Seth Godin describes what I do now (mostly) in his post Jobs of the future, #1: Online Community Organizer. But my role is as an outside contractor. As Nancy says about Jobs of the Present:
"The difficult thing is that organizations are still unlikely to invest in people to do community organizing, building, nurturing and facilitating beyond those businesses who are in the online community business."
And that resonates with what I'm seeing. My stories are about organisations who see community as something that takes place "out there" using "the technology". You get an outsider in to do the technology, organise the content and build the community.
Recently I observed (I was cc'd into) a conversation between two facilitators in a community I'm designing for. They were arguing, quite passionately, about whether or not their role was to support people with the tools of the community (in the site) or to "animate" people to talk about the tools (on the site). Someone from the Steering Committee, also cc'd into the conversation, said what she thought.
What I found fascinating is that each of those three people in that conversation were talking about what they should do for the community as if the community was something outside them and that conversation. They were talking about the community as if community is what happened on the site. And they concluded their piece of community dynamics with the stament that nothing is going on in the community.
And that is what I see as the biggest hurdle for communities and the organisations that I work with. Community is something that happens out there, with "them", and in the technology. It's difficult to grasp that community is in the meaning-making we do as we negotiate our way through shared activities. The conversation between the facilitators and expanded to people in the conversation periphery is community.
And yes, the best thing you could do to build community is to coach people in writing (in different langauges), group dynamics, ethics, and in multi-modal meaning-making. But for the time being, community organisers, like me, are in with a job. From the outside, and concerned with the technology.