Putting together a mind map to outline the various connections I rely on was an interesting experience. It allowed me to identify some patterns in the types of tools I rely on and my level of "connectedness" across different facets of my life. For example, I was a little surprised that the connections in my personal life were so sparse. In hindsight though, I suppose it makes sense since much of my family doesn't use technology very much. My immediate family gets by on Facebook (which I do not like) and email. On the other hand, my professional an academic lives are far more technologically rich. In these arenas, I spend a great deal more time connecting with other individuals, creating knowledge, and sharing information. As sad as it sounds, most of my personal interests are in my academic and professional areas anyway, which also explains why my personal arena is so small.
I discovered Twitter about two years ago, which was the beginning of what I will call my digital connections. Through Twitter I was able to connect with people I would otherwise never have an opportunity to talk with. The network provided me with not only information, but resources. As I grew in the community I built (by selecting who to follow) I was able to query them for information or resources rather than simply consuming what they posted. I was also able to contribute more effectively, offering my support and opinions. In many ways, Twitter has become the model for how I operate both professionally and academically now. Whenever I confront a new idea, a new problem, or a new potential direction, I begin by asking my community what they think and if any of them have any experience with it. It inevitably leads to good things all the way around. Many of my other activities, even face-to-face ones now look much more like this. At work I seek out opinions, perspectives, and resources early in any project. Doing so has opened up a lot of resources and prevented a few disasters, too.
The other interesting trend I picked up on in this activity was the type of technology tool I appear to prefer. Many of my networks rely on applications that allow for knowledge construction and sharing. Contrast this with, for example, simple web 1.0 networks where information is visible but static. I enjoy the process of collaborating on projects, offering and receiving feedback, and sharing what is created. I've always thought of myself as more of an independent learner and worker, but the technologies and connections in the mind map suggest that I'm far more collaborative than I thought.
I commented on the following blogs for this activity: