Lisa’s CCK08 Wordpress Blog

October 7, 2008

Dogs Group, Cats Network

Filed under: Week 5 — Lisa M Lane @ 10:48 am

This morning I was hurrying to catch up with a group I walk with every morning. One of the members has a puppy who’s training to be a therapy dog. When this puppy saw me on a perpendicular street, walking toward the group, he began encouraging me. His body turned toward me, he looked at me as if to say “come on, we’re all moving this way!” and he didn’t stop fidgeting around until I physically joined the group, even though his owner kept tugging at the leash and telling him to heel. I noticed that, possibly as a result of this canine acceptance, I was more social in the group this morning; usually I say very little other than “good morning”.

I was reminded of my theory regarding students having cat or dog learning styles.

Then I made the connection to this week’s topic: groups versus networks.

Groups are full of dogs, eager to do what the others do and all be accepted. The alpha dog sets the agenda, and everything is distributive. As Stephen Downes puts it, they “risk anything for that team feeling” (2006). They do work together, are rule-bound, and for the most part subsume individual identity. They even “form linear hierarchies“.

Networks are how cats operate. Cats form connections for their own autonomous purposes, and only when needed. They will cuddle up to a human being, or another cat, to keep warm one day and not notice you the next. They are sociable only when it pleases them to be so, and often don’t seem to recognize their own similarity to other cats. You can’t get much more open and diverse. I couldn’t even consider them to form a community.

They say that dogs have owners, but cats have staff. The autonomy of cat thinking makes them supremely independent and able to ignore many external social checks on their viewpoint. They do not organize well, and their selection of nodes for their network can be extremely limited. Occasionally they choose to live in colonies (according to the article, when food is abundant), where they tend to live and let live. But is their network effective? If the cat is getting what she wants from it, then by definition it is. I do think, however, it would very, very difficult to rate the benefit of her network from the outside.



  1. jajajja… Great! I love your metaphor “cats networks and dogs groups”. I am going later to read your theory about “cat and dog learning”. Sure it is also interesting.
    I have to tell you a little history that is pretty near of your idea. In the past one time I had to do “interviews” to look for a new person for the appartament where I lived at these moment. It was a big appartament and we were four people. For me was allways very difficult to choice a new person to live together. My “roomys” asked things like what you study, what are your hobbies, etc, but one of my question was allways: “What do you like more: cats or dogs?” A little cracy, I know, but it was funny and in my opinion it worked also… At the end we took somebody who said: “I like both”… Very open mind. jajajajj… Cat people and Dog people is a very good Theory.
    Love regards

    Comment by Carlos — October 7, 2008 @ 11:25 am

  2. Hi Lisa

    This is a great insight and we were discussing it this afternoon in the Second Life Cohort meeting. I think we unanimously agreed this was a great point though some have different opinions on details. Thanks.

    Comment by Arieliondotcom — October 7, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  3. Lisa

    What a delightful post. I like the analogy very much.

    It is interesting that the walking group is a synchronous group. I searched for cat walking groups and found this item It seems to confirm the loneliness of the long distance cat walker!


    Comment by Keith Lyons — October 8, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

  4. Hi Lisa,

    I smiled when I read your post.
    I wonder… have you ever tried herding cats?


    Comment by Mary Rearick — October 11, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

  5. Hi Lisa!

    I enjoyed your post very much, a creative way of explaining wroups and networks. I wil read later your cat or dog learning styles, I am sure I will enjoy it too. I love cats and I keep them around me to remaind me of living in an independent way. Your post made me realize that I feel the connections I am making more as a network than as a group. Thanks for sharing.
    Love: Maru

    Comment by mmvcentro — October 13, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

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