Tag Archives: Community

The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging by Charles Vogl

Summary

  1. We’re in a connection economy in which those who connect others will succeed.

Key Takeaways

  1. To create something that others want to join and support, we have to remember a core tenet: communities function best and are most durable when they’re helping members to be more successful in some way in a connected and dynamic world.
  2. A community is a group of individuals who share mutual concern for each other’s welfare. When we form a community that grows friendship, we create what we seek, friends who care about the welfare of one another. Strong communities teach members how to succeed in ways they cannot achieve on their own. The education comes from a body of knowledge and wisdom that members cannot access or manage on their own. So, in a strong community, members must know how to access the knowledge held by others. This can be informal (by hanging out with other members) or formal (with personal lessons, classes, or apprenticeships).
  3. Your success in growing  a community will depend on how well you can understand and articulate the following features:
    1. Shared values
    2. Insider understanding
      1. Who am I? How should I act? What do I believe? I call this membership identity.
      2. Ideally, all insiders’ names are known.
    3. Boundary: The line between members and outsiders
      1. This boundary should be more about making the inside space safe for insiders than about keeping outsiders out.
      2. Many leaders confuse self-selection (no invitation necessary) with “everyone belongs.”
      3. Gatekeepers are important for helping visitors across the boundary. They’re the people who can give newcomers access to the community.
    4. Initiation: The activities that mark a new member
      1. An initiation is a kind of ritual, and the best rituals come with symbols and tokens.
      2. We all want to know that we’re truly accepted into the communities we join. An initiation is any activity that’s understood as official recognition and welcome into the community. The initiation helps members understand clearly who’s part of the community. It marks the completed journey over the boundary and into the inner ring.
      3. A personal letter or telephone call that welcomes a new member can be powerful.
      4. They’ll look for something to interpret as an initiation if one isn’t offered. This may be an extemporaneous compliment from a leader, an invitation to teach other insiders, or more intimate invitations away from outer ring activities, such as a private party, an intimate conversation, or an unadvertised gathering.
    5. Rituals: The things we do that have meaning
      1. Invitations resolve the crisis of belonging and as a solution they are so simple as to be almost unbelievable. The invitations can be to social gatherings, insider events, or one-on-one time. When we as leaders extend invitations, two things happen that break down a crisis of belonging. First, when we extend invitations, we establish ourselves as having the power to invite, no matter what formal role or title, if any, we might have.
      2. Strong communities create both formal and informal rituals. There are as many types of ritual as your imagination can conjure up. They often rely on special symbols and are important emotionally. Remember: feeling connected, trusted, appreciated, and welcome is all in the realm of emotion.
    6. Temple: A place set aside to find our community
    7. Stories: What we share that allows others and ourselves to know our values
      1. Among the most important stories are origin stories. By definition, these stories explain how something started, i.e., its origin. There can be different origin stories for different parts of a community. But there must be a single origin story about how the founders were inspired to form the community. The story must include how they learned something new, did something new, and then invited others to join them.
    8. Symbols: The things that represent ideas that are important to us
      1. You’ll have to choose when and what you can offer as tokens to help others remember their belonging, accomplishments, and commitments. Anything can be a token. Pins, scarves, medals, flags, and certificates are commonly used. Even a small rock can make a perfectly good token if presented in a sacred way. The tokens for your community should represent your values.
      2. To use the power of tokens we can use a few simple principles. Intention: Tell the receiver why you’re giving it to her. Symbolism: Tell her what it represents to you.
    9. Inner Rings: A path to growth as we participate.
      1. An exploration zone is important for visitors. This is how we protect insiders while giving outsiders a chance to participate, to learn more about our community, and to decide whether it’s right for them. We can encourage explorers by sharing some specified activities and areas, but not all. These are outer ring activities. Areas reserved for insiders (whether formal or informal) are inner ring.
      2. If you prefer welcoming visitors to all community activities, an inner ring can be designated by privileges (at these same events). This means that members are allowed to do things that visitors are not. These privileges might include the following: Providing opening remarks Inviting guests Scheduling events Reserving space Teaching skills
      3. On our journey, we want to be taught, and we also want to teach. This is why creating opportunities to both mentor and be mentored are powerful.
  4. Features of a sustainable community:
    1. First, there’s a clear group identity with understood boundaries and purpose. Members know who is in or out and why they’re together.
    2. Second, benefits and costs are proportional. Members have a system that rewards contribution. Getting more benefits than others must be earned, or the group will collapse.
    3. Third, decisions are made together. Members make decisions in a way they recognize is fair. This doesn’t necessarily mean by consensus or simply by voting. It does mean that there’s group participation.
    4. Fourth, there’s effective monitoring of violators or free riders. If members don’t trust others to obey the rules, then they’ll lose faith in the community.
    5. Fifth, there are graduated sanctions for those who disrespect community rules. Small violations get small sanctions. Large violations get serious punishment.
    6. Sixth, conflict-resolution mechanisms are inexpensive and easy to access. Conflicts can be handled quickly and in ways that members think is fair.
    7. Seventh, there’s recognition of some sort of rights to organize (for example, by the government). People must be allowed to organize for their own reasons. If they’re forbidden to do so, that limits the third principle (making decisions together).
    8. Eighth, for groups that are parts of bigger groups and networks, there must be coordination for relevant groups. Some activities are best handled in small groups, and some may require the involvement of many people. It’s important that the right-size group—neither too big nor too small—handle whatever is at hand.
  5. Other
    1. His research indicates that “meaningfulness” involves understanding our own lives beyond the present time and place.
    2. Ostrom is a Nobel Prize–winning economist who has identified eight features necessary to maintain a stable community property resource.1 This wisdom applies to many of the communities you’ll grow. While Ostrom’s work overlaps with ideas I have already shared, it focuses more on long-term community management than on creating belonging and is worth exploring further for additional applications.
    3. I have a birthday tradition where I clear my calendar to make sure I do at least two things that day. The first is to write a letter to myself about what’s happened in the past year, how I feel, and what I aspire to do in the future. This causes me to reflect on how I’ve spent my time and who’s been involved. Then I make a list of the people who made a difference to me, and I call them one at a time, right down the list.

What I got out of it

  1. The “structure” and “process” of a healthy community is really helpful to understand. The process from initial contact to inner rings is a valuable insight in terms of helping the members feel increasingly attached and excited about the community

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell

Summary

  1. The author provides 113 lenses in which to “view” game design from. Can be thought of as various mental models, perspectives, and / or as a checklist to help guide you in your game design journey

Key Takeaways

  1. Game design = decision of what a game should be
  2. Listening is the most important skill. Must listen to your team, audience, game, client, self
  3. A game is something you play, a good toy is fun, fun = pleasure + surprise
    1. Games are entered willfully
    2. Games have goals
    3. Games have conflict
    4. Games have rules
    5. Games can be won and lost
    6. Game are interactive
    7. Games have challenge
    8. Games can create their own internal value
    9. Games engage players
    10. Games are closed, formal systems
  4. 4 Basic Elements of Game Design
    1. Mechanisms – rules, procedures
    2. Story – sequence of events
    3. Aesthetics
    4. Tech
  5. Community
    1. 4 primary elements that provide a sense of community – Membership, Influence, Integration and fulfillment needs, shared emotional connection
    2. Give people the means to talk and communicate
    3. Create community property 
    4. Let players express themselves (avatars, conversation, emojis, vanity items, etc.)
    5. Support three levels – the newbie, the player, the elder (teacher, give back, extra access, a more difficult game, governance, create and add to the platform…)
    6. Force players to depend on each other – obligation to others is powerful
    7. Community events 
  6. Survey
    1. What was the most frustrating moment or aspect of what you just did
    2. What was your favorite moment?
    3. Was there anything you wanted to do that you couldn’t?
    4. If you had a magic wand to wave, and you could change, add, or remove anything from the experience, what would it be?
    5. What were you doing in the experience?
    6. How would you describe this game to your friends and family?
  7. Learning
    1. Progressing from knowing to knowing how to showing to doing
    2. To create meaningful transformations, you must clearly state the change you want to take place and also the specifics of how and why your game will foster that change. Really, this is our old friend, Lens $14: Problem Statement. Of course, to create a successful transformational game, you must come up with a solid solution to how you enable the transformation, but you can’t possibly do that until you have clearly stated what transformation needs to take place. 
    3. Find Subject Matter Experts – they are usually thrilled to be able to take their expertise into a new dimension and eager to make sure you have every detail right. Starts with feeling, move to anecdotes, then SME approval, informal surveys/assessment, and lastly scientific testing and assessment
  8. Lenses – there are 113 lenses that I won’t write out completely, but some that hit home the most include:
    1. Lens of emotion, surprise, curiosity, problem solving, toy, pleasure, flow, motivation, novelty, challenge, skill vs. chance, competition, cooperation, reward, punishment, elegance, beauty, hero’s journey, story, expression, community, transformation, your secret purpose

What I got out of it

  1. Some really helpful tips and ideas in which to think about game design. Fun book to read and the author really made the process come to life

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker

Summary

  1. Parker walks us through how to think about and honest a meaningful gathering. It does take some extra thought and time, but the rewards are well worth it. “It is the way people gather that makes all the difference, that influences what happens in it and how successful it is. The little design choices you can make to make your gatherings soar. How to make gatherings meaningful and memorable”

Key Takeaways

  1. Step 1 is committing to a bold, sharp purpose – when should we gather and why
    1. We gather to solve problems you can’t solve alone, to mourn and celebrate, to show strength and honor
    2. Don’t mistake category (networking night) for purpose (helping clients connect with potential business partners)
    3. The more narrowly a community defined itself the more passion it arouses.
    4. Uniqueness is also important. How is this different? How is it disputable? Not everyone should agree with the point of the gathering 
    5. Work backwards – start with purpose, the outcome you want to achieve 
  2. Step 2 – who you include (and exclude)
    1. Who belongs and why is important. Exclusion can be generous for all the core members
    2. There are certain magic numbers in group gatherings – 6, 12-15, 30, 100-200
  3. Where you host your event is just as important as why 
    1. Seek a place that embodies why you’re meeting
  4. Don’t be a “chill” host – take initiative and being forth the intended purpose of your meeting 
    1. Find ways to create connections between your guests. Ask for peoples names and something they like, some connection they have or mutual interest, be overly generous in food and compliments 
    2. Enforce rules and exclusion principles 
  5. A gathering begins the moment a guest learns about it. The role of priming guests and building anticipation is underappreciated. 90% of what makes a gathering successful is done before the actual gathering. Communicate clearly to explain what the guests are signing up for 
  6. Find ways to honor your guests, going above and beyond what is normally expected
  7. Your guests have voluntarily (most likely) chosen to be there – now it is your job to turn a motley Crue into a tribe. Find ways to loop everyone into a question – “how many of you can relate to this question?” “I’ve been surprised to see how many people have nodded their heads in agreement in the past and I’m curious if you all have had the same experience…”
  8. Good controversy helps the discussion move forward but it often needs to be designed for and brought about as people tend to be polite and not want to stir the pot 
  9. How you close is equally important as how you start. Share what you hope people will walk away with, what you’ve learned. Need to ask people to look inward and reflect on what they just learned and to look outward and see how they’ll take what they just learned out into the world – what do I want to bring from “this world” to my “normal world”? You can do a “lot call” for physical gatherings to ease the transition and close. Never end a meeting with logistics or announcements, make it a powerful moment. Can thank people and talk about logistics as the second to last item on the agenda 
  10. End of gathering gifts can be very important – how can you turn an impermanent memory into a permanent one with a gift or reminder?
  11. Finish by recalling your purpose 

What I got out of it

  1. Some great step-by-step instructions in how to be thoughtful about gatherings. Focused more on offline, but easy to make the leap to online gatherings as well

Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software by Nadia Eghbal

Summary

  1. This book is an attempt to identify, and expand upon, what it means to be online today, told through the story of open source, where individual developers write code consumed by millions. Rather than maximizing participation, their work is defined by the opposite: the need to filter and curate a high volume of interactions. I try to explain why this came about and how platforms shifted the focus from online communities to solo creators. 

Key Takeaways

  1. It’s not the excessive consumption of code but he excessive participation from users vying for a maintainer’s attention that has made the work untenable for maintenance today
  2. Like any other creator, these developers create work that is intertwined with, and influenced by, their users, but it’s not collaborative in the way that we typically think of online communities
  3. Like a talent agency, platforms add value to creators by first improving their distribution, exposing them to potentially millions of people. The discovery benefit primarily aids creators who are still building an audience. This feedback loop is positive-sum, encouraging more creators to join. So long as more people keep using the platform, there’s no sense that any one creator will ever suck up all the oxygen in the room.
  4. Maintainers – responsible for the future of a project’s repositories, whose decisions affect the project laterally – “trustees” of the code
    1. To borrow again from conservation biologoy, maintainers can be thought of as keystone species. A keystone species is small in population size but has an outsize impact on its ecosystem. If we were to imagine a forest, for example, while there may not be many wolves in absolute numbers, if the wolves disappeared there would be cascading effects on the rest of the forst. The deer population, lacking a natural predator, would grow out of contorl, the plants would start to disappear because there would be too many deer, and so on. 
  5. Contributors – make contributions to a project’s repositories, ranging from casual to significant, but who aren’t responsible for its overall success
  6. Refactoring is the process by which developers pay down technical debt: rewriting, simplifying, and otherwise cleaning up the codebase without changing its functionality. Much like editing a book versus writing it for the first time, refactoring code is often dreaded and unrewarding work. Since open source developers tend toward work that they find intrinsically motivating, not only are open source software projects more susceptible to technical debt but there are also fewer incentives to clean up messy code. 
  7. Historically, most of our questions about the value of content have focused on the distribution side, rather than the production side. Today, the most interesting questions we can ask will focus on how content is made and maintained, and by whom. We’ve previously treated content as a first-copy cost problem, and have developed solutions like patents, intellectual property, and copyright to incentivize its creation. But these solutions don’t address the costs of maintenance, which accrue over time. The challenges facing online creators today derive from the fact that they are playing a repeated game, not a single one. 
High User GrowthLow User Growth
High Contributor GrowthFederations (eg Rust)Clubs (eg Astropy)
Low Contributor GrowthStadiums (eg Babel)Toys (eg ssh-chat)
ExcludableNon-Excludable
RivalrousPrivate goods (Cars, domain names)Commons (forests, online privacy)
Non-RivalrousClub goods (Netflix, Spotify)Public goods (air, open source code)

What I got out of it

  1. Another beautiful book by stripe press that helped me learn about some of the more technical details of open source, and a new framework in which to think about them (federations, stadiums, clubs, and toys)

Get Together by Bailey Richardson, Kevin Huynh, Kai Elmer Sotto

Summary

  1. A concise, simple book that describes hot to build, nurture, and sustain community

Key Takeaways

  1. The master key is to build community WITH people, not for them. 
  2. Great leaders create more leaders
  3. Sparking the Flame
    1. Twitch Partner Program – partners are able to unlock additional ways to earn revenue, a portion of which goes to Twitch 
    2. Who brings the energy – who are the people who already engage and contribute?
    3. Assuming that the community flourishes, who will you stick with?
    4. What do people need more of?
    5. What’s the change we desire?
    6. What’s the problem only we can solve together?
    7. Our community brings together _________ so that we can ________
    8. What’s something your people crave that would be better performed or experienced as a group
    9. Create an undeniably valuable shared experience
    10. Is the activity purposeful?
    11. Is the activity participatory?
    12. Is the activity repeatable?
    13. Find a space so people can get together and give them an excuse to connect for the first time
    14. What structure would make communication in this space more meaningful?
      1. Create strict rules on what you can’t discuss, specifically politics
      2. Moderators who enforce the rules
      3. Participants who seem to enjoy helping others
      4. What’s our purpose?
      5. What is and is NOT okay?
      6. How do members report violations?
      7. How will you investigate and enforce the rules?
  4. Stoking the Fire
    1. Instead of a push, create a pull. Don’t broadcast a mass message to a faceless audience. Rather, work with your members to collectiely send a clear, authentic signal about what your community is all about
    2. Share the recruiting responsibility – grow word of mouth/organically. Make it clear to members that their active involvement is crucial to ensuring the vitality and success of your community. At your gatherings, online or off, carve out time to make sure existing members know that the more people who attend, the more enjoyable and impactful the experience will be for everyone involved. If your members agree, they’ll tkae that sense of responibility to heart. 
    3. Your community centers around in-person experiences – package up interesting insider content that encapsulates those experiences
    4. Your community centers around training or learning – encourage members to share their efforts
    5. Your community centers around contributing and sharing content – make the content that they contribute simple to reshare and discover (fans following their favorite streamers on Twitch can create short, shreable video clips of choice moments from any broadcast – make possible for audio too)
    6. Create loca/regional aspects (Rapha regional badges to tie everyone together, but especially your local tribe)
    7. Do you know how many people show up (no- start counting); do you know who they are (no – make a rolodex); do you know why they are showing up (no – ask); keep it up
  5. Passing the Torch
    1. What does it mean to be a qualified leader in your community?
    2. how can you vet for genuine leaders?
    3. What’s your feedback process with leaders?
    4. Map out the leader journey – what are first steps after someone raises their hands? how are they vetted/welcomed/onboarded/acknowledge? what are the key activities involved in their work? what support do they currently receive?
      1. Which activities are valuable? which aren’t as valuable but are necessary? which activities don’t help at all?
    5. Celebration – what are our badges? (rep them together) what are our rituals (participate in them as a group) got any quirky terminology? (bake your language into the celebration)
      1. Why are we getting everyone together? how will you incorporate your community’s special sauce? what have we accomplished together? reflect on those achievements 

What I got out of it

  1. Some beautiful tips on how to build and establish a community, whether online or off