March 05, 2008
36 Ideas - #3: Shout Out (Twitterpation)
Optional, but Recommended:
Create a small selection of questions that are difficult to answer. The criteria for questions are that the questions should not be easily discoverable on the Internet with a search, but are easily answered if you know the right person. The best questions would fall in the category of "I know what I need to know, but I don't know where to look for it (or I can't ask)." Examples:
- When is the administrative assistant's birthday?
- How can I integrate the del.icio.us player into a Typepad blog?
- What are some examples of really good surveys?
- How do you wire tail lights on a Bronco?
- Where is the best place on the body to get a tattoo?
- What was the name of that font we used in our newsletter ten years ago?
- How do you sync data from the iPhone app to a desktop app?
- School is closed. What time is the PTA meeting?
Introduce the Exercise
As everyone comes into the room, hand them a slip of paper with the instructions: "Please write down a question, not necessarily a reference question, that you consider a 'stumper' or hard to answer." Put all the questions in a box.
Let's Do It
1. We need 2 volunteers from the audience.
2. Thank you for volunteering. Would you please pick two slips of paper from the box. If you know the answer, please put the slip back in the box and choose a different slip.
3. Pick whichever slip you think is the hardest question. Go out into the audience and choose 3 people you will ask the question. Whisper the question to each one of them privately, and have them whisper back to you if they know the answer. Make a note of the answers. If you finish the first question before we call timeout, continue with the second question. When we call TIMEOUT return to the stage.
4. Leader waits a maximum of 5 minutes and calls TIMEOUT.
5. Hang on to the questions you already have. Please choose a new question from the box. Again, this needs to be a question for which you don't know the answer.
6. Would you please read the first question you 'researched' and the answers you received. How confident are you that you now have the right answer? How much time did it take you to get the right answer (or how long do you think it would take to get the right answer using this approach)?
7. Would you please read to the audience the last question you picked?
8. Anyone in the audience who thinks you know the answer please stand up.
Take Home Message(s)
What we hope this will show is the power of "crowdsourcing" for unusual reference questions. It is sometimes more efficient to ask a question simultaneously of a group than to seek out people one-by-one who might know the answer.
Connect the Tech
This is an illustration of what happens when people ask questions on a microblogging forum such as Twitter. Other microblogging forums are Jaiku and Pownce. This is also similar to using the "Questions" application in Facebook. In all these examples, the question goes out to your chosen community, and the answers come from that community, but not necessarily from the individuals you might have thought most likely.
Caveats or Drawbacks to this Exercise
If someone put a really inappropriate or embarassing question in the box, that might be annoying. This wouldn't work with a really small group.
Posted by pfa at March 5, 2008 10:46 AM