Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Group vs Network

Stephen's Web ~ by Stephen Downes ~: "the distinction between groups and networks. Groups require unity, networks require diversity. Groups require coherence, networks require autonomy. Groups require privacy or segregation, networks require openness. Groups require focus of voice, networks require interaction. The group I am with right now is very intent on being a group. That doesn't interest me. I have no wish to lose my identity and my freedom, my empowerment. Because a group is subject to this very objection - backlash, groupthink, the works. But a network is not."

Freedom of association, openeness - concepts I try to be true to yet...at present I am creating a few instances of Elgg, one for a communications course and another for a community of new teachers. In each case I am faced with a dillemma - is it a closed, gated community and how does that square with the ideas of openness, freedom of association? Yet If it isn't "closed" or "gated" do I still have the commonalities, the security of incubation - of cohorts, of new teachers - that allow the community to germinate? Am I stripping the "social" out of social software? Sometimes I like to be an individual - like this blog activity - yetI "connect" through links to other bloggers, and assume I am part of a larger "connected" group. Other times I associate with a particular group or community. Other times I like to be networked into others without a loss of identity, without a loss of freedom.

But as we know freedom has obligations, responsibilities, and consequences. Sometimes it is nice to fly on your own, other times the security of the flock is desired, and sometimes the community of a few close friends. We have to ensure that the learner can make the choice - alone, apart, together. opportunity to make the choice

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