Monday, September 29, 2008

Boycott the FOC08 Conference

Visitors are coming into the course and running the whole shebang. Obviously, Leigh doesn't think much of those who are legitimate members of the course. What is a course? Course or Community? Many of these people that are coming into the course are just people who were in some other course. well, this is my course, I'm doing the work and I'm not sharing the decision making process with people who lollygag their way through it.

People who have not kept up with the course outline should not facilitate. I'm not amazed at how few responded to the blog writing and commenting assignments but come crawling out of the woodwork on time with eagerness to show off on the stage of the so-called "web community".

Join the Protest Against People Overload!


1. Look at the Wikipedia entry for Blogosphere and pay particular attention to the See Also section. Read up on one of the listed blogospheres in that section and write a post to your blog that explains in your own words what a Blogging Network is and can be - cite examples.

Leigh, I don't read that wiki because of it's unethical treatment of the public.

2. Review this course as a blogging network to date. Does it connect out to a wider network, or is it insular? Does this blogging network have a facilitator or should it need one? Consider your role in helping to develop this blogging network. Finally, comment on the strengths and weaknesses as you see them, of a blogging network for online community development.

On this second point I feel much better. I like a blogging network because it doesn't allow any one person to "moderate". So-called "moderators" cannot invade my privacy with IP checking.

I think a blog network is ideal for random, open circuit posting as a means of finding qualified prospects for an elected membership. A small group of 5 to 7 people could gather around some ideas and principles and form a larger group, and random posting is fine conversation form for small groups of 3 to 5 people, but then I think that as they grow, they would need training in true discussion form and also the need to meet periodically using a centralized communication system. Maybe a meeting every two or four weeks?

Does it need a facilitator? Facilitation is going to be needed to put together the kind of community that I envision. I don't think that small groups of three or four people need a facilitator but as the group grows, the membership should focus upon learning basic skills of communication and leadership such as Finding a Buddy, Arranging Appointments, Choosing a Platform, Alternate Posting and Circle Forms; in preparation for a larger group of ten. By the time the group is getting larger than seven, the membership needs to be fully grounded in traditional form so as to be able to proceed through rational discussion, deliberation and decision processes. Of course, when the small group is equipped with these kinds of communication and leadership tools, they can then elect new members and officials such as a president.

My role in helping to build this blogosphere is to focus attention upon human solutions to human problems rather than push-button solutions. I also want to establish some facts about the unethical practices now in currency. The facts are going to force us to reconsider many administrative habits. I want to promote a scientific approach to building community based upon these facts. I also want to find people to practice traditional solutions for web communications.

The strengths and weaknesses of a blogging network? I think that it's weaknesses could be turned into strengths. For example, the fact that finding stuff is difficult forces me to trim down my blog network to a manageable few blogs. I don't think that any discussion requires more than ten people. The Supreme Court is nine people!

If I can find just a few people who want to discuss in form, I believe we can organize a growing and dynamic community such as those that spread across many countries in the 20th century. Really powerful communities like Rotary, JayCees and Lions Clubs didn't mess around. They got things done.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Finding a Buddy

I want to begin writing a project outline for a discussion series to be administered by the community called Discussion Workshop. The concept is that all information should be imparted through discussion form and experience, rather than FAQ's and links only. It follows that the first project is Finding a Buddy. So I would like to discuss with a buddy about how to find a buddy.

So there are a few people I have connected with a bit here, but what is a buddy? I think of a buddy as someone who is dependable, someone I have a sustained relationship through a series of conversations. A buddy is someone who shares at least some of your own values with you. Like Joy and I share some of the same ideas.

What else? Maybe someone who appreciates your style of communication?

How to go about finding a buddy? I don't know if you can actually find one. All of my buddies have just come along in life. Still, I do think it helps to actively look for people because it increases the chances of finding quality people. In the Discussion Workshop, I would like to see the community acticvely pursuing the "Buddy System" as Derek calls it. I can see it as an assigned project to find a buddy and even having an elected official like a Master Host who develops a Buddy Program.*

Once every person has a buddy, I can see people imparting the needed information about technical aspects of platforms and the forms of discussion that can make a coherant community.

I would like to go through a complete series of discussions like we have done in this foc08 course. Each disculd focus upon an activity to experience together.

Basic Module 10 projects (choose from options)
Finding a Buddy
Choosing a Platform
Clocks and Time
Arranging Appointments
Chat through a Window
Practical Dialogue
On the Same Page
Alternate Posting
Choosing a Topic
Quoting the OP
Your First Circle
Evaluate a Discussion

By the end of this module, we will have formulated a small democratically organized group. I would like to constitute the groups and bring them to about 20 members then some of the original nucleus will organize to start a separate group with the same constitution. This allows each person to be a measurable part of a whole group that is possible to listen to. We might even call it "The Listeners Club".

*I am not saying that there is a prescription for finding a buddy, as I know from my own experience that buddies come along out of nowhere. But on further consideration, maybe they don't. I have to experiment with many different people to "stumble" upon one.
>My Take on Facilitation
I want to help people to learn through self-teaching dialogue how a community may facilitate itself through proper applications of traditional democratic arts and skills.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Assignment 2 - Ideas for Miniconference

I would like to do a coordinated research project for the conference. The objective is to establish some basic facts about Internet communications. I would like to document the difference in posting frequencies between posters who are aligned on a narrow area of a line of longitude versus posters who are the same distance apart but on a latitude.

I would also be interested in doing some basic one hour practical dialogues, each with one buddy. We then might expand into three person dialogues after we establish the how-to of two person dialogues. Each dialogue will emphasize expository role playing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Support Lori Drew Blog

OK. So Lori Drew is being tried for violating the terms of service at MySpace (MySpace claims that the registration agreement is a written contract!). Her violation of the terms of agreement on a social networking site somehow resulted in the death of a 13 year old girl by suicide. I started a blog in support of Lori Drew and against the crackpots. I hope to follow this story. If the judge has any sense, there will be no story to follow.

So today a 19 year old kid goes and kills himself on a video website. In this thread someone complains that the kid's suicide will hurt their sales! According to the forum that this happened on any good publicity is good publicity. Ha.

OK. But here's how I look at it. Wasn't it MySpace (or Facebook?) who had a big controversy because some cops were lurking in the forums pretending to be 14 years old and some adults "hit on" them? So the site had to do all this revamping to protect the little kids.

In that case, if cops are pretending to be underage, is it not acceptable to pretend to be a predator? They are both pretending, acting a role in the dramatic mode.

And how can I know if this story about the 19 year old is true?

Anyway, the discussion is similar to the Lori Drew incident. A lot of users had encouraged this person to do the suicide and now a lot of other users want the police to come in and investigate those who did the encouraging and have them charged with some crime.

In both cases, it is the individual who is ultimately responsible for their actions.

I have opened a blog in support of Lori Drew who is the defendant in the so-called "cyberbullying" case.

The indictment alleges that Drew and her co-conspirators violated MySpace's terms of service, which require registrants to provide truthful registration information and refrain from soliciting personal information from anyone under 18 or using information obtained from MySpace services to harass or harm other people, among other terms.

If convicted on all four counts, Drew could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

I don't believe that anyone on the Internet should have the right to solicit personal information from me. I reserve my right to anonymity on the web. The privacy of Lori Drew was violated by MySpace. MySpace doesn't make law.

Dead teen's mom testifies in cyberbullying trial

This is a great testimony as to how screwed up the web "community" really is. Should any local court (and in relation to the worldwideweb, even the Supreme Court is local) make laws for this community? I say no. The reason the City of Pootown or the State of Massashitass is making these laws is because they are actual organized bodies. Where can we find that on the Internet?

This is why it is imperative to organize democratically on the web. If laws need to be made for this community, let this community make those laws.

This cyberbullying case is not a case of homicide. The trial is expected to center on the social networking site's terms of service. That's the button that you click when registering that says "I Agree"

What are the issues? What is an agreement? When people sign up for these services do they actually agree to anything? Or do they just click a button to get the account? Can there be an agreement without discussion first? If I am forced to accept the terms in order to get the service, can it be called an "agreement"?

Do the terms of service have the force of law? If I disobey the terms of service, have I broken the law? What law should govern the web? Who should have jurisdiction?

For me this touches the deeper roots of what is wrong with web "community". Where is the agreement between anyone? I don't see it. I see pre-fab agreements that come up when registering for a service but have never been approached by any other individual in the "community" to forge any real agreement. Or when they did, they refused to negotiate the agreement.

These ageements usually state all of the rights that the provider has and all of the rights that the user doesn't have. Do web services betray the public trust by imposing such agreements? I think all roads will lead us back to the issue of "private property".

It may make little difference who owns a service as private property when it comes to writing the rules. This whole system comes down to money and is therefore market driven. It's not about bringing people together. It's about making money.

What if we were to reinterpret the whole system? A platform like Google considers that it is giving me a free service by allowing me to register for a blog. But I feel that the bloggers are doing the service for Google. Blogging drives traffic to their site. So the users should have equal say in the discussion toward any terms of service. Otherwise, they run the risk of losing users.

If the web is market driven, then ultimately it is the providers that must answer to the users.

Obama's Cellphone Account Breached by Verizon Employees

Another major issue is privacy. In the case of the teen suicide, the service provider identified a user who chose to be anonymous. Do these companies have the right to violate the users privacy?

The suicide itself is irrelevant to the issues. I don't like the fact that the issues are being tied to such an emotionally charged circumstance. The implication is that one user's offline actions are the responsibility of another user's online behavior.

There seems to be gross misunderstanding about the way that people want to use the web. There is little that the law says about this but fortunately there is some historical precedence to rely upon in following these legal developments. It might be good to take a closer look at what the web is made of and how different people interpret it's possible uses.

I am going to be following the case of Lori Drew through the superior courts until the "law" is stamped out. So I'll be blogging along with others on the new Support Lori Drew blog. You are invited to stop by and drop off an opinion. Regular posters may be invited into an online civil liberties think tank that I plan on starting. You'll find plenty of links to other bloggers who have opinions about this case on the Support Lori Drew blog.

Support Lori Drew

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What is a Forum?

I use the word "forum" in a classic sense. I think of a discussion as an organization not only of the topic but of the people themselves. Where they are positioned in the discussion may greatly influence the amount or type of power that they possess. A forum is the processing of the topic through various discussion forms. The variation of form gives both a greater range of expression to the speakers and a better listening experience for the audience.

Take any topic and put it through a complete process. Let's begin the process with a type of democratic form that is random, open circuit, with unlimited numbers of speakers. We have all seen this type of discussion in online forums. Usually, the only division of the discussion would be strictly topical, simply dividing the topic down to it's constituent parts, each division then becoming it's own topic. The discussion could be divided into separate threads or separate subforums.

In the random form the posters may sustain the expository mode just by outlining and composing their individual posts. We then accumulate a collection of expository posts. The benefit of this style is that every voice can speak as often and as much as they want. The problem is that it is very hard to follow the discussion, especially when opinions diverge.

What's the next logical step in the process of a classic forum? Rather than further division of the topic, the extension of an ordered expository discussion would be the ordering of the posters themselves. We might begin the discussion anew with one limitation - that each of them are allowed one and only one post. Or whatever limited number. Or we might ask them to make one post and remain silent until one round of posting is completed. Then the posters may resume again each allowing themselves one and only one post. This form helps to maintain the principle of equal say or equal time. It also checks the dramatic since the dramatic mode is improvised and thrives on random form. It demands that each speak once and listen nine times (in a group of ten). It introduces rational form, allowing the members control over the mode of discussion, and it is a measurable objective.

We have moved the topic through a process from one form to another. The purpose is that the posters may refine their originally random presentations and condense or summarise their expositions. This allows us a better listening experience because such an expository form would be trimmer, easier to follow and easy to reference concerning who thinks what, since all posts are summarised by each poster.

Let's say that multiple opinions emerge and their are clusters of opinions, say, three distinct viewpoints that each poster could position themselves with respectively.

The next step in the process would be to appoint or elect three representatives of those opinions and use the circle form again to hash it out using a strict circle form (ABC ABC...). One or more opinion may emerge as stronger than the others. One may be swayed to join another or may split into two factions due to it's own inherent weaknesses and be joined to the other two. We can then measure this in terms of relative quantities in a closed system using whole numbers and fractions. We can quantitatively assess the outcome of the debate. Where two opposing opinions become clarified we may then move on in the process to a two sided evaluated debate using the following form (AB AB AB C)

A Pro
B Con
A rebuttal
B rebuttal
A closing
B closing
C Evaluation

The evaluation itself may be conducted by a team of observers who critique the grammar, rhetoric and logic.

Using this process, the discussion is moved from an irrational to rational form that can be counted by a whole number. The relative quantities of equality, majority and minority can be deduced from this whole number.

The benefit is that the community receives a complete hearing of the topic. The majority is not allowed to outvoice the minority because by the end of the process the community has trimmed down the number of voices to two equal voices for the purpose of assessing the logic of each argument. The majority may still vote in favor of it's proposition but as the process continues the minority voice continues to be heard.

So we maintain another type of equality. If nine people believe one thing and one person believes another, we do not allow nine voices to one. We want to hear all of the logic of one side compared to all of the logic of the other. One logic may outweigh another. Allowing the nine to dominate gives us repetitious arguments and a drowning of the minority voice. The value in this process lies in the fact that most of the people are often wrong! We know historically that the best ideas come from very small numbers. The scientific and literary communities comprise a small percentage of the whole community. Scientists like Galileo and Darwin and writers like Frederick Douglas, Allen Ginsberg and Mark Twain could be censored or their ideas could be persecuted.

An historical example would be the emergence of the theory of evolution into public currency. In the Scopes Trial of 1925, the Evolutionists lost the case to the Creationists but gained immense ground in bringing attention of the existence of Darwin's theories to the general public. 83 years later and it is hard even to find a Creationist who won't at least accept microevolution as a fact.

This process is progressive.

But I am speaking in the context of Faciliating Online Communities. I believe that traditional democratic forms perform the best faciliation. This is self-moderated forum, quite distinct from just a topical organization of threads or subforums. And this is what I mean by the word "forum", a form that allows the community to discuss, deliberate and decide through an online action.

To recap, we used a three phase process of different discussion forms or organizations of people and speech for the purpose of achieving a better listening experience.

1) Random form, where everyone was allowed to speak as often and as much as they desired.

2) Circle form, where speakers were assigned to speak in a given place. They may have both the right and the responsibility to speak. In this circle form, each must listen to the others before they may speak again.

3) Debate form, that the logic of two or three opposing ideas must get an equal hearing regardless of the the number of supporters for each idea. In this form a greater demand is made upon the speakers to exercise their responsibilities to speak.

You can see the different effects that each form achieves. In the first, an opposing group may dismiss the arguments of others and simply ignore them but as the discussion takes form, greater responsibility is upon the speakers.

This was only one process described. There are other discussion forms and therefore many variations of forums that can be organized.

En EspaƱol

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Listening Experience

How big should community be? It seems to me that those "communities" that people feel are real communities are those that attract the most people. But are lots of people neccessary? Or should we encourage a small group that is listenable?

A group should be no larger than a number that can be listened to and heard! The best group size depends upon where the community is going. But size has an effect upon the results. Three to five is good for some things while seven to ten may be better for others. I think a small group could be large and listenable at twenty members if they are fully trained in all basic ordinal forms.

Traditional communities like Rotary International have over 1 million members worldwide yet they meet once or twice a month in small local groups of 10 to 20 members. They have 32,000 clubs that are unified in purpose through a constitution.The clubs are divided according to geographical limitations. The advantage to the small group is not that thousands of voices can be heard but that the mebers can have a better listening experience. The Internet does not suffer from information overload but people overload!

So imagine one community that is divided so that there are only a listenable number of members in each group. If this plan were to be transposed to the Internet, where would the natural divisions and unities exist?

Listening Roles
I think it's important to ask questions to verify whether our assumptions about people based on their posts are true. Reacting to what someone says without knowing what they mean may breed and feed all kinds of emotional baggage. Is this what we want in a discussion on facilitation? For example: I think I should have asked questions instead of backing off when the language got unpleasant for me to verify what the other person had in mind when using what I considered bad language. Perhaps, it was the person's normal way of talking. I should have verified things before coming to any conclusions
I'm learning...

This is a good reason for people to regularly perform listening roles, so that understanding can be assessed and verified. Such listening roles such as Role Reversal in dialogue or debate, taking turns in each project. I envision a project in Concessions, learning to see what is right about an opposing argument.

A Listener's Club might aim to promote these rights and responsibilities in each practiced project:

The right to speak.
The responsibility to respond.
The right to hear others speak.
The responsibility to listen.

The discussion form serves as a model for a group. We begin practicing for community and grow a community up with the building blocks of the discussion form itself.

Next: Learning Ordinal Forms

Learning Ordinal Forms

I'm thinking about my early learning of ordinal forms and smile at the memories of playing with the other neighborhood kids as a child. We all learned ordinal form together from the older kids in games that we played. We would each put one foot into a circle formation. Then an appointed counter would touch each toe counting arond the circle of shoes or barefeet saying,

"Eenie meenie miney moe
catch a monkey by the toe,
if he hollars let him go
my mother said to count to ten
1 -2 -3 - 4 - 5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -10"

That was our early training in democratic form. A kind of lottery with luck to choose the order for the game. It also cued us that there was such a thing as ordinal form, which served as a foundation for all of the games that we played. The most important issues in playing these games were of order and position. Who is first? And who is "It". Tagging someone and calling "It!" was an official cue for a running game. "It" had to run after you, following where ever you led, catch up to you, tag you and call "It!" This cue reversed the position and order. This was our first experience with the democratic principle of "taking turns" or what we adults call - roles.

Now that I look back on those early experiences with ordinal form, I realize that democratic procedure is only role playing in the expository mode.

I'm wondering how to get people involved practicing democratic procedures in the form of games. I am not interested in push button democracy, so no computerized games. Democracy is a human endeavor. To computerize it is to trivialize it.

democracy games put hand on bat next hand up to the knob of the handle last one grips the knob wins
lottery everyone launch a post at a given minute first or last to get a post stamp within that minute wins gets to post next OP or lead Evaluation Team
open circuit games spamming games for kids most active spammer wins

serendipity good for individual growth but not community it's anti community
My Take on Facilitation
I want to help people to learn through self-teaching dialogue how a community may facilitate itself through proper applications of traditional democratic arts and skills.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Talking Nasty on the Net

The problem with netiquette is that it is difficult to objectively evaluate what is appropriate. What is "nasty"?

The word "bloody" is very bad in British English but not even the slightest bit in American English. Likewise, the word "nigger" is extremely offensive in Northerna nd Western U.S., slightly offensive in the Southern U.S. and is completely acceptable in Latin America, as is the word "negroe". In Portuguese, the words "nigger" and "negro" are acceptable but you must never say "preto".

Just ask Artificial Gripe about this type of misunderstanding.

There are many other offensive words and phrases that would be considered "nasty" and should avoid using. If I should include a list, I would start it off with: "Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb" America by Allen Ginsburg and the beat goes on.

I'll tell you what I find to be very offensive and nasty on the web. You have all of these jokers who completely ignore standard discussion form and democratic organizational procedure yet they want to pull out their little book of netiquette and cite you for your grammar or rhetoric or mode of speech.

We still need to address the nature of the Internet and the legitimate use of the dramatic mode. We are not having a real discussion here on the web.

Talking Nasty on the Net

There’s a factor to be considered: posting on a web
site, blog, forum, etc. has a certain “my 15 minutes” touch to it, it’s not
equivalent to just chatting with friends; it’s speaking in public, a

performance. People view their posts as public acts, and, just like artists can
be hyper-sensitive and defensive about thier performance even when (or
especially when?) it’s really bad, so people get extreme about defending their
opinions. Additionally, and because of the same perception, the very opinions
expressed over the “Net are more extreme than those expressed in a face-to-face
communicaiton. Then there’s the anonymity factor, when meaningless screen names
are used, that does away with the cultural inhibitions that limit the vitriol,
as you call it, in the “real life.” Here, no venom, just a thought.

Right. It's not only a discussion but a stage. It's television and that means acting, drama and conflict. The dramatic mode is a valid avenue of expression in the context of the web. The "discussion" is being broadcast. We are on a stage using a form called "random". Random form promotes dramatic improvision because the "discussion" is out of form.

Someone acting on the web is as legitimate as someone acting in a movie. If the actor in a movie says "Fuck y'all. I'm gonna find ya an' kill ya" we don't get on the cell phone and call the police. It's acting. It's stage. It's dramatic. It's television. If Anthony Hopkins can act like a killer in "Silence of the Lambs", then what's wrong with someone doing that where "discussion" or "community" is disorganized and clearly for exhibitionistic purposes?

Trolls are very intelligent and expressive people. Likewise, what is the use of dramatic form on the Internet? It must be evauated for it's own strengths and weaknesses. The argument that dramatic form should meet the standards for an expository discussion are weak since the expository posters themselves refuse to apply expository form to their "discussions".

The lose of control over mode, and resultant accusations of "trolling" usually occur in the context of an expository discussion turned toward the dramatic mode. The responsibility for the mode falls upon the membership for failure to follow the rules of expository form in maintaining the mode. Many posters are fully capable of maintaining this expository mode in their individual posts. You may also find a small collection of posters capable of accumulating a collection of expository posts. But a collection of expository posts do not an expository discussion make. The mode is best advanced by use of expository form.

Talking Nasty on the Net

The Future of Reputation

Privacy and Social Networks

ownership of platform = ownership of content = ownership of community and people = slavery

Boycott W-k-p-d-a

From the To Do list for Blogs:

1. Look at the Wikipedia entry for Blogosphere and pay particular attention to the
See Also section. Read up on one of the listed blogospheres in that section and
write a post to your blog that explains in your own words what a Blogging
Network is and can be - cite examples.

I am not interested in reading any of those articles because I am boycotting Wikipedia. It began when I registered as a "member" of this "community". I found an Edit button and deleted a page that promoted a forum that I am boycotting. They replaced the page and I deleted it again. this went on all day until I was banned for being a "vandal"!

That was only the 200th time I'd been banned from some "community" on the web!

If I put up a wall and write on the wall "Write Here!" and someone comes along and writes "Fu-ck You" on the wall, is that person a vandal? What's the etiquette with an open circuit? As an administrator, I am the operator of a machine and therefore it is my responsibility to yield the right of way to pedestrians. If I seek rational discourse, I should use a rational (closed) circuit. The membership can then elect each member according to whatever qualifications.

Virginia Anti-Spam Law Overturned, Spammer Walks

The Virginia Supreme Court today struck down a state anti-spam law, saying the statute violated the First Amendment right to free and anonymous speech. The decision also tossed out the conviction of a North Carolina man once described as one of the most prolific spammers.

A copy of the court's decision is available at this link here.

What this ruling means is that anyone posting personal messages in a forum who is banned and persists in "spamming" the forum cannot be prosecuted as a spammer. This sure be confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. It will help communities to organize along traditional lines because the only defense against unwanted members is to close the circuit. I think that closed circuits encourage the use of rational form to elect the membership.

As long as we are going to be going to court, I would like to organize all Internet trolls to make it a criminal act to spy on people's IP numbers.

We need a new etiqutte that respects the right to privacy and administrative disclosure.

And that's not all...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Forums and Blogs

Notes on Forums:

I can't in good conscience recommend any forum as an example of community. Seems to me that a meesage board is just that. Just like a mesage board in a laundromat or supermarket. Is a message board a community? I suppose so if people hangout around the message board but then that would be something like the old days when people hung out in a barbershop. I can extend the term "community" to message boards and forums only as "kind of a community".

Such forums, like supermarket bulletin boards are managed by the owner or manager of the supermarket. Online message boards are more like malls in that it is a public space that is privately regulated. I cannot concieve such a standard for real community. Can a community be privately held and still be a community? Probably not, not without gross distortion of all aspects of traditional community.

Typical forum organization is topical. The topic is divided down into it's constituent parts. This might be a good structure for people who are just socializing around a hobby such as Dolls or Automobiles. When it comes to forums that focus upon the expository mode, I think that temporal and ordinal form is more suitable as they are the natural extension of this mode.

As yet, I know of no forum that has managed to achieve this type of organization. Probably because there is no comprehensive material to guide people. First people need to become aware of the great benefits of using these forms in a coordinated manner. People also need to recieve training in the application of these forms.

I am currently developing a complete training program in communication and leadership for democratically organized community called The Discussion Workshop to be administered by an elected membership of a constituted society.

Notes on Blogs:

This blogging experience is great because it puts more control into the hands of the contributors. However, I am already experiencing an ethical dilemma. I set the blog to a fully open circuit. I chose that "anybody" could post. I see others have chosen that setting also. The conflict for me is the "moderating" part. Since I have invited the public into an open circuit, what grounds are there for "moderating" them? I can find none. If they spam or "troll" my blog it's because I chose to leave it open. If there is a problem user, I can just elect a membership of myself and the other users into another blog. This one could just become an advertisment for the other. The circuit can be closed and rational and the members can use a traditional form to elect new members.

My ethical dilemma runs deep. As a blogger, I see myself as an operator of a communication machine. I do not view it as my right to moderate the behavior of the public to whom I have extended an open invitation. Since I am operating a machine, I rather view it as my responsibility to yield the right of way to pedestrians.

So I am thinking of how this principle might be extended within a platform? I think that there should be rules made according to this formula:

No rules for the public

Few rules for members

The most rules for administrators

Because a discussion must be fair and democratic, we must ensure that equality rules. If I come to the discussion armed with edit and delete buttons, I am not equal to the other participants. The rules must restrict the behavior of administrators so as to achieve equality among all of the contributors.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Trends toward Traditions

Networked Individualism and the Implications for Organisations

According to Barry Wellman’s “Little Boxes, Glocalization, and Networked Individualism” the
whole notion of interrelationships, networks, and the role and place of the
individual has been steadily morphing from the traditional neighborhood-based
networks to one of “networked individualism.”

For example, in agrarian societies an individual’s network was bound by
their neighborhood and the distance they could travel on foot. As
innovations in transportation and communication took place, distance became less
and less of a consideration, and people were able to expand their relationships
and networks to include others farther and farther away. This enabled a
shift away from a locality-based focal point to one where the needs or
objectives of the individual dictated the focus.

We are no longer bound by geography but by time as if it were a geographical limitation. Time either unites or divides us in the global community. Traditional form can overcome the time barrier by working with it rather than against it. The current forms are working against the natural limitations of time. I'm going to cover this in greater detail in future postings.

I want to promote a trend back to traditional community based in a time zone neighborhood. This is the best approach for organizing very large communities that are small-club based. We can see a refreshing invigoration of traditional form and a return to known meanings of terms such as "member" and "community". Online community can then become self-propagating with millions of members organized toward a unified purpose.

The most urgent need we have now is to get back to democratic organizational form.

Why I came into the FOC08 course

I came to this course primarily because I had tagged a few items I'd written with "online facilitation" in delicious or swicki. This course came up when searching that tag. What developed my interest was the course outline. The topic is organized. And since the topic itself is "Online Facilitation" I thought I might find people who would be interested in organizing people. Unfortunately, it seems that content management seems to be the focus here, like every other forum out there.

The greatest need we have in the web community is to organize people, not content. The technology is not doing wonders. The only thing to wonder is why our traditional organizational structures have been dropped flat. I don't attribute such negligence to intelligence but to ignorance. The technocrats had no knowledge of ethical ways to organize people.

I believe that people are looking for interaction but are going the wrong way about it. There seems to be little commitment or responsibility. The people here are not even organized enough to elect me into membership. There is no membership. However, if any person here believes that I am disturbing the "community" they can quickly trump up a "membership" and have me elected out by a "majority".

The Internet is Anti-community. It is a complete failure. It has been shored up by myths and untruths. It is a conglomeration of the most idiotic ideas ever thought.

I am going to follow through on this course and complete it if I have to do it alone. And I'm going to do it to the best of my ability, looking for the better answers to tough questions.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beginning Project: Arranging Appointments

In August, I decided to learn more about making online appointments. I posted an outline of skills to practice in Arranging Appointments. Then I recieved a contact from another participant in this course who included a project plan for consideration. This person has not followed through in completing the assignment, so I have begun the project called Arranging Appointments in google groups. I would rather do this with a partner but I think that I am the only person in this course.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Trolling Phenomenon

The trolling Phenomenon began in a usenet newsgroup where people posted in expository mode. Moderators began deleting opnions they didn't agree with and the trolls were born, posters posting in the dramatic mode or demonstrative for protest

ashame that all world's news stories should be archived and the history of forum trolling obliterated!


Calling "Troll" is a way of excusing the so-called "membership" for any accountability for the so-called "community".

Monday, September 8, 2008

People Need Training

Forums, chats, blogs, conferences, I look at all of these items as power tools of communication. In order to communicate we need to know how to operate the tools. They are not simple hand tools, they are capable of hurting people if we don't know how to use them. They are capable of causing just as much miscommunication as communication.

I wonder if anyone out there would agree with me? Or do most people think, "It's just a forum, I can stumble around through it and pick up what I need to know. If I don't know it, then I probably didn't need to know it".

I used Phpbb2 for five years and thought I understood it. Then one day I challenged myself to sit down and click every link on every page and ask myself "What does this do?, what does it not do?, what do I know?, and what do I not know?"

I was surprised to learn how much I didn't know. I calculate that I understood about 20% of the forum functions! And in all those five years I thought I knew something! So maybe, just maybe, I am dumb about the simplest things. But, hey, is there some reason for us to assume that everyone who comes to our community today understands the simplest things? Like how to make bold or italic fonts in their text?

No! There is absolutely no reason for any such assumptions. Let's assume that people know nothing and that they also know something. So let's find out what it is so that we know and don't know so we can fill in gaps and increase the collective knowledge of the community. I'm not talking about a thread. I'm talking about a committed group who meets at a specific time for a set period of time to investigate fully both it's knowledge and ignorance. That's a practical workshop.

So that's why I am looking for buddies who would like to make a commitment to learning all of the functions of simple platforms like gmail chat, google groups, blogger etc.

I think it would be nifty to have a Links Club, when, weekly, the members rotate the role of bringing in one link and all of the members go through each of the page elements and links on the page and learn it together.

The ordinal discussion arts lead us into coherent group building and groups become the building blocks of communities.

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