Re: The BuddyPress next generation API, the journey begins
Great thread, Mr Maz.
For my part, I am very very leery of the phrase of the moment, ‘social networking’. It’s a buzzphrase, and even when it’s used specifically and accurately, it makes me want to punch throats, a little bit, because it doesn’t mean much when you dig right into it, and to me, it evokes cheesy cheap-suited salesman making currency of faux friendship.
But I’m kinda old skool that way.
For those of us — most, probably — who’ve been working or at least dabbling in the data for decades, we’ve seen dozens of bandwagons boarded and polluted and just as quickly disembarked and abandoned when the next thing came along. The avalanche of ‘social networking gurus’ and all the rest will fade in time, too.
For me, the real thing at the highest handwavy level is ‘community’ and more specifically, community on the web. Tools and toolsets and platforms and apps and APIs and all the loosely- and tightly-coupled stuff that enables people who share some set of interests, no matter how specific or broad, to get together and interact and form communities, with all the real-world parallels but also all the special because-it’s-on-the-internet factors rolled in.
This means a couple of things, and again, talking at a much higher level than the technical here — it means that the platform itself disappears for the user after they become accustomed to it. That it’s designed in terms of interface and functionality to not only provide the features users want, even if they don’t know it, but also to be as invisible as possible as they use it.
It also means that the platform has to have a robust set of tools for the administrator and moderators of the community (because these things are necessary, to some extent, in community on the web) to use a light hand in keeping the community on an even keel.
I think web community, more perhaps for people who are not so much of the disposable, in-the-moment, ritalin-riddled, post-it-and-forget it generation, needs to have feet solidly planted in not only the ongoing ephemeral stream of conversation, but also in a more long-term, permanent ‘space’ of shared history, shared interactions that are performed in public and can be gone back to, interactions that more than any set of xprofile fields or avatars build a mutual understanding between users based on personality and past discussion. Build, in other words, community.
This last is why I keep mentioning how important I believe the forum component of Buddypress to be, and why I’ve spent the bulk of my time on my current not-yet-launched BP site for an existing community trying to beef it up (with the help of some of the excellent plugins that people have been releasing).
‘Social networking’ doesn’t excite me. Communities of people from all over the place, communities that can only exist because they are on the internet, that’s what excites me. Buddypress, to me, is a toolset for building communities on the web. It may be a distinction without a difference for many, but I think it’s an important one.
OK, enough handwaving.