Defining the Future: Web Community OS
I have a community thesis of the Web. It's one I share with the people I work with at HomeRoom and DashKite. It's the idea that community is more than a collection of people; it's a human system essential to the present and future of the Web. From that thesis, it follows that most existing Web platforms are successful, despite their best efforts to do otherwise, because people are determined to build valuable spaces for themselves online. So, our community thesis is about doing better for people.
Photo Credit: Joyce Hankins
What is a Web Community OS?
I'm a technologist, so I aim to understand how this manifests as useful technology. And in my role at HomeRoom, that's led to roadmapping and developing a Web Community operating system. What does that mean?
Here's Wikipedia's definition for a computer operating system:
An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware and software resources, and provides common services for computer programs.
So if we apply that Web Communities:
A Web Community OS is software that manages a community's Web resources and provides common services for the people who manage and participate within it.
Tools That Bend Without Breaking
We talk about a community's resources by first recognizing communities are strongly distributed projects:
- A community's focal point: A celebrity or team or fandom or location or shared purpose that drives people to hold space together.
- A community's members: Many people have different perspectives, ways of living, and reasons for interacting with a community.
- A community's managers: Community leaders with a servant leadership style that emphasizes the community's well-being to achieve large positive-sum value creation for everyone connected to the community.
- A community's infrastructure: A community may manifest across many services on the Web. Managing chat on Discord, selling merchandise on Shopify or memberships on Patreon, streaming on Twitch, posting long-form content on Substack, etc, etc, etc.
In the face of such a distributed system, you can see the foolishness of cramming that into a walled garden.
But the fundamental architecture of the Open Web, building blocks like HTTP, is designed to be incredibly flexible and embraces distributed design. At HomeRoom, we use our understanding of that architecture to build software flexible enough to support community. We view community managers and moderators as experts in their field, and while they might not know how to code, they know what they want from technology. They are in the sweet spot for generative programming.
HomeRoom recognizes this and sees the people in communities as critical participants in building technology that makes communities safer, more responsive, more informative, and more valuable for everyone.