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From Serendip's Evolving Web Principles:

The interactivity of the Web is perhaps its most important characteristic. For the first time in human history, it is becoming possible for all humans to play an active role in world-wide cultural and intellectual interchange. This means not only that everybody's ideas/perspective can be made available, but also that people can develop their ideas and perspectives in extensive interaction with other people.

  • Every effort should be made to assure that all individuals have access to the Web not only as users but also as contributors.
  • All people should be encouraged to think of their ideas/perspectives as "in progress": to make them available as potential contributions to the thinking of others, and to make use of the thoughts of others as of potential significance to their own thinking.

The development and continuing evolution of on-line forums has been and continues to be an important reflection of this principle and Serendip's ongoing exploration if it. Click Forums for a listing of currently active forums. The notes following represent general insights gained from experiences to date.

12 March 2002

On-line forums make possible a kind of communication which is in several senses intermediate between face to face talking and more formal writing:

  • Forums give one time to think through both what others have said and one's own thoughts, more so then in face to face communication.

  • Forums make it possible to share and capture thoughts in progress, in a way that isn't done in formal writing where one feels a need to stay silent until one has a completed, defensible, and well-composed position to convey.
Forums can be an important adjunct to classroom activities.
  • They provide a place to communicate in the open and exploratory way that educators would like to be the norm for their students, and that educators should be modeling for them.

  • Forums also provide a way to give students the sense (and the reality) that their work is not simply being done as an exercise to satisfy the teacher but is instead a contribution to a meaningful broader conversation among people world-wide.
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