Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Widget Fundraising Case Study

Beth Kanter shares her very successfull ChipIn Widget Fundraising Case Study. (On a wiki, too!)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Example of Video to Share Learning

Steven Parker is doing some cool stuff with video. Not only on his blog, Network Learning, but embedded into a wiki. Check out his Group Learning page where he walks us through how to facilitate a tech learning session! The rest of the wiki is also a great resource for those looking to integrate tech into learning -- or anything else. The stuff has "good bones" to be applied in varied settings.

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More Synchronous Facilitation Resources

As Beth blogged today about her thoughts on facilitating gatherings in Second Life, I realized that Eugene Kim, Julia Young and I had put together a set of resources last June for the CTC conference that I should have included with my post last week. They are:

Getting Great Results out of Virtual Meetings
A white paper interview with Nancy Settle-Murphy and Julia Young

Telephone Conference Call Facilitation Tips
By Nancy White, Full Circle Associates

Using a Wiki to Support Telephone Meetings – an example
This actual call document also contains some excellent resources for distributed meetings and collaboration.

Tips for Facilitating a Distributed Meeting over the Web

Remote Meetings: Guidelines for getting more done in less time
By Nancy Settle-Murphy in Mass High Tech, July 26-August 1, 2004

DePaul University’s Blog Category on Virtual Meetings

Synchronous Web Based Training and Learning Tips from NPower
(Jan 2006)

Edited to add that last resource, Feb 3)

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Les Schwab Tires and Community Indicators

For years we bought tires for our cars at a locally owned tire store, Upeniks. We trusted their judgement, they were close by and served us well. When the owner retired and sold to a chain, Les Scwab Tires, I had a sour taste in my mouth. I was discouraged that another local business had turned into a faceless chain.

I am happy to report that I was wrong. Over the years I have become a die hard Les Schwab customer. I won't buy or have my tires fixed anywhere else. Why? Not because of their (in)famous free meat promotions, or corny TV commercials. I do it because they treat us really well.

When we first had to buy new tires, they advised us on which of our tires still had live in them. They could have sold us 4, but they said we really only needed 2. Whenever we get a puncture flat, we head on over for free repairs. They rotate our tires if they need it - for free. When we go in on a busy Saturday, they give us realistic estimates about how long we will have to wait and they are almost always on the button. So when I need tire help, I go to Les Schwab.

Well lately the brakes have been making a funny noise. And I just can't help feeling that when I go to our regular mechanic that I pay a lot and never really get a clear idea if a problem is resolved. So I called Les Schwab and asked, do you do brakes?

They do. My husband took the car in yesterday around 4:30 pm. They said it will be about 45 minutes. 45 minutes later they ascertained that from an external inspection they could not find anything wrong, but the breaks on all four tires appeared to be out of adjustment. They adjusted all four tires (usually a 20 per wheel fee) and charged us nothing. They said if that didn't solve the problem, to schedule an appointment for them to take the brakes apart and look deeper into the situation. Fair enough.

Now you know for sure where we will go if we have to get our brakes replaced. And the only place we'll buy tires is Les Schwab.

So what does this have to do with community indicators? Well, for one, me blogging about my tire store on a online interaction blog is one thing. If something shows up so powerfully that it changes a pattern, that's an indicator. And the tire store IS in my community.

The other reason is I started to wonder about how community indicators work with business. It is sort of like the social capital of a retailer. Your thoughts?

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

What are your most useful synchronous online facilitation practices?

It amazes me how much the online interaction world has moved to embrace synchronous interaction. And not just in the same time zone. It is becoming common for me to have meetings at 6am or 9pm with colleagues spread across the world. We're using VOIP, chats and more web meeting tools.

In exploring design options for synchronous meetings, I have been thinking about a gradient of modalities and technologies. For one shot interactions where you cannot expect a lot of investment in learning tools or processes, the conference call (land line and/or VOIP) is still the dominant choice, but I try to include SOMETHING visual in the mix. It could be a document or slide deck sent in advance via email, or browsing a shared webpage. Skype's latest, version 3.0, has a plug in for a shared white board. It can only serve 2 people, but it allows another modality. Likewise, they have a co-browsing tool (which I've not explored yet) which could be a really great addition.

The reason to have something beyond the voice is two fold: one is to increase our engagement and participation, particularly for those of us who are not great in an aural-only mode. With a visual, I'm less apt to start doing my email or staring out the window. For the same reason, I love my cordless phone because I find I listen to long phone meetings better when I can walk around and move away from my computer. It does something to my thinking. I'm still hard wired for VOIP calls and, despite the price, I am tempted to get a bluetooth headset for the computer.

The second reason is other tools can support the process of the meeting or gathering. Using a chat room to collectively take notes, or a wiki to evolve the agenda and take notes during a meeting. Co-editing WHILE discussing a document. Queing up questions in a larger phone meeting via chat so that a) you know you are on deck to speak and b) people have a chance to be heard, especially if they are less inclined to jump in to a conversation.

When you get to the place where you are doing larger meetings (over 8 or so), or are doing ongoing live meeting practices, it starts making sense to consider more sophisticated tools and pratices. This is where things like web meeting tools, co-browsing, and such can be useful.

What I notice about web meeting tools is that most of us don't know how to make the most of them. We may learn how to use all the tools and features, but we haven't had exposure to good facilitation practices. We try and duplicate offlinen experiences (be they useful or not) and not really take advantage of the medium.

People like Jennifer Hoffman and Jonathan Finkelstein are seasoned synchronous facilitators who have written about the practice. I've been reading Jonathan's latest, "Learning in Real Time" and it is full of great advice, particularly in a learning setting. Jonathan covers the why's what's and how's. His technical review of web meeting features is excellent.

In the "why's" he talks about the "threshold to go live." In other words, know WHY you are going live. There is still a heck of a lot of useful applications for asynchronous online interaction.

But let's get to the facilitation bit (Chapter 5) where Jonathan dives into practices. I love his line "inflate a bubble of concentration." In other words, when we facilitate synchronously we not only have to manage the software, the domain of the conversation, but we also are working to legitimately request and get the attention of participants who, for the most part, we cannot see. We have to do this across a diversity of styles and skills. It is truly a "ringmaster" job.

There are some great examples in the book, and if you are facilitating online get the book. What I notice is that Jonathan writes about something I learned from my colleague, Fernanda Ibarra. It is the masterful use of a shared white board to move people from being consumers of a meeting to being active participants. Fernanda showed me how she prepared a whiteboard screen with clipart of a circle of chairs. As people entered the web meeting space, she invited them to write their names under a chair. This helped orient them to and practie with the tool, created a sense of "group" and gave a visual focus as people entered the "room." It was brilliant. I've riffed on that idea and found it very useful. We've done After Action Reviews with the white board taking the place of a flip chart used F2F. We've even had virtual parties. This brings together voice, text, and images.

But back to the practices and skills. What would you say are the top three skills of a synchronous facilitator? The top three practices? Why?

Other Resources:
Top Synchronous Training Myths and Their Realities - By Nanette Miner
InSynch Training and their Synchronous Training Blog
LearningTimes training

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why Do You Blog? Take the Survey

Why Do You Blog? | Are You a Blogger? Take Darren's 16 Question Survey and Enter to Win an iPod Shuffle. This is a project of Darren Barefoot for his upcoming presentation "Why We Blog" at Northern Voice in Vancouver. Darren is also the guy who did the great Second Life spoof I blogged about a few days ago.

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It's not me, OR the group. It's about multimembership

I have been following another spate of blog posts that appear on the surface to set up the oppositional tension of individual or the group. In most cases, I don't think that's what the authors intend, but it is so easy to slide into that trough. "Me" and "Us" are loaded words. Stowe writes:
"So, in the classical enterprise collaboration model people are, first and foremost, members of groups, and these groups define people: what their rights are, what their purpose and goals are, and so on.

But the social take on this is that people are individuals, first and foremost, with their own desires, interests, skills, and goals. People interact with other people for a variety of reasons, which include collaboration around business goals. But in the social, me-first model (contrasting it with group-first models) people's relationships are potentially asymmetric: for example, I may be on your buddy list, but you aren't on mine. And in the me-first model, I possess what I make and I opt to share it with specific individuals (or not)."
Yes, some older collaboration tools were designed for a group. There is still utility for that in some cases. The problem is individuals have to work in and across multiple groups and outside of them. They need hooks between the tools of their groups and communities.

What I take away from these posts is that finding technological and process ways to manage our multimembership across various groups and networks is critical in this wired world.

I've learned this idea of multimembership from Etienne Wenger and see the management of multimembership as one of the key technological and social issues of the online world today. There is quite a bit of interesting technological work happening in this area, from identity standards, pushes for interoperability and tools that help us collect all our digital interactions so we can make sense of them across all the groups, networks and even casual online interactions we engage in.

Stowe Boyd calls this "federation design"

In a separate but related blog post Mark Berthelemy looks at this multimembership issue in the education domain. It is interesting to note how he is paying attention to his multimembership across a network.
The importance of creating a network:
"To me, to be network aware means understanding that I am a node in a network of learners, responsible for developing, maintaining and pruning my own connections to that network. It's through those connections that I am able to rapidly pick up on new developments in my particular field(s), to explore those new developments further and perhaps to change my thinking and my behaviour in the light of those developments.

My connections into this network take many forms. I'm now much less reliant on face-to-face conferences & events. ... Most of my network activity now takes place online (the connections there are much easier to make, and to maintain). Some of it takes place through my Skype contacts list, some through email, most inbound connections are through my RSS subscriptions in Google Reader and most outbound connections through my blog."
Oh, and one other huge element. Overload is a part of this. How much multimembership can one person usefully maintain?

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21st Century Organization: Bronwyn Stuckey on Games

There is something irresistable about games. It is so easy to take the bait. That's why I think they are important to understand. And I don't understand nearly enough. So when I saw that my friend and colleague, Bronwyn Stucky of Australia was guest blogging on he 21st Century Organization about Games, I was delighted. I was reading back from Day 3: Games recruit learning, and realized I should point out the series of posts as they are clear, cogent and useful. Here are Day 1 and Day 2.

Drawing from Jim Gee and other researchers, Bronwyn makes the case that games and game-like qualities are a resource we can draw upon for learning - in any setting! She has reviewed what qualifies as a game which is very useful - noting that Second Life is not a game. It's an environment. The distinction is important. Games can happen inside environments, but environments themselves lack the full set of essential qualities that make a game a game.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. Check it out!

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Sharing how we see ourselves

I was quite taken with this comment on a post on Ron (edited to fix name) Lubensky's blog from George Siemens. It speaks to me of how blogging and open publishing on the web influences not only how others see us, but how we see ourselves.

eLearning Moments: George Siemens Knows Knowledge:
"Finally, I don't see myself as a revolutionary. At best, I'm speaking my personal confusion out loud. I don't have all (even most) of the answers...and I imagine the book reflected this. The book was a public personal struggle with knowledge. For this reason, I hope the wiki will address the difficult areas of the text. It is, after all, more of an invitation to a conversation than an exposition of knowledge."
George, actually, in my eyes, you are a bit of a revolutionary, and for that, I'm grateful.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Planet TALO

Planet TALO

Notice the pictures of the authors. Pretty cool way to add an identity twist to an aggregated blog!

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Nexus of Change - March 22-23 2007

On March 22 - 23 I will be part of a gathering that I want to share out on the blog here. Some of you may be interested. The planning process itself has been a learning journey, and I think it will be quite a convergence of ideas, people and opportunities to explore how change methods can work together. It is NOT a bunch of presentations or a 'conference as usual!' Come to participate!

Here are the details:

Our focus will be on leveraging the power of more than 60 approaches being used to transform organizations and communities as they tackle 21st Century challenges. These approaches are broadly referred to as large-group methods/interventions, whole-system change, or large-scale change. What makes them unique are two foundation assumptions: high involvement and a systemic approach to improvement.

Conference Overview
At this conference we will be working side-by-side to:
  • Address critical needs at local and global levels

  • Expand the reach of the methods around the world

  • Design significant field research projects

  • Invent new tools, techniques and applications

  • Incorporate technology to leverage existing methods

  • Connect with others to form joint ventures

  • Innovate educational programs and courses

  • Craft a common language

  • Articulate a platform for this body of work
To learn more, see who is coming, and get details, go

To register, go to:

On-Line Fishbowl
Come join thought leaders for the pre-conference event February 26th, as they wrestle with provocative questions of our times. Learn More .

Photo of last years conference
“Working on our own, valuable as that might be, we will never have the impact that working in concert on a large, movement level scale might have. This conference holds the possibility of clarifying what we are learning and creating transformation in a way we have not yet imagined.”
Peter Block, Civic Engagement
Author of Flawless Consulting

[Edited to fix image problems!]

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Interested in Peer Assists?

Check out this great Flash tutorial on Peer Assists. Created by a partnership between Bellanet and the University of Ottawa, this is the first in a series of tutorials that will be translated into a variety of languages. This one also comes in French.

Oh, and don't forget to enlist your friends.

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Get a First Life: A One Page Satire of Second Life

For a brief Monday morning, snorting your hot beverage up your nose moment, check out Get a First Life.

Thanks, Laura!

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An interesting blog about online community patterns

Because there was a link to one of my articles, I (luckily!) found Taming the spaces
blog. Lots of interesting thinking and links about the patterns that show up in online groups, networks and communities. I especially enjoyed the "Getting Introduced" pattern post. It reminded me of some of the community indicator stuff a bunch of us tag, post, and think about.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Change Handbook

The Change Handbook
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
Gabriel Shirley and I worked last year on a chapter for The Change Handbook, Second Addition. This was a "full circle" moment for me, because the first edition has been one of my cherished facilitation resources over the past years, and was made even more treasured when I got to meet and work with one of its editors, Peggy Holman. So when she asked us to write a chapter for the new edition speaking to the role of new technologies in change methods, we had to say yes.

Our chapter is a bit different from the other chapters. Most of the book reviews over 61 change methods for "engaging whole systems." Ours speaks across those methods, to the options and possibilities that technology affords us. So it is not a method, but a way of thinking about methods WITH technology. Sort of "technology stewardship" meets "change methods!"

Most of the chapters follow a form which introduces you to the method. often with an anecdote, briefly describes the method, then speaks about where it may be useful. Then there is this amazing section of quick summaries which summarizes ALL the methods. It is mind boggling.

There is so much to explore here. I am looking forward to reading "Part I" where Peggy Holman, Steve Cady and Tom Devane write about selecting methods, mixing methods and sustainability of results."

I will write more about our chapter, but I wanted to spread the word that the book is available. Eventually, Gabriel and I will put up additional resources at Methods for Change, a website we intend to complement the work in the book. Big intentions, but not enough focused activity yet! :-)

I also have 5 books to give away to the first 5 US blog posters who will in turn blog about the book. I have to limit to the US because of postage, but if you really need one and are overseas let's try and work something out. First five commenters get a book! If you are in the Seattle area, I also have some to sell at a discounted price. Just contact me. This is a great opportunity for those in non profits. (Yes, it is a big discount.) You can also buy the book via on Amazon, from BK.

[Edited to correct the number of methods and to fix a typo. Thanks, Peggy. Also, if you are posting a comment to get a book, make sure you leave some sort of trail so I can find you and contact you for a mailing address!]

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Holiday Flashback - gifts and community indicators

Back in December there was this interesting article in INC magazine that I squirreled away, The Office: The Thought That Counts. Leigh Buchanan listed her ideas for holiday executive gifts. If you look at this list beyond the scope of a corporation, there are some very interesting ideas. The thread that ran through them for me was "community." See what you think. I added my commentary in blue.
  • A window for every employee. The view may be of a verdant park, an office tower, or a speed trap. The point is, it's life--not work. People need occasionally to lift their gaze from what they're doing and remember that the world is larger than their jobs. Windows give us perspective!

  • IT support that understands the business. I'll take it as a given that your technicians have mastered the disparate software, networks, and mobile devices without which your company can't operate. (That's a fair assumption, right?) The support staff I wish for you also pays attention to how employees actually do their jobs every day and works with them to make those jobs easier. Sounds like technology stewardship to me!

  • Two restaurants within a block or two of the building, both of which provide good food at reasonable prices and one of which your employees know you never frequent. Hmmm, how about a chocolate joint?

  • One meeting room with comfortable seats and no conference table. Most get-togethers will still take place in the usual sterile space with its whiteboards and laminated furniture. But there's nothing like a passel of mismatched armchairs and the mellow light from real lamps to encourage informal conversation and sallies down unbeaten paths. Circling together.

  • A librarian. Yes, I know, much of what you need is available online and your staff Googles with the best of them. Still, corporate librarians operate with a level of nuance and finesse that technology can't match. They can uncover sources so obscure as to be practically nonexistent. And they know what's what--they not only tell people what is known but also warn them what isn't. Something about Linus' warm blanket from the comic strip Peanuts comes to mind!

  • At least one employee under 25 and one employee over 60 who are equally enthusiastic about their jobs and visibly thrilled to be there each day. Just watching them reminds everyone how meaningful work can be with the right attitude. Diversity!

  • Julie, your cruise director. Predictable social events--the summer outing at the lake, the rote birthday parties--may come to seem stale and joyless. Fortunately, fun is a core competence for some people; they can enliven an office with spontaneous diversions that don't detract from productivity. "

  • Insufficient room to display your holiday cards. May your business have attracted so many customers, strategic partners, community supporters, mentors, friends, and well-wishers that their greetings overflow your available wall space. And may the new year bring even more. Definitely a community indicator!

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Seeking Patterns, With Detours

A few days ago I warned I might unleash a flood of blog posts, trying to release all the things that recently caught my attention or which I am trying to find the words -- and space of clarity -- to say.

That is not enough. Floodgates releasing waves of half baked bits can serve a purpose, but that is not what I'm seeking.

I'm seeking patterns.

In my gut, my instict, I'm feeling the quickening of the pace of change in our world. I'm reading Tapscott's Wikinomics this weekend and he most excitedly talks about it. (I wish I shared as much optimism as he has). I read blog posts and nod in strong agreement.

We feel it.

We seek to name it.

But it is more than naming. Like the increasingly vapid nature of the "2.0" label, we need more than a label. We are blowing past the labels too quick. We need a language that can evolve as things change, and an ability to notice patterns that help us navigate the currents.

I was checking my vanity feeds and was led to Marica's Meanderings. This would be one of the detours. Marica, you have a lovely blog and I kept reading and reading. I was there beside you, watching the leek bud swell. Your 365 day project sings out, and it is the prose that captures me, while the photos complement the text.

Anyway, Marica had a post to this map, Trends in the Living Networks: Trend map for 2007 and beyond. I got shivers. No label, but the metphor of a map. (Larger image pdf here.) A pattern to give us a way to talk about the future.

Like Marcia, I particularly appreciated the "river of conciousness" that runs through Ross Dawson's map.

Conciousness, it seems to me, is how we tap into our pattern recognition skills. Slowing. Stepping back for a different perspective.

On Ross's map, I'm looking at the intersections. The sun is out in Seattle today, so "happiness" catches my eye first. The intersection of happiness brings together the threads of business & work, society & culture, food & drink (CHOCOLATE!) medicine & wellbeing, and interestingly, just sidesteps retail and leisure. Media & communication, transport & automotive, financial services, science & technology and government & politics don't intersect at the happiness station.

Looking at intersections is a way to notice a pattern. I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but I have that sense of "yes, pay attention to this."

As we work on finishing the Technology for Communities book (notice I am no longer using the word report?? ;-) ) we are diving deeper into trying to notice the patterns about how technology and community shape each other.

As I work with the design team for the Nexus for Change gathering in Ohio in March, a keen question for me was surfaced by Kenoli Oleari. The gathering, which brings the founders, practitioners, academics and leaders of a myriad of change methods together, is a chance to try and notice what underlying patterns bind these productive change methodologies. What new patterns might we notice as we remix the methods, and invent new ones on top of the old? How can that advance the practice of nurturing productive change in organizations and groups?

Oh, another Detour. Barbara Sawhill pinged me on Skype the other day and I remembered, duh, Barbara is in Ohio! Maybe I can see here in March. If she had not pinged me, would I have thought to set up a get together? What is this pattern that I used to call "kismet" that is consistently showing up in my life, bringing bits together that make more sense together than apart? It was not a concious action. What was it?

At tea on Friday, a friend said that my skill was rapidly noting patterns, the activating the useful network to act on that pattern and create action or change.

I notice I am good at seeing those patterns close to the ground. I can articulate them. But the bigger ones I feel, but have a great deal of difficulty describing them. I feel them in the way a magnet pulls a piece of iron. The way a sunflower can tilt, changing, across the day as the sun traces the horizon.

I don't even know what I'm trying to do with this blog post, but it is just coming out of my fingers.

There must be a pattern to discover.

[Edited Jan 27 to correct the spelling of Marica's name. Sorry, Marica!]

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A Study of Pro-Poor e-Governance Projects in India

APDIP Releases a Study of Pro-Poor e-Governance Projects in India Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme
It is widely believed that information and communications technology (ICT) are effective tools in the fight against poverty, if used appropriately. As India’s poverty is deepening and its ICT industry booming, there are many projects underway that are using ICT to reduce poverty and promote good governance.

This publication, with a foreword by Prof. M. S. Swaminathan, is the product of a research study that systematically analyzes 18 projects in India that use ICT for the benefit of poor people, and provides recommendations on how ICT can be applied to the massive, widespread and seemingly intractable problems of poverty.

The intention of this research study was to understand what influences will determine the extent to which projects like these can be scaled up from what often appears to be a perpetual pilot syndrome; either to greater use within existing recipient beneficiaries (infusion) or among wider beneficiary populations (diffusion), or both. Projects were analyzed and ranked by their relevance, service delivery, community participation and empowerment, equality in decision-making and benefits, sustainability, replicability and their prospects for being scaled-up.
In a very quick glance through the report, I noticed that two key elements of success were that telecentre staff skills were essential (and often underestimated when seeking volunteers and staff) and that multi use, manifest in public/private partnerships was needed for telecentre sustainability.

I think my systems thinking friends would be nodding at this point. It seems pretty obvious, but tend not to design projects with a systems perspective, and instead design for fairly narrow, isolated goals. There is also some interesting thinking in here about 2nd wave adoption and diffusion of innovation. I need to go back and read this more carefully.

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How do you describe the experience of flow in an online interaction?

Sandra shares a collaborative visualization created by a learning community to express what it "looked like" to them.
What does an Elearning Community look like? Sandra wrote:
...This image was constructed synchronously and collaboratively by a cohort of online learners — and well nigh ‘furiously’ I might add. Along with the Chat running below the whiteboard image - running so fast and so far to the right that you couldn’t keep up.

The starter image presented was the intersecting circles inside the box. Representing the interaction among ‘course’ content, other learners, external resources, etc. Clearly - the elearners are saying most of the learning takes place outside the box. Most of the learning takes place is unstructured ways. The learning process goes back and forth among content, other learners, external resources along unpredictable, often frustrating, definitely nonlinear pathways. Learning one thing leads to another question leads to another learning…and sometimes to something concrete you can put in another box.

I’ve shared this image with a few other people - they don’t even think its interesting, let alone feel the powerful emotions and insights expressed in this imaage. Now that its static and preserved - so much of what it really means is gone - and we can only get that back if/when we do it again. When we got done making this picture — I absolutely had to preserve it — I was on such a euphoric high over what we had just made together.
It is hard to describe these experiences to people who have not experienced them. Pictures, words -- none of them really capture that feeling of flow. People who have not experienced it will tell me it is not possible. In working with groups interested in starting and supporting communities of practice, there will always come this moment when they talk in ernest about how things really start happening once people come face to face.

In this global world, that face to face is the option of the priveledged unless we work exclusively at the local level. As always, I do NOT denigrate the value of face time. I treasure it. But that does not mean we should abandon home that we cannot experience the flow of truly being "with" people if we cannot be F2F.

It is possible. OK, I'll step off my soap box.

See, I warned you I had a big backlog of posts.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Cool Drupal Stuff from Development Seed

I was happy to stumble upon this image to learn more about what the cool folks at Development Seed have been doing with Drupal. I'm working on 2 Drupal based projects these days and I find it enormously helpful to see what other people are thinking and playing with. Even lurking, from afar!Managing News - a photoset on Flickr:
"We just finished our beta work on 'Managing News,' our name for a team aggregator that allows entire organizations to track, manage, analyze, and act on news. It's like a corporate version of Digg meets Bloglines that allows an entire team to monitor news together.

The set of Drupal modules that makes up Managing News is the result of two very exciting intranet projects we worked on with The World Bank (whose intranet is named Buzz Monitor) and World Resource Institute."
You can read more about this work here. Image from Development Seed.

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I recognize Will's Blogging Butterflies

This quote speaks not only for itself, but for me. Weblogg-ed � What the Future Holds(?):
"Now I know on many levels I’m not normal, but there are moments in the blogging process that just give me butterflies. Many of them occur serendipitously when I’m reading and two or three pieces of content flow up from my network that begin to click together in my brain like magnets, making connections. And at that moment, my mind starts writing, composing a post that it needs to make sense of the ideas, the patterns that seem to be emerging. I’ve come to rely on the blogging to cement together the pieces and make them more of a whole, one that I know is never fully complete, and never will be. And that’s when the butterflies come, in that moment of recognition, when things seem to make more sense. They tell me some molecules have moved, that I think I know something that I didn’t before. It’s what keeps me doing this."

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Neighborhood Networking

Local connector Habib Rose has started a blog about his neighborhood networking efforts, It is a great blog to keep track of how people are using tools and practices to keep their neighborhoods more connected. He has started with a bang. I'm greatful for this blog! (There are also some great community indicators peppered through the blog!)

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Social Media Club Community Indicator

Amy Lenzo helped facilitate a Social Media Club meeting in SFO last week, introducing the World Cafe as a way to build the dialog. Amy blogged about it and one bit stood out for me as a community indicator: BeautyDialogues: Social Media Club:
"Jimmy Wales (co-founder of Wikipedia) was there from his new business, Wikia, (informally, but it turned out they sponsored the event at the last minute by generously throwing in some money when the numbers rose steeply and Chris needed help buying pretzels & beer for the crowd).
Amy also shared what I perceive as Jimmy's community mantra. She wrote:
He started the conversation off by sharing some of the core values that hold the Wikipedia community together. He said the three things that had really mattered to them as their community developed were "Assume Good Faith", practice "Intentional Vulnerability", and promote "Accountability rather than Gatekeeping".
I found myself nodding in firm agreement, and also saw these three things as another community indicator.

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Anecdote Narrative Workshop in Seattle

My friend and colleague, Shawn Callahan, is coming to my home town in March to lead a workshop on Narrative for Business . He'll be offering it in Seattle on March 26th, and in Boston on the 29th. I encourage you to check it out if you see a place for narrative techniques in your organization. Registration here.

Shawn is offering blog referral bonuses. He writes:
If someone mentions your blog when they register, I’ll pay you $80. One blog per registration, of course, but no limit on bonuses per blog, naturally.

If you buy three seats for your colleagues, the fourth is free.
So if you register, mention Full Circle. Let me know by posting here - and if you note your favorite non profit, I'll ask Shawn to donate the $80 to that non profit instead of paying it to me. Let's pay it forward!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bringing Guests into a Workshop, Community or Meeting

In our communities, workshops and courses, we often seek to bring in fresh insights, experience and knowledge. Bringing in a guest opens our eyes beyond our own thinking, gives us a view into other communities and can provide a galvanizing moment to reenergize and focus a group.

A group of us from CPSquare thought it would be useful to reflect on our practices of bringing in a guest. Most of this is in the context of bringing guests into online spaces. After our online discussion I decided it would be useful to compile both my practices and the insights from my colleagues, particulary John Smith and Barb McDonald. Most of this is intended for online situation, but could easily be extrapolated to face to face situations.

Why we bring in guests
1. Experience and understand of a domain and its practice can involve people outside of our group or community. Bringing information/knowledge in from the guest’s specialty/point of view offers:
  • another practice angle
  • examples of ideas in action in other settings
2. Bringing in guests models the important ways that a host organization can support and enhance the vibrancy and cutting-edge-ed-ness of a community.

3. Having a guest suggests that the knowledge being presented is "alive", which has a few sub-points:
  • The "main teacher" isn't the only voice / authority. (It also gives them a break!)
  • Knowledge changes over time, so what was cooked up to be presented should be superseded by what's made up by a guest.
  • Knowledge is situated in practice and clumped by "point of view
4. The process and experience of the leadership tasks involved in hosting a guest speaker can be beneficial to the community.

5. Guests can expand our networks for work/business/etc. They can connect us to related communities, resources and individuals.

6. Guests can look at our work and thinking and give us an outside perspective. They can be “short term coaches.”

Choosing a guest
People’s time and attention are precious, so the selection of the guest is important to both respecting the guest’s time and the community’s time and attention. Here are some things to think about:

  1. What is your vision or the reason for asking in a guest? Why might it matter? Communicate that to potential guests.
  2. Explore what's currently "up" in the community? What topics of great interest, changes in the community, or even topios where the community seems to be "stuck," are floating around? Pick an issue of interest and let that guide your guest selection criteria.
  3. Who do you know or who have you heard of and might they be interesting to the community? Relationship is a great resource. When it comes down to it, an invitation to someone is a personal thing. It communicates something to the guest (e.g., that they're appreciated). It helps if you have enough of a relationship so that the invitation isn't completely out of the blue, from a stranger.
  4. Who's available? Usually there are some fixed parameters from the community side about when a visit needs to happen, resources available, etc. Be clear and realistic both with the community and potential guests if there are issues of budget, venue, scope, schedule, etc.
  5. What personal styles work well in your community? Different communities have different styles of meeting. You want to pick a guest that will fit with the community's style of being together. A very formal person in an informal environment can be jarring and uncomfortable.
Prepare your guest
Make it easy for a guest to succeed:
  • Extend a personal invitation. Be explicit about the time commitment and what flexibility you do or don’t have for scheduling the guest.
  • Find out how your guest likes to communicate for both preparation and the event. Prefer phone? Email?
  • Give the guest some context for their visit. Brief them on what has occurred so far. Highlights, key questions, dynamics, etc. Are they coming into a conversation mid stream? Are there other things going on, or will the community focus on the guest?
  • Do a brief interview to see what the guest is currently interested in and working on.
  • Get bio information and any background reading that might be useful for the community to review prior to the visit

Negotiate the form of the visit. Some possibilities include:
  • Prepare and share a case study
  • Give a talk
  • Be interviewed
  • Ask and answer questions with the community
  • Model their tools or processes
  • Tell stories
Determine the format for the visit.
  • Length
  • Modality
  • Phone call (which could be recorded and shared for those who could not attend)
  • Asynchronous conversations
  • Mix of online and F2F
  • Mix of online modalities
  • Host or facilitator
  • Guide the guest through any technology that might be used for online visits. Test it with them.
Prepare the community
  • Schedule the guest visit with enough advance notice. Be alert to conflicts with other community activities. You want enough member attention and participation to make it worth your guest’s time.
  • Get the date on any community listings or calendar.
  • Send reminders out prior to the visit. Give information on the format, focus and what participants might expect.
  • Gather questions from the community in advance to get the conversation started and to allow the guest to have some sense of what people want to know.
  • Share background reading and guest bio well in advance, especially if the pre-reading is essential in understanding the guest’s visit.

Host the guest (including follow up)
  • Cancel if you don’t have enough people. Don’t waste people’s time.
  • Introduce the guest and review the interaction process (formal or informal).
  • Make sure people show up. If an asynchronous conversation is getting no traction, track down some participants and encourage them to jump in. For synchronous events, MAKE SURE there are some participants!
  • Facilitate the discussions as appropriate.
  • At the end summarize and thank the guest.
  • If there are follow actions or resources, remind and make sure these happen.

Contributors to this guide:
Nancy White
John Smith
Barb McDonald

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Future of Learning in a Networked World (FLNW) 2006 DVD

Via Stephen Downes comes word of some artifacts produced out of last years "Future of Learning in a Networked World," which beautifully wandered around New Zealand, allowing a group of people to think, learn and play together.

The Videos: Future of Learning in a Networked World (FLNW) 2006 DVD

The book The Future of Learning in a Networked World, free PDF download on

The emerging article from Michael Coghlan.

I'm looking forward to reading and watching!

(Oh, and a small warning. I have a huge stack of half edited blog posts that I hope to start finishing and releasing in the next week or so. If I do, please don't worry. I won't keep that volume going! )

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Online Conference on Online Facilitation

Some of us from the Online Facilitation Yahoo Group have been trying to envision a floating online learning knowledge fair about online facilitation. Andy Roberts was the first to blog about it. Here is what he wrote:
by Andy on the December 13th, 2006

Some disillusion with academic conferences surfaced in recent discussions, together with the idea of unconferences, DIY and open space events. Now on the onlinefacilitation yahoogroup the idea of holding an online conference about online facilitation seems to be gaining enough groundswell of support to actually take place.

Nothing is set in stone yet, but a time horizon of 3 or 4 weeks in January/February 2007, free registration, simple platform with discussion space and wiki space seem favoured. So far nobody has tried to turn the online conference into a series of telephone calls, so I’ll be committing myself to playing an active role. The planning stage is taking place on Nancy White’s wikispace so there’s still time to help shape the future event if you are interested in collaborative decision making, and that would be the place to keep informed of developments. See you next year.

Here is the link to follow: onlinefacilitation » Online Conference on Online Facilitation

Nothing has gelled very far yet - such is the case with great ideas with not quite enough energy. But some fun things are emerging. I don't think we'll have our act together to do something in the Jan/Feb time range, but here is what IS happening. Besides the wiki...

1. We've started a Google Calendar with existing online events that relate in some way to online facilitation, many of which are free! You can find it at the bottom of this post. There are some great things to participate in over the next 3 months.

2. Via Chris Carfi, we have set up a Haystack social networking widget so you can join this floating thingamabobber we are trying to imagine into being! You can join this haystack here by clicking "Join."

3. Want to visualize the participants on a map? Connect via tags? Another piece of connective tissue is an Attendr site. (The instructions are a bit obtuse, but if you are interested in knowing more, post your email and I'll send an invite!)

I'm not sure what will happen yet, but if you are curious, join us!

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Education Technology Recommendations - Your Favorite Resources?

I'm writing an article on technology stewardship in K-12 education. It is a practical, nuts and bolts sort of thing that a friend asked me to contribute to a journal. As I write, I am constantly reminded that I live on the fringe of ed tech, not in the middle.

I'd like to ask all my friends and network connections who are more towards the center of that community to share your favorite educational technology resources, particularly those for teachers and staff in K-12 schools. I'm not looking for the laundry list of geekiness, but solid stuff that is at work beyond the geeky early adopters.

What is your favorite ed tech community of practice? Edubloggers? (I'll be pointing to the Edublog awards as well) What tools have you seen put most productively and easily into action in schools? Your favorite tags about educational technology?

Pointers of any kind would be appreciated! The more practical and aimed at second wave adopters, the better! Thanks in advance.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

I didn't know I was an edublogger

OEDb released a list of their staff'sTop 100 Education Blogs late last year. Jimmy Atkinson alerted me that my blog was on the list. I scratched my head. Why me?

Last month I received an Edublogger award for a paper I wrote. When the paper was nominated, I realized it was never written from a strictly education point of view. But it was published in a education related journal, the Knowledge Tree.

It dawned on me that I am perceived as an edublogger.

Now this is a beautiful thing to me, because I read and admire the work and spirit of so many edubloggers. Or people I perceive to be edubloggers. I feel quite wonderful that some people count me in to this community.

It caused me to think about the trajectory that landed me here. My best guess is because the education sector shares an interest in how we communicate online and the edublogging community has a practice of talking about it. While most of my work is in the NGO/NPO sector, there is not a large community of people talking about online interaction in the non profit world. It is pretty small.

So the edublogging community gives me another strong community of practice where I can learn, share my thinking and ask others to help improve it, and swap stories of practice. I feel greatful and happy to contribute. It works. So part of this association with edublogging I believe has been opportunity.

This is also an example of the network-like blog communities I wrote about, where what we are interested in can connect us through the features of the online interaction tools we are using. Search. Tagging. Links.

Through our content, what we choose to write about, we provide the fodder for other people's perception of us. Our public identity.

With blogging, we can certainly set out to project a particular identity. But what I sense is that our ongoing words in our posts really create the identity. Particularly when so many people are reading blog posts through their feed readers without all the bling we put on our blogs that might give more overt cue about how we wish others to perceive us.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Get a Travel Bursary for Northern Voice | Northern Voice 2007

Want to participate in Northern Voice (cool blogging conference in Vancouver, BC, Feb 23 and 24) but don't have the cash? Have something unique to contribute? Then Get a Travel Bursary for Northern Voice | Northern Voice 2007! This is $500 CDN for travel!


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Thursday, January 11, 2007

ICT for Collaboration in Voluntary and Community Sector

Looks interesting --> I-See-T final report:
The final report for the I-See-T project is now available to download as an Adobe PDF. It is also available to read and comment on online in the style of the dotOrganize report: Online Technology for Social Change
The just-completed project's purpose was:
A year long project was undertaken to explore Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for collaboration in the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in the UK. Using action research principals and a participatory approach the following questions were addressed:

* What do we mean by ICT for collaboration (blog, wikis, shared database, forums, extranets, diaries etc?)
* Why is ICT not used for collaboration?
* What are the barriers to ICT use for collaboration?
* How can we overcome those barriers?
The findings, with my emphasis:
* With high-speed broadband connections, relatively cheap hardware and minimal software required, it is possible to collaborate using ICT more easily then ever and it is happening in the VCS

* Finding the right tool for the right job requires an awareness of what is available and a way of evaluating the tool and seeing how it fits into an organisation’s (ICT) strategy – these areas are both lacking in the VCS

* The application of some ICT tools can be misunderstood and the rapid change in types of new tools can be a barrier to uptake

* Although the tools may be free or low-cost, significant investment in time and animation of other users are still needed to make effective use of ICT for collaboration

* Case studies, examples, demonstrations and games all help overcome initial fears and lack of knowledge of users in the VCS

* Individual, organisational and technical factors influence collaboration using ICT
As I read the findings, the first thing that strikes me is that this report talks about the need for technology stewardship. Who are the people in your community or organization who have an interest in and sufficient technology skills to help you scan, select, implement technology and, very importantly, steward technology in use? This is the intersection between technology and practice which feels so natural for early adopters, but may be a barrier for the rest of us. (This is echoed in their comment about the challenges of rapid change.) Choice alone is overwhelming, and practices are not always obvious. In fact, people are inventing great new practices every day, but their spread seems slow.

Second, is their noting the "significant investment in time and animation." This is a direct follow-on to the stewardship of technology practices, into the stewardship of group processes. This is not to diminish the power of self organization. What I notice online is that self organization of talking has firmly taken root. Self organization of action is lagging far behind. Now animation or facilitation is NOT the only reason. But I think it is part of the mix.

Etienne Wenger, John Smith and I are on the home stretch of the Technologies for Communities report, which has really turned into a book about technology stewardship. I am SO EXCITED that we are taking it to our editor tomorrow for a first high level review. We've had our dear friends and colleagues reviewing and then have spent many hours in revisions. My eyes are crossed from it, but I'm happy. It will not be perfect. There is so much to cover and explore. But I'm hoping it will be a useful contribution, especially to the non profit and civic sector and that it will respond to some of the challenges surfaced by the I-See-T project!

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A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Via a tag for me from Jim Benson comes the A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

  1. A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

    This really is a periodic table of visualization methods, when you mouse over each you get an example of the method. Wonderful stuff.

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Happy Birthday Beth - a community indicator

Late last night I received an email from Loretta Donovan alerting me to a 50th Birthday Blog for Beth Kanter. She asked all of us FOBs (friends of Beth) to either blog and link to the birthday blog or post a comment.

Beth, not one to shy away from new ideas and the creative edge, had invited us, her friends, to remix pictures for birthday cards, calling it The Beth 5.0 - Flickr Photo Birthday Card Remix Contest.

There IS a community around Beth, and these are but a few of the indicators.

That said, I didn't do a card. I never got the right inspiration. I thought about gathering 50 short quotes about birthdays, but then I thought, um, that would get boring.

So instead I've gathered but four, to represent the four directions, the four seasons and the four quarters of the moon.

There are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents ... and only one for birthday presents, you know.
Lewis Carroll

Our birthdays are feathers in the broad wing of time.
Jean Paul Richter

Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.
Margaret Fuller

Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Happy 50th Birthday, Beth!

Photo by Marc Sirkin

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

From Where I Sit

Car passing in the snow
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
It is snowing in Seattle!

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My Favorite "About" Blurb & Outsiderness

I had lunch today here in Seattle with Lee LeFever, recently returned from his year long around the world trip with his partner (in life and now in business) Sachi. Lee mentioned he wanted to be in touch with Seattle based communities and throw some of his focus locally. I thought of him when I read, via the Seattle Mindcamp mailing list came notice of a Weird Genius Real Science Party. That was interesting. Turns out the party is hosted by the Seattle Outsider Project. I am fascinated by "outsiderness," particularly in the context of distributed communities, so I had to know more. I trolled aruond till I found this:

SOAP - seattle outsider artist project

The Seattle Outsider Artist Project (SOAP) is a Washington State non-profit for the advancement of marginal art by marginal people, art by non-artists, non-art by artists, and undifferentiated creative proliferation in the community. Please contact us immediately if you feel like you fit into any of these categories. "
Brilliant. But it spoke to something deeper.

Many times over the past years when I have gone to F2F gatherings of one of my distributed (i.e. we live all over the world and mostly connect online) communities, there is this strange thing that surfaces. Most everyone things they are an outsider in the group, or on the perphery. And when they say this, everyone looks at them aghast and says, "but I think you are an insider!"

I don't recall in primarily F2F groups seeing this happen with the regularity it happens online. There is something in the experience that has us telling ourselves the story in our heads that we are not fully "in." Whatever "in" means. Does it have to do with labels? With the all the garbage and wasted energy we place on "expertise?" With the disembodied experience of online interaction?

Anyway, it was lovely to see SOAP celebrating outsiderness with cheek and love. But I still wonder why it is so easy to feel like and outsider. And why it matters (or not)?

Questions. I've got no answers.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Guide And Toolkit For Communities Of Practice Available

I'm cleaning up some old drafts and want to surface/link to some useful resources. Guide And Toolkit For Communities Of Practice Available:
"Guide And Toolkit For Communities Of Practice Available

The NHS Information Authority has compiled a guide called “Getting to 7 - Cultivating Communities of Practice: the 7 Stages of Development” which we would like to make available to our members.

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are informal structures and not part of formal management line structures. They comprise members who do similar work, employ similar skills and face similar issues or have some other common interest in the work environment.

If you or your organisation is interested in providing support for multi working and multi agency partnership working, building trust and collaborative working between informal and formal groups/communities, then this is for you. Also included is a toolkit of techniques and ideas."

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Community Indicator: Get Well Seymour!

Get Well Seymour! is an online card, created by the accumulation of signatures and wishes from people all of the world sent to Seymour Papert as he recovers from a serious accident. These little electronic traces, from people who know Professor Papert, those who know is work, or just feel compassion for him after his accident, compile on to the page, a visible indicator of a group of people with one thing in common: they care about Papert.

While not a community, the card is a great indicator of caring and engagement.


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Monday, January 08, 2007

Mobile Persuasion

As an interesting side note to my previous post on convergence, check out the Mobile Persuasion Conference, February 2, 2007 - Stanford University.
Mobile Persuasion is for innovators, researchers, and companies creating mobile technologies that change people’s beliefs and behaviors.

Applications include health, commerce, activism, social networking, addiction, advertising, gaming, and environmental conservation.

This full-day event will feature expert presentations and panels on how mobile technology can change attitudes and behaviors. During breaks you can meet other participants or check out the booths and demonstrations.
I've appreciated BJ Fogg's work at Stanford because he looks beyond the technological possibility to the social implications of new technologies. Another case to ask not just "how" but "why" do we do embrace these elements of convergence culture.

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Mindful Convergence

A couple of years ago my friend Jon Lebkowsky was curating a series of panels at SXSW about digital convergence. I remember say, "what's that?" Jon patiently explained and I intellectually understood.

But that's not the way my brain works.

I have to live things first. Experience is essential to advance my thinking about something. A term, a concept can float around in my head for ages. Then zap, it connects with an experience and everything changes. Sometimes that change is in the moment. Some times it emerges slowly.

Somehow today I found myself at the McLeod Residence Blog and had this moment of resonance. This endeavor, the combined brainchild of a high tech developer and an artist (at least that is their stated primary self identifiers) seeks to bring together people and experiences. Well, and things too, like art, and drinks. High tech and art. It seems like a vibrant and wonderful effort. It reminded me of the cool stuff that people like Henry Jenkins are writing about convergence culture.

This got me thinking about things that converge in my life. For the longest time I stated that I did not separate work and play, or work and the rest of my life. I declared that I liked my work so much it was my life. My online and offline lives intersected. I prided myself on weaving everything into a whole. Or so I thought. Did the online overtake the offline? Did I stop going to places like the McLeod Residence?

I got to wondering, is there such a thing as over convergence? When we think of technology, the buzz is how all our devices converge, how digitized content can be zipped to our phones, TVs and computers. "Always on." I read the headlines from CES in Las Vegas and I think, what is the impact of this convergence on our lives? On our selves? What is the dark side of digital convergence?

I've noticed for me it is about habits. Now this is a bit to the side of digital convergence, but it is how I've let the patterns of digital convergence overtake me. How the ease and availability of digital content in all its forms starts to dominate my life. I slip into patterns of convergence (or divergence) not out of intention, but through the accretion of tiny patterns that become habits. Take email, for example. My email checks for new mail every 5 minutes and there is a little icon in my system tray that tells me when there is new email. Back when I didn't get a lot of email, that was an exciting little icon. I became trained to respond to it and the email.

Now I get enough email that I am challenged to responsively deal with it. But that habit of checking is still there. All the time. Every day. I could get the same email on my mobile phone, or my TV. I don't. But still, the ease is so great, it dominates beyond what it probably should. So on the weekends, I have taken to turning off my machine at least one day.

I want to diverge a bit.

My social networks and the amazing content they offer me are another habit. I read the blogs of my friends, then check on the links to blogs they like. I follow tags. And soon I'm awash in blogs that I genuinely like to read. But I can't read them all and still have time to bake a loaf of bread, go out to dinner with friends or go for a walk. The convergence of all these cool people via the blogosphere is too much. So I am trying to cultivate a habit of marking all my blog subscriptions as read more often. Ideally once a week, but I haven't succeeded yet. I hate to let go.

I want to diverge a bit.

I read so much online, I have let interesting books pile up. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I read electronic content differently than paper content. I think about it differently.

My husband can record so many shows that we get a backlog, but do I want to watch that much TV?

All these technological affordances allow me to do things because I simply can. I start out enthusiastically embracing, and soon my patterns are altered.

Sometimes there is value in separateness. A room quiet of machines and media. Work and play in mindful separation, rather than blind convergence. Immersion in one environment at a time.

This is not just about attention, from where I sit. Not just about fractured attention. It is about the artful mix of life in its daily patterns.

My personal lesson about digital convergence is that I should examine it with my ITENT in mind. Asking not just how, but why, needs to be a bigger part of my daily practice with my aquisition of new technologies, access to content and, well, everything.

I think I want to diverge a bit.

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Valdis Kreb's image of emergent online community

emergent_community2.png (PNG Image, 778x766 pixels) - Scaled (97%)

Looking at this wonderful image, I am thinking about where we stop talking about community and talk about networks. I know this falls into the definitional traps about what is or isn't a community, but I think this is important online. This is where the F2F and online definitions can't quite mean the same thing.

Does the possibility of interaction with another constitute community? Or is it the ongoing, intentional interaction over time? I think it is the latter.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

life cultivating life: no less amazed

Christy Lee-Engel posted an amazing poem on her blog last month that has many layers of meaning for what I do, and often what I blog about here. It is worth reposing. Thanks, Christy.
Incomplete Knowledge
~Jeffrey Harrison

I am of those whose knowledge will always be
incomplete, who know something about the world
but not a whole lot, who will forever confuse
steeplebush and meadowsweet
but know at least by the shape of the flower
that it has to be one or the other.

Don't ask me the difference between
a pitch pine and a red, or even a Jeffrey,
though I know it's a pine, not a spruce or tamarack
(a.k.a. hackmatack, but what's a larch?).
The difference between a sycamore
and a plane tree? It's beyond me.

I've never had a real grip on
Japanese painting—the different periods and styles.
I don't even know that much about Dutch—
Vermeer of course, Rembrandt sure,
but could I distinguish a De Hooch from a Steen?
Do I even know how to pronounce their names?

I know next to nothing about what goes on
under the hood of a car, though I try to hide that fact
in the presence of mechanics. Herakleitus
(am I spelling that right?) said something
about how we hide our ignorance,
but I can't remember exactly what it was.

Birds, music, fishing, history, it's appalling
how limited my knowledge is.
I'm not even going to begin to list
all the books I haven't read.
I'm the antithesis of a Renaissance man,
spread so thin I hardly exist.

I have a friend who knows what seems like
close to everything. Certainly everything in the woods.
He was explaining to me the difference
between steeplebush and meadowsweet
(which I understood at the time but didn't retain,
as if it were the theory of relativity),

when I looked up and saw a jet whose trail
of fine white cloud kept disappearing, reappearing,
and disappearing again, and I asked why,
and, holding the meadowsweet in one hand
and the steeplebush in the other, he explained it.
And he wasn't bullshitting, either—he knew.

I'm not sure I even understand what it means
to know that much. Does all that knowledge
add up to some encompassing wisdom,
something beyond the sum of the names
and data, vast and unknowable? Unknowable
at least to me: I will never be like my friend.

I misplace facts as easily as my glasses,
so the world seems blurred for a while—
but then I find them, put them on, and go outside
to greet the ten thousand things (is that a Buddhist
or Taoist expression?), no less amazed
for my not being able to keep them straight.

(a selection at Poetry Daily)

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Snowden: Natural numbers, networks & communities

This is a must read post from Dave Snowden. For me, since he has started blogging and writing more frequent, smaller pieces, not only do I find his thinking more accessible, but it seems to be moving in very interesting directions and I appreciate the peek in. Cognitive Edge: Natural numbers, networks & communities.

Oh, and he is now adding graphics! Yay!

I have more to comment on the article later. Quiet blogging week while I work on other writing.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Painting Music With Your Mouse

And now for something completely fun. Painting Music With Your Mouse. Watch out, you can lose time playing with this one. Add an audio track to your day - created by you!

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Floyd Makes Me Wonder About Digital Natives

Floyd did an experiment with new technologies with his 8th graders and has a thoughtful post. One bit really caught my eye and I wanted to flag it. Blue Guy's Blog: Musings on What I've learned in 60 days:
"My eighth graders are mostly 'digital savages', even though they have grown up with the technology, they do not have exposure to using technology beyond the basics, either because of economics at home, being newcomers to the US, or some other reason. Because of this they are still Web1.0 consumers, not Web2.0. They really have to have things explained, not just the purpose for using a program, but the way they use it. Programs they have used before several times are not a problem, they jump into it and function well, but anything new I have to drop down into first gear and really plan everything out."
I often wonder about the vast assumptions we make about people. ;-) Me included!


New Year's Gift from John Smith to WebCrossing Users

John Smith has open sourced (is that a verb?) his great CW Toolkit, a set of utilities for WebCrossing. Check out the news.

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Thank You 2006 Commentors - Part 2

My thanking, continued from here. I may very well have missed a few - I apologize. I really did not think about a system to do this and would like to figure something out for this year, as part of my intention to notice people's contributions and special events a bit better than I have in the past!


Brent MacKinnon
James SooHoo
Kerry Johnson
Joy Des Jardins
Jo Murray
Veronique Christensen
Kerri Karvetski
Luis Suarez
Ken Rickard
Kathy Maister
James Kariuki
Lee White
Lee LeFever
Luanne Brown
Lace Marie Brogden
Marnie Webb
Tony Karrer
Mark Gaved
Marianne Richmond
Loretta Donovan
Linda Stone
Mike Seyfang
Michele Martin
Michael O'Connor Clarke
Michael Zarb
Miraz Jordan
Mike Wilkerson
Maxum Boote
krishna bhatt
Nick Noakes
Nick Roy
Paul Lawrence
Patrick Lambe
phil klein
Premature birth
Raffi Aftandelian
Repetitive Strain Injury
Rick Davies
Robin Hamman
Roland Tanglao
ros cannell
Rosa Say
Roy Williams
Scott Moore
Shaula Evans
Sherry Spence
Steven Buckley
Steve Sherlock
Susan Lyons
Susan Kitchens
THC Detox
The Humanity Critic
Tom Longley
Tony Carr
Venus marie
Val Evans

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Thank You 2006 Commentors - Part 1

Patti over at the lovely 37 Days did a great tribute to her commentors from 2006. I dove in, all excited to do the same. Wow, a big task if you have not kept on top of it. I tried to track down each person's blog or webpage, but I did not have a 100% success rate. There are a lot of you too, so I have to do mine in stages, probably with some repetitions and omissions. Bottom line, thank you for thinking, playing, working and goofing off with me in 2006! By my ver rough calculations there were over 700 comments, mostly on this blog, but also on my Australian October blog and a few on my totally neglected travel blog. THANK YOU!

A bunch of anonymous folks
Andreas from Lucerne, Switzerland
Aaron at NetSquared
ae (arse poetica)
Alan Levine
Alan Gutierrez
Allan Benamer
Alex Hayes
Alexis Lebedew
Alex Ragone
Allison Hewlitt
Amit Agarwal
Amy Lenzo
Andrew Brown
Andrew Hunter
Andy Roberts
Antonella Pavese
Arthur Hardy
Ashley Cooper
And Good Works
Barbara Steinberg
Beth Alexander
Beth Kanter
Bev Trayner
Bill Anderson
Bill Fitzgerald
Bill Harris
Bob L
Bob Waldron
Bre Pettis
Breena Ronan
Brian Lamb
Brian J King
Bright Idea guru
Britt Bravo
Bryan Zug
Chris Corrigan
Christopher Sessums
Chris Heuer
Chris Blow
Cheri Toledo (here?)
Chris Harvey
Christy Lee-Engel
Christian Crumlish
Cool Cat Teacher (Vickie Davis)
Clay Cook
Dan Randow
Dave Burke
Dave Lee
David Geilhufe
Dean Landsman
Dave Cormier
David Gammel
David Wilcox
Dennis Hamilton
Dan Oestreich
Deirdré Straughan
Dorine Ruter
Employ A Native
Edward Vielmetti
Elana Centor
Ednah Karamagi
Elisa Camahort
Dave Lorito
Flamingo House
Floyd Geasland
Francis Asiedu
Gunnar Bruckner
Giovanni Rodriguez
GP Cohen
Germ Tales
Howard Greenstein
Ivan Chew
James Dellow
James Byers
Jack Vinson
Jam Guy
Jason V
Jen Zug
Jim Benson
John Smith
Janet Ginsburg
Julie Leung
Jon Lebkowsky
Joitske Hulsebosch
Kare Anderson
Katrin Verclas
Leigh Blackall
Lilia Efimova
Lion Kimbro
Liz D
Mark Szpakowski
Marshall Kirkpatrick
Mark Gerold
Mary Wehmeier
Mohamed Taher
Mónica André
Nick Smith
Paul Currion
Ralf Belusa
Roger Benningfield
Robyn Jay
Seth at Interplast
Shawn Callahan
Sandra Dickinson
Stephanie West Allen
Scott Moore
stefan wiskemann
Stephen Downes
Sylvia Currie
Tish Grier
Tom Brown
Tree Fitzpatrick
Toby Bloomberg
(Un)relaxeddad and supermum
Wilfred Rubens
Zbigniew Lukasiak

(I have about another 80 to go. WOW!)

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