Blogger is the answer.
November 16, 2000 8:59 PM   Subscribe

Blogger is the answer. Portals suck. "Community sites" suck. The always-excellent NUblog crew think Pyra has the answer -- communities of Bloggers focused on specific subject areas.
posted by lbergstr (7 comments total)
Hmmm... this site wouldn't happen to be designed by joeclark, would it? Considering those goddamn obnoxious text-boxes.
posted by EngineBeak at 9:10 PM on November 16, 2000

They hit the nail on the head by saying "you cannot 'develop' community." However, their solution of grouping weblogs together then counteracts their statement. What is it everyone wants anyway? ONE gigantic community? There's no one watering hole online where everyone congregates. Thankfully. People look to the future saying someday we'll successfully develop community online. I don't know where these people have been. I see community on the Internet all the time, and have for years. However, it rarely wears a sign that says lookit me I'm a community! One or two people are mutual acquaintances of a bunch of others. It's not forced. It's not even conscious. Many often argue that it even exists, which I find most amusing.

Community is not an inevitable destination. Like everything else on this planet, it is a choice. Sometimes it's something you choose to offer someone else. Sometimes it's something that someone else chooses to offer or decline to you. Historically, communities used to consist of people who were either thrust together by necessity and circumstance, or happened to join together by accident. MANY factors are involved and this is already too long so I won't detail everything here, BUT in very generalized terms it tended to work out like this:

Most communities centralized around one thing that everyone could at least try to agree on. Usually this was religion. Everyone in the community was assumed to believe in the same god, and they'd meet at a central point of the community every Sabbath day. Generation after generation there was a desire to keep things from changing as much as possible. Farmers beget farmers. The son of the man who owned the general store was expected to carry on after his father passed away. Traditions would be adhered, built around the changing of the seasons and evolving slowly throughout history. In decades or centuries past, if someone didn't agree with the community's beliefs and traditions, they were not welcomed, but shunned. Nowadays we often see such attitudes as racist or narrowminded. It used to be the myth of survival for their "way of life." Those who were not 'normal' were singled out and blackballed from the community. Individuals would sometimes rebel, then be shunned from one community, go nomadic for awhile until they found others of like-mind and then they would rebuild a community that suited them.

Today it's radically different. People keep struggling to find community in cyberspace, as if they're trying to rebuild these social structures of flesh and blood in the virtual world, then they are shocked when it doesn't work as they wanted. It's like an American going to Europe and trying to drive on the right side of the road. It just doesn't work that way. Personally I find the entire concept of community dated and cumbersome, but some parts of the complexities of social evolution are necessary evils. Any virtual community which involves commonality and similarity among individuals will be short-lived in cyberspace. Only by celebrating our differences will we find "community emerges from interests that overlap and diverge" and rounding up all the weblogs and tying them together is NOT going to do it. We not only gotta think outside the box, we gotta stop thinking we need the box. More importantly however, we gotta stop trying to encourage community to happen. Maybe the best we can do is just get out of its way.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:32 PM on November 16, 2000

Damn straight.
posted by Byun-o-matic at 1:11 AM on November 17, 2000

Sorry, that wasn't a very useful comment. The only thing I would add to your lucid commentary is that, to me, the thing that seems to stand in the way of communities on the internet is that two very strong movements seem to spring up within every such congregation -- one stressing conformity and similarity (creating elaborate rules defining what is "cool" and "uncool"), and the other insisting upon difference ("my opinion can beat up your opinion") -- and many times the group is torn apart by these tidal forces. I've been involved in so many such mini-communities that have fractured and dissipated this way.

I'm not suggesting that this is unique to internet communities, of course (a glance at CNN this week would disprove that notion in a hurry), but these problems are so much more acute in this medium because, as has been pointed out in the past, people are so much quicker to hostility on the net than in f2f encounters.

That's why I don't see there ever being what one could call a "web community" in a grand, all-encompassing sense. It seems more likely that communities that do thrive online will be more intimate, small-scale social circles that pursue common interests without the kind of formalized self-consciousness that gives rise to conformist pressures.

Or maybe not, since it seems to be built into human nature to want to create tribes, then splinter them. This is why I'm moving to a sod hut in Montana.
posted by Byun-o-matic at 3:20 AM on November 17, 2000

Interesting. just started doing this recently. Every user gets a "diary" page, which is a simple weblog they can update easily and other's can get to via username clicks.

One thing they were discussing (haven't been in a while, don't know the resolution) that's a necessary aspect of this is allow the users to redirect from the topic-specific blog to their own web pages, if they have one.

Also, you need to have more features than your regular Blogger weblog currently has, especially the easy ability to handle discussions. That's what makes a community, ultimately - people talking directly to one another.

(I'm pretty sure Blogger's getting discussion capabilities, I've seen a couple of places beta-testing it, so the Pyra gang could still be the perfect provider. :-)
posted by cCranium at 5:35 AM on November 17, 2000

[cCranium] I've seen a couple of places beta-testing [Blogger comments]

Oh sure, just the A-Listers, though.
posted by daveadams at 8:51 AM on November 17, 2000

You can get add discusion to your blog by adding Blog Voices to your site. It's free, and run by ChrisH (He also hosts
posted by riffola at 9:05 AM on November 17, 2000

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