Bryan Alexander writes of Web 2.0 network ecology stories and wonders about the phenomena of discovery, re-use of digital media. He shares examples of photos he has taken, shared have seen positive, maybe unintended use by others, as well as the joy of connecting with people beyond his current circle of connections (which is not small by any means).

The two examples he shares are alone well worth reading his post, and I have no doubts that many readers here have had a similar story themselves.

My own version is how my own (pre-web, scanned, on 3 links down from an old home page) photo:

Original Death Valley Photo

was discovered by a rock band in Germany, who asked if they could use it on their CD. A few months later, I had the disc in my hands:
Sea Level CD

Not exactly that this matters in any important social context, but the mere fact that sharing it somewhere, linked me with someone else. This is the kool-aid of the web that has sustained me for the last 14 years.

But my favorite is that a photo I took as a mere curious oddity of graffiti etched into a prickly pear cactus in Hawaii, was discovered, and I found out there is an entire group f people who are devoted to vegefitti. Who wudda thunk?

One might ask, “neat, but so what? What’s the big deal?” This is what makes the web a web, the tiny, mighty, all powerful link.

Maybe this swirls around the intense discussion and activity this week over at the Connectivism Conference. I was way too immersed in projects this week to do more than catch a few bits. And not being a theorist or having a deep jar of references to refer to, I cannot answer those big questions about Knowledge. But the notion of being connected, thinking connected, and craving more all resonate with me.

And it brings me back to the thoughful questions in the closing of Bryan’s post:

How are we acculturating these practices? Is this sort of social object networking part of information literacy, media literacy? How often does popular culture represent this practice in tv news, search scenes in movies? And academia, from scholarly bibliography practices to general pedagogy, from The Chronicle to advising grad students, how are we making, sharing, digesting such stories?

I don;t have the answers, but my own list of significant aspects are:

  • We expect to search. Searching is innate to discovery. We not only expect to search, but to find. The shear power of hyperlinking is what fuels Google, and each link we add (spammers aside) adds to the collecgive value of Google’s results. Link like a mad person. Linking is giving credit. Linking is good. Pay particular attention, oh ye online versions of articles that do not provide contextual links.
  • It pays us all to share. Good Things Happen When You Share is not just a kindergarten aphorism. When you give away media like photos, videos, music etc, the world generally gives back. It sounds Hallmarky, but if you do it enough, it boomerangs on you.
  • Apply Creative Commons liberally. Incessantly. And tel others. Let thme know how easy it is to find free great content w/o having to pay some media horder.
  • Writing about it yourself. Just the act of Bryan’s sharing his experience tinkers the “me too” bone in me, and may have others give cause to think. Reflection is wonderful, sharing it others even better. This can be blogging, but may also just be commenting. It’s all the stuff about the participating part of the .0 web stuff.
  • Communicate with media. Bryan’s examples really come from images. People resonate with images, connect. And online tools like flickr make it bone simple to do. We are loking for more than words, we talk now in pictures frequently, and just in the last few months, the sheer number of people blogging in the form of shared video has exploded.
  • Think in metaphors. Images really lend themselves to the form of communicating by metaphor, not alway literal meaning. Deeper levels of thinking happened because we interpret visual content, not just consume it.
  • Think About Capturing Moments. I get the impression Bryan travels with his camera, phone ready to take those in the moment images. it may never be used, but you’ll never pass that indelible moment and regret not being able to capture and share it. It is the new notebook.

So go out there. Share, Link, and Repeat.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.