I have just been having an interesting exchange with David Wilcox about the use of lightweight networking tools that can be set up quickly and easily with minimum fuss and disruption (and from an educational institution perspective - staying under the radar of IT Services departments). I think we are talking about the 'just-in-time' social networking solution that may be for that meeting, conference or seminar day. A collaborative and social way to capture ideas and artifacts.
This led me to ponder further on my own interest in the sustainability of social groupings and mapping communities as they rise and fall (perhaps 'wane' is a better word here). This raises for me the question of why collaborate? Why contribute? There seems to be something of a pattern here from past ... assumptions around community or group behaviours in that we naturally expect others around us to feel the desire share themselves. The course discussion board tool is a sobering reminder that actually this is often not the case. Classically the educationally situated discussion forum would fail miserably unless driven by the tutor and even then would experience a very short life-cycle. For me, uncovering a selfish motive for contributing is key and for this we need to enable channels for hooking our personal spaces into these varied and ad hoc community spaces. In other words ... I want to post to my blog/portfolio but push it to your site as well. Post once but publish many.