Community Manager as Change Agent – Jonathon Hutchinson


(Sarah Hawk) #1

Jonathon Hutchinson @dhutchman

How can community builders and thinkers act as more effective change agents - within our own communities, and in the network of communities beyond.

Jonathon picked up on the unofficial theme of Swarm, which was the changing focus of the CM role, and how it might look in 5-10 years time. He kicked off with an hilarious game to survey the audience.

To summarise the last 30 years:

  • Back in the 90s people worked with peers to co-create ideas.
  • In the 00’s people started to build on ideas of peer governance and meritocracy.
  • Now people have stopped listening to peers.

Throughout all of this, the CM role has changed. We sit between multiple stakeholder groups and act as translators. The role is shifting - we are change agents. We are boundary spanners.

Areas of study, relevant to our work:

  • Cultural studies: understand online communities
  • Community media: understand maker culture and resistance against dominant discourses
  • DIY citizenship: critical engagement
  • Community social media: enable us to engage and participate

Community managers “control the connecting points between various strategic networks” (Castells, 2011, p777)

Users congregate online to form community social media groups. These groups have problems championing critical and sincere political participation. Cultural intermediation through network-making power mobilise, connect and empower small clusters. Bourdieu (1984) talked about these cultural intermediaries having roles that bridge between consumption and production - the ‘taste-makers’.

In summary, the role of CM will remain, but under what mantel?

Takeaway: What skillsets will be required to become effective change-makers?
Communication. Don’t use standardised communication. There is not one message for everyone. Stop speaking broadly and maintain sharp skills.

Swarm 2015