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Community was once defined by location, affiliation, or membership. But today, the internet is fostering a giant network of interconnected communities, most without any central authority. What happens when communities form and no one's in charge?
Communities happen when people have the ability to use their voice in a public and immediate way, forming intimate relationships over time.
Traditional web communities were company towns. You can use your voice, but only within the format and rules of the boss.
Community on the web is increasingly self-powered, independent. You are your own boss.
Technologies powering distributed community: Blogs, comment systems, trackbacks, tags, APIs, blogrolls, referers (MeasureMap), and the good old Link.
Proof of life.
You're Spike. You feel like you're misunderstood. When you care for others, it's deeper than they'll ever know. Though no one thinks you'll change/pull through, you'll show them. Which Buffy The Vampire Slayer Character Are You Most Like!?
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PROs: Self-ownership - no one can turn you off, more human-scale, fewer bozos - nobody graffitis their own house.
CONs: No one's in charge, no moderators, hard to converge, difficult tools.
Flickr: Open APIs, RSS, Tags, Blog this photo.
You Tube: Blog this video, contribution culture.
TypePad: Decentralized, but still SPOF. (Renters.)
Last.FM: Connected to apps.
Treat your community well. Because they'll leave if you don't.
Decentralized community better mirrors "real" community (for better or worse).
Move toward a community affiliation life cycle: grow up in your parents house, move out on your own, buy a house.
Blogs have forced Company Towns to interact with the rest of the world.
Nowhere to go but up.