Notes on The 7 Competencies of Online Interaction

Post ImageI decided to switch rooms to check out Nancy White’s session on Snow White and the Seven Competencies of Online Interaction. Some notes:

  • I’m also chatting live in the NV Back Channel. You can join if you want! Dickson just commented that he hates IRC…I guess he’s run into too many viruses!
  • Our world is far more unbounded – we’re creating our own reality.
  • Nancy is kind of telling a story like Julie, using images on the screen as she goes.
  • We have the ability to let this magic happen by changing our organizations.
  • Communications Skills – scan, see patterns, write, image-inate, vocalize, intuit; write blog daily, test, draw, record, summarize, listen
  • Learning with others – learning as a practice, gift economy, collaborate, open hand…
  • Ramlinger – 6 Network Functions: filters, amplifyers, convenors, facilitators, investors, community builders
  • Nancy: note, make a competency about tools!
  • Facilitation for: relationship, identity/reputation, presence, flow
  • Shouting creates quite a different environment online than in meatspace. Learn about improvisation and creatively abrasive!
  • Convening Conversations – invite, name the question, initiate, design for local choice, nurture
  • Intercultural antennae: broadly defined, heart variations, “default” culture – look, read, live/work/play, bridge!
  • Tolerance for Ambiguity – OK with not in control, not knowing, move forward without certainty
  • Ability to switch contexts – connectors, networkers, multiple perspectives, outsiderness
  • Self-Awareness!
  • So what? Undeterred by failure, care for the whole, willing to be vulnerable, value the human system first
  • The struggle is the solution. Grieve for the cost of what exists now. Treat the conversation as action. See the reality in the current situation.
  • Edith Wharton – There are two ways of spreading the light: To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

Notes from Sifry on the Blogosphere

Post ImageDave Sifry and Tim Bray are on stage now, getting ready to do their presentation, apparently with no visuals! Sounds like they will be accepting questions from the crowd as well.

  • Kind of a cool interview setup, Dave and Tim sitting on stage.
  • How many people are bloggers? Everyone raises their hand. How many people don’t have a Technorati ego feed? No one raises their hand!

I’m going to try and capture some of the Q and A here but don’t expect exact quotes – I’ll be summarizing essentially.

T: Why do we need blogs?
D: [Explains why he started Technorati.] Mailing lists suck! Started looking around to see if there might be a better way and came across a dynamic web publishing system, a blog. I immediately became a stats whore, I wanted to know what people were saying about me! The problem was fundamentally the way search engines are built – in essence built on the model that the web is the world’s biggest library. Even today we talk about the web as if it were a library – web pages, documents, indexes, etc. What I wanted was the immediacy of conversation. Traditional search engines don’t really understand the concept of time. This doesn’t mean that the web as a library metaphor isn’t a good one. What I realized was, pages are created by people. Authority does not denote veracity! I built Technorati because I wanted to know who was talking about me.

T: What leaps out at you from your state of the blogosphere series?
D: We don’t pretend to say we’re tracking every blog that exists, but we’re working hard to get all of the public ones. Korea for example, we don’t track quite as well. There’s about 27.6 million blogs, and that grows by 75,000 every day (about one new weblog per second). How many blog after three months? Just over 50%, about 13.7 million. About 2.8 million post once a week or more, and just under a million post once a day or more. There are about 15 new posts per second. The blogosphere is incredibly many-to-many. People like Instapundit or BoingBoing are starting to look a lot like the mainstream media, where they get a lot of links and just can’t respond to every comment, etc. It’s the people after these top ones that are much more interesting; their traffic is still manageable enough to carry on a conversation, yet they are still authoritative. The idea behind Technorati’s Blog Finder feature is to try and help these people get discovered.

Audience Member: How can we deal with the fact that the world of tagging is messy and there’s multiple languages, etc?
D: When you setup the system so that it’s easy to do, an emergent system starts to occur. As long as tagging is easy, emergent thinking will occur.
T: I think we can agree that’s the only hope too, no one can create a big dictionary.

T: Blogging is changing so much, what can go wrong?
D: Wow! The growth cannot continue forever, because there’s only so many humans in the world! We’re still very much at the beginning though, and there are some enormous challenges like spam, splogs, spings, etc. As Cory Doctorow said, all healthy ecosystems have parasites! Net neutrality, is one of the most dangerous threats to the net. This is the idea where telecom providers try to do preferrential pricing.

Audience Member: How many spam blogs are being created by robots?
D: About July of 2004 is when they really started to appear, and there’s two kinds; the ones that do SEO type blogs, and those that are scraping content to try and make money. The way to solve this is to get down to the economics of why people do this. And it has to be an ecosystem approach, different companies have to work together.
T: I think it is hitting the long tail less hard than the head of the tail.

T: [Asked something about RSS and advertising I think.]
D: Your RSS aggregator is not “push”…it goes off at some regular interval to pull down information. And they all understand when something is “read” differently.

Audience Member: What about federated networks?
D: It’s a shift in the economics of publishing. We’re starting to see, in effect, a guild system. It comes down to, can you write with quality and can you work effectively with advertisers to make money?

Scoble made a comment about advertising at this point.

D: I think advertising sucks, but imagine you could see ads you actually want to?

Okay I am back to just some notes:

  • Google Bowling – people will create spam sites that point to competitors so that they get kicked out of the index.
  • Tim says he observed bored children in the audience, and reminds everyone of the kids room.

Notes on Why Stories are Essential

Post ImageJulie Leung is up on stage now to present her keynote Starting with Fire: Why Stories are Essential and How to Blog Effective Tales. Julie always has an interesting presentation so this should be good.

  • Just as she did at Gnomedex, Julie has started by sharing a story from her past, using pictures to illustrate her words. I’ll pick out some of the key quotes from her story.
  • “We are surrounded by stories. Nature reveals why stories are important.”
  • “It is in our nature to seek stories. We are our stories.”
  • “Stories can be indirect, yet powerful. Stories are perfect for complexity.”
  • “Stories are tools of change.”
  • “Stories heal us emotionally.”
  • “We come together around stories. They continue culture, and they change culture.”
  • “Stories are essential because stories are essentially human.”

Julie is now sharing some of her principles for blogging stories:

  • What is a story? They usually have a beginning, a middle, and an end. However “one way”, is for traffic signs! She highlight’s Robert McKee’s book “Story”.
  • Change the familiar! Avoid cliches, but also try to take the ordinary and give it new color and new meaning.
  • How to begin? When beginning a story, listen and link to others.
  • Take notes. Include sensory details.
  • Use the power of pause, blank space, etc.
  • Blogging has a freedom you can’t find in other places – a story can be any shape or size. You can break a story into many pieces, and each can become a blog post.
  • Hiding! Make it suspenseful, as in life, we don’t know all of the story until the end.
  • Experiment to continue growing as a blogger.
  • Voice comes naturally, and you’ll find it as you experiment and share your stores.
  • Have fun, be creative, and play.
  • It’s the raw and sometimes the imperfect that speaks to us the most.
  • Linking and commenting make stories real. The story is corrected, confirmed and can lead to collaboration. It takes two to make a story, the teller and the listener.
  • Blogging is transforming story telling.
  • Be generous and creative with links; they can add another dimension to stories.

Now Julie is sharing some examples of blogging stories:

Julie says: start with fire, start with the hearth.

Notes on Community

Post ImageBad news – something is wrong with Megan’s laptop. We took a quick look, and its either corrupt system files or some sort of hard drive failure. Too lazy to switch rooms, so we’re sticking around for the session in this room, which is all about community. So far it seems much more discussion oriented than presenter oriented. Here are some notes:

  • Scoble says to him, community is just linking, and it has paid off in spades.
  • Someone else says making connections is what’s important. Conversations between people is what networking is all about.
  • Your blog: writing yourself into existence – writing about things you’re interested in. What are the conversational topics of interest?
  • Debbie, who is writing an undergraduate thesis on blogging communities, has found that despite the fact that the Internet can cross boundaries of time, space, etc. people end up building networks with people in their same geographic regions.
  • Someone notes that the community becomes much larger through RSS.
  • Scoble agrees with another fellow that the extended community is what is most important and valuable. I guess there’s physical networks in some places more naturally than others. Another lady says that someone has to take the initiative.
  • The process of invitation: how is it different for blogging? Someone notes you can essentially invite yourself, which is different than many other communities.
  • Someone suggests that it’s important to know something about the blogger in realspace (or meatspace).
  • If you don’t blog, you can’t really relate to the feelings and networks that can be created in virtual and then real space.
  • Someone says that to him, community is when the people involved make an effort to know the other members – it’s more than just linking together.
  • Kevin Marks suggests that access is what makes community important; access to experts, thought leaders, etc.
  • Lloyd from Flock wonders how we make the conversation accessible? Maybe its too hard to be part of a community?
  • Comments are an important part of community it seems, very quick almost impromptu conversations.

This has been a very cool session, I like the discussion way of talking about a topic.

Notes on Structured Content

Post ImageTime for another session – Dickson and Megan have gone to a different one this time. Oh, and I notice Scoble’s tablet is actually a newer model than mine (I think…larger screen too). Here are some notes on Bryan Rieger’s session on structured content (this is essentially a Semantic Web concept):

  • Very interesting use of lego to represent how structured blogging produces blocks. Say a block for the title, one for the text, one for tags (which are already a microformat), etc.
  • Microformats: designed for humans first, machines second. Keep it as simple as possible. Solve a specific problem.
  • Developers: support both commas and spaces!
  • Typically a structured blog post looks the same as any other post, which is good for users.
  • Why bother? Some reasons: search, commerce, and many other things we haven’t begun to think of yet…
  • Current structured content types: licenses, tags, reviews, lists, calendars, events, media, people, organizations, etc.
  • Some places to check out are http://microformats.org and http://structuredblogging.com.
  • The tools have to support these formats, and for the user, entering these things has to be quick and easy!
  • We’re creating this content for humans, so why the effort in creating something for machines? Well, one person says it makes presentation much simpler, across various machines and interfaces.
  • Boris Mann suggests this is all about accessibility, and again, the tools have to support it.
  • Bryan says a larger problem than tools support, is why would people do this? We need to get people to want to do this!
  • Are we extending blogging or RSS? Bryan says neither.
  • Someone mentioned that there’s a project to create a structured version of Atom, so you wouldn’t need an RSS feed, as it would essentially be built in. I assume you just throw a stylsheet in front of the Atom document for browser rendering.
  • Interesting discussion about how HTML has already gotten us so far, perhaps the solution to structured content is simple…
  • Scoble thinks the “way in” for structured content is with maps, allowing a blogger to put a review on a map at a specific address.

Blog Herald Sold

Post ImageI guess selling blogs isn’t as surprising nowadays as it used to be, but I was still a little shocked when I found out earlier today that Duncan Riley’s popular Blog Herald had been sold. The word on the street is that the blog sold for around $70,000 USD. From Jeremy Wright:

Why did Duncan sell it? I’ll let him give the full reasons, but the biggest and best were that he was no longer enjoying writing it as much as he used to, and that there was a perceived conflict of interest with a blog that was in a blog network reporting on blog networks.

Duncan’s been considering this move for a while now, but could never get enough interest up with the people he was talking to to make it worth his while. I told him I’d help out, broker the deal and take some of the stress off his shoulders. It’s always hardest to sell something you care deeply about (I know, having been there), so we both felt having someone who wasn’t directly involved with it doing the selling would be best (ie: me).

My congratulations to Duncan and my best wishes for the future of the site. I hope he gets what he wants out of it!

I remember a little over a year ago when I was doing BlogosphereRadio.com, the Blog Herald was one of my primary sources of information. It takes a lot of hard work to consistently post the most up-to-date news and analysis, so I have great respect for Duncan. I haven’t frequented the site as often lately (though I remain subscribed) mainly because my attention has turned to podcasting. I hope the new owner doesn’t destroy everything Duncan has accomplished thus far.

Do I think it’s worth $75K? Not so sure on that. I guess if the blog has the traffic – the right number of eyeballs – you could justify the price. The big question I’d have if I was the buyer is, how can I see a return on this investment?

I guess time will tell.

Read: Blog Herald

Registered for Northern Voice 2006

Post ImageI finally got around to registering for Nothern Voice 2006, taking place in Vancouver on February 10th and 11th. The second day is a “regular” conference day with scheduled sessions and speakers while the first day is called Moose Camp, a self-organized conference (attendees plan the day). I am really looking forward to the conference for two main reasons – last year was great, and the list of attendees already looks amazing. Moose Camp should be pretty interesting too, and am I hoping to take part in some fashion.

Megan and I are returning attendees, and this year Dickson is joining us too. The three of us will be in Vancouver from the 9th until the 12th. We don’t really have any solid plans for evenings or the 12th, so if you want to get together let us know! Worst case we’ll do “the tourist thing” on Sunday like we did last year.

See you there!

Read: Northern Voice

2005 – Year in Review

Post ImageThe year 2005 is almost over, so I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the past year through the eyes of my blog. Here is a selection of some interesting posts on my blog from each of the last twelve months:

There you have it! There’s lots more “2005 in review” lists and posts out there. Here are some of the ones I found interesting:

Definitely check out that last link…it’ll keep you busy for a while!

Using NewsGator Online

Post ImageAs many of you probably are aware, my aggregator of choice is NewsGator Outlook Edition. I like it because I always have Outlook open anyway, and I can take posts offline and read them when I don’t have an Internet connection. It’s also handy to take advantage of the search folders, flags, and other features of Outlook. Since installing Visual Studio 2005 and switching tablets, NGOE has not worked. I am told there is a conflict that they are working to fix, and I expect it’ll be working again before long. So in the meantime, I’ve been using NewsGator Online, or Web Edition, and I’ve made the following observations:

  • I really miss the ability to read stuff offline. You don’t realize how much you use it until it’s gone! And since I always have my tablet with me, I don’t find being able to access my subscriptions anywhere just because they are online all that handy.
  • I rather like the Web Edition’s “mark all items on this page as read” feature. It would be good if the Outlook edition had a similar feature that hid items you’ve already read. Each post in the Web Edition also has a “mark as read” button, but unfortunately the item doesn’t disappear, it just is grayed out. Would be much better if the item disappeared!
  • I find the online interface clean, but very pale. Sometimes it’s hard to read because everything is so white and grey.
  • The “My Clippings” feature works well and is akin to dragging a post to a different folder in Outlook, or perhaps flagging it.

So I guess that while it works quite well, I’ll probably go back to my Outlook version when the conflict is all fixed up.

School Libraries in Canada Weblog

Post ImageAs some of you know, I have been the Technical Editor of SLIC for a couple years now. SLIC, or School Libraries in Canada, is the Canadian Association for School Libraries‘ journal for teachers and teacher-librarians and has been an online journal since I joined. I haven’t said much about it on my blog, but I thought our most recent issue was rather interesting!

The latest issue is titled Teacher/Teacher-Librarian Collaboration, and in addition to a collection of articles written by teachers, teacher-librarians, and other contributors, we have for the first time published a weblog! Aside from the fact that we probably won’t be making any new posts, it is a real blog, complete with web feeds, comments, and all of that other good blog stuff. Definitely a good way to talk about collaboration! Here’s the description for the new issue:

This issue of School Libraries in Canada examines the importance of that most elusive of ideals, the equal partnership of classroom teachers and teacher-librarians. The articles present the research findings on the effectiveness of collaborative teaching practice, discuss strategies, offer suggestions, and tell tales of passion and sorrow, frustration and success. At the heart of it all is a way of teaching that requires and models mutual respect, trust, cooperation and the power of shared vision. From the dry data to the practical experience, our writers share the importance of our work to the success of our colleagues, our students and ultimately our schools. This issue also includes SLIC’s first weblog – a venue for the community of teacher-librarians to discuss the challenges and rewards of collaborative teaching practice. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to explore the issues surrounding collaborative teaching practice with teacher-librarians across Canada and around the world.

This is just another example of blogging becoming more and more commonplace. Indeed I think educational institutions have been quick to warm up to blogging as it’s a really versatile medium – it’s perfect for class projects, teacher updates, school news, or even teacher and teacher-librarian collaboration!

Read: SLIC Online