Re: CoP definition
- Wenger also says that a listserv that sends messages twice a year qualifies as a CoP. I have a hard time buying this. Talking about practice and telling stories online may transfer knowledge tacitly, but I don't see how you can negotiate a knowledge domain, have a community, and engage in practice (his 3 CoP requirements) can with 2 sets of messages per year. But, hey, maybe things just go at a slower pace.
However, JS Brown questions the ability of online knowledge transfer because of linguistic pointers via pronouns require physical presence of individuals. JS Brown also talks of "networks of practice" which are looser than CoPs. He doesn't think that talking about practice necessarily is practice - or, at least, not when the parties aren't physically present.
I am working on a diagram for Week 4 (the 3rd - in the works), which compares CoPs to other types of organizations.
Wenger's newest book with McDermott and Snyder is a lot clearer and easier to grasp than his 1998 book. My problem with Wenger is that he seems to use a lot anecdotal evidence in his examples. He also presents CoPs as a range of attibutes (not too much this way and not too much that way). My study about WIA seeks to solidify that a bit more. Wish me luck.
PS - My interest is distributed CoPs. That's the topic of my disseration and what characteristics separate them from other types of virtual communities - and WIA is the subject of investigation. Wenger has some interesting recommendations for large distributed CoPs.
PPS - Vance is right about Paloff and Pratt. It is about virtual community building in general, not necessarily CoPs. It is a good book though.