#EL30 Week 7: Response to proposals

Thanks to Laura for the proposal which makes the consensus task stretching again, whereas Roland’s good proposal might have been just nodded through.

I think that a shared definition of such a complex term as ‘community’ is unnecessary and therefore impossible to settle on:

In a previous blog post I depicted many possible meanings of the term, see this image

(including some shared German synonyms). Much clearer than ‘community’ — at least in the context of people familiar with Downes’s writings — are the terms ‘group’ and ‘network’, where a group has a shared goal, and a network is not delimited by some borders. ‘Community’, IMHO, is a concept whose scope is rather fuzzily distributed between several such other terms (one might say, its ‘betweenness’ between the neighboring concepts is key, or its meaning is literally in the connections between them).

In particular, like a network, it does not have a predefined, fixed boundary (except in the special word sense of a geographical municipality) but its ‘membership’ is voluntary, as the blonde boy in the middle of Kevin’s bottom cartoon emphasises. And so, unlike the shared goal of a group, a possible shared goal of a community depends on a consensus. That’s why consensus building is a fairly typical task for a community — while of course I agree with Jenny that community can be much more than consensus, let alone consensus about some truth, or even about a technical status.

In an informal community, ‘membership’ may just be defined by each individual themselves, feeling as members or not, or maybe just as participants, for example in a MOOC with variable activity, with dropping in an out and perhaps lurking. If the community is not formally used for anything else, the consensus may even delimit the community: while it is desirable to achieve a broad consensus (of as many participants as possible), it needs to constrain to a minimally necessary level, or a least common denominator, to avoid that some participants may stop to feel, and self-declare, as members. And I was very reluctant to act as a community member, and my tolerance level is rather low.

I think Laura’s task is less ‘minimal’ than Roland’s, if it aims at a definition of a community in general. Maybe this community is easier to define, or the ad-hoc community whose purpose is just to complete the task.

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12 Responses to #EL30 Week 7: Response to proposals

  1. Thank you for taking the time to consider the idea. I hope I’ve read your correctly, that this post is, in effect, an engagement with the question in my version of the task? (I also think there shouldn’t be only one task – there could be lots that demonstrate and fulfil the brief set by Stephen) I completely agree that defining community (as a whole concept) is not going to happen – I don’t think it could without a context.

    I very much like your ideas of a broad consensus and a minimal necessary level. I also like that each person can define their place. For me a definition is not always, or only, what something is, but also what it is not. I also don’t think there would be ‘one’ definition, but different facets that contribute to understanding and allow for the really necessary individual differences. So maybe that’s one solid takeaway: this community must allow for individual definitions and differences.


  2. jennymackness says:

    Ah – my understanding Laura – is that there can only be one task, because there can only be one community.

    >>As a community, create an assignment the completion of which denotes being a member of the community. For the purposes of this task, there can only be one community. For each participant, your being a member of the community completes the task.<<

    Have I misunderstood this?


  3. x28 says:

    So the consensus would be about whether we each try to define community, rather than about how we collaboratively define community? Then we seem to be already closer to the consensus. (I probably mixed these two levels, by engaging with the definition to show that it is impossible.) Thanks to both of you for the clarification.


  4. Frank Polster says:

    Is there some consensus that by at least 4 of us commenting on Laura’s proposed task and given that we are all participants in E-Learning 3.0, aren’t we members of a Community by definition?
    If we agree that we are a community, this means we will have meet the condition of the task “there can only be one community”.
    I am in if there is a consensus and willing to contributing to the discussion by sharing thoughts on a definition of community.
    Your thoughts please. Thanks, Frank


  5. x28 says:

    I thought that the consensus about the procedure is part of our task? In particular, this probably includes a time-out period for those whose response may not arrive. Despite Stephen’s deadline says Due: Dec 28, 2018, I think the end of this week should do?


  6. I agree about the consensus that we are already part of the community- I do think there can be several tasks that fulfil the criteria. As a community we can participate in something that denotes us being members of the community – but it could take different forms. I think both tasks would do this in different ways.

    As Stephen describes a town/village- we can have households that behave completely differently yet coexist. On our street we have one lady who never goes out and another family with a bazillion Christmas lights- each has unique patterns of behaviour that are exclusive, yet we are all on the same street. e.g. Rolland’s task. My task is more of a block party where there is some element of intersection, even if that is to disagree. -also an activity of community. They are not the same task (do not commute – really bad pun there) but they are not exclusive either. I think we could each come up with a task if we wanted to. That was my initial take, that we would each think up something… but we could decide on just one task! up to the community!


  7. jennymackness says:

    I didn’t notice the due date. That makes more sense, since this type of task always takes longer, especially online, where some people might not even look at this topic this week. Having said that, we will be moving on to another topic next week, so for me it would be easier to finish this before the next topic begins, but maybe others are fine with this task carrying over.

    If there are many tasks, then does this fulfil the requirement for consensus? Unless the consensus is that we each do our own thing, which to me seems to defeat the object. The difficult bit is reaching consensus and agreeing on the assignment. Agreeing that we can each do our own thing seems a bit of a cop out. But perhaps I have misunderstood.

    Reading Stephen’s task description again…
    > As a community, create an assignment the completion of which denotes being a member of the community.For the purposes of this task, there can only be one community. For each participant, your being a member of the community completes the task.<

    When he writes there can only be one community, I take this to mean that we cannot split off into different groups. An when he writes… completes the task… I take that to mean one task.

    Stephen also seems to think that by completing the task by reaching a consensus over what the task should be, then we will have formed a community.


  8. I’m happy to go with one task. Fundamentally though, I don’t see several tasks as splitting into groups. There can be different consensus (plural) – as in the consensus about xxx or y. As in the kitchen the chefs have a consensus about how to cook, but they prepare many different dishes? I wasn’t intending to suggest fragmentation, on the contrary – many community things. I enjoy the ideas that spring up and seeing new ways to solve puzzles.


  9. jennymackness says:

    Thanks Laura. What seems to be emerging is that we need consensus about what the task means 🙂 We could ask Stephen, but I would expect him to say that we need to determine that between us. I am likewise happy to go with many tasks if that is the consensus.


  10. Matthias suggested I reword my task so it could be aligned with Roland’s. I put it at the end of my post (and am pasting it here so you don’t have to go looking). Hopefully it takes out any idea of division of tasks, but allows that you could choose to look at the posts as individual elements of a collective representation. (that might just be my stab at defining this ‘ecosystem’ community thing):

    In completing Rolland’s task for this module, we are each asked to write about our experiences of #el30 so far. For each of us, this experience will be inherently true and specific to this community. In response to the brief set, we will be demonstrating consensus both by addressing one task, and by individually demonstrating our (true) experience of the course and of the community. This will be akin to a mathematical proof  that shows this experience of community is formally impossible to be something else.

    The individual posts will each represent an aspect or facet of (what could be) a criterial definition and understanding of this community. Drawing upon Pete Forsyth’s initial comment on consensus, our posts would be the ‘collection of tactics’ to do this. 


  11. Frank Polster says:

    Agree! Thanks, Frank


  12. dogtrax says:

    Laura suggests a Block Party! I’m down with that!
    Elsewhere, Stephen clarifies that this is about “decentralized community.”
    At least for my head, that’s helpful. Now I start to see how the pieces (block chain, decentralized web, identity, credentials, etc.) come together.


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