The search for a certain comfort level, community affiliation, and sense of connection is crucial for consumers in today's world, where people rush through their lives, where that have numerous acquaintances but few friends, and where Internet chat rooms sometimes serves as the only relief from an otherwise disconnected existence. What's the lesson for consumer businesses? There is a pot of gold for the retailer or service provider that can create a sense of connectivity and community - that is, psychological access - as a means of differentiation.
- Fred Crawford and Ryan Matthews, The Myth of Excellence: Why Great Companies Never Try to Be the Best at Everything, page 117
What's remarkable is that these guys wrote this before MySpace and Facebook.
So, is there a way to alleviate loneliness in a meaningful way, that satisfies the bottom lines of profit and community improvement? In other words, can people work together and be happier in both the online and real worlds? How does an online entity create meaningful community in a remarkable way?