Whilst my thoughts are still bouncing from thought particle to thought particle, Ed is busy running with the ball. Read his post, A Generous Community.
A fluid or more liquid perception of human identity and community are a apart of this testing of the boundaries of the traditional understanding of community.
The question, I suggest, that is important to answer is not whether a traditional or an emerging understanding of community accurately describes the way communiteis are. But rather, “what is the purpose of community?”
The reality is that with the advent of online communication technologies, a la Cluetrain, human relationships have the opportunity to take on new dimensions.
Generosity is a wonderful entry point into a dimension of community that I find has not sufficiently been exposed in most discussions of online community. Generosity is a description of character. It is a way of understanding the quality of a person. If a person is generous, courageous, or kind. We know something about them. How can a person exhibit these characteristics online? It is more difficult because we are physically removed. This is why I come back to what I submitted above. That community is not about what we share in common, but about what we are willing to sacrifice for others.