Archive for the ‘social networking’ Category

I’ve discovered a cool tool for embedding comments and links that allow you to jump to a particular place in a podcast. This is one way to create a discussion about pieces in a podcast or to quickly find specific references within a podcast.

If I’ve done this right, this link will take you to a podcast interview with Diane Miller from last year. I’ve broken the podcast down by the questions she was asked so that people could add their own responses via text. Cross your fingers that this works! Eventually I’ll get Elaine to show me how to embed the player along with a link!

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I teach change management for a graduate library school and I live in an online world. How could I not love this? Many thanks to my friend Patty Dineen, editor of the National Issues Forums News from the Net for passing this on to me!

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For the past four months, I have been working with Elaine, the LBJ Library’s Web Designer. Our current content management system is now 18 months old and there are new technologies that we want to incorporate. Elaine is incorporating lots of new toys including Grazr and Web Pasties. We’re in a time crunch because we’ve got to get this up and running before she takes off for maternity leave!

But the 2005 planning done by three graduate library and information sciences students from the University of Illinois – Brent Nunn, Kerri Willette and Jason Kovac – is still relevant and new technologies make our ideas even more possible! Prior to the boom in social networking Web 2.0 technology these students were thinking about how Texas Forums could use these technologies to help people make connections.

Here’s the video of our brainstorming session from May 2005.

This spring I am teaching Change Management in the graduate school of library and information sciences at UIUC. Over the course of the semester, my students have to do a major course project of their choosing. I don’t want to exert excessive influence, but I hope that some are drawn to the ideas I’ve laid out in previous blogs and take these on as their course project. (See: Working with Wikis and Technology Meets Old-Fashioned Town Hall Meeting for example) I’ve also requested students from the UIUC course, Design of Digitally Mediated Information Services to help us incorporate new technologies into our web site and to support our collaboration.

If you know any students looking for independent studies projects or course projects, send them my way. We have a very productive history working with students, and I think they probably enjoy the experience, too! In fact, Jason enjoyed it so much that he and his bride are moving to Austin from Chicago in just a few months! I’m know there were other compelling factors contributing to his decision, but I’m going to shamelessly claim all the credit for attracting this talented couple to the area.

Now on to web planning 2007!

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In 2006, Time named “You” the person of the year. The web, “a tool for bringing together the small contributions of million of people and making them matter” made it possible for us to collaborate and build community in new, dynamic and scalable ways.

Power is no longer held by the few. it is possible for “the many” working together to “not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.” We each have the power to tell our own story, to contribute to projects with people we do not know and may never meet and develop products that are freely available, and to keep in contact with far flung friends and family.

Time closes with a charge that we should adopt as our Big Hairy Audacious Goal, “This is an opportunity to build a new kind of international understanding, not politician to politician, great man to great man, but citizen to citizen, person to person.”

Let’s do it in 2007.

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[This is cross-posted from my posting on the Democracy Movement Blog.]

This just in from AL Direct, a free electronic newsletter e-mailed every Wednesday to personal members of the American Library Association.

According to eSchool News

“More than three years after social-networking web sites such as MySpace and Facebook first began cropping up online, school leaders still struggle with how to set policies regarding the use of such sites both inside and outside of school–and many school systems lack these policies altogether, according to a recent survey.”

At least half of school systems in a recent poll do not have policies to address students’ use of MySpace, Facebook, and other such sites. Only 35% of the educators, administrators, and school board members who registered for the National School Boards Association’s annual Technology + Learning (T+L) Conference and responded to a survey given before the event was held in Dallas said their districts had policies to address the use of social-networking sites like MySpace and Facebook by their students. Half said their districts had no such policies, and 15% weren’t sure.

Most of the talk about how to protect students from the pitfalls of social networking software and online predators focuses on using firewalls or filtering software to block student access.The Deleting Online Predators Act (aka “DOPA” which provides critics with lots of linguistic twists) would prohibit schools and libraries from providing access to these types of websites to minors. But by restricting access, we miss the opportunity to prepare our students for the virtual world that they will undoubtedly inhabit…that they are already inhabiting.

“Jim Hirsch, associate superintendent for technology at the Plano Independent School District in Texas, said social-networking web sites can help connect students in the United States to their peers in other countries, providing invaluable lessons in foreign cultures.” Do we take away the opportunities to interact with other young people from other countries at a time when international relations are key to our own security or do we help students learn appropriate online behaviors?

Do we ban students from virtual worlds where they can do research in the Reuter’s building, examine space crafts developed by NASA, ask questions of historical figures, and participate in book discussions with the authors? Or do we find ways to weave these learning opportunities into our traditional educational setting?

Can we perhaps direct our young people to explore creative ways to use technology to strengthen our democracy and open up more opportunities for people to participate? Today, about a dozen people from Texas Forums and the National Issues Forums network met in our virtual Opal Online room to talk about how we can use technology more effectively to build our networks, sustain our efforts and share resources. Only two people in that discussion were under thirty-five. While the rest of us are pretty hip for old folks, I’d love to put a team of high schoolers on a research mission to develop projects using social networking practices to address some of the challenges we face in this country. After all, they’re going to be inheriting lots of those challenges. Let’s get them started on them now rather than later and let’s guide them to use these new tools responsibly to craft solutions we never imagined.


National School Boards Association

Consortium for School Networking

National Cyber Security Alliance

Archive of online discussion: “Postings, Protection, and Policies: What School Leaders Need to Know About Online Teen Hangouts”

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Jon Lebkowsky, editor of Extreme Democracy will be the featured speaker at The Central Texas Chapter of the World Future Society on Tuesday, December 5, 2006. It will be held at the meeting room of Marie Callender’s, 9503 Research Blvd. #400., Austin, TX 78759 (512.349.7151) at 6:00 p.m.

There are thousands of people thinking about and working on social software and they’re all very smart, so every day brings new thoughts and new developments. Jon Lebkowsky is a leading thinker in how we can use these tools and technologies to support democracy.

Jon is an authority on, and evangelist for, computer-mediated communications, social software, virtual communities, community technology, and online social networks – the VERY tools that can provide leverage to take groups like Texas Forums to scale!

He has served variously as a CEO, technology director, project manager, systems analyst, and online community developer. His current consulting practice focuses on web usability and strategy and effective use of online social technologies. He is knowledgeable of Internet policy and trends, and is a strong proponent of universal broadband access to computer networks.

His blog is at www.weblogsky.com, and he contributes to other blogs at www.worldchanging.com, www.smartmobs.com, and www.austin.metblogs.com.

A longtime proponent of online tools for civic engagement, he co-edited Extreme Democracy, a book on technology, democracy, and advocacy, and served on the organizing committee for O’Reilly’s Digital Democracy Teach-In.

There is a $20 fee that includes a three-course meal and registration is required. (click here!) I will be out of town, but strongly encourage you to attend and to buy and read Jon’s book. I hope to organize a discussion group sometime in January to explore how we can experiment with Jon’s ideas in our own work.

For more information about this event, go to: http://upcoming.org/event/128164/

For more information about the Central Texas Chapter of the World Future Society, visit www.CenTexWFS.org.
For more information about this event…

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I have been using an online social networking/research/personal organizing tool called clipmarks. This tool lets you capture part of a web site as a clip that you can name and tag with keywords to help you locate it later or share with others. The vide below describes how the tool works.

But it’s not just the tool that I want to talk about, but the community that grows up around these social networking tools. I recently posted a clip – a photo excerpt of a website – about a problem I was having trying to do register my blog with technorati (a blog search tool). I wanted to be registered because that is one way to drive traffic to your site. Since I could post the clip directly to my clipmarks, other people in the clipmark community could see the error message I was receiving. Within five hours, I had seven strangers chiming in trying to help solve my problem.

It’s fascinating to me how generous people are in this virtual world!

I think it’s important to understand what is happening online and try to harness it in our own physical communities. What is it about this environment that causes people to volunteer hours of their time developing free open source software, providing advice to strangers, watching and commenting (usually positively) on amateur videos?

We can complain that people aren’t volunteering, they don’t come out to deliberate public issues, we are all so overworked, stressed out, stretched thin, overwhelmed and worn out. But there is something interesting going on when despite all of that, people ARE reaching out and making connections and building things collaboratively with strangers and without financial compensation. What’s at work here and what can we learn from it?

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This is an excerpt from a proposal on how 2.0 technology could be applied to deliberative forums. This was presented as a case study during the League of Technical Voters 48-hour code-a-thon. I’m proud to say that I survived a total of about 35 out of 48 hours and most of the time I was the oldest one left standing! (O.K. maybe I shouldn’t be so proud!)

But seriously…well, what follows is serious…

2.0 Technology Meets Old-Fashioned Town Hall Meeting

In its twenty-five year history of researching practices in deliberative democracy, the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forums Institute have developed effective practices for framing issues in public terms that reflect people’s deeply held values, hopes, and concerns. Framing for deliberative dialogue is the process of identifying various perspectives on complex and potentially divisive issues in a way that does not reinforce typical divisions (e.g., left vs. right), authentically reflects the concerns of the people involved or affected by the issue, and promotes deliberation that can lead to a shared understanding of the problem, common ground and the ability to work together.

In May 2006, the American Library Association offered a six-week course on Library 2.0 to look at ways that libraries can take advantage of the growing Web 2.0 movement in order to better serve communities and the field of librarianship. A team from this workshop that has experience in National Issues Forums developed a research strategy to determine potential uses of 2.0 technologies to accomplish the steps in framing an issue for deliberative dialogue.

Description of Issue Framing Process

Briefly the steps in a National Issues Forums Institute Public Deliberation process are:

  1. A framing team selects an issue that is of public concern and has certain characteristics that distinguish it issue from a simple topic
  2. Using interviews, surveys and other instruments, the framing team identifies fundamental concerns people have about the issue
  3. List the concerns
  4. Group these concerns according to the underlying value they share
  5. Find the common thread that knits these groups together which may lead to a redefined definition of what is really at issue for people
  6. Write a summary of the framework – the overview of the issue
  7. Develop 3-4 approaches about what might be done according to the underlying values identified in the clustering exercise
  8. Test the framework in a forum- may use controlled tags in blog to test.
  9. Revise the framework as needed
  10. Volunteer moderators, recorders and conveners organize and conduct forums in community centers, libraries, synagogues, town halls, churches across the country using the framework. Some experiments have been conducted online, but not to the degree that 2.0 technology might afford.
  11. Collect the results of these forums and prepare a report to policy makers.

Once the issue has been framed to authentically represent the concerns of people, members of the National Issues Forums conduct forums to help to help the public deliberate the costs, consequences and benefits different approaches to the issue. The goal of these forums is to find common ground, identify points of divergence and additional work to be done, and to determine next steps.

Brainstorming potential 2.0 applications

There are several steps in the process that could be supported by 2.0 technology. Wikis could be used to identify the issues and the interview questions to be posed in stakeholders. Blogs could augment the in-person interviews and surveys and be used to solicit citizen concerns. Controlled categories that the participants could select to tag their comment could facilitate the framing team in identifying common threads. Wikis could be used to facilitate the development of the issue guide and hotlinks to the original data source for statistics used in the framing could enable members of the NIF network to localize the issue with their own data. The Texas Forums Opal Online Meeting Room could be used to facilitate the team process. The larger network could use social software such as MySpace or Around Me being tested by Texas Forums to self organize into ad hoc planning teams according to issue area interest, geographic interest or common field. Opal Online, Skype, Webcasts (synchronous) or even blogs (asynchronous with a separate post for introduction, each of the approaches and reflections could be used for online deliberation. Inidividual blogs created within the social software could become places of reflection by those conducting forums. Opal Online could be a space for the moderators and conveners to begin consolidating findings from the forums. Wikis could be used to create a common document or report on the findings.


Libraries are places where people can come together to discuss issues – as are associations. Unfortunately, there are too few opportunities for communities and association members to struggle through complex issues that are often framed in ways that divide us. Can ALA and libraries use 2.0 technologies to frame issues (association issues, library issues, social issues, public policy issues, community issues) in a way that will encourage open deliberation and create common ground?

How can 2.0 technologies be used to collect the results of in-person forums being conducted across the country? How can 2.0 technologies be used by members or representatives of those forums to summarize and prepare statements that reflects the public thinking – common ground, unresolved issues, policy directions that the public would support and would not support, and costs and consequences that are either acceptable or unacceptable.

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wiki shapshot

Hunter and Ryan have been working on building a consensus wiki. Here’s how they are defining consensus wiki:

The Consensus Wiki will be a tool for generating consensus documents. Consensus documents could be policies, position papers, etc. They can also be well-stated lists of alternatives that will feed a subsequent decision process that will choose among them. In fact, it is usually the prospect of a subsequent vote of some kind that inspires the individual authors to adjust their competing submissions for clarity and for alignment with group opinion.

This tool (as distinct from a standard wiki) is only appropriate where there is a desire to provide a voice to a defined group. In some cases, a clear consensus may already exist in the relevant group and all that is needed is a polishing phase applied to a preliminary draft. But in the usual (and more important) situation, a consensus needs to be built, not just found. This means that mechanisms to capture and clarify both individual concerns and general opinion are of central importance, and must extend well beyond the most vocal partisans even though such partisans will often be the people most willing to do the work of crafting proposed language for the document. The strategy is to harness that energy to mature and express the group’s opinion, not just that of the authors.

Last May, I participated in a six week ALA Library 2.0 project to look at how libraries could take advantage and become part of the social networking taking place online. I was in a team that included Nancy Kranich, Pennsylvania Forums and past-president of ALA, and Mary Ghikas, Senior Associate Executive Director of ALA and member of the NIF network via Sadie Flucas at College of DuPage. We developed a research agenda to determine ways that 2.0 technologies could be used to frame issues within ALA and in communities. I’ve embellished on those ideas and posted them as a case study on the League of Technical Voters Code-a-thon wiki.

Click here to see an excerpt research agenda for using 2.0 technology in the naming, framing, organizing, deliberating, recording and reporting on a deliberative forum.

But heres the really amazing thing!!!

The flip chart paper above that says, “Wiki position paper as means [to communicate forum findings to] leg. [legislature] was an idea that came out of a brainstorming session with a group of UIUC Graduate Library and Information Sciences students in May 2005 when they were developing our web site’s content management system in my bedroom – only because it’s the only room with a blank wall that will support five feet of butcher block paper! Here are some other ideas we considered!

Thanks to some creative coding, it may actually be an experiment we can implement! Holler if you want to join in!!!

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