In this digital era – where we look into the world through our wide screens monitors or 4″ screen iphones, we foresee a large amount of conversation around varied topics. To an extent, we’re true with our perception. However, when we talk about online communities, do they actually help scale the passion to a level that smaller, yet offline communities are good at?
When I think of offline communities and societies, there are direct, one-to-one relationships that appear in the backdrop of my mind – many, if not with all the members. However, being a member of an online community – where I may share an idea, get it voted, do a debate with ‘handles’ and not always people – just fails to generate those vibes.
The essence of building social communities – offline or offline was always to drive participation around a passion or cause with people from varied fields of work but with a common interest or goal which gels with that of the community itself. It essentially is a platform to talk, discuss, share things beyond work.
More importantly, for me, a community is a forum where you build relationships – personal and professional, depending on its kind. How many relations did you develop with people joining an online community? Here, I ain’t talking about Social Networks like facebook, orkut, etc. Shall you need to distinguish between social communities, networks and outposts, Gaurav, had come up with a neat post on this.
The dent which I was trying to make is that the essence of offline communities is entirely different and we as social media practitioners/experts should still think of building up such communities. The size does not matter much. What matters is the content, the objective and the passion. A great example would be Social Media Baithak. An initiative by Sanjukta Basu and Abhay Adhikari. I am glad to be invited for the 1st edition of this initiative where a bunch of social media ‘gurus’ ( read, advocates and evangelists) try to help out NGOs and individuals working for a cause, in what is a one-on-one session.
I truly admire the energy and content we had at the meet.
BarCamp, OSS Camp, TweetUps, Blogger Meets, etc. are some such examples of offline gathering, which help scale the passion of doing something and learning stuff. There needs to be more synergy in offline-online integration of communities. I see that picking up, already. Hope it continues with more people joining in.
Do share your experiences with the offline communities you may have had.
This post has been cross posted at the “Media Redefined Blog“. Check it out for more interesting posts on social media, online engagement and communities.
Image Courtesy: Naina @ StudioAside