One thing I’ve noticed about fan groups is that they are essentially a massive tinderbox. They have so much potential for explosion that one spark can ignite them.
Most companies see the sparks as simply fan fanaticism. After all, like a child who has no disipline, without guidance, they run wild.
I see the spark as amazing potential. Provide something really cool for fans to bite into, a direction, and you’ll see them create amazing things.
This isn’t to say that fans don’t do amazing things on their own. They do, without question. But how long might it take? How long will it take them to get somewhere valuable?
As you’ll notice, the Web site charges for the service of “iPodifying” your photo. Traditional thinking is that there is a conflict. I mean after all, Apple created this design style and this site is using the iPod as the focus. And they’re making money off of these products, so technically they’re using the Apple intellectual property to make money.
But they’re also helping to move the iPod to the cultural icon status – the place where the real money is made.
Which leads me to one of the key rules of community development: Restrain the lawyers.