Friday, August 22, 2008

Intimate Community

Valerie at posterous writes,
. . .the density of conversation falls off very fast as the system scales even a little bit. You have to have some way to let users hang onto the less is more pattern, in order to keep associated with one another. (end quote)
(How do I turn off italics? I tried ending the quote and of course using the italic toggle.)
In this quote, Valerie assumes community (or "group" in her usage) includes close relationships between members (in my last post I refer to this as "intimate" community). Most others in this class describe community as much more loosely woven. For them, scale is irrelevant and there is little mention of communication among more than a few members. We need to develop a vocabulary that distinguishes between varieties of community because I think all of them fall within the meaning of community in this course.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How Much Intimacy in Community?

What can we learn about online community from looking more closely at face-to-face (f2f) communities? Let's examine how communities vary in their amount of cohesion or intimacy.

  1. In intimate communities, everyone knows everyone else. E.g., my friend had several close friends. We were compatible when she brought us together but we did not have a relationship with each other; our relationship was only through her. She wasn't satisfied. Now she has attracted a group of women who know and like each other. They meet weekly for dinner, call back and forth on the phone and travel together in pairs or as a foursome. Daryl Cook quotes Scott Peck on community. I think Peck is describing the qualities of this kind of community. Some blended classes and localized CoPs could fit this model. What about globally dispersed groups?
  1. In work or activity-focused communities, there is a specific reason to be together. This is the kind of community described by Wenger (CoPs) and O'Reilly. People get together based on common interests. They have personal relationships with some other group members usually focused around some aspect of the task at hand. Jeffrey Keefer describes such an interaction with Barbara Dieu that begins with work and opens into a broader conversation.
"I started this post before and finished after having a delightful conversation with a colleague in Brazil, Barbara Dieu. We started speaking (via skype text, which is speaking with the fingers) about Second Life and the FOC08 Course, and the next thing I knew is that Bee asked me what interests me and what I want to learn more about. I gushed about Lyotard’s “incredulity toward metanarrative, Mezirow’s transformative learning, Denzin / Lincoln / Guba’s work in qualitative research, Freire, Brookfield, pugs, cities, theories, technology, and Madame Butterfly."

  1. There are aggregates of people who are a loosely affiliated community with diverse membership and levels of involvement. Supporters of a particular political candidate or spectators at a sporting event rooting for one side form such a community. Online, an example might be people who read Stephen Downes blog or those who purchase from Amazon and use reader reviews to help them select books.
I'm out of time for today. I will pursue these ideas in more depth in my next post.
P.S. Obviously I'm still wrestling with the technology and I'm determined to participate so please excuse my copy's oddities. I hope my meaning is clear.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Another Reason

I want to experience a class that is run through the use of blogs.
I've been following Barbara Ganley who has used class blogs to teach writing -- creative nonfiction. She does blended learning. She models getting students involved and talking to each other. Here is one of her posts about her students' work. She is one of the most exciting teachers I have found on the web.

I want to experience the interaction, the sharing, the exploring and creativity of weaving my work with that of others. Barbara's class meets face-to-face (f2f) and online. We have the challenge of doing this creating online only.

Barbara uses class time to build trust. What does an online only group need to do to have the same kind of safety? Sylvia's post describes ways that Leigh is facilitating our class. What do we course participants need to do?

I'm Here for a Learning Community

There are several reasons I'm in this course.

I want to be part of an online community.
I've been part of three day conferences and three week seminars. I think 17 weeks will be enough time to create a cohesive group. I like being part of a course to do this because here I give myself permission to learn in public. In the general blogosphere I want myself to be skilled before I do anything. I know our blogs within this course are public. I think the difference is that there is a finite, knowable, and supportive group that will respond to my writing. I know other people can read what I write and comment. But this community keeps me from having to speak into the void.

I want a community where I can reflect on my process of learning and responding.
I've been a life long learner since I can remember. I watched my Dad build our house when I was five. In the next few years, I explored fields and ponds, pollywogs and ground wasps, and reading books and writing . My family lived in . . . I stop myself because I think about anyone, any time reading what I write here. Do I want to type what I was thinking? My mother was afraid of. . . again I stop myself. What are the implications of telling what my mother was afraid of? She had her reasons for not wanting us to talk about our family's past. Even writing as vaguely as I am, I find myself shaking. I said earlier that I want to be perfect before I say anything in the blogosphere. I also get hung up about who might ever read what I write and what might happen because of it. I think I'm almost the exact opposite of young kids who put their pictures and their pain on MySpace and don't expect their parents or future employers to see it. I get tied in (k)nots before I can get out a sentence.

How do other people deal with this sense of who's out there? who's listening? Does anybody else get tangled like I do?

I want to go from learning on my own to being in a community that shares my excitement.
My idea of learning includes ideas and emotions. In the example above I think community will help me get perspective. I also want to build knowledge. I've done a little reading of people's posts on community; I'm really looking forward to clarifying and communicating my ideas in this forum. I've become fat from gorging myself on learning. Now I want to begin to master how to learn/create with others.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Getting Started

This is a test post to see whether this blog is working.

I set up this blog to use in the Communities of Practice (CoP) course I'm in. Now I'm trying to put the RSS feed for Practicing Community on Netvibes. I have put a number of RSS feeds on there in the past but I haven't added any for over six months. I'll have to see whether I can figure it out again.

I wrestle with the technology. I am almost entirely self-taught, with the help of my two young adult children. I often get stuck because I can't remember how to do something or because I never learned an essential basic step. I am dogged about figuring things out--but often it takes me an hour or two to complete a "simple" task I set for myself.

I entered this class late so I'm basically doing my introduction here. Would love to have a buddy if someone is interested. I can offer my broad experience facilitating f2f and fairly limited experience facilitating online.