A decade ago, the book Bowling Alone observed the fragmentation of American community (and democracy). We had become more centered upon our professional selves and the workplace — setting aside our focus on home, church or neighborhood. Now, thanks to the Internet, broadband access and various digital tools, social networks have somewhat rekindled the community connection. But it’s a different type of connection:
– By its very nature, it’s founded primarily on “weak ties” — transitory connections, leading to heterogeneous communities with potentially strong bridging capital, but weak bonding capital. These communities form quickly in response to a particular event (sometimes becoming an event themselves) and may provide great impact because of the power to bridge disparate social groups. What’s happening in Iran — and outside of Iran during last summer’s protests — may be a good example of this.
– However, these communities are also vulnerable. They need its members to retain an ongoing level of faith and contribution. Also, the technology that sustains them can be shut down (Iran).
So, let’s look at this as a new kind of storytelling. One that recreates the value proposition of communication — a relationship between the storyteller and a community of participants (cemented by an emotional bond, that inspires the community to engage in a transaction).