[theforum] A sound of silence

ekm at seastorm.com ekm at seastorm.com
Fri Nov 21 12:27:45 CST 2008

sarah adams wrote:
> Things seemed to be moving along well for a while, until Matt's message
> came through. Now we're reduced to arguing about what community is and
> why our site seems to have lost some of the community feel it once had.
> Evolt may not be what it once was because the online world is not what
> it once was. We filled a void then that does not need to be filled now.
> So now that we are one amongst many, how will we be different or better?
> I don't have then answers, so I hope I've at least asked the right
> questions :)

I'm not sure you have.  FWIW not sure you haven't either. ;)  I wouldn't
call this discussion "reduced" by any stretch.  I think it's a key issue.
Perhaps *the* key issue.

We are "one amongst many" today because, IMO, of this very issue.

I don't want to discount the value of new people being involved, of fresh
ideas.  I'm super greatful for everyone's efforts.  It should absolutely
not be about old vs. new.  This was never meant to be an exclusive club
one way or the other.

It does irk me to have the idea of revisiting the roots of what got the
community energized in the first place, and kept it going for the first
few years, as "nostalgia."  If that were what it was about, I *would*
throw in the towel today.  I'd rather be nostalgic about other things.

I realize I worded some stuff badly on prior posts but I was really
digging to get to something, which I think Matt has done a pretty good job
of uncovering.  For an organization like ours to survive, to be worth the
*effort*, we need deeper glue than "a pretty good mailing list that
answers people's general questions about web-related stuff, and a site
with somewhat intersting content."


I do think there is community still, in different places: less in the US,
more in the UK.  Less on theforum and more in #evolt GMT.  However, it is
not as infused through w.e.o and l.e.o like it once was.  And this is not
nostalgia, this is me saying: it was a good thing, when the sense of
community and purpose infused the org.  This is me saying: I fully agree
we should strive to reenergize our sense of community. This is me saying,
it's not about bringing back the folks who left, it's about bringing in
new people with the same spirit.  This is me saying, if we discard and
discount that what was so freaking awesome about evolt.org in 1999, we
won't be evolt.org anymore.

In 1999, we were exploring the full power of the internet to build a
ground-breaking, high-value community and get stuff done, and to do it
better than the corporate orgs.

We. were. exploring. the. full. power. of. the. Internet.

I think Matt is getting at what did, and should, make us different and
outstanding.  We are not, sorry to say, outstanding anymore.  We are, and
have been, treading water.  We have all the tools at our disposal.  We
have skills, we have a mailing list with people who -- I have a gut
feeling, I really do -- are *hungry* for what we used to offer.

Where I've differed from Matt somewhat, has been in approach.  My idea was
to have the site in shape first, *then* entice community.  And/or approach
both simultaneously.  I'm now of the mind to hit from every front
possible.  I'm now of the mind that we need more new people in admin,
and/or more connection between theforum and thelist.

Web dev is IMO currently more exciting than ever, now that we have DOM
compliant browsers, and some very elegant open source languages and
software.  Internet penetration is increasing at an exponential rate in
places like China, Latin America, the Middle East.

At the same time, I see this weird malaise coming over the web dev
community.  It's like we need to be miserable or have something to kvetch
about.  Or maybe, now that so many people make a paycheck from it, it
isn't so fun anymore.  I know I went through that... and I feel like I'm
out the other side enough to say: being grown-up is hellaciously over
rated.  The internet, and web, are still fucking awesome.


More information about the theforum mailing list