How do we, as a group of 60+, communicate with each other? Or more importantly, how do we aggregate and keep up with all the ways we communicate with each other?
At this point we have the Edu-Wiki & Google docs, which hold more "permanent" or informational kinds of communications, and we have the Google groups list-serve and our blogs for the more interactive conversation.
There's been some great interaction on the mailing list and I'm sure there are conversations going on between blogs already, but short of reading all the feeds every day, I won't know about them and they will take longer to develop. I don't think that detracts from their value, however, either to the evolution of the group as a whole or to each of us as individuals.
I do find the mailing list is where the "juice" is for me right now, and that's where I am getting the sense of who people are. One thing that's a bit frustrating is that we can't tag or link to list conversation in our blogs, so there's a bit of a gap. Also, just using subject lines as the thread organization is a bit hit-or-miss. I would actually find a forum better suited to this part of the conversation, so we could aggregate and find information more readily.
But I'm finding the whole flow fascinating, and intrigued to see how it all evolves!
Bronwyn Stuckey posted something interesting to the Google group recently about "how readily technology has seduced the conversation."
She was pointing out how the technology-centered focus could make a newbie feel very overwhelmed and "out of it", which is key, since one of the things I know about this sphere is how important it is to create what the World Café calls "hospitable space" for community & inter-connection to thrive within. That means creating a "container" that is beautiful, and safe, and easy to "be" in.
I mention beauty in the sense of an attractive aesthetic, yes - I'm a big believer in the power of line and space and color - but equally in the sense of kindness and care for the whole, creating a psychologically "safe" space in which people feel free to speak up and know they will be listened to. A space where they can easily find the tools they need to use and feel confident in using them. A space where all can feel equally valid and important to the whole. Having a buddy system can help with this, and that idea came out of this group quite organically, which is great.
But the concern about being seduced by technology is not only a concern for the well-being of the newbies among us; it also has to do with the group as a whole. Community is not about technology, it's about people, and when the focus of the conversation is too centered on the technology it draws attention and energy away from the whole and our ability to create or facilitate community together.
I find it particularly interesting that the exact same issue has come up recently in an online community I help facilitate, one in which finding the right technology is very important in re-creating the kind of experience we want to foster online. But important as it is, it's at best secondary to the human, or social technology we need to develop.
I'm a tech-lover myself, and absolutely revel in this kind of technological exploration and comparison, but I've found it's helpful to hold these conversations within a separate thread so they don't dominate the more community-oriented conversation, which they otherwise tend to do.
But what do you think? There was some "push-back" to Bron's comments on the list, for all sorts of reasons, but there were also those who agreed with her. What do you think is important in this conversation?
One key piece, for me, is a question about what we're up to here. If we are trying to create the conditions for community to emerge, then having so much focus on the technology right up front maybe isn't the best idea. But given that we're a class trying to find our way, well, that's just what happened. This co-emergent model of community is kind of messy and even chaotic as I alluded to in an earlier post, but it's authentic and for us, it's reality. That's got to count for something. :-)