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  • Bradford Davey

Communities of Practice as Murmurations

Updated: May 6, 2020

A truly spectacular natural collective behavior is the magical sky dance of the European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) know as a murmuration (King and Sumpter, 2012). The beautiful sky dance of the starlings can most often be seen at dusk throughout Europe through the winter months. These large groups may be made up of hundreds or thousands of individuals revealing a remarkable ability to maneuver in very close proximity while they seek shelter for the night.

Murmurations represent a way of considering communities of practice and explaining some of what we see when observing the behaviors of a group. Within a community there are natural movements and fluctuations in their focus and direction. As the needs of the community change so goes the direction the community - moving to meet those changing needs. Communities of practice are dynamic, ever changing, and constantly reinventing themselves. As the needs of the domain changes, so too does the focus of the community. If we could see all the community’s individuals from a distance and speed up their interactions, it might very well look similar to the birds in flight.

More to come...


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