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September 29, 2008

The IM Vacuum

So, I am now Jabbering and Twittering. I have my Facebook set-up to update my Twitter status, and vice-versa. I was nearly AIM, and thought hard about whether or not to get my cell phone all connected into the mix. But the big bummer in all of this is not a single one of my contacts is Twittering, Jabbering or otherwise IMing. So, I am out there alone, status updating or not.

I think this experience (apparently on the frontier of the Extension professional internet) underscores my musings on the Web 2.0. IM technology holds all sorts of potential for inter-work team and programming efficiencies. For example, I imagine e-hollering for my colleagues - "Are you available for a quick brainstorm?" - creating and entering a chat room, and holding a brief e-meeting. On the other hand, I appreciate the ability to host periodic promotion or post-workshop Q/A sessions with participants. But, alas, none of this is possible when these folks are not signed on to the technology.

Like my own experience, I suppose use comes through useful introduction - get a good reason to try it out, find out you like it, keep using it? Perhaps I can play a role in this process through creating good reasons.... In the meantime, I encourage others to join me on the Twitter or invite me to a Jabber chat.

September 25, 2008

Social Networking from a New Facebook User

I am the Co-PI of a recent grant (soon up for resubmission) in which my role is the development of online social networking/scientific sharing tools. Many of the other co-authors were cautious about taking this too far. "Getting online with these kinds of cool technologies will distract them from the out of doors." was the common response. Rather, I think the personal adaptability and connectivity of social networking applications encourages people to pursue their passions -- essentially creating the cool stuff we can now share with people all over the world in cool ways.

Nonetheless, I was a personal skeptic. Then, I recently took the plunge (the absolutely simple plunge) of creating a facebook profile. And it has been wonderful. Over the course of a month or two, I have reconnected with high school and college friends, found community members of like interest, been invited to community gatherings. But I mostly enjoy immensely the chance to re-create my profile according to mood, current circumstance, and quickly surf my friends lives.

Personally, I find the challenge of social networking is growimg comfort with making my world public. I hesitate here and there with allowing this or that person into my online world. Others have exclaimed caution against entering this place where their co-workers or children have profiles. However, I find that the applications allow me such easy control of who I connect with and what I show them. No worries from my experience.

Often these days, I find myself using wall-to-wall communication in Facebook rather than email to touch-base quickly with colleagues.

Productivity from Behind the Schedule

A wannabie GTD afficianado, I am a huge fan of online productivity tools. I frequently use Google docs, Doodle and Meeting Maker. My wife and I have a conjoined online to-do that keeps us on-track in the non-work life. Slideshare and Jing are on my radar as useful for the future.

This week, I used both netfiles and Senduit to pass along some 10mb and larger PPTs with a contractor. These files typically clog our email systems and get booted from others. So, it is nice to hand them off without trouble. An ESE colleague and I have also used netfiles to co-update a workshop agenda.

Finally, I will make a plug for IGoogle pages. This is a customized view of outlook that can contain windows to virtually anything you find productive or personally interesting. From one view, I can scroll through two of my email accounts, Google Reader account, search Dultuh Craigslist, search google maps, etc. It is easily my most efficient addition to the tech suite.

September 5, 2008

Exploring Wikis

I have now added the Extension's E-Learning Wiki to my favorites...something to explore more deeply later, especially the text on online learning. As a child of Star Wars (a proud three-time Darth Vader for holloween kid), I also enjoyed the Wookiepedia. The sheer volume of collaborative information on this site amazed me...a testiment to the social expertise of interested groups of people.

I believe wIkis hold so much use potential for both inter and extra-organizational group work. Like other technologies explored in this course, however, I also find it tough to engage colleagues and participants in using. As noted by Amy, the UMN Wiki is a bit complicated, tough for many inexperienced users to grab-hold. More deeply though, I often encounter colleagues and participants who do not immediately jive with the social nature of wikis. They want to stick with 'track changes' where the original document and their contributions/suggestions are cleanly compartmentalized/visible.

Grabbing-hold of the concept of truly social authorship takes some getting used-to. I think the growing use of Wikis will challenge our core concepts of authorship, contribution, etc. I imagine the creative use of wikis will explode as these age-old paradims shift.