COMPARISON OF THE Y/HNI AND THE NCCN
The Y/HNI and the NCCN were both attempts to create new networks of people for the purpose of facilitating positive social change.
The former used the more traditional technique of loosely structured face-to-face meetings among participants carefully selected for their shared appreciation of the goals of the initiative. The latter focused on developing the new technology of computer communications, with the people involved primarily as machine tenders (though this was not the desired outcome).
The main explanation why both failed to create dynamic, socially-active, collaborative networks of people lies mostly in the fact that in both cases the individuals involved were very busy with their own affairs. These affairs did not necessitate communicating on a regular, ongoing basis with any of the others drawn into the networking venture.
In the case of the Y/HNI, common ground was initially found in the voicing of potential areas of collaboration, but since this was never followed up with a process to find the resources needed to carry out these potential projects, there remained no reason for this loose association of people to become an interactive network.
The NCCN, because of its focus on the technology, chose participants on the basis of their having had previous experience with computers. None of the people involved were engaged in ongoing purposeful communication with one another. While it was hoped that the introduction of the new communications technology would produce an incentive to seek common reasons for collaboration, this did not happen.
The sets of participants in both cases obviously did not see enough benefit in the formative network or the networking process to involve themselves in anything more than a peripheral manner. This was the result of the failure of both projects to take into account the huge amount of time, effort and resources needed to break the bonds of the individual's current networks and create new ones. If the potential members of the new network are busy working in different disciplines, live in different locations or have different goals, new network evolution can be extremely difficult.
In very many respects, both the Y/HNI and the NCCN were successful in what they accomplished. The former produced a greater awareness of the Habitat office and its role, and provided forums for the informed discussion of the issues and ways to deal with them. It also allowed people to meet that might not otherwise have gotten to know one another. The latter not only developed new technologies, but their facilitative infrastructures as well. It was successful in showing that the barriers to establishing computer networks are not just technical ones.
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