This sketch may be rather overcome with colours, but partly that is to reflect the vibrant landscape of our own Communities: it indicates some of the key aspects to consider, when consider Community. The ideas here are built of of the ‘Conditions for Community’ research that i have previously published in the ‘Community Builder Guidebook’, 2018).
Whilst some of our Communities are ’Visible’, many of our most valuable ones are described as ‘Hidden’. Often the visible ones are more ‘Formal’, either condoned, or created, by the Organisation, whilst ‘Social’ ones are more likely to be actively hidden, or simply so prolific as to hide in plain sight.
One fascinating aspect of the research was that people described ‘Discovering’ some communities, but that many of their most valuable ones they were ‘Invited’ into. Indeed, they described the choreography of their welcome and engagement as significantly important for future success (reinforcing the truly social and sociable nature of communities).
I have not intentionally tried to organise these aspects to any great degree, but have indicated that visible and formal communities may be more open to discovery, and that they tend to create more ‘Global Knowledge Artefacts’, whilst hidden social ones tend to create ‘Local’ knowledge that may not proliferate further.
Also: formal and visible communities may be more prone to ‘Formal Oversight’, whilst social ones tend towards ‘Social Oversight’, albeit within broader legal frameworks that are inherently formal.
Finally, i wanted to capture a scale of participation: for the first time here i use ‘Loud’ and ‘Quiet’ to define these. Essentially to recognise that participation may not need to be an active action, or indeed about ‘activity’ per se. Spectating, reflecting, listening, or simply belonging, may be enough to gain value.
Building out from this initial illustration, one could envisage some tools like the following, where we plot our individual, and collective, Communities, as a foundation for discussion.
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