The BigTreetop Blog

  • 02:45:03 am on July 1, 2008 | 1
    Tags: ,

    I’ve spoken with a lot of people about the Internet over the course of the last 10 years, and heard a lot of views about its impact on just about everything – family, democracy, learning, etc etc. A particularly interesting (though frustrating to me) vein of thought, though, has to do with the business-to-consumer relationship, and it goes something like this (paraphrased):

    “These new Internet communities are not real communities. They’re just a bunch of computer geeks and kids with nothing better to do. My business is based on real customers and real employees, so the Internet isn’t really a part of how we need to communicate with our community.”

    Though this may surprise some folks who assume, since i am currently working on a PhD in HCI and starting an internet-based company, that i am one of those computer geeks with nothing better to do, i actually agree with the basic premise of this statement. Of course internet communities are not real communities, any more than hand-written letters from my wife are the actual person, or a cave painting of a deer hunt is the actual deer hunt.

    But that first person who depicted a deer hunt on the wall of a cave discovered something important: Cave paintings were a powerful medium that helped to sustain a real community. You see, through her paintings, that first cave person was able to communicate something to other cave people that enhanced their real relationship, whether or not they were in the same place at the same time. The painting might have told others of her hunting prowess, or of the number of deer that are in the area, or about her family. Her paintings might have spurred later ideas for new hunting methods when other community members looked at it at a later time. The painting also might have served as a reminder to herself the following year of the typical herding patterns of the deer in that area. With this in mind, i would like to dispel the fairly common myth that the Internet is a new fad-like thing whose novelty undermines it actual value, when actually..

    The underlying community value of the Internet is not that new. In fact, it’s much like the community value of cave painting – or of other, older forms of communication!

    Through the internet, real relationships in real business communities are enhanced and extended by allowing people to communicate whether or not they are in the same place at the same time. Through online communities, businesses and customers are able to enhance their real relationships, not replace them, and those relationships, once extended beyond the time and space of a physical, “real” business relationship, can extend the reach, community awareness, and knowledge of a business community – just like that first cave painting did for the cave person.

    Bookmark Internet Communities Are Not Real Communities



  • BIGuy 2:37 pm on July 1, 2008 | # | Reply

    Great post!!! : )

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