Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Future (and Past) of Community

Chris Brogan has a post on his blog today about "The Future of Community".  He does a great job or raising questions and providing insight onto how online communities must position themselves.

Communities are becoming distributed across platforms and people are relying more and more on mobile access.  Nobody is going to come to a community just because it exists, creating loyalty is a two way street and there must be a call to action for long-term engagement.

But are online communities really different from face-to-face communities?

I think we have been sold a bill of goods by the media over the last few years. Online "social networking" and "community" are really not that drastically different that "face-to-face" networking and community.

The tools we use to communicate have changed (and new mediums keep popping up) but people are still the same. We still choose how and why we select the people we admire, like, and with whom we build real relationships. Each individual still decides who they talk to and about what they discuss, regardless of the platform.

People are still people.

When all the social online tools took hold a few years ago many thought the world had changed. There was democratization of the hierarchies. The "everyman" not only could have a seat, but they could create and own the "cool kids" table. But over time new hierarchies have arrived. The world has, in many ways, stayed the same.

It is just human nature that cliques and walled clubs have formed. To be part of a community the community must provide a sense of value and belonging. Exclusivity was supposed to be circumvented with the web, but it is back (because it never really left).

Faces in a crowded New York street are harder to recognize than those on a country lane.  Online or offline people are the same.  As everyone tries harder to gain attention, fewer voices can be heard over the noise.

Is the future of "new" communities the same as the history of "old" communities?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

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