inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #76 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Mon 23 Oct 00 13:45
    
Anyone seen this book in a bookstore?

BTW, I tried to get them to ditch the "homesteading on the electronic
frontier" subtitle that the Addison-Wesley marketing folk added, just as I
tried to talk the AW marketing folk into calling it Virtual Communities
instead of The Virtual Community.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #77 of 184: Nancy White (choco) Mon 23 Oct 00 16:51
    
It's not in yet at the local Barnes & Noble (as of today)
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #78 of 184: Amy Jo Kim (amyjo) Mon 23 Oct 00 17:19
    
>> "content, commerce, community" model is unfashionable these days

I've noticed this, too -- the word "community" is currently anathema
in the VC world -- due to a number of high-profile, big-investment
disappointments. 

However, from what I'm seeing in the business world "community" is
actually more popular than ever, but now it's community-with-a-purpose
-- something that supports and amplifies other activities, rather than
an end within itself. 

These days, I get a lot of calls from startups that want to foster a
community to support an online marketplace, or a distance education
program, or a customer support area, or a third-party developers'
program. Whereas a few years back, most of my inquiries were from
VC-funded startups that were building "community portals" for
particular demographic groups. 
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #79 of 184: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Mon 23 Oct 00 18:45
    
"Community of practice" is  a big buzzword these days.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #80 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Mon 23 Oct 00 19:01
    
Hi Amy Jo! Gotta agree.

And Mary, I think that's a buzzword that probably actually has some
substance underneath it.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #81 of 184: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 23 Oct 00 22:16
    
(Just to clarify #61 in the context of #62: I wasn't really thinking of ad
hominems, though I can see where one might equate 'flame' with 'ad hominem
attack.' I was thinking more of difference of opinions that become
conflicts or confrontations...)
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #82 of 184: Katie Hafner (kmh) Tue 24 Oct 00 11:17
    
Community of Practice??
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #83 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Tue 24 Oct 00 12:09
    
Eek. I'm working under multiple deadlines and might not be able to get
back to this until tonight. However, Communities of Practice are worth
looking at in terms of the future of online social networks. The term is
associated with the work of Etienne Wenger
<http://www.ewenger.com/ewthemes.html> and has been discussed more broadly
in the book by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, "The Socail Life of
Information."

Although formal organizations have not begun to recognize them until
recently, informal networks of colleagues, friends, people who share the
same problems, have existed for a long time. The guilds of the middle ages
are an older and more formal example. I think the Open Source movement,
and its several sub-tribes, is an other example. Wenger mentions "your
local magician club, nurses in a ward, a street gang or a group of
software engineers meeting regularly in the cafeteria to share
tips." Imagine the leverage that might be possible if some of these groups
had something like "Experts on the WELL." 

More later.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #84 of 184: John Payne (satyr) Tue 24 Oct 00 12:23
    
> I'm saying that there are people who might add to the value of the WELL
> and other online venues who are hesitant to participate because they
> perceive insults and character assassination.

System design can offer some assistance here...

If you view a conference (for example) as a collection of Chinese boxes,
one inside another, with the innermost being the most controlled, safest
environment and the outermost being the least controlled, most
freewheeling -{separate read and post permissions by user for each layer}-
you can collect together safe conversations with freewheeling ones under a
single umbrella, and with enough crossparticipation to make sure they stay
connected.

I'd originally thought of this arrangement as a way of letting amateurs
peek in on the conversations of experts, without actually inteferring with
them, but it should work just as well for flame control.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #85 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Tue 24 Oct 00 12:31
    
Interesing idea, John. You are correct that it is not possible to
characterize "the WELL" since part of its charm is the great variety of
conferences. Making the most newbie-friendly and less scary conferences
more accessible to newcomers is an interesting idea, and I'm sure a UI
challenge.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #86 of 184: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 24 Oct 00 19:04
    
Andrea Baker e-mails:

Howard, would you talk more about what you'd like to see a new 
generation of young researchers do?  You mentioned the tie between 
online life and offline community formation, I think.  As you know, a 
lot of grad students were at the Association for Internet Researchers 
conference and there are a bunch coming up. of course.  Would you (1) 
brainstorm on some of the issues of community, relationships, 
identity that you think are worth studying for the future?  Also the 
ethical issues are getting attention.  Are there (2) any cases where 
systematic studies of communities online could occur without the 
permission of each person posting and does the researcher's own 
participation or membership make a difference?  Take what you like 
and leave the rest.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #87 of 184: Mary Eisenhart (marye) Wed 25 Oct 00 05:44
    
re: communities of practice

Indeed strikes me as a new name for something that's existed for
centuries, perhaps with a view to formalizing its existence in some
way. As with other (frequently) corporate attempts to formalize
the inherently informal or otherwise co-opt it, I'm not sure of how
it's all going to turn out. 

But maybe I'm seeing a skewed section.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #88 of 184: Katie Hafner (kmh) Wed 25 Oct 00 09:09
    
Howard, one thing I've noticed about responsible, engaged virtual
citizens is the tremendous amount of keyboard time they put in. It
doesn't seem like something you can just dip in and out of on occasion.
Or I am wrong? Just out of curiosity: how many hours a day, on
average, did you spend on, say, the Well when your involvement was at
its height? 
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #89 of 184: John Payne (satyr) Wed 25 Oct 00 09:55
    
> If you view a conference (for example) as a collection of Chinese boxes,
> one inside another, with the innermost being the most controlled, safest
> environment and the outermost being the least controlled...

Actually, on the Well, we encapsulate both the most protected environments
and the most freewheeling ones, with the social expectations of common
areas, like <news.> being intermediate between the two.

Everything is a conference, of course, but some conferences have more of a
claim to being common ground than others, and its those others which have
the more divergent characters.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #90 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 25 Oct 00 10:32
    <hidden>
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #91 of 184: Eric Rawlins (woodman) Wed 25 Oct 00 10:37
    
I think Katie is right. Communities are things that take shape over time,
and you can't build one of you can't count on people sticking around. A
whole lot people gathered together temporarily is an airport, not a
community.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #92 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 25 Oct 00 11:17
    <hidden>
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #93 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 25 Oct 00 11:29
    
BTW, I just set up a webcam in my office. I'm trying to remember to not pick my nose. Temporarily housed
on a friend's server until I can set up my host: http://www.vcbconsulting.com/users/oinkfest/
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #94 of 184: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 25 Oct 00 11:49
    
inkwell.vue.91: Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition

inkwell.vue.91.90: Howard Rheingold (hlr)  Wed 25 Oct 00 10:32

Let me give you a few quick answers to recent questions, and hope to be
able to get into a little greater depth after I've met a couple of these
deadlines.
 
 
Yes, Marye, I think Communities of Practice is a new name for an old
phenomenon. However, I also believe it surfaces something important that
has been missed. Julian Orr's work with Xerox repair people revealed that
what everybody in an office knows -- there is lore about how to work
around limitiations and bugs, and someone is the repository of that lore
(often an admin or someone else whose official job has little to do with
technical maintenance), and the repair people themselves often solved
problems outside the scope of the procedures manuals by telling each other
stories over coffee or beer after work. Making these invisible networks
more visible, empowering people who actually do useful things outsid their
job descriptions, and bringing appropriate tools (like online social
networks via CMC media) to them could be very useful.
 
Andrea, you ask some big questions. First, I think it's clear that it
isn't easy -- probably impossible -- to come up with definitive answers to
"does using the Internet make people happy or not" because of the many
different circumstances and the way people change their mood from day to
day and hour to hour. However, we do need better data, and I think it can
be ascertained, about the relationship between the time people spend
online communicating and their offline activities and communications --
ftf, telephone, television, reading, etc. We need better data about the
relationship between the social networks that Wellman et al study and
online communications.
 
I believe it is ethical for a researcher to join a community, participate,
and do research, but I believe the researcher should NEVER stir up
controversy for the sake of research (academic trolling?). You wouldn't
want an anthropologist to foment a feud to see how a tribe reacts. It's
not just unethical -- it contaminates the data. And whther they should
seek permission is, I believe, a matter of that community's rules and
norms. The WELL has different norms from Usenet, and different newsgroups
have different rules.
 
Katie, I'm one of the fanatics. Since 1985, I probably average 4 or 5
hours a day online. I do think it is entirely possible, through judicious
use of .cflists and "forget" to spend 20 minutes a day or a half hour a
week, and maintain participation. But there's no doubt in my mind that
online communication eats time!
 
More later. Good questions. Thank you!

inkwell.vue.91.92: Howard Rheingold (hlr)  Wed 25 Oct 00 11:17

There are also time-limited online "events" that use chats and
asynchronous media to bring an affinity group or COP together around
keynote speeches and concurrent sessions -- not quite a "community" but if
it is done well, definitely a community feeling. Caucus Systems has done
these nicely, and my consulting group has done a couple of them in the
past and will do some in the future. Like communities, people in these
events need to introduce themselves and have a place for informal
discussion outside the formal sessions. Like online Temporary Autonomous
Zones.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #95 of 184: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 25 Oct 00 11:51
    
I hid 90 and 92 because the formatting was a little strange... the post
above is a reformatting of those two responses...
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #96 of 184: Richard L Henley (rhenley) Wed 25 Oct 00 13:07
    
So no hidden message then.

And here I thought Howard was working on a new message format.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #97 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 25 Oct 00 13:24
    
Dunno how that happened. Used the usual (Pico) editor.
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #98 of 184: Rafe Colburn (rafeco) Wed 25 Oct 00 13:36
    
 Is your terminal window abnormally wide?
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #99 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 25 Oct 00 14:20
    
Hmmm. Sez it is 76 X34 at the moment. I use
NiftyTelnet. (Wellgeekdrift)
  
inkwell.vue.91 : Howard Rheingold - The Virtual Community, second edition
permalink #100 of 184: Howard Rheingold (hlr) Wed 25 Oct 00 17:29
    
I met a couple of those deadlines.

Fifteen years after I first fell into it, I'm still turned on by the
potential of groups of people to use asynchronous media like message
boards, together with IM and chat, web pages, to do things in groups -- do
things better than they did before, and to do things that weren't possible
before. Clearly, some of us find it fun. But having observed and
participated in organizations in the throes of a mishmash of meetings,
phone calls, IMs, three hours of email a day, I keep thinking that there
is a whole literacy of how groups can use new media together effectively
to achieve different kinds of goals. That's one thing I'm doing these days
-- experimenting with that.
  

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