Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Awareness as a Community Indicator

Inspiration this morning came from discovering Nancy White's liberal use of the Technorati tag 'community_indicators'. I enjoyed reading a blog entry she pointed to about "community of the path" (Debra Roby) and it got me to thinking about how I cross paths with so many at work, usually in meetings, and how we all get intertwined through a few overlapping responsibilities, and also how we choose to interact with one another at those crossover points.

I've been very aware lately of the ways in which I'm interacting with others, and sometimes not liking what I see in how I've chosen to interact. But as I've become more aware, I've started to notice something. Somehow, my interactions feel more "connected." I guess what I mean is that I don't feel as much (with some of the folks with whom I'm interacting) that I'm just crossing paths, but that I'm seeing more of where they're coming from and where they're going (what those other responsibilities are), and how that plays a role in how they choose to interact with me. I'm more aware, too, I've where I'm coming from and how that helps determine the choices I make in interaction.

This all got me to thinking that maybe "awareness" is a community indicator. (Indeed, this may be something that Nancy's already explored--I'm going to have to get through reading all of those community_indicator-tagged entries...) In the "community of the path" blog entry, Debra talks about acknowledgement of one another as a form of respect, and how the acknowledgement also shows dog-walkers crossing on the path are aware of each other's, and their common, routine.

As an indicator of community, I guess awareness would have to be clearly present. I think that the kind of acknowledgements that Debra points to illustrate such an awareness. At work, in those meetings where we connect with people, I think awareness is illustrated through language that's used, like "I know you've been working on...," "I think this will be of interest to...,"--those kinds of things. You know when people are aware when they're adding words that connect their ideas to others'.

Because I'm interested in online community, especially as it relates to learning, this has got me thinking about how awareness expresses itself online. At the beginning of course-related discussions, too often there's a tendency for individuals to get wrapped up in writing about "what I think about this topic..." (you know these posts--they usually end with "...my two cents.") But as discussion matures, hopefully people begin to make connections between their own ideas and others'. They begin not only to be aware of others' thinking, but also aware of how that thinking is changing their own ideas and experience. That is, if community is really developing.

I've already written too much, but I want to write more about this. For now, though, I'll settle for doing some more good thinking about awareness and community indicators.

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At 3:52 PM, Blogger Nancy White said...

I love your musings on awareness, and in fact, you have struck to the root of what I've been grasping about for: if we articulate indicators, we may be more attuned to and more aware of our interactions -- including those in community. I was smiling as I read your post (which is a good thing in a day of horrendous news here in the US.)

Thank you. I hope you keep musing on community indicators (and tagging thus so we keep finding each other. The tag is an indicator unto itself!)

At 4:32 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Thanks, Nancy, for stopping by my blog! And for honoring me by noting digital amalgam in your Blogday posts! Looking forward to exploring community_indicators with you and others.



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