Cultivating Community

Communities don’t usually “just happen” there is idea, or vision that attracts people, and there are community organizer(s) or catalysts that proactively seek out others who share a vision and help bring a community together.

Growing community, cultivating community, nurturing community, weaving community, building community, creating community – all slightly different metaphors describing this process that happens when people make the effort to create space (an environment) for people to meet, inviting people into the space and encouraging conversations that help connections and foster relatedness.

Community is what unfolds when people come together voluntarily, learn about one another, begin to care about one another, and start to do things together. In doing things together that are successful, trust develops and people begin to work and act together IN community, doing progressively more difficult things, becoming strong and more resilient.

Thanks to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point we know about Connectors, Mavens, and Salespeople, social archetypes that play different roles, each with their own value in helping information flow, networks form and communities emerge.

It was great to have him articulate this i finally had a label for my own activity/passion – I have become a maven of a few things throughout the years. user-centric digital identity was a subject I really got into in 2003-4. I read everything I could about the subject as I began to meet some of the people thinking about it. I became passionate about the topic and applied my connector skills and started meeting finding people who were interested in the subject. Those who didn’t know about the subject I sold them on the idea :). I am not by nature a sales person about “anything” but only those things I believe in.

One can also see a community as the evolution and maturing of a network, that is the relationships between people. When beginning the links might be very weak, but in time as the potential community members get to know each other and take action together and the ties strengthen; they become a stronger and more resilient “real” community. A paper that was very influential in my understanding was Building Smart Communities through Network Weaving by Valdis Krebs and June Holley that I read in 2003 (along with every popular science book on network science out then: Linked, Sync, Six Degrees, Emergence, Nexus)

This paper investigates building sustainable communities through improving their connectivity – internally and externally – using network ties to create economic opportunities. Improved connectivity is created through an iterative process of knowing the network and knitting the network.

Knowing the network and knitting the network have been foundational in my practice of community weaving. I regularly meet with people in the community and help them get connected to others who’s work is related to their goals. Two examples first RSA as often happens those new to the community “knock on my door” and ask to meet for lunch or coffee to share what they are doing and learn more about who they should connect to in the community. Mike wanted to meet with me he to share about his new company Gluu that does inter-domain identity. It was great to learn what he was up to and also share papers/doc’s/projects relevant to his work and people he should meet. Yesterday I followed up with someone I invited to/and attended IIW. I spent 2.5 hours talking with Joe Johnston who attended about his efforts to bring interoperable identity (OpenID and other things) to Pachamama Alliance and other organizations with similar missions.

In terms of knowing and knitting networks between different communities/standards bodies/consortia/projects I wrote a post about Community Diplomats and Community Diplomacy last year thinking about different community-connecting roles and how if they are named they can be seen better and foster inter-group collaboration and communication.

Another essential but often un-named aspect/milestone of community development is communities development is shared language and then shared understanding. Shared Language is a prerequisite to collaboration enabling what were different perspectives and world views to sync, and then out of that it is much easier to work together. Eugene articulates three elements needed to create shared language:

  • Share individual contexts
  • Encourage namespace clash
  • Leave enough time and space to work things out

An example of shared language that was developed in the community was the identity gang lexicon that Paul and others worked on in 2004-2005 so that when discussing different identity technologies there was at least a common language to talk about them.

Another example of the evolution of the communities shared understanding grew out of Johannes original presentation at IIW2006 with the identity triangle with three pillars – user-controlled, company controlled and then microsoft controled. He did an updated it almost a year later explaining of the community language and understanding had evolved. This starting point was moved forward by Eve Maler creating the Venn of Identity and became an IEEE paper written by her and Drummond Reed. Johannes has continued to be a wholistic thinker about the landscape and in 2008 he articulated an onion to think about which identity technologies are applicable where.

Space and Spaciousness for community to form is a key part of what the Internet Identity Workshops have been about about. We have never “set the agenda” there but instead allow anyone attending to post a session idea. We encouraged dialogue with space rather then having an agenda.   

We have an amazingly rich community fabric of working relationships that is both resilient and delicate.

Surfacing back into Cyberspace at Building 43 today

Basically this post is to say I am “back” – I have a bit more time on my hands this summer to pay attention to Cyberspace and want to give attention to expressing my thoughts and ideas in text online again. I am inspired by this mention by Scoble around the launch of  Building 43 that is happening today. I thought it was an actual physical space when I got the invitation. Turns out it is a website that Robert Scoble is leading. It is focused on what he calls the 2010 web and others call Web 3.0.

Here’s another way to put it. When you look at Techmeme and see all the tech bloggers yammering on about the latest cool things, the way they were this week about Facebook’s new URLs that are coming out tomorrow, or Apple’s new iPhone, do they look backward and think about the average businessperson? Not in my experience. We don’t have an industry conversation about how to actually use all this cool stuff to improve lives, make businesses stronger and closer to their customers, and have some fun.

A few people here and there are trying. I watch what Chris Messina, David Recordon, Marc Canter, Joseph Smarr, Kaliya Hamlin, and a group of others are trying to do by pushing a more open web. Those are the kinds of efforts that inspire me and are inspiring Building43. Can we build on what they are trying to do and take it to main street?

This actually impresses me cause I thought Scoble had just become an internet micro-celebrety for its own sake. I look forward to contributing to the conversation about the future of what is becoming a very social web where peoples identity online matters deeply.

Here is where I have been since my last post.

Since Social Web Foo Camp and posting the 80% complete article about communities context and online life. I haven’t blogged. I have been very busy though.

Immediately following I attended the “identity day” at RSA on Monday April 20th –  talks were given from the front of the room for a day. Liberty Alliance put the day together along with the Information Card Foundation- The Kantara Initiative was “launched”. I am not clear that the format of the day actually provided greater understanding by those outside our community that are confused by all the activity.

The exciting thing that happened leading up to this day was the launch of the new Information Card Foundation Website – I gave some feedback that was included in the core language and messaging. It has great Flash animation explaining the cards along with featured projects including the GSA Demo.

RSA was fun – I didn’t spend to much time in sessions mostly talking to people in the community. I led a peer-to-peer session on Business Models for Claims Based Identity. A good group attended however the room layout was cold and stale. (I will be writing about it on my unconference blog shortly).

Penguin Day followed on April 25th. This is a super fun day facilitated by Allen Gunn focused on Non-Profits and Open Source. I learned more about TikiWiki as a content management system (I am considering it as the platform for She’s Geeky). I also was impressed by how much CiviCRM had improved. I also talked to a college registrar very interested in how information card technology might play a roll in getting them out of paper based management of student records and certification.

The Nonprofit Technology Conference followed – they had a large exhibit hall and I talked to many of the vendors there about OpenID and Information Cards – about 1/2 had heard about OpenID and almost none about Information Cards. It was great to talk to my friends in the industry (I have been attending this conference since 2004). Social Actions is progressing and is creating a way to aggregate action information for social good.

I flew to NYC to facilitate the Creative Unconference on May 7-8 put on by the One Club for Art and Copy collaborating with the Society for Digital Agencies.  This was during Creative Week. The One Club gives out bronze, sliver and gold pencil’s – some of the most prestigious awards in the advertising business. They attended their interactive awards on Friday night – I brought Robert Tolmach along as a guest and he told me about his new project – Class Wish.

I went to DC and spent the day at the Sex 2.0 conference at the intersection of social media, feminism and sexuality. I was particularly interested in how this community was thinking thinking about and dealing identity online and off. Many people had names they went by within the community that were different from their “every day” names. Several presenters talked about having two facebook profiles (one for their sex life and one for regular life) I pointed out that this against facebook policy and they were surprised – it seemed very natural to have two persona’s. Other presenters talked about being fully “out” completely linking their sex life.

I attended the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology Women of Vision Awards. It was a very inspiring evening. Padmashree Warrior the CTO of Cisco was the key note speaker – she was super inspiring and gave ideas about how to connect to the community 2.0 audience.

I spoke at Community 2.0 about identity technologies. I covered OpenID, OAuth and Information Cards and at the end mentioned project VRM for those who were very forward looking. It was a relatively small conference and I spent a lot of time preparing for the talk with my speech coach. My issue has been having to much to say – I can talk about identity for hours and in great detail. Lura helped me figure out what to say. I did a good job clearly communicating and had several people say they enjoyed my talk and it gave them some practical information not just social media guru hype.

I went to the first day of the VRM workshop and was totally impressed by the quality of projects and companies working in the space. Several attendees didn’t know about IIW and a few signed up to attend.

The Internet Identity Workshop was AMAZING. We had the same number of attendees as we usually do. I am going to write some more posts about the event soon. The next IIW is November 3-5 in Mountain View.

I went to the Maker Faire on Sunday the 31st of May – it was fun to see all the stuff people are making. I also got a LiveScribe Pen. I will be using it for diagrams on this blog in the coming months.

June 1 was CommunityOne where i saw Jono Bacon talk about Community there were 10 people to see him speak in an auditorium that held 1000.

I flew to Boston and met with Fabio Carara of the Venice Project Center and Venice 2.0 – they are considering how to leverage 20 years worth of geo-data. We are discussing building a community including a few unconferences.

I had dinner with Mary Ruddy and we continued progress on Identity Commons infrastructure – particularly our new blog/website.

I facilitated the Mass Technology Leadership Council Spring Meeting that asked the question “What is the future of Software and the Internet” I lead a session on identity – they asked good questions and were impressed by all the activity in the space.

I flew to San Francisco – to make it back for the 2nd Scala Lift Off. Scala is a programming language – some describe as Java++, Lift is a web framework. This is a great programming language community with an healthy online community life. I work supporting them in community building when the meet face-to-face.

Yesterday I was working with Forum One facilitating the 4th Online Community Unconference. This is a great community of online community managers (the folks who moderate online community), platform providers (software providers) and hosts (companies that have online communities). I presented a session about OpenID, OAuth and Information Cards – I even got a bottle of wine during the closing from one of the attendees thanking me for the quality of information that I shared.

Today it is the Building 43 party at Tech Crunch and next week is SemWeb in San Jose – I will likely make it to the Personal Democracy Forum. The next “identity” event is Burton Group Catalyst at the end of July in San Diego.

I look forward engaging in this medium again with a post every few days.

Community Contexts and Weaving Social Web

Yesterday morning I put up an early version of a model I have been thinking about since 2004 about linking face to face communities of different kinds and online social tools.

Community Contexts and Weaving the Social Web

It is an EARLY version – like 80% done. The diagrams will be improved – I threw in what was on the white board yesturday after our conversation. I am hoping with some feedback to complete it by the end of this month.

Identity Map Developing

I mentioned this earlier in my reflections about the conference. I had seeded a map that outlined the history of our community, gatherings, protocols, blogs, papers, podcasts, wikis, mailinglists. One of the participants took a very high resolution picture of the finished map. Phil has a picture of the initial map. On my original Omnigraffle version I have Kim’s Laws of Identity but on this one I didn’t get them up and Kim just pinged me to let me know it needed to be added. If there are things you think need to be added feel free to let me know.

I hope to bring the big map or another version to the conference at Berkman and DIDW for others to add more information to it.

Reflections on IIW

Facilitating the Internet Identity Workshop was a wonderful experience. I got to bring help the order emerge out of the chaos by leading Open Space. Many felt that it was

About two weeks ago I started making a map of the history of the community. This was in part because I knew a lot of new people were coming to the workshop and I wanted to be sure they had some context of who we were and where we had come from. I translated this into an interactive wall map that allowed people to ad their own elements to the history.

On the timeline:

• Yellow diamonds are protocols
• Pink Trapazoids events that have happened on a timeline
• Purple papers are Publications white papers
• Purple 1/2 circles are podcasts.

Clusters (ot on the timeline):

  • Green Parallelograms are mailing lists
  • Blue pages are blogs

There are some good photos of this but I will be taking the results and putting them into Omnigraffle and then PDF too.

Tuesday Morning we got to put together the agenda. It involves everyone who wants to present putting what they want to have a session about on a piece of paper. They speak their session title to the whole room and then post it on the wall.

It wasn’t until about mid day on Tuesday that I actually landed and was able to engage in the conference. The Planetwork folks talked a lot talking about the emerging 1society project.

Dinner both evenings was great. Monday was Italian and Tuesday was Thai.

The Identity Commons crowd moved things forward we have a follow up call next week.

At the very end watching and listening to Paul and Drummond go over the relationship between Higgins two projects and XRI / XDI was a great treat.

We concluded our day listening to Eugene Rant about Wikis at Wiki Wednesday. After dinner Meng told us he had founded the Reputation Gang and we invited him to be a part of the Identity Commons.

The highlight to get the essence of what happened is the closing session recorded. Here Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some high complements were given to the conference.

From Kim Cameron:

With Doc Searls and Phil Windely navigating at the macro-level, the amazing Identity Woman Kaliya orchestrated an ”unconference” that was one of the most effective events I’ve ever attended. It’s clear that creating synergy out of chaos is an art that these three have mastered, and participants floated in and out of sessions that self-organized around an ongoing three-day hallway conversation – the hallway actually being the main conference room and event! So we got to engage in all kinds of one-on-one (and few) conversations, meet new people, work out concerns and above all work on convergence. Many people told me they felt history was being made, and I did too.

Opinity’s Tom Madox reflected on the conference today.

Now, before someone reprimands me for implying that there were corporate or technical bigshots in attendance, let me clarify that one. There were, in fact, luminaries of various sorts participating: A-list bloggers, well-known corporate folks, technical experts working at the forefront of innovation in the field of identity mangement … people like that. However, and this is the point: they were not on stage, performing. They were at the tables and in the rooms, talking, listening, asking and answering questions. In terms of social interaction, the conference hierarchy was flat.

Phil Becker wrote in the DIDW newsletter:

This week I saw a significant “state change” occur in this year and a half “Identity Gang” evolution, and it tells me things are going to start to happen. Some of those involved will be happy this is so, others most likely won’t be. But for those not directly involved (i.e. most of the population) it was, in my opinion, a tremendously significant moment in the evolution of the identity conversation, and one that will have many significant ramifications going forward – though these will likely take another year to become clear to those not paying close attention.

They are working on the issues of what form identity must take
to become ubiquitously deployable, become something that will be adopted
comfortably by users, and how we can ever get there from here.

The first sign that the required significant shifts are occurring is
visible in the titles of the sessions this un-conference produced on
its first day. These titles have all subtly shifted in ways that
indicate there is no longer any question that there is a single,
over-arching story behind the identity conversation, and that the
mission now is to figure out how to converge the many efforts that
are underway. These efforts were each begun with a very different
mission and with a very different use/case and problem set driving
them, and this has previously created division and competition. This
time, however, it was clear that everyone was looking for where they
should get on board, and how to avoid having their goals left out.

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Change your identity online a how to guide

Today I am working on the first day of IIW – how we tell the story of our community and current lay of the land in user-centric identity. I came accross this site… Change Your Identity – it is selling you a 165 page book on how to do it. New in this years edition is the “internet method”.

ETel – Rural wireless and Voip – Racoons and Ants challenges

I am Etel today (and for the next two days) and watching this great DIY presentation by Brian Capouch from Saint Joseph’s College. He is giving us all the tricks and tips to get rural wireless networks going for farmers.

The biggest challenges – racoons who turn the switch on the box on and off not infrequently and ants that invaded the box once.

The biggest threat to him being able to provider services to his community is regulation.

Community Based Algorithm for the Blogoshere

I went to BlogHer, didn’t blog a whole lot about it. Mary Hodder was of course an inspiration with new ideas for us to consider. She has started thespeakers wiki so we can find new and interesting people to talk and particularly highlighting cool women doing cool work in technology. (I am still trying to figure out what to say in my bio.)

She also announced publicly the outlines of an open source algorithm for the blogosphere since sketching it on a napkin at Les Blogs in Paris. Link Love Lost or How Social Gestures within Topic Groups are More Interesting Than Link Counts. highlights:

We are going to do this, I think the algorithm has to be open source, at least as far as the weighting of social gestures and what gestures are to be included. Many people are upset that page rank is secret, and that something so powerful online is not open to scrutiny by the community it ranks. So this is an attempt to have the community determine the social weighting as it goes into algorithm, and have it be transparent to the community.

There is a very detailed chart on Mary’s site with it all mapped out.

This post set the blogsphere a light with feedback and commentary. Here are some highlights from the First set of responses:
This is not about making a single list. This is about making a metric that takes several factors into consideration, to find topic groups who consistently talk about something.

From Dana Boyde:

There are a few things that we know in social networks. First, our social networks are frequently split by gender (from childhood on). Second, men tend to have large numbers of weak ties and women tend to have fewer, but stronger ties. This means that in traditional social networks, men tend to know far more people but not nearly as intimately as those women know. (This is a huge advantage for men in professional spheres but tends to wreak havoc when social support becomes more necessary and is often attributed to depression later in life.)

Second set of responses highlights:

Maybe a better way to approach this issue is to define Robert Fuller’s ideas around dignitarianism, where those in power don’t abuse their power and the community creates solutions to problems as they arise. It seems to me that the solution to our rankist issues with inbound links is much more appropriately solved by changing the system, than by asking those who benefit from rankism to share some power with a few (there is no way A Listers have the time or the blogspace to do all the linking we would need to see to correct the problems of rankism with linking.)

And Halley again,recounting Doc’s notion that the internet is intrinsically feminine(Britt Blaser was the first to actually tell me this a year or so ago and I think it’s pretty insightful):

Even the word “LINK” is not neutral. It describes the way the brain synapses work. It describes the way the Net was built. It describes an attitude of distributed SHARED intelligence. It’s funny to remember what Doc concluded — it’s so FEMALE, the Net is so feminine, as is the notion of sharing power in a networked structure. (Ever heard of a “family?”)

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