Nov 23 2006
Lilia Efimova and Nancy White were talking about some of the ideas in our technology for communities project and Lilia comments on how “community” seems like a problematic term to some people because it’s ambiguous – it gets used in many different ways and at different scales.
I like the argument that King and Frost make that ambiguity has many uses in practice and that dis-ambiguation is a bit over-rated (John Leslie King and Robert L. Frost, “Managing Distance over Time: The Evolution of Technologies of Dis/Ambiguation” in Hinds, Pamela J. and Sara Kiesler (eds), Distributed Work (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002), pp. 3-26. One important thing that communities do is manage ambiguity. I think that managing the nuances and ambiguities involved in a term like “community” is an important thing to do. When a community uses a term to point to something ambiguous it’s often a flag for one of those “it depends” conversations. Among other things, looking for familiar but ambiguous characteristics of something like “community” in the “blogosphere,” for example, is a useful thing to do.
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