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Digital Habitats : stewarding technology for communities - South Africa, May 2010
 

Digital Habitats : stewarding technology for communities - South Africa, May 2010

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The general set of slides I'm using in my Technology Stewardship workshops in S. Africa, May 2010 (CSIR/Pretoria, University of Cape Town and IST in Durban)

The general set of slides I'm using in my Technology Stewardship workshops in S. Africa, May 2010 (CSIR/Pretoria, University of Cape Town and IST in Durban)

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  • To start off our sessions, we'll be doing a “Human Spectrogram” to get a sense of who is “in the room,” get some sense of current ideas and technology skills. If you'd like to know more about this method, please see http://www.kstoolkit.org/Human+Spectrogram
  • The proliferation of internet based tools has expanded what it means to "be together" with others for learning, work and pleasure. We'll explore how we might navigate these spaces and play with a few heuristics you can take back with you.
  • This is the wiki where we can gather notes, etc.
  • What I'm going to share comes from the learning I experienced working with Etienne and John as well as through my own work. As we dug into the PRACTICES of technology stewardship, we realized they were part of a system, a habitat in which a group, community or network interacted. That there were intersections between the defined set of tools in a group and those used by individuals. There were overlaps and disconnects.
  • The proliferation of internet based tools has expanded what it means to "be together" with others for learning, work and pleasure. We'll explore how we might navigate these spaces and play with a few heuristics you can take back with you.
  • How do we, as learners, business people, educators and designers decide when to focus on the individual, the group or the wider network? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? How does our choice inform our selection of tools and methods? And what about all the gray area "in between" each of these?
  • It starts with “me” - each of us as individual actors and learners in the world. How do we learn or work? What motivates us? And when are we best served as independent actors?
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/swissrolli/2167756791/ Uploaded on January 5, 2008 by swissrolli
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/27126314@N03/2956992219/ The next stage along the continuum – and I stress that this is a continuum – is the “we” - bounded groups with an explicit shared purpose. As we move from me to we, the purpose may be emergent, fuzzy and we may just be creating the boundaries of the group.
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gustavog/9708628/ Finally, at the other end of the continuum – which I now think of as a circle, by the way, instead of a linear continuum, is the network. This is the network that we can now visualize and participate in more than any other time in human history because of technology. This is the “new” part of the game when we think about learning, because network participation is no longer constrained as it was by time and distance for many of us. (Not for all of us... we'll come back to that)
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gustavog/9708628/ Finally, at the other end of the continuum – which I now think of as a circle, by the way, instead of a linear continuum, is the network. This is the network that we can now visualize and participate in more than any other time in human history because of technology. This is the “new” part of the game when we think about learning, because network participation is no longer constrained as it was by time and distance for many of us. (Not for all of us... we'll come back to that)
  • It starts with “me” - each of us as individual actors and learners in the world. How do we learn or work? What motivates us? And when are we best served as independent actors?
  • So let's do a little comparing and contrasting of this circular continuum. 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. If there was a subliminal sign flashing across this slide, it would be saying “IDENTITY.” identity shows up differently across this continuum and identity can be linked to purpose and boundaries. http://www.zengestrom.com/blog/2005/04/why_some_social.html (Social-material networks)
  • These different boundaries influence the power dynamics that occur between people. It influences processes of leadership and other roles. It defines levels of trust and privacy – which are not always closely linked as we move to the network level. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bonnie_bassler_on_how_bacteria_communicate.html
  • Finally, the tools we use can vary across the continuum. We'll talk a bit more about this later.
  • So in the past, I’ve done this exercise in pairs, in World Café and in the 1-2-4 build up. I’d not do 1-2-4 here and Café takes longer, so I suggest pairs or maybe rotating pairs then a debrief.
  • The second framework is discussed at length in the book, but I wanted to share it, however briefly, with you. I apologize in advance that I’m going to fly through it pretty quickly…
  • 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.”
  • 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.  
  • Examples of publishing and interacting (or participation and reification.)
  • 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.
  • Individuals and groups. Togetherness is a property of communities but individual members experience it in their own ways. 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.   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.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  •           The time/space dimension is represented on the horizontal axis, with primarily asynchronous tools toward the left and primarily synchronous tools toward the right.             The donut of the middle band represents the tension between participation and reification by classifying tools along a continuum between interacting in the upper half and publishing in the lower half.             The tension between the group and the individual is represented by the center circle and the outer band respectively. The center circle focuses on the collective, with group and site management tools. The outer band focuses on the individual, with tools for managing participation from the perspective of individual members.
  • So in the past, I’ve done this exercise in pairs, in World Café and in the 1-2-4 build up. I’d not do 1-2-4 here and Café takes longer, so I suggest pairs or maybe rotating pairs then a debrief.
  • This third frame is a practical one – a tool you can use. You can find the slides on the book site or on my blog at http://www.technologyforcommunities.com or http://www.fullcir.com – just search for “spidergram”
  • 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, 2009 Meetings – in person or online gatherings with an agenda (i.e. monthly topic calls) Projects – interrelated tasks with specific outcomes or products (i.e. Identifying a new practice and refining it.) Access to expertise – learning from experienced practitioners (i.e. access to subject matter experts) Relationship – getting to know each other (i.e. the annual potluck dinner!) Context – private, internally-focused or serving an organization, or the wider world (i.e. what is kept within the community, what is shared with the wider world) Community cultivation – Recruiting, orienting and supporting members, growing the community (i.e. who made sure you’re the new person was invited in and met others?) Individual participation – enabling members to craft their own experience of the community (i.e. access material when and how you want it.) Content – a focus on capturing and publishing what the community learns and knows (i.e. a newsletter, publishing an article, etc.) Open ended conversation – conversations that continue to rise and fall over time without a specific goal (i.e. listserv or web forum, Twitter, etc.)
  • What can we do with this? Identify where your community/group/team is now to assess for design, facilitation and technology stewardship. Refocus activities to increase engagement Identify tools and processes to support current activities Identify where your group wants to go as a planning tool. Look backwards and forwards as a reflection tool. 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.
  • Example: 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 superimpose spidergrams over time, or compare different groups to understand 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.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, are the people. What roles are we playing in our communities and networks? What is needed? What is recognized and what still sits unnoticed but alive?
  • These roles and practices create the conditions that enable people to….
  • Three roles that I’ve been looking at are community leaders, network weavers and technology stewards. Community leaders are a more familiar role, helping defined groups achieve specific goals over a period of time. “Helping” may mean creating conditions, supporting the emergence of relationships or individual and/or group identity, managing, etc. Network weavers are a new role (See the work of June Holley et al at http://www.networkweaving.com/blog/) – “people who facilitate new connections and increase the quality of those connections.” In between community leaders and network weavers are technology stewards – they show up both in groups/communities AND networks.
  • Ten years ago, when someone wanted to set up a set of tools to support a community of practice, they called up IT. Install Lotus notes. “Give me a SharePoint set up.” And that was that. Communities rarely had control of their online environments. There was a gulf between designers and users. Unless of course, they were coders. Now we have access to a wide variety of tools, some of which are technically difficult to set up, and others that are available at a click of the button. Who is paying attention to these tools? Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dani3l3/364684710/
  • Technology stewardship is not a solo gig, but by, of and for the community. It is about that balance between control and emergence, between "self-organizing" and "organizing on behalf of others." It balances the wisdom of the group, with the reality of getting things done.
  • Finally, what are some of the forward looking implications we explored in our research…
  • Etienne probably did the best job of summing them up with these four areas in the last chapter of the book.
  • Get used to it Control is an ILLUSION
  • Thank you!

Digital Habitats : stewarding technology for communities - South Africa, May 2010 Digital Habitats : stewarding technology for communities - South Africa, May 2010 Presentation Transcript

  • Making sense of the technology landscape for groups & communities Nancy White Full Circle Associates www.fullcirc.com Digital Habitats
  • Human spectrogram
  • Agenda/Scaffold: Idea/Practice/Debrief/shared documentation People Forms Purpose Checklist Polarities and Tensions Polarity self assessment Orientations Spidergram Roles (especially technology steward and various facilitators) The Looking Glass
  • http://onlinefacilitation.wikispaces.com/Stewarding+Technology+for+Online+Communities http://bit.ly/a2neSA
  • http://technologyforcommunities.com/
  • Tech + Social: Technology has fundamentally changed how we can be together
  • #1 People Forms (me, we, network)
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecstaticist/2918198742/in/set-72157603453505459/ Go Solo?
  • Pairs, triads and very small groups – http://www.flickr.com/photos/swissrolli/2167756791/
  • Fly with the flock? Research teams.. . http://www.flickr.com/photos/swissrolli/2167756791/
  • South Africa's community nest spider http://www.south-african-game-reserves.com/arachnidpics/comnestspid.htm
  • Roam the network?
  • Networked Individualism Barry Wellman
  • The connected researcher, teacher, consultant...
  • Many: Networks We: Communities Me: the Individual Personal identity, interest & trajectory Bounded membership; group identity, shared interest, human centered Boundaryless; fuzzy, intersecting interests, object centered sociality (Engeström)
  • Many: Networks We: Communities Me: the Individual Consciousness, confidence level, risk tolerance, styles, emotion Distinct power/trust dynamics, shared forward movement or strong blocking, stasis, attention to maintenance, language Flows around blocks, less cohesion, distributed power/trust, change
  • Many: Networks We: Communities Me: the Individual Blogs, email, research portfolios, RSS readers, the Brain… Forums, wikis, group blogs, content mgmt systems, LMS, platforms… Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia,etc…
  • purpose exercise
    • What is the purpose of your community/group?
    • Community Checklist
    http://onlinefacilitation.wikispaces.com/Online+Community+Planning+Checklist
  • revise?
    • After hearing other people’s ideas, do you want to alter yours at all?
    • Share any changes at your table - briefly
  • #2 Polarities
  • TOGETHERNESS SEPARATENESS http://www.flickr.com/photos/angerboy/201582453/
  • community time community space shifting engagement & rhythm...
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldcafe/227358678 / Participation Reification
  • Vocabularies, tools, concepts, methods, stories, papers, pictures, reports… Conversing, experimenting, practicing, learning, planning…
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldcafe/227358678 / INTERACTING PUBLISHING
  • INDIVIDUAL GROUP
  • Designed for groups, experienced as individuals Does not imply homogeneity Multimembership Attention
  • Togetherness Separateness Participation Reification Individual Group
  • togetherness separateness participation reification individual group rhythm interaction identity F2F Community platform
  • addressing inherent community tensions Tools Group asynchronous discussion boards teleconference chat instant messaging member directory wiki blog telephony/ VoIP individual profile page e-mail e-mail lists scratch pad RSS “ new” indicators subscription podcast content repository presence indicator buddy list security Q&A systems RSS aggregator newsletter calendar videoconference application sharing whiteboard site index participation statistics search subgroups personalization community public page version control document management UseNet content rating scheduling polling commenting networking tools tagging bookmarking shared filtering geomapping www.TechnologyForCommunities.com Etienne Wenger Nancy White John Smith Individual Interacting Publishing synchronous Group asynchronous
  • purpose exercise
    • What polarities might show up with your community/group/network?
  • #3 Orientations Spidergram
  • … meetings … relationships … community cultivation … access to expertise … projects … context … individual participation … content publishing … open-ended conversation Community activities oriented to … Base material from: Digital Habitats: Stewarding technology for communities © 2009 Wenger, White, and Smith
    • Meetings – Web meeting tools for online, shared calendars and wikis for planning, wikis, blogs, images/audio/video to capture and share during and after.
    • Projects – Email lists/forums to coordinate, shared calendars, project management trackers, blogs to journal/report.
    • Access to expertise – Online profiles, social networking sites, “yellow pages,” discussion forums, blogs.
    • Relationship – Twitter/IM to share small frequent messages, member directories, Skype/VoIp for conversation.
    • Context – Public, open websites for outward facing. Password protected for inward facing groups.
    • Community cultivation – Outward facing web sites to attract members, Twitter/IM to feel connected, Skype for voice.
    • Individual participation – RSS/aggregators, tagging, so people can craft what content they get, customizable settings on web tools, using synch and asynch
    • Content – content management systems, blogs, wikis, podcasts, social bookmarking, tags, video/audio, images, mindmapping.
    • Open ended conversation – email lists, forums, Twitter, chat.
    Base material from: Digital Habitats: Stewarding technology for communities © 2009 Wenger, White, and Smith Orientations Picking tools? How?
  • activities oriented to … Community Name: KM4Dev global knowledge sharing network … open-ended conversation … meetings … projects … access to expertise … relationships … context … community cultivation … individual participation … content publishing Base material from: Digital Habitats: Stewarding technology for communities © 2009 Wenger, White, and Smith With only one meeting a year, large size and diversity, KM4Dev focuses on enabling individual participation. Community knowledge wiki, content management system to bring together resources. Email list is core of community activity Once a year and only about 10% do/can participate. When funding allows. E.G. supporting ShareFair Informally via the email list by asking/answering questions. Relationships mostly via meetings and core group. Strongly external – all resources public/shared. While everyone pays attention to the community, no centralized efforts…
  • activities oriented to … Current and Future … open-ended conversation … meetings … projects … access to expertise … relationships … context … community cultivation … individual participation … content publishing Base material from: Digital Habitats: Stewarding technology for communities © 2009 Wenger, White, and Smith
  • Spidergram Exercise 1. Determine if you are thinking about an existing or planned context. 2. Fill in 3. Discuss w/ a peer you don't know so well 4. Revise 5. Group debrief
  • #4 Roles
  • enable people to…
    • discover & appropriate useful technology
    • be in and use communities & networks (people)
    • express their identity
    • find and create content
    • usefully participate
    • facilitators
    • community leaders
    • technology stewards
    • network weavers
    • Independent thinkers
  • What the %&*# is a technology steward? http://www.flickr.com/photos/dani3l3/364684710/ Nancy White Full Circle Associates
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dani3l3/364684710/ “ Technology stewards are 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…
  • What roles do you want to explore and talk about?
  • #5 Looking forward…
  • In collaboration with Nancy White and John Smith new fabric of connectivity active technology landscapes multiple engagement modes reconfigured geographies From Wenger, White and Smith, 2009
  • new fabric of connectivity
      • - togetherness and separation
      • - always on
      • - virtual presence
      • - peripherality
    From Wenger, White and Smith, 2009
  • active technology landscape
    • - interacting and publishing
    • - social/informational computing
    • - semantic web
    • - digital footprint
    From Wenger, White and Smith, 2009
  • multiple engagement modes
    • - generalized self-expression
    • - mass collaboration
    • - creative re-appropriation
    • - thin connections/weak ties
    From Wenger, White and Smith, 2009
  • reconfigured geographies
    • - competing spaces
    • - multimembership
    • - dynamic boundaries
    • - global reach
    From Wenger, White and Smith, 2009
  • don’t worry – there will be bumps in the road…TALK about them
  • 15% solution
    • Noticing and using the influence, discretion and power individuals have right now.
    • – Keith McCandless
    • Do we….
      • let it happen?
      • help it happen?
      • make it happen?
  • Epilogue Resources: www.technologyforcommunities.com http://bit.ly/a2neSA Contact Nancy White nancyw at fullcirc dot com http:www.fullcirc.com @NancyWhite http://www.flickr.com/photos/poagao/527259905/