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Communities: Human, all too human.

March 10, 2009
by

Disclaimer: Post title borrowed from Nietszche the great thinker.

Why? Because communities inherit our human ‘virtual’ (did i say psychological?) characteristics, and, perhaps, a psychology-sciencecertain kind of conscience.
After all, they sense and react to stimuli, they analyze and process massive amount of info, they push the limits looking for solution to their problems and new opportunities. They’re rational and irrational. They’ve internal struggles and fights almost like conflicting thoughts in one’s mind. They have a cause and an agenda. And so on.

I found Gunther’s analogy to the model of the Id, the ego and the super-ego quite awesome. The super-ego part popped the following question in the back of my mind:  Are the basic pieces for communities consciousness in place? (as in the state of being conscious; awareness of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc..).

The human foundation is already there:

  1. big number (millions of people online generating billions of info pieces)
  2. specialization (x1000s niche communities)
  3. hyper-connected massively parrallel infrastructure.

Doesn’t it look like we are becoming to the ‘online community’ what our neurons are to our brain! (The meaning of ‘we’ is getting somewhat blurred as we become groups of always-on, hyper-connected, like minded folks. Is it the we as in ‘individuals who are part of the sum’ or as in ‘the sum’?).
Would we have a conscience if we didn’t have all this neurons working for us?
The models look similar, and the roles have changed.

So I venture to say yes…communities have bits of consciousness now.
Of course they’re missing something as Adrian said and Dominic reinforced through his comment: “On the coordination: I don’t know how you build a strategy using self organized group. It seems to me as these organizations are better for “response” type of action and “counter power”.

Counter power…mm..To quote Gunther: “According to Wikipedia, the super-ego is described as a “type of conscience that punishes misbehavior with feelings of guilt”.

Did anybody got punished lately for going one step too far?
Sure few brands did (Motrin, Pepsi PR spammers, and I’m sure I’m missing some but it’s not my purpose at all to be exhaustive here ;-))

Or as Todd debates in his post : “Thus the dilemma: how does a brand “relinquish control” to its fans while ensuring some protection from brand-bashers and unruly hooligans?”. And he goes on saying something interesting: “Partly the answer will come from the community.  Maybe if Skittles had allowed its “Twitter hashtag homepage” to continue for another day, they’d find that their fans would have teamed up to shame the hooligans into better behavior?” (not sure skittles have fan anyway but the concept is there)

Brand, marketers, remember this human wisdom which has never been so true in a world of nascent community conscience: “Your respect for others will be your ticket to success”

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 12, 2009 12:09 am

    Laurent – thank you kindly for the mention of our “cultural super-ego”, and for bringing this concept into even deeper context, particularly as we address the sense; it will be interesting to see how and where we not embrace this collective consciousness, but how we further tap into into using the tools and ideas we develop through social media.

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