Thursday, 18 January 2007

Communities of Practice CoP

I found this interesting academic paper on “communities of practice” which I have never heard of before although it has existed since 1991. Wikipedia says:

“CoP refers to the process of social learning that occurs when people who have a common interest in some subject or problem collaborate over an extended period to share ideas, find solutions, and build innovations.”

CoP are often divided into 5 groups

* Communities of Action
* Communities of Circumstance
* Communities of Interest
* Communities of Position
* Communities of Purpose

Lerner the man behind CoP, believes that many people actually create their identities through their social participation in these communities.

It’s interesting to note, that recent research found that many teenagers have multiple identities online and often build them around the community that they participate with. If Lerner is right, I wonder what longer term affects the ability to create multiple personas for one individual might have on them in the long term?

Kids I speak to laugh this whole idea off. They travel between their real life and virtual personas all the time. And that doesn’t mean offline and online because they don’t make that distinction. They know which parts of their identities are real and important and which one’s are disposable and part of their theatre.

I am guessing in our multitasking world where on any given day we have to change our hats fifteen times, maybe it's just part of our new and necessary education process. They say the generation before me only had one or two careers, whereas I will have six, and my daugther could have over ten. With so many lives, and so many roles to fill within our families and work life, maybe the network is playing its part in supporting our on-going evolution.

And maybe as parents, we shouldn't fear but embrace this as it may be as necessary as calculus (ok bad example because who the heck needs calculus but you get my drift).


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