Tools for Catalyzing Collaboration: June Workshop

I just announced a new online workshop on the Blue Oxen Associates blog: Tools for Catalyzing Collaboration. Here’s the full announcement:    (N6I)

I’ll be leading a new online workshop next month entitled, Tools for Catalyzing Collaboration. It will be an intensive, four week combination of real-time teleconferences and asynchronous online work.    (N6J)

I’ve been offering variations of this workshop in a face-to-face format for three years now, both as a general workshop offering and tailored for specific organizations. I love leading this workshop, because it’s intense and interactive, and I always gain new insights myself. We always start from first principles: What are the patterns of effective collaboration? How can we apply our physical instincts about collaboration to an online medium?    (N6K)

I’m excited to be offering it as an online workshop for the very first time. The extended time period will create greater opportunities for deeper, experiential learning, something that you don’t get with a one-off one day workshop. Moreover, it will be more accessible to participants all over the world.    (N6L)

Speaking of access, I’m also experimenting with a new pricing model, inspired by my friend, fabulous facilitator, Lisa Heft. To participate, you must apply. Once you’ve been accepted, you name the price and pay up-front, and you will be officially registered. That’s right: You name the price. I’m experimenting with different models of value exchange, and I want to make this workshop more broadly accessible in a way that is open and emergent.    (N6M)

There are only ten slots, and the application deadline is May 25, 2009, so apply today!    (N6N)

Words and Reputation

Over at the Blue Oxen blog, I wrote about how I’ve incorporated Contextual Authority Tagging (your reputation in context) into my work.    (N5Z)

In the piece, I started using myself as an example. I listed three words that I would use to describe myself in a work context. I then started to contrast this with words that my colleagues might use to describe me. Then I stopped, thinking, “Why make up words that others might use to describe me, when I can get actual words?”    (N60)

Enter Twitter (and by extension, Facebook):    (N61)

Please help with an ad hoc experiment. Reply with three words that describe me. Will blog an explanation and the results.    (N62)

In retrospect, it was an incredibly self-indulgent thing to do. When I do this exercise with groups, it’s anonymous, and all of the participants are doing it for everyone. Neither was true in this case. No one was going to voluntarily say something critical for me, especially without understanding the purpose. Furthermore, I’m usually doing the exercise in a specific context, which is a big part of the point. The beauty (and challenge) of Twitter and Facebook is that my networks there cross all sorts of boundaries.    (N63)

All that said, the exercise was still instructive in many ways:    (N64)    (N65)

Most words were only used once. The larger words were repeated one other time. This distribution makes sense, given the multiple contexts of my friends and colleagues. One of my friends wrote, barbecue, something that most of my colleagues probably don’t know about me. A few of my colleagues wrote, wiki, which probably wouldn’t come up first for most of my personal friends.    (N66)

No one repeated any of my words, which surprised me. (Can you guess which three words were mine? See my other post for the answer.) The words that folks did choose certainly paint a fuller picture.    (N67)

I love how a few words can tell a rich story. Gabe Wachob contributed “Eugene Lee doppelganger,” is a reference to the parallel lives that Eugene Lee, the CEO of Socialtext, and I seem to lead. (I’m younger, but Eugene has more hair.) My friend, Elizabeth, wrote, “wicked scary smaht,” an oblique reference to our shared ties to the Boston area.    (N68)

Eugene Chan wrote, “curious, competitive, cunning,” a few days after I talked trash with his six year old son in a vicious game of Uno. The good folks at WikiHowl called me “myopic,” hopefully a reference to my eyesight and not my vision. (They are also my new favorites for calling me, “cute.”)    (N69)

Which brings me to my final point. There were a few cheeky comments (Cindy and Scott, that means you!), which made me laugh, and there were a lot of incredibly nice comments, which… well, which felt good. I’m a fairly well-balanced individual with a strong sense of self (“confident” was one of the words that was repeated), and I don’t need to hear this stuff to know that my friends and colleagues care about me. Still, it’s nice to hear. It made my day that much better. And that’s probably the greatest thing about the exercise. If at worst, all it does is elicit a few nice comments from your peers, well, that’s a great thing. We don’t do that often enough.    (N6A)

Many thanks to all of you!    (N6B)

MediaWiki Plugin for Laconica v0.1

I’ve been playing with Laconica for a while now, mostly on but also on some self-hosted sites for various projects. For the Grantsfire project, we thought that Laconica would be a great way to keep others updated without flooding our inboxes, so I installed the latest version. I noticed that there’s now a plugin API, so — with encouragement from Evan Prodromou — I decided to scratch an itch I’ve had for a while and write a Link As You Think Mediawiki plugin.    (N5W)

It wasn’t too bad. My main challenge was figuring out PHP. I’ve looked at a lot of PHP code in my day, but I’ve never written a line of it until today. I thought I could skate by without spending too much time understanding PHP’s idioms and idiosyncracies, but — as is often the case — trying to skate by ended up taking more time than learning how PHP worked. The Laconica codebase is relatively clean, and I learned a lot by reading it.    (N5X)

Many, many thanks to Evan Prodromou and all the Laconica hackers out there. It’s an awesome tool, and it’s enabling me to do some cool stuff that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.    (N5Y)

Wiki Coaching

Today, Blue Oxen Associates launched a new Sensemaking Series on Wikis, coached by Peter Kaminski. It’s a fantastic way to get guidance on implementing and integrating Wikis into your organization, which is even more critical these days, given the economy.    (N5T)

I’m particularly pleased that Pete is our coach. Those of you in the Wiki community already know him for his leadership — not just in co-founding the very first Wiki company, Socialtext, but for helping to drive the community overall with his thinking and goodwill. If you’re looking for guidance, you’re not going to find anyone better or more friendly than Pete.    (N5U)

The series starts on May 19. There are only five spots, so register now. Use the discount code “eekim” to get $50 off registration.    (N5V)