I'm the manager of IT and Distance Education for UNH Cooperative Extension and Chair of the Network Literacy Community of Practice with eXtension. I provide technical support, training, Salesforce administration, and develop web-based applications using Drupal, Coldfusion, HTML, AJAX, and Flex. I'm interested in how the Internet can enable organizations like Extension be more effective, less redundant, and more agile.

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Stephen Judd

via @kjeannette - What's stopping communities from developing in your organization. #netlit

1 min read

Six Obstacles To Building Communities In Organizations

I've encountered, or been a part of, all six obstacles described in this article:

  1. Proliferating Platforms
  2. The “Bottom-Up” Approach
  3. Policy-Driven Paralysis
  4. Collaboration Conundrum
  5. Leadership Detachment
  6. Dearth of Digital Skills

My sense is that people just want a tool (a magic wand) to drive collaboration within the organization, without understanding the change in mindset and culture that is necessary for success.

 

Stephen Judd

My response to: How does Ask an Expert Stack Up against Stack Exchange - #netlit

2 min read

How does Ask an Expert Stack Up against Stack Exchange—A Crowdsourcing Approach to Answering Questions and Solving Problems – eXtension

Unfortunately, Wordpress wouldn't accept my comment in response to Heidi Rader's excellent post contrasting the Ask an Expert system with Stack Exchange. Therefore, I'm going to post it here:

"Heidi, I think you are on target in asking this question. As a web developer, I frequently use Stack Exchange / OverFlow, mostly to ask or see answered questions, but also to contribute answers when I can. I do think there is an issue with Extension professionals seeing these kinds of open platforms as a threat to their expertise, or inviting the possibility of non research-based answers being given. In my opinion, this damages our relevance, since we are not participating in discussions where they are occurring, rather expecting people to come to us when they want an answer.

As an aside, I was at one of the eXtension meetings before it was fully-formed, and most of the IT folks present mentioned or supported a site similar to Slashdot (which was then in its heyday) as a way for our constituents to vote up or down content and provide feedback. There was some resistance along intellectual property lines, as well as the trepidation about inaccurate information appearing alongside Extension information.

The change that made some Ask an Expert questions public is helpful, but I don't think it has resulted in a vibrant platform where users and experts (whether from Extension or not) can freely interact, build reputation, and exchange ideas.

A similar pitch could be made for why Extension professionals should be Wikipedians."

It is my belief that Extension can't afford to wait for people to seek us out - we must be present in the communities (online or real-world) where the discussions and questions are occurring.

Stephen Judd

Information is a commodity! #netlit #coopext

1 min read

The Case for a Paradigm Shift in Extension from Information-Centric to Community-Centric Programming

Clients are more interested in the development of communities than passive dissemination of information from traditional Extension programs. Numerous studies support this idea that producers learn from other producers or users of a technology (Brashear, Hollis, & Wheeler, 2000; Gaul, Hochmuth, Israel, & Treadwell, 2009; Miller & Cox, 2006; Vergot III, Israel, & Mayo E., 2005). Additionally, as evidenced by the producer who used her smartphone to access technical information, the way people access information has changed, and Extension personnel are not the first choice if at all. An important question arises from these observations: How can the current information-centric paradigm of Extension programming shift to better meet the needs and desires of its constituents?

In this day and age, information is a commodity, not a scarce resource that Extension can build it's value upon. We need to be connectors, conveners, facilitators, and network weavers. While we do have this in our tradition (think of farm kitchen table meetings), many of us still emphasize our role in disseminating reasearch-based information. We need to shift our emphasis.

Stephen Judd

More bandwidth, please #netlit

1 min read

I often think about channels in terms of the bandwidth they afford. As Bruce tweeted, when dealing with complexity, additional bandwidth is desired because we want to take advantage of the additional communications cues they enable. 

Different channels fall along a continuum face-to-face -> video conferencing -> audio-only -> real-time text -> asynchronous text, For the most effective collaboration, we need to choose the appropriate form of communicating for the given situation.

Stephen Judd

Working out loud vs. presenting out loud #netlit

1 min read

Lessons from Harvard vs M.I.T. - Center for Creative Leadership

Kleon suggests that we all hold back our work for too long, waiting until it is polished and perfect and presentable to the world. But the truth is, people learn just as much from the process you use to do your work and the lessons you learn along on the way.

Working out loud requires being vulnerable, because it means admitting you don't have all the answers. What might happen if you work out loud and someone else realizes that you are going about it all wrong? Hopefully, they let you know a better way, and you can learn, as a result. 

Stephen Judd

Why network leadership is like gardening - Gen. Stanley McChrystal talk - #netlit

1 min read

Gen. Stanley McChrystal | Commonwealth Club

His leadership credits during his 34-year career include serving as a four-star general, former leader of the Joint Special Operations Committee and a former Green Beret. Come hear him speak about leadership in our changing world.

The military is often thought of as the quintessential hierarchical organization. In this presentation to the Commonwealth Club of California, General Stanley McChrystal (Retired) talks about transforming his command into a team of teams or network, and why a rigid hierarchy is incompatible with todays complex environment.

If the military can recognize the problem and undergo such a transformation, why can't many other organizations?

Stephen Judd

On the necessity of group boundaries for effective networks. #netlit

1 min read

In social networks, group boundaries promote the spread of ideas, study finds

But when group boundaries are eliminated entirely, people have almost nothing in common with their neighbors and therefore very little influence over one another, making it impossible to spread complex ideas.

Stephen Judd

Learning platforms

1 min read

Platform strategy: A new level for platforms | Deloitte University Press | Business Trends

As with social platforms and mobilization platforms, learning platforms critically depend on the ability to build long-term relationships rather than simply focusing on short-term transactions or tasks. Unlike the other platforms, though, learning platforms do not view participants as “static resources.” On the contrary, they start with the presumption that all participants have the opportunity to draw out more and more of their potential by working together in the right environment.

Shared by @k1v1n on Twitter.

Stephen Judd

On network literacy (#netlit)

1 min read

Chris Granger - Coding is not the new literacy

This is certainly accurate, but defining literacy as interpreting and making marks on a sheet of paper is grossly inadequate. Reading and writing are the physical actions we use to employ something far more important: external, distributable storage for the mind. Being literate isn't simply a matter of being able to put words on the page, it's solidifying our thoughts such that they can be written.

While this article discusses literacy in terms of coding and modeling, it echoes conversations I've had about Network Literacy. is not just knowing the tools and how to use them, it's about understanding how you are situated within, the dynamics of, and the power of the network. Certainly we need to be able to "make the marks," but to be network literate is to understand how our marks and others flow through the network.

Stephen Judd

Owning your data

3 min read

Over the years, I've used many different tools and services to post information to the web. A non-exhaustive list would include: Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Wordpress.com, Movable Type, Google+, Buzz, FriendFeed, etc. While I've yet to find myself spouting profundities, I do often refer back to what I've shared for my own purposes. Frequently, a situation arises where I'd like to recall something I know I've shared in the past. The problem is where does it live, and is it still there (see Buzz, et. al.)

I've started to use Known as a tool to post my own thoughts and to share them with anyone who may be interested. I don't expect that to be a large group, but I do it for my own purposes and to help me make sense of what I read, hear, see, and experience.

I'm hosting Known on a webserver that I have full control of, so I don't have to worry what might happen if Known stops development, changes their terms of service, or gets swallowed up by another company (see FriendFeed, et. al.) I would miss the further development of Known, but I could continue with what I have and make changes myself (I'm not a PHP developer, but was able to make a couple of small contributions to the project already, through GitHub.)

Using this known-powered site, I can post lengthy posts (assuredly, these will be rare), post to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites, interact with other capable sites, eschew advertising, change the style, delete, edit, etc. What I post is mine, and I can do with it as I please.

Running your own server (I pay for hosting, so I don't run the hardware) and installing and administering Known is not for everyone, but it could be. Services are better these days about letting you export the data you created, but knowing that you own it and control it is a nice feeling to have.

I admire the principles that drive people like the folks behind Known or Dave Winer and others in the indieweb community. In a way, it's a return to the early days of the web where people owned and managed their own sites. Today the tools are in place to allow us to do just that, while still allowing us to share with others on our social networks.