This week we’re talking about lurking: what it is and what we think about it. I’ve been doing a fair bit of lurking myself, as I’m recovering from a wee exploratory op at the weekend and finding that I’m too sore to sit at my desk and type, so I’ve been spending more time than usual passively watching conversations and not always participating.
There’s been a lot of conversation in our Facebook group this week about what lurking is, and an undercurrent of feeling (I think) about whether this is an appropriate word to use. This is something I wonder about from time to time, without really coming to any conclusions about what I think. In her book E-Moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online Gilly Salmon writes about “browsers, lurkers or vicarious learners” (p.42), and (a couple of pages before this) suggests that “browsing” might be a better word. It might. However, what “browser” misses, for me, is the sense that lurkers are hovering, waiting, watching – they are actively involved in some sense.
There’s a lot of discussion about whether lurking is socially acceptable. Maybe this stems from thinking about behaviour in face to face learning, and maybe that’s a mistake. If I daydream in class and rely on my classmates to help me to a good result, that does seem like cheating, but lurking happens outwith the context of formal education with high stakes assessment. If you lurk on the side of rhizo14 then that is your right – our discussions are happening in open (ish) forums and I know before I type that my words may be read by many who will remain invisible. That is my choice, and it is one I can make freely.
As some of us have said, to an extent we are all lurkers, anyway. Sometimes we have other priorities, and are too busy to post; sometimes others know more than we do, and we sit and watch the conversation; sometimes we are too shy, or do not have the words to join in. I usually begin by lurking in any new forum to get a sense of the tone before I begin to post, and I suspect many others are like me in this.
One thing I have not addressed. Scott asked why we needed lurkers. I don’t know how to begin to address that question.
The picture is of our cat, Juve. Last year I spent a few days in bed. Juve lurked.