I am still reflecting on the experience of the #msloc430 working out loud week. Yes, this definitely was one of those let’s-just-do-this-and-see-what-happens events. But I am beginning to see lessons.
One lesson is – ignore the network. Or put another way: It’s ok to chat up the fire hydrant.
This is counter-intuitive. But I think it works.
I think you should work out loud without any expectation that anyone in the network cares. Do it only for yourself. Do it because it is a good way to force yourself to articulate your thinking about some work-in-progress effort.
That’s it. At the end of one week, or some other time period you define, you have a narrative that captures your thinking journey.
The counter-intuitive part is that I think this is actually the best way to make working-out-loud valuable to the network.
Here’s why. Let’s say I get energized about jumping in on a working-out-loud event. I post something about what I am working on. And no one responds. So I lose energy. One assumption that I might make as a result: Maybe what I am working on isn’t of interest to anyone.
That could be very wrong. Maybe what I am working on isn’t of interest to anyone at this specific point in time. Or people are interested but at this point in time cannot engage in a conversation. Or maybe some people prefer to engage by lurking.
In each of those cases, I am making a making a faulty assumption because I am expecting the network to do something that I can see, at a specific point in time.
During our working-out-loud experiment I was truly intrigued by several work projects that people first wrote about at the start of the week. Some of those discussion threads did not develop much past the initial post. And that’s too bad. Because I would have liked to have gone back – maybe this week, or next, or whenever – to see how the narrative played out. I may have commented. I may have just read.
But I certainly would have found value.
I also suspect that we too easily work ourselves into overinflated expectations about enterprise social networking and things like working-out-loud. We write with the full expectation that the network will respond. That’s supposed to be the value of the network, right? It gives us something when we give it something.
But I’ve just found that the network is fickle. And I am ok with that.
By definition, serendipity happens by chance. If it were predictable it would be no fun.
Photo by Hector Parayuelos via Flickr