[Air-l] Listserv research

Rosanna Tarsiero rosanna at gionnethics.com
Fri Sep 22 20:42:56 PDT 2006


You wrote:
"Perhaps the key variable is not "governance," but the idea of an "agenda':
some sort of organizing center that is more specific than the concern that
is at the center of many online groups."

In this sense, I often argued that "community" as "having something in
common" can be very rewarding even online. I mean, some sets of people that
have been labelled communities because of co-location (example: neiborhoods,
in general). However co-location doesn't necessarily imply having something
in common although I recognise that centuries ago villages were communities
because they were concerned about the "common good" (I'm not idealistic
here, the "common good" might have been a very egoistic proposition, yet it
was a common value). 

More often faith-based initiative, nonprofit organizations and political
activism happen to be more of a community because they do have a mission
statement and a vision statement neither one of them (usually) is loose, ie
they have an agenda.

"In the "Fielding model," to the extent that I understand it, the agenda
that brings an online group into being is a "KA," a "Knowledge Area." Is
that right? That "KA," although open to many variations, is defined in
advance by the institution; all members of the group are required to
complete the "KA"; and although the faculty member is nominally a democratic
leader , he or she has some authority. And, of course, the members are all
highly motivated: they all need to complete the KA as part of their search
for a graduate degree."

Yes it's more or less like those communities (online or offline) whose
mission statement is defined and members adhere to it. Congregations, too,
aren't about discussing their doctrine, but adhering to it. Political
parties are about discussing strategies, not their common values (in fact,
even though one could join the Republican party even if he were a Democrat,
the fact is, it usually don't happen, and what "democrat" or "republican"
means depends on the party's hierarchy -- look at the long-winged debate in
Europe about Blair's "third way").

"Most online groups do not have that clarity of structure, do not have an
"agenda' in that sense, although they have a zone of interest, members have
different motivations for joining and differing levels of interest."

True, that's why I cringe anytime I see the term "online community" used
before a. a review of the concept and b. an analysis of that specific group
to check whether it has a value system or not.

Even among online groups that are about a practice, some are groups of
members that share at least some value while some are not. And again, they
are defined "communities" without giving it a second thought.

"Hypothesis: Tuckman only applies when a "group"--online or
face-to-face--has a clear "agenda," a clear set of obligations for
participants, and an
authority structure in place and visible and respected."

We're in agreement again :)


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