Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 1 Jul 10 14:50
My comment that we might mutate was meant to suggest that we might (or will) evolve to find coherence in the chaos of conversations and activity streams that we see emerging. I'm already part of the way there - I've always been comfortable with larger chaotic waves of data; when they knock me off my board, I climb back on and keep surfing. I watch so-called "digital natives" juggle data streams with remarkable dexterity. However I suspect that we'll see linear conversations mixed with nonlinear multiplatform threads. And when everything is miscellaneous, we learn to make lenses and filters to sort things out, no? Here's another set of related questions that I came up with earlier: What are the community orientations you cover? How does a community understand which are relevant? How do you gather and understand requirements for your community, and translate those into technology requirements for relevant orientations?
Nancy White (choco) Thu 1 Jul 10 16:28
I'm mutating! I would caution any generalizations about generations. Some younger folk juggle data streams. Some don't. I think there is a deep issue about critical literacies for all of us.
John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Thu 1 Jul 10 17:19
<inkwell.vue.386.70> about trans-national, multi-language, multi-membership reminds me of being in Denmark a couple of years ago at the Association for Internet Research conference (http://aoir.org/conferences/past/ir-9-2008/). One of the keynotes (by a guy whose name I can't recall) was about ubiquitous technologies. The ubiquitous technology for the group of CPsquare members that were at the conference was the mobile phone and I didn't have one. As the speaker pointed out ubiquitous means invisible but it then also means that the person who doesn't have access (or mastery), which was me in that case, is kind of a burden on others. That is, special arrangements were needed for me to be able to be in the right restaurant at the right time. Changes impacted me differentially. It was a mess. Of course, I was connected in other ways, and was the tech steward for the community -- or at least for one stream of conversation of the community. It seems to me that instances of being really out of it, of not being able to connect, of not getting it, are very interesting and quite revealing. But detecting those lacks requires some kind of continuity or expectation that implies a lot of continuity. You may not miss people who don't show up in a hash-tag based Twitter chat, unless you've connected with them before, possibly on another channel.
John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Thu 1 Jul 10 17:27
I think that mutating actually takes a lot of work! <inkwell.vue.386.76> and <inkwell.vue.386.77> are a lot of fun because of the wooohahahaha factor, but the dexterity of digital natives doesn't come from nowhere. It's learned. Dive into Mizuko Ito, et al. Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning With New Media (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009) http://ISBN.nu/9780262013369 DOWNLOADABLE from http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/full_pdfs/Hanging_Out.pdf "Skills and literacies that children and youth pick up organically in their given social worlds are not generally objects of formal educational intervention, though they may require a great deal of social support and energy to acquire." P. 341 One of the themes they develop is the idea of a techne-mentor, which is very related to a tech-steward, except that a tech-mentor doesn't necessarily have the structure or focus of a community of practice for their learning & teaching activities. p 59: "In conceptualizing the media and information ecologies in the lives of University of California at Berkeley freshmen, classical adoption and diffusion models (e.g., Rogers [1962; 2003]) proved inadequate. Rather than being characterized by a few individuals who diffuse knowledge to others in a somewhat linear fashion, many students pattern of technology adoption signaled situations in which various people were at times influential in different, ever-evolving social networks. The term techne-mentor is used to help to describe this pattern of information and knowledge diffusion . Techne-mentor refers to a role that someone plays in aiding an individual or group with adopting or supporting some aspect of technology use in a specific context, but being a techne-mentor is not a permanent role. The idea of the techne-mentor is useful for expanding conversations about adoption patterns to one of informal learning in social networks." I had quite an exasperating fight with the evaluators of a project I worked on about their use of Rogers' diffusion model to assess the "performance" of a community of practice. Ideas and techniques in a community setting tend to morph and mutate as they go, in part because they're coming from all directions, not just some putative center (e.g., Cambridge, Mass or other self-declared center of the universe :-).
Jack Kessler (kessler) Thu 1 Jul 10 21:17
<73><choco> "Trayner, B. (2004) 'Babel in the international café'" Thanks very much, Nancy: interesting article, yes. I was happy to see the Sapir-Whorf reference -- these issues are not new -- we understand our languages, and their relationships to "meaning", imperfectly still. "Relevance"... well, epistemology is a pretty tough study. Google figures that we do understand it, but they're wrong: their algorithm just placed a "boar hunting" ad on my wife's coyote-protection blog -- it figures "ya seen one 'animal' ya seen them all", and that's just in English... When we get to multi-lingual community practice, then, the data-mining we have so far still doesn't scale up very well: one person's "coussin gonflable de protection" is just not necessarily another person's "airbag". > Obviously there is more than technology at play. But while you can get platforms with multilingual interfaces, few facilitate organizing multilingual resources and conversations. Yes, that's very much the problem: nomostatics vs. nomodynamics, you might say, and it's the latter that's needed. > (ha, I wonder if there are twitter translators? I assume there are) A great deal of that emerged on Twitter during the Iran blowup: a number of very talented translators kept the rest of us, and the folks in Iran, up-to-date in various languages -- there it was done very well, and very quickly. > It is the community building, the shared practices, the weaving across languages though - those messy human practices - that matter the most. The closest I've come is to think of the domain as a network umbrella and the language groups as communities within the network. Not if and to the extent that language determines perception rather than the other way 'round, tho, as Sapir-Whorf and others suggest... I'm not sure Eco or Chomsky would agree, either. The community-building certainly is important, and satisfying, but there may be far more at work there than just language. Face-to-face contact bridges language barriers -- your own websites show this, those "group" images -- verbal communication may be less important than physical proximity and shared effort. The point of digitizing the verbiage may be to use time more efficiently, in fact, enabling more physical proximity and shared effort to take place -- more face-to-face meetings, conferences, renewed & inter-networked Global Cities (Sassen) -- works for "foreign" language speakers too, as verbiage does not, digital or otherwise. > Language binds and separates us! Ambivalent, yes: the Greeks knew this, about all communications and not just telecoms as we do today -- the pipe is neutral, and often less effective -- it's why they advised, "don't blame the messenger".
Jack Kessler (kessler) Thu 1 Jul 10 21:33
<78><johndavidsmith> "Association for Internet Research conference... ubiquitous technologies..." Key XeroxPARC criterion for technology success: ubiquity / invisibility -- c1993, I can send you cites. > The ubiquitous technology for the group of CPsquare members that were at the conference was the mobile phone and I didn't have one... kind of a burden on others. That is, special arrangements were needed for me to be able to be in the right restaurant at the right time. Changes impacted me differentially. It was a mess. Great story! Your "difference" made you the most valuable contributor to the conference, IMO. One great problem with Internet conferences, conferences generally, shared practice, is the conformity of thought imposed by such ubiquity: the most interesting thing at a conference is the phenomenon of the stranger -- where & when that occurs -- otherwise it's just, "if the only tool that you have is a mobile, everything begins to look like a tweet".
Nancy White (choco) Fri 2 Jul 10 07:28
Jack, I'm off to look up things you mentioned... I also have an AND to add to your graph about physical proximity. In much of the work I do with front line NGO workers, the chance, the resources to do their learning with other peers cannot be F2F. They are too far "down" in the organization. The economic structures (barriers) tell them "you aren't worth enough to spend the money for a F2F" or "you live too remotely to justify the time it would take" = so finding ways to learn, to make meaning, to do it in a humane way, are my passion. I love F2F. I love doing graphic recording "in the room" and facilitating with physical objects. My world asks me to do this online. Because I work "through the pipe," my experience is that it is not neutral. Values are baked into the design of any of the systems we use. Your example about Google translate. My experience when people feel the tyranny instead of value of near -instantaneous delivery of emails. The way designers place elements on a web page -- to me they aren't really neutral. So instead of shooting the darn messengers, I want to engage in conversation, co-design of the pipes (yeah, realistically at some level, not all... I have to be careful what I'm spouting here!) Thus this central thesis that there are multiple learnings, literacies and practices at play in using online tools for human interaction. And they are inextricable braided together, one impacting and shaping the other. That's also what's exciting. OK, gently stepping off my soap box and firing up my search engine to better understand some of what you wrote. As you may sense, I am a "Do then figure out" person rather than, understand then do! And you've given me food for thought around my community/network statement that i need to go chew on. Thanks!
Ari Davidow (ari) Fri 2 Jul 10 07:29
Thinking about twitter CoPs and the like, I am wondering how much of this reflects a side of CoP use that has always been there, the sort of mining a large body of expertise for informed answers (and hopefully being available to answer same), and that being all that one wants--it's not a community, it's a light-weight CoP--and that is entirely appropriate for many purposes. It's the IRC channels moved to a new medium.
Nancy White (choco) Fri 2 Jul 10 08:18
<ari> Networks of practice! Yup. The differences may be a) visilibity and b) reach and c) scalability (which introduces another set of dynamics)
Elmi Bester (jonl) Fri 2 Jul 10 08:27
From Elmi Bester in South Africa: Two comments - 1. Twitter translation - Tweetdeck is doing a pretty decent job with translation of Tweets. I'm tweeting both in English and Afrikaans - some things I just feel I want to say it in Afrikaans. And I can actually now follow the French tweets from some people as well... 2. Very interesting thread about the 'loss of deep conversation' - very topical and something really demanding some thoughtful conversation. But a comment about the fragmentation and "information spillage'' we are faced with... What I am advocating a lot these days is that people need to learn to live with the white noise of multiple channels and multiple feeds from multiple people - you need to fine tune your filters to be able to pick up the relevant signals from all the tweets, rss feeds, e-mails etc and be good at just ignoring - you cannot be interested in everything all the time! Also related to multi-membership - your attention will shift amongst the communities and networks you are a member off - depending on your current context and need - but you need to stay connected for when you need it more in the front of attention.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 2 Jul 10 08:28
If you have a comment to add or a question to ask, and you're not a member of the WELL, just send an email to inkwell at well.com, and we'll see that it gets posted.
Nancy White (choco) Fri 2 Jul 10 09:27
Elmi (who is a fabulous knowledge practitioner and manager of the CSIR Knowledge Commons for the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research), the practice you talk about is the one that I see the "edge practitioners" taking on with ease. I'd love to know the tips you are giving those who are struggling more. What one or two suggestions have "taken hold" with your colleagues to live with the white noise and multiple channels? How do they get started with "fine tuning?"
Nancy White (choco) Sat 3 Jul 10 17:36
<jonl> asked: >What are the community orientations you cover? How does a community understand which are relevant? How do you gather and understand requirements for your community, and translate those into technology requirements for relevant orientations? You can see an image with the 9 orientation here: http://technologyforcommunities.com/excerpts/spidergram-tool/ and http://technologyforcommunities.com/2009/11/community-technology-spidergram-ev olves-again/ and Here are the labels -- but it can be misleading to look just at the label. So holler if there is one in particular you'd like to talk about * Meetings * Projects * Access to Expertise * Relationship * Context (internal <==> external) * Community Cultivation * Individual Participation * Content/Publishing * Ongoing Conversations I wrote up a blog post a while back looking at a particular community from the perspective of orientations based on the stories about the birdwatchers of Central park in the book "Red Tails IN Love." (A great book that never uses the term "communities of practice!") http://technologyforcommunities.com/2009/03/red-tails-in-love-birdwatchers-as- a-community-of-practice/ Often we use the spidergram tool noted above to start a conversation about a community's set of orientations. You can look at it as a way to see where the community has been "retrospectively," where it is now and/or where it wants to go. It simply is a way to see what is going on and give language to what is needed in terms of tech, process, resources to move forward. Orientations typically shift over the life of a community. Early on, for example, there may be a lot of attention to community cultivation (emphasis on togetherness, if you think about the polarities). Over time, as the community grows and gets its own rhythm, more attention may be put on making it easy for individuals to participate in more flexible ways, or maybe after a long period of ongoing conversations, a project or publication to focus and reflect upon the community's learning. One thing I notice when we do the community orientations exercise, people often say all nine are a top priority. I then ask - how much time and attention do you have? That changes the story and they start thinking about what is important right now. This has interesting tech implications. For some crazy reason, we think we build our platform once and everything is done. But communities change and evolve. It seems their technology configuration often has to evolve too!
John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Sun 4 Jul 10 13:09
I think it's paradoxical how we need examples like the bird-watching community in Central Park to get our imaginations fired up about what our own communities could be. And at the same time, examples can also serve as enclosures to our wider imaginings, impoverishing our sense of the possibilities. The community orientations we wrote about help us take a step back from what we observe and "scale up" our thinking a bit. When we first started thinking about the orientations, they were really clusters of tools that seemed to go together. Then we realized that they didn't necessarily have to do with the tools, but seemed to be clusters of activity -- so, community orientations. And when you think about the effect of technology on each of those orientations, there are specific contributions that technology can make. One that I've been thinking about a lot recently is "increasing the periphery". Just to take the first three (have to run some errands, so must limit my ambitions here): * Meetings - The obvious example is tools like WebEx or GoToMeeting, etc. This is one of the UNDER-developed pages on our tools wiki: http://cpsquare.org/wiki/Web_Meeting_tools . But actually technology is changing the way we do meetings in profound ways. I went to a corporate ethnography conference in Chicago last August (I guess I like being an outsider) and had fits because the wifi was SO expensive and SO flaky; I had counted on Twitter during the meeting to provide a kind of social access that I didn't expect to find otherwise. Here's some other thoughts on how tagging can help make meetings more useful (bending them to our own purposes): http://learningalliances.net/2010/01/tagging-and-face-to-face-events/ (That's increasing the periphery in an odd way: giving a subgroup some kind of toe-hold on meeting planning.) * Projects. I think that the conventional thinking is probably that GANTT chart tools like MS-Project are what make projects manageable. But technology (starting with email) vastly increases the scope and speed of small-group organization. I was quite surprised by the discussion on this piece: http://technologyforcommunities.com/2010/05/digital-habitats-for-project-teams / It seems to me that there are huge opportunities to increase the peripheries around Agile retrospectives. (When retrospectives are closed, it's a perfect example of wasted learning opportunities because of peripheries that are truncated.) * Access to Expertise - I think the obvious example here is the blogosphere in the good old days. Think of being able to listen to Dave Snowden without having to learn to dance with the prickles. Although the size of peripheries are social phenomena, technology changes things in surprising ways. As a student of communities I feel very committed to use those orientations creatively but to put direct observation of living communities and their inventiveness first. If we follow the learning we may find other orientations. And ethnography at a distance probably has its own illusions and traps, but I think that technology stewards have to be barefoot ethnographers to really be a positive force. (I have to say I'm struck by how "on-topic" this conversation is -- it's interesting nobody mentions having to run to the grocery store or the other threads that wrap round this ongoing conversation.)
Nancy White (choco) Sun 4 Jul 10 14:33
Oh dear. I have to run to the airport to pick up my sister. (So there. We now have social drift) Actually, John, IJHTS that was a great post. Thanks.
John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Sun 4 Jul 10 23:41
IJHTS = I just Hvae to Say? :-) Maybe that's "inny" Well-talk?
Nancy White (choco) Mon 5 Jul 10 07:55
It's simply old discussion board short cuts! IMHO (in my humble opinion),IJWTS (I had it wrong, I Just Want to Say) , etc.
Nancy White (choco) Mon 5 Jul 10 08:47
John, I'm going back to your comment, >I think it's paradoxical how we need examples like the bird-watching community in Central Park to get our imaginations fired up about what our own communities could be. This suggests a couple of things to me. * Do we take the time to think about, observe and talk about our communities? * How are we using stories to surface what our communities need from a tech perspective The other thing I find is when someone hands me a framework, it doesn't come alive until THEY tell me a story using it. So for me, the orientations are more of an academic exercise until I see them come alive. So maybe it is a lack of imagination, but another way of looking at it is that we all have different ways of taking ahold of an idea. Examples help me. They don't limit me. I can also see how they can be limiting. Maybe I misunderstood your comment? Say more?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 5 Jul 10 20:16
You talk about the relationship orientation in groups where members emphasize knowing each other and having more interaction one on one or in small groups. How common is this orientation in CoPs that you've studied? I'm wondering how more or less impersonal the interactions tend to be?
Nancy White (choco) Tue 6 Jul 10 07:08
<jonl> this is where I think technology has had a big impact. At least it has for me. In my F2F CoPs of "days gone by" relationship was assumed as central and often preceded many other types of activities. The emphasis was on strong ties (to use network language). In the technologically linked world, weak or loose ties are so easy to create and maintain, that it feels like they are dominating more. So content and interaction often precede relationship compared to F2F CoPs. (This is a generalization. Apply your grain of salt.) The interesting thing about this is that while the electronically mediated groups can be larger and it is harder for everyone to have a relationship to most everyone else, the TOOLS we use - the multiplicity of tools -- allow "easy group forming." Often outside of the community's "designated" technology. So,a lot more personal? A lot less? I think the options are wider now. I guess the choice is up to us, eh?
Craig Maudlin (clm) Tue 6 Jul 10 09:30
And, in some situations, weak ties can be more valuable to the participants. Plus there's the measurement problem: you can't just keep track of the relationships you see at the bowling alley. Relationships can transcend groups, tools and even language.
John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Tue 6 Jul 10 12:04
Nancy's comment about examples... <inkwell.vue.386.93> I think that examples are like stories... very evocative and powerful. In ways more useful than some kind of conceptual scheme, like you say. But they can also be problematic because they are too powerful. I feel like I have often been smitten by a powerful example -- a community that is so vibrant, so productive, so much admired -- so that I forget some of the details, all the flops along the way, the dead spaces or conversations that trailed off into the ether. For example, in "Cultivating Communities" (Wenger et al 2002) there's an extended example of the Turbodudes. I think that the example has had a life of its own, almost becoming a paradigm of what a community of practice SHOULD LOOK LIKE. That can be a problem. Details that are missing from the account can be crucial. For example, that Turbodudes example doesn't mention that the community's existence was partly due to the fact that the CEO of Shell set aside a huge pile of money for organizational learning, so that people from Shell USA were sent to a bunch of expensive organizational learning workshops and there was a lot of money thrown at the Turbodudes. Some of the dynamics of the Turbodudes were of course very general. But it too me a while to figure out that projects like that were not much of a financial honeypot for peripheral consultants like me. :-)
John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Tue 6 Jul 10 12:19
Craig's comment in <inkwell.vue.386.96> about "measurement" is a really big issue for participants and even more so for tech stewards. Of course f2f communities were never completely visible either. People have always talked to each other behind each other's backs. When you add in the amount of learning that happens without words (watching practice, doing work together, etc.), you realize that these are old problems. But the fact that conversations can get picked up from one "channel" and move onto another makes participating rich and purposeful, but also adds a layer of complexity. There are many opportunities for saying stuff "in public" that should be taken "offline" AND visa versa. So there needs to be more acculturation about channels and the only way to learn this is to get feedback (on what channel, I wonder?) one way or another. Reminds me of a little comment in Ito et al.'s "Hanging out, etc." book: "Skills and literacies that children and youth pick up organically in their given social worlds are not generally objects of formal educational intervention, though they may require a great deal of social support and energy to acquire." P. 341 In fact, kids today have accumulated a HUGE amount of culture about jumping from one channel to another, about appropriateness ("you don't break up with someone on SMS"), and about boundaries (how to monitor fidelity) that's very impressive. And somewhat invisible to people who don't parlay vous the language.
Nancy White (choco) Tue 6 Jul 10 12:23
Is turnabout fair play in an Inkwell.vue conversation? As we get to the end of our two weeks, I'd love to hear from those of you who read the book. What of value (if anything) did you take away from the book? What troubled you? What is missing? Feedback --> the gift!
John David Smith (johndavidsmith) Tue 6 Jul 10 17:36
I've taken a crack at connecting the Digital Habitats to the Mimi Ito book I've been talking about: http://learningalliances.net/2010/07/tech-steward-meet-tech-mentor/
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