Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WE are Smarter than ME

Brian Eno is credited with inventing the term 'Scenius', as a tool to describe 'group genius' that tends to erupt serendipidously. Specifically, he's reported to have said "Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius."

This definition fits with the collaborative intelligence I've experienced for the past few years. Through a conscious effort to harness social media for personal and professional learning, I've confirmed that WE are smarter than ME.

Innovation, whether in the education sector, or otherwise, comes when individuals give themselves permission to think creatively, and to share their ideas, inferences, and insights with the crowd. As a result, similar but coincidental "A-ha!" experiences will sometimes take place completely independent of one another.

Kevin Kelly, writing on The Technium, offers four characteristics of Scenius, each of which is characteristic of the Personal/Professional Learning Networks being cultivated by more and more connected teacher-learners:

Mutual appreciation - When educators suggest they're going to try something unique, they get affirmation from members of their PLN. (E.g., A user tweets about hosting a Skype conference. Others affirm the idea; suggest guest speakers; and later, offer congratulations on the initiative's success.)

Rapid exchange of tools and techniques -- When interesting discoveries are made online, they rapidly fire through the retweet circuit until connected learners have been brought into the loop. (E.g., From node to node, and network to network, a presenter's slidedeck; resources page; or recorded presentation, are shared on Twitter via hyperlink)

Network effects of success - When innovative practices emerge, loosely connected participants, and random observers alike, readily acknowledge and celebrate the success. (E.g., Local and distant micro-bloggers use common hashtags to raise the profile of an Educon learning experience.)

Local tolerance for the novelties -- Creative thinkers who challenge the status quo, are often respected in networked learning environments. (E.g., A dissenting view is shared on a blog post. Although discussion participants may disagree with one another, the post can be recognized and valued for inspiring thoughtful debate.)

The expertise of my co-learners seems to me, to be exponentially more powerful when hyperlinked together. Whether or not we call it 'scenius', there's little doubt it's changing the way I consume, communicate, and create. Have you noticed your network having similar effects on your learning?

Next step: Find out more about the 'hive mind' in Kevin Kelly's latest book, Out of Control.
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Audrey
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