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Cloud Communities, Part 3

by Benjamin Anderson 24. June 2009 21:31

This week, while I was studying cloud computing platforms and the current definitions for the new buzz words, I started thinking about how the new terms translate to the new social and relational paradigms.  Cloud Computing is being used in a broader sense to describe virtualization of computer resources and systems.   Our new online social interactions have produced a virtualization of our relationships.  There are both benefits and scary repercussions to our behavior and the transition to these Cloud Communities.

As a result, “Cloud Communities” is getting a more specific definition.  Cloud Communities aren’t just communities formed on the internet, they are communities formed around an individual on the internet.  Each person forms, drafts and manages their own Cloud Community around them.  These community is completely free-form and free-floating.  It is constantly changing.  It is constantly abuzz.

For anyone involved in computers for 15 or more years, the online communities and connections with strangers isn’t a new thing.  Electronic Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) were used for electronic communities before the Internet and World Wide Web were wildly available.  These systems allowed individuals with similar interests to gather and commune in an electronic gathering place.  Most of the communication was done through forum posts on the BBSs.  Through those conversations and means the computer “nerds” formed relationships with perfect strangers.  Today, everyone is doing similar things by connecting with strangers through Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and the thousands of other niche networks available on our cell phones, computers and entertainment devices.  It has become a mainstream activity for perfectly disconnected strangers to cross paths in these networks and form relationships.  The “strange” and weird relationships of the BBSs have become perfectly accepted in today’s culture and completely invaded our everyday life.

Along with the completely new relationships we’ve thrown our real-life relationships onto these networks as well.  The Cloud Communities don’t include just tangent relationships formed over the Internet, but they now include our family, friends and co-workers.  There isn’t anything wrong with having our everyday relationships included in our online lives, but there is a problem with the degree that the online relationships and our real-life integrate.  Unlike the BBS friendship, or the AOL chat buddy, the online networks aren’t locked down to a system that is only accessible through our computer over a modem.  These relationships, with stranger or family member, are all directly accessible through countless means, the most common one being our cell phones.  The online relationships are beginning to encroach on our real-life relationships.  Tweeting, checking our friends’ Facebook status and reading email replies to our latest post within a community have trumped the conversation and relationship of the people sitting in front of us.  It’s gone as far as being the means in which some relationships are maintained, even when person is just down the street.

The virtualization of our relationships and communities isn’t all doom and gloom, but the extent of which it has interfered with reality has made more people local introverts and global extroverts.  When a text message across the room is a more common means of greeting people in a group rather than finding them and shacking their hand, our environment and bodies no longer matter.  Which makes motivating and connecting with groups even more complicated.  Attempts to connect and commune online results in a direct competition with all the noise already welcome in the individual's Cloud Community.

One voice among several hundred aren’t the ideal odds someone fresh out of bible schools wants to deal with, but with an online connected teenager the odds become one voice among  hundreds-of-thousands.  How does the church connect, commune and counter-act the noise outside of our local environment when it is welcomed in by the one we’re trying to reach?  What do we do with our involvement in the online communities to stand out within each individual’s Cloud Community that they built up around their self?  How do you communicate peace to an individual that is surrounded by more activity and noise than ever imagined, especially when the Cloud Community is always there even when our local community is no where near?  How does a group outside of someone’s Cloud Community connect with them and become apart of their community?

How has the virtualization of your own relationships and interactions impacted your local environment?  How has it impacted your peace of mind?  Do the costs of maintaining and managing your own Cloud Community out weigh the benefits of maintaining the connections, community and invasion of your life and privacy?


Categories: Cloud Communities | rants

Cloud Churches and Their Communities - Questions

by Benjamin Anderson 21. December 2008 18:45

Where does the “Cloud Computing” and “Cloud Community” come into play with the church?  How does it impact the church?  Where will the church itself actually exist in 30 to 40 years?  What will it looks like?  How feasible are church cloud communities now?

These are a couple of questions I’ve been rolling around in my head for the last four or five days.  I’m preparing a post on it, which will be up later this week, but I wanted to posted to questions to get others thinking about it as well.

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Categories: ministry | Cloud Communities | church

Cloud Communities – Part Two

by Benjamin Anderson 21. December 2008 18:40

Cloud communities will begin to alter our interaction with other in our day-to-day routines.  If you look at how the Japanese culture has been overrun by the cell phone and all the standards that have arisen from the innovation there, then you’ll begin to understand the impact that the Cloud Community will have on our lives.  The URL will no longer by the destination or address used in advertisement, nor will the physical address and telephone numbers.  The information will be based off of the 2D and 3D barcodes on the advertisements.  Even television will begin to be altered by the changes.  Why try to dump the contact information on your market and use up space and time that should be used for sharing marketing material?  The recipient isn’t going to remember your contact information or take the time to record it when they are being bombarded by information at every turn.

On top of the marketing material, the marketer has to also consider the community aspect of the campaign.  The viral marketing campaigns used frequently within the last 4 to 5 years have already reached their limits and have saturated the market.  The idea that “any press is good press” is not true, and often times, the more attempts to persuade the consumer a marketer uses, the more the market begins to feel like it is being vomited on.  Good old fashioned word of mouth is going to be the single most affective marketing technique as we move into the cloud community era.  The more friends, co-workers and communities link to each other online, the larger their influence and voice will become.  Not only will individuals influence stick with them as the move from one community to another, but so will the market voice that follows them.

A perfect example of this has already been seen within the last two years.  Microsoft’s Vista campaign wasn’t a failure due to the techniques, the information or even the product.  The campaign failed as a result of communal voice, the media wolf pack ran together and spread the news louder and faster than any marketing campaign with any budget could counter.  The result this time around is that Microsoft has been forced to listen to the voices around the Internet and be more open with it’s progress for Windows 7.  Another aspect of their altered campaign is that they are showing off the improvements and featured in a more controlled environment with the “louder” voices on the Internet.  This helps reign in the mass negative wild fire that spread even before Vista was launched.

So, what does this mean to the smaller businesses, the blogs and the other organizations out there?  Simple, it means that while you might have a loud voice, if you have the influence, there are a lot of other loud voices out there, and your influence is more important than the volume and the information you provide.  The inter-personal relationships and virtual friendships will be more valuable that the money spent doing character campaigns, information dumps and bribing the world towards your side.  Essentially, you have to have friends on your side that have influence themselves.  This also means that fan boys are counterproductive and harmful to your message, because they will push people away and reduce the effectiveness of your communities ability to communicate to the world.

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Categories: business | mental dump | Social Networking | Cloud Communities


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About the author

Benjamin is a software developer in the DFW area.  He spends his free time playing video games, programming, doing graphics design and photography, and reading.

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