Thinking about collaboration and community leadership, since it seems to be something that I do.
The examples that come to mind share some common traits.
- there is a mix of online and in person communications, and not solely one or the other
- for routine everyday communications you use whatever everyone is using in your field; be that email or facebook or twitter or phone or sms, you adapt to the existing norms to start at least.
- the successful communicator is good at more than one network and can move between them, pulling ideas and people along for the ride.
- somewhere at the center of the network there's a culturally appropriate publication process that generates an external memory of what has been communicated, whether that's a ritual behavior, a database, something like a wiki, or some book or printed artifact.
I think that if you can manage to satisfy all four of these factors that you can get alongwith a wide range of technologies. The working amateur radio clubs that I know fit the bill, as do some networks that are coordinated by prolific bloggers or that have sprung up around civic wikis.
The thing that emerged from writing this was realizing that ritual behavior could be the external memory that you get from community leadership, and that doesn't necessarily need to be written down. Just knowing that there's some component of a community that gathers in an orderly way regularly and that follows a pattern that's not much different from the time before, that's a powerful synchronizing pulse that can feed all sorts of other informal collaboration.
Thanks to Kevin Doyle Jones for the conversation that led to this.