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The first community an organization has is its employees. If they are not passionate about your business (managers first, please), then it will be harder to transmit that passion to customers. The same is true for publications.

Shared experience is much easier on the basis of common purpose. In the case of Ars Technica that is excellence in technical news and information. In social networks you find people who join for the most disparate reasons - to gain visibility, share information, meet friends, market self or own product, etc. It's akin to having lots of conversations all at the same time vs. everyone joining the same conversation.

Motivation, purpose, and meaning derived play a big role in making a community vibrant. Fast Company magazine had such a community, and while Heath Row was involved, it was vibrant and cohesive. Then it all sort of faded from neglect from the magazine (it was busy surviving, I cannot blame them).

Listening is a big part of a thriving community. I felt the change at FC when I wrote to the new Editor in Chief, Robert Safian, to welcome him, and his assistant replied days later. I knew then that the spirit I had joined was gone.

I think it's interesting the implication that community like this one equates passion, equates power. Spending power, buzz power, valuable power. With a price tag of $25 million apparently.

What makes this similar or different in value to a social network like Facebook, MySpace etc.? It seems to me that the sense of one united community - united around the niche and content of a blog like this one - would indeed be more powerful because it is focused, whereas a community that's loosely organized merely around the idea of community like these popular social networks seem to be may be more massive in sheer size because of its generic appeal, but not as powerful because it lacks the ability to really move their members to any sort of real action - because there's no sense of real unity or common community.

Will it be these relatively smaller yet more focused communities that end up winning out in the social media arena? What's your take?

Gregory:

In my post I say:

"The real story is how new media is capable of growing and retaining a passionate legion of readers, so passionate in fact that they are worthy of the term community."

How is that spin?

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