To understand how deeply social media has become engrained into the heart of modern Web and even world culture, you only have to imagine the world in the year 1999 where there was no MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, or Meetup, and the only social spaces online were creepy Craigslist encounters.The few communities that existed were mostly open source development projects and loosely organized Craigslist groups full of skeptical and suspicious characters. Funny enough, Craigslist’s reputation has not changed. Everyone knows that the best way to meet crazy people is to create a Craigslist posting. We began seeing semblances of social networks and communities only in approximately 2002 when LinkedIn officially launched. While it is impossible to list all the communities, in this post we’ll cover 10 of the best.
MeetupThis was the first social site that facilitated an atmosphere for people to still communicate online, but also get together offline and form small communities typically around a common interest, technology, business initiative, or just to learn something new. There are many great meetup groups but I can only talk about a few of note.
TechAvivNew York and San Francisco have great meetups with thousands of members who come together to network, see great presentations from new companies, and sometimes forge relationships and begin working together on new venture as partners. There is one incredible example of an entrepreneur meetup that has transcended location and become global. It is called TechAviv and was started in New York a few years ago by Yaron Samid who is a successful entrepreneur, and has grown to be a global community of investors, entrepreneurs, and executives to help new American and Israeli start-up technology companies. While working on my MilderWilder venture this meetup has been the single best place to get connected with high-level executives.
Java GroupsWhether in New York in San Francisco, there are two outstanding groups — the Java programmer group and the Semantic Web groups.The Java groups are great for all engineers. They are free and sponsored by great companies who even provide pizza and drinks. It is a great place where people can meet monthly, learn from each other’s projects and forge long-term relationships.
Semantic Web GroupsThe Semantic Web groups are also a great place for engineers and people interested in new technology. Because it is such a niche and complex space they tend to be most closely knit groups with members often going out together after the events, brainstorming projects and helping each other however they can. In a way, meetup.com has become the new happy hour where people can get together after work and discuss topics they like and meet others with similar interests. In fact, your humble writer’s company Semantic Valley was founded by the members of the semantic meetup.
BlogsSome people still ask, “What is the point of blogging? Is it just to write my own opinion?” Funny enough the answer is a kind of a yes, although blogging is just not about talking. It is about engaging others and entering into conversations and also listening. And through consistent engagement, a community is formed. Blogging has been around for almost ten years now and it has been growing in popularity reasonably well, yet the advent of Twitter really propelled blogging into a whole new level of recognition and popularity.Of the zillions of blogs, check out this one: @garyvee has a great video blog where he teaches people how to taste wines and makes it very fun. http://tv.winelibrary.com/
(Disclaimer: None of them have so far returned my tweets.)Twitter has become a great place for investors, entrepreneurs, marketeres, technologists and those who have always dreamt of participating in those circles, to come together into one jumble. While traditional elitist investor manner has not disappeared, the playing field has been somewhat leveled and if one plays his cards right, he can regularly DM (direct and private message) with some of the biggest fish out there. The current hierarchy looks like this: on top are some of the big and highly respected business people like @fredwilson, @jeffpulver @sacca @sgblank and even the “outspoken” @davemcclure. Around them are successful entrepreneurs like @garyvee @cdixon and @kevinrose just to name a few. Of course, there are also the writers and major bloggers/publications like @TechCrunch @arrington @marshallk and @readwriteweb.
There are also the celebs who have someone else tweet for them, spammers who call themselves marketers, and the social media experts. Everyone else who does not belong in the above groups making up the bottom of the pyramid and just enjoys listening in, and on some days chiming in. It is definitely the most uncontrolled, fun and full-of-possibilities community out there.