In the process of developing a community plan, we explore the core values of its members. This can be determined by answering questions like:
- What is important to the community?
- What does the community want to accomplish?
- What does the community care about?
- Where does the community want to concentrate their time and money?
Today I read some interesting thoughts in Paul Graham's essay called Cities and Ambition that made me think there is another important question to ask:
What is the community's message? If you are a new person joining Second Life and beginning your exploration of that world, what is the initial message you receive? What is the message you receive from the community if you're an older resident?
Graham has given this some thought as it relates to offline cities where he has lived or spent time. He said the messages he has picked up from cities have been ones of "wealth, style, hipness, physical attractiveness, fame, political power, economic power, intelligence, social class, and quality of life." Which of these messages are the ones sent by the Second Life community? And which one do we as a community want to send?
And why is this important? One reason it's important is because the community will be most successful when the message matches the values. For example, if art is the most important value, but visitors or residents do not get that message, then the community will not be as successful in its pursuit and enjoyment of art.
To get an idea of the impression Second Life is sending, we set up a quick poll with Graham's categories in the right sidebar on the main page – if you get a chance, please add your vote for the message you think is the one sent by Second Life.