Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why do Network Weavers need to understand Web 2.0?


Why all the emphasis I've been placing on Web 2.0? Well, because the possibilities it represents are tantalizing: can new social technology help us create more effective networks that enable us to create a world that is much better for virtually everyone?

With so much at stake, I think it's imperative for us to allocate time to hang out with people Stowe Boyd, a blogger and Web innovator, calls edglings - people who are experimenting with new tools as they pop out, and are giving us a sense of what they are really good for. Here are intriguing bits of what Stowe Boyd is discovering:

A rich online culture is transformative for us individually and for the culture at large.

Information streaming from our friends on the web will shift the way we make sense of the world.

Information will be pushed to you all the time from friends, not pulled to you by browsing.

Don't set up a community online and hope people will come, find out where people are already hanging out online and be there listening
.

As Network Weavers, we often are the bridge between innovators such as Stowe and our communities. We have to hang around, or maybe even become, edglings ourselves. We need to learn how to make sense of all the experimentation and figure out how to communicate about the best of it to our peers. We need to have a basket of social tools ready so that when a situation arises where that tool can make a big difference, we are ready to show people how they can use it.

I'm astounded how much I've been learning about possibilities just by following 100 edglings on Twitter and by using blog readers. After only a few weeks, I've slid into a new culture - and it's all been quite painless, even fun and enlightening.

Do you know any edglings? Tell us about them.

If you don't know any edglings, how might you find them and weave them into your network?

Or, look who Valdis, Jack and I are following on Twitter and follow them. Listen. Open up. Watch what happens.

4 comments:

Kim Patrick Kobza said...

We should raise the bar in our thinking. Web 2.0 and social network tools standing alone simply scratch the surface of what is possible in network weaving.

Neighborhood and community projects have a highly social element. But more important they are organized around purpose. We often attend meetings for a common purpose - not to make friends. While at the meeting we may become friends and have a "social" dialogue.

Also, in most community organizing there is a workflow management process that underlies the public process. In other words, there is a closed network of project managers, consultants, etc., who support an open public process. Part of successful network weaving is not simply generating community dialogue between and among multiple public open networks- but the exchange of information and content that simultaneously supports the public and private processes. In other words identifying and organizing hybrid networks.

This is very important. Said another way, content generated in the closed process creates an institutional memory that enables the networks to sustain effectiveness over a longer period of time. Institutional memory ultimately creates efficiencies as network members come and go and new network members join. Content preservation and institutional memory in turn create trust that supports new social attachments and network connections.

Effective network weaving in the community context means so much more than supporting the dialogue with Web 2.0 and social networking tools. It requires support for complex hybrid networks that map to the purpose of the community networks - including support for the workflow management process - document, content management, information rights management, etc.,

Our challenge is to expand this dialogue beyond Web 2.0 and social networks. We need to aim higher. Social networks are not the answer standing alone. Network transformation and value conversion from networks are stronger organizing principles.

June Holley said...

If you read the rest of the blog you'll clearly see that we don't see networks as a Web 2.0 build-it-they-will-come phenomenon.

Not sure what you mean about hybrid networks...can you give an example?

Kim Patrick Kobza said...

I read the blog carefully and did not infer that it projected a build it they will come theme. So not to be defensive, was not in any way being critical. In fact quite the opposite.

Hybrid networks are combinations of open and closed networks working together. As an example, in a community context - let's say that your community is considering a local transportation project.

The project will require an open public network formed for the purpose of collaboration and public input. The open public community generates public comment in many forms of data that is then published into a closed network.

The closed network is the combination of city officials, private stakeholder groups, engineers and planners, other consultants that have responsibility for the planning process. Much of their work product is first published in the closed network and then in the open network as referential information.

Both the open public network and the closed working network share the same purpose - planning of the transportation project.

Practical examples of hybrid networks in a public environment include Imagine New York (redesign of WTC and design of the memorial project), where there were 170 stakeholder groups working in a closed network and hundreds of thousands of public participants, the Flight 93 community for the memorial in Shanksville, and the global community for the Statue of Liberty.

Hybrid networks are more thoroughly described by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom in Starfish and the Spider.

Addictive Picasso said...

June, just to say that you are an amazing inspiration. In our own way, over here in the U.K., we are now starting to think about how Web 2.0 and its excitement can support and enable network weaving to go on. Will report back, but in the meantime, please take a look at my post on building digital bridges and community collectives online and our event in Cardiff, Wales later this month.