Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I want to promote connections, but how far will the connection go once released into the wild...? This is surely one of the variables that anyone engaged in networked learning will consider.
I am (sometimes painfully) aware that one slight error in handling the interface and a message I intended for one person suddenly and irrevocably gets transmitted to the masses.
But what about the communities I work in? For example, there's the 'IT people' within the school and I have a Lotus Connections Community dedicated to just 'us'. Would it be a good idea to open it up to the rest of the University or even the World? Is there any real threat to each option. Am I really only worried in case those in my own school are more conservative than me about sharing and will dissengage... Perhaps I should pop off and ask them :-)
I may have a 'rose tinted' memory, but I cant remember losing out by sharing... in the words of the proverb:
Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days
But there are times when simply 'open' or 'closed' is too simplistic. I need to be able to discern what level of openness is apt for each communication and that adds overhead to communicating at all! That leads me onto another proverb (paraphrased as):
Even an idiot can seem clever if he can keep his mouth shut
If I post this to this fairly quiet blog, as I have here, chances are no-one much is going to take note. If I post a link to it in my CU-only blog, chances are that several people will take note and may even start commenting on it. The size of the audience and the level of openness will affect whether or not I get some dialogue going, but it also determines the potential reach and impact of my words, beneficial or otherwise.... all this from someone who cant even choose a packet of bacon!


Anne Marie said...

I hadn't logged in to Connections for a long time until yesterday. I had rather 'given up on it'. Then I see that there has been a lot of interesting conversation happening which I know nothing about. It hadn't reached me at all. But I can't see why any of the conversation going on there could not be going on in public. I'm especially thinking of the discussion on reference management software. It seems such a pity for it to be locked up in Connections.
I'm glad you have posted this here.

Joe Nicholls said...

Just as is the case with Blackboard, ideally you want the best of both worlds. It's fundamentally about having the ability to target your communication to your desired audience. Knowing why and how is an increasingly important skill and intimately tied to the culture of the organisation.

For example, I currently believe my efforts are better directed towards enabling Cardiff staff and students to engage more effectively with services (internal and external). And I think that's better achieved from the inside-out rather than outside-in so to speak.

If you've read some of my posts in Connections several are clearly not intended for a public audience as they could reflect questionably on the University and INSRV. And I'll admit that I'm doing my best to be constructively provocative towards those who have responsibility for making decisions within the University. This would not be something appropriate to do in an external blog. I'm full of doubt as to whether any senior management will engage with it at all. But I do believe there's a better chance of them doing so in the close Connections environment, at least to begin with. Hopefully, IBM will develop the product so that we're able to interface in a seamless way with other external social technologies. I know for a fact that they're currently looking at OpenSocial.

Converts like yourself and Anne-Marie need no convincing about the value of using social technologies to network with like-minded people outside of the institution - and we want to enable other Cardiff folks to do the same. I believe Connections can provide a safe stepping stone to doing so. It is not a case of doing either/or is it? The challenge for those who already get it to facilitate the engagement and migration of their colleagues - just as you've done in this post, and as A-M is doing by linking from ConX to her external blog.

I think sometimes those who are already riding the crest of the wave forget how far back in the doldrums many of their pals are.

Mike said...

Many thanks for your comments. I think we do have some innate awareness of community and audience... Anne Marie tends to share by default. But when deciding to share (or to what circumference) what variables do we automatically juggle (or suppress!)?
For example, Joe, your chosen channel is affected by a deliberate strategy to engage with a specific community. And what about health professionals and the reasons why they should take care of their digital identity.
Perhaps these are things that are only grappled with in the throes of sharing... or are they needing to be identified, fleshed out and flagged up to those we try and bring along to the party?