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.

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