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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bev is my new tool experiment-instigator

Bev has found yet another tool for us to experiment while we collaborate. Evaluation-in-use is the best way of that I know to understand a tool. A list of features and a feature in action are two different animals. It used to be I was bugging all my collaborators to try this or that. I am happy that Bev has taken over.

I'm a happy camper. Who is your tool instigator? How do you learn about new tools in use?

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What is a blog? Loving the Remixes

Robin Good and his ad hoc global team of tricksters and artists are at it again, remixing all the clips Robin recorded when he asked folks "What is a blog?" The remixes are funny, insightful and a great example of the practice of remixing.

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Creating Passionate Users Blog and Community Indicators

Do you want to see a Community Indicator in action? Take a look at this. Kathy Sierra asks her readers why her blog landed in the Technorati Top Ten. Creating Passionate Users: What makes a popular blog?. Read both the answers, the tone and quantity of answers. I don't know how much spam was or was not deleted (Kathy and her supporters appear to be very proactive in this area.) But...well... just go look!

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Information Visualization

Dr. Mohamed Taher has been blogging about the role of visualation in learning and other areas. Lots of fun links to follow. If you are interested in visual thinking, click to Information Visualization.


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Friday, May 26, 2006

Now becoming my go-to page on mind mapping. Check out

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Conflict, Gender and Identity in Online Communities

Patrick Lambe has posted a very interesting analysis of a challenging conversation in an online community, ACT-KM.

Green Chameleon - Conflict, Gender and Identity in Online Communities:
"I’ve long been fascinated by the way that different online communities each have their distinct ‘personalities’ and ways of behaving. Often the community’s identity is heavily imprinted by its founders or leaders, but ACT-KM has interested me because its moderators are almost anonymous, leading contributors come and go, and yet the “personality” of the community is very consistent over time. Nowhere is this most evident in the way that it manages conflicts, often with minimal intervention by moderators. Some time ago I analysed an extended flame that took place in late 2003 between Dave Snowden, Joseph Firestone and Mark McElroy, and I’ve been meaning to write it up properly. Now, thanks to Hong Kong Polytechnic University making me write a module for them, here it is."
Click into the PDF and check it out. It seems to be the theme of my blog posts this week, but what Patrick writes about makes a lot of sense to me based on my experiences.

There is a related post on the Green Chameleon that also touches on similar issues, this time related to negotiated group norms. Even when open, transparent and open to negotiation by the group, some will perceive norms as controlled and top down. Too few norms = chaos. Too many = oppression. Tough place to balance in between.

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Dunbar's Number and More on Group Sizes Online

Tim McShane of the National College for School Leadership in the UK posted a very interesting message on the Online Facilitation list as part of a larger conversation about group size online. RE: [of] 150 and subgroups:
"I and a few colleagues have been studying which size of group gives optimal learning in NPQH based around the Dunbar study Christopher Allan did. We have been using group sizes of 12, 24, 36 and 48 to see which gives optimal learning. The facilitation for these are in the ratio of 1:12. The original groups size was 12 but this just did not seem to create the self-regenerating community needed and contributions to the discussions were often very low or non-existent. It was interesting that on the graph Christopher produced in his piece that this was the least optimum number for a group. We are finding that a power curve applies. 20% of the number are active so larger comms increase the overall activity. The findings are overall positive the nearer the comm gets to 50 and the change to dual and tri facilitation has been positive for the tutors."
Tim's experience echoes mine, but I find I can facilitate groups up to 24 alone. That said, my friends tell me I am weirdly fast in this area. So I'm not a good test case. Regardless of my speed, co-facilitation online is often a good practice because it allows coverage and multiple perspectives when it comes to interpreting what we think people mean and moving into action to work on clarifications.

For background on the Dunbar Number, you may want to look at this post from Christopher Allen with links to his various articles and thoughtful musings on group size.

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Online Community Responses

What do you do when you inadevertantly mess something up in an online community? Talk about it. Make the process transparent.

Here's an example: Salon Table Talk - What was behind the May 16 search proposal, reactions and plan retraction?

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Jim Takes O'Reilly to Task

J. LeRoy's Evolving Web: Bush League Crisis Management at O'Reilly...and I'm nodding in agreement. To copyright the term "Web 2.0" is antithetical to the idea, foolish and in the end, will bite them in the soft tissue. Their unique value proposition is not a label, but the products they provide.

Give it up, guys!

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Street Where I Live

The Street Where I Live
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.

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My Second Year Blogaversary - May 26

2 years and 2515 posts later, I'm still here. And to think it was just an experiment. Here's the first post.

It is kind of fun to read back through the posts. Some garbage, some learning, and a few gems.


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Online Facilitator Card #2

Online Facilitator Card #2
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
OK, we're having fun now. Beth had her card here and Barbara's is here. Beth has identified a tag, .

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Is Lurking "Legitimate Peripheral Participation?"

Is reading a form of participation? Is lurking simply taking advantage of a group or are the benefits accrued through reading and observation legitimate? I think they certainly can be. I have been enjoying the discussion about this on the ComPrac Yahoogroup and have found my beliefs and experiences resonating with the message from David Gibbons. com-prac : Message: RE: [cp] Re: Legitimate peripheral participation and lurkers

The full thread starts here.

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Caring for the bodies of online creatures

Bev and I have been spending a lot of time together - online. Our skype lines are open to each other several hours a day, many emails, use of a couple of web based collaboration tools, cross tagging and sometimes I think, mind melding half way cross the world as we work on a project together. Back on May 11 she posted something that rang a bell for me, Having a turn!.
My body may look like it's just sitting on the sofa. But in reality I'm rushing from room to room, person to person, task-to-task in a social universe located inside my computer.

Could that be the reason why me and my body keep getting out of synch? I can be talking to someone, brushing my teeth or giving a presentation when suddenly I feel like I've been dislocated from my physical self. It is very disconcerting. Today I found myself coming out of the lift on a different side of the lobby to my body!
For those of us who work, play, or spend a good chunk of our days online, our boundaries are far beyond the physical constraints that we can touch and see around us. Our heads may be in Setubal, Portugal, while our sore fingers are on purple keyboards in Seattle.

This suggests that we have to take care of our minds and bodies in a way that reflects our world. I want to start with bodies, because minds are, of course, much trickier. :-)

For those of you who are online denizens, what are you doing to take care of your body? I have renewed my attention to mine and here is what I've been doing:

  • Take my vitamins and calcium every day - with lots of B-complex to prevent RSI in my hands
  • 30 minutes of aerobic activitgy 5-6 days a week, with 3 of those including some weight bearing (sometimes I just dance around the living room. Thank god I don't have a webcam.)
  • Have water at my desk and drink more of it.
  • Make an effort to get up and move around every hour. Probably should be more.
  • Get outside - fresh air, sunshine (or cloud shine here in Seattle!)

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Online Facilitator Trading Cards

So I'm thinking, how do those of us who practice online facilitation identify ourselves? How do we "recognize" others? How about trading cards? Check out Trading Card Maker: Create a customized trading card from your digital photographs

Of course, my first effort has to be tongue-in-cheek. What is your online facilitator trading card? DO IT!

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Denise on Blogroll Angst

Riffing off of a couple of posts here (note, the key is the comments), Denise dives deeper into Blogroll Angst. Go read and weigh in!

Are blogrolls community indicators?

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Community of 2 and Many

Link hopping from a comment on my blog, to Bryan Zug's blog, to his wife Jen's blog, The Pile I'm Standing In, I click on a little arrow and a video begins. The Year of Melodic Shouting. Not only is the a very personal statement from a woman who clearly shares her thoughts in her blog, it is also the collaboration of a husband and wife within the context of their family community and their larger community of faith.

This is a community indicator. No doubt. One that is expressed online but which references the offline.

It is also an example of a person expressing their spirituality as a candle, not a club. I appreciate that. Another value of blogs: expression.

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Network Weavers and Online Facilitators

June Holley posted 14 Characteristics of Natural Network Weavers on the new blog she, Valdis Krebs and Jack Ricchiuto have started on social networks and related stuff. As I read the list, my head kept saying "this is an online facilitator too!" See what you think...

"Anyone can learn to be a Network Weaver but natural Network Weavers have at least some of the following characteristics. Are you a natural Network Weaver?

1. Opportunity seeking: sees opportunities everywhere
2. Loves to connect people to each other
3. Able to unearth resources of all types and kinds
4. Able to remember many names and resources
5. Able to dialogue easily with people and get them to disclose information
6. Comfortable with uncertainty but persistent in making things happen
7. Able to learn from experience; decides next step after reflecting on previous step
8. Optimistic
9. Able to see when something doesn’t work and moves on
10. Has a big vision but sees the importance of taking small steps
11. Likes to get to know people with different perspectives and from different backgrounds
12. Listens well
13. Asks a lot of questions
14. Sees patterns—notices patterns in the network: where there is energy, where there is isolation, who interacts with whom, etc"
As I compare them with the 8 online interaction competencies there are more connections.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Testing Blogroll Alternatives

A few blog posts ago I mused about the out-of-control nature of my blogroll. Marshall pointed me to Grazr. I'm giving it a test run. Check it out on my sidebar.

It took me a bit to figure out I had to post my OPML .xml file on my site so I could reference it through Grazr. I had to decide what to make public and what of my own personal garbage and junk reading I'd prefer that you, dear reader, did NOT see. I did a rough cut and I'm sure I should clean up more. This is not as easy as automatically having bloglines generate the blogroll, but it sure is neater. I'd be curious to know what you think.

Edit: Just saw this interesting blog post on the Grazr blog asking the question, "what do you think a reading list is?" Now we are getting to the nubbins.

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Visual Thinking Art: A Game!

The subject of games as portals to online group formation and collaboration has been popping up in my life in many places. I've been trying to spot good examples that are simple to adopt. Here's one. Visual Thinking Art: A Game!:
"Want to play a Visual Thinking Game? All you need to play is a digital camera and some imagination. Here's the deal:

Tell a short story with four photos.

It doesn't have to be 'the truth.' For instance, say you took a photo of a truck outside a house, then some loose change you see on the ground, then a sign in a store window announcing Coke is on sale for 99 cents, and then the same house in the first picture with the truck gone, that might be a story. Get it? "

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ChipIn - Another Get N Give

It is kind of funny that as I'm trying to catch up with my email in box, there are a couple of new services that aim to help people connect around stuff. This time it is about the old "collect funds to buy X or do Y." Have you ever been at the short end of the stick when everyone was chipping in to buy the boss a present? Or spent so much time tracking the delinquents down. ChipIn suggests they have a solutioin:
"ChipIn automates the time-consuming task of organizing people to give together. Connect with friends and collect funds for a birthday gift, office pool, neighborhood fundraiser or any other group purchase."
Currently the service is free and it appears that it will be ad supported with a fee of some sort in the future. I did not register as I'm steadfastly refusing to organize anything other than my discombobulated life! :-)

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Gimme Your Stuff

The net stimulates a lot of DIY action. It is like a fertile garden patch. Here are some new seeds sown by the folks at Gimme Your Stuff:
"Welcome to the cultural exchange blog, where you can swap items of significance to your area with items from others around the world. A conduit for many an international cuisine to change hands. A place where you can trade a newspaper from South Africa, or a CD from Finland. A place where we take no responsibility for anything anyone else does. A place where we are Changing the world with other people’s stuff. "
Click here for the "how to," and exchange your local cultural artifacts.

So what is the online interaction spin here? Artifacts. They help us bridge between our online and offline experiences. We need the physical. So why not swap the physical with our "imaginary friends?" :-)

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

How can our online networks help heal community wounds?

Recently on the KM4Dev (Knowledge Management for Development) list there has been a very interesting discussion on the impacts of major disasters such as epidemics, floods, wars, etc. on the knowledge base of a community or profession. What happens when HIV takes out a significant portion of a community's teachers, or engineers? What happens when the knowledge of local crops is lost during war, famine or natural disaster? What happens when a huge portion of a community's population does not return after a hurricane, depleting the rich knowledge of local history, culture and customs? These are huge issues.

I have been wondering about what online networks can do in this case. Mark Winslow pointed me to this work, Healing Wounds, which talks about the issue from a agriculture knowledge perspective. The piece has a series of stories that are full of lessons and ideas. Here is the table of contents:
Acknowledgements Executive Summary
Chapter1: Poverty, Conflict, and Natural Disasters: Persistent Plagues of the Developing World
Chapter 2: Agricultural Research and Development: A Way Out?
Chapter 3: Rebuilding Seed and Food Systems
Chapter 4: Safeguarding and Restoring Agrobiodiversity
Chapter 5: Rebuilding Human and Institutional Capacities
Chapter 6: Reducing Vulnerability to Future Conflicts and Disasters
Chapter 7: Helping Aid Organizations Become More Effective and Efficient
If your community were to be hit by disaster today, think not only of the physical recovery, but of the recovery of a community's culture, it's memory, it's knowledge. How would yours recover? What are you doing today to make sure it can ride the wave of a disaster?

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Reciprocity Rides Again

In the recent edition of the Journal of Computer Mediated Communications there was an article on Predicting continued participation in newsgroups. ( Joyce, E., and Kraut, R. E. 2006).Journal Communication, 11(3), article 3.)
Turnover in online communities is very high, with most people who initially post a message to an online community never contributing again. In this paper, we test whether the responses that newcomers receive to their first posts influence the extent to which they continue to participate. The data come from initial posts made by 2,777 newcomers to six public newsgroups. We coded the content and valence of the initial post and its first response, if it received one, to see if these factors influenced newcomers' likelihood of posting again. Approximately 61% of newcomers received a reply to their initial post, and those who got a reply were 12% more likely to post to the community again; their probability of posting again increased from 44% to 56%. They were more likely to receive a response if they asked a question or wrote a longer post. Surprisingly, the quality of the response they received—its
emotional tone and whether it answered a newcomer's question—did not influence the likelihood of the newcomer's posting again.
It was great to see data that confirmed the practices I've seen over the years and my recommendation to online facilitators that initial messages get responses. A quick is the first manifestation of "being heard" online! If we don't feel heard F2F, we often stop communicating. Why not the same online?

What was REALLY interesting here was that the quality of the response did not influence the reaction. Is this, in effect, a simple nodding? An "um huh?"

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Female-Name Chat Users Get 25 Times More Malicious Messages

Another very interesting article. Female-Name Chat Users Get 25 Times More Malicious Messages

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A study by the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering found that chat room participants with female usernames received 25 times more threatening and/or sexually explicit private messages than those with male or ambiguous usernames.

Female usernames, on average, received 163 malicious private messages a day in the study, conducted by Michel Cukier, assistant professor in the Center for Risk and Reliability in the Clark School's Department of Mechanical Engineering, and an affiliate of the university's Institute for Systems Research, and sophomore computer engineering student Robert Meyer.

The study focused on internet relay chat or IRC chat rooms, which are among the most popular chat services but offer widely varying levels of user security. The researchers logged into various chatrooms under female, male and ambiguous usernames, counted the number of times they were contacted and tracked the contents of those messages. Their results will be published in the proceedings of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers International (IEEE) Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN '06) in June.

'Some messages to female usernames were innocuous, while others were sexually explicit or threatening,' Meyer says. Harmless messages included 'helo' and 'care 2 intro?' Tamer examples of malicious messages included suggestive questions such as,'feeling horney?'and requests for 'intimate services.'

The researchers also determined that simulated users or 'bots' are not behind most of the malicious messages. 'The extra attention the female usernames received and the nature of the messages indicate that male, human users specifically targeted female users,' Cukier said."

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Excerpts from the Writings of Victor Turner

Food for thought...Excerpts from the Writings of Victor Turner
I have used the term "anti-structure,"... to describe both liminality and what I have called "communitas." I meant by it not a structural reversal... but the liberation of human capacities of cognition, affect, volition, creativity, etc., from the normative constraints incumbent upon occupying a sequence of social statuses (1982:44).

People or societies in a liminal phase are a "kind of institutional capsule or pocket which contains the germ of future social developments, of societal change" (Turner, 1982:45).
- Victor Turner

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First Monday: Zones of silence

From the May First Monday comes, Zones of silence:
There is no doubt that much digital divide work — including connectivity initiatives, technology transfer programs, and other projects — is done with good intention. Yet, as has been widely recognized, the conceptual framework of the digital divide is limiting. The language of the digital divide not only places people into simplistic “have”/“have not” categories, making assumptions about the solution to “information poverty” with little attention to local contexts, its logic also continues a paradigm of development that engages with the global south only at the point of what it “lacks”. I propose a framework, which provides a wider, and more nuanced, lens to look through. It focuses work in ways and in areas consistently overlooked by the digital divide, particularly on the realities, voices, and complexities within its unconnected, “have not” spaces — the zones of silence. Encouraging critical questioning of assumptions and an understanding of local contexts and points of view, a zones of silence framework is a way to broaden the dialogue on global communication and information access beyond a discourse of need, to one of mutual questioning, sharing, and learning. I begin with a brief critique of the digital divide, followed by a definition of this zones of silence framework and how it can help us to see and consider issues differently. I then suggest three areas where work from this perspective might begin."
I love the image and metaphor of zones of silence. In practice, I have seen and experienced them over and over again. In fact this is one of the things that keeps me up at night in my work. Through the introduction of new technologies, who are we inadvertently silencing? In our lack of understanding of local context, even our ABILITY to understand, when are we actually causing harm?

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Beth's Blog: NpTag Tag and Nonprofit Collaborative Tag Project

Can you tell I'm catching up with a backlog of draft blog posts today? Yup. Here is a must read for NGO/NPO types trying to get their heads around how tagging might be useful for them, NpTag Tag and Nonprofit Collaborative Tag Project Types. Go Beth!

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Google Jockeying from Educase

Via Stephen Downes comes this terrific article on Google Jockeying. Wow, I have seen this behavior at conferences with rich back channels, but I had not heard of it in the educational context. I really enjoyed reading this. 7 Things you Should Know About Google Jockeying

A Google jockey is a participant in a presentation or class who surfs the Internet for terms, ideas, Web sites, or resources mentioned by the presenter or related to the topic. The jockey's searches are displayed simultaneously with the presentation, helping to clarify the main topic and extend learning opportunities.

The "7 Things You Should Know About..." series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning practices and technologies. Each brief focuses on a single practice or technology and describes what it is, where it is going, and why it matters to teaching and learning. Use "7 Things You Should Know About..." briefs for a no-jargon, quick overview of a topic and share them with time-pressed colleagues.

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How much is my swicki worth?

On the lower right sidebar of my blog (if any of you actually read the blog on the site vs RSS) there is a Swicki. Yesterday I got an email from the Swiki folks which noted that my swicki is theoretically worth $49,581.60 - boy, that would be cool, no? Of course, this depends on if my contributions are useful, people search on my blog, etc. And if I'm astute enough to do anything about it. Right now the darn thing is buried below my infernally long blogroll.(I don't seem to be particularly driven by this source of revenue, but I suspect I should. Perhaps I would not feel so compelled to work so hard!)

How much is my swicki worth?

By the way, I am trimming my blogroll and am actually thinking about doing away with it. What do you think? Is it useful anymore?

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Past mother's day, but I love this photo

Originally uploaded by onewmphoto.
Onnik Krikorian posts amazing photos on Flickr. I loved this one of three women in Berd, Armenia.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - Visual Whiteboard Collaboration

Here is another tool to play with, - Free Web-Based Collaboration. A few of us have used it a couple of times during our regular teleconference calls. (We normally use the phone and a Skype chat room). It was easy to use and useful for sketching visual ideas. We wished for a shared write board as well as a whiteboard because using the text tool was a bit clumsy. But overall, I like it. Useufl for a quick, free shared visualization space. Free for up to 20 users at a time. Includes a chat panel (right side) and list of users (upper right side.) You can save screens and email them to yourself or others.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

SCoPE: Seminars: SCoPE Seminar: Informal Learning: May 15 - June 4, 2006

Sarah Haavind and I are pitching in to animate a discussion on informal learning. I think that"informal learning" is another definition of living! SCoPE: Seminars: SCoPE Seminar: Informal Learning: May 15 - June 4, 2006

Facilitated by Sarah Haavind and Nancy White

Courses and formal learning approaches certainly have their place. However, how close are we to recognizing and understanding the potential of informal learning? How do we create opportunities for informal learning? Is designing informal learning an oxymoron? During this 3-week seminar discussion we will tackle these and other questions in an effort to understand informal
learning more deeply.

Access the seminar directly:

To contribute to discussions and customize your visits to SCoPE you will
need to self-register

SCoPE is an online community hosted by Simon Fraser University. Discussions
are free and open to the public. Please spread the word!
This online event is hosted on a Moodle platform. I don't know what it is, but it seems everything I'm working on this month is in Moodle. I'm getting Moodle-pated!

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New Edition of the KM for Development Journal

Get clicking, a new edition of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal is out and chock full of goodness.
"The current issue of the journal (Vol. 2, issue 1, May 2006) on the subject of 'Effective knowledge sharing for development in Africa' has been produced by the Guest Editors: Dina El Halaby, Reine Djuidje Kouam, Kingo Mchombu and Alice Mungwa. The team of guest editors are all part of the Global Development Network’s (GDN) programme on Knowledge Sharing for Development for the Africa Region which aims at enhancing the knowledge management and research dissemination capacity of research institutes and networks in Africa by providing training and skills building in knowledge management."
I am particularly excited about this edition because the origin of most of the articles is from Africa, not about Africa from afar. I was so excited to read the article "Towards improving farmers’ livelihoods through exchange of local agricultural content in rural Uganda" from my colleague Ednah Karamagi Akiiki from Uganda. I met Ednah in 2004 at a workshop in Ghana and was drawn to her energy and creativity. At that time not only was she doing her agricultural and community development work, she was thinking about how online interaction opportunities might help support children who had been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. In her article, Ednah puts the theory of knowledge sharing firmly in the reality of daily life through stories and snippets of stories.

The full index of this journal includes:


Effective knowledge sharing for development in Africa Abstract PDF
Dina El Halaby, Reine Djuidje Kouam, Kingo Mchombu, Alice Mungwa, Julie Ferguson, Sarah Cummings 5-7


Overcoming barriers: promoting women’s local knowledge Abstract PDF
Friederike Knabe, Jacqueline Nkoyok 8-23
The power of peer reviews in building a learning network for local government in South Africa. Abstract PDF
Zenobia Africa, Martin Nicol 24-36
Partager les connaissances avec les populations pour un développement durable en société post-conflit: regard sur le processus électoral au Congo/Kinshasa. Abstract PDF
Jacques Tshibwabwa Kuditshini 37-51
Impediments and innovations in knowledge sharing: the case of the African shea sector. Abstract PDF
Marlène Elias, Jules Bayala, Mahamadi Dianda 52-67
Towards improving farmers’ livelihoods through exchange of local agricultural content in rural Uganda. Abstract PDF
Ednah Karamagi Akiiki 68-77

Case Studies

Challenges faced by African organizations in knowledge sharing: the case of the African Population and Health Research Centre. Abstract PDF
Rose Oronje 78-87
Study tours as a knowledge sharing mechanism and a networking opportunity in the development sector. The example of a Local Economic Development study tour in South Africa. Abstract PDF
Sabine Hage 88-92
Effective knowledge sharing: the Tanzanian Industrial Research and Development Organization as mediator between the foreign and local sector. Abstract PDF
Astrid Szogs, Lugano Wilson 93-104
Knowledge management and natural resources in Africa: perspectives from two networks. Abstract PDF
Anna van der Heijden, Tony Pryor, Lars Soeftestad 105-118


An interview with Kingo Mchombu. Knowledge sharing in Africa: the key to poverty alleviation? Abstract PDF
Dina El Hababy 119-127


Review of ‘The World Café. Shaping our futures through conversations that matter.’ Abstract PDF
Sibrenne Wagenaar 128-133

Community Notes

Academia and development. Abstract PDF
Chris Burman 134-141

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Monday, May 15, 2006

It is KEWL and KINKY: Collaboration Software

(I could not resist the headline...)

Last week the good folks at the Free Software Innovation Unit announced the release of the latest version of KGroups. release of KEWL.NextGen:

kGroups is a sophisticated group-based collaboration system, supporting an unlimited number of groups, and easily scaling to thousands or hundreds of thousands of users. kGroups provides a highly configurable system, where you have complete control over what functionality is installed, as well as what functionality is available on a per group basis. You can use kGroups to replace wikis, blogs, content management, mailing lists, document management, instant messaging, discussion forums, and dozens of other applications. kGroups combines them all into one site, which means that your knowledge base is all in one location, and easily managed from a simple to use interface that has been developed as a result of considerable usability testing."
KINKY, it seems, is the set of building blocks for KGroups. I haven't checked out the software, but as always, feel it is important to point out OS offerings in the collaborative space.

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Blogstory - Chapter 16 is Up

Talk about the wisdom of crowds. This collaborative story-in-a-blog just kicked up a few notches. Check out Blogstory. Then think about your favorite distributed team. What makes it great?

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Nata village blog

My friend Paul Lawrence (when are you going to start blogging?) pointed me to the Nata village blog, a collaborative unfolding story of HIV/AIDS work in Nata, Botswana. The pictures, videos and stories both of the daily life of the village and of the issues of HIV/AIDS was striking to me. It was, well, ordinary in the best sense of the word. The post about two women who are living openly with HIV, role modeling health and social strategies where HIV is still a stigma. The documentation of a wedding.

It is easy to romanticize work like this. Particularly when white northerners come to "help" people in other places in the world. I am in no place to judge the perspective, but my sense is the ordinariness, the quotidian, is a reflection of respect.

How do we become more engaged in the world through stories about the real lives of our "villages?"

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Beyond Text: using your voice online

Ah, finally finding a moment to squeeze in a blog post. It has been a busy week.

I've been collecting resources on using audio online - not just podcasting, but more generally. I was following along with an online group in Australia discussiong these issues and Michael Coglon pointed us to the excellent resource, Beyond Text: using your voice online
This resource demonstrates ways you can introduce online voice technologies into your course design and delivery and provide increased flexibility and engagement for learners. It can be used as an individual guide or as a resource for professional development and training sessions.

There are three sections:
* Case studies
* Facilitator guides

From: Michael Coghlan (2004), Finding Your Voice Online – An Inquiry into the Use of Online Voice Applications in Higher Education (The Knowledge Tree 2004)

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Microsoft Social Computing Symposium

Easily Distracted has a great series of posts live blogging from the third annual MSFT Social Computing Symposium that happened this week in Seattle. Liz Lawley, who organized the event has a useful after action report.

Thanks to the amazing AV team, there was streaming video of the group sessions paired with and IRC backchannel which graciously allowed more of us to benefit from the ideas and discussions. I have "sat in" on IRC channels, but I think this is the first time paired with video. Even with teh 27 second delay, I realized something. I loved having the laughter from the room in the audio. It made the IRC more alive.

I didn't used to think I was so aurally tuned. Maybe it is just that I'm laughter-tuned.

I was really happy to see Liz bring in some elements of Open Space. We shared a bit on the event blog (not a public blog) about how difficult it is to get organizational buy in for Open Space, yet when you have a group of smart, energetic people, it can be the best substrate for bringing out great conversations and ideas.

(And Liz, I did not envy your decision making role. I hate when I have to choose. Thanks for letting the rest of us peek in!)


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Friday, May 05, 2006

Purple Mice and Sore Hands

Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
Off and on over the years of being and independent practitioner my right hand has hurt - repetitive stress. I find taking a B-complex vitamin helps, but I know my ergonimic set up at my desk is not ideal. Well, I'm starting to work on it.

Last weekend at MindCamp I met Kate Dumortier of Unwind at Work. Kate offers stress reduction services to companies using chair massage, but also has a lot of smarts around ergonomics. She suggested I check out the mice at Evoluent.

A few days later I rip open a box with my new purple keyboard and mouse.

The mouse is arranged so that you can hold your hand in a more neutral position. So far so good: I like it. it is very sensitive so you don't have to move your hand much.

The keyboard is smaller and has the number pad on the left, so your hand has less space to traverse to your mouse. My old keyboard, a wireless Logitec ergonomic model with the slight space in the middle of the keyboard felt very nice. My arms and hands were more relaxed. it is weird to use a straight keyboard again and I'm not so sure I'm so happy. I feel tension in my left hand already, but I think part of this is again adjusting my posture.

What I love about both of them is that they are PURPLE! Yay, no more dull gray or beige. Give me COLOR!

Now all I need is a new chair. Oi!

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Ah, yet another network I didn't know I was part of until it started showing up in my delicious tagging box, near the bottom. If you look on the right of you will see the people in my network at When I tag something, I can also easily send the tag to any person in my network's inbox on Pretty cool!

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InkWell: A Conversation about the FotoLog Community

This week on The Well's publicly viewable conference (the rest is by paid membership) Inkwell.vue you can join in a conversation with the founders of FotoLog. They are talking about the FotoLog community, the book about the community, and more generally the phenomenon of community springing up between people's photos. Adam Seifer, co founder, Andrew Long and a bunch of fotologgers are there. Join us! (Note: non-member readers with comments or questions may send them to
to have them added to the conversation)

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Updating Old Articles - Tool Tour - Can you Help?

My website is full of articles I wrote starting in 1999. Some of them are holding up ok, others need updating. One that always needs updating is my "Tool Tour" piece. I decided to take a first crack at it, then ask YOU how it might be improved. I've pasted it below as well. I'm sorry that the table will look like poo poo. I'm not so good with tables. (Hm, I realized I should probably update this one at the same time. Oi!)

What I'd love to know is:
  • What other categories should I include? I'm thinking there are the collection of web based tools like writely and others which allow you to do stuff online you used to do in Microsoft office, and do it with others. All the things like BaseCamp and 43Things. Oi Oi Oi! What are the categories?
  • What is wrong and needs fixing?
  • What example tools would you suggest?
This does not replace the work John, Etienne and I are doing on the Comunity Technolgy Report. This is smaller and lighter. Thank goodness.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Nancy White
Last Updated: May, 2006

The Tool Tour is designed to give you a sense of the range of online interaction and collaboration tools available. Different tools are applied for different functions. There are a LOT of tools here. Feel free to skip around as time allows.

For a sense of how many products there are out there, take a quick peek at,, Denham Grey's Collaboration Toollist, and Tools for Working Virtually.

As you look at tools, think about them in context of your group's goals or needs. Here are a few questions to keep in mind.

  • What is the main activity or function that a tool might support for you? (i.e. information exchange, idea creation, decision making, social/group building experiences.)
  • As you look or experiment with the tool, think about how easy/hard it is to figure it out. How might your potential users react to the tool?
  • What do you like best about the tool? Least?
  • Will your users have the machine power and bandwidth to successfully utilize the tool? Does the tool work on both MAC and PC platforms? Do they have to have always-on internet access? High bandwidth?
  • Is it "pushed" to the user (i.e. alerts of new messages or full content delivered to the user both on the web and via email box) or must the user go to the web and "pull" the information to themselves? If it is pull, what will be the trigger? The attention holding plan?
  • Do you need asynchronous tools? Synchronous? Both?
  • Does the system support fonts and interfaces in other languages? (Some of these issues are tool based, some are browser based.)
  • Is the cost reasonable? At what scale?
  • If the tool is deployed for a time delimited event, is there a "snapshot" utility to archive the interactions (ie. for a CD or other type of static archive)?

Discussion Tools

Web Based Discussion Tools

The most common type of web based tools are discussion boards where people can read and exchange comments. There are two main structures for web based discussion tools, threaded and linear. More and more tools are providing user or administrator options to change the structure on the fly.

These days it is rare to talk about a single function tool. Many discussion board providers now bill themselves as community software providers and bundle other tools into their products such as chat, instant messaging, polls, blogs, wikis, member directories and file sharing. So you will find some overlap between the first few sections of the tour and the groupware section! In addition, there is sometimes a split in communities where some like blogs and wikis and others prefer discussion boards. This split may be generational, but regardless of its origin, it is helpful to be aware of this and figure out how to bridge between the groups when picking tools.

One important distinguishing feature of web based discussions are that they are asynchronous PULL tools. You have to log on to the net and "pull" the information to you. This is gradually changing as software tools add email interfaces and email notifications. Some are now including RSS (really simple syndication) so participants can subscribe to discussions just like they subscribe to blog posts. With some tools, members can participate fully via email (full content delivered to email and posting from email)or be reminded of new content with links back to the web interface. This is an important for two reasons. It is cost efficient for areas where people pay by the minute for Internet access. It reminds people to engage if they are not in the habit of checking a web space for new messages. There are still not many other offline reading options for web based discussion tools.

Example Sites:

Provider/Sample Site

Comments provides a limited functionality site for WebCrossing. Full function and user support community at WebXHarbor.

Can be configured in many ways but a bit of a steep learning curve based on a proprietary coding language, WebCrossing Template Language (WCTL). This allows you to do many things with some programming expertise. It can be licensed to run on your server, or hosted by WebCrossing (currently with servers in US and Japan). The buttons and help files can all be translated. Currently there is a full Japanese and Spanish sets available. Has integrated chat and instant simple instant messaging. NOTE: Version 5.0 has a huge increase in formatting options for those who want a web-interface instead of working with WCTL and include email lists, a type of blog and wiki interface. Their newest offering will also include social networking functionality.

GroupJazz Caucus Demo

Can arrange to show other sites by appointment.

This is a demo of an elearning space hosted by GroupJazz, which uses Caucus. Caucus has a smooth, linear conversational interface, file upload/download, inline images and some user tracking tools. It is provided on an ASP basis from a variety of vendors. In 2005 the source code was made Open Source.

About Catalyst

From their site: BigMind Catalyst is a highly customizable social space for multiple teams and community development, collaborative learning, in-depth conversations, project management, and problem-solving in a supportive atmosphere that is focused and well-organized. Catalyst can become the core infrastructure used to run an organization.

BigMindMedia integrates its strategic consulting, facilitation, and web design with its expert, innovative use of BigMind Catalyst... for extending powerful group learning processes into the digital realm, including BigMind Learning Circles, multilevel discussions, e-learning environments, and interactive multimedia.

Prospero Technologies/Delphi Forums

Live demo

This is a good demo of Prospero's tool set. Note the list of who is online on the left once you log in. Prospero is an ASP service.

Email Discussion Tools

Email lists or listservs(tm) are essentially group emails. They have been the mainstay of online interaction with a long (for the Internet!) history.

Now there are services that provide group emails plus additional features, turning them into potential groupware tools. The most common was, until January 2000, It is now Listbot ceased services in 2001. is another large provider, while Google is beta testing their own email group product. For those in international development, non profits and NGOs, see D-Groups, Riseup and other email list hosts who are devoted to serving non profits.

Most of these services provide easy-to-use group lists, archiving of messages, member directories and sometimes chat and database features. They are advertising supported with some having fee-based upgrades to remove the ads. The advantage of these tools is that they push messages into user's email boxes, where most people read regularly. The disadvantage is that messages going one-by-one loose context of the conversation and if you want to read on the web, you have to click through to each individual message. Good for broadcasting information, less helpful for getting work done, deep discussion or building coherent teams.

Some providers host the tools on their servers (ASP or application service provider model) while others sell licenses.

Email is an asynchronous PUSH tool.

Example Sites:


Comments (formerly

This is a list I moderate on online facilitation. You can view the archives without being a member, and get a sense of the range of tools. Check out the files, bookmarks and database. A key feature for me is that users manage their own subscriptions. (theoretically!)

This is an open, un-moderated list for fans of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Note the large volume. This demonstrates how volume and haphazard use of subject lines can make it hard to extract value. But for those deeply into the group and its flow of information, it is very powerful.

Chat Tools

Chat is an synchronous PULL tool. You go to a chat room and participate in real time with other users. It can be used to facilitate internal team work, socializing, or for events with guest speakers, such as an issues forum. Or chat can even be made available for users to use as they wish to informally connect and communicate. This informal function is gradually being taken over by Instant Messaging tools. Chat generally comes in two variations: java and html. Java chat only works on newer, faster machines. Some developers are now adding voice chat, but the quality is still low and the bandwidth requirements are high.

Note: Most of the community tool providers include chat in their suite of tools. Here are three providers who specialize in chat just to give you more background. This list sorely needs updating as there are interesting new options.

Example Sites:

Provider/Sample Site



For a Demo click on their customer support icon.

Ichat provides java based chat rooms and discussion boards.


Chatspace Demo

Chatspace offers a package of chat/web server and html and Java client code. Since Chatspace's purchase of O'Reilly's WebBoard, they are moving into providing a full set of interaction tools.

GroupWare, Collaboration Platforms and Portals

"Groupware is technology designed to facilitate the work of teams. This technology may be used to communicate, cooperate, coordinate, solve problems, compete, or negotiate. While traditional technologies like the telephone qualify as groupware, the term is ordinarily used to refer to a specific class of technologies relying on modern computer networks, such as email, newsgroups, videophones, or chat." From: Usability First. For more about Groupware, see Usability First's information here.

Until recently I had not classified "portals" with groupware tools. However, as the marketplace matures, there is merging of these two categories. There is still quite a diverse range of products, but it is significant to see that most portal products are incorporating groupware and interaction tools.

Like discussion tools, groupware has synchronous and asynchronous features. The distinctino is that Groupware tools are generally aggregating a range of tools. The most common are discussion tools, voting/polling/prioritizing tools, document and file sharing, calendaring, directories, content management and workflow/project management. This is a rapidly growing sector of the software community and the number of tools and tool elements changes daily. Some providers host the tools on their servers (ASP or application service provider model) while others sell licenses. Groupware is often the base of business intranets for works such as project managment, work flow and procurement. A technical subset of groupware is the "Peer-to-Peer" (P2P) space which distributes the software across the network rather than a hub/spoke arrangement of software that resides on a central server. The leading P2P groupware application is

Example Sites:

ProviderSample Site/


GroupMind Express


This product is designed around a particular group facilitation process. It does not have the full feature set, but the brainstorming and decision making toolset is superb and easy to use. ASP model

ERoom (Documentum)

ERoom Flash Tour

Eroom is designed and promoted as a digital workplace and is oriented towards project management tools. Includes both synchronous and asynchronous tours. Space can be rented at monthly rates that are based on number of users and disk space used. ASP


Product components

Wego offers both hosted and site license products that combine portals with interaction tools.



"Tomoye's Simplify product is aimed at supporting dispersed Communities of Practice and portal applications."



Lotus also has a Learning Room and Team Room project which can be integrated with Quickplace. Good for groups that are using Lotus notes as it can be integrated.


Product Info
(click on Quicktour)

Peer-to-Peer, client/server software environment for online interaction. Client still in preview edition (July 2001) Synchronous and asynchronous tools including message boards, chat, IM, whiteboard, file share, scheduling etc.

Other Providers


There are a variety of other providers. Critical in selecting a groupware ASP is to assess for the long-term survival in an uncertain market and how you can maintain control of your files and data.

Live Presentation/Meeting Tools

A growing number of software providers are packaging live online event tools. These are almost exclusively on the ASP model, with customers paying per event, based on number of attendees, or by the month. These tools are good for large, synchronous events presented over the Internet or in combination with telephone conference calls. They are bandwidth heavy. However, looking at multi-modal/multi-media tools is an important way to include more users who are not well prepared for a text only environment.

Example Sites:



LiveMeeting (formerly Placeware)

LiveMeeting Events


(check their schedule)

Useful for demos (like web tours!), group document editing, integrate visual tools with teleconference. ASP model. Was bought by Microsoft - thus the rename/rebranding.



(scroll to the bottom after registering.)

Another synchronous online meeting product and offer capabilities in English and Spanish. They also offer survey systems. ASP model.


Quicktour (scroll down)

Can be rented by the month or by the live event. Similar functionality to Placeware. Slightly less expensive. ASP model

HP Virtual Classroom

Demos: example
"on-demand" recording of a live Webcast

and example recorded Webcast with video

(both work better under IE)

A full featured system aimed at the training and education markets. ASP model.



From the site: "Elluminate is a leading provider of live Web conferencing and eLearning solutions for the real-time organization. Serving corporate and academic sectors, the company ensures the best user experience through superior quality VoIP, communications that are in-sync regardless of connection speed, broad cross-platform support, and advanced yet easy-to-use moderator tools."

"Social Software Tools (Blogs, Wiki's, and Other Creatures)

Quicktopic, Blogs, Wikis -- all these funny sounding tools point to the powers of publishing and networking. The idea of being able to publish to the web with little or no technical knowledge offers the possibility of sharing information and knowledge. They can be deployed as group publishing and annotation tools as well, with Quicktopic being an excellent, free and ad-free example!

For more background and history on blogs, see these articles and link collections:
Example Sites:




An old quicktopic of mine used to solicit feedback on a draft article. See also their FAQ.

From the site: Basic Quick Topic is free, and you can use it as long as you want to. We charge a fee for co-branding and customization of our services (see below).Quick Topic is also, as Jon Udell put it, "an important some applications, get some groups to start using them, observe the results, and adjust the apps accordingly." We're building an application that's somewhat unique, extremely useful, and as easy to use as email. We evolve Quick Topic in direct response to your needs, based on your feedback to us. That's why it remains so simple and useful. Our biggest reward is to see that thousands of people are connecting easily in groups, in ways that aren't possible with email -- ways that are easier and less technically involved than just about anywhere else.


My main blog and a "cool" blog done with blogger.

Blogger explains blogs. Pyra was one of the first to offer folks free blogging tools. From their site: Blogger is a web-based tool that helps you publish to the web instantly -- whenever the urge strikes. Blogger is the leading tool in the rapidly growing area of web publishing known as weblogs, or "blogs." Other well know blog tools are Moveable Type, Word Press, Live Journal and others.


NTC Panel Blog
Some information on NGOs and blogging

From their site: is a project brought to you by some of the same folks who do the Open Source blogging software available at WordPress-the-software has been incredibly successful and risen from a handful of users to the most-used blog tool in its category.


Ward Cunningham's useful WikiWeb site

From the site:

The simplest online database that could possibly work.

Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.

Wiki is unusual among group communication mechanisms in that it allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself.

Like many simple concepts, "open editing" has some profound and subtle effects on Wiki usage. Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users.



From the site:

Socialtext provides a social software suite, with wikis, weblogs, and chat.

Socialtext has been taking basic wiki an chat tools and evolving them into a collaboration toolset.



From the site: "Wikispaces lets you create simple web pages that groups, friends, and families can edit together." An example wiki.



From the site: "Welcome to Wikia, a collection of communities with websites that you can edit.You can start a new Wikia in any language today, or explore, browse, and edit an existing." Free wikis are ad supported. The software used is MediaWiki, which is the base of the popular WikiPedia.

Social Networking Services

In 2002 a flood of new web based online networking services such as Friendster, Orkut, Linked In and many others started offering online tools to help people visualize and expand their personal and professional networks. Many of them blended in online interaction tools such as message boards, blogs and other tools to also foster community. The interesting pattern emerging from online social network tools is the promise of using groups to collaboratively filter information, connect people who have something in common, and find people who may have expertise you are looking for. You really have to think in terms of a network, with its host of interconnected nodes, rather than a bounded group, to see the promise of these tools.

* http:

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Euan Semple: All you need is love

Can I just say "amen?" AMEN!

Over on Knowledge Board Euan Semple has a terrific post, All you need is love.. Here are a few bits that I especially liked, but go read the whole thing.
Some time back Cluetrain author David Weinberger wrote that the motivating force behind the internet was love. It was the basic human desire to connect that made it all hang together...

...OK we just about get away with "loving our job" our "loving success" but start talking about loving colleagues or loving customers and you'll have people running for the door. And yet isn't this what makes great people and great places tick. A deep sense of connection with each other, a depth of purpose beyond the every day that sees customers as more than merely stepping stones on the way to returning that value to the shareholders?...

...Love is also the powerful force you unleash when you start to introduce social computing inside organisations. Some are concerned about the disruptive effects you should expect but the disruption results from stronger stuff. The stuff David was talking of. The desire to connect at a very deep human level. To see colleagues as intrinsically linked and capable of pulling together in ways that those who promulgated scarcity and competition as organisational drivers will never begin to understand.

Over the last four years of watching the BBC's internal forums grow to their current population of half the organisation I have seen so many examples of love and connection - some of which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I mean real examples of people selflessly helping each other, genuine affection and concern shown between people who more often than not never physically met, and as one of the participants once said a greater sense of 'one BBC' than any of the corporate initiatives that came and went over the years.

Maybe love does have a place in business after all. Maybe more and more of us will start to have the courage to begin to talk about what really matters to us about work and our relationships with each other and to push back the sterile language of business that we have been trained to accept. Maybe we will realise that accepting love into the workplace reminds us of the original purpose of work - not to maximise shareholder value but to come together to do good things, to help each other and hopefully to make the world a better place.
Oh yeah, baby, its love.

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Skypecasting: Robin Good Explains it All

Audio Conferencing Goes Free For Up To A Hundred Participants: Skypecasting Is Here - Robin Good's Latest News

Just a quick pointer to this useful resource describing and offering tips for using Skype's new Skypecast feature: VOIP calls with 100 listener! It will be interesting to watch and learn how people use the service.

As an online community person, I noticed they have prominently linked to their Community Guidelines.(Pretty standard stuff.)

Thanks, Robin!

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

IMARK - Building Electronic Communities

I wanted to do a shout out of congratulations to the IMARK (Information Management Resource Kit) team for the launching of a web based version of their self paced learning module on "Building Electronic Communities and Networks."

OK, full disclosure! I am a contributor to the module and I do work for the IMARK group. But I say that with a smile on my face because I've really enjoyed working with the team - they are collabortive, open and have a sense of humor. That's important when they have to put up with me at 6:30 am for our Skype meetings (9 hour time difference!)

The modules were designed for those working in international development, but the messages run true for just about anyone supporting online groups. There are five units (I contributed to 1 and helped review some of the others):
Unit 1 - Online communities - new opportunities
This unit covers the benefits and opportunities offered by online communities to facilitate knowledge and information exchange, and describes the key factors for a successful online community.

Unit 2 - Understanding needs and assessing opportunities
This unit explains how to conduct a needs analysis for an online community, how to develop a team and define goals, and looks at the technical, financial, institutional and social issues involved in designing an online community.

Unit 3 - Options, choices, tools and applications
This unit illustrates a wide range of interactive tools and applications for building an online community, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they affect and the nature of the community.

Unit 4 - Designing an online community
This unit provides guidelines for the design of an online community including introducing online communication in your organization, the professional roles required, the technical choices to be made, and how to plan for marketing, training and evaluation activities.

Unit 5 - Online facilitation
This unit provides guidelines on how to facilitate an online community and introduces the basic concepts of facilitation, compares traditional and online facilitation, and illustrates a wide range of facilitation tasks and techniques.
For those without good connectivity, IMARK will send you a CD ROM. Pretty darn great!

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Thinking about Monitoring and Evaluation

I am in the midst of thinking about assessment, monitoring and evaluation for a number of projects. I always look for a balance of techniques and measures -- quantitative and qualitative. Evaluating online interactions (courses, teams, events) is still a bit of a crap shoot.

I have used After Action Review both online and offline, but I realized I had not used Most Significant Change online. I was reminded of this by a post on the Anecdote blog about MSC. Here is a bit of explanation from Shawn Callahan:
Anecdote: Evaluating the soft stuff: "In 1994 Rick Davies was faced with the job of assessing the impact of an aid project on 16,500 people in the Rajshahi zone of western of Bangladesh (6). The idea of getting everyone to agree on a set of indicators was quickly dismissed as there was just too much diversity and conflicting views. Instead Rick devised an evaluation method which relied on people retelling their stories of significant change they had witnessed as a result of the project. Furthermore, the storytellers explained why they thought their story was significant.

If Rick had left it there the project would have had a nice collection of stories but the key stakeholders' appreciation for the impact the project would have been minimal. Rick needed to engage the stakeholders, primarily the region's decision-makers and the ultimate project funders, in a process that would help them see (and maybe even feel) the change. His solution was to get groups of people at different levels of the project's hierarchy to select the stories which they thought was most significant and explain why they made that selection.

Each of the 4 project offices collected a number of stories and were asked to submit one story in each of the four areas of interest to the head office in Dhaka. The Dhaka head office staff then selected one story from the 16 submitted. The selected stories and reasons for selection were communicated back to the level below and the original storytellers. Over time the stakeholders began to understand the impact they were having and the project's beneficiaries began to understand what the stakeholders believed was important. People were learning from each other. The approach, called Most Significant Change, systematically developed an intuitive understanding of the project's impact that could be communicated in conjunction with the hard facts.

Rick's method was highly successful: participation in the project increased; the assumptions and world views surfaced, helping in one case resolve an intra-family conflict over contraceptive use; the stories were extensively used in publications, educational material and videos; and, the positive changes where identified and reinforced.

To date the application of Most Significant Change has been mostly confined to NGO programs and other not for profit organisations. But this is changing. Corporations are also recognising that issues such as culture change, communities of practice, learning initiatives generally and leadership development could benefit from an MSC approach. Anecdote is currently assisting one large IT and consulting company implement MSC to evaluate the impact of its culture change program."
We are going to be using stories in both the projects I'm thinking about. So now I have to refresh myself more on MSC and see if it might be a useful practice in our M&E.

I need to get my hands on the guide Shawn mentions as well!

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