Communities

The negative point in the quote below is obvious, but it bears repeating since, somewhere, there’s some excited youngling rushing to build technology and online communities . . .

We thought that we could build new communities online that could replace the ones we’d built in real life (IRL), but we were wrong. As internet usage has gone up and face time has gone down, we’ve become more isolated, depressed, and in some cases, violent. We are as unhappy as we have been in a long time.

~ Packy McCormick from, https://www.packym.com/irl/finding-our-place

But McCormick’s point is that—as the saying goes—the kids are alright.

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Slow down

Lately, I’ve been going too fast. Which is odd, because I don’t generally walk fast, or drive fast… and sure, I can talk fast, but not always. But my thoughts go too fast. I go from one thing to the next too quickly. There’s simply too much of: I do this, then I do that, then I can go do that other thing, and then this next thing, and then…

Short answer: Interdependence.

~ Cierra Martin from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/what-we-can-learn-from-a-village-postman/

Another thing we can learn from a village postman is to do one thing, and do it well. That village postman didn’t also run the general store and the post office itself and the grocery and the church and …

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Powerful questions

[P]owerful questions are the ones that cause you to become an actor as soon as you answer them or even reflect on them. You no longer have the luxury of being a spectator of whatever it is you are concerned about. Regardless of how you answer these questions, you are guilty Guilty of being an actor and participant in this world. Not a pleasant thought, but the moment we accept the idea that we have created the world, we have the power to change it.

~ Peter Block

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Community building

The essence of restorative community building is not economic prosperity or the political discourse or the capacity of leadership; it is citizens’ willingness to own up to their contribution or agency in the current conditions, to be humble, to choose accountability, and to have faith in their own capacity to make authentic promises to create the alternative future.

~ Peter Block

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Creating connection

The alternative is an interaction that creates a connection instead of destroying it. Where is the eye contact? Where is the dignity that comes from recognizing another?

When we humanize the person at the other end of the counter or the phone or the Internet, we grant them something precious—personhood. When we treat the people around us with dignity, we create an entirely different platform for the words we utter and the plans we make.

~ Seth Godin

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wait wat?

This community’s value proposition is about more than being the Hacker News or reddit for travel. The focus is squarely on quality.

~ Anuj Adhiya from, https://cmxhub.com/outbounding-hook-model/

Yes, please. Based on that statement alone, I’d want to be a part of this sort of community.

The basic idea is that, to create habit-forming communities, you must move a user through a loop that over time will help them develop a habit of returning and contributing to the community. It looks like this: A trigger, internal or external, drives a user to the platform where they get some sort of variable reward, contribute something of their own, and return to the platform later for the same loop.

~ ibid.

Uhmmm… (That slight-squint with slightly-sideways, dubious look happens here.) Habituation is not, per se, a good thing. I agree that it is important to understand how what’s said there actually works; I often talk about the Oxo® handles we all have sticking out of our psyches. The ability to generate a habit in someone else is clearly one such handle.

A community comes into extence from the network of interpersonal relationships. A community isn’t, simply by its existence, a good thing. Also, if those relationships form because of habituation to come to the community space, that still doesn’t mean the community is a good thing. And we don’t even need habituation in order to form those interpersonal relationships. Yes, we may be able to “hack” those relationships into existence via habituation, but there are other ways to encourage those relationships.

I want to be part of communities that understand the nature of the interpersonal relationships, and the effect a community has as a whole. I want to be part of communities where those things are actually positive goods.

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Connectedness

The essential challenge is to transform the isolation and self-interest within our communities into connectedness and caring for the whole The key is to identify how this transformation occurs. We begin by shifting our attention from the problems of community to the possibilities of community.

~ Peter Block

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Belonging

The second meaning of the word belong has to do with being an owner: Something belongs to me. To belong to a community is to act as a creator and co-owner of that community. What I consider mine I will build and nurture. The work, then, is to seek in our communities a wider and deeper sense of emotional ownership and communal ownership. It means fostering among all of a community’s citizens a sense of ownership and accountability, both in their relationship and in what they actually control.

~ Peter Block

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refine refine refine

There are lots of places—but two in particular are top of mind—where I’m storytelling these days. There’s this very difficult form of storytelling where you have to craft an experience of discovery for someone. You have a project, and it’s on the Internet. Someone comes to some part of it. From somewhere. Maybe someone told them something about some part of it; What they were told may be correct, incorrect, useful, or distractionary. (Is that even a word?) And every single one of those variable things would be different for each person.

And I have my ideas, my wants, (what I may want this new person to do,) and my way of seeing and understanding the world and this thing this other person is experiencing. I can use language, colors, design (esthetics, affordances, familiarity, etc.,) audio, video, gamification, revealed complexity, feedback, and more.

I create something, and release it into the world. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, it is the best thing I can possibly create. Later, I look at it—perhaps after seeing someone encounter it for their first time and their having a flawed experience, perhaps after asking someone to review the thing, whatever… Later, I look at it and omgbecky I suddenly see several serious, glaring flaws. Not spelling error type “flaws” — no, this whole story is told backwards, or this isn’t the right thing to tell at this point in their journey type flaws.

I used to get petulant when that happened. I’d worked so hard on it, and now it’s clear that my best wasn’t very good after all.

But today, my reaction is the opposite. I get really execited! “Wait— slow down— I’m scribbling notes as fast as I can,” excited. I used to think, “where were you when I worked so hard on this,” and now I’m thinking, “being able to see that this thing actually sucks, is awesome because now I can make it better.”

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Community creation as art

We make art with everything we are, the doom and the glory of it. We make art to know ourselves, to locate ourselves in the web of being, to make ourselves more alive. We make art that, at its best, helps other people locate themselves and live.

~ Maria Papova from, https://www.brainpickings.org/2021/05/04/keith-haring-on-art/

I think that art is, among other things, a physical something which exists separately from the artist. Art can be ephemeral—chalk work that disappears, a dance performance—but it exists in reality. (As a counterpoint: Art cannot exist solely in one’s imagination.) We even acknowledge that property of art being something-which-exists within the word artifact. (As in art-i-fact, and facts are concrete things which can be known about reality.)

Artists. Art. Artifacts.

Until just reading Popova’s comment, I hadn’t thought of creating a community as art; But now I am wondering.

I’m certainly a creative person, and creativity is required to create—hey, look at that—a community. Clearly a community isn’t summarily disqualified from being art simply because it is ephemeral, both in the sense of its appearance changing over time, and that it will one day cease to exist. But is it art?

Because a community sure looks like something that fits within what Popova is saying up there.

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Community for podcasters

So I went and built a new thing: The Podcaster Community.

If you create podcasts — whether you’re thinking about it, just starting out, or are publishing your 100th episode — we’d love for you to join us. It’s free to create an account. Logging in enables the platform features and you can immediately begin posting/replying in the public categories.

I don’t idle well. I get an idea in my head, and I start thinking about all the ways it could be realized. Recently, I’ve had a few separate conversations with podcasters who were looking for something—what they each wanted was different. And so I set off to build it.

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Tension

I’ve been thinking about ways to create more opportunity for engagement among the people who are following the work of the Movers Mindset project. We’ve reached a point where we’re creating plenty of content and sharing ideas—but currently almost entirely in the broadcast direction. We’ve a considerable collection of people who are passively consuming.

Meanwhile, every time I manage to engage with someone [in this context of Movers Mindset], it’s an energizing exchange of ideas about movement, movement’s place in society, and sometimes even philosophy in general.

The whole project is intentionally aimed at people who are becoming, or already are, reflective. Such people tend to have made the growth step beyond low-value interaction and engagement and are increasingly aware of how they engage and expend their time especially online. I suppose the key is to simply engage with them one by one, until that becomes untenable for me.

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§22 – The forty-eight other guys

(Part 34 of 37 in series, Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

Understanding community has always been a challenge for me. The first key understanding was that “community” is just an abstract concept; A community does not exist in the world as a concrete thing I can point to, touch or clearly delineate. Instead, when asked to explain community, I list things which I feel identify a community: its persistence, members’ unifying or common interests, having a focus in a specific physical or online space, etc. But when I really start digging in, it’s all simply interpersonal connections, behavior, communication, expected norms, shared identity, etc.. If that’s true, then functional interpersonal communication is necessary for the creation and continued existence of a healthy community.

My question these days is: What is sufficient for the creation and continued existence of a community?

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