A description of are the basics of what makes online community tick
It does not matter which definition you use to describe Web2.0, they all agree with one thing, which is that it is being driven by the online community or social network. If you have never worked as a member of a virtual team then the collaborative and egalitarian nature of the Web2 tool set will seem like madness you. If you want to understand the lunacy then here is a list of things that will get you up to speed.
- Organise an event [party/gig/exhibition] using facebook
- Play an online game with someone you have never met
- Organise your next personal project using project path
- Add to the definition of something that you are expert at, in the wikipedia.
- Read a blog, and comment on it
Im now assuming that you have done all of the above.
As architects we may be asked to deliver solutions for these online comunities, and there is a vast amount of technology out there for you to enjoy and sometimes suffer.
Successful online communities grow and grow with little or no traditional marketing. When you first start an online community it seems to take you ages to get the technology and design how you want it to be whole lives can be lost making the perfect CSS to scale the as yet unmade content, we have all worked on projects where the tek has taken literally man years to get to the first release candidate.
When the big opening day finally comes and you launch your web servers out into the internet, it falls flat. No one registers apart from the people who made it (and their mums). If you have done some marketing then you get a few views but after a few months that drops off and your community is a failure.
The content of your web site can be made up of manny manny, things, such as games, forums pages, papers, documents, movies, comments, ... the list is endless. It is best to think of everything as just content. A piece of text is content in the same way that a "mapping favourites" feature is. The amount of and quality of this is called a websites weight.
With respect to your community portal there are 4 types of people in the world.
- The Unaware - people who have never been to your website
- The Audience - people who have diped in to your website once or twice
- The Members - people who have registered
- The Commiters - these are people who make a contribution
The atoms of content that contribute to the weight of a website is created by it contributors, some of which you normally pay; people such as the developers and producers, some of which you dont normally pay; people such as the blogers and commentators.
A good piece of technology allows the community that uses your site to create good content, which attracts more contributors, which in-turn add to the content.This diagram shows how a successful community works. It is a relationship between content, technology and the community. If any part of this loop is weak then it lets down the others, which leads to a stagnant community. As architects we must decide on, design and describe the technology, but you must remember that we are only a third of the story. It is important to understand this relationship before you start designing
Sooner or later the community start needing more features or scale, which empowers the community to make good content which is passed on to others who then join the community ... who need more features ...
who make better content ... and so on