Two guys in Toronto

So, I’m sitting at my desk this afternoon working on documents and planning for next week’s Symposium. 

Over my left shoulder, I have Twhirl doing its thing pulling in Tweets as the day passes.  For the most part, I’m just ignoring it as it announces every couple of minutes that something new has arrived.

Then comes the special sound that indicates that there’s a reply or a direct message addressed to my attention.  That immediately gets my attention so I swing over to see what’s up.  Usually, it’s just a little chatter among some of the folks that I’ve befriended.  In this case, however, it’s a message from an acquaintance from Toronto.

He’s working on a presentation, has posted the work in process, and has invited four or five of us to take a peek and comment.  This is a nice diversion from the task at hand so I hop on over to Google documents to check it out.  It’s an interesting presentation, nicely crafted with lots of engaging graphics, and coupled with some give and take, would form the basis for a terrific presentation. 

I compliment the author and throw back a couple of suggestions for inclusion – after all, when you ask for another set of eyes, you’re looking for more than a “yep, yep, looks good to me”.

As I look over the screen, I see that it wasn’t just the original requester who was involved.  I notice on the opening slide the names of the presenters.  More importantly, I note that the two of them have the document open and are editing it as I watch. 

I start to realize that there is something special happening here.  First of all, people are actually working together and collaborating on something.  Secondly, they’re doing it online at the same time.  It is possible to do the collaboration bit in other ways – like mailing the latest revision to your partner, but here they’re both at it at the same time.  But, the third thing is a real testament to people that practice what they preach.

Not only is there the serendipity that I happened to be near a computer and connected when the request went out, but that our little network was sufficiently advanced that they felt comfortable inviting me in for a look.  I’ve chatted personally once with one of the gentlemen and about three times with the other.  But, through our actions on the network, and having discussed other things, we felt comfortable with looking at, sharing, and commenting on a work that will be presented somewhere, someday.  I don’t know when and for the purposes of this discussion, it really doesn’t matter.

I had a conversation about the same sort of thing with Paul C. of Quoteflections just the day before.  I had been commenting about the power of networking when you’re the only person teaching a subject area in your school.  In my case, I talked about Computer Science teachers.  When they head to a staff room, it’s seldom that they’re going to run into a big selection of similar minded Computer Science teacher.  They are truly the lonely runner.  How do they get feedback or ideas?

Just like today. The network, of course.

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