By the bye, if you have a second to spare this Sunday, you could do worse than read Ed’s write up of Unicom’s Social Tools conference. Besides links to very interesting presentations, he allows a minute for discussing the current tendency of some to mix communities and network concepts and arrive at wrong consequences.
I’d like to comment especially on some of the concepts he’s been talking about at the Social Tools conference. You can see his presentation on the CILIP project here, and I do wish people started to use those sound-recording apps for presentations (that just got easierif you use Keynote, but there’s tools for Powerpoint too) because I’d really like to know a bit more about some details… but to the point.
Ed’s story has several aspects of interest: especially, the use of multiple foci for integrated conversation, and the use of social software services in the induction process.
The use of blogs and forums as separate engines for conversation, and the deliberate extension of the conversation flow to include members’ blogs outside the system, is in itself something I’d like to talk about with the team members. I can see the sense it makes (in their situation) but I’m really interested in the consequences observed.
First of all, let’s remember that the CILIP project was oriented to give service to an association. Those members that were already generating content worth a conversation (on their own blogs) were not forced to choose between «joining the machine» or exclusion, but instead included in the conversation (with the use of RSS to make them findable by other CILIP members). On the other hand, CILIP sponsored other blogs inside the system, and «championed» its content and activities outside its own environment. They also opened recruiting stations in many networking and social media services (from LinkedIn to Flickr) thus benefiting from higher visibility and lower technical overhead.
And they kept the group-based conversations too, with forums (as opposed to the person-based ones of blogs) as the seeds of a community of practice. They don’t mention other CoP elements such as «shared content» (practice articles) but they’re probably there since before the start of the project.
All in all, those slides do give a view into an initiative that touches most bases in the networking and community of practice fields and, while reliant on a serious professional dedication, sounds very promising indeed.
Looking at it and the rest of the conference material, I must say I thoroughly envy the development stage of these business ideas in the UK and US (yes, and down under) comparing with Spain. I’d do more than envy if only my employer was half as ambitious as it should. Alas, I will not bore you with the latest news on that front.
On a related vein, Ed’s also got a recent reflection on internet-mediated social relatioships here. Not a bad read either :-).