Community Development and Social Media

Ten years ago I walked away from a career in "Community Development". I was tired of fighting government bureacracy, trying to convince politicians that people were important, and making businesses that should never have even been started - viable.

Today, in one of those blinding flashes of insight that occasionally strikes, I suddenly realised that all this Social Media stuff was Community Development. I was President for several years of the Community Development Society of Saskakatchewan. Our rival organization was the EDAC - Economic Development Association of Canada. They focussed on business as the driver of the economy. Our approach at CDS was much more wholistic. So when La Ronge had a shortage of physicians that was a community need worth addressing. And I addressed it in a business like fashion. When no landlord or real estate agent would build a residence suitable for Doctors - I took a guarantee for rental for ten years to the bank, obtained a mortgage and built a suitable residence. As you can imagine I did have a few people who saw the lost profit and complained. But the community hasn't looked back.

The Hardest Part Of Social Media was the article that got me thinking. Written as polemic against people who don't see the long term nature and committment required by Social Media - it reminded me of those long discussions about business/economic development vs community development.

Mitch Joel makes the point that unless there is long term committment following the latest fad is only following the latest fad. Engaging with customers (who are real people) will always lead to profitable results. As a university professor was fond of reminding me "money is just the measuring stick". Success comes from engagement with people, really caring about them and at the end of the day supporting and helping them.

How do the tools and techniques of community development apply to the development of community on the web?

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