On the streets of Skien
A dream come true, sort of (or why it’s been a bit quiet here recently)

Today's required reading: why media gets community wrong

If you only read one blog post today, make it Adam's musings on why media gets community wrong, I think he's spot on here:


...most media people don't realise that blogging is a community strategy. They think of it as a publishing process and, perhaps, as articles published with a particular tone of voice. They certainly don't think of it as a conversation.


This is clear from our traffic figures. Those blogs that do really well are those that are aware of there being a wider web world outside our sites' confines and which talk directly to the readers. Those whose traffic is abysmal are those who show no awareness of a wider conversation around their topics and who adopt a "wisdom from on high" tone of voice... 


Now, of course, most of you are likely to read much more than one blog post a day, so while you're at it, Jeff Jarvis on 10 questions news organisations should be asking themselves, is a must read if you haven't already read it, and "Beat blogging allows reporters to concentrate on core reporting" (via Hivand) certainly gave me something to think about, a highlight from the latter: "When writing for the print edition, reporters often have to spend large amounts of time getting "man on the street" quotes from random people to flush out stories. Not with blogging. That's what the comment section of each blog post is for"....  


As much as I love blogging, and as privileged as I am to know good bloggers, I don't know how optimistic I am generally:


I think blogging is a network strategy not a community strategy.

This (long, sorry) was my comment on Adam's post:

>Community is not a place. Community is an approach to publishing.

I think you're still thinking in terms of process and system, and that community is something that *you* can create. You can't - period.

You can provide a meeting place and be the host; you can be affable and friendly and make people feel at home; you can attempt to guide the agenda by providing expertise, advice and services; you can attempt to identify the values and focus of the group of people; you can be the "warden" and the "janitor".

If those are all online, that then becomes an approach to publishing (except that "publishing" sounds desperately one-way).

Community is a set of human relationships between a set of people. Community will happen when a number of people come to your "hearth" (to borrow a Viking concept) and begin to build relationships with each other. The most important point is that it belongs to "them" not to you - even on your server.

I wonder if the appropriate concept for dealing with blogs is "network" rather than "community". They can become communities over time, but the flow of posts tends to make them too unstable as forms of "sideways" communication. Politicalbetting.com have done it - but they have had a rigid flow of one or two posts a day for 4 or 5 years.

I'd tentatively suggest taking a stroll down to your local "community centre" or a newly started church in search of analogies. Really. "Community building " is a black art.

Two web references: A thread from Daily Blog Tips about forums (recommending 5000 uniques a day before you even try):


and you need kid gloves. It is theirs, not yours.

All sorts of things happen when a community grows - not least it gets it's own "natural" dynamics that control what you can do with it.

That all sounds a bit blunt, but I hope it helps.

Matt Wardman
Consultant (various!) and poliblogger
Wardman Wire, mattwardman.com

Ashok: I think blogs are as individual as the people who write them, I'm not sure I understand you reason for being so disillusioned. Yes, there's lots of bad stuff out there, places where the mob rules, trolls dominate and all of that. But just as in real life, I tend not to hang out with those people or in those kind of places online.

Matt: interesting, goes straight to the heart of some of the stuff I've worked with recently. Hope to find time to talk more in-depth about that soon.

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