Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Not-So-Original Idea

The idea of a network of like-minded people connecting is certainly nothing new. This has been happening for ages. Why we are at the same time so enamoured and scared of MySpace and Facebook is interesting. It was also interesting to learn about The Well.

Launched in 1985 on a dial-up bulletin board system (BBS), The Well is one of the earliest online communities for collaboration, innovation and debate. In a recent article in Wired's 15th Aniiversary: A Look Back, Malinowski identified two key reasons for the success of this community:

  • Accountability versus anonymity Many sites today remove the identity which opens up some unprofessional behavior. The Well provided the ability for people to create unique "handles" but kept them linked to a real person.

  • Depth versus brevity Instant messing (IM) and SMS messages are increasingly influencing our communication patterns and expectations. Some discussions merit much more than can be communicated by texting a message on a PDA. The Well provides a mechanism where people can enter into deep discussion, some of which go back 20 years.

  • The implication for business' considering social networking include building in accountability and encouraging contributors to add meaningful thoughts and ideas to the discussion. This may require some well-trained moderators to keep the discussions on tract.

    SOURCE: Malinowski, E. (2008, JAN). The Well Runneth Over. Wired, p. 49.

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