Exciting unconference for online community pros

The best get-togethers for online community professionals are hosted by Forum One. Their sold-out summer 2008 Online Community Unconference was just held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. This year the demand was huge, and the percentage of participants from major institutions was up, too. I didn’t present at this one. I wanted to soak it all in.  I dropped in on some great sessions and sorely wished I ‘d gotten around to others, such as Jake McKee’s sections.
community manager brainstorm - worst case scenarios

I’m interested in best practices, all kinds of group behavior and tool-design patterns and also in pitfalls and worst case scenarios. I jumped in to session on what happens when things go terribly wrong from Heather Champ of Flickr and Derek Powazek of the edgy and elegant magazine, Fray. The discussion led to a list of things to remember in the midst of conflict. The items on this big list vary in applicability, based on the culture of a community … and can that ever be different!

My suggestion for the list was to try to let all parties have a way to save face in a dispute. This is one of the ways to do what Derek had advised: avoid creating motivated super-villains. Or noble martyrs, as they may feel if they do not think they were very villainous. I think that in most cases respect and the ritual conveyance of respect through good manners are key in resolving these matters. Even if expulsion is the resolution, there are advantages to having the exiled member accept that they won’t continue to have access to the gathering place for the group. While being all casual with peers works just fine in the good times, courtesy becomes bizarrely important when relations are stressed. That’s just one reminder I sometimes need! Continue reading “Exciting unconference for online community pros”

Net Squared – the Mashup Olympics for Doing Good

N2Y3 - the dinner

Mashups for the greater good. Net Squared, year three: Nonprofit web innovators congregate.

Last month I was honored honored to be able to convene a Net Squared session on how to do community building using Flickr. My interest is in how people can build community and passion for their cause using the photo sharing site with or without integrating Flickr image feeds into an external site. The smart people in the room during the Flickr session had plenty of interesting challenges, questions and suggestions. It was fun and totally impressive.

To recap my own primary simple suggestion: If you want to get quality attention to your images (for their subject matter or their artistry or out of loyalty) try to give quality attention to other relevant image makers within Flickr. If you don’t you can stiil use the powerful toolset as an image (and short video) presentation platform, but you miss out on the even more amazing community-building aspects of Flickr, which is designed to be one of the great online social settings.

Net Squared is a project of the long-running CompuMentor organization, which originally got me online in 1990 when I was doing community outreach and donor relations work for a non-profit theater company that needed database help. CompuMentor got me a volunteer consultant who gave me a modem to make assisting me easier, and an email address back in that pre-web, all-dialup era. I became fascinated with the richness of the culture of The WELL which led me into a new world as well as a new career. They are responsible for Net Squared and Tech Soup, an ongoing support system thousands of non-profit organizations turn to for advice, free or inexpensive software and networking.

Check out the amazing projects — not just the winners of the grant prizes, but the whole array of finalists.

Watch for next year’s mashup challenge — the entries are getting better and better: http://www.netsquared.org/

Online Community Business Forum in Santa Fe 2008

I’m writing up my notes incredibly late for this event, primarily because I ended up with a free evening and some thoughts on the gathering. One thing that is obvious after going to multiple events organized by Forum One is the nature of the ongoing community around these small conferences. Any successful run of conferences tends to create a community of regulars, and in this case they are regulars who know and care about how online community works. I’ve been fortunate to be on quite a run of attending Forum one events. The chicken and the egg of course is that I really enjoy the people who come back, as well as the new voices and thinkers who turn up.

I had thought I might be out of town this summer for another in the series, but last minute changes made it possible to sign up for the next one, the Online Community Unconference, next week. Last year’s unconf was terrific, and I can’t wait for this one. An unconference has the advantage of being almost utterly flexible, allowing all kinds of formats. Visionary presentations given to a handful or a crowd of other event-goers. Open round-robin discussions or brainstorms of any size addressing specific issues. Little breakout conversations that are the conference, and that others may wander into. An unconference will not be terribly interesting if there is not a lot of experience, enthusiasm and intelligence in the room at the start, and that’s why the community that has formed around all the Forum One conferences (including the more formal and the informal unconferences) leads to such satisfying events. It’s all about all the interesting and interested people there.  So what did we talk about?

Continue reading “Online Community Business Forum in Santa Fe 2008”