Search Results for "configuration"

May 10 2011

Curating our personal technology configurations

Published by

(Cross posted on FullCirc and NWWCoP, plus a Russian translation here.)

A conversation emerging in the Network Weaving Community of Practice (NWWCoP) focuses on this question: how can/do we use social media for intentionally weaving our networks? As we prepare for a synchronous conversation today, I realized I can frame this question from a technology stewardship perspective, specifically the idea of curating our own personal technology configurations so that they can help us tap into and amplify the value of our networks.

What is a Technology Configuration?

From Digital Habitat’s we framed the idea of configuration this way: “By configuration we mean the overall set of technologies that serve as a substrate for acommunity’s habitat at a given point in time—whether tools belong to a single platform,to multiple platforms, or are free-standing.”
For a while I was obsessed with tagging material that helped us see others’ configuration, via my Delicious tags. Each configuration teaches me something new and gives me a new perspective on my own and the configurations of my communities. (See also other posts on the Digital Habitats blog on configuration.) In some ways, these felt like a type of fingerprint. While many communities used similar tools, the individual variations were fascinating. This made sense to explore at the community level, especially with more bounded communities.
While community’s have their configurations, so do individuals. When working with networks, where we are tapping into the value of connections between people, it becomes the intersection of individual configurations that fascinate me for many reasons. Here are a few:

  1. How do individual’s configurations intersect and complement or compete with their community’s configuration.
  2. How does the intersection between and individual’s configuration and their community’s make the individual’s networks available to their community? Specifically, what are the individual-to-individual configuration implications?
  3. How do we use our individual configurations for network weaving itself? (For example, see

Let’s get a bit more concrete about #3. Clearly a lot of non profits are interested in social mediagenerally, but lets focus on network weaving for a moment.For example, some of my key network weaving practices include “closing triangles” (introducing and helping people connect), sharing information from smaller, closed groups out to the larger world/networks, and curating resources within and across networks. What configurations might I use for these?

  • Closing Triangles – email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Facebook – all to do introductions and to “begin the conversations” while linking to relevant bios and backgrounds. The emphasis is on the social interaction and visibility of individual identity.
  • Sharing Information – blogs, Twitter (and related tools), delicious, Digg, Flickr, YouTube (and all content sharing sites) – the focus is on publication in some form or another, then connecting people to that content.
  • Curating Resources – mostly the same as sharing information, but with the added layer of tags, rating mechanisms, aggregation tools.

Managing Our Configurations

A major challenge we run up against in this proliferation both of practices and tools is how to manage this. There is a lot of talk these days of dashboards and tools like Social Base. I have resisted digging too deeply there due to my own habit of “rabbit holing” and not getting my work done, but clearly this is on my radar screen. What I’ve seen so far has been more about tracking metrics of social media rather than tying the media to the practice and desired outcomes.
Any guidance for me? What is your practice of managing your technology configuration from a particular practices perspective, such as network weaving?

3 responses so far

Aug 12 2009

Personal tech configuration as steward’s springboard

Published by

(Crossposted from Nancy’s blog)

intersections and configurationsRecently I wrote a post on my blog that received a lot of attention – more than I would have expected: How I use social media. At the end of the post, I promised to write about WHAT social media I currently use.

I  think of the constellation of tools a person uses as their configuration of tools. It is both what they use, how they use them, and how they fill the range of needs as a whole. I have saved a few delicious tags about individuals’ technology configurations if you want to browse with they use.

As I was tracking down all my tools I had this little “aha” moment about technology stewardship. By looking at one’s personal technology configuration, you can get a sense of what a community’s tech configuration might be.  It is sort of a microcosm.

So here it goes…

I started making a list of all the social media I use. I realized there is an important distinction between the media I use regularly, and the media I try, dabble and experiment with. Part of my work requires me to do a lot of experimentation, so I have accounts on scores of social media sites – more that are forgotten than are used. So I want to focus on the tools I use regularly, the tools that make a difference in my work. Now some of you may say a few of these don’t qualify as “social media” – old school things like email. I’m including them because I think social media predates the label. 😉

I also wondered if it would be worth organizing them in the categories of “use” I used in the previous post. This would clearly create duplicates, so I resisted that impulse. It would have created too much duplication if I tried to sort them into:

  • Learning
  • Getting work done
  • Finding and connecting with people
  • Getting stuff (search, content, etc.)
  • Exploring and pushing my own boundaries

So here are the tools.

  • Email
    • Eudora (business, family and close friends) – Eudora was my first email program and you know how it is, you get used to something. Eudora is no longer a paid product, now Open Source. I am not an Outlook fan. What can I say?
    • Gmail (two accounts, one to back up my Fullcirc email and one for everything I don’t want in my main in box.) I considered moving all my email to Gmail but decided I don’t want all my eggs in one basket. However, most of my email lists and social media accounts use Gmail so I can keep my other inbox manageable. This has made a BIG difference in the efficiency and effectiveness of my email practice.
    • I still have a Yahoo mail account and perhaps a hotmail account… who knows?
    • Old fashioned web access from my ISP for when nothing else works (always have a back up) – When you depend on email and the internet, you want more than one way in. I also still have a dialup service I can use on a per minute basis but knock on wood, I have not used it in years.
  • Browsers
    • Firefox – my day to day browser, but I have weeks where I trip on over to Chrome. I haven’t opened up IE in months.
    • Chrome – because I can…
  • Blogging
    • Word Press plus plugins – A friend (thanks Jon!) helped me set this up and I have been very very happy.
    • (I used to use Blogger). I left Blogger unhappy. I hosted my own blog and had mountains of FTP problems, and from the forums, I was not alone. Never got a stitch of help from Blogger. That was the end of what once was a happy relationship.
  • Microblogging
    • Twitter – I want to look into because I’m getting more and more convinced that decentralized apps are the way to go if you want resiliance.
    • Twhirl as a Twitter desktop client because I find Twitter on the web tiresome.
    • Tweetdeck when juggling Tweets at events, hashtags. Otherwise it is too much and it hogs a lot of resources on my older desktop computer.
  • IM and VoIP
    • Skype (chat function might be listed as a tool unto itself. I’ve abandoned MSN and AOLIM.) What would I do without Skype? I work with people all over the world. The free VoIP, the presence indicators, the chat, file transfer, etc. –> central application for me, second only to email.
    • VOIP phone service with a web interface provided by my ISP. I can pick up my voicemail via the net or via email, transfer calls away from home etc. I also get unlimited long distance in North America and certain European cities, but I still use Skype.
    • HighDef Conferencing (paid service) for large audio meetings because it scales well and allows entry by both Skype and telephone and has some local numbers in other countries. I have global networks and groups!
  • Chat
    • Skype
    • Etherpad but I sure wish you could have more than 8 people on at a time or that they had a paid hosted service. It is a sweet combo of real time wiki and chat room that pairs great with a Skype call or telecon.
    • IRC (yeah, still IRC!)
    • Google Talk sometimes
  • Co-writing & Publishing
    • Google Docs has become my primary shared writing and spread sheet space. I need to try Zoho ! (See here for more alternatives. I don’t know about you, but I get worried when I rely too much on one company. So much for integration, eh?)
    • Wikispaces and other wikis, including MediaWiki. I am a wikispaces fan girl for sure! Easy to use. I also like PB wiki, now called PB Works
    • Etherpad (also for chat during audio calls)
  • Live meeting tools (Often I don’t have a say in what is used.)
    • Elluminate – a paid service, but worth it when there is budget. You can get a free 3 person room to try it out. I like it because you can devolve controls way out to participants and have multiple moderators. WebEx and Live Meeting— take note! I am floored the MS Livemeeting does not have integrated participant chat. You can only chat with the moderators. I am not into top down controlled online meetings, thanyouverymuch!
    • Dim Dim (I’ve only used the free version)
    • Vyew – free, visually a bit messy, but works well for small groups.
    • Adobe Connect – quite a few of my clients use this, especially in the academic realm. I’ve never managed it, but it was a pleasant experience using it.
  • Images
    • Flickr (including third party Flickr toys) – I love flickr. I love the ease of posting my pics, of finding creative commons pictures to use from other Flickrites and the general sense of camaraderie that emerges around images. Damn cool!
    • Picassa and Picassa web albums – I manage and edit photos with the desktop application and then use Picassa when I want to easily, more privately share pictures. I use this a lot with my clients.
    • Picnik and Snagit (hm, where does the line between software application and social media sit?) for capture and editing.
  • Aggregating
    Because I don’t want to use just one integrated set of tools and because setting content free and making it useful to others are two core practices of mine, tools that make it easy to syndicate and aggregate are essential. Even if I never fully understand how they work! These all leverage RSS.

    • Bloglines
      – where I subscribe to and read blogs. Alas, I’m spending less time reading. Where does the time go?
    • iGoogle – nice as a start page, especially for when I’m on the road.
    • Netvibes – another nice start page tool that I am using less since iGoogle. I’m fickle.
    • Feedburner – to help manage the feeds FROM my blog.
  • Conversational, content management and “Learning” platforms
    This is a very messy lump from a technology standpoint. It used to be that online events and work spaces were very tidily held within one application. Then these tools were stand alone and indispensable. Now it seems I use part of them – the part that works well – and I often ignore the rest. For example, WebCrossing has a fabulous email interface for when I need web based discussions that can be used offline for low bandwidth settings. The rest I can ignore. Moodle, while pretty visually ugly, is easy to set up and is fabulously open source, as is Drupal. And despite rumors to the contrary, email lists are alive and well and in fact critical in low bandwidth settings.

    • Moodle – open source “learning management system” but I use it simply as a collaboration space. Please, someone tell them to improve their blog structure!
    • Webcrossing – known fondly by some of us oldtimers as the cockroach of online conferencing as it just doesn’t die.
    • Drupal – powerful open source content management system. Know what you are getting into and it can do a lot, or use specific pre-configured packages such as the Social Media Classroom.
    • Yahoogroups – oldie but a gooie.
    • Googlegroups
      – my more technical groups prefer this over Yahoogroups and I can’t seem to figure out why, but it is consistent feedback.
  • Bookmarking
    I am a bookmarking addict and to be frank, I’m not sure why. I think I’m afraid I’m going to miss or forget something, but truth be told, I don’t use my bookmarks once I’ve created them!

    • Delicious
    • Diigo – I particularly like that you can bookmark on Diigo and set it to automatically add the bookmark to delicious. However, I use it less because it appears to be down more than delicious.
  • Video
    I don’t use video much – nor as much as I might like to. I get content on Youtube but prefer posting on Blip.

  • Music
  • Filesharing
  • Social Network Sites
    • Ning – not so much that I would choose it, but many of the groups and networks I belong to have chosen it. I specifically dislike the content-empty email alerts. You have to click in, sign in and then find out the message wasn’t of interest. Ick. Also, there should be more ability to link between Ning communities, IMHO.
    • Facebook – more because many people in my life use it centrally and if I want to be connected to them, I have to play the game. Otherwise I would probably avoid it.
    • LinkedIn – I use it again because peers I care about do. I think I’m pretty well linked in already! 🙂
  • Mindmapping
  • Other Stuff
    • Carbonite back up (I include it because I learned about it from my network!AVG Anti virus would fall into the same bucket. I have both a local and online backup. Yup, back it up friends, back it UP! If
    • Google translate (used to use Babelfish)
    • Wordle because it is visually fun and easy to make tag clouds. It is a lazy way of making discussion summaries as well. Shhhh… don’t tell!

What is YOUR configuration? If you are a technology steward for a community, how does your personal configuration inform the configuration of the community?

16 responses so far

Aug 04 2011

Index to the vignettes

Published by

The little stories or vignettes that appear in text boxes throughout the book did not make it onto any list or the index. Here is the title and page number for each one of the 40 vignettes.

Chapter 1 Page
  MPD-SUPPORT-L: email list or community of practice? 5
Chapter 2
  Responding to community inventiveness 20
Chapter 3
  Stepping into the role 24
  From curious explorer to thought leader 29
  Technology stewardship for a constellation of communities 32
Chapter 4
  Compromises for the community as a whole 44
  The evolution of a configuration 46
  Tools can create gaps between members 47
  Busy people want it all in one place 50
  Many websites that work “as one” 51
  Integration as a community practice 53
Chapter 5
  Shifting for inclusion and flexibility 56
  Unexpected use of technology through everyday inventiveness 61
  Using tools that were not designed for communities 62
  Coding the “glue” 63
  Tools offering new possibilities 65
  Feeling like we are together 66
Chapter 6
  Artifacts or conversations? 70
  From weekly broadcasts and conversations to a sense of community 73
  Open-ended conversation grows beyond a single stream 76
  Beyond conversations to projects 79
  Building a library by tagging 81
  Just-in-time expertise 84
  Beer offline and online 87
  Accommodating participation styles 89
  Careful cultivation as key success factor for online community 94
  Oreintation to an organizational context embedded in technology 97
Chapter 8
  Bringing it under one roof 122
  Software and community development combined 124
  Mashup for a community map 127
Chapter 9
  Stewarding prompted by community needs 135
  Carrying key artifacts forward 138
  Learning to use a new tool 139
  One question uncovers many practices 140
  Tech stewards look over each others’ shoulders 141
  Experimenting as the heart of a community 142
  Darned if you do, darned if you don’t 143
  A cautionary tale 144
Chapter 11
  Venturing into new community geographies 179
Chapter 12
  The NPtech community: What is in a Tag? 192

One response so far

Mar 14 2010

Skype as a community platform

Published by

(This is cross-posted from my blog on Learning Alliances.)

You probably already know that Skype is a great tool – especially for community leaders. If you are a technology steward, it’s not only a great tool but it’s also a handy example for illustrating some of the use and integration issues that we have to deal with and be able to talk about.

To really talk about how to use a tool we need to be able to point to specific buttons and understand the user’s context and experience. Given that we often have many tools to choose from, that we use them in tandem and that that the tools a community uses interact with each other in complex ways, how we talk about the tools and people’s experience matters. That experience affects usability, learning and collaboration. Although most people probably think of Skype as a personal or individual tool, it is complex enough to demonstrate the issues involved in understanding a community platform. This post demonstrates the language we developed in Digital Habitats to make sense of the technology landscape on just one tool.

First of all, Skype is not just one tool. It’s a platform with lots of different tools on top of it. The tools tools in Skype are essential for my work as a community leader. If you follow this discussion about how all of them work together, you’ll have a good example of the approach we developed in Digital Habitats to make sense of platforms in a way that brings out the issues around tool comparison, duplication, and integration.

A phone

It looks like a phone

The most obvious thing to notice about Skype is that it works like a phone. (Another phone? I already have several! My phone call arbitrage is complicated enough: I pay a flat fee for my plain old telephone system (POTS) land line for local calls and for long-distance within the US. And I already have a pre-pay scheme for cheap international phone calls! And I have a cell phone in my pocket. Why do I need another phone?) Well, Skype is actually two phone tools that have useful features in and of themselves and are integrated with other Skype tools that I’ll talk about below. The two phone tools are different in that one is for calling a POTS phone with a number and another for calling other Skype users (with a Skype ID)

One-to-one interaction on-the-spur of the moment is ideal for reaching out to community members – to find out what’s on their minds or provide exactly the help that they happen to need at that moment. In my community work I make it a point to ask people for their POTS phone numbers or Skype IDs.

In this post I discuss several Skype tools (not all of them) in terms of how their features are useful, how they work with each other and how they work with tools on other platforms that people in my community might use. In a way this puts to work some of the analytical framework we develop in Chapter 4 of Digital Habitats. The polarities discussed in Chapter 5 are a big help in organizing our thinking about these issues. So I represent each tool with a screen-shot and a diagram below it suggesting how the polarities seem to me at the moment. The phone diagram shown below indicates that I think the phone is on the participation end (unless you reify the conversation with a recording); you have to participate in real time, so it’s synchronous (exchanging voice-mails moves the red triangle toward asynchronous); and it’s a one-to-one experience, so I place it close to the individual end of the spectrum. The placements in this diagram then determine the placement of the tool in a tool landscape at the end of the post.

My impression of Skype as a phone

Each of the two phone tools has its interface: the Skype-to-POTS interface has a keypad that looks like the keypad on a regular phone. When clicking on the keypad gets tedious, you can just type in the number you’re calling in a text box labeled “Enter phone number.”

Lots to do with a contact

Notice that the two tools are really different in cost and function: it costs a small amount to call someone on a regular phone and you can’t receive a call back from them unless you buy a POTS number from Skype. A Skype-to-Skype call is free and it’s very easy for someone to call you back if they miss your call. Integration asymmetries between Skype and other platforms force different interfaces, so make me think that Skype has two different phone tools.

Contact list

You make a call to another Skype user using its contacts list tool. The contacts tool partly overlaps with my Outlook, Gmail, and mobile phone contacts tools, but it things that the others don’t. One is to show who’s currently “available,” indicated by a green dot with a check-mark in it, so it works like a global “presence indicator.” Also, you can group contacts, rename them, send them to other Skype users and perform various other actions.

Your personal contacts list is available whenever you log onto Skype – from whatever machine you use. (Surprisingly, the same account can be logged on from two different machines.) When you click on a Skype contact, you have the choice of calling their regular phone, which will cost you but is more attention-getting, or calling them on Skype which only “rings” on their computer.

In my opinion the most polite way to reach someone is to first check if they are available using the text chat tool (discussed next) and then call them on Skype or by regular phone only after the other party has responded that it’s OK to call. If we’ve made an appointment to talk and the other party doesn’t respond, I may call them on their regular phone, which rings loudly (and may be a mobile phone that they carry with them).

Chat: SMS and alert

Like the phones, Skype’s text chat tool is complicated: it’s the same on the front end, but different on the back end.

I'm running late

The text chat with other Skype users is a full-bore chat tool: like an instant message tool but better because it’s integrated with other Skype tools. For me it is the most frequently used of all Skype’s tools. Messages can be long and replying is easy. The interface is clean and it’s very robust: people are not dropped off a chat and they receive chat text even if their machine crashes. Skype keeps the chats on your machine since you installed it and you can search through them.

You can send a 160-character SMS text message to a mobile phone from the same window you use to call a POTS number (provided the number goes with a mobile phone). That’s handy but asymmetrical because a reply message from a mobile phone can only go back to another mobile, not to you on Skype. So it works more like an alert than a conversation tool.

Skype alert

Nancy White and I regularly use the Skype text chat as an alert – to drop notes off on each other’s desks. Often the drop-off is a URL and the message is no more than “Hey, look at this!” A direct message on Twitter or the inbox feature on http://delicious.comwould be obvious alternatives, but on a windows machine Skype blinks so it’s visible and hard to miss. No response is required but an alert can lead to extended conversations.

Chat is one of the most versatile tools we have. A chat is useful for alerts, for sharing, for conversations, for negotiating meeting times, and on and on. It’s ironic that there are so many different and incompatible chat protocols and tools. Once you have a chat connection with someone the possibilities for collaboration increase dramatically.

A profile that gets used

How many profiles have you grudgingly completed in your life, imagining that someone you really need to be in touch with will find you? One for each community tool you have ever used, perhaps. If you’re like me, you’ve completed dozens of them and probably most of them are now out of date! Our likelihood of keeping them up-to-date depends on how frequently we use a tool or how close at hand the profile tool is. I keep my Skype profile current because I consider it an interaction tool, not just a publication. Skype’s profiles are in a proprietary format and not available outside of Skype. However you can send a profile to another Skype user.

The Skype profile tool is an example of a tool that’s mostly an individual’s public description of themselves. But when you use the “mood message” to let people know where in the world you are or what you’re doing, it’s an interaction kick-off.

Hello world

Skype makes other people’s profiles useful by letting you modify or add to the information that they provide. Skype lets you edit other people’s names, which I find is handy if people haven’t completed their profile. Also, if you have a private phone number for someone that they don’t post on their profile, you can add it to your copy of their profile.

Skype would be a useful platform just for its one-to-one phone calls and text messages, but it becomes indispensable because the audio and text tools work in a many-to-many mode. Skype as a conferencing tool makes it a real community platform, especially given how all the other tools are integrated on the platform. Here again the user interface masks differences on the back end. A group chat is extremely robust, working in a point-to-point fashion: any one of those on the chat can drop out (e.g., turn of their computer) without affecting the others. And when Skype comes back up, the intervening text messages that were exchanged among the other parties to the chat magically appear on the machine that dropped out.

Group Chats

Chat is the workhorse

Audio conferences (not shown in a screen shot) are different: all the audio signals go through the computer of the “host” who initiates the call. If the host drops, the audio call ends for everyone. It’s important for an audio conference to be initiated by the person with the fastest and most stable Internet bandwidth: if the host is on a dial-up connection or an overloaded wi-fi network, it will impact everyone.

Another difference between audio conferences and text chats has to do with scale. A large number of people can be on a text chat, but an audio conference starts getting noisy and unstable well before running up against the Skype maximum of 9 callers.If everyone is on Skype, conference calling and group chat are nicely integrated. You have a “call Group button” to launch an audio conference from a text chat and a chat transcript appears automatically when you are on a group chat.

When a group is working on a project over a long period, for example, a long-running Skype chat is a great way to keep everybody connected and focused. Ten weeks is the record in my experience. When you turn on your computer in the morning, all the conversations between people in different time zones pop up. The flexibility of chat makes it an ideal tools for coordinating work on other platforms.

Contact groups

Which list are you on?

Over time you accumulate a lot of contacts in Skype and it’s very helpful that Skype lets you organize them into Groups. Skype automatically creates some groups, such as “recently contacted” or “requests from new contacts.” But you can create as many groups as you want. Adding people to or removing them from a group is easy and you can put people in multiple groups.

The groups tool is useful in combination with other tools. For example, when you select a group, you can easily see who is currently logged on to Skype. What that means depends on whether being logged on to Skype at a given point is a norm in that group of people or not. A Skype group makes it easy to start a group chat or a group audio conference. One advantage of using a group to set up a chat is that you include people whether they are logged on or not; when they do log on, the chat messages will pop up on their computer.

So what?

The point of using these polarities and the feature-tool-platform-configuration scheme are not to enable a final analysis of a technology. We developed them as a natural way to help a technology steward take a step back from the hand-on level and make sense of the experiences that enable a community to be together and to learn. This tour of Skype is not meant to prove anything: it’s more suggesting a way of making sense of a technology. Here are some further thoughts that I’ve got floating around as I try to get this post shipped off:

  • The polarities and how they play off of each other are intuitive and practical but they are also slippery.
    • It’s more difficult to talk about a tool’s polarities in general than to talk about a specific group’s practice of using a specific tool.
    • People intuitively pick up on the practices around a tool, but these polarities can sometimes help us figure out why things aren’t working.
    • A tool’s polarities are determined as much by their design as by their technological background and how they fit within a larger configuration. For example, where we put an SMS one-way alert message from Skype in our technology landscape is determined by the technology infrastructure; a Skype-to-Skype alert is a convention for some people.
  • Tech stewards need to understand what it’s like to use a tool and to be able to talk about the experience and the tool separately.
  • Preferred, ignored, duplicate, or competing tools all make sense within this social and technical mix we call a digital habitat.
  • Each software feature makes sense within the context of a tool, and each tool is framed by its position on a platform, which has meaning in the context of a configuration that’s shared by a group of people.
  • In a way it’s all circular because you can’t see a community’s configuration (or digital habitat) directly or simply.
    • You can’t stand outside of your own digital habitat
    • You can’t really see a community unless you’re participating in their habitat
    • Seeing their habitat as they see it requires relationships and access to their practices, habits, and cultural frame
    • Understanding the role of a tool in a habitat involves a sense of shared timing and even group improvisation

A provisional placing of Skype tools on the digital landscape

What do you think?

12 responses so far

Feb 18 2010

SIKM community presentation

Published by

February 16, 2010

Theme: Rethinking Ourselves (KM People)  as Technology Stewards

The agenda:

  • What brought Etienne, John and Nancy to the conversation about technology stewardship
  • A little bit about our respective practices
  • Just in case Images: A slide deck with:
    • A definition of technology stewardship
    • Orientations
    • Polarities
  • Open up the conversation


Book site:


A Peek at the public back-channel: The SIKM chat in Etherpad and Twitter

The view from TwitterTo prepare for today’s call we decided to just start with what brought us to this work, since reporting on work that has spanned almost 6 years seemed a bit daunting.

Etienne Wenger: what brought me to this tech steward work?  The 2001 “Tech Report” for the Federal Council of CIOs was getting out of date.  proposed to write an update of it.  But the more we talked, the more we focused on the role of the people who are bridging between communities and technology.

John Smith: Years ago, started noticing how, in CPsquare ( and in other communities, people straddled different tools and technologies, like phones and Twitter or forums and face-to-face. They were frequently going back and forth between one and the other. Often without a lot of obvious cues as to why one was chosen, or why it fit. It was just “understood” where the conversation would be picked up. That seemed like a real indicator that some useful activity going on there that was worth understanding and cultivating, because it helped keep those conversations going in those communities.

Nancy White: how could I say no? it’s an individual invitation from people I like.  IN the beginning I thought it was about technology.  In the end I realized  that it’s about “making things visible” .  I realize that this morning.  Tech stewardship is helping make something visible when it’s important, useful.  an act of bridging between tech & people.  That was echoed over last several weeks several times, so it changed what I was thinking of saying today.    When people invite me to talk about KM, I say that I don’t believe it knowledge can be managed.  It’s all about making knowledge visible enough to make it handle-able.

Etienne Wenger: giving something a name is important.  It supports social learning.  Since social learning happens everywhere, giving things names is central. It helps people talk about what they want.  In fact, naming “communities of practice” and any given community of practice in particular is useful because it makes things visible, helps people talk about what they want.  The concept of “community of practice” has had a career because it makes social learning as a concept accessible.  If communities of practice make social learning visible, then some people think that technology is a way to make them visible. Tech stewardship seems important today because communities are jumping across technologies.  Someone has to care about tech in the name of the community – and that’s technology stewardship

We worked with client who had worked so hard to make a place on their intranet for their CoPs. But for us it became apparent that the platform was just not usable. We blew their minds by bringing in other technologies that were not part of their platform.  There are very few communities that are confined to a single platform

Nancy White: Tech stewardship is so complex, difficult and subtle because there are so many tools and it’s so easy to find exceptions to most rules.  It’s easy to find many different ways of using any given tool.

Patti Anklam: I think the complexity of the job also has a lot to do with the fact that the steward is constantly interacting in the context of human relationships.

Etienne Wenger: that makes the function of tech stewardship so important.

Nancy White: what if there is no “community”?  Look at groups on twitter, like the one at “kmchat” that gathers around a hashtag.  They get together for an hour each week.  I know it took a while to gather around a question, to get someone to facilitate it.  But the platform has enabled a new kind of conversation.  The tag is something that people follow.  It’s interesting how technology has blurred the lines around conversations.  It raises the question about what is a community.

Etienne Wenger: The idea of a technology steward is to support a community-centric focus rather than a platform-centric one.

John Smith: It used to be that the conversation about technologies for communities focused on web forums and email lists, which are platforms with sharp boundaries. (Or at least on those platforms the cross-community blurring just wasn’t so visible.) That has changed.  We now have many platforms for interaction where the boundaries between communities are more obviously blurred.

Nancy White: in the past we conceptualized communities as people who aggregated around people.  Have had that assumption and belief challenged when people are attracted by and gather around content.  Trust forms around “interesting content”, and “let’s make friends” comes after that.

Etienne Wenger: it’s always been that people connect for lots of different reasons.  reading a book, interest in a novel (?).  The web has made an explosion of alternatives.  Yes… and, the attractor factor is emphasized now, and our past social process models were heavily relationship centric. (I.e. trust models)

Peter West: With so many technologies in use, how do you 1) *merge* the threads of conversations/interactions and facilitate the broadest access to the *nuggets* that emerge and facilitate the greatest opportunities for impact? 2) capture the material in an intelligible archive?

John Smith: First you have to do it manually. You can only do that when you are an insider. You know the different places where people are gathering. Then you weave it and connect it. Eventually some of it can be automated.   Brings out the idea that tech stewardship has different phases or levels of activity. At one level maybe as technology stewards we’re helping plan the selection and use of new tool/platform. But at the ground level we’re trouble-shooting, debugging, spreading the word about the use of a tool. Just because a tool is there to be used doesn’t mean people know how to use it.  It includes the level at which Nancy and John negotiate how we to take notes in Etherpad during this call – at the bottom or the top. (“Or the middle!” says Nancy) That is the spectrum of tech stewardship but the metric for effort and success is always sense making. Are we learning together?

Peter West:  Tech illiteracy may put certain members at a disadvantage.

Etienne Wenger: This is where TS is a form of community leadership as well. It includes that kind of awareness. A tech steward has to also be aware that technology itself can be a source of boundary – by excluding some people. Tech stewards have to be aware of the new conversations that tech enables, but also of the way that it can create divisions and separation. It’s a form of caring for social learning. It always cuts both ways.

Nancy White: tolerance for ambiguity (a value that comes from online facilitation) applies to tech stewardship, as well.  We assume that if a tech applies or works for me, it must work for you.  It’s hard to get around that assumption Even when technologies are designed for a group, they are always experienced individually.  In a face-to-face setting we can see when people are “out” but that’s much harder in a tech mediated environment.  So we can’t really assume we know what’s going on.  That’s the job we’re doing when we say: “we haven’t heard from you, what’s going on?”  There are many possible answers: Internet access is down, I don’t know how to use it, I’m feeling left out by the conversation, etc.

Patti Anklam: what is the relationship between the TS and a community facilitator?

Nancy White: facilitators find themselves as TS’s. they are accidental technology stewards.

Etienne Wenger: We need crossover from both ends to happen.  to the extent that tech and communities are influencing each other, it’s important for facilitators to think like tech stewards but it’s also important for tech stewards to think like facilitators.

All: tech & communication converge and then diverge one after another. “which community are you speaking for?”  roles as a way of making things visible.

Etienne Wenger: it used to be that the IT department was the one that introduced technology.  Now many members introduce tools.  that distributes the community facilitation process.

Susan (?): how do you handle it when people want to know exactly how to use the tool?  In advance.  There are limits as to how much time I can spend explaining it.

Patti Anklam: I’m working with a client now.  serving as a TS. they are asking “how do we use this tool?” I  talk about the tool a bit at each staff meeting.

All: Taking a developmental approach – the path to tool usage as important as destination. There’s always more to learn, so best not to try to front-load all the learning.  And things change over time.

John Smith: If you think of regular face-to-face conversations such as staff meetings as platforms for “next tool to be adopted” – then after some time maybe another technology than face-to-face can be the platform for the tool after that. There’s a process for building one layer on top of another. The more reliable older, familiar tools are as a platform for what is being experimented with, the better. For thinking about these things, it’s useful to use the polarities that we discuss in the book. They can be challenging at first, but once you have mastered them, they are a platform for handling tool adoption.

Nancy White: talking about polarities — in slide # 7.  The polarities embody many of the issues we’re talking about.  If we think of a developmental path for tools rather than an on-off switch.  I like Chris Collison et al.’s model of technology adoptions: starts with awareness and eventually leads to “that’s just the way we do it.”  People want to jump from one to another with no pain, no intermediate learning, playing, experiments.  It’s more effective to say, “Let’s do a lot of little experiments”.

Etienne Wenger: I see two different paths into tool adoption.  one is the sandbox path (playing with the tool in a no pressure environment).  The other is an activity-directed path.  where the tool makes an activity possible. (Nancy agrees. 😉 heee hee)  [John does, too  :]

John Smith: Peter West’s questions in the chat focuses us on what is NOT being said. That’s very sophisticated listening. TS involves a lot of planning, doing, and acting, but it is all based on listening. Listening for what is not being said, what can’t be said because of tools, or because of some people are excluded. Listening is the key activity. (Nancy nodding vigorously)

Thomas Blumer How to you balance best of breed products with enterprise standardized products?

Etienne Wenger: that’s a real tension for IT departments that they will have to answer. It’s always a tension.

Thomas Blumer: When we try to launch a discussion forum, people will say “we have this other tool that has this other important feature.”  That creates little pockets of people who are advocates for the use of different tools. From a KM point of view, the technology is less important than people knowing about each other. Isolated pockets of technology are less useful. But that’s what IT delivers –  especially in R&D organizations that are keen on technology. They will say, “We really need this feature.”

John Smith: The dynamic between an IT department and the organization it is supposed to serve deserves attention.  From the outside an IT department can look like a monolithic gatekeeper. But in my experience and observation within in IT there is diversity in terms of tastes, learning styles, history, generational preferences, technology styles, and advocacy for different ways of doing things. Part of the shift that TS can bring is to humanize, open up, and make available that diversity of experience and capacity that does exist within any given department – including the IT department.

Nancy White: building on the “features” point: when we were first working on the book, we were looking at “feature shoot-out” comparisons.  We realized there was a great deal of diversity around features and even around the awareness of features.   That led us to think about how tech stewards need to focus on understanding the practice of using a tool more than on discrete features.

Etienne Wenger: Diff communities have different configurations of tools and platforms.  To keep building on Thomas’ question, the issue is not so much standardization of tools and platforms as it is of integration. How do we integrate the tools and platforms that one community uses (or integrate the outputs that are generated)?  How do we make it all searchable? We have more and more technologies to create connections like a Twitter feed – that can connect things happening in different places. Integration is not just standardization. It’s a human practice as well as a process of technological integration.

John Smith: Although you can’t really automate “listening for exclusion” we can get better at it as we gain experience.  And it’s really important.  We gain experience as we listen to what is being said, in paying attention to small details like note taking. It’s important to ask, “What am I missing?” That’s important to think about individually and  collectively, for ourselves and for others. What are they missing that they need to participate in?

Etienne Wenger: Tech can create exclusion. This idea of integration is not just a matter of connecting to APIs.  It involves looking more deeply at how technology creates exclusion and inclusion and working from there.

John (caller): How and when to integrate across conversations and tools has to include focus on business intent.  How does this work support achieving business objectives in a quantifiable manner?

John Smith: The way we’ve been talking about that issue has been to ask whether and how a tech steward is “serving the conversation.” Does the conversation serve the business is an important question. You can’t answer it unless the conversation exists with some integrity.

Etienne Wenger: We are facing an evolution here.  It’s difficult for organizations to enter this space without having some level of trust that the participants are actually caring about the business of the organization.

John (caller): That is the starting point: business intent, strategic imperatives. Then how can KM help achieve that?

Etienne Wenger: In a K based organization you cannot pursue that unless the people you are working with also are pursing that. It is the way they engage with each other. Can’t do this in a top down manner any more. People have to carry this.

John (caller): Yes, and how can we help them do that easier, better, cheaper, faster.

3 responses so far

Oct 14 2009

Technologies for a farming community in Africa

Published by

Last week at the KM4Dev conference in Brussels, I struck up a conversation with Joseph Sikeku, who talked about community leadership and technology stewardship in a radically different setting: a radio station in Tanzania. Sikeku’s project uses an interesting mix of technologies:

  • 5,000 Watt FADECO radio station
  • Small blue “sensor” or integrated circuit audio recorder
  • Mobile phones

Of course the key to making all of this work is the network of people around his project in terms of friends and collaborators, farmers who participate via recorded interviews or mobile phones. (A lot of stories about innovation in Africa were floating around my head from the special report on telecoms in emerging markets in the September 24th 2009 issue of The Economist: Mobile marvels). One thing that was striking about Sikeku’s project is that it’s sustainable because it’s so local, so passion-driven, and has a long time horizon. Not that external help wouldn’t make a difference, but it’s important that his project that’s not donor-controlled. Its beginning and end is not timed by an external donor. Here’s a 7 minute interview:

Sikeku’s story got me to thinking about the polarities that we discuss in Chapter 5 of Digital Habitats:

  • Radio broadcasts are a remarkable technology for bringing people together across great distances. It’s so prevalent as to be unremarkable.
  • But radio is a very group-oriented tool, so tools like an audio recorder or a mobile phone pull the community’s configuration toward the individual end of the polarity.
  • An audio recorder supports the asynchronous side and the mobile phones (either as audio devices or for text messages) support the synchronous.

It seemed to me that the technologies that Sikeku mentioned all balance each other nicely when you consider that we developed these polarities studying communities that are quite different from his. That’s one of the exciting things about this project: finding out whether the ideas we’ve developed apply (or can be extended to) very different settings. And the final question: will these ideas be useful?

I captured the interview on a little Flip camera, since I’ve been exploring video and social reporting for the last several months. I used the interview the very next day in a “huddle session” about technologies and local development, gathering a small group around my laptop to look at the video, without editing or uploading it anywhere (there wasn’t really enough reliable bandwidth to upload a video file at the conference). The huddle conversation had been difficult because of all the different meanings and instances of “technology,” of “local,” and of “development.” But having one instance to focus on helped the conversation get much more concrete and much more productive. A conference on the role of media in the agricultural and rural development that’s running right now suggests just how much is going on out there in this area, so the benefits of being able to focus on Sikeku’s specific case make sense.

The next day we had an open space session on business models for learning communities. Sikeku participated in the discussion, which tied some of the issues from his experience to other examples where donor funding for a community had turned out to be quite problematic. At the end of that, Sikeku remarked to me, “As a result of these conversations, I don’t feel so isolated.” That was very gratifying.

(Cross posted from my blog at Learning Alliances.)

4 responses so far

Sep 24 2009

Tech Stewards as ethnographers

Published by

Last May’s CHIFOO presentation was a great talk about reading by Cathy Marshall. Here are Marshall’s slides from which I’ve borrowed some images to talk about her work in this post.

Marshall read (out loud, from the slide on the screen) that:

“Nothing is more commonplace than the experience of reading, and yet nothing is more unknown. Reading is such a matter of course that at first glance, it seems there is nothing to say about it.”

Todorov, quoted by Howe

She went on to argue that many of our commonplace assumptions about reading are wrong. As an activity, we may think that reading is:

  • stationary
  • information-centric
  • passive
  • immersive
  • individual

Instead, Marshall argued that and illustrated how reading is really:

  • mobile – where we chose to read something matters hugely and we tend to take our reading with us from place to place.
  • material – our physical circumstances contribute to the experience of pleasure or attention.
  • interactive – we annotate pages and act upon them.
  • interrupted & variable – we skip, skim, circle around, re-read and act upon reading material according to the circumstances.
  • social – we share, forward, save, refer, discard and burn books and magazines in our invisible but very real social context.

There’s no problem having naïve assumptions about reading unless we’re intending to design an electronic replacement for the printed page, in which case we have to look a lot more carefully at what’s going. That’s exactly what technology stewards need to do because, whether we’re configuring technology or planning to add a tool to a community’s overall configuration or even just supporting it on a day to day basis, we need to understand the experience of use, not just “how to use the tool.”

So we can learn a lot from the different ways that Marshall and other ethnographers have devised for getting at these commonplace experiences. We take the ordinary as strange. Nothing is more common than participating in a community, but a community’s configuration has a significant effect on the experience of community.

“It is also worth noting that solitary reading always was, and still is, inherently social: how we read is ultimately determined by social conventions and community membership”

-David Levy in Scrolling Forward

You can learn a lot by observing. One piece of research that Marshall reported on examined just how complicated it is when someone reading an article in The New Yorker turns a page. They peek forward, check an advertisement, read the cartoon, go back to verify what they last read, etc., and then continue. There’s a lot happening that we may not bother noticing on a day-to-day level but which matters a lot when we’re thinking about designing a new electronic device.

Use a framework. One point we try to make in Digital Habitats is that it’s useful to have some framework to organize our observations. Marshall uses the CSCW matrix (that we call a polarity in the book) to look at some different instances of reading:

Same Place Different place
“I’m trying to
get us all on
the same page…”

“I’m sending you
this clipping
that I thought was cute.”

One interesting point she made was that people often feel like it’s creepy when they are observed doing something so simple (and personal) as reading. As technology stewards we often have to enlist people’s cooperation, sometimes as fellow-researchers and observers of their own experience.

Compare (lots of) individual instances. In one of her studies Marshall bought multiple copies of a popular textbook and compared how students had annotated the text. Turned out there was a lot of variation in what was important to different readers, but also convergence on the main point. But the key idea is: how can we find ways of seeing how different people see?

This is similar to a tech steward’s practice of observing how different communities use the same software, or how they might configure it differently, or how they might even decide upon using it for quite different reasons.

One interesting thing about Cathy Marshall as she spoke to a group that’s mostly concerned with design was that she always spoke as a researcher — not venturing to speculate widely, but reporting on her own rigorous research. Even though she committed apparent faux pas such as reading her slides aloud and there was very little (if any) “how to” in Marshall’s talk, the CHIFOO folks hung on her every word. It reminded me that professional, hands-on communities like CHIFOO are very sophisticated when it comes right down to it.

Tech stewards as ethnographers. Of course there are big differences between tech stewards and ethnographers. Front loaded education is the norm for people who call themselves ethnographers, whereas most tech stewards come to their craft almost by accident – pressed into service and learning as they go. Having Microsoft and other companies fund your observations like Marshall has enables a great deal of care and depth; most tech stewards are in a hurry and have to act on their hunches. And yet, the opportunity for observing change in human experience and contributing to its evolution (over shorter- or longer-terms) is common to both. What tech stewards have lacked is a common literacy to talk with each other and the community context where their conversations can add up.

(Cross-posted from my blog at

10 responses so far

Aug 12 2009

Digital Habitats Index

Published by

To help give you a sense of some of the detail in the book, here is a copy of the Index found at the back of the book.

Guide to the index:

  • A page number in italic indicates a reference to a figure or table.
  • A page number in bold indicates a location where a concept is introduced and explained.
  • “n” after a page number indicates a footnote.
  • “g” after a page number indicates a glossary entry.

accelerating interplay of community and technology, 172-173


control/lists, 77, 82, 88, 95, 98, 200g

to community, 50, 51, 141, 143, 163, 167

to expertise, 84-86

to practice, 7, 189

to the Internet, 44, 108, 117, 151

to subgroups, 80

See also bandwidth; boundaries; connectivity; privacy; security; single login.

acquisitions strategies (for technology) 113-129, 114, 158-161

analyzing needs, 116-117

checklist, 129, 158

context and orientation, 114-115, 115

action notebook, ix, 147-168

downloadable version, xiv,148

activities, 6-8, 72. See also orientations

aggregation/aggregators, 47, 60, 64, 77, 82, 88, 90, 174, 200g

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), 200g

Alexander, Christopher, 210

always on, 186, 200g

API (Application Program Interface), 127, 201g

Application Service Provider (ASP), 108, 201g

application sharing, 60, 74, 80, 85, 201g

apprenticeship, 84.  See also mentoring.

archives, 53, 77, 78, 82, 201g

closing communities, 138, 168

free technology and, 118

See also backing up data; content orientation; documents; publishing.


artifacts. See digital artifacts; documents.

ASP (Application Service Provider), 108, 201g

asynchronous interaction, 5, 47, 57, 60-61, 60, 71, 162, 201g

examples, 56, 61, 72, 89

free software, 117

meeting-oriented communities, 74, 117

See also blogs; discussion boards; email; wikis.

attentive practitioners, vi, x

audio recordings, 96, 201g. See also podcasting.

avatars, 61n, 66, 88, 174, 175, 190, 201g

backchannel, 46, 74, 78, 95-96, 95, 202g

background stewarding, 28, 133-135, 134, 138-140

backing up data, 133, 145, 149.  See also archives, closing.

bandwidth. See access to the Internet.

Bennett, Mark, 32

Berners-Lee, Tim, 18, 20

blogs, 60, 63-65, 67, 176, 187, 200, 202g

about this book, viii, xiv

as connection, 4, 17, 175, 192

aggregating into community, 52, 53, 76, 127

as communities, 63, 177, 178, 193-196

categories, 77, 78, 202g

comments, 77, 82, 202g

examples, 29, 38, 63, 122, 144, 192

free technology, 110, 119, 127

in support of orientations, 74, 77, 80, 81, 82, 85, 88, 90, 95, 98

learning and, 4, 84n

permalink, 77, 210g

posts, 211g

readers, 202g

trackbacks, 65, 77, 82, 180, 202, 214g

blogosphere, 65, 174, 176, 195, 203g

blogrolls, 64, 203g

bookmark(ing), 60, 66, 89, 203g

social, 174, 176, 177, 180, 213g

See also tag(ging).


community 6, 20, , 97, 98, 99, 139, 174

examples, 61

dynamic and fluid, 65, 174, 178-179, 187, 193-196

management of, 8, 105, 139, 143-144, 150, 167, 184

organizational, 30-31, 61, 157

technology and, 11, 46, 50-51, 54, 143, 151

cultural, 175, 199.

See also access; integration; participation; privacy; security.

brokers, stewards as, 28

Brown, Doug, 13-14, 20

browsers, 16, 18, 109

buddy lists, 16, 60, 63, 88, 203g, 207

budget, 30, 107, 110-111, 110, 116, 120, 121, 122, 123, 158, 164.

See also pricing; resources.

build your own technology, 123-124, 160

bulletin boards, 15, 16, 203g.  See also discussion boards; newsgroups.

Bush, Vanevar, 21

business communities, 76, 84, 97, 105, 198.  See also organizations.

calendars, 47, 51, 60, 63, 71, 74, 80, 81, 95, 128, 129, 203g, 213

shared calendars, 116, 119, 125, 212g

See also scheduling activities.

categories (for blogs), 77, 78, 202g

Center for Technology in Education (Johns Hopkins), 124

Cerf, Vint, 18

CERN, 18

challenges for the future of communities, 181-182, 187-188

chat, 60, 61, 62, 142, 203g

examples, 53, 61, 62, 73

for taking notes, viii, 40, 48, 73

history, 13-14, 16, 175

in support of orientations, 73, 74, 75, 77, 78, 85, 88, 95

transcripts, 201

Christianson, Ward, 15

client programs, 109

closing (of a community), 138, 168

CMS, see content management systems.

co-authoring, 38, 58, 79, 80, 175

See also wiki.

Coburn, Pip, 73

Coenders, Marc, 4

collaboration, 6, 12,

for this book, v-viii

history, 14, 15, 16, 19

on projects, 79-81

mass, 174, 176, 188, 206

software, 119-120, 123, 126

comments, 58, 82, 83-84, 85, 176, 177, 180, 187

on blogs, 60, 64, 65, 76, 77, 78, 80, 82, 178, 189, 194-195, 202g

commercial platforms, 121-123, 121

communities of practice, 3-12, 192-199

closure, 138, 168

definition, 3, 3n, 4-10, 197

effect on technology, iv, viii, 11, 17-19, 27, 27, 55-68, 146, 163, 171-173, 179-180, 198-199

games and, 66

identity, 5, 58-59, 89, 174, 177-181, 196

lifecycle, 103-104, 138, 150, 168

networks and, 12, 31, 84, 192-197

new members, 139, 140, 167

practice groups, 79

rhythms, 56-57, 186

subgroups, 5, 77, 80, 88, 188-189, 196

technology’s effect on, ii, iv, viii, 11-12, 14-17, 18-20, 27, 27, 29, 44, 52-53, 55-68, 163, 171-173, 179-180, 184, 189, 198-199

See also community cultivation; online communities; formation of communities; orientations; sharing.

CommunitiesConnect, 127

community cultivation (orientation to), 93-96, 95, 153

See also backchannel; coordination.

community. See communities of practice; online communities.

Community Tools Wiki, 44

CommunityMap, 97

CompanyCommand, 94, 190

complexity, technology changes and, 104, 165-166

configuration, 38, 45, 45-48, 48, 153-156, 184

checklists, 48, 135-138, 154, 155, 165

choosing, vii, 46-47, 135-138, 165, 184, 186

integration in, 49-54, 132, 156, 165, 167, 184

security for, 51-52, 106, 165

See also technology landscape.


polarities and, 174

ubiquitous, 174-175, 186, 200

virtual presence, 175

See also access to community; access to the Internet.

constellations of communities, 32, 97, 98

constructing digital habitats, 37-54, 99-100, 103-111, 183-199

configuration, 38, 45-48, 45, 48, 153-156, 155, 184

integration, 48-54, 150, 167

platforms, 40-42, 43, 49-51

tool-focused considerations, 39-40, 103-104

understanding your community, 26, 149-152

vision, 131, 149

See also orientations; software; acquisition strategies; tools for community.

content management systems (CMS), 46, 82, 83-84, 87, 115, 119, 204g

content (orientation in communities), 81-84, 82, 120, 153

context and community, 103-111

environment, 105-106

infrastructure considerations, 108-111, 114-115, 114, 115

See also budget; environment; organizations.

context of service (orientation in communities), 96-99, 98, 153

contributors, 107, 148-149, 172.  See also participation; resources.

conversation, 5, 47, 76.  See also chat; IM; open-ended conversation; phone.

coordination (of community), 93

tech stewardship versus, 25

See also community cultivation.

core groups, 10, 46, 93, 94, 153

Cormier, Dave, 142

CPsquare, iii, v, 5n, 70

cross-platform issues, 204g. See integration.

cultivation, see community cultivation.

Cunningham, Ward, 19, 20, 217

customization, 90, 92, 108, 120, 125, 208g

See also individual participation.

database, 120, 145, 204g

See also repositories.

deep divers, vi, x


community, 7, 50, 67, 103-104, 124, 149-150

communities about, 46, 65, 78

individual, 91

software, 18-19, 123-127, 124

technology changes, 103-104, 111, 124, 132, 135-138, 172-174, 165-166

See also community cultivation; formation; lifecyle; new communities.

digital artifacts, 63, 70, 84, 138

archiving after shutdown, 168

See also archives; documents.

digital footprint, 174, 180, 191

digital habitats

as community effort, 53-54

definition, 37-38

See also constructing digital habitats

directory (for community), 60, 63, 74, 85, 88, 204g, 208

See also CommunityMap, profiles.

discussion boards (or groups), 60, 62, 204g

examples, 61

community support role, 47

forum software, 119

free tools and platforms, 118

Also known as bulletin boards; forums; web boards.

disruptions in technology, 144, 181

distributed, 204g

communities, 31, 135

discussions, 76, 193

See also online communities.

DITA users group, 51


strengths of, 8-9

technology changes and, 104, 150

documents, 17, 58, 63-64, 79, 184

management, 60, 204-205g

sharing, v, 6, 205

version control, 82,

See also content orientation; digital artifacts; publishing; reification; repositories.

domain, 4-6, 10, 192

across the web, 177-178, 190-191, 193

in blog communities, 195-196

See also geographies, homesteading, online place for communities.

Downes, Stephen, 63

downloadable Digital Habitats material, x, 148

Doyle, Bob, 51

ease of use

commercial platforms, 121

enterprise platforms, 120

free technology, 118-119

importance for community, 26, 44, 48, 49-50, 104, 132, 136, 139, 167, 198

learning new technology, 139, 140-144, 151

open-source software, 126

patched-together technology, 128-129, 161

user problems, 144

using the technology you have, 115-117, 116

See also interoperability.

eCampus, 122

editing, 82, 98

See also coauthoring, wiki.

EdTech Talk, 142


Edublogger, 63, 195


Best Practice community (e-learning), 179

blogger communities, 63, 195

EdTech Talk, 142

Edublogger, 63, 195

Johns Hopkins Electronic Learning Communities, 124

Webheads in Action, 53

EIES (Electronic Information Exchange System), 15

e-learning, 80, 141, 179

Best Practice community, 179

Electric Minds, 138

email, 60, 205g

community support role, iv, 39, 43, 45, 62

history, 14, 15

learning and, 4, 8

email lists, 3-4, 8, 15, 60, 62-63, 205

engagement, 188-189

polarities and, 174-176, 187

Englebart, Doug, 21

enterprise platforms, 119-120, 119, 159


community relationship with, 105-106

See also context.

evaluation, 96.  See also rating.


technology, 142-143, 167

See also inventiveness.


available to communities, 107, 132-133, 132

expertise, access to (orientation), 84-86, 85, 153

See also knowledge.

expertise locators, 85, 86, 205g

F2F (FTF), 87, 205g

new technology and, 141

See also meeting orientations in communities.


community cultivation, 93

meetings, 74

See also coordination; leadership; stewardship.

FAQ tools, 77, 140, 142, 206g

features, 43-45, 163

ease of use, 44, 48, 49-50, 104

feed readers, 206g

See also aggregator, RSS.

feedback, 9, 149

archives, 138

new technology, 138, 139, 140-144, 149

feeds, 206g, 215

See also RSS, subscription.

feel (of a site), 48, 52, 208g

file sharing, 80, 82, 206g

Finkelstein, Jonathan, 50

firewalls, 61, 94, 116, 120, 206g

Flickr, 48, 65, 128

folksonomy, 206g. See tagging.

following (other people)

access to expertise, 84

orientation to relationships in communities, 88

foreground stewarding, 28, 133-135, 134

formation of communities, 4-9, 178, 188-191

See also development; new communities.

forums. See discussion boards.

free technology, 117-119, 117, 159

friend aggregator, 88, 200, 206g

FTF (F2F), 87, 205g

new technology and, 141

See also meeting-oriented communities.

future of communities, ix-x, 104, 188-191

proto-communities, 192-196, 193, 194, 195

games, 66, 87

See also immersive environments.

Gee, James Paul, 197n

geographies, 177-181, 190.  See also place for communities.

geomapping, 60, 66-67, 128, 207g

geotagging, 207g

Glickman, Matt, 15, 20

governance structures, 93

groups, 58-59, 60, 63, 68, 181

See also communities of practice, core group, discussion boards, newsgroups.

groupthink, 181, 187

Hiltz, S. Roxanne, 15

history of technology and community, 13-21

homesteading the web, 174, 177, 188

Horton, Mark, 15, 20

hosted application, 108, 207g

See also ASP., 70, 179, 124, 179, 66, x, 148, 45, 119, 73

Hulsebosch, Joitske, 29

hybrid tools, 63-67

hyperlink, 207g. See integration.

identity, 5, 58-59, 89, 174, 177-181, 196-197

digital footprints, 180, 191

of stewards, 27-29, 198

See also multimembership.

IM (instant messaging), 40, 60, 61, 74, 76, 84, 97, 124, 140, 207g

immersive environments, 60, 61n, 66, 88, 89, 190, 207g


new items,44,  60, 209g

presence, 60, 63, 74, 88, 211g.

individual participation (orientation), 89-93, 90, 153. See also, customization.

individuals, 58-59, 60, 68, 162, 178-179

digital footprint, 180, 191

profiles, 60, 63, 88, 207g

infrastructure, 108-111, 207

disruptions, 144, 181

See also technology; tools for community support.

installing software, 27

instant messaging. See IM.

instruction (as community activity), 6, 79-80


community cultivation, 96

configurations, 156, 166, 167, 184

platforms, 49-51, 52, 163, 166

registration, 139-140

tools, 48-49, 52-53, 150, 163, 166

See also interoperability; single login.

interaction in digital habitats, ii, 57-58, 61, 68, 176-177

bridging modes, 90

meeting orientation, 74

publishing and, 176-177

virtual presence as a basis, 189-190

See also asynchronous interaction; participation; synchronous interaction.

Internauts, 18

Internet. See the Web.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC), 53, 73, 208g

interoperability, 51-52.  See also integration; peripheral participation.


communities of practice with each other, 19, 31-32

organization and community, 30, 32

intranet, 114, 115, 208g

See also enterprise platform.

inventiveness, 61, 62, 140, 141, 172.  See also experimentation.

IRC Channel, 48

IRC (Internet Relay Chat), 53, 73, 208

IT infrastructures, community and, 30, 109

See also enterprise platform

IT support

backups, 133, 145, 149

relationships with, 30, 105

stewardship compared to, 25

technology changes and, 107, 120, 122, 159

Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education, 124

Johnson-Lenz, Peter, 21

Johnson-Lenz, Trudy, 21

just do it-ers, vi, x

Kanter, Beth, 192, 194

Kimball, Lisa, 21

knowledge, 7

access to, 6

base, see repositories.

stewardship, 28, 132-133, 132, 136, 141, 148-149, 192

validation, 6, 84

See also expertise.

Knowledge Management for Development Community (km4dev), 46

Knowledge Management (KM), 3n, 32, 144


communities on, 94

importance of, 10, 148

roles of, 25-26, 29

See also community cultivation; coordination; facilitating; stewardship.


new technology, 140-145, 165-166

technology and, 4, 8, 122

See also learning in community.

learning agenda, 183-199See also learning in community.

learning in community

activities, 6-7, 77, 96

“learning friendship,” 4

MPD-SUPPORT-L, 4-9, 5n

new technology, 139-145

projects, 89

socializing and, 8

tech development and, 173, 198-199

technology choices, 122, 124

See also education; expertise; orientations.

Learning Systems team at CA, 122

LearningTimes Community, 50

LeFever, Lee, 76

Leiner, Barry, 18

Lenzo, Amy, 24

libraries, 81. See also content, repositories.

lifecycle (of communities), 103-104, 138, 150, 168

listservs, 4-5, 15

literacy, viii, 183-185

login, single login system, 38, 51, 90, 98, 109-110, 212g

example, 50

look and feel (of a site), 48, 52, 208g

lurkers, 9, 11, 77-78, 187, 208g

See also, peripheral participation.

management tools, 80

change management, 136, 165-166

project management, 79-81, 136

site management, 61

See also content management, knowledge management.

maps, see CommunityMap, geomapping.

March of Dimes community, 194, 196

Maron, Anna, 65

Maron, Mikel, 65

mashups, 66-67, 127, 128, 208g

mass collaboration, 66, 174, 176

See also, wiki.


orientation to, in communities, 70, 71, 72-75, 117, 153

tools for, 60, 62, 66, 216g

types, 72


directory, 60, 63, 74, 85, 88, 204g, 208

new, 139, 140, 167

profiles, 60, 63, 88, 207g

mentoring, 91.  See also apprenticeship.

metadata, 209g, see also content management; tags.

Michalski, Jerry, 73

microblogging, 60, 74, 77, 85, 88, 95, 209g.  See also Twitter.

migrating communities (to a new platform), 135-138, 165

military-related communities, 94

monitoring tools, 141-142, 145

Mosaic, 18


forming communities, 4, 178

stewardship, 28-29

MPD-SUPPORT-L, 4-9, 5n, 190

multi-topic conversations systems, 76, 77

multimembership, 91, 92-93, 105-106, 178-179

multiplicity (of places for participation), 188

navigation (of a site), 24, 42, 44, 51-52, 90, 212g

networking, 86-87, 88

mindset, 51

stewardship role, 132-133

See also relationship orientation; social media; social networking sites.


communities and, 12, 31, 84, 192-197

network-community hybrids, 196-197

See also social networks, Usenet.

new communities, ix-x, 104, 188-191. See also development; lifecycle.

new indicators, 44, 60, 209g

new members, 139, 140, 167

new types of communities, 192-199. See also proto-communities.

newsgroups, 15, 209g

newsletters, 60, 63, 209g

non-profit communities, 24, 46, 65, 78, 127, 192, 194

notepad, 90, 209g

NPtech, 192

NTEN network, 66

offline reading, 44, 43

online access, 108, 151

online communities, 209g

development, 7, 103-104, 149, 173-174, 174

geographies, 177-181, 190-191

history, 13-21

new communities, 64, 104, 188-191

new notions of community, 192-199

online place, 31, 50, 189

outside connections, 105, 150, 157, 185, 187, 197

technical requirements for members, 108, 109, 151

variety of, 17

See also communities of practice; digital habitats; formation of communities; lifecycle; orientations; technology landscape; communities by name.

online material for Digital Habitats, x, xvi, 148

online place for communities, 31, 50, 189.  See also domain; homesteading.


software, 125-127, 161, 209g

communities, 19, 125-126, 161

open-ended conversations

orientation to, 75-78, 77, 153, 189-190

examples, 4-10, 76, 118-119

O’Reilly, Tim, 17


as context, 97, 105

stewardship in, 30-32

See also business communities.

orientations, 69-100, 71, 152-153

community cultivation, 93-96, 95, 185

content, 81-84, 82

context serving, 96-99, 98

expertise, access to, 84-86, 85

individual participation, 89-93, 90

meetings, 70, 71, 72-75

mutable nature, 70, 72

open-ended conversations, 75-78, 77

projects, 79-81, 80

registration and, 139-140

relationships, 86-89, 88

technology considerations, 99-100, 113-115, 114, 115, 156, 185

OS, see open-source.

participation, 57-58, 60, 63, 64, 91, 95, 162, 198

changing roles, 171-173

peripheral, 9, 11, 77-78, 208g

managing, 90, 189-190

multimembership, 91, 92-93, 105-106, 178-179

new members, 139, 140, 167

outside connections, 105, 124, 150, 157, 185, 187, 197

pricing and, 110-111, 110

technology considerations, 124, 178, 184, 186

See also contributors; ease of use; interaction; lurkers; registration; reification; statistics.

participation statistics, 44, 60, 95, 96, 210g

pattern language, 19, 210g

payment, stewardship, 28

peer-to-peer (P2P)

learning, 9, 15, 173, 190

computer networks, 209g

performance. See evaluation; rating; rating tools

peripheral participation, 9, 11, 77-78

configuration and, 51

See also interoperability; lurkers.

peripheries of communities, 9. See also boundaries.

Permalink (in blogs), 77, 210g

personal web pages, 210g. See profiles.

personalization, 210g. See customization.


community support role, 39, 43, 47, 48, 56, 89, 95-96

phone/face-to-face meetings combined, iv-v, 74

See also teleconferences; VoIP.

photo sharing, 65, 210g

See also flickr.

place for communities, 31, 50, 189.  See also geographies.

platforms, 40-42

build your own, 123-124, 160

commercial platforms, 121-123, 121

configuring, 123, 135-138

cross-platform issues, 204g. See integration.

definition, 40

enterprise platforms, 119-120, 119, 159

free, 116-117, 117

integration, 49-51, 52, 163, 167

new, 135-145, 160

open-source, 126-127, 161

pricing, 110-111, 110

security, 106

PLATO, 13-14

podcasting, 60, 66, 210g

polarities, 56-59, 68, 173-174, 174, 184-185

identities, 5, 58-59, 174

rhythms, 56-57, 186

tools and, 60-67, 60, 156, 162

polling, 40, 60, 63, 95, 179, 187, 210g

post, 8, 9, 189, 211g. See also blogs, discussion boards.

practice, 6-8

stewardship and, ix, 28, 140-142

technology and, 10-11, 28, 167

practice groups, 79


virtual, 61n, 66, 89, 174-175, 189-190. See also avatars.

indicators or tools, 60, 63, 74, 88, 211g

pricing platforms, 110-111, 110. See also budget; resources.

privacy, 77, 90, 144, 187.  See also access; boundaries; security management.

privilege, see access.

problem solving, 6, 84, 85

profiles (of members), 60, 63, 88, 207g

programming, support, 109

project teams, 79

versus community of practice, 11, 56n

project orientation in communities, 79-81, 80, 107, 153

examples, 79

proto-communities, 192-197

proximity, virtual, 186. See also presence, virtual.

public face, 98

public mission, 97, 98

publishing, 63-64, 68, 70, 71

interaction in digital habitats and, 176-177

See also content orientation; digital artifacts; documents, repositories.

question and answer (Q&A) tools, 60, 85, 86, 211g

See also FAQ tools.

range of learning activities, 6-7

rating, 82, 85

tools, 163, 211g

See also evaluation.

Raymond, Eric, 18

reappropriation, 176-177, 187

recognition, of stewards, 32, 33

recruiting, 98. See also members, new.

registration, 46, 98, 139-140, 143, 211g

reification, 57-58, 60, 63, 64, 162


orientation to, 86-89, 88, 153.

with environment, 105-106

physical and virtual mixes, 175

technology and, 179-180

volume of, 181-182

See also networking; social media.

remix, 83, 176, 211g. See also reappropriation.

repositories, 60, 63, 77, 82, 211g

distributed, 76, 84

examples, 65, 122

See also archive; content; documents; wiki.


motivation for stewardship, 29

of members/experts, 85-86

computing, 174, 179, 187, 202, 211

resources,  107-111, 157-158

contributors, 107, 148-149, 172

creative reappropriation, 176-177, 187

IT control, 30, 107, 109

network members, 132-133

organizations, 31, 157, 197

stewardship, 31, 107, 141, 148-149

See also budget; content; repositories.

reward systems, 95, 202

Rheingold, Howard, 21

rhythms, 56-57, 60, 68, 186

Rowe, Kim, i

RSS (Really Simple Syndication), 60, 64, 127, 211g; EDU-RSS, 63

See also subscriptions.

scheduling tools, 74, 95, 211g.  See also calendars.

screencast, 80, 82, 211g

search, 60, 66

engines, 82, 83, 98, 212g, 213

public search engines, 8, 99, 143

as social computing, 174, 178, 179, 180

Second Life, 17, 61n, 66, 87, 89, 201, 207


management, 106, 144, 212g

configuration choices, 165

free technology and, 118

vulnerability, 181

See also access; boundaries; privacy.

self-expression, 176-177

semantic web, 179-180

semiotic social spaces, 197n

separation, 56-57, 68, 174-175

serving a context. See context, orientation to.


application, 60, 74, 80, 85, 201g, 215, 216

desktop, 201, 204g

document, 60, 63, 205g

file, 80, 82, 206g

photo and video, 62, 65, 210g

practice, 6-7, 51, 66, 197

platform, 119

Short Messaging System, see SMS.

shutdown, 138, 168See also lifecycle.

signs of life, 72

single login or sign-on, 38, 51, 98, 99, 109-110, 212g

example, 50

single-stream discussion, 76, 77

site navigation, see under look and feel; navigation; management.

Sitescape, 32

Skype, 46

slide presentations, 58, 212g

smart mobs, 17, 212g

smartphones, 82, 88, 212g

Smith, John D., iii

SMS (Short Messaging System), 74, 77, 88, 95, 212g

Snowden, David, 194-196

social computing, 179-180, 187

social media (or software), 174, 191, 212-213g

communities formed out of, 65, 179, 180

social networking tools, 187, 213g

See also blogs; bookmarking; tagging; wikis.

social movement, stewardship as, 198-199

social networking sites, 31, 60, 65, 85, 88, 174, 179, 213g

social networks

analysis (SNA), 86, 88, 95, 181, 187, 213g.

history, 13-16

learning and, 8

See also networking; networks.

Social Source Commons, 66, 66n


client programs, 109

development, 19

IT infrastructures, 30

open source, 125-127, 125, 161, 209

selecting and installing, 26, 27, 108-109, 116, 158

single sign-on, 98, 99, 109-110, 212g

vendors, 108-109, 111

See also platforms; acquisition strategies; tools for community support.

Solucient, 76

Staffordshire University e-learning, 179

stages, see lifecycle.


setting by communities, 6

IT and, 30

tools and, 54, 109

statistics, about participation, 44, 59, 60, 95, 210g

Stevens, Vance, 53

stewardship (technology), viii, 23-33, 27, 54, 131-146, 132, 134, 135, 172-173, 183-199

activities, 25-28, 29-30, 113-115, 134-168, 167

communities of stewards, 32-33, 197-199

definition, 24-25, 171-173

future, 183-199

integration, 52-54, 150, 167

inventiveness, 61, 62, 140, 141, 172

IT support compared to, 25

knowledge, 132-133, 132, 136, 141, 148-149

learning agenda, 183-199

motivations for, 28-29

organizations and, 30-32

payment, 28

principles, 131-132

problems, 27-28, 47, 143, 144, 181-182, 187

qualifications, 32-33, 148

tagging as an aid to, 81

team aspects, 25, 32

time considerations, 107

tool choices, 40, 52

understanding your community, 26, 149-152

visibility, 28, 29, 133-135, 134

See also challenges; configurations; constructing digital habitats; facilitating; leadership; acquisition strategies; technology landscape.

strategies. See acquisition strategies (for technology).

structures of digital habitats. See configuration; constructing digital habitats; infrastructure; platforms; software; tools for community

subgroups, 60, 77, 79, 80, 81, 88, 188-189, 196

subscriptions, 60, 82, 85, 90, 123, 214g. See also RSS.

success factors (for orientations), 72

synchronous interactions, 57, 60-61, 60, 63, 71, 72, 162

free software, 117

meeting orientation, 74

technology changes and, 106-107, 162

See also meetings.

system. See platform, security, software.

tags/tagging, 60, 66, 77, 82, 88, 90, 98, 214g;

examples, 81, 142, 192

for this book viii

integration through, 52

social or shared, 174, 176, 213g.

See also bookmarking.


as part of stewardship, 27

See also education; learning.


in stewardship, 25, 32

technology decisions, 105

versus community of practice, 11, 56n

See also collaboration; project.

tech stewards. See stewardship.


awareness, 26

changes, 103-111, 135-146, 151, 165-166

community’s effect on, iv, viii, 11, 14-17, 55-59, 146, 163, 171-173, 198-199

disruptions, 144, 181

effect on community, ii, iv, viii, 11-12, 18-21, 55-59, 163, 171-173,  184, 189, 198-199

experimentation, 142-143, 167, 172

in everyday use, 27, 44, 138-142

infrastructure, 108-111

learning and, 4, 8

for non-profits, 192

orientations and, 72, 99-100, 113-115, 114, 115, 156, 185

practices, 140-143

registration, 139-140, 143

relationships and, 179-180

stewardship, see under stewardship.

unexpected uses, 61, 62, 140, 141

user problems, 143

See also configuration; ease of use; platforms; software; stewardship; acquisition strategies; technology landscape; tools for community.

technology landscape, 55-68, 60

polarities, 56-68, 68, 156, 162

stewardship, 67-68; tools, 60-67, 60

See also configurations; context; technology; acquisition strategies.

teleconferences, 49, 60, 62, 74, 88, 214g

example, 89

free technology, 119

See also phone; VoIP.

texting, see SMS.

theory, communities of practice, 3-12

threading, 61, 76, 214g

thumb tribe, 214g, see SMS.

timing decisions and transitions, 106-107, 165

togetherness, 56-57, 68, 174-175

Tollen, Robert, 5-6, 5n, 8, 9

tools for community support, i-ii, 27, 39, 60, 151

choosing, vii, viii, 46-49, 48, 60-67, 72, 103-111, 123, 146, 151, 186

classic tools, 62-63

configuration perceptions, 47

definition of tool perspective, 39-40

hybrid tools, 63-67

integration, 48-49, 52-53, 150, 163, 166, 167

interoperability, 51-52

monitoring tools, 141-142

multiple uses, 61-62, 70, 72

new tools, 23, 135-145, 140-142

standards, 54, 109

variety of, 29, 54, 60

See also configurations; features; orientations; platforms; software; acquisition strategies; tools by name.

trackbacks, 65, 77, 82, 202, 214g

transition, 135-138

timing 106-107, 165

translation tools, 77, 90, 214-215g

trust, 8, 9, 97, 191. See also relationships orientation.

Turoff, Murray, 15

Twitter, 20, 85

examples of use, 17, 141, 175, 192

See also microblogging.

ubiquitous connectivity, 174-175, 200

U.N. wiki, 65

understanding your community, 26, 149-152

See also orientations.


context considerations, 103-111

stewardship role, 26, 144-145

See also migrating; new tools.

upload, 82, 83, 215g

URL (Unique Resource Locator),

choosing, 137, 151

example of use, 51, 138, 176

versus tags, 192

See also bookmarking; repositories, distributed.

U.S. Federal Government Council of CIOs, Digital Habitats project and, i

Usenet, 15-16, 215g

using the technology you have, 115-117, 116

vendors, 108-109, 111, 122-123, 164

video, 215g

feeds, 85, 90, 215

sharing, 74, 94, 176, 210

videoconferencing, 60, 74,, 215g. See also presence, virtual.

virtual presence, see under presence.

visibility (of stewardship), 28, 133-135, 134


of community, 131, 149

of stewardship,  199

voice (of community), 187.

VoIP (Voice over IP), 40, 47, 60, 62, 215g. See also teleconferences, telephone.

volume of participation, 181

volunteers, 149

Walber, John, 50

Walmsley, Helen, 179

WaterWiki, 65

the web (World Wide Web) 14, 16-17, 18, 216g

Web 1.0, 16-17

Web 2.0, v, 17, 127, 174-177. See also social media.

web boards, see discussion boards.

web hosts, 108, 207g. See also, ASP.

web meeting tools, 50, 74, 80, 175, 216g

web tours, 74, 216g

Webheads in Action, 53

weblogs, see blogs.

The Well, 16

Wenger, Etienne, iii; U.S. Federal Government Council of CIOs and, i

whiteboard (electronic), 60, 74, 85, 216g

White, Nancy, iii

Wi-Fi, 216g

widgets, 128, 216g

wikis, 19, 216-217g

as build your own technology, 124

community support role, 39, 43, 45, 46, 47, 63, 64, 197

examples, 44, 65, 139

Woolley, David, 13-14, 20, 119

World Cafe, 24

World Wide Web, see Web., 138, 127, 63, DaveEdTechTalk, 142, 138, 46, 65, 50, 4-9, 192, 76, 24, 53, 46

Yahoo! Groups, 76

yellow pages, 85, 217g. See also, expertise locator.

Yi-Tan Tech Community Calls, 73H

No responses yet

Aug 10 2009

About the Authors

Published by

etienne wengerEtienne Wenger (

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.

nancy whiteNancy White, Full Circle Associates (
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. Nancy’s blog and Twitter stream are regularly recognized as leading sources on online communities and networks, knowledge management and knowledge sharing. Nancy is a respected speaker and workshop leader. She is a chocoholic and lives with her family in Seattle, Washington, USA.

John David Smith, Learning Alliances (
John 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.

One response so far

Feb 17 2009

Community Orientations Podcast with Shawn Callahan

Published by

Our friend Shawn Callahan has been following the work on the book – for years! He has been privy to various drafts and has recently been using the Community Orientations in his work with communities.

Recently he realized he wasn’t so clear on orientations 7, 8 and 9 so this past weekend we hooked up on Skype and talked through them. Here is Shawn’s post and the podcast.

As we talked, I was interested to hear about the exercise he did with the orientations, and see how it compared to how I’ve been using them. Here is what Shawn wrote:

BTW the community orientation exercise simply involved getting the participants of the workshop to plot on a radar chart, which I’d drawn on a whiteboard, where they thought the community was currently and then do this again for where they would like to see the community of 12 months time. It generated a terrific conversation and a feel of mutual purpose. Here is what the result looked like.

I had not thought about using the orientations for community plans or aspirations. I had been using them as a diagnostic for technology stewards to a) become aware of key community orientations and b) then use that to plan or tweak the community’s technology configuration. But both make a lot of sense to me!

Thanks, Shawn


2 responses so far

Older Entries »

%d bloggers like this: