Review: The Art of Community – Jono Bacon


I must confess that Jono Bacon actually caught me by surprise. While I was following the creation process of the book (O’Reilly invited UG leaders to send feedback) I could have never imagined I would one day have something so useful for someone who deals with communities on a day to day basis. In this universe Jono is a well known figure, with vast experience in managing and participating in online communities, which credits him as a perfect candidate to write a book like this one.

A book about how to manage and live amongst virtual communities has all the elements to be a boring book full of “do’s and don’t’s”, in summary a very repetitive and unpleasant book. However Jono proves his understanding of the communication channels (important part of any community) right off the bat in the book’s introduction. Here he showcases his writing strategy, telling personal experiences. Building on top of this premise the author goes throughout the book presenting us with new concepts or strategies and following it up with a real life example from his and others’ experience in communities. This makes the book a delightful read, easy and flowing, the kind of book you can pickup anywhere and have fun while you plow through the pages, perfect for the everyday life of lines and waiting. I recommend loading it up on your e-reader if you got one.

The book is incredibly broad and valid for numerous roles inside every community, from managers to members, volunteers, to the regular Open Source developer. Each level of the community stands to gain from this book and even people who work with or use the community, such as marketing people, and activists who need to learn how to communicate and win-over the communities. Each chapter dives into a different and fundamental aspect, like communication, building buzz, measuring, events and handling conflicts.

Anyone who has ever managed a community and looks at this table of contents will surely have a few flashbacks of various moments in their experience, I know I for one identified myself in quite a few situations, from my motivation to participate in the PHP community to the conflicts and the experience of contributing to Open Source. I usually like to give more details of each chapter when I do reviews like this one, but in this case that feels like I would be cheating the reader from the amazing experience of having Jono lead you through his experiences and concepts, so i’ll not do it.

In summary, if you have any involvement with virtual communities, be it as a manager, member or just someone who interacts with them, this book should have its place in your shelf. Buy it, read it, enjoy it an have fun while you learn to take your community to the next level.

The Art of Community

Author: Jono Bacon
ISBN: 978-0-596-15671-8
Pages: 400
Year: 2009
Publisher: O’Reilly
On O’Reilly
On Amazon

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)