Internally we’ve been discussing the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research. We meet once every week or so (it’s hard to get a big group of us together for an hour on any one day) and discuss in depth what the ideas mean to our business and our clients.
My favorite part of the book is the technographics ladder, which breaks online users into types based on their participation online. Our goal as community builders is to realize where users are on the ladder, and create applications that allow these users to connect online the way they want to… and potentially move users up the ladder to engage even more with the community. We tailor features, functions, content, tone, etc. to these users – knowing the potential users even affects the way we think about design and technology. This initial analysis helps us immensely to ensure the success of a project.
There are a lot of great nuggets in this book, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in reading more about online communities, and how people are making themselves heard online. For more on Groundswell, check out the official website.