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In the sense that an OnlineCommunity is PublicArt--if you believe that one of the joys of an online community is the IncidentalCollaboration that brings disparate people together into one place to follow a SuperordinateGoal few if any of them had negotiated prior to joining--then there is something more than simply the text of an OnlineCommunity that draws people to it. For a beautiful fountain might be left alone in reverence for fear of sullying it with your touch (cf. Wiki:WikiIceberg), or conversely, it may attract vandals who would break it for no other reason than they must project their own inner angst; thus, it isn't merely the object, but the CommunityExpectations that surround the object that govern how it is used.

For PublicArt, however, CommunityExpectations are not generally enforced through a PoliceForce. Rather, they are usually guided passively lest an active controlling presence distract from the main playful purpose of being there. One may use a GuidePost to demarcate forbidden property, or an UnlockedDoor to shelter a semi-private rendezvous. But ArchitecturalCollaboration? is limited because it can only impact behaviour as much as artifacts can impact consciousness. Consequently, we rely also on an OpenProcess of a sort to ModelDesiredBehaviour as monkey see, monkey do is a strong governing force.

If we see that the behaviour modelled for us is violent or repugnant, such as a needle park, then we will not want to enter that environment (unless we were junkies looking for a shooting gallery). Conversely, if we see many people laughing and enjoying a street busker, many of us will want to watch as well. So, it's important to project a type of behaviour that appeals to TheAudience you wish to attract.

That is, an OnlineCommunity--at least not a fully GatedCommunity--is in part PerformanceArt. We are not only concerned with our own internal interests, but also implicitly with TheAudience who is watching us. For instance, this is the tension between RecentChanges and the WikiNow. This creates a duality of vision that is difficult to balance, but it is necessary to balance, for unlike a geographic community, there is no birth into an online community that ties someone's life here for reasons of chance, and thus only one way to maintain membership in the face of the RightToLeave. Instead, since online communities are intentional, we must convince people--the right people--to join in order to perpetuate them.

Even if we weren't concerned with surviving past this current wrinkle in time, if we make the community PublicArt, we do this because we want to show to the world this is who we are. We have TheAudience in mind, for sure, and thus our very purpose of being is a PerformanceArt in some way, even if not necessarily for entertainment.

Finally, although the end result will be a socially negotiated finality to a LifeInText, the real life in a community is not the final artifact, but the process that led to its construction. The negotiation and the construction (BarnRaising, perhaps) of the LifeInText is also the PerformanceArt that draws us there, and in the end once the performance stops, we will not have any reason to remain except to read where we left off and ponder history.

Thus, an OnlineCommunity is quintessentially PerformanceArt, and it would be best to embrace this and enjoy it for what it is because otherwise there will be no joy in your online community.



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