Could people all over the world sit in front of their internet and net-map together?
Today I discussed with Simone Staiger of the International Center of Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), how they could include a net-map exercise into their web-based knowledge sharing workshop. They have an online-phase, where participants from all over the world will be online together and could interact around drawing maps. The question is: How do you best do that without loosing the visual freshness of a map drawn together?
Well, I’m still a strong believer in pen and paper and think that building physical influence towers translates their meaning much more directly than anything you can do on a 2 dimensional computer screen.
But on the other hand I’m also intrigued by the possibilities that new media offer and my first idea was to combine the program Visualyzer, that I use for drawing and analyzing networks with an application called GoToMeeting.
With GoToMeeting you can link up to other people’s computers and you can transmit sound (as in skype), show your surroundings (via web-cam) and allow them to look at your computer screen.
I mostly use Visualyzer as a second step for entering and analyzing my data that I collected on paper. For that, you enter the data in matrices and import it into the program. However, there is the option of directly drawing networks on the screen, adding nodes by double-clicking on the white background, entering names, attributes and links etc. as you go.
So via GoToMeeting, everyone looks at the facilitators screen, the participants discuss who is involved, how they are linked and how influential they are via skype and the facilitator draws the network as the discussion flows. Instead of building influence towers, you can add the influence values as attributes of the nodes and set the node size according to this attribute in the end. The more influential the actor the bigger the dot representing this actor.
I’m excited about this idea and very curious how far the group learning experience that I have observed in my old-fashioned pen-and-paper-seminars can be transmitted via the technical media.