## 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).

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/06/30/activism_is_a_game/
http://www.counterpunch.com/cockburn06192006.html

http://metatalk.metafilter.com/mefi/12200

http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/node/1587

Andrew

### 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
articles.

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

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.