Why Communities Matter

Social Media

There is an idea taking shape. An idea that I’ve been ruminating on for some time. It is this:

Communities are necessary.

Not because they provide additional value but because they are a fundamental building block to our society and because as our society shifts to doing more and more and MORE online, these communities must manifest themselves online as well. The idea is that communities are not only ideal but an absolute to civilized discourse on the internet, where the majority of our commerce, work and enjoyment happens these days.

Have you seen this cartoon? It made the rounds a few months ago:

It’s funny but SEE?! Our lives have changed, little by little, until it’s a LOT. And I’m not the only one, neither are you. And while there are millions of people who don’t give a hoot about Twitter or a fiddle about Facebook, they still do much of their learning, working, and socializing on the computer or alternatively, a smart phone.

It’s pretty scary to call something a paradigm shift, but I really believe this is what we’re talking about. It’s true that the tools might change but the behavioral patterns we’re learning right now will augment themselves to a newer tool, the essential shift is the same. The way we do everything now is different. 10 years ago it wasn’t that common to expect an instantaneous answer on which TV to buy or how your dress looked. Now you can ask that and more and get answers from all over the world in a matter of seconds. Collaboration and access are soaring on an unprecedented level as we adapt our communicative practices to this new but somehow familiar setting.

Communities are even now being used to enact political, social and economic change. People have taken the tools set before them (after all they are based on how humans interact and communicate to begin with) and essentially, picked them up. We have been using them and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Talent Communities have generally been used as a business tool or product, which they can be, but I think they are and can be much more. If you can technology supported communities changing one or two fundamentals of the society, why should it be difficult to disrupt the recruiting process? Or the corporate process for that matter?

I plan on writing a lot more about what communities are, why they are not only important but necessary and to address them from an anthropological view point. We can adapt and harness the power of community but only if we understand the purpose and history behind them. That’s why I’m not starting with “talent” communities per se, because I believe this conversation to be bigger than that. I also will get to business cases and ROI as I think through some of these ideas, but I won’t shortcut the discussion to argue semantics or prove things to you. You can google it.

A community is a society locally organized

A community is a society locally organized