December 13, 2006


Reflections on the day

June 23rd, 2006

Today’s session looked at communities of practice, everything from Alcoholics Anonymous to the Boy Scouts. I think we packed more wisdom into our 90 minutes today than you’d get from reading a book or taking a semester-long course on the subject. Go to the wiki. Listen to the recording.

This is us. The connectors are Skype contacts with one another. We also read one another’s blogs, talk a little during our bi-weeklly sessions, and sometimes post to the wiki. This is the start of a community but it hasn’t reached critical mass.

Our task for Monday is more open-ended than most. We’re going to focus on making ours a vibrant, living community — or perhaps decide that this isn’t really a good fit with our current situation in life and remain passive.

See the front page of the wiki for your starting point. Set aside a few hours to take this seriously. If you want to learn, that’s the price. Attending the seminar sessions and not following through with others in the group and on your blog isn’t worth squat: you’d be missing the best part.


What goes where?

Please read Jim’s and Jennifer’s posts to their blogs this afternoon — and then add your own.

There’s a fine line between giving members of a community freedom and creating confusion by not establishing boundaries. Jennifer makes the point that we aren’t clear about where our conversation should take place: the wiki, the blogs, the Google Group, individual Skype calls, the Pub or by email? In a community that builds over time, members define their group’s norms by their actions. If no one emails but the Pub is a hot-bed of activity, the Pub survives. Our group doesn’t have time for things to self-organize, so I’ll tell you how I see it.

The informl wiki is the town square of our community. It’s our home page. When something important is added, let’s note that on the front page of the wiki. Looking for the link to an event? Check the wiki. The wiki is also our repository for lessons learned and new discoveries. This is a shared resources, our own Wikipedia. Add to it; make it better. Want to start a discussion? Do it on the wiki.

Google Groups is an announcement service. Use it only when you want to send a message to everyone. Google Groups is not a good way to communicate with one or two people; use email for that. People have said Google Groups is confusing. My suggestion: don’t even go there. Think of it as a mailing service. Don’t let it distract you — but do note how it works because you may want to add something like this to a program you design. I will write most of the messages.

Skype is our primary one-to-one or small group discussion tool. It’s free. It’s not complicated. It’s personal. Use it. Call a couple of people a week. You don’t need an excuse: just do it. At your suggestion, I’ve put you into three groups. (See the wiki.) Call the people in your group. If you color outside the lines, call people not in your group.

You’re already accustomed to email. It’s one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal. But we’re not going to use email much among ourselves because we are focusing on experimenting with what we don’t know. Same goes for the telephone.

Blogs are your means of personal expression. When you have an ah-ha, share it with the rest of us by putting it on your blog. Blogs are so useful, as reference material, as a platform for expression, as input to knowledge systems, and more, that you owe it to yourself to get to know them. Until you’ve made at least a dozen posts, you really don’t know what it’s all about. Put a picture on your blog.

The aggregator is a handy way to read blogs, but not something that takes any additional effort.

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