I am participating in this year's "Connected Futures: New Social Strategies adn Tools for Communities of Practice" a five week online workshop for community managers, designers and conveners to explore social strategies and tools to support their work. The workshop begins on April 20th and you can register here. If you have taken on the role of community manager or are tasked with online facilitation of a community, network, or group and want to see how and if social technologies fit, this is the workshop to take.
For the first Connected Futures workshop almost a year ago, I led a field trip to the NpTech Tag Community and participated as faculty. I'm excited to see how the workshop as evolved and be a participant. I've had a long relationship with CSquared. In 2007, I was a "leader" in a program called "Shadow the Leader" where I had an opportunity to reflect with colleagues and peers on the challenges and learnings from leading a tagging community. My relationship with CPsquared grew through my various collaborations, conversations, and explorations with Nancy White. Everytime I connect with colleagues at Cpsquared, it is an opportunity for reflection.
Recently, I've been exploring John Smith, Nancy White, and Etienne Wenger's work and their forthcoming book on technology stewardship for communities of practice called Digital Habits. (Be sure to check out the Technology for Communities wiki too). I'm in California this week and for the long plane ride, I printed out a copy of the Action Notebook which summarizes dozens of practical steps that you need work through if you are stewarding a community of practice that fall under four theme areas:
I've been thinking about the role of a technology steward and how the tasks, skills, and role applies to someone who works in a nonprofit and is responsible for social media strategy. We know that successful social media strategy isn't as effective when it is siloed with one person in the organization - the intern in the corner or a part of a web staff person's job. The organization has to own it. I'm also looking at this role in the context of working wikily.
In the Action Notebook for DigitalThe Preamble is a set of reflective questions about "Being a Technology Steward" that help you discover your community's capacity, ability to learn, time capacity, and role in the community. These are great questions for social media strategists or those responsible for social media strategy in their nonprofit to think about if they are to take an evanglist role within the organization.
Often, I get the question "What wiki software should we use?" or "What blogging platform should we use?" - and that's a great question, but there several steps that come before answering that question. The first step, of course, is to understand your audience or community - and its context. I love the sequence and categories of questions that are presented in the Digital Habitat's Action Notebook and I can't wait to test these out.
The worksheets under Step 1 are the assessment of your community members, the group's orentations, and current use of technology tools. I played around with some of the new diagram features of powerpoint to create a visual that puts the first step on one page. I probably oversimplified it. (you can download the slide here and revise), so here goes:
Flickr screencapture here
What I like most is the section that is labeled as "Technology Aspirations" or what I relabeled as "Technographics." The questions really unpack the issue of technology comfort without any judgements. You need to consider and respect Technology Savvy (Does your community have the interest and skills to learn new tools) and Technology Tolerance (What is your community's patience with technology?). Looking at this way really helps you avoid the trap of shiny object syndrome and making tool driven decisions.