James Farmer (Blogtalk Downunder fame) poses some interesting thoughts around a concept he is calling neighboursphere. Having spent
so sometime chatting to James at the conference I kind of know where he is going with this. Here is my 2 cents worth.
Virtual communities seem to appear when people publish online (I am expanding this statement to be broader than just blogs), there are many reasons for this but fundamentally as a human being we want to belong to something. A quick search on Google will show you a large number of items on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, layers 3 and 4 are focused on social and ego based needs. Belonging to a group (even a virtual one) helps fulfil needs to these levels. Tapping into this is a great idea.
I am not sure just a blog, even a multi-user blog is the way to go in building such a community. It is only one of many tools that would be required. Personally I see modified wikis (aka easy to use), discussion forums and social networking tools all required to enhance the overall community. A multi-user blog would engage each person within the community to publish their own personal narrative within the community context. A aggregation service would be required to help consolidate the overall opinions raised and enable the feedback loop required for the community to build.
Another thing to consider there has been considerable research into where there is a strong sense of community issues such as crime, depression, violence, alcohol and other drug related problems are lower than where no sense of community exists. A neighboursphere might actually help with many of the social issues we have within our society at the moment.
Overall I will be watching where James goes with the idea as it is very good.