02 March 2007 ~ 7 Comments

Do Message Boards Equal Community?

Peace, love and ROI Don’t you just love buzzwords? In the 80’s, “synergy” was one of my favs. When Nasdaq was a tad closer to 5,000 than it is today, thinking “outside the box” meant you were someone who “got it”. Yesterday, I was hard pressed to choose between “long tail” and “Web 2.0”. But today, Web 2.0 is the clear winner.

As meaningless as the word is (and as much fun as it is to toss around mockingly), it’s being furthered under the guise of a seemingly simpler word: community. I’m always in favor of true simplification, but this one has been bugging a bunch of us around the office for some time now. I have to ask (in my best Carrie Bradshaw imitation), is a bunch of overweight, balding, 40 year olds, banging away at their keyboards from their mother’s basement a community?

I know that’s an unfair stereotype of fans of America’s third most popular sport (you intentionally clicked the link above, didn’t you?) but, if it were accurate, perhaps it would better fit a textbook definition of community:

com·mu·ni·ty [kuh-myoo-ni-tee] Pronunciation Key: noun, plural -ties.

1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
2. a locality inhabited by such a group.
3. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists

Why is it that every major corporation is trying desperately to jump onto the consumer-generated content / social networking bandwagon without stopping to consider if they really have something that facilitates a real community? They’re so focused on trying to build it, they’ve yet to fully consider what it actually is, and where it is actually found.

This little rant is just the tip of the iceberg, and we’ll certainly be weighing in more on the topic in the weeks to come. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from any “citizen journalists” out there with stories of communities that aren’t 😉

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