Derek Powazek is talking about new communities on the Web. He says that the Web is less about companies createing "company" towns and more about people creating their own spaces. He uses the Technorati Top 100 bloggers as examples of people who have enormous reach and create their own community.
Company town are communities, but they're extrememly authoritative. If you step out of line, you can find yourself out of the community. When you create your own community, that's no longer true.
Derek mentions MeasureMap as an example of a site that helps manage community--showing visitors and posts. I've wanted to see connections between posts I make and the traffic then generate. Maybe this tool will do that?
There are pros and cons to self-ownership of community.
On the pro side: self-ownership means no one can turn you off, it's more human in scale, there are fewer bozos, and no one graffitis their own house.
On the con side: no one's in chrage, there are no moderators, it's harder to converge and the tools are still difficult.
Living in a company town is like living in your parent's house. There's some comfort in having someone else in charge, but you have less freedom. Eventually we move out because the freedom is more important than the convenience.
Here are examples of modern company towns that play nice in a networked world:
- Flickr: open APIs, RSS, tags, blog this photo
- YouTube: Blog this video, contribution culture
- MySpace, Friendster, etc. public/private to some degree
- TypePad: Decentralized, but still SPOF (single point of failure)
- Last.fm: Connected to apps
Some advice: Treat your community well because they'll leave if you don't. On the other hand, they may leave anyway just because they want more freedom. You can't create community in the Web of today. Go to the communities that form. He gives an example: he and his wife created a magazine called JPG. Rather than creating their own online community, they created a group at Flickr. Now they have over 10,000 members in their group and are one of the top ten groups at Flickr.