What does it mean to be a member of an internet community?
I caught myself wondering last night if I am a good neighbor in the blogosphere. Mostly out of the kindness of Dr. Taylor over at Poliblog, I'm a member of The Truth Laid Bear Academy Community. Presumably, being a member at TTLB's community implies that I am involved in some sort of conversation with the other members of that community.
Except that I've never really engaged any members of that community. Oh, I've posted a few links to Poliblog and Drezner and a couple of others, and have had a few links from those and Protein Wisdom and a couple of others, but I've never really engaged in a dialogue (unless you count discussions of Battlestar Galactica with Taylor).
Of course, I have engaged in lots of dialogues, but mostly with others outside of that community, such as Drout at Wormtalk and Slugspeak or Gosnell at A Knight's Blog and Pro's and Con's. Rarely, though, with those in my only "official" community. And when I look at the details of page referrals here, I have only one person who regularly visits this page from TTLB Academy.
I don't think the problem is the other members of The Academy, though. I think the problem might be me. I have a rather stubborn insistence that the Wordhoard will not become a political blog. The Academy seems to be primarily law and politics professors who, unsurprisingly, are interested in topics of law and politics. Those who specialize in other subjects nonetheless tend to blog about politics as well. When politics is a subject in the Wordhoard, it is generally only of secondary importance leading to a primary topic.
I think we can go too far with the idea of internet communities, though. If I'm not engaged in a conversation with others in the community, then the difference between "blogosphere community" and "blogroll" becomes nil. On the other hand, I recently had a discussion with some other bloggers about a particular group blog, the participants of which seem not to read any other blogs -- a true echo chamber. Neither idea of a community satisfies me.
So I've made a commitment to myself to try to comment more on the non-law&politics posts in TTLB Academy. It is mostly an experiment that I will abandon as soon as it becomes unfruitful (or boring), but I wanted to let the regular readers know why those changes are happening. I'm trying to be a better neighbor.