Controlling online communities

In the old days, people had kids to get planting and harvesting done, to care for them in their old age, and to visit their grave on feast days. Today, we have kids to keep us up to date on video disk formats and social networking news. My son Tom just sent me a piece about methods of eliminating noise in online communities. Here’s a line or two:

When social communities grow past a certain point (Dunbar’s Number?), they start to suck. Be they sororities or IRC channels, there’s a point where they get big enough that nobody knows everybody anymore. The community becomes overwhelmed with noise from various small cliques and floods of obnoxious people and the signal-to-noise ratio eventually drops to near-zero — no signal, just noise.

I often talk to Tom about the media–but media generally, books and newspapers and magazines as well as websites. he and his sister Rachel were born in London and have British as well as U.S. passports, so it was amusing to see what turned up on Tom and my list of essential reading when we were comparing notes on what we thought was necessary to stay up to date on the important stuff (we have quite different ideas about what to read otherwise!). Our top three are all British publications:

But we also like Wired. But that’s a West Coast publication!

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