November 18, 2010

What is a community?

"Community is a larger loose group with a common background defined in more focus by a smaller group with a goal who act."

I just came up with that in response to a question around the future of professional development on Scotland's national intranet, Glow. I was quite happy with it. What would you add? (In 140 characters, of course ;-)


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Strangely enough, thats almost Wegerif & Mercer's definition of a community of practice :-)

hmm-- Community -- For me it is a group of people, connected through common geography or common technology-- who share mutual interest, and who actively act together to achieve common goals.

Common background? With hierarchy built in? I don't think so.

I really don't think community can be defined in 140 characters (if it can be defined at all).

"Common background? With hierarchy built in? I don't think so."

Well, that's less than 140 chs ;-) You're right that 'common background' is uneasy, especially when you consider the incredibly varied backgrounds of the people who live in my community (and probably yours, too). But they all share something whether they like it or not: geography, language, desire to live in this place or work at that place... So I still feel there is some thread (or threads) of commonality.

Hierarchy built in? Absolutely not. I think the hierarchy (ies) get decided by elites on behalf of people who they think will believe in them. There are often several of these elites working on behalf of the same people, too, when we think about it. In the end, the engagement of those 90% or 99% of disengaged people occurs when action is taken by those elites with which the vast majority disagree.

These are, as you'll have guessed, just some initial ramblings. One I'd like to spend some time exploring further/ Any research from the streams of it out there that outlines different understandings of the term 'community'?

Common background, common geography, common technology are all too limiting - shared interest covers all communities.

I see what you're getting at with the last bit - you have to define yourself, or be defined, to become a 'community', but actually there can be a number of small groups, within and outside a 'community' with a goal to act(can be the elite, and others) - A community can also be benign, or passive. 'With a goal to act', is becoming an 'interest group' of some sort, which is a type of community, but not all communities.

Why do you want to define community? Where has this question come from?

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