How do you define community in the modern age.

HugalHugal Shipmate
In our high tech 21st century world, where lots of work in a completely different are to the one we live, have hobbies that are not locally based and spend lots of time online how do we define community and how is that expressed.
It is going to be easiest for me to start work the community we are all in The Ship. We are from different countries but I would argue are a community. Not just our interactions online but out side of that. Our expression of community have ranged from Ship meets to Miss Molly. Miss Molly was a US shipmate who was dying of cancer. Shipmates across the world made rectangular patches which were made into a quilt that was given to Miss Molly in hospital. She instructed the staff to put it over her when she was dying so that she could die surrounded by her friends from the ship. That is community for me.
What do we think makes a community these days.
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Comments

  • Great question, @Hugal

    I think your Miss Molly example touches on the fact that no matter how much virtual "community" there is, we still feel the need for material embodiment of that community to make it "real".

    Church of Fools was partly the result of a Masters' thesis into virtual church. It was a great and sometimes moving experiment, but I can't help thinking that if the Son became incarnate, broke bread, and shared it out between a group of people meeting together in a room at some personal danger to themselves, this face-to-face stuff must be very fundamentally important.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited April 25
    Yes, I agree. Being part of the Ship is indeed being part of a community, but it is one where we communicate either in general terms or to specific individuals, and one in which we each set our own agenda and sense of involvement. Of course there is a bit of all that in RL communities too, but it's not the same as actually being in a room together with other people and having a good discussion!

    Actually, I think that the question being raised in this thread is one of THE questions for modern society, which is becoming increasingly fragmented, individualised and (dare I say it?) superficial. While I would not care to live in a traditional village where everyone knew (and talked about) everyone's business and popped in and out of each others' houses on a whim, there was something precious in that concept of community which we have lost.

    I think it was interesting to see on TV the real sense of community felt by Celtic FC supporters when Billy McNeill died the other day: here were total strangers expressing a shared grief in someone they had probably never met. Similar things happen after a sudden death in a neighbourhood.

    By the way, who wrote that Master's Thesis? Was it Pete Ward, who wrote "Liquid Church" - a concept which seems to have fallen by the wayside?
  • Fawkes CatFawkes Cat Shipmate
    edited April 25
    I can think of a couple of identifying features:
    - a group with some sort of common interest
    - some ability to communicate within the group

    The common interest might be geographic (everyone in my house / street / village / town / county / country / planet etc.) or conceptual ( SoF hosts /SoF members / pharmacists / faith groups / people of a given ethnicity / people of a given culture / people not of a given ethnicity or culture etc.).

    The ability to communicate might be face to face, or online, or perhaps more remote - are Archers* listeners in a community with other listeners because the show communicates with them, or is it only people who are on Archers forums who are in a community?

    I suppose the question then is whether this loose definition is so loose as to be useless.

    * A popular radio continuing drama and everyday story of country folk, broadcast daily in the UK on BBC Radio 4.
  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    edited April 25
    I see a community as a group of individuals having something in common. I would say online sites such as the Ship are a community. I would probably define fans of The Archers only as a community if they got together on a forum, or at a pub, to be honest. The fans are a group, as listeners to the World Service like me are, but to me community seems to indicate some form of connection between persons. Happy to be told I'm wrong.

    I realise there are many people who are housebound due to illness, and I mean no offence here, but I'm not sure online communities are sufficient for one's well-being in and of themselves. That is not to say they are not wonderful, they are, or that they cannot play a part -- they can, and do; but actual face-to-face interaction (and I say this as an introvert who needs a heck of a lot of time to recharge after interacting socially), and a "good discussion" as Baptist Trainfan put it, seems to me to fulfill something deep within the human psyche, and I think life would be that more poorer if interactions were solely online.

    As I wrote, I realise there are illnesses and conditions that mean not everyone can get out from behind a screen, and the internet has surely been a godsend for such people, but I honestly believe we are meant to be social creatures where we visibly interact, and even, where appropriate, interact through touch and other senses. I am someone who hates touch, and rarely gets it -- and I think I'm missing out on some part of the human experience there. One I'm content to do without most times, but one I know I'm missing out on.

    But, as an anxiety-ridden introvert, I am thankful for online communities and the contact they provide.
  • By the way, who wrote that Master's Thesis? Was it Pete Ward, who wrote "Liquid Church" - a concept which seems to have fallen by the wayside?
    No, it was Mark aka Melon, of the Old Ship. I know it included a spoof Mystery Worship report I did of an imaginary virtual church. As to Liquid Church, @Gamma Gamaliel has famously remarked that it tends to congeal...

  • ClimacusClimacus Shipmate
    Now I'm pondering about my comment on The Archers...

    On Saturday I'm going to see Helen Zaltzman from the linguistics podcast The Allusionist; will us audience members be a "community", or simply a group of people? Not sure...
  • For there to be community, there has to be some interaction between all the members, not simply all the members focusing on one "star" member.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    I think your Miss Molly example touches on the fact that no matter how much virtual "community" there is, we still feel the need for material embodiment of that community to make it "real".

    .. and I think testament to this is how often self created communities end up creating physically meet ups.
  • I think the definition is today what it always has been: namely, people drawn together by a shared concern. What has altered is the nature, and perhaps the significance, of that shared concern.

    IRL, I can identify four communities I am physically part of: a writing group, a library where I volunteer, a Bohm Dialogue group, and, of course, Glastonbury as a whole. Naturally, there is a lot of overlap between those four groups and my commitment to each varies.

    Online, I can identify several communities I am part of, to some degree or other: railway and model railway Facebook groups, a Facebook writing group, a political page I follow, and a group dedicated to Glastonbury. There's also this group. Again, there is some overlap between the different groups and different levels of commitment.

    What I have never had, and which I suspect few of us have any more, is a community based on mutual survival or prosperity, such as might have existed in the past when people were dependent on their neighbours for labour, custom, produce, and security. Whether that past was ever truly communitarian is another matter and it could be we look back with rose-tinted spectacles.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    I think it depends on what sort of group is involved. Certainly northern English mill workers in Victorian times relied on each other. Merchant classes and Mill owners didn’t as much. Upper class people would even less.
    Community has always been difficult to define.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    In "The Death of the Hired Man" Frost says, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." That strikes me as a pretty good run at defining community, too. And it shows the inadequacy of the idea of "virtual" community, at least to my mind.
  • ....
    What I have never had, and which I suspect few of us have any more, is a community based on mutual survival or prosperity, such as might have existed in the past when people were dependent on their neighbours for labour, custom, produce, and security....

    So you diapered and fed yourself from birth? Taught yourself everything you know? (OK, maybe that you did.) Built your own house and grow your own food? Make your own clothes?

    AND you're going to stop anthropogenic climate change all by yourself? Well, then, get on with it so Greta and the kids can go back to school.














  • ....
    What I have never had, and which I suspect few of us have any more, is a community based on mutual survival or prosperity, such as might have existed in the past when people were dependent on their neighbours for labour, custom, produce, and security....

    So you diapered and fed yourself from birth? Taught yourself everything you know? (OK, maybe that you did.) Built your own house and grow your own food? Make your own clothes?

    AND you're going to stop anthropogenic climate change all by yourself? Well, then, get on with it so Greta and the kids can go back to school.



    What you're describing is family, society, and capitalism. Community relates to a specific sense of belonging based on having something in common with a group of people. For some people family or even nationhood can be a community, for others they are not.
  • tclune wrote: »
    In "The Death of the Hired Man" Frost says, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." That strikes me as a pretty good run at defining community, too. And it shows the inadequacy of the idea of "virtual" community, at least to my mind.

    Well, the state has no duty to house you and not everyone has a home they can go to.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    The state has a duty to provide affordable housing and shelter for those who need it. The fact that ordinary people provide that instead is damming on our society and the government.
    I agree that community is based around something shared but it is more nuanced than that.
    If I see someone in another part of the country who is not from where I am and needs help and help them is that community?
  • Hugal wrote: »
    The state has a duty to provide affordable housing and shelter for those who need it. The fact that ordinary people provide that instead is damming on our society and the government.

    Unfortunately, the state doesn't agree with you and ordinary people don't provide it. What you mainly have are private landlords renting out at market rates. I've been renting for the last twenty years and often been unemployed. Finding affordable property is a nightmare.
    I agree that community is based around something shared but it is more nuanced than that.
    If I see someone in another part of the country who is not from where I am and needs help and help them is that community?

    It would require a different definition of community. Last night as I walked home I saw a snail in the middle of the path and picked it up and put it in the verge where it wouldn't get crushed by a foot. Are snails part of my community?

  • ... Community relates to a specific sense of belonging based on having something in common with a group of people. For some people family or even nationhood can be a community, for others they are not.

    But in a previous post you described:
    ... a community based on mutual survival or prosperity, such as might have existed in the past when people were dependent on their neighbours for labour, custom, produce, and security ...

    You said that was a community. Now you're saying that's not community, that's "family, society, and capitalism" instead. But you said family (and nationhood) can be a community for some people. But not for others. It appears you're defining community as whatever group you happen to be thinking of at the moment.
    Are snails part of my community?

    Good question. Do you consider distant blood relatives part of your community?



  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Community I think requires that one look out for each others needs (whether physical or emotional) and share some interests, and have some sense that this sharing of interests is in its own right a common good and worthwhile interest.
    It thus requires interactions between people, and those interactions can't be merely aimed at each person meeting their own individual satisfactions. I don't have any good conclusions about whether or not emotional needs and interests are sufficient, or whether meeting physical needs and interests as well is required.

  • ... Community relates to a specific sense of belonging based on having something in common with a group of people. For some people family or even nationhood can be a community, for others they are not.

    But in a previous post you described:
    ... a community based on mutual survival or prosperity, such as might have existed in the past when people were dependent on their neighbours for labour, custom, produce, and security ...

    You said that was a community. Now you're saying that's not community, that's "family, society, and capitalism" instead. But you said family (and nationhood) can be a community for some people. But not for others. It appears you're defining community as whatever group you happen to be thinking of at the moment.

    Bear in mind I'm English so my ideas of the past are a little different. The sort of community I was positing would be a small village maybe 500 years ago that met most of its physical needs and where, crucially, most people knew each other. Whether such a village ever existed is another matter. Although society as a whole now meets the needs of the individual it isn't the same as a community. For example, my laptop is Chinese, my clothing comes from who knows where, my food comes from all over the place. I have no connection to the people who supply my day-to-day needs, other than being a consumer of their products.

    Are snails part of my community?
    Good question. Do you consider distant blood relatives part of your community?

    No. I don't even consider my parents part of my community. A community, to me, are those people with whom I am in regular contact and with whom I have common interests and wants. I don't have to think I have anything in common with a snail to not want to see it crushed.
    It appears you're defining community as whatever group you happen to be thinking of at the moment.

    Absolutely. The community I belong to is indeed whatever group I happen to be dealing with at any one time. In other words, a community is a group that I choose to be part of for however long a time I choose to be part of it.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited April 25
    There are many types of community, and there are many levels of community. Yes, SoF is one type of community with many sub-types (some of us hang out only on Purgatory, but others prefer the other message boards); but there are also many different levels. To borrow from the Barrett Values Centre LLC (US), there are seven different levels:

    Level 1: Survival -- This level focuses on matters to do with the survival,
    maintenance and expansion of the community and the security of its citizens.
    Healthy communities are financially sound and safe. This level includes values
    such as prosperity, financial stability, health care, employment, and emergency
    services. The potentially limiting aspects of this level of consciousness include
    poverty, corruption and environmental pollution.

    Level 2: Relationship --This level concerns the quality of internal interpersonal
    relationships within the group. Healthy communities create a sense belonging.
    This level includes values such as family, friendship, tradition, loyalty,
    neighbourliness, hospitality and open communication. The potentially limiting
    aspects of this level of consciousness include discrimination, loneliness,
    segregation, conformity and intolerance.

    Level 3: Self-esteem -- This level addresses the community’s need for efficient
    performance. Healthy communities are orderly, regulated and law abiding. This
    level includes values such as institutional effectiveness, quality, pride,
    cleanliness and public services. The potentially limiting aspects of this level of
    consciousness include bureaucracy, elitism, corruption, complacency and
    arrogance.

    Level 4: Transformation --This level focuses on giving members of the
    community an opportunity to participate in decision-making – not just the
    leaders and managers. Healthy communities encourage members to be
    responsible and focused on their goals. There is a focus on learning opportunities
    and entrepreneurship. This level includes values such as freedom of speech,
    equality, fairness, adaptability, accountability, self-reliance, and consensus.

    Level 5: Internal Cohesion -- This level concerns the creation of a collective
    group identity. It involves deepening the sense of internal connectedness among
    community members by creating a collective vision for the community and a set
    of shared values. Healthy communities have a positive spirit, a sense of direction
    and above all, optimism. This level of consciousness includes values such as
    enthusiasm, integrity, fun, fairness, trust and dedication.

    Level 6: Making A Difference -- This level focuses on the deepening of internal
    connectedness within the community and the creation of alliances and
    partnerships with other communities. Healthy communities care for the
    disadvantaged and provide counselling services. They also develop links with
    neighbouring communities and participate in exchanges of information with
    communities that share similar issues. This level of consciousness includes
    values such as community care, sustainability, environmental awareness,
    aesthetics and quality of life.

    Level 7: Service
    -- This level focuses on a further deepening of internal
    connectedness within the community and the expansion of external
    connectedness with other communities and society. Healthy communities are not
    only concerned with local issues; they are also advocates for social justice and
    human rights at a national or global level. They are concerned about the impact
    of their decisions on future generations and they display wisdom and
    compassion.

    Source: Barrett Values Centre

    While we may be at level three according to the above. I don't think we can get to the deepest level.
  • ... The community I belong to is indeed whatever group I happen to be dealing with at any one time. In other words, a community is a group that I choose to be part of for however long a time I choose to be part of it.


    That seems a rather monopolar view of community. Do the various communities get any say in whether you can "choose" to be a part of them or deal with them? From what you've written above, it almost seems like communities cease to exist when you aren't there.


    Whether we realize it or not, we all belong to many different communities, and they all have two things in common. One, as Colin Smith says, is that those are the communities we chose. The other thing they have in common -- which I kinda think is a little more critical and interesting to discuss since it's not always up to us -- is that those communities chose to accept us.








  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Thinking about this lead me to the Good Samaritan. If the neighbour in the story is a person from a hated race who helps does that say anything about community? I wasn’t leading up to this with my previous post but it did remind me of the parable.
  • edited April 26
    Eutychus wrote: »
    For there to be community, there has to be some interaction between all the members, not simply all the members focusing on one "star" member.

    This. Don't know of Miss Molly.

    There is a sub community of Erin People. Doesn't include those with no acquaintance with her and thus couldn't care less.

    I don't think an online forum is a real community in the sense of personal relationships among a group. There's no question that subgroups have joined up with each other and formed little communities, which seem relatively exclusive at times.

    Real communities, it seems to me, share experiences. We've been at pains to develop a community with our neighbours: we started with lighting a fire barrel, roasting wieners and shinny in the winter. Now everyone gets together for all sorts of things, and our cat gets invited inside the neighbours and we share all kinds of little connections.

    I'm on a community board now, trying to understand if it's a community. Some churches have been communities, some have deceived us and actually weren't when the chips were down and we were at extremity.
  • edited April 26
    Delete
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    ...Don't know of Miss Molly.

    There is a sub community of Erin People. Doesn't include those with no acquaintance with her and thus couldn't care less.
    That is a shame, in both cases. Miss Molly brought out the best in the Ship. Erin shaped the Ship. Those who post here should at least be aware of both of them and what they added to the community.
    I don't think an online forum is a real community in the sense of personal relationships among a group. ... Real communities, it seems to me, share experiences. ...
    I disagree with your first statement, and I believe strongly that this community does share experiences in good and supportive ways.

    When my late mother was ill, I posted prayer requests for her here; she told me she could feel the effect of those prayers. Now that I'm dealing with the later stages of Stage IV breast cancer (when I was first treated, I was told that if it came back it would most likely be in my bones, brain, liver or lungs; I have now collected the whole set) and stuck in a wheelchair, I know what she meant. The Ship is a tremendously supportive and caring community.

    I am greatly blessed to have a wonderful church community, helpful neighbors, and an incredibly supportive group of colleagues at work - but I would never want to give up the Shipmates (most of whom I've never met in person) who pray for me and post encouraging messages.

    This is very much a "real community." God bless the Ship.
  • edited April 26
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    ...Don't know of Miss Molly.

    There is a sub community of Erin People. Doesn't include those with no acquaintance with her and thus couldn't care less.
    That is a shame, in both cases. Miss Molly brought out the best in the Ship. Erin shaped the Ship. Those who post here should at least be aware of both of them and what they added to the community.
    I get that this is heartfelt for a significant number of an inner circle of old guard. Which is very nice for those who are part of it. I remember as a child being told when I went to summer camp about all the fun they had last summer with the people there last summer. Pretty empty of connection. It's not community. It's not a shame really, it just isn't meaningful.
  • @NOprophet_NØprofit I think you miss my point. Both Molly and Erin were as @Rossweisse says people who helped build the community - Erin was after all Community Editor. They were central figures (in very different ways) but the community didn't revolve around them - unlike going to see a famous film star in person.

    As for "in crowd" and "old guard", one of the best things I've ever heard about the notion of community is that a healthy community should have a fringe membership, otherwise it's a cult.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    edited April 26
    Eutychus wrote: »
    @NOprophet_NØprofit I think you miss my point. Both Molly and Erin were as @Rossweisse says people who helped build the community - Erin was after all Community Editor. They were central figures (in very different ways) but the community didn't revolve around them - unlike going to see a famous film star in person.

    As for "in crowd" and "old guard", one of the best things I've ever heard about the notion of community is that a healthy community should have a fringe membership, otherwise it's a cult.
    In Real Life (can’t seem to do the TM on my phone) we celebrate the likes of Erin and Miss Molly for what they did in shaping the community. We put up statues, create paintings, write biographies etc.
    During both 9/11 and 7/7 shipmates were glued to a the Ship waiting for. Shipmates in the affected area to check in. Lots of prayers posted. So yes the likes of myself are what you might call the old guard but we know what this community is capable of. Yes it is a community
  • DonLogan2DonLogan2 Shipmate
    Why do I have to go to work when I have just found a topic like this?

    As Arnie said "I`ll be back..."
  • There is a sub community of Erin People. Doesn't include those with no acquaintance with her and thus couldn't care less.

    ....

    Real communities, it seems to me, share experiences.

    As Hugal alludes to above, the first implies the second doesn't it ? That is -- that in the Ship includes people who share the experience of interacting with Erin makes it real to an extent.

    It may be more useful to differentiate on the 'thickness' of a particular community than whether its largely 'real' or 'virtual'. There are probably 'real' communities that we are all part of that are 'thin' in that sense - for some this will include the church they are in (while maybe the community/small group they are in within that church is 'thicker').

  • That seems a rather monopolar view of community. Do the various communities get any say in whether you can "choose" to be a part of them or deal with them?
    I have a monopolar view of the world! Of course any community can choose or choose not to accept me. My point is no community can claim me if I do not want to be claimed by it. An example of that would be whether a state has the right to require people to serve in the armed forces. I say absolutely not.
    From what you've written above, it almost seems like communities cease to exist when you aren't there.
    That would suggest I am solipsistic. I am not.

    Whether we realize it or not, we all belong to many different communities, and they all have two things in common. One, as Colin Smith says, is that those are the communities we chose. The other thing they have in common -- which I kinda think is a little more critical and interesting to discuss since it's not always up to us -- is that those communities chose to accept us.

    Agreed. The type of community I reject is the one that claims you whether you want to be part of it or not.
    An example of what I mean comes from Brexit. Leave won the Referendum by a narrow margin and many Leavers think Remainers should just shut up and accept the result. They even coined a word, "Remoaners" for those who continue to oppose the UK leaving the EU. They are also happy to call those who want the UK to stay in the EU "traitors".

    To them, we are part of the overall community of the UK and must accept what that community voted for and accept their vision of the future UK. Any disagreement with their views results in insults and the accusation that we are traitors.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Leave said that if they lost they would keep pushing for us to leave so complaining at remain doing the same just makes them hypocritical.
    Your point on communities you are not asked to be a part of is interesting. I did not ask to be English. I am English because I was born in England. How does that work with your point? I guess I could choose to take on another nationality but as it stands I am English because of birth not choice.
  • Hugal wrote: »
    Leave said that if they lost they would keep pushing for us to leave so complaining at remain doing the same just makes them hypocritical.
    Your point on communities you are not asked to be a part of is interesting. I did not ask to be English. I am English because I was born in England. How does that work with your point? I guess I could choose to take on another nationality but as it stands I am English because of birth not choice.

    Agreed about Leave.

    I also am English but did not ask to be so. The issue is what duty does one owe to England purely because one was born here? And: what duty does England owe to those born here?

    The answer is, I suspect, complicated, and not helped by competing ideas of what England is..

    There are those who are extremely nationalistic:-my country right or wrong, foreigners can't be trusted, bring back the empire, etcetera, and then there are a few like me who would happily reference the reign of King Canute and ask the Danes to take England back on the grounds they would do a better job of running the place.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Does that mean it is a community? It seems to fit the definitions given on this thread
  • Hugal wrote: »
    Does that mean it is a community? It seems to fit the definitions given on this thread

    England, or rather the state of being English, may well involve a sense of community, though my gut says that for a community to work everyone must have some sort of personal contact with everyone else in a given community. A community should also have something about which it can rally, be it a shared purpose or shared values, and they seem in short supply.

    Can a community be divided or fragmented? Or, is a community by definition cohesive, and therefore each "division" or "fragment" is actually a community in its own right?

    I take an evolutionary attitude to human behaviour and we have evolved to work best within modestly sized groups. Larger groups seem to need complex mechanisms and add-ons to make them function. Such mechanisms are hierarchical systems of power which were at one time aristocracy based and are now politically based (parish council, county council, local MP, parliament, and so on). The add-ons include sovereigns, flags, anthems, pomp, rituals, etcetera which inculcate a sense of everyone being part of something much larger than themselves.

    So much of this is subjective. Was Kim Philby a traitor to his country (a community), or a loyalist to a cause (also a community)? Or both?
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    In my initial comments (see above) I said at the most, the level of community is at a three--with one notable exception (Miss Molly). However, I said I doubted we could get much further because of the level of transformation is hard to achieve since a select group of people keep tight editorial control. I understand some of the reasoning behind that--certainly don't want to go afoul of British liability laws and there is a strong desire to keep threads on topic. But I get the sense that this editorial board needs to expand beyond a subgroup of Erin people.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    In my observations, the term 'community' is used in very different ways, suggesting different meanings. A quick look at the OED shows many different definitions and usages of the words.

    The contexts in which I come across it in the 21st century are as follows:

    1. Online communities - forum sites like this or FB groups, say, where people discuss things and chat, and get to know each other a bit. Obviously some people are more involved than others, some people are more on the outside, some people are more observers, some people are more popular than others, etc., and people come and go, though there tends to be a core of regulars, and that also changes over time. People may connect more by sending something in the post to one person, who then sends it to another, and so on - a book to read, or a book to draw in, or a journal to write in - so you have a physical way of connecting too.

    2. The idea that people with a particular characteristic are all a community and represent certain attitudes. People talk about the autistic community, for instance, or the Deaf community. It doesn't mean that all autistic or all Deaf people know each other or hang out together, but rather seems to refer to the kind of conversations and attitudes that, say, autistic people have and share, on blogs, twitter, etc. Using certain hashtags to take part in certain discussions is often seen as a community thing, bringing people together.

    3. Religious communities - convents, monasteries, new monasticism. People living together communally under a religious rule.

    4. Neighbourhoods/areas can be described as communities, when people who happen to be in the same area get to know each other and do things together. As with online communities, it doesn't mean that everyone is involved, and some people are more involved than others, but it's the fact that interaction happens, things are done as a neighbourhood thing.

    I'm sure I could think of more, but those are what spring to mind now.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    In "The Death of the Hired Man" Frost says, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." That strikes me as a pretty good run at defining community, too. And it shows the inadequacy of the idea of "virtual" community, at least to my mind.

    Spot on.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    @NOprophet_NØprofit I think you miss my point. Both Molly and Erin were as @Rossweisse says people who helped build the community - Erin was after all Community Editor. They were central figures (in very different ways) but the community didn't revolve around them - unlike going to see a famous film star in person.

    As for "in crowd" and "old guard", one of the best things I've ever heard about the notion of community is that a healthy community should have a fringe membership, otherwise it's a cult.

    Your first paragraph is the "last year at summer camp" which is nice and fine with it, but it's moved along to "this year at summer camp".

    Your second paragraph is interesting. If I put it in context, those who are not Molly And Erin People may be permanently fringe(?)
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    I don’t really think the levels of community listed above are a good fit for the Ship, and possibly for many online communities. For example, for most if not all of us Level 1 simply doesn’t apply to the Ship. On the other hand there are IMHO elements of Levels 5 & 7 present. And there are some aspects of all Levels for which is hard to see how an online community of people who largely remain anonymous to each other could ever achieve them.

    For many communities founder or near-founder members have a special place in the memory of the community especially while there are still people around who remember them, and Erin is an example of that. I don’t recall ever having any particular engagement with her on the boards, but she certainly was a big presence when I joined in 2005, and there was a palpable sense of loss and shock at her death and sudden absence from the Ship.

    The longevity of some members of the community (well exceeding mine) is both a strength of the community, and potentially a barrier to new members becoming part of it - however welcoming it might wish to be. It is hard quickly to feel fully part of a group which has important moments of shared history which one was not a part of.

    Here there’s a further complication in that we are all like guests in the house of someone who keeps an open house but asks that his norms are respected. Basically we are all Simon’s guests. He puts in an appearance from time to time, but mostly leaves us to get on with it. That sets limits on the extent to which we can fairly expect to be allowed to be responsible for shaping the behaviours and norms of the community since certain kinds of online behaviour can have significant consequences, not just for the continuance of the community, but in terms of real world legal consequences for Simon.

    (In my mind his role has some resemblance to that of the Magician on the Island of the Dufflepuds in C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Hopefully, for the most part, shipmates are not as frustratingly obtuse as the Dufflepuds are.)
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    tclune wrote: »
    In "The Death of the Hired Man" Frost says, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." That strikes me as a pretty good run at defining community, too. And it shows the inadequacy of the idea of "virtual" community, at least to my mind.

    Spot on.

    Of course virtual communities are communities. When someone posts "I have a need" to some virtual community of which they are a member, and the other members put themselves out to help out, that's community. The fact that it's occurring via a computer and between people who have never physically met is irrelevant.

    Sure - your virtual community can't meet all your needs. Someone thousands of miles away isn't going to pop round and shovel your snow when you have a broken leg. But my physical neighbours aren't going to meet all my needs either.
  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    If I put it in context, those who are not Molly And Erin People may be permanently fringe(?)

    Not permanently. They become part of the newer iteration of the in-group. Soon enough you'll be going on about the glory days of when RooK was here (pbuh and may he never depart) or when we had/did not have certain kinds of threads.

  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Communities change over time. They have a connection with the earlier iteration. Communities need to know there history.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Real communities, it seems to me, share experiences.

    Across the board? If we're having a cookout and just one member of the community can't make it, does it cease to be a community? What about two? Three? I think you see where I"m heading. You seem to be denying the Ship is a community because its shared internal connections aren't all global. This strikes me as an absurdly narrow definition of communally shared experience.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I'm not sure that communities always have to know their history. I'm a member of a couple of excellent communities on FB. At some point in both these communities I discovered the history of how the group came about, and it involved some fight between two admin, some petty thing that caused bad feeling, and a split. Either one admin left and the group remained and flourished, or the group is a result of one admin leaving and starting their own group. I didn't find that particularly helpful to my understanding of the communities.

    It can be interesting to know things about the history of communities, and some things can be very helpful in understanding how the group evolved to be like it is, but not everything is helpful, and some things will be helpful to some people and not to others. The community decides which parts of its history it considers significant, but it is subjective, and different members of the community will not necessarily agree.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I would also suggest that a community isn't necessarily a positive thing. You can have unhappy communities, unhealthy communities, abusive communities. They are still communities - dysfunctional ones. So to me the question is not just what makes a community, but also what makes a healthy community.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited April 26
    Eutychus wrote: »
    @NOprophet_NØprofit I think you miss my point. Both Molly and Erin were as @Rossweisse says people who helped build the community - Erin was after all Community Editor. They were central figures (in very different ways) but the community didn't revolve around them - unlike going to see a famous film star in person.

    As for "in crowd" and "old guard", one of the best things I've ever heard about the notion of community is that a healthy community should have a fringe membership, otherwise it's a cult.
    Your first paragraph is the "last year at summer camp" which is nice and fine with it, but it's moved along to "this year at summer camp".
    It's not nostalgia. The influence of Erin and in a different way Molly on the Ship is a historical reality.

    (If it had not been for Erin, the Ship would be very different from how it is now and very probably wouldn't have been here at all).

    The point I was trying to make is that when Erin and Molly were alive, despite their significant influence here, it was quite possible to be part of the community without interacting with, or being focused on, either of them.

    Which is very different from the scenario of people gathering to see a celebrity, as @climacus described here.
    Your second paragraph is interesting. If I put it in context, those who are not Molly And Erin People may be permanently fringe(?)
    You're missing my point completely.

    In my experience, complaints about the existence of an In Crowd usually boil down to the complainant being upset they are not part of the In Crowd.

    'In Crowd' is loaded language. In my view what you referred to as an 'In Crowd' is really just the counterpart to a fringe membership, and as such is the sign of a healthy community.

    The community of disciples around Jesus had both and 'in crowd' an a 'fringe membership'.

    If a community has no fringe membership, that means everyone has exactly the same level of engagement, and I think that's called a cult.

  • fineline wrote: »
    So to me the question is not just what makes a community, but also what makes a healthy community.

    I think plugging together the gem quoted by @tclune - plus the genuine ability to leave or move to the fringes at any time - is a good start.

    Another good clue is whether the community would ever accept external intervention such as mediation in a major dispute, or a criminal complaint made by one member against another.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    edited April 26
    I don't think you can answer the question "Is the Ship a community?" without taking into account that we are the strongly diminished remainder of something that was much bigger and more vivid years ago, hanging on in a world where internet bulletin boards have mostly lost their relevance.

    I'm not dissing the Ship here, I'm simply stating a fact. In a very real sense, this summer camp was better years ago.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited April 26
    It was certainly different*. But again, if one never comes down from the mountain top the kind of 'community' that stays up there tends to be a bit kooky.

    ==

    *It occurred to me in the course of this conversation that for many of us, Molly was probably the first person whose last days we witnessed close at hand through the medium of the Internet.
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