Explorations in Storytelling

On Writing

Writing about writing

Digital Community - 2


I have been heartened by the response to the idea for a new digital community — a community of artists, musicians, educators, thinkers, innovators. A free space where we can share work, unfinished or not, where we can exchange feedback, where we can collaborate, learn, teach, connect in a deeper way.

I wanted to share a few more details of my concept:

  • In terms of a platform, it’s done. While with Young Writers Project I developed and then honed a platform that works. It’s still a bit on the clunky side in terms of navigation and design, but perhaps this will be aided by community members. But my work affords me the ability to just do it at very little cost.

  • The platform allows this:

    • full multi-blog configuration with ability to audio record directly to a post, upload images and sound, automatic slideshows, full embed of video such as youtube, vimeo and, hopefully, more open-source sources

    • The ability to view and sort content via user, keywords or time posted

    • the ability to comment or to leave an audio comment or to “sprout” a reaction, that is, “your post made me think of this” and have the two posts automatically link up.

    • setting content private by default while allowing individual users to make individual posts public if they so wish

    • The ability to approve new applicants

    • a unique “chat” space for sharing short stories or ideas

    • the ability to create groups centered on specific interests or projects

    • the ability to participate in (or lead) workshops — or incremental “courses” or projects

      • I have an idea of inviting people in to give guest workshops in their respective field of expertise.

    • the ability to create “challenges” or topics to respond to with writing or art or sound or all of those.

My ideas is that it would be useful for people who:

  • want to see what other artists are doing, struggling with, succeeding in doing

  • want some feedback, affirmation, suggestions, outside perspective

  • want deeper conversation, connection

  • want to bring some support and affirmation to others

For this to work:

  • I need a core group of about 25-30 people who are willing to devote some time to this — not a lot, but consistent time would be essential, particularly in the beginning. Roles: to test the initial platform and make suggestions on tweaks; recruit respected friends or acquaintances; regularly provide feedback, challenges, etc.

  • Another 75 people to become second wave community leaders to do the above

  • About 1,000 participants who believe in and participate in the community on a fairly regular pace.

  • I need some way of raising a small amount of money to pay for:

    • pay for the server — $100 a year to start (reclaimhosting)

    • honorariums to a half-dozen or so community leaders who really dive in and commit for the year ($2,000?)

    • honorariums to guest workshop leaders ($2,000?)

What I’ll do next:

  • After we continue this discussion in various spaces for the next few weeks, I’ll build the site, invite you in and have you thrash about and then we’ll figure out some way to confab — probably on the site itself.

  • And, in a weird moment while gardening, I came up with this url: yap.network …. yap being easy to remember, an acronym for Youngish Artists Project (we are all artists after all) and an available domain. THOUGHTS?

A couple of thoughts that were raised in other spaces:

  • What is the “selection” process? I don’t envision anything to Draconian but I have to say I’ve seen communities ruined by both troll-like behavior and hacks (in the old sense of the word, that is people who don’t take their craft seriously and don’t offer much.) We want committed people and we’re not talking about a huge expenditure of time, just consistency. So the best way to “select” is to have prospective participants fill out a form giving some details of who they are (helps to ferret out bots) and, in this case, to write something about who they are, what they want from the site, how they can contribute. Just the prospect of that will self-weed.

  • Why do we need this? Why not just support artists on their own spaces? The purpose of this site would be to connect artists and educators and thinkers as they are working on projects, to get them feedback and ideas and have them see what people do in related areas. While we’d hope people would share completed posts and create some new ones, all of this would help bring more people interested in visiting these individual spaces — and, even, some of the other areas they collaborate in.

What you can do next:

THANKS! And thanks so much for responding. And sorry about all the friggin’ bullets.