I'm always thinking about tools. I'm not coming here with solutions, just my rambling thoughts.
Falling down the tools trap
The tools trap is easy to fall into. On one hand, we can get sucked into trying to pull together the perfect tech set up. On the other hand, so much of community work has nothing to do with the tech — community building is fundamentally about connecting and knowing how to connect.
The tools are just part of the picture. We can kid ourselves that 'if only' we had the tech or space set up, then we could create a wonderful community. When we fall into this trap we end up with communities that feel empty, ones that haven't truly considered the needs of people. It's the trap where we have made all too many assumptions about what our people want and need.
Build a community and they will not just come. Build anything and people will not just come. I hope most of us know this by now. The tools and the connection comes hand in hand. We need them both. You can't build anything these days and just expect people to come.
Communities are distributed, but do they always have to be?
On one hand, 'community is distributed' — people are everywhere and we can't control how and when people contribute to a community.
This means doing things like showing up and creating varying spaces for our communities. It means connecting people everywhere. It means having touch points and trying to design connection for them.
The downside of distributed communities:
- is that they become messy
- perhaps they are best suited to free communities
- you get sucked into the noise
- they are often overwhelming
- they are hard to navigate
- it is hard to control the community experience
- the management aspect brings many challenges too
We deserve better spaces
On the other hand, as community builders we deserve better homes. Ones that we can nurture and invest in. Ones that don't feel so disconnected and messy. Ones that allow us to focus instead of being distracted. Ones that respect our times. Ones that seamlessly integrate and make it easy to use. Ones that allow us to create sustainability.
We need to open our minds to what community could be. I mean — apparently community is hot right now!? If it's hot. And if we 'collectively' believe community brings value, then we should be willing to explore what it could all mean.
I want to become less accepting
Communities can exist in so many forms. What we have now is not enough. There is plenty of room for innovation.
The past year or so I've become accepting of the fact that communities are distributed. People participate and contribute in many different ways.
However, the more I think about it, the more I want better tooling. The more I even want to bring everything into one main space to create tighter and more meaningful communities. Sure, tech is not everything, but it sure would be easier to build communities if the tech was easier.
Community is unbundled. There are tools for every individual aspect part of community, but it's complicated and messy to bring it all together. Perhaps it's time to bundle it up again.
I want to curate. I want to have audio spaces and audio recordings. I want easy newsletters., for us as the community leaders, but also for the members. I want to bring in value all in one easy space for to build a community of amazing value.
It's a huge challenge to do this with 10, 20, 30 different tools.