Community – from start up, to borg; from an idea to embedded behavior
It’s so sad when your local neighborhood café becomes a massive international chain. The Barista that used to be the owner as well as waiter, the face of the café, who knew your name and exactly how you like your espresso, is now gone, sitting behind a desk somewhere or vacating on some sandy beach. The hand made muffins, in different shapes and sized, are now all mass manufactured looking all the same. The few people that knew about this hidden neighborhood gem, sharing a secret together, are now replaced by the world and his wife coming to buy in bulks. The personal touch is gone.
For a successful community and social/professional network, this is one of the key stages in their lifecycle. The moment it becomes widely used is also the point where it could also, potentially, become impersonal, commercial and… tasteless.
2 things come out of this discussion, one is an observation, the other – a question.
First, We all witnessed Google’s evolution from a cool startup to a “borg”. Are we now witnessing the same thing happening with Facebook? Is this the web evolution cycle? a startup or idea that has successfully passed the online behavior test and has ingrained into our behavior is simultaneously shifting from a start up – an idea – into a monopoly. Search was an experimental concept – it is now a must in every site. Social Networking was an experiment, it is now becoming a must in all sites.
Second, is the first (and main) factor of a successful community, its size? “Quality and Quantity. How is your community value measured?” This topic has been occupying me very much lately. I finally found a reason to write about it as Wired published a somewhat sad article covering Facebook’s growth and strategic positioning in its competition with Google. The past few weeks have seen many top publications scrutinizing Facebook’s “monstrous” growth. Is it a “monstrous” growth? Interestingly today a very relevant discussion has developed around the topic in Doug Cornelius’s Blog ComplianceBuilding: does a mass community make a successful one? do you need a community large in numbers to have a successful community? is it just about number? or is it about WHO is a member of the community that makes it successful?
Curious to hear your thoughts.