Stephen Downes on ’set up’ communities

This brief thought from Stephen Downes caught my eye because it correlates with Rosanna Tarsiero’s view

“There are two ways of forming a CoP (I say two ’cause I don’t believe in the third, the “built” one)”

and also seems to contradict Bill Bruck’s (of view that “blogs will be able to be used for their strength – personal publishing with commentary; and threaded discussion for its strength – group interaction. ”

Stephen’s Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~

Harold Jarche cites Jay Cross, who remarks en passant, “After the session, several people told me they really appreciated Bill telling it like it is. Early on, he said that while he thought he was pretty good at fostering online communities, 90% of the communities he sets up fail.” Bill probably is good at setting up online communities. But I wonder whether a community that has been set up is doomed to fail. I wonder whether, instead, what we should be looking at as community is the interactions between people in a distributed environment – such as the network of blogs and readers and commenters that make up what might be called the edublogging community (actually several communities, but I digress). A seminar, a meeting space, an online discussion board – these are not communities. They may be a place the community meets, but if the community doesn’t have a life outside these spaces, it will not survive for long in them.

Two quick thoughts of my own:

1) Problems with the proposed depiction of communities as networks of loosely connected bloggers are that they are difficult to make explicit, analyse or demonstrate value from. And some of the heat in this developing discussion which breaks out from time to time, perhaps comes from the dawning reality that such communities may offer few opportunities for professional facilitators.

2) One of the implications of the 90% failure statistic is that 10% do not.

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