[Air-l] Re: Company vs. Community

Felix Stalder felix at openflows.org
Tue Dec 18 21:42:02 PST 2001


>Not the commercialization of online communities, but the constitution
>of online communities inside commercial space.  The Amazon community,
>or eBay community, etc didn't exist prior to Amazon or eBay and then
>become commercialized via Amazon's or eBay's behaviour.  Rather,
>Amazon and eBay produced communities as commercial commodities.
<..>
>The assumption that communities and commerce exist in an agonistic
>relationship is problematic.  They don't, necessarily.


I agree with Bram that commerce and community do not necessarily need to be
antagonistic. I also agree with David Silver that distinction of
communities created inside or outside commercial space might not make all
that much sense in the context of online communities. Certainly, everything
that's inside AOL is inside commercial space. And what about the WELL,
these days?

Perhaps another way to start a critical analysis of different
community/company relationships is to look at the tension between the
platform (both in its technological and political-economy aspects) and the
community of users that is constituted on/through this platform.  One can
see that they are sometimes very closely aligned (e.g. in the case of the
WELL, for which the provision of the platform _is_ the business). Other
times not so close (in case of AOL for which the providing of such
platforms is only one out of many businesses that it engages in and their
value is judged in relation to those others activities) and very poorly in
the case of, say, Ebay for which the providing of a platform is only
justified as long as it helps drive auctions on the site. Image an engaged,
thriving user community on Ebay promoting alternative  auction services.
They would be shut down after than you can log off.

Felix


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