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Public vs. private discussions in communities

I came back from the workshop for Knowledge Board SIG leaders (I’m a member of Quaerere interface team). This was good learning and networking event.

Somehow I realised only now that I’m in “community leader” role, which feels quite strange. I wouldn’t say that I’ve learnt many new things about supporting a community, but face-to-face discussions definitely have raised the level of my motivation. I hope this will help me to overcome lack of time problem 🙂 I believe in learning that comes out of actions, so this is a great opportunity for learning-by-doing about communities of practice.

One of the most interesting for me things was a discussion about public vs. private discussions in communities. Richard McDermott (he was facilitating the workshop) gave a number that 70% of CoP communication happens in a private space (e.g. e-mail, phone, face-to-face) and then suggested that outcomes of those private discussions can be posted back to a community.

But my mind is triggered by another question: Why this private space is needed? In the Quaerere group we use several ways to communicate: SIG area at KnowledgeBoard, boogie web-site, closed QuickSpace site, e-mail, phone, face-to-face… I believe that most of our discussions outside of KB SIG area could be interesting for a wider audience, so I thought of several reasons to stay “private”:

  • trust and safety – even if you talk about “open for everyone” things, it’s much easier to talk to the audience you know.
  • speed and easy-to-do – we all busy and we jump into using tools that save us time without even thinking that it could be more beneficial to have public discussion.
  • ownership – like with blogging, we want to be sure that nobody can take it from us.

The funny thing is that Angela is talking about something similar suggesting a combination of formal and informal KnowledgeBoard.

I would love to see some studies on this…

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2003/02/06.html#a444; comments are here.

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