Ad-hoc communities

So here’s a thought.

By the end of today, the Elgg software will have keywords attached to files and folders. That means you’ll be able to (for example) click on the keyword “social learning” and you’ll find links to everybody interested in it, everybody who likes or dislikes it, every available weblog post about it and every available file. Later we’ll add hooks to allow you to search through other Elgg installations elsewhere on the Internet, when they exist. Perhaps we’ll also add hooks to talk to Technorati, and similar.

Isn’t that essentially an organic community? Sure, you don’t have to be let in, and nobody’s moderating content, but it contains all the other community elements people talk about. And if that’s the case, do we really require the hard-coded “community” functionality, which would essentially do the same thing?

I’m not proposing we stop plans for the community element, but I’m beginning to wonder if it needs a harder think. Classes and so on are handled using online classroom software such as WebCT, which Elgg is not designed to replace, which leaves topic-based collections of people.

I’m curious. Am I right or wrong? What would you like to see from a separate community function, that wouldn’t be provided by the keyword functionality?

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