Inner Circle -> Whole circle LO12123
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 11:18:53 -0500 (EST)

Replying to LO12050 --

On Jan 18th JC Howell wrote in response to Michael McMaster LO12031 and took
up the question of how to think about the concept of 'attractor people'

>Is the presence of "attractor people" a requirements in order for a
>non-attractor to post meaningfully and have any reasonable chance of being
>acknowledged? (sounds kind of like a justification for the existence of
>the "elite.")

>If "attractor people" have not established a thread, or do not choose to
>respond to a post, does this mean that that particular post or short
>thread is unimportant, or at least less important, in the overall scheme
>of this group?

>If this is the case, are the rest of the group, then, dependent upon the
>"attractor people" for validation of their worth (or, at least, the worth
>of their contribution[s])?

As I read this, bells rang for me from another domain - sociometry.
Sociometry was developed By J.L. Moreno along with Psychodrama. Sociometry
is the study of interpersonal choices - sociometry makes the invisable
relationships in a group visable. It can be defined as the study of the
patterns of attraction, rejection and indifference among members of a
group. >From the standpoint of practitioners in the tradition of Moreno,
etc. this invisable web exists at all times in all groups. I see the
discussion @ inner -outer circle as essentially a discussion of sociometry
- the dynamic pattern of position/affiliation. i.e., the shape of the
social network that is this on line community.

I don't think of this phenomenon as value-laden per se. It just is - it's
the politics of everyday life in groups. It can be very liberating for a
group to reflect on its sociometric structure at any given point in time.
Such reflection could stimulate a re-shuffling of the deck and, thus,
create the opportunity for individuals to take on different roles,
behaviors, positions within the group. I have found this kind of
exploration both exciting and threatening - it taps into our rather primal
fears of being excluded or being relatively powerless in our refernce

I've thought that it could be useful to explore an on line community's
sociometry - technology (paper and pencil as well as computer-assisted)
exists to do such assessment. There could be a quantitative aspect - who
posts and how often, whose posts have you responded to with actual
postings to the whole group and/or privately. There are other
possibilities for acquiring sociometric info.,e.g., posing the question,
"Who on the listserve would you most like to have dinner with?" or "Who
would your first choice be to discuss a work related situation with? Your
second choice?" People can be asked about their reasons for the choices
they make, which adds depth to the purely quantitative data. This is a
simplistic rendering - but I think it gives a flavor. I also think that
this kind of analysis could be useful to a business/organizations - and
there are people who have taken this into companies. I'm personally very
sociometry sensitive(Iwonder if there will be any response to this posting
- how will that reflect on my position in this group? What about others -
have you experienced any sociometric vibrations vis a vis your
participating in this community?

Rich DiNapoli


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