I've never used Facebook or MySpace or any other social networking site before joining this one. I've done IRC and IM a handful of times at best. Blogs and forums have been my cup of tea. With that caveat...
Does it strike anyone else as a tad unusual that a social network dedicated to collaborative decision making and cooperate problem solving is as quiet as this one has been lately?
That's my teaser offered in the spirit of stimulating some casual conversation. It doesn't all have to be impressively academic and serious. Looking through the profiles of the 50+ members I see lot's of interesting people (all of you in fact). You are invited to delurk if only for a moment. :-)
Heard a good joke lately? What's your weather like? What are you reading?
My hunch is that many of us invited friends and colleagues in for one reason or another, and for many of them, this is not what they expected. Some of my colleagues, even those who asked for an invite, never joined. There might be several "causes" at work:
1- lack of time
2- lack of a "hook" to draw them in once they actually get here
3- no real interest in the threads found here
I'd like to toss out an opinion, my opinion. It is that ning just doesn't really satisfy the need some people really have for "community", whatever that means to them. Lots of pictures, few if any definitive profiles, as if some of us don't really have anything to say about ourselves, or cannot say much for one reason or another.
It seems to me that people are used to certain desktop activities, the grand sport being email, sometimes online talking heads forums, sometimes blogging, etc. For me, ning feels like a multi-authored blog, and not really much more than that. That's not a criticism, for I believe that blogging is important. But, the only structure we get here comes from indented replies under particular forum titles. I believe we can do much better than that, but not at ning. Deki Wiki seems like a clear winner if compared only to ning. I've shown you can "hack" a blog there, I have discussed flat navigation as compared to the native hierarchical navigation, and so forth. Andy has done a masterful job of bashing the site into a usable structure, one we can work with. But, there are just four of us doing anything there. Go figure.
My most recent book: Carl Zimmer's microcosm. A truly awesome read, right up there with Howard Bloom's Global Brain.
Thanks for the leads Jack. I will put them on order.
Along the same lines, I think you started a bibliography on the wiki site. What about a process of annotation of books we've read there. We could share annotation notes and build quite a reference list. I'll have to check it out to see if the idea is already floating.
The bibliography, blogs, and Subject Index are ideas I tossed in over there, but the four of us have been far too pre-occupied to push them. I suspect that the biblio could grow to massive proportions and needs a way to be divided up. I think the biblio should be an annotatable resource. Were I dictator, I'd call for each resource to have its own page (topic), for obvious reasons; the "Bibliography" would then be an alphabetic listing (in the long run, a listing that is sortable by author, title, etc).
Our wiki host plans to upgrade to Deki Wiki 8.05 in the next few weeks. That version contains a huge improvement to scripting capabilities. And then, if someone has the time and energy, perhaps we can realize your vision along with a good UI to support it.
In the meantime, I don't see why we can't put individual biblio entries on separate pages. Go forth and multiply! :-)
My sense is that the pattern it is not unusual, and I am inclined to interpret the recent lull in communication as a sign of healthy lives elsewhere and a natural phase in the development of the group.
I also suspect that most of the members who have glanced quickly at the Ning site in recent days won't have appreciated the latent development of the next phase of the group's life that you and others have been building so admirably on the Wiki.
From my perspective, I have greatly appreciated, and learnt much from, the generous sharing of thoughts and the creative and collegiate conversations that have flowed within the group, and, from my perspective, anyone who would like to interact with the other members of the group in this way is most welcome to do so; equally, no one should feel the need to so.
The original impulse in creating the Ning site was to draw together a group of people interested in, and capable of, accelerating the development, implementation and connection of the new sensemaking tools and applying the tools to emerging mess of problems that the world faces.
Many of the people who have joined the group so far will have done so simply out of curiosity and to signal a potential interest in participating in this process as its structure becomes more clearly defined.
When the site goes public shortly, GlobalSensemaking.net will also be a place where people beyond the group can discover the new tools together—and in discovering them together, see more clearly that a new category of tools is emerging and develop an immediate sense of the nature, scope and application of these tools.
The challenge for us all now is to make this process as compelling as possible, both within and beyond the group.
I think we're all reflecting on our own visions of what this project might mean/be, and also on how our idiosyncratic work styles might fit into patterns that can be catered to by a design for collaboration. I'll take a stab at one comment. In addition to an annotated bibliography, I would like to have a collection of pages devoted to analysis and critique of other projects in the same territory being pursued here - sort of a collective literature review as a way of clarifying views and as a preface to proposing new solutions.
Part of that work has begun with Mark A as the caretaker of the Sm Tools Audit Task. You might propose (this link is the place to do it) a complimentary task ("to create a collection of pages devoted to analysis and critique of other projects in the same territory being pursued here - sort of a collective literature review") with a slightly different focus.
Well so far this thread has been productive for me in a couple of ways.
I've had a chance to point two people with great ideas for useful work to the place on the wiki to propose those tasks in a way that gets more attention. Just fill out a task definition form (leaving blank anything you're unsure of) and you'll at least get my attention. The tasks will appear on the Dashboard page -- which we hope everyone over time learns to look at regularly.
I've also gotten some confirmation of my own views in Jack's and David's remarks regarding why more dialog isn't occurring. People have many interests and will engage in activities that hook into those interests. Starting a new initiative from scratch isn't for everyone. However, as we continue to move the project forward, clarifying its purpose by producing useful artifacts, more people will get actively involved. When the proverbial horse is led to water it will drink if it's thirsty and the water refreshing.