Why Communities Matter

There is an idea taking shape. An idea that I’ve been ruminating on for some time. It is this:

Communities are necessary.

Not because they provide additional value but because they are a fundamental building block to our society and because as our society shifts to doing more and more and MORE online, these communities must manifest themselves online as well. The idea is that communities are not only ideal but an absolute to civilized discourse on the internet, where the majority of our commerce, work and enjoyment happens these days.

Have you seen this cartoon? It made the rounds a few months ago:

It’s funny but SEE?! Our lives have changed, little by little, until it’s a LOT. And I’m not the only one, neither are you. And while there are millions of people who don’t give a hoot about Twitter or a fiddle about Facebook, they still do much of their learning, working, and socializing on the computer or alternatively, a smart phone.

It’s pretty scary to call something a paradigm shift, but I really believe this is what we’re talking about. It’s true that the tools might change but the behavioral patterns we’re learning right now will augment themselves to a newer tool, the essential shift is the same. The way we do everything now is different. 10 years ago it wasn’t that common to expect an instantaneous answer on which TV to buy or how your dress looked. Now you can ask that and more and get answers from all over the world in a matter of seconds. Collaboration and access are soaring on an unprecedented level as we adapt our communicative practices to this new but somehow familiar setting.

Communities are even now being used to enact political, social and economic change. People have taken the tools set before them (after all they are based on how humans interact and communicate to begin with) and essentially, picked them up. We have been using them and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Talent Communities have generally been used as a business tool or product, which they can be, but I think they are and can be much more. If you can technology supported communities changing one or two fundamentals of the society, why should it be difficult to disrupt the recruiting process? Or the corporate process for that matter?

I plan on writing a lot more about what communities are, why they are not only important but necessary and to address them from an anthropological view point. We can adapt and harness the power of community but only if we understand the purpose and history behind them. That’s why I’m not starting with “talent” communities per se, because I believe this conversation to be bigger than that. I also will get to business cases and ROI as I think through some of these ideas, but I won’t shortcut the discussion to argue semantics or prove things to you. You can google it.

A community is a society locally organized

A community is a society locally organized

 

  • http://www.Recruiter.com Miles

    I was just reading a history of my hometown and it said, speaking about 1907, that “the eligible citizen who is not enrolled in one or more of the various societies (meaning social organizations like fraternal clubs) is an exception rather than a rule.” I think today the opposite is true – those engaged with their real local communities are the exception. It’s pretty amazing – back then in 1907 there were multiple basketball teams, social societies, rifle clubs, knitting circles, bands, history clubs, frats, even tug-of-war teams. People congregated around any interest you could think of.

    Hopefully all this web stuff can make up for all of this lost community. But I have my doubts about that.

    • marenhogan

      Miles I think we’ve discussed before how you and I are similar learners. We take that which we know and understand (ACTUAL communities) and try to overlay them on what we see emerging in our chosen field (also pretty similar :). So I sort of agree, except I see it coming full circle. Example: I just got an invite to scrapbooking thing at my sons’ school. It’s for a good cause, it costs money and it’s coming up quickly. Had this been sent home in a flyer I would have ignored it. But since the school is active on facebook, tagging pictures in a closed group and showing with blog posts etc where fundraising dollars are going, I am more inclined to accept, even though scrapbooking makes me want to barf.

      Another example, a friend of mine was passing out flyers about an all day volleyball tourney to raise money for an ill family member. I was like “Put it on facebook” and all the sudden registration soared. People are in front of their computers most of the time and getting the word out about disparate community events is easier than before. These are really small examples of course and the signal to noise ratio will have to periodically adjusted but it’s still pretty awesome. My issues is this, everything we do now has changed: shopping, listening to music, learning, socializing that it makes no sense that the way we interact within a community won’t change drastically too. It’s easy to dismiss as a passing fad or vendor BS, but the truth is, the impact has to be felt. It’s almost inevitable.

      PS I want to start a kickball league

  • http://stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/blog/ Doug Shaw

    Hey Maren – how about essential as an upgrade from necessary. Community is powerful and encouraging and when done well is a great binder for life. I look forward to reading more from you on this – great stuff.

    • marenhogan

      Thanks Doug! It’s such a big subject. Every time I sit down to write I have about twenty different tangents I have to go back and get rid of. It’s hard to make sense of it all, because like we all know, “it” changes every day. I come across articles from 1941, 1967, 1994, 2008 that are all grappling with this stuff and while there are some truisms that coexist in all of those documents, there is so much change that it’s hard to put anything to “virtual paper” without feeling that it will soon change. But hey, it’s worth a shot!

      • http://stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/blog/ Doug Shaw

        Cool! Yeah – everything changes and grows and all that. I quite like sticking down the ideas then going back and feeling smug when I got ‘em right and quietly deleting when I got ‘em wrong :)

        Just kidding of course – my mistakes are as good, if not better than when I get it right.

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  • http://www.CollegeRecruiter.com Steven Rothberg CollegeRecruiter.com

    I think we are at the dawn of true talent communities. I hear from a lot of employers that they want or even have talent communities but virtually none do, at least not when you define it to require community between the talent.

    If the “community” is a communication tool that allows recruiters to communicate with potential candidates who may have expressed an interest in working for the organization then that, by my thinking, is not a talent community. That’s a resume bank and just a fancy name for what employers have been doing for a long, long time.

    I think that a true talent community allows job seekers who have an affinity with each other to communicate with each other and the organization’s recruiters without having to wait for the recruiter to initiate the conversation. Until a few days ago, I couldn’t think of a single example of a large organization with such a talent community but then one pointed out to me that their Facebook Fan Page operates that way. They allow virtually any type of content to be posted by anyone. They’ll moderate out hate speech, swear words, etc. but will allow members to criticize the organization and its opportunities. Facebook Fan Pages don’t allow one member to engage in a conversation with another member, but Facebook does so that’s close enough for me.

    I wish vendors who are marketing “talent communities” to their employer clients would start accurately describing the solutions as “talent pools” or “talent pipelines” as they’re not talent communities. True talent communities are coming. You can see the interest amongst the employers. They just need to get over their fear of giving up some of that control but most have, as seen by the willingness of many to truly engage with their candidates through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites.

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  • http://Enkiho.com Chris

    good stuff, sociometry