There’s much to say about “online community” these days. Multiple resources are available to learn how to create online community and there are an exorbitant list of tools at your disposal to create one. Millions of people are connecting through Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. But I insist that community; the real thing, is built outside of technology. I agree with John Saddington that using technology does not prove that you have community. In fact, I would even suggest, as many have done before me, that community should build relationships and relationships should change lives. Social networking should ultimately lead to a real in-person uniting where people can actually meet each other. I’m pretty sure Chris Brogan has suggested something like this before.
And for those groups of people that are already in “community”, I would suggest that you don’t need software to “build” community. You need software to enhance your community. For example, it has been proven that Facebook enhances face time. This makes sense, because you’re able to keep track of the day-to-day lives of your friends, and then touch on those important points when you meet in person. The small-talk can be cut out and friends can get to the “meat” of a conversation.
In a similar manner, groups, teams, ministries, volunteers and people involved in member-driven organizations need software to help them with the day-to-day logistics, planning and coordination of their groups. Many times you don’t need to build community online as much as you just need to take care of the business of being a part of a community. When everyone is informed, up-to-date and accessible then the community can grow stronger. When you can take care of the business of being a member online, you can leave time for real community when you’re together in person. In other words, you won’t have to worry about passing out schedules and documents,exchanging notes, reminding people of events and general planning during real community; you can enjoy each other.
When members are face-to-face is when they can really focus on their relationships; which builds community; the real thing. Do you agree?