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© 2006-2015 Andrew Cooke (site) / post authors (content).

Groups, Belonging, Not Belonging, and the Net

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2006 12:52:48 -0400 (CLT)

There's a common thread through these links.  Being a member of a group,
or not, is more important than the group's stated aims, or the actual
shared interests of people (see the emphasis on small details - it's like
watching a bunch of Marxists fight viciously amongs themselves).





Some Pointers

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2006 13:26:32 -0400 (CLT)

I almost posted this at lambda, then decided against it:

communities on the net have existed for a long time.  lambda isn't
special, or new, or facing a problem that no-one else has had to address.

one good site for for the analysis of group/web interactions is
http://shirky.com - a quick glance through the site (he sends out a
newsletter too, which is worth reading) turns up a couple of relevant

first, http://shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html - a group is its own
worst enemy.  here's a quote that i think is more relevant than most
people will admit:

  The third pattern Bion identified: Religious veneration. The
  nomination and worship of a religious icon or a set of religious
  tenets. The religious pattern is, essentially, we have nominated
  something that's beyond critique. You can see this pattern on the
  Internet any day you like. Go onto a Tolkein newsgroup or discussion
  forum, and try saying "You know, The Two Towers is a little dull. I
  mean loooong. We didn't need that much description about the forest,
  because it's pretty much the same forest all the way."

  Try having that discussion. On the door of the group it will say:
  "This is for discussing the works of Tolkein." Go in and try and have
  that discussion.

  Now, in some places people say "Yes, but it needed to, because it
  had to convey the sense of lassitude," or whatever. But in most places
  you'll simply be flamed to high heaven, because you're interfering
  with the religious text.

another, perhaps more useful as a source of ideas, is
http://shirky.com/writings/community_scale.html - communities, audience
and scale:

  [...] communities have strong upper limits on size, while audiences
  can grow arbitrarily large. Put another way, the larger a group held
  together by communication grows, the more it must become like an
  audience -- largely disconnected and held together by communication
  traveling from center to edge -- because increasing the number of
  people in a group weakens communal connection.

a site that might have relevant information, if you dig back through their
archives, is http://www.firstmonday.org/ - the paper
http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_7/masum/index.html (manifesto for
the reputation society) is something of a classic.

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