Friday, December 30, 2005

Africa News 2005 Quiz - How Africa Savvy Are You?

Via Ethan Zuckerman... I scored 40% and would have hit 60% if I had gone with my first instincts on two questions. There is a blog question in there for you bloggers!
Are you up on the news from Africa in 2005? Or is your Africa knowledge sub-par? Find out with our 2005 Africa Blogs Quiz, brought to you by BlogAfrica and GlobalVoices.

If your score is 60% or lower, make a New Year's resolution to read more African blogs in 2006. Global Voices and BlogAfrica can help you find some of the hundreds of great bloggers writing every day from the African continent.
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Teaching About Social Software With Social Software

Ulises has posted a review of the course he taught this fall on social software, with social software.
This post discusses some of the lessons learned during a graduate course I taught at Teachers College, Columbia University. Social Software Affordances was offered during the Fall of 2005, and 13 graduate students from the Communication, Computing and Technology in Education (CCTE) program at TC enrolled in the course. The main goal of the course was for students to acquire proficiency in the use of blogs, wikis, RSS feeds and distributed classification systems while engaging in a critical analysis of the affordances of social software (what the software makes possible and what it impedes). The class also asked students to apply their newly acquired social software skills and knowledge to promote a social cause or project of their choosing. The dynamics and outcomes of the course are discussed below.
While the whole report is chock full of excellent observations, I really appreciated that Ulises used personal social responsibility as an anchor to the course, included strong elements of reflection to both enhance the participants learning and accrue benefits to those of us watching from the periphery, and that he asked his students some tough questions rather than just assume positive value of software. As he wrote "get them to think critically about its affordances."

If you ahve the time, check out the students' project blogs.

There is a lot of food for thought for me as I prepare my next Online Facilitation Workshop (which, despite the dates being wrong on this page, starts January 30th. Let me know if you want more information. Alumni, as always, you are invited back anytime!)

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Blogger Blog This - Changed and Not Working for Me

After not blogging for much of the past 8 days, I tried to get some things bookmarked for upcoming blog posts. Typically I use the "blog this" bookmarklet from Blogger or the "blog this" in the google toolbar and I can quickly save drafts. When I tried to do that today, the blogger window came up, but I can't seem to save a draft of full post. The new format gives a full editing screen, rather than the previous abbreviated version. When I try and click on the "save as draft" or "post" button it gives a Javascript(void) error. I installed the Performancing extension last week. I wonder if they are fighting with each other? Shows you how much I know. Argh. Anyone have a clue?

Hm, it seems my blogger tagging thingie from Improbulous is now also gone again. Back to using the bookmarklet. Sometimes technology just pisses me off. Arghx2.

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The Northern Voice 2006 Schedule is Out

Darren Barefoot emailed this afternoon to let me know the Saturday schedule and speakers for Northern Voice 2006 has been published. I think it rocks that Julie Leung will kick off the day with "Starting Fire: Why Stories Are Essential and How to Blog Effective Tales." I'll be up after the morning coffee break on my current take of the Snow White fairy tale, "Snow White and the Seven Competencies of Online Interaction." I've been thinking lately that it may be more of Jack and the Beanstalk, but we'll see how the conversation evolves. I'm excited to be part of Northern Voice. Check out the rest of the schedule and if you can make it to Vancouver on February 11th, join us. (Hint: it's affordable!) There is also an open format "Moose Camp" the day before on Friday.

It is also very gratifying to see the speaker gender balance - it isnt' 50/50, but it is headed in the right direction. I'd like to think that is the result of women doing interesting things in blogging and they NV gang having their eyes open to them!

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

2006 Wishes: what you'd like to see more/less of in the blogosphere

Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing wrote last week asking for "what you'd like to see more of and what you'd like to see less of ... in the blogosphere."

Well, on the flippant side, more chocolate, less baloney.

Getting a wee bit more serious (because I'm still on blogholiday) I'd like to see more exploration of how blogs can support collaboration, particularly in the non profit world, but I'm happy to see it happening in any domain. How can we create both this wonderful sense of self identity that is so strong in blogs and lean it towards a group goal? Crazy? Perhaps.

More generally, I WILL be reading blogs that

  • help me see others' perspectives, particularly outside of my culture or domains
  • make me smile when I need some smiling
  • offer me the chance to learn something new

What I'd like to see less of? Well, the joy of blogs is if you don't like 'em, don't read 'em. So it is easy to not see what I don't want to see. Not that I believe blinders are always a useful thing - grin. I know I won't be reading blogs that:

  • don't have full RSS feeds because time is precious;
  • are over the top with self promotion or pure publicity seeking;
  • support gratuitous flames because I simply don't enjoy them. I don't begrudge them, but I'm not wasting my time!

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I'm Still on Holiday Blogging Break

But in the meantime, for my Jewish friends, take a listen to The LeeVees.

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Friday, December 23, 2005


A friend passed along this short video. Seems an appropriate token of the season. Thank you to all who have been part of my life this year, through this blog and many other channels.

In gratitude...

links to this post - Never Saw This Before

While doing some tag clean up I saw the "for" link on and clicked into it. Ed Vielmetti had left some cool tags for me. THANK YOU! This feels like a community indicator to me!

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Technology For Communities - How I'm Tracking My Resources

I just did a quick post over on Technology For Communities to document how I've been doing my research for our Technologies for Community report.

Over the course of this project, I have been bookmarking sites via and - social bookmarking tools. I’ve did not develop too much tagging discipline until I was a ways into the project and have not cleaned up all my tags. Time is a cruel mistress.

The tags I’ve been using include:

techreport (
technologyforcommunity (
communitiesofpractice (
communitytechnology (

If you come across some good sites, it would be great if you tagged them as well! I'm finding the "techreport" tag to be nice and easy.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thinking about choosing tools for communities of practice

Path1 (4)
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
The work on the "Technologies for Communities" report continues (and continues, and continues!) Someday we may even finish.

These last few weeks Etienne, John and I have been finishing what we fondly call "Section 4" about how to approach the selection of technologies to support communities of practice (CoPs).

We are honing in on 9 different orientations that show up in CoPs - I'll write about them a bit later, but the term "orientation" is needed for context. Short version: first you look at what your community does and focuses on, then you figure out how to support that with tools.

We decided we wanted to illustrate a number of "paths" that a community technology steward might take in this process, so I've ginned up a series of mind maps. They are each a bit different. I've put them up in a set at Flickr and if anyone has feedback, I'd love to hear it. I know there is really not enough context to fully comment, but first impressions are really useful.

The one shown here is a path for a CoP that exists across organizational (and other) boundaries, has no IT support and no budget. So it looks at mashing up free tools. The other four describe different contexts.

Feel free to comment here, or over in the picture comment areas. I'll try and add a little more context on Flickr as we go forward. (By the way, the colors are not indicative of anything - just to distinguish quickly between them.)

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Unconferences, Mucking About and Commenting Habits

I was clicking into the articles and landed on Donald Clark's review of Techlearn 2005. I've gone to one of these confabs and one was enough for me. (I'm not fond of big conferences nor am I fond of people who control agendas as firmly as Maise did. Or does. I can't say now!) But it's a big conference and learning is part of my domain, so I was eager to read the review.

The first thing that caught my eye was this bit:
"Elliot introduced us to a particularly dull video (really an animated PowerPoint), but the kids were having none of it and proceeded to fidget, dance and generally muck about. More mucking about was precisely what the conference needed at this point."
I am a fan of mucking about, so much that I co-produced a couple of events that were MUCKabouts! What we learned from both of those is the importance of mucking into ideas and mucking out of our normal circles for new inspirations and perspectives. So three cheers for mucking about.

The second thing I learned was that we need to let go of this "unconference" idea because it is a sham. What we need to focus on is productive group gatherings, be they conferences, open spaces, muckabouts, or whatever. Instead of the "un" what is the "IT?" (I know, that sounds half baked. That's because it is. I'm tired today!)

The third thing I realized at the end of the article. There was no way to comment. I was taken aback. I have become SO USED to being able to comment, to reply, to add, to kibbutz, that it has become something I take for granted. When I run up against an old fashioned webpage, I'm stumped.

That was somehow the most important thing I took away. And I never got to tell Donald I appreciated his report, nor did I get to suggest that Maise should quit producing a conference and instead simply create a great environment for a giant open space on learning. Now THAT I would go to! Especially if there were some mucking about included!

[Via Downes? I can't remember!]

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Great Gmail Hack: Sorting your email with GMail

If you have a public web presence -- I'm thinking of all you who host/facilitate/moderate any kind of online group that involves email, check out this great Gmail suggestion: Personal Made Public: Sorting your email with GMail

Ever needed to submit a valid email address to register for access to a website or make an online purchase? Ever wondered if in doing so your address wouldn't end up sold to or stolen by some spammer. Ever wondered who your address gets shared with?

I came across a great way of using Google's GMail to create disposable/sortable email addresses that let you duck spam and find out who is sharing your address and with whom."
Click in to find out how!

(Postscript a bit later. I tried this. So far the mail has not shown up. Mmm.. user error?)

[via Lifehacker]

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A Gift You Can Give - Your Time and Talent

Via Beth, comes an opportunity...Global Mentoring
'I will mentor a minimum of two people in the developing world in the area of my skills base and expertise (media, communications, broadcasting , democratic media building, participatory media, community video). I will do this for free for a minimum of six months (in my free time). The mentoring will be in person or via email/skype and the mentoring connections will be established by a website and database that I am willing to take responsibility for creating but only if 250 other people will mentor a minimum of two people in their skills.'

— Lucy Hooberman

Deadline to sign up by: 15th January 2006
176 people have signed up, 74 more needed"
Well, now there needs to be only 73 more people. Can you lend a hand?

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A commercial worth sharing

Via Liz, who got it via Alex, a great Honda spot. Take a gander.Link Shard - The Impossible Dream ADV

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New York Times Interactive Graphic Guide to the Transit Strike

This is fantastic. This is a community indicator for sure. The NY Times (registration required) has an interactive map that allows folks in the NYC area to post their commute suggestions, alternatives and stories, mapped to their zip codes. Click on a few of the stories...New York Transit Strike - Guide to Commuting - New York Times Interactive Graphic
"A Guide to Commuting & Readers' Stories

Click on the map below to take a closer look at transportation alternatives available in your neighborhood and reports from readers on their commutes. The map may take a few seconds to load. Download a printable pdf version of the routes into Manhattan from Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx. You can contribute to the map by sharing your commuting story."
Like the power of the March of Dimes ShareYourStory site, this comes alive because of the little stories that unfold, almost addictively, when you click on a flag. Check it out!

[via Smartmobs]

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My Favorite Squidoo Lens So Far: Visual thinking school

Squidoo : Lenses : Visual thinking school
"Visual thinking is about using pictures to help you solve problems, think about complex issues and communicate more effectively. Are you ready to work on your visual thinking skills?"
Yes, I am!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Free Digibook on Online Instruction

From the eLearning Guild comes this announcement of a free ebook. I haven't had a chance to look at it, but figured I should pass on the link before I never get to it. (Sound familiar?) I get worried with the hype of the description, but, what the heck!The eLearning Guild
"This FREE Digital Book, 834 Tips for Successful Online Instruction is an amazing collection of tips from 336 of your professional colleagues. Nowhere will you find a more comprehensive set of tips that you can use to improve your knowledge and skills in online instruction."

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Potluck as metaphor (and reality) of civic engagement

Check out Seems like a recipe (pardon the pun) for success. What brings people together better than food?
"We are people just like you. Our dream is: Food, Fun, and Action!

In the Potluck Action Network, we're building a network of thousands of potluck groups across the country, meeting in each other's homes on a regular basis for the long term, to plan and experience active civic engagement. Each person in each potluck group of 12 commits to doing one progressive action of their own choosing per month, while discussing it and getting feedback from the other members of the group at the potlucks.

Designed for members of every age, from 10 through college through retirement, our groups have no leader but instead are guided by a "Chef" in the group, whose action focus is to ensure group continuity, inform the network of the group's progress, and keep everyone meeting regularly, happy, engaged, and well fed. Each potluck group purposely works on a self-chosen set of topics, ensuring that each member stays interested and able to influence the directions and successes of the potluck group.

Through learning about and acting on the issues we choose, we create experienced specialists on a variety of topics, guard against burnout, have fun, make lifelong friends, and create a network of people learning to create constructive changes, all while enjoying dessert."

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Web 2.0 and Communities of Practice: What gives?

I'm one of the persistent core of folks who hang out on CPSquare, a community of practice on communities of practice. Yeah, I love meta. What can I say? But it isn't all meta. Sometimes it is beautifully "down to action." An example is January's online event on Web 2.0 and Communities of Practice.
CPsquare is holding an online mini-conference in January 2005 to focus on 5-6 major technologies (or tool groups) that reflect the qualities of what is being termed "Web 2.0," probably staying on each one for 2-3 days in an online discussion that's introduced by a telephone conference.

For each tool we'll consider how it's actually used in a community of practice (or speculate how it could be used). We're inviting non-members to join us in our discussions. The conference fee is set so as to give people a glimpse of CPsquare and encourage them to join. CPsquare events combine online discussion and telephone conferences. Register for the Web 2.0 conferencenow!

A range of new tools, architecture, and applications loosely aggregated under the label "Web 2.0" have the potential to change how we use the Web and offer specific opoportunities of rcommunities of practice. For each tool, we intend to ask a set of questions such as:
  • What actual tools are included? What are good examples of the tool?
  • How would the tool help an existing communities? Is it useful for launching a community? Do we see a substitution, an incremental add-on or fundamental shift?
  • What potential might the tool have to create new social forms, aggregations, or interactions?
  • Are there significant tool combinations or interactions that increase the
    tool's use to communities?
  • Does the tool require technology stewardship to leverage it? How? Why?
  • Does the tool have a differential role or effect in open or public communities compared to internal or closed or private ones? How? Why?
  • How easy or difficult is the tool to connect or interoperate with other tools?
  • How does the tool observe common notions such as "community boundary" -- or not?
  • How would a community leader or leadership group use the tool to keep the community together or stimulate a community or whatever?

We will launch the conference conference to discuss goals and processes on Tuesday
January 3rd at 20:00 GMT (noon on the west coast of the US, 8 PM in London, 7AM Wednesday in Sydney). Teleconferences will be scheduled at the same time of day on the following days during the course of January. All teleconferences are recorded and an MP3 file is posted for those who miss the call.

The non member fee is $50USD. The tools that are being considered are here, along with the people who've stepped forward to lead the discussions so far. Note that the schedule will change and items may be dropped or added, depending on people's energy.

Join us!

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Synaptic Leap - Online Communities for Science

The Synaptic Leap
"The Synaptic Leap is a new organization dedicated towards providing a network of online communities that connect and empower scientific and medical researchers to conduct open-source style research. We fully believe that if you combine the talents and knowledge of these amazing professionals that there is almost nothing that can’t be solved. We will provide the community and project infrastructure for these professionals to collaborate and share. There is no need for each team to solve the same software problem again and again. As each new project plugs into the network, the community potential to discover cures will grow exponentially.

The mapping of the human genome is an example of a successful, open, collaborative effort in the medical research field. With that complete, we are on the cusp of significant medical changes and breakthroughs. It’s time to take medical research to the next level. Our beta community is malaria and our first partner and customer is The Tropical Disease Initiative.

* It’s time to communicate.
* It’s time to collaborate.
* It’s time to make the leap!"

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Discardia and the Winter Solstice

I have been struggling to compose a year end piece that looks back, and to the future. I haven't had the mental space to reflect at the level I want. I'm cluttered at year end, not complete. So guess what flows across my field of view today but a reminder that tomorrow is not only the Winter Solstice (light will be returning for those of us in the north!) but the beginning of Discardia. Discardia is a "floating holiday to celebrate letting go. The next discardia runs Dec 2005 - 30 Dec 2005.

Yes, I should clean my office. But inside, I want to figure out what I want to hold on to, and what I need to let go to be able to learn and do what comes next.

Two of my larger clients are going to be leaving (due to good, natural reasons.) I have a chance to "open the window" to what can then fit in that space, including perhaps, a little space!

I'm challenging myself in 2006 to do more public speaking in a way that I want to be spoken to, which is a practice that I have to work hard at.

I feel the need to dispense with some of the clutter, physical and mental, that has filled up my life.

Discardia sounds just about right for me today.

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TechSoup - Human Rights and Web 2.0

Here is a snippet from Jody Mahoney worth propagating for two reasons: 1) to promote our thinking about how emergent web technologies can help people create the lives they want and 2) a reminder that our perceptions and the tools we build and deploy carry our cultural biases.
TechSoup - News and Views - Notes from Abroad: Human Rights and Web 2.0: "Before attending the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunisia this November, I did not truly understand the profound impact emerging Web 2.0 tools have had on human rights. Before the conference, I viewed Web 2.0 tools from a very United States-centered perspective, considering blogs and other content tools simply another manifestation of the precociously narrative writing movement that compels authors to reveal the most trivial details of their own precious lives, solicited or otherwise.

At WSIS, however, I began to understand for the first time the extraordinary impact free and open information -- supported by Web 2.0 tools -- has had on human rights movements around the world. As the Netherlands-based NGO Hivos put it at its two-day seminar, Expression Under Repression:

'The Internet strengthens the right to freedom of expression by providing individuals across the globe with new means of sharing and accessing information. Despite the continued exclusion of marginalized communities and many people in the developing world, everyone with access can voice his or her opinion and access decision-makers and local politicians: whether on forum discussions, via blogs or by e-mail, information and communication technology has potential as a tool for enabling democratic participation and for open information sharing.'"

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Evelyn Lands: Tsunami Anniversary: Landed in Bangkok

I've been following Evelyn Rodriguez's journey back to Thailand for the anniversary of the Tsunami. She is in Thailand now, and I urge you to take a look at her blog.

I was taken by this post about her conversations with a local architect from the Center for Architecture and Human Rights.
"Dialogue about their goals and community engagement for the plan for seventy homes, a market and a Moken cultural center to celebrate the collective heritage of the sea gypsies is an essential part of the community rebuilding process.

Traditionally dialogue and facilitating community participation isn't what architects, engineers, and planners do best. Or do at all. Top-down is more the planning style. He's trying to change that starting with his students."
This is one of the shifts that I'd like to see more of in 2006. Sort of my "wish" rather than a prediction, to where we expand our compentencies for dialog into more professions and domains.

When taken in an online context, that means we use both the zippy cool "web 2.0" tools, but more importantly, we develop practices that maximize both the tools and our ability to have dialog around things that matter to us. That may be around our favorite recipe, or rebuilding villages in Pakistan and Thailand. It may be around politics or celebrities. Can we go past "broadcasting" to truely having dialogs where it matters?

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rip, Mix, Learn - Another one by Darren Kuropatwa

Rip, Mix, Learn is a second lovely, simple example of a learning experience wrapped nicely into a blog. For those thinking about convening a learning experience around online interaction tools, take a peek.

(And I'm now searching all my music to listen to Tango all afternoon!)

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Tango as a Learning Metaphor

Image from No,Pip,No!!

Via Stephen Downes today comes this link to Darren Kuropatwa's blog based learning environment on - learning ecologies! "Orchestrating a Learning Ecology (or Learning the Tango)". Click on the video right away, even if you are only listening. This sets the tone and, for me, enhances (changes?) the experience of reading through Kuropatwa's writings.

The concept is simple:there are only three steps in the Tango, yet a myriad of combinations. Same in creating a learning ecology. The components, writes Kuropatwa, include:

* Informal, not structured. The system should not define the learning and discussion that happens. The system should be flexible enough to allow participants to create according to their needs.

* Tool-rich - many opportunities for users to dialogue and connect.

* Consistency and time. New communities, projects and ideas start with much hype and promotion...and then slowly fade. To create a knowledge sharing ecology, participants need to see a consistently evolving environment.

* Trust. High, social contact (face to face or online) is needed to foster a sense of trust and comfort. Secure and safe environments are critical for trust to develop.

* Simplicity. Other characteristics need to be balanced with the need for simplicity. Great ideas fail because of complexity. Simple, social approaches work most effectively. The selection of tools and the creation of the community structure should reflect this need for simplicity.

* Decentralized, fostered, compared to centralized, managed, and isolated.

* High tolerance for experimentation and failure
To that last one, I'd add high tolerance for ambiguity and diversity. Thinking about the recent conversations on blogging across all sorts of cultural borders, that becomes crucial.

In thinking about Kuropatwa's elements and community indicators, I find a lot of overlap. Interesting.

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Community Indicators - Asking for Help

Today on the ComPrac Yahoogroup, a long lived email based network of people interested in communities of practice, a member posted a plea for help in defining his dissertation question on communities of practices. Within a few hours some great responses were given by members of the group. Take a look at this one...Re: [cp] Help For My Dissertation. New member Vic Uzumeri offered some very useful and concrete suggestions.

Asking and answering --> a great community indicator! This has me thinking about my internal reflections on Squidoo. I haven't figured out how they intend to support interactivity between a lensmaster and users of the lens. I feel the need on my part for interaction. That's clearly my bias. Maybe it is reflective of my interpretation of what "everyone is an expert" means. To me, that means no one alone is an expert, but we, collectively, are the expert.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

First Monday December 2005 - It's Out and Interesting

As usual, the arrival of the online journal, First Monday brings a veritable cookie tray full of goodies about this strange online world we are living in. Here are the articles that are on my reading list and why:

Ringtones, or the auditory logic of globalization by Sumanth Gopinath. When I'm out of my home country, the US, I see a world of cultures linked to mobile phones. I had never thought about the cultural consequences, but triggered by the title of this article, I'm interested to think about them now!
This essay attempts to provide a description of the global ringtone industry, to determine and assess the numerous cultural consequences of the ringtone’s appearance and development, and to situate the ringtone within the context of contemporary capitalism. At its broadest, my assertion is that the development of the ringtone is a powerful lens through which we might clearly view some of the dynamics of present day (or “late”) capitalist cultural production, including the development of new rentier economies within oligopolistic sectors of production and consumption, and a long–term shift in global productive dominance from North America to the Pacific Rim. The ringtone is also a remarkable cultural phenomenon that is demonstrating a high degree of popularity and is undergoing rapid transformation; therefore, its short, continuing lifetime already needs to be assessed historically.

From Eleanor Rigby to Nannanet: The greying of the World Wide Web by Tara Brabazon. My mom blogs. What can I say. This is important, especially since one of these days, I'll be gray as well!
The proportion and number of wired seniors is small. A grey gap punctuates in the digital divide. The World Wide Web is not a panacea or salve for the isolation and ageism that confronts senior citizens. Yet a proactive and political desire to wire those who are living, dancing, talking and thinking in God’s Waiting Rooms around the world provide one more safety net and social safeguard to collectivize the dispersed and dispossessed. This article uses quantitative and qualitative studies to investigate how and why older populations dis/connect from the digital environment. Commencing with international surveys monitoring Web users, the study then drills down to regions with a high proportion of older residents, exploring if and then how seniors use the World Wide Web.

Agenda–setting, opinion leadership, and the world of Web logs by Aaron Delwiche. Another way to look at things rather than "blogger vs journalist!"
More than 350 studies have explored the agenda setting hypothesis, but most of this research assumes a clear distinction between reporters and their readers. Web logs erode this distinction, facilitating participatory media behavior on the part of audiences (Blood, 2003). The activities of journalistically focused web log authors give us new ways to understand and measure the agenda setting process. While previous researchers have explored issue salience by focusing on audience recall and public opinion, web logs invite us to consider hyperlinks as behavioral indicators of an issue’s perceived importance. This paper tracks news stories most often linked to by web log authors in 2003, comparing the results to stories favored by traditional media. Arguing that web log authors construct an alternative agenda within the admittedly limited realm of the blogosphere, I note that their focus has shifted from technology to broader political issues. My findings support Chaffee and Metzger’s (2001) prediction that “the key problem for agenda-setting theory will change from what issues the media tell people to think about to what issues people tell the media they want to think about” (375).

The use of the Internet to activate latent ties in scholarly communities
by Paul Genoni, Helen Merrick, and Michele Willson. I'm interested in peripheral participation and the power of weak ties, so this one looks interesting.
This paper presents the results of a survey on the use of the Internet by university-based scholars to contact unknown peers. These contacts are considered as examples of the activation of “latent ties” which are said to exist within communities with associated interests. The research indicates that the Internet facilitates the activation of these ties and that the degree to which it is used for this purpose is associated with academic rank.

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You Gotta Love Food Bloggers: A Menu for Hope II

Last year I blogged about the "Menu for Hope" effort of a beautiful circle of food bloggers to raise money for Tsunami relief. Well those fantastic folk are back at it - a great community indicator - with Menu for Hope II, this time for Pakistani quake relief. Check it out on host blog, Chez Pim. A Menu for Hope II:
"Welcome to the second annual A Menu for Hope campaign. As another year of our blogging adventures draws to a close, and as we are preparing to celebrate the holidays with our families and friends, we would like to take advantage of the season to ask you –our kind readers- for a little favor. Last year, we raised a substantial sum to support the victims of the Tsunami in Southeast Asia. This year, a group of us food bloggers would like to ask our readers -that would be you- to help us raise funds to support the victims of the devastating earthquake in the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan.

But what fun would it be just to come begging you for some dough, even if it is for a great cause? So, in order not to turn our otherwise fun blogs into the PBS pledge break bore, we've put together a huge list of cool, fun, and personal gifts -like only we could- to entice you to donate. Each of those gifts is offered as a virtual raffle prize. All you have to do is donate $5 and you will be eligible for the raffle drawing for a gift of your choice.

On our menu this year is everything from a chance to have an afternoon tea with the one and only Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini, to a personalized Napa Valley itinerary created by über-wine blogger Alder of Vinography, to a chance to b"
What is so astonishing here, well, not astonishing, HEART WARMING is that all these people, most of whom only know each other online, are responding with such generosity. And for a $5 buck donation, you have a great chances at something yummy and wonderful. Better yet, if we keep blogging about this, maybe our chances of getting something will diminish and there will be TONS MORE raised for the quake relief. Hop on over the Chez Pim and chip in.

And remember, if anyone tells you that online community is not real community, tell them they are WRONG!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Great Comment on Shelly's Blog

Burningbird » Slingshot
We probably fixate too much on the heat and not enough on the light. And by we I mean me. One of the inherent weaknesses of blogging is that there’s not much downside to being provocative. It’s really easy to interpret traffic and comments as praise.
Rogers Cadenhead

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A Community of Sound

Podcasting may be inundating us at every turn, and collaborative music projects about. But what about sounds themselves? The sounds of our world can now be heard on soundtransit.
SoundTransit is a collaborative, online community dedicated to field recording and phonography.

In the “Book” section of this site, you can plan a sonic journey through various locations recorded around the world. And in the “Search” section, you can search the database for specific sounds by member artists from many different places.
If you are a phonographer, you can also contribute your recordings for others to enjoy.

The Creative Commons Attribution license encourages the sharing and reuse of all sounds on this website.
I listened to this sound voyage, combining New York's Grand Central station, to the sound of waves on a Japanese bay, to a walk on the Sardinian coast. From a practical standpoint, it offers great sound clips for background on any multimedia production. From a "voyager" perspective it took me away for a moment, into someone else's world. It was like a mini meditation. The transitions were smooth. The sound went from one side of my headset to another as the waves lapped the shoreline.

I could see creating a soundtrack for doing yoga off this site, or something to help me concentrate when working. Another example of an amazing gift economy. Thanks, Soundtransit!

Edit: I just went and created yet another journey. This is truly an AMAZING site. I encourage you to experience it.

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What of the Online World if we Have a Flu Pandemic

My friend and colleauge Bill Harris of Facilitated Systems has suggested that those of us who teach/support/do online group work may be seeing a huge need for our services if there is a avian flu pandemic. How many people will opt to meet online rather than go into an office or travel to an affected region? I suspect plenty.

But today via a Wired article, Games Tackle Disaster Training, it is clear that many online forms may have a place in responding to a pandemic (and theoretically any other form of disaster.)
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding a series of computer games to help prepare health workers and other first responders facing bioterror attacks, nuclear accidents and pandemics."
Makes sense.

If you were preparing your company for a pandemic, what would you be doing to make sure the wheels of human interaction still went round for you?

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Updated multiple word Technorati tag creator for Blogger

Fellow Corante Web Hub Contributor Improbulus shared this great tool: Multiple word Technorati tag creator for Blogger (Firefox 1.5, Greasemonkey 0.6.4) with added features. I installed it today and voila, a VERY nice addition to blogger. THANK YOU!

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Tuesday Fun: Web 2.0 Validator : We're the dot in Web 2.0

My kids say I'm old skool. The Web 2.0 Validator seems to say the same. This blog scored 9 out of 35. Ha!

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Archive your Yahoo Group Messages

Have you invested a ton of yourself in a Yahoo group over the years? Want to maintain it offline? Check out Personal Groupware. They have a fully functioning free trial, and if you want to purchase it, it's USD $19.95. Here is what they say it can do (I haven't tried it yet).

* Download & archive all the messages from a Yahoo group.
* Import/Export all or a range of messages for group/s as one file.
* Hide posts prefixed with '>' so when you're reading a thread you only see new posts.
* Mark special messages as 'Favourite' so you can find them again easily.
* Sort by author, date, message number, subject, favourite or new status.
* Search messages by author, subject or content even over multiple groups!.
* Save and load search parameters. Save and load search results.
* View only new messages & read them in a digest format.
* See statistics for the group. See how many posts you've made, etc.
* Share attachments downloaded before the Yahoo cutoff."

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J. LeRoy: Stockphoto Racing

Jim offers a nice review of some of the new royalty free and member-supported stockphoto clients. If you need images, check out the review!

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Kiva - Investing In Human Lives

Today I gave my Pay Pal account a little exercise and invested in the businesses of two Tanzanian women. Via Kiva, I became a microlender. A provider of microcredit.(And no, this is not run by Microsoft!)

I'm sure many of you have heard of the work of places like the Grameen bank, which has been the leader in microlending. But it is hard for a place like Grameen to broker tiny loans from average Jane's like me. Well, make that an average Nancy. So this is where Kiva comes in.
"Kiva provides a new, sponsor a business option for individuals to connect with small enterprises in developing countries through flexible loans. "
Now THIS is what Web2.0 could be about. Simple. Rich with human connection. If everything goes according to plan, my investment will return to my PayPal account in the agreed upon time. Of course I risk losing it, but so far Kiva has had 100% payback. It's still early in the experiment, but microlending has a good rep - something like 97% repayment.

When my capital comes back, I can take it out, reinvest in another person, or donate the money to Kiva.

Simple. Direct. And this is a co-venture. There is something in it for each player. It is not me deciding how best to help someone else. It is me lending them something I have available and them using to do what they do best and know best.

I like it!

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Dear Squidfolk - My Experiences with Squidoo so Far

(Tone: read with your tongue partly in cheek)

Dear Squidfolk

You asked for feedback and here it comes, round 2! (Round 1 here)

It's been less than a week since I became a Squidoo lens master. Master? Clearly, I'm no master, especially when I turn on the old computer on a Sunday morning to find this, um, very friendly email.
Hello, Nancy White

As Lensmaster for the Squidoo Lens 'Communities of Practice', you are receiving this notification that your Lens will be deleted in 4 days unless you improve it.

Improved lenses are defined as lenses that have been published with two or more modules; unimproved lenses are deleted automatically after 7 days.

The Squidoo Team
Now signing a note that is, at best, neutral, with "sincerely" does not jive for me. Yes, this is just one person's reading. But then after tone, I'm thinking, when did they tell me about this rule?

I tried to find on the site where this rule is explained to me. I mean, it makes sense, but dontcha think it would be a good idea to make sure lens owners know this before they go signing up for lenses? I started scanning through the FAQ and terms of service, and I can't find anything that explains this. The "rules" section is all about what you can't do, not what you are expected or required to do. Nor can I find the "Beta Guidelines" nor the "Beta Blog" mentioned in the FAQ. I tried searching for it... no luck. Old copy? There is an "Official Squid Blog."

In the how to section, the most I could find was this "Click on "Create a lens" anywhere in the site. This will take you to our LensBuilder. It takes about 2 minutes to set up a lens. Once you've created it, you can come back and work on it bit by bit to make it really great." Bit by bit, eh? But within 7 days.

This leads me to my first suggestion. Give us a page that puts all this information in one place.

Second suggestion, I'd like a lensmaster login on the front page. Save me a click, ok? I'm lazy. Well, no, I'm not lazy, but I hate to waste time. Blogging fills that part of my life very well!

Third, tell me more clearly what you expect from me. Maybe after a person sets up a lens, you email them this information so if they missed something in the fine print (and that's easy to do) they have a second chance.

Four, talk nicer to me, ok? That email sounds more like a threat than encouragement. We're in this together, right? You need me, and I need you. If my lens is going to disappear, can you give me some pointers to suggestions on how to improve if before I decide that this game is no fun and I don't want to play? Can you point to a great lens to inspire me? I'd be much more likely to do something.

Finally, my last suggestion totally a personal quibble and I know I'm risking ridicule to even mention it. It simply reflects the value I put in "real coops." I'd suggest some text changes to this part of the FAQ because I think you are using cute text (granola on the floor) at the expense of an important idea. The coop form is a very specific legal form with a great deal of value to many communities in the US and has an even more long standing meaning across the world. I had to also wonder that you guys, having read you for a long time, would associate yourselves with the term "old-fashioned corporation." That could mean many things to many people. This may be a case where direct writing rather than cute would serve your transparency and intents better.
Yes, Squidoo is an old-fashioned corporation, with real employees and investors. We're not legally organized as a co-op, not in the sense that we've got granola all over the floor or that we are owned and controlled by volunteers. Instead, we've structured the organization so that we're in a partnership with our lensmasters. It's a co-op in the sense that the more you give, the more you get.
So as a wrap up before I delve into the world of contemplating Christmas cookies, if you want me to give more, make your expectations a bit clearer up front. This give me a better way to determine if I have the ability to contribute in a truely cooperative manner. I like the idea behind Squidoo. I think you have a tremendous start. But I'd suggest that how we interact with each other is critical to your bottom line.

[Edit, Monday at 1:49pm PST - Please read the comments, which I know on Blogger don't show up without a click or two. Heath from Squidoo had some good info.]

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Crash Course on Blogging for Non Profits - December 19th

Ken Yarmosh and La Shawn Barber are offering a Crash Course on Blogging - December 19th
"Are you a Washington, D.C., metro area non-profit organization ready to take the plunge into blogging? Are you confused, skeptical, or outright frustrated with the process?

Then Crash Course on Blogging is exactly what you need. This two-and-a-half hour seminar will demystify the technical and social aspects of blogging and get you on your way to increasing traffic to your static web site and connecting with current donors and would-be donors."
I'm just getting to know Ken, who is the editor for the new Corante Web Hub and he seems like a pretty smart guy. This looks like a great opportunity for NPO/NGO folks in the DC area of the US to climb on the blog-wagon.


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Information & Communication Systems (ICS) in Disaster Response and Management

A MindCamper, Ario, turned me on to this University of Washington course resource site: "Understanding and Improving the Role of Information & Communication Systems (ICS) in Disaster Response and Management". It turns out that this course cites the work of Paul Currion, whom I've linked to here about a Katrina paper. It is always interesting how things intersect. (By the way, Paul is currently blogging from Pakistan, looking at technology application around the recent earthquake.)

If you are interested in the application of online tools and technologies to some of the worlds thorny problems, this site is full of interesting reads.

For those of you who are big Web2.0 thinkers, how do you imagine the changing web tools and environments might help? How do our grand ideas jive with the electricity, phone and bandwidth scarcity not just in disaster areas, but in 2/3rds world where this is the norm? There are so many brilliant tech minds... it seems we should tap into them to help in the area of humanitarian relief, eh?

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EmailList Managers FAQ

It is amazing how many resources are out there. I happened upon this one today when doing a little Yahoogroups research. It hasn't been updated in a while, but there are some great resources for both list owner/moderators/facilitators and members. Some people think email lists are so "yesterday" but I believe they are still the most commonly used online interaction tool, particularly in the more limited bandwidth parts of the world (i.e. - most of the world!) Check it out. EmailList-Managers FAQ.
A gathering place for helpful info, tips and suggestions to help make email lists easier for both listowners and list members."

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Mena's Excellent Question - Productive Conversations Online?

About Six Apart - Mena’s Corner
"Is it possible to have the sort of productive face-to-face connection or conversation that Ben M. and I had offline in an online world? And what can we, as bloggers, do to facilitate that?"

That question is one I hope people will start answering on their blogs. (Hm, that could use a tag, eh? productiveconversations?) And I appreciate the word faclitate. Remember, facilitate means "to make easy." It does not mean "how do we manipulate others to act in the way we wish them to!"

I know the answer is yes we can, but we don't often succeed. More later. Nuff of this for a Friday. Time for a glass of wine or a beer!

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Please be nice - our expectations on back channel

Part 1: "Be Nice to the Speakers"
I had a lovely giggle when I read Loic's LeMeur's transcript of his opening presentation of LesBlogs. It had this little bit in it:Opening remarks: welcome to Les Blogs 2.0 !
"the funniest part will probably be the backchannel, use it as you wish but please be nice to the speakers again, except Jason "
With all that transpired, this is a great reminder about expectations -- and how they are always more of a wish than a reality! Is the intention that the conference backchannel is a place for the clever to strut their stuff? Funniness? I know I have enjoyed it that way (and being far less clever, caused me to "listen" more than "speak.") What is nice? Was that another sarcastic aside? (I can't tell from a text transcript.) Is the backchannel a place to make meaning with and around the podium presentation? To rip it apart? To agree in substance? To attack or belittle the presenter? Is it that the audience takes on the role of speaker?

Personally I think it can and is usefully applied in many ways - often mixed. But what we EXPECT from it matters. Loic's lighthearted introduction might have set a tone. Maybe it was barely heard. But it is great food for thought about our intentions behind the tools we offer and use.

Part 2: Scaling Sociality in the Backchannel
In small groups we can do a pretty good job of sensing each other, offering "slack" and generally working through our disagreements. When the group grows larger, even where there is some form of identity present, it is easier to take less intentional responsibility for the cumulative impacts of our communication. We can "hide" a little bit amongst the crowd. There is not the time and space to go deeper than generalizations and the performance aspects often trump the content. We broadcast. Taken in that context, back channel can quickly go from a smaller group interaction with context and sociality, up to large, broadcast behavior, particularly when displayed behind the podium. It can lose its sociality.

Ben and Mena had what looked to be an ackward and difficult public interaction that started with the intersection of backchannel and live, all in the large group context. Contrast that with what sounds like a productive private conversation after the very public dust up. The success was helped by the intimacy of private communication, with proximity that allows us to listen, adjust, respond with some finesse.

This next bit is half baked -- I'm thinking out loud here.

Backchannel can feel a bit private, particularly when it is not projected behind a speaker. If 8 people are posting, they can be having a small group experience, even while a larger group (which may or may not have the personal context of the active group) just reading it are having a potentially different broadcast experience. One line amongst a fast flowing stream of text is a different sort of utterance than a comment from the podium. A comment from the podium feels public, but can be experienced personally (as it seems Ben experienced). A backchannel post, because it is not the focus of attention, feels more intimate. So what happens when it all gets mixed up? I'm not sure we all know how to handle that yet. We have a lot to learn and probably have a ways to go to negotiate expectations amongst ourselves for what experience we want to create.

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Yahoo buys - Think about the thread that ties things together....

Yahoo buys! I'm not surprised and it puts another lego into the construction I'm seeing assembled. I say lego, because this is all remixable. Think about it. There is probably no other community tool that has been around and used as much as Yahoogroups. Yet for years, it was a poor stepchild in the Yahoo universe. But as I've blogged before, that has been changing. The addition of Flickr, Yahoo360, the new RSS element of the beta email product. Adding is a perfect fit. y.ah.oo!:
"We're proud to announce that has joined the Yahoo! family. Together we'll continue to improve how people discover, remember and share on the Internet, with a big emphasis on the power of community. We're excited to be working with the Yahoo! Search team - they definitely get social systems and their potential to change the web. (We're also excited to be joining our fraternal twin Flickr!)
The flikr twin bit is important here. There is a common DNA. The idea of easily assembled and remixed pieces, tied to the identity of a member. Keep that in mind. OK, lets take it a step further.

Imagine you are a distributed community of practice. You have been using Yahoogroups as your main communications platform for the last 7 or 8 years - and before one of the products that Yahoo bought and folded into groups. You have put up with the ads and the vagaries for years. It was free and scalable. It worked. Some of your members got their group mail in private yahoo mail so their membership was portable as they moved across jobs. Yahoo IM supported real time, one to one interaction and "backchannel" (which, by the way, is not limited to conferences!).

Now some of your members have flickr feeds. When the group meets F2F, all the photos have a flickr tag. You are using someone else's wiki for notetaking, because there is no YahooWiki!

Some of the member have blogs on Yahoo 360. Some are aggregating their YahooGroup content on 360, some on MyYahoo. What better addition than a social tagging/bookmarking element like delicious. Aggregate all the members' tags, right into 360 or MyYahoo. It is getting really interesting...

Now all we need is something to weave it together. is part of the thread. With MyYahoo is another -- imagine all these things coming tgether for your individual view. But what is the community view? How do I see all the delicious tags or flickr pictures of everyone in my community of practice? How do I search just across that group's tools (list, files, tags, pictures, blogs)? How do I manage my participation in this group? In the 5 groups I belong to? How can I mix and remix the elements across my groups to balance volume, reputation, relevancy and my own privacy and identity.

The pieces are there. The thread to hold it together is what I'm looking for next. Will Yahoo do it? Will Google, who is similarly positioning products, do it? Microsoft?

Just a hint to all of you. One of your biggest assets is all of us who run/moderate/facilitate groups online. We are your gateways (gateway drug??LOL) to this world. Communicate with us. Ask us what we observe and want.

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Living Life Online: Online End of Class Party

Via Stephen comes this great description of a community celebration online! It harkens back to some stuff I wrote back in 2001 about "staying in the moment" online! In the workshop I teach on online facilitation, we talk about celebrations as part of a group's life. It is great to read of others' experience! I've included some snippets here, but click through and read his whole post if you work with online groups. There is a lot here that applies far beyond parties!

Virtual Canuck » Online End of Class Party
So, let me explain how we celebrated the end of class and the festive Christmas Season in MDE663 – a Masters of Distance Education degree course at Athabasca University.

The medium used was an audiographic webconferencing system ( The fourteen participants were spread across Canada and one student was from Barbados and other from the United Arab Emirates (UAE)... The rest of us donned our party atire, filled our not virtual glasses and logged in for our usual Tuesday night class - between 5:00 and 9:00 PM at our local times.

I had set the scene by requesting that everyone bring a Holiday gift (that is a politically correct Christmas present) to share with the class. The gift could be in any medium supported by Elluminate (web tour, graphics, Powerpoint, audio or video file) Since we had been studying podcasts, patterns, copyright and next generation LMS systems, I had high expectations (and was not disappointed) in the quality nor variety of the gifts.

...Then we each took a turn at offering our present to the class. There was a musical recording of a Christmas Carol complete with a life howling dog accompaniment. A wonderful Powerpoint of how Christmas is celebrated in the Bahamas. A gift of a referral to a couple of very useful freeware utilities, a Flip Book of a video clip on paper. Of course we visited Santa, saw a few funny Jpegs and shared best wishes all around.

All and all a great party, and best (worst) of all, it is all recorded for posterity as an Elluminate file. I’d share the URL, but then would you really want your staff Christmas Party shared over the Net???

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Should I Switch to VOIP?

My internet provide, the Seattle based Speakeasy, has been sending me literature about VOIP phone service. We have two lines: a home line and my business line. I've been using SkypeOut for my international business calls -- and that has worked fine. But their latest campaign which asks me to Do the Math has me thinking.

They now have free international calling to 22 countries (not including mobile phones). Yes! Some nice additional features. Downside is with two lines, they have a little disclaimer that the second line may suffer depending on local in my home network. Some days that might be an issue.

Have you gone VOIP? What do you think? Should I do it? Should I give Qwest the boot?

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Holiday Resource: Nancy's Fudge Recipe

It's time for a chocolate blog. If you like to make fudge for the holidays, here is a great recipe. Supposedly it came from See's Candies a billion years ago. Nancy's Fudge Recipe.

So what does this have to do with online interaction? Hey, we all need chocolate, offline or on!

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extraordinary [what's next....]

Chris Heuer posts a sweet one on flickr...

Click on it to see the larger image... the thumbnail doesn't do it justice! Remix at work!

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Context: Mena's Speach Transcript from LesBlogs

Mena Trott Implodes Onstage. News at 11. I have to giggle at how she titled the post. It is helpful to have the transcript as we think about the issues.
Civility is defined as a courteous act or courteous acts that contribute to smoothness and ease in dealings and social relationships.
Definitions are always interesting launch points. 'Nuff for today. Gotta get some work done and it is already nearly 4pm. Another day, swirling down the blogging drain!

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Blog Civility? Collecting Thoughts for a SXSW Panel

Today I was mining blog and discussion board posts for resources to help inform my thinking on the panel some of us are doing next March at South by Southwest. First, I realized I had not taken the wraps off our planned work. So I wanted to do that today.

I also wanted to open my explorations to my blog readers -- and tap your mind and ideas. It seemed fitting to do it today with all the blog conversations about Mena & Ben's interaction at LesBlogs2. I need others' thoughts and experiences because I know I have my own patterns and biases.

Before the "what" I want to tell the story of how this came about. Last August a few of us starting talking about the tensions around US and THEM, both online and offline. There was one particular incident that followed BlogHer had me wondering about my avoidance of conflict, and the complicity implied if I did not speak up. The tone and content of another writer just had me in knots. Were my experiences or expectations realistic? Pollyannaish? Bill Anderson suggested we convene a telephone call - so we did. We both posted an invite on our blogs. We wrote "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?"

A nice handful of folks joined us (US and UK) and we continued to sporadically have calls through the fall (North American fall). Encouraged by the thoughtfulness of the conversations, Bill and I thought that this would make a juicy offering to SXSW, so we sent in a proposal. Once that was accepted, we found our great panelists. But let's get the content down -- I'm wandering, as usual!

Second, the what. Here is our blurb:

Us and Them: A blog conversation survival guide
The online experience of communicating with each other through blogs can sometimes feel more like a sparring match than a conversation. Even outside of the A-list blogs that use conflict as an attractor and entertainment factor, there are plenty of examples of blog comment streams that contain a good deal of invective as well as personal attacks. This isn't true of all blogs but it happens often enough that we wonder if we can find more ways to have conversations with each other with blogs, or if we should even expect this? This panel explores and questions our individual and collective behavior in blogs and blog comments.
  • How do we support authentic personal expression and its consequences in the blog commons?
  • How do we have constructive conversations in an arena of differing views?
  • Is “civility” fake, dishonest, or really useful?
  • As we promote blogs as a medium of self-expression, and a basis for online interaction and community, what gets in the way of listening and sharing?
  • Do we split ourselves into "us" and "them" as a rhetorical device, and a way to entertain, or as a way to stay independent?
Finally, the fantastic "who." It is going to be a grand adventure to do this project with Bill Anderson of Praxis 101, my co-conspirator in planning the panel, joined by Koan Bremner, Grace Davis and Tish Grier. (Yes, Bill, we have you outnumbered!) This configuration reflects 5 people who wade into all kinds of interesting online interactions with a range of views about how we interact with each other online. We are not without controversy. :-)

Over the next few months we'll continue our conversations with our other colleagues, tather ideas from blogs and really dig down to what we think about productive blog conversations. There is so much to think about -- what civility means, how we talk productively about the hard stuff, when throwing rocks might be a good ideas and that sense of creative abrasion. Oh, and the demonization of nice. Or the demonization of assholes. :-) Above all, I want to be clear: this is not about enforcing one set of norms or values, but finding out when and how to negotiate a path when we need and want to. The diversity of our world, online and off, makes a single practice not only unwanted, but impossible.

Some past posts related to this below, and if you want, you can track our bookmarks with the usthem and SXSWPanelPrep tags on

Past Related Posts:
How it Happens Changes Us
Difficult Conversations
Blogs, Forums, Us and Them
Community Indicators: Hello and Good Day

Some Inspiration:
“Relationship is the primary connecting dimension of our system, however, understood not merely as a warm, protective envelope, but rather as a dynamic conjunction of forces and elements interacting toward a common purpose. The strength of our system lies in the ways we make explicit and then intensify the necessary conditions for relations and interaction.”

-Malaguzzi, Founder of The Reggio Emilia School

"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."

- Mitch Ratcliff, Cloudmakers R Us

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Flickr: Photos from eye:hand

Another creative effort on flickr - Flickr: Photos from eye:hand. I like the online/offline blend here: digital photo to hand drawn picture. Though it looks like some of the pictures were done with paint programs. From a community perspective, I wonder how people feel once they have contributed their image? Do they feel "a part" of it? Does it matter?

To participate:
here's how to play
1. take a photo of yourself.
2. look at that photo.
3. draw yourself as you are in that photo.
4. email your photo, your drawing and your first name to
eyehandproject AT yahoo DOT COM
5. i will post them here.
6. come back and visit

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Some thoughts on back channel and intermediated conferences from Raymond M. Kristiansen

Just a bookmarker here of two of Raymond's post/observations about the back channel at LesBlogs. Intermediated conferences :
"Yesterday and today I attended the back-channel of the Les Blogs 2.0 conference in Paris. I couldn’t make it to the conference in meatspace, but I could still follow parts of the discussion on the irc chat [log] and via Flickr, Technorati and so on.

Back-channels at conferences. How do they affect the relationship between those on the stage and the audience?"
The second is his post and link to video of an interaction between a presenter (Mena Trott) and Ben Metcalfe who had been active in the back channel - this time on the topic of civility in backchannel and blog comments.

I'm tracking this topic because Bill Anderson and I are running a panel at SXSW on this topic. More grist for the mill.

A couple of other references to the above story. (particularly the comment thread in this one and this one) (backchannel)

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Edited to fix a name and add a few more links.

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When Blogging Becomes a Communal Act

Steven Downes pointed to this post by Konrad Glogowski today, blog of proximal development » Tools Interiorized which is full of juicy things about the impact of blogs and groups. First, a few snippets for context and because they are so rich, intermixed with a bit of commentary. The implications here for community, especially forms such as communities of practice is signficant.

...when we started experiencing problems with the class blogosphere, my students were the first ones to notice and complain. I heard many comments which helped me fully understand what our blogging community means to my students. They complained about unreliable access to their work. Many of them actually said that they couldn’t prepare for assignments or test their knowledge of some of the texts we’d been reading. I listened to all these carefully and took notes every single time something was said to me about technical problems. I have included excerpts from my log notes below:

“I feel like I’ve lost all my binders”
“Now that my blog is gone, English feels different”
“How are we gonna discuss things?”

“You know that assignment last night that we did on Word?”
“Yes. Did you do it?”
“I did, but writing it felt strange.”
“How so?”
“It was like - like talking to someone who was not listening.”

...It quickly became clear from what they were saying to me that blogging was synonymous with English class, that their class consisted primarily of a community and that its absence had an impact on learning.

...I realized that they had formed a bond, not just with each other as learners but also with the community itself. My students got used to inhabiting a space which, as virtual as it was, constituted an important part of their learning experience. When the space became temporarily inaccessible, learning itself seemed to be put on hold.
So we have the first interesting intersection here between technology, the community and it's processes. They "got used" to things. They adapted and adopted to the container Konrad offered them. And when it broke, the implications emerged. Typically, we don't notice this stuff until something goes awry! Note for community technology stewards: find opportunities to see these cues before the dang thing breaks!

After "fixing" the technology situation with new software...
As soon as they were able to create their new individual blogs, the first question was:

“What about the old posts?”

The new space, I realized, was not really a blog or a community. It was an empty space and almost all of them were overcome by a need to populate their new blogs. They have been working very hard since but many also insisted on transferring their old entries to the new blogs. Their blogging identity, it seems to me, is so inextricably linked to their writing that abandoning their old work seemed somehow wrong. Many were very disappointed that the comments they received cannot be automatically moved with the posts.
Hm, so identity as manifest by their artifacts. Makes a lot of sense to me. Would they have felt the same way if it was a wiki?
....This experience confirmed my belief that blogging is about creating communities. My students didn’t really miss writing itself. Had that been the case, they wouldn’t have complained about writing in notebooks. What they missed was situated writing, a cognitive activity situated within a specific space that fosters cognitive engagement. They missed interactions, interactions with texts and with each other through texts. They missed the sense of participation and their audience. They missed the exploratory environment of the class blogosphere. The student who, having written his assignment in a notebook, complained about feeling like he was talking to himself, missed making connections, he missed the web of correspondences that they have been weaving since September. Their efforts to transfer their entries from their old blogs to the new ones were really efforts to rebuild that network.

I know that the network will continue to emerge through their writing. The network is not an exterior aid that helps them write. It emerges because of their work, through their work. The software we use to create these communities, to enable this kind of learning, is a tool interiorized - a tool that has become an integral part of who they are as learners
What I wondered about here was how much of this was about context. How much about ownership and control of one's artifacts, and how much about the audience -- in this case their teacher who might be grading on those artifacts! I strongly concur about the interiorization, but I also think there are exterior factors at work. And it is the "coming together" of internal (indivdiual) and external (group?) factors that creates this juicy space. Or lets it emerge.

See also Konrad's postBlogging as Attempts at Understanding. Well, keep reading the whole dang blog. Lots of thoughtful blogging. Thanks, Konrad!

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Rosie blogs and now has a store attached

I don't know why I keep coming upon them, but this intersection of blogs and retail keeps popping on to my radar screen. Part of me likes it - I can hear from the biz owners. Part of me deeply distrusts it; yet another way to fake it. FWIW, I don't think Rosie is faking it. First she had a blog. Now she has a blogstore. r store. I like the "go blog urself" t-shirt.

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A pediatric digital storytelling system

I have been working with a client that has a huge communication challenge: complex things to share across very diverse and distributed constituences, some of it very technical. I keep thinking about the role of stories. When we say "tell a story" it has a certain tone that doesn't always have credibility in some domains like science. Yet it brings context to content that otherwise is easy to gloss over and dismiss. I was happy to stumble upon this bit, A pediatric digital storytelling system for third year medical students: The Virtual Pediatric Patients: "A pediatric digital storytelling system for third year medical students: The Virtual Pediatric Patients, by
Donna M D'Alessandro , Tamra E Lewis and Michael P D'Alessandro, 19 July 2004



Computer-based patient simulations (CBPS) are common, effective, instructional methods for medical students, but have limitations.

The goal of this project was to describe the development of a CBPS designed to overcome some of these limitations and to perform an online evaluation.


In 1996, patients and families experiencing a common pediatric problem were interviewed, photographed and a chart review completed. A digital storytelling template was developed: 1. patient's story, evaluation and clinical course, 2. problem-based approach to the evaluation, and 3. discussion of disease process. The media was digitized and placed onto the Internet. The digital stories and a 10-question online survey were pilot tested. Online survey responses were collected from 1999–2003. Overall use of the digital stories was measured by computer server logs and by the number of hyperlinks to the CBPS.


Eight stories were created using this system. Over 4.5 years, 814,148 digital story pages were read by 362,351 users. Hyperlink citations from other websites to the CBPS were 108. Online survey respondents (N = 393) described the overall quality as excellent or very good (88.4%). The stores were clearly written (92%) at an appropriate level (91.4%). Respondents felt they could begin to evaluate a similar case presentation (95.4%), and would remember the case in the future (91%).


A new type of CBPS, the digital storytelling system, has been developed and evaluated which and appears to be successful in overcoming some of the limitations of earlier CBPS by featuring patient's stories in their own words, by focusing on problems rather than diseases, and by having stories that are quick for students to work through.
Food for thought.

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Squidoo Goes Live - Lenses, Experts and Human Touch

Seth Godin's new project, Squidoo, went live today. I could not resist and started building lenses and, 2.5 hours later, I finally realized I had not eaten breakfast. I've started four lenses. I hesitate to say "built" because I HAVE to go do client work. You have to pay for your chocolate one way or another. Ooh, I should make a chocolate lens too!

Here are the four I started. Suggestions for content welcomed. I chose the option that any funds generated by my lenses go to charity - full disclosure. I'm not in this for the money!

Here is a bit about the site, from the site (but let me tell you, because of how it is constructed, it is hard to copy stuff and share it - like the mouseovers with great one liners on the front page! Put those in the "about" section too!)

From the "About" Section
Squidoo is a co-op run on behalf of its members, the lensmasters.

We have built an online platform that makes it easy for anyone to build lenses on topics they are passionate about. These lenses help you find a unique, human perspective on things that interest you... fast. Not only can Lensmasters spread their ideas, get recognized for their expertise, and send more traffic to their Web sites and blogs—they could also earn royalties.

Once our closed beta is over, lensmaster royalties will go to the lensmaster directly, or to organizations chosen by the lensmaster, or to our charity pool. Squidoo's goal as a co-op is to pay as much money as we can to our lensmasters and to charity.
Check out the full team too. I was happy to see Heath Row in the gang.

My first impressions? If you are infoholic, addiction comes to mind. If you already manage a number of sites, finding a way to intelligently work across them will become a must. This continues on my previous theme of multimembership and is worth some more detailed exploration. For example, they have a lensmaster bookmarklet, but it is pretty heavy. I'd like a pop up that more easily allows me to put a link into an existing link list. Right now even though I try to place into the existing module, it keeps starting a new module on me. Bug or user error?

I worry about those of us who are early adopters who snatch up good lenses and then leave them fallow. It will be interesting to see if and how the Squidoo folks help us stay in the game. Those going for money might end up more motivated. I don't know. It will be interesting to track my engagement.

You can also transfer ownership of a lense. For example, I claimed the Community of Practice lense, but really, it should be run by Etienne Wenger. Would he have the time or inclination? I don't think so. It would be great though, if we could be co editors. He the brains, me the info-holic. Or the three of us working on the Technologies for Communities report co-edit that lense. You can tell I'm a communal being. What can I say. James Farmer, come set me straight!

While you are at it, check out Seth's Free eBook, Everyone is an Expert. Some other time I need to post on that word "expert." It is a "fat word" (a la Anecdote) like "facilitator," and "process!"

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Geeky Holiday Gifts - Threadless T-Shirts (plus a community angle)

I have two nearly grown sons. Buying things for them can be, um, challenging. Now I don't think they read my blog (this is a test!) but I have scored some great T-shirts for them at Threadless. Too bad I already bought mine, because there is a new design, "Biblical Disasters" which I think they'd like!

Right now, through Thursday, they are only ten bucks. And no, they are not paying me to say this. This is just a public service announcement from a mom out to the world. Check out the great designs at Threadless T-Shirts - Wowzeee ... $10 Christmas Sale!!!.

Now the "community person" in me also has to comment here. Threadless gets their designs from their customers. Customers decide which get printed and every design has a blog for comments. There are interviews with the designers.

Marketers, take note!

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Welcome to (CoP) Blogging, Dorine

Although this is her second blog, I'm pointing to Dorine Rüter's Weblog because she joins a group of people who are blogging a lot about communities of practice - particularly distributed communities. In checking out her blog, I already see a linkage to CoP blogger Joitske! Dorine recently emailed me (well, it was two weeks ago and I got around to answering it today. I'm no longer able to keep up with my 24 hour turnaround goal!) and today, while searching Technorati for CoP blogs to answer someone else's question, I found Dorine's blog. Nice connections.

With respect to bloggers that write about CoPs (usually among many other things!), here are a few of my favorites - who are yours?

Joitske Hulsebosch
Erik VanBekkum
Martin Roulleaux Dugage
Jack Vinson
Ton Zylstra
Denham Grey(and Denhams AMAZING Knowledge Wiki and here
Jim McGee
Lilia Efimova
Dave Pollard
Rosanna Tarsiero

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Blogs, Responsiveness and What the Web Can Do

Lisa Williams blogged about her experience as a landlord using Craigslist to find tennants at 3:46 pm on December 3rd (a Saturday). It wasn't such a hot experience. By 6:58 pm Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark had commented and said "Hey, i’m sorry that happened, but our feedback suggests it’s an unusual exception." Not a big huge post nor an excuse. Just an acknowledgement and a bit of data. By 10:53 Lisa had replied.
"Wow. I know you’re a real person…yet I feel as though my blog has had a supernatural visitation.

Yes, the three no-shows in a row did leave me pretty cranky. I did get a lot of good tips in the forums from other small landlords about how to reduce the number of no-shows. That was nice.

I’ll try again. "
Text book example of what can happen when you use online media to "hear" what people are saying, and even better yet, show you are listening as a real person.

The application is obvious for business, but I'd go way further than that. NGOs and NPOs, distributed teams and communities. We have to listen. We have to show we are listening.

Now the downside (and related to my earlier post on multimembership). How can we cope with all this listening we have to do? Craig replied on a Saturday. Life goes on. How to balance?

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Yahoo 360, Yahoo Groups and Managing Multi Membership

I have run a rather large Yahoo group since 1997. Over the years I have joined (and left) many groups. I also belong to a number of other email-based groups. What has happened over the years is that it has become more and more difficult to manage my "multimembership" (a term I first heard discussed in this way from Etienne Wenger in the context of communities of practice.)

Much of what I do for work and pleasure is mediated through online groups and communities. The question is, how do I manage all this, particularly when they are spread across different online tools and internet locations?

With the advent of tools that allow us to mix and remix our web experience (aka Web 2.0) it seems like a good time to think about how we better manage our multimembership. Finding my way through and across online conversations, bookmarks, tags, content, relationships and networks seems like a lynchpin to a number of things, including distributed (virtual - hate the label in this setting, but it's accepted) teams and communities of practice.

It is like being able to see my world at a 10,000 foot level, zoom in to details or recombine the intelligence across all the groups I belong to for application to a particular situation. It is my brain on my network (rather than drugs or chocolate!)


[Cross posted at my 360 Page]

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

A short reflection on what it means to "help"

Via NetSquared comes this VERY important quote for anyone trying to "save the world" and even more important for anyone seeking to apply technology to "help" others. Despite our very bests efforts, helping sometimes turns to damage. When there is a shared outcome, driven by choice, not leverage of grant funds strung before hungry noses, there is a chance for positive movement.

Last week I posted a few things related to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) meeting in Tunis in November. While there were trumpeting headlines about the $100 laptop, there were those trying to critically reflect on what is "done" unto others in the name of "helping" -- particularly from the North. Pilots that build hope then dissolve into nothing. Programs that are so skimmed that the intended beneficiaries never see results. Good intentioned but ill informed outsider who lack enough cultural context to suggest meaningful work.

This is not to question the act of doing or giving, but to suggest that it should be reflective and contextual. The advice of Lilla Watson is good advice, for example, to those designing "Web 2.0 applications" that they wish to contribute positively to the world. Technology is not neutral. It carries our values and beliefs. If you are a designer, have you articulated your values and beliefs? Those of your intended recipient or user? Are they congruent? What is underneath that line of code? What is your liberation?

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WikiMatrix / Wiki Feature Comparison

All I can say is offerings like this are damned useful. Thanks, WikiMatrix (and know you will be referenced as a great resource in an upcoming publication on technologies for communities of practice. WikiMatrix / Wiki Feature Comparison - Compare them all
"Welcome to the brand new, your number one source to find the Wiki engine that matches your or your company's needs."
Thanks to EHub for the link.

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Bibliography on Gender and Technology in Education

Via Stephen Downes, comes a pointer every BlogHer will delight in: Center for Women and Information Technology: Bibliography on Gender and Technology in Education
"The Bibliography on Gender and Technology in Education has been created by gender equity specialist Jo Sanders. Focusing primarily on information technology, the bibliography is comprehensive as of 2005 and draws on international research as well as intervention literature. It contains nearly 700 entries and is extensively annotated, key-worded, and searchable. Sanders compiled the bibliography for her 2005 review article, 'Gender and Technology: A Research Review.'"
You can get it via PDF or EndNote. It is 94 pages of mostly print references. If you are studying women and technology, this looks like a gold mine. I'd love to see a web version with links to online resources and ways to contribute/keep it alive. I know, I always want more! :-)

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Community Indicators - Welcome Pages

"Walking" in to a community cold can be hard. Who do I talk to? What do I do? Why are they talking/acting/working this way? One indicator from a community that it is open to new people is the way it welcomes them. Here is an example from Ward Cunninham's original wiki:Welcome Visitors:
"Welcome to the WikiWikiWeb, also known as WardsWiki.

This community has been around for a long time. This is the first wiki, created in 1995, and consists of a large number of people. Many people have their first wiki experience here, and we always accept newcomers with valuable contributions. If you haven't used a wiki before, be prepared for a bit of CultureShock. The beauty of Wiki is in the democratic freedom, simplicity, and power it offers."

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December 1 - World AIDS Day 2005

Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
From my friend Lars, comes PeaceTiles' work to create visibility for AIDS on World AIDS Day. Lars writes:
As we celebrate those who have been lost, who struggle on, and who are fighting to end the global AIDS pandemic this World AIDS Day 2005, I wanted to share with you two exciting ways you can share uplift.

First, you can compose your own Peace Tiles "mural" and send it to a friend by using the Peace Tiles "ecard" maker designed and produced by TakingITGlobal founder, Michael Furdyk:

You can also check out a selection of more than 80 art works produced by more than 1,000 young people in 11 countries spanning four continents. The images you can see were produced in Peace Tiles workshops convened by our passionate and dedicated colleagues around the world. The images are here:

Finally, you might be excited to know that Peace Tiles are have been evolving around other issues as well. One such issue is child soldiers in Uganda. Have a look at the following video clip (hint: the *good* part comes toward the end!).

In case you can't access the video, you can read about the effort here:

If you would like to find ways to use Peace Tiles to tackle other issues, locally and globally, please consider starting a discussion forum when you register and join
Art, technology, time, money, heart, mind -- we need to use it all to do so many things, including heal the world from HIV/AIDS, particularly in 2/3rds worlds where the impacts, deeply intertwined with poverty, are wiping out generations. At the same time, my plea is not to paint with a brush that wipes out the diversity, the locality, the individuality of each life and community.

I'm sending the postcard image you see in this post to my friends. But a postcards is just the first step. The next is to act.

Do something today to move the issue forward on World AIDS Day.

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