[Forgive the cross-posting, but I thought it particularly relevant to both
I participate in quite a few online communities, many focused around IT.
Frankly, I think you're right in your observation, but missing the mark
completely as to why. I think that it's not so much that IT people are more
likely than others to extend beyond the boundaries of a single corporation
or organization because of higher value for them , but that IT people are
more likely than others to participate in largely virtual CoP's that aren't
based on face-to-face interaction, the company e-mail system, and whatever
other CoP support tools the company may provide. Add to that the mobility
of the IT workforce, and I think you can see why the boundaries of the
company or organization aren't as "real" to the IT community.
Members of the IT community have a natural affinity for the medium and don't
suffer from the barriers of technophobia that most other communities do.
They do the bulk of their work at a computer. It's familiar to them, and
they are comfortable with it. IT people tend to use a variety of tools.
Let's just say it -- they're gadget freaks. So, using a new community or
collaboration tool doesn't create a barrier for them -- in fact, it may even
be an incentive, since they are interested in being exposed to new tools in
Also, by virtue of the fact that they work at their computers, they are able
to participate in virtual communities in small doses -- an e-mail here, a
few minutes online there. And they're accustomed to multi-tasking at the
computer, as opposed to people who do sequential tasking. This, too,
facilitates low-cost participation in virtual communities.
So, bottom line -- people participate more when the "cost" is lower --
money, time, cognitive effort, etc. Participation in virtual communities is
generally lower cost than face-to-face communities, and this is true even
more so for IT people. Take an economic view, considering the cost as well
as the benefit, and I think you'll see some different factors to consider as
to why this phenomenon occurs.
VP of Professional Services
Mongoose Technology, Inc.
Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2001 3:00 PM
Subject: [cp] Help with article on communities of practice
I am a freelance writer for InfoWorld, a weekly publication for
information technology executives. I am working on a feature story for
their management and careers section on communities of practice within
IT organizations. I talked to John Smith today and he suggested I pose
a question to this group. One thing he and others have suggested is
that IT communities might tend to be more likely than others to extend
beyond the boundaries of a single corporation or organization, because
sharing anecdotes and experiences concerning vendors, software, etc. is
so valuable for people in IT to put their own experience in context. If
anyone in this group has experience working with communities in IT
organizations, I'd like to hear about your experience. Or if you have
any IT contacts that have experience with communities of practice, I'd
like to hear about that too. I live in Portland, Oregon. You can
contact me directly at: davidraths@...
or call me at (503) 233-
0773. My deadline is Oct. 5.
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