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Monday Times Three

November 9, 2009

Kali's practice recordingYesterday kicked off the first of my Australian workshops and events with a morning on Technology Stewardship, and afternoon on Visual Facilitation then 2 rousing hours drawing on walls with the NSW KM Forum and the Sydney Facilitators Network.

I don’t have all the slides up yet (Update: They are now up here and here), but you can see the first blog post from Bernadette Harris of Harris Bromley. I loved how she connected many of the community concepts to her work in leadership.

In the afternoon we explored the purpose and some of the basic practices of visual facilitation and the role of visuals in our work online and offline. I love watching people play with paper, pens and chalk and seeing the beautiful things they create appear in minutes. This was echoed again in the evening when nearly 45 people crammed the walls drawing on walls togetherat UTS taking turns bringing line, shape, iconography and color into the room. The images were stunning (see them here.)  Visual, if nothing else, add beauty and joy which is reward enough for me!

It is not (yet) too late to join us in Sydney today for the intro and advanced online community workshops!


Blue Mountains Playtime

November 8, 2009

fogAll work and no play makes Nancy a dull and out-of-shape girl, so today I headed out early to Australia’s beautiful Blue Mountains with Bronwyn Stuckey et al for a bit of a tramp in the misty woods near Katumba to see the “Three Sisters.” (Full trip pictures here.) I deeply appreciated the chance for a bit of play, because my two weeks here are packed with workshops and conferences. So some time on the wild is perfect.

While a dense, misty fog kept us from seeing the sculptural grandeur of the Three Sisters formation, we had a wonderful walk. The weather kept away the tourists and for long stretches of the walk down the The Giant StairwayGiant Stairway and along the valley wall we had the woods to ourselves. We took our time going down the over 500 steps, but even still, my knees and legs were a bit wobbly.

As we walked along the ridge above the valley, the sounds of the birds were amazing. We saw vivid red and blue birds (I need to look up the name), small finches and heard many more. Along the way, we had the a pair of Lyre birdsextraordinary good luck to come upon a male and female pair of Lyre birds. Apparently they are attracted to blue. I was wearing blue. Heh! The walked towards us, giving me time to pull out my camera and catch the pair before they flew up to a distant gum tree.

There were many small, colorful spring flowers – miniature show pieces – and burbling waterfalls. Thankfully, we did not have to walk back up the 500 stairs, instead taking the worlds steepest funicular train. We snagged the front seats (which are really the back seats going up) and in just a few minutes, we were back up at the rim and headed back to Echo Point were we started. Here are a few shots of the ride up:

Blue Mountain Tramway

Tomorrow the workshops begin – on Monday, Stewarding Technology for Communities in the morning, Graphic Facilitation in the afternoon. Join us?

All my bags are packed…

November 5, 2009

WE really made it on the airplane 2…and I hope I’m ready to go. I’m sitting here, waiting for my husband, Larry, to come and take me to the airport. I wish he were going with me. There has been a ton of solo travel this fall.

I have consulted weather forecasts, transferred all my workshop and presentation files to the laptop (they will all find their way online, but closer to the event dates. I make last might changes. ) I  shut down my desk computer and printer (save that energy) and am trying to seduce myself into thinking this isn’t a long trip. Having flow down under twice now, I know. I know.

I’m excited to see people posting their bios on the workshop wiki, I’m hoping we get a few more registrations in Sydney (hint hint) and I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing all my friends and colleagues, new and old. (No, I’m not calling you OLD…)

Here we go!


November 3, 2009

Hi – This is NOT Nancy so please don’t expect the usual quality of insight.

Online communities are hot! So hot that everyone wants one. Your bank, your supermarket down the street, the paper you read at weekends, that charity you give to. But as Rob May puts very well, we only have so many hours in the day. Is “community fatigue” inevitable?

There are a few things that can done about this if you want to nurture a community with an online presence:

  • Understand the lives of your members (potential or actual). How much free time do they have? What do they do for the 99% of the time they are not involved in your community? Personas & ethnography can be powerful tools here. Or even simply asking people.
  • Understand that you are not the only place in the world where people talk about stuff. A little humility is a good thing. Where else do people talk about your stuff? Do you make it easy for conversations to flow across multiple platforms? Or do you jealously guard every interaction?
  • Focus on the bits where you do make a difference. A key metric used for many communities whether public or private is “number of members” (up there with “number of posts” probably). And this metric can be poisonous – because it forces a focus on eyeballs rather than value. What’s the most significant change that your community has fostered?

What do you think about “community fatigue”? Is it real or did I just make it up?

Nancy’s Public Events in Australia

October 29, 2009

Below is a location by location, chronological listing of the events I’m involved in during my trip to Australia. There are links for more information and registration. Some of the details are not complete, so I’ll update this post as the rest of the information gets settled. You may notice there are some openings if you want to propose something!


November 9th

9-12 am –   Stewarding Technology for Communities

1-4pm –  Introduction to Graphic Facililtation

6-9pm –  Sydney Facilitator’s Network Evening Tweetup

November 10th

9-12:30 – Introduction to Online Communities

1:30 – 4:30 pm –  Advanced Online Communities

November 11th

Open in the morning. Want to do something?

Transit to Canberra via train in the afternoon


November 12th

Private workshop 1-3pm

Transit to Adelaide 5:30 pm


November 13th

E-Dayz Conference Keynote “Why should we “do” community (or why not) for learning?” (9:20 am as part of larger 3 day event!)

November 14th

Play day in Adelaide!


November 15th

Transit to Melbourne

November 16th

Private events in the morning and afternoon

6 – 8 pm KMLF Public Event – RMIT Graduate School of Business, 300 Queen Street. Melbourne, Lecture room 158.1.2B (Ground level – just behind reception).

Ample metered street parking nearby in Queen Street (between La Trobe and Little Lonsdale). RSVP: by email to

November 17th

8:45-12:00 Introduction to Online Communities

1:00 – 4:00 pm Advanced Online Communities

Evening transit to Mooloolaba


November 18th

1 – 4:30 pm Stewarding Technology for Communities

November 19th

Keynote at Learning Technologies Conference

November 20-22

Play days

November 23

Return home

Trend Questions: Community “management?”

October 29, 2009

Having been in the “online community” world since around 1997, I have seen “community” ebb and flow. What is different this time around is the credibility that is given to those talented individuals who help steward, facilitate, care, lead, host, cajole and even “manage” online communities. While we can quibble for hours about the definition of online community (and what is or isn’t a community), the role of supporting these things finally has arrived with legitimacy. (That means people sometimes actually get PAID to do the work! Amazing!)

In my work, I am finally seeing people budget for this role – even in tough economic times. “Build it and they will come” has finally come and gone and people have gotten serious about the strategic use of online groups, communities and networks and thus are willing to invest in their care and feeding.

What is happening with online community management in Australia? Is the role legitimate? In what fields? What kind of value is placed on the role/job?

Trend Questions: More Visuals?

October 27, 2009

I have fallen deeply in love with graphic facilitation and graphic recording at face to face events. As the person doing the graphics, I listen much  more deeply. That is saying something for someone who often talks a lot. But more than that, I have found that images are:

  • …negotiable. Unlike words, where we make a silly assumption of accuracy, we are often comfortable asking about an image and entering easily into a conversation.  This has been particularly important for me when working in intercultural settings where figuring out if we are all talking about the same or different things is REALLY important. Stories are conversation starters and help us make meaning.
  • …validating. When someone takes the time to draw pictures about what someone said, they feel heard and validated. They tend to really enjoy seeing the visual artifact of their words or presentation and often take it with them.   Pictures about us make us feel special. (I know that can sound a bit precious. But give me some slack!)
  • …stimulate memories. Often graphic recordings of events make little sense to those who weren’t at the event. But when they hinge upon a central image or metaphor, they help us remember an event or a conversation. They are an interesting reification of what happened. Pictures help us remember.
  • …anchor stories. When I have to explain what went on in a meeting, I love having the graphic recordings to tell the story. They prompt me through the key moments and conclusions. This can also be done with a slide show of photographic images. Photos help us tell stories.

As a result of my love affair with images, I now:

  • try to embed a picture in every blog post
  • link to pictures in delicious and Twitter
  • embed images in discussion forums and email threads
  • bring paper and pens to share at all face to face events.

What are you seeing in your practices in Australia (and elsewhere)?

Are you interested in Graphic Facilitation/Recording yourself? Come to the events in Sydney – Graphic Facilitation Hands-On Workshop and Sydney Facilitators Meetup on Nov 9th.