interests. For example, moral obligations or personal
connections can motivate and sustain community.
Almost by definition, communities require high
levels of interaction between members to remain
viable. Members of a family interact with each other
according to defined social roles. We expect that
groups based on common interests will also develop
shared social norms for interaction.
Groups in the top row (the first and second quadrant) are more stable or fixed by nature than groups
in the bottom row (the third and fourth quadrants).
The goal of friend and family groups existing in the
top row, for instance, is to maintain relationships
and reinforce the tribe through active participation.
Those goals often lead members to share memorable events. Likewise, members of a work group
make efforts to reinforce team spirit and build
relationships in support of shared goals, such as
project milestones, market share, or net income. On
the other hand, the group-formation process in the
bottom row is relatively dynamic and temporary.
An auto service (in the third quadrant) can improve
its service by adding individual personalization. One
who has an accident, for example, requires a speedy
and systematic interactive service of a community, composed of hospital, police, and emergency
services, and insurance company. The systematic
service and interactivity supported by these parties
forms a temporary community around the “event”
(the accident) and the specific time and place where
The need for rich and affordable communication
increases as a community grows and matures. This
circumstance suggests we may be able to develop
rules or heuristics regarding communication within
community services. Of course, flexible and easy-to-use user interfaces for sharing media and collaborating on projects are prerequisites for creating successful new mobile experiences. New opportunities
for mobile community require rich, affordable, and
effortless digital interaction for sharing, contacting,
collaborating and being entertained.
Communication within a community is not
limited to the explicit dialogue between members; rather it must also expand to include delivery of tacit knowledge in a broad sense, including
sharing events, emotions, and experiences across
time and place, which create closer relationships and increased trust. We call this range of
exchanges rich, social communication. For example, sharing views on a wide range of issues with
some or all members of the group may be more
important to building and maintaining community than optimizing direct communication, such
as SMS or calling. That may be because exchanging members’ intentions or views encourages
creating tacit knowledge that leads to more and
deeper interactions among community members.
Likewise, a single video file of combined clips created by siblings becomes another form of tacit
knowledge, standing for family love and encouraging interaction between family members.
Sharing one’s status or schedule with other community members implies that one wants to meet
or keep in touch. Broadcasting personal music or
video (whether to friends or to people unknown)
presents a virtual identity and may lead to forming a flash tribe around a favorite song, band, or
Based on Financial Goals Based on Social Goals
A group of people who gather to achieve a goal
More stable or fixed
• Figure 2. Mobile communities lie within a space defined by two dimensions: focus of
community goals and community longevity or stability. Mobile communities in the first
column ( 1 and 3) focus on financial goals (more explicit transactions), while those in the
second column ( 2 and 4) focus on social goals (softer, less tangible exchanges). Mobile
communities in the first row ( 1 and 2) are longer-lived and change slowly, while those in
the second row ( 3 and 4) are shorter-lived and more ad hoc. Most people are members
of all four types of mobile communities.
November + December 2009