Re: @tobyshorin 'Come for the Network, Pay for the Tool'
thoughts re: https://subpixel.space/entries/come-for-the-network-pay-for-the-tool/
The 2 paragraphs following “Paid Communities: A New Business Model for Bespoke Social Media” make me wondering if a notion of time to market is at play here. In what sense were big social networks needed to let the paid communities economy get out of the ground? Pre-Facebook, we had forums, wikis and IRCs and it was enough. Facebook changed the game because it did bring “mass usersification”. Every communities became bigger, I guess, and international numbers was the big value Facebook did bring to communities at first. As it reseted the notion of ‘digital communities’, those forgot about the previous organisation methods and tools. So they had to grow and spend enough time on the big platforms to understand their limits and that they had unmet needs that could be solved by having their own products. I think there were plenty of vertical communities products ideas pitched before Facebook. It was probably too early since people already had free community tools to get the job done and didn’t forget about them yet. So there may be an interesting timeline of how communities needs evolved through digital products.
My second thought is more me laughing at imagining VCs and tech bros trying to figure out how to scale and reach IPOs with niche community products with uniques needs and features lol. First thing they would do is try to fit in a big network effect or to platformize the business, but that’s not how this kind of products grow, it needs a more organic and long process of recruitment since the value is more niche than just “having a community of people with same interests”. It’s a community of active peers who need to create value for other peers in order to make the product even more valuable. Big platforms systems create small value for its users, but big value for its owner mostly. Paid communities products involve a different balance of power and interest than how the current platform dream is structured.
Finally, I think the notion of “bottom-up community-driven businesses” is really important here. The paid community concept is a reconfiguration of digital communities caused by the failure of big social networks to ensure deep vertical communities to thrive. It provides mainstream tools to niche communities. Maybe niche communities need niche products? One hypothesis could be that “bottom-up community-driven businesses” emerge when one community is mature enough to have all it takes to self-organise itself and separate from big platforms. Then the question of sustainability and incentives mentioned in the last part seem of the highest importance. A different kind of chicken and egg problem than what big platforms face.