Of failing communities and the loss of power…

I feel like a community is dying. In the course of my career, I have built strong, vibrant communities of practice, of interest and so on. Each of the communities I’ve helped build has a unique signature.

Not all were in technology by the by. The first community I built, the first place that I started trying to connect people was the group, The Society of Dead Teachers. The name was inspired by the movie “The Dead Poets Society,” and focused on creating a worldwide conversation forum for teachers. It was a listserv on the Internet, back when that was the primary mode of the community, as well as a forum on CompuServe and later a forum on AOL. I guess it was a use of technology to encourage teachers to communicate.

Communities are passion, people, and shared experience. I know that in many cases we lose sight, not of the goals of the community, rather we lose sight of the what of the community. There are two big hits to my perception of the value of community lately that are making me question what I am doing online.

The first was the partnership between Indiegogo and IBM. Yes, that still bothers me. Yes, I still think it was a bad idea. Indiegogo has a huge issue with customer service, and frankly, IBM isn’t going to fix that. IBM is traditional business, Indiegogo is crowdfunding new world adventure. The two don’t fit, not the way the partnership set up today. If one of the two organizations is interested, they can ping me directly, and I will happily explain a better model that will benefit both, help both, and be much more successful.

My second hit lately was the discontinuation by NIUME, a site where I blog of payments. While it wasn’t a huge amount of money, it was fun money that is now gone. The reason I worry, is I am watching the forums and discussions fade away. I’ve built communities and then have tended to move on. I’ve also seen communities die and it is awful to ride the ship down to the bottom.

I understand the reality of business. It just makes me a little wistful. Personally, when I left teaching I kept the DTS (the short name for the Society of Dead Teachers) going as an Apple Computer users group and of course our listserv DTS-L. It was my passion, my dream for many years to create the forum and keep it going. I did eventually let go, more because the group went from 15,000 members globally to roughly 200 and focused on the US only. It was a painful decline and fall honestly, not one I want to experience again.

So the crossroads is reached. Do I stay on Niume? Or do I, as many are, abandon ship and move on? I am a loyal person and loyalty matters to me. I am left with do I stay, or do I go?

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Last one out please turn off the lights.