Another semester of CommunITP (“Creating Community Environments”) at NYU’s ITP graduate program has come to a close.
For more information about the course, watch this space. And you can contact the professor, Kristen Taylor, by emailing her at her first name at kthread dot com.
We’ll continue reblogging here as we find more posts about our favorite topics of community, storytelling, narrative, and content experiments.
Ben Hammersley visited CommunITP class last night via Skype from his Paris hotel room and shared his current thinking on the importance of geopolitical online presence translation for all.
* Re: security theater “Gatekeepers are the most defensive.”
* Is the philosophical definition of the good life now too complicated to understand, predict, or reverse-engineer?
* Coined the Hammersley Index: Internet weirdness will double every twelve months.
Last night, Nicola Twilley visited our CommunITP class as we talked about markets, food, structuring experiences, and diversifying groups. Before class, we read her fascinating blog Edible Geography.
During class, she opened her package from Quarterly, a community she’s part of, and shared her process her writing and convening groups.
Nicola told us she never wanted to be confined to a category as a writer, and how she uses food to tie together disparate topics. “If you write about food, you can write about anything.”
From a blog carnival in January on GOOD called Food for Thinkers to a new Food Studies series on Grist, she brings together those whose writing doesn’t often appear near each other, and then she goes further, organizing events with the Foodprint Project (with Sarah Rich) and Studio X NYC (with Geoff Manaugh) where people from opposite sides of the room speak with each other.
Talking about a new project that comes out of the Foodprint LA event and is in partnership with the Mayor’s office there, she spoke to the desire to collect data on one specific food, and where and how it’s purchased in one city; “No one really knows how a city feeds itself.”
Thanks for being our first guest speaker of the semester and setting the bar high, Nicola!
Today is the final day of the ITP Winter Show and the end of the semester.
We have had a really amazing semester and, though some of us will likely post here from time to time, this Tumblr will be much quieter than in the past fourteen weeks.
If you didn’t see it, I wrote a syllabi-post for The Atlantic a few weeks back (read it here) that walks through how and why we studied what we studied, in that order.
Thanks to Aly, David, Emeri, Mark, Fred, Matt, Monica, Nisma, Noah, Peter, Sava, Scott, Max, and Martín for their thoughtful work. It’s been a privilege.
And thanks to all of you, for following us here, liking our posts, and encouraging our work from afar.
Some of our big unanswered questions (all of us brought in questions and then we proposed answers together as a class):
Q: How to launch or think about launching in a crowded marketplace?
A: Ride on top of other communities (especially at first); find your niche and differentiate; remember that every product or service starts somewhere.
Q: Is the “community” bubble going to burst?
A: Our class guest speaker Kenyatta talked about fatigue and then beginning again. Also, from the class: seeking out deep satisfaction in communities will continue to be a good thing.
(KT note: I would add that I hope when we move to the next stage in the Web cycle, community is folded into sites and services. Likely, we’ll see less freestanding communities launch without a business model and more lightweight communities aggregate and move through existing services, working with other lightweight networks.)
Q: Is there a truly organic community model?
A: Difficult to make commodified products feel and truly be organic, same for commercial distribution (problem of scale); simpler designs and business models designed to make the system dumb and nodes smart might be organic; we create networks within networks (so, some inorganic communities have organic nested within).
Kenyatta spoke from experience in watching memes and curating conversations about their documentation: “Never discourage emergent behavior.”
Q: How do you begin a community and solve the ‘empty room’ problem?
A: Think again about onboarding and teaching a behavior so well that the new community member can immediately take that unique action; set up a sample interaction; make it easy to add friends and show friends content from new site/service; look to staff and very engaged members to demonstrate types of activity. We also touched on when anonymous commenting is appropriate and how to enable the desired behaviors.
Other questions (or answers) to add here?