Sunday, October 8

Community Net Worth

In my assumed role as devil's advocate, I'll be bold and make another observation about the negatives of blogging. Using the very example of this blog, doesn't the "everybody blogging" (or everybody wikiing) principle inevitably result in what I'm tempted to call "learning labyrinths" in which focus can only be provided by individual participants or learners? What I mean is that there's little hope for community focus, which in turn means that even tentative conclusions about what is discovered, learned, validated, etc. is either the result of a peremptory use of authority (wherever it may be situated) or the vaguely perceived subjective impression of which way the wind is blowing for the majority.

That said, at least for this group, learning labyrinths appear to be fun. They could also become a productive tool if we had both a strategy for managing such complex and unpredicatable entities as well as the means and know-how to carry the strategy out. But it's a lot of work (as well as virtual juggling), as Dave's efforts and successive adjustments demonstrate. As at least one element of progress towards a strategic goal I would suggest the need to plan and successfully execute a refocusing phase at some point. But to do so requires taking on major responsibility as a guide or guru, which raises the question of roles and the exercise and abuse of power in "teaching" relationships.

My one "positive" suggestion is that, as in marketing, the place to start is not with the product and its features but the marketplace and its structure. We're engaging in something that concerns a broadly defined community (the "learning" profession) and proceeds through the spontaneous generation of smaller communities of discourse. That much, at least, seems clear from this experiment. One way of finding out about one's marketplace is, of course, to launch the product and test the reaction; but it's usually considered wiser to examine the intended target audience first to see what it's capable of taking on board.

Now that the first wave of bloggers and blog-readers have read the initial results both in the form of serious utterances, straw polls and comic reformulations (thanks, Tony for that refreshing exercise), whither go we? Do we know more about our marketplace or do we simply know more about the individuals who have so far participated?


Dave Lee said...

You and I were pondering the same thing over the weekend it seems. After the crazy week that our Big Question created, I was wondering if we'd see resurgence after the weekend. Thus far it doesn't seem to be the case. Zero new comments to the Home Post and zero new comments on the remote blog postings as well.

What is it about blogs that while they can ignite a firestorm of communication, that topic is merely smoldering embers a week later?

I guess that does raise one question for the group to consider. Are blogs by nature effemeral and subject dying out at the faintest hint of another topic? If yes, doesn't this have meaning for the educational use of blogs?

Anonymous said...
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Mark said...

Dave and Peter -

I think there is a half-life to all blog posts - similar to what Peter is refering to - the more comments there are, the more they tend to diverge from the original, resulting in a diffusion of focus and hence less fire.

That being said - I think that one way to avoid the creation of these blog-based mazes (can't spell that L word) is to have a strong cultural flagpole against which the community can judge the relevance of posts and/or comments.

I have been involved in a couple of efforts with really strong senses of community which would police posters with comments like "that is a good comment but this is not the place for it, please move it to this alternate place."

You can maintain a clear path, you just have to keep both hands on the wheel.

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