Maybe if one exchanges "spontaneous" with "intentional", the two sides to
this conversation will become clearer. the argument then would be that some
communities arise unintentionally. Of course there are people forming the
community. But not with the intention of forming a community. They're just
standing around drinking coffee, chatting about stuff that happens in the
office. Then there are communities that are formed deliberately, with a
definite focus and structure,
Whatever the case, when it starts, it's not a community (yet). Community
requires a certain "fellowship", which is not present at inception - it
evolves over time, again intentionally or unintentionally - and may
ultimately decline (yes, again intentionally or unintentionally)
From what I've read here, both forms, and variations thereof have been
witnessed. I think to move forward, we shouldn't have absolutist
(either...or) views - it won't suffice to fully describe the phenomenon. A
"both...and" view will serve us better in understanding & describing the
] On Behalf
Sent: 02 November 2006 08:38 PM
Subject: [cp] Re: (...) - community start-up
just so that my previous post causes no misunderstanding, one last post.
The argument that I was attacking (following Rosanna's taunt :-)) is
that CoPs are ever "spontaneous" at all.
As you may know, I don't think the view of CoPs is complete without a
clear vision of the role of the people who start them.
And that does not mean "outside", "corporate", "top-down" or otherwise
"fostering" outside agents. I'm not talking about "cultured" vs
It means that the first CoP members start it, and that moment and
process hold a lot of interesting lessons.
There is nothing impersonal, "spontaneous", in it. CoPs are the result
of decisions, some conscious, some less, many without awareness of
The fact that CoPs are found "on the wild" does not mean they spring
out of thin air. It means the person doing the finding has arrived
late at the birth of the CoP.
Having witnessed and helped quite a few of those births, I can tell
they are valiant, complicated attempts at doing something worthwhile,
by very concrete and individual people. Dismissing the work of those
entrepreneurs as "spontanous"... strikes me as sort of an
However useful that oversimplification may have originally been when
CoP theory was starting. Just like macro economics are quite useful.
But it's not the complete picture.
At least, that is my view at the moment :-).
The view--- In com-prac@yahoogroup <mailto:com-prac%40yahoogroups.com>
s.com, Joe Firestone <eisai@...> wrote:
> Thanks for your note.
> I didn't think you were making such an argument.
> Fred Nickols wrote:
> > Joe writes:
> > > However, many of the arguments made here on the issue
> > > seem to take the position that this isn't an empirical
> > > question, but rather a matter of definition, and that
> > > since Lave and Wenger defined CoPs as entirely self-
> > > generating, then that settles the issue.
> > FWIW, I'm not making such an argument. I have no difficulty in
> > believing that a "true CoP" (i.e., one that functions as such) can
> > evolve from purposeful outside intervention. I also believe that CoPs
> > can emerge without any purposeful outside intervention. (Indeed, many
> > of the CoPs written about emerged from member interactions, not an
> > outside agency.)
> > In the early days of this list, I likened the two kinds of CoPs to
> > natural and cultured pearls. Both are pearls but there are some
> > important differences. I still subscribe to that view.
> > Regards,
> > Fred Nickols
> > nickols@... <mailto:nickols%40att.net>
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]