doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Building Knowledge and Trust

I had a great weekend.  Actually, I always have great weekends but this was was extra special for me.  With my Google Wave account now created, I had made it a personal goal to learn as much as I could about this new offering.  I learn new things all the time and in different ways but this was unique.

Normally, when I learn something, it’s as a result of a requirement to do so and I have enforced timelines and expectations for when the learning is to occur.  Given that, I’ll hunker down and do the deed.  Usually, things are intuitive or there’s a good manual or good tutorials on the web or, at the bare minimum, I have a general idea about what needs to be done.

This was different.

Here, you truly are jumping into the deep end without a life saver.  There are no experts, there are some videos including Google’s long video about what’s possible, but even the help/support online is a work in process.  People who are blogging about it are highlighting the shortcomings (did they not read the warning when they got their invite?).

Image by liako via Flickr

I started with a goofy little wave and very quickly realized that this wasn’t the place for a person to be alone so decided to expand the contacts and started a wave about support for the newly licensed Bitstrips for Schools.  That spiked some interested and soon we had 20 or so people added as collaborators and we’re off learning.

What impressed me the most was not the product – Google Wave is still under development – but the process.  The moment that you add collaborators to the process, it’s like the blinders have been removed.  I’m pretty good at knowing what my computer can and cannot do.  I’m equally as aware of the shortcomings that I have with my computer abilities.  It’s somewhat comforting to look around and see others trying to tread water as well.

What was unique about the group of people that I’m swimming with is that, in general, none feel the need to be the lifeguard.  Everyone is quick to respond and comment but always in a constructive manner.  It’s this manner that makes the learning so good.  We all acknowledge that’s there’s lots to learn and there’s no keeper of central or hidden knowledge among our group.

It isn’t the first time that some of the members of this group have worked together.  I know who I can call upon for story telling expertise; Macintosh expertise; Cross-Over Expertise; Grade 7 Expertise; Grade 10 English Expertise; and so on.  Because of these past relationships, I know that I can trust these folks to be honest and to throw in their perspective.  I also know that they won’t betray that trust by taking content or knowledge and calling it their own or maliciously criticize.  They understand the group dynamic and make it better by their actions and their reactions.

There are also new people to the group.  They’ve fit right in and are now valuable members.  I’m sure that they watched us in action mucking about but have since dove right in and are valuable contributors to the learning.

With all of this falling into place, we all learned and explored together.  We’re generating ideas where we might be able to use this; we’re generating ideas about where we wouldn’t use it.  Together we’re building the knowledge and trust that will help us fully understand the implications.  Who could ask for more?

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