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The 5 Cs: Consume, connect, create, contribute and commit!

October 11, 2011









My fellow moocer AK shared an intriguing struggle in Do we need to know one another when sharing?  My response took shape as I reflected on my #collective5 task in #change11.

I’m not sure that I need to know someone in order to connect, create or contribute beyond what I consume from them.  Instead, my consumption seems to trigger a complex analytical and judgement task in which I quickly evaluate “is this worth responding to?”  As I noted in my comment on Tools for Collective Learning last week, I think there is a fifth ‘c’ here that involves commitment.

Thinking back over my last year of interaction with RSS-fed newsletters, moocs and recent exposure to FaceBook and Twitter, my personal filtering system produces an aggregate response to one or more of the following questions about the commitment of time and effort that I am willing to make when choosing to share:

→    First of all, do I want to weigh in? This might be a simple gut feeling or it could be a considered response.

→    Is there something intriguing, relatable or erroneous that prompts me to respond?

→    Do I have something valuable to contribute?  I might start off composing a post or reply and then decide to cancel it if my contribution doesn’t seem worthwhile.

→    Is the page aesthetically pleasing or easy to read and navigate?  If not, I’ll likely lose interest quickly.

→   How long is the post?  Is there a summary or graphic that catches my eye?  Does it look too cumbersome or detailed to hold my attention?

→    What insight does the ‘About’ page offer, if any?

→    What does the quality of grammar, sentence structure and tone of the post prompt in me?

→    Does the voice of the author or respondent sound authentic? credible? trustworthy? likeable? too academic? too juvenile?

→    Is there an easy way to share?  If so, how broadly do I want to share? Will I comment on a post with or without logging in? Will I create my own blog post?  Will I (re)tweet?  Send an email with a link?

→    How do I balance my need for thoroughness and attention to detail with the new skill of skimming that is required in the (digital) age of participation?

→  Have I seen this contribution before (perhaps in another feed) and overlooked it?

All in all, I don’t seem to need to ‘know’ someone in order to share online.  Recognizing an online identity may help but it’s neither the only deciding factor nor the most important for me anymore.  However, I do need to judge whether it’s worth my limited time and effort to share.  If so, I usually take action right away.  I don’t save too many things for ‘coming back later’.

AK, I don’t claim to know you.  I have read your posts once or twice before.  I like what you wrote and it prompted about 30 minutes of writing and reflection from me that morphed from a short comment on The Daily to this post.  Thank you! 🙂


From → Smarter worker

  1. I appreciate your analysis of the process you go through when deciding if you want to respond to a post and whether the post is something you want to consume. I like it as a starting off point for students who are discovering their own online presence.

    • Thanks, bioramaxwell. If your students have other key questions or elements to add to the list, please write again!

  2. Thanks for this interesting insight into your learning process. I recognise a similar process in my own practice. Having been part of the group who developed the 4Cs, I thought it would be interesting to formulate a response about the fifth C: Commitment.

    one of the assumptions in our work is that the individual sees value in the knowledge held by the collective, so I think commitment underpins our whole view of things by engaging with the collective I have committed to opening myself up to the ideas of others, by contributing ideas back to the collective I am showing evidence of committing to the further enrichment of the community.

    The list of questions above demonstrates a key skill which is required to engage with the collective – being able to efficiently evaluate new knowledge/ knowledge sources and assess how they can contribute to your own thinking now and in the future.

    On a side note, one of the great advantages of blogs is that they give a ‘location’ to an idea relating it to a specific person (the owner of the blog) and (possibly) situates it a set of developing ideas form that individual (contrast with a discussion forum which doesn’t provide this focus). For this reason I am a great fan of commenting on blog posts rather than making my own.

    • Thanks so much for this, Colin. Now that I find myself juggling The Daily, Twitter, FB and a dabble in blogging, I am becoming more aware of this filtering process and it’s neat to step back and formulate a bit of a checklist in the hope that it helps us all define/refine our processes. I am hopeful that the time I spend being mindful of my choices leaves me with the best quality of time and effort left for the other c’s. I also appreciate your distinction between blogging and discussion forums. Very useful for me to share with others in my professional network who are newer to this stuff. Cheers!

  3. Excellent point! Loved your qs. Learning to manage my online time has become increasingly more problematic.

    • Thanks, Fran. Time management takes on a whole new set of elements in the age of participation, doesn’t it? Just being conscious of it seems to be a great first step. Let us know how you make out and what your roadblocks, guardrails and shortcuts are. 🙂

  4. Good list of questions. Like Colin I prefer to float around without an active blog of my own–maybe I prefer “life on the road” to a home base? Anyway this may sound selfish but I weigh contributing and replying against the potential of it being a learning opportunity for myself. Conversations for me are a form of thinking with my mouth open which often confuses people when I end up talking myself out of the position started from. If there is something in a person’s posting that triggers a train of thought that looks productive, I’ll respond. Wonder if this is a variation on trading that seems built into all of us? And trading is, at a minimum, two way–a transaction that must satisfy both. Maybe that needing to know each other is sensing a good trade in the offing or a seeking of balance that may involve a bit of risk too? I could ramble on…but won’t.

    Thanks for the blog.


    • Thanks for this, Scott. I hear you on the trading, it reminds me of the commitment to reciprocity that prompted me to start blogging so recently. In very simple terms, we all do what works and seeing a learning opportunity that is worth weighing in on could be something that works (or doesn’t) and acts as a powerful filter for our next move(s).

      I think you’re right that the ‘knowing’ of another may have something to do with that trading or reciprocity aspect. I don’t have to ‘know’ you in the traditional sense of meeting you, shaking your hand and talking about our lines of work or our families and such but I feel that I ‘know’ you a bit more by seeing what you made time to write here and so I honour that with a reply. Great food for thought, thanks!

  5. One of my criteria of whether to read a post or not is: Are there too many bullet points?

  6. Thanks, muddybunny, that’s a very good one. I wonder if I passed or failed with 11 bullets above? I did feel the tension between being comprehensive and not making the list too long. 🙂

    I recently find myself with the opposite feeling: if the text is too long without some visual break (image, title, bullets, summary) I might skip to the end or go on to something else.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #Change11 Getting to know you – your identity | Learner Weblog
  2. Mooc Week 4. Synthesis and reflection. « Learning in the workplace

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