I often meet resistance to the idea of social networking and online collaboration. The common themes are that people do not feel the time taken to build a network and learn online communication tools is worth the effort. They do not see any benefit compared to the learning, networking and collaboration opportunities they receive in their face-to-face context.
Here's a little story about the value of social networking to me.
I have been talking to Dallas Knight, mostly via Twitter and our blogs, for the last couple of years. Dallas is a PhD candidate at the University of Otago. Her interest is health informatics, and her research is looking at how midwives and pregnant women use technology. I have to admit we have met a couple of times, but our relationship has been built online. We share resources and news, we have discussions...which sometimes we don't agree on...and we support each other in our various interests.
A few months ago, I was invited by Tosh Sheshabalaya, the Managing Editor of 'Healthcare IT Management', to write an article about how New Zealand midwives use technology. I was confident to write about the use of the Internet for professional development and education, but I had no idea what midwives were using for things like practice management. So I asked Dallas if she would co-author the article with me.
The foundation of the article came from a blog post that I was invited to write by Carol Cooper-Taylor for her website 'The eLearning Site' called 'Getting midwives connected', and an ensuing conversation Dallas and I had about midwives' use of the Internet.
We used Google Documents, Skype and Twitter to write our article. For most of the time, I was based in Pakistan and Dallas was back in New Zealand, so we had no chance to meet face-to-face to discuss the article.
The process was remarkably easy. Our extensive online conversations has got us to the point that we can critique each other's work in a constructive way without giving/taking offence. Working in Google Documents made the collaborative writing process extremely easy. The only problem we had to deal with was my wonderful ability to procrastinate...but Dallas graciously took that in her stride.
I don't know about Dallas, but I am extremely pleased with the collaborative process and the end product. I'll let you know when the article becomes available.
Do you have any stories like this about your online social networking that has resulted in an outcome like this one?
Image: 'Meadow of Yellow Flowers and Mountains'