Mainstreaming the Tweeters

Peter Jones Information Ecology, Wu Wei

The New York Times started tracking Twitter news activity last year, but typically with tongue-in-cheek articles, such as the insets about celebrity Twitterers (that were in the print Times only!)  Now the papers may be getting concerned that their original core value – editing and producing the news – may be getting twittered away. In Twitter’s secret: The law of unintended consequences: “News no longer breaks, it tweets,” blogged Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley-based technology forecaster, last November during the Mumbai attacks. “If newspapers are the first draft of history, then blogs are the scratch pad. And in front of blogs are tweets,” he added in a phone interview last week. Twitter is a classic example of the “law of unintended consequences,” says Matthew Fraser, who tracks the world of online social networking. At first, he says, people shared the “micro-banalities of life” such as “I’m at McDonald’s having a Big Mac.” But now, the 80+ people I follow are inviting me to events, coordinating travel, lunch, and huge fundraisers, and are sending me links to things I actually am …

Opening Space for Community Dialogue

Peter Jones Dialogic Design, Wu Wei

In Dayton, Toronto, and everywhere I’m seeing increased passion for people creating opportunities for community dialogue to enable people facing local concerns in common to exchange and cooperate. In most cases, we see the co-emergence of the need to facilitate occasions for real face-to-face dialogues and to sustain efforts and action by online social networking. Both of these applications of social technology are practices of collaborative sensemaking, ways of working together for all participants to progressively understand a situation and its range of options for action. As GK van Patter suggests in NextD Journal articles, sensemaking by all stakeholders is necessary before changemaking, before what we think of as “designing.” Our Designing with Dialogue group facilitated a community dialogue at The Storefront Community, a literal storefront community center in the Bloorcourt neighborhood in Toronto. The purpose of the session was to enable community members and other stakeholders in the Storefront project to engage dialogues of their own choosing, adapting the Open Space method, framed by the question: How do you envision The Storefront’s role in your community (how might it …

JSB advocates Slow Learning at Strategy 08

Peter Jones Transformation Design

Not that he calls it that, but I do. Think “Slow Food of Learning.” Here’s the segue. At his recent presentation at the IIT Institute of Design Strategy conference, John Seely Brown frames new ways of envisioning institutional architectures. As a longtime advocate of rethinking the contemporary organization, he asks how we might deploy emerging adaptations of social network technology to fundamentally change how we learn in organizations and educational systems. He’s talking Big Picture redesign of fundamental assumptions and concepts in and of organization and how we learn together. JSB builds the platform for the network learning model. Social co-construction of knowledge, enabled by social computing, is already changing the infrastructures of organizations. Informal education networks have already been moving toward a new model. About mid-way through his presentation (see video) he advocates moving institutional education toward this model. One basis for the shift is that traditional institutional warrants of authority are less meaningful in a world where value is being created by people in ad hoc community networks of interest. Both institutional and organizational learning will shift due …

As Facebook scales up, can it handle identity conflict?

Peter Jones Information Ecology

The killer business notion behind Facebook, MySpace, and other massively scaled social networking services is based on the assumption that millions of users make for a better experience. That may be true for business, but its arguable on behalf of the users themselves. The Times reports the failure of Beacon, its perverse “collaborative consumption” push service that reveals your buying habits to your friends. York University’s Sam Ladner posts an insightful interpretation of the roots of this failure as a conflict of identities, the clash of fronts. She cites fellow Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman’s notion of the front, the individual’s persona expressed in the presentation of self in everyday life. Goffman posits a front stage, back stage, and – he suggests we like to think – a core self. These get mixed together in Facebook, resulting in embarrassing relationship management issues as cited by the Times article. Samantha says designers should pay attention to these issues: Facebook has done the same thing by forcing its users to expose their selves to different fronts simultaneously. It is embarrassing, even shameful. What …