Personally I think building and managing online communities is probably the MOST important, socially innovative skill set that has ever evolved out of the Internet… its your skills with managing socially relevant communities that turned the Internet from an obscure hobby of a few gifted tech-types to a widely accessed and accepted parallel digital universe.
Human beings were biologically designed to be social… so digitizing that built in survival mechanism will open up all kinds of opportunities to improve our world. Sure, businesses have only just begun to understand how to realize an ROI from it, but it takes people like you to work out the “kinks” and keep the whole online community experience moving forward.
I’ve spent the last few months taking your courses and working with a group of highly experienced business experts (my clients) who are struggling to figure out how to “share” online what they do in the real world… It is a higher barrier than you could ever imagine… when you are tech-savvy its second nature, but for them the challenge is very real… There are millions of people just like them dying to figure out a way to contribute their expertise to the world!
So for me the future of online communities is simply the maximum point of information dissemination… when best-practices are readily available to all who need them… businesses, governments, hospitals, universities, students… what sets communities apart from mere resources is the creative, unexpected input from real people.
…maybe you’re right when you say in it’s “current” incarnation, it is evolving or dying… but I think that’s because business sponsors still tend to view communities as just another marketing channel … all that’s really dying is a misconception.
I joined this community because in my research you are the best among the world’s leading experts in digitizing genuine social interaction. What’s fascinating is you’re not a bunch of lab-coat scientists or Big Four Consulting gurus, like past “world’s leading experts”… you’re something entirely new.
I’m very confident you guys will figure out what the future for online communities should be. More than anyone else you guys seem to understand the importance of human-dynamics and authenticity in an online experience.
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating”… since you’re using an Online Community to figure out what Online Communities should be, I’m pretty confident you’ve got the right tools!