Twitter Focus (#seascorcher)

hot in the shadeI have been following the twitter hashtag #seascorcher where all of us Seattlites are connecting, communicating and often commiserating about our record breaking heat wave.

It has been interesting to reflect on a) how much I’ve been on Twitter today and b) what I’m Tweeting about. The local issue has caused me to connect and focus locally which is quite different than my normal pattern. (You can read the recent tweets here Nancy White (NancyWhite) on Twitter).

The heat has me hiding inside in front of a fan, downstairs, with my main computer off and just my little netbook on my lap. A large ice tea has been refilled many times by my side. It is too hot to focus on some of my work, so Twitter has been both amusement and communication, but with a very different use pattern than normally. I’ve tweeted FAR more than usual as well. I’m reading tweets voraciously when I normally dip in and out and skim, skim, skim.

What I find really interesting is the shift of focus. You know that old saying, nothing pulls people together like a crisis. Our heat is doing that. People are swapping cooling tips, places to get ice cream, air conditioned public locations for cooling off, and of course, the current temperature. The news media Twitterers are at it bringing many flavors of classic and citizen journalism into the story. The local coop is tweeting cooling food ideas. Everyone is getting into the game.

Is this community building? It could be. Some connections formed this week will grow. Others stay anonymous and ephemeral – the moment enjoyed and passed on. Very network like. But it gives one slice of a geographic community.

And you know what? It is fun. I feel more connected to Seattle that I usually do, since I work with global networks. Yet even my global friends are chiming in. This is fascinating. The power of events, of something at a specific point in time that captures our attention. And imagination!

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Book News!

On other fronts, our book is at the printer. YES OUR BOOK IS AT THE PRINTER! Digital Habitats: stewarding technology for communities is DONE!!

The manuscript is at our printer, Lightingsource. The cover is done. The index is done. We await the proofs, knowing full well there will be errors and typos, despite the best effort of us and our friends who have been helping out. But Digital Habitats is about to emerge. The tentative date is August 15,, Digital Habitats: stewarding technology for communities, Aug 2009

You should read the whole article.

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Online Community Building Strategy Advice

We are having record breaking heat here in Seattle and I just don’t have the energy to jump into my stack of half drafted blog posts. So I’ll take advantage of Robin Good’s interview with me in Rome earlier this month! Thanks, Robin!

Online Community Building Strategy: Good Advice From Nancy White

(Gee, I do talk fast)

Edit: It appears that Robin has some other videos from that day on YouTube here, here and here.

Monday Video: Digital Skills + Community = Digital Literacies

Following my recent rants on skills ((Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), comes this pertinent video of Howard Rheingold at Reboot Britain. (Hat tip Will Richardson  Howard asks us to go beyond skills – which are embedded in the individual – to literacies which are embedded in communities and networks, particularly digital literacies tied to social media. The five he talks about in this video include:

  1. Attention
  2. Participation
  3. Cooperation
  4. Critical Consumption (Crap Detection)
  5. Network Awareness

“The fluency is not the particular literacy, but being able to put these literacies together.” Howard Rheingold.

Take a watch.

Deeper Skills for Learning Professionals…Part 4

It is fascinating to see what strikes a cord. This series on Skills for Learning Professionals and Knowledge Workers (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) have spiked the old hit-meeter and shown up on Tweets all week. There have been many thoughtful and insightful comments and the other blog posts responding to Tony K’s Big Question have been fabulous. (I keep adding the links at the bottom of Part 1).

Michele MartinToday Michele Martin posted an important amplification to  the “Four Meta Skills” from Part 1. Michele offered the caution around online  homophily. She said I didn’t go far enough with the four and she is very right. She deepened them.

Michele, your observations are so good, I’m pulling in a rather lengthy quote, but I urge everyone to go read Michele’s full post, especially the science references at the start. (Emphasis mine.)

In it she says that scanning, filtering, connecting and sense-making are critical skills.  I agree with this, but think that maybe Nancy didn’t go far enough in thinking about how we develop these skills. She offered a series of excellent questions to ask ourselves in terms of our ability to do things like scan and filter, but they don’t take into account the habits of mind and psychological behaviors we bring to the table in developing these skills.  In light of our tendencies toward homophily and pre-conceived ideas, it would seem there are deeper issues at work that we need to consider:

  • When we are scanning, how do we combat our natural tendency to only “see” information that fits with our preconceived notions of the world? The skill of scanning isn’t just about how well we are able to manage a stream of information. It’s also about our ability to actually SEE information in its raw form.
  • In developing our filtering skills, how do we ensure that we are not filtering out information that doesn’t fit wth our existing concepts and frames? I suspect that many, if not most of us, are likely to apply our filters in a way that shields us from data we may not want to consider. But this is not effective filtering behavior, particularly if we end up filtering out key data that would change our decisions or ideas about how things work.
  • Creating a knowledge network is important, but if we are creatures of homophily, seeking out like-minded connections, then are we really using this skill to its full advantage? How do we make our networks diverse? As I’ve pointed out before, social technology tends to collude in this process of connecting us to like-minded people, for example suggesting friends who share our interests. But how do I ensure that I’m connecting to people who think differently than I do?
  • How do we become capable of objective sense-making based on the actual data that is coming into us, rather than our IDEAS of what the data means? I think that the tendency to interpret information as its coming into our brains is so ingrained we don’t even realize it’s happening. That’s why “beginner’s mind” is an aspiration, rather than something most of us are able to do on a regular basis.

Again, these are not just skills for learning professionals or knowledge workers. They are literacies that most of us need in the “modern” world. Online and offline.

Thanks, Michele! Your other post, Are Knowledge Workers the New Blue Collar Workers, was also terrific. I deeply appreciated that you asked why these skills aren’t getting traction and if some of them will be subsumed by computers.