Community Fragmentation


Hillaries Beach

Yesterday was Australia Day, a day when we celebrate Australia and it people of many cultures, bringing together the different communities. At the end of the day I was enjoying the warm sun on my back and the moist sand of the beach underfoot, when I got to thinking about how you would bring people together in the Web Industry.

Problem is we tend to see the industry as one solid mass. In reality it’s made up on many disjointed community groups.

The Groups

Groups that are spread over business types and their functionality in the industry. They can operate at times in almost pockets of isolation. These groups often operate without know what the others are doing at all.

So we have various groups:

  • Developers coding in various languages from python to .net and beyond.
  • Consultants working in the accessibility and usability areas
  • Web designers, the front end developers
  • Web design companies from sole operators to large firms
  • Information Architects
  • Web Producers and project managers
  • Content writers
  • SEO and marketing specialists
  • Government in-house web teams
  • Corporate in-house web teams
  • Educators teaching the web

You even get groups in the same area just not talking or communicating with each other (mainly due to petty personality issues). This problem of social pocketing within young industries is not new. The IT industry still suffers from it. It’s a world wide problem. Some communities have found solutions, like the one in Sussex, England. But they are far from perfect.

The Problem

Now lets consider each of these groups usually has a community that is in communications with it’s members. Be that a mailing list, RSS feed, forum, IRC, social networking group or paper based newsletter (yes really) . Via these means the people that want to communicate with their like peers can. We can’t help those that don’t make the effort to communicate with others, so we’ll just ignore those people for now.

Communication between these community groups can be a problem. Myles Eftos touched on this a while back from the events coordination angle; his suggestion of a centralised events calender, pulling information from other sites and RSS feeds is a good idea in principle.

However the main problem with most of these groups, I have found over the years, is that they aren’t using the latest and greatest in communications technology for various reasons. So this presents a problem.

Linking the Communities

How do we unite all these separate groups. True some do intercommunicate when they have common members but what of the others. How to overcome the pockets of isolation within the web industry.

Well thinking on this one simple way to interconnect communications with these groups is via a central registry of there generic inquiry email details or a listing of forums, email mailing lists details. The principle here is keep it simple.

Okay you still have to go to the site and collect the email details etc, but at least it would be simple method of intercommunication. One place to find the information. Maybe a central email mailing list of the major contacts would help extend this, but some groups don’t have email contacts.

Now if only we can get all those lost people together, like the ones in govt agencies and the corporate sector that don’t have any common community groups. Guess that’s another problem.

What do you think, good idea or just or a waste of words?

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