Thursday, September 30, 2004

Weblogs and online communities.

Weblog as Online Community Management Tool:

Aside from participation in discussions, the community manager often needs a consistent and accessible place to have an independent voice to relate community news and information. Below you will see how a weblog may be used to fill this need.

This sends me off on a little riff:

I don't think it's trival to argue the difference between whether something is an online community or weblog or listserv or simple a homepage. I think that this forces the site owner to define the goals for their work (bringing people together in conversation or pointing out interesting things, for example), naming that, and then looking at tools that make it easy to manage the associated processes.

This is not to say that tools can't be used for other purposes (in fact, some of the most interesting tools happen precisely because they get used in a way that differs from the original intention). However, when it happens, it should happen because a good tool doesn't already exist and not because you are trying to turn a message board into a blog or a blog into a message board.

So what do I mean by this: when I get ready to share information I think a little about the goal of sharing that information, how I expect users to interact with it and then, on the basis of that thinking, I decide if I want to use Word or Excel. It might be that I could use either -- tabular data with narrative context -- but my goals -- I want people to improve the numbers or check my calculation; I want them to be able to quickly re-sort the information to meet their own needs -- push me to use Excel instead of Word.

I suspect that we'll end up with web suites in much the same way that we currently have productivity suites.