Commune, Collective, or Community – The Secret to Aggregating Users and Creating Value

Are you organizing people the right way?

I read a post from @TheBrandBuilder where he talked about dropping the word followers from Twitter, replacing it with something else.  He made the point that it is not about leading, it is about creating a community.  I read a post from @Scobleizer decrying Twitter and FriendFeed in favor of a blog so that the knowledge can be retained.

The problem comes down to definitions.

A commune is a cacophonic group.  Users with a common purpose flock to a commune to be surrounded by people that have similar tastes, thoughts, or desires.  Users aggregate in a common place, or platform in the electronic world, just to share.  A commune is a many-to-many disorganized conversation with no rules or enforcers. Limited learning opportunities exist as there is no organized knowledge.

Twitter is an excellent commune.

A collective is a one-way conversation when a group of users shares a common goal, with strict operating guidelines, a hierarchy,  and an entity that “leads” ensuring all users have the same goal.  While knowledge capture and indexing generally happen on collectives, the opportunities to learn and grow are limited by the single-goal and its hierarchy. Most “communities” sponsored by vendors are collectives.

Collectives require knowledge management.

A community is a like-minded group of individuals that favors two-way communication as a way to increase their power and knowledge.  Communities are self-regulated and self-administered.  Whereas a  collective tries to change its participants into similarly styled members, a community preserves individuality to improve all members.  Ratings and reputation are added to the knowledge to simulate a hierarchy.

Communities manage reputations to add value to the experience.

As you build a strategy to aggregate users for value keep in mind your needs for conversations, knowledge, and value when choosing the best model.

What are you building? Leave me a comment, let me know.

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5 thoughts on “Commune, Collective, or Community – The Secret to Aggregating Users and Creating Value”

  1. Hi Esteban,

    I love it when your summarize.. Makes your blog a great place for reference (too)

    I hear a lot about Tribes these days.. What are your views on that?

  2. Ah, yes. Tribes.

    I was one of the original participants in the closed test for the Triibes web site that Seth set up (actually, if you look at the pictures in the inside cover of his book you shall find my mug – ugly as it is).

    I participated from the tribes web site for a while, and have some good and bad things to say – of course. I like the approach of having a leader, it makes sense in the essence of a tribe as it does to have a leader in a tribe. As long as you are the expert, you impart your wisdom and slowly grow your knowledge via discussions. You continue to lead the tribe, settle disputes, etc. You are the essence for that tribe you formed, and you become part of the tribe-people in other tribes. In other words, you collaborate and you get the benefit of others collaborating.

    That is a fine model – in the sense of today’s world. As a strategist, I am more concerned with what is to come. I see these new generations of people, these digital natives working in a very different model. All relationships are virtual, all knowledge is shared, all are equal – to a certain extent. Communities come together to benefit everyone in it – and have no leader. We all know about the same, some more and some less, but we are all there to benefit and grow the collective knowledge. Once we are done, the community self-dissolves and the knowledge is preserved, we move to a different community for the purpose of broadening the knowledge in that community, and so forth. I can still be a member of many communities, if i so choose, or I can be a member of a single one if that is the need I have at this time.

    I see tribes as collectives in my post here. There is specific purpose, a goal, and a leader. The goal is to continue to grow the tribe, the empire or yesteryear. I see communities of digital natives as doing what I described above – not joining tribes. There is a limited time to accomplish something, so let’s get to it, get it done and move on. Their attention span is siginificantly lower than ours, and ours is lower than our parents.

    No tribe can keep a digital native interested in one topic for too long, and no tribe can manage the free spirit that comes from knowing that the knowledge already exists somewhere, all you have to do is find it, use it, index it, and re-use it when needed.

    I am not sure if it sounded like rambling, but I think that we are bound to see and use tribes to replace the old communes and collectives in the near term, with true virtual communities beginning to emerge within 3-4 years. If I was still at Gartner I would even add a probability of 0.9 to that. Since I am not, I will say it is fairly sure, I’d be surprised and shocked if it were not to happen (which, incidentally is the definition of a 0.9 probability).

    What do yo think?

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