Sunday, December 11, 2011

Miriam Brosseau

This interview is part of the Network-Weaver Series. More info & interviews here

Miriam Brosseau works with The Jewish Education Project and Darim Online to help congregations and early childhood centers use social media and web-based tools to communicate and collaborate with one another more effectively. She is also half of the rocking Bible-gum pop duo Stereo Sinai

What is a network?

A network is a system of purposeful relationships – and purposeful is the key term. A network is built on a foundation of trust. In particular, you trust that by engaging in a certain network you can gain access to the people, ideas, and resources to achieve your purpose.

What is the role of a network-weaver?

Network-weavers are those who observe the network and identify hotspots where there is potential for collaboration. They tighten, loosen, and introduce new ties as needed.

What are some best practices in network-weaving you’d like to share?

1. Define your goal and know your purpose.
2. Listen first.
3. Give before you get.
4. Think in systems. As you develop your network, existing networks can either be leveraged to your advantage, ignored, or could be a hindrance. Be thoughtful and intentional as you think about how you can acknowledge and harness them – and how you and the players in your network can add value.

What does it mean to live in a “networked world” and where will this concept take us in the future?

As social networking opens up, networks free themselves of time and space. You can be pulled into a conversation regardless of where you are and when. This concept is hugely powerful. Once we’re not forced to interact based on geographic proximity, we can find people and create community based more specifically on our interests and expertise, resulting in lots of highly differentiated communities.

In the future, there will continue to be a tension between wanting to organize your personal system with a variety of general apps you use frequently in one place versus wanting highly differentiated, highly customizable apps. My sense is that networks are the mediating piece between that push and pull – and that an organization engaged in network-building can both be highly differentiated and be part of a go-to system for broadening views, thereby offering a unique added value.

Probably, in the future, social will be considered more of a feature than a platform. Right now you go to specific platforms for social interactions (i.e. facebook or twitter). But more and more social is becoming a feature integrated into different platforms. for instance in sites that are gamified. Social is moving in that direction; that potential is where its value lies.

How is this networked world impacting Jewish education?

We’re experiencing the radical democratization of Jewish education; it’s nothing short of that. It’s potentially the Limmud principle on a grand scale: everyone is a teacher, everyone is a learner, and everyone adds value to the enterprise. That’s hugely powerful and really scary. The age of the sage on the stage is over. David Bryfman speaks about how we can’t look at our learners as empty vessels waiting to be filled, where we’re disseminating info and they’re absorbing it. The digital age has forced us to look at students as capable of contributing and creating.

What’s the difference between a community and a network, or is there one?

I think ‘community’ tends to ring more as a feeling. ‘Network’ can be turned into a verb; ‘community’ can’t.

To what extent do networks break down or create social barriers?

We all have our blinders and can only see so much of the world. That’s why networks, collaboration, and community are so important. When we have trusted collaborators at our side, we get a better understanding of the world and how to change it. Yet inherent to that is the desire to have control over who you’re choosing to be in your network. At the same time, so does everyone else. I think a healthy, high-functioning network will be reflective enough, with enough of a sense of self, to know where it’s lacking and how to reach those new perspectives.

Miriam tweets as @miriamjayne.

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