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dave cormier

I've been thinking around this in regards to community. One of the things that I realized early on is that standards and responsibilities ARE one of the ways in which communities are defined. It is easy, in a sense, to be a network of people who happen to be particle physicists... it is something else to be in a community of same working together to do something. At that point, some things are right for that context and some things are not. The separation between being in and not being in the community is often the very choice of how you've done something.

(I've just realized i've pulled the dreaded post modern move again)

You 'should' read hard books or act politely or accept something given the context. Your act of 'should-ing' (to borrow a neologism model i saw recently) is an act of self definition and, possibly, community membership.

Chris Lott

I think you're under-estimating the danger of the echo chamber effect. Your point about not engaging with fascists is funny, but consider the more realistic example of two groups that are nearly as polarized-- strong democrats and strong republicans. When it comes to a lack of engagement with-- and understanding of-- the other side, both groups fail miserably. There's a stunning lack of diversity in those networks and a strong resistance to stepping outside the communities of narcissism each belong to.

I'm not convinced that "web 2.0 teachers" (or whatever term/phrase one prefers-- you know what I'm talking about) are, as a community, a whole lot better. If only for the simple reason that those communities are typically rife with inattentive and contemptuous dismissal of ideas outside their own unwittingly narrow boxes and participants in them are seemingly unaware that there is a VAST group out there that isn't the directly oppositional group but is largely excluded and not engaged or listened to.

I don't disagree that online networks can be quite diverse. Nor do I disagree that affinity is the glue binding members in strong communities and that it isn't a bad thing (most of the time). But I do think healthy, diverse networks don't happen automatically, and it seems to me that being more diverse than a physically bound traditional community we would have "otherwise" is a pretty low bar.

(I commented on reading in your first post, but sometimes reading *is* hard, and from the work involved we can derive commensurately greater rewards. I'm not so sure that the "reading shouldn't be work" argument isn't really a leveling argument in disguise... one regarding worth, quality and aesthetics.

but I wonder why reading is so often seen as only a first-order activity, like taking a bath, rather than a higher-order activity akin to playing a musical instrument, with the musical instrument being our ears and listening ability, both of which benefit from attention and practice and involve more than just enjoyment?)


@Dave - you're allowed to pull the postmodern trick, because I pulled the 'community' one. My point was that sometimes we accuse people of not actively being diverse and of being part of an echo-chamber, but if we flip that and call it a community of practice, then we see that commonality is a glue we require.
@Chris - yes, I'd agree. Our online community is for instance generally liberal, greenish, pro-tech, etc. Obviously I think these positions are 'right', but we can refuse to hear mild objections. But, having said that I do think (my online network at least) is quite questioning, and the blogosphere does facilitate anti-arguments if they are well stated.
I agree re reading - people don't see it as something they need to work at (beyond basic literacy). This is part of the always-right-ism mindset.

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