Thursday, December 18, 2008

I have a team!

I guess "having a team" isn't such a big deal in the world of scientific research or business, for that matter, but to suddenly realize, as a scholar, an academic in the Humanities, that you have a team and that it's not the kind of team that is focused on one H-net topic or exists for the singular purpose of your getting a post at the next academic institution, is quite a revelation.

Yesterday my team mate, Cathy Davidson, posted a blog from The New York Times on organizing tools for downloaded articles and it led to an important
exchange between academics near and far on Facebook on the pros and cons of Endnote, Zotero, Connotea, Yep and Leap and on the headache of accessing academic journal articles if you are not in fact affiliated with a University.

Cathy has been working on developing an undergraduate course on cognition and Web 2.0 technologies, a course which is inspiring me to use blogging and "public writing assignments", such as Wikipedia entries, as requirements for my own courses in Film Studies at Duke.

Another of my team mates, Liz Dorland, posted a Facebook link for a presentation by Philip Rosedale on Second Life this week. Her post finally inspired me take action on a promise I had made to myself and my buddy Michael Dila, of Toronto's Torch Parnership and a writer and strategist on design solutions for businesses. I made this promise almost a year ago... to think about ways that I may use Second Life in my teaching. IBM afterall holds its business meetings in this environment and for good reason: as a parallel reality, it allows us to step out of the rote, everyday, and look critically at what we do not see in what we see right in front of us. For me, movies have that ability, and perhaps that is why I still work within the field of Film Studies as someone interested in critical thinking. But to my mind, at least, film's visual and aural planes have become such prosthetic extensions of our habitual seeing and perceiving that most of us don't actually see, or let me put it differently, don't actually choose to see lived reality from a distance, critically, through the lens of the film camera. Thus Second Life, a space of creation and innovation allows, at least for now, the possibility of reflecting on our habits of thought and action and, from a distance, of questioning the ways that these habits help and hinder us in our lives.

To this latter point, the question of how we get in the way of our own success, a blog post by new friend, the mighty New Media maverick Rahaf Harfoush on Anthony Robbin's presentation on Ted which I reposted immediately to Facebook this week propelling me into a discussion with an old friend, a regional manager and trainer in Holland Jaap van Joolen, about how useful Robbin's talk has been in his experience in management training.

There you have it: I have just introduced you to some of the most active members of my team. In all honesty, maybe I haven't yet found a way to collaborate with my team on content based, Humanities centered, questions apart from the occasional discussion around a recent book review or a movie, but the collaborative spirit that is emerging out of the social networks that we have created over the past couple of years, shows a glimmer of what is to come.

This brings me to what really, really excites me about my team and how it works to keep me on my toes:

Peter Kim, a social technology consultant and analyst, recently shook the social media tree to see what predictions social media bloggers had for 2009:

SocialRank algorithms on Facebook, Social Shopping, and increased activism: some horrifying and some really interesting possibilities which I would be delighted to discuss further with you. But here are perhaps my favorite key predictions for 2009--ones that I think apply to the concept of team and the utility of social media networks in the Humanities-- predictions from the Jedi Master himself, Yoda, channelled by Amber Naslund: "Unlearn what you have learned", "Adapt or Perish", "Fear not criticism: Canned is for green beans", "Size matters not: Who wants to play alongside you does".

I have a team and I admit that have fallen in love with my team mates. In 2009 I am devoting myself to growing up as a team!