About Me – #rhizo15 Introduction

“Rhizomatic learning posits a learning experience where the curriculum of the course is the people that are in it.”

I’m diving into #rhizo15 yearning for the types of online people connections I experienced way back in the day. Before Twitter. Before Facebook. Back in the day when “social networking” meant commenting on others’ blogs and combing through others’ Bloglines subscriptions to explore who was connecting with who.


At the heart of those early days were a troop of folks doing some Worldbridges thing that included EdTechTalk and a bunch of other webcasts/shows/communities. Three people in particular –  Dave Cormier, Jeff LebowJennifer Maddrell – were the super nodes of the online educational technology community from my side of the screen back in the early – mid 2000’s. These online relationships resulted hundreds of “in real life” sorts of connections and thousands of other online connections that I truly cherish today. (Ironically, I have yet to meet Dave, Jeff, or Jennifer in this real world place. Someday.)

World of Warcraft

In 2006 I picked up a nasty World of Warcraft habit. It was all of those things about online community, learning, and connections that I was passionate about. 10x more powerful. To this day I hold that experience way above and beyond anything I’ve seen since. One of my biggest fears is that I’ll never experience that sense of online community again.

Night Elf Rogue


As I peeled myself out of WoW, I found elements of the online people connection piece in a little thing called Twitter. Somewhere on my resume it should say, “Patient Zero on Twitter in EdTech.” Not because of any value I provided. Quite the opposite. I reached back to those I knew in EdTech as a result of EdTechTalk and pushed Twitter on them. They pushed it on their friends, who then pushed it on their friends. Stupid algorithms always connected back to me, making me out to be somebody far more important than I ever should have been. :)


For me, “peak Twitter” happened in late 2010. A friend and I, interested mostly in how to game the attention of people and companies on Twitter, entered an online contest sponsored by Mercedes-Benz to win cars. Cars for our wives. It was an Amazing Race sort of contest that involved collecting the most Twitter hashtags mentions for our team as we drove across the United States doing stupid challenges. A few weeks prior to the contest, Twitter changed how retweets worked. Understanding “old-style” retweets, combined with a nice insta-community of edtech geeks, helped us stomp out the three other teams and win cars. Cars for our wives.


Few know what I actually do for a living, my wife – and somedays myself – are included in this list. Back in the early days of the Internet, big research universities had to find their own ways of building and operating big networks that would connect them to the world. These big networks interconnect and create what we know as the Internet.

Today, a handful of big telephone and cable monopolies control these interconnection points, reaping huge profits. Interestingly, there are still folks out there building and improving this “Internet” thing for the right reasons. Want to know more? Ask. It’s amazing.


All that leads me to today. I’m looking for community. People want to feel connected. I’ve played out all of the easy ways in which people connect. I’m looking for something different. Deeper. I hope folks like Cormier and you might help get me (us) closer to that.

















Train me.

Apple has rolled millions of iPads and iPhones out the door…all without “training” for their users.  Think before you schedule that next PD in your school district.

We’ve done the same thing to our teachers that we’re doing to our kids, namely conditioned them to wait for direction on what to learn, how to learn it, and how to show they’ve learned it.

via Weblogg-ed » Nervous Writing / Well-Trained Teachers.

Godin Meets Cluetrain, Remixed

The system we grew up with is a mess. It’s falling apart at the seams and a lot of people I care about are in pain because the things we thought would work, don’t. Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. They have become victims, pawns in a senseless system that uses them up and undervalues them. Scared.

It’s about a choice and it’s about our lives. This choice shouldn’t require us to quit our jobs, though it challenges us to rethink how we do our job.

It’s time to stop settling for what’s good enough and start creating something that matters. Stop asking what’s in it for us and start doing things that change people and organizations. Then, and only then, will we have achieved our potential.

For hundreds of years, we have been seduced, scammed and brainwashed into fitting in, following instructions and exchanging a day’s work for a day’s pay. That era has come to an end, and just in time.

We have brilliance in us, our contribution is valuable, and what we create is important. Only we can do it, and we must. I’m hoping we not only chose to stand up, but also choose to make a difference.

A powerful conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, organizations are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.

These organizations are conversations. Their people communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

Most organizations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and set of talking points. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder people have little respect for organizations unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will organizations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to users.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.

While many such people already work for organizations today, most organizations ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happytalk that insults the intelligence of people literally too smart to buy it.

However, people are getting hyperlinked even as markets are. Organizations need to listen carefully to both. Mostly, they need to get out of the way so networked people can converse directly with networked organizations.

Corporate firewalls have kept smart people in and smart organizations out. It’s going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation our organization has ever engaged in.


Today I quit my job and start anew.

To the long time followers of the @ijohnpederson Home Game, no. This isn’t 2005 all over again. It’s both better and worse.

I’ll be leaving WiscNet effective today and immediately begin working for WiscNet. That’s right. Both my acceptance letter and my resignation letter are printed on the same 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. Opposite sides.

This isn’t a promotion, either.

I came to WiscNet in May 2008 to help bridge the gap(s) that exist between schools, libraries, technical colleges, universities, and others in the world of public service. WiscNet’s tagline, “Connecting People, Connecting Strategies”, continues to be a natural fit for where I want my life’s work to be headed. In June 2011, however, things turned. Wisconsinites, especially educators, can relate when I simply reference “Act 10”. We had our own little version, “Act 32”. What’s left of the telephone companies here in Wisconsin went after our partners at the University of Wisconsin, attempting to prevent them from working with WiscNet. No more relationship between the university and others when it comes to research and education cooperatives in Wisconsin.

We fought like hell in 2011. We did everything we possibly could over the past 24 months to sort this out and find alternatives. We went up against AT&T in a competitive bidding process to provide the University of Wisconsin research and education networking services, came in far cheaper, and won their business. A few weeks later that offer was rescinded as politics trumped 25 years of cooperation here in Wisconsin. Neither politics nor corporatism is completely to blame, in the end they were just part of the game.

Bottom line, people are scared.

In 2011 I watched it as educators fought Act 10 in massive protests here in Wisconsin. Over the past year I watched this fear sweep across my colleagues in higher education. The same fear has had me crippled over the past 6 months as to whether I’d chose to work at the university or continue working for WiscNet. Last week, I figured I needed to make a decision and run with it. No regrets. Julia Fallon asked if I was Leeroy Jenkins‘ing my career. Who knows. The only thing I do know is I don’t have that scared feeling anymore.

Let’s do this.

Maggie’s Farm

Maggie’s Farm

I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.
No, I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
Well, I wake up in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain.
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin’ me insane
It’s a shame
the way she makes me
scrub the floor
I ain’t gonna work on, nah
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s brother no more
nah, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s brother no more
Well, he hands you a nickel
And he hands you a dime
And he asks you with a grin
If you’re havin’ a good time
Then he fines you every time you slam the door
I ain’t gonna work for, nah
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s brother no more

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
Well, he puts his cigar
Out in your face just for kicks
His bedroom window
It is made out of bricks
The National Guard stands around his door
I ain’t gonna work, nah
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more
Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law
And everybody says
Shes the brains behind pa
Shes sixty-eight, but she says shes twenty-four
I ain’t gonna work for, nah
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more

I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
No, I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
Well I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
They sing while they slave and just get bored
I ain’t gonna work on, nah
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more

Connection and Vulnerability

I learned very early on that it’s less about the “resources” and more about the people connections. I “curate” people that are interesting to me and my learning.  Personal connection.  This is (Pederson, 2005) sort of stuff.

In recent months, I’ve been watching for vulnerability.  Not the creepy kind of vulnerability that comes to mind for most when trying to understand online relationships.  It’s a Brene Brown flavor of vulnerability.

Twitter has been very, very good to me. It’s taken me 6+ years and 20,000+ to put my finger on what makes it work.  Why am I more attracted to some folks on not others?

Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.

— Brenne Brown

If Step #1 is “Make personal connection. (Pederson, 2005)”, Step #2 is “Make yourself vulnerable. (Pederson, 2013).”  Vulnerability where the joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love is born in this online, connected word.

Watch this Amanda Palmer “The Art of Asking” TED Talk.

The Art of Asking

The Answers

The answers are getting harder and harder And there ain’t no way to bargain or barter But if you’ve got the angst or the ardor You might faint from the fight but you’re gonna find it For every challenge could have paradise behind it And if you accept what you have lost and you stand tall You might just get it back and you can get it all So now you know why it’s a long way to fall Yeah cause it’s a long way to fall.

— Blues Traveler