Friday, 19 September 2008

Wrestling with definitions?

What is an ordinary community?

Communis comes from a combination of the Latin prefix com- (which means "together") and the word munis (which has to do with the exchange of services). But it is interesting to note that definitions on the term “community”are many and varied depending on context (ie. sociological, biological, religious, ethnic, business etc). In the old sense of the word there are two important elements, firstly – a group with common values – and secondly – a shared geographic location. Clearly communication technologies now have largely meant the second element is now defunct as Internet technologies mean people can communicate across National & International space (ie “global village”).

What is an online community?

A virtual community, e-community or online community is a group of people that primarily interact via communication media such as newsletters, telephone, email, online social networks or instant messages rather than face to face, for social, professional, educational or other purposes. . If the mechanism is a computer network, it is called an online community. An important part of an online community is the social software used to build social networks.

What is a social network?

A social network is a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations) that are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as values, visions, ideas, financial exchange, friendship, kinship, dislike, conflict or trade etc.

There appear to be some fine lines separating the concepts above:
  • Original term Community is broad with a geographic colouring

  • Online Community stems from the fact that communication media (computer network) must exist

  • Social network is more about the stucture & relationship patterns which are displayed visually by graphs or maps of nodes (ie individuals or organisations) and ties (values, visions, ideas, trade, conflict, kinship etc)

    Despite my “focus time” it still seems a bit woolly to me with many overlapping grey areas. Any elucidation from fellow e-colleagues to help clarify for me would be most welcome! Any offers appreciated.
    Thanx GAC.


Sarah Stewart said...

To be honest, I still struggle with these definitions but Sue Waters clarified things for me once:
community is about learning as a group - addressing a shared learning goal/aim; networked learning is about your individual needs - you are at the center of the learning. Hopefully, that makes a little sense.

Barbara Dieu said...

Welcome to blogosphere, latecomer :-)
Sue seems to have made some progress towards it, but then what would be the difference between a community and a group? The emotional bonding?

Minhaaj said...

fabulous. late but welcome onboard :)

Grant said...

Thanx for help on definitions about "community" vs "networked learning".

Grant said...

Good question on "community vs group". Would say " sense of belonging " is key difference.