Thursday, March 08, 2007


My son has been playing a computer game for quite a few years called Civilization. He and his uncle (my brother) have played thousands of hours over the past five or more years. I paid no attention to this game; I trust my brother implicitly - he is 26 years old. Anyway, if my son's golf career doesn't take him to Georgia (where he is dreaming of going), then he is going to study archeology at the U of S. I just recently realized where this love originated - Civ.

I believe in this era of connectivism and constructivism, educationally based computer games can play an integral component.

The 12 Principles of Civilization ™
Although it exists online, a web community is primarily a human association. To best identify the necessary elements for building such community, it’s vital to look to the study of human interaction. The 12 Principles developed by RealCommunities, Inc., are based on sociological principles and offer a framework for creating and sustaining vibrant web communities. These principles are also a tool to help community producers remain rooted in their community vision while making strategic or tactical decisions. Once we’ve established the underlying human qualities that drive our coming together online, the 12 Principles give us a unifying view from which to design and implement technologies to support and enable such online communities. And finally, they provide a methodology for figuring out community functionality priorities.
These principles are ordered in two groups: The first six relate to the underlying human needs and expectations inherent in any community, while the final six focus on the framework and structures that must exist to ensure a group’s viability and success. None of these principles exists in a vacuum; each relates to and depends on the other factors. For instance, without identity and trust, there can be no reputation. In many cases, each principle stems from the previous principles. Thus, identity grows out of shared purpose, trust flows from identity and reputation builds from trust.
1. Purpose: We have a shared goal or interest.
2. Identity: We know who’s who.
3. Reputation: We recognize and build status based on our actions.
4. Governance: We regulate and moderate behavior according to shared or stated values.
5. Communication: We have ways to share information and ideas.
6. Groups: We can relate to each other in smaller numbers.
7. Environment: We interact in a shared space that is appropriate to our goals.
8. Boundaries: We know who belongs and who doesn’t.
9. Trust: We know with whom we’re dealing and that it’s safe to do so.
10. Exchange: We have a system of exchange or barter and can trade knowledge, support, goods, services, and ideas.
11. Expression: We have a group identity and know what other members are doing. We can easily indicate our preferences and opinions.
12. History: We can look back over our history and track our evolution.
Moving up the pyramid from foundation (history) to high-individual need principles(purpose) illustrates both the relationship between principles and their relative importance.
Online tools can facilitate each of the 12 Principles in online communities if the tools are designed and implemented to help community members answer their questions. We will look at examples from sites that have effectively expressed one or more of these principles.