Communities within organisations

21Nov07

When considering all the types of communities that exist, often the most obvious are over looked. This very software upon which this blog is written, for example, has a community of web developers behind it.

In this article I will look at the role of communities within organisations. There are various types which can be utilised but the most common is an Intranet system. This allows users to share files, discuss issues and manage e-mail. Unlike many communities online, those which relate to organisation have far more stringent rules. Generally speaking, the format is very formal and there is rarely any abuse of the rules. Doing so would bring consequences to the user as you can’t hide your identity or change it, unlike regular communities such as forums.

The key benefit to a community in an organisation is the ability to share information quickly and efficently between many users. In a University, the community exists to store lecture notes and to publish assignment materials. In addition discussion boards benefit the students by allowing them to share ideas or receive answers to their queries. Such discussion does need to be heavily moderated, however, to ensure students do not share work or plagiarise other peoples material.

Intranet can be looked upon as a complete contrast to ‘Web 2.0′ social networking sites; although both have the same base functionality (user discussion and sharing of information), when using sites like Facebook or Myspace, you can never be certain of who you are conversing with, whereas with Intranet there is no opportunity for false identity.

Being critical towards the use of Intranet, it can be said that people lose a proportion of their face-to-face contact with their peers. People become more inclined to post questions on a discussion forum as opposed to discussing it in person. The workplace is beginning to follow a similar trend that of the boom of sending SMS text messages over phone calls. In another 10 years time, will we still be phoning in sick for work or just sending the boss a message in the community?

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