An emerging business model for community
New options are going to be available for those keen to manage communities
This site is about ensuring that communities have economic, not just karmic, value. But today’s community organisers are largely stuck facing two unappetising career choices.
They can either toil away for a community-driven organisation such as a local non-profit, that in itself may be in a constant struggle for existence. Their work is generally meaningful, often difficult and rarely well-paid. Some mocked Obama’s community organising background, as if working directly to elevate the downtrodden was irrelevant to the job of governing. (Ironically, that is largely accurate, as corporate fundraising is the #1 requirement.) This is not to diminish the valuable work of non-profit community organisers, just to say that society at large, and the economy in particular, undervalues it.
The other option, better paid and marginally more respected by society, is to be a community manager in a for-profit setting. Since the early days of the Web, savvy corporates have figured out they could save costs by outsourcing their service department not just to developing countries, but to the customers themselves. Developer and customer communities would have valuable super connectors who would spend hundreds of hours a month working for free, reviving those valuable karmic rewards. And maybe a digital badge. Those managing these communities on the inside have to wrestle with divided loyalties - customers and developers may want different things than the company. Loyalties will inevitably lie with those who pay their salary.
Web3 represents a third choice for community organisers - the possibility of working directly with and being paid by, the community. As many smart folks have pointed out, the original sin of the Internet was not being able to easily transfer economic value, resulting in among other things the advertising business models and expertise in creating addictive, polarising, high engagement sites. All this promises to change with the arrival of non-fungible tokens - you can buy and own a bit of digital real estate, and don’t have to worry about the seller selling the same thing to someone else. These tokens become the lifeblood and currency of communities; members in Web3 are owners - often funding the community upfront and benefitting from its success when the token rises in value.
Well that’s the idea anyway. The mechanisms for this to happen are, it’s safe to say, not ready for prime time. For those playing along at home, I challenge you to go to the darling of Web3 world, Friends With Benefits, and sign up as a member of their cities program. I’ll give you a tip, it costs 5$FWB tokens. Ok, off you go, I’ll wait….
On the next post, will dive into this experience a bit more, but meanwhile, would welcome any reactions for how easy you found it.