community · Social

Building communities through online tools

It used to be considered sketchy to combine our online and offline worlds. With programs like Meetup and Foursquare, however, those days are long gone.

Lisa Gansky an author, instigator & entrepreneur, wrote a book about it, The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing. She also wrote an article for Boing Boing about 100k Garages “a Mesh-web-enabled sharing-platform that pairs people who want to make things (Makers) with digital fabrication tools (Fabbers).

“Many projects are small businesses that sell unique items. But 100k Garages, a team-up of ShopBot Tools and Ponoko, uses grass roots enterprise and ingenuity to help get us back in action — to modernize our public infrastructure, develop energy-saving alternatives, or simply produce great new products for our homes and businesses. There are already thousands of ShopBot CNC tools in garages and small shops across the country, ready to locally fabricate the components needed to address our energy and environmental challenges and to locally produce items needed to enhance daily living, work, and business.”

There are other non-business examples too; the sport Parkour spread internationally thanks to YouTube and online forums. People donated to the Haiti Earthquake relief fund in record numbers because they could do it via text message. People have Meetups and Tweet ups all the time. Foursquare is based entirely on allowing people know virtually where you are physically. However, security and safety are still a major concern, and some people still feel odd sharing these kinds of details online where anyone can access them, not just the community members they intended.

How do online communities translate into interactions in the real world and vice versa? What has your experience been with the navigation of having specific communities that exist both online and in-person? Does one seem more real than the other? Comment below.