Real or imagined community?

Still one question about the difference between community and network. I followed  a course about ‘internet and social networking’ in my nearest university in Jyväskylä, in order to check how they handle these issues. I had learned my ways to study and participate on the internet by doing and experiencing. The following tweet has a message, which tells about my feelings:

socmediaSocial media doesn’t cause ignorance but it is very effective at documenting it. I knew this and went to the university to check the borders of my self-made ignorance. Teaching in all Finnish universities is free and open, I can walk to the lecture hall and sit down to listen and discuss with young students. All the material was open in Google Drive and it still is. Use it or lose it I could say about Finnish universities. The choice is mine. Not every teacher shares his material openly but Erkka Peitso did so.

I want to show a diagram which the lecturer presented to us. I have translated it into English. What is the difference between community and network?


In the community people have shared something, for example interest , but the membership may be imagined, it is not shared always. The network is defined by the connections between people (or whatever nodes). These connections can be identified and so they are known and visible.

This is the point where my eyes opened and I began to wonder why only communities can be imagination. How about networks? The rhizo14 participants are registered on the P2P University sites, 186 of them on the Facebook group and many follow #rhizo14 hashtag on Twitter. Dave Cormier has told that the course has about 500 students. Most of them are hidden somewhere.

In my previous post I was sure that we are a community but today I am not sure any more. The science of networks (Barabasi) deals with clusters, which are said to be the natural form of organisation of human beings. We do not know the 500 students in our course, we know some of them. We have real clusters or circles in our imagined community. When you participate actively, your circles grow larger. Let’s play with these concepts or without them. Here is an interesting experiment from Kevin H. in Twitter a hour ago. Try it!