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Wow, thought-provoking stuff, and far too much area covered for this tiny comment text box to hold.

However, I think yes, it's important to work out the _purpose_ of community tech before rushing in and implementing it. Admittedly, much of the field is still being defined, let alone developed, but it's about time to start asking _relevant_ questions. It seems that a lot of networking models come out of highly-targeted scenarios - either niche/select groups, according to interest/technical ability/enthusiasm, or business-oriented effiency, and the "challenge" now is to define models that work in "the real world", as it were. I think there may be overlap between all three, but contextually-speaking, the needs of this new, public sphere are possibly fundamentally different, and with a lot more momentum, than the goals or whims of previous users and communities.

The question is - can society and communities adapt over time to a new "level" of technology, just as they have adapted to other communication technology such as phones and television, as well as alternative technology such as transport, food, et al, or will the technology that we see now only become a sustainable benefit if it assumes that the underlying structure of communities will never adapt?

Or, to put it another way, are current technologies just not designed to foster all-inclusive communities? Are we building further and further on top of ideas that had a place in some communities, but not necessarily in some older, larger ones?

I think there's a move towards abstracting out both information and communication, which communities have always depended upon. So far, we have tried to constrain information, via protocols and interfaces, with the effect that it becomes harder to move that information around as most communities are used to moving it around.

In order for technology to become relevant, I think we need to take a step back and allow the information to exist outside of such constraints as much as possible. Once we realise that, the technology becomes a case of people choosing the information or the relationships they want, in the manner that they want. To separate out the information in a newspaper from the information in a blog, from the gossip amongst a group of friends is to make the technology harder to use, rather than easier.

- Graham.

Just had a thought about point 7. I don't think I agree that networking is becoming more "personalised" - only the devices used, and a decentralised network is quite a different thing to an individualised interface.

I think there could be a lot of potential for personal devices (of which Bluetooth hints at) but, at least in their current state, there is no real "trend" towards new "types" of networks, and nor does there look like there will be for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps this comes down to point 4 again - why should people use new technology, such as 3G and Bluetooth, if they really don't need to? To prop the economy up?

Have ranted more on my blog (plug plug plug) which I'll do the trackback thing from.

- Graham

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