Online, we bring safety to the serendipity with our distributed community and communication stack. Chance favors the connected mind. Our learners connect using 1:1 laptops and indie ed-tech. We give our learners real laptops with real capabilities, and we fill those laptops with assistive tech and tools of the trades.
Our multi-age learners join our Systems team, our Editorial team, our Events team, our Design team, our Art team, and so on to help us make the organization. We use the collaboration tools and techniques we helped develop at WordPress.org, WordPress.com, WordCamp.org, and Automattic.com, among the first fully-distributed communities and companies.
- Three Levels: Conversation, Discussion, Publication
- Three Speeds: Realtime, Async, Storage
- Three Spaces: Caves, Campfires, Watering Holes
- Three Sensitivities: Dandelions, Tulips, Orchids
Three Levels: Conversation, Discussion, Publication
An example of the three levels of communication at Automattic
I go about my ways of working on this and having resolved a few different issues along the way through conversation, I am now ready for discussion on my idea. At Automattic we make extensive use of internal sites called P2s which are a way to quickly post an idea internally for people to read and have threaded discussions. So for example I could post all the details I have about my idea so far, and it’s via this I learn about another approach that’s currently taking place by a different team using a service called Sentry.
Three Speeds: Realtime, Async, Storage
This is the speed where you must be there to engage in the conversation. This kind of collaboration happens often in one-to-one discussions, with a lot of messages exchanged in a short amount of time and quick replies. Sometimes this can happen with more than 2 people, but it’s unlikely to reach a large team. For this speed to work well it’s very important to have a good notifications system in place.
This is the speed where you will be there at some point to reply in the conversation. This form of discussion involves small groups of people. Usually, the groups consist of 1- 3 participants but not often more than 10 or conversation becomes very difficult. It is frequently represented by content displayed in an activity flow.
This is the speed where you are not there anymore in the conversation after you wrote it. This is a form of broadcast communication: one person writes, many people listen, often in a long timeframe. It’s often a piece of content that is able to stand on its own, covering a specific topic or subject.The Three Speeds of Collaboration: Tool Selection and Culture Fit · Intense Minimalism
Three Spaces: Caves, Campfires, Watering Holes
Futurist David Thornburg identifies three archetypal learning spaces- the campfire, cave, and watering hole-that schools can use as physical spaces and virtual spaces for student and adult learning,
The cave is a private space where an individual can think, reflect, and transform learning from external knowledge to internal belief. Schools across Australia had both posters and places to encourage this private individual time.Australia’s Campfires, Caves, and Watering Holes: Educators on ISTE’s Australian Study Tour Discovered How to Create New Learning and Teaching Environments where Curriculum and Instructional Tools Meet the Digital Age, UNCG NC DOCKS (North Carolina Digital Online Collection of Knowledge and Scholarship)
In creating such a system, today’s educators go back to the best of our roots in the earliest teachers who understood that learning occurs in many spaces, from caves to campfires to watering holes. The tools we use and the curriculum we learn shift across time.Timeless Learning – How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools
First, and make no mistake here, all three sacred learning spaces will have analogs in cyberspace. If they don’t, then cyberspace will cease to exist as a domain of interaction among humans. Those using the new media will create their own analogs for these learning places, even if they are not designed into the system.Campfires in Cyberspace: Primordial Metaphors for Learning in the 21st Century
Three Sensitivities: Dandelions, Tulips, Orchids
According to empirical studies and recent theories, people differ substantially in their reactivity or sensitivity to environmental influences with some being generally more affected than others. More sensitive individuals have been described as orchids and less-sensitive ones as dandelions.
Although our analysis supports the existence of highly sensitive or responsive individuals (i.e. orchids), the story regarding ‘dandelions’ is more complicated because they can be further divided into two categories. If we consider ‘dandelions’ as the metaphorical example of the low-sensitive group, what plant species best reflects the medium-sensitive group? Sticking to the well-known flower metaphor, we suggest ‘tulips’ as a prototypical example for medium sensitivity. Tulips are very common, but less fragile than orchids while more sensitive to climate than dandelions. In summary, while some people are highly sensitive (i.e. orchids), the majority have a medium sensitivity (i.e. tulips) and a substantial minority are characterised by a particularly low sensitivity (i.e. dandelions).Dandelions, tulips and orchids: evidence for the existence of low-sensitive, medium-sensitive and high-sensitive individuals | Translational Psychiatry
At first glance, this idea, which I’ll call the orchid hypothesis, may seem a simple amendment to the vulnerability hypothesis. It merely adds that environment and experience can steer a person up instead of down. Yet it’s actually a completely new way to think about genetics and human behavior. Risk becomes possibility; vulnerability becomes plasticity and responsiveness. It’s one of those simple ideas with big, spreading implications. Gene variants generally considered misfortunes (poor Jim, he got the “bad” gene) can instead now be understood as highly leveraged evolutionary bets, with both high risks and high potential rewards: gambles that help create a diversified-portfolio approach to survival, with selection favoring parents who happen to invest in both dandelions and orchids.The Science of Success – The Atlantic
For in the story of the figure of speech from which this book draws its enigmatic title-the metaphor of orchid and dandelion-lies a deep and often helpful truth about the origins of affliction and the redemption of individual lives. Most children-in our families, classrooms, or communities-are more or less like dandelions; they prosper and thrive almost anywhere they are planted. Like dandelions, these are the majority of children whose well-being is all but assured by their constitutional hardiness and strength. There are others, however, who, more like orchids, can wither and fade when unattended by caring support, but who-also like orchids-can become creatures of rare beauty, complexity, and elegance when met with compassion and kindness.
While a conventional but arguably deficient wisdom has held that children are either “vulnerable” or “resilient” to the trials that the world presents them, what our research and that of others has increasingly revealed is that the vulnerability/resilience contrast is a false (or at least misleading) dualism. It is a flawed dichotomy that attributes weakness or strength-frailty or vigor-to individual subgroups of youth and obscures a deeper reality that children simply differ, like orchids and dandelions, in their susceptibilities and sensitivities to the conditions of life that surround and sustain them. Most of our children can, like dandelions, thrive in all but the harshest, most bestial circumstances, but a minority of others, like orchids, either blossom beautifully or wane disappointingly, depending upon how we tend and spare and care for them. This is the redemptive secret the story herein reveals: that those orchid children who founder and fail can as easily become those who enliven and thrive in singular ways.The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive
- How we Communicate at Automattic – Quality Thoughts
- The Three Speeds of Collaboration: Tool Selection and Culture Fit · Intense Minimalism
- How Communication Density Fuels Automattic – Data for Breakfast
- The future of remote work is text | TechCrunch
- Distributed Companies: A WordPress.com Team Perspective
- The Difference Between Remote and Distributed – Paolo Belcastro
- Beyond Remote: Harnessing the Full Potential of Distributed Teams – by Paolo Belcastro
- Automattic has figured out the right tools for remote working
- Distributed teams are rewriting the rules of office(less) politics — TechCrunch
- ‘Slack Creep’ Is Real. Here’s How Your Company Can Avoid It
- Automattic’s remote hiring process – Dave Martin’s Blog
- Automattic’s Unorthodox View On Productivity Tracks Output, Not Appearance | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
- Hire by Auditions, Not Resumes
- Hiring the right people has been key to the success of Automattic
- The CEO of Automattic on Holding “Auditions” to Build a Strong Team
- Why Automattic Said No to Silicon Valley – Fortune
- Lean Startup Talk | Matt Mullenweg
- Work With Us — Automattic
The results were remarkable. The employees who had used the tool became 31% more likely to find coworkers with expertise relevant to meeting job goals. Those employees also became 88% more likely to accurately identify who could put them in contact with the right experts. They made these gains by observing what their coworkers talked about on Jive-n and with whom. The group that had no access to the tool showed no improvement on either measure over the same period.What Managers Need to Know About Slack, Yammer, and Chatter
Great things happen when you provide learners open technology and then set them loose to pursue intrinsic motivation. They self-organize, much like the self-organizing teams of companies and open source communities like Automattic and WordPress.
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.Principles behind the Agile Manifesto
Purposefully Designed Online Education
- 🕸 Created Serendipity: Chance Favors the Connected Mind
- ⌨️ Writing Online: A Social Equalizer and a Path to Community and Power
- Written communication is the great social equalizer.
- Writing is the path to power for those born without power.
- The Future Is Text: The Universal Interface
- Text Augments All Other Media
- A Workflow-Focused Approach to Writing Offers a Pathway to Agency, Creativity, and Confidence
- Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.
- Writing Online and Community
- Typed Words, Loud Voices
- Let’s Augment Everybody, Let’s Leave No Mind Behind
- 🔌 Indie Ed-tech: Rewire and Reshape the World
- 👩💻 Teams, Technology, and Help
- 🧺 Main Takeaways
- ⏭ Continue with “☀️💪 Offline: Fresh Air, Daylight, and Large Muscle Movement”
🕸 Created Serendipity: Chance Favors the Connected Mind
Chance favors the connected mind. Opportunities for serendipity increase with bigger, more diverse networks. Build personal learning networks. Expose yourself to new perspectives. Listen in solidarity. Be in the space. When we seek perspectives different than our own, share hunches, and connect ideas, we participate in created serendipity.Created Serendipity: Chance Favors the Connected Mind
You, each of you, have some special wild cards. Play with them. Find out what makes you different and better. Because it is there, if only you can find it. And once you do, you’ll be able to contribute answers to others and others will be willing to contribute back to you. In short, synthetic serendipity doesn’t just happen. By golly, you must create it.Synthetic Serendipity – IEEE Spectrum and Vinge, Vernor (2007-04-03). Rainbows End (p. 52). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.
Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest (p. 10-11). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
We need to become better at being humans. Learning to use symbols and knowledge in new ways, across groups, across cultures, is a powerful, valuable, and very human goal. And it is also one that is obtainable, if we only begin to open our minds to full, complete use of computers to augment our most human of capabilities.Douglas C. Engelbart, Improving our Ability to Improve – 2002 – (AUGMENT,133320,) – Doug Engelbart Institute
Twitter is a way to build a learning network that transcends traditional understandings of knowledge and ideas, of connecting learners and ideas. The democratization of information and knowledge requires our engagement or it will happen without us.
There is now an imperative to contribute, not simply for the sake of it, but because there is an obligation to model digital literacy. And what does this really mean? It means that learners openly and actively engage in the learning process and that leaders lead the way. We live in a post-consumer era: how do we empower our students to thrive here, to contribute and create? If we are not open-minded, literate learners and contributors ourselves, how can we expect our students to be?
The digital landscape is now open. It’s time for our schools to be the same.The Trouble With Twitter in Education – Medium
Yet these seemingly serendipitous events, are also based on our willingness to create connections and be in the space, and to put in the effort in the first place.
I often tell people that if you start connecting with others in online spaces, you won’t just find great ideas, but the great ideas will find you.Created Serendipity – The Principal of Change
This means that if you are a Twitter user with the goal of improving your innovation performance, you need to maintain a diverse network while also developing your information assimilation and exploitation skills.How Twitter Users Can Generate Better Ideas
I am a big believer in “created serendipity“; the more connected you are, the more ideas seem to find you, not the other way around.3 Obvious Ways Twitter Promotes Literacy – The Principal of Change
The gospel of the new economy is the transformative power of a diverse, genuine network.Courtney E. Martin on the Coworking Revolution
⌨️ Writing Online: A Social Equalizer and a Path to Community and Power
Written communication is the great social equalizer.
“Written communication is the great social equalizer.” Bring the backchannel forward. Embrace the equalizer. Backchannels accommodate neurological pluralism while fostering the serendipity of networks. Backchannels are vital parts of the internal networks that allow us to tap into not just “a diversity of voices, but a diversity and divergence of thinking and ideas.” Build such networks in your school with indie ed-tech. Look to distributed work for ways to integrate backchannels into education and workplace cultures.Bring the backchannel forward. Written communication is the great social equalizer.
Writing is the path to power for those born without power.
The Future Is Text: The Universal Interface
Text Augments All Other Media
A Workflow-Focused Approach to Writing Offers a Pathway to Agency, Creativity, and Confidence
Ultimately, we argue that a workflow-focused approach to writing offers a pathway to agency, creativity, and confidence with computing-a spirit that is very much in line with the lineage of digital and multimodal work in composition studies.Writing Workflows | Introduction
I’m learning a lot about myself since my ADHD and autism diagnoses. One of the things I’m learning is that a lot of my ways of working are actually disability hacks: as it turns out a LOT of my people are very visual and a LOT of my people have poor working memory. Instead of trying to change myself to fit the ways of working I think I should have, because other people, I should maybe instead celebrate that I have, by trial and error and very little help or encouragement from anyone, kluged my way into some best practices for my particular career and set of challenges. I should congratulate myself on the self-knowledge that got me to a place that I’ve devised a whole workflow that minimizes the disabling effects of my particular forms of neurodivergence and allows me to shine. (para. 5)Writing Workflows | Introduction
Morrison’s post suggests that workflows can be an inclusive and productive concept-that we have much to gain by considering how we work, what tools we work with, and how those preferences can help us think beyond a set of default, invisible, or unstated norms.Writing Workflows | Introduction
Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.
Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.Crip Linguistics Intro
If you are a dyslexic person or the parent of a dyslexic child, I recommend that you allow technology to become your new best friend.The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan
Writing Online and Community
Writing Online and Community
The majority of participants from Shpigelman and Gill’s (2014) study also reported finding it easier to make new friends by Internet and being more comfortable communicating online than face to face. Furthermore, adults with ID say that the Internet provides them with a (cyber)space where they can escape their parents’ or caseworkers’ control and be more self-determined.
Internet access has opened a wide window of opportunity for people with ID and ASD, but more education and support is needed to ensure safe and positive Internet use by this population.
ANI launched its online list, ANI-L, in 1994. Like a specialized ecological niche, ANI-L had acted as an incubator for Autistic culture, accelerating its evolution. In 1996, a computer programmer in the Netherlands named Martijn Dekker set up a list called Independent Living on the Autism Spectrum, or InLv. People with dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, and a myriad of other conditions (christened “cousins” in the early days of ANI) were also welcome to join the list. InLv was another nutrient-rich tide pool that accelerated the evolution of autistic culture. The collective ethos of InLv, said writer and list member Harvey Blume in the New York Times in 1997, was “neurological pluralism.” He was the first mainstream journalist to pick up on the significance of online communities for people with neurological differences. “The impact of the Internet on autistics,” Blume predicted, “may one day be compared in magnitude to the spread of sign language among the deaf.”The neurodiversity movement: Autism is a minority group. NeuroTribes excerpt.
The revenge of the nerds was taking shape as a society in which anyone who had access to a computer and a modem could feel less disabled by the limitations of space and time.NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
One day someone will write a history of the Internet, in which that great series of tubes will emerge as one long chain of inventions not just geared to helping people connect in more ways, but rather, to help more and more types of people communicate just as nimbly as anyone else. But for the story here, the most crucial piece in the puzzle is this: Disability is an engine of innovation simply because no matter what their limitations, humans have such a relentless drive to communicate that they’ll invent new ways to do so, in spite of everything.Microsoft’s Radical Bet On A New Type Of Design Thinking: By studying underserved communities, the tech giant hopes to improve the user experience for everyone.
Until one day… you find a whole world of people who understand.
The internet has allowed autistic people- who might be shut in their homes, unable to speak aloud, or unable to travel independently- to mingle with each other, share experiences, and talk about our lives to people who feel the same way.
We were no longer alone.7 Cool Aspects of Autistic Culture » NeuroClastic
Typed Words, Loud Voices
Another way that typing has helped me is with my blog. I am able to say things, especially about my feelings that I cannot get out through my mouth. Sometimes, it can take weeks to get it out even by typing, but it does come. If I was trying to speak, it would never come out. I have noticed that when I am upset about something, if I blog about it as soon as possible, I am able to get my real feelings and frustrations out. This is a new and helpful thing. It is helping me to become a better advocate for others and myself. The words are starting to come out through the keyboard, but it has to be done as soon as possible, otherwise the words disappear. I also have to be careful because certain people may read what I write and get worried (this has happened even though there is no reason to be). I am tempted to start another blog but keep it anonymous so that I can say whatever I need to say. It would be interesting to see what would happen if I had that freedom. Something I have definitely never had with the spoken word.
I type to talk. Without typing I have no voice to tell you I am smart. I spell my thoughts because I cannot speak with my mouth. Thoughts remain imprisoned in my mind escaping only through my finger on a letterboard or keyboard. I tell of my experiences of being autistic in my writing and blog. Without typing I am misunderstood as retarded and unteachable. You cannot tell from my exterior that I am following everything you say. Understanding comes easy to me.
Fingers are better communicators. They’re just harder to be listened to if you’re in the same location. Sometimes this isn’t used because speech is so much faster, but the fingers give so much more detail, phrase in so much more depth, get tied up so much less. Fingers don’t get lost in their own sentences.
Even those who can always make words with their mouths often find typing a more eloquent and less stressful means of communicating than speech. No one should feel that they have to prove they are “disabled enough” to deserve the supports that will make their lives easier, happier, and more productive. Increasing my ability to communicate with others has filled me with so much hope and joy. I want everyone to feel that way. I want everyone to be heard. Typed voices are a celebration of communication and connection. Listen to them and rejoice. The clicking of the keyboard is the song of life unfolding.Typed Words, Loud Voices: A Collection – Autonomous Press
Let’s Augment Everybody, Let’s Leave No Mind Behind
Using hyperlinking and contextual computing, we take the written word (and the underlying paradigm about how we work on a computer) from one dimension and convert it to three dimensions.
It is the way for computers to truly serve the role as “bicycles for the mind“.The Growing Movement for Hyperlinking and Contextual Computing
My hope for the Future Of Text is that, as in the past, it will adapt to us as we adapt to it. That it will bring the body—of writer and reader—back into view in all its difference and complexity.Embodying Text, The Future of Text
Let’s augment everybody, let’s leave no mind behind.The Future of Text
🔌 Indie Ed-tech: Rewire and Reshape the World
A Domain of Their Own: The Web We Need To Give Students
“Indie ed-tech” offers a model whereby students, faculty, staff, and independent scholars alike can use the “real-world” tools of the Web — not simply those built for and sanctioned by and then siloed off by schools or departments — through initiatives like Davidson Domains, enabling them to be part of online communities of scholars, artists, scientists, citizens.‘I Love My Label’: Resisting the Pre-Packaged Sound in Ed-Tech
Giving students their own digital domain is a radical act. It gives them the ability to work on the Web and with the Web, to have their scholarship be meaningful and accessible by others. It allows them to demonstrate their learning to others beyond the classroom walls. To own one’s domain gives students an understanding of how Web technologies work. It puts them in a much better position to control their work, their data, their identity online.
And then — contrary to what happens at most schools, where a student’s work exists only inside a learning management system and cannot be accessed once the semester is over — the domain and all its content are the student’s to take with them. It is, after all, their education, their intellectual development, their work.The Web We Need To Give Students
Suppose that when students matriculate, they are assigned their own web servers…
As part of the first-year orientation, each student would pick a domain name. Over the course of the first year, in a set of lab seminars facilitated by instructional technologists, librarians, and faculty advisors from across the curriculum, students would build out their digital presences in an environment made of the medium of the web itself.
In building that personal cyberinfrastructure, students not only would acquire crucial technical skills for their digital lives but also would engage in work that provides richly teachable moments ranging from multimodal writing to information science, knowledge management, bibliographic instruction, and social networking. Fascinating and important innovations would emerge as students are able to shape their own cognition, learning, expression, and reflection in a digital age, in a digital medium. Students would frame, curate, share, and direct their own “engagement streams” throughout the learning environment. Like Doug Engelbart’s bootstrappers in the Augmentation Research Center, these students would study the design and function of their digital environments, share their findings, and develop the tools for even richer and more effective metacognition, all within a medium that provides the most flexible and extensible environment for creativity and expression that human beings have ever built.A Personal Cyberinfrastructure | EDUCAUSE
No Student Will Have Mechanical Limitations in Access to Either Information or Communication
No student will have mechanical limitations in access to either information or communication — whether through disability, inability at this moment, or even just discomfort. Learning is our goal, and we make it accessible.
We hand our students real laptops with real capabilities, and we fill them with software, apps, and bookmarks.
We want our children to discover how to choose effectively for their own needs. To do that, they need choices, and so we believe in Toolbelt Theory.The Basics of Open Technology
laptops in the classroom represent the first real chance at Universal Design for Learning – the first real chance to allow every student to choose the media format most appropriate for their own needs – the first real chance for students who are different to be accommodated without labelsSpeEdChange: Humiliation and the Modern Professor
Punk DIY: Students should have the freedom to explore and experiment with their school-issued devices.
“Indie ed-tech” draws rather explicitly on the spirit of indie music and the DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos of punk rock.‘I Love My Label’: Resisting the Pre-Packaged Sound in Ed-Tech
👩💻 Teams, Technology, and Help
Successful human beings, whether they have learning differences or not, mitigate weakness through teams, technology, and help, and they build a life around strengths, gifts, talents, and interests.
What we know about successful human beings is they take an interest and they make it a passion and they take the passion and they make it a sense of purpose and they take the sense of purpose and they build a pathway.Lab School Lecture Series
The most successful human beings aren’t good at everything, they’re good at one or two things and they scale those strengths. How do they mitigate those weaknesses? They mitigate those weaknesses the way we all do, with teams, technology, and support.The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed
🧺 Main Takeaways
- Online, we bring safety to the serendipity with our distributed community and communication stack.
- Our learners connect using 1:1 laptops and indie ed-tech.
- We give our learners real laptops with real capabilities, and we fill those laptops with assistive tech and tools of the trades.
- Design online education spaces that are accessible, sustainable, and representative of the communities they serve.
- Chance favors the connected mind.
- Opportunities for serendipity increase with bigger, more diverse networks.
- You, each of you, have some special wild cards. Play with them. Find out what makes you different and better.
- When we seek perspectives different than our own, share hunches, and connect ideas, we participate in created serendipity.
- If we don’t support young people in building out a strategically rich graph, they will reinforce the worst segments of our society
- Created serendipity doesn’t just happen. You must create it.
- Written communication is the great social equalizer.
- Backchannels accommodate neurological pluralism while fostering the serendipity of networks.
- Writing is the path to power for those born without power.
- Text and reading have never been as pervasive and central as today.
- Text augments all other media.
- A workflow-focused approach to writing offers a pathway to agency, creativity, and confidence with computing.
- Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.
- Internet access has opened a wide window of opportunity for people with ID and ASD.
- The internet has allowed autistic people- who might be shut in their homes, unable to speak aloud, or unable to travel independently- to mingle with each other, share experiences, and talk about our lives to people who feel the same way.
- Let’s augment everybody, let’s leave no mind behind.
- “Indie ed-tech” offers a model whereby students, faculty, staff, and independent scholars alike can use the “real-world” tools of the Web.
- Giving students their own digital domain is a radical act. It gives them the ability to work on the Web and with the Web, to have their scholarship be meaningful and accessible by others.
- No student will have mechanical limitations in access to either information or communication — whether through disability, inability at this moment, or even just discomfort. Learning is our goal, and we make it accessible.
- Laptops in the classroom represent the first real chance at Universal Design for Learning.
- “Indie ed-tech” draws rather explicitly on the spirit of indie music and the DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos of punk rock.
- Students should have the freedom to explore and experiment with their school-issued devices.
- Successful human beings, whether they have learning differences or not, mitigate weakness through teams, technology, and help, and they build a life around strengths, gifts, talents, and interests.
- What we know about successful human beings is they take an interest and they make it a passion and they take the passion and they make it a sense of purpose and they take the sense of purpose and they build a pathway.
- There is also something uniquely satisfying about working with other people effectively, towards a shared goal; in my experience there is no substitute when it comes to building a community.