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Subject: Re: UKNM: Communities: Fact or Fiction!
From: Tom Hukins
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 15:44:13 +0100

On Mon, Jul 26, 1999 at 02:59:30PM +0100, Charles Linn wrote:
> Last week I was speaking to an industry friend of mine (who has been
> making websites for blue chip clients for 4�5 years), and I was talking
> to him about 'communities'.
> His response which was that there are no good examples of community
> sites which make money and that as far as he was concerned, building
> website for corporate clients was where its at and where it will be at
> for the foreseeable future.
> This was a bit of a surprise to me. I had always assumed that aiming to
> create online communities was a sensible aim for building traffic, and
> that therefore it would be a sensible part of any business model.

This is an interesting issue, Chas. I'm afraid I'm not going to
directly answer the questions you asked because I don't think the
Web is the right way to build a community on the Internet.

I agree with your friend that the Web is not an appropriate place
for any community to gather. It's simply a matter of using
technology sensibly - the Web is a great way of publishing
information for others to read, but it's far from great for
discussion, which is vital for any community.

Community has to involve interaction between its members. I'm not
part of a community because I do something, I'm part of a community
because I interact with others who also do that thing.

So, why is the Web unsuitable for a community to gather? Put it this
way: If you had to load up your Web browser, click on a bookmark or
type a URL, and then navigate a fiddly Web message board system,
would you bother reading UKNM every day?

Every successful community I've come across either uses a push
medium (e-mail) or a pseudo-push medium (newsgroups) with a user
interface suitable for sharing ideas.

Your e-mail software has a reply button. Your Usenet software has a
follow-up button. Your Web browser has a back button, a reload
button, and several other buttons none of which are to do with
communication directly with other people.

Of course, every Web-based message board has its own user interface,
but for every message board I have to learn a slightly different
interface. The great thing about my e-mail and Usenet software is
that they always have the same interface. I have a choice of
software, so I can choose the interface that suits me.


Tom Hukins SpiraHellic Multimedia
Designing effective communication systems for the Web and CD-ROM.
tomhatspira [dot] co [dot] uk +44 (0)1908 367327 http://www.spira.co.uk/
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  UKNM: Communities: Fact or Fiction!, Charles Linn

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