(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me

Netiquette and the trouble with Community #rhizo14

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This post is to share my reflections on netiquette as a system of rules and what it might mean to break them or create them communally, and also to reflect on limitations of the ideal of community as curriculum.

I am loving #rhizo14 so far, but I acknowledge feeling a tad overwhelmed. It isn’t the info overload and not being able to keep up with posts (I can manage, and I know not to feel obliged to do/read everything) – but it is the overflow of depth and breadth of ideas and discussions on various people’s blogs. Tat is overwhelming my brain a little 😉 and i am operating at about 25% capacity because i have a toddler 😉

Dave’s inspiring intro post uses metaphors of party and camp to describe this open course.

But camps can be traumatic experiences. Now I don’t mean to be a party-pooper, but I want to point out the obvious: in communities of peers, as in parties, we are not all “equal” even though there may be no clear hierarchical structure. There are those of us who are well-connected and receive a lot of attention. There are those of us who are comfortable with dancing, others comfortable with chatting, etc. We each take the path that suits us most or that we like on that day or in that moment. We have that choice, but we are also vulnerable. We are vulnerable to having our ideas challenged or rejected… Or worse (gasp!) totally overlooked and/or unread! The person standing aside at a party that no one talks to (thank God we know it is not because we are smelly, though i suspect sometime soon smell will transfer online somehow! Imagine what happens to all the cooking shows aaaah). But I digress.

Which brings me to the slightly unrelated issue of netiquette. Who decides on the rules of netiquette? Do those who intuitively follow them become better connected people? (E.g. Should I follow everyone who follows me on Twitter? Should I follow each blog that follows mine? Should I respond to every comment someone makes on my own blog? How critical can I be without offending a stranger? How cool is it that we feel comfortable engaging so deeply with total strangers?). What happens when you have a disagreement with someone on twitter, not meaning to be rude, and they unfollow you? Is it ethical to follow loads of folks then unfollow them if they don’t follow you back? Do you measure your social media success by who follows you? Do you care how many people are reading your blog? There is no formal teacher presence here to provide comfort. All participants are peers. All of them make the curriculum

And yet, we are again not equal. Some of us are better able to follow different platforms and get a broad view of what is going on… Others have issues with their internet connections and cannot be fully online all the time in order to participate as they would like. Some are more assertive at setting their own rules, others are followers. Some are comfortable with their creativity and with expressing themselves. Others are not.

I’d like to bring together the different great ideas floating around as Jenny has done here , I would love to incorporate multimedia as Maureen has here – but more so, I want to take some time to reflect on all the interesting and thought-provoking ideas floating around.

And guess what! I also want to take some time to read Dave’s work-in-progress book on rhizomatic learning because I keep wondering if I am truly contributing to the discussion or repeating ideas already thought of beforehand (not that this would diminish their value, but it is better to stand on the shoulders of giants (or dwarfs, really – standing on anyone’s shoulder is higher than the ground) than to work from the ground up.

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Author: Maha Bali

Associate professor of practice, American University in Cairo

2 thoughts on “Netiquette and the trouble with Community #rhizo14

  1. this is a mooc related difficulty. One cannot do everything, just do what you like. choose your objectives or goals, 300 students in this mooc nobody could possibly comment on all blogs and tweets. Give time for your todler, and take a limited time for the mooc. How old is your child?

  2. Interesting thoughts on netiquette here. The rules seem to be fluid, changing all the time with the changes in technology and how people use it. And even for the short time they are stable, I think, it’s hard to know exactly what the rules ARE. I don’t have answers to many of the questions you suggest we think about re: netiquette–they are good questions, and things that I myself am unsure about. How do we find out the rules? I guess since they are built through usage of the tools we ask others who are using the tools. But not everyone will have the same practices, be comfortable doing the same things, as you note, so different people will follow different rules. And no matter what, we may always end up upsetting someone inadvertently. I had my first experience of that last year and it really floored me. I thought I was being considerate and playing by the rules, but my motives were read completely differently from what I was thinking. That was a lesson in the point that our differences will probably lead us to misunderstand one another. But what may work is being honest and open afterwards to try to remedy the situation (that worked in my case).

    We all make the curriculum, but we do make it differently, for sure!

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