Over the last few years, I have collaborated with a number of people that I either have never met face to face or who live too far away to meet on a regular basis face to face. I moved from listservs to discussion boards to blogs and now to facebook. What I have noticed is an initial period in which I participate as a spectator (i.e. a member of the listserv receiving updates but not posting), then I move on as an active member. I then begin to build a trusting relationship in which I feel there are good conversations and a safe area to disagree and resolve intellectual disagreements.
My experience fits fairly closely with online community research (See Ruth Brown's research, for example). However, after a while, a new technology will come online and members of the community (not all) will begin to emigrate to the new format, leaving the one community to help develop and become part of a new community. As this happens, however, suddenly, a virtual colleague is now missing with no forwarding address.
I often wonder, where are they? Where did everyone go? How do I contact them again and stay in touch? what makes things even more difficult is that different members will gravitate to different technologies (and thus different communities). It is impossible to stay in touch with all new technologies, so we choose those technologies that meet our needs at that time.
I think that there needs to be a protocol for disbanding a community and/or migrating it to a new technology. In the snailmail, we have a forwarding address. It might be good if we began to use the same mechanisms as we leave communities. Perhaps someone will develop a directory in which the most commonly accessed addresses are listed for an individual. I currently do this by googling people's names. However, if there was an interactive directory that you could use to identify where people are posting and where you are most apt to contact them, it would be helpful to follow your community through cyberspace.
- V Yonkers
- Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.