What is a community, and why do they matter?

“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

This quote expresses the fundamental reason for building a community, which is that a group of individuals, working together, can accomplish more than an individual working alone. Communities have long been established part of the human experience and serve a basic human need – the need to belong.

Communities first existed primarily for survival, but over time, have evolved into many different forms and exist for many different reasons. Communities exist based on geography, beliefs, activities, desires, social situations, common interests and common goals. Communities exist in a multitude of forms and in our digital age, some only exist exclusively in digital form. With the rise of internet communities, even the most obscure communities have become easily accessible.

Defining a community and understanding why we form communities helps us understand the motivation for participating in a community. Inherent in every community is an exchange of benefits. The individual benefits from participation in a community and experiencing a shared interest or achieving a common goal, and the community benefits from the contribution of the individual members and is sustained and grows through the participation of additional members.

With the explosive growth of communities in our digital world, we have to consider not only the particular focus or specialty of the community, but also consider the benefit to the individual and the contribution of the community of achieving the goals of the members they serve. Individuals will seek to invest their time on communities that have common interests and aligned goals, are robust and able to provide a meaningful experience, and create the greatest benefit to the individual, while capitalizing on their individual contributions in a constructive manner. Whether the community is physical or virtual, and regardless of the focus, communities have and will continue to fulfill a basic human need. As the African proverb so wisely describes, together we can all go farther.

Work with your community at inqiri

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inqiri is a web application on the leading edge of cognitive science. Combining the insights of collective intelligence with the power of synthetic intelligence, inqiri helps optimize the decision-making process.

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