Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Characteristics of Groups

I realize that there are many distinctive traits by which we can recognize the genuine article. Here I have compiled some of the characteristics that help form cohesive groups.

A group is a number of individuals communicating in temporal/ordinal form. Groups are the foundation of communities. Unlike a clique that solely utilizes conversation and grows to a limited size, a group uses form to measure and evaluate it's discussion. Groups are capable of duplicating themselves to form a larger community.

What are the characteristics of a group?

• Members engaged in frequent interaction;
• Those involved define themselves as group members;
• Others define members as belonging to a particular group;
• They share common norms and mutual interests;
• They identify with one another and share values;
• They feel a sense of collective responsibility;
• They act in a unified way towards the organisation.

Communities are comprised of small groups that not only serve as an entry point but also help maintain the continuity while accomplishing the objectives of the larger community. The individual's frequent contact with the community purpose is through the small group. Many small groups may come together for a conference occasionally.

Small groups also practice one of the three modes; expository, dramatic or narrative and are well versed in the forms that are used to establish that mode. Discussion groups are aiming to specialize in the expository mode, but there are also large numbers of users who are interested in applying the dramatic and narrative modes. Each would explore the most suitable form according to the mode they wish to deliver.

Expository groups practice temporal and ordinal form as a means of qualifying the membership. Participants who are able to maintain the order are qualified for membership.

The number of members in a small group is fairly consistent with little fluctuation, without wild fluctuations of people coming and going.

Conversation serves the group well until it grows to about five to seven members. The group may practice ordinal form in preparation for growth. By the time there are ten members, the group will have enough ordinal form to enable rational (measurable) discourse, deliberation and decision making.

The larger community is composed of separate groups who work according to the same objective while having little contact with each other. Groups are distinct from each other in identity. The larger community is not allowed to destroy that group identity. Members of a group are those who attend that group. A member of a group may attend another group within the same community as a visitor only.

Groups have an attendance. The group always knows who is in the group and who is not, who is attending meetings and discussions and who is not.



Individual-Small Group-Community

So get yer butt knotted but not butted but a buncha Butt-Knott-ed-Not-Butts

It was really interesting to be a part of our meetings in Second Life. We had 2, and one was entirely different from the other. - Leigh
Right. That's because they are two meetings of two distinct groups. If the two "meetings" were the same membership, then there would be no need for two meetings. They are two groups.

And it's very interesting that they are separated by time. That should be a very strong signal to us about how to separate groups. Anyone who was inconvenienced in getting to a meeting would not be qualified for that group because they could not maintain consistent attendance for the meetings and would threaten the continuity of the group.

(We have already seen earlier in this blog that people are separated by time as if it were a geographical limitation. I am going to expand upon this thesis further on.)

See: Notes on Meetings One and Two

Because the natural progression from individual to community is via the small group, then, if the FOC08 meetings are not groups, where are the groups?

I don't know of any other ethical approach to organizing people. Small closed groups are rational. The membership can count the whole number of individuals, they can then engage in rational discussion, deliberation and decision making processes. Because they know the exact whole number, they can then accurately measure relative quantities of equality, majority and minority.

Conversation (random) form is probably in order only for 3 to 5 members. To prepare for growth, those 3 to 5 members should train and practice temporal and ordinal forms. It is certainly necessary when the group gets into the 10 to 15 member range. 20 people need even more disciplined training. I have never seen an expository discussion of over 20 that did not frequently depart or "derail" to the dramatic mode.

Many small groups can come together periodically as one community. But there is not much need to meet with the whole world every day, is there? So how does one go about finding other people for a group? How do you limit the size and attract the best people for the purpose? What is a good purpose for a service community to the web?

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

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