Video: Jono Bacon, “The Engines Of Community”

Jono Bacon is the Ubuntu Community Manager. He wrote the book titled The Art of Community which is published by O’Reilly and Associates.

He gave the following talk at the O’Reilly MySql Conference and Expo titled, “The Engines of Community” where he talks through his perspective on the things to do (and not do) which trying to build a community.

I want to thank Amy Stephen who shared this talk on her blog and Twitter. Amy does a lot of commentary on the Joomla community and open source in general. It is fun to follow Amy so I can see how other communities function over time and learn from their experiences.

I think that this video and book might be quite helpful as the Sakai Foundation continues to define ‘Community Source’ and in particular as we look toward our next Executive Director and begin the review of the year-old Product Council.

I highly recommend the video and have ordered the book. I think that I will use the book as optional reading in my new proposed course (SI124 – Wisdom of Crowds).

Video Summary

Here is my summary of the first portion of the video.

He spends some time defining the job of ‘Community Manager’ and suggests that a large portion of the task is ‘dealing with irritating people on the Internet’.

He talks about a few myths about open source development including the perception that Executive/Business-types have that all of the contributors are “Tron Guy” whom we meet at a combination open source / science fiction convention.

He describes two types of community managers: (1) Evangelists/Marketing Community Managers – who are valuable to whip up excitement among a user community – but don’t contribute much to contributor growth and (2) Engineering community managers work on tooling and getting things done in the community and moving the community forward on getting work done.

He says that community leaders need to be “contextually capable” and need to match the right kind of community Manager with the community they are managing. Marketing managers can grow the ‘User’ or ‘Consumer’ community and engineering community managers can grow developer communities. Choosing a marketing style manager and putting them in charge of a developer community or vice-versa will generally result in disaster.

He comments on the role of governance or a council / board / code of conduct – and how those aspects fit into a community. He suggests that there is a need to focus on “getting stuff done”.

He says that biggest enemy of growth is when you in a community and it seems like the only thing that is happening is a lot of talk. Volunteers who spend too much time in meetings and not enough time contributing will get frustrated and (as Jono says) – “Go watch Lost”.

Continuing with his ‘two types..” theme, he classifies communities as ‘Read Communities’ and ‘Write Communities”. Read/User communities consume something and are fans – they don’t generally contribute to the thing they consume – they talk and theorize about it. Read communities need communication channels – just connect folks. Write communities are the people *making* and changing the software – their connectors need to ‘fit into’ the community rather than just talking to the community.

… I suggest you watch the video and buy the book and draw your own conclusions.