Is the word “community” losing its meaning?
Poor words. As they get more popular, as we give them more love, we also keep trying to shove in new meaning to see if they can take it.In the technology industry, this happens over and over. Take “cloud computing,” which used to mean something pretty specific and now means essentially “on the Internet” as far as I can tell. Outside the technology industry, take “news,” which also used to mean something, and now is a muddy mess of news/editorial/advertising.
We’ve even been accused of muddying the term “open source” here on opensource.com (a debate I love to have—there are smart opinions on both sides: protect the core vs. extend the audience).
So when I read a recent post by Gartner analyst Brian Prentice entitled Defining & Defending The Meaning Of “Community” – An Open Source Imperative, I was familiar with the lens he was looking through already.
Brian’s argument? According to his post, community used to mean “a collection of people whose defining characteristic is shared participation.” I might add “and a common purpose or vision.”
But now the word community is often being used to refer to any ol’ collection of people. From the article:
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