AOC Overview and Outline

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== Proposal and Outline: The Art of Community.
== Proposal and Overview ==
== Proposal and Overview ==

Revision as of 17:57, 3 September 2006


Proposal and Overview


The Art of Community


Cooper, Danese / Foster, Dawn M.

Book Summary:

Online communities have been a fundamental element of open source culture for years, and they are now becoming an integral part of the daily lives of more people every day. New people are joining and participating in online communities in everything from open source projects like Firefox to social networking sites like MySpace and LinkedIn. People create and join these communities to gain knowledge, solve technical problems, gain recognition by peers, and for many other reasons. This book will serve as a guide for people joining these communities while also offering guidance on how to create a successful community for companies wanting to leverage communities within an organization and for other people leading public online communities.

Technology Summary:

The Art of Community will address the emerging topic of web 2.0 as it relates to online communities. It will use lessons learned from the open source community to help people create and participate in vibrant and functioning online communities for both public and private use (within corporations).


This book will focus on two primary audiences: people joining communities and people creating or leading communities. A number of books have focused on how to create communities, but few have also addressed people who are newly participating in communities. With the web 2.0 phenomenon creating more opportunities for people to actively participate in communities, we thought that it was important to address both audiences.

Key Topic Coverage:

We will focus on a number of exciting and hot topics, including web 2.0, open source software, corporate communities, and managing communities using podcasts and other online content to supplement the book content. As the technology used to create and participate in communities becomes easier to use, more people are excited about starting new communities or joining existing ones. The podcasts will provide additional information, and the reader will be able to participate in a community centered on this book.

Other Book Features:

A DVD and online community will accompany this book featuring PodCasts with interesting people who are experts in some aspect of communities. We have suggested PodCast voices attached to each chapter in this outline. The DVD will be supplemented by additional and new material on the Art of Community Website.


Amy Jo Kim's Community Building on the Web is probably the most similar book; however, it is out of print and out of date. Karl Fogel's Producing Open Source Software focuses on creating open source software projects and communities, and we will attempt to discuss some of his ideas without too much overlap in content.

Author Biographies:

Danese Cooper has a 15-year history in the software industry and has long been an advocate for transparent development methodologies. Danese worked for six years at Sun Microsystems, Inc. on the inception and growth of the various open source projects sponsored by Sun (including, and She was Sun's Chief Open Source Evangelist and founded Sun's Open Source Programs Office. She has unique experience implementing open source projects from within a large proprietary company. She joined the OSI Board in December 2001 and currently serves as Secretary & Treasurer. As of March 2005 Danese has joined Intel to advise on open source projects, investment and support. She speaks internationally on Open Source and Licensing issues.

Dawn M. Foster currently works at Intel and has more than 10 years of experience in technology and software. Her primary area of expertise is open source software, and she is the author of the Open Source Culture Blog ( She joined Intel in 2000 and has held various positions within the Software and Solutions group focused on enabling software development tools vendors and open source software. Prior to joining Intel, Dawn worked for a Midwestern manufacturing company where she held positions ranging from Unix system administrator to market researcher for steel mills to e-Business principal. She holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Kent State University and a master's degree in business administration from Ashland University.

Table of Contents:


Ch 1: Introduction: The Evolution of Community

Part One: Communities Today

Ch 2: Benefits of Creating a Community

Ch 3: Community Participation

Ch 4: Concerns and challenges

Ch 5: Communities in the Corporate Environment

Part Two: Managing and Leading Communities

Ch 6: How to Create Community

Ch 7: Creating a Community Culture

Ch 8: Using Collaboration Tools

Ch 9: Leading a Community

Part Three: Emerging Communities and Future

Ch 10: The Impact of Web 2.0 on Communities

Ch 11: User Created Content Communities

Ch 12: Networking Communities

Ch 13: Communities of the Future



Ch 1: Introduction: The Evolution of Community (Danese)

(Suggested Vignette – Tim O’Reilly)

This would introduce the topic by describing how communities have evolved over time from offline, local communities to communities based entirely in the online environment. Academic communities, ham radio communities, early and current open source software communities, and social networking communities would all be introduced in this chapter. We should also define here exactly what we consider to be a "community" and define several types of communities: social (Myspace), informational (Digg / Newsvine), software / open source (Apache, etc.), corporate (Sun), others.

Part One: Communities Today (Why)

Ch 2: Benefits of Creating a Community (Dawn)

  (Suggested Vignette – Eric Von Hippel, Chris DiBona)

What are the benefits of creating a community and allowing many people to participate rather than having involvement only from a few people within a small, elite group?


Communities provide an opportunity to collaborate on a variety of topics. In open source software communities, developers can work together, share ideas, review code contributions from others, and submit new code in a coordinated fashion. Social communities like digg and Newsvine provide a place for users to contribute news stories, vote for the best ones, and comment on them with additional information.


Communities have a unique opportunity for innovation, especially innovations that are created by users or that build on the ideas of other people. Eric von Hippel discusses how innovation communities where users innovate to create products that will be useful to other users. Firefox extensions and themes are a great example of user innovations shared within the community of Firefox developers and users. ==== Diversity and Global Talent Each person has a different perspective and different ways of looking at a problem based on her background. Culture, experience, education, gender, country, and more make each of us unique allowing us to bring very different perspectives to a community. Global communities can be especially beneficial in corporations as organizations try to take advantage of talent regardless of the location.

Ch 3: Community Participation (Dawn)

 (Suggested Vignette – Karl Fogel, someone else)

New people are joining and participating in online communities in everything from open source projects like Firefox to social networking sites like MySpace and LinkedIn.


As is typical within any diverse group of individuals, each person has a different motivation for joining and participating in a community. Some possible motivations include socializing, altruism, desire to solve a problem, gaining knowledge, resume building, political beliefs, desire for status / recognition of peers, and others. Amy Jo Kim frames community motivation using Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Norms and Behavior:

Each online community has a set of norms and ways that participants are expected to behave; however, there are some norms that are common to most communities. Most communities have documentation with rules and guidelines for participation that users should read carefully before participating. It is also a good idea to get a feel for how people behave in a particular community by monitoring the community for a period of time before beginning to actively participate. In the event that people are not behaving within the established norms, online communities usually have methods that can be used to sanction inappropriate behavior.

Ch 4: Concerns and challenges (Danese)

(Suggested Vignette – Jimmy Wales, someone else with issues)

Challenges include the ability to sustain a vibrant, active community and motivate community members to participate. Herding the cats and how much control to maintain are additional concerns.

Examples & Remediation Strategies:

Section calling out common on-line community problems and suggesting fixes

  • *Excess of Control:* While there may be communities that thrive on tight control, in general participation is a voluntary act and participants choose to linger where it feels good. There are plenty of examples of thriving on-line communities dying back when leadership decided to exert excess control. Possible remediations: 3-Day Rule. Distribute Leadership
  • *Heckling, SPAM and Hostile Language:* This is a classic issue that nearly every community faces. Email and online Forae are lousy at conveying subtle emotional content. Misunderstandings abound when what you actually want is measured self-expression and communication. Technology has created a new type of "junk mail" that is proving a problem for some on-line communities. Poor impulse control afflicts some community members and archives last forever. Remediations: Moderation, Instant Feedback (on and offline), Assisted Apology and Desired Behavior Modelling, Filters
  • *Appropriate Discussion:* Another sort of problem is off-topic discussion threads (include examples). Need to balance remediation efforts with natural affinity such topics represent (if taken up by the community). Remediations: Start or suggest a spin-off community, gentle reminders to stay on-topic.
  • *Alpha Personalities & Competing Opinions:* Encouraging equal participation can be difficult if you have a few very vocal community members. Remediations: Switch to another tool (IRC may work better than mail list). Allow both opinions in a way that ends the argument (Wikipedia example)
  • *Illegal Behaviors:* Section about potential legal liabilities implicit and explicit.
    • Copyright and Trademark violations
    • Trade Secrets
    • DMCA
    • Government monitoring
Additional Concerns:
  • Rate of Growth
    • Resisting temptation to spawn single-topic discussions
    • Dealing with too much traffic
    • Pointer to more on scaling in subsequent chapters
  • Co-opetition
    • Imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.
    • Dealing with mass-defections
    • Cross-posting
    • Differentiating

Ch 5: Communities in the Corporate Environment (Danese)

 (Suggested Vignette: Ken Urquhart, Java Community Process, Rob Scoble, Channel9))

Corporations and other organizations can also create internal communities and have some of the same benefits that open source and other online communities have enjoyed including global collaboration and nurturing an innovative environment. While many projects are started by developers, other projects are started by corporations or other organizations before being released into the open source community (Eclipse / Other companies "dump" unwanted products into the open source community hoping that someone will adopt the products, or companies with good intentions release a product into open source but are unable to build a self-sustaining community around the project.

Using Affinity to Build Brand Loyalty:

Why corporations build communities. Examples of powerful affinity communities (airline mileage & hotel programs, additional services in exchange for membership). Developer Communities (MSDN & Channel9, Java Developer Connection).

The Urge to Control:

Degrees of Open-ness & Barriers to Entry: Building trust is essential. Clear, well-defined rules of engagement. Not pretending to be more open than you are. Membership and Passwords (gets must accrue in exchange for gives. Session sharing and maintaining master passwords. Privacy concerns.

Know your Audience:

Messaging persists on the web and can (and will) be compared. NDAs and legal devices as a community regulation tool.

Corporations Working With Existing Communities:

Discussion of considerations for how to fit into existing communities.

Part Two: Managing and Leading Communities (How) (Danese)

Ch 6: How to Create Community (planned vs. emergent structure)

 (Suggested Vignette: Amy Jo Kim, someone from creation of SecondLife)

Communities can be carefully planned in advance, or they may emerge over time. This chapter would include the key elements of starting a community and some steps to take to ensure success. We may want to reference some of Amy Jo Kim's ideas here.

Envisioning Affinity:

Easy exercise to discover guiding principals of community you would like to build

Community Lifecycle:

Drawing (need to work on this) of stages in life of community...from discovery of affinity through growth and regulation to renewal or forking and eventual archive

Shared History:

Discussion of the importance of archiving, self-intros, greeting new members, marking milestones, sharing statistics

Parenting (Governance):

Role of the "List Mom" ("Webmaster" or "Benevolent Dictator"). Other possible parenting schemes (Shared Custody, Board of Directors, Community Council, Community Facilitator, Reviewer)


A word about planning for success and ongoing funding

Ch 7: Using Tools

 (Suggested Vignette – Brian Behlendorf. Ward Cunningham, someone else?)

Provide ideas and suggestions for which tools can help facilitate collaboration and other tasks within online communities.

Tools covered:
  • Web Presence
  • Mail lists and Forae
  • Blogs & Wikis
  • Chat & IRC
  • Revision Control Tools:
    • Monolithic
    • Distributed
  • Bug Tracking Tools
  • Games and Multi-User Spaces
  • Contests & SWAG
  • Sharing:
    • Swaps:
    • Image Sharing:
    • File Sharing
    • Tag Sharing
    • A Word about Copyright and the Creative Commons

Ch 8: Creating a Community Culture

 (Suggested Vignette – Mitchell Baker, Ian Murdoch)

Community culture and behavioral norms are established early. Sub-cultures also emerge as these projects grow. For example, the KDE project has sub-groups for artists, women and other groups. Several open source projects including Apache, Debian, KDE, Linux, and others have sub-groups where women gather online to help other women get involved in open source.

Watering the Commons:
  • Social Contracts
  • Tutorials & Documentation
  • MeetUps & Virtual MeetUps
  • Rank & Recognition
  • Studies & Surveys
  • Handling Special Interest Groups

Ch 9: Leading and Motivating a Community

 (Suggested Vinette – Linus Torvalds, Ned Gulley matLabs)

It is not unusual for an online community to start with a few people and mushroom into a very large community with hundreds or thousands of worldwide contributors. As the project grows, it becomes difficult for the originator to manage it effectively, and a tiered structure with additional maintainers and contributors is frequently created to manage the community. Linux is the classic example of this phenomenon. Linus Torvalds wrote the initial code base for the Linux kernel alone; however, Linux now has a complex structure with maintainers for sub-projects and individual releases. Mediation, handling crises, and delegating to other community members are key management functions, and leadership styles vary from meritocracy vs. benevolent dictatorship.

Planning to Scale:

Danger in waiting too long to plan for success. Horror stories about Howard Dean blogsphere and OpenOffice binary distribution issues.

Strategies for Distributing Leadership:
  • Choosing Lieutenants
  • Lazy Consensus
  • Tag-Team Leadership
  • Anarchy

Part Three: Emerging Communities and the Future of Community (Dawn)

Ch 10: The Impact of Web 2.0 on Communities

  (Suggested Vignette – Craig Newmark (Craig’s List) Zack Rosen (CivicSpaceLabs))

"Network effects from user contributions are the key to market dominance in the Web 2.0 era." (Tim O'Reilly). Collective intelligence, frequently harnessed in communities of people, is the essence of web 2.0. Note: this chapter will build on many of the ideas that Tim introduced in the "What is Web 2.0" paper.

Architecture of Participation

"Web 2.0 companies set inclusive defaults for aggregating user data and building value as a side-effect of ordinary use of the application." (Tim O'Reilly) Web 2.0 companies build their products with the idea that user contribution will improve the overall solution. As users add content to a web 2.0 site, they make the site even more valuable, and this effect increases as more and more users contribute to the community. Communities and contribution form around discussion threads facilitated by feeds and services like Technorati, Feedster, and TechMeme that highlight the topics that others are talking about in addition to tracking links back to content (may reference We the Media p 41-42). We may want to mention the Cult of the Amateur.

Wisdom of Crowds

With the emergence of web 2.0, online communities are beginning to morph. More user communities are emerging to create dynamic content via wikis, blogging, podcasts, tagging, etc. This builds on what open source communities have known about the wisdom of crowds and user / developer participation ("given enough eyeballs all bugs are shallow") with a shift from static, passive content to dynamic, user created, collective content. Crowd mentality also takes over to create interesting trends like the cameratoss and whatsinyourbag tags in Flickr that have inspired hundreds of people to toss their cameras and photograph everything in their bags to post them online.

Ch 11: User Created Content Communities

  (Suggested Vignette – Doc Searls, Digg)

Some communities provide only the infrastructure while relying entirely on users who create and respond to dynamic content (Digg, Wikipedia, etc.). The content created provides information for a broad audience while a smaller subset of the audience creates the content.

Power Law of Participation

Ross Mayfield describes the Power Law of Participation as patterns that "have emerged where low threshold participation amounts to collective intelligence and high engagement provides a different form of collaborative intelligence" (Mayfield). Within this model, a large number of users of social websites will not have a high level of engagement thus taking advantage of the value with few contributions back to the community while other users will contribute most of the content. This generates two very different forms of intelligence, collective and collaborative, which co-exist together to form the essence of a community. This same phenomenon has existed in open source software and other communities.

Need something else here

I'm open to suggestions.

Ch 12: Networking Communities (LinkedIn, MySpace, LiveJournal)

  (Suggested Vignette – Artur Bergman, Fred Stutzman (social Networking), uber user someone from MySpace)

Some communities serve purely social networking functions and are particularly popular with younger users (MySpace, Facebook), while other communities provide business networking functions (LinkedIn).

Social Networking

Online communities are increasingly being used to facilitate real world social activities. MySpace, used primarily by young people, is used to communicate with friends, organize parties / events, and share information on likes and dislikes.

Business Networking

With sites like LinkedIn, people are being connected via networking communities where I can meet Jane because she and I both know Jim, and Jim can introduce us virtually to make the connection. These communities are not just being used to meet people and network; they are also used for job searching and other business activities.

Promotional Networking (there is probably a better name for this)

Indie music is on an upswing primarily due to networking communities like MySpace where bands can promote their latest music or concert, which can be picked up and shared between friends on these networking sites. Other examples of this include podcasting and books that are freely available, but used to promote other activities.

Ch 13: Communities of the Future

 (Suggested Vignettes – Larry Lessig Creative Commons, other futures types like SecondLife Doctor, Joi Ito about WOW)

This chapter should emerge from the interviews by asking each person what she sees as communities of the future. Common threads will be collected and woven throughout this chapter along with brief quotes from this interview question.

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