The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet

The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet

I had a very interesting conversation with John Caldwell of Red Pill Email Marketing the other day. In all honesty, I don’t have many uninteresting conversations with John. He’s someone I consider to be both a source for sober second thought and a thought provocateur. Recently we found ourselves in the midst of a “chicken and the egg” discussion regarding the internet, communities and communication.

Did the internet start up because of communities or did it start up and flourish because of the need for more efficient means of communication? At the core of this question is something I’ve preached for many years: The internet is driven by communities and without them it’s just one big strip-mall with infinite parking.

You probably know the story of how the roots of the internet grew from a DARPA project to connect computers at such places as NORAD HQ, the Pentagon and SAC. But did those seeds take root because the people involved needed to communicate and then the community formed or did they grow because a community had formed and to thrive they needed to share information?

Can you have a community without communication? Well, probably not and it is that ability to communicate which allows those communities to grow larger and gain influence. It may be that a community can’t even know it actually exists ‘til communication is possible. Take for example recent events in Egypt. Social media provided a communication channel which united individuals, let them know others shared their concern and were ready to support them.

What I thought was a slam dunk argument (communities first then communication) became a lot less clear as I considered the question. After all, isn’t the beginning of any community as simple as two people meeting and saying hello? On the other hand they’re not a community at that point. Once they know they have a shared interest they then use whatever communication methods are available to them to share their point of view and attract other members.

So my conclusion (not being a sociologist or anthropologist) is that every community starts with a simple communication, but at that point it’s not a community and as such, communication and community run parallel and not one after the other. Frankly, I don’t think I’m smart enough to make a firm declaration on this – although I’m willing to do so just for the sake of an entertaining argument. I’m sure someone a great deal smarter than I has already figured this out.

The one truth I do know is that communities do drive the web and if you want use the web as a marketing tool effectively then you have to know and even be involved in the communities you are trying to reach out to.

While reaching out to other communities, establish your own too. Build a community around your social media efforts and nurture it and you have a resource that is priceless. I’m not just talking about selling stuff to people either. Using a blog as your hub, you can combine other channels such as Twitter, Facebook and others to establish a resource which will be great for you, your customers and generating leads. These communities provide valuable feedback, content and of course, positive word-of-mouth.

And getting back to my conundrum…

It doesn’t matter which came first. It only matters that you value both.

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  • http://twitter.com/socialmediainf/status/40675371464531968 Tony Karrer

    The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet http://bit.ly/eR75Jy http://bit.ly/aDy0Yz

  • http://twitter.com/b2bmarketingz/status/40678450595368960 Tony Karrer

    The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet http://bit.ly/hvLMdS

  • http://twitter.com/mamen_fernandez/status/40745189920215040 mamen fernandez

    RT @smarketingforum: The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet http://bit.ly/eAHrVb

  • http://twitter.com/hugeheadca/status/40752606875893760 Jim Ducharme

    The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet – my latest bit of pondering. http://bit.ly/idLAGU

  • http://twitter.com/captaininbox/status/40772497452306432 captaininbox

    RT @hugeheadca: The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet – my latest bit of pondering. http://bit.ly/idLAGU

  • http://twitter.com/ryanpphelan/status/40773012709969920 Ryan Phelan

    RT @hugeheadca: The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet – my latest bit of pondering. http://bit.ly/idLAGU

  • http://twitter.com/ljcrest Laura Crest

    Jim, a thoughtful and provocative read! It is a classic conundrum to ponder and arguably one of those seamless tautologies that we eventually abandon, scratching our noggins. I would have to agree with your conclusion of the parallel nature of the community & communication — and that what ultimately matters is that we value both. Thanks for a most enjoyable post!

    • Jim Ducharme

      YW and thank you for sharing the link and the comment! And thanks for your great tweets all day, every day!

      Regards,
      jim

  • http://twitter.com/hugeheadca/status/40854539422806016 Jim Ducharme

    Which came first, communities or communication? The chicken, the egg and the internet http://bit.ly/idLAGU

  • http://twitter.com/inboxgroup/status/40855457492901888 Inbox Group

    RT @hugeheadca: Which came first, communities or communication? The chicken, the egg and the internet http://bit.ly/idLAGU

  • http://twitter.com/inboxgroup/status/40855717309059072 Inbox Group

    RT @redpillemail: RT @hugeheadca: Which came first, communities or communication? The chicken, the egg and the internet http://bit.ly/idLAGU

  • http://twitter.com/hugeheadca/status/40857651353096192 Jim Ducharme

    Har! Another comedian :) RT @jvanrijn: The chicken, the huge headshaped Egg and the internet http://bit.ly/idLAGU cc @jacaldwell

  • http://twitter.com/michaelweisel/status/40859007732293632 Michael Weisel

    Well done “@hugeheadca: Which came first, communities or communication? The chicken, the egg and the internet http://bit.ly/idLAGU”

  • http://twitter.com/conversionation/status/40876168135573504 J-P De Clerck

    The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet http://bit.ly/dRn5z4 – or what a conversation with @jacaldwell leads to

  • http://twitter.com/mailblaze Spiro Malamoglou

    As alway, a great thought provoking read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Jim Ducharme

      Thanks Spiro! You just made my week!

      Regards,
      jim

  • http://twitter.com/dataappro/status/41139298594078720 chad grosse-rhode

    RT @socialemail: The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet http://ow.ly/42UH7

  • http://twitter.com/marketingtwitz/status/41168071993462784 Renilde De Wit

    The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet http://ow.ly/42UI4

  • http://twitter.com/sociocentral/status/41953873069490177 Austen M.

    What came first, #communication or #communities? http://bit.ly/eAHrVb -RT @smarketingforum by @hugeheadca #socialmedia

  • http://twitter.com/vctcorp/status/43721143831629824 VCT Corp.

    Food for thought: Did the internet start up because of communities or a need for more effective communication? http://bit.ly/eHSD5x

  • http://twitter.com/sarahstatler/status/45315203759476736 Sarah Statler

    RT @smarketingforum: The Chicken, the Egg and the Internet http://bit.ly/eAHrVb. Interesting perspective #mkt4760