Writing inspiration

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.

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6 thoughts on “Writing inspiration

  1. Andrew Gerkens says:

    At times I do wonder how such strong connections and trust can be built over a series of 140 character messages – how odd it seems! I agree with Maha’s points – we are forced to be explicit and ultimately we all make a choice to share, to challenge (and be challenged/vulnerable) and to engage in ongoing conversations. It reminds me how valuable Twitter and online community discussions are to me. I have and continue to be connected to more wonderful people, ideas and resources than I could ever have imagined! Thank you

    • tanyalau says:

      Andrew – thanks for the comment (sorry for the late reply…!) Yes it can be pretty amazing the worlds that open up when you start to participate and engage online, I remember the wonder at discovering a whole new world, of blogs and bloggers, with networks that extended across twitter, exploring and learning together through online collaborations and experiences like moocs and other online communities. I think the key is, as you’ve mentioned, regular participation and engagement in ongoing conversations, which then often open up opportunities for collaboration….and even chances to meet in person!

  2. Ryan Tracey says:

    Welcome back to the blogosphere, Tanya :0)
    Unfortunately 6:00am is way too early for me to join the #PKMChat :0(
    Thanks for sharing Bruno’s learnings from the experience, and also Maha’s reflection :0)

    • tanyalau says:

      Hey Ryan – pleasure and thanks for stopping by : ) yes…although I have a reliable 5.30-6am wake up call (aka small child), it can still be a bit of a challenge exercising brain cells that early in the morning (I wouldn’t choose to wake at 6 if I wasn’t woken and dragged out of bed!). It’s week 3 now though and I might just be getting used to it… : )

  3. Toni Rose Pinero (@moocresearch) says:

    You guys have always been so formal with your writings online. I myself already created a disclaimer that much of what I say in my blog might not make sense. In a way, probably because the purpose of my blog is for personal sake and not really meant to be promoted to other people. I mean, sure, it’s in the internet. If somebody tumbles across it and reads it I’d be glad. I think? =)) … Maybe in the long run… I’ll start using my blog as a practice in dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s … 😉 But for now, it’s really a medium where I can browse through my posts and collect my thoughts and make meaning out of it.

  4. tanyalau says:

    haha yes – I agree Toni…am going to be working this year on shorter more ‘work out loud’ posts, to get feedback on thoughts in progress. Definitely think there is value in this!

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