Darned if I remember how I first heard about Daniel Johnson Jr.’s New Media Cincinnati group. But I’m very glad I did.
New Media Cincinnati is a group of Social Media enthusiasts who meet informally on the second Saturday of each month. Here the bloggers, designers, photographers, videographers, podcasters all emerge from their dens of technology to confab and connect with each other. This is not where I first learned about Twitter – but this is where I learned how best to use it. And groups like this have sprung up in areas around the country – fellow technology enthusiasts gathering to show off the new Droid or discuss the FTC blogging rules or the latest and greatest SEO tool.
New Media Cincinnati is not unique – in fact, in Cincinnati alone I know of at least three groups who meet monthly for the same general purpose. But it struck me this week that they function as an amazingly effective personal learning network (PLN) filled with answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask. Intellectually processing new information which may or may not have current application in your life or business – but which you know will surely come in to play at some point – is part of the breathless pace of technology inserting itself into our work and our lives. At these meetings there are no Power Point presentations, no white boards, no handouts. Groups of people ordering food, milling about, light agendas, getting excited about the latest twist or newest take on something. Barely containing themselves from sharing and becoming a part of the live U-Stream and permanent archive. When we look at learning from this angle it is highly charged, deeply and intricately entwined with our passion to create or innovate – not hampered by the constraints of formal software. It is a living breathing pulsating architecture logically and conceptually organized only by leaping trains of thought. You can almost hear the wheels a churning. This living, breathing PLN meets elsewhere too – on each other’s blogs and on Twitter and, most recently, on Google Wave where we are learning the basics and exploring possibilities.
Where best to find a PLN in your area? Again, I wish I could remember how I stumbled across this group last year. I think it may have been through LinkedIn and that would probably be the best place to find one near you. If you want to leap onto the technology bandwagon you couldn’t find a faster and more pleasant way to get up to speed than by joining a group with the focus of exploring new media.