This running record by Richard Tchen does not aim to reproduce our conversation verbatim, but rather attempts to sketch who said what (although double-quotes denote a few verbatim moments). We hope that any inaccuracies will be corrected and clarified by the group.
We hope to use this as a departure point for further discussion.
In attendance: all sum98 onsite participants, Judy Ann Brown, Annie Fetter, Dave Kershaw, Sarah Seastone, Wes Shumar, Richard Tchen, Betsy Teeple, Steve Weimar, Ken Williams.STEVE: building online communication ... using Forum as a resource ... what makes for effective online communication? what is the role of web pages in online communication? how do we interact with them? JOHN: always unsubscribed from mailing lists ANNIE: because of ... bad content? JOHN: good content on occasion, but too much volume ... likes the archiving and categorizing that Forum offers BOB: finds closed (invitation-only) groups most valuable ... some groups cycle through the same conversations again and again MARGARET: learning and mathematics discussion group gave good articles and conversation ... still refers to it STEVE: what communities you'd join, what you want, and what you don't want MARGARET: ideas out of the learning and mathematics discussion group persist ... sense that <nctm-standards-2000> would be a black hole ... no point if not focusing on input for product, such as NCTM standards SARAH: massaging conversation is labor-intensive ... and what does that do to/for conversation? "hate to see a community lost because you've made it a resource" BOB: what level of moderation? certainly should keep out persistent spammers ANNIE: clarify moderator v. facilitator roles ... moderator as spam filter, not as facilitator of conversation MARGARET: John Conway will correct ignorances of <geometry-pre-college> -- a helpful role BOBBIE: <calc-reform> discussion moves in waves ... how do you take out totally unfounded opinions? STEVE: dilemma of structuring discussions for those just arriving as compared with those already midstream ... hear desire for group 1) memory (e.g., recognition of cycles of conversations), 2) structure or clustering, and 3) facilitator of some kind ... what is the community you're after? perhaps currently they are too flat KEN: community v. discussion (e.g., math doctors v. <math-teach>) MARJORIE: closed, threaded group on pre-service teachers and technology was both discussion and community -- but have faces to names because core discussants had workshopped for two weeks ANNIE: faces enhance community feeling STEVE: sometimes this happens at conferences, i.e., online discussants plan to or spontaneously get together with one another RON: "community is face-to-face" ... best groups have digests STEVE: have considered <sci.math> volunteer moderation MEL: prefers digests ANNIE: digests have disadvantages because they are chronologically organized, not threaded by subject BOB: cancer support group strikes a balance between the personal and the professional ... rally around one another (even when reprimanding) in a fraternal way ... this group has a 9:1 (lurker:participant) ratio ... on math groups, posts were short and disconnected ... if <math-teach> were influencing something, then maybe it would feel more like a community SARAH: perhaps support groups are the only kind of discussion group that effect a sense of community? MEL: as a lurker, recognizes discussants enjoy a community ... how do we get lurkers to feel like part of the community? JOHN: seems there are two reasons to discuss: you're wanting to help or you need to share KEN: a third reason: you want to keep up JOHN: do whatever enhances those experiences BOB: workshop participants tend not to discuss with participants of other years' workshops, even when they're all on the same list JOHN: there exists a comfort level with those with whom you've workshopped BOB: "never underestimate the bandwidth of a fully-loaded station wagon" STEVE: Forum's use of nested workshop mailing lists facilitate sense of "Oh, we've been through that experience; you'll like it" ... sum98 participants don't need that kind of support from other workshop veterans ANNIE: newcomers enjoy support RON: seems communities tend toward smaller numbers STEVE: want responsiveness, commitments, intimacy in a discussion group? what about discussions as resources? MARGARET: critical mass necessary ... recall mailing sum95 folks, but no longer feel the need (as though having outgrown) SARAH: WELL members did get together, and that ultimately counted towards their sense of community ... also, the crisis when one stranger recognized another's problem through their writing bonded those online at the time ... define community as necessarily grounded in personal encounter? similarly, are virtual groups that do not meet in person not communities? BOB: Camille group offered helpful prompters (e.g., comment, question, rebuttal, alternative, utterance) for posts ... on web page archives of group, these prompters allowed perceiving the parent-child relationship among posts ... still, it wouldn't have been what it was without prior knowledge and personal encounter MARAGARET: Camille's prompters remind of CSTILE software, which also offered a lounge for privacy ("where you developed a community feeling") and practice ... otherwise, discussion in the actual group remained academic ... "it worked pretty well" SUZANNE: "I don't know if I have [a community]" MELANIE: perhaps through others' responses to your online projects? SUZANNE: do it all via e-mail ... usually unsubscribe from lists after one day ... will go out and seek people individually ... "never last in my action," although don't know about ripple effects MELANIE: have done that -- introduced myself to you [Suzanne] as someone who used your material SUZANNE: Forum is my community, because they support me RON: see three kinds of interactions with his web pages: informal thanks, formal invitations, and "phi is the answer to the universe" cranks STEVE: by definition, once you work on the Internet, you are part of a community ... in some sense, Forum success has relied on the community SUZANNE: balance of give and take STEVE: when, how do you ask outsiders to turn around and give? SUZANNE: perhaps it's like teaching ... "I never not respond" to requests SARAH: "I don't even know how to feel about" [accidental fame because of web pages or newsletter authorship] ... "it doesn't feel like a community to me" ... first thing I do when I get a joke on e-mail is think, "Who can I e-mail this to who would enjoy it?" KEN: Perl programmer group only recognizes a few authorities, but anyone can contribute to the repository ... we have a common goal, not just interest, of developing the programming language BOB: cite book that reads "There are no questions that are too dumb to ask ... just some that are too dumb to answer" MARGARET: maybe that's what I meant: communities need a goal ROB: need to go (strive) somewhere together MARGARET: after achieving goal, just friendship can keep the discussion going STEVE: how to create new groups that are inviting? <math-teach> has no place for the newcomer BOBBIE: [two math education lists] have become too political STEVE: groups rarely offer a way to join other than jumping onto the scene SARAH: what of role of virtual communities in the classroom community? JOHN: they can give voice, excitement, to those usually reserved KEN: community as a tool, e.g., Dr. Math ... in order to support growth, must effect a sense of community ... goal of Dr. Math participants is to build a service ... being able to say, "if you'd like to help ..." to someone you've helped is a great role for the group to be in MELANIE: will meet an online participant in her chat room later tonight SARAH: heard that Ken derived rejuvenation, pleasure from answering math questions MELANIE: students, especially, derive great satisfaction from finding out that someone's on the other end of the line ROB: web can make even students experts, e.g., one student's sketches of Morley's Theorem elicited formal e-mail from Egypt ... but most e-mail asks for more help, not offers thanks- Richard Tchen, The Math Forum
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