Another way of thinking about online community is the flow of activity across the front page of RBC. Each tidbit of conversation, each blogging broadside, each webinar, each chat are like the twinkling lights of a city as you fly over it. The faces, videos, forum postings and events indicate an ongoing set of interesting relationships. Each pulse point symbolizes the underlying network that is growing and developing here.
It's uncharted territory.
At the heart of thriving networks, you usually find one or two individuals who are building something. It takes recurring investment, over a sustained period, to generate the sort of value that makes a network work. At some tipping point, the collection of connections and flickering lights can become a community. The trick is that almost everyone who participates has to take away more value than they invest.
That may sound like a perpetual motion machine. What's really happening is growth driven by the value people get when they visit the community. RBC is enjoying a substantial growth spurt as it surges to the next level of membership.
It's a good time to think about the way that Human Capital actually works. In a way, community is very much like other forms of business organization. The essence is that investment brings a return. All of the pulse points mentioned in the opening paragraph are the returns that people get when they participate in RBC.
There were two key "events" this week::
The flow is incredible.Cheezhead is taking note! While the Cheezhead-network is contracting in the current redesign, RBC is exploding with content. More and more, we'll require guides and interpreters to help digest the volume. Existing networks and media properties will do well to examine the results.