Great tip for fostering community belonging – find that “common connection”

David Lazer has a great pointer to a NY Times article on Silicon Valley – Shaped by Technology and traffic.

Some important quotes:

“For a consumer Internet company, this is where everything happens,” he
said. “It’s true that things can be done anywhere on the Internet, but
at the end of the day it’s still a people business.”

The shared backgrounds, interests and schools make for frictionless communication that fosters rapid innovation.

“But in general, the nerds with minimal social lives like me are well
down in the Valley, and the cool kids with the trendy glasses and Prada
shoes who like to go to parties are in San Francisco,” Mr. Andreessen
said in an e-mail message. “You can guess who has the leg up in
building companies.”

Now David’s point “It is not surprising that identity and background play a key role in silicon valley networks. The statement The shared backgrounds, interests and schools make for frictionless communication that fosters rapid innovation.,
in particular caught my eye. The potential downside, one would think,
is that these homogeneous clusters do not foster the innovation that is
the result of different, complementary, backgrounds; of the
recombination of existing ways of thinking (cf Reagans and Zuckerman
2001 on the role of diversity on teams).”


I am torn on this one. On one hand its MUCH quicker to start a community when you have people with a lot of things in common. At the early stages of the community you need this “special bonding sauce” to keep people together. Once you get past that early stage, getting people with “clusters” and “more diversity” helps.

What do you think?

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