Mindy McAdams writes about a book that I've got to get called Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. In her post, titled An Audence is not a Community she quotes the book's author, Clay Shirkey:
A good deal of user-generated content isn’t actually “content” at all, at least not in the sense of material designed for an audience. Instead, a lot of it is just part of a conversation.
Mainstream media has often missed this, because they are used to thinking of any group of people as an audience.
The implications are profound: It explains, of course, why user-contributed stuff that we think is meaningless and useless for an audience (such as boneheaded user comments or poor photos) isn't meaningless and useless if considered in the context of community. It's our collective myopia as journalists used to providing "content" for an "audience" that's the problem. We're viewing user-generated content in the wrong way.
Read the post. And I gotta get the book. On On the Media, I heard Clay talk about his book. He again made a simple, yet profound statement that helps explain so much. In the pre-Internet days, here's how we thought of organizing:
Gather people together
Now, because of the power of the Internet to tag and organize the data (photos, blog posts, Web pages etc.) the order has changed:
Share (as in uploading photos on Flickr)
Gather (different people tag photos the same way, which means you can locate other people who've shared a similar experience)
Act (do something together as a result)
Clay shows how this works -- click the link above to see the OTM transcript.