Although I’ve been neglecting this blog of late, I felt compelled to write after having just read two inspiring posts by two people I very much admire: Lessons from my first experience of hosting a #PKMChat by Bruno Winck, and Writing to Connect: Knowing the “Other” Outside Time & Space by Maha Bali (guest posting for #DigiWriMo). And, as it is #WOLweek (International Working Out Loud week), it seems the perfect time to practice active reflection.
Thinking about these two posts, and what inspires me about them – it’s the passion and ambition that both Bruno and Maha inject into seemingly everything they do: they’re both amazing connectors who participate in a wide range of diverse online communities and activities, always taking on new and ever-ambitious challenges, people who reflect and think deeply about what they do. They think, and act, big.
This became especially apparent to me when I participated in the first #PKMChat last Thursday morning (6am, Sydney time), a twitter chat that Bruno has started and is running on his own. Picking up on @CBarrows’ suggestion of writing down 1 take away:
There were some great tips and insights contributed. But for me, the single biggest #PKMChat takeaway was not so much what was said, but this: how one person can build a diverse community around them – and pull this community in to give an hour of their time to actively participate in an online conversation with a bunch of other (mostly?) random people. While I certainly knew some people in the chat, there were probably more I didn’t know (or didn’t know well). My primary motivation for participating had been to support Bruno in his endeavour to start up a new chat. I suspect this personal connection was a key motivator for others participating too. Bruno’s been a staunch supporter and regular participant in our monthly #OzLearn chat – and one of our first international participants. Active participants are the lifeblood of any chat (without them, there is no chat!). Thus, a good twitter chat (or MOOC, or any participatory, community activity) is often a direct reflection of the hosts’ networking and community building skills. I know Bruno participates actively in a number of other diverse chats, MOOCs and online communities – and the diversity of participants in that first #PKMChat was undoubtedly the outcome of Bruno’s contribution and participation in these communities. What this shows I think, is the power of active and regular participation in promoting connection with others in online communities.
Connecting with others online – and more: developing close friendships, knowing and loving online, through writing – is the theme of Maha’s post Writing to Connect: Knowing the “Other” Outside Time & Space. This was one of the best posts I’ve read for a while. It’s hard to describe exactly what I love about it or why. The depth and breadth of online writing experiences she describes. The clear, infectious passion for writing and connecting with others she exudes, love that emanates from the screen. The deeply intriguing questions that emerge:
I can “know” some people online, through their writing, better than people I know face-to-face in some ways…
Is it because online, text forces you to make some parts of your thinking more explicit? Is it the distortion of time/space that occurs online, that allows one to have a continuous conversation over days or weeks, during the wee hours of the morning, while in the car or at work or in bed, when our defenses are down?
The drawing out of insights through experience and reflection (which of course, lead to more questions – always the sign of a good post):
This intimacy or closeness online, this knowing and loving, is all contingent upon the amount of mutual sharing and the extent to which people make themselves vulnerable. Every close relationship I’ve built with someone online has had strong elements of private conversation, via direct message, email, hangout, etc, beyond the public. Is it possible that we sometimes trust people online faster because we think we have less to lose? Is this naive, dangerous, or beautiful?
It’s all this of course, and more: it’s the seed of inspiration that it plants, the desire to reflect and to write back. To respond, Connect.