Building Communities with Software


In his book, The Great Good Place (Da Capo Press, 1999), social scientist Ray Oldenburg talks about how humans need a third place, besides work and home, to meet with friends, have a beer, discuss the events of the day, and enjoy some human interaction. Coffee shops, bars, hair salons, beer gardens, pool halls, clubs, and other hangouts are as vital as factories, schools, and a partments. But capitalist society has been eroding those third places, and society is left impoverished. In Bowling Alone (Simon_& Schuster, 2001), Robert Putnam brings forth, in riveting and well-documented detail, reams of evidence that American society has all but lost its third places. Over the last 25 years, Americans “belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often.” For too many people, life consists of going to work, and then going home and watching TV. Work-TV-Sleep-Work-TV-Sleep. It seems to me that the phenomenon is far more acute among software developers, especially in places like Silicon Valley and the suburbs of Seattle. People graduate from college, move across country to a new place where they don’t know anyone, and end up working twelve-hour days basically out of loneliness.


Online Community Discussion Forum Building Community Coffee Shop Registration Scheme 
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© Joel Spolsky 2008

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