Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Community is Everything

A confluence of events has caused me to reflect on the idea of "community stewardship". As I posted yesterday, JPG Magazine, which had it's roots as a entirely community driven publication... decided to re-write it's history from the top down in hopes, one can only imagine, to appeal to a broader commercial market. This, among other factors, triggered the departure of the two founders, Derek and Heather. When this news broke, the community reacted strongly in support of the founders, whom many have known personally via interviews and communication since JPG's inception (including myself).

Currently on flickr, a search for the tag "jpgmag" or "jpgmagazine" reveals pages and pages of screenshots exactly like the one I posted yesterday. Community members saying their goodbyes to the publication and deleting accounts. I don't think this will destroy JPG magazine, but it will certainly feel the aftershocks.

Community is Everything

Matthew Haughey of metafilter also chimed in with his own list of lessons learned about managing online communities with his posting Some Community Tips for 2007 - Seven tips on how to run a successful community. No doubt in response to other current events such as the digg.com user revolt and his own experiences with Wikipedia.org.

The amusing thing, is that the destruction of one community in an abrupt fashion, usually spawns new communities, that are bonded by this same disruption. For example, I was just been invited to the new flickr group I Deleted My JPG Account today. And yet another group, that seems to have similar goals to JPG in the early days. Utata, another amazing flickr based community even has an annual project coming up that involves a glossy printed zine, created entirely by the membership, mostly FOR the membership.

Camera Toss, which I created on a whim initially, was never an intentional community, but it appears to have become one by sheer virtue of the process. It has a narrow scope and we don't have a ton of discussion or activities compared to JPG or Utata (for example), but that doesn't stop the members from being quite tightly knit. I was shocked this week, by an event that demonstrated this.

Photography and photographers tend to be fairly competitive in nature (a generalization), not by any fault of their own, it's a terribly cut-throat industry. If multiple photographers were contacted for one magazine story, as members of the camera toss community just were, one would expect an individualized approach, and a jockeying for position within that article so to speak. But to my surprise, people wanted to discuss their contributions openly and almost everyone also wrote me a private email to mention they had been contacted and asked for my input and advice. There was even a suggestion of crafting our interview responses in collaboration, which made me laugh (and we avoided), because that is exactly the opposite of what a reporter talking to multiple people is hoping to get. Wow!

If you are curious about which publication, Jonathan, one of the community members contacted, posted something to his blog about it.

I can only hope that I have done well as a community steward with Camera Tossing. My efforts to include anyone and everyone who wants to participate, even in Art Museum Exhibitions, seems to have set a good example and mood of sharing within the community.

Camera Toss, is about, above all: shared inspiration, creating, community, collaboration, and having fun!

correction made: Matthew Haughey started MetaFilter.com, not wikipedia.org as I had originally cited due to misreading a link on his about page, which was actually linking to his entry on wikipedia. How embarassing... one of my first wordy blog postings and I mess it up. ;-)

3 comments:

mathowie said...

I actually don't have anything to do with wikipedia, I run metafilter.com

Christian said...

As I mentioned after your command-z efforts, you are an unusual person, keep it that way.
Best regards, Christan (tossthecam)

clickykbd said...

mathowie:

Correction made. Sorry!