Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina: Blog for Relief Day - September 1

OK, lets kick blog butt today, September 1st (well, I'm posting the night before because of schedul foo), for Hurricane Katrina folks. A lot of us have been seeking ways to help, but cash always hits the spot. Let's make a one day pump of infusion to the Gulf Coast. If you have a blog, first give, then jump in and pass the meme along.

I'm going with the generic suggestion; I'll give to the American Red Cross, but if you are so moved, check out all the other charities on Instapundit's ever-updated list. If you want other action items, scroll to some of my earlier posts. The

For the blog aggregator page for the day, go to TLB.

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The Truth Laid Bear: Hurricane Relief Blog Day: 9/1/05

I'll let this snip speak for itself.

The Truth Laid Bear: Hurricane Relief Blog Day: 9/1/05: "Hurricane Relief Blog Day: 9/1/05
August 30, 2005 12:41 PM

Hugh Hewitt suggests 'perhaps the bloggers could agree to set a day for a unified blog beg' and Glenn suggests this Thursday, September 1.

I'm in. Here's what I'll do here at TTLB:

1) Set up a registration page where bloggers planning to join in can say so, including providing information (if they like) about where they are blogging from and the charity they suggest donations to.

2) Make the database as publicly accessible and available as I can, so that anybody else who wants to create an aggregation page or otherwise use the list can do so.

3) On the day of the event, I'll create a dedicated community page for it, and run that as TTLB's front page.

Other suggestions are welcome, and I'll try to think of how else I can help during the day today. I should have the registration page up and running tonight..."
(The registration page is up.)


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Blogday 2005: Melissa Middleton

Blog #4 is Melissa Middleton's Multiple Middletons, another Share Your Story blog. (Can you tell I love 'em?)

Melissa is the mother of quadruplets, one of whom passed. She shares her daily life with Benjamin, Donovan and Callie, and keeps her angel, Alex, by her heart at all times. Her blog has given us a glimpse into the personalities of all her children, her philosophy on life and parenting. And like Michelle and LogansMom, she is a guardian of the community, welcoming new members, responding to people's stories and sharing in the waves of joy and grief that go through the community.

There are over 70 blogs on Share - and blogs were just made available on July 26th. Does this tell you something about the value of sharing your story and blogs as a medium for that sharing?


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Blogday 2005: Life With My 3 Boybarians

BLoday blog #3 is from another amazing Shareyourstory mom. "LogansMom28w is the parent of precious preemie Logan, plus two other beautiful boys. Her blog is a delightful combination of the tender realities of parenting a preemie (Logan has to have O2, so his life can get complicated with that alone) and her hysterically funny musings on mothering 3 boys. What is great about LogansMom is that she not only blogs, but like Michele Reeves, she is a strong leader in the Share community. I don't know how she finds time to blog and to be so active around the site. But these Share parents are simply amazing people. Check it out.

I also want to say, Share is full of amazing bloggers, and these are new voices, folks, and compelling writers. But what is so fantastic about this community is that the blogs are a manifestation of that community, not isolated voices. This is very exciting to me.


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Blogday 2005: Michelle Reeves

Here is #2. I really wanted to share some of the blogs from the March of Dimes online comunity for parents of preemies and babies in the NICU, Share Your Story. I'll start with Michele Reeves blog. Michele is one of the "moms" of Share. Not only does she share the story of her daughter, Amanda. The Reeves family are National Ambassadors for the March of Dimes. They help people understand, at a visceral level, about the organization's mission. But Michele's blog is something more personal, tender and, well, those beautiful daily moments of life. She was one of the first members of Share, which celebrates it's first birthday today!


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Blogday 2005 : Jim Woodell's blog

(I've decided I'm going to do my blogday posts one at a time...)

Blog #1: I found Jim just today, because he linked to some thinking I'm doing here on this blog (yes, community indicators again!). His post on awareness as a community indicator was terrific, but then I kept reading and thinking, yeah, cool, yeah, great stuff. So through the kismet of a link, I met Jim today.


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Sharing Loss

Blogger Badger, who has been sharing her family's path as her husband fought cancer, posted that he has passed. Badgerings: . . .. Blogs are about life and death. They can be intoxicating expressions of human life... and profound tolls of death. Beams to you, Badger and Badgerboy.

Communities don't shirk from life nor from death. It is all part of the circle. Mr. Badger's death is on the same human stage as the loss in the US Gulf coast. It is part of our world... and of our blogs. I'm sobered today, by all these feelings.

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Are you a geek who wants to help post-Katrina?

Staci on Trust but Verify passes along a suggestion from someone trying to reconnect with family post Katrina. Here is the idea:
Trust But Verify: Hurricane Katrina: What Can We Do?: "Taking Philip's idea beyond Google alone, what if the sites making a push in local search applied some of those resources to New Orleans and other ares battered by the hurricane? Instead of pointing to restaurants and business that no longer exist, provide zip-code information centers incorporating data, maps and photos from FEMA, the Corps of Engineers and other resources. Create spaces for people to meet online -- and publicize it. Create an uber-directory that pulls it all -- volunteer efforts and professional -- in one place. Work together to span sites and portals.

Being local is easy when it's about the best place for dinner. Helping communities recover from disaster, now there's a test."
I don't know anyone at Google nor am I a geek, but I figure if enough of us spread ideas on our blogs, someone with the smarts and resources to respond will be reached.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wiki Work- KatrinaHelp

KatrinaHelp wiki is up and running if you can think of how you can help. Along with countless blogs, online communities and websites, people are using the net to reach out. NowPublic has a missing person's board. Here are a few other links:More community indicators. Tragedy can bring out the best in some folks.


links to this post | News for New Orleans blogs news updates

Another example of innovation in crisis. WWLBlog with short | News for New Orleans, Louisiana s. Communities respond with innovation in times of crisis.


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Times-Picayune: Hurricane Katrina 2005

On Hurricane Katrina 2005 I saw this:
"Today the paper is being distributed electronically only."
In strange irony, the paper "publishes" in a town mostly without electricity, but certainly without mobility. Friends, family and interested from afar are probably getting more news than the people of New Orleans. My heart goes out to those on the Gulf Coast, and my mind tries to wrap around this strange world we are living in.

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Are you going to participate in Blogday?

Sour Duck pointed me to Blogday, which is tomorrow, August 31st.

Here's what it is about:
"What will happen on BlogDay?

For one long moment on August 31st, bloggers from all over the world will post recommendations of 5 new Blogs, preferably Blogs that are different from their own culture, point of view and attitude. On this day, blog surfers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, unknown Blogs, celebrating the discovery of new people and new bloggers."
I'm going to play! Are you? I am already thinking about discoverable blogs.

3108 This!

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Monday, August 29, 2005

RSS Feeds on Yahoo Groups

I've been starting to subscribe to RSS feeds for my Yahoo groups. First, I have to say, I deeply regret they are headlines only. I want full feeds. (Yahoo friends, are you reading?) Second, I've started to wonder how many members use the feeds. And how I might find out. Or how many other non members are reading via the feeds. I have a slice of this latter data.

Two that I monitor closely are the Online Facilitation Group (which I started) and the Com-Prac group (hosted by my friend John Smith).

On onfac we have 1237 subscribers (and recently I cleaned out about 200 bouncing addresses and have 70 currently bouncing - knowing who is really "in" is hard in Yahoo). According to Bloglines (just one piece of the RSS sub action) there are people 26 subscribed to the feed.

On comprac there are 1308 (with currently about 290 bouncing subs) subscribers to the group and 6 on Bloglines.

Some of my questions are:
* Do those who sub via RSS not worry about getting email messages? Is there a correlation to the nomail option and subscribers to RSS?
* Is a headline feed of enough use to encourage adoption?
* Does using RSS feeds change how people interact with the group?

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Community Indicators: hello and good day

I love it when people write things that resonate and make me smile. Better even, when they can help me learn as well. Debra Roby had a great post on her blog, A Stitch in Time about the Community Path.
"Now all but the dullest reader will see that travelling a path is an easy allegory for moving through life... How many different ways do we pass by each other?

In real life... driving on the freeways, standing in line at a store, sitting at nearby tables in the coffeeshop. Online, we might be reading blogs, making comments, reading the same mailing list. We interact in casual ways in all these situations.

All fraught with chances for misunderstandings... or ripe for finding commonality.

How can we as a SOCIETY develop habits/guidelines/methods of interaction that acknowledge each person in an inclusive way? How can we build a 'community of the path' on every path in life?"
This idea of "path" jives with something Bill Anderson said to me today about what this us/them thing comes down to for him. The path HE chooses. Our ability to decide how we offer up our communication and receive (or not) the communications of others. If we choose civility, seriousness, humor, snarkiness, nastiness, grace. It is all in our realm to choose. And to vary our choices depending on the context.

Oh, and I found Debra's post because she used the community_indicators tag. Just made me smile, even though I have a hell of a sore throat and feel rather physically miserable. Maybe that's a sign of life!


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visual delight: vitriolica webb's ite

Now here is a woman who knows the power of a visual in a blog. vitriolica webb's ite. And humor... oh yea!

In my musing about online competencies, one thing comes up over and over again: visual literacy. The ability to convey ideas visually. To learn from visuals. Here is a beautiful living example.

For more on visual literacy as part of a larger compentency in our new world, see The Report of the 21st Century Literacy Summit which crossed my desk via Stephen Downes.

A profound shift is taking place in the way people communicate and express themselves. Fueled by media that increasingly are crafted for a global audience, pervasive access to goods and services from ever more distant locales, access to networks and communication services that span the planet, and generational ties between youth that transcend borders, a new concept of language — and what it means to be literate — is evolving. Unlike the traditional notions of language and literacy, which are primarily unimodal and textual, this new form of communication and self-expression occurs multimodally, incorporating visual and aural elements with textual elements, and an immediacy which itself is a dimension of the new language. Technology, which has done much to make the creation and dissemination of written communication a familiar everyday occurrence for most people, plays an especially important role in these new forms as well. Tools that allow sophisticated manipulation and creation of images, video, and sound are more and more commonplace, and they are especially well known among those most fluent in these new language forms.

[vitroilica via Bev]

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Community Indicators: Creative response in disasters

Gabriel Shirley emailed earlier about how he was keeping in touch with his extended family in New Orleans. His response so intrigued me I asked him to blog it. Voila!
"y mother's side of the family is from New Orleans and the surrounding area, including the parts of Mississippi hardest hit by hurricane Katrina over the past day.

My aunt and uncle evacuated, another uncle works in the emergency room, and other friends and neighbors are whereabouts unknown at this point. Of course the family is worried and hungry for news.

A cousin of mine in Atlanta, realizing he would be asked the same questions by so many family members, quickly set up a listserv and invited the family to join. Now members of the clan from Phoenix to Seattle to New York and Washington DC are tuned into this ad-hoc 'family network.'

At the moment, we believe our people are safe (though we haven't heard from everyone yet) and the big question is: how much flooding and wind damage has been done to the evacuated house my elderly aunt will one day return to?
Ad hoc communication networks are a community indicator, a sign of resiliance when ordinary "lines" are down.

In this case, offline used online. In online groups, offline alternative means of communication are often deployed, particularly during any sort of disruption.

In the meantime, here's beams to the Gulf Coast.


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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Do you knit, crochet or quilit and live near San Jose

My mom is back to blogging for the non profit she coordinates in the Bay Area of California. San Jose Project Linus coordinates volunteer knitters, crocheters and quilters to make blankets for kids who are facing health issues or other challenges in their lives, from newborns in the NICU to kids facing disasters or trauma. While some of us were staying with her and my dad during Blogher, we encouraged her to restart her blog. So drop by. Leave her a comment so she knows the world sees her blog. And if you are a potential blanketeer in the area, let her know and you too can make blankets for Project Linus!

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Reminder: BlogWalkSeattle September 2

If you are interested in the topic of blogs and (un)conferences and would like an invite to BlogWalk Seattle, email me at nancyw at fullcirc dot com. Who should come? People with familiarity and practice in blogs and events and interested in the intersection of the two. For more details, see BlogWalkWiki : BlogWalkSeattle


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Thursday, August 25, 2005

I Don't K now: Call 2

Earlier this week Bill Anderson and I hosted a telephone call for bunch of us. We had a great hour together musing about the "Us/Them" phenomena online. We got to know each other a bit and surfaced a ton of things we want to explore further. On Tuesday, August 30th, we plan to convene again at 11am PDT, 2pm EDT, and 7pm GMT. If you are interested, contact either Bill and I (nancyw at fullcirc dot com). We'll send you the bridge line, wiki information and fill you in if you were not on the first call. We are still figuring out together what we want to talk about. So let us know ASAP and you can join the deliberation.


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JCMC Vol 10 Issue 4 - Online Communities

I received this in email August 17th and have not gotten around to blogging it. I wanted to have something thoughtful to say after reading the articles. FAT CHANCE. So I'm just passing it along... This is a two-fer edition of the Journal of Computer Mediated Communications.

JCMC Vol 10 Issue 4
Special Theme: Computer-Mediated Collaborative Practices
Special Theme: Online Communities
Jenny Preece & Diane Maloney-Krichmar, Guest editors

1. Online Communities: Design, Theory, and Practice
Jenny Preece & Diane Maloney-Krichmar
This special thematic section brings together nine articles that provide a rich composite of the current research in online communities.
2. Evolution of an Online Forum for Knowledge Management Professionals: A Language Game Analysis
Anne-Laure Fayard & Gerardine DeSanctis
Using Wittgenstein's language game framework, we analyze the evolution of an online discussion forum of information systems professionals in India.
3. Community Networks: Where Offline Communities Meet Online
Andrea Kavanaugh, John M. Carroll, Mary Beth Rosson, Than Than Zin, & Debbie Denise Reese
This study describes findings from longitudinal survey data on the use and social impact of community computer networking in the Blacksburg Electronic Village, a mature online community.
4. Debating the Events of September 11th: Discursive and Interactional Dynamics in Three Online Fora
Laura Robinson
This study examines the constituencies, patterns of interaction, and ideologies in Brazilian, French, and American online fora created to discuss the events of September 11th, 2001.
5. Internet Community Group Participation: Psychosocial Benefits for Women with Breast Cancer
Shelly Rodgers & Qimei Chen
This study finds positive psychosocial benefits of Internet community group participation for women with breast cancer.
6. Evaluation of a Systematic Design for a Virtual Patient Community
Jan Marco Leimeister & Helmut Krcmar
This article describes the evaluation of the design elements and factors that contributed to the success of a virtual community for cancer patients on the German-speaking Internet.
7. Picturing Usenet: Mapping Computer-Mediated Collective Action
Tammara Combs Turner, Marc A. Smith, Danyel Fisher, & Howard T. Welser
This work presents visualizations of several aspects and scales of Usenet that combine to highlight the range of variation in communication found in newsgroups.
8. Overcoming Mass Confusion: Collaborative Customer Co-Design in Online Communities
Frank Piller, Petra Schubert, Michael Koch, & Kathrin Möslein
Building on empirical management research, we propose the use of online communities for collaborative customer co-design in order to reduce customer uncertainty and risk.
9. Organizational Virtual Communities: Exploring Motivations Behind Online Panel Participation
Terry Daugherty, Wei-Na Lee, Harsha Gangadharbatla, Kihan Kim, and Sounthaly Outhavong
This article analyzes online panels—opt-in, informed consent, privacy-protected subject pools recruited for Web-based research—as represening a community of participants.
10. Using Social Psychology to Motivate Contributions to Online Communities
Kimberly Ling, Gerard Beenen, Pamela Ludford, Xiaoqing Wang, Klarissa Chang, Xin Li, Dan Cosley, Dan Frakowski, Loren Terveen, Al Manumur Rashid, Paul Resnick, & Robert Kraut
This study tests design principles derived from social psychological theories in four field experiments involving members of an online movie recommender community.

Special Theme: Computer-Mediated Collaborative Practices
Caroline Haythornthwaite, Guest editor

11. Introduction: Computer-Mediated Collaborative Practices
Caroline Haythornthwaite
This special thematic section includes seven articles that explore collaboration around and through information and communication technologies.
12. Factors Influencing the Co-Evolution of Computer-Mediated Collaborative Practices and Systems: A Museum Case Study
Paul Marty
This article presents the results from a longitudinal case study of the design and development of a collaborative process to pack and move a museum's collections.
13. Instant Messaging for Collaboration: A Case Study of a High-Tech Firm
Anabel Quan-Haase, Joseph Cothrel, & Barry Wellman
The findings from this study show that while instant messaging leads to higher connectivity and new forms of collaboration, employees also use it to distance themselves from superiors.
14. The Dynamics of Sensemaking, Knowledge, and Expertise in Collaborative, Boundary-Spanning Design
Susan Gasson
This ethnographic study reveals how a project group deals with the contradiction between distributed knowledge in boundary-spanning collaborative processes and the expectation that software systems will provide unified, codified knowledge.
15. Knowledge Transfer and Collaboration in Distributed U.S.-Thai Teams
Saonee Sarker
The validity of the "4 C Framework" of knowledge transfer is examined in the context of cross-cultural distributed teams engaged in information systems development.
16. Collaboration Online: The Example of Distributed Computing
Anne Holohan & Anurag Garg
What makes a collaborative Distributed Computing project successful? This article reports on data from quantitative and qualitative surveys of participants on several online forums.
17. The Use of Instant Messaging in Working Relationship Development: A Case Study
Hee-Kyung Cho, Matthias Trier, & Eunhee Kim
This article examines how instant messaging systems help employees of a Korean organization improve their relationships with their coworkers within and across organizational boundaries.
18. Comparing How Students Collaborate to Learn About the Self and Relationships in a Real-Time Non-Turn-Taking Online and Turn-Taking Face-to-Face Environment
Mia Lobel, Michael Neubauer, & Randy Swedburg
A matched study compares participation in collaborative learning in two environments: a traditional university classroom, and the synchronous LBD eClassroom©. The data analysis includes interaction diagrams.

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Community Indicators: Artifacts

In the Communities of Practice domain, there are some great insider terms (jargon). One of them is artifacts.

“Artifacts are the tangible things people create or use to help them get their work done. When people use artifacts, they build their way of working right into them.” --- Hugh Beyer and Karen Holtzblatt: Contextual Design: Defining Customer-Centered Systems (via here)

A beautiful example of an artifact is this video from Bar Camp (let it load first to really enjoy.) (video/quicktime Object)

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Community Indicators: Member Directories

Seattle Weblogs - the left nav bar is one of the more comprehensive list of bloggers in the greater Seattle area. When we start trying to list ourselves and each other, to somehow visualize or define our "group" -- that's a community indicator.

(So is when the media takes notice!)

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Collaboration Rules

Via Jack Vinson (see his good review of this site) Harvard Business Review Online | Collaboration Rules
"Extraordinary group efforts don’t have to be miraculous or accidental. An environment designed to produce cheap, plentiful transactions unleashes collaborations that break through organizational barriers."
Read the articles, but if short on time, start with Jack's highlights. I loved "Build Vibrant Human Networks." Oh, and the line "The Power of Trust and Applause." Mmmm... collaboralicious.

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Blogs, Forums, Us and Them

Via Stephen Downes I just read a post that I HIGHLY recommend to anyone trying to make sense of tools for groups and communities online. Alan Levine, who from his post may be from the blog sea, talks about the one-sided perspective of the forum dwellers, or as he calls them, the tree dwellers in Conversations: Tree People and Cave Dwellers

This post is important for at LEAST two reasons:

* Our perspectives are highly informed by our experiences. To judge a tool is to live in and with it with other, not just to tour it solo. It is the collective experiences (and they vary) that inform our perspectives.

* We still have some very interesting us/them issues between blogs and forums (and for this, see Lee LeFever's work on combining blogs and forums. In other words, this is not a binary choice as Alan points out with his mention of Teemu Arina project, which I really need to check out because it sounds like some of the fantasies I've had!)

I am doing more and more work that combines and remixes tools. What I am learning is
  • The success of a mix depends on the group working with the tools. Some folks have no problem working across an unbundled set of tools. For others, this is a deep mire of confusion and they prefer things gathered under one roof.
  • Share conventions that can work across tools are useful for groups. Clarity on using tool A for X and B for Y - at least at the start - provides a useful foundation. The balance/flip side of this is the less explanation you have to do, the better. This is not about control. This is about balancing control and emergence across diverse personal preferences in balance with the needs of a group. Groups with a higher priority on production, shared work, deadlines, etc. have different needs than emergent networks. And I'd add, some of my assumptions about what any one group needs are often wrong and counter intutitive. So for those of us dreaming of and designing online environments, watch for bias! ours!
  • For some of us RSS is nirvana. For others it is irrelevant. We need to better understand why as tools evolve. Some people luxuriate the aggregation of disparate information streams. Others prefer them quite separate.
  • When combining blogs and forums, watch carefully for contradictory conventions between the tools, including system language (post, reply, etc.) It is amazing how much language permeates these two types of tools and how weird it is when this language gets under one roof.
That's a few. I hope Lee chimes in with a post on Common Craft!

See also the technorati tag for distributed conversations.

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Communities of Practice Start Up Guide

John Smith reminded me of this great reasouce from Etienne Wenger: CoP Start-up Guide (application/pdf Object)

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Flickr: Group Therapy

As Flickr has evolved and grown, it has added groups which include both the visual and text. SBPoet pointed me to their group for group moderators/facilitators. I love the name: Flickr: Group Therapy.

As I read through their threads (great transparency) it dawned on me that they were inventing a whole new segment of online facilitation that has to do with images and tags. Wow! I love it!

This emergence of a community of practice around their community roles seems like a community indicator. Yup, I'm a broken record today.


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Community Indicators: Blog Rituals and Recurring Events

The various food blog convergences continue to be, in my mind, community indicators. I love it when they involve chocolate. In the spirit of "Is My Blog Burning" Friday's, here is Wine Blogging Wednesdays. Announcing WBW13: Like Wine For Chocolate

It's worth noting that IMBB now has their own website and things seem far more organized than when I first became familiar with the ritual.


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Community Transience

Jim has a thoughtful post, Convergence and Procreation where he muses on community indicators, ways to find communities and the emergence of something that may indicate a really important change: transient communities. He goes on to use the term "fluid" too, which I like. (Now, I'll leave aside if these groups are communities. That's another topic.)

This idea of transience dovetails with what Etienne Wenger has talked about with multimembership. (Etienne, I wish you blogged!)

First, a bit on the transience from Jim. I am bolding some things worth highlighting from my perspective.
"To tie this into my recent posts about rankings and tracking of expertise on the net, I want to note the transience of thought on the individual, the right to multiple associations, and the healthy aspects of not being an expert.

These groups and communities on the net are well formed. And, yes, the conversation is well formed and on-going, but we should be wary of rankings that build up expert or superblogger status on given individuals.


1. Ad Hoc Groups are created to solve problems
2. Blogs' subject matter is transient
3. Community is fluid

This leads me to wonder how we would establish relevance of blog posters by community indicators when the communities themselves are in flux by design. Communities defined by a given area of interest will tend to highlight those who are perhaps overly focused on those areas of interest. It may yield a search of those who are tunnel visioned and not those who are innovative."
OK, Jim, I hope you say more about what you mean by "well formed." I'm nodding in firm agreement about the transience (or always mutating) thoughts, multimembership and the non-expert value.

I want to tease out the intersection between transience and multimembership -- I think there is an image in here somewhere. The web environment makes the transience really easy. The multimembership, especially if you can't visualize that membership because of its ad hoc nature, becomes hard to track after a certain number of communities. How do I stay connected to these moving, fluid conversations and people? Where once I could "point" to my online communities through a password protected portal, now my community constellation is this ever shifting fractal. How many people can conceptualize and manage this in a busy life? Is there a technological solution? A change in the way we think and an emphasis on impermanent and short term interactions? At what cost? There is value on all ends of the spectrum. Will we tip one way?

Now on ad hoc groups created to solve problems; I'm not sure we are there yet. I think they form to discuss the problems, but we still are challenged to move forward to action within ad hoc structure. Well, at least some of us are.

Finally, the fluidity of community. I really want to ponder on this some more as I start thinking, or confusing, networks and community here. But then I think, hm, this is a new form. Unnamed?

Related post here.


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So What IS a Community Indicator? v1

Warning... long blog post!

After sliding into this (un)project on “community indicators” over the last month, it’s time to try and explain myself.

My friends have been asking for a definition. I hedged. I’ll confess, I worried. By defining it, would I squish the life out of an idea? Ah, me of little faith.

Today I decided I’d go for it because, hey, "trust in your community" is a community indicator. Having friends who keep kindly and gently bugging you to make yourself clearer is a community indicator. So if I am living in this pool of indicators, I certainly can make a stab at describing community indicators in the context of online communities.

First, the concept of "community indicators" is not a new idea. Community indicators have been used in geographic based communities for some time. (See 1 below.) I'm more specifically interested in distributed and online community indicators. Or the intersection between online and F2F communities and their respective indicators.

Second, this is still half baked. This is my first try. I hope you, my community, will ask me hard questions, offer suggestions for improvement so that in a week or two, we’ll actually have something useful. Yes, that activity would be yet another community indicator. Recursive, eh?

Grounding: What is a Community?
Before we can talk about community indicators, we have to have some common ground about what we mean by “community.” I tried this a few years back with an article, How Some Folks Have Tried to Define Community and What is a Virtual Community and Why Would You Ever Need One?. Earlier this year Jake the Community guy posted his musings which were picked up and expanded upon here. Good stuff.

I’ll offer my definition, knowing full well that it is insufficient to describe the human group called community, and the myriad of ways we experience and understand it.
Community: A group of people (online and/or F2F) who regularly interact around a shared purpose or interest and form relationships over time. Or more informally, a gathering of people with a shared interest or purpose who communicate, connect, and get to know each other better over time.
Signs of Life: A starting point
But wait – there are all kinds of interactions that provide the catalyst for relationship and shared purpose, but which may not be within the more defined boundaries of a community. Networks are such a powerful force these days and the line between a network and a community online can be hard to see. We observe signs of life all the time as people connect online – strangers read each others’ blogs and follow their tags. These “signs of life” (SoLs) ( ) come before community indicators (CIs for shorthand here).

Examples of signs of life are adoption of tags in online networks like, blogrolls on blogs of people the blog owner does not have a relationship with, kindness to strangers, notices and pictures on a F2F bulletin board in a café or a ripple of an idea across blogs that never settles in one place, but starts showing us new people with whom we might want to connect.

SoL are like weather reports. They give us an inkling of what might be coming. They are like ideas that wake us up in the night, but which we can only partially remember in the morning. Like the first bulbs peeking up through the snow to assure us spring is coming, even if we have to wait two more months. SoLs reassure us that this is a human endeavor and community may emerge.

Confession: I don't know where signs of life stop and community indicators begin. And sometimes I can't tell them apart, so this may not be a useful tag.

Community Indicators
If signs of life are flags for the possibility of community, community indicators are the signs that community is or has formed. As Shawn Callahan wrote, they are a bit like indicator species in an ecosystem.
I’m not sure if the following analogy has already been drawn, but community indicators are like indicator species; they indicate the health of a the community/ecosystem. Green frogs are my favourite ecosystem example-albeit an inaccurate and imprecise one. If a green frog is an indicator species of a healthy ecosystem, introducing a gross of green frogs doesn’t improve the ecosystem’s health.
Community indicators are patterns of group member behavior that help us pay attention to the emergence and life of a community. Some examples include when people start invent language together.; when we start talking about heart, and love, when we feel comfortable enough to start talking about difficult issues and we stick around for the end of the conversation, not just the start. When we start caring for the group as well as ourselves as individuals. When we decide it is time to go F2F; time to share our chocolate; to create t-shirts and badges to identify ourselves.

Indicators are not all strength-based. Like anything, there is the light and dark of community and light and dark of a community’s indicators. This is not the utopian view. Dark indicators might include signs of exclusion, power and control struggles, banning and red-lining. Communities have their weaknesses that are visible in indicators.

So why?
So why are community indicators useful, particularly when we are talking about distributed community which mostly manifest online? Again, Shawn wrote,
“These indicators help people inside the community understand and nurture their ‘environment’…”
Bingo. They help us become aware of our community, visualize it, understand it and can trigger our practices to nurture and support the community. After over a year of blogging, I have gone from seeing the practice of blogging as a predominantly individual act to one that is highly networked and often part of community life. I had to immerse myself in the practice to see those signs. Thus my interest in trying to describe them.

Seb Paquet taught me my first explicit blogging community indicator: welcoming. When Seb noticed a new person blogging who he knew or was interested in, he blogged a welcome post, linking to that person’s blog and, if available, a picture. Immediately Seb connected me to his community and expanded mine. I now follow that practice, which has been labeled by one of those I’ve welcomed as “kindness.” I like that!

It is my sense that if we pay attention to community indicators, we can pay attention to and have stronger communities. Change starts with awareness. Indicators help us with awareness.

Now here comes the protective part. Are there ways in which we should NOT use (abuse) community indicators? Again, Shawn Callahan said it well:
but, please, please, please don’t turn them into management targets.
My reluctance to define community indicators probably has some foundation in this fear. I often work with organizations applying community of practice principles and principles. The issue of “return on investment” and measurement always comes up. It is important. It has a place. But there is this line, when crossed, starts using measurement in a way that it squeezes the life out of a community. (Hey, that might be an indicator!) It is a balancing act. If we over measure, over describe, we can destroy the very thing we are trying to nuture.

What is the Community Indicator (un)project?
So far I have been blogging examples of community indicators. A list of recent posts can be found below. I tag each of those posts with the tags community_indicators or signsoflife. I have also tagged other web materials using the same tags with In the past few weeks, others have started picking up the tag and expanding the idea and example base. Anyone is invited to join: this is an ad hoc (un)project. Just tag along.

What next?
So now we have a “scratch” definition. Tell me what you think about it. Share how you might use signs of life and community indicators. Their strengths and weaknesses in the practice of community life. My next task is to start pulling out the indicators into some sort of list and see what patterns might emerge. No promises as to when I’ll get that going.

Resources & References
(1) There is an historical meaning to “community indicator” that comes from the community development domain and which informs my thinking about community indicators. From comes this definition: “Community indicators are broadly defined to involve a system of measures pertaining to “quality” in community life and development. These indicators may address a variety of community domains and so, for example, may include measures of economic well being, consumer well being, social well being, environmental well being, health-related well being, among others. These measures may be subjective or objective, qualitative or quantitative. The level of analysis is the community, which may be a neighborhood, town, city, county, or large metropolitan region. Indicators may be used to evaluate current community conditions, determine influences on those conditions, and identify possible outcomes of policies pertaining to those conditions.”

My recent Community Indicator/Signs of Life Posts


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Community Indicators: Difficult conversations

I have a sense of being in community when I can have a difficult conversation within it and have the support and strength to stay in it till the end. Where it is "worth it" to go the extra mile. Shelly shares about A Difficult Conversation.
I’ve been involved with a rather intriguing conversation over at Phil Ringnalda’s. I hesitated to point to it, as when you read the comments, some of you may be disappointed in me. But for all my faults, I’ve not been one to hide my decisions, though I think it would have made it easier to get a job if I had.
We don't always have to engage or stay in difficult conversations. Walking away may also be an indicator. But I find personally I'm more likely to stay "in the game" when "in community." How about you?


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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Community Indicators: Community Bulletin Boards (f2f)

Ed Vielmetti adds a visual kicker into the community_indicators project. LOVELY! Cafe Ambrosia pictures and postcards on Flickr.


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Welcome to the Blogosphere, Joy!

Via Koan I learned that Jory Des Jardin's mom, Joy, has started a blog. I am so happy to point to Joy and to welcome you to the blogosphere, Joy, because of a couple of things. But first, take a peek at The Joy of Six.... I love it when moms have a sense of humor! :-)

So why does Joy bring me some joy? First, because she and Jory both blog. There is something that I have felt in reading Jory's blog that show me some of the mysteries of family bonds. And I love that. I learn from that. Now we get Jory's mom - beyond the comments in Jory's blog. Nice progression, eh?

Second, I'm happy to read Joy because my mom started a blog for her non profit work last year but I did not have a lot of other blogs to point her to by women over 55, or 65, etc. In other words, the blogs of moms of my peers (most of whom are younger than me!). As social creatures, I think we are more comfortable when we see others around us jumping into something new.

Welcome, Joy!

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Watermark: Blogger Block

The poet becomes a visual artist/comin. Check this out. Watermark: Blogger Block

Thanks to another amazing Flickr hack. I'm gonig to have to make a magazine cover. I am weak. Definitely a sign of life and if you check out the group, a community indicator! I'm loving visual indicators these days.

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Dispatches From Blogistan: trackback demystified

Suzanne Stefanac lifts some fog around trackbacks (which have mystified me!) trackback demystified
"Trackback is a little tricky to explain, but the feature is handy and worth taking a moment to understand. In a nutshell, a trackback link beneath a blog entry is similar to a permalink, but with a trick up its sleeve: It allows individuals to notify you and your readers that they’ve responded to your entry on their own blogs."

Are trackbacks signs of life? Community indicators? And yes, I know, I have not explained myself. I'm trying to have more discipline and work more, read less blogs, blog less. :-)


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Saturday, August 20, 2005

A chocolate aggregation blog

I'm in trouble � Blog Archive � Truffles Classes on make chocolate truffles on 43 Things

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Global BlogHer Panel Video - Thanks Renegade!

Renegade, of Luxomedia, videod a bunch of Blogher panels. (beta)
"'When Globalization is Good for Women' panel discussion at Blogher 2005
With: Bev Traynor, Noriko Takiguchi, Anna John of SepiaMutiny, Lilia Efimova, and Nancy White reading a letter from Dina Mehta."
Take a view!

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Friday, August 19, 2005

I'm thrilled and thankful to see others starting to use the tag. A big thank you to Gail, ThatWoman, Sour Duck, Lilia, Tom and Beth. If I forgot ya, holler!

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Community Centric Blog

Damn, where have I been that I did not know about ccm . blog? Not a lot of volume, but some tasty bits that ring some chimes with my community_indicators project. Here are a few snippets:

From July 27
Zine Community

The zine community is one of the great pervasiveness communities in Portland. A freely expressive subset of indy journalists and pre-Live Journal teens.

The Zine symposium is next week and the organizers (TRUE facilitators) are taking a leaderless community and providing a forum for people to find places to stay, a forum for discuss and most interestingly providing an experience completely unique to their own community. They realize that when you encourage people to finally speak out freely on their beliefs and opinions, there may be conflict. They are addressing it head on with peace keepers and volunteers from all groups to help resolve conflict. They want everyone to feel safe and secure in their free expression and are finding new ways to allow that to happen. They are also calling for discussion, debate and learning in a blatant and important way. Viva La Zine Symposium!
I love it when people talk about conflict, rather than avoid it or worse, pretend it doesn't exist. Of course, I am also a fan of that F word, Facilitator! :-)

June 22
Communities of Prisons and Pipebands

As an outsider, how can we even begin to understand the subtle rituals and rules within a community so foreign to us? I've had a lot of questions about prisons, rights of prisoners, experiments in alternatives and actual methods for helping inmates to thrive on the "outside" so when I sat next to a 17 year corrections officer veteran of Rijkers Island (on his way westward to play in his 28 piece pipe band), I was thankful. My first line of quetsionning just made me look naive but what followed were some inisghts into this strange community.
Subtle rituals and rules... yup!

From April 28
Community as barrier

Where is the line between important trust bonds within a community and isolation from the external world that breeds distrust of "the other"?
A recognition of the dark side of community. As much of a Pollyanna as I am, I deeply appreciate holding both the dark and light in mind. Thanks, CCB!

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Event Notes: Architecting Community and Collaboration Solutions

Via Lee, great notes by Ron Lichty from Eric Eugene Kim's Architecting Community and Collaboration Solutions Event held in July in the Bay Area. Lots of good stuff to read.

Sharing notes is a community indicator too!

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Mitch Ratcliff and Blog Clouds

I have only had half an eye on the discussions about how to get beyond "top x" list and visualizing relevant blog aggregations. But in my reading, I came across this quotes from Mitch Ratcliff. Cloudmakers R Us
"If we can solve all these problems by laying out the flow of influence, the role of trust and conflict in discussions, magical things will happen to the marketplace of ideas."
The hook here was the role of trust and conflict in discussions. This links into what Bill and I are hoping to talk about on Tuesday.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Jillane

Another colleague from this interesting world of non profits, technology, organizational development, etc. etc. has launched a blog. Jillane Smith has started blogging At the Intersection.
"So why am I doing this? Certainly there are enough blogs out there to keep all of us busy on a constant basis. Yet I'd like to see more engagement about the intersection of the various fields that overlap our work:
* technology assistance
* nonprofit management
* communications
* organizational development

to name just four. Many of us approach our work from one of these fields; probably most of us have an appreciation for the contributions of each of the others; and some number of us attempt to draw from one or more of them in our work. What we have in common is that we seek to help our clients and ourselves become effective and powerful. And most of us are driven by a desire for some sort of social change."
Welcome, Jillane!

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PRWeek Covers Share Your Story

Constantin Basturea just emailed Lee and I about a story on Share Your Story. I'm sorry, I'm so proud of them, I have to post it. Three weeks ago you edured me blathering about Blogher. Now it's Share. To those still reading, thanks for your indulgence. PRWeek Q&A: Doug Staples, March of Dimes

Published on August 18 2005
The March of Dimes has entered the blogging environment by hosting an online community, Share Your Story, for parents of premature babies.

Currently 55 parents are sharing their stories on via blogs, communicating directly with their peers, and, in the process, helping the March of Dimes with outreach and awareness. Doug Staples, SVP of strategic marketing and communications, talks with about the impetus for Share Your Story, the March of Dimes' overarching online communications strategy, and the organization's plans for the future.

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Community Indicators: Love and Heart

This piece from one of the community leaders at March of Dimes' Share Your Story (or Share as we call it) is a community indicator all wrapped up in a beautiful piece of text. Darcy has given her permission to share it here on my blog.

As a bit of context for those not following the stuff I've been writing about this site, Share is an online community for parents who have had premature baby or a baby who has spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Share is a place of amazing warmth and support. Here is Darcy's from the heart description of what Share means to her.

Aug 16, 2005 09:14pm (EST)

"OK, I admit it. I always thought those people who 'fell in love' on the internet were just nuts. Jerry Springer's next stage-show. I have always believed that a computer is impersonal; people only give you a glimpse into their lives and usually the glimpse is over-rated, over-inflated, or simply, an alter-ego of their less-glamourous real selves.

I'll confess this, too. I am beginning to understand and come around. Why? Because I have fallen in love through SHARE. No, I'm not leaving 'Mr. Darcy' for a new internet romance... rather, I've come to love these babies, their stories and their parents who day after day, selflessly and with wild abandonment come to tell their stories and share their lives. Really, I'm humbled to be a part of it. The stories told on SHARE are often of our most difficult, heart-wrentching times. We share our fears. We sob while we write or read. And we come to love eachother's children.

Ok, I've said it. I love these babies. I've never even met them. Yet, for the ones I've gotten to know... I've winced at their backfalls, cried at their set backs and leapt out of my chair in joy when one of them hits a milestone.

Messages posted about medications no longer needed make my day. I pace my kitchen when one is headed in for surgery. I feel anxious about doctor's appointments in states far away. I celebrate loose teeth, first steps, tolerated feedings and developmental milestones for babies who live thousands of miles away.

So, I get the internet love thing. I was wrong. Computers aren't impersonal. When used in a manner like SHARE uses them, this site is a gateway into meaningful lives of some really amazing kids. And I haven't even begun to talk about their parents....

I'm getting a new bumper sticker: I fell in love on SHARE."


When I talk to people about the power of online interaction, I tell them that sometimes it takes a transformational experience to see what can really happen. Darcy describes that experience. And it comes with love and heart.


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Join us for an "I Don't Know" Call August 23rd

After I posted this blog post, "Turning the Mirror Back to Me," Bill Anderson emailed me suggesting there is a lot in this “us/them” issue worth exploring. Maybe a telephone conversation? I said YES! I'm interested both from the facilitation perspective, and also because I suspect "us/them" is also a community indicator. (Yes, I promise to write something more about how I define that. Time, time, time!)

Are you interested in this topic? If so, we’d like to invite you to join us. Here is our invitation:
Nancy White and Bill Anderson want to open a discussion about how we work with the “us/them” dynamic. We invite you to participate in a telephone conference call/conversation on Tuesday, 23 August, at 11AM PDT. Participation details are below.

The primary task of this conversation is to explore the question "How can we reflect on our experiences (blogging, working and meeting in groups, ...) without falling into the familiar 'us / them' patterns?"

The title of this phone call is "I Don't Know ..." because, well, we don't know the answers. We're looking for questions. And maybe some practices that can move us beyond generalized interpretations. We look at this as a conversation about possibilities.

Please let us know if you'd like to participate by emailing Nancy at nancyw at fullcirc dot com to get the phone number and passcode. This is just so we know about how many folks to expect.

Nancy and Bill
Telcon details
Date: Tuesday, August 23rd
Time: 11am PDT, 2pm EDT, 7pm GMT
Please RSVP to Nancy to get the number
(Note: if you RSVP by commenting here and I can’t find a path back to your email, I won’t be able to send you the phone number. So warned!)


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Community Indicators: Inventing language

Sour Duck spots one:
"Bloggers have been using the term 'Blogher' in inventive and playful ways."
I see this in my son's gaming communities. I see it in communities of practice I belong to. This "inside code language" helps us distinguish ourselves as in the community. It is a barrier to entry. It is both a form of inclusion and exclusion. Ah, think about jargon and acronyms. This reminds me that community indicators are not neutral. They have light and dark sides. Something else to think/write/talk about later. Now:!

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Community Indicators: How comments help us think

This morning I'm trying to read and learn from comments posted in the last few days. Check out the comments on this post and you'll see something that is a STRONG community indicator for me: Share Your Story: Tips for Bloggers.

Denise, Chris and Sour Duck's comments helped me think out loud about the project I'm working on and improve how I'm communicating about it - particularly, offering more context! They all said what I implicitly knew from the experience, but clearly did not articulate. As a person who really thinks by saying something outloud, this sort of community support is life-giving, particularly as I physically work alone (electronically, thankfully, in many communities!).

THANK YOU Chris, Denise and Sour Duck!


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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Share Your Story: Tips for Bloggers

Just one more and then back to work...

Lee and I created a short set of "Tips for Blogging" for the Share Your Story site. A few folks have blogged about them, so I thought I'd share them.
  • Choose a title that makes sense for others - you might want to include your name or the theme of your blog.
  • Be yourself. A blog is a place to share your feelings and perspectives. Share stories about your life and observations in being a parent, or whatever you choose. Your blog is your home -- you are free to use it in any way you wish.
  • Update the blog regularly. This will keep community members coming back to read your blog and ensure that it remains at the top of the list of all blogs.
  • Read other blogs. If you're curious about where to get started, read other blogs in the Share Community. If you see something interesting, talk about it on your blog and share your perspectives.
  • Leave comments on other blogs. Everyone likes to have people reading their blogs. A way to do that is to read other blogs and comment on their entries. This lets them know you are listening and will prompt them to read your blog.
  • Use pictures. Uploading pictures to your blog is very easy and helps make connections to other Share Community members.

Tips and conventions are not only useful, but it seems to me that they can also be community indicators: where there starts to be some shared conventions that make communication and connection easier in an online community.

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"Share Your Story" Gets Notice

I have been doing a bit of tracking to see what is buzzing about the March of Dimes Share Your Story online community. I came across a couple that made me smile. I love that the community is being recognized. Here is one I wanted to share and comment upon.

From Niall Cook of Hill & Knowlton, UK: Marketing Technology : The benefits of blogging communities for charities
I just heard about a blogging community that has been set up by the March of Dimes charity in the US (roughly equivalent to Tommy's here in the UK).

Called Share Your Story, it invites people affected by premature births to create a blog on the website to... share their stories.

Forget character blogs, a-list bloggers or even corporate blogging communities - this takes some beating. You only have to read some of the posts to see how powerful collective blogging can be as a medium for both amplifying a message and bringing a cause to life. Both are things that charities need in abundance, and I still find it hard to believe that causes and even brands in the UK are not falling over themselves to be the first to do this over here. I'd be more than happy to help a good cause get something similar up and running.

It has all the benefits of a blogging community that I outlined well before we decided to create our own, and is by far the best example I have seen (including anything from the commercial sector) in terms of both design and execution. RSS feeds, comments and permalinks are all present, as are some 'tips and suggestions for being a good blogger'...

Well done to everyone involved. You should be really proud of what you have achieved. If I only have one criticism, is that I had to go to your main site to give you a donation."
First, Nial, thank you for noticing! The community is proud. The team is beaming, even as we squash bugs and figure out those little things that make a big difference both in terms of technology and the social design of the community. What I think is essential to share is that this community serves a real need in families' lives: support and knowing you are not alone while going through the scary experience of having a baby in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

What is so amazing about this community is that the members value it so much, they get through some of the rough patches in online community life that deter others or lead to flame wars. People have negotiated through misunderstandings, often with no intervention from me or the moderation team. They dig up resources for each other. They tell me when something needs tending to with the "host tools."

As we began the redesign last January, we talked to new and old community members to find out what they wanted. We tested our ideas with them. We took their feedback as our directive. When we launched the new look and features, they were our bug sleuths as we ironed out the wrinkles.

It is about the community. When there is a powerful need, there is a powerful response. (The March of Dimes is also launching a F2F support mechanism by deploying NICU support staff in NICUs across the country, with the first 13 already in place.)

When we enabled anyone to start a blog on July 26th, we again had a powerful response. Something like 50 new blogs since then, and many of them active. Look at the comments. No one goes unheard in Share. Everyone gets a response -- from the community, not from me the helper (I can barely call myself the community manager. They don't need a manager. Just a helper.)

What is working is the culture of community on Share. We, the design and support team (which includes Lee LeFever of CommonCraft and I supporting the design talents of Susan Lyons at the March of Dimes, the leadership of Patty Goldman, also at the MoD, and Michael Landis of WebCrossing) follow the lead of the community. That is the magic.

Lee and I are working up a more extensive case study on the community to share, but I just had to blog today. Can't help myself. Share does that to you! So thanks to all of you blogging about Share.

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Liza: BlogHer, terror and the business of compassion

Liza Sabater of Culture Kitchen sent a post to the Blogher board this morning that just rang all sorts of bells for me. I replied "BLOG IT" so we could take this conversation out to the world. Liza did (YAY!). I think it is important to read her whole post. Pulling snippets out of this one carries the danger of being used in completely unintended ways. (So it goes...).

Liza talks about the world we are opening up when we open ourselves to the world. Miriam (the Flink) says she will post some thoughts on her blog so keep an eye out there as I sense Miriam is looking to create actionable practicess out of these emerging ideas. OK, I'm getting waaaay ahead of myself. Situation normal.

Liza writes in BlogHer, terror and the business of compassion
...Meaning that from just solely putting pics of our kids up on a blog or deconstructing Condolezza Rice's hairdo, we're all of a sudden are finding ourselves in business, marketing, law, technology, entrepreneurial circles and communing with people we were never supposed to on a professional basis. If many of the women there are like me and at one point lived in a world were the meaning of making it was getting a permanent job [at a big company or in academia] with benefits and a pension plan or just marrying well and having babies; then this new world of blogs --where the personal is public and becomes marketable in many public arenas-- has become a mind-blowing experience.

So BlogHer to me is all about not just listening and learning, it's about compassion. BlogHer is an acknowledment that the barriers to entry to a myriad of worlds --enterprise, technology, finance, politics-- have been obliterated by this technology we've come to love and live by on a daily basis....

"That's where I see the potential of BlogHer growing : creating opportunities for coaching women into these new arenas, these new ways of thinking and speaking and being. Of creating networking and support opportunities for entering into this brave new world were the social barriers set-up by our 'jobbing culture' has been simple struck down with the push of a blog button."
It is about being in this world that is opening in new ways. The joys, the hassles, the risks (and yeah, some can say terrors) are all there. There is priveledge to consider as well -- those of us who can take the risks to use these new tools and ways of being. What about our sisters who may not see the path to taking those risks without losing things like jobs and children? How can that path be opened? I think Liza is on to something hot here.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Julie Leung's Blogher Bouillabaisse

A brilliant reflection of an event!Julie Leung: Seedlings & Sprouts
"This is the best I can do to try to communicate what it was like to be at Blogher and what I've been thinking about it in the past two weeks. Sit down and have a bowl...enjoy! "

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Mathemagenic: Ambiguity

Lilia posts something that also nags at me, and shows how I can embrace diverse feelings about the same thing. So if you both like and feel uncomfortable with something, what do you do with it? How do you reflect on it? How do you move forward with what seem like opposed views? How do we act while not doing OR, but instead doing AND?

Mathemagenic: learning and KM insights.
"...Growing discomfort with the discussions about linking and power, realizing that I don’t like female A-listers and the tipping point of it – strange inner resistance of adding my name to the speakers list started by Mary Hodder with the idea to make female speakers more visible."
I want to hear and see new people at conferences. I'll admit that I enjoy the opportunity to present or moderate. But I'm also worried about the same self-referential loop. How do we break out of it? Should we -- seeing how this is human nature in action? Can we?


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In praise of uncategorizable blogs

This blog post is worth reading and offers a thoughtful place to start thinking about how to start from a place of unknowingness, to reflect on one's experience and resist immediately falling into "us/them." More on this later, but wanted to share the link. Have to get work done today. Elizabeth writs
In praise of uncategorizable blogs
"Differences in taste make the world go around. I get bored by blogs that cover the same topics all the time. Very few people have enough interesting things to say about politics (or about knitting or anything else) to be worth reading day in and day out on that one subject. But a lot more people can say something interesting about each of five different subjects in the course of a week."


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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Yi-Tan Call, Monday, August 15th - BlogHer Afterthoughts - Part 2

Last week was great fun! Join us this week:
Wiki Hosting. Seed Wiki, web based solution for public and private Wikis. Affordable and free Wiki: "BlogHer Afterthoughts - Part 2
Yi-Tan Weekly Tech Call #46
Monday, August 15, 2005
Last week we talked to the first BlogHer conference's organizers, discussing their do-ocracy, the benefits of authenticity and the listening shortage in our society. In so doing, we uncovered a few interesting paths that we will follow in our next call.

This Monday, we'll focus on 'MommyBlogging,' a term some moms who blog find demeaning and others have adopted wholeheartedly (see our page on Monikers That Flipped and add your own).

To cover MommyBlogging and the places it takes us, two new guests - Jenn Satterwhite and Mindy Roberts will join last week's guests, Elisa Camahort, Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins and Nancy White. I'll be back moderating. Together, we'll ponder:

* Is MommyBlogging a fad, a tiny niche in the blogosphere or something bigger?
* What does it mean for the future of marketing?
* What does all this say about the man/woman divide? Is there one? If so, what does it do to markets? to conversations? to decisions?

Yes, there are DaddyBloggers.

An IRC Chat will be available during the call, here."

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Friday, August 12, 2005

Multiple Sclerosis Podcast and Blog

In the spirit of the nptech tag and the interesting in non profit blogging, take a look at Kim and Tod Maffin'sMultiple Sclerosis Podcast blog. This is a nice blend of text and audio elements. I'm passing the URL along to friends with or family members with MS. I suspect this site will have a community that forms around it, if it hasn't already happened. This relates to a possible community indicator: need drives community.


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Blogher Follow Up: Submit to eTech!

At Blogher, one strong recommendation to women was to both submit to speak at tech conferences and to attend them en masse and indicate what you want/like and don't want. Well, here's a biggie for those wanting to speak:
O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference - March 6-9, 2006: "O'Reilly Media invites technologists and strategists, CTOs and chief scientists, researchers, programmers, hackers, and standards workers, business developers, and entrepreneurs to lead conference session and tutorials at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference 2006."
Deadline is September 17th.


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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

How to Celebrate an Online Group Anniversary

On August 12th, 1999, I started a Yahoogroup on online facilitation. I invited friends and colleagues, wanting to talk about this emerging practice that I have been dancing with since 1996. 8078 messages later (as tracked over time in the included visual), with 1231 currently subscribed and countless more who have come and gone, bounced into oblivion or stomped off in a moment of heat, I come to the 6 year anniversary. As I clean out yet another round of bounced email members and look at the listing of posts, I'm sent into a spasm of reflection and introspection.

One key insight is that I don't know how to celebrate this anniversary. I don't know what to do next, if anything, as founder of this community. I wonder if it is time to end this particular journey?

There are a handful of reasons for my feelings, mostly related to my sense of the community:

  • Since I started blogging, I suspect that I inadvertently changed the nature of the list-serve based community. I used to be a frequent poster of information tidbits. For a time I cross posted both on the list and the blog, but over time I could not sustain that. So I wonder, what role did information exchange play in the list and have I changed that by blogging and being the founder/facilitator/list mom?
  • The practice of online facilitation has diversified and so our interests, needs and contributions have changed. I had an unsubscribe message from a member leaving in my email box this morning and his reason for leaving was he felt there was no longer useful interaction around the day to day practical stuff of discussion board and chat moderation/facilitation. He felt that the definition of "online community" held by members was not his own. His email gave me LOTS of food for thought, particularly since most members of the group don't post and I don't know what they think. Surveys in the past have been less than fountains of information.
  • When I talk of ending the list, I get people who email me NO NO NO, this is a really important community to me. And I think, how can that be? Where are the signs of life beyond a handful of core posters? The mysterious invisibility of this sort of group is a constant puzzle.

Now I'm asking for your help. How should we celebrate this anniversary? Should we? How do we review ourselves as a group and then either look forward, or maybe even bring the chapter to a close?

Crossposted to the Online Facilitation list.

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(Edited for typos)

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Signs of Life: Reason to read (to the 'bitter' end)

I am in that phase of life where my lovely deep sleeping habits have been rudely interrupted by changing hormonal patterns. In other words, I'm a restless sleeper. Last night a cool marine breeze and a good set of earplugs let me sleep till 4am, waking only once or twice. Bliss. But at 4am my brain took over and started in high gear. I laid in bed till 5, then slipped out to my office and turned on the computer.

I have been thinking about the community indicator kick I've been on in my blogging. I realized it went beyond indications of group formation and community, to those very human signs of life in an electronically mediated environment. For a moment, I wondered if it would be worth it to keep collecting these indicators and signs and then compile them into some sort of - gasp - book. I don't know. But then I realized that I delighted simply in noticing and sharing them.

I'm curious, dear readers, do they interest you? Delight you? Bore you? Do you hunger to keep humanity visible in our online interactions?

I'd like to know what you think.

In the meantime, here is the first contribution to my signs_of_life tag series. Poetic blog posts. Those moments when you read and your breath is taken away for an instant. They offered you a slice of life that rang that deep chord in your being. Someone connected with you in their writing.

Lace Marie Brogden is a poet to me. To some she is an academic. She also writes across languages. I love her boundary spanning. Here is her post from July 17th.
InterLace: "Reason to read (to the 'bitter' end)

'Too often we give up. We stop trying to tell our mothers who we are, and sometimes they leave us before we find out.' (Grumet, 1988, p. 192)

This is not Bitter, this is sweet, sweet Milk.
This is the life/writing/life.


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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Fish- View of Tagging, A Lists and Blog Popularity

Finally, we get down to common sense. Ramblewoman rambles on with a delicious essay on the current topc of blog popularity from the perspective of her pet betta fish, Bert. Bert and I, Bert and I, Bert and I goes to that soft spot you will recognize: some people have the magic.
I know from my work in community, that people who want to get noticed can increase the odds. There are a couple dozen good practices that are surefire winners whether you are talking urban renewal, activist groups, PTA, message boards or blogging. People who want to build community can and do every day.

You may go to their grassroots meeting or read their blog or board and think "why is this person so popular and I have nothing? They can't write. They have dopey topics and who wants to talk about this day after day?" But everyone you know is crazy about this person. Then you see, this person radiates a wee bit of magic, that magic comes from passion, for the topic, either a natural magic because of whatever sent that particular person to want to build community regarding that topic or the magic of just being passionate about community (or yes, a good paycheck, that seems to work well particularly for money-motivated folk).
And don't miss the analysis of Bert the betta's ego and liFe among the guppies.
The other part of that is what Bert has, an overly well-formed ego that can keep going even when no one is talking back. A dedication to the belief that this post, this blog, this community is important, even if you don't get the positive feedback from a search engine, bigger puffier fish in the sea, or even the people who you know are reading but remain lurkers combined with that resiliant ego is the key. No, it may not be the answer to the link, don't link, Technorati, do whatever the SEO folk say is the best Google strategy week, don't do any of these things question. It is the answer to building a community you love and can live with day after day year after year. So if you are a guppy, there really is an answer, if community is your goal, build it and don't worry about the A-list unless you need the reinforcement of that sort of indicator. If you are a Betta, you know the answer as well, puff yourself up, show off and swish by obligingly when you have an audience. But remember...bettas can be lonely even with a mirror.
I started blogging to understand the role of blogs in communities online. I'm a guppie and love it. I recognize the value and importance of betta strategies. But honey, guppies are the BOMB for me!

Now, BACK TO WORK. Really. (Ramblewoman, we are bad for each other!)

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Social Bookmarks Review Resource

Via a comment comes Torsten's Social bookmarks review - 3rd edition
I’m proud to present the version 3.0 of my Social bookmarks’ charts. What’s new?
  • Gibeo was removed from of the charts, as it is a web annotation service, not really a social bookmarking tool.
  • jots, netvouz and blinklist,, a kind of story rating system, and two more open source solutions – Scuttle and – have been added. There are 19 services in the charts now.
  • there are some more aspects – e. g. the forming of groups, link validation or how the user is informed about new features and updates.
Get the document here (PDF, 91 KB). If you want to support the evolution of this script, you are invited politely to make a donation or to buy a book for me."
I'm on a "community indicators" roll this morning and I'd say social bookmarking tools have a hand in the formation of community indicators such as "things of shared interest." (Hm, I wonder what THAT means!)


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Community Indicators - Encouragement from Strangers

I was going to blog this site, constanttrek, on my travel blog, but once I started reading, it was a classic "community indicators" piece. Constanttrek had to be in this blog too.

The first reason was their tag line: "Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time." There is an online cousin to this: "Everyone can be in your world if you have the time." Our ability to connect and have meaningful interactions with others starts with our willingness to give it some time. Online this is particularly true. We have this amazing access potential, but relationship and community building take our time and attention.

The second reason, and a very common indicator, is the support offered to the Constant's in their walk from England to South Africa (yes, I said WALK!). This support is from people who, in most books, would be counted as "strangers." Take a peek at their recent entry marking the end of the first of three phases of walking:
"Thanks to all of you who have followed the web-log this far, and thanks in particular to those who have taken the time, particularly during these last few truly hard weeks, to email us and send messages of support. It means more to us than I can say, and there has been more than one occasion when I have sat in internet cafes with tears pouring down my cheeks, grateful beyond belief for the kindness of friends and strangers who have written us a line or two encouraging us to carry on. Sometimes it is those little things that really have made the difference."
Those "little things" that make a difference are community indicators in my book.

Recently, Siobhan Kimmerle and I wrote about the impact of those little things in an article for the new "Knowledge Management for Development Journal." In "Little steps to lofty goals: keys to successful community learning for civil society development" (Abstract below, full PDF text here) we wrote:
This is a story about the things that came together in Armenia, beyond the availability of technology, to bridge time and distance. It is a case history of Project Harmony's Armenia School Connectivity Programme (ASCP) that attempts to highlight the little things and their weaving together to form a fabric of community learning for sustainable civil development. The story affirms the importance of community and organizational context in the success of the project. It identifies some key aspects for catalyzing distributed learning communities for development, including confidence-building through layered training, relationships, attention to how we talk about learning and community needs, and close attention to people before technology.

Although this paper highlights some approaches for areas of low Internet penetration, the process lessons presented here are relevant across a wider variety of settings. And of course, this story pays attention to those little human nuances that support connection – and eventually learning – across a community
The unasked for offering of support, and the ability to accept it, is a community indicator in my book.

Have any other examples to share?

See also

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Community Indicators- Vlogged Public Thanks

Griff Wigley, a guy who has been into online community and online interaction for a long time, especially civic interaction, has been experimenting with vlogged (video blogged) public thanks to people. Public thanking, like the public welcoming of Seb Paquet (search for the word welcome on his blog to see the practice in action), strike me as community indicators. They say "you matter in the context of us - the community or group." Take a look Videoblogging for leadership
"I'm trying to learn my way into how videoblogging (vlogging) can be an effective leadership tool. The idea in these clips:

- verbal tone, gestures, and facial expressions can sometimes convey emotional impact more easily and effectively than plain text

- posting a personal thanks to a public blog like the clip above to Dylan and Julian is somewhat equivalent to saying thanks to an individual in a roomful of people. It widens the impact."

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Monday, August 08, 2005

Welcome to the Blog World, Karianna

Karianna was inspired by Blogher to start a blog. She is off and running with gusto.

Welcome to the blogging world, Karianna, and thanks for helping add more human voice to all the things you appear to be blogging about: politics, kids, autism, blogging!

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danah boyd: the biases of links

I'm really going to work today (not read blogs and post) so this is a quick pointer to a thoughtful article by danah boyd. It's something which I hope is the basis of more thoughtful conversation. First, it brings up the issue that technology and science is not neutral. This is important, particularly for those of us who evangelize the application of technology (like online interaction!)

Second, it shines a slightly different light on this "A-list" thing and the impact of rankings on blogs. I really have no idea where I fall on this issue of A listers, etc. I know I care about MY network and use the tools to help me visualize that network. But politically (small p) this is an interesting topic as it helps us think about how we do perpetuate our own patterns, for whatever reason or outcome. It helps us see what we build into technology that reflects where we are coming from and perhaps be more aware of that impact on those who use what we build. Take a peek.
Many-to-Many: the biases of links. danah writes:

I have a hard time respecting anyone who believes that science or technology is neutral. Unfortunately, even when people consciously know that they are not, they give credence to the biased outputs without questioning the underlying assumptions. This is why i’m an academic - nothing gives me greater joy than to think about what biases go into the creation of a particular system.

After reminding folks at Blogher that there are gender differences in networking habits, i decided to do some investigation into the network structures of blogs. Kevin Marks of Technorati kindly gave me a random sample of 500 blogs to play with. I began coding them based on gender (which is surprisingly easy to do given the amount of personal information people put about themselves) and looking for patterns in links and blogrolls.

I decided to do the same for non-group blogs in the Technorati Top 100. I hadn’t looked at the Top 100 in a while and was floored to realize that most of those blogs are group blogs and/or professional blogs (with “editors” and clear financial backing). Most are covered in advertisements and other things meant to make them money. It’s very clear that their creators have worked hard to reach many eyes (for fame, power or money?).

Here are some of the patterns that i saw*:"
Now ya gotta go read it!

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Blogher Founding Mothers on Yi Tan, August 8th

Yi-Tan Tech Community Call #45 - BlogHer Afterthoughts. From my pal Jerry Michalski,
"This Monday: Please join us for the Yi-Tan Weekly Call,
1:30pm Eastern, Monday, August 8, 2005.

Our topic will be BlogHer Afterthoughts

An IRC Chat will be available during the call, here
We're building a list of regular participants here."
Yours truly will be the host. More on Yi-Tan here.


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Staci Kramer's OJR Blogher Recap

Blog different? BlogHer participants illustrate diversity of the Webis worth a whole read, so I'll dispense with quotes. Nice wrap up. Thanks, Staci

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Friday, August 05, 2005

Something Community is Happening at Yahoo

At Blogher (yeah, I know you don't want to hear that word again for at least a year, but heck, attribution is the reason this time!) I had conversations with two folks from Yahoo - Havi Hoffman and Randy Farmer (Randy, sorry I forgot we met at the Social Software Symposium. I have a wretched name/face memory. Ask my children!). Havi came up to me early in the day and that was my first clue. Then, I was really surprised that they both said had me in their blog feeds. Large faceless corporations rarely read wacko bloggers like me, right?

You see, past experience has made me believe Yahoo was not a community sort of place; not the kind of place that would smell of community spirit. Afterall, this was the beheometh that ate my precious egroups, and from whence one could never get an answer about a problem on Yahoogroups. (I've had a group on Yahoogroups since August 1999)

But things have been a-changing. People I know and respect in the community world started going to work there. Yahoo 360 emerged and was more nimble and community-like than it might have been. Flickr was aquired and has not been (please, keep it that way) ravaged by an unthinking machine. (I just put my flickr stream into my 360 page. Now this is starting to COOK!) Good signs. All of a sudden, Yahoo is beginning to be a positive word in my vocabularly.

I asked Randy about this when we got some face to face time. In a politically incorrect manner, I asked him if was real. Straight on he told me yes. From the top. In the form of actually staffing the community group (up from something like 3 people in the dark days to 150.) Hiring smart people like danah boyd and Elizabeth Osder (via Staci Kramer on PaidContnet). Stacie wrote that Osder will
be responsible for what Yahoo Media VP Scott Moore tells me is one of his top three initiatives. (The other two are broadband and the user experience.) Moore said Osder's hiring is 'a clear indicator of our intention to go deep in social media and user-generated content.' Her initial task will be to set up a plan that integrates Yahoo's growing phalanx of social media tools -- Yahoo 360, Flickr, etc. -- with an emphasis on interesting user-generated content. 'Figuring out how to harness the power of that self-expression and user-generated content, not only the willingness and desire to share, is the essence of what is Elizabeth is going to do for us,' says Moore. Part of her job is to figure out what kind of resources will be needed. Adds Moore, 'This is a real initiative and a real focus for us. We'll do what it takes.'
Now I work mostly in the NGO/NPO (non governmental orgs, non profit orgs) world where free tools are lifeblood. I believe there are more non profits using Yahoogroups than any other tool after email. We love and hate it. It has been emulated by a consortium of NGOs.

What if we imagined a partnership between Yahoo and a consortium of NGOs? What if we identified 2-3 key things international development and community networks needed to make Yahoo really work for them? It would benefit the groups. And I believe it would benefit Yahoo's product development. Now this might seem counter intuitive because designing for international networks means, at this time, desinging for often less than stellar access. Dialup. Rotten telephone infrastructure. Why would that be good for Yahoo's wealthier broadband customers?

Because it would do two things. It would be the acid test for a simple interface for second wave adopters and it would open the longer term world markets. Growth will not be in the US. It will be in a multilingual world that looks for things that are often different than a north American product.

Why is this important? Two reasons in my view. One is that we need to support productive connection with each other across boundaries and to offer that connection not just to the priveledged north. Productive connection may be one of our only hopes to keep from destroying each other. If we know each other, it may be harder to blow each other up. If we learn with each other, we will preserve resources often wasted in NGO competition, or worse, knowledge lost.

So can a Yahoogroup save the world? Naw. But it might be a step in the right direction. And that step will be firmer if it is easy to use, bandwidth and cross culturally friendly.

That said, I'm happy to be feel the community vibes emanating out of Yahoo. Can you say YAHOOOO!!

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

How it Happens Changes Us

Last weekend at Blogher I spent a lot of time thinking about identity and voice and how these new media impact our voices and identities. What happens when you put your life online in an online community or blog? What happens when all of a sudden you are audio or video recorded and you know that material might make it on the web. How does that change our communication? How does that change us?

Ponzi was one of the audio bloggers at Blogher, moving at the speed of sound to capture parts of the conference for sharing beyond the walls and time of the conference. She talks about the experience here, Post Podcasting Protest and explores the reactions she got and questions she now has. She asks some great ones:
"1.)Did my microphone and recorder changed peoples responses?And, if so in what ways?

2.)If I were in the audience and blurted my questions outloud (like so many do) would it still be considered 'taking over the session and being rather intrusive' or is just amplified because of the mic in hand?

3.) Just because I'm holding a mic do I have to submissively and unobtrusively record the speaker and audience interaction?

4.) If I choose to hold a mic again does that mean I have to forfeit my place to ask questions of the speakers who speak into my mic in order to please those who do not hold the mic?

These questions all sound the same or at least very close in symmetry, don't you agree?
I'm reminded of the opportunity of a facilitator in a F2F gathering to wield or yield power -- and the potential for abuse. What happens when the facilitator starts commenting and getting more "airtime" because they are at the front of the room? Should they? Some say they should be neutral. How might this apply to pod and video casters? Do they have an a priori right to lead the questioning in a session? Or should they simply capture what others ask and answer? I don't know. I'm curious.

What I sensed for Ponzi is that the possession of the mic offers a new type of power and the concurrent questions about how to responsibly wield it. Not only does this affect the moment in a session, but the receptivity in future situations of those who might find themselves behind the mic.

Mic as power. Interesting, eh? Blog as power? Could be. One's voice is amplified out in a new way. People pay attention in ways you never expect. I get a compliment on someone else's blog that blows me away. Scoble takes a week off, tired of comment flame. Dooce appears shy in the rays of adulation heaped on her at Blogher. I feel different when a mic is put in front of me in a session where I was raising a question (and, truth told, I walked in late after the podcasting agreements were tendered.) Will I censor my words a bit knowing they will be recorded? Possibly. That may be a good thing. But the point is, it changes me in that moment.

Technology is not neutral. Our application of it is not neutral. We hold the responsibility to think about how we yield this new power. That means trying new things. Making missteps. Remixing our approach. Ponzi is ready for that because she blogged about it right afterwards, right back out to the world, fearlessly. That's fantastic. She writes:
Damn, it sure is hard to try new things. Why is it that people are creatures of habit, why is change so hard to accept? I ask because I too fight this urge of sameness. The very comfort I seek at times smothers me and yet I cling to it. Do you?

My fight is with the majority. Somehow I seem to always prefer the space in the minority. Today that means siding with the individual podcaster. The one who isn't afraid of changing the rules, or making them up as they go along. This means I'm part of the quiet revolution. You know the one - 'shhhhhhhhh' convergence. I'm a journalist, not a perfect one, not a paid one, not like the one on your local news. There are no fine and fancy suits, no stylists or corporate lawyers - or bullshit and redtape. I'm just some woman with a microphone and a question that happens to be 'do you mind if I podcast this?'

Before you say 'Yes, please do or No, I don't mind.' Either let me know your thoughts as they arise and participate with me in this new dance or discreetly decline my invitation.
Let's dance!

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Online Facilitation Workshop Scheduled for September 12

I've nailed down the dates for my next online facilitation (online) workshop, an intense, too-content filled adventure on facilitating online interaction. The scoop is here -- Online Facilitation Workshop. As the page says,
"Online facilitation is an evolving art and expanding opportunity to empower groups to work across time and distance. Online work and interactions require facilitation skills beyond those used in face-to-face meetings. Group dynamics in the virtual environment combined with new communication technologies create unique conditions and opportunities calling for specific techniques and an expansion of our consciousness with mindful facilitation.

This 3-week INTENSIVE (and I'm not kidding - seriously intensive!) intermediate workshop (alternating on/off weeks over five weeks total) will provide you with the initial skills to guide you through planning, process design and facilitaton of online group interactions. We will explore concepts through key readings, discuss theory, reflect in personal learning logs, and practice technique. Participants should have some previous offline facilitation experience or understanding of group facilitation theory as well as at least one year of online interaction experience. This is NOT an introductory offering!"
This time I am adding a section on community indicators in blogging, a new piece to consider what "facilitation" might mean in the blogging world. It is experimental. Grin. And yeah, just what this course needs - more content! LOL. If you are interested, let me know. Also note there are two NPO/NGO scholarships. Check out the page. The "cost" of these scholarships is a comittment to fully participate in the workshop -- and I hold folks to that promise!

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MetroDad: Why BlogHim wouldn't be such a good idea...

Metrodad made my afternoon with this hilarious post, MetroDad: Why BlogHim wouldn't be such a good idea.... Rock on, MetroDad!

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Welcome to "Life in Odd Time Signatures"

Welcome to a cool new blog voice, DrumsandWhistles via her Life in Odd Time Signatures blog, found via Denise. The blog offers a great voice asking lots of good questions across a range of topics. I got sucked in...
So this blog is about living in odd time signatures -- signatures defined by the patterns and rhythms of parent and child who struggle to remain inside the normal flow of daily life even as we're redefining it to fit our own special, fragmented and sometimes odd, patterns.
You go, girl!

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Peace Corps Option for Military Recruits Sparks Concerns

(Oops, this one posted before I wrote anything. Darn fingers. Thus, it has been edited now!)

Via Arse Poetica comes this:
Peace Corps Option for Military Recruits Sparks Concerns:
"The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is offering to allow recruits to meet part of their military obligations by serving in the Peace Corps, which has resisted any ties to the Defense Department or U.S. intelligence agencies since its founding in 1961."
I have many friends who were Peace Corps volunteers. Beyond the stories, the value offered and the personal value received, I'm worried.

Politics aside (and I have LOTS of opinions there), will Peace Corps members be safe if they are affiliated with the US military? Some places, it probably won't change. Other places -- I'm worried.

Former Peace Corps folks are a pretty strong community. I wonder how they will respond? I do believe with the internet a distributed network can rapidly solidify and respond. This is the power of the medium.


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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

And now for something completely chocolate...

I haven't posted anything overtly chocolate in a while. Shame on me. Over on Seattle Bon Vivant viv posts about one of my favorite chocolate treats, ganache filled, chocolate dipped dried figs from Frans. She loves 'em. She's right. They are the BEST. I think I may have to go get one tomorrow. Mmm...

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Flink: Lessons in Live Blogging

Live blogging advice gleaned by Mir at Blogher. Take a look at her post for the things NOT to do. Here are the "to do's. As a liveblogger at a variety of conferences, I'd suggest that this is ONE way to do it. Might be worth some more conversations and writing.

1/ DO answer the 5 w's in the first paragraph.

2/ Do make use of summarizing sentences for presenters main points or themes.

3/ DO try to keep your paragraphs under 250 words (I think, this is one of the journalism standards things I haven't had to think about since I stopped writing for the university paper).

4/ DO publish your post at intervals during the presentation so that people can see what's going on as you are writing.

5/DO expand on the major threads of discussions that occur. Try your best to do some summarizing of those as well though, rather than giving a play by play.

*6/ MOST OF ALL. Remember that you are not writing for the people who are already at the conference, you are writing for the people sitting at home, so you need to be clear. Try not to use acronyms or jokes that are conference specific. if you refer to events or themes outside the scope of your session, reference them via links or tagging.

7/ Here is a decent article on using technorati for tagging in posts The tagged web and using Technorati. This explains the basic principals and gives a how-to. The tags are 'blogher' and 'bloghercon'.

8/ Trackbacks are just a simple way to tap a post on the shoulder and say; 'hey I am writing about this post.' It's the way we will be getting excerpts of your entries to appear on the page about your session. For a better explanation take a look at this page of the Movable Type documentation.

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Flying on Flickr - A little joy

From Flying on Flickr - Photo Sharing! A shot by Schani

I found this via the new explore feature. And there is a clustering feature too. Time suck. Can you hear it?


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Community Indicators: Gift Economy via Spoil-A-Blogger

Spoil-A-Blogger recently launched. The site set up to match bloggers into pairs, sort of like a Secret Pal. Each person gets to spoil the other blog partner. Now the pairs, as I understand it, are anonymous.

If you have never played Secret Pals before, let me take a minute to tell you what you are getting yourself into... Now, I don't want to scare you, but there are some things you should know, and there is some prep work you are going to have to do. But don't worry! It's worth all the work! Now, lets get down to business!

What do I need to give Gwen in order to participate?

Gwen needs your postal address. Don't worry. She isn't psycho, neither is your secret pal. Then Gwen needs your blog url. The person who gets you wants to read all about you! Gwen also needs TWO email addresses. One address is your permanent email address; you know the one you read all the time. Your secret pal will use this one when they write to you. The second one is a secret email address, that doesn't have your name associated with it. This one you will use to write to your secret pal (the person you are sending stuff to.) This way, you can remain anonymous.

Gwen wants to see this in the email:

* Your Name
* Your URL
* Your Mailing Address
* Your public email address
* Your secret email address

How the heck does this work, and who is it that is not supposed to know my identity?

You are keeping your identity secret from the person you are sending to. This is how the whole system works.

If there were only 4 participants, ‘A', ‘B', ‘C' and ‘D' I would have matched them up as such

A sends to B
B sends to C
C sends to D
D sends to A

If you were participant ‘B' you would know who ‘C' was but you would keep your identity secret from them. ‘A' would send to you but you wouldn't know who they were.

Do we reveal our identities at the end?

You bet! You want all those wonderful thank you's, don't you?
Will this form community? Create some new network links? Interesting to think about it as a possible community formation activity. I'm only sorry I didn't know about it in time enough to play!


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Community Indicator: the comments on dooce's blogher Flickr photoset

blogher - a photoset on Flickr by dooce is a crack up. Don't do the slide show. Run through the pictures one by one and read the comments. This, my friends, is a community indicator. Think some of these commentors know each other? I bet yes!

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Another Take on Mommy Blogging

I have always been a fan of women who share their lives via their blogs, particularly the subset of "Mommybloggers." I got to hear from some fantastic mommy bloggers at Blogher. I realized just today I know another group of amazing mommy bloggers on the March of Dimes - Share Your Story site.

Last week we (Lee, the March of Dimes and yours truly) launched a site redesign which enables any user to start their own blog. Take a look at the amazing stories these women are writing. They are writing about their experiences of having a premature baby or a baby who has to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)). Look at the comments. I hope a few dads start blogs as well, to bring their perspectives. (A fantastic daddyblogger is Snowdeal, dad of Odin who was also born prematurely. I'm in love with Odin - what a beeyouteeful kid!)

This particular community also exhibits many of those "community indicators" I've been blabbing about.

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Sadness in Southern Sudan and Bombay

It is easy to get wrapped up in your own little world, where things you think are important dominate your day. I've been Blogher obsessed. But I sat down to read the paper this morning and I'm taken back into the larger world.

This week there is sadness in Mumbai and across India where unbelievable amounts of rain caused the deaths of more than 900 people. In Southern Sudan, newly appointed Vice President John Garang died in a helicopter accident, adding risk to the fragile newly minted north/south peace in Sudan, a country that has seen over 2 million people die due to civil war and the effects of 20 years of war.

These stories are more real to me now than before I started blogging because I know and am friends with people in Sudan and Mumbai. They have ceased to be locations on a map, or names in a news report and have become homes of my friends.

Connection changes us. So send your beams to Sudan and Mumbai today.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Community Indicators: Random Acts of Kindness

Beth spots another indicator: Beth's Blog: Favorite Random Act of Kindness at Blogher from Flickr Stream:
"This photo was taken when Little Judy handed up her laptop to one of the presenters in Advanced Tools Session when there was a technical problem. Even though they gave her pieces of chocolate, it was an act of caring. I wonder if this would be one of Nancy White's indicators of a community?"


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Ping's "regender" Gender Mediator Tool

At Blogher it was great to run into Ping, whom I first met at SXSW. He has created this little tool that can play a big game with your mind. regender.

This little tool changes the gender of your language on a webpage. I just read three of my posts on Blogher via regender. Bloghim, anyone?

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Tangible Outcomes: The Speaker's Wiki

Mary Hodder has kicked some butt and created The Speaker's Wiki as an outcome from Blogher.
"Welcome to the Speaker's Wiki A listing of speakers, their websites and affiliation, contact information, past speaking engagements and other important information to help conference organizers choose speakers to talk on important topics"
Looking for speakers and want to get outside of the rut? Check out the wiki.

Edited later: I have been thinking about this list. It will matter IF it expands beyond the same old people (any gender) who always speak. So if you have something to say and aren't the same-old, go add yourself! Don't wait for someone else to do it.

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