17. May 2014 · Comments Off on Mediating the power dynamics of online spaces · Categories: My personal learning journey, Social networking, Technologies

""As we mature in our use of social networking and online spaces – could it be that we’re losing touch with why we use them?

In his book “Disrupting Class”, Clayton Christensen says that disruptive innovation – such as social media tools – work best when the innovation is competing against non-consumption (that is, it’s better than nothing”.

Do your professional social networking spaces work as an innovation for group discussions that cannot occur face to face? If so, should not the same rules apply to these spaces as in face-to-face spaces?

When you set up an online space in the name of an organisation, consider the norms you’d establish if you were hosting people in a discussion area in your organisation. Hopefully these norms would include:

  • establishing behavioural expectations both formally and by your own actions
  • ensuring power dynamics are flattened
  • ensuring everyone understands the purpose of the space
  • recognising that different cultural, gender and age lenses will result in different responses and reactions
  • neutrally mediating disputes by taking them out of the shared space to be resolved privately
  • addressing issues of discomfort or disagreement appropriately and gracefully

However, in an online space where you are introducing the images, videos, articles and news items for discussion – the power dynamic defaults to one where the editor (you) is perceived as having the most power and, unless carefully moderated, the majority rules.

Because of the asynchronous nature of the text-based discussions that occur – there is a tendency to think of them as publishing spaces rather than a tool to facilitate online discussion.

Therefore, if one or a few people disagree with something you’ve published online, the majority can quickly over-ride those few with an avalanche of likes and dissenting comments – leading to a spiral of silence and feelings of isolation.

In a face-to-face setting, most experienced group facilitators would ensure that a lone dissenter felt supported and that their opinion was of value. If they picked up that the person was shy, the facilitator could take them aside during the break or after the session and draw out more about why that person was uncomfortable. In the main discussion, the facilitator would ensure that everyone accepted that all opinions expressed within group norms had equal value.

So, as we gain maturity in the use of online spaces and other technologies for discussion, let’s ensure we think about why we’re using these tools. We can extend our ability to reach out and help us to support and educate people in new ways – and use traditional group discussion facilitation to ensure that everyone feels they are a valued part of the community.

14. September 2010 · Comments Off on Social media – you can’t just pay lip service · Categories: Blogging, E-business, Social networking

Ah Dilbert! You illustrate so much about what is ridiculous and this strip is a jewel.  Any educator who has been urged to integrate social media into their coursework, any communicator or marketer who has been pressured to “get us into this social media stuff” will relate to this:


Dear Linden Labs,

It is often a struggle to convince administrators, policy makers and educators that virtual worlds in general and Second Life in particular are valuable resources for education.

Educators I know have worked in their own time, fought the battles with IT to unblock ports and find a reasonable space and afterward, even if they get results, they STILL have to keep on struggling to gain recognition for their work. In short, making a case for the educational benefits can be lonely work.

People like Joanna McKay or Jokay Wollongong in world who aggregate information and provide much needed advice, conferences and playspaces are a God-send to educators eager to learn. Her SLeducation Wiki has been a source of information and inspiration for years.

So your notice to her that she has to re-name her site because of her use of SL which you’ve apparently trademarked is not only counter-productive to educators wanting to use your site, is not only a killer of a site that markets your services for you by its very nature – it is a slap in the face to your community.

I’m assuming you’ll be gunning for SLoodle next?

Oh, and  please tell Phillip to stop with the tale-spinning that Second Life, founded on the concept of the Burning Man festival, is an environment about sharing creativity built by and for its “residents”. It’s clearly hypocritical. It’s an environment by and for Linden Lab.

But I do thank you for the wake-up call.

I hope that others – educators, businesses, entrepreneurs – hear that wake-up call too: you must diversify your explorations of new technologies so that you are not reliant on a particular platform or provider.  Because SLack marketers who are too SLow to consider the community of passionate users that grow up around today’s platforms and brands will SLash their own wrists in an effort to control what they feel is theirs.



aka Pandora Kurrajong
Second Life user since 2007
ReactionGrid / Open Sim user since 2009

I’d like to get your input on what you feel constitutes spam and how much discloure you expect in your network.

Spam, spam everywhere

Spam stunt in World of Warcraft

Some spam is easy to spot – like the spam stunt pictured here in World of Warcraft or the unwanted emails you get when you open your in-box.  Others are more subtle.

I’m a regular Twitter user – I treat it like a virtual coffee break where sometimes people can get silly, sometimes they’re profound but because I choose the participants (for the most part) they’re people I know or are friends of friends.

Twice now, I’ve had these friends of friends “recommend” books to me based on a topic I raise and I have found the link goes to a site that gives them money for people who buy from the sites.

I honestly have nothing against people trying to make a buck.  Or should that be I have nothing against people trying to honestly make a buck?   But when someone recommends a product they are in essence selling in a forum that is not retail in nature but trust-based — isn’t some sort of disclosure appropriate?

Something like “I onsell a book about X, DM me if you’d like the link. If not, NP” or “I onsell the sevices/products of this site – let me know what you think.”

A person whom I’ve met and who arranges get togethers for geeks recently suggested a site that helps you artificially boost the number of people who follow you on Twitter.  Big turn off here. Trying to rort the system in an attempt to create social status is dishonest.  And it cheapens it for everyone else.

So can social media and marketing mix? I think it can, but it is not about spam.  I think it’s more about developing trust relationships and listening. And I feel that when a marketer shares personal information and asks after my health and then doesn’t disclose that he or she will make a buck if I click on a link they suggest, my trust has been violated. And as for the lady who is going to try to artifically boost her crediblity — consider it lost.

Let’s talk, use this amazing vehicle called the internet and Twitter. BUT PRIVATELY. Telstra, a communications company proving it just doesn’t get Web 2.0. Or customer service. Or transparency. Brought to my attention by the fake Stephen Conroy twitter.com/stephenconroy

Web 2.0 - ur doin it wrong