originally posted on Concept Hub
Yesterday I led a writing workshop for the meetup group, Atlanta Writer’s Circle. The topic was on overcoming writer’s block. About 20 people attended, mostly people I had not met before.
In this meeting I got to learn why these writers write, the stories and observations they felt compelled to tell, their longing to connect with other writers and the challenge to stay motivated, get feedback and find fresh perspectives.
At the end of the workshop I asked how many of the writers blogged. None. I was incredibly disappointed. Not because I am so passionate about the value of blogging, but because I wanted a way to be able to read more about what my new friends were thinking. I loved some of the perspectives I heard during the workshop and I wanted to add my thoughts to those perspectives and link to the writer’s blog. I wanted to comment more on other things we discussed. I wanted to open up the conversation in such a way that we could continue to explore ideas and collaborate, but at a time and place that was convenient in our busy schedules.
That is what blogging allows people to do.
A little over a week ago I attended a party of my friend, fellow blogger, and fellow un-conference organizer, Amber Rhea. The party was in celebration of her blog’s 5th birthday. She was celebrating 5 years of freedom of expression. At her celebration were fellow bloggers, many of whom she knew because they found each other within the blogosphere. Many people she would have never had met had they not connected online.
Amber and her partner Rusty Tanton took their blogging to the next level when they developed the GA Podcast Network. A space they developed to host all of Georgia’s voices in one place, a gathering place for the community. They took this idea one step further when they launched Mostly ITP an outreach podcast to capture the unique stories in their neighborhood. Their efforts have been rewarded by Creative Loafing as The Best Locally Produced Podcast, as well as by the countless friendships they have made along the way.
However the community building of blogging and podcasting has extended beyond neighborhoods and is reaching into the business world. Georgia’s own Blog Diva, Toby Bloomberg has set out to capture the stories of both personal and professional bloggers at her site Blogger Stories. She has captured the stories of executives, marketing and pr professionals, writers, entrepreneurs, and consultants. These are people from all professions, of all ages, from many different backgrounds sharing their stories of why they embraced blogging and how it has changed their life.
Blogging is about connecting with your community.
During the planning and promoting stages of SoCon07, Tony Stubblebine reached out to us to introduce a new platform he had created called Crowdvine. We launched socon.crowdvine.com and encouraged people to add their profile when they registered for the conference. As a result, the attendees/participants were able to read each other’s blogs and begin to connect and network prior to the conference.
Tim Moenk was tasked with navigating the Internet during the keynote presentations. He wrote how crowdvine made that task much more effective and much more enjoyable than it had been at previous conferences.
Whereas my past experiences were hectic and a bit scattered in trying to find relevant info to put up on the screen during conversation, having access to the social networking site made this process easy. Every time someone stood up and was given the microphone, I would put their profile up on the screen for everyone to see. Often, l would click on the links to their blogs which gave further insight into who it was that we as a group were communicating with. For the most part, relevant web pages to the discussion were clicks away rather then google searches away, and the people stayed central to the whole experience. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I derived alot of value from this!
Jeff Haynie has taken this idea and is expanding it as a means to connect the southeast technology and media community for ongoing collaborations, not just for one event. He has recently launched Southern Fried Tech, which he recently explained the goals and plans for.
The purpose of Southern Fried Tech is to increase the size and strength of the technology and media community in the Southeast. We feel that there are three key ingredients for accomplishing this goal:
- Focus on a shared set of interests. In our case, we are focusing on people who share an interest in technology and media. A common set of interests will serve as the foundation for the community.
- Focus on shared geography. We are focusing on the Southeast. Shared geography is important because it enables people to extend online relationships to the offline world. We are targeting people that want to make things happen, and there is simply no substitute for meeting in person when you’re trying to get things done.
- Provide users with access to new people, information and events. This is what drives growth and innovation within a community. Our hope is that Southern Fried Tech will serve as a catalyst for creating new relationships, new ideas and new companies in the Southeast.
In the coming months, our primary focus will be on bringing new people, information and events into the community. We will accomplish this in several ways:
- We will continue to add new features to the Southern Fried Tech web site
- We plan on launching and sponsoring 2-3 technology and media events in the coming months
- We are in the process of starting a podcast that will focus on people and companies involved in technology and media in the Southeast
In conclusion, social media, which includes bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers, is about connecting with our local and/or global community. It is about expression and collaboration. It is about sharing and learning.
It is not for the fearful or the weak at heart.
The conversations are open, voices and opinions are heard and it is these growing voices, opinions and ideas that can and will change the world.