Communities simply happen.

In spite of the limitations of the platforms they are built on and regardless of the hosting mechanics that never quite seem to fit.

In the last decade or so social networks have been what tied our world together and communities what created value and gave the networks their souls. A symbiotic and parasitic relationship that typifies our connected world.

Up to now possibly.

As the social nets have become overtly controlling and commercial, this relationship has become more strained. And the more familiar I become with the dynamics of the communities built on the blockchain the more I see the potential to turn this paradigm sideways.

From hanging out in these coin-based markets, regardless of which coin or  competing platform they are built on, the possibility for a changed community dynamics seems possible.

And any time behavior is capable of being platformed in new ways, change is not only feasible but carries the possibilities of massive cultural transformation along with it.

I don’t pretend to have an answer, not I think does anyone, but in these early market communities there is a different dynamic at play.

Different in how ties are being formed and portending I think a reconfiguring of what marketing could mean in this new reality.

This idea came together for me around the idea of internetworking communities that I head my old friend Bill Thai talking about from one of his events on Necker Island.

The construct is that if rather than the broad social networks that we live on today, where we waste so much time pining for connection, there has been cropping up an alternative built on the blockchain, reshuffling the hierarchy of communities and networks.

Staring with the communities first as deep commercial decentralized connections, wired together establishing network interoperability cross them.

This is slippery to get your head around.

But what you sense is a real migration in place, off of the social nets where we are more and more stymied for expression and more and more harvested for the value of our data for media dollars.

Where the innate friction in this new paradigm—and there is friction of course—is pushed into the background by the pure possibilities of it all.

There are a number of still developing points that I can’t quite place but keep waking up thinking about.

Our core humanity and need for community is not transactional in nature so why the blockchain?

This one is hard to internalize.

Maybe it’s the resilience of community itself. It exists today on the matrix of the social nets so why can’t it exist in a transactional framework like the blockchain?

Community adapts and possibly peer-to -peer and the sense of ownership that it conjures up is more relevant as a platform. Or maybe it’s a good option cause the one we have today are so poor.

The past year has highlighted the limitations of our social nets as a platform for anything other than patter, and show and tell. The need is real and could drive this shift as our community needs follow us wherever we are.

Many of the coin-based communities are neither pure communities nor marketplaces, but a hybrid, market economy defined in a new way.

Once you remove the traditions of standard currencies from the platform the dynamics changes and this fresh hybridness takes over.

There is a stronger sense of ownership by both sides of the market and with it, a more generous reality of compensation that has the core value/compensation equation but different in yet inchoate ways.

It’s more convivial because trust is built into the transaction yet it is transactional not social by nature.

The dynamics of this are real, though not at all understood.

Marketing on blockchain-based marketplaces has the potential to be completely different.

This is the hardest one for me to come to grips.

When we moved online we brought with us our core behavioral needs. We evolved but the dynamics of groups and the needs of each of us are constant and will remain so.

But if you hang out in these marketplaces, the dynamics are more about community and less about networks. The KPIs that have driven marketing on the nets are out of place.

Engagement around the value of exchange feels natural though.

So what happens as the content producer on Steem want to grow their business footprint? Will this platform simply bring along with it all the crap from the social nets and start that media based mosh pit of target, find, touch, nourish, transact?

Or will it create its own dynamics where value in itself is the driver of attention?

Or is it as I’m prone to believe, a hybrid where community group dynamics will take on a new form in these market communities, starting out with a purer value-based engagement like we see in communities of interest today?

Moving forward

This relationship between private currencies, interconnected hybrid market economies and the changing face of communities and marketing is I think at the very beginning of change.

The craziness of ICOs will level out.

The behaviors of people and companies as they start to slowly reinvent our businesses and economies is just getting started.

If there is anything that we’ve learned from the crypto world is that the time to start engaging and shaping change is definitely right now.