Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How can blogs support communities of practice?

(Cartoon via tangwailing blog)

I observed that Stan Garfield blogs about questions he receives or overhears about knowledge management. That made me think that I could blog some of the questions I get (+ the answers). One of them was: how can blogs support communities of practice?

1. A community of practice can have a public teamblog. An example of a teamblog is the ecollaboration weblog . It works for the community to document face-to-face meetings, and makes it publicly known. In a discussion about the future of the community, it came up as an object of identification with the community. It is not easy to keep it going. For instance, it would be great if members would post more blogs sharing their experiences with ecollaboration and reflections, but it's not priority for people.

2. A weblog with summaries of discussions can be a repository for the community. An example is the weblog Everything you always wanted to know about capacity development . It is a weblog from ICCO capacity building advisor. The discuss cases in a password-protected environment. The cases are summarized in a depersonalized matter. Besides a repository, it is also a boundary crossing tool, as it is publicly available. In this case, the first posts were done by me as a facilitator, since this was a new way of working for the group and hard to explain. When they saw it, they were enthusiastic and were inspired enough to continue. It feels like a 'product' of discussions which may seem intangible.

3. Individual member weblogs can stimulate individual practice reflections, but can also act as means to open up practices to others. CPsquare offers an RSS feed that aggregates all blogposts by its members. This can be a way of making the weblogs more visible.

4. Blogging communities have blogs as their main means of communication. Nancy White has written an article about blogging communities called: Launching a new paradigm for online community. She distinguishes 3 types of blogging communities:
1. The single blog/blogger centric community with the power vested in the central blogger.
2. The Central connecting topic community which is a community that arises between blogs linked by a common passion or topic.
3. The boundaried communities like myspaces or multiply where members register and join and are are offered the chance to create a blog.

For more about blogging communities you can watch Nancy White presenting on this topic (she is talking through webcam!) in this video


Irene Hanraets said...

Hi Joitske
I thought too, that blogging was just self promotional blah, blah. But I experience that is is more than that. Although I'm still in the stage of playing with this medium, I think it is a possible tool to connect people easily en so to start an online community or learning network.
Irene Hanraets
PS It's a pity that the words of Nancy on video you offered is difficult to hear. Perhaps you can give me another link where her presentation is written out?

Stephen Dale said...

Hi Joitske,

some useful insight and links - many thanks. Highly relevant to the work I'm currently doing in getting communities of practice in local government established and using these sort of tools. Blogging is the final step into the unknown for most users just getting to grips with social media. I think I might start promoting team blogging a bit more, which may give some users the confidence to start their own blogs.