The online Conversation Community is loosely organized in its configuration and content, more like a wild garden than are cultivated special interest communities in fields like the arts, philosophy and science, and in educational, professional and business organizations. It is a hotbed of group generative processes: on Facebook, and on Google+
One of the community’s main elements is its prepared soil of conversational connection, which gives us the opportunity to notice and use thoughts and experiences that grow all around us in the network. Unlike in a specialized vegetable or ornamental flower garden, all kinds of weird and wonderful plants, organisms and dynamisms are mostly left to grow, mingle, come and go, and evolve as they will.
A major element of any community, garden, network, or organization is its space. In this case it is sufficiently sized and porously bounded enough that its balance of order and chaos provides an edge condition whereby something of unique value is more likely to happen than in either a highly random or highly ordered process. We intend that something will happen. We do not know what it will be..
The community’s primary resource is our presence. What we do, say and see here is the dynamic by which the garden grows. We grow in it by telling our stories, sharing resources, and observing — whether we are in there digging every day, or just casting an occasional glance at it out the kitchen window.
In a garden, life’s flow is carried to, from and among its citizens by air, water, soil, and electromagnetic fields (eg solar). Suffusing these media are hosts of small and micro organisms of all of life’s “kingdoms,” analogous to all species of thoughts, feelings, and meanings among us in a group. All these have inherent processes and moving interrelationships, including among the larger and more visible inhabitants of the garden such as plants, or in our case, people.
In a human network, what sustains life’s flow? It is conviviality. Where it breaks down, we battle for resources, for breath. Flow is halted. But if we maintain convivial equipoise, processes flow, above and below ground, and competition and collaboration balance well enough that we are free to notice and use the fruits of our conversation. The center holds. We are like plants that have figured out how to live with each other in a wild garden.
enaction design: Sceenius
image: Ron Scroggin