and office supply fan and love Levengers, an online purveyor of cool book related and work stuff. (I have to be careful on the checkbook when I cruise the site.)

    Today they launched an online community called "Well Read Life: An Online Literary Community of Levenger." It might be interesting to watch and follow. They link to the Great Books Foundation online site for book discussions, so it looks as if they found a partner for that part of the pie. Check it out.

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    Practicing What We Preach: Collaboration Tools

    What a lovely house of mirrors, each way you look, you get a different view of the same thing.

    Karen, Jeff and Venny are presenting at OSN2005, a mostly asynchronous web based event. They are making their planning public on their web here --> CollabTOOLS Blog � Notes from our meeting Jan 22 and are compiling their resource links on the blog here.

    It is SO lovely to see people who talk about tools active in their practice of using the tools. Thanks!

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    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Online Social Networks 2005

    Hey folks, tomorrow is the last day for the early reg price of $35 USD. Then it's $50. Time to sign up for OSN 2005. (Disclaimer: I'm speaking on the 16th but not making any money!) Here is the promo:

    "OSN2005 will be a summit for all those interested in working with social networking processes, tools, and media. In addition to attending many workshops, panels, and presentations by leading experts and practitioners, attendees will have the opportunity to be part of a community with a significant role in defining the future direction of online social networking. If you want to help shape this industry, come to OSN2005!

    During the OSN2005 summit we will co-create and publish a manifesto describing what we want and need from online social networking tools. What are the key criteria for choosing and assessing OSN products and services? What gaps exist in currently available software and related tools? What needs to happen before it's common knowledge that OSN products and services can deliver significant value? What are the most promising developments in the OSN industry?

    Attendees will be invited to participate in a series of focus groups to provide feedback on current OSN technology and articulate specific suggestions for future features and developments. A series of White papers based on these focus groups will be shared with venture investors who want to know where to place their bets in this industry.

    Join Howard Rheingold, Lisa Kimball, Joi Ito, and a host of online social network experts to:

    * Exchange ideas with experienced pioneers and leading thinkers in OSN development
    * Gain insights in making better use of social capital, successful collaboration online, and efficient creation and management of knowledge capital
    * See where social software stands today and where it's going in the future
    * Make contact with leading solution providers "

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    Armenia - Global Voices Blog Bridging

    Ethan Zuckerman et al are creating a blog bridging project over on Global Voices. I decided to jump in and volunteer. I have no frickin clue if I have a clue, but I volunteered to watch my old stomping grounds in Central Asia: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Here is the Armenia page - Armenia - Global Voices: "This is a collection of local flavor and sources of information about Armenia, with a focus on individual voices. Please add other sources below. See the Bridge Index style guide for advice on how to list new sources on this page. /-"

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    SXSW Activitst Technology Panels - More Info

    Jon Lebkowsky sent out this release today about the cool set of panels he and others are organizing for SXSW in March. If this is of interest to you, and you plan to be in Austin, let us know as there will also be a gathering the day after to really dig into the subjects. There are some very cool people who I am really looking forward to hanging with.

    Activist Technology/SXSW Press Release

    Scheduled March 11-15 in Austin, TX, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival brings together leading innovators in the new media industry. Part of the 2005 program for SXSW Interactive is a mini-track of sessions that explore the relationship of technology to democracy and advocacy. This mini-track was created by Activist Technology (, a loose coalition of technologists and activists who have been thinking and talking about political applications of technology since the Dean presidential campaign, and some well before that. Working with SXSW Interactive, the group has conceptualized a set of sessions that will explore how activists and developers can work together, and how the Internet offers a platform for activist collaboration and democratic evolution.

    "Do blogs really have a democratizing effect? Are we just creating mobs with better tools, or are we facilitating a collective intelligence where the whole will be much smarter than any of its parts? Are we seeing a new kind of politics? Or will political technology be co-opted and controlled for business as usual? We have ideas, but we don't really know," says Jon Lebkowsky, one of the coordinators of these sessions. "We'll offer some ideas, and we're eager to hear feedback from the people who join us."

    The sessions, sponsored by e-Volve Foundation and Andy Rappaport, are:

    March 14
    · How to Create Activist Technology (5:00-6:00)

    March 15
    · Deliberative Democracy and Interactive Technology (10:00-11:00)
    · Are Political Parties Obsolete? (11:30-12:30)
    · How to Think About Democracy and Technology (3:30-4:30)

    Speakers include:
    · Amalia Anderson - League of Rural Voters
    · Tom Atlee , author of The Tao of Democracy
    · Ren Bucholz - EFF
    · Christian Crumlish , author of The Power of Many
    · Kaliya Hamlin, Identity Commons, Planetwork, and Integrative Activism
    · Aldon Hynes - Center for Investigative Online Research
    · Jon Lebkowsky, Polycot
    · Rebecca MacKinnon - Berkman Center for Internet & Society
    · Jerry Michalski , Sociate
    · Jed Miller , ACLU
    · Kathy Mitchell , Consumer Union
    · Andy Rappaport , August Capital
    · Mitch Ratcliffe - Internet/Media Strategies Inc.
    · Dan Robinson - E-Volve
    · Erin Rogers - Union of Concerned Scientists
    · Shabbir Safdar - Mindshare Interactive Campaigns
    · Glenn Smith , Drive Democracy, author of The Politics of Deceit
    · Lars Torres , AmericaSpeaks
    · Nancy White , Full Circle
    · Ethan Zuckerman - Berkman Center for Internet and Society

    For more information about the Activist Technology group, see or email The registration fee to attend the SXSW Interactive Festival is $275. Register online at"For more information about the SXSW Interactive Festival, see or e-mail

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    Now this is starting to make more sense... Tag Stemming

    Matt Biddulph is providing a very useful example and, for me, a way that tagging starts making sense from a 'second wave' perspective. Thanks, Matt. I'm putting most of his post hackdiary: Stemming tags, and one website to the tune of another here because of it's usefulness not only of an idea, but of how to communicate that idea.
    Here are two toys I've made recently: a tag stemming tool that helps you tidy up your tagging using the Porter algorithm, and a (Flash) screen-recorded demo of seamlessly embedded in the BBC Radio 3 website.

    So, what are you seeing in this movie? It's nothing more than a bit of DHTML trickery that imports a subset of functionality into an existing website. I chose BBC Radio 3 because it has a wealth of content with plenty of potential for horizontal navigation, and because it has a clearly-defined canonical URL per programme and thereby gains the maximum benefit from being tagged. By creating a symbiotic relationship between the two sites in your browser, you gain an overlaid cross-site navigation that doesn't exist in the site as it currently stands, and users see from your tagging of Radio 3 pages in the wider context.

    There are several things that I enjoy in this demo. In no particular order:

    * I like the immediate feedback that you can get from adding a tag to a programme. Decide that 'cello' is relevant, and within seconds you see a bunch of other cello programmes. It's common for content management systems to demand 'metadata' or 'keywords' of you when you file content, but rare that there's an easy way to get a feel for what value you've added by doing so.
    * This was my first real attempt to wrangle the XMLHTTPRequest system, and it was a satisfying one. I did learn one or two things, including some problems with asynchronous and synchronous modes of operation.
    * Looking beyond the specific application (tagging) used here, notice the two-way benefit that came from the mashup of one site's service with another's content. I like the idea that domain-specific use on Radio 3 leads to general usefulness on

    There are many more possibilities to explore. The demo uses a single user on for all tagging. Imagine instead being able to select between different tag sets to overlay - one to guide newcomers to classical music, another designed for experts and old hands, a third to explore the history of a particular instrument or musical movement."

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    Dealing With Things That Challenge Us #5: social contract vs. guiding principles

    (Note: Oops, at first I posted my draft last night. So now I have to fix it. This is an edited post!)

    danah boyd has a post from January that gets to one of the roads we wander down in quest of finding ways to coexist with each other online. We may lump them under such labels as agreements, rules, contracts, guidance, etc. Here are some snippets from her post that comes in the context of Movable Type (Six Apart) buying Live Journal apophenia: social contract vs. guiding principles
    Why is social contract changing to guiding principles?

    Lawyers didn't like 'contract' in the name 'social contract' because it does not have the structure of a contract. The principles are the same, though. Six Apart doesn't want to kill LiveJournal. Don't worry --- I thoroughly screened them to make sure they weren't evil.

    - from Brad's announcement

    The term 'social contract' does not come from legalese - it's an ancient political theory with a rich history. In short, a social contract is a set of culturally agreed upon norms that help maintain social solidarity. In most cases, the elements of the social contract are never explicated or concretely agreed upon - they just become norms. In almost all cases, people give up freedoms because it is good for the society as a whole. Thus, elements of the social contract are usually articulated as 'that's just wrong' or 'you just don't do that.' Lying, stealing, cheating, killing... these are all things that fit into the social contract. Of course, many elements of a society's social contract are written into stone through law but the social contract came first.

    Guiding principles are not the same as a social contract. A guiding principle is what those in power, those building the system, those who are actually doing the structural guiding are seeking to achieve. A social contract is something that is culturally accepted by all parties. For example, as a guiding principle, spam avoidance means that the creators will do everything in their power to make LJ a spam-free service. As a social contract, everyone involved will do their damnedest to rid the service of spam.

    I know that the intentions are the same and that the goal is to just be careful of legalese, but one of the things that makes LJ so special is that there is a social contract between the participants. This needs to be maintained for LJ's culture to survive, even if the term is being removed from its legal cannon."
    I am fascinated by the distinction between a guiding principle and a social contract in this context. It seems to me that the distinction is not between the two, but the attachment of the "who" to each one. Members can have guiding principles. And "owners" (in this case) can have social contracts. Or am I missing the point all together?

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    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Mirabelle Makes Chocolate Cakes

    And now for something totally off topic. Autumn Cakes. Feast your eyes. I want to eat some of this chocolate cabbage!

    The quote on their homepage reads:

    "Everything is temporary, so make it beautiful
    and then make it disappear completely." - Tarin Towers

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    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Network-Centric Advocacy: Maps to Connect the Network

    I have been thinking about the application of social network analysis to social causes since Patty Anklam's talk on Friday. Here is a related blog post from Network-Centric Advocacy.

    Maps to Connect the Network: Thinking on the Scale of A Movement or Party This is What We Need

    Do you ever feel like the old boy network understands how to wire folks together. Look at the type of projects IBM is taking on....

    IW: What does it mean to “do social network analysis” inside an organization?
    VK: There was one consultant … [we worked with] who specialized in helping newly placed executives get up to speed. She would work with execs who had just been hired for a high position, C-level or VP, in an organization where they had no experience and no network. To hit the ground running, they needed to understand the organization. We would use InFlow to map it out. These people know this; these people know that; there’s a cluster. And we’d put together a strategic plan.

    GK: My last project was with IBM’s On Demand strategy group, a leadership team of 23 men and women who report to the CEO. I had them stand in a circle, I took some black yarn, and I connected the strong links. There were only six. Then I gave everybody three pieces of yarn and said, “Who do you need to connect with next week?” Picture these people exchanging ends of yarn with one another to form a web. Then I got one of the leaders to stand on a chair and look down at that web. “That’s what your team needs to look like,” I said.

    The movement is broke. Your job is to"wire" your campaign team.
    In politics, we need to "wire" the campaign team (in the broadest sense.) In community organizing and development, do we wire the community? In a few weeks I'll be spending the afternoon with some students at the University of Washington School of Dentistry. They will be looking at how to embed a new dental hygiene training program in a diverse, low income neighborhood. I've been thinking about what advice I would have given 10 years ago, and what conversations we might have today. (I think giving less advice and more conversations is one piece of -- um-- advice.) I have been doodling with the idea of going to the neighborhood and taking some digital photos and putting them up on A.9.


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    How Things Circle Back to Us

    I feel a cold descending this morning. After doing a recorded phone interview with Bob Day in Kenya, a fantastic scientist working on global public goods (where I tried to stiffle every sniffle and sneeze while we were recording), I fell into one of those reveries of link-following, googling and trying to sniff our some connection patterns. In that I found Debby's blog and this string of posts from A Balanced Life. Debby quoted a 2003 post of mine from the Online Facilitation list that totally echoed some of the group's current dynamics. It was a perfect example of some of the cycles we see in open, persistent groups. (Or, after Patty Anklam's talk yesterday, I'm more likely to say "network!")

    In this archived batch of posts from December 2002, I appreciated a couple of things Debby noticed.

    1. The issues of sociability and the example of John' Smith's work on virtual "front porches"

    2. My December 2003 list post about identity, crossposting, trust, content and facilitators' responsibility. Her posting my words and me finding them over a year later had some echo that I'm just starting to think about.

    3. Her noticing that when she subbed to my list she got an email (albeit a bot) that welcomed her and asked her to introduce herself.

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    social circles - marcos weskamp

    Ohhh, I want this for some of the lists I run. Visualizing how people show up on the list, overlays with topics. Mmmmm...

    social circles
    Social Circles intends to partially reveal the social networks that emerge in mailing lists. The idea was to visualize in near real-time the social hierarchies and the main subjects they address. When subscribing to a mailing you never know who the principals are, how many people are listening or what subjects they are talking about. It's like entering a meeting room with plenty of people in the darkness and then having to learn who is who by just listening to their voices.

    Social Circles does not pretend to be a statistical application, but rather aims to raise the lights in that room just enough to let you enhance your perception of what’s happening. At a glance it allows an easy way of grasping the whole situation by highlighting who is participating, who is "visually" central to that group, and displaying the topics everyone is talking about. How does the list structure itself? Is it moderated? Is it chaotic?

    [via Stowe Boyde/Corante]

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    MoonEdit: Collaborative Multi-Platform Text Editor

    Heather James shared with the Onlinefacilitation group the link to this cool multi-platform collaborative text editorMoonEdit from Tom Dobrowolski's. Wanna edit with me?

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    Do Communities Aggregate Up to Networks?

    Do communities of practice? Teams? Projects? Lately this has been on my mind as I work with a client on the issue of Global Public Goods (GPGs). There seem to be many emergent projects that seek to make intersections between different groups visible and create the possibilities of cooperation, collaboration or, at the least, reduce duplication. The Small Change News Network appears to be one of these. Here is their recent update.
    What Do You Have?
    At this point, this whole idea is only six months old, and more than half of that time I've been out of the country. Good news is that I've been able to make connections that can make sCNN an international phenomenon. Bad news is that everything's been moving more slowly than I'd like. Here's what we have discovered, created, invested and received to date:

    * A Simple, Powerful Concept. The idea is to create an online Center for the Common Good, where active givers and gifted activists can enter into conversations that help small change(s) make a world of difference. The discovery is that we don't need to control or capture your giving transactions, project information, or even your contact information. All we need is the URL to your project or network weblog, in order to grow a central and totally public/shared listing of weblogs associated with community-based, common good projects and organizations.

    * A Working Template and a lot of Free Services. The format that we've developed here can be quickly and easily applied in any community, organization, or network that wants to support wildly organic growth even while maintaining the kind of clarity and coherence required by major funders and other supporters. sCNN is built almost entirely on free services, so even though the template could be used very effectively by cash-rich corporations, it's simple and free enough that any youth group can afford it.

    * A Good Name and a Good Look. Well, a lot of people seem to like it, anyway, which is important because we'd like to grow it into a bit of a brand name. in the course of developing the idea of a 'giving market' we looked at a lot of what was out there already. we didn't find anything quite like this, but we did notice that small changes, small gifts, small upticks, like in the stock market or sports scores, or even daily horoscopes, seemed to hold our interest more. we think small change has great potential to hold and leverage interest and attention. Stay tuned for a couple of buttons we'd like to start spreading around on supporting weblogs everywhere.

    * Blogrolled Links and Personal Connections. sCNN is linked and connected with active givers and gifted activists around the world. The conversations we have had about this idea specifically are starting to bear fruit in the various blogrolls. These developments are made possible by 15 years of personal and online facilitation, networking, contribution and development work, by partners who've given generously of their time and attention to work out the simplicity of the design, and by financial sponsors who have covered initial costs and pledged more giving in the future.

    * A Plan for Wide Open Public Access. We have the infrastructure in place, and again, it's all running on free services that any corporation could replicate, any community organization can utilize and any youth group can afford. We'll soon make open posting of project news, project support, and project blog urls possible via email, so that anyone who's got something to give to this Center can get the attention they deserve.

    * A Mailing List. Occasionally, when something very good or very bad happens, we want to be able to invite all our members and friends to look up and join the conversation for a moment. We'd also like to be able to make quarterly reports to all members, friends and supporters. To join the list -- which will never be shared with anyone, for any other purpose -- We will not send more than a handful of message each year.

    * An Invitation... Join Us! Membership is easy and self-organizing. Here's what Members do: Read sCNN. Link to sCNN. Follow others' links. Refer project and network blogs for the blogrolls. Surf the sCNN blogrolls. Make contributions of time, attention, expertise, contacts, funding, equipment and other needs -- to sCNN or the projects linked from here. Make requests to support your project(s). Ask to be added to the sCNN project or network blogrolls. Post those rolls on your blog. Replicate the template in your organization. Help others find sCNN, make their own gifts, start their own blogs, and add their links...

    And more than anything, we have the belief that the most powerful leadership position you can take is participation, in the flow, in community action, and in the blogosphere. We have a way to get connected, get support, get partners, and get things done. Now you have it, too."

    Some GPG Links:
    GPG Network/UNDP
    What is Public Good? Earthsummit 2002
    GPGs and the CGIAR (pdf)
    Is Research a Global Public Good?

    Footnote: It is interesting that there is no listing on Wikipedia for GPGs. It is a concept that is so akin to the FLOSS movement, I was quite surprised.

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    How Networks Hold Communities That Have Power to Act

    I need to work today, so what I do I do but cruise food blogs. If there are two things that go together well in my mind, it is food and blogs. And today, my work avoidance circled me back to some work I have been needing to do: find some good examples of how communities emerge from networks.

    I usually check out hometown Seattle Bon Vivant blog and found Viv's A Menu for Hope. This is a fantastic example of how a community is born out of a network, and then the power of that community.

    It is worth quoting almost the entire post, and particularly the mention of each of the contributors.
    Community. It is such a beautiful word. A term that never fails to evoke a feeling of fellowship, kinship, similarity, it speaks of everything that is intrinsically natural, good and unifying in our human experience.

    We all belong to communities around the world, big and small. We rejoice in their achievements and celebrate their accomplishments, we pride ourselves in being a part of them and look for ways of furthering our participation and role in them.

    And when catastrophe afflicts our brothers and sisters in communities outside of our own, no matter how far removed, as members of one global neighborhood, we are moved, we empathize, we grieve, we want to help.

    For over a month now we had been witnessing--if only through our televisions and radios--the havoc, ruin and death toll from the Southeast Asia earthquakes and tsunamis that have devastated so many communities, so many neighborhoods, at times even erasing entire villages from the map, displacing thousands of families.

    Distressed by the lack of food, water and medicine, the utter and complete devastation, we were instantly compelled to do whatever we could to help.

    All over the world there has been an incredible output of support for the victims: from bake sales to lemonade and hot chocolate stands to black tie affairs.


    As members of the worldwide blogging community, most of us had already used our little soapboxes to encourage others to give to the Tsunami relief effort.

    To donate to a favorite aid organization, attend local events, fundraisers and benefits, to volunteer, to help out those in need when it is most needed, now and with what is most needed, urgent financial contributions.

    Some of us did so by writing while others went even further, creating a virtual meeting place to mobilize help and provide up to the minute information and comfort.

    So it came as no surprise that when Pim contacted us with the idea for this event, it was so easy to say yes. It was a visceral reaction really. We had already seen the devastation of the earthquake and tsunamis in South Asia, we had already donated money to the relief efforts and helped spread the relief effort word, but had felt we could still do more.

    As fellow food bloggers in particular, this was the perfect opportunity for our community to take the initiative, to use this amazing vehicle we have at our fingertips, this privileged opportunity, for the greater good. To use our passion for food and wine and all things culinary to further the Tsunami Relief cause and bring hope to those in need by appealing to our devoted audience and fellow bloggers.

    So here we are dear readers, all of us, together on this very special day. Amy, Adam, Alder, Anthony, Bertrand, Clotilde, Derrick, Heidi, Hillel, Kate, Lenn, Louisa, Melissa, Pascale, Pim, Roger, Wena and I, foodies and food bloggers from all over the world.

    This tasting menu has been lovingly designed by all of us, comprised of dishes from many of the countries touched by this tragedy, with their respective wine pairings, in honor of those for which the word hope is all but too precious and fragile right now, for whom a grain of rice or a glass of fresh water is absolutely vital and paramount.

    Feel free to explore the recipes and photos for these twelve courses at their respective blogs by clicking on the green coloured links on the menu below and enjoy these lovely contributions in any of the three languages available (translated for your convenience by members of our small collective).

    But most importantly, it is our wish that after you enjoy our Menu for Hope, you are moved to give. Think of a dollar amount (no matter how small) that you feel comfortable with--enough for an amuse bouche, appetizer, a course or two, perhaps the whole menu-- then click on the button below and donate to our effort.

    I appeal in particular to the readers of this blog, those of you who day after day visit this little corner of the blogosphere and find something new, yummy, funny, interesting or even useful.

    Many of you have written to say how much you enjoy reading Seattle Bon Vivant, while others so generously and kindly have asked how you as readers can help, can do more.

    Well, here is a way to show your appreciation for this site and for the efforts our small group has put together, for a very good cause. Your donations will help Unicef provide clean water and food, sanitation, medical assistance, school rebuilding, psycho-social support and hope to so many.

    Please help us in this virtual effort. On behalf of us and them, thank you for your support!
    For a one click look at the menu with links to the recipes and their owners' blogs, click here.

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    Friday, February 04, 2005

    Live Blogging Patty Anklam's Teleconference on CPSquare

    (warning: my longest blog post ever)

    I'm a member of CPSquare, a Community of Practice on Communities of Practice. (Yes, I love "meta.") We have an online asynchronous space along with an ongoing series of global teleconference calls on a range of topics.

    Today Patty Anklam is sharing her research on social network analysis, with a particular interest in communities of practice, with our community. There are about 20 people on the call (with more who joined in progress) from many points on the globe.

    Patty introduces herself as a researcher in deep learning mode. Jenny Ambrozek has contributed to her thinking. A lot of her thinking started when she joined CPSquare 2 years ago (the community just celebrated it's second birthday.) Testing the notion with people that networks are everywhere. We know that they matter. The more she looks at the analysis of networks, she is convinced the awareness of networks informs us as individual and organizations in the world and how we can leverage them better.

    Networks are the substrate of livelihood where we live all the time. We have to take care of them, understand them. Learn about them. Key insights:
    • we don't do anything alone anymore. I everything we do builds on the work of someone else. If we look at all the thought tendrils, there is a network behind that.
    • Strong networks are correlated with health. People are healthier and happier in their work if they have good interaction with other people. Companies that know how to manage alliances are more flexible and adaptive.
    Much of what she is talking about has been written up in a report that will be published by the ARK Group some time next month (March).

    Networks matter and networks are everywhere. One of her forthcoming charts is a firstcoming cut at networks that are visible, invisible, formal and informal.

    When she went freelance she joined some new networks. She saw distinctions. What are the different signs of networks? Teams are defined around processes, etc. The great work of Etienne and Bill around the elements of communities of practice, the role of boundaries around learners and practitioners. Very powerful. But also think and try not to fall into the trap of thinking everything is a network. A network is anything that can be described via nodes and ties.

    So communities are networks. CoPs are special types of networks. A personal network we participate in all the time. Families, jobs, alumni groups, professional associations, informal social networks, job networks, support groups. Then there is this other emergent learning network she became interested in. It is not bounded. It has an identity -- people are interested in learning as a general topic area, but perhaps not tightly tied to their work practice. What is the model of this network? Being able to participate in such a network is an important piece of who she is and what she does.

    It is a network in the Boston area, intentionally formed network of professionals, mostly consultants, who started from the standpoint that if we know each other well we can bring a diverse sent of viewpoints to solve problems. A consulting network with informal boundaries and governance. Were not able to sort through how to work with each other, but because they had evolved a complex set of valuable resources, they became a learning network. Many are interested in networks themselves. Over three years they have shared with and learned from each other. Not all in the same business, so diverse. Intentionally don't do social events outside of meetings -- not the intent. Modest governance, but not highly structured. This is her area of inquiry. Somewhat related to CPSquare and its practice groups.

    Etienne asks “how would I know if I can belong to it or not?”

    Patty replies: "You would have to pay some money and would have access to the website. There is some governance. You have to be recommended by an existing member. You can’t come to more than two meetings without saying ‘I want to join.’ When we participate, we bring guests to meetings, when any one of us is trying to solve a problem, we tap Gennova as a network. So we tap the networks of the members."

    Pasha: "This sounds like a formal, intentional organization. So how is that different from a network. What is your inquiry?"

    Patty is asking what are the attributes and characteristics of networks like this. She has another colleague/friend who holds a two day event around a topic in organizational change or learning. There is a network around that, you don’t have to be a member, but there is a name around it, people show up – it has the sense of an expansive group. Is this a phenomenon that is common? Are there characteristics of these networks that enable them to persist? How do you mange them? Should they persist? How can you both provide the power of a network and the place for people to learn.”

    Susan: Have you read Fifth Generation Management by Charles Savage, how you’re defining a network. How do I know if I want to convene a network. How would I describe that to a group of people?

    Patty: That’s the enquiry. What does it mean to create a network? The answer comes along multiple lines. What kind of governance? Infrastructure? Characteristics of members? Is it a network or close partnership? Blurring boundaries across individuals and groups and how we distinguish them.

    In each network we bring a different identity, set of knowledge and skills at any one time. This notion of identities is becoming very important. Patty is working with people studying social physics of our online identities. Sometimes people will have different personas and names in different online networks, will want different levels of privacy and disclosure. So in addition to skills and knowledge identity, there is a technological set of issues around security and privacy of identities in different spaces. When you work in many networks you remain yourself, but people may see you differently in each one.

    When you talk with someone you haven’t talked to in 10 years ago they may still be thinking of you as that person 10 years ago. For them, that is your identity until you update it.

    Net Work – how do I manage my identities? How do I get past this magical 150 Dunbar constant of being able to manage many relationships at one time without cognitive overload. A key task is being able to know the status of my networks and relationships, where I’m spending too much or not enough time. Rob Cross at Univ of VA has been doing work looking at individuals looking at their networks within a domain and analyze the organizational effectiveness is impacted by where they spend their times in their networks. What relationships should be forged? Which should we spend less time with? Personal Net Work is important for people to understand the value of networks and how they can help us. Very new stuff. It is a new tool and we don’t quite know the results. Patty will post a URL.

    Rob Cross makes a distinction between a network viewed from the outside and a view from a personal perspective from the inside. Of their personal network as compared to the network as an identity unto itself.

    Networks from the outside end, social network analysis or organizational network analysis is Patty’s area of specialization. Diagnosing and intervening in organizations. Using a network view to look at knowledge and communications flows. Most are familiar with SNA at present. Looking at where people get their information to do their job can reveal network patterns. How people go to each other in an organization. She uses SNA to do this kind of diagnosis around different dimensions or questions, which help to understand the organizational flows. It offers insights into why things are happening they are and where things can be improved. It is not to take the initial survey map as fact, but to use it to probe with questions. Why is it that the person on the far left of the chart is only talking to a unique sub group?

    From a managers perspective it helps to see who needs to be communicating with whom and how to improve that. Some of the data is collected through SN analysis software, pulling out data from existing software. Entopia pulls data from what content people access in a CM and then showing the proxy or inferred relationship of those working on the same documents. Can look at email, listservs, etc and detect pockets of expertise and connection. A diagnostic tool that gives an initial perspective.

    The interesting part about understanding networks and how people are related in orgs, it leads to being able to manage the networks. Some say network management is an oxymoron because you can’t see the boundaries and it consists of constantly changing relationships. You can’t manage it like a predictable system. But it can help improve communication, knowledge flow, and organizational effectiveness. You can use the levers available from Knowledge Management (KM) to make a difference/change.

    "Managed" is both the "inside out" and the "outside" in. She prefers the term leverage, because leadership is about how to leverage networks. Managing the context of networks and it is leadership. What is the business question and what is the network?

    Etienne: It would be interesting to hear a snippet of a story. Are there ideal geometries? What would that mean?

    Networks evolve. Geometries have different results. Valdis Krebs looked at an emergence of companies in the US Appalachian region where they started to collaborate. The first map shows very scattered clusters. At some point a person decides to step up to leadership around a topic or a program, and that person becomes the hub of a network with multiple spokes. That represents a map where one person is the key flow point. As the network evolves, more people become co-leaders or co-facilitators; you see more of the “small world” effects where you have small groups, clusters and topic areas. At some point you might move into the core/periphery structure – very familiar in CoPs.

    Designing networks for optimal effectiveness – a paper is about to be published by Rob Cross et all about different types of networks for different purposes. They describe different work contexts and the amount of connectivity and leadership models as they appear across the different networks. You need to have a small amount of internal connectivity for fairly routine work. In something modular, like in professional services organization applying specific practices and processes and repeatable solutions, pulling together known sets of things would have a different network structure, with more external connectivity than an internally focused routinized structure. IN a highly customized system you have a lot of internal and external connectivity. Impacts organizational design thinking. There is a lot of research going on in this field.

    Good leaders have always been about providing the context in which people can succeed. True about networks. The context of how a network is maintained, how there is enough diversity, appropriate mix of internal and external ties that make networks effective.

    Etienne: What level of confidence do you have in the information you have received? When I have been surveyed, I was not confident of the responses I offered.

    Patty notes there are various ways that people answer. You get generally sufficient validity. What she and others do is once you have the data, draw the maps, then you validate the data. Talk to people who are at the center, to those who understand the network. The survey is never the complete story and people will interpret things in different ways. The map provides questions, not answers.

    Etienne: How would you do this for a client? Is there a practice? A platform?

    Patty says there are both consultants and companies adopting this as a practice area. She spoke to a person at Haliburton who has adopted SNA as part of their team work formation process. They use SNA at the outset to identify existing ties and where there are ties that need strengthening.

    Another of her colleague uses SNA in conjunction with project team evaluation. He is a team collaboration and project management expert. He looks at project tasks, timelines etc to look for areas of risk. Patty does the SNA to see if the appropriate communications lines exist and looks for rifts in the project and places to look at avoiding problems n complex, high risk projects. For an example when there is one person at the center of a network and a possible single point of failure.

    Getting the survey questions right is very important. Valdis Krebs taught her to ask the questions in a very quantitative way. Get specific to numbers and time. It’s not so much that you are asking them about other people’s relationship, but your self-report of your perception of who they talk to frequently or not. In a group of 40 or more people the trend and overall result is accurate enough to ask reasonable doubt questions.

    John: Do you find or believe that people in these different structured networks have heuristics for detecting the structure. Do people have intuition about if they are in a hub/spoke, core periphery structure?

    Patty does not think that have perceptions at that granularity, but good leaders tend to know what the structure looks like. They effectively use the network structure, even implicitly if not explicitly.

    In her professional services organization there was a concern that people in practice groups were using the same set of tools within their groups and not a lot of cross group communications going on. The SNA proved him correct. Although he encouraged people to connect, he had not had the evidence that would wake them up to change. The power of the SNA, and the presentation of the results is when it is presented to the group and the group involved does the analysis themselves. Rather than using SNA in a command and control mode. Noticing that someone is not connected and fire them. We don’t want to use it that way.

    What does a SNA consultation look like?
    Coming in to an organization, the first part is what is the presenting or business problem. It is a team assessment, as in a risk analysis. Could be around understanding competencies, which do you go to to get information. She really believes that people don’t call them because they have a problem and they think SNA will help them, but it is a good diagnostic tool to add to their other interventions and techniques.

    Some people believe SNA can help with the “lost knowledge” problem as people retire. We don’t know the impact on our organizational competencies. Who knows what? That leads to questions of whom you go to when you need to know about a particular topic.

    When the problem is communicating, collaborating or sharing information, the question around information can take a number of forms. Frequency of information, probe around accessibility – how easy is it to get access to other people in the organization. What question to ask well is well described in Rob Cross’ book. What are the questions you want to ask? Subsequently looking at responses she would work with the sponsor – a manager committed to the transparency of the survey, the results and to make a different with the results. Look for validation. She gave the example of a 7-cluster set of CoPs across 7 countries. In looking at their map, there are people that show up as potential bottlenecks or connectors. What are they actually doing? You can only find that out by going and talking to those people. SO the map indicates who to talk to, but it can’t describe what is happening. They may be experts. They may be gatekeepers.

    In the SNA you can ask who you go to for expertise and with what frequency. Then you can assess knowledge and accessibility. Then you can decide as an intervention is this person a connector –passing information freely and helping it flow. Or is this person overloaded and doing this in addition to their job or is it their job. Should they get reward? Job restructured? How does their position in the network take away from normal activities or overload them. Those people who are central, overloaded and not acknowledge could be lost by the organization.

    The next thing to look at is what are you going to do about this. Recalling that managing SNA is about understanding how to manage in complexity. It is not about a whole scale reorganization or command and control. What are small things that you can do to start to change the relationships. Maybe a F2F community event to nurture more connection across the countries and geographies. Maybe the recognize the central people were bottle necks, so some roles and responsibilities and decision making patters to increase the connectivity. Her role as a consultant, is to go through that process to help the organization – it is about self awareness and understanding tools and techniques – organization and KM—that are available.

    When you see patterns, what are the ways to change them - -to increase connectivity, leverage expertise, etc. What Patty realized is that the interventions in networks aren’t starting or new. It is about judicious and intelligent selection of known interventions with a network perspective. Enabling CoPs, offering connection tools like IM or distributed collaboration tools can increase connectivity. If you need more diversity, or change how individuals work, you look for the things to leverage those activities.

    In her report research she interviewed those using SNA in a KM context. She heard over an over that they had more F2F meetings, installed expertise locators, etc. Think about KM interventions in the networks.

    Communities of Practice can be looked at as part of a diagnostic. Developing and supporting them is also a powerful intervention. HP Labs has been looking at email as a way of gauging the extension of expertise around particular topics. Not sure how much is using in practice. They are looking at ways to leverage understanding the pockets of expertise and where new things are happening.

    Etienne: What are your heuristics to make sure the process is transparent and not some sort of “big brother.” What we’ve noticed in CoP interventions that people need to know it is about them finding their community and developing their ability to participate.

    Patty says “communicate, communicate, communicate’ before during and after. The senior manager has to say this is important and that the results are for improvement but also insures individual needs for privacy are acknowledged. Most cases managers are comfortable making public that if anyone does not want their name on a chart, none of their names will be revealed. The manager has to be committed to that. It doesn’t happen frequently that someone does not want their name up. But it is all or no names. Give them comfort. The other thing that is important is never to do SNA in a downsizing environment. It will automatically generate behaviors where people won’t participate. It has to be used in an organizational context where the organization is healthy and wants to be healthier or where everyone is committed to improvement. You won’t get valid results when you introduce fear and it is unethical.

    Social software, if you take the definition as any software that enables people to connect to other people – there are tons of stuff out there. Blogs, wikis, discussion boards. Think of CPSquare without WebCrossing. What would there be? Logging in after a hiatus, I got a note from Sus, then another. It is a real place. I love this.

    Network and leadership – where is this going? CoPs are at the center. Your work in CPSquare has laid the groundwork for the work in networks. It is more wild and wooly in the network area, but organizations are looking for ways to leverage networks. Network organizational forms will never replace and supplant hierarchical forms, but help leaders know when a network form is better than a command and control form. She has started to work with Dave Snowden and the Cynefin Center and their description of new organizational forms.

    It really is an interesting world out here. She is blessed with a great network herself locally in Boston. And

    Nancy: Have you done any work with cross organizational or extra organizational networks? Ad hoc networks?

    Patty: Ad hoc networks is a kind of emergent learning network. Why do people network. There is still a purpose there. Haven’t done a detailed look at that.

    Nancy: What I see is that there is a key place for social networks (and SNA) in social movements & political change. In Armenia for example, communities have been in a command & control hierarchy during soviet area. Now they have to do more for themselves – organize and continue their evolution. A village needs to think for itself. It may want to start “thinking” with another village. This starts to think of changes: some of which may be perceived as disruptive and/or generative. They feel the buzzing but can’t hold it. I wonder about role of SNA for ad-hoc emergent networks.

    Patty has not been involved in the social and political work of SNA. This would be a case where you might not want to do SNA because of the sensitivity of individuals, but a proxy analysis. Groups to group analysis and map from there. The field of SNA has broadened fast. Patty has focused on personal and organizational networks. There are people working in health care around immunity, SNA in different kinds of organizations, NPOs for example. SNA came out of ethnographic research and still a lot of people going strong on that.

    John: What happens when you don’t have a sampling frame to represent the mapping space? You get the list of people to survey. IN the case Nancy is offering we’d have to traverse the nodes of the network to find the people.

    Patty suggests that the survey leaves “blank spaces” to add other names. You build the map in an ad hoc way so people can ID others outside of the bounded network.

    The group then thanks Patty for her wonderful presentation and the call ends!

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    Reflecting on What Challenges Us - Some Inspiration

    Charles Cameron, who is one of the discussion leaders/presenters at the upcoming Online Social Networks 2005, shared this quote which resonates with the current collection of posts on challenging online behaviors.

    "Groupwork is an activity which arises out of the acknowledgement and synthesis of contradictions and opposing truths"
    Jarlath F Benson (1987) Working More Creatively with Groups, Routledge, p173.

    "Opposition is true friendship."
    William Blake

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    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    Mernit's on iVillage's Redesign - Time to Take Back Community?

    iVillage has long time standing as an online community. So when I saw Susan' post, iVillage has curves--and a redesign, I kept reading. She writes:
    However, what seems to have taken a back seat in the slick, multimedia design are the community and message board aspects of the site--they're kinda MIA.
    So what does this mean? Maybe it is another signal that it is time to take back control of our online group interactions away from the large commercial sites. We can and do create them through a lovely, handwoven multicolored fabric of discussion boards, email lists, blogs, wikis and whatever else emerges from our range of electronic devices. Large companies tried to commoditize community. It gave community, in many respects, a bland, watered down image.

    Let's take it back as our own.

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    More Connections to the Porcupine Story

    If you are following my ongoing ramblings on dealing with things that challenge us in online interaction, check out James Farmer's post and the following comments: A Few More Critters for Amy's Menagerie (Courtesy of the Porcupine Anti-Defamation Scoiety). This gives you a clue...
    I am a card carrying porcupine.
    When I try and categorize myself I come up with the conclusion that I have multiple personalities!

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    Things that Challenge Us in Online Interactions - Part 4

    Imperfection is part of our online communication. Alan Levine posted a classic story of how email flames erupt so easily that show us we are mere mortals.

    Warming The Hands Over the Flames of Email
    E-mail flame wars (a torrent of angry, differing viewpoint exchanges) must be as old as the first listserv with more than 20 people on it. Whether you want to classify participants according to some phylum/species or not not, it is just human nature, and what happens in the loosely structured online environment. A reading of the chapter on 'Perfection' in Small Pieces Loosely Joined (SPLJ) puts some good light on the mixture of people, their human behaviors, and what happens in open environment.
    Now go to his site and read the story! Here is the very apt closing:
    I have seen it (flames, breakdowns) hundreds of times, and never expect it to change. That does not bother me, because for how many safeguards, systems, controls, policies are established, we are a species that tends to find a way through, around these structures. This is basic human nature, and while irritating or odd to observe, this is part of the SPLJ (Small Pieces Loosely Joined) notion that the Web by design is imperfect, as it shows its human traits, and that the yin in the open-ness of the net the spawns creativity, innovation,e tc, has a yang that includes email flame wars, 'vermin', rich spammers, etc."
    In other words, we're human. From an online facilitation perspective, keeping this in mind is very useful. Nothing I can do, for example, as a n email list facilitator, will please everyone on a 1000 person list. And I will never have the insight or foresight to know what a human who joins the list has to offer, even when she or he starts out annoying the heck out of the group. We have foibles. We have different slices of our identity that we parcel out in strange and creative ways.

    Maybe what we need is simply thicker skins and a deep breath every now and again. Oh, and flame proof jammies!

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    Steve Berline Johnson: Tool For Thought

    Some food for thought on Tool For Thought:
    "The other thing that would be fascinating would be to open up these personal libraries to the external world. That would be a lovely combination of old-fashioned book-based wisdom, advanced semantic search technology, and the personality-driven filters that we've come to enjoy in the blogosphere. I can imagine someone sitting down to write an article about complexity theory and the web, and saying, 'I bet Johnson's got some good material on this in his 'library.'' (You wouldn't be able to pull down the entire database, just query it, so there wouldn't be any potential for intellectual property abuse.) I can imagine saying to myself: 'I have to write this essay on taxonomies, so I'd better sift through Weinberger's library, and that chapter about power laws won't be complete without a visit to Shirky's database.'"

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    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    Dealing With the Things That Bother Us Online Part 3

    This blog post from Network-Centric Advocacy, "Pile On! " Playground Dynamics and Advocacy offers an observation of some of the more challenging aspects of online group communication: the Pile On!
    Back in Catholic school we really only had a parking lot for a playground so we passed the time calling out random 'Pile Ons'. The kids would pick some poor victim and randomly run and tackle the chump. The rest of the playground would then have a non-asphalt landing surface (the pile of initial kids) to swarm and jump onto ...oh the fun.

    ...In a networked movement, we have a greater opportunity to dog pile an issue increasing our success and 'fun'. The pile on always offers the smaller guys opportunities to get some licks in on the bullies. in an advocacy context the pile on offers the nonprofit liputians a chance to bog down the giant industries and opponents that work against us so often.

    One of the side effects of the massively many-to-many publishing model that is the blogosphere is the following math:
    1. controversy is fun to write
    2. controversy is fun to read
    3. piling on is safe and fun
    4. undoing 1, 2 and 3 is no fun, hard work and easy to avoid."
    Are we quintessentially more interested in rubber-necking the accident, participating in the pile on? In some ways I think so. For me the question is how can we use our interest in conflict constructively, at least part of the time?

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    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Ah, Someone Else with Tag Guilt (or Tagless Guilt)!

    I'm been ragging on tagging a bit lately. When I saw this post, I wondered if it was a guilt-induced rant! Dan Bricklin wrote Systems without guilt where every contribution is appreciated
    In reaction to, and support of, AKMA's post about tagging, Dave Winer writes that he stopped tagging the categories of blog posts. As soon as he missed one he felt guilty and then as the guilt grew he tagged less. He started just assigning things to a couple of categories and then not tagging at all.

    I think Dave has pointed out a key problem with tagging. It seems like a nice idea but it requires us to always do it. The system wants 100% participation. If you don't do it even once, or don't do it well enough (by not choosing the 'right' categories), then you are at fault for messing it up for others -- the searches won't be complete or will return wrong results. Guilt. But because it's manual and requires judgment you can't help but mess up sometimes so guilt is guaranteed. Doing it makes you feel bad because you can't ever really do it right. So, you might as well not play at all and just not tag.

    This is the opposite of what I was getting at in my old Cornucopia of the Commons essay about volunteer labor. In that case, in a good system, just doing what you normally would do to help yourself helps everybody. Even helping a bit once in a while (like typing in the track names of a CD nobody else had ever entered) benefited you and the system. Instead of making you feel bad for 'only' doing 99%, a well designed system makes you feel good for doing 1%. People complain about systems that have lots of 'freeloaders'. Systems that do well with lots of 'freeloading' and make the best of periodic participation are good. Open Source software fits this criteria well and its success speaks for itself.

    So, here we have another design criteria for a type of successful system: Guiltlessness. No only should people just need to do what's best for them when they help others, they need to not need to always do it."
    Thanks Dan. You made me feel a little less guilty today.

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    Dealing With Things That Bother Us - Part 2

    Yesterday I started linking to some articles that think about how we deal with things that bother us online - people and conditions that are problemmatic in online interactions. Here's another one.

    Amy Gahran, whose writing I enjoy, has another take on dealing with difficulties in online interactions. She takes a stronger language position -- or should that be LABEL position, which invoked many comments on her blog. Again, I think a lot of the issues Amy raises are right on, but the negative labeling reverberates in a way that may cloud the issues. Here are some snippets from Handling Porcupines, Trolls, and Other Online Vermin. I love the first line. Amen, sistah!
    Contrary to popular opinion, the internet is not really about technology. It’s about people, specifically how people communicate.

    Despite the best efforts of evolution and civilization, human beings still have a lot of rough edges – individually and collectively. We annoy, denigrate, and dismiss each other all the time. Sometimes this is intentional, often it is not.

    The plain text which comprises most online communication makes our rough edges hard to miss. It strips away many of the subtle buffers and safeguards we’ve created to minimize the inherent emotional and psychological risks of communication. Also, online media presents a deeply weird juxtaposition of isolation and connectedness, anonymity and identity, parts and whole. In this baffling environment people can be unbelievably brash and vulnerable at the same time.

    In this realm, the vermin of communication thrive. Recognizing them, and choosing to react appropriately, is the key to avoiding their damage…

    • Porcupines: People who seem unable to write a sentence that lacks a barb. There’s a rude, condescending, dismissive, or insulting edge to nearly everything they say. Often these barbs are thinly disguised as humor, or as hyper-rationality. Believe it or not, most porcupines are not aware of how irritating or hurtful they can be...(snip)
    • Trolls: These vermin want to provoke a reaction. They bait in order to get you to snap back, thus granting them perceived license to attack even more fiercely. They will set out to stir up conflict and push people’s emotional buttons....They think they look insightful and strong when they tear others down, but the effect is more like watching a tantrum.
    • Zealots: These people confuse their opinions and perspectives with “the ultimate truth.” They can’t function well without clearly marked boundaries... Zealots are more comfortable with crusades than conversation.
    • Skewers: These people routinely skew the words, actions, perspectives, or opinions of others. They believe that they know you better than you know yourself, so they’re better-equipped to explain who you are and what you’re doing. This misrepresentation usually indicates a lack of understanding. Sometimes that comes from a simple lack of information – but other times it demonstrates a profound inability or unwillingness to listen or understand. (snip)
    • Leeches: Online media promotes a culture of sharing. However, some people approach the internet with an exagerrated sense of entitlement. If you share your knowledge or resources by answering one question or helping solve one problem, leeches slither close and expect you to answer every question and help solve every problem. They assume, they wheedle, they nag. (snip)
    • Burns: These people take everything personally, in a negative way. Any contact is risky. (snip)
    “Vermin” labels apply to behaviors, not to people. It’s an important distinction. When you encounter online vermin, don’t assume that their vermin-like qualities represent who they are. When people act like online vermin, that’s merely how they’re behaving at that time, in that situation. Don’t exaggerate these unpleasant encounters by overpersonalizing them.
    From my perspective, there is a huge set of people who may be perceived as "vermin" from one perspective, and as important parts of the online ecosystem from another. I'd like to pick out the gems here, and leave the vermin terminology behind.

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    Di Petta -- Psychological Type as a Tool for On-Line Groups

    This is sort of related to the "Things that Bother Us About Online Interaction" series of posts I have been writing. Another perspective in, perhaps.

    I indirectly found this article this morning while reading about an online facilitation challenge in a private community. Tony was mentioned so I googled! It seems to be another way in to the archetype issue without using the sort of labels like Gahran did in her piece.

    Digging down, it is about finding ways to understand each other enough to have successful communications or do things together. We generalize as a way of making sense, but in the labels we use generate end up creating more misunderstanding. Quite the opposite of the intent, I suppose. Finding ways to "hear" the other person without being triggered by their style or language choice is a key goal in an online facilitation practice. Di Petta points out one really key part of the practice: knowing your own style/self first.

    The article on this site is an abridged version of a paper published in Cranton, P. (ed.) (1998). Psychological Type in Action. Sneedville, TN: Psychological Type Press.
    Tony Di Petta -- Psychological Type as a Tool for On-Line Groups:
    "This paper examines the use of psychological type as a group process 'tool' for moderators of on-line discussion groups. In February of 1997, The Personal Effectiveness through Type (PET) Inventory �, was provided as an on-line tool to ten computer conference moderators working for the Education Network of Ontario (ENO). The ENO is a Canadian telecommunications service that provides internet access and computer conferencing services to the kindergarten through secondary school education community, in the province of Ontario."
    Towards the end of the article, Di Petta suggests four benefits of using type inventories for online moderation:
    1. Type Awareness can have a positive effect on an on-line group's ability to deal with change. Computer conferences often focus on issues of change within an organization or profession. The general reactions to unanticipated change are anger and fear. Type awareness can help you and your on-line group recognize the impact of type preferences in dealing with change so you can identify your own concerns and coping strategies.

    2. Knowledge of type can help create and maintain a positive on-line environment. Knowledge and awareness of type as it applies to the make-up of your online group can help build mutual understanding and tolerance. Understanding the concerns and implications of each type preference can help you as moderator tailor your approach to the needs of each type. This helps build a cooperative and collaborative online environment and group.

    3. Type can be used as a meta-analysis, communication and leadership tool. Type awareness provides a language for talking about group process and what individuals need in order to work within an on-line group environment. For example, role-playing various perspectives using type provides a means for getting to questions and concerns that often do not get expressed in an on-line group. Good moderators will address these questions and concerns even if they don't get asked, but type provides a vehicle for involving the group in asking and addressing such questions.

    Introverts in on-line groups might especially benefit from such questions because they tend not to ask questions even when they need to have them answered to do their work. Extroverts, on the other hand, need to know what is going on and have frequent opportunities to talk about it. (snip)

    4. Type can be used as a process and group checking or evaluation tool. Type awareness helps you pay attention to changes in group composition and needs. By paying attention to types that differ from yours, you can find new ways to deal with on-line issues and incorporate the whole group in planning strategies for collaboration and work.

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