Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Learning through interaction

Dan Jones shared this great expression on the KM4Dev list:
"PS In Bahasa Indonesia people say 'socialisasi' which means to make people aware of something through interaction - I've always wished there was an English equivalent!"
The comment was in a thread about making sense of knowledge sharing and knowledge management terms across languages.

links to this post  

Monday, June 25, 2007

Applying our learning

Spidergraph Indicator
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
I have a blog post around this picture, but lordy knows when I'll get it written. But I love the picture so much, I just have to post it.

What I'm specifically thinking about is how we apply our theoretical knowledge about groups and networks to our actual group and network practices. This is stimulated by some conflict in a community I belong to. But work calls, so the picture will just have to tickle your imagination for now...

(Hey, the sign holder is Christian Kreutz!)

links to this post  

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What should we be thinking about online faciltiation in a Web 2 era?

Recently I redesigned my Online Facilitation Workshop to include two weeks of experimental/experiential work around the question, "what should we be thinking about online facilitation in the Web 2.0 era?" I decided to do this because in the past few years, there have been significant changes and additions to our online interaction tool options and the same old patterns aren't sufficient. Here is the opener I'm working on for this segment of the workshop. Any feedback or suggestions?


Technology for Online Interaction – the 10,000 foot view

What is out there? What do we need to do when designing online interactions? How have things changed and what is our role as facilitators in the selection, deployment and use of online interaction technologies? That is the core of our inquiry for the next two weeks.

The technology stewardship issues of online facilitation

It used to be you had two options: an email list or a web forum. If you were really crazy, you’d have both. Both of these options were centralized tools where the person with administration rights could pretty much control the environment, decide who could post or not, edit things, etc. Often, it was the group’s convener or facilitator who made these decisions and even did the technology set up.

The stewardship of our online environments consisted of two main sets of activities: design and housekeeping. Design would include choosing and configuring the software, helping people use it and making any substantive changes. Housekeeping meant archiving old forum threads, moving things if they were misplaced and dealing with things like ginormous uploaded images and such. It was a set of tasks that for the most part you could list and describe concretely.

Things have changed.

Welcome to the Web 2.0 era where the tools change faster than you can say “wiki,” where the tension between centralized and decentralized tool options can give you a headache and where the stewardship of technology for groups and communities is becoming an important and (hopefully) legitimate function beyond attending to the information technology aspects.

What is Technology Stewardship?

The following text is from a draft chapter of a book Etienne Wenger, John Smith and I are working on….

Defining Technology Stewarding

Technologies present new opportunities and challenges to communities. As more communities choose to use technologies to help them be together, a distinct function emerges to attend to this interplay between technology and the community: We call it technology stewarding. Technology stewarding adopts a community’s perspective to help a community choose, configure, and use technologies to best suit its needs. Stewarding attends both to what happens spontaneously and what can happen purposefully, by plan and by cultivation of insights into what actually works.

Stewarding provides technical expertise to a particular community, both in its initial and mature stages. Some communities never grow beyond their minimal needs, so active stewarding is limited and intermittent. Others develop complex and highly evolved configurations that need constant attention. Sometimes technology stewarding is a critical part of community development, facilitating the emergence or growth of a community, as when a tool allows people to connect for the first time. So it is a form of leadership that, at times, can be more a matter of care-taking, such as providing access to a password-protected site or archiving meeting records.

Technology stewarding is both a perspective and a practice. It can be seen as a collection of activities of the individual stewards and as a role within the community. The perspective is a natural outcome of taking care of a community that’s using technology to gather and learn together. Adopting the perspective means becoming sensitive to many different social and technical issues that we examine in this report, and developing a language to give the perspective more precision. Technology stewards may be invisible until the community’s needs warrant more emphasis on the role.

Technology stewarding fundamentally is a creative practice that evolves along with the community and reflects the diversity of each community. Communities are diverse and somewhat unpredictable because they set their own agendas. Unlike the trajectory of a team that’s planned from the start, the development of communities unfolds over time without a predefined ending point. They often start tentatively, with only an initial sense of why they should come together and with modest technology resources, and then they continuously reinvent themselves. Their understanding of their domain expands. New members join, others leave. Their practice evolves. The stewarding of technologies needs to support this intertwined evolution of domain, community, and practice.

Technology stewarding is something anyone can do. And indeed, in many communities, it is so distributed among the members that it is a function without a specific role. When we talk about stewarding as the role of one or more individuals, we refer to “technology stewards.” In many cases, the technology steward’s tasks are carried out by a community coordinator.

Technology stewards are people with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with or interest in technology to take leadership in addressing those needs.

In many cases, technology stewarding is so important or specialized that it does become a distinct role. Although few people introduce themselves as “community technology stewards,” many are doing the work. In many communities, the technology is the focus of a smaller subsection of the community or one individual. For presentation purposes we often discuss the role as if it describes one person. In reality the work can be shared or even dispersed across an entire community, as in the case of technology-oriented communities where almost everyone can be involved.

So what does technology stewardship have to do with facilitation?

It is no longer sufficient to think about tools just from the technology perspective. Online interaction is an interplay between code and people, and stewarding must reflect that. Online facilitation is about the people using code, so the roles can have a big overlap. As we look at new tools this week, I suggest we try and take both the Tech Steward and Facilitator perspectives and see where they overlap. Are you game for an adventure? Read on….

What the heck is “web 2.0” from a facilitation perspective?

You can check Google for definitions of Web 2.0 and keep yourself busy for hours. (Tim O’Reilly is frequently cited. I like Barb Dybwad’s summary.) For our purposes, I’m going to share Barb’s quick summary:
I really like Richard MacManus's breakdown: "Web 2.0 is really about normal everyday people using the Web and creating things on it - forget the acronyms." Susan Mernit also captures this well: "The heart of Web 2.0 is the user... The tools power it, but the people do it."

To me Web 2.0 is about making it easier for people to connect and do things with each other. To electronically facilitate our interactions. That said, I don’t think technology alone can facilitate our interactions. We need to have intentions and practices. That’s what is interesting about Web 2.0 from an online facilitation perspective. How can networks, through the collective actions of its members, self facilitate? How do groups figure out how to facilitate themselves, with designated facilitators or not? What are the social practices that make bookmarking valuable for a group or network? How many ways can we think of for usefully using a wiki together?

Tool resources

(Note, the links won't work here - yes, still in the darned walled garden. One of these days I'll have time to liberate everything.

I used to have this nice “Tool Tour” (which you can still find in the Cybrary for laughs) that linked to examples of all the basic online interaction tools. I can no longer keep it current and if I did, it would consume days to read. I also had a piece about the design of online spaces – interestingly much of this still has some value in today’s environment, and some of the early research on online environments has things to teach us. You can find more about these in the Cybrary..

Today, as an alternative, we are going to experience 2-3 different environments and reflect on the implications for online facilitators. We will address both the social and technical aspects of these environments. This won’t be a “which software should I pick” exercise, but you are welcome to create such an exercise and invite others to participate in the Workspace.

The plan is, experience and experimentation will be our resource! Onward!

links to this post  

I love my communities

KM4Dev - the whole lot
Originally uploaded by Bev Trayner.
I have so much stuff in my head I want to blog about, but catching up on work is priority now that I'm back home in Seattle. It is so lovely to sleep in my own bed, next to my husband. And I miss the amazing F2F time with my communities and network friends from Europe. It was so lovely to hang out and work for more than a few days, to know I would see people more than once, to indulge in too many glasses of wine, dancing and singing silly songs together. To talk of our work, and about food.

The bottom line is I love my communities. They are not closed caverns into which I crawl to be affirmed or have my beliefs validated. They are windows through which I can look and see new views.

Stephen Downes commented on a post of mine about communities where he said "- but I still think that groups depend on sameness, which means the members must already be relevantly the same (something, I suspect, that characterizes the Portugal group) or willing to assume sameness."

Surely sameness characterizes many communities. But I think "sameness' is not quite the right word in my most vibrant communities. It is some shared love. Love of a topic. Love of our connections. Love of our ability to find ways to talk and listen even when we violently disagree. Enough love to not walk away when things get tough or icky.

I love my communities where I struggle to get along with some members, because these are the people who have something to teach me. I love my communities where I feel loved, even if people don't agree with me, or for whom my style is an irritant (and I know this happens... more than I wish.) I love my communities who let me take risks, and when I trip and fall, laugh and learn with me, from my mistakes, not berrate me.

Recently on the email list of a community I belong to, but where I mostly sit on the periphery, there was another dust up. There were challenges to the topic leader but feelings were hurt and lots of meta conversation sprang up on the WAY the challenges were offered, handled by the topic leader and the community leader. This is a smart community, with some key members who have a style that some would characterize as combative, aggressive or other such words.

I believe these can also be signs of love, but we sometimes aren't connected enough to sense that. We mistake it for hostility, lack of respect. Or it may be hostility and lack of respect, but we aren't skilled enough to work through it. That is also community.

Anyway, enough Sunday morning, mocha-stimulated ramblings. I just had to declare my love before I got back to work.

By the way, the picture is a great artifact from last week's KM4Dev community gathering in Zeist, Holland. Upon arrival, everyone had their picture taken. On the last day, this display went up and everyone could leave a comment for another under their picture. It was an amazing community indicator, some love for everyone from members of the community, new and old. (Half of the gathering were new members)

As a note, here are some other things I want to blog about to catch up:
  • How reading past twitter messages makes me feel
  • David Weinberger's new book, "Everything is Miscellaneous" and why I kept telling everyone about it while I was on the road
  • Reflections on the CPSquare Setubal Dialog
  • Reflections on the KMr4Dev gathering
  • Asking for some help on a knowledge sharing project.
Now, back to drinking a great home made mocha and working!

links to this post  

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Technology Stewardship

We care about people
Originally uploaded by Bev Trayner.
We are currently in the final round of edits for the next edition of the KM4Dev Journal - jargon free, that means Knowledge Management for Development. This issue is focused on the role of technology stewardship in international development. When I saw this picture from Bev Trayner, another of the guest editors for this edition, I smiled. It is entitled "We care about people."

That is what technology stewardship is all about! Thanks, Bev.

links to this post  


Luis and Nathan
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
One more from Rome, an image that speaks volumes. These are two remarkable men who care about people's right to food. They also know how to have a good time. That's collaboration!

links to this post  

Spare Change: HHS Flu Blog Success?

Nedra Weinreich has a must read blog post on the US HHS effort, Spare Change: HHS Flu Blog Success?

If you care about global collaboration, transparency, collaboration or the impact of blogs and other web based media, read it. Nuff said!

links to this post  

Rome Meetings Over, on to KM4Dev

Arne and Nancy, laughing!
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
I love this photo that Biraj Patnaik took in Rome at a dinner during a recent FAO meeting. Our group had been working hard all day, so we went out for pizza and wine. Biraj whipped out his camera and took a bunch of wonderful people pictures, a few of which I shared on my Flickr feed.

I love the photo for a couple of reasons. First, the expression on Arne Oshaug and my faces. We were having a lovely time and it shows. The picture captures the moment and when I look at this artifact of the moment, I recall it. I smile again.

Second, I love the context of the wall. Rome is layers of history, layers of politics, power, culture and humanity. The wall reminds me of Roma.

So now I am in Brussels, about to hit the road for Zeist, Holland for the KM4Dev community gathering. For four days we'll work on projects together, think about collaboration and creativity and renew personal and professional friendships. We'll have meetings about our Journal, the future sponsorship of the community and how we'll continue to share the community tasks that keep things going.

I love the KM4Dev community because I have met people who share my values, challenge my beliefs, connect me with new learning and help me keep a context for my work in international development. I can't slough off or get sloppy because they keep me sharp. This weekend I was working on the editorial for the next edition of our Journal - this one focused on technology stewardship in international development and I thought, gee, what fantastic stories the authors are sharing; useful, practical, real!

I loved my week facilitating in Rome because the room was filled with diverse, smart and passionate people who care that every human being on the planet deserves the RIGHT to food.

I loved that I arrived in Rome refreshed from four days in Sardinia.

This trip has been good. 5 days and I'll be home. Give me a week and I'll be back to regular blogging!

links to this post  

Monday, June 11, 2007

Message in the Mailbox

Cloud Door
Originally uploaded by Choconancy1.
Ah, Sardinia. I left yesterday after four days in the lovely Autonomous Region of Sardenga, Italy. What a beautiful place and what fantastic food. I kept thinking I was going to blog, but I opted for walking around, taking pictures and just relaxing. After nearly three weeks on the road, the respite was perfect. I am now in Rome on client work for the rest of this week, then back to Brussels.

So, here is a small message in the mailbox just to say hello and to let go of a sense of blogging obligation, to be fully in the moment. To take the time to drink wine with friends, admire the sunset and get essential work done - not everything.

As I travel, I keep thinking about how being in a different place allows my brain to operate slightly differently. I see these vignettes and they suggest new stories, new possibilities.

Oh, and I eat a lot of great pasta. See the Flickr photos!
Tags: ,

links to this post  

Monday, June 04, 2007

More on KM and IM 2007 - KM4DevWiki

More on KM and IM 2007 - KM4DevWiki:"We seem to want to be present on the web (e.g. “knowledge portals”), to control all information going on in and around the organization, and overlook the fact that we started to do this so that people would have information at their disposal, right where and when they need it: information they will be able to use, turning it into knowledge as soon as they pick it up."

links to this post  

Chocolate, Connectivity and Working in Brussels

I'm sitting in my hotel room in Brussels by the window, with my room door propped open so I don't suffocate from heat. The breeze keeps my mind alert to work. After nearly three hours of wrangling last night with the weary front desk guy, I got my room changed so I could connect to the internet. He refused to believe that the rooms at the front of the hotel (the nicer balcony view rooms) were not getting signal from their wireless system and that there was only signal towards the back. I think he must have thought "another crazy American." I was so hot and tired, I was more insane than crazy, but I knew I had to work online all of today. SO for 30 euros (ouch) I have access. Lesson? Don't trust the line "we have internet access." Ask about the conditions.

The only thing that saved the day was a walk to the center and a small bag of dark chocolates. I think I shall have to walk back there today.

links to this post  

Using Knowledge Sharing to Think About Knowledge Sharing

Last week I asked for your help, dear readers, in moving my thinking forward about a useful way to organize and share knowledge sharing (KS) methods. This came out of the call from a variety of corners for "knowledge sharing toolkits" and workshops. Everytime I try to do this, I have this annoying inclination to say it is all about context, and we have to think about methods in context, not as an abstract list of things we can pluck up and use. It is not just about the notes, but the music they create.

So I asked for your help and here is how you have influenced my thinking. Of course, what we get is more questions, but I think together, as we share our knowledge and reshape my thinking, the questions are getting to the root of things. Thank you Jay, Shawn, Danilo and Floris! This, along with my reading of David Weinbergers "Everything is Miscellaneous" is also informing a workshop I'll be facilitating here in Brussels tomorrow on KM and KS in Development. More on that in a separate post.

links to this post  

Friday, June 01, 2007

Strategic Knowledge Sharing Practices

OK, I'm trying to work out some ideas and I need your help. With the assistance of a slideshare show, here is what I'm thinking about. I am looking for a way to both strategically position the value of knowledge sharing in an organization (possibly as part of "knowledge management" but it fits in lots of slots in an org), AND create a framework for organizing and sharing KS methods in practice. What do you think? Thanks to Anecdote for the initial ideas.

links to this post  

Wikis in Plain English

Another fun 3 minutes and 52 seconds from Lee and Sachi LeFever, this time a how to on wikis! One thing to keep in mind... the example of what to use a wiki for is just that - one example. One thing I find a bit tricky in talking about wikis is that we can quickly make an assumption that there is one way to use them. We are actually only limited by our imagination and our willingness to develop shared practices!

Video: Wikis in Plain English.

Tags: ,

links to this post