I keep having discussions about communities…specifically online communities. (If you’re in my immediate circle, you’re tired of hearing this, but don’t let that put you off!)

People join together to discuss common interests. Or people fall into crowds and end up accidentally engaged in conversations. It becomes a story of its own (like this one here) where you come back just to see what will happen next. Before you know it, it’s been a year, you’ve met people, you notice when people disappear for a while, they notice when you disappear, and you realize you’re a part of the hairball.

Some of us, when confronted with a hairball, want to improve it. Perhaps the streets need sweeping or the pavement is cracked. Do we try to tidy and mend? Do we petition the officials and oligarchies for assistance? Do we sequester ourselves in a corner…or launch the ship to parts unknown?

What are our responsibilities to the communities we’re in? If we’re part of the oligarchy, should we strive for better streets? Should we discuss the short-fallings of the place, admitting that we have limited resources? I’m not sure.

I’ve been told by officials at some communities to not invest much, to not take it seriously. If that’s the preferred path, then why defend the community you manage? Why concern yourself with the reputation of the community? Why bother asking about the health of the place or worrying that some upstart will emerge?

I do know what my gut feeling is. I know if I’m committed to a place, I will try to make it better. When I was involved in the management of a community, I realized that the elitism of the oligarchy structure was unacceptable to me. I’m too much of an egalitarian to be comfortable in the ivory tower, too much a feminist to accept the paternalistic binary approach.

So, as the new venture builds into something real, I find myself wondering if this experiment will work. Is it possible to build a sustainable community on these terms? I don’t know–but I want to find out!

4 Responses to “Musings on communities”

  1. Xander says:

    Argumentative mode,

    You ever think that instead of trying to clean your neighbours garden and keeping the litter off the streets you could just make your lawn a model lawn and talk about it lots to others. You could tell them how to do similar to their lawn. Even help them out if they need it. However it’s another thing to wait till they whent out and go and do it whilst they are out.

    Personally I live in wherever I post. The overall part of it I leave to others because I don’t care. I however do care that they are supported when they do right and I’ll be helpful if asked.

    I don’t think that even if you had Montreal that you could keep it from becoming Phillidelphia if enough people from Philly turn up, no matter what you do.

    How does one lead people? By strength? By charisma? I don’t know. Personally when people follow it is because I have convinced them to (I think). Perhaps that is the way forward?

  2. rivercrow says:

    Hm.

    First, I think there will be a lot of “the way” jokes for some time.

    Second, I sure hope you’re wrong about Montreal and Philly. Places should have their own characters. People like places because of the uniqueness of the place, even if similarities exist.

    For instance, a McDonald’s in rural Georgia is the same franchise as the McD’s under the El in Chicago, but the energy of the locales is different.

    What I don’t like is when people force places to look the same. Just because it’s done this way in Philly doesn’t mean it makes sense to do the same in Montreal (or that it *can* be done that way in Montreal).

    You do care! You say you don’t, but I’ve watched you in action long enough to know the truth of it.

  3. Xander says:

    I think that any group has differences to another group but it’s more a question of how close you have to look to see such differences which troubles me.

    McDonalds in the UK seems pretty much the same to me wherever you go (well except from the building and people of course) as I tend not to see details unless I analyse.

    Where McDs (Maccy Ds to the urban lot) is different to most forums and such is the absence of lattitude in it’s leadership and format. As you know, I will soon be producing my own WordPress Blog site and although the language is identical and the program the same it will, in all probability, be very different from here or the other WP sites. This is because I can direct it as I wish except for those limits imposed by the software and hardware I’m using.

    As for caring for the community, I really don’t care for politics. I see that as an argument not had, feelings unresolved and people digging in against progress. This is never good. I do support negotiation and have a strong sense of justice and a will to see it done but in terms of wanting to lead or wishing to mould people, I’ve learnt to keep out and not care. Yes I am a pack animal and yes I do care to the extent that I do not wish to become banned at any place or similar, I cease to care as soon as it turns ugly. I would rather disconnect from something than be dragged down with it, well unless it’s truly important and then I’ll be damned if I’ll let it fall nevermind drag me down!!

    I think that what has to be kept in mind with these constructed societies is that they are based on computers and that people expect them to have no drag, resistance or that thingy where you turn but keep going sideways for a bit (vocab failure). It seems that people think that as the forum or whatever appears in their bedrooms that they are at home there and can distribute their stuff and settle in (which is half the appeal and the reason why introverts become more chatty). They do not appear to recognise that they are also in someone else’s bedroom and have to be careful around everyone else’s stuff. Perhaps this is how the politics come into things as people become upset by something and instead of just confronting and settling it they decide to go behind the scenes and be duplicitous.

    Mind you it is sometimes facinating to watch the little power plays going on 😀

    One thing that does puzzle me however is what people expect to achieve by lording over others. I mean yes they do get to relieve the itch that we all suffer when others do things contrary to how we think it should be done but to achieve power? To enforce our practices on others for anything but example? What for?

    I don’t think I’m made well for leadership 😉

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