Clay Shirky, a professor at New York University who studies the effects of the Internet on society, believes community happens when personal motivation and social infrastructure come together. The internet has allowed us to create tools to help us “get together”and expand our lives. We see collaborative repositories of expression and art (i.e., Wikipedia, Flickr) come together from the pooled time and talent of its participants. The results are better than what anyone person could do in isolation.
Seth Godin points out that community-based business thrives because the hard work and costs are worth it to create something that is hard to find anywhere–“community, not convenience”. Godin further states,
Community-based businesses tell stories. They create remarkable products. They sync up their tribe. The community business says, “people like us shop at a place like this.” This is where brands live, and where work that matters gets done.
The commodity surf shop sells the cheapest boards and wetsuits, online. And the community-based surf shop runs swap meets, has a newsletter, organizes competitions, commissions original artwork on boards, and yes, along the way, sells some surf wax.
The community-based business has is its own style, with its own structures and measurements and strategies. Creating community engenders value for people. And providing value is the heart of any successful business model.
Community happens when personal motivation and social infrastructure come together producing value for people, and value is the heart of any successful business model. Community creates valued connections.
The How to Teach Online Mooc is a 5 week community. Is it possible for this community to continue after the MOOC ends? Do the participants have the personal motivation? If so what motivates them? Are we using the right social infrastructure to help the community grow and prosper? If not, what do you suggest? Is this community worth your time and effort to build valued connections?