LIS professional community reflections

PLN Adoption: Which stage are you at? #CCK11

PLN Participation Project Update

No. of Tweets        45

No. of Followers Gained        2

No. of People I started following        15

No. of Blogs/Feeds added to Reader       5

Participation in my PLN has been slightly less over the last fortnight, possibly due to #ALIAioc which I was content with just following what was happening. Many thanks to those who were tweeting at the conference. You provided a highly valuable stream of information from which I managed to ‘get the gist’ of the key themes and content that was presented. While I had contributed less to my PLN, I was involved with more conversation over Twitter, and over dinner with a study colleague celebrating our own small version of #ALIAioc. Also, during the last fortnight I noticed I started to tweet more about my job role, as I was writing my first Incite article for the Energise, Enthuse & Inspire column, aiming to provide a very short overview of my working environment in aviation, its challenges and opportunities.

Now, to this post’s topic – Stages of PLN Adoption.

My initial reading for this project uncovered a blog post from “The Thinking Stick”, written by Jeff Utecht, which identified stages of PLN adoption. The model encompasses five stages – Immersion, Evaluation, Know it all, Perspective and Balance. Utecht points out that not everyone will go through each of these stages, and may possibly find themselves at more than one stage, even to varying degrees, according to different interests.

At Immersion, you literally create any network and establish as many connections as possible. At this stage, you’re afraid you might miss something important or an opportunity; you cannot leave your newfound stream of information and ideas. Once immersed, you develop a hunger to learn even more….

My experience: Yes, can totally relate to the stage of immersion. It was me back in July last year when I first started on Twitter. I followed anyone who had a connection to others who were recommended to me, were a leader or influencer in the online LIS community, and who passed on information in the network. I still find myself at this stage, though the urge to increase the number of people I follow has definitely slowed down.

At Evaluation, you start to focus on which networks or people are worthwhile following or aligned with your interests. I guess you tend to target those who are involved in both similar and contrasting stages of career, job roles, areas of expertise and professional interests. A healthy mix I believe is the way to go. At this stage of PLN adoption, you’re more aware of the time you spend connecting with your network, so you choose where to invest your time. But begin to sense there’s a lot you don’t know….

My experience so far: I started to be more selective with who I follow on Twitter and the blogs I read a few months ago. There’s a lot of information to take in and we can’t digest it all and still function! So I’ve identified a few professional interests I wish to read up on, at least for now. No doubt my interests will change, but when they do, I’ll have access to current information.

At “Know it All”, you may feel like you can’t disconnect from your PLN. You’re always “on”. You begin to understand concepts around your chosen interests and realise you don’t know much at all. So you attempt to “know it all”, find you’re spending way too many hours learning as much as possible, aiming to become a bit of an expert.

My experience: I don’t think I’ve reached this stage in its entirety. I do always feel “on” and I’m checking Twitter until after 10.30pm nearly every night because ‘I just can’t put it down’. I still feel I’m far from being highly knowledgeable in any area of LIS, so this takes some of the pressure off. I’ve realised there’s plenty of time to learn and my learning is not limited to my formal studies.

Then at the fourth stage, an event that forces you to leave your network for a time, such as a holiday without internet connection, starts to put your life back into Perspective.

My experience: Yesterday I wrote a post about keeping perspective between work life and the other areas in life which are important to me, such as the simple things. I was able to leave Twitter for a few hours, but what about a whole week when I go away to Fiji in June….??

The final stage, and probably the stage we’ll all struggle with, is ‘Balance’. At this point, you realise you can’t know it all, understand it all, take all of it in and so you rely on your network to bring the most relevant information to you, to learn for you and store knowledge for you. Here, you completely understand that “you’ll learn when you need to learn”.

My experience: I think I already exhibit some of the characteristics of this stage, though only touch it ever so slightly. The previous stages, evaluation and ‘know it all’, have a strong pull whenever I sense this stage.

So which stage are you at with your PLN adoption? Are you similar to me in that you find yourself at different stages to varying extents?

Or have you found your balance?

Further to this model of PLN adoption, I tend to ask myself, at what point can you say that you’ve past a stage? Would you have to find comfort in one stage to sense the pull to the next? This model is definitely worth exploring and developing further and I plan to. Its the only framework I’ve found which I can effectively use to monitor my PLN adoption.

Reference – Utecht, Jeff. 2008. Stages of PLN adoption. The Thinking Stick. URL:

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    1. Hi Jaap
      Thanks for the tip (and thanks for reading my posts!) My posts are related to a couple of projects I have on the go at the moment (as well as random thoughts), so posts not directly related to or focused on #cck11 I haven’t been tagging. But perhaps you’re right about this post though….

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