What communities do you feel “at home” with?
Take a look at the communities you engage in, and with communities I am thinking in a broader range not just any online social network. Which online or offline communities do you engage in and really feel they describe you and belong to your personality? Are they the same or does your participation differ between those?
We like to connect with one another
The net is not about cables, it is about the people behind it. And the wonders how it is possible to sit here in Lübeck, Germany and still communicate with the world. Though in many cases we still feel bound to the real world as we have not found (yet) an enhanced equivalent. Example: You have to go to one place to find your people. Online: You have to go to one place (=site) to find your people instead of being able to use / remix them the way you want.
The net is not an easy world to engage in, you need a computer or a mobile, skills like reading and writing (preferable fast and spellchecked), and it is highly abstract – which is why virtual worlds gain attraction, they make it less abstract again . and still mainly text based. Not because most of us prefer text, but because for what we want to do text at the moment is still superior.
If get together like Barcamp etc show something, then it is that no real citizen of this net wants to stay behind his or her computer, but WANTS to engage with like minded people. Just not with everybody. You want to find a home for yourself and interestingly that does not necessary need to be a “monogamous relationship”, you are very well capable of being polyamorous .
Engaging on the net is not something for everybody, a lot of people are very happy with just consuming / participating etc. But if you would be one of those people, you are not likely to read this blog regulary, because then you would be highly bored with me still talking about meta all the time. ;)
In my case this is very simple though may come as a surprise to some people: I am not a butterfly, but rather restricted to find something I like and then stick with it. A centralist by heart with very strong feelings how things should be (and no, that is not just a German thing). On the other side I do like to test out stuff and engage with a variety of things / tools / communities etc, I get bored and annoyed when I am forced to use something I don’t feel comfortable with. Irritating at first, it actually makes sense. There is a difference between applying my knowledge and help people or use it for myself.
When I look at the amount of contacts I have in those various systems I can see the feedback of “you never engage with all of them!!” For a person like myself this is not about a max of 50 people on my list, but to be embracing, not the other way around. I recently got through my over 400 Xing contacts and honestly up to 80% if not more are really people I would call contacts I could engage with. Not the “call them at three o clock at night” thing, but contacts I engage with. This is different for others and that is fine!
After thinking about what are the “communities” I am engaged in?
- The German Barcamp / Twitter scene
who: people from Germany in the 2.0 sphere, somehow connected through going to barcamps or hanging out with one another, connection through twitter
why: the feeling of still keeping in touch after / before events. Proof of that? Twitter message of a friend recently:
if half of your online peer group is offline, theres probably a barcamp or whatever somewhere in germany.
- European web 2.0 scene
who: connecting with people from other countries, reaching out
why: i am curious and want to learn more about that and it feels closer to my heart to do so. Blognation and in my case being editor for Germany is part of that interest to bring people and ideas together. Pushing Germans to visit ‘outside’ and foreigners to take a look at Germany as well
- Podcasters / podcast development with an orientation to America
who: mainly podcasters from the states, due to being engage in the early steps of podcasting from October 2004
why: German as well as the rest of Europe has a very self centric scene, not open and not that much advanced. Recently I have tracked back a bit from there, but in my heart I still feel like being part of it. ;)
- That women thing
who: Women in Tech, but not the normal mommy ones
why: I am one of those, why else? Ever since childhood I was more engaged in that area called “the boys zone”. No I never played football or did fights or something, but this space I breathe, live and work in is my home.
Therefor it comes as a surprise to me like to every other men as well how a women can not be interested in these great opportunities the net is offering. To a certain degree I am willing and likely to try and drag more women into it, which is why I do engage on some level with these kind of communities.
- And one actually revolving around content:Flyertalk
a message board around all kinds of airline / hotel / rental car information
why: information sharing and valuable tips and tricks as well as the spirit of helping each other. plus it is a geeky topic I fall for. No real ties to people but I already had exchange on a personal level and if I would go for one of the meetings (called Do)I sure could engage even more. Little communities per airline / hotel affiliation.
These are the one I personally care about. There are some other “communities” I am involved in, most prominent example would be my own communities like co-moderating Global Business Women or alike.
But those are ones I take care of, not engage in them myself. Also if you look at the list above you might notice that for me it is more about the meta level and people, less about really engaging in a community and a topic Probably one of the reasons why I help people with virtual worlds but do not really engage in them myself. Why I help them set up forums and alike, but never really engage after the level of starting this.
It also explains why I like to attend events like barcamps or conferences. Because I have found it to be the best way to get in touch with the people making these communities rather than just being in a community. If I would like to do that, I just would need to stick with one community and let it be. But that is not me.
If you need to compare it to an animal, it would not be the butterfly but the bee, visiting all kinds of flowers with a special preference for the geeky ones, but still doing something useful on the way.
So, how about you? How do you engage in this, and what is your pattern?
[While I like back links as much everybody does, I am more interested in your answers. Usually I do delete TB without links to my site, but cases like this as long as it is on topic please do set a trackback or leave a comment!]
Tags: european view