Of late there has been a significant increase in the number of texts talking about “community”. This could well be a perception bias as well, since I have been looking around trying to see what others are writing or, thinking about groups of people, communes and so forth.
Some of the common aspects of the texts I have stumbled across include attempts to have a model defined, description of a rudimentary framework of tasks, an analysis of infrastructure that facilitates collaboration and, a broad overview of the character of a community. Either way, I am a bit tired about “community” as a word and, I feel that it is beginning to suffer from over-use and under-statement. A primary driver for that feeling is the tendency to look at “communities” as if they were thriving specimens on a petri-dish, isolated and unperturbed in their own imaginative evolutionary cycle. That is simply untenable as a hypothesis and, impossible in real life. Communities are constituted by groups of people and, people react to the push-pull of daily life around them – the political issues, the personal issues and, the social intricacies. As much as communities try, other than a basic tenet that binds them together, there isn’t much difference between the growth of a community and, the evolution of family. The same basic principles of Belief, Responsibility, Accountability and Trust ensure that the forward momentum is not stalled.
The paradox is that having stated the above, I ended up attempting to box-in the “community” into some nice tangible parameters so as to enable explanation. Fun !
The decline of a community or, even a sub-aspect of a community can also be traced to a larger sense of hubris and, a lack of plan in terms of moving forward to embrace change. The hubris part is perhaps derived from moving away from a central core idea that was the genesis of the community and, attaining a false sense of being indestructible to external forces. Statistics are important – but statistics are external representations of symptoms – for example, wiki edits; commits to version control; activity on mailing lists; number of contributors; mass of consumers all these indicate how the community (or, tribe) is moving forward. They do not capture whether the general direction is based on the central core theme and, is moving across a wider spectrum without getting too diluted.
Why can’t “communities” be replaced by “tribes” ? Makes for a better understanding of the complexity of interaction that ensures a sustaining environment for a group of people who perceive a need to exist. And, would be able to come together to arrive at decisions that ensure sustenance. Most communities/tribes are specialized formations of people who find a common space to talk about and extend their areas of interest. As such, the need to “fabricate” a community is somewhat redundant while the need to work on providing a “commons” is important.
ps :The post is rambling in essence, at some point I’d like to re-visit this and, collate the other thoughts.
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