Communities take many different forms, but most can be classified as horizontal or vertical.
A vertical community is driven by aspiration, a mix of wish and ambition. There is a desire to emulate and embrace what the best of the community represent.
Vertical communities rely on celebrities at the top of the scale. Sometimes these are celebrities in the pop culture sense, but every community has a form of celebrity, the people who attract the lion's share of interest. They are the reason most try a service and why they return.
Celebrities define success for the community and motivate those who aspire to achieve the same status. Vertical communities often have a score of sorts and a person's status relative to others is fluid.
The heart of horizontal communities, on the other hand, is affinity. People are drawn by a sense of belonging and commonality. There's an inexplicable feeling of being at home.
There aren't superstars and followers, brands and audiences. Everyone is equal.
The aspiration of a horizontal community is for the community itself to grow and thrive. Success and sacrifice are shared, and status is a reflection of what the community has achieved, together. It might be a park restored, voices heard, legislation passed, or bringing something new into the world.
Though we experience horizontal communities regularly with our friends and neighbors, they are rare online. Uncommon in Common attempts to change that. Together, we will.
Last week's dispatch asked, When you were growing up, what was your dream job?
More than anything, I wanted to be an astronaut! I was fascinated by astronomy and space travel. The Gemini and Mercury astronauts were my heroes. I read everything about NASA missions that I could get my hands on, watched every documentary and special that ran on TV and even went to a space shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral.
Alas…it was not to be. But to this day, I love nothing more than staring up at the night sky, imagining what could’ve been…
As a kid, I was constantly changing my mind on what I’d want to be when I grew up. I never wished to be a soccer player as many kids do, instead, odd-for-a-kid professions like firefighter, or potter (!). Later on, I sort of wanted to be an architect, as I remember growing up fascinated with the cross-section drawings of ships and buildings that I’d find in science books. But then came the computer, and then the web, and that was it. Now I design and make websites, and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. But if you think about it, I’m just an architect — of the web.
My dream job was to be a travel journalist - work with National Geographic where I could travel the world - to the tribal corners of Africa, the rainforest of Amazon, the magic of barren plateaus of central Asia, the vibrancy and diversity of South East Asia, the mystery of India - where I would discover, learn, research to create work and pieces that inspire others.
I wanted to be a magician. Unfortunately, my repertoire never advanced much beyond tricks from TV Magic sets (which appeared on department store shelves at Christmastime) and the S.S. Adams Co. (whose novelties can still be found today hanging from rotating racks in gift shops), and my interests meandered elsewhere.
I don't know that I really had a dream job growing up. I mean, when I was younger I wanted to be an actor and even before that when I was very young, I wanted to be the Little Mermaid. But I never really thought of doing anything in particular as a career for the long term. The only thing I've ever known that I wanted to be, without a shadow of a doubt, was a mom. I guess when you really think about it that is what my dream job is: a mother. And I think I'd be damn good at it, too! :)
I just wanted to matter. Even today, when managers ask me what I want to work on, I just don't know. I always say "wherever I can help".
I honestly don't remember having an aspiration to be one thing. I wanted to be a baseball player AND a football player because I was good at both and well, because Bo Jackson was the man. I wanted to be the next Einstein because my grandfather was a famous mathematician but also the next Darwin because my parents were biologists and I loved the "blue-footed booby". I wanted to be in a boy band or a rock band, equally enthralled by the Backstreet Boys and Green Day. So I guess I was as confused then as I am now, but I'm not sure it entirely matters as long as you keep living and experimenting and adventuring.
When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a paleontologist. Dinosaurian paleontology was going through a revolution in the 80's and early 90's, so I was coming up at just the right time for it. The renewed interest in dinosaurs came to a head when I was six years old with the release of Jurassic Park. Sure, everyone goes through their dinosaur phase as a kid, and why not? We know so much and so little about them, dinosaurs stand at the crossroads of reality and imagination, where the known and unknown meet.
I unfortunately ended up not following that career path, but I like to believe that I've maintained that childlike fascination with dinosaurs. I still keep up with the latest news in vertebrate paleontology courtesy of a mailing list frequented by paleontologists, and I periodically mull over going back to school for vertebrate paleontology. I suppose it's not too late...
First, I remember wanting to be a pastor. Next came lawyer, because by that time I’d discovered I loved to debate and I thought that’s what lawyers did. Once I found out they mostly do paperwork and research, I abandoned that idea, and for a while I drifted, until in early high school I landed on musician, by which I meant “rock star”. Thank goodness my parents eventually talked me out of that—not because it was unattainable, as they strongly persuaded me, but because I now realize I would have hated life on the road. I got all the way through college, studying to be a web designer, back when that’s what we called people who made “web pages”, without actually having a “dream job” again.
Realtime Is A Trap & The Past Is Underrated by Hunter Walk:
This isn’t a screed against multitasking, or social media, both of which I enjoy. It’s a question about a cognitive bias being exacerbated by our current product design.
Only Openings by Frank Chimero:
I don’t make too many requests in this little talk of mine, but here’s the first one: set your feet and plant roots. So much needs to be improved, changed, and fixed, but the important work isn’t for those who wish to flit from place to place. Staying put and chipping away means so much in a field that’s now allergic to steadiness. We need people who live and work well in their places. Folks who commit, and realize they need to build the home they want rather than hoping to find it.
What do your favorite communities (online and offline) have in common?