Communities of Practice and the Web 2.0
We are often asked what are "Communities of Practice"? Are they more like a discussion board on the internet? What roles and processes do they have? And how can web 2.0 tools help communities to collaborate more efficiently? Some backround information on communities of practice can be found in a weblog I wrote before.
Let's take a globally distributed community like the New Club of Paris (NCP). The domain of the community is the knowledge economy and the knowledge society. The members are scientists and intellect entrepreneurs dedicated to the idea of supporting the transformation of our society and economy into a knowledge society and a knowledge economy (see also the club's mission statement). The club offers a service called "Round Table", participates in conferences and meets at least once a year at the World Conference on Intellectual Capital for Communities. So how could web 2.0 tools help this community? Here are some ideas:
- Community website: a community should have a community website where it can publish information about its mission, goals, structure, members and events. NCP already has a website at http://www.the-new-club-of-paris.org. If a community does not want to host the website on their own they could use google pages to create it without having technical knowledge about HTML and web hosting.
- Community private space: a community should have a private space to communicate and share information. The services google groups or yahoo groups can be used as a private space. These services offer a discussion forum (e-mail enabled), a member list and a file space. NCP already runs the group new_club_of_paris on yahoo groups.
- Community yellow pages: to have transparency about who the community members are and what their background is yellow pages could be used. The members could be encouraged to create a profile in the social networking service XING (some like Anja Flicker already have one). Members could "tag" themselves with "New Club of Paris" in the section "Organization" to keep the community together.
- Community calendar: to have an overview of all events that are relevant to the community a calendar at google calendar could be started. The calendar could be published, members could be invited to add events and events could be linked to related information and documentation. The calendar could be embedded in the community website.
- Community weblogs: the members of the community create and modify a lot of knowledge in their practice each day and make new experiences. Weblogs are a good method to capture traces of that knowledge and make it visible. Members of the community could be encouraged to write weblogs about their domain on blogger.com (or in any other blog-environment). They should tag every blog entry related to NCP with the Tag "NewClubOfParis". The community would then be able to aggregate the feeds of all relevant blog entries to their community website (see example at community website of the Association of Knowledge Work).
- Community knowledge map: knowledge economy and knowledge society are very complex domains. To make it easier to keep an overview a knowledge map (KMap) could be helpful. The community could create a first version of the KMap with freemind at a physical meeting, publish the KMap using the flash browser to the community website (see regional knowledge portal regiolog.com for an example) and upload it to mindmeister so all community members could give feedback and extend the map.
- Community knowledge base: for having a knowledge base as a common ground of the community a wiki could be used. The wiki could be structured according to the knowledge map and could represent the explicit body of knowledge of the community. The wiki could also be used to collaboratively create content (like the book real-life knowledge management was written) or organize events (like e.g. barcamp is doing). A wiki engine like mediawiki or confluence could be installed on a server of the community, could be rented in a hosted version ($ 49,- per month) or a service like wikispaces could be used. Part of the knowledge base should be published to wikipedia (e.g. on intellectual capital, knowledge society, knowledge economy, knowledge management) to spread the message of the community widely.
- Community bookmarks: community members use a lot of online resources in their daily work. Social bookmarking and a service like del.icio.us can be used to make them visible. Members could be encouraged to store their (important) bookmarks in del.icio.us and tag them with the tag "NewClubOfParis". The feed of the tag could be aggregated to the community website.
- Community videocasts: with the information overload in the web audio and video podcasts are a nice way to get attention. The community could produce short audio or video podcasts with 3-5 minute testimonials from their thought leaders and publish them on YouTube like Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton did that on Evidence Based Management.
- Community image library: images make the web emotional. The photo sharing service flickr could be used to upload images of community events. Members could be encouraged to upload images and tag them with the tag "NewClubOfParis". The feed of the tag could be aggregated to the community website.
- Community document repository: if the community wants to distribute content in file format (e.g. papers, presentations, podcasts) a document repository could be created at box.net. The document repository could be embedded in the community website.
Do you have more ideas? Add them as comment below!