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Don't Community Me  

:: Friday, July 07, 2006 ::

It's not like I didn't dream of living on a commune when I was growing up. I thought it would be perfect for me. But, I didn't join one. And, I had that choice. Today, I became part of yet another "community", and it was a complete surprise. I wasn't asked if I wanted to join. I think I was just assimilated.

I won't say who it was that asked for the name I wanted to be known by in my new community that I didn't request to join. That's not why I'm here. It's just that I'm watching the Internet change. I'm watching it change our society.

It was okay at first. We (those of us who earn our livings doing web site stuff) were dreaming up all kinds of things to make IT do. First, we made it easy to talk to our friends and family. Then, we invited complete strangers into our lives. At first they had code names, like "Italian Stallion", or "ILuvBlue", which became interesting ways to visualize what someone was like. We were separate individuals, carefree and careless and having so much fun.

Then, that got boring. So clubs and groups were formed and real names were used, especially if you wanted to look and sound professional, or at least, normal. From there, it was a quick splash into communites, like Orkut and Linkedin. The commune idea morphed into the Internet version, in which your identity has absolutely nothing to do with who you are and has EVERYTHING to do with what group you joined, and the movies you all watch.

Blogs have been stolen by community addicts. Where once a blog was one voice per blog, then a bunch of voices per blog...now it's a blog web of related blogs with all kinds of voices competing for attention and favor by the Head of The Blog.

I know, I know. How dare the founder of a forums, which is a community of people, complain about joining communities? Well, for starters, you have a choice of whether to join or not. You can join and never come back, if you want to. You can use your real name, or not. You can post a picture of your real self, or not. We don't make changes unless the community has some input on them, and in our case, the community orders us around a lot. (YES. For the millionth time. We know our search function sucks.)

Have you been getting weird invitations from MySpace? I am. I don't belong to MySpace. Reminds me of when I'd get invitations to join groups in Yahoo!, simply because I joined one or two once. Suddenly, the entire world has clubs that want me. As if. Linkedin is a scream too. I no longer get invitations from people I know. Now they come from people 300 times removed from my inner circle. As if.

Communities are places where, I think, you should feel welcome. This is not always the case. My feelings have been hurt (because I'm clearly a wimp) a few times, so I'll stop posting. My feeling is this. There's a huge difference in what people think of me when they spend time with me vs somebody's opinion of what they think of me based on one thing I wrote. This is the risk if you join a group of folks who have no freaking idea about anything concerning you and yet want to poop on you anyway.

It's much more peaceful and pleasant to hide out here in my blog, alone, unassuming, and utterly boring.

My Favorite Friday Place

I have a new favorite blog, especially for Fridays. Don't hang around here a minute longer. Go to Bruce Clay's Blog. Lisa Barone's Friday Round-ups are the highlight of my week!

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 7/07/2006 03:45:00 PM

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