I've been designing and delivering technology trainings for nonprofit organizations for the past 15 years, I try to find fun ways for people to understand and feel comfortable with the technology. Not so much how to use it, but how to use effectively. Humor helps.
Over the past five years, I've been focusing on social media. In the early days, the big hurdle was getting to shared understanding of what social media really means. In 2007, Michael Wesch, a digital anthropologist, created this striking video called The Machine is Us/ing Us, to explain in five minutes what the Web 2.0 or social media was all about.
In workshops, I'd play the video and have folks jot down words or themes. I'd aggregate the responses to create a shared mental map. Over the years, I used this exercise for different audiences, from filmmakers to university professionals. This exercise is most appropriate for people who want to know the what/why versus the best practices of how to do it.
Social media is all about the linkages to people versus content and the ability to self-organize and co-creative. Its the power of being about to work in a networked way with a group that isn't predefined.
I was delighted to discover the above remix of Wesch's video, "The Machine is Us/ing Us Dance Remix" via Elsua who helped me get to the Cambodian bloggers conference back in 2007. The remix epitomizes the era of social relationships (see Jeremiah Owyang's Five Eras of Social Web).
I started thinking about interpretive dance and social media adoption challenges after listening to Stowe Boyd's interview with Dion Hinchcliffe about Open Enterprise. (Dion is one of my favorite visual thinkers, well after David Armano)
Interpretive dance, is when a dancer (or dancers) often improvising (though sometimes it is choreographed) a dance to another medium. Technology adoption is part choreographed, part improvisation. The point of that Hinchliffe makes about best practices for adoption of Enterprise 2.0 (or social media for inward facing work) is that there aren't any best practices. You have to improvise!
According to Hinchcliffe "Organizations are unique, and operate in very different ways and therefore what may work for one business may not work for another." And if you're talking about organizations working together with other organizations, that is also unique.
So, we should try to avoid at all costs asking this question first "What tool should we use?" Stop thinking that adopting social media or social software or online collaboration tools is a matter of selecting a tool off a menu. There is a process that requires understanding the space between the tools and the people and having someone who knows that space so well they can an interpretive dance between the technology and the users.
Elusa has a great summary of the Dion's interview here
Who in your organization, community, or network serves as the intepretive dancer? What style of dancing?