The idea of lurkers comes out briefly, as Jacobs describes the high-rent tenants and their hidden-identities. She’s not all out against these types of people (at least not as strongly as some people nowadays try to negatively characterize ‘lurking’) and even claims that communities can absorb a certain amount of these people.
It is when “the neighborhood finally becomes them” (p39) is the problem. This would be true for online education, except for the word finally. Rather, in online communities, this syndrome is more of a default. The nature of online presence lacks the physical presence of off-line, and thus the problem for communities is to actively engage people in order to exist. Presence, lurking or otherwise, in an online community is fleeting.
We see here an example of emergence in complex systems – there are points when smaller components overflow into the larger scale. One of the skills involved with facilitating (construing) a complex educational systems is, in part, knowing how to encourage dormant local qualities that are desired of the larger community…and, of course, knowing how to discourage momentous local qualities that are not wanted at the larger scale to adopt.
It comes back to the multi-purposes of an object within the system. Even a quality that has a fine purpose at the local level may be a detriment at the larger scale.