Be the Media – Being a critical friend and community participation

I sent a skype over to Beth Kanter after having read about the Be the Media project over at her blog.

The Be The Media Project is a community of people from nonprofits who are interested in learning and teaching about how social media strategies and tools can enable nonprofit organizations to create, compile, and distribute their stories and change the world.

It’s a very interesting network knowledge building project and I told her after half a heartbeat that I would love to be able to tag along for the ride in whatever way possible. She asked that I be a ‘critical friend’ for the project… see here, here and here for some ideas about what some people think this means.

I’ve managed the first part of the commitment to being a critical friend, I’ve reviewed the planning and worked my way through the ideas that are there… all the more convinced that this is a really cool project. We’ve tried this kind of thing at Edtechtalk before… i have very fond memories of the ‘live barnstorming’ session from a few years ago when we tried to create a new media curriculum, live, in a wiki. I’ve since been in any number of community builds. Some have worked very well… and others have been less successful.

Critical friend contribution – two questions.

How are you contributing to people’s feelings of ‘responsibility’ to the knowledge creation process?
The biggest thing that I work for in my social communities, and look for in community partners is their ability to invest their own sense of responsibility into the work that they are involved in. Much of our societies/y’s generally tends to sell their sense of responsibility for money or praise, or to a communal normality like common space or blood. There is a very strong sense of hierarchy in these kinds of community with parental kinship relationships, medieval manorial/manager interactions and expert/novice associations filling much of the interaction space.

A community based responsibility model can explode many of those power structures, and find people moving to take over the tasks that need to be done, and taking ownership to both change things they think need changing, log and tag those changes in case the majority thinks they need to be reversed or thrown into a parallel contruct, and make the necessary connections between one bit of knowledge/information and another to create that magic rhizome soup.

But this works best when people feel a clean responsibility to the work at hand. There is a good start there with the personal profile ‘what module would you most like to contribute to’ section. I think the transition between voluteerism there and action by the leadership team is crucial.

What are your thoughts about the lifespan of your knowledge creation?

One of the critical thoughts that went into the community as curriculum article that Beth mentioned in a blog post last week was that the when the community is the curriculum knowledge must always be emerging. It is constantly in flux and only by aggregating and assessing the community in real time, with constant new connections and renewed re-evaluation can the curriculum stay ‘current’. It is through an assessment of those ties, and those trust relationships, in addition to the ‘does it work for me now in this context’ practical evaluation that knowledge gets assessed.

For this project… how is the knowledge going to be nourished? Is there a sense in which you are thinking about some bits being ‘higher level’ maybe longer lasting bits and other bits being more transient bits. Some pieces being jumping off points and others being destinations.
In a sense I’m talking about curation… but not in the sense of antiquities… it’s an inverse curator… instead of one person with deep knowledge keeping old things old, it is many curators with wide knowledge keeping the new things juggled to the front. tags. tags. tags. tags. Man do i love tags in wikis. Particular community contributed tags. The more the community is involved in the tagging process… the more depth to the knowledge connections.

if that makes sense.

And, if you’ve made it down here… do check out the excellent wiki orientation.

Thanks very, very much for having me on this journey.

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