Definition: Being concrete about what you’d like to do, learn, and achieve, takes you from thinking about a topic to becoming a practitioner.
Problem: It’s easy to think about issues that matter: there are many of them. The problem is figuring out what you’re going to do about it.
Solution: Specificity is relatively important in order for things to happen. Values — and even metrics — tend to be less concretely meaningful than acts. At the same time, while actions speak louder than words, it’s important to act in a coherent way if you want to be understood by others.
Example: In the January, 2013, plenary session, Independent Publishers of New England (IPNE) President Tordis Isselhardt quietly listened to a presentation about how we created the Peeragogy Handbook. During the Q&A, she spoke up, wondering if peer-learning effort in IPNE might be more likely to succeed if the organization’s members “focused around a specific project.” As this lightbulb illuminated the room, those of us attending the plenary session suggested that IPNE could focus the project by creating an “Independent Publishing Handbook.” (Applause!) In the course of creating the IPNE Handbook, peer learners would assemble resource repositories, exchange expertise, and collaboratively edit documents. To provide motivation and incentive to participate in “PeerPubU”, members of the association will earn authorship credit for contributing articles, editor credit for working on the manuscript, and can spin off their own chapters as stand-alone, profit-making publications.
Challenges: As often happens, you may realize that your specific goal is great, as a goal, but too large to tackle directly. It this case, you may have to find a smaller piece of the project to focus on. There will, eventually, be the problem of putting together the little pieces in a coherent way.
What’s Next: In the third year of the Peeragogy project, rather than just keep working on the handbook, we’ve been working on building a Peeragogy Accelerator, as a peer support system for projects related to peer learning and peer production. Not only does specificity help member projects, being clear about what the Accelerator itself is supposed to do will help people get involved.
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