Newsletters in 2016 [en]

[fr]

Réflexion sur les newsletters en 2016 et le rôle qu'elles peuvent jouer. Méditations sur les blogs, leur désenchantement, Facebook, et Twitter. Je pense qu'il y a un potentiel avec les newsletters de retrouver un sentiment de communauté restreinte et de connexion qui s'est un peu perdu en route avec notre immersion perpétuelle dans notre propre réseau.

Prêts à tenter l'aventure avec moi? Voici mes newsletters, faites votre choix:

For years now, I’ve been thinking about using newsletters better. Or simply, using newsletters. Until recently all I had was a pretty dead newsletter on MailChimp — and the ability for my readers to subscribe to CTTS blog posts and a weekly dump of all the links I save to Delicious.

MailChimp is a powerful tool, probably overkill for me, and I never really managed to ease myself into its process. Sending out an e-mail is dead simple, but sending out my newsletter felt like more work than cranking out a blog post.

Sunset

Two tools caught my eye over the last year: Revue and TinyLetter (acquired by MailChimp, what a coincidence!)

Revue is designed to help you send out curated lists of links. TinyLetter is a barebones newsletter tool, just what I need.

I’ve been trying to analyse my recent excitement for newsletters over the past days. Like others, I’ve been grieving what I think of as the golden age of blogging. I stumbled upon Tiny Letters to the Web We Miss, which I think hits the nail on the head:

Self-publishing online was fluid and inviting in the early years because the community was self-selecting — the sort of people who would know what Blogspot was in 2003. I didn’t worry about my boss finding my blog. I didn’t worry about getting rape threats in the comments either. (Just thinking about how absurd that sentence would have sounded in 2003 is giving me a crater-sized hit of nostalgia.) We didn’t have the same worries over public personas, because the internet felt like it was just us.

Blogging before social media was like drinking with friends. If someone adjacent to your conversation said something interesting, you would pull up a chair and invite them in. Sometimes a friendly stranger would even buy you a drink.

Everybody is here now, it’s not “just us” anymore.

This reminds me of In Praise of Online Obscurity by Clive Thompson, which I wrote about in 2010. At some point of growth, your “community” dissolves into an “audience” (on Twitter, on blogs) or a “network” (on Facebook). Engagement drops. People retreat.

Once a group reaches a certain size, each participant starts to feel anonymous again, and the person they’re following — who once seemed proximal, like a friend — now seems larger than life and remote. “They feel they can’t possibly be the person who’s going to make the useful contribution,” Evans says. So the conversation stops. Evans isn’t alone. I’ve heard this story again and again from those who’ve risen into the lower ranks of microfame. At a few hundred or a few thousand followers, they’re having fun — but any bigger and it falls apart. Social media stops being social. It’s no longer a bantering process of thinking and living out loud. It becomes old-fashioned broadcasting.

This dynamic is behind the somewhat counter-intuitive fact that more followers on Twitter does not mean more influence, and that getting a boost in followers through presence on a list doesn’t mean more retweets or replies.

Already at the time of my 2010 article, this was how I analysed what had happened to blogging:

I think that this is one of the things that has happened to the blogging world (another topic I have simmering for one of these days). Eight-ten years ago, the community was smaller. Having a thousand or so readers a day already meant that you were a big fish. Now, being a big fish means that you’re TechCrunch or ReadWriteWeb, publications that for some reason people still insist on calling “blogs”, and we “normal bloggers” do not recognize ourselves anymore in these mega-publications. The “big fish” issue here is not so much that formerly-big-fish bloggers have had the spotlight stolen from them and they resent it (which can also be true, by the way), but more that the ecosystem has completely changed.

The “blog-reading community” has grown hugely in numbers. Ten years ago, one thousand people reading a blog felt special because they were out-of-the-mainstream, they could connect with the author of what they read, and maybe they also had their own little blog somewhere. Nowadays, one thousand people reading a blog are just one thousand people doing the mainstream thing online people do: reading blogs and the like. The sense of specialness has left the blogosphere.

So there you have it. We “lost” something when the internet went from “just us” to “everyone”: part of our sense of community. People reading my blog don’t feel special anymore. I don’t even feel that special anymore for writing it. Blogs aren’t special. Numbers have declined, and I’m sure it’s not just due to the fact I’m slipping into old-fartdom and neglecting my beloved blog to romp in the bushes with Facebook.

The place where we go to connect online is Facebook, or Twitter, or Google Plus. We spend our time in real-time, and head out to read this or that when a link nudges us. We might be part of communities inside Facebook groups, or small delimited spaces, but overall we are spending our time just hooked into our network.

When I was directing the SAWI Social Media and Online Communities course, I read this article by Rich Millington about the distinction between communities and followings. I formalised a three-way distinction for my classes in the following way.

Audiences: around non-social products, bloggers, authors, politicians, salespeople, “fame”

  • attracted by you
  • interact with you
  • not interlinked
  • large scale

Networks: to filter information, connect people, search

  • individual relationships
  • two-way
  • interlinked
  • each node is its own centre

Communities: “a group of people who care about each other more than they should” (Cluetrain)

  • common object of interest
  • interactions inside the group
  • human-sized
  • investment of time, emotion, ego
  • around social objects and niche services

A few years later (and even as I was using it to teach), it’s clear this typology is a bit wobbly, and many spaces are hybrids. But it remains a useful thinking tool.

When I discovered Twitter, I was spending most of my online time on IRC. I remember that one of my first strong feelings about Twitter was that it felt a bit like an IRC channel which had all the people I cared about and only them in it. (I spent my first few days/weeks on Twitter frantically recruiting.) They didn’t all know each other, and didn’t realise they were rubbing shoulders in “my” room, but for me, it was really as if I had managed to invite everybody to my birthday party.

That’s the network.

Facebook entered my world, and the same thing happened. Life online became more and more about the network. And as the network grew (and grew and grew), all our time and attention poured into it. It’s great to have a place which is populated nearly only by people you know and care about. Facebook does that for you.

Who wants to hang out in blog comments when there is Facebook and Twitter?

As you can see, I’m thinking out loud in this rambly, slightly contradictory blog post. If you can synthesise all this better, definitely have a go at it (in the comments or on your blog — link back!) I can’t quite wrap my head around all this, I feel like I’m still missing a piece.

Back to newsletters.

What newsletters definitely have chance of bringing back is this feeling of small scale. When I write a blog post, like this one, I’m not writing it for a dedicated group of readers anymore. I know you’re still out there, of course, all three of you who actually follow my blog ;-), but I’m also very much aware that I am writing for a whole pile of strangers who will stumble her after a google search. I am writing for everyone.

Email can be very personal. It goes from private space to private space (the inbox). It definitely feels more personal to write than a blog post. But it’s funny, in a way, because this post is going to reach some of you by email, and newsletters are often archived publicly on the web. There shouldn’t be a difference, right?

But there is, because the medium or tool you use really changes the way you express yourself and connect. “Email first” or “web first” does not produce the same writing.

So let’s see what happens with this newsletter experiment, OK? Take your pick and subscribe to:

And seriously, I’m really looking forward to your comments on all the stuff I’ve talked about here.

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Stories to Listen to, Moderating Blog Comments, Teaching Blogging [en]

[fr] Deux ou trois épisodes de podcasts à écouter. Quelques réflexions sur les commentaires de blog (spam ou non?) et la difficulté d'apprendre à bloguer.

Listen to Greetings from Coney Island. I swear you won’t be disappointed. Just don’t make the same mistake I did, and be a bit distracted early on, not realising there are two parallel stories, told by two women with (to me) very similar voices. I actually reached the end of the story before realising I had missed the whole point, so I listened to it all again. It was worth it.

vue cham

Another episode of Love+Radio reminded me of a Moth story I heard quite a long time ago now. It’s about a volunteer at a suicide prevention hotline. That story made me understand something about suicide (which I am lucky not to know from the inside): it’s not about wanting to die, it’s about wanting the pain to stop. Like many Moth stories, it’s beautifully told and very moving. Well worth the small moment of your life you will spend listening to it.

I know, this blog is turning into a podcast review. But not only. See.

One of the challenges I face as editor-in-chief of Open Ears is approving comments. Not so much because we publish controversial articles that have people biting each other’s heads off in the comments (not at all, actually), but more because

  1. spambots are getting better and better at sounding human
  2. some humans are sounding more and more like spambots.

About the latter: people like me have been saying for years that a great way to get your website or blog known is to comment on other blogs. But that’s not quite the whole story. Aligning fluffy or self-promotional comments on other people’s blogs might get your “nofollowed” links out there, but isn’t really going to do what matters, which is encouraging people to actually know you and read your stuff because they’re interested. Clicks and visits only really mean anything if they come from the heart.

So what does work? Well, actually, being a valued member of the communities you are part of. At the time, during the Golden Age of Blogging, leaving meaningful comments on blogs you read and linked to was a way of being that. It’s not about the links, it’s about the place you respectfully take or are given willingly. Add value. Be helpful. Try and make friends. That’s the spirit of “leaving comments”.

Which brings me to an important piece of blogging advice I came up with while trying to teach my latest batch of students the basics of blogging (it was, to put it kindly, a mixed success): blog about stuff that’s in your head. Write about what you know. If you have to google around to factcheck this or that, find a link, or look up a detail, that’s fine. But if you find yourself doing research and reading up to gather the material for your blog post (and the post is not about your research), chances are you’re “doing it wrong”.

Blogging is this weird thing which as at the same time so easy (for “natural bloggers”) but so hard to learn or teach. I think that is because it touches upon “being” more than “doing”. It’s about daring a certain degree of authenticity that we are not encouraged to wear in our school or professional lives. And it’s definitely not how we learn to write. In a way, teaching blogging is a bit like trying to teach people to dare to be themselves in public. This makes you think of Brené Brown and vulnerability, does it not? Exactly. And that is why, I think, blogging is a powerful tool to connect people.

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L'art de la modération: donner le ton [fr]

[en] How I approach moderation or "community management" of the facebook groups I'm admin of.

Une fois qu’un groupe Facebook existe et tourne, le travail n’est pas terminé. Tout comme on a soigné le démarrage, il faut soigner l’évolution.

Une communauté c’est quelque chose de vivant, et en tant que tel, dans un état de déséquilibre constant. De temps en temps il faut donner une chiquenaude pour que le déséquilibre ne se transforme pas en perte d’équilibre.

Comment on fait ça? Avec du tact, de la subtilité, et un sain rapport aux normes. Et quand? Tout le temps, souvent sans en avoir l’air. J’aime penser que si on fait bien son boulot, la plupart des gens ne remarqueront rien.

J’ai appris un principe extrêmement important lors de mes débuts comme blogueuse: la théorie de la vitre cassée. Appliquée au blog et à ses commentaires, ça donne: si tu n’effaces pas le spam de ton blog, tu en attireras plus. Ou encore: si tu laisses les gens faire de la pub dans tes commentaires, ça va encourager d’autres à le faire aussi. Si tu écris n’importe comment, les autres n’auront pas de scrupules à écrire en langage SMS.

Dans une situation sociale nouvelle, on tend à modeler son comportement sur ce qu’on peut observer. Ce qui est observable est donc très important: c’est le contexte. L’expression qui me vient toujours à l’esprit quand je pense à la modération, c’est “donner le ton”. “Modérer”, ça met trop l’accent sur “retenir les excès”. Alors oui, c’est ce qu’on fait, mais on s’y prend tellement plus en amont. C’est pour ça qu’en anglais on a commencé il y a quelques années à parler de “community management”, plutôt que “moderation”. Mais c’est un terme qui vient aussi avec son lot de casseroles, dont je parlerai peut-être une autre fois.

Concrètement, on va recadrer des comportements qui, s’ils s’intensifient ou se généralisent, risquent de mettre l’avenir du groupe en péril. Mais attention! Il ne s’agit pas de faire le flic et de tomber à bras raccourcis sur toute personne qui fait un pet de travers. Rien ne tue l’ambiance plus vite que le sentiment de se retrouver dans une cour de récréation, ou à l’école. Le ton va donc être capital.

Je vous donne un exemple de “recadrage sans en avoir l’air”: dans mon groupe pour indépendants, j’invite toujours les nouveaux venus à se présenter (une bonne pratique pour beaucoup de groupes, à mon avis). Je tourne ma formule d’invitation de façon à ce que ça parte dans la bonne direction, mais parfois, je lis des présentations qui donnent un peu l’impression que la personne est là pour “vendre son business”, alors que le ton du groupe est plutôt “entraide” ou “échange de pratiques”. C’est généralement subtil, mais quand je vois que ça part “visitez mon site pour en savoir plus sur ce que je fais et n’hésitez pas à me recommander autour de vous”, j’agis.

Ce que j’évite absolument: confronter directement la personne en disant, par exemple, “attention, ici l’auto-promo n’est pas bienvenue, on est ici pour partager nos préoccupations d’indépendants entre nous et s’entraider.” C’est techniquement correct, mais c’est beaucoup trop frontal. Si ça se trouve la pauvre personne ne pensait pas à mal et n’a même pas réalisé qu’elle mettait les pieds dans le plat.

Au lieu de cela, ce que je fais c’est relancer la personne sur quelque chose plus en ligne avec l’esprit du groupe: je la remercie de s’être présentée, et j’enchaîne avec, par exemple, “est-ce que tu as des préoccupations en tant qu’indépendant que tu voudrais partager avec le groupe? raconte-nous un peu ce qui fonctionne bien et moins bien pour toi dans ta vie indépendante.” Je pars du principe que tout naturellement, la personne va comprendre ce qu’on fait dans le groupe, et se rendant compte que personne ne fait de l’auto-promo, elle n’en fera pas non plus.

Après, si la personne persévère dans sa mauvaise route, il faudra peut-être être plus clair. Souvent, un petit mot en privé passe mieux qu’une remarque publique, mais suivant le contexte, ça peut être utile que ce soit public, car ça donne aussi un signal aux autres membres du groupe.

Pour la diplomatie, je ne sais pas trop quoi donner comme conseils, j’avoue. Ménager la “face” de l’autre (très intéressant: l’idée qu’une des choses importantes qui régit la communication c’est les questions autour de “garder/perdre la face”) tout en étant clair et ferme. Eviter les attaques personnelles, parler en “je”, être respectueux, un brin d’humour si c’est dans son tempérament. Et la diplomatie, c’est un continuum. On s’adapte à la situation. Si deux membres du groupe sont en train de s’insulter, on va probablement intervenir de façon plus sèche que si quelqu’un a juste posté une photo qui dévie un peu des préférences pour le groupe.

Autre exemple de modération “souple”: je fais partie de l’équipe de modération d’un groupe où les membres postent des photos de leurs chats (mais si, mais si). C’est la vision de base du groupe: des gens qui postent des photos de leurs chats ou qui en parlent, et qui gagatent dessus, plutôt que des lolcats et autres chats d’internet (ainsi que les inévitables annonces de chats perdus ou à adopter) que les amoureux de chats ont aussi tendance à partager.

On aurait pu être rigide et interdire tout ce qui n’était pas du “chat maison”. Mais ça, typiquement, c’est le genre d’approche qui va inévitablement mener au clash: qu’est-ce qu’on fait, quand un membre poste quelque chose qui n’est pas approprié? Le supprimer? Avec un groupe assez gros (plus de 500 personnes), on va passer son temps à “censurer”. Même avec un groupe plus réduit, une gestion à base “d’interdits” passe généralement plutôt mal.

Ce qu’on fait, alors, c’est qu’on revient aux principes: il s’agit d’un groupe de détente et d’échanges centrés principalement autour de nos chats. On peut donc y tolérer une certaine proportion de publications autres. La modération, dès lors, consistera à garder un oeil attentif sur cet équilibre, et à intervenir en douceur pour le rétablir s’il bat de l’aile.

De nouveau, l’approche “je fais une grande annonce frontale: ici on veut pas de chats d’internet” est à mon avis moins souhaitable sur le long terme que d’autres stratégies, comme donner les moyens aux membres du groupe de comprendre par eux-mêmes quel est “l’esprit” du groupe (via le descriptif, l’accueil qu’on fait aux nouveaux, l’exemple que donnent les membres actifs et modérateurs…).

Le résultat dans ce cas-ci c’est qu’on accepte la présence de publications “autres” (il m’arrive d’ailleurs même d’en publier moi-même!) — tout est une question de dosage. On va intervenir par contre (discrètement) si une même image est publiée à répétition (vous savez comment c’est avec les choses qui tournent sur facebook… je le vois aujourd’hui, toi demain, Louis dans une semaine), ou si sa nature s’oppose fortement à la “mission” du groupe (par exemple les photos d’animaux maltraités, pas terrible quand on vient sur le groupe pendant sa pause pour gagater sur le zolis chats…).

Vous l’aurez compris à travers ces deux exemples: j’ai une vision de la modération comme quelque chose qui se fait très en amont. On va être à l’affût de ce qu’en gestion de crise on appelle les “signaux faibles” (merci Fabienne!), les signes avant-coureurs d’une potentielle crise mais qui sur le moment semblent sans importance.

Après, si un crise éclate, il faut la gérer… Ça pourrait être un autre billet, tiens. Mais ce n’est de loin pas ma spécialité, alors on verra si je suis inspirée!

Un autre volet très important de la modération, sur lequel je ne vais pas m’étaler parce que cet article est déjà bien assez long, c’est d’encourager la participation positive. Ça se fait par l’exemple, en étant un membre actif et généreux de sa communauté (pas besoin toutefois d’être hyperactif): publier, répondre, participer… Mais pour de vrai, hein. Le faux, ça se sent. Et aussi en encourageant les autres à le faire, si le groupe devient trop calme et menace de mourir d’inactivité, par exemple. De nouveau, ça ne se fait pas forcément en disant aux gens “mais participez, bon sang”, mais par des moyens détournés: lancer un sujet qui sera bien repris, rebondir sur une publication faite ailleurs mais qui pourrait enrichir le groupe, etc…

Voilà! Le modérateur chanceux est celui qui fait un peu tout ça sans trop y réfléchir, parce que c’est dans sa nature. On peut toujours apprendre, bien sûr, mais l’investissement en énergie est du coup plus grand!

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The Blogging Tribe is Live [en]

[fr] Une quinzaine de blogueurs qui prennent l'engagement de bloguer régulièrement durant un mois, pour commencer. Suivez-les sur The Blogging Tribe.

Last week at the chalet, I had an inspiration (amongst others!) whilst reading Here Comes Everybody: gather a small-scale tribe of bloggers who commit to blogging regularly over a period of time.

It’s done. We’re pretty much set. After a little back-and-forth on Facebook to try and figure out the best way to get started, we’re off for a month of “blog regularly and see what happens”, pretty much.

Here is the tribe:

You can follow all our posts at The Blogging Tribe, kindly hosted and set up by Claude.

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IRC: #joiito Channel Revival (Or At Least Reunion) [en]

[fr] Le retour du canal IRC #joiito, et quelques pensées sur ce qui différencie Twitter et Facebook (même les groupes) d'un canal IRC comme celui-ci.

So, let me tell you what happened last night. You know I’ve been reading Here Comes Everybody, right? Well, in chapter 9, Clay Shirky tells the story of #joiito — Joi Ito‘s IRC channel, that I was a regular of for years since sometime in 2003 or 2004, until Twitter emptied the channel of most of its life. Reading about it in Clay’s book reminded me what a special thing it was.

Last night, I saw that my old friend Kevin Marks was online on Facebook. Unless I’m very mistaken, Kevin is one of the numerous friends I made on #joiito, and we hadn’t chatted in ages. I wanted to tell him about my Blogging Tribe experiment, see if he was interested. We started joking about the old times (OMG Technorati!), I mentioned my reading Here Comes Everybody, the mention of #joiito, he pointed me to his blog post clarifying Jeannie Cool’s role in the channel (seems Clay had got the story wrong in the first edition of his book), which brought me to another post of Kevin’s on the bots we had running in #joiito, and on an impulse, I went to check out the channel.

Now over the last years, I’ve pretty much always been logged in to #joiito (I run irssi in screen on my server). But I stopped going. Like many others it seems, over the years Twitter became my “replacement” for IRC. I guess we all logged in less and less, and the channel population and conversation dropped below the critical mass it needed to stay truly alive. The community disbanded.

The channel never truly died, of course. There were always some of us sitting in there, and there would be sudden flare-ups of activity. But the old spirit had left the room.

Kevin followed me in, started fiddling with the bots, I found an old abandoned #joiito Facebook group. Created back in 2007, it was clearly an “old-style” Facebook group (they sucked) that was migrated to new style and emptied automatically of its members. There were three members, I invited myself in, invited a bunch of other #joiito old hands, and started pinging people to get them to drop into the channel.

In less than an hour we had a lively conversation going on in #joiito. I stayed on for a few hours, then went to bed. Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to discover close to 60 people in the Facebook group, and that the conversation on #joiito had gone on all my night, with “new old channel regulars” joining! It feels just like the old days. Seriously. It makes me very happy, because I think this IRC channel was really something precious, and I was sad it was “no more”. (Quotes because obviously, the channel never disappeared… it just died down.)

I haven’t had an IRC conversation like this in years. I’ve been very active on Twitter (slightly less now), am very active on Facebook, and really love Facebook groups. But an IRC channel like #joiito is something different.

When I asked my old friends what had “replaced” #joiito in their current online ecosystem, the general response seems to be “Twitter”, clearly. But what is missing with Twitter and Facebook (and even Path) that we are so happy to see our channel alive again?

Twitter and Facebook are centred on the network, not on the group. We are loosely joined to each other on Twitter just like we are loosely joined on IRC (I definitely am not “close” to all the channel regulars — more on that too in a bit), but the container is way bigger. On Twitter, our networks sprawl and spread until we end up (some of us) with thousands of followers. This is very different than an enclosed chatroom with less than 100 people in it.

Once we started spending more time on Twitter and Facebook, we stopped being part of the same group. We got lost in our own networks of friends, acquaintances, and contacts.

Facebook groups bring back this “community” aspect. But interaction and conversation in Facebook groups, which are built upon a message-board model, is much slower than in IRC. There is less fluff, less joking, less playing around. It’s not real-time chatting, it’s endless commenting. We’ve touted Twitter and Facebook so much as being “real-time” that we’ve forgotten where the real “real-time” is: in chatting.

IM, Facebook, and Twitter allow people to keep in touch. I’m connected to a large handful of #joiito regulars on Facebook — people I used to exchange with daily during the Golden Days. But on Facebook, we don’t talk. Our relationship is not one of one-to-one chats. Our lives on Facebook our different enough that they don’t bring us closer, but make us drift apart. We are missing our hang-out place.

You’ve seen that play out offline, certainly. You leave a club you were part of or a job. There are many people there whom you appreciate or even love, but you do not stay in touch. Once the common activity or place that brought you together in the first place is gone, there is not enough left to keep you together.

Twitter and Facebook are more lonely places to hang out online than an IRC channel, because nobody shares the same experience as you. We all have a different Twitter, a different Facebook. In an IRC channel, we all have the same lines of text scrolling before our eyes.

Is this just a reunion, or is this the revival of the #joiito IRC channel?

Only time will tell. I personally hope for a revival. I missed you guys.

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Back to Blogging Challenge Wrap-Up [fr]

[en] Retour sur le challenge "back to blogging".

So, a good ten days after the end of the Back to Blogging challenge, how are things going?

Well, first of all, I’ve been putting off writing this article because I’m setting myself constraints which make it a big pile of work. For example, the last two days of the challenge I was too busy to link to the articles by other participants (arguably the longest part of publishing those posts). So I’m thinking “ah, I need to do the wrap-up, but before that I should complete those articles”. Well, nope. Obviously it’s not going to happen. Maybe somebody else feels like putting a list together for those two days?

I’ve also been thinking “ah, I should make a list here of all the bloggers who successfully did the 10 days”. Participating is great, and I’m sure many of those who did not complete the challenge got something out of it, but hey, sticking to it is even greater!

So, congratulations to all those of you who stuck through the whole ten days. I’d love to hear feedback on what participating did for you!

For me, even though I feel myself sliding back into “long blog post” mode (this is an attempt to break that) I kind of got into the habit of “a post a day”, which means that when I skip a day, I notice it, and blog the next day. So I’ve been publishing pretty much every couple of days I’d say, which is pretty good.

The other thing I got out of the challenge is a sense of community amongst bloggers — something I hadn’t felt for years and really miss from the early days of blogging. I was really amazed at the sheer number (about 20!) of people who took on the challenge!

At the root of this sense of community, in my opinion, is reading what other people write. A blogger is not an island. In my last post musing about what makes a blog a blog, one of the criteria that comes up is that a blog is in the network. It links to others, is linked to, commented upon, the blogger has contacts with other bloggers or readers. A blog cannot thrive in a vacuum.

Let’s try and keep that alive, shall we? Or we’ll be overrun by the fashion bloggers 😉

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Bloggy Friday, #back2blog, et l'eclau [fr]

[en] Motivating these days: Bloggy Friday, still going strong after all these years; #back2blog challenge, picked up by 20 or so bloggers; and eclau, the coworking space I manage in Lausanne, which turns 4 today.

Je fais partie de ces personnes qui vit sa vie en ayant le sentiment de ne jamais avoir assez de temps. Oh, je suis lucide. J’ai autant de temps que tout le monde, je sais que c’est plutôt que j’ai du mal à prioriser, hiérarchiser, décider, me frustrer.

Like a crazy hoarder I mistake the root cause of my growing mountain of incomplete work. The hoarder thinks he has a storage problem (when he really has a ‘throwing things away problem’). I say I am ‘time poor’ as if the problem is that poor me is given only 24 hours in a day. It’s more accurate to say… what exactly? It seems crazy for a crazy person to use his own crazy reasoning to diagnose his own crazy condition. Maybe I too easily add new projects to my list, or I am too reluctant to exit from unsuccessful projects. Perhaps I am too reluctant to let a task go, to ship what I’ve done. They’re never perfect, never good enough.

On Task Hoarding and ToDo Bankruptcy (Leon Bambrik)

Donc, je fais plein de trucs, et pas juste des trucs qui rapportent de l’argent, et ces temps, j’avoue être particulièrement motivée par ces “activités non lucratives”.

Le Bloggy Friday continue son bonhomme de chemin après toutes ces années — on était une douzaine hier soir. J’ai pris conscience il y a quelques mois que malgré l’échelle assez modeste de cette rencontre (entre 5 et 10 personnes par souper, une fois par mois), elle avait permis à de belles amitiés et des relations d’affaires de naître, au fil des années. C’est ce genre de chose qui me motive à continuer.

Sur un coup de tête, j’ai lancé le “Back to Blogging Challenge” (#back2blog) qu’une vingtaine de personnes (dépassant toutes mes espérances!) est en train de relever. Il y a une super énergie, on lit les articles des autres, on commente… cette excitation palpable me rappelle mes premières années de blogueuse. Ça me fait particulièrement plaisir de voir qu’il y tant des blogueurs chevronnés que débutants qui y prennent part (y compris une poignée d’étudiants de la formation SAWI sur les médias sociaux!) et qu’on y blogue en au moins cinq langues!

Finalement l’eclau (Espace Coworking LAUsanne), qui fête ses 4 ans aujourd’hui et se porte extrêmement bien: grande variété de professions représentées, personnes lumineuses et passionnées, excellente entente et riches échanges entre les coworkers, bon équilibre entre “possibilité de travailler” et “possibilité de socialiser”, et un lunch mensuel qui commence à prendre son rythme de croisière et trouver sa place dans nos vies.

Merci à vous tous sans qui ces petites activités communautaires n’existeraient pas!

#back2blog challenge (5/10):

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Bloggers: an Opportunity to Contribute to the paper.li Community Blog [en]

[fr] Paper.li développe son blog communautaire et cherche des contributeurs!

Bloggers and freelance writers, this is for you! I’m working with paper.li (you know them, right?) and we’re plotting an expansion/development of their community blog. In short, this means:

  • more interviews of interesting members of the paper.li community (similar to what Kelly has done until now)
  • thematic articles (either original content, commentary on stuff published elsewhere, bundles of commented links…) around “curation”, personal online publishing and editing — and where it’s going, basically: how we’re dealing with the wealth of information online (I guess you can see why this is a relevant topic for paper.li)
  • …and I’ll be editing/managing publication.

We already have a few people lined up to conduct interviews of paper.li community members (we’re open to more if it’s the kind of thing you’d love doing) and we are looking for bloggers or other online writers who are interested in writing some articles with us.

Maybe you would just like to do a one-off guest post, or you think you’d like to contribute regularly, because you have lots to say or want to help us assemble, organise and comment the related articles and links we’re collecting.

If you want to be part of this, we want to hear from you! Please use the following form to get in touch.

The form is now closed. If you’d like to get in touch, head over to the Contribute page on the community blog.

A few organisational/context notes to help you understand what we’re doing:

  • we’re aiming to publish about 10 articles a month (so, pretty low amount of publications — we want quality first)
  • published posts will receive a (modest) financial compensation, but this isn’t Demand Media where you can churn out 50 posts a week to make a living out of it — so we assume you also have other motivations to participate (passion, another audience, visibility, intellectual curiosity…)
  • we ask for a week of exclusivity for the content you publish with us — after that, you’re free to republish on your blog or anywhere else
  • posts will of course link back to your blog if you want
  • we’re pretty open editorially (and still defining the borders or our topics), so feel free to submit stuff even if it seems slightly off-topic!

We’re waiting to hear from you, and don’t hesitate to get in touch or use the comments if you have questions or want more information.

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Comment Ownership, Reloaded [en]

Nearly four years ago, I wrote a post about comment ownership and coComment (it was initially published on their blog, and I moved it over here at some point). I don’t use coComment anymore, but a few of the points I made then are still valid.

Comment ownership is a complex problem. The commenter writes the comment, but the blog owner hosts it. So of course, the blog owner has the right to decide what he agrees to host or not. But the person who wrote the comment might also want to claim some right to his writing once it’s published.

And also the following:

There are times when one could say the “blog owner rights” and “comment writer’s rights” come into conflict. How do you manage such situations?

Here’s an example. Somebody e-mails me, out of the blue, to ask me to remove a comment of his on a post published ages ago (ironically, it’s the post published just before the one I’m quoting above!)

I went to look at the comment in question, and frankly, it’s completely innocuous. So I googled that person’s name and realised that my post appears somewhere in the middle of the first page of results. This gives me a guess as to why the person is contacting me to remove the comment.

And really, it seems pretty petty to me. And removing that comment bugs me, because I responded to it, and the person responded back, so what the person is in fact asking me to do is to remove (or dismember) a conversation in the comments of my blog, which has been sitting there for nearly four years. All that because they’re not happy that CTTS makes their comment appear somewhere on the first page of results for a Google search on their name.

Which brings me back to comment ownership. Saying the comment belongs to the commentator is simplistic. C’mon, if everybody who left a comment on CTTS these last 10 years started e-mailing me to remove them because they “taint” their ego-googling, I simply wouldn’t have time to deal with all the requests.

But saying the comment belongs to the blog owner is simplistic too.

I think we’re in a situation which mirrors (in complexity) that of photography ownership between model and photographer. With the added perk that in the case of blog comments, as soon as it is published, the comment becomes part of a conversation that the community is taking part in. Allowing people to remove published comments on a whim breaks that. (Just like bloggers don’t usually delete posts unless there is a very strong reason to do so — when published, it becomes part of something bigger than itself, that we do not own.)

So, for this situation, I guess the obvious response is to change the full name to initials or a nickname, and leave the comment.

But I see this with discussion lists, too. The other day, a pretty annoyed woman was complaining that somebody had called her out of the blue about coworking, when she was not at all interested in sharing an office space. Well, she had written a message or two on a local coworking discussion list, with all her contact details in signature.

What do you expect? And what happened to taking a deep breath and deciding “OK, I’ll do things differently in the future” when you realise you behaved a little cluelessly in the past?

I think all this concern about e-reputation is going to start becoming a real pain in the neck. Get over it, people. Open a blog and make sure you own your online identity, and you can stop worrying about the comments you made four years ago.

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