Content-type: text/html Community

The traditional concept of community was built on sameness, on collections of people from the same family, speaking the same language, living in the same place, believing the same things. The fundamental challenge to community is to make decisions on matters affecting everybody while leaving to individuals, companies and institutions those matters not effectively managed by consensus.


2018/12/05 12:00 Conversation with Pete Forsyth

2018/12/12 12:00 Dialogue on Community


The traditional concept of community was built on sameness, on collections of people from the same family, speaking the same language, living in the same place, believing the same things. This concept was challenged by a range of social and political reforms through the last few centuries, and while some wish to return to that simpler time, the fact is that the fundamental challenge to community is to make decisions on matters affecting everybody while leaving to individuals, companies and institutions those matters not effectively managed by consensus.


In recent years, however, this concept of community has come under challenge, with a broad social inability to even agree on basic facts and events.


In fact, as theorists such as Simon Blackburn argue, each of us can determine for ourselves whether something is true or not, at least to a certain degree. Are two numbers the same? Is one thing bigger than the other? Yes, there is a possibility of error, but the deeper problem is posted by bad actors - people who deliberately misrepresent the truth for their own benefit.


The capacity to withstand the influence of such bad actors is known technically as Byzantine Fault Tolerance, and there are different approaches to achieving consensus even when there is no certainty, based on the general common sense of the rest. While not defining truth as consensus, the problem of truth, at least from a community perspective, is a consensus problem.


This makes the mechanisms we use to interact and reach consensus particularly important. For example, even if we have a chain of verified and trustworthy facts, validated by previous consensus and guaranteed by encryption technology, how do we choose between competing chains? Digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum use a "proof of work". This makes it too expensive to create a fake chain from scratch, but at the cost of inefficiency and enormous energy consumption.


Other types of content create other types of consensus: "proof of stake" relies on guarantees of resources or assets; "proof of authority" depends on certification or validation, and "oracles" depend on widely observable and incorruptible sources of data.


What this teaches is that community and consensus are about more than voting and about more than having power. What is required for a community to work is not merely control, but agreement on the part of the members of the community. Underlying this is a respect for law, institutions and processes, and when these break down, and when consensus is lost, it is very difficult to restore.


Fostering an understanding the importance of these processes, and the costs of not being able to establish them, is a fundamental goal of education. This can be accomplished best (and maybe only) through the process of engaging in them and developing community and consensus in the classroom.


The critical literacies in a society run deeper than reading, mathematics and science. They include pattern recognition, perspective and context, inference and reasoning, and practical application and communication. They include not just being able to communicate with each other, but to be able to build and create. Consensus, ultimately, is a question of stigmergy, and we will look not only how it is created, but also how it is undermined (think, for example, of 'dark patterns').


Being a Member of the Community

As a community, create an assignment the completion of which denotes being a member of the community. For the purposes of this task, there can only be one community. For each participant, your being a member of the community completes the task.

Due: Dec 28, 2018


Conversation with Pete Forsyth Dec 05, 2018 video Week 7 of E-Learning 3.0 with Pete Forsyth, Editor in Chief of the Signpost, a community newspaper covering Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement., and serves on the Advisory Board of the GLAM-Wiki U.S. Consortium. We talk about how Wikipedia approaches questions like managing fake news, reaching consensus, and managing content.

Distributed Ledger Technologies like Blockchain…looking under the hood Dec 06, 2018 video As part of the E-Learning 3.0 course, I take a look at the technology underlying digital currencies like Bitcoin. The talk covers how blocks are constructed, how consensus is established, applications of blockchain, coins, digital wallets, distributed applications, frameworks, and issues related to blockchain.

Dialogue on Community Dec 12, 2018 video We had a a free-for-all debrief on the consensus Task assigned for this module. It raised a number of issues and even the suspicion that I was playing a game with course participants. I wasn't, really, but I think it will be interesting to reflect on the ways the Task could have been completed.


Feature Article E-Learning 3.0, Part 7 - Community, Dec 11, 2018.

The challenge (indeed, maybe even the challenge of our times) is how to understand and improve communities where people might not be engaged in the same enterprise as everyone else. But how do you define a community when there is no trust, no set of shared values, no sense of a common destiny, no sense of a common history or a common future, not even a shared, vocabulary, way of seeing the world, or even agreement on what counts as true?

How Does Distributed Consensus Work?
Preethi Kasireddy, Medium, 2018/12/05

The brief basics of distributed systems and consensus. Nakamoto Consensus is truly an innovation that has allowed a whole new wave of researchers, scientists, developers, and engineers to continue breaking new ground in consensus protocol research.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

What is Blockchain?
Lucas Mostazo, YouTube, 2018/12/03

Blockchain explained in plain English Understanding how blockchain works and identifying myths about its powers are the first steps to developing blockchain technologies.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Education Blockchain Market Map
Stephen's Web ~ OLDaily, 2018/12/05

HolonIQ, Nov 30, 2018 Though dated last June this market map appeared in my inbox from Holon only today. It reports five sectors of the education blockchain market: credentials and certifications (the largest by far), peer-to-peer ecosystems, payments, knowledge and marketplace. The website describes each briefly and links to some representative startups. The site reports, "Blockchain's significant potential in education – from powering efficiency to collapsing costs or disrupting the current system – is becoming clearer to technologists, educationalists and governments alike." Web: [Direct Link] [This Post] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Consensus decision-making
Wikipedia, 2018/12/04

Consensus decision-making is an alternative to commonly practiced group decision-making processes. Robert's Rules of Order, for instance, is a guide book used by many organizations. This book allows the structuring of debate and passage of proposals that can be approved through majority vote. It does not emphasize the goal of full agreement. Critics of such a process believe that it can involve adversarial debate and the formation of competing factions. These dynamics may harm group member relationships and undermine the ability of a group to cooperatively implement a contentious decision. Consensus decision-making attempts to address the beliefs of such problems.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Wikipedia, 2018/12/04

Decisions on Wikipedia are primarily made by consensus, which is accepted as the best method to achieve Wikipedia's goals, i.e., the five pillars. Consensus on Wikipedia does not mean unanimity (which is ideal but not always achievable), neither is it the result of a vote. Decision making and reaching consensus involve an effort to incorporate all editors' legitimate concerns, while respecting Wikipedia's policies and guidelines.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

How Wikipedia dodged public outcry plaguing social media platforms
Pete Forsyth, LinkedIn, 2018/12/05

Wikipedia has problematic users and its share of controversies, but as web platforms have taken center stage in recent months, Wikipedia hasn't been drawn into the fray. Why aren't we hearing more about the site's governance model, or its approach to harassment, bullying? Why isn't there a clamor for Wikipedia to ease up on data collection? At the core, Wikipedia's design and governance are rooted in carefully articulated values and policies, which underlie all decisions. Two specific aspects of Wikipedia innoculate it from some of the sharpest critiques endured by other platforms.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Hacking History: Redressing Gender Inequities on Wikipedia Through an Editathon
Nina Hood, Allison Littlejohn, International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 2018/12/05

This article explores the "experiences of nine participants of an editathon at the University of Edinburgh on the topic of the Edinburgh Seven, who were the first women to attend medical school in 19th century United Kingdom." The authors argue "it was through the act of moving from consumer to contributor and becoming part of the community of editors, that participants could not only more fully understand issues of bias and structural inequities on Wikipedia, but also actively challenge and address these issues." It makes me think of the slogan: "no knowing without doing." 

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

ConsensusPedia: An Encyclopedia of 30 Consensus Algorithms
vasa, HackerNoon, 2018/12/06

Consensus algorithms are the basis of all the blockchains/DAGs. They are the most important part of the blockchain/DAG platforms. Without them(consensus algorithms) we will be left with just a dumb, immutable database. Here we list all the major consensus algorithms and will evaluate their pros and cons.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

SoK: Consensus in the age of blockchains
Adrian Colyer, the morning paper, 2018/12/06

"The inherent complexity of consensus protocols and their rapid and dramatic evolution makes it hard to contextualize the design landscape. We address this challenge by conducting a systematic and comprehensive study of blockchain consensus protocols." Summary of SoK: Consensus in the age of blockchains Bano et al., arXiv 2017.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Is There a Consensus on Consensus Methodology? Descriptions and Recommendations for Future Consensus Research
Jane Waggoner,, Academic Medicine, 2018/12/06

"The authors of this article reviewed the methodology of three common consensus methods: nominal group process, consensus development panels, and the Delphi technique. The authors set out to determine how a majority of researchers are conducting these studies, how they are analyzing results, and subsequently the manner in which they are reporting their findings."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Effective Community Decision Making
Jane Muegge, Government of Ontario, 2018/12/07

"A healthy community relies on a balance of economic, social, human and environmental factors to promote the physical, mental and social well-being of people who live and work in the community." 1997

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]


The information panels on Google and Facebook: Uncovering their blind spots
Eni Mustafaraj, Medium, 2018/12/05

Recently, Mike Caulfield wrote a Twitter thread and blog post praising Facebook's new information panel for news publishers. Mike and I are collaborating (with many others) on the NOW (Newspapers on Wikipedia) project, to improve the coverage of local newspapers on Wikipedia.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

On Community
Laura Ritchie,, 2018/12/05

This week's topic in the connected learning course #el30 is Community. Stephen introduces this in the course newsletter. I began with an 'aha' moment, then did a search to find the origins of the word, then looked to see what I might have blogged about community before, and here we are. I did write a post about community some time ago, and it's interesting to see what words I used when unprompted by the context of the current course.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30 Task – Community Proposal
Roland, Learning with Moocs, 2018/12/06

So how be one community? That’s this week’s task for the course E-learning 3.0. Do we even want to be one community? Do we want to celebrate our similarities or our differences? Do we need to celebrate anything at all? I think the best way to “solve” this task is to find a viable minimal […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Community Vs Network Vs Affinity Space
dogtrax, EL30 – Kevin's Meandering Mind, 2018/12/06

We are beginning to explore the concept of “community” in the E-Learning 3.0 course. That word has long been one of those rather nebulous ones, which we as open learners in various platforms and spaces use as a default to suggest a gathering of people. I’m not all that sure it is the right term […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Consensus And Community In The Distributed Web
jennymackness, e-learning 3.0 – Jenny Connected, 2018/12/06

The topic for this week in the E-Learning 3.0 MOOC is Community. I struggled last week to understand how the concept of ‘Recognition’ was being interpreted in relation to the distributed web, and I suspect I am going to struggle this… Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30 Week 7: Response To Proposals
x28, EL30 – x28's new Blog, 2018/12/06

Thanks to Laura for the proposal which makes the consensus task stretching again, whereas Roland’s good proposal might have been just nodded through. I think that a shared definition of such a complex term as ‘community’ is unnecessary and therefore … Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

The Quest for Community
Laura Ritchie,, 2018/12/06

This week's #el30 topic is community. This is my second post on the topic and I'd like to begin with a couple of definitions given in the interview/chat that Stephen Downes held with Pete Forsyth.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Introduction to communities of practice
Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, 2018/12/07

"The term "community of practice" is of relatively recent coinage, even though the phenomenon it refers to is age-old. The concept has turned out to provide a useful perspective on knowing and learning. A growing number of people and organizations in various sectors are now focusing on communities of practice as a key to improving their performance."

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

My Experiences Of The E-Learning 3.0 Mooc To Date
jennymackness, e-learning 3.0 – Jenny Connected, 2018/12/08

First a bit of background The task for this week in the E-Learning 3.0 MOOC is related to the topic of Community in the distributed web. This is the task as created by Stephen Downes: As a community, create an… Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Comic Reflection: Some Final-Ish Thoughts On E-Learning 3.0
dogtrax, Kevin's Meandering Mind, 2018/12/08

This sort-of final reflection is for E-Learning 3.0 with Stephen Downes, and the musings of my experience — here in the form of a comic — is part of what may be a final project around “community.” I say “may” because a few of us are trying to discern a path forward with the open-ended […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30 Week 7: This Class
x28, EL30 – x28's new Blog, 2018/12/08

This week I try to write about my experience of this course, and to take into account the aspect of community.
Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Some Things I’Ve Experienced So Far On This #El30 Journey
daveymoloney, Davey Moloney, 2018/12/12

The latest topic for #El30 was Community. Stephen set an open ended task for course participants to, as a community ( I believe this was meant in a loose way), come up with and reach consensus on a task, the completion of which denotes being a member of the community. As a community, create an … Continue reading "Some things I’ve experienced so far on this #EL30 journey" Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Community Task – My Experiences With This E-Learning 3.0 Course
Frank, Doin’ Stuff, 2018/12/12

       I don’t know what your reaction was to the receipt of the two online surveys asking for feedback on E-learning 3.0, but I trashed both. To soon to say which part of the course I liked the best since we were not even halfway through it.      However, this week’s task, … Continue reading "Community Task – My experiences with this E-Learning 3.0 course" Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30: Preliminary Impressions
Roland, Learning with Moocs, 2018/12/12

How do I feel about the course E-learning 3.0 (#el30)? Why did I participate to begin with? First of all, I liked the idea of participating in a project facilitated by Stephen Downes since I appreciate his newsletter and his pioneering work in developing and facilitating Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). I’m also intrigued by […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

A Community of Consensus
Laura Ritchie,, 2018/12/12

I love a good think. #el30 has felt like a lovely stretch. My mind feels exercised. 

I am rubbish at following set rules, and in that vein I have come to write this post four times and left the screen blank each time.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

El30: A Visual Sense Of Community, Connected

I’ve been pondering how best to represent — and more importantly, how to best connect — the various reflections that some of us have been doing related the latest task in E-Learning 3.0, which is to create a distributed web community and be part of it. We’ve done a lot of thinking, pushing back, defining […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

A Conversation About Community In The Distributed Web
jennymackness, e-learning 3.0 – Jenny Connected, 2018/12/13

This image created by Kevin Hodgson, a participant in the E-Learning 3.0 MOOC, as Stephen Downes said on Twitter, ‘basically completes the Task for week 8’. For an interactive version of this image see: The final discussion about the… Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#el30 community activities – Learning with Moocs
Roland, Learning with Moocs, 2018/12/13

In our effort of forming a community with the participants of E-learning 3.0 (#el30) we wrote blog posts reflecting on our learning experiences. Kevin Hodgson made a visualization of the posts, using the tool thinglink.  Our esteemed course organizer, Stephen Downes, invited us for a video hangout – for some weird reason I was the […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

A Bit About Blockchain And The Distributed Ledger Effect
dogtrax, Kevin's Meandering Mind, 2018/12/16

I’ll be the first to admit: I know very little about Blockchain technology, although I hear the term more and more in different spaces as it relates to e-currency and encryption and more. How does Blockchain relate to education and learning and teaching? This is part of what Stephen Downes explores near the end his […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

A Bit About Blockchain And The Distributed Ledger Effect
dogtrax, Kevin's Meandering Mind, 2018/12/16

I’ll be the first to admit: I know very little about Blockchain technology, although I hear the term more and more in different spaces as it relates to e-currency and encryption and more. How does Blockchain relate to education and learning and teaching? This is part of what Stephen Downes explores near the end his […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Catching up on quick thoughts #el30
Laura Ritchie,, 2018/12/16

Last week Stephen held an open hangout for his class #el30 and I had very much hoped to join. In my work (teaching) life this week was the week of exams, presentations, and submissions for the semester's work, and so when students asked for help I did my best to make time. Some of that time ended up being during the hangout, and so I missed it.

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

The Role Of Community In Learning

Defining community in a learning context I’m a whole week behind everyone else on eLearning 3.0 and frantically playing catch up. So, that means this is probably going to be a short(ish) post. Much of the material for “community” week … Continue reading → Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

How I Learned At E-Learning 3.0
Roland, Learning with Moocs, 2018/12/17

I made a screencast of what I did during this Mooc. I also posted about my first impressions here and here. In the video I talk about some technologies I used during the course but which were not covered explicitly in the course itself, such as TbeBrain and Diigo. Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

#El30: A Communal Experience
Learning Complexity, 2018/12/17

Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Community (E-Learning 3.0)
ioannouolga, connecting data to information to knowledge, 2018/12/17

So, I am doing a bit of catching up as I haven’t been able to follow everything on time. I did try to install the IPFS but never succeeded, so here are some thoughts about community that I’ve been thinking about ever since Prof. Downes involved us in that google doc writing. First of all, […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]

Distributed Consensus
ioannouolga, connecting data to information to knowledge, 2018/12/17

A distributed system is a group of computers working together to achieve a unified goal (with laymen terminology, it is a group of computers working together as to appear as a single computer to the end-user or end-client). Every distributed system has a specific set of characteristics. These include: Concurrency: meaning multiple events occur simultaneously Lack […] Web: [Direct Link] [This Post]