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RE: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP precipitation [PMX:]

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  • Andy
    RE: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP precipitation [PMX:]Hi Ross, Funnily enough not really on the modelling side... there is howevr very good a network of what
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 6, 2004
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      RE: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP precipitation [PMX:]
      Hi Ross,
       
      Funnily enough not really on the modelling side... there is howevr very good a network of what I would consider my peers and my betters ;-) over on a list serve called socnet. which is listserve for social network researchers and practitioners.
      There is very little debate on the kind of modelling aspect of SNA, but there is so many other aspects to social/ communication network research that the number of emails and topics is immense. I really like just lurking on that email list.
       
      have a look at http://insna.net to read up on SNA and see if it would be useful to join SOCNET, please consider this carefully as it is very academic and research focused so requires quite a bit of background reading and research to get any real benefit.
       
      The people I talk to about this one to one are who I worked with  when I was over in the states so we have our own ideas about the sna and how the discipline can be made more applied. There are a couple of links to interesting have a look at other than the INSNA web site are
       
      *  The cassos web site http://www.casos.cs.cmu.edu/, for more computational modelling aspects  really good site with links to a lot of the tools coming out of acdemic instituations in the USA.
       
      *  The application that I use and helped develop in my time in the states is Blanche and can be found here http://www.spcomm.uiuc.edu/Projects/TECLAB/BLANCHE/pages/.
       
       
      For all of those with more than a passing interest in this I also offer training sessions in how to use social network analysis and modelling tools for analysing teams, workgroups and whole organisations. I know its a bit cheeky, but I thought I'd put it out there. :-)
      If anybody wants any more information about this please send me an email, rather than turning this into a promotional email.
       
      Social network analysis is a discipline that does require some level of training or assistance in getting started. However it is  an approach that can be applied to so many different problems and once you get started it really grabs your interest. A few years ago I had only heard vaguely of Social network analysis, now I have worked with some of the top people in the field and been involved in leading edge research. I really think that it will be the next big thing in KM, however like other approaches I think it has the depth and solid acdemic foundations to make it a lasting one.
       
      But I maybe biased ;-)
       
      Once again a good start to the year everyone
       
       
      Kind Regards
       
      Andy
       
      ------------------------------------------------
      Andy Swarbrick
       
      Knowledge Network Consulting
       
       
      ------------------------------------------------
       
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Wirth, Ross [mailto:rwirth41@...]
      Sent: 06 January 2004 14:06
      To: 'com-prac@yahoogroups.com'
      Subject: RE: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP precipitation [PMX:]


      Andy,
      Very interesting work you are doing.  Is there a "home" on the internet where you hold discussions with those who might be considered your peers on this subject?  I would be interested in lurking in those discussions to learn more.

      Ross

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Andy [mailto:andy@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2004 7:25 AM
      To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [cp] Re: critical mass and CoP precipitation [PMX:]


      Hi Peter,

      I read with interest the conversation about critical mass in CoP. As an unshamed social network analyst (now looking for home to call my own having left my researcher position:-)) I agree with you when you said .

      >Calculating critical mass is a tough challenge and social network
      >theory, whilst going in the right direction has, as far as I'm aware,
      >not begun to tackle this particular problem. That said, I have just
      >been introduced to the work of Karen Stephenson on modelling social
      >networks. This is going to be very useful to the CoP  community (put in
      >a google search).

      Critical mass for initiation and sustainability is something which I have measured and modelling using network based modelling, (while not fun for everyone out there it is where I get my kicks). Modelling such phenonmena requires condiseration of all of the issues raised in this debate about multiple factors effecting the continuance of membership of a CoP through maintain links to its members. CoP are hugegly complicated things to model for the simple reason that no one knows what they really are or what they look like. A highly connected cluster of people operating in the same general area of practice is a good one. Well they also have to have some shared body of knowledge, norms and practices which they are involved in building and maintaining. Thats where things start to become really soft.

      Anyway, how we model them in the social network field is usually (i say usually, but it is a very new area of social network research) is by using multi agent social network models. That is computational models where we can embedd rules of interaction into individual agents. These agents can be people, databases, knowledge or anything else that is interacted with in some form.

      In practical use we use conventional SNA techniques to map and measure existing networks and contextual enquiry to get an idea of processes involved in the agents behaviour, we then use this to create a model/simulation of the social system over time. We run this simulation multiple sometimes hundreds of times to get an idea of the most likely outcome as it stocashtic rather than determinstic model of group evolution. This model can then be tested and tuned against the actual behavior of the network so that a model of behavior can be created that allows for modelling the impact of scenarios such as personnel loss or change in work processes.

      For research and theory building, such as what causes critical mass we model a whole range of different behaviors within given sceanrios to indicate if the network will sustain itself.Not to say that all ties will stay the same. If the network does not change over time and linkages remain the same the network is likely to become inert.

      The problem of modelling social systems is of scalability if we are only 6 degrees from everyone on the plannet how can we possibley be able to model the evolution of social-technical systems over a long period.

      In the short term modelling small to medium sized groups such a teams and workgroups is possible in most organisations, providing there is support for such activities. As organisations become more familar with social network researcher techniques this modelling activity will become the next step in performance modelling for organisations (well I hope so, anyway)

      Kind Regards and a very happy new year

      Andy

      me@...

      Knowledge Network Consulting



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    • noreen sullivan
      Hi Ross and Andy and the Group Happy New Year to all, Critical Mass is an interesting topic. We have found that there are windows when communities function
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 6, 2004
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        Hi Ross and Andy and the Group

        Happy New Year to all,

        Critical Mass is an interesting topic. We have found that there are
        windows when communities function
        very well and then break down shortly after reaching critical mass. We
        are trying to solve this problem
        with a relevance engine in our platform. For example when one client
        reached one thousand people
        it was humming along and then quickly reached 5000 people as the
        members sent out more invitations.
        When this happened the original group began to participate less. We
        found that that each individual
        needs to be able to connect in a meaningful way with the people and
        information that is of interest to
        them both geographically and in regards to materials.

        The relevance engine uses artificial intelligence to record the most
        recent inquires and opinions and
        calls up connections that will be interesting for the person.

        On a smaller scale I have seen this happen in yahoo groups. I belong to
        a women in technology group
        that was more about technology than women. However, once a number of
        people began participating
        there were more posts about pets and hairdressers than I would have
        liked. But the group liked the
        chit chat. So the group was split into two lists.

        Mapping what is happening in the group is important but some of it has
        to do with the social aspects
        and the goal of the group. When the goal of the group departs from
        it's intention there can be
        benefits as well. Creativity and new thinking happen.

        So I guess my question is when is it important to reign a group in and
        when should it develop
        organically?

        Noreen Sullivan
        Net Modular
        www.netmodular.com
      • Andy
        Hello All, I about to probabley say something hugely controversial and have everyone shout at me and call me names. But, I just can t help myself. To make it
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 6, 2004
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          Hello All,

          I about to probabley say something hugely controversial and have everyone
          shout at me and call me names.
          But, I just can't help myself.

          To make it easier to politley pull apart my argument I will put some
          assumptions that I have first.

          1. Living usable knowledge is learned understanding about how things work.
          2. Social contexts are created by the meaningfull interaction of groups of
          people.
          3. Living usable knowledge only exist in a social context
          * Innovation and creativity occurs when two bodies of knowledge can be
          linked together coherently to understand how things work in a different way.
          The best way to locate these potential bodies of knowledge is by exploring
          and mapping the underlying communication structure for occurences of real
          living knowledge.


          The last sentence is the one where I want people to go, oh no it isn't so
          they can tell me better ways of doing this.

          Sorry I didn't answer your question properly at all Noreen, I'll have to
          give it some more thought.

          Kind Regards

          Andy
          ------------------------------------------------
          Andy Swarbrick

          Knowledge Network Consulting

          me@...

          ------------------------------------------------






          -----Original Message-----
          From: noreen sullivan [mailto:noreen@...]
          Sent: 06 January 2004 18:24
          To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [cp] Re: critical mass


          Hi Ross and Andy and the Group

          Happy New Year to all,

          Critical Mass is an interesting topic. We have found that there are
          windows when communities function
          very well and then break down shortly after reaching critical mass. We
          are trying to solve this problem
          with a relevance engine in our platform. For example when one client
          reached one thousand people
          it was humming along and then quickly reached 5000 people as the
          members sent out more invitations.
          When this happened the original group began to participate less. We
          found that that each individual
          needs to be able to connect in a meaningful way with the people and
          information that is of interest to
          them both geographically and in regards to materials.

          The relevance engine uses artificial intelligence to record the most
          recent inquires and opinions and
          calls up connections that will be interesting for the person.

          On a smaller scale I have seen this happen in yahoo groups. I belong to
          a women in technology group
          that was more about technology than women. However, once a number of
          people began participating
          there were more posts about pets and hairdressers than I would have
          liked. But the group liked the
          chit chat. So the group was split into two lists.

          Mapping what is happening in the group is important but some of it has
          to do with the social aspects
          and the goal of the group. When the goal of the group departs from
          it's intention there can be
          benefits as well. Creativity and new thinking happen.

          So I guess my question is when is it important to reign a group in and
          when should it develop
          organically?

          Noreen Sullivan
          Net Modular
          www.netmodular.com


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        • John D. Smith
          Andy [mailto:andy@robotegg.com] writes on Tuesday, January 06, 2004 12:10 PM some non-controversial stuff The best way to locate these potential bodies
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 6, 2004
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            Andy [mailto:andy@...] writes on Tuesday, January 06, 2004
            12:10 PM

            some non-controversial stuff <snip>

            The best way to locate these potential bodies of knowledge is by
            exploring
            and mapping the underlying communication structure for occurences of
            real
            living knowledge.

            <snip>

            I thought the underlying communication structure can contain and
            propagate living ignorance as well. As a matter of fact, I've seen it
            happen. In fact, among ourselves we often repeat a mantra that
            communities of practice are good. (But that's only part of the story,
            eh? :-)

            John
            *
            * John D. Smith - John.Smith@... V: 503.963.8229
            * Foundations workshop starts Jan 19: www.cpsquare.org/edu/foundations
            * "In a high wind, even turkeys can fly." Eugene Kleiner
          • plbond
            Noreen, Do you have any more info on the relevance engine, sounds intersting and useful. Noreen said..... ... This is a big issue in the field of economic
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 8, 2004
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              Noreen,

              Do you have any more info on the relevance engine, sounds intersting and
              useful.

              Noreen said.....

              > So I guess my question is when is it important to rein a group in and
              > when should it develop
              > organically?

              This is a big issue in the field of economic development where government
              type agencies start off things such as business clubs and associatiosn,
              networks and clusters, only to find that they are the ones keeping them
              'ticking over', keeeping them in existence . This activity does allow them
              to spend public money, and gve justification to their existence, but for
              little effect. Hence we were inclined to suggest that they adopt what might
              be called a CoP facilitatation approach. They would estabish the conditions
              in which groups would spontaneously arise and self-organise. So far our work
              suggests (somewhat obviously) that people in businesses will self-organise
              around 'opportunities to solve problems'. However, as soon as the problem is
              solved there is little need for the group to exist thereafter. One should
              expect social groups to appear and diassapear, this is the natural course of
              things. They might also restructure themselves around similar but different
              opportunities and therfore survive in a revised form, with different members
              with different competencies, skills and so on.

              One could use the product life cycle analogy. Once a product's purpose
              becomes irrelevant, or when its functionality is achieved in a different way
              and it is subsituted by another product, or when its costs outweigh the
              benefits, it begins to disappear-but maybe not entirely. Examples would be
              sugar and artificial sweeteners, the record turntable and CD player, the
              medical x-ray machine, and so on.
            • Cornejo Castro, Miguel
              Hi Noreen, and happy new year (with some delay :-)). Just one comment on your experience of groups breaking after reaching critical mass ( dying of success ).
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 8, 2004
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                Hi Noreen,

                and happy new year (with some delay :-)).

                Just one comment on your experience of groups breaking after reaching critical mass ("dying of success"). I've seen something similar a couple of times, but I arrived at different conclusions.

                There are two factors (at least):

                - Growing participation incorporates new interests that blur the group's priorities and can even change them as the weight of the new entrants grows dominant.

                - Growing participation weakens the personal bonds between the founders of the group and the CoP. Something that is shared by too many people is not easily felt as one's own... especially when those new people are almost perfect strangers.

                In the CoPs I manage we had that trouble when rapidly expanding from <1000 to over 3000, and then to over 6000 members. I've used the observation to answer your questions: "when is it important to reign a group in and when should it develop organically?"

                Our answer is: we let it develop freely in the early stages. Then is when the group shapes and decides on a core set of interests (usually within another CoP, from which it emerges). After that, we steer it and keep it on track. If necessary, we create forums/lists for splinter groups with divergent interests. We're a bit hard on the "off-topic" matter.

                This way we neutralize the first problem: created CoPs stay put and their core pursuits evolve only slowly, as the subject matter changes. And we lower the risk of the second problem: by keeping the CoP as close to the initial core values as possible, the founders and promoters tend to stay with it.

                There's a load of other tricks, but that's our answer to your questions :-).

                Best regards,

                Miguel


                -----Original Message-----
                From: noreen sullivan [mailto:noreen@...]
                Sent: Tue 1/6/2004 7:23 PM
                To: com-prac@yahoogroups.com
                Cc:
                Subject: Re: [cp] Re: critical mass
                Hi Ross and Andy and the Group

                Happy New Year to all,

                Critical Mass is an interesting topic. We have found that there are
                windows when communities function
                very well and then break down shortly after reaching critical mass (...) We
                found that that each individual
                needs to be able to connect in a meaningful way with the people and
                information that is of interest to
                them both geographically and in regards to materials.

                (...)
                Mapping what is happening in the group is important but some of it has
                to do with the social aspects
                and the goal of the group. When the goal of the group departs from
                it's intention there can be
                benefits as well. Creativity and new thinking happen.

                So I guess my question is when is it important to reign a group in and
                when should it develop
                organically?

                Noreen Sullivan
                Net Modular
                www.netmodular.com


                ::: http://www.egroups.com/group/com-prac
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              • noreen sullivan
                You can go to www.netmodular.com and read about it if you like. It was invented to solve these sorts of problems by Jesse Tayler, my partner. He studied
                Message 7 of 8 , Jan 8, 2004
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                  You can go to www.netmodular.com and read about it if you like.
                  It was invented to solve these sorts of problems by Jesse Tayler, my
                  partner.
                  He studied artificial intelligence at MIT and has been a Web Objects
                  Developer for many years. Using industrial technology rather php
                  allows for more robust tools like the relevance engine.
                  We are also working on 2.0 which will have relational databases
                  for more advanced understanding of interaction.

                  On Thursday, January 8, 2004, at 02:41 AM, plbond wrote:

                  >
                  > Noreen,
                  >
                  > Do you have any more info on the relevance engine, sounds intersting
                  > and
                  > useful.
                  >
                  > Noreen said.....
                  >
                  >> So I guess my question is when is it important to rein a group in and
                  >> when should it develop
                  >> organically?
                  >
                  > This is a big issue in the field of economic development where
                  > government
                  > type agencies start off things such as business clubs and associatiosn,
                  > networks and clusters, only to find that they are the ones keeping them
                  > 'ticking over', keeeping them in existence . This activity does allow
                  > them
                  > to spend public money, and gve justification to their existence, but
                  > for
                  > little effect. Hence we were inclined to suggest that they adopt what
                  > might
                  > be called a CoP facilitatation approach. They would estabish the
                  > conditions
                  > in which groups would spontaneously arise and self-organise. So far
                  > our work
                  > suggests (somewhat obviously) that people in businesses will
                  > self-organise
                  > around 'opportunities to solve problems'. However, as soon as the
                  > problem is
                  > solved there is little need for the group to exist thereafter. One
                  > should
                  > expect social groups to appear and diassapear, this is the natural
                  > course of
                  > things. They might also restructure themselves around similar but
                  > different
                  > opportunities and therfore survive in a revised form, with different
                  > members
                  > with different competencies, skills and so on.
                  >
                  > One could use the product life cycle analogy. Once a product's purpose
                  > becomes irrelevant, or when its functionality is achieved in a
                  > different way
                  > and it is subsituted by another product, or when its costs outweigh the
                  > benefits, it begins to disappear-but maybe not entirely. Examples
                  > would be
                  > sugar and artificial sweeteners, the record turntable and CD player,
                  > the
                  > medical x-ray machine, and so on.
                  >
                  >
                  > ::: http://www.egroups.com/group/com-prac
                  > ::: Email com-prac-unsubscribe@egroups.com to unsubscribe
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > Yahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  > To visit your group on the web, go to:
                  > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/com-prac/
                  >
                  > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                  > com-prac-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                  >
                  > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:
                  > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                  >
                  >
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