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COMMUNET Home

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COMMUNET  October 1996, Week 4

COMMUNET October 1996, Week 4

Subject:

Re: defining communities -training

From:

[log in to unmask] (dcn-communet)

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

26 Oct 1996 00:21:38 GMT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (122 lines)

Dave and Steve,

With respect to the leveling effects of training:

>>In both cases, the board evolved a more 'elite' perspective.    I sensed a
>>subtle change in direction.  In stead of being primarily a 'community
group,'
>>they become a service organization.  The difference is that the first is
>>inclusive first and effective second.  The latter has those priorities
>>reversed.

>Perhaps, but I don't blame the addition of technology per se for
>that, do you? 

I don't think 'blame' is the term that I would use.  I'm concerned with the
natural tendencies.   Most of what I see is a natural response to real
pressures.

>I, too, have organized several community groups and boards 
>of directors over the years, and have served on some, as well.  I 
>do understand what I take to be your concern that some kinds of 
>technology may themselves favor exclusivity,..

I'm also concerned about the political apathy that I seem to encounter as a
by product of networking.  By empowering a very dynamic group to accomplish a
variety of goals, the rest of the organization seems to go to sleep.   Maybe
it is the uselessness of online flame wars.  I don't know.  Grass roots
interest in policy seems to wane after an early period of active online
discussion.

I've almost completely stopped posting in 'policy' discussion areas.  They
work as brain storming workshops, but I've never seen 'community cohesion'
enhanced by them.  They are great for planning meetings and preparing people
for the issues to be discussed at meetings, but in terms of simple cohesion,
online discussion groups build zero 'togetherness .' It seems that face to
face meetings and telephone calls are essential for cohesion and cohesion is
essential for community... imho.

>That's why I maintain that for people in groups to benefit in ways
>besides efficiency from all this technology in conducting the kinds 
>of community-enhancing activity that I believe you're stressing in 
>your argument, they've got to meet face to face, a large part of the time.  
  

I very much agree.  Face to face interaction is just as essential as ever.

>...cliquish and exclusive tendencies that may be present in groups.

I'm mostly concerned with raw power, not just exclusive tendencies. 
Networked groups can be superhuman.  Microsoft is using the tools it invents 
to invent newer technologies and gain greater commercial advantage.  Consider
the idea of world wide teams that work on a project all day and then pass
their efforts on to a group 8 time zones away for continued efforts. 
Networked teams are superhuman.

On the open market, that power translates into financial muscle.

Are our elected governments keeping up?  Can they keep up?

>>The key theme to keep in mind is 'inclusion.'  The city of glass and steel
is
>>fairly inclusive.  Anyone can hang out in the 'infrastructure.'

>No, they can't.  Bums, disruptive people, picketers, critics, and
>lots of others are shown out by security people. 

Sorry, I wasn't talking about the insides of government offices, I was
talking about city streets and city welfare (public and private).

>...once governments have more prominent web and e-mail 
>presences, all those people from the nearby jurisdictions (and lots 
>of others from far away) who go to an access point, or who may have 
>one of their own at home, will be able to hang out all the
>time at the virtual government.  Such an eventuality may turn out be 
>more inclusive for some populations.    

I once found this image appealing, but I've done a lot of training over the
last few years.  I don't find it realistic anymore.

Estimates of the functional literacy levels say that about 20% of the general
population is illerate with respect to reading.  About 40% find writing very
difficult.  Computer training courses are not going to change those
percentages a great deal.

>OK, it's a private club that anyone can join.  So, what's the problem?

The facts are not a problem, facts simply exist.  

I think we are learning how to teach networking skills, but I'm less
confident we know what to do about the social changes between student and
student or student and teacher.

The trend I am most concerned about is the extension of suburbs into more and
more distant rural areas.  These extended suburbs provide comfortable housing
for the successful 'information workers.'  They are far away from inner city
problems and taxes.   

I don't have any answers, I'm just sharing my perspective.   Unlike the
factory model for community, something that offers membership to a wide range
of talents and socio-economic backgrounds for large common purposes, 
networks seem to move people into narrow, homogenious teams.  

Again, I'm not trying to make anyone wrong.  Networks simply work.  It is our
job to figure out how to live with them.  

>Training and familiarity with the medium will to some extent begin 
>to erase the more blatant differences in talent among people...

This is seems hopeful, at best.  Good luck, though.  If I sound pessimistic
here, it is in hopes that someone can point me in a better direction.  I
remain committed to computer training, but am convinced that team training
must be part of early curricula and be re-inforced over and over,. again. 
Our schools and teachers are far from prepared for that kind of learning
experience.  It is only by explicit design that the naturally isolating and
segregating tendencies of computer networks can be offset.

If anyone knows of a 12 year primary education curricula that accomplishes
this, I'd love to hear about it.

Mark

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