Community and social computing
rawn 100000R0P5 Marcações:  community_building books spaces podcasts blogging 2.959 Visualizações
I keep running into Chris Anderson's activities lately. First, I'm listening to his dW podcast interview on our site this week, and next we had an internal meeting for book authors that Chris came to talk to us about. The main discussion in the call was more about how to approach book writing and some ideas that he found successful for his own bestseller, The Long Tail (see my book list). Some of it rang so true but is still missed by so many authors.
For one, he talked about blogging from the very beginning on the book as he did on his research, and carrying the conversation on regularly and for a long time. Chris started blogging from the beginning. It helped in shape his ideas, but also helped quite a bit when it came time to launch the book; he gave away a thousand copies of the book to all the bloggers who interacted with him on his blog. This, I think, really helped to spread the popularity of his book.
Blogging is certainly popular but to many book authors it is still a new phenomenon, even in the tech industry. With that in mind, many authors think that they should start blogging when their book is nearer completion that from the beginning. I think there are two parts to this: a) in general, for a blog to become even barely known takes a long-time of ongoing and active effort; b) blogging about your book helps to build awareness. In other words, if you already have (a) going for you, then (b) should be easier. However, back to my point on blogging still being new with many authors points to the fact that many of them don't even have (a) going for them.
To give my example, I am working on a book and many of the ideas that I have talked about are spread all around this blog of mine. However, I don't think I ever stated that intention. For me, the ideas are more significant--and even more than that discussion of the ideas--than the point that its for a book. But perhaps I should state that intention right away and define the premise more openly. I'll save it for a different post so as not to distract from Chris' point here.
Another interesting point and one that is dear to his heart apparently--he just launched a new startup BookTour.com on it--is about authors engaging others in live events, book tours, presentations, speaking engagements, etc. I think it's a great idea and fits my philosophy: most people need help on learning how to generate a community around an idea or even themselves. What live or virtual appearances and activities do is help to build that community and reinforce the significance of the work. By Chris' own admission speaking engagements can have a better ROI than book sales, even if they go hand in hand; and I don't disagree with that in terms of getting paid for day-long appearnaces versus spending months on a book. This means that as an author you need to spend the time and effort to actively promote your book and not just rely on the publisher's marketing team. The argument I always hear on this is that most people have full time jobs and do not have the time to do so. This is where I think an idea like BookTour can come in really helpful.
Let's take an online parallel: we at developerWorks are about to launch a new aspect called Expert spaces amongst other features. This allows a person to create a community around their own activities using different social software tools not unlike what groups of folks are doing with our community topic spaces now. Like our spaces now, you can start a blog of your own to talk about your project, link in resources your find useful. If you want to go a step beyond, you could even write parts of your book in a wiki online and ellicit comments about the contents you share.
For our own team, this means that we will now need to help these experts get going on communicating in this new way. BookTour focuses on the specific activity of bookwriting; we have a much wider focus on building awareness about any technical expert. We do that now to some degree, but there is a lot more that we could learn.
rawn 100000R0P5 Marcações:  books social_networks community_building community_models 3.122 Visualizações
In my earlier view, I only identified two stages: social networks, and communities. The former describes a loose network of people who generally keep in touch with each other for a common purpose, whether purely social or for business purposes. The people within the network usually know the others, and have some degree of strong ties with each other, but they don't really define themselves in detail as a group, have well-defined goals or ideology. This contrasts against the next level of networks, the community, which do have a common identity and purpose, and where the network of people generally work together for the direction of the community. Beyond the community is the organization, a very strongly oriented group of people, often with defined objectives, budgets and even some level of hierarchy as to how they should work together.
Somewhere in between the social network and the community are other social models. What Howard Rheingold keeps describing as "smart mobs", a loose social network of folks who gather on an "instant" basis for a specific purpose. This is slightly different than the pure social network since folks in a smart mob have a (vaguely) defined purpose: anyone who is interested in X, let's meet up to do something. Other descriptions for this are often used in events as Birds-of-Feather (BOF) sessions, and Meetups. Unlike the more personal connection of a pure social network, the members do not necessarily know each other from prior contact and simply have a common interest. This can also be a transitional idea; one the meetup is over, the members disperse taking the knowledge gained from the event. Sometimes, they do keep in contact and evolve into a longer running community of interest, where membes return to keep working on that interest.
Another model that is described aptly in The Starfish and the Spider (see my book list). Groups like the Apaches of North America (circa 1800s); Alcoholics Anonymous, a peer-group organization, etc. These have some of the characteristics of a social network in that each group is fairly independent with no overall leader. However, they also go the next step along where there is an organizing principle or ideology, and there are local leaders on a decentralized basis. I call this as something different--some will say I'm just splitting hairs--because the overall larger picture of the group is never centrally coordinated. For that matter, something like this is hard to converge into a realistic distributed model, unless there is a strong need for and common belief amongst the members that the goals and purpose are what they share. Otherwise, it tends to be a localized organized that never grows beyond it's domain.
On the other end, the centralized community, seems like a good idea to try out at the beginning but over time this can grow into an inherent bureaucracy instilled in trying to centralize activities. It has some advantages in that there is less tendency to deviate from the mission of the community across the distributed organization. The Starfish model on the other hand has resilience, but truly works on a decentralized basis if the core goals and beliefs are truly of common interest on a distributed scale, and has been tested over time. Otherwise, it can break down into separate factions as each group goes its own way.
The key to group involvement in any of these types of people networks is still strong leadership and influencers. There are good practices and models for each level that can help people work faster or better, but the idea still depends on a having an interest in being a leader and keeping that interest and momentum going over time. I'm surprised by how many folks keep imagining that they can instantly grow a network from complete zero to success in a very short time. Such situations are pretty rare, and usually, new ideas that work in this vein really leverage existing relationships, population moods or past history to get there, rather than truly working from zero.
I was discussing with my enlightened other about fiction versus non-fiction books in particular business books versus fiction stories. The argument is that non-ficiton books have to be filled with facts to be of use, versus fiction which has to be entertaining. This means that fiction books take much more work to create because you have to think out a lot more of the plot in detail while a business book usually has a point and what you need is a proper series of facts to lead there. I beg to differ in that I feel that most business or technical books tend to achieve the "lower levels" of fact-filling but that doesn't necessarily make them a "good" or interesting book. The interesting ones are those that not only get the facts right but also have to tell a story in an interesting and appealing manner. To that regard, "good" non-fiction books of the like are in my view harder to do. The writer is hampered by details of facts, figures and sequence of events, which are, truth be told, sometimes as gripping as glossy paper covers the books come in.
Unfortunatley, I think this is lost among many business writers. I can consume probably about a 300-page business book in a week or less if it is really interesting, or a month if it not so, or even never if I find it just downright appalling. It seems like writing style is becoming even more significant these days with blogs, forms, and other social software. I'm not sure if anyone is teaching that beyond the do's an don'ts but I suspect is probably a new form of being an English major (not something I really know about).
That being said, I started working on my next book last week--I tend to have a "next" book in the works every other year--and already have about 55 pages in about 4 days; that's about 15% of the total page count that I feel a decent book should be. Now some people look at that as a sign of productivity, but I beg to caution folks that it matters more how useful that is versus how long it is. I'll probably end up with 2-3x the amount of pages than what I'll actually use.
Is there a point? Maybe what they say is true: more is not always better; better is always better.
As I read a part of Brafman and Beckstrom's The Starfish and the Spider, it struck me how similar some of its ideas are to Douglas Atkin's The Culting of Brands (see my list of Books on Communities). I'm going to have to cross reference some of this again later but both describe at least one common element necessary for building successful peer networks (starfish), or brands (culting of brands): ideology.
Brafman & Beckstrom's book talks about having a shared ideology amongst the members of the peer network. This could mean several things from having a core sense of values to a shared sense of purpose to a shared direction (each different things). However, they do not point out the specifics like Atkin's does:
On occassion, when you get enough mass, some of them will try to write down what these are--the Apache foundation went through this, but so sometimes so do the many community folks who start to write a FAQ--but each group goes through a rediscovery process of these ideas.
My view is that communities grow by their own efforts, not on a very focused path, but evolve over time and stabilize at a certain point. Some of the really successful ones actually start off because they are not something else (as in not the mainstream), which often predicates that they do not look into how other communities form. By trying to break into a new direction, they tend to leave all other ideas behind.
The other part is that a truly decentralized community tends to follow leadership (another hard to define quality), and not only does this change over time, but not all our leaders know how to organize a loose network of people such as a community. Without this kind of understanding, it becomes a harder process of successes and failures, and rediscovery of the same ideas.
I have been looking at online-to-print publishing services lately, or alternate formats in e-books, lately. Even with so many online forms, dead-tree formats are still preferred by far. Part of it is a question of format and such, but right now I'm more interested in how people feel about a book.
Stability - It's ironic that in a business world where fluidity and change are pressing forces, that printed books with a fixed set of information are still preferred. It is not as much the permanence as the stability in knowing that the same information is still there, not changing. For a lot of information that does not require adjustments or fluidity, this makes books first in mind. This is also its weakness in books: the more variable information needs to be the less significant the value of a book.
Exclusivity - It is the fact that not everyone can get their work published that adds value to books. This doesn't mean that the best info always gets out there, but it does mean that people have to work harder to get their info published. In the traditional process, this was to encourage excellence (but I don't think that's always the case)
There are other values, but those are being eroded (slowly) with the rise of digital formats: portability, visual impact, artistic value, etc.
Therefore to some folks, its that feeling of exclusivity of having a published book that makes it worthwhile. Which is why I think the idea of vanity publishing used to be compelling enough to keep a cottage industry going. Today however, with key innovations like HP's Indigo press system, it becomes so much cheaper to print low-quantity runs of books.
Take a look at Blurb.com, which allows anyone to get their photos, words, blogs, etc. put into print format at an affordable level. Having written so much over the years, I wouldn't mind taking some of my old online work and having it published into a print format, if nothing else to just have on my bookshelf.
I picked up my copy of The Starfish and the Spider again to look back at how they describe their approach to building a community. The book advocates a new view of decentralized and non-hierarchical organizations, systems, even software. The two creates refer to the hierachical organism (Spider) that can survive loosing some parts of its body but after a point dies, as compared against the distributed organism (Starfish) which even when cut into pieces, essentially break up into multiple separate and surving organisms.
The reference is directly apt to communities, and in this light relevant to our Spaces model. Essentially, it is a way of how a community can organize itself. Per the book, there are five elements that help to make such a system successful: circles, a pre-existing network, ideology, catalysts, and champions.
In our view, a Space is a virtual implementation of having a circle of people that allows them to interact in any number of ways their own circle see fit. This is the home room for the virtual membership to gather together, interact or share information.
The pre-existing network comes from the large membership--6 million the last I checked--that already exists in developerWorks. However, that's not the only place. We also expect to draw folks from other areas of the Internet, which is why syndicating information from your space is so important. While circles can survive losses of members, they still need some minimum level of participation to sustain the existence of the system; otherwise, rather than subdividing, your membership simply dissipates. This is why for the long-term it is important to try to recruit new members. Of course, that still depends upon the intentions of the circle itself; they may decide that the circle only needs to exist for a short-term. In our model, the syndication not only helps to share information, but also acts a way to potentially draw more members based on their interest. The potential candidates can judge for themselves if they like the output of the circle.
However, raw information from the circle is not enough to bind people together. This is why ideology is of value. Call it what you like: mission statements, guidelines, values, tattoos, etc. They represent the ideas that the circle hold of importance; their view in relation to the information. Such ideology is not always necessarily complex, or spelled out; they may even be too subtle to ascertain from the regular ruminations of those on the roster. A better organized group works to make sure that their ideology is made apparent. To help shape that ideology, you need catalysts and champions who help raise and direct the circle.
dW Spaces can help shape the circle and tap pre-existing networks. It can even help the circle describe and post their ideology. However, this is where the software meets the wetware. This is where the brains of the catalysts and champions play key roles. In other words, software alone is not to build communities. It helps to to facilitate them, but you still need the people working to bring it together.
Our view in developerWorks is to try to help these communities start and grow, and collect the ideas of what works well in different situations, to feed back into other communities. That's a long-term process as well. Even though, the staff at dW may not be directly be the catalysts and champions, we try to help new them by acting as a common resource to collect and distribute that knowledge. In big companies, that is often referred to as a center of excellence. While we don't call ourselves that, perhaps that is the role we fill.
I'm reading Mark Buchanan's excellent book on Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks, and came across the concepts of egalitarian and autocratic patterns in social networks. Before you jump to conclusions, let me say a few things about this book. To me it seems to focus on the mathematical origins of the theory of social networks, but takes a pleasant approach going through the history and background of how these ideas emerged. It also spans a wide range of disciplines in terms of where these patterns appear, from biology to watershed and geological studies.
First, it talks about Watts and Strogatz's truly innovative look that has eventually spread across the world as the meme: six degrees of separation. There's a lot more to it than the Kevin Bacon game, but I'd like to point out the particular elements here on egalitarian and autocratic networks. This is actually has little to do with policital systems like socialism versus monarchic or oligarchic communities. Instead if you look at it as a mathematical problem, what it describes is that there are often two varieties of patterns of connections in a system that emerge often.
The first is a basic heuristic that can be commonly seen in some biological systems like the brain: as a node (in a network system), you try to establish a fixed amount or ratio of connections to other nodes. The connections are not a random pattern, but neither is it based on a high degree of "purpose" or "intention". This proposes a very egalitarian and essentially a very simple rule to help build more complex systems as the overall network grows and evolves.
The other is the autocratic pattern, where the heuristic is to start with one node and grow from there. Essentially the key node itself starts growing in size or strength, while its immediate connections grows with it, and scaling down until you reach the end or leaf nodes which have only one connection to someone else. This easiest example is in terms of well known sites or articles on the Net that get linked from many sites, and in a very simplified description, the basis of the algorithm that Google's engine uses.
If you look at one example of each of these networks from a high level, the egalitarian network seems to be completely chaotic with no easily discernable pattern you can tell visually. On the other hand, the autocratic network looks strangely like one of those classic fractal diagrams. Yet, both serve different purposes and have different uses. You might almost say that they are the yin and yang that exist pervasively throughout the world. Okay, maybe that's too metaphysical for a Friday :)
I'm not sure if you've seen this meme but I've come across it in several books both about online and offline communities:
Interactions in communities -->
Creates Understanding --------->
Develops Trust ----------------->
Allows Exploration & Entreprenuership ->
Sets stage for Innovation
The most recent place I saw this meme again, in a slightly varied form was near the last chapters of The World is Flat (ok, maybe I make references to this too often these days :)
Now these are "grand" notions that often follow in a sequence like this above. You need to have one stage happening before you can really reach the next stage. Thus you don't really jump ahead and ask "How do we innovate?" but need to ask "What are we doing to set up an environment such that innovation can happen?"
It's important to realize that the arrows in the diagram above are not trivial. In other words, when you have one stage, you need to do something to progress it to the next stage. That something could take a whole lot of effort. But in terms of managed innovation, it gives points where you can measure how your population is doing and how you can recognize if you've reach that stage.
There are many books out there describing how to innovate and get others to innovate, and I certainly have not read nearly enough of them. I still wonder if some of them consider going through that meme sequence above.
The somethings are also where the opportunities lie. Many innovation and leadership management trends have come and gone, and still many exist in parallel. I'm no certified expert at it and there are likely some really good sources out there too. (Okay, maybe people like Steven Covey)
Right now, I'm just trying to develop an idea for the early stages of this meme, those focused on the developing the community. Hopefully more smart people will come along to explain what to do next.
I’ve been looking for relevance of
The three forces he mentions are democratization of production, democratizationof distribution, and connectionsbetween supply and demand. I can actually see correlations between thoseforces and social software systems, which aren’t hard based on the manysuggestions he makes:
This just fulfils the applicability of the forces, but Ineed to still explain the application of the strategy to software products.
Many software applications are consumed in a different waythan content focused items like books, movies, music, etc. Most obviously, theyare usually tools used to accomplish, build, or fulfill something. Not all fitthis of course: computer games are still primarily a similarentertainment-consumption model. However, tools that a vendor, say IBM,produces are typically used to create or manage other things like applications,data, or knowledge.
This means that you can usually reuse a piece of software todo different tasks (assuming it is not restricted by the license-usage) if youwant to. More so, the deployment of such tools can be different for eachcustomer; and unless there is consulting involved, most vendors do not keepprecise track of exactly how they are deployed. Instead they tend to focus onthe type and number of products purchased (and, very often, how to get thecustomer to buy more).
Across the whole industry however, there is some level ofparity. Many customers with similar businesses may deploy the product insimilar fashion, or come across similar issues, a concordance of some sortaround the usage. These concordances are fuzzy (i.e., not identical) and ofvarying size.
Vendors may sometimes investigate if these concordances orniches of product use represent a potential market. In other words, they arelooking for that next ‘hit’ product that will sell profitably. What are missed in many cases are the smaller non-hit niches.In other words, there is a correlation to long-tail idea.
Vendors do want to capitalize on these opportunities but thediscovery and development of such opportunities can be difficult. Thetraditional business-case approach very quickly: make a hypothesis on apotential product, conduct research on market potential, shape the product,more research, more development, then marketing, launch, support, etc.
The niche products are often eliminated in the market researchstage usually because it is difficult to find proper subjects to interview andconduct the research with.
Changing business-case development
There is another way about this that can work forestablished or existing companies but it is yet to be tested enough to becalled a process.
Assume you have a base of users (a great many exisingcompanies) that have deployed or are interested in deploying your softwaretool.
The approach here is the opposite or bottom-up approach to definingmarkets that self-emerges from healthy active communities, rather than thetraditional top-down (the vendor trying to come up with new ideas). More so, itallows the potential for directly involving customers and users into theproduct-development lifecycle.
The role of online communities here is crucial. This meansnot just the passive approach of “let’s deploy something and leave it outthere”, but actually building relationships with the customers in thesecommunities, finding the influencers within, and trying to encourage healthygrowth. On other words, you need an active program to develop your community.
The dropping costs of “creating” such niches (moreaccurately: encouraging them to develop) through online mechanisms, means thatit is possible to explore many niches simultaneously, if you have a goodmeasurable system. Those with most potential automatically elevate to thehigher rankings, larger groups, and most activity.
I may be reaching here but it is almost like what quantumcomputing promises: calculate all the variations of an equation simultaneouslyto determine the correct—potentially multiple—result based on the highestprobability. (It might only truly apply if you have a really huge number of usersand a really huge number of products).
The rise of Web 2.0 brings a new level of collaboration into the mindsets of the audience. Ideas which were previously taboo, are now actually being considered.
For example, the value of a book is traditionally considered to be in having access to the content of the book itself. For book publishers, this model means: get one or more authors, work on a book, then print and publish the thing, and distribute to bookstores where customers can buy them.
Usually, the ability a person has to examine the contents of the book is usually limited in time (enough time to read some of the book in a store), in content (having access to some portion of the content they can review), or based on the opinion of others.
While not the first, Robert Scoble helped change views while working on his book as a blog, by giving people access to its content while it is being developed online.
This idea is close to my heart and went into the reasoning behind why we needed the developerWorks Books series, and why I helped to start that as part of IBM Press. Somewhere in the following I think is the future of how books can be developed in something that benefits most parties.
It's similar to, although not exactly the same, as "open sourcing" the book since the philosophy of open source does not preclude selling the product. However, if you have access to the contents of the book for free, why would you buy it.
This puts traditional print publishers in a dilemma. Their business is based on selling the product, not giving it away online and hope someone still buys a copy.
To me, both ways seem a little extreme.
Developing a book takes a lot of time and effort and in some topics, by the time you finish writing, a lot may have changed. My guess is that most authors want not only the noteriety but hopefully would also like to get paid from the knowledge they put down. Call me a capitalist, but giving away a year or two of my life to write a book that may become outdated deserves some reward beyond the satisfaction that you've tried to impart some wisdom to the world.
In the fast changing online world, it makes a lot of sense to do some grass-roots promotion of the book by talking about the subject or showing people some of what you have been working on. This is in hopes that later, when you are done writing and editing, people will want to buy the finished product.
Therefore, I think there's a use-case somewhere in between. I say a use-case because I think this is something people will want to do online.
E.g., provide a group of authors with a tool for them to put together a document (say a Wiki), that they can all edit. Develop the outline, and start fleshing out some of the chapters and sections. Then introduce processes between the authors and an editor where they can bring in the editorial process. Then give access to a select audience or even a wide audience to some of the content so you can get some feedback and peer review. Finally, give access to the content and some knowledge about what others think of the book in progress to the book marketing group so they know what it is about and how its doing.
Thus, this package is a specific use-case for book development that involves an online tool for document development, perhaps another tool for discussion, access control to select or public audiences to portions of the content that you choose, ways to measure opinions and traffic to the publicly available/reviewable sections, and then finally a way to transfer the developed content into a format suitable for publishing/printing/distribution.
It involves giving away part of the book for free so that you get a drumbeat going as well as some feedback on coverage. In exchange, you get a better understanding of how the market may receive the work before it is even complete.
The step beyond is where it gets real interesting.
There's no real end to the book, if people are really interested. You could continue working on developing the content, adding new material, and exposing new material to others. You continue to build on a book without having to build a huge business case for a new book or a new edition, unless there really needs to be one.
Paul Dreyfus from our team is helping to make the dW series of books become real and there should be some interesting news coming out this year.
This idea above is so far just my own brainstorming. I doubt it is unique and probably already in force somewhere. It requires the expertise, experience and cooperation of a book publisher, an online publisher, and authors daring enough to try it out. From a Web 2.0 perspective, I think it makes for an interesting approach to team and even community driven content, and brings remixing to a whole new level (between print and online media).
I've finally seen my new book on a physical book shelf at an actual bookstore. The Service-Oriented Architecture Compass is a project that I started working on as part of a team with four other authors, all senior architects. It took a long time to get this book off the ground simply because SOA is such a wide-ranging topic at IBM. There are products and projects that spread across our entire family of middleware products. Needless to say a lot of people were interested in the work and I'm happy to say we got a lot of support putting this book together.
This is also the first book in the developerWorks series of IBM Press which I helped to conceive. This partnership with the Pearson group of publishers (Prentice-Hall, Addison-Wesley, Penguin, Pearson Education, etc.) aims to produce the high-quality content of developerWorks into an even more in-depth format beyond our articles and tutorials for topics that need such broad coverage.
For SOA, even this one book is only the start. This book focus on the initial aspect of figuring out what an SOA project entails, how to explain that to your management, how to start planning your team, and the technical areas that you need to consider.
We're (across IBM) will be working on more books on the topic of SOA, so that we can get the full scope of what this technology really entails starting from the planning to business process modeling, services programming, services assembly, and eventual monitoring and administration.
I've finally had a chance to read Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers today. As with his previous books, he tends to border on sensationalism focuses on events which may possibly be rare outcomes but wrapping it in a story. The impact here is that he is a great storyteller, but his stories may not necessarily be correct. I can't substantiate that irrefutably but I don't need to.
For example, one chapter focuses on birthdate year as an influential factor describing a host of folks in the computer industry who have gone on to be hugely successful. But at first depoints out that SOME of these folks may have had a series of lucky breaks (e.g. Bill Gates) that gave them an advantage, most not related to their age but to their connections. Then with some quick wave of the hand, he points back to the birthdate year being the summary of the chapter. Okay, what happened there?
Patterns may exist (same location, same birthdate, etc.) but it is a combination of these factors that contribute to success. For that matter, it doesn't qualify if one particular of these factors is a bigger contributor.
He's still a great storyteller and uncovers unusual tales, but from what he has in his books alone, it's hard to tell if what he describes is really is true, or just makes for interesting entertainment. That aside, he has still achieved business star status which can direct people to think that way.
Okay, another hunt at the bookstore and came across two morebooks I need to read in depth, although I’m still finishing The Long Tail and The Wisdom of Crowds. (see my reading list).
The first book is MassivelyMultplayer Online Game Development 2 published by Charles Media in 2005,and edited by Thor Alexander. The first edition of this book was much more focused onthe programming issues around this topic, but this edition also has a number ofchapters—almost a third of the book--on managing the overall community,building guilds (groups), policing/managing member conflicts, analyzing memberbehavior, reward and punishment methods, and even pricing policies and marketadoption strategies. I’m surprised by the amount of detail they have in here. I have not seen a copy of Richard Bartle's Designing Virtual Worlds around here but that is also something to add to the list.
The other book is Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class …andhow its transforming work, leisure, community & everyday life. Thislatter book is interesting due to new ideas that I learned the other day on theimportance of Services and the service industry.
IBM has an ongoing focus on what we call Services Science, Management and Education (SSME)which is a look at the science (or business theory) behind the serviceindustry. The reason is because in leading nations and even some emerging ones,Services is becoming a significantly larger portion of the overall GDP versusAgriculture and Industry. We’re talking 70-90% of the Gross Domestic Producthere version less than 5-20% for Agriculture and 10-30% forManufacturing/Industrial output. It’s hard to describe, but for example,Starbucks is a service company (a café or caffeine delivery service) eventhough it produces caffeinated input for others; grocery stores are the same:they sell stuff, but selling is a service action not a production action.
The word “Service” in terms of an industry is difficult todefine; it is generally considered is different than a physical (or virtualproduct), although products are sometimes outcomes of services (and is oftencalled ‘consulting’). Even much of IBM’s revenue comes from services.
So if you look at the stats, the real “business” in topnations is in the service industry, producing stuff for the other customers.Yet, there is still a lot of vagueness about the subject (even after 200-300years). The Communications of the ACM has a special issue just on the subject,contributed by social scientists, business folk, technical folk, and more,indicating the wide range of applicability of this new science.
For the community side, services have a lot of impactespecially on measuring the value of each service provider. Any community is aninformal (or formal) environment for brokering knowledge or other services. Soa greater focus on this can only help us.
In any case,
Two other ideas from The Starfish and the Spider (see earlier post; book list) as the foundation of peer-developed community are: circles and pre-existing network.
The concept of a circle stems from how most peer groups (small social network) start: with a small group of folks. This is the very old idea of clans, tribes and even villages. Jared Diamond's excellent book Guns, Germs and Steel, describes how these groups originated in primitive human societies. The fact is that this is still the way many communities start, but of course, with a different purpose than survival. The small group allows the members to get to know each other on a more personal level, become familiar with their interests, and what they want to work on together. This relationship building on a one-on-one basis in a small circle greatly improves the bonds between members and allows that social network to exist.
Per my previous scale, a social network exists when the members know each other and have a vague or a definite idea of why they want to meet, but do not formalize the group with an identity. This means that the group in a social network tends to fall apart as enough people leave, since it only exists based on the individual relationships between the people; once those relationships are broken, the group breaks apart entirely. A community however, has an identity separate of the individual relationships, so the chances are that it can exist without the original members as long as there are enough people who know how to carry on the community.
The value of the small circle is the relatively tight bonds that exist (or the circle just wouldn't last very long). As more members join in, they look to the original circle for guidance and leadership. This is a basis for a stronger community. Having such circles makes it possible to build a community from ground up. There are some prerequisites, many of which are obvious when it comes in-person circles, but harder to implement in virtual circles:
This may be the basis for a circle/small social network, but it is still different from large social networks and communities.