Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Methods and Resources for Facilitators

Check out this new site that offers facilitators a place to share and learn facilitating methods and resources from each other! IAF Methods :: Methods and Resources for Facilitators.


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Monday, May 30, 2005

Central Cinema & "Find it in Fremont" - Development with the Web

Some local email lists have alerted me to two new initiatives in Seattle that use the web to support local business. The Central Cinema and Find it in Fremont are about local businesses serving local needs both in action and in spirit.

The Central Cinema is a dinner-and-a-movie joint which grew out of Kevin Spitzer's transformed artist's space in Seattle's Central District. Kevin writes "You can expect things like chocolate truffles while seeing "Chocolat" or Spicy Noodles while seeing "Tampopo"." I like that! More importantly, Kevin hopes to create 5-8 jobs in the neighborhood which is home to some of Seattle's lower income families.

The website ain't a work of art, but it functionally told me what I needed to know about the Cinema, it's operating principles, the bus routes near it (get outta ya car!) and the menu. Mmm. Oh, and yes, what movies are playing. It made it easy for me to begin supporting a local business. And it leveraged the viral nature of the web -- I got the link from a local email list. Web to local.

Find it in Fremont is a more meta approach from Coop Fremont. "The Find it in Fremont Directory is a community-based initiative to create an on-line information source of locally-owned and sustainable businesses in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, WA." I believe this is an outgrowth of some work community members have been doing for a couple of years to build both business and awareness of the impact of buying locally vs. supporting external corporate interests. By identifying who is doing what (and many of the business listings actually share their organizational beliefs) Find it in Fremont gives us another option - with help from the web - to inform our choices.

As I think about community development - regardless of if it is here in my hometown of Seattle or in a village in Armenia - I look to models like these and ask myself, what does it take to go from this point to really making change in a community and what is the role of the internet along the way?

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Inventiveness in Online Communities

Spiderwebs of links are showing up today as I catch up on blog reading after a few days off. Beth points to Lisa's post, Nonprofit Using Blogs: March of Dimes which mentions the March of Dimes ShareYourStory community. Lisa and Beth are interested in the emergent blog aspect of the site. I want to write more about that, but there is something that I've really noticed about the site worth sharing.

I've had a blast working on this project. Having been involved in countless online communities, I think it is fair to say this has been one of the most loving, warm, generous communities I've ever participated in and worked for. They make Lee and my job of updating the site so much fun and easy. When I see this sort of environment, I'm always trying to pay attention to why.

Some of the "why" is easy: the community is meeting a real need for parents to literally share their stories of parenting babies who had to be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth. Most of the families participating had a child born prematurely (fondly known as "preemies"). You can feel this common bond in nearly every posting.

The other thing is the community's inventiveness. Some of the things the community has invented for itself include sharing references and products that are particularly useful for families with preemies, thinking up ideas for kits for families in the NIC), ways to easily resize pictures to share (for the less-than-tech savvy) and countless other things. This idea of inventiveness to me is a sign of a healthy community. The group doesn't wait for someone else to solve a problem or meet a need. They figure it out. This community is not something "done unto" them by others. It is what they are doing for themselves and each other, facilitated by the March of Dimes.

This gets me wondering about what best supports inventiveness? What tools make it easier to be inventive? What processes? What general environments? In other words, as designers and facilitators, what should we do to foster inventiveness?

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Friday, May 27, 2005

David Gammel puts out the shingle!

"High Context Consulting (HCC) is an independent firm that provides web and knowledge strategy consulting services to membership organizations. HCC was founded by C. David Gammel in 2005."
David, welcome to the wonderful world of indies! For those of you in associations, pay attention to David, particularly if online strategies is part of your vision!

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Online Deliberation 2005

I was unable to attend or follow the online interactions around the Online Deliberation 2005 conference, but there is a blog with some interesting tidbits that is still active for those interested in online deliberation.

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A Blogiversary Ditty (while stuck in airport)

Here I sit
in Sacramento
without a flight
(slightly demento)

Five hours late
a plane gone fritzy
(without my wireless
I'd feel quite ditzy)

I want to post
but I'm so tired
aw, heck I'll try
because I'm wired

I paid my fee
for bits and byte
besides it helps
me pass the night

I've found blogs more
than words on pages
but people's links
by chance engages

New doors fly open
ideas emerge
and conversations
ebb and surge

So am I a blogger?
Made the cut?
Sheesh, I tried
don't kick my butt

Some times it's weak
and typo laden
but no one promised
a garden of eden

So here I toss
a bloggy ditty
I know it's weak
and it ain't pretty

But heck it is
12 months I've posted
I'll celebrate
althought I'm toasted

One small p.s.
a word of thanks
to all who read
comment, or yank

Upon my chain
please pull some more
because I'll blog
until you snore

It's time to get
another beer
so here's to one more
bloggy year!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Let Community Members Help with Social Design

I'm on the road again with scarce and slow dialup so I'm going to piggy back on an article that Lee just posted about some work we are doing together. I think there is more to chew on, but it will have to wait till I'm back in broad-band-land. Let Community Members Help with Social Design:
"Nancy White and I have been working with the March of Dimes on an online community site called ShareYourStory.org. The site has close to 5000 members and has been going since September of 2004."

Hopefully I can post tomorrow. It will be the one year anniversary of this blog! I guess my third attempt at blogging was the charm.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Target/Blogging Yahoo/Wiki -- New Skills Are Relevant

A few weeks ago Target included blogging skills as a job listing requirment. My post on it, and the importance of online facilitation and communications skills, drew a thoughtful comment a few days ago (thanks, Anil) that is helping me get clearer on my tirade on the importance of these skills and my bafflement about why some universities don't seem to have a clue about them.

We see now that Yahoo asks for wiki skills Program/Project Manager 1: Yahoo! Inc - Yahoo HotJobs"
  • Skills in creating wiki pages, organizing events and coordinating many moving pieces is required."
  • Experience in html and wikis are preferred.
  • The more I turn this over in my head, the more I think I have been confounding my own message about the sets of skills and the means to getting these skills. The point that universities aren't always teaching them is separate from the importance of the skills.

    Wiki gardening, for example, could be viewed as both a facilitation and communication skill. Thinking before you post wild assertions on your blog? Clearly communication. If I were leading a team, it might also be facilitation. So the line between these two in my mind is not fixed. My definition of facilitation is very broad and includes acts both of named-role facilitation (you are the facilitator ... it is your job to do this) and those little acts of voluntary facilitation that spring without formal brief in groups and communities. It is, in fact, that latter form that I think is such an imporant skill: the act of communicating online with more than one's self in mind. That is facilitation to me.

    Now, as to how we learn this stuff, or teach it. Yes, this is stuff that, as Anil noted in his comments, that we just figure out as we go. Kids are learning it in games, running through the gauntlet of 10 IM windows open at once. Some of these skills are individual survival skills. Some are for the benefit of the group. I watch my son coordinate his online game play with his guilds via chat and IM. I see them work hard to try and pin down a time for a guild war (sometimes to be dashed by someone's mom calling for dinner. NOW!) Clearly these are virtual team faciltiation skills.

    But then look at what my son might learn at university about online communication skills. If he is studying communication theory, shouldn't there be something about online? If a business major looks at managing and leading skills, shouldn't there be an inclusion of how these show up in a distributed organization?

    What about the kid who did not have the benefit of growing up digital? What about the different cultural approaches to online communication? There is a place for the full range of informal, learn as you go and the more formalized offerings because those structures are part of our society.

    If you are a university faculty, I'd be interested to hear what your school offers in terms of online communication, facilitation and leadership skills. If the answer is none, what world are you preparing your students for?

    [via Seb]

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    KM4D Journal Launched

    I'm thrilled to see KM4D Journal spring into being. KM4D - or Knowledge Management for Development, comes from the KM4Dev Community of which I've been a part of for a number of years. Kudos to the new editorial board who have birthed it! I'm tickled to have been able to contribute an article (PDF) co-written with Siobhan Kimmerle about our work in Armenia.

    Here is a brief description of this new and FREE resource:
    "KM4D Journal focuses on knowledge management in development. It includes diverse knowledge management approaches in development organizations, large and small, in the South and in the North, and aims to facilitate cross-fertilization between knowledge management and related fields.

    KM4D Journal offers peer-reviewed practice-based cases, analysis and research concerning the role of knowledge in development processes, and provides a forum for debate and exchange of ideas among practitioners, policy makers academics and activists world-wide. By challenging current assumptions, it will seek to stimulate new thinking and to shape future ways of working.

    The journal is strongly related to the KM4Dev community of practice but aims to promote KM knowledge and approaches in the wider professional development community. Wherever possible, we will link up with existing kindred communities or networks."
    Our contribution is "Little steps to lofty goals: keys to successful community learning for civil society development."

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    Friday, May 20, 2005

    AIGA Seattle 2005

    I am at the Seattle AIGA Currents 9 conference at the Seattle Art Museum today -- trying to absorb all the great designer vibes around me, but feeling a bit like a fish out of water. The keynote was from MIT's John Maeda, a rollercoaster of art, design, humor, social commentary and John's eloquent body language. Oh, and a bit on the meaning of life! Watch this man's hands as he talks. More details later...

    I'm sitting now in DL Byron's session on blogging. I thought it was only right to live the practice in this session.

    The session I'm here for, thought, is my friend Mark Shimada's. "I am my design" is the title. I'll be personing a video cam, so comments on it tonight.

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    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Has Anyone Jybe-ed?

    A colleague pointed me to The latest version of Jybe. I'd like to try it with someone. Have any of you tried it?
    Jybe is a plug-in that enables people to surf the web and chat together all in real time. This is not a proxy service but turns your web browser into a de-facto IM client. Version 1.0 is the first but we anticipate putting out new releases so check back often.
    Some of the links on the site are flaky... not reassuring (like the HOME PAGE!)

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    Alexandra Samuels Talks Tagging

    Wow, Alexandra's are in my blog this week! (I'm noticing lots of interesting spiderwebs of connections, but more on that when there aren't work tasks piling up). Alexandra Samuels posted a great piece on Tagging She keys in on the collaborative aspect... not just the taxonomic element.
    "These early experiments reveal the pent-up demand for simple tools to support online collaboration. But they also reveal how tagging unlocks the gateway between information and community. By allowing people to share information effectively, tags create and support a growing number of online communities. And by bringing communities together around common interests, tags add value to the information those communities gather."
    Take a gander. Alex will be talking about tagging at BlogHer in July. And oh, yeah, I better tag this post!

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    Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    Welcome to Blogging, Alexandra: A Visible City

    Dina points to new blogger, Alexandra Mack, and her blog A Visible City. Following a tradition I learned from Seb Paquet (check out all these welcomes!)and after cruising through Alexandra's blog, I wanted to say WELCOME to the BLOGOSPHERE! Alexandra, I enjoyed what I read tonight!

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    The New Gatekeepers - The Series

    Jon Garfunkle has put the finishing touches on his series of essays, The New Gatekeepers. Clearly a labor of love, Jon has pulled together a ton of issues and ideas that are worth reading for anyone intersted in the blogosphere. You may not agree with everything Jon lays out, but damn, there is a lot of food for thought here. From the intro:
    "To read the headlines, or the bloglines, one might get the sense that the bloggers have arrived on the scene to challenge the “gatekeepers” of the big media. This is an essay in eight parts to examine this theme.

    I will argue here that gatekeepers are inherently needed by the architecture of the blogosphere-- as it has evolved, since 2001, into a public consciousness. This architecture has been developed out of certain values, and those values are the ones espoused by those same thought leaders. That is not to say that there are other architecture, values, or leaders present; merely that this is the dominant form for the moment. (That there are other types of blogs with minimal involvement of the public interest, I have covered this at length in Blogger Archetypes.)"
    The sections include:

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    Communication Tool Traditions from a Community Perspective

    Ok, well, I did read one article on James' new blog because there was an interesting comment thread that relates to a post of mine from last week. IM, wikis and blogs for your business communication. The thread is on wiki communications traditions.

    Tools may have been designed for use in a particular way as imagined by their designers, but their actual use can be quite different. What is particularly interesting is when a community starts explicitly defining their patterns and traditions. It is their "community view" of the tool and it's use. Appropriation and adaptation.

    What is also interesting is when different communities start talking about the same tool they may be "speaking a different language" because of their individual community perspectives. Or are taken aback by the productive use of a pattern that they did not find productive. Have you ever seen people fall into the "threaded vs linear" argument about discussion boards? You know what I'm talking about.

    For me it has been imperative to surface the perspectives first, before talking about the tool functionality or processes. Otherwise there is a large brick wall that appears in front of your face. Community perceptions and traditions are STRONG forces both in making technology useful for communities, but also in differentiating themselves. That can make it difficult to talk about tools and their use in communities.

    It is easy to be tricked into thinking that X tool is always used in a certain matter. More often than not, the use is as varied as the users.

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    James Farmer gets Blogsavvy

    James farmer announced the launch of Blogsavvy - your professional blogging consultant and said if we linked to him, he would love us forever. Dang, if linking could lead to love, do you think we could end war? Ever the optimist, I'll link.

    James, I hope you find that great combination of your free-giving-spirit and a business model. It exists (sometimes it exists in my business) but it can be tricky. That said, I think it is a great goal.

    Can't say too much more than "good luck" because my brain is still fried from the flu. I'll be returning to James' new blog to read for content once I'm back in my groove. (And, fwiw, I think it was the flu, not food poisoning.)

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    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Food Poisoning - Helpless

    Last night I was sicker than I can remember. Mamma mia. I am so glad to be back in the world of the non-sick today, but weak and woozy.

    I was absolutely helpless, sitting on the floor of the bathroom, body in total revolt. No control. I could not even stand up. It is terrifying to be that helpless, and a good reminder.

    Now, back to sleep.


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    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    Transparent Representation and Gentle Nudges

    Mary Hodder wrote something that rang bells for me in the ongoing "conversation" about representation in blogging (women, men, people of color, nationality, expertise, etc.). I keep struggling to get away from the man/woman thing. I believe the point is that we need a higher level of self awareness and conciousness of our diverse world because the internet is, in a sense, making us bare it all. We are visible in unprecedented ways.

    Mary wrote a reference about the make up of presenters PopTech in the perspective of how the organizers represented their event. She wrote in Napsterization:
    "The point is, if you purport to represent the world, and cover the world, in your conference or discussion, then do it by including people who are beyond your demographic, and work that goes beyond your demographic (and there is lots of amazing work out there by folks who happen to have other perspectives), for projects and ideas covering other worlds than yours. This isn't about forcing a change, it's about being honest about what you're perspective is."
    For me this applies not just to conferences, but any type of gathering. As a person who often convenes or facilitates online events, I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of representing more than you can actually represent. A gathering of members of a global organization in an online event will not usually be truely representative and the conclusions of that group cannot be represented as the organization's. A webcast with two or three experts will not be able to represent all the "latest thinking" on topic XYZ. Just the thinking of those three people and the people they might be able to represent. But somehow we start believing it is. We are selling ourselves down the road...

    What is making this such a relevant but touchy issues these days?

    Hype is part of the problem. We burned through the dotcom era with each idea purporting to be better than the one before it. Best, greatest solution... right here. We start to believe our spin a bit too much. Whomever is in the "in" group runs the risk of believing the hype.

    Groupthink and a Global Society
    Part of the problem is groupthink. Associating with those we know, trust and enjoy being with is common human behavior. But it has different implications in the internet connected world where our sometimes-provincial behaviors are transmitted instantly outside of the "province." Where we could once misstep, we can no longer without visibility and broader consequence. This is both heaven and hell. We get in trouble more often but the opportunity to learn and grow increases. Bottom line? We need to pay more attention to actively and effectively utilizing diversity because that's our world. New skills, my friends, new skills.

    Self Awareness
    When it is so easy to throw something out to the world (like in a blog), what are the consequences? What are the consequences of me writing this quickly without a lot of preparation? I can screw up. That's ok. What's not ok is not being able to find out when we screw up and change from it, not just move to a position of defense. We have the opportunity to be able, for a moment, to see or experience ourselves -- what we do and say -- through the eyes of someone else. And let it change us. What a gift. But it asks us to take time to first know ourselves. Is that in your busy schedule?

    Transparent Representation
    And finally, how do we take our self awareness and make it part of our daily experience as we open out to this crazy, global society? How do we represent ourselves transparently enough to invite another's view and to allow ourselves the possibility of being changed by that view? It means stepping outside of our confort zones, balancing our own view of the world with the views of others and changing the way we live and work. Fundamentally.

    I heard some Armenian music yesterday and had this twinge. No, it was more than a twinge. It was a huge wave of gratitude to my friends in Armenia who let me step a little bit outside of my comfort zone. My friends in Azerbaijan and Georgia, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. Brazil and Malaysia, China and Switzerland. They shifted my world, disrupted my assumptions and changed my life. It is only now that I am realizing the implications in my life, especially my online life. They give me courage to step outside of my comfort zone.

    We can do this for each other online.

    If you see me stepping back in, give me a gentle nudge.

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    YouSendIt - Email large files!

    Have you ever tried to send a large file to a friend or colleague only to have it bounce back - file size too large? Via Itrain I learned of YouSendIt. Their claim? " Email large files quickly, securely, and easily!" And free. You can also apparently share entire photo files. I tried sending some family photos to my mom. It created a page with the photos, good for seven days. How do they make money or pay for this?

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    Weekend Markets - Offline Bliss

    Yesterday the University District Farmers Market, and today Pike Place Market (where the Cheese Festival is running full cheese ahead). Nest we are off to eat Gyros, all part of a family birthday weekend.
    May Seattle Markets Posted by Hello

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    Saturday, May 14, 2005

    Phase Changes and Transitions

    Two of my colleagues, John Smith and Bev Trayner have been spending quite a bit of time talking and writing about phase changes in communities of practice. Their paper can be found here.

    I thought of them when I read about this event, New Transition
    "The purpose of the 050505 conference is to explore the transitions users make when they switch from one mode of media interaction to another. The applause before a concert, the opening sequence of a movie, the ring tone of a cell phone, the login for an online game; all are transitions from one mode of interaction to another. ..What do we hold on to, what do we let go of, how do we transform in interactions with different technologies? How do transitions frame a space of interaction? How can we design transitions, both technically and culturally, to translate our bodies into new spheres of interaction?"

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    Flickr Peep Show

    So I just post about adding visual to online interaction and I come across Flickr Peep Show
    "Mobile phone or internet social networks by means of visual communication linked through mob tags and or keywords... what?!

    The second Mediamatic exhibition on the ground floor of the Post CS building is about flickr.com, the photo sharing website developed by Ludicorp."
    This one is a geographically based exhibit where viewers can then feed in comments and pictures via their mobile phones. What would this look like if it were entirely online? Or both?

    [via apophenia]

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    Honoria Starbuck and Life Drawing Class Online

    This week Honoria Starbuck shared her experience teaching life drawing online with the "onlinefacilitation" group. She wrote:
    "I just finished a 5.5 week job facilitating a life drawing class online!
    Yes, artists drawing naked people with real art materials such as paper, charcoal and pencils all taught and critiqued online. I worked for the Art Institute Online department of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and it was a blast. I am an artist and I've attended life drawing sessions every week for years. I have also been an online community facilitator for WholeFoods.com but I never thought the two could really be combined until now...It's kind of clunky but the class energy was high and the competencies were definitely gained. "
    I love it, Honoria! A great example of taking more advantage of the visual capability of online interaction. We seem to be making strides with the audio side and podcasting, but I'd love to see more on the visual site.

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    Saturday of a Behind-Blogger - intentions?

    Goddess of Small Annoyances
    Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
    I have 34 draft posts in my blog posting queue. I have woken up with a question a friend asked me yesterday, "what are you doing for fun?" I had to pause. Have I been blogging for fun? In part, yes. But is it that jump-up-for joy fun? Does it feel good and tired afterwards like a long walk or a session of gardening?

    Not quite.

    I have this urge to pass along thoughts, links, blogs, ideas, but not quite enough attention and intention to always follow through. And some slight bit of guilt that I'm not going on enough of those walks.

    So I'm left with a question. What is my intention at this point as my blog nears its first birthday?

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    Communities Celebrating Online, Metaphors and Connection

    Ross Mayfield posted a nice bit on how his company, Socialtext, operates virtually. In Finding a Home Ross uses metaphors for the different media their 10-person team uses to connect.
    * Socialtext -- the building and garden
    * IRC -- the hallway
    * FreeConference.com -- the conference room
    * Skype -- the meeting rooms
    * IM -- talking over the cubical
    * VNC -- peeping over the cubical
    * Our blogs -- the front porch
    Beyond the metaphors (which I find useful in communicating these ideas to people who look at me baffled when I say I work "online,") Ross also notes the value of their distributed configuration -- and one of the key constraints.
    "I am convinced that being virtual is the best way to start a company. The benefits go beyond cost (although the culture of frugality can go a very long way). In our case, it improves the product. But generally it is more productive. When the bandwidth for collaboration is constrained at times, you gain a certain focus. And with wiki, you develop a group memory to draw upon as you go forward.

    The biggest downside is it is more difficult to celebrate victories."
    I was visiting F2F today with a friend who's daughter is facing a battle with a serious cancer. I was delivering cards to her, F2F, from a group of us who used to be a distributed team. We took a moment to consider how some of our important relationships emerge from places many people might say are not containers for relatinship building: online, a one-time interaction with a retail customer, a quick meeting at a party. Like "love at first sight" before word is uttered, we can connect in many ways and in many places. Yes, even online.

    We do celebrate in pairs online quite well. So now I'm thinking more about how we celebrate as communities online.

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    Friday, May 13, 2005

    [PodcasterCon.org] - Open Source Conference Planning

    Another great example of collaborative work: [PodcasterCon.org]

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    I've heard of eating your own dogfood, but eating your own paint?

    Heh, I still haven't edited the mound of "serious" blog posts, but it's Friday and who can resist a story about chocolate paing
    An Australian artist who paints using chocolate has admitted he licks his own brushes.

    Sid Chidiac, 36, imposes a 'No touching, No tasting' ban on gallery visitors but admits he can't resist temptation to taste his work.

    He paints with fine Belgian chocolate and food dye on edible canvas.
    Here a link to his paiting of Oprah in chocolate!!

    [via my non blogging friend, Sue in Kenya]


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    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Dan Saffer's thesis on "The Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design"

    OK, for anyone who designs or facilitates online interaction, read Dan's paper, he Role of Metaphor in Interaction Design. The above link is to his blog. The direct link to the 340k pdf is here.
    Dan says on his blog,
    "I think it's an interesting piece of work and I'm proud of it."
    Dan, you should be. First, it is readable by mere mortals like me. Second, your use of quotes and human voice is -- well, I appreciate it. Finally, throughout the paper there are pieces that are directly useful in practice. You bridged between theory and practice which doesn't happen often enough. Here is one snippet by way of example:
    Using Metaphor to Introduce New Concepts

    Since one of metaphor’s main applications is to use the familiar to explore the unfamiliar, one of the main (and the most overused) reasons to use metaphors is their power to introduce new concepts to users. At its best, this can cause fantastic cognitive leaps, like the ones made at the appearance of the desktop UI and the internet browser. At its worst, it can trap users into a metaphor that obscures more than it illuminates, that causes anger and frustration, and that in some cases can cause injury or eath.
    Thanks, Dan!

    [via Elearningpost]

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    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Join the Potluck with a Twist

    Arggh. I have about 20 draft blog posts from the last three days, none complete. But this one can't wait. We need the assistance of those who like to take pictures of food and play with Flikr. Is that you? Read on.

    Last night I got an email from a blog friend, Beth, asking me to upload some food pictures to Flikr with the tag beth_potluck. Here is one of the shots.

    See, Beth is using a potluck metaphor as an experiment to share with others the concept of tagging and social bookmarking. Here is her blog post: Beth's Blog: Decadent Chocolate Dessert
    "In an attempt to create a demo to explain tagging and social tagging to some folks who run a ctc [Community Technology Center] that works with homeless for Friday, I came up with the metaphor of a potluck dinner. Here's on one of the desserts ... Let's see who else is coming and bringing what in flickr. This is an open invitation. All you have to do is upload a photo of the food to flickr and tag it beth_potluck."
    So what are you waiting for? Join us at the potluck. That chocolate dessert and much more is awaiting you. What will you bring?

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    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    It is weird to see my blog on another site

    Following links, I found this site which has my entire blog. Someone tell me, why? I must be missing a point. What's New on the Web ::: etamp.net

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    Friday, May 06, 2005

    Burningbird � Ms Pancake - Read this post

    It's Friday and my ability to summarize or editorialize is pffft, and besides, this post, Burningbird � Ms Pancake, from Shelly stands on it's own. Read it and think.

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    Thomas Hawk has Digital Dreams Too

    I'm not alone in my weird dreams of online life, eh?

    Thomas Hawk: Dreamt I Was Being Chased By My Inbox

    From Thomas Hawk's site.


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    Brian & Ruby's Open Source Wedding - More Community Manifestations

    As always, I'm deeply engaged by any manifestation of community. I am also a seeker of finding more ways to live with less control (something I hate to admit but I still love control deep down in my heart) and more emergence. Here's an example that looks good from where I sit. It will be fun to follow. Brian & Ruby's Wedding | Geek Socialist Love
    Welcome to the first (that we know of) open source wedding! Although we find many aspects of the traditional patriarchal idea of marriage objectionable, we hope to help redefine the institution by showing there's another way to be "husband and wife." One of the reasons to get married, and not just live in a committed domestic partnership, is that declaring our union in such a public way signifies the importance of the community in our relationship.
    Brian and Ruby, my beams to you!

    [via http://arsepoetica.typepad.com]
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    Julie Leung: My Gnomedex presentation in progress...

    One of the things I like about my "imaginary friends" is their writing that reveals their thinking, some layer of their identity. I was quite taken by Julie Leung's post on My Gnomedex presentation in progress.... Towards the end she leaves some quotes on identity. Here is one that rang true for me.
    "A person's identity is not to be found in behaviour, nor - important though this is - in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going. The individual's biography, if she is to maintain regular interaction with others in the day-to-day world, cannot be wholly fictive. It must continually integrate events which occur in the external world, and sort them into the ongoing 'story' about the self.' (Giddens 1991: 54)"
    Then, in the comments:
    Wow. That bit by Giddens is phenomenal, thanks for pointing it out! I've been having a conversation with Dave Pollard/How to Save the World about women and philosophy; I think this bit fits in nicely with my premise that narrative may separate some philosophy, make it more or less accessible. It might also be why the damnable question, "where are the women bloggers?" keeps popping up; perhaps women prefer narrative and the injection of narrative of the self in their writing, making it less accessible to men who'd prefer to avoid narrative. Hmm. Thanks again!
    Posted by: Rayne at May 5, 2005 09:07 AM
    Do our narrative styles reveal much about us? Or is it the narrative itself? Are our preferences around narrative a way we filter people in or out, especially online?

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    Skype Out and Visibility of Communications

    Via Euro Tech News: About SkypeOut I read...
    Skype are on to a money spinner here, if you buy SkypeOut - but do NOT use it (from their web page - which probably most people don't actually read 'Your SkypeOut credits will remain active for 180 days after your last SkypeOut call') they just cancel your credit...There's also no warning that it's about to expire, it just disappears from your options.
    That was posted on April 18. I just saw it today. I encourage a lot of my colleagues and collaborators around the world to use Skype and I use SkypeOut on the road. So I went to my account page to check it out -- I tend to go long periods of time without using my SkypeOut. Turns out there now is a warning... but I would not have known without the bit of blogadvice. Thanks Steve.


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    When a Community Member Dies - How we remember

    On Flikr this morning I stumbled upon a community responding to the death of a member, Carlos Serra. Some created Flickr: The carloserra Pool and a field of flikr flowers are piling up to honor Carlos.

    Manifestations of community...

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    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    More on Charging for Media Streams from Live Events and Live Blogging

    I'm cross-blog posting. I also wrote about the live blogging on Many-to-Many: Charging for Media Streams from Live Events and Live Blogging and there is some emerging conversation there. I thought it might be useful to point out the cross talk. This is one of the challenges of blog conversations. My my!

    Constantin Basturea also kindly pointed out that there indeed was a recorded webcast from the event originally referenced and it is free from PR Newswire. This is one of the benefits of blogging... you can use a larger, collective brain! (Thanks, Constantin. And for those of you who are in the PR biz, check out Constantin's experiment with tagging to make a PR Digest of PR related blogs.)

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    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    Help Scoble Find Women (well, for Team 99, anyway...)

    Are you a tech savvy woman blogger who has something to say about Microsoft's upcoming Longhorn release? Tell Scoble. He's looking for women -- to be part of a feedback team.
    "Where are the women?

    Thousands of people have visited the Team 99 thread over on Channel 9. Dozens of people have been nominated. One problem, though. Almost all of them are men.

    Are there no women who can be nominated for Channel 9? I nominate one: Dori Smith.

    Any others? Leave the nomination here on Channel 9."
    My two bits? Women will represent a signficant consumer segment. This is not about parity, but about getting the representation that provides market data. This is why diverse voices make for better products, not political correctness. But it seems finding these voices is tough. So if you qualify, go nominate yourself. Me? I know enough technology to be dangerous. (Ask me about how I did just about everything wrong when I started this blog!) Dang, I can find bugs. I'm good at that. But I suspect I would not speak the language!

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    Delicious Tags as Poetry

    In this morning's random blog browsing, I came across Beth Kanter's blog with a post about her work in children's literacy. She wrote about Delicious Bird Tags and Technology Integration
    In addition to the traditional methods of integrating technology, I want them to explore some simple ways to integrate these new tools such as tagging and blogging without running away screaming ...

    1. Use of blogs for student poetry journals and for instructor "mini-lessons"

    2. Use of tags to organize and bookmark Internet Resources related to subjects
    In the pre-tea morning haze, I wondered aloud via a comment about taking #1 and using the tags students create out of their poetry to create collective poems.

    Beth quickly responded positively in an email, so I started thinking, what could I do with my tags? (I have lots of tags. I'm a messy tagger.)

    Here is my first quick try. I wanted to use only the tags, but time pressures me.
    Potlucks with Imaginary Friends

    When I meet my online friends F2F,
    We cease to be distributed.
    in the collective freedom of food and friends,
    geeks and expats,
    we change out of our archetypes.
    There is the emergence, fuller identity
    in the comfort of shared history.
    For a moment, we’re an insider with each other;
    full access, more than an event;
    free of evaluation, laden with multimodality.
    What boundaries we cross, knitting together
    in community.
    Facilitation of food and friendship.
    (Who brought the chocolate?)
    This is more than a sharing economy
    Then we dinnercast back out,
    connection to the rest of our invisible friends.

    p.s. For an added treat, check out Beth's Flikr page.

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    Tuesday, May 03, 2005

    SpellBound - Spellchecker for Firefox and the Mozilla Suite

    Back in my Internet Explorer days I was an IE Spell fan -- checking my spelling in discussion board posts. Now that I'm a FireFoxy, I needed a new solution. Voila, it is here! SpellBound - Spellchecker for Firefox and the Mozilla Suite
    "What is SpellBound?
    SpellBound is a port of the spellchecker code and user interface from the Mozilla Suite's Composer that enables spell checking in web forms such as html textarea / input elements (html input password elements are not checked by SpellBound) and rich text form elements. This allows you to spell check forms (e.g. message board posts, blog entries, wysiwyg, etc.) before submitting them when using your Mozilla Firefox or Mozilla Suite browser."
    Know moore spelleeng eggskuses for mee.

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    Diagrams of Identity and Culture

    I still haven't blogged my notes from the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium (my bad) but I uploaded a hand drawn mind map from our open space session on Culture and Identity to Flikr with the tag "identity. "

    Peter at identity4all picked it up -- Diagrams of Identity
    "The Technorati Identity tag lead me squarely here at Nancy White's photo blog w/flickr.

    Since I tend to think pictorally, just like this (and have a growing collection of mind-maps myself), I thought I'd blog this one up the stack a bit (and a mental bookmark).

    What this map really demonstrates is the true relativity of Identity. Given some completely different context, the map shows compliance, strong authentication, and patient privacy.

    So Nancy, the next time you make this great diagram centered on Identity, push the edges a bit, and lets see how diverse these perspectives really are! I'd bet some would recoil and others rejoice! I cannot help but wonder if Identity Perspectives will ever allow Identity Commons?"
    I can't resist an invitation like that, so I took one little branch off the original picture and did this mind map. I left a comment on Peter's blog and hope he stops by here!


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    Just Letters: A living experiment in online collaboration

    Alexandra Samuels bloggedabout Just Letters, an addictive and sometimes maddening collaborative world play. She writes
    "The blogiverse is having fun with Just Letters, a little flash game that is a great living experiment in online collaboration."
    I played with 29 other people in a fast flow of letters, seeking to spell out chocolate. I had it in place for maybe 5 seconds. There was far more competition for letters, than collaboration on words during my short but fun experiment.

    What does this site teach us about anonymous collaboration?

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    Charging for Media Streams from Events

    I haven't been able to find any details (broken links) but Stowe Boyd mentioned today on his blog, Get Real, that he was
    "On the train en route to NYC, for the Blogging Goes Mainstream conference, hosted by Business Development Institute, and a long list of great speakers. If you can't attend, I think PR Newswire is streaming the audio out for $125."
    I've been wondering when someone was going to start charging. And I'm wondering when high price-event organizers (this one seems reasonable at $125) are going to start balking at participants who blog or podcast out of their events. There is an interesting potential tension here.

    Me? I'd like to think it is great to give out. But I realize not everyone has my odd-ball view of the world and money-making!

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    Continuous Environmental Scan - Pollard: Is this a community approach?

    Dave Pollard posted a piece last week asking us to think about where we get our ideas. It is a good article, full of sound advice. Check it out at How to Save the World
    The Idea: A nine-step process for setting up a Continuous Environmental Scan in your organization, or just for your own use."
    Now, in my obsession these days of exploring the "community perspective" of an idea (an outgrowth of our work on the Technologies for Communities report), it struck me that David has potentially described a community perspective on sharing ideas, knowledge, etc. Look at his 9 elements, particularly
    • #3 Discover Infomediaries
    • #5 Add Together, Stir and Sift
    • # 6 Add Value
    • #9 Have conversations about 'what it means'

    These are things that communities can be very good at... often better than we can do alone.

    So, how do you include your community in your continuous environmental scan? How do they include you?

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    [Via Downes]

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    Do you know a company who cares about women in technology?

    I am working to try and bring some women bloggers from outside of the US to BlogHer in July. My first target is to fund one from India and one from Europe. I wish I could personally throw in the approximately $5,000 it will take for airfare (I can find lodging), but I can only do about $250. I need to tap my wider network to help me. And you are part of that network.

    I was wondering, do any of you, dear readers, know of a company or organization that might help? Maybe one in the Bay Area who would love to have one of these women spend the day at their company as part of the trip to hear another perspective? Another voice? A company who could provide a direct grant to one or both of these women? Or better yet, even more women? I only have another $4750 to go? Let me know your thoughts. These are REALLY cool people and together, we could make it happen!

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    Practical Thoughts on User Logins from David Gammel

    David Gammel who works for the ASHA and blogs at High Context has a piece from March 2005 about the practical issues around logins . What is a useful convention? Here are a few snippets.
    "When I came to ASHA in 2000 we were using the same account number/last name scheme for access and that info was and is on every mailing label and membership card. [security risk] We then implemented a username/password system that allowed the user to create their own login name and password. Over time, we found many members had problems remembering the login name they had created for themselves. A few years later we migrated to using their e-mail address as their login name which has dramatically reduced support calls for lost user names (many of our members call us instead of using the account help tools on the site). Based on our own experience, I would recommend going with e-mail as the login name.
    David goes on to share some useful practices and "gotchas."
    * Each member must provide a unique e-mail address. Sometimes this is an issue when a spouse shares the same account and is also a member.
    * You should provide instructions on free services that members without an e-mail address can use to get one (there are still some people without e-mail addresses!). This is also useful in the spouse shared address situation.
    * Clearly state how the address will be used by the association when the members supplies it to ease privacy/spam concerns on the part of the member
    * Consider your response to members who refuse to supply you with an e-mail address but want access to the member-only content and services (I have encountered this a few times).
    * Members should be able to change their e-mail address at any time without having to re-register with the site. In technical terms, test for e-mail uniqueness but don’t use it as the primary key for the record.
    This is useful blogging. Love it. Reminds me of Lee LeFever's post today on how to blog your delicious tags. Contributions towards practice -- I LOVE IT! Thanks David and Lee. (Now I have to think about what I can contribute this week. What are YOU contributing to your world?)

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    Monday, May 02, 2005

    Just (re) Claiming My Feed

    No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster feedster:71640f54ab2330a392dbafbeac3c87e7

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    Disturbing Youth Voices

    Worth passing along, Dina's compilation of images from youth and issues of conflict and violation. Conversations with Dina. We idealize voice as all the wonderful things we want to represent about ourselves, but voice is also about pain, violation, loss. I need to be careful and remember the yin and yang to life.

    Related links:
    Ethan Zuckerman's post
    Human Rights Watch (source of kids drawings)
    Blank Noise Project (source of teen drawing above)

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    Sunday, May 01, 2005

    Bad Dream? I am a BLOGGER!

    Sometime in that Sunday-morning-post-dawn-but-really-I-CAN-sleep-in-falling-back-to-sleep I had a dream. I can't recall the details, but I was having a bad experience with someone: a store, a vendor, whatever. The situation was resolved, but tenuously and I was not really happy. The person involved was not to sure things were ok. She (I think it was a she) said something to the effect that "we've taken care of the problem, so now you will forget about it, right?" Like she had to hush me up.

    In the dream, I was walking away. I turned back and said with a very vindictive smile, "I'm a blogger." And a look of fear spread on her face.

    As I think back on this dream, it highlights two things. I'm sick, sick, sick to be dreaming of blogging, but that's not new. I dream about online bulletin board postings as well. My dreams see no boundaries between my worklife, my online and offline life. All's fair game.

    The second thing, the disturbing thing, was the sense of power implicit in my comment to the woman. No, it was my THREAT to the woman. I did not like the sense of retaliation implied, but I did like the power of having a voice that freed me from simply trying to get a business to make right on something.

    Conflicting feelings.

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    Target requires blogging skills for media relations people

    Kevin O'Keefe blogged a piece of news that I presume is being echoed across many blogs, but it foreshadows something I have been thinking: communications skill sets and job requirements are expanding to include the newer online communications skills, including blogging.

    Target requires blogging skills for media relations people
    "Target is looking for a new 'Senior Manager of Media Relations.' One of the requirements is 'Strong knowledge for Internet journalism, e.g., blogs.' Here's one of the largest retailers in the country proactively looking for someone to either be involved in publishing blogs or to monitor blogs as part of crisis communications when a story on Target breaks out on the blogosphere."
    Not only are blogging skills going to be prerequisites, but more generally good online communications skills. Last week I got the chance to have a conversation with David Millen from IBM. I was blathering that I thought everyone will need online facilitation skills and he gently and accurately got me to sharpen my message. Not everyone has a job that requires negotiating meaning and roles in groups. ;-) Not everyone is going to need to be an online facilitator and those specific skills, just like the skills of a great blogger, my be more sharply defined in some roles more than others. But I'd venture a guess that many working in business will need to be skillful online communicators at some base level.

    I was at a university open house with my son (ah, choosing a school) and we went to the Communications Department Open House. During the Q&A session I asked if they had any offerings around online communications. The response was "we teach students how to use Photoshop." Uh, wait a minute? Do you talk about emerging communications channels such as blogs or about how online communication is evolving? Nope. I mentioned this to David Weinberger and he said (I'm paraphrasing again) that he didn't see the need to have courses on blogs, etc. -- that people learn to do this on their own.

    I agree we learn much on our own, but it seems to me that if someone was entering the communications profession, their training should include an understanding of a wide range of communications media. And that the institutions offering this education keep a sharp eye not only on the past, but the present and the future. That complements what a gamer learns online, or what a teen discovers while journaling and Flikring. It complements what we learn informally from each other (which I consider CENTRAL.) But the bottom line is in many of our cultures, communication is taking a leap into a new world. Knowing about it and how to do it is an advantage in many jobs.

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    Contextual Biographies - Part 2

    Bill Ives declares his blog's purpose/identity right off the bat.
    "This blog shares ideas and hopes to generate discussion on the use of portals, blogs, and knowledge management to provide value to organizations through practical applications. New trends and technologies are covered with a switch to music and food on the weekends."
    I love the weekend switch. It acknowledges that most of us have more than one layer, community, identity and focus. Go Bill!

    But I do have two questions. Where is the RSS feed? You have no way for me to comment? Am I missing something?

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    Contextual Biographies - Part 1

    Still on my roll about voice and identity as we interact online...

    I was catching up with Jeanne Sessum's blog this morning and saw her pointer to a page on Melanie McBride's blog, Chandrasutra. Melanie offers her readers some context about her and her blog.

    In discussions this past week with Lilia and others, we kept surfacing this theme about how we have gotten to know people by repeated exposure to their thinking through their writings (in online spaces, blogs, etc.) One read -- you get an idea. Many reads, you get a sense of that person. Peel the onion (or any other handful of related metaphors.)

    Yet another reason we let people we've never met F2F stay in our homes, as well.

    Lack of context may also be why we skip or ignore the voices of others. We have no thread of connection to enable us to reach beyond our "familiar." I think following links in trusted blogs, step by step, sometimes offers us that thread to places we would otherwise never go.

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