Sunday, December 19, 2004

Constraints and the character of community
   Be careful what you wish for

Advice included on a blog about forming online communities: “Invite everyone to share, without boundaries or constraints.” The site didn’t prove interesting enough for me to bookmark. The notion that including everyone and prohibiting nothing will somehow make us free and happy seems a rather constant source of unhappiness and bondage.

A community’s character is mostly determined by the boundaries it understands and the constraints it observes.  A community is an order--something more unified than a crowd--and order is created by borders, by cell walls that allow life to arise from a random flux of elements. To destroy a community, it is only necessary to invite members to believe they can live without boundaries or constraints.

Through folkways and formal rules, communities encourage or discourage conduct that strengthens or weakens the order that they seek.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 12/19 at 12:50 PM
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© 2004 Michael L. Umphrey
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