Blogging and building community

Wired 11.11: VIEW

Here’s a column by Lawrence Lessig about the nuance of the non-control nature of blogging and it’s role, perhaps, in the next election. He says:

None of this works unless the blog community is authentic. And that requires that members feel they own their gabbing space. A managed community works about as well as a managed economy. So the challenge is to find a way to build community without the community feeling built.

It is here that Dean’s campaign manager, Joe Trippi, had his insight. After a short stint at Progeny Linux Systems, Trippi recognized, he told me, “you will absolutely suffocate anything that you’re trying to do on the Internet by trying to command and control it.”

But in the world of politics, the best theory is what works. And the lesson of the Dean campaign so far is that community can’t be broadcast. It gets built not from slick commercials squeezed onto a Web page, but from tools that enable, and thus inspire, hundreds of thousands of people to something that American politics has not seen in many years: hundreds of thousands of people actually doing something.

I think this all very relevant to our FI Center discussion last week about social software and using it for ACS purposes. I think we can provide the tools and facilitate, but if we go for goal-directed control it won’t work. That’s very hard for any institutionalized group to get.

Personally, I believe the Net is the scrimmage zone where people’s desire for genuine and authentic communication does battle with institutionally-sponsored massages via media where almost none of that exists.

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