Pete Kaminski: Tools as Substrates for Community

codrawing3A while ago, my friend Peter Kaminski wrote something that was so terrific, I said “May I blog that?” He said yes. So it is about time I share this (emphasis mine):

I just wrote elsewhere: “The trick with wikis is to think of them as a substrate for community, and to work on the community, not the wiki. A wiki is like a table in a meeting room. It doesn’t create the meeting, or the discussion, but does enable it and create a place to spread out, organize, and retrieve information.

The other thing is that most people aren’t good at using wikis; you need 5-10% of the participants to be “wiki gardeners,” specifically tasked (and constitutionally able) to keep the table somewhere in the middle between sterile and a terrible mess.”

And, “Remember not to fetishize the tools; rather, use them as part of enabling people to work better together.”

There is so much goodness packed into those words. I might add “remember, not to fetishize community!” 🙂 And a great reminder as we gear up the online part of the UDGAgora project and Project Community. (I’m going to share this post over at our Project Community faculty blog as well!)

Thanks, Pete!


3 thoughts on “Pete Kaminski: Tools as Substrates for Community”

  1. Oh Gosh Nancy, I definitely am experiencing what some of our students will be experiencing in a week or two… I’m not sure, but does this relate to our task tables and with each task having a responsibility? And specific tasks like the Technology steward does? Or does it mean more, a more advanced level of “playing field” where everyone is constantly doing their tasks online? And if so, is this all visible to the “players”? It sounds like a game, and I am as Confusiastic as ever! By the way, may I blog at school about Confusiasm? I will name you of course, but I also want to quote the benefits correctly. It would be great to spread the word (Just like how I spread the word about Balancists, my name for people with a nice life balance).


    1. First, the term “confusiasm” was coined by Carl Jackson at a KM4Dev Community meeting (I can’t quite remember which one… but they were all between 2002 and 2010…

      I think this does relate to our task tables in a very particular way. We can’t be DEFINED by our roles, but we can contribute to the community THROUGH our roles. THis is not about ticking the box of a task list, but imagining creating something of value together. I don’t think it is about leveling the playing field, but to really collaborating. Sniffing out how a tool contributes to a goal, not just finding a cool tool. Leading even when uncertain, with the eye on the purpose of the team. Does that make sense?

      As to describing the benefits of confusiasm – maybe we should co-author a post for all our blogs!


      1. I’m still confusiastic, and want to spread the word on a University school blog I have just started. Since I’m supposed to blog about what’s keeping me busy, I thought that might be a good topic for my next post in 2 weeks.


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