The Third Place

Where do you build Community?

I have been enamored by this phrase since I heard it. It's relevant to all sorts of community -- both physical and electronic. The places are: #1 - Home; #2 - Work; #3 - Community

Traditionally, the third place (3place) has been a physical place like a coffee shop or community center. Now, more than that it's a virtual place on the Internet which allow people of like interests to congregate together. I'm not sure this is going anywhere, but I'd like to explore this concept, especially as it applies to social media and the Internet. Who knows, perhaps we'll have our own 3place here.

Attributes of Third Places

  • "anchors" of community life
  • foster broader, more creative interaction.
  • free or inexpensive
  • highly accessible
  • involve regulars
  • new friends and old should be found there.
One interesting aspect of modern third places is that they can be hubs of telecommuting. Witness the modern coffee shop where people are as likely to be on-line as conversing with "new friends and old". Walk into any WiFi-enabled location and note the numbers of people who, although they sit together, may be leagues apart in virtual communities via their cell phones and laptops.


Is anybody there?

What do you do when no one comes to your place? You move on to other places and try to attract them in. I'll be looking at places where this might happen and the techniques to get involved in things that drive others to your place.

This leads to the use of social media to drive people to your place and the discussion below.

Use of Social Media

I have been thinking about the use of social media, especially since many people who want to "friend", "circle", or "connect" with me seem to want to do so to sell me something. OK, I suppose that's social in the strict capitalist sense of the word, but hardly the sort of social contact initiation that I would be interested in. It's really sort of offensive. I want to select those types of contacts rather than being solicited by them. To me, it's the equivalent of SPAM in e-mail.

Links to Community

  • Bob's Third Place: A blog associated with this page -- transient thoughts, quick hits and more about community.

Followers, Friends, Views, Links . . .

I have been thinking some about the virtual third place. I'm going to use this space to develop my thoughts on this. As I have stated elsewhere, I am not a big fan of FaceBook, primarily because I don't really want to share personal information about myself with the world. But, I do like the idea of creative interaction with the world that is offered by some aspects of social media.

We seem, as a society, to be moving more to cyberspace as our anchor of community. But, are the things that we count really the basis for community? Does having multi-thousand friends on FaceBook or followers on Twitter make for any sort of community? The question becomes, where is the interaction? Does having lots of viewers of your thoughts and actions foster broader, more creative interaction? I'm going to look at this topic here as I flush out my thoughts about the third place.

So having a large number of followers doesn't really create community. Rather than old friends and new meeting in the third place, it's more like gawkers looking in the window of the restaurant to see which celebrity is inside.

Even comments on a blog don't make community because there is little real creative interaction. Wikis had some potential, but there really isn't much interaction there either. Someone creates something and others come along and change it. What is needed is some form of site where people can interact either in real time or asynchronously.

There seems to be generational differences in thinking about this. Take a look at the Skateboard page.
Subpages (1): Community