Flutterby™! : What means community?

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What means community?

2001-12-28 15:17:26+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

Kiki was working on me last night to join up with Firetown for Burning Man. She's also been trying to get me to rent a studio over at the Shipyard[Wiki] in Emeryville (where the recent SRL show happened). I've been making various "in my own time" noises, but I realized last night that we have some differing experiences of community, and I'm examining how I can change my attitudes.

[ related topics: Burning Man Work, productivity and environment ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:00+00 by: TC

Thats a very interesting question. I tend to think it becomes a self defining answer. Communities are what the people who form them become. I think there are many types of community like Flutterby is a small electronic community of people facinated by sex and airplane bombs, go figure :)

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:00+00 by: Dan Lyke

My realization last night is that largely I've seen community as desirable, but something I have to be the primary contributor to. I don't know whether I get intimidated or what, but I therefore often end up in communities where I am the primary contributor, and when I look at a huge production like Firetown[Wiki] I think "Jeez, being a part of that would grind me so hard that..."

Or I'd feel guilty 'cause I wasn't doing enough.

Of course on an intellectual level this is silly: I spend most of Burning Man helping people out with cool projects because that's what I like to do, but doing that as a formal part of the community rather than as the guy on the white horse (or wacky brazed contraption) who rides in, helps, then disappears into the sunset/dust-storm feels like I'll end up enjoying things less.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:00+00 by: Anita Rowland

When I used to help with the Fremont Arts Council events like the Solstice Feast, I'd only work on the things that my friend Luke McGuff was working on. This limited the time-suckage, but kept me involved with the group. I chose this since I knew that the group, while great, can be a bottomless pit for work. Having this connection through Luke also helped me since I'm such a shy thing!

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:00+00 by: TC

Wow that Feast looks like a lot of fun. It looks like Dan sent one of his clones there. Those that haven't met Dan should note he looks more like the one on the right...

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:01+00 by: ebradway

You're an over-acheiver, Dan. You need to learn how to be 'just a face' in a community as well. Sit back and enjoy the ride. In a large community, you need to specialize a little more, and when someone doesn't need those skills, try to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Todd is dead on about how a community is created. One of the other online communities I'm involved with, the Pelican Parts Porsche 911 Tech Forum recently went through some major upheavals because the traffic was killing the server. Because the system was maintained as an aside to the Porsche parts company that the owner ran as an aside from his job as a computer consultant, there was talk of force removal of off-topic subject. Once Wayne really looked at the situation, he opted for an upgrade of the server software rather than censorship because a true community had grown inside the forum. I know I will still feel welcome in the comminity after I sell my Porsche.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:01+00 by: Mike Gunderloy

We often speak of "community" in binary terms, but clearly there are degrees of community. And not every participant in a given community finds the exact same level of community immersion. I suspect this is an area where we just lack sufficiently precise vocabulary to make very interesting observations.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:34:02+00 by: DaveP

It's easy to feel guilty about not doing enough when you've joined a group. But if you end up being the only person doing the work, you'll burn out in a hurry (and possibly feel guilty for not doing enough, too). I'm facing that with my neighborhood association, where I started and continue to maintain the website. I've written software to try and get others to help with simple things like entering events into the calendar, but there just doesn't seem to be any interest, since I'm "doing such a good job", even when I come right out and ask for help.

This year I got elected Secretary of the organization, which moved me from "white knight riding in" to having a responsibility.

At this point, the thing that keeps me going is the fact that I get people asking me about web-development because of the job I've done on the neighborhood website. I still need to turn that curiosity into real business, but that's a 2002 goal.

As for suggestions, I don't have any. I'm still trying to figure out a lot of the same things that Dan is. Meanwhile, I think I'm going to try and not worry about the guilt and start doing less in order to encourage others to help out.