Useful Books on Online Community Building – Update

In 2010 I did a short post on useful books on building online community. While Useful Books on Online Community Building was pretty lame, there is now a great Google Doc maintained by the folks who participate in the Community Manager Twitter Chat that is really great. Check it out here (and add to it!).



Building a Virtual Tour of Online Communities

This is the second post about touring existing online communities as a learning journey for those building or sustaining their own communities. (Part 1 is here.) This one is about the nuts and bolts of doing a live tour of online communities. The first post laid out purpose, identification of potential communities to tour, and criteria for review and evaluation. So now lets talk about HOW to run the tour. This is nuts and bolts time!


  1. Pick your web touring technology. For this sort of event, I like to have a tool with fairly easy screen sharing and a shared chat room for note taking. I use a white board or slides to share the initial overview and questions.
  2. Set the date. Let your “tourists” know date, time and any technical requirement. This may mean needing to be online, have a headset/mic or an appropriate telephone dial in option.Confirm your communities. Get permissions as appropriate if you plan to use your personal log in to tour any private communities!
  3. Set up a URL list that can work both within your web technology and on a separate web page as back up. Plan a SHORT intro narrative to each community. Decide what pages you will visit and why. See the first post!  I like to throw the URLs and short descriptions on to a Google doc and share it with the tourists in advance.
  4. Test your URLs within the web meeting tool. Should they be links? Preloaded? Do you need username/password to log on to any private sites?
  5. As backup, grab a basic set of screen shots of each community in case your web touring technology fails. Yes, it happens! Always have a plan B.
  6. If you have a co-facilitator, define each of your roles.
    • It is often useful to have one person help folks if they have any technical needs, while the other runs the tour.
  7. Consider how you want to capture questions as you go — sometimes you will need to research and come back later with answers.  Encourage the tourists to take notes if that fits your culture!
  8. Send an email with the login information and any preparation you would like the tourists to do. I often send a short piece on community PURPOSE and some of the questions I mentioned in the  first post.

Running the event

  1. Log in early and make sure everything is working. Have an email prepped to resend in case anyone contacts you saying “I lost the url/login/etc.
  2. If you decided to preload URLs on separate whiteboards, etc, get that all set up. Set up any polls or questions on other white board pages or have them handy to cut/paste in.
  3. If you are recording the tour, don’t forget to hit the old “record” button once you start.
  4. When you start with your participants, give an overview of the tour process. It might go something like this:
    • We are going to look at X different communities today. I’m going to use the screen sharing tool (or whatever you plan) so I’ll be “driving” the tour, but please, if you see something you’d like me to click on, let me know. There is a slight lag with the screen sharing so speak up as soon as you can!
    • I want to review a couple of questions we should keep in mind as we tour (then I review the questions.)
    • Encourage shared note taking (I often use the chat room in the webinar tool).
    • Do you have any questions? (Answer them..)
    • Start…
    • Pause often for questions, observations.
  5. Between communities, do a quick recap asking for observations and answers to questions. Sometimes it is worth going deeper and seeing fewer communities…
  6. Leave at least 25% of the time at the end for reflection and next steps.

Follow Up

  1. If you are recording the event, capture the recording and share the URL.
  2. Clean up and share any collective notes taken during the event.

Do you have any other suggestions or ideas? Resource pointers? Please, chime in!

Strategic Communities of Practice for The Nature Conservancy

strategicCopsI had the great pleasure of leading a webinar yesterday with The Nature Conservancy on Strategic Communities of Practice. We focused on gaining some shared sense of what we mean by “communities of practice,” a framework fo looking at them strategically, some of the basic roles involved in communities and a quick peek at evaluation options.

There was some lively interaction in the chat. Many of these folks work in parts of the world where web based online interaction is not so great, so a wonderful thread on mobile-device-supports for communities emerged. If you know of any great examples, please share. ( I just found this one with a quick search and also suggested looking at I think some of the Twitter chats could serve as a model for a mobile-based distributed conversation by a community as well! Here are some examples in education.)

In addition, the good folks at TNC said I could share the webinar recording. I’m not sure if you can bear 90 minutes of recording, but just in case, here is the link. I’ve put the slides below as well, but as usual, they don’t make a ton of sense without the narrative. Thanks to Olivia, Nicole and Gillian at TNC for being such fabulous hosts and webinar facilitators!

via Strategic Communities of Practice.

Communities in Classrooms at UBATIC+

[Edited Nov10 to note that at the bottom of the post, I’ve uploaded a PDF of the Google Translated version of the web discussion. I so appreciated the spirit of this conversation, even though we were working across languages with machine translation.]

This week there is what looks to be (using Google Translate) a great online conference called UBATIC+, a virtual gathering about ICTs and teaching in higher education hosted by the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was great to be asked to offer a short (14 minute) contribution which Silvia Andreoli has captioned in Spanish. I’m impressed — I’m not always so easy to follow!

via NANCY WHITE – YouTube.

I’m trying to follow along as best I can — my video and discussion launches Friday and I wanted to have some context for the conversation. And to get used to Google translate’s view of ICTs in higher ed! 🙂 Language always presents such an interesting barrier. I don’t speak Spanish, but because of my Portuguese, I can decode some things. But I still find it incredibly tiring. It is important to remember this feeling — at a gut level — because so often I’m the one talking a mile a minute in English to people who are trying to think through two or three languages!

Updated: Here is a quick PDF of the web conversation. UBATICDiscussions

KM Singapore Recap

Last week I had my first trip to Singapore and was a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at KM Singapore. My talk was entitled “The Heaven and Hell of Communities!” If you want the short version, a 2 minute recap can be found here. (I just blogged about the Graphic Facilitation workshop as well.) I want to thank the fabulous Edgar Tan, Wai Kong and Patrick Lambe of Strait’s Knowledge for hosting me. You guys ROCK!

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this presentation, so I thought I’d share some of that process, acknowledge and thank those who helped me, and then share the slide set.


My first instict was to use my communities and networks to “think out loud” about the tensions that are mounting in the productive and strategic use of communities and networks. Little did I realize that I was actually setting myself up for the very challenges I was trying to talk about. Filter failure. Lack of discrimination and strategy in how I tapped my networks. Too much on my plate. Mama mia. It was all in front of me, and I wasn’t even seeing it.

My first round was asking on Twitter for “radical ideas” about knowledge collaboration. Then I set up a Google Doc to start sharing my ideas and solicit comments. THEN I added one more mechanism, Google Moderator (which it turns out, I’m not so fond of) which gave me more diverse input. Then I started scanning more generally on my network and the “kismet” factor kept turning up more and more interesting and relevant links. These are still a disorganized mish mash on the Google doc. I think I’m not such a great Curator! (Robin, now you know why I was massively inarticulate on this topic when we last talked in Rome!) Thanks Jennifer, Dave, Eugene and Christopher and the rest of my network!

I was pretty darn well overwhelmed, so I let it all sit. Then a week before I was due to travel, I started with my “post it note” presentation planning, pulling out three main thoughts, supporting information, key anecdotes and at least 2 actionable suggestions for each main point. I begin to feel urgent, so I started dumping things into PowerPoint, with the intention of drawing the visuals for the slides once I had them set. But they just would NOT SETTLE in my mind or on the screen. So I decided to travel with things “unfinished.” Sometimes at the event, in the PLACE things fall into place. But I could not chase away some niggling worries.

I got a bit nervous as things had not fallen into place. Then the night before the keynote they did. David Weinberger’s keynote on day one totally resonated with what I wanted to talk about. Patrick Lambe’s talk analyzing the incident review of a major breakdown in Singapore’s public transit system told the perfect story validating the three points. In fact, almost every talk had a resonate point or reference. And somehow the language around the points got clearer as I reread some of my favorite work of friends. The idea of resilience instead of mitigation, of creative destruction to make room for strategic participation in communities and networks, and of conversations that matter all  felt right.

As an aside, here are my Sketchnotes from some of the other presenters!


The room at the Swissotel was pretty bright and images on previous slide sets were washing out. I usually use visually oriented slides – either photos or my own drawings. I realized a simple, bold text strategy might be better in this room, so that actually saved me some prep time. I rarely use text, but I think this worked out OK.

I was surprised how popular the slides were on Slideshare, even without any notes or narration. I was featured on Slideshare one day! Now I need to get the  audio/video so there can be a bit more sense making.


The room seemed to feel some resonance with the messages.  The group was fairly quiet through the whole two days of the event, so one would not expect whooping and shouting, but the follow up questions were very thoughtful and we continued some of these in the afternoon “Knowledge Market.” The three time horizons from Steve Waddell, the ideas I borrowed from the sustainability field around resilience instead of just mitigation and the chance to STOP doing something resonated. Patrick and I now want to work more on practices for creative destruction! Stay tuned for a workshop series.

All in all it was great fun.

Related Links and Event Artifacts