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Communities of Purpose are the business units of the 21st Century

Communities of Purpose are the business units of the 21st Century

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Published by David Cushman
Communities of purpose are the business units of the 21st century.

This notion, should you accept it, has profound and far-reaching implications not only the future of publishing but also for advertising, marketing, production and the very process of the creation of value.

It has implications too for how companies should organise to benefit from the new way value is created. Yes, it is disruptive, isn’t it?

This paper seeks to explain why these communities of purpose are of such value and why enabling their rapid, real-time evolution unlocks the key to value creation.

It will consider why this has the potential to be the greatest explosion in value ever created.

And it will propose solutions in which content, conversation and communities of purpose provide the cornerstones. With them I believe we can unlock value now and into the mid-to-long term.

It seeks to answer the question “How do we monetise hosting the conversation?”

Translation: How does media make money in the future?
Communities of purpose are the business units of the 21st century.

This notion, should you accept it, has profound and far-reaching implications not only the future of publishing but also for advertising, marketing, production and the very process of the creation of value.

It has implications too for how companies should organise to benefit from the new way value is created. Yes, it is disruptive, isn’t it?

This paper seeks to explain why these communities of purpose are of such value and why enabling their rapid, real-time evolution unlocks the key to value creation.

It will consider why this has the potential to be the greatest explosion in value ever created.

And it will propose solutions in which content, conversation and communities of purpose provide the cornerstones. With them I believe we can unlock value now and into the mid-to-long term.

It seeks to answer the question “How do we monetise hosting the conversation?”

Translation: How does media make money in the future?

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Published by: David Cushman on Apr 18, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/27/2010

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Communities of purpose are the business units of the21
st
Century
How we’ll monetise the conversation
By David Cushman, April 17, 2008.FasterFuture.blogspot.comCommunities of purpose are the business units of the 21
st
century.This notion, should you accept it, has profound and far-reaching implications notonly the future of publishing but also for advertising, marketing, production andthe very process of the creation of value.It has implications too for how companies should organise to benefit from thenew way value is created. Yes, it is disruptive, isn’t it?This paper seeks to explain why these communities of purpose are of such valueand why enabling their rapid, real-time evolution unlocks the key to valuecreation.It will consider why this has the potential to be the greatest explosion in valueever created.And it will propose solutions in which content, conversation and communities of purpose provide the cornerstones. With them I believe we can unlock value nowand into the mid-to-long term.It seeks to answer the question “How do we monetise hosting the conversation?”Translation: How does media make money in the future?
Background:
Self-forming non-directed groups coming together with a common purpose areable to achieve great things.Examples: The HSBC ex-student group which revolted against new charges ontheir student loans. Goldcorp’s (see Wikinomics) opening up of its geologicaldata to a global community to solve their ‘where to mine’ dilemma, SecondLife(made up entirely of contributions by the community), Flickr (filled with contententirely by the community, and organised and distributed entirely by communitiesof purpose), the list could go on and on.We have long known that none-of-us-is-as-clever-as-all-of-us, that two heads arebetter than one, that the wise man asks questions. We know the value of teamwork, of collaboration, shared knowledge.It is why we understand the value of ‘crowdsourcing’.
 
How digital is different. Introducing the global hotdesk.
And the emergence of two recent digital plays throws into stark relief how thedigital world takes how value is created in communities of purpose and amplifiesit in the kind exponential growth described by Reed’s Law (Group FormingNetwork Theory).*In Facebook (www.facebook.com), groups can form rapidly around a commonpurpose. One person comes up with the idea of a group, their friends are alertedto its being formed (through their newsfeed) and they can choose to join or not.When they do the fact that they have joined is shared (once again through their newsfeed) with their friends – a different self-formed community. At each iterationmore people from different groups get to hear about the group and to selectwhether or not it has a purpose they share. As they do so they amplify their interest.These result in rapidly growing and evolving groups. The vast majority have littleor no explicit value. Their purposes are ‘just for fun’. They do at least serve toreinforce social ties – this has value in itself.In the digital world the space between us is (potentially) zero. This is fundamentalto our understanding of how the digital world creates value in new andexponential ways. It is the freedom of interactions that are possible in the digitalworld compared to the restrictions imposed by the physical world which is key tounlocking the value.For example: The Facebook HSBC group; haven’t students always self-organised to protest and make change? Didn’t we always go on marches andshake placards? And didn’t we have a purpose?Yes. The difference in the case of the Facebook HSBC group was that this was a(once-was) community of ex-students – scattered to the four winds since leavinguniversity. The place where the space between them could be reduced to zerowas online. Facebook’s fortune is that it enables groups to rapidly form, with astated purpose. Through Facebook the group could grow rapidly and resulted inkilling the £144-a-year charge per person the bank sought to impose. That’s a lotof value. Pity neither the bank nor Facebook could access any of that – but we’llcome back to that…(Imagine how much more effective this would function without the need to be ‘onthe same platform’… but that is another story, one for the long term, the endgame.).Facebook has the first building block – the ability to rapidly self-form groups of purpose. But, these groups can’t be described as true communities becausethere is rarely much communication between the nodes. It is communication –
 
conversation between nodes - that defines a community. A communitycommunicates.The opportunity for conversation is structurally inhibited by facebook’s relianceon personal-data-heavy profiles. To start talking in any depth you need to shareyour profile information. Groups get a basic forum and that’s about it.This requirement for exposing your data-heavy profile in order to have aconversation limits the value the groups can have. It restricts them to being asupporter of a notion rather than a full participant in its development.And the fact that a group is formed by one person who can choose to retaincontrol over it by selecting who can and can’t join makes it hierarchical andcontrolled in a way that runs contrary to our expectations of the networked worldand the unleashing of the exponential growth of the Reed’s Law equation.Yet they’ve done pretty well. They have a networked world ‘hit’ with just one of the building blocks. What happens next?Twitter (www.twitter.com) happens next.Twitter doesn’t have the structural issues that Facebook faces.Twitter takes this ability to self-form groups and amplifies it. And is so doing itthrows the conversation switch. Cornerstone number two.
The Global Hotdesk
In my professional life I move desk from time to time – and I hot desk at a varietyof tables, laps and plane and train seats. Each time I move location I sit next to adifferent group of people. I learn stuff from this. Other people learn stuff from this.We create value simply from being in physical proximity of new nodes with whichto engage in conversation.There are limits to the value that can be created. These are imposed by thephysical world. I can only be in one place at a time. Today I sit next to one group,tomorrow I sit next to another. The groups don’t even intersect. In the physicalworld I can’t turn to my friend on the next floor to bring him into the currentdebate, even if I know it might interest him and he will bring value to theconversation – let alone my friend in New Zealand.But in the digital world my hotdesk is everywhere all at once. The hotdesk goesglobal.Of course if you could speak with the whole world at once… you’d go mad. Sothe value of groups self-forming within that cacophony becomes immediatelyapparent.

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