David RD Gratton

Tag: Lee LeFever

Currencies or communities of interest

April 8, 2007

Lee LeFever has an interesting post defining community currencies. He states 'a currency in this context is a quantifiable form of participation that adds value to the community'. I find the post excellent as it deals with the content that is generated and shared within emerging on-line communities and attempts to articulate their inherent value. However, I think Mr. LeFever may get tripped up by using the term currency in this context even though he took steps to define it for his purposes.

Currency is a term that is well understood in our societies. It's a medium of exchange for goods and services, and importantly in the context put forth by Mr. LeFever, the vast majority of us have only experienced fiat currency in our lives. We have no understanding of currency actually being backed by an agreed value standard, like gold. Although I understand and appreciate the point of his comment that "[s]ites like MySpace and Facebook often have a number of currencies, but the central units of exchange are personal profiles, "friends" and membership in groups. Participants create value by making explicit links between their profile and specific people and groups', I think it may be better stated:

"Sites like MySpace and Facebook generate intrinsic personal value through personal profiles, "friends" and membership in groups, by making explicit links between their profile and specific people and groups."

What I like about the post is that it is clearly implying that social networks for social networks sake are meaningless and without value. It's the communities interest or topic, and the mode(s) of interaction that creates value for the members, and these may be drastically different from community to community. This certainly calls into question the feasibility of generic white labeling of social network systems.

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