Explorations in Storytelling

On Writing

Writing about writing

Digital Community - 3 It Lives! Next Steps

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a type of person who sits around.

YAPNET is real: https://yapnet.org

The platform is a set up to be a space for people to come, share unfinished work or ideas or projects in the hopes of getting some feedback — substantive and respectful. The concept is built on one rule — respect — and will work if people understand the idea of reciprocal feedback — to get comments, you have to give comments. A big part of the site is that it will be private (participants can make their content public if they want for links) so members can leave behind their worries about digital reputation, hackers/spammers/trolls, theft, etc. It’s safe.

I moved forward today because I felt some energy — 125 people visited the two posts here and dozens of people gave me feedback, offered to help, said they’d be interested. (And handfuls discussed the idea among themselves on Twitter and Mastodon.) And the platform is one I have built for Young Writers Project and many schools. Same basic architecture, different use. It’s solid. And it promotes exchange and interaction.

A platform is one thing. Interest is another. Diving in and creating a community is a much more ambitious endeavor.

So that’s where I need you.

This idea will work if there is a core group of enthusiasts and volunteers, missionaries if you will, who can help get the community started and keep it well cared for until, my dream, it gains a life of its own. That’s what happened at https://youngwritersproject.org because kids were hungry for a safe space to share, get better and build identity. I realize that adults are different — and we are strapped for time and are already involved in other places online. But this community can gain traction if it has an energetic and consistent group of Community Leaders — potentially, you. BUT, the commitment should not be that huge one, particularly if we are good at recruiting and encouraging.

Here’s how some of you could help in the immediate future:

  • Go to the CONTACT/SUBSCRIBE page here and give me your particulars.

  • I’ll send you an email link where you can create an account on the site.

  • Poke around, share something, comment and annotate, get a grasp of the platform’s design and potential. (And be patient with me, I’ve got some tweaks left.)

  • Then write a response to a Challenge I’ve posted asking you to write about how this space might help you and how you could see yourself being a Community Leader — what can you realistically do? What would be fun to do? Rewarding to do? It is essential for you to know this, understand this.

Then we’ll get as much of us together as we can for a couple of video conferences to chew on things, agree on a strategy for seeding, recruiting and rolling out.

And, again, I’ve done this before. With kids. Over some 13 years we had over 400,000 posts and comments and countless young people benefited from the observations, kindess and respect of others. I think adults deserve the same kind of space. Don’t you?

P.S. What’s with “YAPNET” you ask? Well, it started as Young(ish) Writers Project. Nah. Then Young(ish) Artists Project. Maybe. And Then Young Art Project. Only if you accept my definition of art as imaginative original creation and young as something not finished. I also liked the word yap — it’s whimsical and it connotes conversations that are hard to stop. That’s what we want. If someone has a better idea, I’m all years, but I certainly think you can remember it, no?