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CentralFigures is a CommunicationRole that emerges in many communities, particularly communities that span across multiple locations and situations. The central figures are the small number of people, although usually a single person, that represents the entire group, both internally and externally to others. This person's functional role is to be the uber-CommunicationStar?. They connect all the disparate groups together into a larger movement or community. Indeed, they usually become the CentralFigure simply by connecting together a large number of balkanized groups that should have been working together, but lacked a CommunicationStar? to tie them together.

CentralFigures are SelfishVolunteers. Often they are the first point of contact whenever a new initiative needs to be introduced to the community simply because they are the most obvious person to ask; consequently, they act as a GateKeeper? for initiatives they consider uncharacteristic of the group. Because the CentralFigure controls much of the information flow about activities in the group, this position can be very lucrative as they will have the first crack at any opportunities. Naturally, the money can be a distraction away from what is best for the community, but the incentive to continue making money in the future will hopefully provide enough tension to keep them in check. Failing that, the threat to their reputation (cf. PunishReputation) will keep them in line. Put it another way, if the CentralFigure fails to be the FirstServant, the community will either exercise their RightToLeave and self-destruct or a new CentralFigure will emerge to usurp the throne.

Symbollically, the CentralFigure represents the common values, style, and purposes of the CommunityIdentity better than probably most in the community. This is for two reasons. First, in order to be effective as a CommunicationStar?, they must have some interest in all parts of their extended network, which happens to be the entire community. Other people are usually only interested in what is personally relevant to them. Second, because they are the person that everyone looks up to, they act as a RoleModel for the rest of the community who emulate them.

The CentralFigure is inherently an unstable role because it relies on the work of one person or a small group of people, often in unpaid time. If the central figure burns out, gets sick, moves away, dies, or fails, the community may suffer a devastating set back. Mature communities abstract the central figure into a CentralAssociation? like a professional association which constantly strive to recruit new volunteers to fulfil the role. While the democratization of the central figure makes the community less dynamic, with a weaker sense of CommunityIdentity, it does have a longer lifespan.

CategoryCommunication CategoryCollaboration CategoryManagement CategoryRole CategoryInterCommunity


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