10bitworks is a dynamic community not a static space


tl;dr All of us 10bitworks members in good standing now have “Author” permissions on this worpdress-powered site. You are in good standing if you are not overdue on member fees by more than 45 days. Currently, we are only granting this benefit to paying members. If you see your profile on the left sidebar then you are good to go!

This whole running a hackerspace thing so far has been a lesson in all sorts of disciplines that we did not anticipate: business, marketing, delegation, leadership, community, e-commerce, non-profits, legalese, social graces, communication, and time management. We have overcome many obstacles to complete projects for public events and for our own edification with perseverance and community. But I think one topic we fall short on is reminding everyone that 10bitworks is supposed to be diverse. If you are not into the topics that dominate 10bitworks, which nowadays is ham radio and 3D printing, then please start a project that interests you. 10bitworks is here to facilitate your projects whatever they may be: artistic, for funsies, serious mathematical or philosophical works, auto-repair, puppet crafting,board game mechanics experimentation, etc. I am sure that is why we have all joined a hackerspace in the first place. So what is keeping the large majority of the membership from participating?

Let us start with the reality of meatspace, no one has the time to make it down every week so we better have a good online community for deferred and remote participation. Ah, the mailing-list. Personally, I think it has many drawbacks which hinder how the online community interacts.

  1. Topics get hidden under new topics
  2. Low signal-to-noise ratio, leading you to ignore the mailing-list
  3. Commonly desired mailing-list features are stuck in a rarely used web-interface
Google Groups Statistics 2012-2013 (Post and Topics)

Google Groups Statistics 2012-2013

In the past 12 months, August saw the most topics posted to the mailing-list at about 115. Those 115 topics generated 400 posts or about 3.5 posts per topic. January 2013 saw the fewest topics at 50 and 150 posts or 3 posts per topic. Three posts per topic is fairly consistent with the other 10 months as well. So the original post which started the topic and two replies is the norm for our mailing-list. We have 173 email addresses subscribed but of the top 10 posters to the mailinglist for March, seven are also in the top 10 of all-time posters. Maybe I should
be more zen about judging our level of participation by a frigging mailing list, I do not know.

I do know that we have tried to offer other solutions such as the wiki and the 10bitworks Forum on Google+ Communities. One requires a steep learning-curve and the other requires what is being deemed a scary and scarier Google account. Both are unfortunate.

The calendar is a great tragedy. I say “the” calendar but there is a Google calendar, a facebook calendar, and for the life of me I can not figure out how to just merge the Google calendar and the Google+ Communities calendar. Grrr. The Facebook calendar, and the FB account itself, is just a way to reach out to non-members and the general public. We have tried to stop using it and just use the Google one but sometimes its easier to invite certain groups with an FB calendar.

Social networks are a tough nut to crack. Some members like one over another. Some don’t like any of them. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ Communities. Disseminating information across three channels is difficult and details get fragmented if not totally inconsistent. Five channels if you include the mailing-list and the website.

But here is the most important thing about these three social networks: they are good for sharing status updates or links to interesting content, not for posting content or discussion. By focusing on these types of social networks, what I will call ‘status update’ social networks, and the mailing-list as it is today, we have been a community of links with no discussion.

With Twitter’s 140 character limit you cannot do much more than chatter. Though FB and G+ do not have any character limits that i know of, you cannot save and edit your post later. Caveat: with G+ you could always just create an empty circle called “drafts”, start a post and share it to this “drafts” circle, edit it forever, then when it is ready, post it to a circle with real people. But that is not obvious to many people and again more and more people are starting to shun Google, or at least, be wary enough to opt-out of certain Google services. I’ll admit here and now that I was big fan of Google Wave, which prototyped many of the features in G+, and I would like to see the open-source federated Wave Protocol project succeed.

So you’ve posted some long rant on FB or thesis on G+. Now what? How do you share that with anyone outside those networks? You can publish just the single post publicly on either FB or G+ and I suppose then you could spread that link with Twitter and receive comments either via Twitter or FB or G+. And i suppose that is not too hard but, again, don’t you think that was one too many hoops to jump through?

Wouldn’t it be easy if there were just some way to post to a blog where you can format, include nice looking links and multiple inline images, make edits and updates, choose an editor thats right for you, and still get to spread your link around FB, Twitter, and G+ or even on community-run social networks like identi.ca or diaspora*?

/facepalm

Oh yeah. We’ve been sitting on this WordPress thing all along.

We are giving all paying 10bitworks members the ability to write their own posts here at 10bitworks.com. The next time you login, you should notice some new options across the top of the page to create a new post or you can use whatever client is right for you Your posts are your own and can be whatever you want them to be about.  You can even automate your posts. For example, automate a daily post of nothing but links you have saved during the day to Delicious.com. If you need to include photos in your post, I recommend using imgur.com where you do not need an account to upload files. Of course, if we get complaints about nefarious posts authored by you on this site, we may revoke your access.

In addition to the permissions granted to you for WordPress, we’ve also granted you permissions to manage your own sign-up sheets to get anyone (members or not) to collaborate with you on your idea, projects, or whatever. If you want to get RSVPs for an event you are hosting try using one of the many free online forms for this purpose. If you are hosting an event that requires an up-front fee, let me know the price plans and i’ll setup the page at 10bitworks.com with the appropriate paypal, dwolla, bitcoin, etc. purchasing buttons.

If needed, I’ll post a part 2 on how to write posts.

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