Re: Why Lurk...

From: Dale Cyphert (
Date: Mon Apr 04 2005 - 18:22:00 PDT

Well, no, and yes, and more.

To start with xmca, it's less like grandma and more like cousins. The
family analogy is good, tho. The current conversation is not often
relevant to daily work, but it serves as a connection to past lives and
foundational theories and previous work problems. So it's a little like
getting the family newsletter. We're no longer working on the same
problems, but we don't want to lose track of our roots, either.

The decision-making issue I'm concerned with is not off-line, though.
I'm working on groups that must make decisions in a virtual environment.
  XMCA isn't charged with taking any action AS a group and has no need
of making any kind of a group decision. This is not to say that
individuals don't use the information they glean from the conversation
to make their own off-line decisions. It's just a different thing.


Mike Cole wrote:
> That statement of your orientationmakes perfect sense to me, Dale.
> But I'll bet there are lots of different reasons, all of which make
> sense once you know enough.
> I am less certain about the distinction concerning virtual
> groups/decision making groups
> and communities. I think that for some participants at least one motive
> for engaging
> in discussion on xmca, or some of the disucssions, is that they are
> trying to make
> decisions and solve problems they are experiencing off line. The problem
> of when, how,
> why to make distinctions between learning and development, for example,
> is a problem
> that I have been working on for many years. In connection with this
> general problem, I
> have daily questions about designn/re-design of environments for kids
> and undergraduates
> that appear to achieve various goals I value. Impoving undergraduate
> education is one such goal.
> Etc.
> I think you are saying that your goals/motives connected with your daily
> work are not
> enhanced by engaging in xmca discussions, but are by reading they come
> across your
> screen, like a note from grandma, who just drops in. sometimes boring,
> sometimes intriguing,
> but rarely unwelcome.
> Do I have it right?
> mike
> On Apr 4, 2005 3:56 PM, *Dale Cyphert* <
> <>> wrote:
> Oh, Mike, that's such an easy question. For those of us who are
> fringing around, the whole point is that we ARE eavesdropping. If we
> were participating enough to check a discussion board--well, we'd be the
> other not-so-fringy-kind. For those of us on the edges, for whatever
> reason we might be here, the mail MUST drop into our inbox, or we'd
> never see it at all.
> This actually touches on one of the things I do read/write/post/research
> about these days--the functioning of virtual groups and problem-solving
> discussions (as opposed to "communities" like xmca that have no
> particular decision-making function).
> A web int rface does have advantages for those who are actually
> following a discussion or trying to keep track of threads (for
> record-keeping purposes, for instance, or to follow the arguments around
> a decision). It will create a crisis of participation, though, in that
> ONLY those who are willing to take an active step to participate will
> "show up" at all. If the desire is to maximize participation, email
> works better simply because it minimizes the cost of participation.
> Participation requires only a "reply" click, while the "cost" of having
> to sort message threads in our own brains is relatively small--something
> humans actually do very efficiently--and the reward is that we at least
> overhear the whole conversation, even if we don't choose to participate.
> As you can see, we are still here enough that we CAN show up when the
> conversation turns to something that strikes a cord.
> dale
> Mike Cole wrote:
> > Da e, Fern, Heather et al--
> >
> > My question about those who read but do not write or otherwise make
> > their presence known on xmca was a little
> > different than the one answered. In seeking to fix a whole in the
> > (always holey, never holy) xmca infrastructure (e.g. the
> > people who one sees listed under members are mostly not and the
> only way
> > to find those who are is to act like you are signing up) I was
> > fascinated by how many people took the trouble to sign up, sort of
> > describe themselves, but never posted a question or observation.
> >
> > This interested me in particular because I get a lot of email and I
> > think the threaded discourse data base for xmca, which is updated
> daily,
> > is a great way to follow discussions. Why, I wondered, would
> anyone want
> > to go to the trouble of signing up just to read? I figured some
> people
> > might not like using the web and prefer to get stuff through
> email. But
> > its so diff cult to keep the threads in mind! (Witness the
> discussion on
> > development, learning, breaking away, etc.).
> >
> > I appreciate the replies to the question of why people like to
> read but
> > don't post-- lots of different legitimate reasons. I personally
> benefit
> > from the diversity that sometimes blossoms on xmca to beat down the
> > myths of orthodoxy that over-representation of specific people (I
> am far
> > and away the worst offender over-reprentation-wise) engenders (a word
> > chosen not at random).
> >
> > So, I'll keep mixing it up as best I can, as you will see. But it
> still
> > puzzles me that there are so many signed up members when the
> discourse
> > is so wonderfully googleable.
> >
> > Cousin mike
> >
> >
> > On Apr 4, 2005 1:21 PM, *
> <> <
> <>>*
> > < <>
> < <>>> wrote:
> >
> > In response to Mike's and others' postings about lurking.
> >
> > First of all, I really don't like the term
> > sounds too predatory to me. And, as a lurker, I don't see
> > myself as carnivorous at all in my reading of other's
> > postings. Okay, well, maybe a little bit. It's delicious
> > stuff! Anyway...
> >
> > I think of the XMCA list as sort of like a family reunion.
> > When a family gets together, there are all different kinds
> > of networks and relationships that become relevant as people
> > interact with one another. Cousins and "play cousins"
> > interact with each oth r, Aunts and Uncles, Uncles and
> > nephews, etc. The family reu ion metaphor also throws a
> > dimension of temporality/spatiality in there that I think is
> > important. There are different generations present, and
> > people "living" in different places who come together at the
> > reunion.
> >
> > Many times, I envision myself as one of the "youngins"
> > listening to the words and stories and ideas of the four or
> > five or ten old folks (I mean that in the most respectful
> > and caring way) who I consider to be both more
> > knowledgeable.
> >
> > But...while I'm in the circle of people listening to these
> > conversations, I'm also doing man other things that young
> > folks do, and I don't want to be disrespectful to other
> > people who are more thoroughly engaged in the
> > conversation/literature. And I don't want to appear foolish.
> > In "real" family reunions, there are ways to cover up what
> > might be construed as comments that are not quite at the
> > same level as that of the grown folks, but email/threaded
> > communication has a kind o linearity and reflective delay
> > embedded in it that doesn't allow for that.
> >
> > So, that's my reason for not contributing more.
> >
> > Take Care,
> >
> > Heather
> >
> >
> --
> Dale Cyphert, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor, Department of Management
> Univ rsity of Northern Iowa
> 1227 W. 27th Street
> Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0125
> (319) 273-6150; fax (319) 2732922
> <>

Dale Cyphert, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Management
University of Northern Iowa
1227 W. 27th Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0125
(319) 273-6150; fax (319) 2732922

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