I’m still thinking about the concept of joining since I wrote my post last week Joining is Important to Social Learning. Other people have been thinking about it too. Lisa Johnson shares her experience about being online for 5 months and Michele Martin talks about the action vs. activity.
The next part of joining is to have a sense of:
- Your online social identity (who you are)
- The types of online space
- Your relationship to the space you are joining
Online Social Identity
When joining online, you need an identity that can join. Your actual physical presence is not online. You’re probably sitting (standing, lying down) somewhere and transmitting your thoughts though a device (computer, phone, tablet) into this digital world.
You physically exist in the space where you are transmitting these thoughts. A piece of you (the output of your thoughts) travels into this digital world and you need a way to identify with these pieces of thought. By thought, I mean anything that is a result of our thinking (e.g., text, photo, video, etc).
The Internet is like a transportation system and repository for our thoughts and conversations.
You probably already have an online social identity. If you don’t or aren’t sure, this list of social media tools might be helpful in getting your started.
Questions to Ask About Your Social Online Identity
- Is this an accurate description of what I want my identity to be?
- What was my goal or motivation for creating this identity?
- Has it changed?
- Is my helping or hurting my goal?
- Are people responding to me in the manner in which I’m expecting?
You Need Space To Join
It helps to be aware of the space in which you’re joining and your relationship to this space. This isn’t a physical stationary space. This is a flowing space that is constantly changing because of the inputs of the members of the space.
There are 3 types of space to be aware of:
- Your Personal Space – your online identity occupies a digital space or spaces and has two parts:
- Private space – where you don’t share with others (e.g., financial information, personal repositories)
- Public space – where you share all or parts of your space with others (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Personal Space of Others – other people have a private and public space, just like you.
- Shared Space – when your space merges together with other spaces. This is an active space where joining and engagement happen (e.g., conversation, supporting, learning). Shared thoughts join and create new ideas. This is where things get done and deeper learning happens.
Questions to Ask About Space
- Am I sharing what I want to be sharing? Too much, not enough?
- Am I using the right social media tool for sharing what I’m sharing?
- Am I respecting the space of others?
- Am I putting enough or too much of my space into shared space?
- Am I just broadcasting in shared space?
- Am I giving and receiving?
Joining Shared Space
Joining becomes easier and more effective when you have a sense of your online social identity and the different types of space. You likely have multiple parts to your online social identity. You could have multiple accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr) that may or may not represent the same identity. Take a look at these accounts to make sure they are representing what you want them to represent.
Questions to Ask About Joining Shared Space
- What am I joining?
- Is it a community, dialogue, chat, shared document, etc?
- Is this something I want to be a part of?
- Am I bringing the right identity to this space in oder to join?
- You may have more than one identity. Which is most appropriate?
- Why am I joining? Do I have a purpose or goal?
- Am I trying to:
- Create or enhance my identity?
- Make connections with others similar to me (or different than me)
- Explore and learn
- Am I trying to:
If you are new to any of this and are overwhelmed, please don’t be. Once you start participating and joining, much of what I’ve discussed become second nature. Once it becomes second nature, it’s a good idea to step back and spend a few moments every now and then to make sure your social online identity is aligned with your space.