The time is now

I was totally bummed that I missed the recent Online Community Summit. Hopefully I’ll get an invite next year.

In his notes from the event, Lee had an interesting thought that I think is pretty significant thought about the state of community now:

In asking, “Why now? Why are these networks so popular all the sudden?” Many concluded that the technology is nothing new- it is the widely-held perception of meeting people online that has changed. It is now acceptable for the average person to meet and work with people online. This change in perception bodes well for the future of online communities of all sorts.

I think that this is an important point across the board with community, online and off. We now able to connect with other people through social networking sites, local fan clubs/user groups, eBay auctions, dating sites, etc. But unlike just a year ago, the idea of telling someone that you "met online", whether as a dating situation or as a frienship, isn’t bizarre or sad anymore.

As I’ve been saying for a while, the next big thing in community will be (or at least should be) a better way to profile ourselves so that others are more comfortable with the idea that we really are who we say we are. That’s the missing step to making this as mainstream as it’s going to get.