The Future of Community Service: Community Driven User Experience

The other day I was fortunate enough to listen live to an episode of Floss Weekly with @merlyn and @jonobacon and @leolaporte who were interviewing @timoreilly . It was one of the most awe inspiring interviews that I have seen in a long, long time. Not so much for the content but also because of the passion and belief that came from @timoreilly. To me personally it was akin to watching the sermon on the mound. I came away from that interview with a rundown on what the future may hold…

“Open Source is a science, not a religion”

One of the themes that @timoreilly mentioned was that of opensource software, namely that opensource software i.e. linux is one of the tools that people are using to build their online communities upon. For some people opensource software is their ethos, to them it is a way of life, a religion, a tennent that must not be broken. I agree with @timoreilly in that:

“Opensource software is a choice, not a way of life.”

In the end you want to use the right tool for the job. Face it fads will come and go but the true test of time is how successful the tools that we use, develop and maintain, work for us and how they benefit society. Societies are not rigid structures they ebb and flow and what works one minute, may not work the next. By using the right tools for the job we can ensure a happy society and if the tool is opensource then even better.

What I loved most about this podcast was @timoreilly‘s description of what is most likely the next/current trend in technology. While he did not explicitly give it a name, I tend to think of it as: Community Driven User Experience. He described this in terms of what is happening with the iPhone in terms of location based content services.

Community Contributed Content

With Web 2.0 we began to see the ability of a person to give something back to the web. The web became and still is a socially driven blob. It is an enabler to technologies such as social networking (Facebook), blogging (wordpress), microblogging (Twitter). The crucial result being is that all over the world (and by world I mean certain areas of cali) there are databases filling up with users knowledge and data. These are essentially user driven knowledge repositories and are ripe for picking. Each one of them providing some specific information. And in most cases this is a “community” driven effort. Especially with something like google maps and their overlays of community driven and editable content.

User History

Again with the internet and social based media we see the rise of memes and patterns. This is not technically a new thing, as I mentioned earlier memes are just internet fads. From the data generated by user interest, tracking search patterns, twitter tag usage etc, it is possible to determine and track these fads/memes etc. Even better we can isolate these fads geographically.


For several years now mobile phones have allowed us to broadcast our physical location out to the world. With the advent of rich media devices we are now able to bring the web and internet to the phone and to our person.


Finally the above three lead us to the Community Driven User Experience and how it is a reality. By harnessing Community Contributed Content, mixing it with user patterns and history to provided a form of context and narrowing down the field through location we can enhance/augment a persons perception of the world. And do so efficiently, effectively and freely.


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