Friday, September 5, 2008

Home Again

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

And It's Good to Be

Being home with our kitties, Phoebe and Toonces, feels wonderful, much as it was fun to get away.

We enjoyed staying in a gay-owned B&B during our Maine vacation this past week. I was reminded of my senior year, when I lived in Osterweil, a co-op in Ann Arbor. The nicest part of living there was that the houseful of people became a community. In Ann Arbor, I learned about the environment from fellow Osterweilians, who studied in the School of Natural Resources, and at the B&B, I learned that there's a new biography of Jeannette Howard Foster, who wrote *Sex-variant Women in Literature,* a book I found during my early years of living in Chicago, pre-Pat.

Social Networking -- Online and Off...

For my work so far this year, I've dedicated time to building a community online, and considering the serendipitous, informal learning people can access through online social networking. Being at the B&B this week, I was reminded that the same thing can happen through face-to-face social networking.

For example, I learned about the Go Go PRIDE mobility scooter from a Canadian couple I met while walking on the Marginal Way; learned that Alison Bechdel is coming out with a new book this September from one of the other guests at the B&B; and another of the B&B guests learned from me to combine goat-cheese, hummus and walnuts with red peppers - a combo he'd never considered.

Socializing face to face and online both are valuable to me. My online class began last Wednesday and despite the bit of delay caused by the technology used by my grad school, it was a decent learning experience. And I was approached electronically by two classmates -- one a Leadership Development leader at a large firm in New York and the other, an animator in Los Angeles. To me, whether in person or online, profound learning and deep socializing is possible when the people involved have an abundance mentality.

The point about having an abundance mentality reminded me of something surprising I learned last week, when I spent a day at the Teachers College (TC) library: An administrator of "PocketKnowledge," the social archive of TC told me that more people haven't yet posted their research, perhaps, as they're afraid of people stealing their work. That made no sense to me. In my case, I posted my collection of some of my best writing and research so far (I think you need a TC UserID and password to access it) because I want to promote the notion that I'm an emerging scholar in Adult Learning and Leadership.

The scarcity mentality extends to simple socializing, too. There are good people with whom I come into regular contact, who discount anything that's not face-to-face and I need to let them feel that way, and I wish that all of them would let me feel as I do, which is the opposite. In my experience, people, who are super-sociable and generous online are typically also giving and sociable when face to face. It's a silly stereotype, I think, that people, who are active online, somehow are less able to socialize with "real" people....Even as I write this, I know it sounds defensive.

It's true that I'm more comfortable being fully self-expressive in writing than when I am in conversation with people, typically, but still, I feel equipped to have a substantial interchange offline as well as online. They're different. And one is not better than the other, I am coming to see. I used to over-simplistically subscribe to the position that face to face contact was always superior to any other sort of exchange. I'm growing and recognizing that each way of communicating has its virtues and drawbacks.

Socializing with Animals

After a week of socializing with new friends and classmates both online (for class) and offline (for vacation), I'm ready to socialize most of all this weekend with our pets, Phoebe and Toonces. I hope I can finish the great book I found at the start of our vacation, by Temple Grandin, *Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior*. I want to understand our cats, as I didn't grow up with pets. So far, it's amazing. I feel much closer to them after just 75 pages.

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