Been thinking about a small problem lately.
I’ve owned the blog and domain - networkofideas.org - for several years now. It originally sprouted as a platform for a group of friends to post 1 thing they learned every day and why that something may be significant to others. The format was simple, you had to fill out the following per post:
- WHAT I LEARNED:
- WHY WAS IT SIGNIFICANT:
- WHERE/WHO CAN THIS APPLY TO:
The idea was that by forcing ourselves to teach others, we naturally reflect more in our own lessons and can also build on one another. Originally we used Google spreadsheets, but as time went on I decided to share the idea with more people and start this blog. I had a great group of smart and intelligent contributing writers - each and every one of them have a passion for growth, learning, and helping others. It was the perfect time to bring everyone together, and I believed (and still do believe) that we can make a difference in our lives and other’s lives if we can build a strong community together. The good intentions were there. However, I found that starting a blog with over 10 contributing writers had several problems:
- People were self-concious about what they posted, often putting great pieces in draft mode and spending days editing the grammar.
- Contributors felt pressured to look for great lessons rather than just anything they learned that day.
- There was no correlated theme. That wasn’t the biggest problem, but a truly successful blog has content that is for a certain audience. Only then does a community form.
- There was no way to follow the blog unless you had RSS Feed. There was a lack of connection to Twitter and other forms of social networks.
- Blogging took time, and a slower stream of posts discouraged others from writing as well.
And last but not least, while a blog is a great place to share ideas, knowledge, and content - there wasn’t any action. There wasn’t any “so what” after learning the lessons. How can we track progress and commitment to a lesson? Essentially - how do we know this content had any impact?
The problem with content nowadays is that there is too much. There are too many forms of media that we do not have enough time in our day to try them all. In just the “Social”, “Read”, and “Listen” folders on my Iphone, I have Instagram, Facebook, Path, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, Quora, Pinterest, Pulse, Feedly, Prismatic, Pocket, Flipboard, Kindle, LinkedIn Today, Alien Blue - Reddit, BuzzFeed, Audible, Downcast, Stitcher, TED, and Spotify. There is just too much information to consume every day. Even if we do disect and identify the content that is actually useful to each of us, how do we get to that next step of applying the information?
If we take that question back to networkofideas.org, then a truly great community shouldn’t be just about information sharing, it should share applicable information and if possible, promote action. The first step is to identify information and advice that is applicable to the audience and build a habit of sharing that information, and the second step is to create a culture of applying that infromation. Anyone can cite a study on how to be more social at work, but a community can help one another become that.
Here’s what I’m thinking. We’d like to create a blog/platform for us to share great ideas, whether it be something we learned at work or an HBR article. The themes will be:
- Making the world better: Socio-cultural and technology-related problems and solutions
- Growth: Life of a young professional, self-development, habits
- Feed of interesting content that is unrelated to the above
Most of us already share ideas about these topics, such as emailing each other TED talks and commencement speeches, but the segmented emails/FB posts scatters the information and it’s difficult to look back and find something a few months later. If this is successful, then the next step is to build on that community and find ways to take action on what we learned. How? Not sure yet. Not all information we share will be actionable, but at least a small portion will be. Whether it’s a challenge to build 1 habit per month, a small book club, or going to a volunteer event together - anything is better than just consuming information and not doing anything with it.
What I’m still struggling with:
- How to make this more social. Perhaps Wordpress is not the best platform. I’m looking for an easy blogging platform that allows multiple contributers and co-posting onto social networks (think Buffer or Draftin.com).
- How to ensure momentum doesn’t stop and help writers feel less self-concious. Does that come with building a stronger community? It’s tough to gain commitment as we are all so busy with work and other things now.
Thanks for reading this far. Your feedback is greatly welcome, and we can’t wait to read what ideas you may have as well.
“By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn.”