Inner Circle -> Whole circle LO12201

JC Howell (
Sun, 26 Jan 1997 02:49:19 +0000

Replying to LO12192 --

In LO12192 Malcolm Burson wrote:

> It seems to me that our "inner circle/attractor" contributors make
> significant contributions, reply to most threads, etc., for a definite
> period of time, and then disappear. Even from my year-long perspective
> here, the names of Tobin Quereau, If Price, John Warfield and others come
> quickly to mind. Others significantly "downsize" their participation, or
> disappear for a while: Mike McMaster is a recent example. Mostly-lurking
> folk like me highly value their gifts, mourn a little when they go, and
> carry on listening and occasionally posting. New "atttractors" arise, and
> so forth ....
> Rich, how would sociometry understand this behavior? and for the rest of
> us, how is this like what happens in organizations? Some of Ben Compton's
> recent posts re: himself and a few other "attractors" in their work
> setting getting tired and asking for others to come forward is to me a
> clear example of the phenomenon. Is it somehow in the nature of
> organizational systems to allow a few attractors to carry the load while
> others "lurk?" And if learning becomes paramount in the organization,
> does this change, or is it merely a repeating pattern of substitution,
> sort of like a geological bubbling up to prominence and then being worn
> down? and finally, what characterizes those attractors (and here, I think
> particularly of Rol) who manage to maintain their prominence and
> helpfulness to the system while others come and go?

Let me offer something from a little more obscure field (relative to LO)
than sociometrics. This is partly thinking and processing out loud.

Did anyone ever see the movie Paper Chase (not the series). Timothy
Bottoms plays Hart, a young law student, who is struggling with a course
in contract law. In one scene he is talking to a young woman (who turns
out to be the daughter of the dreaded professor of the contract law class)
as he describes the dynamics of the class.

Hart characterizes the students in the class into three distinct groups.
The first is the group that sits in the back of the class, hopes for the
bell to ring soon, and barely gets by. The second is the group that sits
about halfway up the lecture hall tiers and tries to keep up. They do the
work and try hard. They will do a little better than just get by. But,
by and large, they don't contribute that much to the class.

Then there is the third group that sits down front and "does battle" with
the professor. They continually thrust themselves into the fray, make
mistakes and come right back, filled with connfidence to try again. They
will generally do quite well and not only contribute to the class but
influence (as much as one can) what goes on.

After reading a bit here and in another group, it strikes me that the way
to move into the "inner circle" is to get involved. But it's not just
that. Getting involved for the sake of being recognized is a weak
approach becuase eventually you can/will get discouraged. The effort of
trying to attract attention begins to outweigh the benefit of getting the

On the other hand, to sincerely want to actively learn and explore an idea
means that you view your questions and contributions as meaningful and
worthy of public "exposure." Getting a response is good, but not getting
a response does not necessarily deter you from posting. It is, perhaps,
these meaningful and worthwhile posts that earn you the attention and
respect of others and leeads to a place in that "inner circle." The point
is, though, that being in that circle is not the end, it is an (alomst)
unintentional by-product of involvement. Please note that the idea here is
*involvement*, not frequent posting.


Clyde Howell

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