Silicon Valley Watcher Tom Foremski thinks that we're hiding behind the term "community" too much:
In the blogosphere and in the larger mediasphere, community is used in ways that clouds meaning and cloaks commercial enterprise.
During a chat after class, Quentin noted that he heard the word community constantly at the recent Web 2.0 conference, where the $2800 per seat audience applauded "community" business models and services from the $30K per vendor pitches.
I think this sacred cow needs to be slain and we should not use highly charged words or terms unless we mean them to be used that way.
We should use more culture-neutral terms which don't engage society's sensitivities.
Here's my contribution to slaying the cow: I pointed out to the class that commercial interests love online communities, because they are an aggregated blob into which you can more cheaply throw marketing messages.
I couldn't agree more!
I was on a conference call yesterday to help brainstorm ideas for a new product that we hope to launch before too long. As part of that, the product's Marketing Manager was giving an overview of the site, how it works, etc. At one point he said something like "anyone in the community will be to contribute..." and Danah had the presence of mind to challenge him on that.
What makes this a community?
That simple question turned out to be a bit difficult to answer. Using the word "community" was harder to justify in this context, but left unchallenged some might have been tricked into thinking that we all agreed there was a "real community" at work in the product.
We need to draw a distinction between a "community" ad a group of people who just happen to be in the same place at the same time—virtual or otherwise.
Posted by jzawodn at October 19, 2005 08:22 AM