Archive for August, 2008

Vacation, Links, Future Outlook and a Quote

I’m sitting in a coffee house and preparing my last post before vacation. The plan for the next three weeks is following: Romania – visiting small villages in the Maramures area, looking at the monasteries and checking out wineries in Bucovina, spending a few days in Transilvania, sightseeing Sigishoara, Sibiu, Brasov, and hiking in the Carpatian mountains. Greece – relax on a beach somewhere on the Chalkidiki coastline, maybe a bit of diving, cycling and hiking.

Here come a few links I found interesting, but couldn’t post about being busy packing my stuff for the travel:

Linux Foundation interviews Mitchell Baker

The Importance of Seeds

How a Business Could Use Friendfeed For Collaboration

Open, philanthropy and a theory of change

My vacation will effectively mean three weeks without the internet and posting to this blog, but I have some good plans following my vacation. This include finally creating my “About” page, continuing the social psychology tips for online community management, catching up with the book reviews (see my Reading List), and many more. I encourage you to come back and visit around mid September – or even better, sign up for the RSS feed!

Finally, the quote – I found it in the comments section under the article “Why Online Communities Fail?”:

No matter how much money you throw at it or how fancy the technology, an online community is only as relevant as the people involved.

Jan (at) famebook dot com

Cheers, Darek


Five Types of Power and the Online Community

Leadership is about influence, and influence is about power. What are the attributes that can make you influential in the online community? Social psychology provides insight into such attributes by distinguishing among five types of power.

  1. Coercive power. This means the power to punish. It can typically be used in an online community by a moderator, who can ban an account or certain comments.
  2. Reward power. As there are many kinds of rewards, this power can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from a positive comment to financial reward.
  3. Legitimate power. This is the power granted by some kind of authority. On a social networking site, it normally belongs to the organization operating the site, which can define the rules to be followed and execute them.
  4. Expert power. Extremely relevant in the online world, expert power comes from experience or education. If you are recognized as an expert, people will count with your opinion and are more likely to follow your leadership.
  5. Referent power. This is probably the most important type of power in the online communities. Referent power comes from admiration or respect. In the online world without hierarchies and boundaries people with referent power are the most influential ones. This power comes from character, the values and integrity that a person represents. Continue reading ‘Five Types of Power and the Online Community’

Attraction Theory and the Online Community

In social psychology, the theory of attraction describes why we feel attracted to certain people and how we choose friends. It can help us understand how people connect with others in online communities. It can also provide some insights into the traits of effective community managers.

People tend to assign an “attraction rating” to other people they meet, but also to themselves. This rating is then used as a compass when choosing friends and partners. However, we don’t automatically choose the individuals with highest rating as our friends (most of us don’t connect on Facebook with Scarlett Johannson or George Clooney). Instead, we compare our rating with those of other people, and tend to become friends with people who get similar attraction scores to our own.

How do we measure the “attraction rating”? In the physical world, we give points for physical attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, sense of humor etc. In the online world, we would increase the attraction score for popularity (how many RSS readers do you have?), design, contribution to the community etc.

One easy conclusion from this theory is that the more attractive you become in the online world, the more likely is the chance that you will draw other attractive members to join your community.

There are of course other factors that explain how people choose friends, and all of them can be used to increase our chances of creating a vibrant community: Continue reading ‘Attraction Theory and the Online Community’

Blog Action Day 2008

Today I have subscribed to Blog Action Day, and I will join thousands of bloggers posting about poverty on October 15th. Blog Action Day is a fantastic initiative, and it is also a great case study of leadership in the online community of bloggers. The story Building Momentum: How Blog Action Day Got Going by Collis Ta’eed reveals some principles that made it a success.

Continue reading ‘Blog Action Day 2008’

Attribution Theory and the Online Community

In this new series of posts I will explore what social psychology can teach us about managing and leading online communities.

The Attribution Theory tries to answer the question how we interpret the behavior of people around us. According to this theory, we explain such behavior by attributes: either external factors, such as the current situation, or internal factors, such as intelligence, character or temperament. When assigning these attributes, there are two common mistakes that people make. Continue reading ‘Attribution Theory and the Online Community’

A Story About Attention And Leadership

When I was first employed by a large company, they organized a dinner for all the new hires with the organization’s leaders. We were invited to a fancy restaurant, there were about 20 new hires and 4 leaders, sitting among us. Doing a simple calculation you can count that every leader should talk to 5 new hires over the course of the dinner. Yet, although I was sitting just next to one of the leaders (let’s call him John), I haven’t had a chance to exchange more than one sentence with him. John was fully focused on the person sitting on his opposite side, and engaged in a deep conversation that lasted through the entire dinner. Continue reading ‘A Story About Attention And Leadership’

Why I Don’t Use Twitter (Yet)

This blog is about leadership and social networking. However, I’m personally not very good at the online social networking, at least when it comes to being available online. For example, I don’t use Twitter, and here is why:

  1. Productivity. Researching and blogging about leadership in online communities is not my main job (which currently is managing IT service support), so I can’t spend a lot of time doing it. I have discovered that I’m most productive when I limit my online activity to minimum. I scan through my favourite blogs to look for new topics and research Google when I already found a topic to cover. I then print out the most interesting posts or articles (small font and two-sided printing to limit the impact on the forests), and read them over a cup of coffee rather than on screen. I make paper notes first and only approach my PC when I’ve already created a good draft of a post. This is my way to reach the flow state by decreasing the number of interruptions.
  2. Quality. Since I don’t have much time to spend online, I prefer to focus on quality information. And the quality of blog posts is normally much better than quality of tweets. This goes also the other way round, I choose to write one thoughtful post rather than 10 short messages.
  3. Respect. I don’t think I’m able to spend enough time on Twitter to use it thoughtfully. I could start using it without much hassle, writing anything off the top of my head, but that would not show respect for the potential followers. And respect is important.

Yet, I also see reasons why I might start using Twitter:
Continue reading ‘Why I Don’t Use Twitter (Yet)’