Community Responsibility vol 1 – OMG is this a community?

This first post in the series of Community Responsibillity vs “The tragedy of the commons” is an attempt to lay the groundwork for the weeks to come and to start to tune the antanae to the idea of community. Where does it start and end? How do I know that I’m in a community? What should I do now that I’ve come to terms that I’m in one? These questions are at the heart of the community explorer’s mind as they wander through the internets…

Critical Point – Community vs. Network
In taking part in the CCK08 project I’ve come to believe that the distinction between these two concepts is critical to undestanding ourselves as net citizens. There is a distinction here that leads directly to whether or not you are ‘responsible’ in an ethical sense or ‘obliged’ in a legal sense. If you are in a community you are, in some way, responsible to that community, in a network you are responsible to yourself and the rules that govern you are those set forth by our society as laws.

Hence the critical need for being able to distinguish between them.

My Guest – Nancy White
Some highlights from the discussion with Nancy are detailed with the time they can be found at below. The conversation went a little longer than i’d intended, but the depth of her experience in the field of communities made it to hard to not keep asking questions. There are some nice thoughts here about how the ‘we’ takes over from the me in the transition to community and how reciprocity is the Number 1 most important thing in a community environment.


1:05 Nancy : Community is a group of people who care about something over a period of time.
1:56 Nancy : A community should be as concerned about we as they are about me.
4:00 Nancy : Communities can emerge at what starts out as an information connection into a personal relationship
4:31 Dave : So what happens to us on that transition, what qualities change or morph or adapt when we make that transition from network to community… as that cluster begins to emerge?
7:00 Nancy : Reciprocity as key to communities. Making reciprocity visible.
9:55 Nancy : fundamentally there’s alot that we know about offline human interaction that we seem to just for let disappear when we go online.
11:00 approaching an established community: the great value of newbies to communties.
14:00 managing multiple-memberships: managing your own expectations
15:58 How many functional relationships can you really have at one time?
16:20 The Well and why it works for Nancy.
19:00 Community scaling up to where there was not enough we.
Community is about that interplay of invitation and response… it’s like improv, make the other person look good and get what you want. That’s my personal values on communities… I’m not saying that other people should ascribe to them but to me that gets to the core.

Recommendation from Nancy : Peter Block – community the structure of belonging.

Another Project along similar lines
A very current project along similar lines of this one is Bud Hunts excellent K12-online presentation entitled “The Lie of Community“. He did several interviews of which i was fortunate enough to be one and they accompanied a really excellent 20 min audio presentation.

A key point that comes out of his presentation is to understand that there is no ‘one’ community out there… no model for which we can apply a single set of rules or guidelines or best practices. He takes a really nice people based approach to the discussion and gives people a really nice sense of what his community means to him. And hopes to continue the conversation… hopefully we’ll get some nice crossovers between what he’s doing and what I’m trying to do here.

Something i ran into while working on this
This is a really neat discussion of Open Source communities and how they are managed… (add on note: by david e. eaves and his main site

Community Management Presentation

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: 2007 fsoss)

download audio with nancy

Author: dave

I run this site... among other things.

12 thoughts on “Community Responsibility vol 1 – OMG is this a community?”

  1. So, given “If you are in a community you are, in some way, responsible to that community,” is that responsibility voluntarily engaged, or is it something imposed?

    If it is voluntarily engaged, then is the model for community building something like contract theory (c.f. Rawls ‘A Theory of Justice’)?

    If it is not voluntarily engaged, then on what basis does such responsibility evolve? Can we justify any sense in which ‘responsibility’ is imposed?

  2. Hi Stephen,

    First, thanks for the ‘uncredited’ comment in the daily… got the credit in there right away. I thought it came over with the slideshare but never really checked.

    That’s a critical question stephen… and I think should probably be the subject of one of the week’s discussion… I think that both options are probably talked about but agree with where i think you are going… I don’t think responsibility can be ‘imposed’ but is something you either take up or don’t. Something that would look like responsibility that ‘was’ imposed would not… uh… be responsibility if you take my meaning.

    And, maybe, not really be a community but rather a group?

  3. Great to learn from your thoughtful insights. I would think it’s a complicated issue – i.e. how to strike a balance between individual learning and community of practice because of the fact that everyone has his/her own objective or goal of life, and is emergent, or changing from time to time. It’s really difficult to set specific responsibilities unless the participant is willing to participate in a community. As noted in the course CCK08, there are always peripheral participants who prefer to learn through “lurking” due to various reasons.
    I am not sure how people and institutions will respond to this “wake up” call from connectivism.
    I have posted some comments in my blog relating the connectivism and its impact on educational institution, individual development and open courses. But also, how such courses may lead to the further development of net-citizens, as espoused through the community (or this network) one is in.
    Again, I echoed with you that this is the time to think about responsibilities to extend beyond oneself to a community of practice. As mentioned by Nancy: A community should be as concerned about we as they are about me.

    I think I understand the basic principles of connectivism and so what remains are the practicalities – as mentioned by Stephen, in terms of modelling and demonstration as teachers, and how I and we could contribute to the community in a holistic manner.
    And I’m not sure the percentage of people who are interested in building up such community as mentioned earlier.
    Thanks again for your inspiring post.

  4. Hi Dave!

    First of all for posting and sharing your interview with Nancy; I’m afraid I’m head over hills about her, if you get what I mean, I resonate with her views a lot.

    Second, for placing the importance of the difference between groups and networks. I agree with you on that the responsibility for the community cannot be forced but when you are the “teacher” then… is it imposed?

    As you mention there is no model to follow so, how could we assess if our approach is valid or useful to the learners and the community?
    In terms of the impact to participants, What would be the worse outcome scenario for an online open course? What signs do we have to observe along the road to avoid it?

    Have a nice week. Maru

  5. Hi Maru,

    We need not judge if our approach is valid for our learners and the community… it is the learners job to assess whether our approach is valid for them…

    in an open world… people can choose between available options to fill their own needs.

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