(Migrated weblog post from LSR)
While I was writing the previous weblog post on Wanting to Manage Tacit Knowledge? I popped over to Shawn’s weblog to check out if the links would still be active or not and right there I bumped into the following weblog entry: The role of instant messaging in communities of practice and I just couldn’t help thinking about it while I was finishing writing the previous post.
In principle, I completely agree that presence awareness using Instant Messaging can certainly be a great enabler to keep the community activities going by allowing people to see who else is also online while they are interacting in the community space. It would certainly help increase and boost that sense of belonging to the group. However, and while thinking about that, why just restrict it to Instant Messaging alone and that so called presence awareness? Why not add on top of that some location awareness. I would think that it would also be very beneficial to not only know if the community members are online or not but also where they are.
This can certainly help people understand better why another community member may not be able to reply to IM messages, or why he / she may be temporarily away and unavailable, or while travelling where exactly they are so that they do not get interrupted in the middle of the night. This location awareness certainly will help the community building aspects of knowing where people are and in most cases it will certainly help improve the camaraderie with different community members since it would help them meet up physically if they would be located in the same location, wherever that may be, in order to talk face to face.
And lucky enough for us there are options and different tools out there that could contribute in providing to the community that location awareness aspect, as well as the presence awareness one through IM. Cases like Plazes and Meetro are good examples for that kind of functionality. I am personally using both and I find it quite important and enlightening to be able to see if my colleagues are online or not and if they are, where they are. After all, it is all down to make you feel as if you are talking to and interacting with them face to face, wherever that may be. And we all know how powerful that can be.