There are many ways for customer communities to create value, including support products, up-sell services, entrench brand loyalty, save costs, improve operations, and generate new product ideas/improvements. Since strong communities can be a business game changer, knowing some of the factors that can make a business < --> customer community succeed is important.
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Blerp has been called the next Twitter, and you might want to check it out. It could be a game changer. Blerp is a browser plug-in, and the basic idea is that members create a layer of 2D user-generated content over any website, then people who sign up for Blerp and join the layer-creator’s group can see and add content in that layer. Thus, any site — yours or someone else’s — becomes the backdrop for social networking, casual gaming or whatever.
Communities in virtual world parallel traditional communities in that they can be affinity groups, gaming groups, family groups, business groups, fan groups or just about any other sort of community. 3D environments enable participants to have a more realistic interaction with one another than is possible using text chat tools.
I decided to try again with wiki editing, and created an entry for “Connection Finders” software on the public blog on CPSquare. I’ve been researching new and emerging KM technologies recently, so I thought it would be fun to branch out a bit in that direction. Here’s what I have so far. The wiki is open to the public, so feel free to add your comments here or over there.
What an interesting experience it has been for me to participate in the discussion I referenced in my last posting! It started as a simple request for a distinguished group of knowledge management professionals, teachers and consultants to come up with a list of categories for the variety of activities people generally lump under the heading of “Knowledge Management.” It should have been a fairly straightforward exercise. We are now about two weeks into the task and it is falling apart. I’ve been thinking about why.
Warnog must not sleep. He comes across as a surly, know-it-all, berating parent type person. He starts early in the fight to lambast everyone in the zone for giving it all way, for being losers, for not knowing how to play, etc. He criticizes the attempts of other players to give guidance or directions. He ridicules failures when the “horde” team has a success. As a result, he has become a phenomenon. He is one of the few characters on our server whose name is instantly recognized by 75% of the more experienced players…but not necessarily in a good way.
I was all set to talk about technology and activities that make virtual worlds accessible to the 1.3+ billion globally who are disabled, and then I was pulled up short and reminded of why those things are important — people. Today I discovered Wilde Cunningham.
If I were starting a new community, these are the things I would get answers to first. Planners and organizers will improve their chances of creating a successful community if they cover these questions before they plan their technology or their launch.
A lively cheer or clapping, a broad laugh, a back flip or spontaneous dancing can be effective and expressive social interactions in virtual worlds, if timed right. Avatars, however, are sadly lacking in the kind of social development that could make immersive worlds even more realistic and expressive.
Discussion boards are like the fast food drive through restaurants of KM. On some days they may choose to go into the restaurant to eat, and may participate/contribute to the discussion. But most days workers are usually on their way to somewhere else, they drop in for some nourishment, they scan the menu and choose items that appeal to them that day, they take the items they want (prepared by someone else), and they drive away.
As I’ve said before, the jury is still out as far as I’m concerned about the long-term value of Wikipedia. It’s widely cited, but is it good? How do we know?
Internal links that were broken are now fixed, and the site should work properly.
Spam is a four-letter word!
I know a lot of KM practitioners are excited about blogs and wikis and such, but, practically speaking, I just don’t see it working. There are too many organizational issues around them (privacy, control, guidelines and standards, ownership of content, etc.). Most organizations rightly will see them as a lot of extra work for very little, if any, additional value and a lot of potential risk…no matter how inexpensive the software is.
Introducting a new page that pulls some of my recent postings in online communities together in one place. Check it out
Is it possible to predict whether a community of practice will succeed before it is started? Here’s a quick check Shawn Callahan suggests that can be a good predictor.
In a knowledge management initiative where communities of practice are used to create and validate best practices, it’s possible to use a lifecycle approach to formalize the process, using something along the lines of peer reviews used in science. A single person, however, needs to have the final editorial authority over each best practice written, and that person is also responsible for distributing the final document to all interested parties.
Is there any research that proves there are benefits to problem solving in a group, rather than individually or in pairs? What especially intrigues me at the moment is the actual value we can ascribe to having additional people help answer a question, and the parameters around getting the optimum answer from a group. How do we quantify the value of having additional people engaged in solving a problem or making a decision? What’s the right number of people to involve in the discussion? Do you hit a point where the incremental value of new thoughts is so low that it becomes too costly to add more voices? It’s an interesting topic.
Communities of practice, communities of interest, and any other type of online community have basic rules to keep them functioning well. Here are some of the things I believe about communities.
Verna Allee’s keynote presentation discussed various pieces of “the KM puzzle” and asked, What are you missing? Her background in social networks, value networks and living systems theory provided a background for comments on the need to integrate knowledge into the business language, the need for transparency in organizations, the high cost of not finding information when needed, the role of communities of practice in centralizing knowledge, and the need to initiate conversations that enable knowledge networks to form.
Established guilds in MMOGs share the features of healthy, mature communities anywhere. These are described by Richard McDermott. What’s often overlooked, especially in gaming communities, is the importance of charismatic leaders.
KM is a relatively new business process, yet it’s changing before our eyes. The early attempts to understand the role and value of knowledge in organizational longevity and productivity are already being supplanted by creative new approaches. KM has to change. Look how organizations are changing! Here are some statistics…
As a multiplayer gamer for nearly 20 years, I’m inclined to agree with Ted Castronova that online games are a different animal from what game developers have been successful with in the past. It’s more about governance than game design. Drawing on the parallel to communities of practice (CoPs) in the real life world again, it’s obvious that CoPs in a large organization are a valuable way of organizing a business into villages of people around common interests or knowledge. MMOG gaming worlds mimic the closed worlds of large corporations. Like large Japanese companies in the 20th century–they are self-contained social and cultural worlds. It’s a viable business model.
When organizations first consider creating thematic interest groups or communities, most make the mistake of treating them like any standard, heirarchical business activity. Surprisingly for them, this standard approach often results in failureâ€”for a lot of reasons. Communities are by nature egalitarian. The members are either experts in the community’s knowledge domain, or aspire to be. In knowledge management, there is a strong parallel to guilds in the gaming world (see this post).
MMOGs are little universes unto themselves, just as large corporations are. When a new game starts, the people who join the game come from a variety of backgrounds, and have little understanding of what the game is about and how they should participate. Very often they join guilds or clans within the game. Guilds are self-regulating and self-managing. They provide both governance and the means to provide players with a sense of belonging to a group where they can be known and make a difference–a dynamic also found in communities of practice.
“Some are tempted to think of life in cyberspace as insignificant, as escape or meaningless diversion. It is not. Our experiences there are serious play. We belittle them at our risk.” Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, 1995. And here’s another good quote I just found today. “Games [...]
Social network maps are useful predictors of interactions and behaviors. social networking map displayed at PlayOn that maps social dimensions of networks within World of Warcraft at the guild level. The sociotechnical framework of MMOGs definitely provides a rich environment that can be adapted to problem-based learning, and also supports other theories of computer supported collaborative learning.
Iit’s the social interaction among the humans behind the characters that differentiates a MMOG from a box game and makes them so stimulating and “sticky.” MMOGs are business writ small. The dynamics of human behavior are all there. Learning occurs simultaneously in all directions: top down, bottom up, core to periphery, periphery to core. It’s easy to see how a MMOG could provide a structured, yet creative, environment for education and participatory learning experiences–the kind educators tell us are critical for effective and lasting adult learning.
Research tells us that 70% of North American adults have tried multiplayer gaming. If you haven’t, here’s what you would expect when you first set up your account and log into the game. Game designers today normally provide a narrative backstory that gives the game design a context. They offer quests, puzzles, or tasks for the players to accomplish. But it’s the ability to interact with other players inside the game that makes the experience surprising, interesting and extraordinary.