Sunday, March 16, 2008

Business and community evolution

(crossposted on TechNet)
Thanks to Fili for calling out Chris' post discussing Oracle's "Social CRM." This has been on my mind a lot lately -- rationalizing the role of community in the business world.

In many ways, I've been trying to balance this very thing from all my time working with communities in a business environment. While I still think that these are not mutually exclusive, I am coming to realize that we all need to be crisp about what we mean when we say community due to the buzz nature of the term.

Working with communities (as an end to itself) seems to be quite different than working towards a given business goal that involves community. While the latter may sound somewhat opportunistic, is it? Is it different than the "double bottom line" or social enterprises we see sprouting up? Personally, I don't think it's very different at all. Instead, I think the challenge for all of us in these spaces is to to figure out how to best adapt to tackle the big problems and really change the world.

Online Community Roundtable Notes

(cross posted on TechNet)

A few days ago, I attended the Online Community Roundtable where we had some robust discussion about community strategies. Thanks to Bob for stepping up and hosting this session with Forum One. Thanks also to Nancy, Teresa and Bill for posting their notes.

I'll just add a few things that stood out for me:

Nancy White -- when describing some of her work internationally, she mentioned it would take about two years for behaviors to change.

[this reminds me of a recent post by danah boyd where she discusses the changing nature of how actions by youth are manifested rather than the behaviors/motivations of youth changing. No matter what strategies we take with our communities, we all need to be in it for the long haul.]

Frank Jerden -- when talking about the integration of the online TED conference profile with offline interactions, the question of whether or not it matters that event communities are disposable. Sean O'Driscoll brought up a great question on how one would measure the impact of these communities.

[personally, I'm not sure it matters if the online community manifestations are disposable as long as the participants end up deepening those connections through other means.]

Chrystie Hill -- with WebJunction working with communities of librarians. I found it interesting that her problem space is essentially the same as mine -- how do you ensure that folks coming to your experiences find the resources they need quickly to address whatever problem initiated the inquiry in the first place?

As for the key success factors regarding community, the slide/image below is what was discussed. I appreciate any feedback you have on this.

Note -- this is MS scoped, but I think you could find/replace MS with whatever you wanted.

Note -- since the roundtable, this has undergone some more refinement to better incorporate the different community types. More specifically, I believe that a key success factor is the need for a shared understanding of the type of community so all parties involved are ultimately successful at what they are trying to do.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Community types for technical professionals

With social media exploding the last several years, it's easy to think that all this emphasis on community is equal from one experience to the next. Wanting to be precise in what we're talking about, I think it will be helpful to describe the communities we work with on a day to day basis.

For the technical professionals that come to experiences like MSDN and TechNet the four types of communities seem to be most pertinent:

support based communities
communities of practice

Support based communities are probably best characterized by the need for an answer now. This is manifested on our forums today. Most technical forums seem to fall into this category.

Communities of practice tend to be those types of communities that draw people in around a shared goal -- learning more about a particular topic for example. In many ways, groups such as Ineta and Culminis appear to fall into this category. Another example, non-tech (edit -- non-Microsoft) would be the online facilitation Yahoo! group.

Feedback/development based communities are those where people interact for the sake of bettering a product or technology while getting early previews as to what's next. Connect seems to be a prime example of this. Dell's IdeaStorm is a (edit -- another) prime example of this.

Enthusiast communities are those where people tend to interact with others to not only connect with those that share their enthusiasm, but also to share their passion around a particular product or technology. Channel 9 (in addition to Channel 8 and On10) do a nice job of this. I'm not an expert on enthusiast or fan-based communities, but Nancy Baym and Henry Jenkins have both written a lot about this.

Of course, there are many more types of communities. I only listed four different ones as they seem to be most pertinent to the work I do. To clarify, in working on a communities team, I am not responsible for all the sites/experiences listed above. Rather, those are just examples to better illustrate what I mean by community types. My role now focuses more narrowly on planning for community from a platform and processes perspective. I am of the notion that the platform and processes needed will vary based on the types of community being discussed.

So that's where my head is at right now. What do you think? Are there other types of communities pertinent to technical professionals in your opinion?

The Space Between -- Where's Brian?

I am trying to get back on the blogging bandwagon but after repeated attempts of fits and starts, I've come to realize it's something that takes a lot of work from me. Don't get me wrong, I *will* keep blogging. I do want to be clear though that there are other ways in I intend on (hopefully) providing value to you and others interested in the intersection of community and technology.

First off is my account. This is where I tag a lot of things that relate to community and tech. Apologies in advance for the random political things that pop in now and again.

Second is my list of shared items from Google Reader. These are a lot of the items that I find noteworthy from the feeds of most interest to me.

Third is my Amazon wish list. I don't really do a good job of removing the ones I've read so it's both things I will be reading and things I have read.

(Note -- friendfeed has all of my, Reader and Amazon stuff all in one place)

Last but not least, I blog in a variety of places:
here -- work
here -- community in general (work and personal)
here -- running (personal)
here -- games (personal, not updated much)
Internally at work

Thanks to Commoncraft,* Josh and DMB for the inspiration in writing this.

*while I also have a Twitter account, I don't really use it so don't bother looking for me there. Should this change, I'll let folks know.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

3 AM surprise

This is too funny. The infamous "3AM" ad that Clinton's been running features a WA state resident who is an Obama supporter.