Some thoughts on a Sunday afternoon. What is a virtual clearinghouse? – a collection of records important to the issues at hand – a collection of tools and techniques helpful in addressing those issues – a place where all manner of inquiry about and ideas for these issues is welcomed, actively sought after, and openly discussed – all of the above brought together, organized, presented and activated by people and organizations who believe the issues are important.
Where is this virtual clearinghouse? It is accessible through a variety of electronic means. Individuals keeping it going and those using it are real. Their exchanges are real, despite the abstractions of electronic text, image, and sound. When they meet, help each other out, speak out and act together, the clearinghouse becomes yet more real. It can be in one physical electronic space, that is, one server, or it can be on many servers. Inevitably, if successful, it will expand, influence, be copied, and linked.
It will belong to all its’ supporters and users. What is its’ role? Presumably, it wants to support, if not directly create change. If so, I suggest the following 3 level paradigm from Roland Warren’s Truth, Love and Social Change — Contest, Campaign, Collaboration For me, these cover the range of change intents and actions. Contest – the participants are clearly opposed; this is the win/lose situation. The challenge is to either win or move into an negotiated settlement. Campaign – some participants are strongly in support; others indifferent. The challenge is to change the level of indifference and mobilize increased support. Collaboration – the participants are in favour.
The challenge is to establish the effective work environment, keep the level of interest; demonstrate the effectiveness of working together. Within the human dynamics of the above are power relationships. Some exercise these by influence others by domination. It is important to note that the various types of power relationships, and there are many forms and variations of domination and influence, exist in all types of change. There do appear to be gender differences in framing and resolving change issues and in exercising power within relationships. I welcome both the inquiry into and the exercise of these new ways.