Thursday, August 6, 2009

community online?

Community carries for me notions of shared purpose, some reason for relating, some suitable level or frequency of contact. We have work communities, geographical communities,communities of interest, and in this instance a community of learning and possibly also a subgroup- the community of practice.

Online is simply a community- a group- that functions in the ether. (or doesn't as the case might be. I have just spent several minutes trying to establish a hyperlink to a 2007 presentation by Stephen Downes around access to personalised technology with no success at all, so here is the URL and you will have to find it for yourselves. )

There is much discussion (often quite heated) around the use of technology to create or inhibit community and I found Michael Wesch's ethnography of YOU TUBE quite compelling. He uses (as you could expect an academic to do) his discipline to interpret the phenomenon of user driven and generated contirubtion, filtering and editing, distribution control. He points out that a significant portion of the material on You Tube is personal and targeted at a domestic or family audience. Issues of authenticity and identity get posed. I was interested in the "looking glass self" a concept from psychology
being invoked as a way of looking at identity where context that we are used to collapses. I wonder if this both inhibits and encourages a sens of community to those who are comfortable inhabiting the ether.

I guess for me there is an professional imperative to learn to move in this environment as I have to relate at a distance to people I work with and will not meet f2f. chromatic writes in O'Reilly that online communities develop a sense of ownership of their space and develop a shared history and culture. I'm curious to observe this community and myself in it in this regard. (He? also remarks that the first visit needs to be successful to encourage return visits. How many times is the technology not what it promises on a first visit? OH my.)

Stay strong people.


Stephen said...

Kia ora Willie
Thanks for your comments on my blog... I try very to make sure that where-ever I end up working, I keep my independent spirit.

I see some similarities in your definition of community to the one I've just written up. I'm kinda hopeful that what happens online goes beyond people just joining but some real connections (ie trust, friendship, mutual care) occurring. Is this possible?

Heoi ano, na

Sarah Stewart said...

I believe that it is possible to build trust, friendship etc in online communities. Yes...we don't have that F2F non-facial communication to go by, but at the same time, being online can be liberating...break down barriers of appearance, gender, size, ethnicity etc

At the same time, I think we have to treat people online in the same way we would want to be treated.

Willie: love your first rule of facilitation online...making sure that first meeting really grabs people & draws them in.

Adrienne Moyle said...

Hi Willie, Michael Wesch's video interested me too. I have studied anthropology and also media. I think our backgrounds affect how we view communication and the web.

I have been thinking about the intimate/broadcast conundrum too. Personally, I view all internet communication as broadcast because unless it is a closed group, millions of people can view it.

We can say that we are communicating personally, but it is similar to an actor filming an incredibly personal scene on the set of a movie. We can close the set, but ultimately it will be broadcast to a large audience. Is that personal and private? Not really, but it's an illusion of intimacy that is incredibly believable and compelling to watch.

Interesting times.

Cheers, Adrienne.

Stephen said...

Kia ora ano
When I found an article called "Adding connectivity and losing context with ICT: contrasting learning situations from a community of practice point of view", I recalled you comments about context. I 've never come across anyone talking about learning being a socially situated practice. This is something I suspect you know about from a teaching background.

I haven't finished reading the article yet (it is 18 pages long afterall), but both the analysis and description are shedding light on the experience of learners new to online environments.

I thought you might be interested to see it, so can send you a copy. It'd be good to chat further.

Cheers, Stephen

willie campbell said...

I think I might just like that article. give me a fuller refernce and I'll track it down.

Stephen said...

Here's the full reference:
Patricia Arnold and John D. Smith, "Adding Connectivity and Losing Context with ICT: Contrasting Learning Situations from a Community of Practice Perspective" in Marleen Huysman, Etienne Wenger and Volker Wulf (Eds.), Communities and Technologies; Proceedings of the First International Conference on Communities and Technologies; C&T 2003

If you can't locate a copy I've got an electronic version I could email... I'd include the href but I've lost track of this somewhere. My email address is on the contact page of my blog (with gaps, etc).

Cheers, Stephen