So, I am super intrigued by the visualization of a PLN (both Sheri Edwards and Margaret Powers have done some great…

So, I am super intrigued by the visualization of a PLN (both Sheri Edwards and Margaret Powers have done some great work on this) but I am struck by the fact that some of my connections are more important than others. While I “exist” as a part of many communities, it is only a few people that end up challenging my thinking and creating the foundation for how I learn within the PLN as a whole. 

So, my question is this: How do you show some connections and networks as more valuable. How do you show the revolutionary nature and influence that these individuals and “sub-communities” continue to provide for you?

That’s what I’m going to be thinking about today, and if I figure anything out, I’ll probably be making a video on it. What are your thoughts?

33 Comments

  1. Thanks for this prompt Benjamin Wilkoff  I debated and struggled with this too. I considered putting certain people, communities, and tools/places inside different shapes or in different colors to show the added value of certain connections.

    Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I struggled to distinguish and name/quantify the value between different connections via these methods. Since I didn’t want to discount the learning that occurs when I interact with a “weak tie” in my PLN nor categorize someone or something as only valuable in a certain way when things fluctuate so often in my PLN … I ultimately decided to avoid color-coding and shapes.

    I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this and learn about any discoveries you make around showing the impact of certain individuals/communities. 

  2. Thanks for this prompt Benjamin Wilkoff  I debated and struggled with this too. I considered putting certain people, communities, and tools/places inside different shapes or in different colors to show the added value of certain connections.

    Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I struggled to distinguish and name/quantify the value between different connections via these methods. Since I didn’t want to discount the learning that occurs when I interact with a “weak tie” in my PLN nor categorize someone or something as only valuable in a certain way when things fluctuate so often in my PLN … I ultimately decided to avoid color-coding and shapes.

    I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this and learn about any discoveries you make around showing the impact of certain individuals/communities. 

  3. Thanks for this prompt Benjamin Wilkoff  I debated and struggled with this too. I considered putting certain people, communities, and tools/places inside different shapes or in different colors to show the added value of certain connections.

    Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I struggled to distinguish and name/quantify the value between different connections via these methods. Since I didn’t want to discount the learning that occurs when I interact with a “weak tie” in my PLN nor categorize someone or something as only valuable in a certain way when things fluctuate so often in my PLN … I ultimately decided to avoid color-coding and shapes.

    I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this and learn about any discoveries you make around showing the impact of certain individuals/communities. 

  4. Good question.  With Twitter, you can find sites like Commun.IT or Klout that can tell you who you’re influencers; who you value are etc but I don’t know how the metrics are calculated with this.  Is it the number of discussions going back and forth? Is it the number of retweets? How can a computer tell you what has been valuable to you or not?  As I looked at the Commun.IT site, it told me the list of people I should consider, “unfollowing” simply because they hadn’t had connections with me but when I looked at some of the names there, they were leaders in their field – so just because they don’t tweet so often does this mean they’re not valuable?  

    In the end, I just left things the way they are.  I decided to be the  only one who controls who is valuable to me or not simply by choosing who to follow or not.  I have some people in Lists, but on the whole, I can tell the ones in my PLN who’ve already contributed and shared information and learning with each other – and in fact, already made some personal connection either F2F or through DMs. So yes, I too, avoid cataloguing people or allowing a system with dodgy metrics to tell me who I should follow or not follow.  Looking forward to your next installment video – I’m enjoying them!  

    (How do you catalogue each video – say you wanted to revisit something you mentioned in a video one day – do you have some sort of index or tag your videos to recall information quickly?)

  5. Good question.  With Twitter, you can find sites like Commun.IT or Klout that can tell you who you’re influencers; who you value are etc but I don’t know how the metrics are calculated with this.  Is it the number of discussions going back and forth? Is it the number of retweets? How can a computer tell you what has been valuable to you or not?  As I looked at the Commun.IT site, it told me the list of people I should consider, “unfollowing” simply because they hadn’t had connections with me but when I looked at some of the names there, they were leaders in their field – so just because they don’t tweet so often does this mean they’re not valuable?  

    In the end, I just left things the way they are.  I decided to be the  only one who controls who is valuable to me or not simply by choosing who to follow or not.  I have some people in Lists, but on the whole, I can tell the ones in my PLN who’ve already contributed and shared information and learning with each other – and in fact, already made some personal connection either F2F or through DMs. So yes, I too, avoid cataloguing people or allowing a system with dodgy metrics to tell me who I should follow or not follow.  Looking forward to your next installment video – I’m enjoying them!  

    (How do you catalogue each video – say you wanted to revisit something you mentioned in a video one day – do you have some sort of index or tag your videos to recall information quickly?)

  6. Good question.  With Twitter, you can find sites like Commun.IT or Klout that can tell you who you’re influencers; who you value are etc but I don’t know how the metrics are calculated with this.  Is it the number of discussions going back and forth? Is it the number of retweets? How can a computer tell you what has been valuable to you or not?  As I looked at the Commun.IT site, it told me the list of people I should consider, “unfollowing” simply because they hadn’t had connections with me but when I looked at some of the names there, they were leaders in their field – so just because they don’t tweet so often does this mean they’re not valuable?  

    In the end, I just left things the way they are.  I decided to be the  only one who controls who is valuable to me or not simply by choosing who to follow or not.  I have some people in Lists, but on the whole, I can tell the ones in my PLN who’ve already contributed and shared information and learning with each other – and in fact, already made some personal connection either F2F or through DMs. So yes, I too, avoid cataloguing people or allowing a system with dodgy metrics to tell me who I should follow or not follow.  Looking forward to your next installment video – I’m enjoying them!  

    (How do you catalogue each video – say you wanted to revisit something you mentioned in a video one day – do you have some sort of index or tag your videos to recall information quickly?)

  7. In the classic Tony Buzan mindmapping methodology, the most important top-level nodes are connected to the central node with thicker lines, as the hierarchy branches out (I realize that networks are mostly interconnected and aren’t hierarchical, but they can incorporate hierarchies at the top few levels). So other connections, weaker ties, can be mindmapped with thinner lines.

  8. In the classic Tony Buzan mindmapping methodology, the most important top-level nodes are connected to the central node with thicker lines, as the hierarchy branches out (I realize that networks are mostly interconnected and aren’t hierarchical, but they can incorporate hierarchies at the top few levels). So other connections, weaker ties, can be mindmapped with thinner lines.

  9. In the classic Tony Buzan mindmapping methodology, the most important top-level nodes are connected to the central node with thicker lines, as the hierarchy branches out (I realize that networks are mostly interconnected and aren’t hierarchical, but they can incorporate hierarchies at the top few levels). So other connections, weaker ties, can be mindmapped with thinner lines.

  10. Wow,

    Hey Ben, I watched your Let’s make meaning” youtube video and then read this post, holy great stuff! Both of your posts resonate with me. Rodd Lucier just recently brought me on board with Technology. It is utterly overwhelming to a newbie. I keep telling myself to take little steps. Your question above is so true. With so many connections to be made. How do you determine which ones are most important or make meaningful contributions to you. For me, the answer to that is a little basic, but its been my drive to keep forging ahead in this tech world. I follow Rodd on twitter, and try to connect with his circle, which has slowly branched out into my own circle. It has become about developing connections and following those people I connect with. Thanks for the great post!

  11. Wow,

    Hey Ben, I watched your Let’s make meaning” youtube video and then read this post, holy great stuff! Both of your posts resonate with me. Rodd Lucier just recently brought me on board with Technology. It is utterly overwhelming to a newbie. I keep telling myself to take little steps. Your question above is so true. With so many connections to be made. How do you determine which ones are most important or make meaningful contributions to you. For me, the answer to that is a little basic, but its been my drive to keep forging ahead in this tech world. I follow Rodd on twitter, and try to connect with his circle, which has slowly branched out into my own circle. It has become about developing connections and following those people I connect with. Thanks for the great post!

  12. Wow,

    Hey Ben, I watched your Let’s make meaning” youtube video and then read this post, holy great stuff! Both of your posts resonate with me. Rodd Lucier just recently brought me on board with Technology. It is utterly overwhelming to a newbie. I keep telling myself to take little steps. Your question above is so true. With so many connections to be made. How do you determine which ones are most important or make meaningful contributions to you. For me, the answer to that is a little basic, but its been my drive to keep forging ahead in this tech world. I follow Rodd on twitter, and try to connect with his circle, which has slowly branched out into my own circle. It has become about developing connections and following those people I connect with. Thanks for the great post!

  13. I agree with Howard… the spokes or spindles can easily be shown to be thin or thick to represent ‘frequency’ or ‘depth’.  What if additionally they could be colour-coded to indicate the channels folks utilize (blogs, photos, audio, video).  What if the spokes became tubes or tunnels to represent the freeways that had the most give and take?

    It’s good to think about.  I’ve got a few related diagrams that I’ve sketched and shared online, but this I like the way this one qualifies online relationships from my perspective. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecleversheep/6952908477/

  14. I agree with Howard… the spokes or spindles can easily be shown to be thin or thick to represent ‘frequency’ or ‘depth’.  What if additionally they could be colour-coded to indicate the channels folks utilize (blogs, photos, audio, video).  What if the spokes became tubes or tunnels to represent the freeways that had the most give and take?

    It’s good to think about.  I’ve got a few related diagrams that I’ve sketched and shared online, but this I like the way this one qualifies online relationships from my perspective. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecleversheep/6952908477/

  15. I agree with Howard… the spokes or spindles can easily be shown to be thin or thick to represent ‘frequency’ or ‘depth’.  What if additionally they could be colour-coded to indicate the channels folks utilize (blogs, photos, audio, video).  What if the spokes became tubes or tunnels to represent the freeways that had the most give and take?

    It’s good to think about.  I’ve got a few related diagrams that I’ve sketched and shared online, but this I like the way this one qualifies online relationships from my perspective. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thecleversheep/6952908477/

  16. Okay, so these comments are incredibly in depth, but I am going to try and respond to each:

    Margaret Powers I definitely don’t want to discount the learning that happens because of “weak ties”. However, it seems to me that the only way that “weak tie” learning changes practice is if you are working with a “strong tie” on a something relevant. For example, I regularly receive resources such as new app recommendations or blog post that I find valuable from my “weak ties”, but they only get put into action when I talk them through with someone else or try and apply them to my work. 

    I also believe that a visualization could include different colors for influencers and influencees (not a word). That way, the flow of information becomes a bit more clear.

    Helen Blunden Thanks for the kind words about the videos. As for cataloging them, I am doing my best to make the tags on Youtube as descriptive as possible and making playlists of like topics when they come up. I am also feeding all of the videos into my blog (https://learningischange.com), which has housed most of my thinking since 2005. That way, I can search on tags/categories there and have it pull up almost everything on that topic for the last 8 years or so. I am also ripping the audio and putting it up as a podcast, so at some point I would like to do a transcription on those, but that is out into the future.

    Anyway, I agree that trying to create a system for determining influence doesn’t work because it misses the value of good conversations and f2f ties. With that said, I really do like tools like http://mentionmapp.com/ that allow you to explore via @mentions and map out communities that way.

    Howard Rheingold I am amazed that you commented on my post. Thank you so much for taking part and adding your well-rounded perspective. I like the idea of really making the visual represent the strength of our connections. I was toying around with the idea of a hierarchy of relationships that spanned the epochs of my professional learning (i.e., the people I followed in March of 2007 with my first activity on twitter are the original PLN that begat the relationships in 2008, 2009, etc.). I think that could be an interesting visualization, if I can grab the data and extrapolate.

     Jessica Swift I really enjoy the concept of having a “touchstone” person in your network. The person that lets you see the conversation for what it is and what it can be. I think that very early on, it was Karl Fisch and Bud Hunt for me. Any conversations they were invested in, I would check out. Those kinds of “mentors” are invaluable in a massive network like Twitter (or Education as a whole). 

    Also, I’m glad you are digging the videos. Another one is uploading as I type.

    Rodd Lucier I actually think that a Google Sketchup project of walking through your PLN is in order. I would love to go down the “tubes” of ideas and walk from connection to connection. I also think that some sort of augmented reality application would be really interesting for visualizing your PLN at an event like #educon  or #iste . Like, if I held my phone up and zoomed around the room, I would love to see how many conversations I have had and what connections I have made with the people I can see in the viewfinder.

    Anyway, thanks for continuing to push my thinking on this. 

  17. Okay, so these comments are incredibly in depth, but I am going to try and respond to each:

    Margaret Powers I definitely don’t want to discount the learning that happens because of “weak ties”. However, it seems to me that the only way that “weak tie” learning changes practice is if you are working with a “strong tie” on a something relevant. For example, I regularly receive resources such as new app recommendations or blog post that I find valuable from my “weak ties”, but they only get put into action when I talk them through with someone else or try and apply them to my work. 

    I also believe that a visualization could include different colors for influencers and influencees (not a word). That way, the flow of information becomes a bit more clear.

    Helen Blunden Thanks for the kind words about the videos. As for cataloging them, I am doing my best to make the tags on Youtube as descriptive as possible and making playlists of like topics when they come up. I am also feeding all of the videos into my blog (https://learningischange.com), which has housed most of my thinking since 2005. That way, I can search on tags/categories there and have it pull up almost everything on that topic for the last 8 years or so. I am also ripping the audio and putting it up as a podcast, so at some point I would like to do a transcription on those, but that is out into the future.

    Anyway, I agree that trying to create a system for determining influence doesn’t work because it misses the value of good conversations and f2f ties. With that said, I really do like tools like http://mentionmapp.com/ that allow you to explore via @mentions and map out communities that way.

    Howard Rheingold I am amazed that you commented on my post. Thank you so much for taking part and adding your well-rounded perspective. I like the idea of really making the visual represent the strength of our connections. I was toying around with the idea of a hierarchy of relationships that spanned the epochs of my professional learning (i.e., the people I followed in March of 2007 with my first activity on twitter are the original PLN that begat the relationships in 2008, 2009, etc.). I think that could be an interesting visualization, if I can grab the data and extrapolate.

     Jessica Swift I really enjoy the concept of having a “touchstone” person in your network. The person that lets you see the conversation for what it is and what it can be. I think that very early on, it was Karl Fisch and Bud Hunt for me. Any conversations they were invested in, I would check out. Those kinds of “mentors” are invaluable in a massive network like Twitter (or Education as a whole). 

    Also, I’m glad you are digging the videos. Another one is uploading as I type.

    Rodd Lucier I actually think that a Google Sketchup project of walking through your PLN is in order. I would love to go down the “tubes” of ideas and walk from connection to connection. I also think that some sort of augmented reality application would be really interesting for visualizing your PLN at an event like #educon  or #iste . Like, if I held my phone up and zoomed around the room, I would love to see how many conversations I have had and what connections I have made with the people I can see in the viewfinder.

    Anyway, thanks for continuing to push my thinking on this. 

  18. Okay, so these comments are incredibly in depth, but I am going to try and respond to each:

    Margaret Powers I definitely don’t want to discount the learning that happens because of “weak ties”. However, it seems to me that the only way that “weak tie” learning changes practice is if you are working with a “strong tie” on a something relevant. For example, I regularly receive resources such as new app recommendations or blog post that I find valuable from my “weak ties”, but they only get put into action when I talk them through with someone else or try and apply them to my work. 

    I also believe that a visualization could include different colors for influencers and influencees (not a word). That way, the flow of information becomes a bit more clear.

    Helen Blunden Thanks for the kind words about the videos. As for cataloging them, I am doing my best to make the tags on Youtube as descriptive as possible and making playlists of like topics when they come up. I am also feeding all of the videos into my blog (https://learningischange.com), which has housed most of my thinking since 2005. That way, I can search on tags/categories there and have it pull up almost everything on that topic for the last 8 years or so. I am also ripping the audio and putting it up as a podcast, so at some point I would like to do a transcription on those, but that is out into the future.

    Anyway, I agree that trying to create a system for determining influence doesn’t work because it misses the value of good conversations and f2f ties. With that said, I really do like tools like http://mentionmapp.com/ that allow you to explore via @mentions and map out communities that way.

    Howard Rheingold I am amazed that you commented on my post. Thank you so much for taking part and adding your well-rounded perspective. I like the idea of really making the visual represent the strength of our connections. I was toying around with the idea of a hierarchy of relationships that spanned the epochs of my professional learning (i.e., the people I followed in March of 2007 with my first activity on twitter are the original PLN that begat the relationships in 2008, 2009, etc.). I think that could be an interesting visualization, if I can grab the data and extrapolate.

     Jessica Swift I really enjoy the concept of having a “touchstone” person in your network. The person that lets you see the conversation for what it is and what it can be. I think that very early on, it was Karl Fisch and Bud Hunt for me. Any conversations they were invested in, I would check out. Those kinds of “mentors” are invaluable in a massive network like Twitter (or Education as a whole). 

    Also, I’m glad you are digging the videos. Another one is uploading as I type.

    Rodd Lucier I actually think that a Google Sketchup project of walking through your PLN is in order. I would love to go down the “tubes” of ideas and walk from connection to connection. I also think that some sort of augmented reality application would be really interesting for visualizing your PLN at an event like #educon  or #iste . Like, if I held my phone up and zoomed around the room, I would love to see how many conversations I have had and what connections I have made with the people I can see in the viewfinder.

    Anyway, thanks for continuing to push my thinking on this. 

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