Posts filed under ‘Inaugural Post’

A logical beginning

For the past year or two I’ve maintained a private “community site” exclusively for reaching a private community.  I’ve resisted moving to a purely public blog, but I’ve tired of the constraints of a private, by definition more limited, conversation.  Like most bloggers, I think I fear two things most about this:  1)  No one cares, and 2)  Failure to commit the time, energy and ideas to keeping it fresh.  So, with that opening, let me begin.

Let me start with the what put me over the edge to launch this blog.  I’ve worked on communities for the last few years for Microsoft.  Now, to be fair, there are MANY people who work on communities at Microsoft and in many different capacities (a community in and of itself).  As this blog evolves, I hope to not only increase the clarity of what my specific role is at Microsoft, but hopefully introduce you to others that can add to these conversations.  The short version of my work is as the global leader for the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award program (www.microsoft.com/mvp).  Recently, this charter has grown to include how we should think about the intersection of communities and the support experience for Microsoft products.  Now, this blog is not an advertisement for that program or Microsoft.  I’m certain I will talk about these areas as the work there has greatly influenced and informed how I think about communities – so complete seperation is impossible.  That said, I want to be clear that this blog is not an official Microsoft page and represents no opinions but my own (and I suppose those of you that may post here). 

One more note however that is fair – I did choose to use MSN Spaces as the host for this.  I did NOT choose MSN Spaces to demonstrate any particular loyalty to Microsoft (in fact my wife’s blog is on Blogger.)  But, since I do work at Microsoft, I thought “eating our own dogfood” would be informative, so I’m going for it.  This isn’t loyalty – it’s self evaluation and if I don’t like it…I’ll let you know. [IF YOU ARE READING THIS NOW, I HAVE ALREADY MOVED OFF OF MSN SPACES – BOTTOM LINE, SPACES IS GREAT, AMAZING IN FACT FOR FAST/LOW BARRIER TO ENTRY BLOGGING FOR THE MASSES.  THAT SAID, ALL THE EASE OF USE COSTS YOU SOME CUSTOMIZATION I WANTED – THUS, THE CHANGE]

So, back to why I’m starting this now (and why I chose Community “Group Therapy” as a moniker).  About a year ago I began a process of trying to find and connect with some of my peers in other corporations working on community.  That effort culminated in a gathering this week of Community leaders from 14 pretty well known companies.  I won’t “out them” here for sake of their privacy, but they may chose to do so on there own.  I will say the group included companies as diverse as consumer packaged goods, energy, media/entertainment, large retailers, transportation, and technology.  The point of this gathering (by design) was to gather individuals thinking about communities from across many different industries to really talk about the issues, challenges and passions for growing and contributing to communities.  I commented a few months ago to some colleagues, as we talked about doing this event, that I thought it might feel a lot like “group therapy.”  Sort of a cleansing and debate on conflicts and challenges we deal with as faces of community within traditional corporate structures.  And indeed it was…

We debated some great topics:

  • The value and importance of user to user discussion – The read only “web” is no longer sufficient – down right dead in my opinion
  • The credibility and inspiration gathered from user generated content and insights
  • The difficulty of balancing the speed and openness we believe in and the (sometimes understandable) constraints of legal policy
  • Measurement and impact – let’s face facts, we do exist inside businesses, we have to articulate the value of the investment – this could spur some controversy of course – community is a pure, intentially non-corporate exercise, but let’s not hide from the reality of business accountability – I don’t believe that is in conflict with pure community.  This is a good future topic I will tuck away and think about.
  • Community moderation – I was pleased/proud to hear the strong collective view that moderating out profanity/offensive content is a reasonable line, but uniform agreement that criticism is welcomed.  The point here being that communities must be places where honest dialog occurs – both positive AND negative, both supportive AND critical.  More on this in a later post too.

I probably learned as much about community in 1 day as I had learned in the last year or more combined.  So, that was the lightning rod to start this blog…with the hope that I could find a way to continue the conversation and broaden the participants in ways that advances the cause of the shift to “mass collaboration” (note: Read Wikinomics!). 

Along with my first post, I’ve added some links to other sites I follow and some books I’m reading (or read recently) that I found to be worthwhile.  I welcome suggestions of ones I’m missing you think I might enjoy. 

Now, let’s see if anyone reads this and I’d love your thoughts on the above topics. 

Sean

February 13, 2007 at 4:41 pm 1 comment


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