Thank you, Terry Anderson. In Terry’s presentation Wednesday, he added the term collective to the current group/network discussion. He gave Google and Amazon recommendations as examples, but said that the collective is defined by whoever is doing the research (I think his example was Canadian bloggers except those who live in Alberta). I think Terry’s collective is a way to deal with what Frances called categories in a comment to my last post, that is, aggregations into which a person fits without specifically intending to do so (I wrote about males, and wearers of eyeglasses) I grant that a person may choose to wear eyeglasses, or to speak a certain language, but I would argue that they don’t do so to become an eyeglass wearer. Thus maybe Deadheads would be a collective.
Another interesting thing was when (I believe Stephen) labeled ITFORUM (the electronic mailing list) a network rather than a group. I am troubled by that, as Stephen admitted to not knowing all the ITFORUM members with whom he’s communicating. Can someone truly be in your network if you don’t know who they are? The idea that one can narrowcast only to a specific set of persons who choose to receive the message , as can anyone it that set of willing recipients, is a new one, born of packet switching. It certainly complicates things.
I am still inclined to see networks as unique to the individual. For example, Stephen knows (or perhaps doesn’t) who is in his network. If networks are defined by connections, the only way I could determine Stephen’s network would be to analyze all of his posts, tweets, email messages, telephone records, etc. and follow him around Moncton, in order to see with whom he was connecting. On the other hand, I can query the listserv and get a complete list of all email addresses which receive ITFORUM. A third party, running the same query at the same time, would get the same list. As opposed to a network, membership in a group or collective is independently verifiable.