I won’t delve into what the blog post is about, this is for another time, but something really rang true when I was reading it, in reference to the abstract nature of distributed blogging communities:
“Since there is no fixed “place” for the community, the sense of community develops in the interaction with readers and across multiple blogs, but it’s much harder to see, as the community is somewhat ephemeral. There is also no official leader, though there are frequently authors who act as touch-points for conversation threads within the community. To make up for this, the participants in a blog community are held together by very strong ties of common interest. The common interest, the core of why communities form, is the only thing left that brings blogging communities together.”
The great part is, “…it’s much harder to see, as the community is somewhat ephemeral”.
You have to pay attention to a blog community, an outsider would only see a community the more they read and jump from blog to blog, so in time as they read they discover the community.
It’s not a place, but still it exists…kind of like spirituality in a way, if you dedicate a good portion of your life to meditation you may see the world in a different light, it was always there in front of you, but you just couldn’t see it before…
Plus each person will see the community content and sources slightly differently, since it is informal I may consider person A and content B part of this invisible community, but another person might not see that content and source as part of their interpretation of the community.
And let’s not forget where not just talking bloggers; comments and lurkers may also be considered part of the community…we could extend this to our blogrolls, OPML Reading Lists, blog networks, site visitors, but these elements are not as explicit.
As mentioned above, these blog communities and their distributed conversations don’t have a home unless you make it that way eg. Social Media Today, but this is more of a collective than a community.
A better example would be if you analyised your community (notice I say your community, so this is always going to be blurry), perhaps with Anjo’s tool (search his blog to find the paper).
Once you find the core members then you could re-syndicate their posts to a portal.
Problem is that people may want to blog about different things, so you may want to start just re-syndicating certain tags.
This is trying to formalise a blog community so it has a place, members may drift in and out, but it is an “actual place” where visitors can explore a chunk of the blogosphere, without having to piece the community together themselves…is this less empowering, I’m not sure…
I have loved discovering my blog communities by just reading over time, the discovery is in the parts, then it dawns on you the whole you have realised, this whole is a blog community from your perspective. They are very organic and depend on the specific content to live, they are a flux and could dissolve just as they were realised.
And what if you aren’t interested anymore, does that blog community still exist, of course it does, but not from your perspective, since there is no place, there is only yours and others views and consensus.
That’s communities, they are more about sources, but discovered by piecing together content…so what about these stringed pieces, how to we make blog conversations tangible?
I’m not really sure on this one, I nearly went crazy trying to figure this out…Talkdigger didn’t fix this, but they just extended it.
Another element is that you may be part of many informal blog communities and blog conversations, but there is also a community revolved around you, as mentioned previously these are made up of various elements: site visits, comments, subscribers, appearing on blog rolls, added as friends on blog networks like MyBlogLog, Lijit, Explode, Blogcatalog, etc…
Then add to this: sites you visit, comment on, your OPML Reading List, your blogroll, friends you have added to your blog network,etc…
Then a site like Lijit may take it to the social degree’s…
So are blog communities a community group, just part of a community or a network?
I think they are all.
I may link to, comment on, lurk/read some blogs but I’m not part of a narrow group; with some other blogs I feel we are always talking about the same stuff, talking to the same people, bumping in to each other, so may we begin to kind of start hanging out in the same coffee shop as it seems; but since there isn’t a formal place I feel I’m just own my own networking, I’ve got regular contacts, but I represent myself and don’t have to abide by any group rules.
Collaboration Loop post about the differences in Social Networks and Online Communities, here is an excerpt:
- Moderator controlled
- Topic driven
- User controlled
- Context driven
When I look at these absolute descriptions I see “blog networks”, not “blog communities”, but still I feel there is a sense of community in blogs connecting.
What do you see, or better still, feel?
[ADDED 17/05/07 : the network effect has reminded me of the service Outside.in which I posted about a while back. Here is Brooklyn NY.
Similar to socialight in that it has the location blogging concept (not all posts have to be about a location). Basically stories are “clips” without permalinks, pointing straight to the native site, if you tag it with a “place” you will see it on a place page. A tag page is more of a topic page.
You can blog, it’s called comments, but again there is no permalink, the post will just appear at a place, tag or your user space…this makes it hard to point to one of your posts.
There is a map, see profiles of nearby neighbours, and nearby bloggers.
The Nearby Bloggers (blogroll) seems to be the blog content community, then you have all the users that are clipping and commenting.
Content get there 3 ways:
- blogroll bloggers content is re-syndicated
- users who clip and comment
- blogosphere posts that are geo-tagged or via a bookmarklet.]