Friday, October 08, 2004

Community - the network of the future?

Oftentimes I wonder what separates the brick-and-mortar industry with the click-and-portal industry and then the brick-and-click industry. I feel one thing for sure: that new businesses will thrive only by having a great and engaged community of users for their products or services. There are innumerable examples where successful businesses have been literally propped up by the community of their users. Even the pricey ones like Apple have loyal and engaged communities that make their business survive despite the high prices of their products.

Apartly, Napster is a great community-driven website, not to speak of any of the open-source browsers or most of the great free and open-source software. You name it, they have lived and are seeing good days! Linux OS, Mozilla, Apache Foundation (rather Jakarta), they're all out there sustaining on the strength of their communities.

For the non-software types, there are these good ol' school boys networks and college alumni networks. And many a times, these networks are more powerful than the official contacts. That's because the personal touch, more often missed than realised, in official dealings, is available in these kind of networks that are of the more social kinds.

I have seen lots of deals being made in the Shipping Industry. They were predominantly possible because the dealmakers, typically veteran Chief Engineers from sea, would've been classmates or hostelmates from DMET Calcutta (now, MERI Kolkata). The deals get done on a more personal basis than on strictly official modes.

In fact, thinking far, religion may even get replaced by like-minded people, as more and more people are educated and start looking rationally at life and business. People who use the Google may form the Google community who go and worship the data centers in which Google is housed! That will not be a far cry given that Google has a handful of them, useful for cross-country and cross-continent worship.

Slowly, God, the imagination may give way to data being the primary source of importance - remember Matrix, the movie?

So, wait for trinity, neo and their whole lot of communities.