Why you don’t want to own community

You don’t want to own community. First, because you can’t; the community owns the community. Second, because then you become responsible for all the community’s sins: See MySpace having to hire a safety czar who, presumably, will tell people not to be stupid enough to meet strangers and get murdered. Way back when, in the heyday of personal homepages, I argued to my boss that he didn’t want such services because he didn’t want his brand appearing on the 6 o’clock news with the phrase “devil-worshipping serial killer’s home page.”

What you do want to do is enable community. You want to leave control and responsibility at the edges — because that’s where it is anyway — and bring people together with information and each other. The web is the social application. The challenge is to find ways to bring people together in ways they couldn’t otherwise do themselves. Think the social Edgeio (below) or the open Flickr or the Technorati of people.