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Is a network a community?

Dave Snowden states: Is a network a community?: “All communities are networks, but not all networks are communities”. The network theme seems to be gaining a fair bit of attention as an expression of interaction different from what occurs in communities. The real question being addressed is one of determining the properties that we’ll ascribe to networks…and the ones we’ll subscribe to communities. Stephen Downes tackled this last year…and Terry Anderson and Scott Wilson are currently grappling with these distinctions. In the process of splicing these attributes, it is hoped that we’ll better be able to understand and nurture networks for learning and knowledge sharing. I think our current language of networks carries with it the aroma of our discussions of communities. We’re still trying to make networks conform to the notions we have of communities. And it’s impossible. Communities are an instantiation of one type of networks…but our questions should be deeper – namely “what are the attributes of networks of leaning (dare I add “understanding”?) that influence their formation?” (regardless of whether we are discussing communities or collectives).
Anyway, all of this is to simply say that I’ve decided to write a book on how networks function as learning devices. Much of the current dialogue on networks assumes similarity with what we understand from physics and sociology. I’d like to explore whether concepts of power laws, weak ties, ecologies, and other attributes translate to learning spaces as directly as is often assumed.
After our upcoming conference, I will make a wiki available…with Knowing Knowledge, I made the book available in a wiki after writing…with this book (still unsure of a title…), I would like to co-write it with contributors to the wiki.

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  1. [...] Mitchell has an explanation on the differences. To add to this I’d say you can have a network within a community (eg. Ning), but not the other way [...]