The Community Dream Team

Since entering the world of networked journalism (and the larger world of Web 2.0) I have noticed one word repeated over and over again.



A Two sentence explanation: When the web first became part of our daily lives it was viewed as another publishing medium, a space to simply modify content and stick it online. With Web 2.0 we have found that the true power of the Internet is connecting people socially despite geographic limitations, allowing like minded people to work/socialize together.

“Community” is a quick word to represent that togetherness.

Creating a community atmosphere requires the right tools (software) as well as the right tone. Communities don’t spring up overnight. They need to be cared for, managed, and constantly groomed. It is a skill.

I’ve also heard calls for new journalism heroes.

So, just for fun, I’ve decided to create my own Community Dream Team
— people who I look up to as heroes in community building. I’ve cast a wide net. I might revisit this one day and cast a smaller net, limiting it to journalim heroes. But I think right now, it’s better to include people that might not be traditional “journalists” —  the job discription is changing anyways.

In the room where I grew up there is a poster of the 1992 Olympic basketball team. the first time that professional basketball players represented the United States in the Olympics. They were the “Dream Team.” The motivation on the part of commissioner David Stern was in part to expand the audience of basketball, but it was also a moment of national pride. They were our basketball heroes. I’m going to draw on that first Dream Team as inspiration for my Community Dream Team. Who would be on your Community Dream Team? I left one space open on the team for your suggestions. Who is your community hero?

Basketball Dream Team: Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen is the most underrated player of all time. If there
were no Michael Jordan the Bulls would still have been major comeptitors because Scottie Pippen was also one of the best 50 players of all time. But with his
association to Michael Jordan he was always viewed as a second man, a Robin to his Batman. Scottie Pippen, however, could have easily been the first man on any other team. He was undeniably a great basketball player and an asset to any team.

Community Dream Team: Craig Newmark

The Scottie Pippen of my Community Dream Team is Craig Newmark from Craigslist.

By now everyone knows what Craigslist is (it probably helped you find the apartment or some furniture in your home). The community on Craigslist was even a place of gathering during the Katrina disaster as my friend Keith Axline reported. But for the majority of users the man behind Craigslist goes unnoticed. What’s important to realize is that Craig isn’t just the founder of Craigslist, he is head of customer service. Always has been and he says he always will. And that’s no joke either, he really does do customer service, responding to emails and complaints. And he must be darn good at it to quell all the possible flame wars that could go down. In addition to his 9-5 job Craig is a champion of Web 2.0 projects that seek to empower the crowd, donating everything from time and money to projects like the NewAssignment.Net, the Sunlight Foundation, etc.

Basketball Dream Team: Michael Jordan:

Not much needs to be said about Michael Jordan. He is the greatest
player of all time. Two time slam dunk champion, he was the cornerstone
of David Stern’s rebuilding of the NBA. Before Jordan the NBA was an
outpost of sports — barely national TV. In the 70’s basketball
was looked at almost the same way we view arena football today. The
championship games back then weren’t even live, they were on tape
delay. That began to change with Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, but it
was Michael Jordan who changed everything. If your team is down by two points and there are only seconds left on the clock,
there is still no other player that a coach would rather give the ball
to. Michael Jordan is a living

Community Dream Team: Jimmy Wales

It’s a tall order, but Jimmy Wales is the Michael Jordan of my Community Dream Team. I’ve said this before. Plenty can be said about Wales and the Wikia Foundation. I doubt I can say anything new. So I decided to Wikipedia “wikipedia” and luckily the space time continuum didn’t break.

Some stats

Since its inception in January 2001, Wikipedia has grown to encompass
6.40 million articles in 250 languages generated from 236 million edits
by 5.77 million contributors [2],
as of this writing. Its growth has been exponential in key metrics such
as number of editors and number of articles (Voss, 2005). That the
content of Wikipedia is deemed useful and relevant by the
user community at large is confirmed by its current position as 11th
most visited site on the Internet [3], serving an average of 16,536 requests per second .

Wikipedia is always the go-to example of community power, the “wisdom of the crowds,” crowdsourcing, or whatever you want to call it.

If there are only two seconds left in a debate with someone who doesn’t see the value in Web 2.0, there is no other example I’d rather bring up.

Basketball Dream Team: David Robinson

Also called “The Admiral” in recognition of his days in the navy,
Robinson was a young addition to the Dream Team. He was their center, and you have to have a good center. Luckily Robinson is huge. He was a
big draft pick for the Spurs and while he didn’t make a huge dent in the few years he was in the league before the Dream Team in 1992, after the Dream Team he
was a fantastic player making his mark on the Spurs franchise.

Community Dream Team: Lisa Stone

Lisa Stone – Admiral of Blogher

I’m trying to keep the Community Dream Team to people that I know or
have conversed with. I’ve only had brief email exchanges with Lisa, but
I think she is a perfect fit to be the David Robinson of the Community
Dream Team. She is “The Admiral” of the female blogosphere. Let’s not be
politically correct: Technology and other geek things are typically dominated by men. Every convention I go to, unconference I attend
or general communities I wander around in are predominantly male. I hate that. But
Lisa Stone is leading the charge to bring more and more women into the
blogosphere. Blogher has expanded from a conference to an ad company to
a consortium of female bloggers who should not be taken lightly. Lisa
Stone rocks.

Basketball Dream Team: Larry Bird

Much like Jordan, Bird needs little introduction. He was the
cornerstone of the Dream Team, although he was at the end of his
professional career at the time. He is arguable the greatest small forward to play
the game. A three point shooting machine who wasn’t afraid to grab
rebounds or dish out the assists. He single handedly won championships
in the 80’s with one of the greatest rivalries ever (Magic Johnson).
Above all he was a fierce competitor. When he lost a game the TV
interviews post game show it. He was friends
with Magic Johnson off the court, but on the court that friendship
disappeared, it was all business. Bird would always try his hardest to
win and that competitiveness continues today with the Indiana Pacers where he is general manager.

Community Dream Team: Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig, like Bird, needs little introduction to a net savvy individual. Although not a “community” builder per-say, through the creation
of the Creative Commons, Lessig has powered thousands of community
projects across the world. But he did it because he strongly believes
in the power of collaboration to spur innovation and creativity. Not only does that belief show itself in the institution that is the Creative Commons, Lessig is known to get scrappy. He won’t hesitate to fights in court
for people’s rights to bend copyright laws. Lessig has stepped up to
the plate many times. The man is as close to a genius as one can get
and has recently decided to step away from his active career with the
Creative Commons focusing on copyright in order to fight a great ill. Now he is fighting corruption. (General Manager Lessig anyone?)

Without Bird it’s easy to say that basketball wouldn’t have had room
for Michael Jordan. Bird paved the way. Well, without Lessig’s work, it
wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Wales and countless other
collaborative projects never would have happened.

Basketball Dream Team: Christian Laettner

Laettner was marked as the “best college player ever.” In fact, he
went straight to the Dream Team from college (Duke), before he even set
foot on an NBA court. Funny enough, last year Laettner played for the
Miami heat with Shaq and Alonzo Morning, who were drafted 1, 2, 3,
twelve years earlier. Laettner didn’t necessarily live up to his hype
(it’s hard considering that Shaq was in his draft), but I know he’d
beat the crap out of me in a pickup game.

Community Dream Team: Chris Messina

Chris Messina: I first spoke with Messina on the phone when I was reporting on a story about something called BarCamp for Wired News.
Since then, I’ve become a huge proponent/fan/proselytizer of
unconferences. It wasn’t long before I found out that BarCamp wasn’t
all that Messina did. He had his own agency. A Citizen Agency,
to be exact. He and his cohorts have worked on everything from the Spread FireFox
campaign to CoWorking and and WineCamp. Messina is young, but fearless
and already attending FooCamp. I have been more than impressed by him and his wife girlfriend Tara Hunt.
I’ve spoken with Chris more than Tara, but if they are anything like my
parents (who have worked together for 35 years) then all the credit
should really be given to Tara. (Sorry Chris, you know I’m right).

Basketball Dream Team: Clyde Drexler

Clyde the Glide: is a ten time all star shooting guard also named
one of basketball’s fifty greatest players ever. He was an acrobatic
dunker who relied on his speed and finesse. Via Wikpedia: “He is one of
only three players in NBA history to have posted career totals of at least 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists.”

Community Dream Team: Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook came out of nowhere. But it filled an important niche — a
social networking space that could be respected (let’s face it —
MySpace sucks). But Zuckerberg didn’t just create a space for
individuals to create communities. As Facebook has opened up its API to
developers, a community of programmers has also surrounded Facebook,
looking for ways to get their applications used by the growing Facebook
audience. As such, the Facebook platform and community is growing
incredibly fast. Several blogs have sprung up just to keep track of the latest happenings.

Zuckerberg has dealt with a lot during his young career with Facebook. The fiasco when Facebook introduced the News Feed
almost sent the entire community into a downward spiral. In the long
run, however, Zuckerberg kept his cool and grace under fire. I wouldn’t
be surprised if MySpace ends up nothing more than record label and
Facebook becomes THE social networking site. That or Friendster will
make a comeback….. um, remember Friendster?

Basketball Dream Team: Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing when he was healthy was a center/power forward to deal
with. Every Knick fan in the 90’s rested their hopes on him every year.
He was a strong post up player. In 1999, Ewing became the 10th player
in NBA history to record 22,000 points and 10,000 rebounds. Although he
never brought the Knicks any championship rings, they were constantly
the number two team on the east coast (behind the Bulls), and a
formidable opponent for anyone.

Community Dream Team: Kevin Rose

Kevin Rose, founder of Digg,
Pownce and Revision Three. Like Ewing, Rose is the face of a franchise.
He is the go-to guy in a strong team that is still waiting to make its
full splash. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Jay Adelson
before and I know (and I think others suspect) that Digg has plenty of
room to grow. What we can expect in the future is a little hazy. Will
Kevin Rose, a poster boy of Web 2.0
be able to mobilize his army to wrestle up a championship ring? Digg is already a success, more succesfull than Ewing ever was. But Rose never had to deal with Jordan and Pippen. Still, I don’t think we’ve seen the full potential of Revision Three.

Basketball Dream Team: Karl Malone

Karl Malone, aka “The Mailman,” received his nickname for his
consistency — “the mailman always delivers.” He is considered one of
the greatest power forwards to ever play in the NBA. But he was greatly aided by his teammate from the Utah Jazz of many years, John Stockton,
who could dish out assists like nobody’s business. It’s impossible to
talk about Malone with bringing up the fact that he is a very physical
player. The guy is ripped. He is often called out as being a flopper and a dirty player —
if you are guarding Malone, expect elbows to be thrown and knees to
buck against each other.

Community Dream Team: Drupal Shops

“Drupal Shops,” you say in a confused and awkward tone. A little
more abstract, yes — but Drupal shops like Advomatic, Echo Ditto,
Lullabot, Chapter Three and others build community sites for a
living. They do it for a cause (How Drupal Will Save the World).

I’ve been doing a lot of research into Drupal
lately and like Malone the Drupal shops have a strong post up game that always delivers.
Drupal’s catch phrase is “community plumbing” and using it these shops
have powered everything from the Onion’s website, the NY Observer’s new
site, to Hillary Clinton, Obama and Chris Dodd’s grassroots campaigns
for president. Drupal is an empowering tool — like a strong physique
— you have to learn how to use it. And if you do, you can build
communities around almost anything. While I wouldn’t call them “dirty players,” they are disrupting the market of Convio, Kintera and other large online campaign vendors.

Basketball Dream Team: John Stockton

Stockton is a player that ages like fine wine. He could probably play today at the ripe
age of 45 and still be considered an all star. He is bar-nun top five point guards ever to play the game. He was already a Dream Team member
and an all star when he was young, but he became even
better in the late 90’s when everyone was saying his career would die.
He even went to the NBA finals in 98′ — but Jordan dusted him.

As a person Stockton is one of those people that is quick with their
words, stone-faced and hard to get a hold of. He wasn’t exactly a media
darling. It’s possible that Stockton could have had a huge media
career, with his own line of shoes, but he didn’t have the personality
for it.

Community Dream Team: Steve Chen

Steve Chen is
more than one of the co-founders of YouTube. He was also an early
employee of PayPal and  Facebook. The guy is dishing out assists left
and right! Also named one of Business 2.0’s 50 people who matter now
Chen is a young millionaire, having sold YouTube to Google. But that’s
the kicker. Google wasn’t buying a technology platform. They already
had Google Video (anybody remember Google video?) What they were buying
was a vibrant community. “You Can’t Beat YouTube Without The Users.” “The strength of YouTube isnâ??t the mass of copyrighted material and television shows, many of which have been purged.
Rather, itâ??s the loyal community of viewers and users who upload
content. Thatâ??s what Google was buying.”

I haven’t met Chen yet, but I will in October at the News Innovation Conference at CUNY. I don’t expect him to be as cold as Stockton.

Basketball Dream Team: Charles Barkley

Standing only six feet eight inches tall Charles Barkley at the
height of his career managed to defy the odds to consistently beat out seven footers for rebounds while making 20-40 points a game. He is
an anomaly in the power forward position because he is undersized —
the only reason why he didn’t become a Jordan, Bird or a Johnson is
because of his attitude and his lack of media awareness. Barkley had a
mouth on him and he was never afraid to use it.

This was also his saving grace when his basketball career ended. He
has since become a trusted and loved sports announcer because fans know he
calls it like he sees it. He’s loved for how candid and honest he is.
But when he was a player, the things that came out of his mouth were
unbelievable and as a result, he didn’t get the respect that he
deserved as a player. In 1993 he even had better stats than Jordan.

Community Dream Team: Jason Calacanis

Jason Calacanis is undoubtedly a leader of Web 2.0 communities. From Silicon Alley, Weblogs Inc., to Netscape and now Mahalo,
Calacanis knows how to garner user generated content for specific ends.
But he is also noted as the kind of guy you can butt heads with. I once
interviewed Calacanis for this short blog post and experienced it myself. It was one of the most confrontational interviews I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve had a few confrontational interviews).

And while what I experienced wasn’t a big deal, Calacanis has had other personality flare ups.
In truth, however, I imagine this is one of Calacanis’ strong points.
If I want an honest opinion about a specific website or community from
somebody who won’t hold any punches, Calacanis would be the first on my
list of people to contact. He isn’t afraid to be candid and while I
never worked with him at Netscape (I was hired as a Navigator after he
left) I do imagine that this was a trait that helped him run the

Basketball Dream Team: Earvin Johnson

Irving Magic Johnson is a leader both on and off the court. He is
also noted as being an incredibly nice guy “the nicest to ever grace
the earth,” according to my roommate (a basketball nut). In basketball
– he is one of the best point guards to ever play the game, with a
career average of triple doubles and the (former) all time assist leader. More
importantly, he brought out the best in his team. If you played with
Magic, he was able to tap into the heart of the team, uplifting all the
other players and forcing them to rise to their potential.

After helping turn basketball into a
billion dollar business in the 1980s, he continues to be one of the NBA icons. Even after his exposure to HIV, Magic
continues to be a father figure to young basketball players as both a
leader in the basketball community and a social philanthropist.

Community Dream Team: Markos Moulitsas Zuniga/Charles Johnson

It all depends on whether or not you are liberal or conservative. If you are liberal, Markos, founder of DailyKos is your man. If you are conservative Charles Johnson, co-founder of Pajamas Media and Little Green Footballs is your go to guy. (Ariana Huffington (Huffington Post) is a close runner up for Markos Moulitsas spot on the dream team).

I first came across Johnson while reporting on the launch of Pajamas Media.
Both blog networks create a space that brings out the best of a
political slant. If you are a liberal, Markos can do no wrong. If you
are a conservative, Johnson has created a space for you to fight for
your political views. For either side these men are heroes. They
haven’t just created alternative media outlets — they’ve built
political machines with consequences that go well beyond blogging. In short, they have re-engaged people with politics and they have broken blogging open to the mainstream. Both are often looked at as success stories in the blogosphere, capturing its true potential.

Basketball Dream Team: Chris Mullin

Mullin is a three point wizard.

Community Dream Team: ???

You tell me who the equivalent of Chris Mullin is. I’m all ears.


(Note: I know little about basketball. Most of the basketball
knowledge shown in this post comes from my roommate — who is
absolutely addicted to and “knows everything about” basketball).

9 Replies to “The Community Dream Team”

  1. Hey man, I’m honored…! But, a couple things. First, me and Tara aren’t married… livin’ in sin dude. (We live in San Francisco, remember?).

    Oh, and you’re right. Tara *does* deserve all the credit. I just sit around and iron the pants that she wears. 😉

  2. My bad, for some reason I had assumed you two were married. But I do think it’s good that you can admit who deserves the credit. Behind any good man is a much better woman.

  3. Love it. Brilliant. Humbly hoping that someday our Razoo team will be included in such a sweet list.

    Razoo. Come Together. Change Your World.

  4. The greatest superhero ever is Batman. I have been a Batman fan for the last 30+ years and even built a web site with every type of Batman collectible out there.

  5. Chris Mullin is the most underrated basketball player in history. I followed his whole career and he was the best shooter I’ve ever seen. The Warriors need him now on their team.

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