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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Right Speech - Can it help us facilitate dialog online?

Ruby over on LotusMedia2.0 had a great post last week about Right Speech.
Right speech is one of the steps on the Eight-fold Path in Buddhism. The path is the way to end suffering, which is one of the Four Noble Truths. While contemplating the new year, I have been thinking about this step and about working to be more conscious of my speech (both verbal and written) before it impacts others.
Ruby's post struck home to me on two levels.

First, with my interest in the non profit/NGO sector, I think about how we perceive our "help" when we volunteer or think we know what is right for someone else. Often the folks from "developed" countries come in and we tell everyone what to do, how to fix it, as if we really know. We have many gifts to offer others, but it needs to be in the context of both the giver and the recipient. Right Speech might help us figure that out.

Second, right speech might offer a concrete way for us to facilitate dialog online. Lets take a look at some of the specifics Ruby quoted:
The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows:
1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully,
2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others,
3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and
4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth.

Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.
When I think about the panel a bunch of us are doing next month at South by Southwest Interactive, this gives me some food for thought.

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Monday, January 30, 2006

What Does it Mean to "Facilitate Conversations" Online?

Shel Israel blogged earlier this week about blogging and PR. I've fled the world of PR enough times to not deeply care about the domain from a commercial standpoint, but it still is an issue in the non profit/non governmental organizational world. It is an issue for those with causes and societal needs. So I still keep an eye open.

Naked Conversations: Blog Monitoring, an Emerging Business Service
"As I've stated before, PR firms in this new Conversational Era need to focus their efforts from pushing messages out to facilitate conversations between clients and their constituencies. The hardest part for new business clients is understanding how the tools work, and how to use them to listen better to conversations they did not start themselves.

I'm still learning to master Technorati, PubSub, Feedster and Bloglines. I've abandoned a few others. For businesses just trying to get their arms around it all, these tools are as hard to master as they are important to understand. This is a place for a PR agency to jump in. Use them to listen and learn for your clients. Serve as an early warning system for what is being said by both topic and company. Over time, these tools will get easier and an intermediary will not be used, but not in the near term."
I think Shel is hitting on some really important stuff, but the "take" I got off the post was "master the technologies to find the conversations." The next piece is mastering the practices to engage and, where appropriate, facilitate the conversations. And by facilitate, I do NOT mean direct or control. To go back to the route, facilitate means "to make easy."

In a customer situation, facilitation many mean things like:

  • Having your key employees who either need to listen/hear what your customers are saying are in the conversation. Not just as lurkers, but as real, authentic people. When they can add to the conversation, they should (like offering information, help, feedback.)
  • Don't stifle criticism, but seek to understand it. Ask non-judgemental questions. Clarify. If something hurts you, it is ok to say it hurts, but if you go defensive, the conversation degrades or worse, shuts down.
  • Help the dominators chill out for the quieter voices. In blog comments, this may be more difficult, because unlike forums with registered users, you don't know who is listening. But asking questions after heavy commentors to see if any other ideas are out there may help. I'm not sure. Blog conversations are still relatively new. Lot's to learn.
  • Acknowledge participation. Thank people - maybe a simple email, or at the end of a thread, name the contributors. Tell them what you are going to do with what you learned. If they made a difference, TELL'EM.
Of course there are other things. I guess my bottom line is, don't assume technical knowledge is all you need. I know. Obvious. But I had to say it!

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Humanitarian and Relief Blogging on the Rise

It has been heartening to see a growing awareness and conversation about the role of blogs in non profit and non governmental work. Some high profile work after both the tsunami, hurricane Katrina and the Pakistan earthquake let the world see the practice in action. Recently a number of threads have cropped up about the specific application of blogging in relief work. The Christian Aid staff has been blogging while working in Tajikistan. The work is informative and gives a very human voice to what might otherwise be data...leaving out what is really happening to people. They are also starting to blog for internal team reporting:
“Most exciting of all we’re also starting to use weblogs internally for team reporting, replacing more traditional after-the-event reports. Early days at the moment as we’re still rolling out our SharePoint system but the signs are encouraging.”
The ODI Blog from the good folks at the Overseas Development Institute in the UK have been blogging for a while and posted a review of their experience to date.
Today, we recognise it is, at least, a useful communication tool and enjoys significant support. At its best, blogs can filter information from previously inaccessible sources; can convene different groups around a single issue providing a menu of opinions and links to further resources that conventional media finds it difficult to deal with; may offer the basis of a tightly knitted community of practice or interest group; and constitutes a cost-effective platform for individuals and organisations to join the global development debate.
I particularly appreciate their observations about how blogs can combine with other online tools such as flickr, Dgroups, Wikicities, etc. In my experience, the blog is a great outward facing tool, but there usually is additional need for smaller group and often private work and "meaning making" spaces. I see this like my family. There are some conversations we have in public, some in private.

Paul Currion, a great NPO blogger himself, has posted both about the Christian Aid blog, but also more generally about transparency and how blogging might help relief organizations and the public more fully understand each other. Like Paul, I believe that many non profits and NGOs have presented an unrealistic picture of themselves thinking that will enhance fundraising, only to find when the gap between reality and image is revealed, a huge drop in trust. Agencies and the public have to work together and I believe transparency is a huge asset. That said, it may take a while to get comfortable with it. (See also this post from ODI and this from Currion regarding a UK story on this issue. An important read if you are an NGO/NPO or the media covering the sector.)

At a meta level, people are starting to look carefully at the practice of humanitarian and relief blogging. Last week a group of high profile bloggers had an IRC chat (transcript) and started a wiki about it, hosted by Global Voices. (Looks like a great chat. Wish I had been paying better attention to my listserv messages!)

If you have other examples of NPO blogging, humanitarian relief or otherwise, please post a comment. It is time to start thinking about how this manifests as a network as well as individual efforts.

A few other relief/NPO blogs and posts, many culled from the above stories - thanks guys!: (Sudan) (Niger) (World Bank on private sector development) (Peru, politics) (activism) (fundraising and philanthropy, in Spanish) (Moldovia)

Cross posted at BlogHer NPO Section on the newly launched BlogHer site. Check it out.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Must View for Anyone Interested in Blogging and....

Beyond The Blog - a photoset on Flickr:
"a flickrtation for the EDUCAUSE ELI Conference January 30, 2006, San Diego by Brian Lamb (University of British Columbia) and Alan Levine (Maricopa Community Colleges)."
FAN-FRICKEN-TASTIC! You must see it so I'll "shaddup" and let you click away.

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Comments and Community: Online Facilitators, what do you think?

Chris Pirillo writes about Digg vs. Slashdot and the commenting culture of each community. The essense of his question goes to how comments contribute or drain value from the community. His direct question in this case is
"My question: which community of commenters is worse?"
What do you think? More importantly, to all you online facilitators out there, what do you/does your community do to make commenting productive or in synch with the community goals and ethic?

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Creating Concept Maps

I'm interested in concept maps as a way to add the visual into both facilitation and learning. This article gives a nice explanation of including concept maps in the classroom. The topic area is also interesting! Creating Concept Maps: Integrating Constructivism Principles into Online Classes
The author will describe a lesson plan for creating concept maps using the constructivism learning environment for an online class. Students will be challenged to create a definition of good character by developing mental models using Inspiration software. A description of a six step constructivism learning environment for a graduate education online class (EDD520 Critical Issues in Education) will be discussed. Students will create definitions by conducting research from the Internet, utilizing course resources, and collaborating with classmates with assistance from their teacher. The final phase of the assignment will involve producing individual concept maps based on the student’s description of good character by using Inspiration software.

[Via Downes]

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Low Cost Wireless Networking in the Developing World

Via Beth

The massive popularity of wireless networking has caused equipment costs to continually plummet, while equipment capabilities continue to increase. By applying this technology in areas that are badly in need of critical communications infrastructure, more people can be brought online than ever before, in less time, for very little cost. We hope to not only convince you that this is possible, but also show how we have made such networks work, and to give you the information and tools you need to start a network project in your local community.

The book

This book was created by a team of individuals who each, in their own field, are actively participating in the ever-expanding Internet by pushing its reach farther than ever before. Over a period of a few months, we have produced a complete book that documents our efforts to build wireless networks in the developing world.

We hope that you find these materials and this website useful. Please feel free to contribute your own experiences on the wiki and mailing list, and help make the next edition even better.

You can download the book in PDF form as a single file (2.0 MB), or in chapters.

I'm looking forward to reading this one, but knowing how behind I am, I thought it better to share the link now!

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

What is a Blog Flog?

My friend Jenny asked in email what a "blog flog" was. I had no idea, but I was at Search Champs 4 so I thouht I'd ask the experts. My first two asks came up with "I don't know". Chris Pirillo, sitting with Liz Lawley, decided he'd offer his best guess! What is a Blog Flog? (video/quicktime Object)

Note, this is my first attempt at posting a video. The file is too freakin big, but I have done zero research on making it better. I'm open to SIMPLE suggestions!

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Getting Local in a Global World

Sometimes people ask my if becoming more of an online creature disconnects us from our local world. Here is an example of the opposite.
Teach and Learn Online: Lending Brian a connected hand: " * What are a few of your essential blog reads or wiki communities?

It ebbs and flows. But I must say, that in the 14 months I have been blogging, I have witnessed a radical increase in the local (Australian/New Zealand) use of the technologies. As a result, I am finding myself reading less and less of what has been a very North American perspective, and reading more and more of my local network has to say."
Bottom line? Connections and networks are essential.

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Postscript: I LOVE the Cool Cat Teacher Blog

When I first started blogging posts off of Vicki Davis' Cool Cat Teacher Blog I was thinking "blogs for education." What I have learned by reading this blog for a month or so is that there are TONS of things in here for anyone working with groups. It is a faciltator's dream. It crosses group dynamics and technology with nary a fall into jargon-land.


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A VERY Practical Example of the Value of RSS

Cool Cat Teacher Blog
"I do see that it has the ability to RSS feeds. RSS feeds on wikis mean one big things for teachers -- easy grading! I grade my wikis through my bloglines accounts. Any changes are sent to bloglines and I can review them there. It is much easier than sorting through and trying to figure out who graded what."

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More Evidence of Reciprocity

There are days when one can take a very optimistic view of human beings.

Abject Learning: The network delivers the goods:
"You never know what might happen when you make a blanket appeal for feedback, such as I did in the run-up to the blogs and wikis talk tomorrow night at the VPL. People are busy, and I asked some deceptively difficult questions."
Read the post, and then follow the links to some great stuff on wikis! The post itself is also a great community indicator!

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Remembering My Respect for Websites and Redesign Therapy

It struck me this morning that I haven't thought about "websites" in ages. I've been thinking about blogs, forums, wikis and "spaces" that integrate tools. But I have not been paying attention to sites that integrate content. And despite the fact that I'm obsessive about interaction, we need and often love content centric sites.

In a fit of random-browsing-work-avoidance I came across the Surfrider Foundation USA Home Page. Now I love the places where land and water meet. The literal liminal spaces. So it took about 2 nano seconds until I was clicking my way through the site. I learned about the state of the beaches in my state. I read about shoreline issues that I never knew were issues.

I learned. Fast. With interest. With deeper resources at my fingertips if I wanted more, or an enticement to another area. Easy. The visuals were delicious. The flashing changing teaser on the front page annoyed me a bit, but yup, I wanted ot know what was next.

Now my site, Full Circle, has lots of content. But it really looks more like a garbage dump than a useful set or resources. I keep telling myself it needs a redesign, visually and structurally. But the work it will take me (and yes, I WILL hire someone to do the coding etc. Obvious!) keeps me resisting and putting it off. I feel I have to then rewrite all the articles that are outdated, fix more of the typos. And I even have a wonderful friend who will help.

I resist.

I can't get a tiny footstep going.

I wonder if getting inspired by Surfrider will help. Dang, it feels like I need the equivalent of a shrink to start redoing my site. (Plus, I want to put the blog on the front page.)

Is there a doctor in the house?

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Friday, January 27, 2006

Recovering from a Community Platform Loss

Long time KM group, Act-KM had a rude awakening earlier this month when their Yahoo group just disappeared. Poof. Gone. No satisfactory response from Yahoogroups.

What happens to a community when their group memory has been compromised? It's membership identity (1550 membership list lost)?

How do we think about protecting our groups from malfunction or disruption to the technologies we have become reliant upon?

This is a significant question, and in some ways, more challenging (and interesting) than the offline comparison. Offline we use paper records, but offline groups are more often geographically co-located, so when something gets disrupted (the club house burned down last night!) the world of mouth channel is very powerful and effective. People know who is "in" the group and pass the word. Scale is usually smaller and thus more manageable.

But online, our groups can be large. No one is going to remember 1549 other people's names and contact information. We might have redundancy if some members kept copies of everything on their personal harddrives. But reconstructing can be difficult.

On the other hand, it is much faster to rebuild online tools than brick and morter buildings.

It might be interesting to write up piece on guidance for protecting against/planning for a technical disruption in an online group, and to more carefully compare the online and offline issues. There is something else to add to my "if I find time to do list!"

In the meantime, to all my friends at Act-KM - GOOD LUCK!!!!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Final Bloggable Search Champs 4 Demo - Expo Classified

Samir on Expo classifieds, currently in closed Beta with MSFT employees for 2 months.
The purpose of the application is to create a marketplace for people to sell stuff to other people, locally focused like Craigslist, but able to do national transaction. Focus on allowing you to sell stuff to people you know. TO people in your buddy list, to people based on membership in a group. If you all have the same email domain, all work at MSFT with - so you can search just with co workers. You can track down someone who sold you a lemon car. Actually comes from the motivation of a MSFT internal service called MicroNews. New hires furnish their apartments. Successful due to level of trust.

All the stuff is live and working in internal beta. You are moving to a new city. You are the Fonz, moving to Seattle. Needs a place to live, transportation and works at Microsoft. Categories of autos, events, housing, jobs, merchandise, people (personals), pets and services. Huge taxonomy. Samples of random listings and buddy list show up on home page as well. Filtered view of what buddies are selling.

On the left hand side are search filters. Geographic (seattle, 75 miles) and everyone inside of Expo. Can change search location, search radius (25 miles to all US) and listing community - from everyone on expo to people in my trusted circle (shared email domain). Going to search for places to live. First through taxonomy to housing and click on that. Get 5 results. Maybe advance search by rent, less than $1500, 1-2 bedrooms, hit search and 3 results. SOme light integration with some Windows live and MSN. Mapping. Hit map results, overlaid on results, hover over to get a listing preview. This one looks good, look at actual listing, details, images, member profile of listings, what else that person is listing. Can message via double blind messaging system. He won't see my email addy, I won't see his. Pick up messages on system, alerts via email or sms. Send message to him, asking if price is negotiable. Can also send IM if the person has opted into that.

Next I want to sell something. Sell the motorcycle. Clicks on post a listing, autos, motorcycles for sale. Only have to sign into the site when you want to sell or interact, but can browse without. Passport or Live account. Set name, price, description. Can choose who you want to make the listing visible too - messenger buddies, people insideof my email group. Can allow IM direct, add pictures. Then post. Wait for responses.

Then go back to home page and search for Hondas. Oh look, just got a message from someone on MSN. Back to search. QUick results on categories of interest. Add to my saved searches to come back to it later. Want to narrow search. I can change community - just messenger budies only, search narrows, click on listing, send message.

We're totally interested in the community policing the site. Can report abuse, can vote on a listing being cool which bumps them to the home page in a cool listings list. Allow you to, interested in different things like tying in other things on the development table.

Hope to launch with some business in the next few weeks, then wider after that. Business model is contextual advertising. Premium listings. Always free to post listing. Might have to play with value-adds.

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Search Champs 4 Third Bloggable Demo #3 - AdCenter

Next up is AdCenter. I missed the name of the presenter. Oops.

This is the first page that you would come in as a user. Just put in campaign name, monthly budget, change the ...

OK, I'm not going to try and transcribe this one because it is not coming across coherently for me. I'm guessing it presupposes a body of knowledge I don't have. He asked if we knew about XYZ when he started. No one said yes, some of us said no, but time limitations led him to move on. So I'm enjoying my ignorance on this one, and thus, no blog transcript. Sorry. There are some interesting questions in the room, so my assumption of knowledge of others seems right on. I should have gotten up and grabbed that beer. Silly me.

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Second Search Champ Bloggable Demo -

Sanaz Ahari talking about Windows Live - I'm trying to take verbatim notes so all of the below is her words, not mine, the front door to Windows live services. Unify my world and put me at the center of my services. homepage-- feeds, RSS, ATOM, etc. Keep track on home page. Today simple experience. A lot of improvements in the works. One of the goals is to be the best place to search. Some of the integrations are available today. Some want a simple search experience, hide gadgets with one click, clean fast home page. Eg. Keeping track of first qtr earnings. One of the features - you can actually click on the different filters - news, etc. More coming. One of the features, grab a whole search query and add it to your page. For news and topics - saved search on your home page. Imagine a desktop filter of things you are interested in. One other search integration - make it easier to find feeds. Search on Superbowl tickets. One thing you'd note is that things are done asynchronously. You know AJAX, spare the details. Interested someone who is giving away my tickets. Subscribe to feed. See headlines, click into full info. Feed added into "my stuff" directory in the side bar. Feeds and gadgets. Interested, but don't want them to clutter up the whole page. Goal is to get Scoble use our RSS system to track his 800+ subscriptions.

Mentioned gadgets. Gadgets are mini applications. Snippets of data that consume services on the web. Having an RSS feed with a richer experience with behavior on top of it. We have some windows live services. We want to be the place where you unify your windows live services. Mail, safety now. Snippet of personalized info on so you don't have to go to 50 different services.

Example: weather. How simple and easy. Drag and drop, no refresh. Make the web feel like an app. Your desktop on the web. Add in weather for Aspen colorado . A very cool gadget that shows the power. Most today are very simple. This one is TV recommendations. Example of how gadgets consume services, allow connection of web to desktop. Media Center Edition (DVR) connected to this service. Rate currently viewed shows, get recommendations, then one click for recording on MCE. So trigger recording remotely. (My editorial comment here: my husband will love this). The gadget is shipping soon.

We want users to use our AJAX to build their own gadgets on our platform. Unify here. One feature shipping tomorrow. Today on the RSS view is bland - just text. Small steps based on user feedback. Want it richer. Hit the fine balance between richness and clutter. If RSS feed has image, have rotation on home page.

We will enable you to take the gadgets and drag and drop them on to the desktop. Will be released for XP as well.

Also there is an image of this for us to blog about tomorrow. Also for the media center. Gee, I should wait to post this tomorrow, but heck, I'll never edit so I'm going to just hit publish now.

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Bloggable Demo #1 from Search Champs 4

Windows Live Local - cool beans. We are getting a high speed demo of Windows Live Local. Geosearch with a lot of nice little user goodies. Here are my fast notes: - Walkthorugh highlights. Scalability, flexible platform to integrate with search. Search for Pizza in Redmond. zoom into map of local pizza joints. Features for finding directions, marking up; show as much as possible what it is like there. On a normal search site you can find out where things are. Roll over it and add it to directions. Add favorites to scratch pad. A lot of right click features. Birds eye view of something (really cool) airial imagery. Street view. Toggle between. Get directions. Love the note pad where you can save notes, push pin locations into map. Fun.

(I guess later I should explain what Search Champs is -- heck, go search for it. I'll go have a beer instead!)

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Monday, January 23, 2006

A wiki about Social Software and Learning

Found via Cool Cat Teacher Blog, Christopher Sessums' cool wiki on social software from a social theory of learning perspective, quoting one of my mentors, Etienne Wenger. Cool! I need to implant this resource into our work at Technology for Community!

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Facilitadores Virtuales

This is the first site I've seen supporting online facilitators in Spanish. Do you know of any other online facilitation sites in other languages? Facilitadores Virtuales - Bienvenido a Facilitadores Virtuales

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Anecdote: Communities of practice Archives

Mark shares a great metaphor over at Anecdote: Communities of practice Archives
"It doesn’t take much imagination to see most organisations as having a predominantly left-brain focus, with hierarchical structures, emphasis on quantitative assessments and decision making based on numbers such as head count and return on investment, libraries full of strategies, doctrine, policy and procedure and formal lines of reporting and communication (to name but a few relevant characteristics). Computers can also be described as an electronic extension of our left brains.

Communities of practice traverse most of the formal structures, processes and reporting hierarchies in organisations. They connect people and expertise irrespective of rank, location, specialisation or division. Perhaps they allow us to access the ‘right-brain capabilities‘ of our organisations. If this is the case, and if LeBoeuf is right, then communities of practice are not simply desirable in organisations, they are essential…"
The next question is, what is the metaphor for the crossover connections between the right and left sides of the brain?

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A Few Flickr Flights of Fancy

Flickr as political organizing tool: no surprise here about the power of visuals.
MoveOn's popular Flickr photo-sharing account shows how political causes can engage people who are already socializing online.

AlterNet: The Best $24.95 MoveOn Ever Spent

Flickr as home to a "nice" group:I was taken by this group's introduction and qualification for joining. I don't see this sort of language too often because "nice" has become a "dirty word" in some quarter as being false, insincere, etc. It appears to reflect the values of the group (see my earlier post on values!). Now these might not be your values, or my values. But what is great here is they set up an expectation and then you choose if you want to join. Seems fair to me.
Who Should Join?

Whoever is polite and interested. Notice polite is first.
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Post Tsunami Community Voice

Chris Corrigan pointed out this report about a project in Sri Lanka seeking to hear and include the voices of the community around post-Tsunami reconstruction issues. I'm quoting a significant chunk of the summary as it raises some important points for those of us seeking to facilitate people's contributions and decisions. Bold is mine. I'm looking at it slightly differently than Chris did -- and what he and his commentors wrote is important and worth looking at. This is just a different lens.

"The Post-Tsunami Community Voice was set up with the funding of the
World Bank to give voice to the views of the community on the Tsunami devastation and reconstruction and on economic, governance, and social accountability of the community. The project was carried out in Batticaloa and Galle districts as a closed group discussion. The selected people were divided into groups according to age, geography, and employment. Thus, the three groups in the age division consisted of one of people over forty-five years, another of those less than forty-five, and a final group of both age groups. They were chosen as representatives of all the people of the respective areas. Organizers of the project took priority to choose people who have shown leadership in these areas in the post-Tsunami reconstruction. In the project in the Northeast, all ethnicities and religions were represented. The research was conducted by the Research Consultancy Bureau, Sri Lanka.

Click here to download the Report on Post-Tsunami Voice of the Community Leaders

The report is a result of a study of post-Tsunami community through voices of formal and informal community leaders. The study discusses the impact of the 100/200metre rule in the economic and social context. Instead of the commonly used approach of survey methods in understanding trends and attitudes, the study used qualitative methodologies as a form of retrospective and prospective analysis of comments by modified focus groups. The findings, therefore, explain how actions of decision-makers, providers of assistance and receivers have affected the post-Tsunami situation in the East and South as at August 2005. The research draws attention to the manner in which the rule is imposed and how it has impacted on the livelihood of the people. Further it gives possible answers to lesser economic development in the areas affected by the Tsunami. Finally the research discusses change in value system in the community and accountability of providers of assistance."
The things that I wonder about here are these:
  • What effect does a closed group have compared to an open one? What if these had been open discussions? Do we really understand when to choose open or closed?
  • While formal and informal leaders are traditionally key community catalysts, would including folks who were not leaders a) encourage them to begin to contribute their leadership? b) present different data and conclusions and if so, how would this be reconciled by the community acting upon the data?
  • How do we track changes in value systems? The older I get, the more I believe that exploration of our values is intrinsic to getting deeper into a situation, but we still use our values as weapons, rather than tools for understanding.
  • Finally, in an appropriate situation of connectvitity, what would this process have looked like online?
I need to read the report again slowly, with more thoughtfulness, but I'm immediately reminded that we here in the US need to benefit from such sources of information and knowledge. More often, we keep our scope within our own borders, while there is much to be learned outside.

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Wikis as Example of Deeper Change

For those interested in wikis in corporations and larger orgs, take a peek at Information Management Now: Wikis In Large Corporations. The article isn't so much about wikis as a tool per se, but about the underlying difference in tools like wikis in the context of corporate IT architectures. For me, this starts getting past the hype of web 2.0 and into demonstrating what could be a significant change.

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Old-fashioned hospitality finds a place on the Internet --

Old-fashioned hospitality finds a place on the Internet --

Ha, I guess I am old-fashioned and frankly, happy with that. I have no intentions of imposing my sense of hospitality on others, but it is a small breath of fresh air to read about hospitality online in the press. More often we read of slash, flame and burn! Here is the opener to the article by Patricia Kitchen (who has just started to blog herself!)
Funny that on all those listings of must-have career skills, I've never seen mention of one of the most basic. That's because being a good host is associated more with taking coats and topping off drinks at dinner parties than with playing a role in the workplace.

Yet, look at all the new career-related occasions for people to play that role: hosting online chats or communities, cable television talk shows or podcasts; conducting classes on the Internet; and of course the more traditional ones of hosting company events or professional association conferences - in person.

Terms like "facilitate" or "moderate" have been used for such functions, but as the Web continues to empower and inform, today's clients, audiences and online communities can well afford to expect to be treated more like guests than passive receivers. In fact, for many of us, hosting is becoming "a survival skill," says Nancy White, founder of Full Circle Associates in Seattle, a communications and strategy firm with a special interest in collaboration and online community.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Chicas, Chicks, Docentes, Women, Bloggers and an Interesting Set of Reads

These three posts are worth a read together. They tap into two really important issues for me: gender and identity. See what you think.

Burningbird » Reductio

Bev: Chica Esperta - Blog Chicks

Catarina: Chicking Martha

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Reciprocity in Action

Darwinian Web: Chick Blogs
"Based on my referrer logs I've discovered a valuable lesson. If you link to female bloggers and say nice things about them, they link right back. Weird. Guys don't do that. When is the next Blogher?"
Give it away and it comes back tenfold.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Purple Pajamas, Roots and Euphoric Bullshit

As I mentioned late last week, I headed off to rural Whidbey Island on Saturday - Wednesday for the second Evolutionary Salon. It was a great chance to get out into the country side a bit, meet some fantastic people and think about something I really had not spent time thinking about before: evolution and how it can inform our practices and actions to help make a better world.

The salon used Open Space as it's process architecture, which put the shape and contents of the time together in the 84 participants' hands, skillfully guided by Peggy Holman (Open Circle Company)and a convening team. First, I have to say, these people worked their butts off and I appreciate you! Second, many of the participants joined the evening debrief meetings to help inform the next day. Hats off to them. As a facilitator, I took a busman's holiday and indulged in conversations and music making instead of evening meetings. How SWEET it is!

The proceedings of the convening will be going up on the Evolutionary Nexus, so I'll not duplicate content. Instead, here are a few of my reflections.

  • Roots. Getting away supports reflection.The open space format, with the judicious use of periods of silence and reflection give me a chance to take a deep breath and look inward. As a workaholic, highly productive, energizer bunny-type, this is not my common practice. I think I need more of it! One of the things that emerged for me was the need to spend more time looking inward, reflecting and grounding myself. I have many branches out into the world. I need to feed the roots.
  • Purple Silk Pajamas are powerful. Knowing I'd be rooming in a house with a bunch of the participants, I packed my new, silky purple pj's. These things are a work of beauty. They feel SOOOO good. Well it turns out a lot of the most interesting conversations were with my "house mates" in the early mornings and late evenings, over tea, wine, and snacks. And so I recall these conversations when I look at those PJs. Another idea emerged from the pj conversations. I work online a lot -- in my PJs. When I speak at Northern Voice next month about online interaction competencies, I think I'm going to present in my pajamas. Maybe some bunny slippers too. You know, geek conferences can be a little tame and predictable. Why not be a little different eh? Besides, the jammies look pretty good too. People like to hug you when you are wearing them.
  • Euphoric Bullshit. When we are passionate about things, big things, like saving the world, there is always that possibility of taking ourselves too seriously. So as an antidote, a few of us sat together on Tuesday afternoon to write a song to offer back to the group. Prompted by the line shared at one of the opening sessions on Sunday that we had to watch out for "euphoric bullshit," we themed our song around the line, making fun of ourselves and our interactions during the salon. We were a bit leery that we might offend, but when we previewed the song to the organizing committee Tuesday night, they said, DO IT! So during our opening circle of the final day, our brand, spanking new band, the Viral Dimensions (dang, that's not the right name - I already forget! I just know the abbreviation was VD!)rolled our our first song, "Euphoric Bullshit." By the time we were done everyone was singing along and laughing.

    Laughter is powerful medicine. It keeps us on an even keel, reminds us that while it is important to take our work in the world seriously, we can't take ourselves too seriously. And music is good medicine. As I think of my life, so often online, I realize one thing that happens is I often laugh or sing alone. So now I need to think more about how to practically integrate that into my online practice.

Evolution is pretty damn awesome. That our little planet has come to be what it is. That our brains have evolved to the point of selfawareness --> this is pretty stunning stuff. To use evolution as a framework for seeing the world is a useful lens. I am now thinking about how it applies to my study of online interaction and technologies for communities. And how to keep an eye out for the euphoric bullshit.

When I find myself getting too evangelical about this tool, or that process, I'll put on my purple silk pajamas, get back in touch with my wiser roots, hum that song and remind myself to keep it all in perspective.

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BlogHer '06 Day One Agenda is Out!

This is day one of a two day kick-ass conferenceFriday July 28 and Saturday July 29, 2006 in San Jose, California. BlogHer '06 Day One Agenda. More later... just want to keep y'all posted!

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Life of the Place: Space, Participation and Communities

In my haste, offering undigested pointers to stuff that looks really cool, like this paper Life_of_the_place.pdf (application/pdf Object). It harkens to both the theory and my experience of Communities of Practice. I am going to print this one out and take it on the road with me.

We conclude this paper with a brief mention of issues that seem to be raised on the basis of our data. The sense of community that emerged in this study was built up through participation. As mentioned, this approach to community stands in contrast to approaches designed to foster social engagement through by explicitly encouraging human interaction, for instance with profile matching or other social prods or applications that explicitly try to facilitate human social engagement at a fairly personal level, whether in physically co-present or virtual community situations
(McCarthy et al; Shirky, 2004; boyd, 2004). In the present case we managed to provide an element of social engagement that enabled a modest sense of community though contributing to the life of the place - social connections emerged through joint participation. This is certainly some of the appeal behind many hybrid gaming
experiments, for instance, although not often characterized as such (e.g., Chang, 2004). Like hybrid games, the present deployment was seen as fun – even trivial – but was ultimately valued by members of the community.

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Kathy Sierra: Crash course in learning theory and Blogging Absence

Another amazing offering from Kathy Sierra. Dang, I need more time to read blogs. Check out Creating Passionate Users: Crash course in learning theory. I love the lead off:
One formula (of many) for a successful blog is to create a 'learning blog'. A blog that shares what you know, to help others. Even--or especially--if that means giving away your 'secrets'. Teaching people to do what you do is one of the best ways we know to grow an audience--an audience of users you want to help."
I have been doing 16 hour days of work and it shows in both my blog reading (my inspiration) and posting. I have not felt guilty, per se, but aware that I set an expectation for myself to be consistent.

Oh well. I'm heading mostly offline for for the 2nd Evolutionary Salon, where I am starting with an expectation of listening and learning. It is a new pool I'm diving into.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blog Discovery: Life 2.0

How delightful as one link leads you to another... I'm now enjoying reading (when I can steal a moment) Life 2.0.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Blogstory - I Added My Chapter

At last we reached the time when chapter 8 was due. It was time for my contribution. I was really enjoying reading this collaborative, illustrated story (the pictures are diverse and wonderful!). And I'll confess, I was intimidated. I also had evil plans -- I wanted to shift the nature of the protagonist just a wee bit. I wanted her to have a bit more steel, you know? But I wasn't sure how my collaborators would feel about that. I still don't know. Kind of exciting!

You can find chapters 1- 8 here at Blogstory. Usually the chapter illustration comes up within the week.

It is interesting to think about writing a story with people you don't know. I suspect many of the writers in this group follow each others' blogs, but I suspect I'm a bit more peripheral to the group. So I focused on the first four chapters as my inspiration.

I also rarely write fiction. I read it -- from trash to treasures. So this was out of my comfort zone. That's the second reason I decided to throw in. But the primary reason is still this magic of truly voluntary collaboration. I love it!

P.S. Please, I know I have typos. I'm the queen of typos! Twice I wrote "closed" when I meant "close" and you know what spelchuckers do with that! NOTHING!

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Monday Night Confession: I Egosurfed

egoSurf - ego surfing without the guilt.

3815 ego points. I try to resist this shit, but tonight I was weak. I think I shall have to have a piece of chocolate as well. Smirk!

(Gaming the system? Oh yeah, it works. This little edit a few minutes later has my google ego points up to 5686, over 9000, etc. etc., just by searching on nancy white instead of nancywhite. Still a dustmote, but it's fun. Such a tease, egosurf!)

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Another Robin Good Weblog Project Clip - Blogs for Development

People tell me I talk too fast. They are right. (video/quicktime Object). :-)

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Seattle PlanNetwork Meeting - January 25th

I'm already booked this night, but if you are a technologist in the Seattle area who wants to "work for the greater good" check out the Seattle PlaNetwork Meeting.

Planetwork Seattle — Relaunch of Planetwork meetings in Seattle.

Come join us at our monthly meeting, and see projects that demonstrate the use of the internet to explore and solve social justice, ecological and true democracy issues. If you have an interesting project you'd like to either demonstrate, or advocate, please send us your presentation to schedule some time!

You might be interested if you are any of the following:

  • You are a technologist who wants to work for the greater good.
  • You are working on the greater good, and you believe in the positive power of the internet and technology.
  • You just want to get energized by some excellent people and presentations!

The loose schedule is:

  • 6:30 — 7:30 meet and greet, networking
  • 7:30 — 8:30 Presentations (5 minutes each, 2 minutes Q — 9:30 Follow up networking
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Stephen's Glu - Roll Your Own Feed Aggregator

Stephen Downes cooks up home made Glu. Check it out.
SuprGlu is a great site, but the problem with it is that you have to use the SuprGlu website. If you want to tinker with the code, add feeds from your friends, put the content right in your webpage, or whatever, you're out of luck.

MyGlu solves all that. Using code from Edu_RSS (which was way ahead of SuprGlu in this sort of thing, in case people have forgotten), MyGlu allows you to define your own list of feeds (including your own feeds), merge them into a single feed, and place the results on your web page (in a few days I'll add RSS and Javascript output as well).

MyGlu not only aggregates feeds, it also filters them according to your specifications. So, for example, you could aggregate your posts, photos and bookmarks with the term 'Amsterdam' in them....Here's an example.
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(Edit to correct spelling error on Stephen's name. Oops!)

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Edge 2006 Question: What is your dangerous idea?

Each year the Edge Foundation posits a question to a group of thinkers (119 this time). The answers are always thought provoking. (Beware of losing time if you click into this site!)
The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?
What is YOUR dangerous idea?

Mine is about power. What if we really used the power we have?

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Knowledge Management for Development Jounal - Vol 3 out!

The latest edition of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal focuses on Understanding the role of culture in knowledge sharing: making the invisible visible. This is a fascinating topic for me; both the cultural part, and the ideas of visibility and invisibility. One of the appeals of blogging may be making ourselves or our ideas visible. I don't know...

From the scene setting editorial:
The purpose of this issue is to present some recent experiences of knowledge sharing and culture by practitioners who have been involved in planning, introducing, and mainstreaming knowledge sharing approaches and processes in development organizations. This issue is strongly linked to the KM4Dev annual meeting on the same subject which took place at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva on 20-21 June 2005.

Table of Contents


Understanding the role of culture in knowledge sharing: making the invisible visible. Abstract PDF
Peter van Rooij, Rohit Ramaswamy, Catherine Vaillancourt-Laflamme, Lucie Lamoureux 2-4


Knowledge management and social learning: exploring the cognitive dimension of development Abstract PDF
Sebastião Darlan Mendonça Ferreira, Marcos Neto 5-18
The culture of a knowledge fair: lessons from an international organization. Abstract PDF
Barbara Collins, Rafael Diez de Medina, Anne Trebilcock 19-29
Building knowledge from the practice of local communities. Abstract PDF
Ceasar McDowell, Andrea Nagel, Susana M. Williams, Claudia Canepa 30-40
Elective affinities? Reflections on the enduring appeal of knowledge management for the development sector. Abstract PDF
Giulio Quaggiotto 41-45
Bridging the gap between research and practice. Abstract PDF
Julie Ferguson 46-54
The culture of management or the management of culture? Abstract PDF
Chris Burman 55-65

Case Studies

The Eastern Indonesia Knowledge Exchange – a journey of change. Abstract PDF
Petrarca Karetji 66-77


Culture, learning and surviving a PhD: a journey in search of my own path. Abstract PDF
Camilo Villa 78-83


An interview with Clive Holtham. Knowledge and culture: learning from the past. Abstract PDF
Katty Marmenout, 84-86


Stephen Denning (2005) The leader’s guide to storytelling: mastering the art and discipline of business narrative. Jossey-Bass: San Fransisco Abstract PDF
Sibrenne Wagenaar 87-91

Community Notes

The KM4Dev FAQ Renewal Project: a cross-organisational knowledge sharing experience. Abstract PDF
Urs Karl Egger 92-98

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

10 ways RSS can help build online communities

Are you building distributed communities, supported by online tools? Check out Alexandra Samuel's10 ways RSS can help build online communities. As I read these ten great tips, I'd add that for each one of them, it is context dependent. For each situation where the recommendation is useful, I can also easily find a contradiction. Alex knows this. But I always feel obligated to be the standard bearer of shades of gray, because I see people really screw up when they take tips as rigid templates. You know what I mean?

Next, after these good tips, the question is how do you promulgate the practice of using RSS. Not every community sees the picture, nor is ready to adopt. It would be great to share some stories of how these things are eased into use. Have a story?

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

A democracy of groups - First Monday

Haven't read it, but it looks interesting. (Symptom of being too busy to read and blog!)

A democracy of groups: "Abstract
In groups people can accomplish what they cannot do alone. Now new visual and social technologies are making it possible for people to make decisions and solve complex problems collectively. These technologies are enabling groups not only to create community but also to wield power and create rules to govern their own affairs. Electronic democracy theorists have either focused on the individual and the state, disregarding the collaborative nature of public life, or they remain wedded to outdated and unrealistic conceptions of deliberation. This article makes two central claims. First, technology will enable more effective forms of collective action. This is particularly so of the emerging tools for 'collective visualization' which will profoundly reshape the ability of people to make decisions, own and dispose of assets, organize, protest, deliberate, dissent and resolve disputes together. From this argument derives a second, normative claim. We should explore ways to structure the law to defer political and legal decision–making downward to decentralized group–based decision–making. This argument about groups expands upon previous theories of law that recognize a center of power independent of central government: namely, the corporation. If we take seriously the potential impact of technology on collective action, we ought to think about what it means to give groups body"

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Friday, January 06, 2006

The BlogHer has landed! Announcing our 2006 conference site.

As a loyal BlogHer and Blogher advisory-pern, I have to quickly blog this before I go turn into a Friday night couch tater. blogher:
UPDATED: The BlogHer has landed! Announcing our 2006 conference site.: "Get ready to party with the BlogHers, because we have secured the perfect spot for our 2006 2-day Conference on July 28th and 29th: the Hyatt San Jose."
I'll be there. Will you? For me it is a don't miss. More later... as there are some very interesting social network and community issues threaded through my Blogher experience.

I want to STRONGLY urge women from outside of the US to try and attend. If we start now, we can collaboratively make it happen financially. Think about it. Let's organize.

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lixo lixo! trash! trash!

Via Vitroilica comes lixo lixo!, a site in Portugese and English capturing images of litter in Portugal.
"To participate, send your photos of rubbish in places it shouldn't be to lixolixobot at gmail dot com - comentem à vontade - comments welcome - but be nice!"
Collaborative documenting around an issue. Great idea!

Bilingual as well. Lovely.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Online Facilitation Workshop Coming UP

Well, it is time to stick my head back up and blog after my holiday hiatus. I took quite a bit of time away from my computer, and when I returned, catch up monopolized my attention and blogging clearly lost out.

One of the things I was working on was updating materials for my next online facilitation workshop which starts January 30th. I'm blogging it here as I'm a terrible marketer and am hoping that a little link love may surface. (My resistence to marketing seems to be linked to my ambiguous feelings about money - go figure! :-) ) Holler if you have any questions. The two non profit /NGO scholarships are still available - please ask BEFORE January 15th or sooner. First come, first served.

Full Circle Facilitating Online Interaction Workshop

2006 Dates:The next workshop is set for January 30 - March 3, 2006. This includes three active weeks the weeks of January 30th, February 13th and February 27th with "quiet weeks" in between. Please email if you need additional details. There will be two scholarships for qualified NGO participants. Please submit your request before January 15th for consideration. If you want a scholarship, you must commit to active workshop participation all three active weeks. That is your "fee!"

Instructor: Nancy White, Full Circle Associates

Tuition: $750 (10% discount for groups of 5 or more or members of 501(C)3 non profit or international NGO organizations.) Payment is required in advance. Checks and wire transfers are accepted. No credit cards at this time, sorry!

Registration: Register here.

Testimonials: from past workshop participants.

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 facilitation 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! If you are new to all of this, expect to spend additional time.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the unique aspects of facilitating online interactions
  • Define the key purpose of an online interaction as a framework for facilitation
  • Assess the group's needs and select appropriate facilitation strategies for distributed teams, online communities and distance learning
  • Self-evaluate one's personal style and the impact on one's facilitation approaches
  • Develop processes for establishing relationship and trust online
  • Evaluate group cycles and apply techniques for pacing, leading and encouraging participation
  • Explore processes for moving from purpose to action
  • Extract value with summaries to harvest knowledge and learning
  • Consider voice as it shows up in different online interaction tools including discussion boards, blogs, wikis and instant messaging (new section)
  • Create a record of personal learning through a self-reflective online learning log
  • Additional topics may be added according to group and individual interests. Teams are welcome to do a joint project together as part of the workshop

People who might benefit from the workshop

  • distributed team members
  • managers
  • online teachers/instructors
  • online community moderators/hosts
  • community of practice (CoP) leaders
  • consultants

Areas of application

  • distributed teams
  • online learning
  • communities of practice
  • online customer relationship management
  • online communities (discussion sites)
  • blogging communities
  • consulting
  • serving any group that requires online interaction

Delivery Format

This is an INTENSIVE online workshop (yes, I'm repeating myself - for a reason!) presented in English in a web-conference asynchronous environment allowing participants to engage at their own convenience from home or office. Additionally, we will have scheduled sessions with other synchronous tools such as telephone conference call, weekly chats and utilize instant messaging tools. The first phone call will be January 31st at 16:00 GMT. The chats will initially be on Fridays of all active weeks at 16:00 GMT. These may be moved after the first week to accommodate the participants, depending on the time zones represented. The class workspace will remain open for 30 days after the workshop for individuals to review materials and a CD of the workshop is also made available for future reference.

Class Requirements

To get the most out of this intensive workshop, a minimum of 2 hours/day is required depending on your learning style. Some people tell me it is more like 3-4. If you want to cover all the material, schedule the time and set aside away from other daily activities, to ensure focused and uninterrupted attention. The workshop space will be open on the Thursday prior to start of workshop for introductions, access to reading material and space for experimentation with the tools. Formal sessions starts on Monday. Participants should have a basic experience with and understanding of

  • the internet
  • group facilitation
  • some online interaction experience
  • mastery of the use of an internet browser
  • mastery of written English
The latest browser versions are recommended for this workshop: Netscape Navigator 5.0 / Internet Explorer 5.0 / Firefox 1.0, or higher versions.

Instructor - Nancy White

Nancy is the founder and president of Full Circle Associates, a communications consulting firm, helping non-profits and businesses connect through online and offline strategies. Nancy has presented this course to over 315 individuals from all around the globe since 1999.

Nancy is a skilled online host and facilitator who actively hones her craft on both social conversational sites and focused, work-related online communities. She is an dedicated chronicler and collector of online facilitation resources, constantly seeking to understand "what works and why" in this evolving world of online communities. She also hosts the Online Facilitation list serv. Daily thoughts? Check out the Online Facilitation Blog.

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