Blue Heron Definitions
“When the facts change, I change my mind.”  John Maynard Keynes
Page updated: 2024 03 04
Petri Dish as an analogy for how communities evolve
Jigsaw as a partnership analogy

Within various communities of practice, everyday terms take on specific and evolving meanings, without which new concepts and practices could not be described, debated, nor developed. This is also the case for community-based partnerships and collaboration.

In general use many terms are interchangeable. But when used here they have specific meanings:

Web1 ,2 and Beyond (describing the growth and evolution of the Internet):

Collaboration: communities with shared values that define their roles and network relationships, that exchange information and enable new and evolving value-add products and services, or solve higher-order problems. Collaborators, like organisms, can have many roles, and as depicted to the right, they also tend to continuously federate and sub-divide.

Communities: individuals and/or organizations, within or across sectors, coming together in a physical or virtual space to share values, ideas, interests, visions and goals; typically in peer relationships that utilize agreed platforms to enable viable interactivity and/or interoperability. Community membership may include various combinations of governments (and programs), private sector organizations, non-profit or advocacy groups, academia, public policy and research organizations and individuals. The various layers or levels of a partnership or collaboration are where interactivity and/or interoperability is orchestrated.

Domains (also Infrastructure): the platforms and networks that enable service oriented (1.0) or participatory processes and business propositions (2.0/and beyond) within the digital economy.

Flow: A state of optimal challenge; a continuous, rather than episodic effort to engage. A fundamental shift in favour of user-based discovery and experience, and away from designer-based prescription and specification.

Governance: community objectives, roles and expected or mandated behaviour embedded in business and technology frameworks through standards, methodologies, processes and tools, that others use to manage content and resources to achieve desirable deliverables and outcomes and constrain potential misuse.

Interactivity: ad hoc and application-based information sharing, typically involving data, text, audio, images and associated metadata that informs a narrative, evolves the collective understanding, enables a policy or direction to be set, or an end-user action to be undertaken.

Interoperability: systems working in a seamless and predictable way across a community of peer participants, enabling the repeated sharing of rules- and standards-based governance and operational content to address new or evolving member needs.

Leadership: defining, validating and expressing the values, interests, culture, capacity and behaviour of trusted organizations and communities (anchored through governance) and organizing resources to achieve desired momentum and deliverables (anchored through management).

Management: organizing human, financial, technological resources and raw materials to achieve goals, objectives, deliverables and outcomes consistent with expressed community context, values, and culture.

Models (including Reference Models): basic constructs that illustrate what outcomes arise if certain rules or behaviours are followed: a vehicle for analysis that shows what needs to be changed or arranged differently.

Partnerships: communities of providers and users who have defined their networked roles, responsibilities and obligations to each other to more efficiently deploy their products and services, and to better enable innovation by continuously switching old partnership (jigsaw) pieces out and improved partnership pieces in.

Platforms: connect providers with users, and peer participants, using a utility-like approach (based on language, culture, value, technology and brands) to increase innovative capacity, cost-effectively create new products and services, and to improve the efficiency of existing offerings. Platforms do so by establishing a governance framework, common standards and user protocols that become accepted user norms; their orientation can be open or communial, synchronous or asynchronous, single channel or multi-media oriented. An assembly of platforms operating as an ecosystem provides a framework for communities of participants at large, but can also be tailoured to enable variants appropriate to the needs of specific subsets of providers and users. Above all, platforms have a continuous ability to adapt and enable the resolution of real-life, real-time problems.

Services: a facilitated exchange between providers and users of a community that is predictable and repeatable and which satisfies the declared needs of participants. For convenience, services may be “bundled” or delivered as a “mashup”, but the components remain the responsibility of each provider however combined or intermediated. Community members may interchange their provider and user roles during the various stages of a service dialogue. 

Traditional organizations: typically provider organizations with agreed and focused goals which control their own resources, designs and processes, unilaterally setting their own performance targets and boundaries and tending to operate “vertically” with a unified accountability and reward structure.

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