Monday, March 21, 2016

Net-Casting. Complex Problems. Connecting Ideas.

I share ideas on my blogs and web sites intended to be used by many from Chicago and around the world to develop systems of support that help kids living in high poverty areas of big cities move more safely through school and into adult jobs and careers. Reaching people with these ideas and drawing them into conversation, and agreement is a huge challenge.

Last week on a Facebook conversation I found some people who understood this complexity and were sharing their own visualized understanding.  In this blog I'm recreating some of that idea-sharing. When I saw the graphic above, I started following the conversation.

During my Making Learning Connected networking over the past year I've been encouraged to annotate visualizations with my own thinking.  So the graphic below shows my first response to the Facebook conversation. To this I've highlighted the thoughts going through my mind as I was adding my comment, using Power Point to add call-outs..

Further on in the Facebook conversation, Neil Davidson, from Australia started to post some ideas.  His first visualization and his comment is shown below.

I read this and saw some thinking that resonated with my own work. Neil responded with additional graphics to which I responded with additional visualizations. This went on for a while.  Below I'll show a couple of Neil's graphics and comments, with my own annotated responses.  Below you'll see what was going through my mind when I read this first visualization shared by Neil.

Later in the conversation Neil posted this graphic, with the explanation shown.

To this I added my own ideas which you can see below.

Neil responded with this graphic and another explanation.

In his comments, Neil wrote, “Finding alternative pathways is as easy (or hard) as identifying who is NOT already there, inviting them in,” which I highlighted on the annotated version below.  I emphasized the use of data visualization to better understand 1) What's the talent needed? 2) Who is participating? 3) What geographic region(s) is represented?  Just by looking at a crowd you don't automatically know this, nor can you share your understanding very easily with others.

Neil then posted another visualization. In my annotated version, shown below, I highlighted that he wrote "One of the big challenges (and it comes back to the original diagram) is that most people are so ingrained in the current paradigm--that largely is NOT working--that they cannot, or choose not, to see/hear what is being said at a deeper/more complex level of thinking."


I think this is one of the huge challenges we face. Large number of US businesses and citizens are already deeply involved with youth serving organizations, in many ways.

We chatted for a while outside of the original Facebook group and talked about how our daily interactions on social media, such as this blog, are a form of "net-casting", in which we're not only sharing ideas, but are looking for others who might support our own efforts to help create a brighter future.  Rather than post all of the graphics in this blog, I created this PDF, and posted it in the presentation shown below.

What does this have to do with urban youth and volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs?

For 20 years I've been leading an effort to increase the number of people who build a deeper understanding of where and why volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are most needed, and of actions business, faith groups, colleges, politicians and others can take to pro-actively support the on-going operations and constant improvement of programs in different zip codes of Chicago and other cities. 

My conversation with Neil re-enforces how difficult it is to motivate people to look beyond what they are already doing, to what they could also be doing, or should be doing if the end result is that kids born or living in high poverty neighborhoods today are starting jobs and building careers beyond poverty when they are in their mid 20s.

Furthermore, there are many others in Chicago who have created their own networks focused on the well-being of young people. This concept map identifies many, and points to their web sites.  Look at these web sites. Do a Google search for each, then look at the images feature. This shows how they communicate ideas via their own web sites. Few are doing so with maps and visualizations they way I do, but most have much larger networks of support than I currently have. 

I'm not looking to dominate, or replace any of these Chicago networks. I'm trying to be part of their conversation, in a way that does not simply give away all of the ideas I've generated over the past 40 years, but that generates some revenue that enables me to continue to create and share articles like this.

At the same time I'm trying to be part of conversations with people in other cities of the US and the world, who face the same challenges of concentrated poverty and where the ideas and strategies I share, and the people I connect to each other, might be "new ideas" that they'd want to embrace. 

My conversation with Neil reinforced that there are so few people thinking and visualizing ideas like I do in any city, that we need to cast our net to other cities, and other countries, to find others who do similar work and focus on the same issues. 

Anyone can join the on-line discussions I'm part of, or start their own and invite myself and others to participate. Anyone can create their own visual understanding of issues and ideas and share them, just as I am, on their own blog or web site.

Through our network maps, like this, we should be able to show that  a growing number of people in many cities are connecting and sharing ideas, partly as a result of my own "net casting" and "idea sharing" and participation in MOOCs and on-line communities where others share similar thinking. 

As more do that, I believe will create a broader distribution of birth-to-work programs in all of the neighborhoods where the data shows they are most needed.

1 comment:


Powerful, deep and worth a deeper dive.