Social Networks, Communities of Practice

There is a discussion at the Gurteen Knowledge Community on linkedin by Tony Pedley about the dividing line between social networks and communities of practice. Juha-Matti Sario mentions that social networking is about online communities, and that communities of practice have an objective. Tim Wieringa mentions that social networks are generic and communities of practice are more specific.

At a basic level, i feel that that social networks are social, they are about connections between people. These connections are people-centric and not necessarily objective-centric, as Juha and Tim mention, and that communities of practice are around a practice or around a topic of interest. As such, social networks are people-centric, while communities of practice are objective centric. At the same time, one could also look at a social network as a tool for developing communities of practice. For example, facebook would be the social network, while groups that you are a member of would be communities of practice or communities of interest. In other words, people have a network, and they belong to a community.


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