inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #0 of 110: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 21 Jun 10 14:21
    
According to Etienne Wenger, "Communities of practice are groups of people
who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it
better as they interact regularly." (http://www.ewenger.com/theory/index.htm)  
These communities have emerged where, according to Wikipedia
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communities_of_practice), "practitioners of
craft and skill-based activities met to share experiences and insights," and
have been observed "among Yucatán midwives, native tailors, navy
quartermasters and meat cutters...as well as insurance claims processors."  
Many of us are members of one or more such community. Most communities of
practice, especially now, exist online or have a strong online component -
hence the idea of "digital habitats" where the transactional life of a
community is enabled and facilitated online.

The book _Digital Habitats_ acknowledges a specific role within these 
communities, that of technology steward, defined by the authors as "people 
with enough experience of the workings of a community to understand its 
technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take leadership in 
addressing those needs. Stewardship typically includes selecting and 
configuring technology, as well as supporting its use in the practice of the 
community." The book could be seen as a manual or guide for the theory and 
practice of technology stewardship, anchored throughout with real-world 
examples.

We're honored to have the authors of _Digital Habitats_ - Nancy White, John 
D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger - joining us to discuss the book and its 
subjects for the next two weeks. They've put together a ~15 minute audio 
introduction, which you can find here: 
http://technologyforcommunities.com/2010/06/inkwell-vue-digital-habitat-conver
sations/

Nancy White (aka <choco> on the Well) of Full Circle Associates is a longtime 
member of the WELL and cohost of the Virtual Communities conference here. 
Nancy brings over 25 years of communications, technology and leadership 
skills in her work supporting collaboration, learning and communications in 
the NGO, non profit and business sectors. Grounded in community leadership 
and recognized expertise in online communities and networks, Nancy works with 
people to leverage their strengths and assets towards tangible goals and 
meaningful process. She is a chocoholic and lives with her family in Seattle, 
Washington, USA.

John David Smith brings over 25 years of experience to bear on the technology 
and learning problems faced by communities, their leaders and their sponsors.  
He coaches and consults on issues ranging from event design and community 
facilitation, to community design and evaluation, and technology selection 
and configuration.  He has been focused on communities of practice for the 
past 10 years and is the community steward for CPsquare, the international 
community of practice on communities of practice.  He is a regular workshop 
leader in CPsquare and elsewhere.  He grew up in Humacao, Puerto Rico and now 
lives in Portland, Oregon.

Etienne Wenger is a global thought leader in the field of communities of 
practice and social learning systems. He is the author and co-author of 
seminal books on communities of practice, including Situated Learning, where 
the term was coined, Communities of Practice: learning, meaning, and 
identity, where he lays out a theory of learning based on the concept, and 
Cultivating Communities of Practice, addressed to practitioners in 
organizations who want to base their knowledge strategy on communities of 
practice. Etienne helps organizations in all sectors apply these ideas 
through consulting, public speaking, teaching, and research.

Jon Lebkowsky, Nancy's Virtual Communities conference cohost on the WELL, 
will lead the conversation. Jon is a consultant who works with nonprofits and 
businesses to create effective internal and external collaborations using 
online social tools, community platforms, and emerging web technologies. He 
is also an author, social commentator and cultural maven focused on the 
social web, collaborative technologies, media, advocacy, sustainability, and 
future studies. He has written for various publications, has been blogging 
regularly since blogs first appeared, and has been involved in various 
aspects of the Internet and the World Wide Web since the late 1980s. He was 
part of the early 2000s social technology conversations that led to the 
concept of "web 2.0," and is still tracking and studying the evolution of the 
Internet as a platform for conversation and action.
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #1 of 110: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 21 Jun 10 14:25
    
Welcome, Nancy, John, and Etienne! Let's start with communities of practice -
in your own words, what are they? How do they differ from other kinds of
communities, or from project teams? What are some examples?
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #2 of 110: John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Mon 21 Jun 10 15:05
    
First of all, I would say that they are social formations that develop
around people's experience of learning together.  I think they can be
immensely varied in appearance.  There are a number of "classic"
examples in Lave & Wenger's _Situated Learning_ (which you mention
above); the example you didn't mention was alcoholics anonymous.

One of the things we've done in CPsquare over the years is try to
systematically look at communities that are different in form or or
composition than what we read about in books, trying to get (or
refresh) our sense of what they're like in the flesh, alive.  One
community we followed was a health-related community (which we promptly
put in the book).  Another was a community that was loosely forming
around the "nptech" tag on delicious, slideshare, flicker, and other
platforms. Another year we followed a guy who was both a wikipedia
editor (which seemed like its own CoP) and a member of a mostly
face-to-face meditation community.  So one idea to consider is that
communities of practice are identifiable more from the inside
experience than from their outer form.

I took a crack at writing about the connection between project teams
and communities with respect to technology in a blog post:
http://technologyforcommunities.com/2010/05/digital-habitats-for-project-teams
/
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #3 of 110: Nancy White (choco) Mon 21 Jun 10 15:23
    
(Translating --> CPSquare is http://www.cpsquare.org and is a
community of practice on communities of practice. Since we love META
here on the well, that seems fitting)

Re definitions... I learned a lot at Etienne's and John's knees. Two
things I learned there stick w/ me. Well, three, but the first two
relate to definitions!

The first is that it matters more that we talk about a communities of
practice perspective than trying to decide if something is or isn't a
CoP. 

The second is that perspective. For me, the CoP perspective is
"community," "domain" and "practice."  Translated, that might be "who
we are" (as this IS a social form of learning), what we care about, and
how we learn together and apply what we learn out in the world. John
and Etienne usually define this better than I do, tho. ;-)

While I'm spouting what I learned from John and Etienne (which is tons
as part of the process of writing the book), one of my favorites that
I *think* is from John, is as a community leader or technology steward,
don't mess with C, P and D all at once -- too darn disruptive!
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #4 of 110: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 21 Jun 10 18:15
    
You refer in the book to "community," "domain," and "practice" as the
three dimensions of a community of practice. Can you relate that view
to an example, as you did in the book (but more briefly), to give us a
sense how the dimensions relate to each other and frame a perspective?
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #5 of 110: Nancy White (choco) Tue 22 Jun 10 11:42
    
(I'm stalling because I think John or Etienne would give a more
intelligent response than I!)
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #6 of 110: John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Tue 22 Jun 10 12:25
    
There's a lot to say here, so the challenge is to be concise.  I think
it's useful to think about how the three dimensions in fact define
each other, making the whole thing kind of circular.  

The domain is the topic or label that gives a community it's identity.
 But that domain is defined by the people who are members.  When you
have new members, the topic tends to shift or even re-defined.  And the
topic boundaries depend on practice, or how the knowledge is applied. 
So changes in the practice can make an obscure part of the topic
suddenly very important and visa versa.

The example that we used in _Digital Habitats_ was the MPD-L
Community.  It's topic was "how to live with myeloproliferative
diseases."  The topic evolved when JAC2 was identified as a genetic
marker, for example.  The community had a couple thousand members
around the English-speaking world. Several physicians and researchers
lurked in the community and would feed comments through the community
leader.  During the time that we were accompanying the leader (the
first "shadow the leader" series in CPsquare.org) there was an
interesting fight about domain between two community members: one who
had been a scientist at the Center for Disease Control and the other
who was advocating several alternative medicine practices.  It got hot.
 Took some real delicacy on the part of the community's leader to make
the conflict a productive learning experience.

Sometimes I think the three dimensions of a community of practice are
so obvious, that it feels pedantic to bring them up or talk about them.
 But in the end I find it to be a very practical model.  Among other
things, I always say to myself: "when thinking of any one of them,
consider the other two.  How do changes in the other affect change (or
resistance to change) in the one?"
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #7 of 110: John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Tue 22 Jun 10 12:26
    
And they raise a lot of questions in terms of technology.  Here are 3
snippets from the book:

"Domain. How does technology enable communities and their members to
explore, define, and express a common identity? To see the landscape of
issues to address, and then negotiate a learning agenda worth
pursuing? And to project “what they stand for” and what it means to
them and others? Does technology allow communities to figure out and
reveal how their domain relates to other domains, individuals, groups,
organizations, or endeavors?

"Practice. How does technology enable sustained mutual engagement
around a practice? Can it provide new windows into each other’s
practice? What learning activities would this make possible? Can
technology accelerate the cycle through which members explore, test,
and refine good practice? Over time, can technology help a community
create a shared context for people to have ongoing exchanges,
articulate perspectives, accumulate knowledge, and provide access to
stories, tools, solutions, and concepts?

"Community. How can technology support an experience of togetherness
that makes a community a social container for learning together? Can it
help people find each other and reduce the sense of isolation? Does it
reveal interesting connections and enable members to get to know each
other in relevant ways? Can it enhance the simultaneous interplay of
diversity and common ground? Does it allow various people and groups to
take initiative, assume leadership, develop roles, and create
subgroups, projects, and conversations?"
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #8 of 110: Nancy White (choco) Tue 22 Jun 10 13:17
    
A story. 

Around 2001 there was a gathering in Washington DC about the role of
knowledge management in international development. People found the
connections and conversations hugely valuable and they decided they
wanted to "stay connected" so KM4Dev (knowledge management for
development" http://www.km4dev.org ) was born. 

The community took to life from a tech stewardship perspective on a
glorified email group using DGroups (http://www.dgroups.org) and,
because the mailing list needed a name, became KM4Dev. Ironically, many
of the early members felt that knowledge cannot be managed and prefer
the term "knowledge sharing." But the NAME, as reified by the mailing
list, is "knowledge management." 

The name attracts people interested in KM. So the technology actually
didn't/doesn't fully represent the domain by the fact of that first,
almost accidental naming. It attracts a diversity of people and so
people self select in or out once they see what the conversation (one
of our practices) is about. Within the community, some identify with
KM, some with KS. The community is large enough now to comfortably hold
that diversity. But the irony of the name to some, remains. 

Now, all these years later, our technology configuration (all the tech
we use) is more diverse. We have the Dgroup, a NING, a wiki and often
use ancillary tools like phone bridges and google docs. We have an
annual F2F someplace in the world. Across our 1000+ members (member
being any one who subs to the email list. We have 1000+ on NING and we
have no idea of the size of overlap. Ah, the challenges of
multi-platform life) people now have very different experiences of
KM4Dev. Some experience it as a rich, F2F meeting. Some as a series of
conversation on an email list. Some as a social network on Ning with
workspaces. Some as a set of captured learnings on the wiki. I would
venture to guess that most members don't have the full variety of
experiences. So our practices are diverse. Our domain has gotten pretty
large and our community is such that we really can't put a finger on
it. 

Much of this is because technology has changed what it means to be
together for communities. Keeping a line of site to CPD is more complex
in a network era, full of possibility ... and challenges. That's why
this "tech stewardship thing" is so interesting to me. 
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #9 of 110: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 22 Jun 10 14:16
    
I was writing this question: "In your experience, how do these pieces
come together before you settle on a technology? I'm having a bit of a
chicken/egg sense here - can the community really form before it has a
technology? But how can it decide on a technology before it's formed?"
Meanwhile Nancy posted an example that could almost be seen as a
response before I asked (I'm pretty sure she was reading my mind).

Nancy, since you mention tech stewardship in your post, this may be a
good place to define what that means. In the case of KM4DEV, the
community started as a physical meeting and adopted several
technologies, a multimodal approach. Can you say more about the
stewardship role - what is it, and in the KM4DEV example, who filled
that role; who made decisions about technologies? 
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #10 of 110: Nancy White (choco) Tue 22 Jun 10 18:18
    
First, my shorthand definition. A technology stewards is someone who
knows enough about the community to represent its needs and ways of
being together, and enough about technology to scan for, select,
(help)implement the technology and support its use in the community.
The latter, I'd add, includes noticing others' practices and spreading
those around. The tech steward isn't a know it all. They are bridgers
between people, technology, process and all sorts of good things. 

Ironically, many of us are "accidental technology stewards." I often
say I know enough about technology to be dangerous. (Don't ask me how
much pico I know. Please.) In KM4Dev, this is the case. We have one
person with a very small stipend to be our day to day facilitator and I
would say that she does NOT consider herself a technologist. Yet she
often falls into the role. Our "core group" - about 15 crazy volunteers
is much the same. We have a few geeks, but we collectively steward by
paying attention, experimenting and calling in heavy hitters when we
need serious geek chops. 

Decisions? Here I have to laugh, because we have a rather unique
decision making process in KM4Dev. Someone suggests something. If no
one objects, the person who suggested it has to make it happen. Turns
out this is a good filter for "is this really important." Likewise, we
have an odd configuration, not well integrated. But we also have almost
no money, we are flexible and as long as we have the base tech of our
email list, we can weather a lot. 

So tech stewardship at KM4dev is loose, voluntary, shifting and
probably an example at the informal end of the practice. 

John might have a different view from his stewardship of CPSquare,
which it seems to me is often a bit of a lonely job. John?

(And no, I have not noticed I can read minds. :-)  )
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #11 of 110: John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Tue 22 Jun 10 22:35
    
Interesting contrast between KM4Dev and CPsquare.  (at the same time
it turns out they are connected in some people's minds.  I just got
this in an email yesterday: "It is incredible to see how valuable the
shared cp2 (and km4dev) culture is. ")

Because of how CPsquare evolved as a membership community with dues,
it has had to be more tight and somewhat more controlled.  Still it's
pretty loose and member driven.  

Here's a story about the other end of the spectrum (too many cooks in
the kitchen) at the very early days of CPsquare.  It was right after
9/11 and the idea of CPsquare being a corporate, annual dues around
$25K a year, face-to-face kind of community was clearly not going to
work.  We were trying to figure out how to cobble together something
that would be cross-organizational and that we could manage ourselves. 
A vendor offered us a content management system and there was a lot of
momentum around it.  I was very skeptical, especially about the
discussion / forum features.  I couldn't put my finger on it but it
seemed really terrible.  I remember that I managed to pull Nancy into
the conversation at the last minute and she poked around and agreed
with me that it was terrible.  Then we had a show-down meeting where 4
or 5 of us were all looking at the same pages on a prototype website
and it was astounding to me that it was as if we were looking at
completely different websites.

Nancy and I agreed that the discussion software was terrible and we
couldn't really explain it or figure out a language to get us all "one
the same page" so to speak.  So we went with the content management
system and pretty soon it became apparent that it wasn't so hot. 
Someone asked me in an email whether I could open up a little
discussion space on a Web Crossing platform that we had used for
workshops.  I did and a subgroup got to work doing their business.

Soon another little group approached me and then another one said,
"Hey, how come those guys get to have a discussion space over on Web
Crossing?"  So pretty soon all the discussions had moved off of the
content management platform.

Finally we decided that we had to abandon the first platform and move
over to Web Crossing (with all it's warts and imperfections).  The move
was indeed lonely, because nobody seemed interested or willing or
really comprehended the importance of bringing all the profiles and the
artifacts that had been created over on the content management system.

In my mind, some of our work on polarities and community orientations
was a response to that experience of being in conversation with people
you respect and admire and who completely don't get what you see.  So
bottom line: tech stewardship is as much social as it is about tech
chops.
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #12 of 110: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 23 Jun 10 05:09
    
So is it safe to say that tech stewardship is often more than one person, and 
what they have in common is enough grasp of technology to have a vision for 
an optimimum platform or configuration? And that they often have to be 
persuasive at pointing the way, and possibly persuading those who might 
resist?
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #13 of 110: Nancy White (choco) Wed 23 Jun 10 07:49
    
I'd say it is a sport that is dangerous to play alone! ;-) One of my
key operating principles is that online interaction software is
"designed for the group, experienced by the individual." Meaning as we
sit at our computers (and now mobile devices) we create a uniquely
individual experience of what we see on the screen and rarely get to
compare/cross check w/ others. With video, we can see some body
language, but our imaginations fill in a lot of the gaps. Some of us do
that well, others... well....

Pegging on to your question about "optimum." That is another
interesting term. What I've learned is that "what works now" is REALLY
important. "Good enough" can be a great virtue. 

Communities change. Their tech needs evolve. They are changed by the
tech. They change the tech. So iterative, evolutionary approaches seem
to work better for communities than a "give me the specs, I'll build it
and we are done" approach. That is what has been cool with the
evolution of social media - it makes the possibility of improvisation
available to community members, not just the geeks. (Of course, it has
it's dark sides... like chaos, lack of meaningful integration, etc.)
Thus "optimum" because a bit of a fanciful, even scary concept in
reality. Does that make any sense?
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #14 of 110: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 23 Jun 10 13:01
    
Well-said.  "Good enough" is one of those reasons that people become
accustomed to technology and prefer not to change even if the
alternative is objectively better for both the group and the
individual.  Once you learn even a clunky interface, it is no longer in
your face, and re-learning something that is widely accepted as easier
is not appealing to most folks.  The software is supposed to melt
away, leaving you with people and ideas.

(For the record, now that this conversation is open, friends can find
it on the web at:   http://bit.ly/bqLaLz  should you care to tweet it
around.  If you are reading without logging in, you may email a
question for inclusion (along with your name).  Send it to
inkwell@well.com and include "Digital Habitats" in the subject line,
please.) 

Lack of meaningful integration of tools is a painful challenge indeed.
 Do you have insights into how important that is or isn't over time,
by any chance?
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #15 of 110: John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Wed 23 Jun 10 14:19
    
My sense is that "good enough" is an assessment we make at the level
of a community's configuration of tools (all of the tools that are used
together, as opposed to the platforms, tools and their features). 
When a new tool comes into the configuration, it may make an existing
one more obviously NOT good enough.  For example, the tool is an
isolate and doesn't play well with the others.

I agree, Gail, that many communities tend to be very conservative, and
for good reason.  But one of the insights that I get from the
community, domain, practice model is that if you DO manage to get a
tool added to a community's conversation, you often change the practice
first, then the community (different people have access or don't), and
thus the conversation (so domain boundaries also change).
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #16 of 110: Nancy White (choco) Wed 23 Jun 10 14:30
    
Are the terms "platform," "tool" and "feature" familiar to everyone?
If it is worth a "magic decoder ring" post, holler. I hate to obsess
with definitions, but sometimes we THINK we are talking about the same
thing and we find we are NOT! 
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #17 of 110: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 23 Jun 10 15:43
    
Let's see -- twitter is a platform, tweetdeck is a tool, a re-tweet is
a feature?  Or is re-tweet a tool? And in WELL parlance, is The WELL
the platform, or something that is pan-platform? Is PicoSpan a tool?
Are Conferences platforms, tools or features?  

Ulp. By all means define away.
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #18 of 110: John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Wed 23 Jun 10 16:54
    
Gail, I think you're using the terms just like I would.  and I would
say that a re-tweet is a feature.

Your example of The WELL is interesting to me in the sense that email
is a tool that's included in this conversation via a specific email
address.  But I miss having email alerts.  The sheer complexity of our
tools is what made us take a stab at trying to come up with some
definitions like that.

But as Nancy suggests, they have to be useful.  It may be that
designers need much more precise tools than what we suggest in _Digital
Habitats_.  The definitions we came up with were intended to be
helpful to community leaders and technology stewards.
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #19 of 110: Craig Maudlin (clm) Wed 23 Jun 10 17:00
    
Let me jump in to say that I quite enjoyed listening to the audio
introduction -- a pleasure to hear your voices.

Some nice tidbits there:

   "Literacy is not primarily focused on tech"

I can't help but think of the term 'groupware,' which started out
in the mid 70's meaning "group practice plus tools for groups" and
pretty much ended up meaning "tools for groups."

The victim, perhaps, of our natural tendency to oversimplify.

Are you facing a similar struggle with the use of terms like
'community' or 'technology steward?'
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #20 of 110: John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Wed 23 Jun 10 18:28
    
Hi, Craig!  Long time no see!

I've thought of the fate of Peter+Trudy's 'groupware' as a term, but
hadn't put my finger on that narrowing.  I agree with you that tools
are much easier to name than practices and yet practices trump tools.

Maybe you're pointing to something that technology stewards need to be
very careful about: telling the difference and keeping their eye on
the practice.  

Am I missing your drift?
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #21 of 110: Nancy White (choco) Wed 23 Jun 10 22:07
    
Peter + Trudy = Peter and Trudy Johnson-Lenz who can now be found at
http://nexus.johnson-lenz.com:8080/jl/We3.nsf/Agents/Initialize?Open

RE the term -- of course it is both a struggle, and at some point, the
label is the least of the interesting stuff. It is the practice, man,
that is so much fun. 
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #22 of 110: david gault (dgault) Wed 23 Jun 10 22:11
    

hi, i heard about this on Facebook and wanted to listen in.
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #23 of 110: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 23 Jun 10 22:17
    
Is technology stewardship focused primarily on Internet/web tools? Did
this role precede "Web 2.0," and if so, has it been growing and
evolving as a result of the increasing number of social platforms? 
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #24 of 110: John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Thu 24 Jun 10 06:06
    
We tried to develop some examples of tech stewardship in Chapter 2 --
talking about some of the activities on the PLATO development team --
as efforts that were much more techie than most tech stewardship is
today.  Obviously the current technologies multiply the choices,
opportunities for combining tools, and of course the need for it.

It would be interesting to come up with some examples of tech
stewardship in a pre-computer time.
  
inkwell.vue.386 : Nancy White, John D. Smith, and Etienne Wenger: Digital Habitats
permalink #25 of 110: Nancy White (choco) Thu 24 Jun 10 07:47
    
Welcome David <dgault>...please, do more than listen if you are so
inclined!

Pre-computer technology stewardship. Um, PHOTOCOPYING! Mailing.
Getting the slide projector for the meeting. But as I reflect on this,
these tasks were primarily mechanical and in service TO the group, but
with little participation by the group. It's like the wonderful
contribution of cooking dinner for the group. It is hugely important.
But you were in the kitchen, they weren't. Naw, bad analogy.

The big shifts of the sheer variety of tools and then the distribution
 of control and power over tools, IMO, changed the role significantly.
That is also why it changed the relationship in organizations with the
IT department in some of the stewarding functions. 

In this online econsultation I'm setting up right now, 5 years ago I
would pick the tech, install and that would be it. Now I get
suggestions, push back, endorsements, appreciation, hassles from people
who would never have even questioned it before. The power has shifted.
(And these folks are, for the most part, not geeky in the technology
sense.)
  

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