The hard part of trying to initiate a community of practice seems to be creating a sense of community. Thinking about it, the whole of modern communication seems to be about community making. Communication used to be modeled: sender » medium » receivers. The hard part was the medium- you needed to convince editors to get your articles published, but once you’d passed that hurdle the readers would come more or less automatically with the medium. Now everybody can publish anything, but receivers are no longer to be taken for granted. So modern marketing, teaching, blogging, pod- and vodcasting: if you manage to form a community that is receiving, but also participating, you can roll. It´s community making that defines whether communication takes place.
So there are some exiting features about the new communication:
No longer same time same place
This has had great impact on CoPs, also. What I gathered from the discussion about minimal number of participants on the email group of com-prac: answers ranged from 2 to 30.000, examples provided. The original examples by Wenger about nurses on a ward have been complemented with modern examples of email groups with thousands of members…
But although most of our communication is with people we have things in common with, what is really interesting is establishing communication with ´others´, outside your own community. So if modern communication is about community making, how to reach people beyond your own community?
Jargon note: if you take interactivity seriously you should say not website but webspace