Saw a bubblegen post on my feed reader titled "problem trying to build a community in london", since could not find it in the main site (probably deleted) so thought I will comment here.
I had been following next wednesday since it started. I have not attended one so my opinions are based on what I observe through blogs and site.
It was not clear from the beginning the intent/purpose of next wednesday. A community gets formed when the goal /objective/interest of the group are placed above all. IMHO next wednesday sounds like a place where people came too hang out to listen to what you had to say about mediaverse.
Couple of suggestion to improve could be to get a core set of people interested in next wednesday and rely on the group to organize the meet. Why does it have stop when you are not around ? Why is that the coverage from MSM a metric to assess the use/success of the community? I would be more worried if I did not get interesting people to attend the meet.
What I tend to conclude from my observation is that while you are great at capturing/explaining the tectonic shifts of networks and communities being the new source of value creation but putting that in practice needs much more than understanding it.
While I religiously refer to your work to understand these stuff but when it comes to how to put these things into actual work/operation I learn from folks like Winer/Tara/Chris. Tomi Ahonen at forumoxford is one person though who I think get theory as well as the practical both quite well.
Now don't get me wrong I absolutely love your stuff (bubblegen is addictive to me and I crave for more) and I am a long time loyal reader but once in a while I sit back and ponder, geez there are things which even Umair also does not get it quite right.
If I grok it right edge competency is about learning by doing and not reading, next wednesday had just a few sessions so far so it is a long to way to scale it.
Now most what I said is based on little bit of experience gained in helping coordinate two Barcamp Hyderabad last year and organizing monthly Mobile Monday in Bangalore since the last 8 months.
I am still a bit confused around the specific distinctions in your mind between markets, networks and communities. I am likely missing a lot of the complexities here, but isn't it possible to argue that a market and a community are types of networks? Understanding the distinctions you see here would greatly help me to understand the mistakes you highlight around Ning and choosing to provide a network and not a community.
I have read your brief and appreciate you highlighting Google, MySpace and Wikipedia as examples of the distinct categories, but perhaps you could help me (us?)with additional explanation?
Also, one suggestion I have is that perhaps you could periodically publish a "beginner" post, for people that have only recently come across your writings and need to understand better your core ideas? Perhaps, that comes in the form of additional briefings or suggested reading of older posts on the site?
Thanks again for all the effort you put in to the site.