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Friday, July 28, 2006

So you have this crazy idea

(I'm liveblogging for BlogHer...durrr...we'll see how this goes)

“Every idea I get I have to deny, that's my way of testing it.” ~Alain, Histoire de mes pensées

Brought to you by:
Melanie Morgan
Nancy White
Susannah Gardner
Lauren Gelman

Preface: Starting a Blog was a crazy idea and I’m still not sure whether or not it has worked out in the end. Regardless this is a crazy idea pertaining to Community blogging.

I love the so called “Mommy Bloggers”. Wonderful and amazing women that they are and you know why it works for them? Because they have each other. These women have not only had children – which is a monumental step in itself – but with their new found roles they are also in the midst of becoming acclimated to their new position as a Mama. Which is a truly fantastic thing and thus leading to community, after community, after community of moms trying to connect with other moms. I use them as an example because they are all vocal about the sense of companionship they have been able to find via their blogs.

When I began my blog as a recent college graduate I did it to find some sort of community and help with the ohmyholyhell feelings that I had..fuck, that I still have. And yet there was nothing. Thankfully through over the past 11 ½ months (!!!) I have met other women and men in the same age bracket going through the same difficult shit. Maybe not as difficult as becoming a parent but difficult nonetheless. I receive emails constantly from readers and other bloggers who searched for a 20’s blog and got to me (and I’ve apologized). Every time I write about something like my new found position in life I get a chorus of “OMG the same thing happened to me” which in turn makes me feel like I’ve done something to help.

Now that I think about it all it feels like a crazy and radical act to start a community based blog. Will it work? Will people care? How the hell would I even go about doing it? Which has led me to here at an ungodly hour learning about the ‘crazy idea’ of Community based blogging.


I am not a community blogger and to be honest I don't feel as if I'm apart of anyone blogging community. Right now we are going around the room expressing what communities different women are apart of. And once again I am at a loss.

There are the ever popular mommy bloggers but obviously there is more out there. Right now women are going around the room giving ideas as to what they want to get from this session:

How do you move people to action and get them to work together on a project?
How to define the community? What is the purpose/scope/domain? What are the boundries?
How do you set up a community based blog with people who are offline?
What tools and technology to set up?
What are the legal questions?

Now that we've established what people want to learn about while in attendence our lovely and talented speakers are sharing their stories:

Lauren Gelman is a lawyer. Lawyers are scary, but she is not. Anyway her very demure nature is probably what helped her begin a community blog with women in law school who were feeling the unfortunate sting of being a woman in a male dominated environment. She is currently developing a community based blog which will be called 'Ms. JD' with a focus of what women will inevitably go through not only during law school but also in the interview process before and after.

Melanie Morgan started the New Media Collective at the end of Black History Month last February. She started it to 'Close the digital divide'. She also started it because while perusing the blogosphere she saw very few people who looked like her (she's black, FYI). Which is so ridiculously and sadly true - but that's a whole different topic for another day. Anyway, that's what her community blog is about, finding others who look like her and to get them involved.

Susannah kept it short and sweet (just how I like it). She is a tech blogger answering questions (I'm awful at this, I know) answering questions about using computers in the pool and was once even asked a tech question by her doctor. During that very special exam that all women love. The end.

Nancy started her community forum called 'Share your story' for parents who have premature children in the NICU sort of as a support group type thing. Within her first days there were 150 subscribers.

So, now we are moving into breakout sessions which I cannot bring my laptop to because my wireless sucks ass and so this will be continued....(I'm sure you are all are waiting with baited breath)

I think the underlying aspect of community based blogging is the architecture of the site one wishes to create. Blogging in general is a form of information sharing and some would say therapeutic (present company included). Whether or not you do it anonymously, it forces you to own up to your feelings and your words.
That said, the 'Best Ideas' of this session of crazy ideas...:
  • Ask people/potential members what they want out of a community
  • What is the defining purpose for both the individual and the community as a whole
  • What is the commitment to the community
  • Using memes as a call to action
  • Use of multiple media i.e Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo
  • Once a community is established, how do you humanize interaction?
  • Engage all senses
  • Identify or creat heartbeat moments in time for focus, scheduled things
  • competitive analysis what is already out there and not replicate
  • different ways to keep people motivated
  • Setting expectations low for people
  • creat community by making it fun, email groups, offline meetups
  • sending rewards for going through process, teach someone to be involved when they are afraid of the word blog.
  • how to recruit community members
  • decentralizing control
  • choosing platforms, migrating to new platforms
  • integrating third party tools

So! Friends, romans...there you have it. An almost coherent (me being the incoherent one) little summary of starting community based blogging.

Now, we dine.


Blogger Liz said...

Hope you're having fun!!

12:44 PM  
Blogger TW said...

Ha, I did internet community back in message days but don't really do blog community at all, but love it, way fun to hear the stories. Reminds me why I love online community

3:27 PM  
Blogger genevieve said...

Heather, thanks for the live window on this - from an overseas BlogHer who appreciates your distinctive take on it all.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Antonella said...

Hi Heather,
I was at this session, and I really like your live blogging post, because you put Heather in it (in the end, it's not easy to convey the feeling of a session by just writing down the words...)
Thank you for doing it!

8:36 AM  

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