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Digital Habitats Nov09 Frameworks
 

Digital Habitats Nov09 Frameworks

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Some background slides for my Technology Stewardship workshops in Australia, November 2009.

Some background slides for my Technology Stewardship workshops in Australia, November 2009.

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  • Sliders – as we think about how we pick, design and deploy technology, what sort of intentionality do we want with respect to these tensions? More importantly, how do we use them as ways to track our community’s health, make adjustments in both technology and practice.
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/angerboy/201582453/ The elements of time and space present a challenge for communities. Forming a community requires more than one transient conversation or having the same job title in completely different settings. The kind of learning that communities of practice strive for requires a sustained process of mutual engagement, and if mutual engagement is the key to learning, separation in time and space can make community difficult. How can a community sustain an experience of togetherness across the boundaries of time and space? How can members experience togetherness through shared activities if they cannot be together face-to-face? How can the togetherness of a few members (a small meeting, a conversation) become an experience the whole community shares?  
  • Technology creates “community time” that defies schedules and time zones, and “communal spaces” that do not depend on physical location. One obvious appeal of technology is its variety of solutions for dealing with time and space to achieve continuity and togetherness: to hold a meeting at a distance, to converse across time zones, to make a recording of a teleconference available, to include people who cannot be physically present, to send a request or a file, or to be up-to-date on an interesting project. In a community version of “time shifting” and even “space shifting,” togetherness happens in a variety of formats that enable participation “anytime, anywhere.” Practice issues: Community profiles as patterns of togetherness. How do we learn best. Respect the time of each member. Front or back channel, what problems to bring to the whole group.
  • Members of a community of practice need to interact with each other as well as produce and share artifacts such as documents, tools, and links to resources. Sharing artifacts without interacting can inhibit the ability to negotiate the meaning of what is being shared. Interacting without producing artifacts can limit the extent and impact of learning. Indeed, the theory of communities of practice views learning together as involving the interplay of two fundamental processes of meaning making: Members engage directly in activities, interactions, conversations, reflections, and other forms of personal participation in the learning of the community; members produce physical and conceptual artifacts—words, tools, concepts, methods, stories, documents, and other forms of reification —that reflect their shared experience and around which they organize their participation. (Literally, reification means “making into an object.”) Meaningful learning in a community requires both processes to be present. Sometimes one may dominate the other. They may not always be complementary to each other. The challenge of this polarity is how successfully communities cycle between the two.  
  • Technology provides so many new ways to interact and publish while supporting the interplay of participation and reification that it can profoundly change the experience of learning together. Technology enables new kinds of interactions, activities, and access to other people. It also provides new ways to produce, share, and organize the results of being together – through documents, media files, and other artifacts. Most important, it affords new ways to combine participation and reification. For instance, by providing a web-based whiteboard for a conversation, we are supporting new forms of co-authorship where we casually mix words, images and sounds with each other . Technology also pushes the boundaries of both interacting and publishing for a community. It makes it easier for the work of a community to be opened up to the larger world. It can allow a community to decide whether to publish artifacts and invite comments publicly or to hold them within the private boundaries of the community.
  • Examples of publishing and interacting (or participation and reification.)
  • Individuals and groups. Togetherness is a property of communities but individual members experience it in their own ways. A crucial point about learning within communities of practice is that being together does not imply, require, or produce homogeneity. Togetherness is a complex state that weaves communal and individual engagement, aspirations, and identities. Technology provides new opportunities for togetherness, but togetherness can lead to disagreement and the discovery that people see the world (including technology) very differently. Members use the technology individually, on their own. Some social trends contribute to the tension inherent in this polarity: Increasingly, individuals are not members of only one community; they are participants in a substantial number of communities, teams, and networks—active in some, less so in others. Communities cannot expect to have the full attention of their members nor can they assume that all their members have the same levels of commitment and activity, the same learning aspirations, and therefore the same needs. Conversely, members must deal with the increasing volume and complexity of their “multi-membership” in different communities. They have to find meaningful participation in all these relationships while preserving a sense of their own identity across contexts.  
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/27126314@N03/2956992219/
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gustavog/9708628/
  • You can be clear when we talk about the individual, me. We can be clear when we have bounded communities with clear establishment of in/out membership. We can also have communities with fuzzy boundaries, which may even be networks.
  • You can be clear when we talk about the individual, me. We can be clear when we have bounded communities with clear establishment of in/out membership. We can also have communities with fuzzy boundaries, which may even be networks.
  • One role of technology is to help manage the complexities of community life and individual participation. Technology can make the community visible in new ways through directories, maps of member locations, participation statistics, and graphic representations of the health of the community. It can provide tools for individuals to filter information to fit their needs, to locate others, to find connections, to know when and where important activities are taking place, and to gather the news feeds from their various communities in one place. In fact, multi-membership is becoming so prevalent that tools to manage the group/individual polarity are becoming an increasingly central contribution of technology.
  • Sliders – as we think about how we pick, design and deploy technology, what sort of intentionality do we want with respect to these tensions? More importantly, how do we use them as ways to track our community’s health, make adjustments in both technology and practice.
  • Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dani3l3/364684710/
  • These roles and practices create the conditions that enable people to….
  • This activity comes out of a chapter in our book that looks at the activity orientations of communities of practice and how this might drive both the technology stewardship and the overall community nurturing and leadership activities. In this context, we are using it to explore the application of social media to a particular goal you might have.
  • In our research of CoPs we noticed 9 general patterns of activities that characterized a community’s orientation. Most had a mix, but some were more prominent in every case. Image: Wenger, White and Smith, 2007
  • Before you do the Spidergram exercise, read through the orientations and think of some examples from a number of contexts. I’ll offer two examples as well in subsequent slides.
  • Here is an example drawn from the book “Red-Tails in Love: Pale Male’s Story -- A True Wildlife Drama in Central Park” by Marie Winn. Vintage Books, 2005 The book tells of a community of bird watchers in Central Park and exquisitely describes their practices. This is a predominantly face to face group that might use some social media, but not as their central way of interacting. They are a large, diverse group, but tightly geographically bound to Central Park in New York City. They might fill this spidergram differently than I might, but this is just an example! Image: Wenger, White and Smith, 2007
  • KM4Dev (http://www.km4dev.org) is a global network of practitioners interested in knowledge management and knowledge sharing in international development. Over 800 members are subscribed to the email list which had it’s origins in July 2000. It is both a well established but loosely bounded network that interacts primarily online, with once a year meetings that a small subset attend.
  • You can see how different groups have different priorities. It is a bit like a community activity “finger print.” The next step is to think about what tools support the different orientations.
  • What was interesting was that these orientations had implications beyond communities. They could be a useful analysis, diagnostic and measurement tool for the application of social media to an organization’s work.
  • What would your Spidergram look like? Think of a specific group or project that you want to explore. What activities do you need to support? Which are more important than others? Put a mark on the arrow to indicate how important a particular orientation is to your community. The more important the orientation, the further out on the arrow the dot should be placed. Then draw a line between the dots. Clarification: For context, towards the middle means a more inward (private) orientation and towards the outer edge a more public/open orientation. Discuss the spidergram with your group or community. Do they see it differently? Adjust your image to get the fullest view possible. Then, and only then, start thinking about tools. Always start with WHAT you want to do before the HOW!
  • Here are some examples of social media tools that support the orientations. Keep in mind that while a tool may have been designed for a specific purpose, people regularly and imaginatively use them in different ways.

Digital Habitats Nov09 Frameworks Digital Habitats Nov09 Frameworks Presentation Transcript