The future of community

Jono Bacon says the community renaissance has just begun.

This morning Jono Bacon from Canonical kicked off OSCON by talking about “The Future of Community“, which he admitted was a vague and dangerous title to choose. People who try to predict the future tend to fail, but that didn’t stop him. After musing about being chosen to give a keynote at OSCON he dove into his main point about how he feels that community management is at the beginning of a renaissance.

Historically, the first communities were human tribes. A lot of challenges faced early tribes: How do you feed tribe members? How do you keep tribes healthy? People didn’t have community managers, they simply tried things and learned from what worked and what didn’t work. Tribe members didn’t set out to be community leaders, much like open source leaders didn’t set out to be leaders. Open source hackers that succeed in creating valuable open source projects become leaders because of their efforts and the same was true for early tribes.

Jono went on not to predict the future, but to share an informed trend: Community management is at a renaissance. The renaissance connected the dark ages with the enlightenment and people started to educate themselves. People created a repeatable science: If this happens and then you take that action, you can expect a certain repeatable outcome. For instance, the concept of people getting sick, then taking pills and then getting well is a great example of repeatability.

We’re seeing this happening with community management. We’re seeing a profession of community management come about. More people than ever before are working professionally as community managers; these people are the connection points between communities and companies. When we have repeatable community experiences, we want others to be able to repeat these community developments!

Jono underscored the key lesson in his keynote: We’re at the beginning of this community renaissance. We’re going to see a repeatable body of knowledge that will allow us to push communities forward.


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