How can we share and discover inspiration through social networks? #TEDActiveSOC
The folks at idea-sharing team at TED are asking for folks to get involved with TEDActive Projects. They are asking conference goers and PSFK's friends to explore, collaborate and act on the vital issues raised at TED. We are actively engaging our expert network, the Purple List, to provide stimulus for the teams working on these projects. More here: http://conferences.ted.com/TEDActive2011/projects/
The TEDActive Social Networks Project will explore the hidden influence of social networks on our lives -- through the lens of inspiration. TED will take a close look at online relationships and the influence they wield by sharing inspired messages and their ripple effect
PSFK & TEDActive welcome all answers from any PurpleList member and I will personally be sharing them with the TEDActive community.
Public unpaid question.
In positive psychology, a key concept is the one of "optimal experience" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)), the idea that exists a specific mental state in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. This state, also defined "flow" is what is considered behind creativity and inspiration.
Even if flow is an individual state, different authors suggested the existence of something that we defined a "networked flow", a shared optimal experience
which permits a process of fusion between individuals and the creation of a community (Italian only: http://issuu.com/bepperiva/docs/networked_flow).
Examples of this concepts are present in the work of Keith Sawyer (http://keithsawyer.wordpress.com/), Francesco Alberoni (http://www.alberoni.it/versione-inglese/genesis-summary.asp), or John Searle (http://www.scribd.com/doc/7189834/Collective-Intentions-and-Actions-John-Searle).
But how we can use social networks to support networked flow? According to literature, the appearance of this experience is related to three factors: (i) the group members must share the same objectives and the same feelings; (ii) the group members must experience liminality, the experience of being on the "threshold" between two different existential planes,”; (iii) the group members must, within their shared activity, identify a means to get out of this state.
This suggests that using social networks to identify liminality within similar subjects (e.g. all the teachers who are in difficulty in being a good educator) may be the starting point to share and discover inspiration.
Social Media connects us in ways never before possible. We're able to see and learn about new things and people, transforming what we think or feel, and educating us when we didn't even know we needed the info. New avenues have opened up to provide inspiration, even employment; we seek out what we may be missing to enrich ourselves. The only drawback is technology overload because our focus is now on computer and mobile use rather than personal human contact. Let's remember it's important not to neglect the latter. How do we successfully combine the mix between social media technology and personal human touch? I believe that question should be addressed.
I like the idea of making explicit connections between otherwise disparate pieces of content; I sometimes think it'd be helpful to have some way to draw a digital link between two pieces of content that have inspired a thought in my head.
I'm guessing there are some technical challenges with the following method, but I imagine it simply as clicking a bookmarklet on one page, then moving to the second page and clicking again. I'd then be able to tag and write a quick note about the thought that the two ideas combined created in my head.
Visually I see this represented as a one strand that makes up a small web that I build over time with other similar strands; clicking on a single stand brings up the links that make it up and any notes/tags.
Potentially this visual representation can scale back where I can see other people in my facebook/twitter/voyURL nearby, and the connections they are making. I'm guessing some of their links would be the same as mine, so our webs would start to link together in certain places.
Ultimately I'd find it an interesting way to see not only the interesting things people around me are looking at, but also the mental connections those things are inspiring as well.
The ability to discover what "inspires" will require a most humble approach to listening. Emotional connections will naturally provoke sharing within TEDActive Projects and the community.
The natural process of connecting will require a nurtured and unobstructed experience for those involved. This is tricky for those familiar with a more moderated approach, to project work.
Inspiration hits us when we least expect it and we're never sure how others will be impacted by the source of our inspiration, until we share it. That's the key to discovery. In all of its forms. Just as sites like ffffound.com enable visual people to share images/art that inspire them; social networks, serving a niche could enable this type of discovery. Inputs would somewhat resemble InnoCentive. "Help me solve this problem" and/or "look at this amazing example of [fill in the blank]". But instead of trying to resolve a science/business issue, the purpose would be inspiration and discovery.
It's important to think about how this would be executed and the best way I can think of is something similar to Google Wave. (I've never used the tool per se, but as I understand it, it's an open format web page that allows you to add content in a free-form manner (video, images, text, audio, converse real time, live video, etc) anything that shapes the inspiration/discovery session. This tool would be utilized at an appointed time/real time to build critical mass around the point of inspiration and increase it potency through sharing. Things die on the vine quickly these days and real time is essential. (Mobile users would be particularly important, as serendipity is most likely when on the move.) Once the event had happened it would exist online as an artifact that could be reviewed and potentially generate inspiration for someone looking into the subject matter.
Someone would most likely need to lead these sessions and the expertise/passion that TED Talks posses comes to mind. Inspiration is contagious and the instigator needs to be "leading". Think of these sessions as virtual TED Talks.
The desired outcome of the session is inspiration and discovery of new insights and untapped passion. And yes, the outcome will almost entirely fall on the inherent quality of the participants. Could be amazing.
Interesting challenge . . .