After finishing Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class, I finally got around to starting The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs. For years, I've been wanting to read this classic in urban planning, and community design. I can't believe it's taken me this long.
While it's very easy to read, regardless of one's knowledge of urban planning, I'm only about 100 pages into this book (compared to 200 pages in the latest Harry Potter book). Partly that's because every page or so in Jacobs' book has me thinking about the cities she mentions and how they function (or do not) today. I also find myself taking a closer look at the city in which I live now, in addition to all the communities (online) that I've been a part of over the years. In short, this book has really got my gears spinning when it comes to thinking about community -- and more importantly, designing for community.
Something as simple as looking closely at sidewalks, for example, has me wondering about the parallel in an online community. Where is the proverbial sidewalk in a community of developers? Is it found in a blog? On a forum? In the tags used by others? How do people associate with one another (at different levels of participation) in a way that is meaningful to them, whether they are strong ties, weak ties, or loose ties? How does a community manifested online help people acclimate to the "neighborhood" so to speak?
As I work my way through this, I'll continue to post some reflections on this great read.