#msloc430 Chat debrief: What contributes to meaningful digital connections?

On Tuesday, April 16, graduate students in my course in the Master’s Program in Learning & Organizational Change at Northwestern University participated in the first of three planned Twitter chats related to the topics we are exploring: knowledge sharing and collaboration within organizational settings (Enterprise 2.0) as well as more openly and publicly via the web (personal learning networks). Most importantly: How do these two come together and what does it mean for learning and organizational change practitioners?

The first chat dealt broadly with the question of just what makes meaningful digital connections, both inside organizations and more “publicly” on the web. You can read a more comprehensive Storify of the entire chat here.

But I also wanted to summarize some of the key themes, create a bit of a synthesis and continue exploring this topic in more long form. This first chat touched on digital identity issues that I have begun to explore in other posts (Personal brand and digital identity: Which I am I? and Pinching my digital networked self). I’d like to further explore these issues and connect to the work of Bonnie Stewart, Catherine Cronin and others.

Tuesday’s chat began by looking inside organizations: What fosters meaningful digital connections inside the organization? The themes that emerged were trust, safety, thinking you have something to share, and having common ground (interests, practices, functions etc.). In general there seemed to be a lot of alignment on these items. But when the chat moved to looking at what fosters meaningful digital connections on the web — out in the open — there was some  interesting discussion around “anonymity” and how it may be easier to “get lost” in volume of activity in the open web.

The chat then moved to talking about resistance. Is the resistance to share within organizations the same as openly, on the web? The general consensus seems to be that there is more resistance to sharing internally vs. on the web (although the web is not free from resistance to sharing). More politics, more to lose, more top down “alignment” inside organizations.

This then led to a brief discussion around identity. We did not spend any time defining what we mean by “identity” here, but the conversation seem to grow from the previous threads.

The the themes that came out were around both “many” and “one.” Context changes how you think about your identity, or what identity may be in play. But there is an interest in the idea of a whole, single “authentic” identity. Here, I am beginning to think more about the performative, public self as articulated by Stewart in her Six Key Selves of Networked Publics.

What intrigues me, as I explore this further, is the interplay between between the digital, connected identities we have inside our organizational confines and the ones we have externally. As the technologies we use become more similar (and more connected and porous), how will this play out?