A little while ago, I did an interview with Joe Pike from Spin Your Web (a site about journalism and communities). Joe’s now uploaded the interview as a number of bite-size video chunks, and I’m posting them here, along with links to the notes and blogposts on the Spin Your Web site.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the ideas in these series of videos. Do let me know in the comments.
(and in case you’re wondering – most of the meeting rooms at the Guardian offices have original photos by our staff photographers and others, commissioned for Weekend magazine etc. That’s why Al Pacino is glaring over my shoulder throughout the conversation….)
Communities aren’t made, they already exist. Communities must not distract people, but empower them.
“The platform belongs to us but the conversation belongs to everybody”. When nurturing a community, knowing your audience is key. This means: their needs; their passions; what drives them; their attitudes and approaches; patterns of usage; the pace of the conversation appropriate to them. All balanced with editorial requirements.
Who’s responsible for the quality of community interaction? Everyone. Community members need to care about the quality of the environment and preserving it, as much as we do.
“It’s quite difficult to persuade anybody to do things that they don’t want to do or that they don’t see value in”. Persuading journalists to engage with online communities is easiest when you can explain where and why there is value in doing those activities. This could be finding new audiences; talking in new spaces; developing new skills; broadening stories: growing insight, additional perspectives and adding ‘texture’.
Most of the challenge is helping people to understand the value of the proposition rather than getting them to do something they don’t want to do. Forcing someone to get involved in online communities is never an option. In the social media world, the worst person to be on Twitter is someone who doesn’t want to be on Twitter. If you’re having problems with some of your team keep two key points in mind:
* It takes time to work out the best way to use all this technology
* If there’s no way that it can be used where the journalists are comfortable, don’t do it
Of course some people don’t want to learn skills and don’t want to move on in the ways we publish and the kinds of audiences that we encourage. This can be an organisational change, something that individuals shouldn’t feel responsible for. Organisations must try to collectively recognise that the world is changing and consequently we have to work out how we can embrace that. Because the alternative is running away from it screaming saying we don’t want to play and we don’t want to be involved. And that’s not really an option is it?
Social anthropology is at its essence about understanding people and patterns of people, patterns of behaviour and beliefs and how they impact cultures and communities. Good questions to ask include: What are people doing? Why are they doing it (i.e. Why is it important to them? What is motivating or is likely to motivate them?) What does it mean for them and the kind of relationships they have?
An understanding of social anthropology is incredibly relevant to the digital area. The internet is an extension of our understanding of community, socialisation and forming relationships. As well, not instead of.