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View Diary: DK as imagined community (38 comments)

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  •  There is no way to ascertain real popularity here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    triciawyse

    An unpopular person with the members could have worldwide interest in everything he/she writes.  No comments or recs but a million hits.

    And yes, of course, there is no such thing as a dkos "community."  It's a pleasant myth.  We are simply an aggregate of individuals.

    Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

    by dov12348 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 10:55:58 AM PST

    •  I didn't mean this in terms of popularity (8+ / 0-)

      That seems to me to be a side issue. And my larger point was that we are not "simply an aggregate of individuals". The community – with its largely "inactive" imagined component – transcends that.

      •  So our community is imaginary? (0+ / 0-)

        Looks like we agree.

        Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

        by dov12348 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:19:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not imaginary, quite the opposite! (9+ / 0-)

          An imagined community is very real, but virtually so (and not only in an internet sense of the word).

          See http://en.wikipedia.org/....

          •  So the community is an entity? (0+ / 0-)

            Ok so we disagree.  See my comments elsewhere here where I elaborate.

            Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

            by dov12348 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:33:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It is an entity insofar as it is named as such. (9+ / 0-)

              For Anderson, who was writing about the development of nationalism, the nation is an "imagined community" in that it's a rhetorical construction, not something that has any kind of physical existence.

              In other words, there is nothing magical about the 49th parallel, such that anything north of it is intrinsically "Canadian" and anything south intrinsically "American"; that exists as a border between the nations only because we've all agreed that the nations themselves exist and that the 49th parallel (itself an entirely arbitrary designation) is the border between them.

              The very ideas of the "USA" or "Canada" are themselves products of this widespread imagining, rhetorical inventions that enable people in New York to feel some kind of identification with people in California as "fellow Americans" that they don't feel with people in Toronto.

              But "imagined" doesn't mean "imaginary" or "unreal"; insofar as nations have rhetorical power, power that manifests itself in real-world things like wars and border fences and passports and friendships or antagonisms, they are real despite being products of continual rhetorical construction, reinforcement, and belief.

              Were people to stop believing in them, they would cease to be real. But that doesn't change the fact that in the present context, in which people do believe in them, imagined communities—whether nations or websites—are, in every meaningful way, real entities, formed and guided by the combined rhetorical force of those who are continually speaking or writing them into existence.

              "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

              by JamesGG on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:34:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Onine groups are very real, yes. (0+ / 0-)

                They are "voices" of real people.  If that's what you mean.

                Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

                by dov12348 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:49:40 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's not really what I mean. (6+ / 0-)

                  I mean that the groups themselves are real entities in and of themselves, because they are named and identified as such by individual real people.

                  It is the force of the group's being identified and named, the reinforcement of that identity whenever the group is identified and named, and the continuing belief that the group exists, that draws a rhetorical circumference around the group and causes it to exist.

                  "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                  by JamesGG on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 01:16:46 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks for this more detailed explanation of (4+ / 0-)

                Anderson's views. I was planning on fleshing them out tonight when I had time, but you've saved me the trouble!

                I first came across the phrase "imagined community" in relation to recent book on dissent in Czechoslovakia (Jonathan Bolton's 2012 book Worlds of Dissent). Bolton argues, quite interestingly and convincingly, that "dissident" movements like Charter 77 and Czech musical underground are best understood as "imagined communities" in Anderson' sense of the term. After all, Charter only had a few hundred actual signatories in a population of around 15 million... but it had tremendous influence (or at least its creation triggered a massive campaign of repression by the regime). Once the word started getting out, even people who didn't, and wouldn't, identify themselves as "dissidents" could feel affinity for Charter, a sense of belonging, because a mythological space for identification had been created on the cultural scene. It seems to me that the same is becoming true of the lefty blogosphere, and it's important.

        •  Not imaginary, but imagined... (7+ / 0-)

          in a fairly specific sense, per Anderson:

          It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation online forum will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.
          [...]
          Finally, it is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation online forum is conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.

          Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

          by angry marmot on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 01:08:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What happens if the imagined community (0+ / 0-)

            members are confronted with their participants in real time and not online?

            I wonder how many people experience a sense that what they imagined would not hold up in the real world and if that experience is something for the better or for the worse and if that experience is a necessary one to have in the end.

            •  You mean (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mimi

              like this? Meeting other community members in person was all I had imagined it would be, and more! It was definitely for the better, they were all like-minded, likable people in real life and not just online, and I hope to meet even more Kossacks in real time when we have future local meet-ups!

              •  yeah, I meant like this, (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                chantedor

                I look forward to the next meet-up in MD/DC/VA area. The first one I attended was a good start. I definitely would like to engage more in real time and join other people to events if time permits.

    •  An aggregate of individuals (5+ / 0-)

      sharing similar interests ...sharing a kind of (non-physical) proximity ... interacting frequently ... gradually coming to recognize and appreciate the interests and traits of many specific individuals ... forging friendships (and feuds) ranging in intensity from casual to intense ... seeking and often receiving entertainment, support, feedback, company, and validation ,,,

      Sounds like a community to me.  What other requirements would you add, to meet a full definition?    

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:20:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you're referring to a small active... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp

        ...subset of the entire membership. Many would see them as a clique.  If you want to know who a lot of them are, just look at Top Comments.  It's the same names over and over, often just for saying "Great diary" or some such. I suppose you can call that a community if you choose.  Then many have left, seeing no community here or a community the opposite of what you describe.

        And this is just off the top of my head.  You see the difficulties you can get into here.

        Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

        by dov12348 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:28:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Both extremes exist (7+ / 0-)

          but I think perhaps you underestimate the size of the subset that is active but not superstars.  I surf this site a couple of hours a day for many years now, comment often, and because I almost never fight with anybody and distribute a lot of recs I have 5 bars of mojo.  But I don't write diaries, don't go to conventions, don't belong to a lot of groups let alone lead them, and in eight years or so I think I've made Top Comments just once.   All those features of community I describe apply to me.

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:42:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Say there 6,000 active but not superstars. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lgmcp

            That's still just 2% of the membership.  Actually I don't know how many are active - one reason being that we'd have to come up with an arbitrary definition of what is "active."

            I suppose you could call this a community in the very loose and rather vague sense that most of us share liberal values...whatever that list is.  But look, for example, at the "gun battles."

            Still problematic to me, although I respect where you're coming from.

            Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

            by dov12348 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:03:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Be interesting to see stats from Jotter (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dov12348, Larsstephens, Oh Mary Oh

              no matter how arbitrary the definition.  

              But back to my original question ... what would need to be present, that is NOT present, to meet an adequate definition of community?

              After all, given the isolating nature of modern life, I may know only 2% of my neighbors in the suburban town where I live.  But it's my community, such as it is.

              "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

              by lgmcp on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:11:31 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

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