Communities in the traditional sense are a group of people who reside in the same area, share a common culture, heritage, interest or characteristics and perceived as distinct from the larger populous within which it exists. (Dictionary.com)
Today thanks to the internet and social media virtual communities are proliferating and the members of a community no longer need to reside in the same area. Social networking enables larger online communities which help people learn more about entities in the network. It has become very easy to build a community using one of many social networks. It would seem the only limitations are access to a social media network and any country restrictions of social networks- I expect the communities will continue to grow as the world becomes smaller as a result of social media.
There are many interest based communities which have been around for a while and which have evolved to meet the needs and desires of the participants. LinkedIn has many groups which allow people to connect with like minded individuals for many reasons; to learn about each other and industry trends (such as BICSI and Structured Cabling Professionals), pose questions and receive answers from the members; find local and virtual training partners (Executive Athletes and Triathlete), to connect with individuals they worked with at past companies (Ex-company groups). Some communities are open allowing anyone to participate while others are closed requiring individuals to be accepted into the group.
Facebook allows users to create groups (communities) for many purposes; to keep others easily informed of upcoming events and past happenings and to track challenges. One the groups I belong to the North Atlantic Audi Group (NAAC) promotes the clubs upcoming events and allows others to post Audi, club and other car related comments for discussion.
There are many on-line fitness communities which allow people with similar goals who may be separated by time or distance to work together. The difficulty can be finding the one community you and others want to use. I use Training peaks, MayMyRide, Strava and my sister just sent a request for me to track her on MyFitnessPal.
One of the groups I belong to has fitness competitions; they allow the users to select a challenge and each week users post what they have accomplished, charts are posted for the community to see where everyone stands relative to their challenge. This community is great for providing both accountability and encouragement to reach each week’s goal.
Pew Research Center did a study on the future of social relations in July of 2010 one of the outcomes where comments from participants regarding the creation, cultivation and continuation of social relationships and communities. Here are a few excerpts from the comments:
“The net is about people connecting online, for commerce, politics, and personally, and we already see that enhances real-life relationships. Location-based social networking, in particular, will be a big part of our lives.” —Craig Newmark, founder and customer-service representative, Craigslist.
“The social nature of the net allows us to be better informed about friends, and family than ever before. We will all be richer from it.” —Michael Burns, co-founder and principal, i5 web works.
“On the internet, social alienation remains a factual force. But never before has a person had more opportunity for social integration. More than ever, being inside or outside now is a matter of personal choice.” —Eric James, president of the James Preservation Trust and publisher of Stray Leaves.
“The use of the internet has done a lot to shrink the actual distance between family and friends and allows an expansion to new cultural experiences. The way we interact is always evolving and has impact on the drive for knowledge, understanding, and communication.” —Tery Spataro, CEO and founder of Mindarrays Consulting.
“Balancing out the anonymity and lack of physical contact is the ability to mask a plethora of medical and psychological conditions that until now have proven serious handicaps to social interaction. No one stutters or stammers on Twitter.” —Robert G. Ferrell, information systems security professional, US government.
“It’s now easy for me to find people who share characteristics or interests, whereas for much of my pre-internet life I mainly felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. Also, it’s made it easier for me to find and interact with many types of people who are very different from me, giving me a wider range of experience. The classic example of how the net has positively affected my personal life is Meetup.com. I’ve gone to many real-world get- togethers coordinated through that service, and have made many friends that way. That, to me, blends the best of the net and the real world.” —Amy Gahran, contributing writer at eMeter Corporation, senior editor at Oakland Local, co-creator and community manager at Reynolds Journalism Institute (Anderson & Raine, 2010)
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