as ye sow… towards a reciprocal economy


as ye sow, originally uploaded by Shira Golding.
I have about five blog posts of my own stacked up in my mental queue, but I can’t resist pointing at Martin Weller’s latest. I really admire Martin’s gift for expressing complex and important observations in simple, often elegant terms:
I have come to believe that your personal learning network (it probably doesn’t need the ‘learning’, it’s just your personal network) is increasingly the most valuable asset you will have. And that’s valuable as in ‘adds value to your life’, not economic value. It will help you with work, socialising, personal life, interests, hobbies, entertainment.

To deploy probably the most over-used analogy around, it’s like a garden – you’ve got to sow, tend and weed it to get value from it. But it’s more of a country garden, a bit organic and unplanned rather than the highly structured garden. It takes time and effort and you have to give something of yourself to it.

Think about how your PLN is constructed. It probably centres around twitter, a blog, your blog reader, delicious, Flickr, a few wikis, and maybe some other tools where you follow people (eg Slideshare). There will be different types of reciprocity in this, for example most of the people whose blogs I read also read mine.  Similarly in twitter, I tend to follow people if they follow me. This is fairly standard reciprocity – do unto others as they do unto you.

But can we extend the notion of reciprocity? Continuing with the examples of blogs and twitter, I will give you my continued readership if you give me interesting and regular updates. We can then build on this notion of reciprocal, but not identical, activity for more subtle interactions, let’s call it shifted reciprocity. I can put out a lazyweb request on Twitter if I have either responded previously to such requests (standard reciprocity) OR I have given enough of myself to twitter, such that people feel well disposed towards me (shifted reciprocity)
There’s more… I’d love it if the concept of reciprocal economy took off. The notion of “attention economy” has always struck me as both crass and unfounded.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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