As often put networks are individual centric, whereas communities are a place, have a main topic, agenda, set members, moderated and they die out if members are not putting in effort.
Whereas networks are self evolving, may not be intentional (they can be parts making up a whole without perhaps even knowing their involvment), and they may de-evolve of no consequence.
For instance Google have a startpage, they have a social network, and they have communities or groups.
These are all separate products and they still can be, but there could be an option to intergrate them like Facebook.
Notice that Facebook is a startpage or personal dashboard, and it’s also a social network as you can message and add friends (share stuff, keep updated), and you can also slice smaller networks by defining a region or a company or a school…you could come up with sub-networks by filtering on any piece of common data or parameter. Notice how this is still an individual centric network, no-one may even notice they are part of the “Australia” network, not knowing their profile and content is appearing under the Australia Network page.
Then they have groups around any topic, these you know about as you have to join, members and visitors take part in discussions, etc…without member or visitor input these groups or communities become ghost towns.
Whereas this doesn’t happen with a network, there is no trail left behind if a network fades away…in saying that if all the Australian Facebook people stopped using Facebook then there would be no Australia network and there would be dead profiles (that didn’t sound good, but you know what I mean).
Basically the network (the whole) only fades away as individuals (the parts) stop using their profile, so as long as people get personal benefit and thrive, you can see many networks depending on how you slice the data.
Anyway this post was more about personal dashboards, groups and networks being intertwined in the same ecosystem…hmmm, only thing missing is task collaboration, ala Foldera.
Network within a community
The confusing part is when the network is really topic focused, the reboot conference has a social network as their webpage, and the mobile browser called mowser has a social network for their community of users.
Notice I said community of users…are we a community of users because we happen to use the same search engine like Google?
Are these networks within a community?
NOTE: Most conference sites or products have a house blog or forums, but they don’t usually have social networks, this is excellent to see, especially when you can set one up as Mowser has done using Ning.
So even though mowser has set up a network (instead of just forums or a contact us page) is this a community…sure it’s a network of people, but there are no other topics other than mowser…so does one focused topic equate to a community group?
Since it is a network, it’s individual centric, but if all these individuals do is talk about mowser, then is this a community…perhaps it’s not about content at all, but just the form or structure of the connection of people.
Whereas Facebook is a network and you can slice it to see different networks, since Facebook is not around a topic, branches form, you can see numerous networks, depending on how you look at it.
If mowser decided not to use Ning and created a group in Facebook, it wouldn’t be the same, you don’t have individual freedom, you have to obey group rules, there is a leader, and you don’t have your own space, you just contribute to the communal space, but you are backed up and supported, the community and its leader provide support.
In this respect I can see the difference (as elearnspace puts it, “expression of interaction”) between, a group space (community??) and connected individual spaces (network).
Another distinction is how a network forms, mowser is a explicitly formed network, the network has been allowed to form with the intention to talk about mowser.
What about when people create topic based re-syndicated news streams, that is grab a bunch of feeds on a topic and present the news on a page, eg. Netvibes Universes, PageFakes PageCasts, BlogDigger Groups, MySyndicaat, etc…
These people blog as usual, they have no idea they are being placed with other blogs as part of a topic page, this perhaps is neither a network or a community?
What about blogs tagged “search” in the Technorati Blog Finder, are these blogs either of the above, I think to be either there needs to be some form of interaction.
I guess if you look at a city of people, our view of the world is a network, but we can join groups or communities eg. family, sports club, church group…the confusing part is that just say your church group (community) decided to connect using a social network.
Scott’s workblog hones in nicely saying that networks don’t have a formal organisation structure, where as communities have resource management, monitoring, etc…
Aha, he’s thought about this and calls a “bounded network” a social network that supports a community of users.
Check out the post to see the excellent model.