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May 26, 2004
Communities Tied to One Technology
For the most part, members of online communities usually rely on one dominant communication channel - be it a mailing list, a forum, weblogs, a wiki, or IRC - even when alternate channels would be helpful for certain purposes. Communities like open source development networks and the international, never-sleeping Joi Ito posse
, who use multiple modes, are the exception rather than the norm.
I've been wondering about the factors that somehow work to inhibit or facilitate the use of multiple communication channels, and the interplay between those channels. Now there's a discussion underway on that topic over at the lively Community Wiki, on the page Community Tied to One Technology
. Among the potential explanations that are brought up for sticking to one channel: inertia, lack of technical acumen, the fragmentation/critical mass problem, and the lack of integration between modes.
My hunch is that as the "software that does less, well" pattern
and the concomitant "mix and match tools" user philosophy that we've seen develop in social software become dominant, we'll see multiple modes become relatively widespread relatively quickly.
(I should point out that the incredibly prolific Dave Pollard touched upon this topic
a while ago.)
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