Sunday, October 29, 2006

A comment worth pulling up and out

Jim Benson just posted a comment to an earlier blog post that is related to a draft post I'm working on. So I want to pull it out and make it more visible. Full Circle Online Interaction Blog: Is this true or do our cultural norms make it common?:
"A few things about groups...

You can't have them without individuals, so any treatment of group dynamics, results, or cohesion is entirely based on how our brains want to organize things.

A group changes the individuals that interact with it. When your various chemistries - philosophical, rational, communicative - come into contact with others, you create a new one .. that of the group.

When you put a carrot in a stew and pull it out later to eat it, you still call it a carrot, but its interaction with the herbs, meat, broth, and other vegetables have changed it.

You can still pull it out and call it a carrot. But it is a changed carrot.

Groups form usually for a purpose, schisms form when the individuals in the group have different interpretations of that purpose or when that purpose starts to lose cohesion.

Individuals exist ... but they usually don't have a personal mission statement and disband when that mission statement is fulfilled.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about how individuals and groups differ. I've come to the conclusion that groups are not like Transformers which take a bunch of little robots and snap them together to be a big huge robot. Rather, they seem more like lego or playdough, where a bunch of individuals can gather to create almost anything. And, lots of times, you'll want to disassemble or mash up that thing and try again. "

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Community Indicator: Translating things for each other

Alvaro Galvis of the Concord Consortium asked me a few weeks ago if he could translate some of the diagrams I threw up on Flickr for some folks he is working with who work in Spanish. I said sure, and let me know how to share them. I just got an email pointing to this! TIC para Comunidades Virtuales - a photoset on Flickr.

Very cool.

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Linda Stone's Wiki on Continuous Partial Attention

As I am multitasking (not to be confused with CPA) I won't comment on this great resource, only point to it: Continuous Partial Attention).

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

TPN :: The Extraordinary Everyday Lives Show

TPN :: The Extraordinary Everyday Lives Show - I got to meet some of the cool folks behind this project yesterday. I have a longer blog post about it on my Australian Trip blog, but also wanted to drop the URL here. (Plus I can't seem to post on my other darn blog so am trying here to see what might be the problem. Ah, technology! Can't seem to raise a decent page on Flickr either, so it may be the wireless here in the hotel. But it's free, so I can't complain too much. )

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

My Australian October - A Reminder Why this Blog is Silent

My Australian October continues... I have 10 days more until the adventure concludes.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

OnlineGroups.Net (beta)

Dan Randow pinged me to alert me that his project, OnlineGroups.Net (beta) is now open for business. I've played with Dan's online collaboration tool, which is an elegant email/web hybrid for online groups and networks.

Check it out!

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Different Kinds of Trust Online

Many of my friends recently gathered in Florence and I have been following their conversations via their blog and flickr. This one snippet triggered my thoughts about a different kind of trust I see in networks of bloggers and blog readers:
Summary of the Conversation about changes of conversation — Friday night � Prato Dialogue: "Patricia: topic of blogs is nebulous for me. Have had many of these conversations with John and Bev, but I’m still doubtful. I find it difficult in this conversation. Language is one barrier. (Perhaps we continue in German tomorrow?) In this blog discussion I see a question of trust. I need to know with whom I’m taking. That’ the opposite of the blogger’s attitude. Whoever is reading it is problematic. It’s too anonymous. Trust is missing. Can’t solve it right now. Want to get to the restaurant."
I went on to comment (and as of the moment, my comment is in the moderation queue):

Hey friends,

I just have to share this. I’m sitting in Shawn Callahan’s house, he is on a plane from Sydney to Melbourne after leaving you. I just showed the flickr picture to his family (and we laughed and were a bit jealous). So look at that bit of straddling.

I am also preparing for the workshops and presentations I’ll be doing here in Australia and have been jotting down snippets from your session notes that amplify the ideas and topics I’m planning. So in a way, I’m porting your conversational artefacts to yet another setting.

The trust issue, Patricia, is very salient. I was talking a few weeks ago with John and Etienne about a different kind of trust I see in network systems, like blog networks, and I think there is a very strong informational trust. Not that I have to get to know you to trust you ,but I have to get to know what you write about and how you write about it to trust you. But it is a different sort of trust. Not so much about personal identity, but domain related identity. Does that make any sense?

I shall be crediting all of you in my work here over the next 3.5 weeks!

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Virtual Team Links

I've been looking at some of my experiences, cases and data on online collaboration in the context of virtual teams. I thought it might be worth collecting some current links. As always, a great place to start with is Robin Good's Kolabora. That led me...

  • The End of Cyberspace: Face to face in the virtual workplace. The rest of the blog has a lot of links about virtual teams and telecommuting.

  • Ken Thompson of The Bumble Bee opines on the new SHRM Meta Analysis of Virtual Teams. He refers back to some conflicting research from 2004. I'd add that my experiences have shown me that virtual teams are as diverse as F2F teams in their levels of success, speed and trust. In some situations, they are magical. In others, pure hell.
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    Updates and Pointers

    Oi Oi Oi... heard back from Blogger and my Australian October blog DID have a bug, they are fixing it and my blog is back. Phew. ( I just posted a little audio there)

    Most of my blogging action for the next 4 weeks will be on that blog, so if it is quiet here, you'll know why.

    In the mean time, read this cool post: Rhizomes, Deleuze and collaborative models (and online ‘textbooks’) part 1. - Dave’s Educational Blog. I'm looking forward to part 2!

    Here are a few more links I was hording:
  • ECSCW 2005 Proceedings: "Proceedings of the 2005 Ninth European Conference on
    Computer-Supported Cooperative Work"
  • Via Deborah Schultz: Until Monday - Visit like you live there. Live there like you know.
  • David's Joho the Blog: My Internet bubble, which describes my past 5 weeks.
  • DigitlDialog: Are There Learning Artifacts?, a post I really want to respond to.
  • Brian has a new blog - On Community...: Dating, Tags and Niches, oh my!
  • The Future of Learning in a Networked World, full of stuff I have been thinking about.
  • Scott Berkin on How to run a great unconference session
  • Mohamed Amine Chatti's What is a community? - collection of definitions
  • Overcome the Challenges of Distance with Free Online Tools
  • A conversation I intended to participate in, but ran out of time. Social Networking: Why are Conversation and Collaboration Tools so Underused?

    That's probably enough for now.


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    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Blogspot Blogger Beta Trip Blog is DOWN!

    I'm disgruntled, frustrated and thinking, did I make a big mistake by using Bloggers new beta product for my My Australian October blog? Ever since I tried to post today (via Performancing) I get a 404 page error on the site. I can access my Blogger Beta dashboard, but not editing posts. Everything I'm currently working on and I can't get at it or work on it. I leave Friday and I wanted to have a ton done on the blog, and pfft, I'm dead in the water.

    This is one of the disadvantages of relying on free services, on being an early adopter of beta products. I've written to blogger, posted on their help discussion boards, but so far nada.

    Maybe tomorrow I rebuild all of this on another service. Gee, as if I have time. I have screen shots of everything. Anyone talented with Wordpress themes and such want to do a half day job for me tomorrow and recreate the whole thing? Email me at nancyw at fullcirc dot com. I'll check email early in the morning.


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    A Bit on Virtual Online Meetings

    No_Travel_Required.pdf (application/pdf Object) is the collaborative result of some after action review done by the facilitation teams from two online events. If you are thinking about the why's and how's of online, distributed meetings, you may enjoy taking a peek.

    The Internet and email have changed the way we communicate with each other. Technology in the 21st century has ‘shrunk’ physical distances and expanded the possibilities for discussions among people who live in geographically dispersed locations. Indeed, it is now possible to take part in a meeting without having to leave the comfort of your own home or office. For example, you can have a morning coffee in Lima, attend a seminar in Rome before lunch and still have time to squeeze in a workshop in Washington before dinner. No Travel Required!

    This handy booklet will provide you with some guidelines and information to prepare and run a large online event, be it a meeting, a conference or a seminar.
    The recommendations in the following pages are the result of experiences gained from a number of CGIAR online events run by the Gender & Diversity Program and the ICT-KM Program. Collectively, these events represent a wide range of purposes and functions: e-consultations that saw diverse communities sharing opinions around proposed goals; training programs; knowledge sharing and distributed board meetings. Participants, men and women from all over the world, ranged in number from 30 to 200, and the events lasted from two to eight weeks. In sharing the highs and lows of running global e-conferences with you, we hope you will be better prepared to meet the challenges that come from complementing your face-to-face endeavors with virtual work.

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    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Is this true or do our cultural norms make it common?

    I have been following, and intending to write about the recent conversations about groups and networks, as it tickles a lot of thoughts I've been having about the wonderful tension between the individual and the group.

    Konrad Glogowski has written a very thoughtful post about why he does not generally use "group work" in his classroom. It is a very cogent piece, and I urge you to read the whole thing, but when I got to this bit, I started wondering about this statement. Is it true? Is it true because we have compromised other aspects of group so that it has become a reductionist form rather than a creative, generative form?

    Konrad wrote:
    blog of proximal development � Blog Archive � To Ungroup a Class: "But conversations that originate inside a group tend to be expressed in one totalizing voice. Groups tend to focus on compromises, on reducing all individual voices to commonalities that all members can agree on and that all members see as somehow representative of their individual voices. That is precisely why teachers ask students in groups to report on their progress by choosing one student to act as a speaker - a representative of the group. We never ask about what every single participant had to say. Instead, we ask what the group, as a whole, came up with. We reduce its rich constituent parts to one voice."
    I have recently been facilitating a two week online e-conference for a group of NGO folks scattered around the world on the topic of gender and diversity in their organization. The argument there is that diversity strengthens the organization and the groups. That groups are stronger not in their conformity, but in their ability to generate, listen to and make sense of difference.

    I'm wondering if we have been losing a skill, a competency, a practice that makes group about more than groupthink, or dominant voices. Or maybe I have the wrong definition of group floating around in my head.

    Maybe what we need to be thinking about is the set of skills in groups that are about listening, as much as speaking, of supporting diverse but full participation (including peripheral participation, which I think is important.)

    I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, so I'm not ready to condemn groups to all the awful, controlling things that they CAN be.

    Am I deluded?

    (Oh, and sorry about the rush of posts. I am doing research for my Australia trip and keep finding all this COOL stuff that just triggers me to post!)

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    Barbara Ganley's Wisdom on Blog Facilitation

    Barbara (who writes amazing blog posts!) doesn't use the term facilitation, but that is what I thought as I read this bit about commenting on student's blogs.
    bgblogging: A Recent Conversation on Blogging for The Vermont State Colleges: "After they have posted new work (be it draft or final), I am almost never the first to leave a comment. If I comment too soon, then the rest of the class feels it isn’t quite so necessary to comment, and they will wait around for me to respond. I would reinforce my special status as ultimate expert, perhaps inadvertently preserving the factory-model of education. Too much teacherly presence too soon effectively shuts down the conversation.

    If, rather, I wait a bit and let others comment first, I can join the conversation instead of dictating it. And as in this example, when students do not leave particularly helpful feedback, I can model a comment and then show it to the class. (And I can show them how commenting works on my blog to push my thinking and writing).

    Sometimes I do not comment at all during the process, letting my comments come outside of the blog so as not to dominate it."
    It is not just what we do, but what we choose not to do, that matters in facilitating online engagement.


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    The Big Question for October: Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging?

    Nothing like a personal invitation to prompt one to respond. Tony Karrer emailed me, asking me to play the new game on the Learning Circuit's blog by blogging an answer - on my blog - to this month's "Big Question." Should All Learning Professionals Be Blogging?

    So, should all Learning Professionals be blogging? I guess first I'd have to figure out what a learning professional is. I'm a learning amateur, based on the idea that learning is a love, something I do for it's own sake, and not for a fee, so I guess I'm not a learning professional. Grin.

    So back to the question... without clear understanding, but that never stopped me!

    I first started reading some of the responses so far. Lots of smart people saying stuff I agree with. I thought, heh, what can I add? Then I realized that Tony's invitation was what I could add.


    By sharing our thoughts via blogs (or any other thing - I don't think it has to be blogs -- it could be wikis, or whatever is invented next. I'm not married to any one form) we are inviting others to participate in our thinking. We are going beyond the bounds of what we know and believe and becoming part of the larger world of thinking and acting. We are making ourselves open to not knowing it all. To asking others. To sharing what we have discovered or created. It's like a swap meet for the mind.

    Stephen Downs referred to this as being part of a community of practice. For me, living and breathing "in community" is an ongoing cycle of invitation and response. It is the pattern of improve, "yes, and..." This can only happen if we have the communication channel open wide. Blogs give us that opportunity.

    By making our thinking visible through blogging, we are making the improv open and accessible. We are both the question and the answer, the possibility, and the learning partner.

    So if being a learning professional is being a learner and a learning partner, then yes, we should all be sharing our thinking. I don't give a rats patootie if it is on a blog or not, but the key here is keep the invitiation out there, the "open" sign on, burning bright.

    P.S. Hm, this thing needs a tag. How about.. ?

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    Community + Service

    One of my oft-used lines these days is "take a community perspective." Well, in reading my pal Dave's blog in a flyby blog reading moment, I saw this post which documents a community perpsective on service. I love it!
    Dave Burke : Community Server Second Shift Support Crew: "I'm geeking here at 11:30 PM Eastern Standard Time. Like always, I keep an eye on my Telligent 'We Never Close' Inbox to catch whatever is going on among the Telligenti. And since I am on the Community Server Support Team, I get copies of all Gold Support correspondences, even those I handle myself. Works great, and another example of the power of the CS Mail Gateway.

    A new ticket comes through 40 minutes ago about a Single Sign-On license issue. Hm. I didn't have the answer personally so I went back to my geeking, knowing that there are others on the team with godlike knowledge of all-things-Community-Server who will answer when they can. And besides, the Gold Support Service Level Agreement clearly states that response is provided during business hours only.

    Ten minutes after the first email, a response from Ken Robertson (around 8:00 PM Pacific Time) arrives with the answer. Less than 10 minutes after that, the client reports back that everything is jake and Ken's instructions were exactly what he needed."
    Now, if I only had time to edit the other 30 partially written posts sitting in the queue! Not likely!


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