Current personal learning and research focuses to find models for what the next edge in tools to work together could be. Trial and error suggests: We are beginners all over. Many initiatives are active and successful in bringing people together, yet there may be a next edge in the very real need for meta-networking, a diplomacy and a discipline like the emergent occupy sense-making. We are manifesting the foresight of Net Gain, the 1997 subversive book by John Hagel, III and Arthur G. Armstrong. With our improving toolset, we are beginning on a large scale to connect the connectors and their networks, help them share workable practice, to get their shift done.
Venessa started a list of 93+ collaboratory initiatives. The basics of human connection and collaboration are not new, some of them codified in etiquette and decorum. For the digital age, this treasure bears refinement, and augmentation by new lean principles and rules.
Virtual networking sharpens a new sense
When we are beginner networkers, the bling of all these new tools maybe dazzling - and so much to learn. For a while we may feel satiated with finding brilliant people, and soon we have gotten good at network weaving, we found each other after all, and by now we know how to build amazing trust between people who only meet virtually. One main reason: we have done it often enough to trust our newfound sense for discerning digital identity from the bit-wise cues of our lives on-line. We are still very few on a planetary scale, but because we already connect up to our personal capacity it may appear to us the whole world is already doing it. Even with facebook at 800 million users, they are not.
Why facebook firehoses us
Much of what passes as social networking ends up as disposable dialog, and facebook, for all its merits of making it easy to connect virtual villages, seems to be designed to encourage disposables. To a degree, it is OK, but too much of it leaves us empty, looking not for more substance, not for better people to connect to, but for better ways to re-use what we co-create. In part it is about the tool, if it feels clumsy, uncooperative, or it makes us aware how much we have not inspected for nuggets of wisdom, it leaves us hungry or feeling firehosed. Twitter and collective #chat is a great firehose, too, some of it gets curated and preserved. Yet it feels like disposable dialog. Where do we connect deep and rich enough to build on each others contributions, small and big, so as to deeply understand? Where is the context and the re-usability to really thrive on dialog? If and when we do, how can we make that easier, speed it up (by slowing down, possibly), to improve the signal to noise ratio?
When networks touch each other
What could be the next edge?
Your (and with it, our collective) capability for pattern recognition and connecting people may play a crucial role. And in weaving networks together we may find the vision what the collaboratory is needed for and a business model or a few may present itself. We might be aiming to build a booster for for self-organization, occupy style. Doing less describing, others do that gracefully already. Doing more bringing into view what matters by re-using and re-purposing and building on what we have and co-create. We could be the builders of experiments and prototypes for collaboration tools that make it easier to get the shift done. The blog at http://thenextedge.org is one. I had the honor to propose its principles.
Making more beginners
Being somewhat experienced social and professional networkers, we are beginners at the edge and this gives us an edge. Many of us want others to have gains similar to ours. We spread ideas new to us, new ways of doing things together that work for us, and we realize: a movement that spreads causes a lot of beginners. I am comfortable with being a beginner. What do beginners need and want?