This is the first in a series of posts about The Ripe Environment, my thoughts on how to create a space for educators and learners to want to become better educators and learners (although, one could argue that educators and learners are or should be the same thing).
The first of the 10 prerequisites for The Ripe Environment is “Educators and learners must have a genuine need to be heard by others and, in one way or another, receive feedback for contributions.” This need for input and feedback equates to a continual longing for connection. Our ideas must be connected to other’s for them to have value. They must be experienced by someone out there somewhere who is intrigued, disgusted, embarrassed, or in some other way affected.
Connection is different in The Ripe Environment, though. It is no longer sufficient to meet someone and shake his or her hand. This is not a connection; it is merely a coincidence that both of you happen to be in the same room. A connection is something that is felt when ideas/personalities/beliefs meet one another and are challenged, bettered, or assimilated. Two people can be talking about the similar ideas or completely opposite opinions, but until a link is made between the two, neither are aware of the similarities and differences. That means, that there is no value held within either. And truly, connection is all about creating value for the the two people doing the connecting.
The three types of connections that create the most value are as follows:
- The 1:1
- Definition: Two people with the same aims. A friend. An adversary. A person who encourages you to do your best work.
- Examples: A twitter friend. Someone you e-mail/IM regularly that asks you exchange questions and answers with. A collaborative document (i.e., Google Docs)
- The autograph (aka 1:many)
- Definition: A fan or follower of someone else’s ideas. An inspiration. A person that creates (or attempts to create) a movement.
- Examples: A twitter follower. A blog that you read or write. A podcast. A comment on a blog post.
- The frame (aka many:many)
- Definition: A builder upon other’s ideas. A new context for established content. A collaborative network.
- Examples: A tweet. A Meme. A trackback. A Wiki. A webcast. A social network.
All three of these connections are essential for the culture of collaboration to occur. If we stop at merely 1:1 interaction, collective intelligence is wasted. If, on the other hand, if all we are doing is framing other’s ideas out in the open, there is never any time to develop personal relationships with those that can directly benefit from our ideas and help them to grow.
So, we can blend the three types of connections. A link within a blog is both a 1:1 and a 1:many, as is a comment. Blending personal and public connections is a way of introducing our own contacts to our greater network; it is a way of getting rid of the apprehension that people have about putting themselves “out there.”
For example, a colleague of mine writes great e-mails. They are concise and beautifully written. They are based in both theory and practice. They ask amazing questions and beg me to go deeper with everything I am working on. So, I tell him to start blogging the e-mails, and I ask him if I can podcast about them. What I am doing is introducing his ideas to some of the other people I am connecting to. These are the connections that make sense in The Ripe Environment because they don’t allow any good idea to stay archived in an e-mail folder, never to be heard from again.
My hope is that we start honoring these types of connections for the inspiration and passion that give to our daily lives. We cannot settle for an atmosphere of acquaintanceship in our learning communities. We must strive for an culture of connection.
This post is in draft form. My hope is that it will expand to include better definitions of each type of connection as well as examples. Please feel free to comment to that affect, or if you would prefer a more 1:1 connection, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would also like to thank those of you who are already interested in expanding upon this idea (Patrick Higgins, Chris Lehmann, Alec Couros, TechKnow, and Christian Long) . Please write as much about as you can. It is the only way that The Ripe Environment will actually occur.