What kind of Community do You Want to Inspire?

This is what many blog-centered communities look like (if readers looked like default photoshop shapes)

It’s one person speaking and the rest ‘replying.’ Comment, reply, comment, reply, and so on until everyone’s heard from and answered and the next post comes out. And it’s all about the blogger.

Most of the readers of this or any blog are already connected in more that one way… Twitter and other blogs. Communities mostly exist across multiple nodes on the web. But they still don’t connect laterally at each node, they just plug in individually in different places.

Here’s what I wish online communities could be more like. Twitter is helping but isn’t great for anything more than greetings, tips-of-hats and shoutouts. Community needs somewhere more comfortable, quite and personal.

But how does this work? How do we get from the first scenario to the second? Can we do this on a blog?

Here are some ideas about what brings people together to help, support and encourage each other. These are things I want to do more of!

Exercise those vocal chords.

Walk around the playground. Invite readers (‘members of your community’) to learn more about each other through in-depth personal interviews.

Get more than one of your fellows on the phone at once, and share the conversation! Every time I speak with a reader (mostly I’m their reader too so it goes both ways) the most amazing things come of it. It consolidates a lot of the ideas I have. A slightly different perspective and input on your thoughts can take them from the darkness of the attic to the light of day, and imagine if your whole community had access to the inspiration that comes.

Get linky

Link excessively to your peeps in your blog posts. This will give readers an opportunity to get a better grasp of your concept while staying brief and on-track for your current post.

Linking is something I almost never do because I write in an arty farty fullscreen text editors – good for flow but bad for anything else – and rarely go back over a post. But it’s something I should do more freely, because if they’re my peeps then they have a lot of useful things to say, right?

And lastly, see yourself as less of a leader and hub, and more of a connecter, instigator and servant. The best leaders in history all considered themselves servants.

Now I know well that I’m not practicing the above, but I fully intend to – in some new projects I’m planning (they’re already going actually, but I’ll be likely be redirecting some different energies from here into less personal and more service oriented niches.

Any other ideas out there about engaging, linking, enabling and empowering a community?

Thanks Degilbo on flickr for the birdies.


  1. Ali says:

    As an afterthought… looking at things from this perspective, video might not be as great an engager as we think.

    I’m really curious to see what you creative people can come up with to engage an audience in a more round-table style.

    Any good examples you know of from other blogs?

  2. Raam Dev says:

    I totally agree that there feels like there’s a missing piece in the cross collaboration area (blog commenters to other blog commenters) but I think that many of us are already making use of what little we’re given.

    For example, you say that you’re not practicing the above, but you’re doing exactly that when you reply to someone else’s comment on one of my blog posts. I see cross-collaboration all the time in my posts. (I attribute that way more to the awesomeness of my readers than my own writing.)

    The Mastermind group that me, you, and Robyn started recently is another example — you and Robyn connected through me (I think) and we’re furthering that connection by continuing to collaborate. We identified similar goals and now we’re sharing ideas.

    More than anything, I think that cross-collaboration requires a desire for cross-collaboration. Even if you gave people the tools to make it dead simple to collaborate, I think many wouldn’t bother taking initiative if they weren’t so inclined before it was made simple.

    I think where there’s a will there’s a way and what we need to work on is taking initiative to create goals together and then follow through with reaching them.

    • Ali says:

      Good points Raam. The blog doesn’t have to be the center at all, and people will meet and mix, though introduced by a blog that represents their initial commonality.

      I guess I know that the more people are connecting the more they enable themselves to create positivity in their lives and the world at large. Maybe blogs are as they should be. Still, I think that there’s room and potential for another avenue to connect that doesn’t exist yet, aside from the so much we already have.

  3. Sandi Amorim says:

    It’s definitely food for thought and since I love connecting and instigating this is right up my alley. Especially lately as I’ve been feeling quite isolated in the blogosphere. I know that what Raam says is true (re: desire for cross-collaboration). I experience it often with clients and it reminds me of that old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” So, having the right tools, whatever they may be, just isn’t enough.

    No answers here, just a willingness for something new to show up and a strong desire for the kind of community you’ve offered up.

    • Ali says:

      Hi Sandi – I know what you mean when you say ‘isolated in the blogosphere’, and that’s just the feeling that led to this post.

      Maybe if more lateral-type conversation happened in comments, We’d feel better.

      But the fact is there are many people here, but sometimes, ‘no ones at home…’ it feels like a nieghborhood street, but everyone’s over 80, shacked up inside, and calling each other. Of course this is just the reality of a digital community, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s improvements to be made, even very simple ones.

  4. Sandra Lee says:

    This is an interesting discussion. Like Raam, I like it when my commenters comment on other comments on my blog. Maybe that could be encouraged by suggesting it at the end of the post…”feel free to comment on comments…”

    I know many of my commenters have connected with my pals via my blog and vice-versa – so there is lateral connecting happening to some degree.

    How much do people really want/need/look for lateral communication, I wonder? Looking forward to hearing other ideas.

    • Ali says:

      Hi Sandra :)

      I love it too – but strangely, when I comment on comments on other blogs, the thought arises: ‘what if this is stepping on the blogger’s toes?’ It probably isn’t, but because it’s not the norm, i wonder if other people are stopped in their tracks similarly?

  5. Bill Gerlach says:

    I’m a bit late to the chat here, but the image that comes to mind based on connecting the nodes as you put it, Ali, is that of a brain forming:

    Each blog/blogger and each commenter is a neuron in this developing Brain of Change. When we connect/link/share/tweet/friend/skype we create synapses between those neurons. As more and more synapses are created the Brain takes on more form and can begin to function as a whole. At some point, we will reach the tipping point when enough neurons and synapses are formed to allow for a New Consciousness to emerge in totality.

    This Brain of Change and the New Consciousness it allows then rolls up its sleeves, as Raam, you put it to choose proactive collaboration and follow through.

    More and more pockets of this collaboration are taking place. The key in my opinion is to figure out a way to ensure we’re not tripping over one another and causing the whole system to be inefficient.

    Brain formation, consciousness, system dynamics… lots of association here. I’m just thinking out loud.

    What’s this Mastermind group?

    • Ali says:

      Hi Bill

      I’m sure in part that’s what’s happening. One persons’ realisation is like an idea sweeping a society through the internet.

      We have a lot of ideas as a society, but most of them aren’t revolutionary and account for mere ‘thoughts.’ And it’s never clear which idea will lead to actual positive change – when people get together to make things different.

      I think Raam’s contacted/contacting you RE the mastermind group. It’s about monetising but staying positive and respectful. Something like that.

  6. Walter says:

    A community of honesty, kindness and giving, is what I yearn the most. Through it one can have real people to connect to and such community can be conducive to one’s well-being. :-)

    • Ali says:

      Heya Walter! Nice to meet you. Here’s to your supportive and kind community. Being involved with the right people is right up there in my list of priorities (if I had one).

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