CCK08: Working the Network

Image by Raphael Schmid via Flickr

I heard a story once about the first wave of immigrants to the US after the Iron Curtain fell. Some of the former Eastern Bloc citizens, after making their way to the land of plenty, headed back to wherever they came from. They found the choices too bewildering. I have no idea if the story is true. But it sticks in my mind.

I imagine those folks standing in the middle of the detergent aisle at Shop Rite for the first time. And I think, “I know what that feels like.”

It’s email. And the internet. And cell phones. And cable TV. And iPods. We are swamped.

I remember when it was possible to be caught up with lesbian fiction. Seriously. It was the early eighties, there wasn’t that much of it, and I was in school, so I had time to read it. All of it. And then at some point, that was no longer possible. I had to start depending on other people’s reviews to get a sense of what I might want to read next. I needed a network.

In my work life, it was probably the NACAC listserv that brought the power of networks home to me. I don’t know how many members National Association for College Admission Counseling has, but the listserv is a high-traffic situation. Today I think my daily digest had 32 messages. Most of which weren’t anything I needed.

But. I sent along an answer to someone else’s question. I tweaked some content in the College Lists wiki.

If I ever DO need to tap into the experience of a large group of people who are thinking about the same kinds of academic matchmaking challenges I am, I know where to find them.

This is a bounded network. It’s comprised of folks whose membership is synonymous with their membership in a pre-defined group. The signal-to-noise ratio is pretty good.

What I see happening, down the line, is my filtering capabilities increasing dramatically, so that I’m able to tap into some less obvious, less formal, but no-less-helpful networks. Less and less about the needle in the haystack. More and more about tending to the nets and letting them do their thing. What do you think your future holds for you?

Image by Pandiyan via Flickr



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Posted on September 25, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Shelley, I think this is an important aspect, its not just about aggragating 2000 people and their computers or mobiles, its about working. What happens that increases or decreases the liklihood of a connection that matters…if the nodes dont connect, there is no net’work’. ailsahttp://amusingspace.blogspot.com/

  2. Hi Shelley – your comment of “needing a network” is very much in keeping with my experience. One of my most valuable experiences with keeping on top of information came in the form of blogs and RSS. It just wasn’t possible to stay current without them. And now, only 7 years later, it’s impossible to stay on top even with them. More and more I rely on others to help me make sense of information and complex changes in society…

  3. Hi everyone, I would echo everything that has been said here. A lot of people marvel at what I know, except I don’t know it, my network does. But it takes work to keep that network open or alive, but the benefits are enormous.

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