Friday, March 25

Self Promotion For Introverts

Self promotion seems to be an expectation for the Connectivist learner. Some personalities are far more comfortable with this, so does this mean that the Collective Knowledge is largely moulded by the thoughts of extroverts rather than introverts ? Then again, I believe it is far easier to act outside of a preference within an online medium. It is only our words which come under scrutiny. The rest of 'self' remains untouchable.

Self-Promotion for Introverts: Career advancement tips, quips, and insights for the quieter crowd by Nancy Ancowitz was an interesting read. The article explains introverts:
If a crowded cocktail party feels like a holding cell to you, even as you gamely keep up your end of the chatter, chances are you're an introvert. Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits. Their disposition is frequently misconstrued as shyness, social phobia or even avoidant personality disorder, but many introverts socialize easily; they just strongly prefer not to. In fact, the self-styled introvert can be more empathic and interpersonally connected than his or her outgoing counterparts. The line between introversion and lonely loners gets blurry, however, as some introverts do wish they could break out of their shell.
This aligns with my understanding of introversion as defined by the 'Myers/Briggs Type Identification'. I've happily accepted the introvert tag since my early twenties and it would generally be my preference to work alone on a task. I am energised from within. However, I believe my learning would be seriously compromised if I were to exist entirely within this introverted vacuum. Therefore I need to explore methods whereby I can fuel my spirit by operating within my introverted bubble while simultaneously encouraging myself to seek balance, further enlightenment and redirection when necessary by episodic forays into the world of the extrovert. It's not easy to operate from outside a personal comfort level.
image source:

When writing my post on online resonance I believed resonance was experienced when a connection was made with another who voiced similar thoughts and perspectives or appeared to be motivated by similar quests for enlightenment, perhaps equating with a 'lightbulb' moment. Increasingly I'm discovering it to be more the equivalent of the greeting offered by the Na’vi as depicted in 'Avatar'.  They acknowledge each other with the words  “I see you”, thereby acknowledging the interconnectedness of humans and the world they inhabit. Perhaps the quest of each of us is to simply have others say "I see you" when our paths cross, irrespective of whether we are introverts or extroverts. Perhaps the Na'vi were the original Connectivists.


  1. Nice thoughtful post Susan - I was pontificating the other day about deep learning and how, for me anyway, I'd just have to get away to the library for uninterruped study and let my knowledge grow without networks. Now I'm wondering whether this is a peculiarly introvert trait!

    Yes I'm sure it's a matter of balance and acceptance - can be painful in early years though - particularly if you go to university from a 'boys only' school as I did! And like most things you learn to get over it where it matters - I never imagined I'd travel all over the world giving brilliant lectures to 100s of people at conferences etc. - now I'm even capable of self-promotion !

  2. Hi Susan. Reading from Lave and Wenger (Situated learning: Legitimate periperal participation - 1991) the introduction, p. 15:

    "Learning is a process that takes place in a participation framework, not in an individual mind".

    This seems to be an early utterance of a fundamental connectivist principle. If this statement has any truth, I wonder if it is difficult then for an introvert to learn, and if the world is more welcoming to an extroverted personality?

  3. Lots of food for thought here Ken.

    Firstly, ‘situated learning’ - while I can accept that learning may be facilitated through active participation in a community of practice, apprenticeships or the like, I can’t accept that a myriad of factors would not have an impact on the learning of each individual within that community. Apprenticeships are based on a mentor/novice model which I don’t see as classic COPs although they certainly provide authentic contexts for procedural learning.

    I also wonder if there is a greater possibility of ‘hive think’ in COPs than in a network due to this ‘…….sharing a concern or a passion for something they do, developing a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems…………..” My brother has taken to home schooling with great conviction. His experience of one school has him labelling most teachers as incompetent and schools forsaking their duty of care because kids play outside in the sun. He believes his boys will receive everything they need from his home schooling fraternity. If, according to Connectivist theory ‘Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions’ I doubt whether many COPs would fill the bill. I seem to remember Stephen saying there was less opportunity for hive mentality within a vibrant and diverse network.

    I believe that generalisations compromise balance. Attempting to define humans or abstract concepts such as knowledge, truth, wisdom, beauty is akin to trying to fill a sieve with water. The definitions just keep flowing but the essence is always elusive. And what of ‘self knowledge’ – is that too going to become the domain of the collective we or is the individual going to be allowed to retain ownership. Could the concept of self knowledge be an oxymoron ? Are we too subjective to be able to know ourselves?

    “If a lot of smart people have thought about a problem [e.g., God’s existence, life on other planets] and disagree, then it can’t be decided.” ………Galen

    As to whether it’s more or less difficult for an introvert to learn? There are so many variables which impact on learning other than personality preference, so I’m thinking it would be really difficult to validate either stance. I believe the pre- digital world was to a great extent more comfortable for the extroverted personality. I recall with horror those compulsory speeches in front of one’s peers all through high school and college ! I find the online world is a far less intimidating environment. The asynchronous nature of most interactions suit the introspection so favoured by classic introverts. We can pick and choose our playground. There is no pressure.

  4. Hello Gordon,
    Interestingly, I attended a 'girls only' school and most people who attended teachers college with me were female. Perhaps I've never adjusted!!!! :) :) Could I be Mal Adjusted ?

    I'd best stop her or I might be rapped over the knuckles for meta-discussion. Then again, not a moderator in sight other than myself. Now that is true power !
    Back to the introvert topic - Now I’m sure most would agree that Albert Einstein was a knowledgeable chap and effective learner. He wrote: "My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities ……. I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude…. Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind, of preoccupation with the objective, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific research, life would have seemed to me empty….(The World As I See It)

    There is hope for the rest of us !

  5. Hi Susan. I think CofPs emphasize that the diversity of the members assists greatly in negotiating the joint enterprise - ergo no hive mind but a well-constructed hive due to the diversity of input into its construction. I have a sense that any 'hiveness' in a CofP is more around accountability in the sense of an individual member's responsibility to share, help, and not make anyone's life more difficult in the CofP.

    Another quote from Lave and Wenger (1991, p.115):

    "We have claimed that the development of identity is central to the careers of newcomers in communities of practice, and thus fundamental to the concept of legitimate peripheral participation...In fact, we have argued that, from the perspective we have developed here, learning and sense of identity are inseparable: They are aspects of the same phenomenon."

    I am struck with this link between learning and an (emergent) identity. Sounds to me like complexity/chaos stuff.

  6. Hi Susan! Re introversion - indeed there is hope. I don't really see learning networks as candidates for Nobel prizes. Any sort of original research that's going anywhere requires endless hours of personal study and knowledge growth - fits in more with constuctionist ideas than anything else I think. And, unlike MOOCs, this can be a painful and lonely experience - as many research students find out! GS gives convincing examples of complex problems addressed via networks (eg. building a 'plane) - fine, but a horse of a different color! So I say, let the learner learn to choose the right horse for the course.

    I like, "I believe that generalisations compromise balance." etc but need to think more about that (the sun has gone off to OZ so I'm getting tired!).

    Susan - you seem rather better adjusted than many and therefore fully empowered to revel in meta-discussion, navel gazing or whatever on anyone's blog!


  7. Re "generalisations compromise balance" etc - I'm against trying to pin down these sort of words to the extent that common sense meanings go out the window unless there's a good reason - eg. inventing a new but useful technical sense of a term like 'information' (unit of bits) in Information Theory. Who knows, perhaps the term 'knowledge', in the light of neurological advances, might one day be used in a technical sense (unit of nods, irks even?) as a measure of an organism's mastery of its environment ... would even cater for futuristic networks assuming a life of their own!

    Setting aside the above, self knowledge is a really difficult one - "O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us!" - a Big Question involving philosophical stuff such as 'qualia' - on my todo list!. BTW I found "I Am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter very readable and helpful on this sort of thing.

  8. @Gordon,
    I've found one of the most frustrating components of scholarly writing is the propensity for clouding rather than illuminating many issues, and there are as many 'fors' as there are 'againsts'in most discussions. I've found it best to weigh the bulk of what I read on the scales of personal experience. Now that's one thing I do possess in abundance! I find it's the most valuable evaluative tool I possess in the face of differing perspectives, theories or opinions.
    I too have quests to pursue post CCK11 so I've added "I Am a Strange Loop" to my list. I located an interview with Hofstadter at: which whetted my appetite.
    But the first thing I'm going to do is to escape to a Benedictine abbey at Jamberoo a few hours drive from Sydney for a few days of silence and thinking and to recharge my soul battery. Generally as I sit beneath the gigantic oak tree or deep within the rain forest, hidden truths become apparent. It's never failed yet.

  9. Thanks for the Hofstadter link Susan - interesting! I should read his book again - his thinking on consciousness is fascinating. That gigantic oak tree seems a good idea for knowledge growth - hmm ... I've got a 200yo one in my own garden!

    And now I must tackle my valedictory CCK11 blog post.

  10. Hello Ken,
    Still lots of questions rather than answers, but I guess therein lies the true learning - to always seek further. Have enjoyed being on the periphery of the collective group and engaging with the few rather than the many. Always love 'hearing' your thoughts and perspectives. Give me the individual rather than the collective take any time.
    Stay safe

  11. Gordon - you braggart :) :)