I thought that enterprise top-down software was a thing of the past and that small pieces loosely joined was the new model, but I’ve been in learning hell with a community of practice platform that uses the walled garden metaphor to the extreme.
In other words, it’s not the invention of the tool that holds value; it’s the tool’s ubiquitousness that contains the value which ultimately leads to profound social changes.
Similarly, the tools that support virtual communities probably won’t be very interesting until they become invisible, everyday components in our lives. For some, this is already the case and as such we are beginning to see new and powerful means to share, commune, and identify with one another.
Message to tool builders – you cannot be ubiquitous inside a walled garden.
I have spent a few days trying to figure out my client’s system. This will be a larger problem when a casual computer user has to make sense of all of the functions as well as the underlying model of the platform.Â Having created several online communities and participated as a member and a moderator of many more, I can’t see how a community can grow if there is any difficulty in using the technology. The only case where a complicated system will work is when the option of not using it is unacceptable. The litmus test for any community software should be, “is it easier than e-mail?”, because that is what most users will compare it to.