Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

16 October 2014

Sharing pointedly or broadly

Clark @ 8:06 AM

In a (rare) fit of tidying, I was moving from one note-taking app to another, and found a diagram I’d jotted, and it rekindled my thinking. The point was characterizing social media in terms of their particular mechanisms of distribution. I can’t fully recall what prompted the attempt at characterization, but one result of revisiting was thinking about the media in terms of whether they’re part of a natural mechanism of ‘show your work’ (ala Bozarth)/’work out loud’ (ala Jarche).

whether person to person or one to manyThe question revolves around whether the media are point or broadcast, that is whether you specify particular recipients (even in a mailing or group list), or whether it’s ‘out there’ for anyone to access.  Now, there are distinctions, so you can have restricted access on the ‘broadcast’ mode, but in principle there’re two different mechanisms at work.

It should be noted that in the ‘broadcast’ model, not everyone may be aware that there’s a new message, if they’re not ‘following’ the poster of the message, but it should be findable by search if not directly.  Also, the broadcast may only be an organizational network, or it can be the entire internet.  Regardless, there are differences between the two mechanisms.

So, for example, a chat tool typically lets you ping a particular person, or a set list. On the other hand, a microblog lets anyone decide to ‘follow’ your quick posts.   Not everyone will necessarily be paying attention to the ‘broadcast’, but they could.  Typically, microblogs (and chat) are for short messages, such as requests for help or pointers to something interesting.  The limitations mean that more lengthy discussions typically are conveyed via…

Formats supporting unlimited text, including thoughtful reflections, updates on thinking, and more tend to be conveyed via email or blog posts. Again, email is addressed to a specific list of people, directly or via a mail list, openly or perhaps some folks receiving copies ‘blind’ (that is, not all know who all is receiving the message.  A blog post (like this), on the other hand, is open for anyone on the ‘system’.

The same holds true for other media files besides text.   Video and audio can be hidden in a particular place (e.g. a course) or sent directly to one person. On the other hand, such a message can be hosted on a portal (YouTube, iTunes) where anyone can see.  The dialog around a file provides a rich augmentation, just as such can be happening on a blog, or edited RTs of a microblog comment.

Finally, a slightly different twist is shown with documents.  Edited documents (e.g. papers, presentations, spreadsheets) can be created and sent, but there’s little opportunity for cooperative development.  Creating these in a richer way that allows for others to contribute requires a collaborative document (once known as a wiki).  One of my dreams is that we may have collaboratively developed interactives as well, though that still seems some way off.

The point for showing out loud is that point is only a way to get specific feedback, whereas a broadcast mechanism is really about the opportunity to get a more broad awareness and, potentially, feedback.  This leads to a broader shared understanding and continual improvement, two goals critical to organizational improvement.

Let me be the first to say that this isn’t necessarily an important, or even new, distinction, it’s just me practicing what I preach.  Also, I  recognize that the collaborative documents are fundamentally different, and I need to have a more differentiated way to look at these (pointers or ideas, anyone), but here’s my interim thinking.  What say you?



  1. I like where you’re going with this, Clark. I have a little dissonance with some of the categorization and pairing.

    *Point* in the top row seems to be “fleeting” or “touch and go” to me. Fitting into the social context of solo, one-to-one, one-to few, and many-to-one.

    Chat – Dig it! Though these can also be multipoint / broadcast.
    Email – Also dig this one, though these have some buried persistence and can be multipoint and threaded.
    Media File – Starting to go off the tracks for me. A media file can be broadcast. Perhaps a non-recorded Webcast would be more “point” under the fleeting | touch and go definition?
    Doc – Yes. It’s a single thing. But the very concept of a doc is changing a bit with cloud-based collaboration. Maybe a printed doc would be more “point”?

    Broadcast seems to be “persistent”, “connected”, and “living”. Fitting into the context of many-to-many, team, community, association, and world.

    Microblog – love it.
    Blog – Yep!
    Media Portal – I like the variety angle as an extension. But a single file could also meet the definition I’m grokking from the matrix.
    Wiki – Yes! However, as mentioned, the lines are blurring. A document can be living, connected, and persistent! Spitballing, maybe adding “open” as a condition could be more exclusive? Maybe it doesn’t matter as a thought exercise:)

    Overall, I really like the direction. It aligns with some of the mindset crafting we’re trying to do. Cracking the concrete expectations folks have around experiences (namely those that contribute to development of capacities) and their relationship with tools, resources, and media is a tough job. I have a couple of models that we’re using to articulate “thought bearing”, different ways to consider opportunities, and ways to break the training==development default. One is similar to one of the axis you seem to allude to here.

    Social context:

    – Solo (this is the new default, not always a good default – LMS context)
    – One-to-One (this is powerful with the right match but it’s not used nearly enough)
    – One-to-Many (another default right behind solo, also not a fantastic default – LMS context)
    – Many-to-One (also can be powerful but underused – want to know what people need? Try asking them.)
    – Many-to-Many (under used in the enterprise and often with half-measures and tom-foolery. The network amplification effect is undeniable if allowed to grow naturally)
    – Team (Many-as-One — team focused opportunities are intentional in some organizations. Others… not so much)
    – Community (one-to-many, many-to-one, many-to-many mix. Actually quite a bit of this ad hoc. These are the connections we need to encourage and for the sake of all that is holy not block)
    – Association (A touch and go community. Ties with varying gravity. These are powerful as well. We haven’t figured out how to best leverage and encourage these either)
    – Society (One of Us – I think of this as the larger circle to how we fit together. Could overlap with association and community. But society is much more than that)
    – World (All of Us – the circle within the atmosphere -for the moment. How can we use this to our benefit in each of the categories above?)

    The other two axis are capacities and opportunities. Skills (so we can do), confidence (so we feel better about doing), perspective (so we can balance the value), experience (so we can compete), connections (so we can amplify others and others can amplify us), grit, empathy, insight, etc. are things I add as categories under capacities. General, yes. Definitely. I think of these as *meta* to the stuff normally modeled in competencies. Some overlap. This is used to convey the message that training for S&K isn’t everything. Articulated by breaking down the components that people aspire to grow. It also helps when each of the axis are wired together.

    For opportunities, we crowd sourced with a question “How do you develop skills?” I didn’t lead with “capacities” because it needed to relate to a current expectation. With all of the activities that we got back, an extensive list, we distilled 6 categories:

    – Discover
    – Achieve
    – Create
    – Lead
    – Connect
    – Apply

    Each category contains a list of general types of opportunities, activities, and challenges. Again, for breaking the mindset that training=development. It’s working. Slowly. I plan to write some of this up. It’s probably familiar. Someone may already have formulated some of this. If it does seem familiar, I’d love to know what’s related!

    Thanks for getting me thinking, Clark.


    Comment by Steve — 16 October 2014 @ 6:49 PM

  2. Steve, thanks for the thoughtful reply, and let me resoundingly encourage you to write this up (and more; I want diagrams!). By point, I meant identified recipients (rightly or wrongly). I like you thinking about one to one, one to many, many to many, etc. Though I guess I was thinking slightly differently: one to specific, or one to general. And you’re right I haven’t thought about the flip side (is many to one an individual choice of selecting who to follow, or…?).

    Your capacities are interesting and I agree are ‘meta’; these are more success factors or meta-learning characteristics, I think. I’d also add in: ability to research, ability to experiment, systematicity, persistence, the list goes on. (See the SCANS competencies.) I also like your emergent categories. Remind me: who’s ‘we’?

    Where can I find more about your thinking on this?

    Comment by Clark — 17 October 2014 @ 1:41 PM

  3. Hey Clark! Thanks for clarifying. I see what you mean. Though as a derivative of “singled” recipients, I think we’re getting at temporary connections (fleeting, touch and go). So both could handily apply in your model.

    I’ve been working at the National Archives for the last year or so. Thanks for the SCANS competencies reference. We have been using a customized version of the OPM competencies for awhile within the agency but I have some trouble with the application of the models as built. Many of these are aspirational statements without much in the way of practical guidance or “touchable measures”.

    These are used for building job announcements, interview questions, etc. but don’t seem to be used beyond this. We’ll be using these as a starting place for development exploration (since it’s something we have) but asking folks to explore potential and strengths, applying insight to distill specific capacities they need / want to develop. This’ll help map to opportunities and connect folks with starting points that aren’t exclusively focused (but don’t exclude) on formal training activities. This seems to be one of the sticky points in the process.

    I haven’t written for over a year. There are a few loosely connected thoughts at androidgogy.com. I’m working up outlines to convey the stuff I’ve been focused on the past few months.

    Comment by Steve — 20 October 2014 @ 5:00 AM

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress