Thursday, November 30, 2006

More Percolating on Collaboration with my Network

True to form, my network of thinking partners have taken the ideas from Chocolate and Collaboration and offered more food for thought - mental chocolate for me . Before these additions all scroll away in time, I want to capture the thoughts, as they are useful in helping me advance my understanding of this tripartate view of collaboration.

Bev Trayner, in the comments, asks:
I'm interested to know where you think multimembership fits in all this. Is it the same as networked collaboration? Or one step further away?
Great question. I think multimembership is a practice that allows us to span across team, community and network forms of collaboration. I was chatting on Skype this afternoon with Shawn, and we were thinking about what binds all three levels of collaboration, and WHO binds them from an organizational perspective. I suspect the people who are good at multimembership (mavens, connectors) are critical to creating the ecology between them. So I don't think multimembership IS networked collaboration, but it is a practice that spans and connects. Does that make sense? What is your view, Bev?

Sandra Dickinson ponders...
I wonder if what I want to see happen is beyond even "network" collaboration? We've been struggling to get to point A (team collaboration) effectively. But, once everything we thought we knew about collaboration busts wide open, isn't anything possible?
Busting wide open. Yup, exactly. And from an organizational or even individual perspective, this can be daunting and overwhelming. I suspect telling grounded, practical stories of how this happens is critical. I was listening to a recorded presentation by Euen Semple today and it was filled with examples and stores where I was thinking - hm, team, hm, community, hm, network. It gave me a lens to think about his examples.

Stephanie West Allen points to some useful resources on teaming and collaboration. Thanks, Stephanie. As I searched for the stuff you recommended, a lot came up about conflict resolution. That is an interesting piece of all this. It seems to me that we need conflict resolution at the team and sometimes community level, but we can walk away at the network level without ever needed to resolve the conflict. That is another interesting thing to think about. What does it mean? It may tie to what Stephen Downes said about the emotional and intellectual bits of these types of collaboration.
Nancy White explores the different flavours of collaboration: "It is the collaboration chocolate confection. There is that perfect truffle center, rich and dark (the team). There is the robe of chocolate, dusting of cocoa, the company of other truffles nearby (the community). Then there is the fantastic universe of chocolate, the breadth and dizzying depth of possibility (the network)." All very well, but when is each appropriate? I have suggested that some are more appropriate when an emotional connection is needed, while others are more so when an intellectual connection is needed. Which is why I have questioned the need for things like teams and groups in learning.

I really like what you, Stephen, wrote about groups in your Half an Hour blog, but I'm not sure my experience resonates with the distinction between emotional and intellectual connection. For me, there is an emotional element - a richness and sometimes pain - at all three levels of team, community and network. I think this may be more of a reflection of our personal preferences, cultures and experience that a feature of any of the types. That said, the question about when each form is appropriate (I would say USEFUL) is essential. And I don't think there is a black and white answer. Again, I can find as many exceptions to any rule I can dream up. So perhaps the key here is how can people figure out what is useful in any context? Are there some heuristics? Rules of thumb?

George Siemens writes:
I value Nancy's measured approach by taking time to define context of appropriate use for teams, communities, and collaboration in her post Collaboration and Networks...too often, we try and obliterate the old to make room for the new. I'm inclined, however to call networks the meta-component...with other elements comprising a part. For example - a hierarchy is a type of network. So is a community. The key distinction rests in what type of network it is - for example, an effective network is one that allows maximum autonomy of individual nodes and greatest capacity for knowledge flow. Hierarchies and communities permit a certain type of knowledge flow...but with restrictions due to the nature of each network. For example, a community serves a particular need, and the individual network nodes may be silenced (intentionally or otherwise) as the community moves toward its intended target.
Networks (as Nancy alludes) need to occur within something - namely an ecology or space that fosters and enables the greatest capacity for network formation. Networks and ecologies, considered together (and in light of a systems approach) provide provide the basis for our learning needs today.
Hm, yes. The darn definitional problem. I was using the network word pretty loosely so now I need to think about this a bit more. Using knowledge flow is certainly one view. I think "getting stuff done" is another. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Still thinking. Regardless, I'm nodding in STRONG agreement about the idea of an ecology, but again, I think it is about more than network information. Or maybe work is a form of information. Hm.

Bill Anderson has two touch points
Today Nancy White wrote about collaboration and group size. It's a very generative post and Nancy speculates about what collaboration means in large networks. I'm not sure I agree with her, but this is a start towards developing concepts and models that can help.
OK, Bill, I want to know what you think. Where are the question/disagreement points? I always find your thinking useful. Your earlier blogpost about organizations sure links into the team/community level. Make sure you read the comments from this post, as they have a lot of good substance on the topic of team based collaboration.

One thing that Newton and Levinson mentioned is a prevailing belief in mental health, educational, professional, and business organizations generally that "... committees and other work groups are essentially incapable of productive work .... The 'real work' ... is done outside of the meetings by one or two powerful individuals." Now this was 1973, but I remember hearing and believing the same thing when I worked for a Fortune 500 company between 1985 and 2001. And sometimes I feel the same way about the work of scientific NGOs.

So how are the new technologies and exigencies and the rapid pace of 21st century life actually influencing organizations and their work groups? Does this work group analysis framework help us assess how we're doing? I think it might, but I'd like to have (or see) some first-hand experience and to see current assessments of organizational life. I've talked with colleagues at large companies where IM has replaced e-mail and even the phone for quick interrupts and messages. Sounds right; let's use e-mail for correspondence -- it works well for that. But the same problems of bureaucracy and size obtain. At SXSW2006 Interactive several sessions featured presentations by young entrepreneurs on the issues of building and running a business. Guess what? They still had to manage issues resulting from the division of labor and authority. I didn't hear how well they were handling the personal and personnel issues, but I did hear that web-based, collaborative, planning and project management tools (Basecamp was a prominent example) definitely helped distributed teams manage their work. That's progress. But no matter how far the technologies can take us, they're not enough. We still need to solve the human and practical problems of working together. What tools, intellectual and operational, do we have to help us?

George Siemens also posted a very interesting piece which touched deeply on networks yesterday and as I read it I kept thinking, yeah, this is a big part of what I'm trying to get my head around...


Networks are pervasive – they form the backbone of our society, our biology, and our world. Networks exist in every aspect of life – including – literally - our DNA. We see networks in our travel system – how our airlines works, our family and work relationships. We identify our selves with particular organizations – churches or religious body. Networks are the girder around which society, and life itself, are formed.

The network serves as an offloading tool – holding knowledge. In a sense, the networks we create become our learning – that is, our capacity to stay current, informed, and knowledgeable.

Unfortunately, in the softer sciences – such as our understanding of learning – we have largely ignored the power of networks. That’s beginning to change with increased understanding of neural networks and secrets being pried from the former black box of the human mind. But overall, little network-thinking makes its way explicitly into our learning design. Our training systems should foster deeper levels of networking – forming connections with knowledge sources that will serve us well even as existing knowledge is eroded and rendered obsolete by the acidic nature of change. Network formation is the act of sharing and distributing knowledge. A course provides for short-term knowledge needs. A well-crafted network, provides for continual, life-long learning...

Betting against networks is, in the eyes of CEO of Google Eric Schmidt “foolish you’re betting against human ingenuity and creativity”.


Networks need to occur in something. Networks are structures. We need to create diverse ecologies in which networks can grow and flourish. An ecology is a chaotic messy space that enables individuals to learn and form connections...


All of this needs to happen in a systems model – where we see holistically, rather than isolated elements... As learning moves deeper and deeper into mission-critical status in our organizations, we must begin to perceive it in its entirety – making distinctions of approach and form based on our intended outcome or objectives. We need to pursue a balanced and holistic view.


Context is the key. Failure to account for context in learning planning and design may add more confusion, rather than clarity, to a learning challenge. Holistic views of learning and knowledge development translate to corporate bottoms lines; to better learning in a classroom; to more fully equipped members of society. Numerous elements are involved in the interplay – the hard elements of rules and structures, with the soft elements of human behaviour, motivation, incentives, or ideals.

Lots of mental chocolate truffles there.

Finally Chris Harvey said...

I think a lot of online communities could benefit from modelling themselves on the Free software community

Models. Yup, we need them. However, harkening back to George's comment about context, I think we need to be careful of assuming that what works in one context transfers to another. Instead, I suspect there are bits and pieces which move across, so the observation and understanding of communities such as the Free Software community are very useful.
In the end, the gift of ideas represented above are in themselves an example of the power of networks. Some of these people I know, some are familiar and some I have never met. Some I have relationships (yes, emotion) with. Some I have intellectual connection with. Some are sparks that just dropped into my life via this network thingie.

Pretty amazing.

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My TV and my Pee Cee

Robert Scoble posted earlier this week about hooking up PCs to TVs. Most of it is out of my comprehension sector, and my hardware zone (no HDTV in this house) but in What Mark Cuban is missing about HDTV , Robert piqued my interest, curiosity and an idea. Oh, maybe it's an evil plan. And pretty much off topic for this blog, but what the heck.

No, wait. It's about collaboration and I've been blogging about that this week. So I have an excuse.

Here is what Robert inspired. Robert, I hope you "hear" this (and I know you are on the road, so...)

Wouldn't it be fun to have a party (lighter than a "camp" or "unconference," please) where geeks, protogeeks and non geeks got together in someone's living room and put a system together that links a PC to a TV with all the fun things that offers? What if we tried a variety of ways of doing it and compared/contrasted, with people bringing in equipment to experiment with? Maybe at the end there could be a few "recipes" of the options, equipment lists and vod/pod casts of how to do it. OH, and of course, food, drink, and the usual merriment.

I hear you will be in Seattle in a week or so. Hint hint. Want to plan a party and build a system in my living room? We could document it, then others can set up pre-holiday parties and get their systems set up.

We here at the White House want to build a system, but knowing where to start is daunting. Our need is really a PVR so I can liberate my husband from his collection of antique VCRs and I'm not sure TIVO is the way.

We aren't geeks. I'm just a proto geek but not on the hardware side. My perception is that you need a lot of knowledge to both select the hardware and configure. My geek friends tell me how great it is. But I just can't seem to make the leap. Alone.

I bet I'm not the only one. Mark Cuban's point about simplicity and ease of installation is real to me. And it is just another data point about the importance of second wave adoption in new technologies. I love my geek friends. I'm amazed at the things you create. Creating them, at the level of complexity that you do, is not my driving interest.

So my solution for now? Collaborate. Why wait for the industry?

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Chocolate and Collaboration

Shawn Callahan of Anecdote and I are working on a project together that involves “collaboration.” Heard that word before, right? It's easy to toss around. But what does it really mean in practice, particularly when we talk about distributed participants? What does it mean to collaborate in places where self interest is also at play? What are the connections with cooperation? (If you are interested in cooperation, I strongly urge you to check out the work that Howard Rheingold, Jim Benson and friends have been doing with the Institute for the Future and the Cooperation Commons .)

We thought it might be fun to share some of our thoughts about collaboration on our blogs. Shawn's is here. Of course there are lots of other things written about collaboration? There sure are. So why blog about it now? Because we find it useful to bring earlier practices into what is happening with networks and new tools. Plus, collaboration is always worth talking about, right?

Conceptually it is useful to describe collaboration as the act of people working with people to get something done at work or at play. In this context, we're talking about work, often with distributed participants. The collaboration practices are diverse, so it is helpful to see what general patterns are at play. Here's the three patterns we see that give us a basis to start talking more tangibly about collaboration practices.

In Team Collaboration, the members of the group are known, there are clear task interdependencies, expected reciprocity, and explicit timelines and goals. To achieve the goal, members must fulfill their tasks within the stated time. Team Collaboration often suggests that while there is explicit leadership, the participants cooperate on an equal footing and will receive equal recognition. An example is a research project to develop a prototype for X in five months with six team members and a set of resources.

In Community Collaboration, there is a shared domain or area of interest, but the goal is more often on learning, rather than task. People share and build knowledge, rather than complete projects. Membership may be bounded and explicit or open. Periods of participation are often open or “ongoing.” Membership is often on equal footing, but more experienced practitioners may have more status or power in the community. Reciprocity is within the group, but not always one to one (“I did this for you, now you do this for me.”) An example might be a community of practice that is interested in the type of research mentioned in the team example above. A member of that team may come to her community and ask for examples of past projects or to bounce ideas off of others.

Network Collaboration steps beyond the relationship centric nature of team and community collaboration. And this is where it gets interesting. Network collaboration starts in individual action and self interest and accrues to the network. Membership and timelines are open and unbounded. There are no explicit roles. Members most likely do not know all the other members. Power is distributed. This form of collaboration has been busted wide open with the advent of new online tools, a response to the overwhelming volume of information we are creating and number of people we can connect with. The tools both expose us to possibility, remind us of the overwhelming volume and offer us ways to share the task of coping with that volume.

An example of network collaboration might be members of the team in the first example above bookmarking web sites as they find them. This benefits their team, possibly their related communities of practice but it also benefits the wider network of people interested in the topic. At the same time, they may find other bookmarks left by network members relevant to their team work. This sort of network activity benefits the individual and a network of people reciprocally over time. The reciprocity connection is remote and undefined. You act in self-interest but provide a network-wide benefit.

This is just the tip of the network, um, I mean, iceberg on network collaboration. Look at the work on Value Networks, Collective Intelligence , CrowdSourcing, Cooperation, and Participatory Media. This is where it's happening. And organizations need to find ways to be part of it - not just try to recreate it within their borders. This can be a significant challenge to existing organizational structures which may feel threatened by the complexity of networks and the shift in power dynamics from more traditional hierarchical models. In other words, the ship is rocking, baby. And the deck chairs may be sliding fast.

So do we all rush out and change all of our collaboration practices to network forms? Ditch our teams and communities? Nope. That would risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Networks don't exist alone. They are part of the ecosystem of collaboration which includes team and community collaboration. Teams are not dead. Communities of Practice are not dead. They are alive and well. In fact, they could be even healthier now they have the wider embrace and power of networks to amplify their work, keep them from getting stale and stuck in narrow, parochial thinking and offer them places for members to go to and come from. If collaborative teams had communities and networks to both draw from and contribute to, collaborative efforts born in teams could expand beyond those teams for added value. That ongoing community and network value could be available back to teams.

It is the collaboration chocolate confection. There is that perfect truffle center, rich and dark (the team). There is the robe of chocolate, dusting of cocoa, the company of other truffles nearby (the community). Then there is the fantastic universe of chocolate, the breadth and dizzying depth of possibility (the network.)

So what does that mean for practice?
The next step is to try some generalizations and see if they fit. For example, these three distinctions are driven by a different motivation, which in turn informs the type of collaboration practice. Team collaboration is motivated by a goal or objective to get something specific delivered. It requires explicit, agreed upon processes, dedicated time and resources and context specific tools. Community collaboration is focused on learning and developing one’s practice over time. It requires motivation, easy to use tools, and in a very practical sense, a bit of time and attention. Network collaboration provides network level benefits by attending to personal knowledge management needs. It requires very lightweight and easy to use tools that integrate into daily practices, assist in discoverability and sense making, and, like community collaboration, a bit of time and attention.

That's a start. What's next? More questions.
  • What are your stories about the ecosystem of collaboration in your organization?
  • What do organizations need to do to better include network collaboration in their practices?
  • What resources would you point to for collaboration, particularly networked collaboration?

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Traces and Their Role in Learning

It is fun thinking with friends half a world away. And it is fun finding the traces of that thinking scattered on our blogs. (Thank goodness for Bloglines!) Lilia wrote...

Had a pleasure to talk with Nancy on her work on technologies for communities. Some things are still hanging out in my head, so I guess I just write them here to move on.

Open issues for research/thinking on communities (communities of practice; KM perspective).

Definitions. Ton cites Marc Smith:

... let's shelve the word 'community' and use and study the term collective action instead. There are over 150 definitions of community by social scientists. If we (the social scientists) are not able to decide what it is, maybe everybody else should not be using the word either...

I agree with both that there are no good definitions and I like 'collective action' as a term, but I think it doesn't work if you want to talk about specifics. It could include anything between a loosely coupled network, a community with shared language and practice or a project group with tight deliverables and deadlines. The boundaries between those are fluid, but they (at least in the extremes) are different in many respects (e.g. relational density, levels of trust, shared understanding, goal-orientedness, etc.)

Bottom-up evolution vs. top-down control in supporting communities. See the discussion at Dave Snowden's blog.

Personal vs. social in community tools. Most of the community tools are group-focused (although Nancy is right, it's getting more and more blurred). However, many of us are members of multiple communities and have to deal with different group tool configurations for all of them. Technology-wise I'd love to see more work on something like personal learnining environments (slides with more) for networking and collaboration: a toolset that would allow me to participate in different social spaces without learning yet another interface.

Aggregation of digital traces and social effects of those. Digital traces we leave eventually get aggregated and fed back to the social spaces we participate in or to some members of those (think of a community moderator who has access to stats on your activity in a community). They change knowledge we have about each other and eventually change the dynamics of our relationships and interactions (think of gaming the ratings or effects of metrics to measure community things in a corporate context). This is going to be bigger and scarier (at least for those people like me :), so we need to know more about it.

I copied the whole post, because it was a beautiful example of the very digital traces Lilia talks about in her work. This is an idea that I think we need to weave into our Technologies for Communities report. It is what I'm sensing and grasping for when I think about networked collaboration (post later today).

Now, part of me wants to comment on each of the bits from Lilia's post as well. I could have commented on her blog, but I'll throw them here instead. So bear with me. This is a random thinking blog post, not something finely edited. Or edited at all! (Thinking out loud with my friends again!)

1. I don't think we should shelve the word community, but I think we should use it more carefully and with intention. When we mean collective action, let's call it that. Community isn't always about collective action. Though it is usually about collective SOMETHING! I can't let it go. Is it the romantic in me? That said, I loved what Ton said about cowpaths! Lovely. Reminds me of the raccoon tracks in the snow from yesterday. Lilia, the racoons knew I was about to post about you and left me inspiration! Anyway, Lilia, I think your comments reflect the complexity of the issue. No one term is going to work.

2. Bottom up and top down control - I'm thrilled people are writing about power. The better we get at talking about it constructively, the more we can work with it. Constructively!

3. Person vs social. I'd like to suggest we remove the vs. and start looking at the fabric that is made up of the personal and the social tools. Because even tools designed for online groups are most often used individually. 'Lot more to say about this. 'Nuff for now!

4. And traces? Well, this post is a living example!

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Time, Collaboration and Perspectives

Over and over again when looking at barriers to collaboration, learning, even DOING, a lack of time rises to the surface. Sometimes, I'm not sure how to talk about time. Is time an excuse? A resource? A mindset?

Here is a short video to put it in a different perspective.

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Another Group's Technology Configuration

I love these kinds of articles as they give context to tool selections and configurations. Communities (and teams, groups, whatever-word-you-want) don't pick and use technology in a vacume. Who is playing, what activities need to be supported and the individual and group preferences matter. So thanks Ryan, for sharing your Office 2.0 Experiment. And thanks to all the commentors who added additional richness and ideas.

What is your group's technology configuration?

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Taillights in the Snow

After a nice, slow holiday weekend (with not too much work nor blogging) we took our son back to University up in Bellingham. I'm glad we went early before the snow fell deeper and road conditions deteriorated. Later today it took a friend of our son's three hours to go 5 miles on this very same stretch of road, between all the traffic of students returning and road conditions. They have 14 inches up there and school has been cancelled for tomorrow.

Monday is PLAY DAY in Bellingham tomorrow!

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving - Some Joy

Via Liz comes a perfect video for a family holiday. From my house, in the USA, I send you warm greetings for our US Holiday, Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that we can connect via words and images, for the insights you offer directly and indirectly that help me think better and deeper, for the glimpses of human compassion in a digital age and, like in this video, joy.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope for at least a moment today you have a moment of unfettered joy.

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Pecha Kucha in Seattle

Brady Forest and Bre Pettis, pals here in Seattle, are organizing a great sounding evening here in Seattle next week. They are calling it Ignite Seattle. At first I was confused, as I work with a volunteer group called Ignite which focuses on encouraging girls to explore tech careers and take tech classes in high school.

This has a tech edge, but men are allowed too. ;-) It is an evening of play, exploration and thinking. Here's their introduction.

Come to Ignite, a short-form, almost-unconference event. Seattle needs the occasional gathering of the geek tribe to spark new ideas and keep the mojo fresh. Be a part of it!

What we have:
The date: Thursday, December 7; Starts at 8PM
A bar to call our own for the night - LowerLevel
No cover
One stage, two rooms
Wifi throughout

What you provide:
Ideas that need bouncing around
Projects you can’t put down
Musings you need to set loose

Now one part of this is Pecha Kucha , what looks to be part peformance art, part knowledge or idea sharing. 20 slides, 20 seconds on each slide. Hmmmm, tempting to throw my hat in and play.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Resources from Tech Soup: Images and Web Conferencing

Where to Find Free Images and Visuals

Web-Conferencing Tools: Right for You?
How to pick a package that meets your needs

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More Audio from my Australian Adventure

A few more podcasts from my time in Australia are up. I am still avoiding listening to them. Denial? The photos are pretty funny.

Welcome to LearnScope - PowerPoint Slides, Audio, Pictures:
"International online facilitator and founder of Full Circle Associates, Nancy White, conducted a speaking tour across Australia during October 2006. Nancy was in Canberra on Friday 20 October and conducted a presentation and workshop before an enthusiastic audience.

1. Presentation for managers - with the emergence of more individually focussed tools that enable connection, how do we find the balance between the individual and the community? (1 hr duration)

2. Workshop for practitioners - the eight competencies of online interaction. (1.5 hrs duration)

You can download Nancy's PowerPoint presentations and listen to MP3 recordings of both her presentation and workshop below.

The Nancy White national speaking tour was organised and sponsored by the E-learning Networks Project of the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

For more information on Nancy's speaking tour, trip and adventure to Australia, visit her blog

Nancy White's ACT PowerPoint presentations

Nancy White's ACT MP3 audio recordings

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Evolving Distributed Power In Online Communities — CooperationCommons

Evolving Distributed Power In Online Communities — CooperationCommons

If you are interested in facilitation, power, and network effects, go check out this post from the Cooperation Commons blog. There are pointers to a variety of group decision making processes. It is a bit of an answer to my question last week about how to reduce the tyranny of groups.

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Aid Workers Network - Blog Aggregator

news aggregator | Aid Workers Network
offers a great eyefull of what it is like as an aidworker in international development. This is a new features of the AidWorkers Network site, relaunched earlier this year. I really have intended to do a review, but you know the excuses...

But that should not stop me from a quick pointer to a good resource.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Finding solutions to group tyranny

I was scanning civil society stuff and stumbled upon a link to Paul Resnick, Mark Ackerman and Cory Knobel's workshop wiki at University of Michigan for a workshop on content management systems. (Drupal, it appears, int this case.)

I was interested because I'm working on a project that is adopting Drupal, but what intrigued me was the end of the page, where they talk about how this will be done in groups. Now group work often creates a grading conundrum in education settings. How do you value both the collaborative work and the individual contributions? I thought they had an interesting approach:

SI 631 PEP Workshop

All of the deliverables will be graded: Deliverables 1-5 will count 10% each. Deliverable 6 will be 30% of the grade. Deliverable 7 will be 20% of the grade. Your team as a whole will receive a grade on each of these deliverables. Team members will also be asked to evaluate each other's performance, which may lead to raising or lowering of grades for individual team members.
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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Game Dialogue Transcript: “Everywhere Now: Kids, Games, and Learning”

I just started taking a peek into the transcript of an online dialog about games and learning and it looks very interesting. First, the content interests me about learning - beyond kids, to everyone. Second, you don't see dialog transcripts cleaned up and shared out much any more. In fact, I've noticed a decline in the use of web forums in some of my networks. Finally, I noticed it was a "dialog of experts." What does that mean anymore?

Anyway... this caught my eye. It is part of the MacArthur Foundations new digital learning initiative.

Game Dialogue Transcript: “Everywhere Now: Kids, Games, and Learning”
Sixty experts, three weeks of dialogues, led by “Ecology of Games” MacSeries editor Katie Salen, on the future of kids, games and learning. Check it out…

For three weeks this fall more than sixty experts drawn from the world of game development, design, education, sociology, and media studies came together in a series of online dialogues to discuss and debate the future of kids, games, and learning. The transcript of these conversations reveals a wealth of ideas, references, hopes, fears, misconceptions, and competing pedagogies--the words are raw and unedited and make for a fascinating read. "

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

File Conversion Website Zamzar

Via Barry Dahl comes a pointer to Zamzar a free web based file conversation site that launched late in October. Mmm... looks interesting, useful and, well, time to PLAY a bit!

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A Group's Technology Configuration

Jim Benson shares his company's distributed collaboration configuration - the set of tools and processes they use to work regardless of who is "in the office!" Where's William?
"In order to maintain cohesion, the group uses the following types of tools:


1. Skype - Most holy Skype allows us to have a common stand up meeting every day at 9 am in Seattle and 6 PM in Paris. It allows the group to have immediate voice, IM and file transfer contact any time of day.

2. Trillian - As nice as Skype is, being in constant contact on Trillian gives us a great depth of historic tools. We can text chat and search or organize those chats in a number of ways.

Project Management

1. Version One - We have started using Version One an un-cheap Agile Project Management tool that allows the entire team constant access to everything in our release plan. The system holds all features and tasks to be created and tracks responsibilities, estimates, hours work, velocity and all those other Agile niceties.

2. GHS Wiki - Still under development, this Wiki holds the written record of GHS processes. Our coding standards, our tool sets, what to download, where to get it, how to install it, what we do with it. Of course, this will always be a work in progress.


1. Groove - Previously a Ray Ozzie package, now Groove is part of Office 2007. In the first part of the project, Groove helped us finish key tasks well under budget by keeping GHS completely transparent with our client. All documents were on Groove - which is a peer to peer system - so the moment we saved something in Word, the client received it. The nice thing about Groove is that since it is peer to peer, it is also invasive. When something is saved, they get an alert. This is very different than something being on Sharepoint or Jotspot, where the client has the luxury of ignoring things.

2. - While the group is researching things on-line, bookmarks are tagged and then form a common research repository for the group.


1. Subversion - Our source control is very important. The development tools should be commonly available so that our distributed team never is estranged from the code.


So Seven Simple Tools create a bedrock upon which William can spend 10 weeks in Paris with minimal impact to the project. Of course, we've had some growing pains easing into things - but in 20 years of consulting I've found all new teams and projects have an initial period of adjustment.

The kicker is that on Thursday, I'm going to Hong Kong for three weeks. William and I come back to the States on the same day. I'll still be there for our morning scrum at 9 am (10 PM in HK). I'll still be working just as William has.

But these technologies have allowed flexibility. William can share Europe with Ryan and I can be there for my family obligations in HK."
How aware are teams/groups/networks of their technology configurations? Who stewards them in your life? How consistent are they across the membership? I expect teams to have fairly tight consistency, and networks to have just enough to connect members.

These are the sorts of questions we have started to surface in the "who-knows-when-we'll-finish-it" report on Technologies for Communities, so it is great to read Jim's description of his. Thanks, Jim.

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Synching Collaborative Applications - My Offline Life

When Groove first came out, I jumped for joy. It offered a collaboration toolset, with some really cool features, that could be used offline and online. So many of my colleagues around the world did NOT live in an "always on" world.

Still, Groove presented challenges of synchronization because my network not only often had limited online time, but also limited bandwidth AND the members had diverse cycles of coming online. This created havoc with the older versions of Groove. I called it synchronization hell. I know this is something that they have been working on, but Groove then also floated into the more costly range. Most of my network looks for tools that have the word 'free' attached! That said, Groove was one of the few offerings that even paid attention to offline work and synchronization. I was a Ray Ozzie fan and I think he has brought some good sense/ideas since Groove was gobbled up by Microsoft. (Oh, and you can no longer buy Groove standalone. In 2007 you can by Office Groove, so alas, that will probably fall even farther out of cost availability for my networks.)

Anyway... I was happy to see Brady Forrest blogging that Zimbra Adds Offline Use of Their Productivity Apps. EDITED LATER: I was also happy to see that Anne explains how they do that magic synchronizing! Time to go check it out, particularly noting that they appear to have separate pricing options (but not posted on their site - grrr) for non profits/NGO and government. And they have an open source base. Have any of you used it with a group? Have stories to tell?

Recently I have been thinking about this dichotomy of online/offline life. It is not always a useful split. I'm interested in thinking about bridges that allow online tools and "stuff" to be more seamless with our offline lives. Are tools one way?

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A new blog I'm going to read...

We Have Always Done It That Way. I followed a link from an email list and started reading. Liked what I saw. Then I saw the authors and I recognized a few... YES! Good folks. Way to go Amy Smith, David Gammel, Jamie Notter, Jeff De Cagna and Mickie Rops.

Uh, oh wait a minute. Last post -- August 26th. Sob! Come back to blogging here, y'all!

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What I missed: Mind Camp 3.0 Discovery Slam

Due to insane travel, I missed Mind Camp 3.0. I've been a MindCamper since the start and on the org committee, but this fall I was too maxed out. Here is a little taste... Mind Camp 3.0 Discovery Slam Grass Beatbox.

I love the eclectic, and the Discovery Slam is a MindCamp haven for it!

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What Live Chat at Presentations Actually Looks Like

Friday Dave Cormier and I did a remix of my (now boringly familiar to you, dear blog reader) "8 Competencies" theme. Dave brought in two key pieces: the K-12 education context and his idea of Rhizomatics in learning.

Now what was cool was we were the last set of speakers, and the group had a few days to get used to a projected chat "back channel." We strongly encouraged those who WISHED to, to participate. Because it was projected behind us, I'm not sure WE used it productively. But reading the transcript, it looks like some people did. And as expected, some found it distracting and potentially rude to the speakers. I can say, I did not find it rude. :-) But I understand that frustration. That was why we intentionally invited everyone to close their laptops when we did our second session, which was a World Cafe style conversation on taking the learnings from the conference back to the classroom.

You can see the slides, the chat transcript and the podcast here --> The Eight Competencies of Online Interaction: What Should We Be Learning and Doing?. [EDIT: The audio on that site is down - alternate here at EdTechTalk.]

You can find the whole event evaluation here, including comments and ratings on our sections (the last two - 8 Competencies and Percolatage, which was the World Cafe session.)

This is pretty darn tranparent. Without even being there, you can see front channel, back channel and evaluation. Feedback was present in conversation, chat, blog posts, tags, external blog post RSS feeds, flickr feeds and the formal evaluation form.

I used to think of most of these tools in terms of conference capture. All of a sudden I'm also seeing them in terms of conference evaluation. I'm not sure what the metrics are, but qualitatively, it offers an interesting slice of insight. But not all voices are represented, so we have a ways to go to get the full picture.

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PregTASTIC Podcasts

Another example of non profit use of audio. The PregTASTIC Podcasts are part of a larger online community for pregnant women.

(Edited Oct 8, 2007 to correct the fact that the site is not a March of Dimes site. Thank you, commentor, for bringing that to my attention!)

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Worth Repeating: danah boyd's definition of social network sites

The term "social networking" applied to sites, just like the much abused word, "community" is worth clarifying. danah boyd's piece apophenia: social network sites: my definition, does just that. I've copied the definition, but the really interesting stuff comes after where danah looks at the "edge cases." And of course, I always think the interesting things happen on the edges!
I would like to offer my working definition of 'social network sites' per confusion over my request for a timeline.

A 'social network site' is a category of websites with profiles, semi-persistent public commentary on the profile, and a traversable publicly articulated social network displayed in relation to the profile.

To clarify:

1. Profile. A profile includes an identifiable handle (either the person's name or nick), information about that person (e.g. age, sex, location, interests, etc.). Most profiles also include a photograph and information about last login. Profiles have unique URLs that can be visited directly.

2. Traversable, publicly articulated social network. Participants have the ability to list other profiles as 'friends' or 'contacts' or some equivalent. This generates a social network graph which may be directed ('attention network' type of social network where friendship does not have to be confirmed) or undirected (where the other person must accept friendship). This articulated social network is displayed on an individual's profile for all other users to view. Each node contains a link to the profile of the other person so that individuals can traverse the network through friends of friends of friends....

3. Semi-persistent public comments. Participants can leave comments (or testimonials, guestbook messages, etc.) on others' profiles for everyone to see. These comments are semi-persistent in that they are not ephemeral but they may disappear over some period of time or upon removal. These comments are typically reverse-chronological in display. Because of these comments, profiles are a combination of an individuals' self-expression and what others say about that individual.

This definition includes all of the obvious sites that i talk about as social network sites: MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Cyworld, Mixi, Orkut, etc. Some of the obvious players like LinkedIn are barely social network sites because of their efforts to privatize the articulated social network but, given that it's possible, I count them (just like i count MySpace even when the users turn their profiles private)."

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Conversations about Children and Online Safety

This past week at the New York State Association of Independent Schools Education Technology 2006 Conference (what a mouthful, eh?) there were many sessions and thoughtful conversations about the safety of students in this online-infused world. The issues are complex: there are the duty of care issues in schools, with local and federal laws, a school community's moral responsibility to it's members, and then things like lawsuits from families, especially in a litiginous society like the US.

I'm not sure what to think or do yet. I have to engage in the conversations about this. In fact, that is probably the most useful thing any of us can do - talk to each other (including kids!) about it. My kids are young adults and we talk about this stuff, but I don't have to confront some of the things my friends with younger children are seeing. So I may see it in a different light. I tend to cringe at some of the more strident responses and knee-jerk legislative reactions like DOPA, but I don't want to minimize the problem.

One of my online friends works in the youth online space and has started a blog about the issue. Barbara has lots of thoughtful things to say - you might want to take a look at The Watchful Eye. The stories she tells send chills. We need to be proactive. The thing I find really useful that Barbara has started to surface is that the distributed network afforded by the internet allows predators to support each other anonymously, without personal relationship, by sharing kiddie porn. This is outside of the (hopefully) self correcting boundaries of a community. I know I'm not being very clear here - not allowing sufficient time to write this out, but I wanted to try and "tag" that thought in Barbara's piece. This is where we look at the strengths and potential threats of networks. They are not all value neutral.

My one caution to all of us is not to separate totally the online and offline world; it's risks and our actions in response. Yes, the only world makes an easy channel for predators to get to kids. But it is the world, as a whole, that creates conditions where predation exists. We can't separate the two. Nor should we address one and ignore the other - at our peril.

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Backchannel Resources

Howard Rheingold and his network have developed a good wiki page on Backchannel Resources. My quick read of it is that it is about online back channel at F2F events. I realized I tend to think of backchannel a bit more broadly in terms of private messages that are part of the communication fabric of groups/networks/community and not always captured or visible for the full group. For example, a blogging network sends IMs and private email between members that is not part of their public blog-based communications. A distributed community of practice has it's main online interactions in a forum, but the members coordinate, nudge, remind in private messages.

I think we may need two terms to distinguish between these, because the conference chat back channel IS available to the group. Hm. Time to think through this again.

This is just one page of a great wiki on Participatory Media Literacy that is supporting a course (courses?) that Howard and others have been leading. It is a GREAT resource.

I also noticed that the Socialtext platform they are working on has had a major interface change. It looks different! I have to investigate. I see a personal note pad - I like that. But the editing buttons appear to be moved or hidden. Hm, upon checking "help" it appears that all you do is double click the page you want to edit. That is new! But I can't seem to get it to work. And I don't see edit buttons, which should always be there according to help. Hm. Will play more.

It is always interesting to see what happens with an interface change. I'd also like to know if it improves the experience for a new user. Enoujgh for now... time to work. (Yes, on Sunday!)

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RootsCamp - Not Too Late

Ruby Sinreich has organized an online RootsCamp, a week long online gathering in Second Life on non profit, post election organizing. It's not too late to join - it runs through the 14th. The schedule can be found here.

Here is a brief blurb.
RootsCamps are 2006 post-election debriefs. The progressive community — everyone from the "netroots" to precinct captains to field organizers to national message consultants — is invited to come together to hash out what we learned in 2006 and how to apply those lessons going forward.
There are offline events, but I think Ruby's is the only fully online one.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

More on Experimentation

Sitting here working, I'm listening to a Cole Porter tune, "Experiment." I could not resist weaving it back here with this talk of experimentation. The soundtrack of life, eh? Listen here. This is for you, Beth!

by Cole Porter
Before we leave these portals
to meet our paramortals,
there's just one final massage I would give to you.

We all have learned reliance
on the sacred teachings of science,
so I hope through life you never will become,
in spite of philistines, defiant,
to do what all good scientists do.

Make it your motto day and night.

And it will lead you to the light.

The apple from the top of the tree
is never too high to achieve.
So take an example from me.


Be curious,
though interfering friends may frown.

Get furious,
at each attempt to hold you down.

If this advice you'll only employ,
the future can offer you infinite joy
and merriment.

and you'll see.

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Using Flickr for Lost and Found at a Conference

Lost and Found is a great post using flickr and a conference blog to try and get lost and found items reconciled.

The owner and laptop cover were reunited, but it was through a hotel staff member who walked up to me, I knew where the cover was and lost became found. But at a larger conference, it could be a great way to do lost and found!

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Time to Experiment, Crack Dealers and Networks

Beth picked up on some of the text images I posted on flickr as part of some work we did yesterday at the New York State Association of Independent Schools Tech Ed 2006 conference. This image above tweaked a great post and a quote I HAD to blog:Beth's Blog: Finding the time to experiment ...
"So, momentarily, I feel like a crack dealer to nonprofits ... that they are doing something wrong experimenting. But how else will it get embedded into nonprofit practice unless someone takes a few minutes to hit the pause button, set up a tiny experiment, and see what happens?"
In response to Beth, our tool crack dealer who we know, love, AND cherish for her generous sharing of her experiments with technology, I wrote:
"Beth, our tool crack dealer. I'm going to have to blog that quote, Beth! Fair warning.

I think we DON'T all have time to experiment and it is at times an addictive behavior. For me, the only solution is to have a network and we spread the experimentation out amongst us. I am reading your stuff on 2nd Life, for example, not yet jumping in myself.

If we can't do this as a network, we'll NEVER get past early adopters, IMHO."
This follows on from the Second Wave Adoption kick I'm on and the work of Ben at ODI on the Six Functions of a Network..

Second wave adoption can be supported by taking a network perspective and practice. Not everyone has to do/master/use everything.

The next question is, how does the network keep enough coherence across a diverse set of adoption (or rejection) patterns?

By the way, thanks to all who have been adding to the 2ndWave tag. Some good stuff there!


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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Taking a Thinking Break at NYSAIS Ed Tech

What a civilized agenda. We had off between 2pm and 4pm today. Woo hoo!

Dave Cormier and I needed to spend some time preparing for the sessions we are leading tomorrow at NAISIS Ed Tech 2006, so we went out on a paddle boat for a thinking bit of exercise. Well, we were REALLY productive.

All kidding aside, I need to blog about today's sessions, last night's dinner conversation (particularly with Will Richardson - lots of seeds planted for future conversations) and in general, the smart and interesting (oh, and FUNNY) people I've been meeting. But for now I'm prioritising the lighter side.

Oh, and it is time for cocktails. I LIKE how these people meet!


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tagging the 2nd Wave Conversation Threads

choconancy's bookmarks tagged with "2ndWave" on so I can find them later.


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Hanging Out With New York Independent School Technologists

I'm sitting here, wifi enabled, looking out to the rainy but beautiful scene outside of the Mohonk Mountain House, getting ready for the start of 3 days with New York City Independent School Technologists. (I love the tagline: Knowledge is in the Group)

I'll be stewarding two workshops, a keynote and a World Cafe session with my distance collaborator/friend, Dave Cormier. Based on conversations over lunch (yummy), I'm looking forward to learning and mixing it up with this smart group.

I'm keeping in mind the emergent conversations around my past blog post on second wave adoption in the education context (and I have another blog post in the edit queue on this topic.) It will be interesting to compare what I'm seeing in practice in the non profit sector with these folks steeped in independent K-12 school practice. What are the patterns we are seeing around information, tool and other literacies?


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More Waves on Second Wavers

Oh, yummy! My post on the Second Wave is stimulating some conversations that are getting me all pleasantly worked up. I started to comment on them on people's blogs, but felt a need to pul some of my thoughts together, thus this post copying some of the comments here.

Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~
Nancy White is looking at the question of whether people are adopting Web 2.0 tools in learning. I can't imagine that they're not, but then again, I am one of those "smart, innovative people who are coming up with really wonderful uses of new internet based technologies" and not one of the people putting these tools into practice (I assume I can get away with that self-designation here). But again: it is not so relevant whether instructors use these tools nor whether or not they are used in the classroom; what matters is that students are using them, in or out of the classroom. And again: why is the focus in our discussions always on the instructor? The world could end - and it would not matter unless it impacted teaching practices. See also this link, also from Nancy White.
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My response:
Hm. Are the discussions focused on the instructor? That is a good question. My sense is what I'm wrestling with is with the participant - be that in a classroom our out to the farthest, unseeable boundaries of the network. The actor. The player in the cosmic play of life (which for me means learning!)

Second wave adoption right now has a particular bend to it. We have those born into the networked age and those who saw it form up. Once we get past us oldies, the dynamics of second wave adoption will shift again, until there is another jump in things, like the jump we experiened with the www. I suppose it is cyclic and someone with a good sense of history should be able to speak to that.

As a practitioner, the thing I run in to all the time is the rub between the amazing early adopters (and those of us just a step or two behind) and those who are watching them (or who are being preached to, and I'm afraid we're all guilty of that at some level.) There is a comprehension gap.

For example, in the non profit/NGO world where these tools to support horizontal learning and doing can be SO USEFUL, we run into mindsets that are grounded in vertical organizations. We need ways to talk about this, to see the possibilities as the two find a way to live together in this transition: to deal creatively with the tensions of change.

The reason this is important, and prkobably why talkng with teachers and others is that like it or not, they represent a form of power. They are not the ONLY audience, nor are they the primary audience for many of us. But to ignore them is to ignore them at our own peril.

Change is systemic. The catalysts may come from one corner or the other, but by "bringing the whole system into the room" we may have a more creative and generative way of moving forward together.
Later I found this post by Alex Ragone on Changing Teachers. I smiled.

OK, steppling lighlty back off my soap box, Beth Kanter expands on Second wave adoption and the idea of the Participatory Nonprofit. Beth grounds it back in practice in a particular setting which I find really useful. First, it's useful because adoption patterns vary depending on context and motivation. A non profit's motivation for change may be quite different than a third grade classroom. David Wilcox amplifies this practice-based reflection looking at the civil society sector, with lots of links and examples worth mining. (Note David's clever blog post titles!)

Michele Martin left a great comment on my original post that merits pulling up to the top level here:
To my mind, we are dealing with issues of culture and awareness more than anything. The revolution in Web 2.0 technology is not just about the tools. It's about the utterly different way of thinking about the world and what you do.

Beth calls it the "participatory nonprofit" and I think that's a good name for what we're talking about here. Many organizations still exist within a command and control, closed communication loop. Their institutional practices and relationships to stakeholders are built on this model. But Web 2.0 breaks that wide open, expecting a focus on process, on transparency, collaboration and openness that is simply not a part of the daily culture of many, many organizations.

On a very practical level, I think the other problem is that outside of the technical community, users don't "get" what the technology can do for them. They need to see it in a real, concrete way. I'm not even sure that some examples of best practices will do--in my experiences with training nonprofit staff, until you can sit them down in front of a computer, take their personal issues and information and show them how Web 2.0 interacts with that, they will not really get it. Their brains are "in the weeds" as one of my friends says, so standing back from that can be really difficult.

For me, you're getting to the heart of a question that's been on my mind for a while. How to take what is useful and valuable about all of this and help people realize how they can benefit. I'm curious to see where everyone lands and the ideas that come out of this discussion.

Oh dear. I posted this without finishing it. Umm.. uh... well, it is out there! This edit added at 8:09pm PST. Ooops.

More URLs to follow up on : (in Dutch).

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Second Wave Adoption

While in Australia, one of the sub themes of my workshops and talks was the idea of "second wave adoption." In education, there is a vanguard of smart, innovative people who are coming up with really wonderful uses of new internet based technologies (sometimes referred to as "web 2.0" stuff), but they are not always seeing adoption in their groups and organizations.

This question of "second wave adoption" is fraught with questions, many of which my friend Bev has been articulating on her blog. Things like:

  • Are we focusing on the right value to the people we are asking to use these new tools and ways of working?

  • How do we stimulate people's imagination to try new things, like tools and processes that may be of use?

  • How do we trigger inventiveness with new tools?

    So this morning Annette Kramer pings me that she has been writing about this too. Kismet! How to Implement Web 2.0 In Practice? Write Some Wrongs (and Not Just in Theory). Amonth other observation, Annette suggests using writers as catalysts - and makes me wonder more about the role of catalysts in change. She also points to
    Andrew McAfee who talks about adoption of "2.0 technologies," looking for case studies that show adoption, not just experimentation. Ramana Rao gives specifics in the form of barriers to adoption of enterprise wide use of "Office 2.0" applications.

    McAfee's plea for cases reminds me that one of my recommendations out of Australia was to look for stories of second wave adoption, and I was really happy to hear that Bronwyn Stuckey and Rose Grozdanic were doing just that in the education area. (Take a look at some of the story themes and you can see why this is useful!) This is where we can learn about what is useful, how it was adopted and why.

    Of course there is always the caveat that there has to be value in innovation, change, dissemination of new practices. There is always the trap of the "shiny new thing" and the sometimes misappropriated enthusiasm of early adopters. That is a part of the change process.

    For me, from a facilitator practice perspective, I have been thinking about six practices around tool adoption. They are sort of embedded in this slide show, but I don't think they are clear enough yet. So here goes -- just a bit of thinking:

    What are your stories of useful, generative adoption of newer tools and their supporting practices? What sticks and what fades away after the enthusiastic coach, teacher or early adopter walks away?

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    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    A Page of Question that has me SLATHERING!

    From early October's CCNR Conference...Prato wiki - The Big Questions. This is the emerging Community Informatics community.

    The next question is what will they do with these questions?

    Maybe I'll borrow a few and play with them here.

    A couple of my favorites:

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    Saturday, November 04, 2006

    Participation Inequality: Lurkers vs. Contributors in Internet Communities (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

    Jenny Ambrozek has been sharing with me some of her ideas about "valuing participation," particularly online. Jakob Nielsen recently posted an article on Participation Inequality: Lurkers vs. Contributors in Internet Communities (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox) which surfaces an age old issue online, the small percentage of people who visible participate in online interactions.

    I think it is important to always hold these questions in the context of offline patterns as well. I'm not sure how the percentages vary between online and offline, but the fact is in open spaces, only a few actively participate - online and offline.

    The question to me is not that some do and don't participate. The question is, what is the value of participation in any context or setting and why might we want to pay more attention to designing and facilitating for fuller participation, and when that is not a priority.

    I think there are more questions to ask here, rather than simply point to the fact that online a lot of people lurk.

    What are your questions about online participation? When should we value participation?


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    Friends to Help You Keep Up

    I have given up trying to catch up on my blog subscriptions after 3.5 weeks away. Luckily, I can use a few of my friends like Beth to cover a swath - in this case, the non profit swath. Now if I just had time to follow up all the cool links in NpTech Tag Roundup: Election Day, NPTech Blog Chatter, and Tool Talk. Thanks, Beth. Posts like this are community indicators!


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    Two Slide Sets from Business Blogging Summit

    I get a bit grumpy when events come to my city and I'm not there to play. Sorry to all of my pals who I missed while you were here in Seattle. I have taken a spin through the BBS blog to read what went on and found links to two interesting slide shows. I link to them for a couple of reasons. First, I'm interested in the content and I hope I find some podcasts to listen to what the speakers said. Second, they are interesting uses of PPT from a visual perspective.

    Tara Hunt's Community or Commodity?(application/pdf Object) and Maryam and Robert Scobles Ten Ways to a Killer Blog (which uses Hugh's cartoons as the visuals.)

    Tara, the simplicity of the white words on a black field was nice and clean. It made me want to hear your words. I wonder what would happen if you thought about changing "vs" to "and" in some of those slides? I have been playing a lot with the idea of how to work creatively with tensions which, on first glance, are in opposition. In reality, they exist in an everchanging yin and yang. So how do we get adept at looking at them that way (complex systems?) and using the tension generatively?

    Maryam and Robert, I love the visual nature of the slides with Hugh's cartoons, even if they are a cynical? :-) Here is my question for you: what would be another word for "killer?" This stems from my hopeless pollyanna thought of how we move from a culture of fear to a culture of love. Part of that may be finding alternatives to war-based language.

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    Friday, November 03, 2006

    David Sibbet: My New Second Life Story Studio

    One of the dean's of graphic facilitation, David Sibbet, has set up a studio in Second Life. Check out his story David Sibbet: My New Second Life Story Studio.

    I came upon this link while reading the wonderful posts from Peter Durand of AlphaChimp studio documenting the sessions at the IFVP 2006 Conference (a conference for those interested in and practicing graphic facilitation). Lots of great stuff to read from their gathering. I wish I could have been there!

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    It's Elementary - WEB 2.0 in the Elementary Classroom

    Via Bronwyn Stuckey in Sydney, Australia, comes a pointer to this wonderful story from John Pearce, an Australian primary educator about his explorations with "web 2.0" tools. It's Elementary is a narrated slide show telling his story over a year, replete with links and examples. His thoughtfulness about his work, critical view and those small, useful hints are terrific! Just under 30 minutes - it kept my attention (which is really hard!) I'll admit, I was multitasking!

    Here are some of John's URLS: - John's Science Teaching site his Suprglu page on science and ICTs his class's blog

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    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Architectures of Control in Design

    Via Stephen Downes comes a pointer to a pointer which led me here, to this interesting blog. Architectures of Control in Design. I'm very interested in the generative use of the tension between control and emergence. This blog gives me a great deal to think about in terms of control and emergence in my designs for online interactions/work/etc.

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    Friends with Talent

    Check out noise, Tomas Christensen's whimsical new children's book. Thinking about books for the kids in your life in the upcoming holiday onslaught? Here is an option.

    Now we return you to our regularly scheduled online interaction STUFF!

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    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    TechSoup - Wikis and Non Profits

    I haven't had a chance to stop in yet, but here is an online event that may be of interest...

    Join us in the TechSoup Community, November 1-3, for a free, three-day online event about wikis, a powerful new collaboration technology that could change the way you work . Visit

    You do not need to register, just show up to post and read the messages, in the TechSoup forums during the 1st-3rd of November and discuss wikis and how nonprofits can use them.

    This event will be hosted by Adam Frey of Wikispaces and other wiki experts, users and designers. We will answer questions like:
    *what is a wiki?
    *How do wikis work?
    *How would my nonprofit use one?
    *And how do I build or energize a community around my wiki?

    You will come away with practical tips, quick tricks, models, resources, and tools for bringing the collaborative technologies of wiki applications to your own organization. Bring your wiki questions and examples with you! We hope to see you there.

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    Playing with Tag Clouds

    TagCrowd helped me create this tag cloud for a draft of our Technologies for Communities report. It is really an interesting way to visualise it. I got the idea from Writing in the Wild. I should cross post this on our project blog (if I could recall the login! Oi! Multimembership is a bear!)

    Here is a second one, with up to 150 tags vs 50 and frequencies:

    access (50) activities (85) applications (30) areas (17) around (23) artifacts (25) aspect (20) asynchronous (21) attention (28) available (37) become (18) being (17) blogs (19) boards (23) boundaries (38) bridging (18) building (18) change (33) chapter (44) collaboration (23) combine (20) common (20) community (933) complex (26) configuration (51) connect (20) consider (42) content (39) context (44) contributions (26) control (23) conversations (32) create (30) cultivation (17) department (24) depend (21) designed (19) development (21) different (73) discussion (36) documents (25) domain (16) email (21) enable (20) etc (21) example (43) existing (32) experience (54) expertise (22) face-to-face (19) features (41) figure (28) focus (41) free (29) group (46) hosted (19) identity (16) implications (24) important (49) include (34) individual (85) information (40) instance (22) integration (56) interactions (70) interest (19) issues (35) key (20) knowledge (34) leadership (21) learning (62) level (39) life (34) likely (17) location (22) main (17) making (24) market (35) meetings (54) members (171) moments (21) needs (64) network (19) offer (33) ongoing (26) online (25) open (28) organization (57) orientation (74) others (34) participation (74) pay (16) people (78) personal (35) perspective (50) phone (22) platform (97) possible (21) practice (114) process (43) project (22) public (26) publishing (27) questions (25) rather (22) reflect (22) region (17) regular (17) relationship (23) report (20) requires (28) resources (59) role (46) rss (16) selection (19) sense (22) shared (50) skills (21) social (33) software (31) source (16) space (28) specific (40) steward (48) stewardship (45) strategy (19) success (16) suggests (23) support (73) synchronous (18) systems (31) tasks (16) technical (32) technology (367) tensions (18) terms (18) themselves (24) therefore (18) things (18) togetherness (22) tools (361) topics (16) types (20) unique (16) used (43) various (24) ways (52) web (29) wiki (29) work (55)

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