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  Tuesday, April 08, 2003

  Blogs, dialogue and identity building (3)

Jim McGee continues the discussion:

Denham suggests "thinking together" as preferable to "thinking in public" [...] I think he takes my notion a step farther than I was intending. I agree with Denham that the goal is to be receptive to the thoughts of others and that "thinking together" can indeed lead to better results than thinking alone (as does drinking together instead of drinking alone).

[...]One of the primary reasons that thinking together is hard is that it requires both that we think in public and that we think collaboratively. I suspect that thinking together fails at least as often because we don't know how to think in public as it does because we don't know how to do it collaboratively. Further I think that order matters. You need to learn how to think in public first. Then you can work on developing skills to think collaboratively.

Thinking in public is a precursor skill to thinking collaboratively that's been ignored. We want to get to the fun stuff (ooh, brainstorming!) and skip over the hard part.

Weblogs make the hard part easier.


More on: blogs stickiness 

  Ability to make effective use of overlapping scopes

Blogs, scopes, and human routers by Jon Udell [via Roland Tanglao: KLogs]

The crucial insight, for me, was that a new kind of skill is becoming relevant: the ability to make effective use of overlapping scopes. Here's how I put it then:

If I am seeking or sharing information, why do I need to be able to address a group of 3 (my team), or 300 (my company), or 300,000 (my company's customers), or 300 million (the Usenet)? At each level I encounter a group that is larger and more diffuse. Moving up the ladder I trade off tight affinity with the concerns of my department, or my company, for access to larger hive-minds. But there doesn't really have to be a tradeoff, because these realms aren't mutually exclusive. You can, and often should, operate at many levels. [Practical Internet Groupware]

Interesting read. Jon also gives an example of Microsoft employee crossposting between corporate and public weblogs. The last post is one more example of reflection of what blogs are. I especially liked this one: "The most fundamental building block of blogs is RSS."

  I wonder why it's hard to belive that weblogs are good

A follow-up thought from previous post: I wonder why so many people are sceptical about weblogs. I assume that one of the reasons is that "blogging is like a loving sexual relationship - you just do not realize how rich and rewarding it is until you have experienced it" (David Gurteen).

For example, I find it very difficult to explain to non-blogger why

  • blogging somehow builds trust to other people faster and better than other ways
  • blogging somehow gives me a feeling of "belonging" to my "blogging neighborhood" and loyalty to this group
  • I feel that blogging gives me better identity than any of my on-line profiles, my CV, list of my publications
  • I feel that my blogging conversations are deep and engaging
  • I feel that these conversations are dialogues with me and not "everyone on-line" even if they are public and distributed over several blogs

I mean, I can explain it to others, but it's hard to believe. In many cases you have to get you feet wet before you convinced :)

More on: blogs stickiness 

  Blogs, dialogue and identity building (2)

Sebastian Fiedler comments on Blogs, dialogue and identity building (bold is mine):

I don't quite understand why Denham keeps suggesting that peronal Webpublishing does not support to be "receptive to the thoughts of others - that listening & dialog thing again." Only a little while ago he made a very similar comment and I responded over here . "Phil Wolff" took the time to comment on this issue, too. He stressed the fact that we should not focus on one technology alone. Instead we should try to find the "right blend by aligning them to specific org/community goals and social contexts according to their respective strengths."

I don't think it is too hard to acknowledge that many people use Weblogging and personal Webpublishing not only as an outlet of their own ideas. Weblogs are also used as powerful listening devices as Matt Mower and "Ton Zijlstra" have suggested recently.

[... more examples ...]

To me it looks like there is a lot of people out there in the personal Webpublishing realm who are very receptive, who are listening, who are willing to grab the phone and call each other, who are switching to email and instant messaging, and who are looking forward to meet each other in person to finally engage in "deep" real-time dialogue and conversation. We will see what happens around BlogTalk... but I am very optimistic that we will have conversations that go beyond what is usually happening at traditional academic or business conferences. Why? Because we have already built some "conversational ground" through our personal Webpublishing relationships.

Also - Robert Scoble on weblog audience:

See, influence isn't about HOW LARGE your audience is. It's about HOW SMALL it is. The whole "weblogs are not influential because they don't have many readers" thing is totally missing the point.

Listen, if you're Cisco, one visit with the CTO of Boeing will make your day. He can buy more equipment, and influence more people, than 100,000 average Americans can.

So, what's my goal? I want only "lit" people here. I want to scare off those who don't care about technology. Go read the National Enquirer or the Drudge Report. I don't care. I want a very small, very interesting audience.

And he comments later

Nah, I don't only want influential people here. I want people who are interesting. That's a big difference.

Yeah, most influential people are interesting. But, so are many non influential people.

I don't want a mass audience. The noise level would get too high. I want high signal, no noise.

Interesting people bring me a high signal.

I would change a little bit: I want a very small, very interested audience. Just enough for a dialogue :)


More on: blogs stickiness 

  Blogs, dialogue and identity building

Denham comments on Knowledge management with a small k:

'Thinking in public' is a powerful metaphor - true to form, I prefer 'thinking together' as the way to go.

This brings us back to 'identity' again. As I slowly work my way into knowledge practices I'm becoming convinced that identity is as important as 'context' for appreciating knowledge flows.

Thinking in public is all about taking a stand, being open to alternative views and engaging in thought exchange. Here is where I think I differ from bloggers - the value of thinking in public is not about personal risk taking, publishing or pushing (your) ideas, it is about being receptive to the thoughts of others - that listening & dialog thing again.

My interpretation:

  1. identity is important to provide context for knowledge flows
  2. identity is built in conversations
  3. weblogs do not provide "proper" conversational ground

I fully agree with 1 and 2 (and I'm interested to hear more arguments about 1).

I do not agree with point 3, especially in this context. We can discuss if weblogs are good for a meaningful dialogue [see previous conversations], but their added value for identity building is more visible. Observing someone thinking, reflecting and participating in several conversations gives better understanding of his/her context than even in-depth discussions in one community. This is especially true for community straddlers who stretch between different communities/contexts.

Two examples from recent posts in my aggregator:

Robert Scoble: I know that I trust people who weblog more than I trust non webloggers. Why? Because I get to know their philosophy. Their point of view. Day after day after day. Look at how Dan Shafer and I get along. I know more about Dan than I know about most of the people I even work with. Seriously. How many people do you work with that you have passionate discussions about things with?

Robert Paterson: I am finding that this is true for me as well.  I have formed an opinion based on months of observation about a group of bloggers that I feel comfortable with. Trust is engendered because you have access to a quite complete perspective of the other. How often at work do you know how a colleague really thinks? You may know his opinion on a project. You may know his opinion of a person but I seldom was let in deep enough at work to understand the full person. Blogging gives us that chance to see below the surface.


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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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