What are communities?

We hosted our 2nd event on exploring ideas around a Community Curriculum. In this session we explored ‘what are communities?’.

These are the very rough and unedited notes from the session.

I’m placing it here as reference as we’ll be using it ‘soon’ to figure out what to create next.

What are communities?

Our previous event notes:

Thanks to:

  • Rosie Sherry
  • James Cattell
  • Venia Logan
  • Bruno Winck
  • Shannon Aviña
  • Kyle Niemis
  • Ilker Akansel
  • Kely S. Eljadue
  • Jess Hobbs
  • Barrak

What types of communities exist?

Questions:

  • Community defined as a contextual & cultural space
    • Criteria to define community: how large are they and the purpose, you need these, or at least two things to define a community?
    • People working towards a common cause
  • What are the boundaries of a community? How porous are they?
    • It’s hard to talk about it, to pin it down
      • We should define boundaries: scopes of community, from small groups, to organisations…and more…!
    • Socio-ecological theory:
      • Intrapersonal
      • Interpersonal
      • Inner-community
      • Organizational
      • Industry community
      • Public space
      • Law/policy
      • Broader Virtual Space
  • How does time factor into a community (duration of a community/life cycle)
  • [Comment]: There is a lot of overlap, so it is difficult to define them according to their type. Communities can be in a state of transition from one type to other, there usually is one defining type of community. This is important because community manager - or strategist behind the community - is to keep the community on course of that particular type!
  • There are a lot of frameworks which adds complexity, we keep adding to things, rather than perhaps creating a better and a more simplistic framework
  • We can also have sub communities, A community inside a big one. Just to make it simpler. I heard someone call that “clusters”.
  • It depends from where you are standing of what a community may be perceived
  • Defined by place—where people live, work, or play. Defined by identity—which may be externally assigned (like race) or internally defined (like religion). Defined by affinity—something people like to do and do together. Defined by affiliation—people you know, experiences you’ve shared, values you hold in common. Or Defined by a mixture.
  • Community type frameworks
    • Definitions comes from where the value is
    • Communities of: product, practice, place…
    • (jono bacon) Communities of read, write, and play
    • DigitalMarketer:
      • Aware/engage communities
      • excite/ascend communities
      • Success communities
      • Promotion / VIP groups
    • CMX Spaces Model
      • Support
      • Product
      • Acquisition
      • Contribution
      • Engagement
      • Success
    • Communities of interest, Practice & Utility
    • Affinity groups (sexuality/gender/racialized/identity, religion, class, geography, disability)
    • Mutual Aid Groups
  • Course backchannel
  • Stadium Communities - Social media followings/fandoms/etc.

What are the limitations of communities?

  • What factors can limit a community: ie what it can achieve, how long it can sustain itself…
  • Implicit bias/ableism of individual members.
    • Power Distance, Spiral of Silence, Technological-Allowance Theory
    • Implicit bias: whatever implicit bias they have can limit the possibilities of the community (and therefore do we take care/consideration of who we invite in?)
  • Let go of being in charge
  • Size / scale?
    • Self annihilation of communities
    • If we can understand the burdens of community then we can design community with the expectation of them being relevant
    • 6 burdens of community growth h
      • Allocation - Tasks move from ‘responsibility’ to ‘allocation’
        • Sustaining momentum: individual members’ investment and participation; who is initiating participation
        • When the contribution problem occurs, people don’t take tasks
      • Attribution - Value of curated content grows vague with scale
      • Contribution - Work is logarithmic and reward is exponential
        • A small group of members are expected to do most of the work
      • Distribution - Organised communication channels spread over time
        • Dunbar’s number
      • Remuneration - Funding & support required of community increases
        • Funding: how is the community supporting the infrastructure that is holding it? How is funding generated and distributed?
      • Stratification - With scale stratification is a natural impact
    • Approaches to resolving the burdens
      • Infrastructure - necessary pain
        • Infrastructure, bureaucracy creates limitations
      • Processes -
        • Standard Operating procedure
      • Bureaucracy -
        • Dedicated places for tasks (form=function)
      • Segmentation -
        • Respecting people’s desire to be in a conversation
      • Automation -
        • How far away from a “social contract to participate” do we want to get?
  • What can be achieved?
    • How can communities be safer and more accessible?
    • Creating understand of what communities should be used for and to not abuse it
    • What support or budget is available? You can’t expect everyone to do the work for free
  • Accessibility (online) community
    • Technical - network access, computer or smartphone ownership
    • Ability based - physical disabilities or neurodiverse
    • language used? English and then when it grows more people ESL will join and will want to use their own language
    • Location - Country or time zone centric
    • Reasons for churn - What causes churn?
  • Are there limitations as a cmgr that we put on the community? Do we want to embrace the limitations? They are what make the community, having clear boundaries.
  • Scope, Duration ( start a community for 6 months and end up extending it again and again).
  • Sponsored communities: you can’t take the communities beyond the value they need or designed for, perhaps this can be a limitation.
  • rules of exchanging: like Feedback rules on each other’s work (via Barrak)
  • I think the most important thing we have to discuss is the power distance and how that applies to biases (Venia)
  • self actualize the community via Ilker (self imposed boundary) attempts to take community beyond the value and environment what the members are seeking is a limitation
  • Organic way communities of communities…we’re super dependent on organisations, it’s a paradox.
    • What are we working with?
    • What are aiming for?
    • How much do we want to step back and empower people?
    • We are part of a group, when we participate
    • Our worlds have meaning, and that is why we are part of a group
    • What things can we look at when we try to assess what is going on?
    • We give so much and let go
    • Companies then have control over us? Argh.

​Who should contribute to communities?

  • Everyone!
  • Or not everyone? :slightly_smiling_face:
  • Fans ( in fact start with Fans → end with everyone)
  • People that care - those who feel a sense of belonging
  • People with a stake in the community
  • People who extract/benefit from communities (ie it shouldn’t just be insular/inward facing. A member of one community can contribute to another that they are implicated in/connected to. Ie yielding privilege, allyship, reparations, divestment etc.)
  • Social penetration Theory:
    • Social Capital vs. Social currency
    • Depth & Breadth
    • Self-disclosure
  • What are the levels of contributions?
    • Active / basic
    • depth/complexity?
    • pace/frequency?
    • Holding space as an act of community formation
    • (jono bacon) casual, dedicated, experts
    • (Orbit) Observers > users > fans > ambassadors
  • Also, it’s not just who, but how.
    • People prefer to engage in different ways
    • Some people like to be the engine while others prefer fuel
  • People can jump in and take the air out of the room, the do a lot, which is great, but maybe also doesn’t always leave room for others.
    • HIPPO - Highest Paid Person’s Opinion :slightly_smiling_face:
  • Leading with lollipop - TEDxToronto - Drew Dudley "Leading with Lollipops" - YouTube
  • Building spaces and facilitation are different skillsets
  • BUT WE ARE COMMUNITY OF ONE MANAGERS (lol)
  • We need time to focus, it’s hard to focus when we are doing
  • How much skills can be transferred from other roles (for example facilitation is also used for teaching)

How do we think about shaping and designing a community?

  • Culture shapes community
    • What we do
    • What we don’t do
    • Does community also shape culture?
  • Community activities
    • The things we do in community
    • A foundational list would be helpful for people to understand what they can do
    • What are the core activities we do in community
  • Important characteristic of a community is the intentionality. (Ilker)
    • Varying degrees of intentionality should be built into communities
    • Intentionality may differ in accordance with member expectations and type of community - a community of practice may be much more intentional compared to a community of, say, support
    • However it’s the community leadership’s responsibility to sustain the level of intentionality, so to speak
  • Local or global community or glocal
    • We all live in different worlds
    • Community is world building
  • The argument for community work in organizations: is necessary in the curriculum
    • The whole team should be aligned with the community
    • Community does not exist on it’s own
  • Growth:
    • What does growth look like?
    • What does each stage look like?
    • How to recognise them?
    • So much conversation around scaling…how can we balance the conversation a bit more.
  • Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (JEDI) & Belonging, - in the foundation of a community’s inception.
    • Safety - protecting spaces, create space for vulnerability & belonging
    • A net to provide for people, where people have your back

How are communities changing?

  • There’s a global expectation of community
    • Even local communities are now expected to have a global or online facet
    • More online
  • Internal communities of practices
  • Private / paid communities
    • Privatisation of communities
    • It’s not a new thing
  • There is history and tradition, how can we understand and incorporate that into what we are trying to achieve
  • Cohorts / education
  • More common, plenty new every day
  • Engaging and not going silent when it could cause harm to the community (e.g. not dealing with hard conversations)
  • What is the balance with social media?
    • We can’t ignore it
    • There are always trends we can’t ignore
    • Or new tech will always appear
    • The relationship between social media and community must be established at some point
    • Social media is a form of communication and so is community building, so they are not exclusive things - social media is an ‘enabler’ that opens important doors - we need to get better at it (Rosie)
  • Hybrid
    • Creative Mornings
      • Going since 2016
      • It was originally irl, but went online, now it’s juggling both
    • We need to find good examples? Maker Faire? Burning Man or Burning Man Regionals?
    • We need to be able to say no to it as well
    • IRL is always different
    • What place or role does AR/VR/XR play in Hybrid?
    • People IRL may not like to be seen online, privacy?
    • It’s existed for a while…but only really considered feasible recently?
    • It’s like working remote, it’s been there for a while, but only now really popular.
    • Tools are maturing
    • We are accepting of the tools
    • Lots of figuring out to design for hybrid

Types of community models

  • Event driven
  • Online only
  • A very big list of community models, frameworks and ideas
    • I have more to add to it at some point soon (Rosie)
  • Or share how people thinking about building community
  • Or checklists
  • Or what is useful for people? What do people need?
  • Where do people get stuck?
  • PPP - People, Program of activities, Platform
  • How can we help people spot gaps?
  • CMX - 7 P’s
    • Purpose
    • People
    • Place
    • Participation
    • Policy
    • Promotion
    • Performance
  • Some communities are artificially designed (particularly ones that are sponsored by organisations), other communities form by themselves (around a need, unemployment, a disaster, etc).
    • On one side of the ring:
      • Brand communities
      • Dev communities (platform, language)
    • On the other:
      • Open Source communities
      • Communities of circumstance
    • Keep in mind the origination
  • Access, permission and platform (mechanics) (JessH)
  • I’d love a list of all the things the models have, then we pick and choose what makes sense to us.
  • 10 principles of burning man - as a holistic structure, they have to be in balance, all of them are valid, we should live by them all, not just picking and choosing
  • Government Design Principles - GOV.UK

Hey everyone! IN preparation for our super exciting conversation in the coming week I want to make sure that there are some incredible voices, so I’ve plugged and honestly focused on the success of this event going in to May with my updates!

In particular, I am super excited to discuss this in reference to @Tiffany Oda and Nikki Thibideau’s request to put together a formal curriculum that is academically inclined.

I’m so stoked for this! The update will be coming up on my YouTube channel here on May 1st for you to share with others you’d like to invite an I’ll have some follow up youtube shorts for this topic as well :slight_smile:

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I look forward to tuning in :slight_smile: