Community Building on the Web: Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities

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I think it's that dynamic interchange between order and chaos that makes a community work. LiNE Zine: In the introduction of your book you talk about how your initial experience with online community led to your career commitment to helping others build effective communities, and actually gave you the name of your company. Would you share that story? Kim: I got into this field because being part of an online community changed my life.

I was just out of grad school, living in a new city where I knew no one, and working really hard in a new job at Sun Microsystems.

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  6. ISBN 13: 9780201874846.

Following a tradition at Sun, I named my computer Naima on a whim because I had learned a beautiful John Coltrane jazz ballad called Naima the night before. So within the Sun Intranet, I became AmyJo naima - and I starting getting e-mail from people all around Sun who figured I was a Coltrane fanatic because of the name of my computer, from guys on the loading dock to marketing dweebs, all kinds of different people I never would have met otherwise.

From that I got onto a jazz-oriented mailing list, learned more about John Coltrane, got into a band and got some gigs, and got sucked into this whole musical subculture within Sun that changed my life for the better. LiNE Zine : It seems that people who have the deepest investment in this have had life altering experiences, where they have really seen how communities have improved their life in immeasurable ways.

If you can accomplish that, it's hard to go wrong. LiNE Zine : From all your experience building online communities, have you uncovered the particular attributes that make effective learning communities? But in many of the communities I deal with, learning is but one among many goals.

Community Building on the Web: Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities

And a corporate learning community will be very different than an academic learning community a community of students who are attending a university because students who are taking a graded course are motivated very differently than people within an organization who are trying to get their job done. LiNE Zine: Are there overarching design elements for learning communities?

Basically, you want to design your community to support and enhance the existing structure of the learning experience. For example, suppose that we're designing a community to go along with a week class at a university or training center. LiNE Zine: Those are great examples. Would you share some other ways you have seen people benefit from online communities, how they have learned from one another using different technologies and methodologies?

Kim: Well, message boards are great for facilitating self-documenting conversations. And many companies also use message boards to let people ask and answer questions about a specific topic. That is the key to success. But, if you desire a robust system for a big community or a network that includes many communities, you are going to need a really good search engine on top of that so that members can come into the community, type in a question, and get an answer right away.

LiNE Zine: Would you explain a bit more about the emerging understanding in your work about the difference between groups and networks? If you think of all the people on the Sun Intranet as a network, then the internal jazz-oriented mailing list I was on was more like a group; there were less than a hundred people on the list, and we got to know each other quite well. However, that group definitely had separate sub-groups within it; for example, I joined a cover band for a while that consisted of 7 people from the mailing list, and we were definitely operating like a group.

How large is the collection of people?

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  • How close or loose are the ties amongst them? And do subgroups naturally occur? That said, these are not really crisp distinctions; in practice, the boundary between a group and a network is often fuzzy, and sometimes a group will behave more like a network, and vice versa. Kim: One example is one hundred thousand, which is definitely going to be some sort of network with loose ties and sub-communities. But, with fifty, one hundred, or even five hundred people there could still be a sense of a cohesive community.

    I don't have concrete numbers yet to describe this phenomenon. There are interesting examples from anthropology and sociology about group and tribe size, but I don't think those numbers translate directly to the Internet because the Net allows asynchronous communication, which really changes things. LiNE Zine: We like to ask thoughtleaders about their approaches to learning. How do you learn, and how do you use online communities and technology to enhance your experiences?

    Kim: There are predominantly two ways I learn. First, I have cultivated a network of colleagues a lot of them ex-clients, some of them people that I've met online and at conferences that I make a point of staying in touch with to bounce ideas off and discuss problems. Second, and even more importantly, most of my learning takes place directly through working on projects with clients.

    I've consciously chosen to set up my business in a way that maximizes my learning because I'm tremendously excited by what's happening in this field, and I'm happiest when I'm on a steep learning curve. So, I choose my clients from a broad range of industries, and choose to work on wildly different projects as much as possible. Now I have clients in areas as diverse as the on-line learning space, distance education, B2B market places, massive multi-player gaming clients, tech support clients, etc.

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    37 Best Community Building Books of All Time - BookAuthority

    All rights reserved. Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people. Add To My Wish List. Part of the On The Web series. Watermarked eBook FAQ. Sample Content Table of Contents 1. People Are Talking.

    Mapping the Territory. Zoned For Growth.

    ISBN 10: 0201874849

    Why Profiles?. Your Member Database. Creating a Persona.

    Evolving a Social Identity. Develop Your Ground Rules.

    Helpful Book for Webmasters : Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities

    Enforce Your Policies. Evolve Your Rules. The Power of Ritual. Personal Acknowledgments. Community Holidays. Passages and Transitions. Chapter 9. Why Subgroups?. Setting the Stage. Developing Your Official Program. More Information. Unlimited one-month access with your purchase. See Details.