Category Archives: General

Consulting Again

Scale FactoryAs most of you know, I moved to London to start working toward a PhD last January. Now that I’m off to a good start on the PhD, I find that I actually miss working, so I’m going to start consulting again.

I’ll be working part-time at The Scale Factory here in London. I’m interested in doing consulting projects related to building communities, open source, data analysis, etc. You can find all of the details on my consulting page. I’m also open to doing other types of projects.

If you are interested in getting my help for any of your projects, please email me: dawn@scalefactory.com.

Lessons about Community from Studio Ghibli

Studio GhibliInstead of my traditional Lessons about Community from Science Fiction (video) talk, I decided to do something a little different for LinuxCon Japan.

The slides from my Lessons about Community from Studio Ghibli talk are available now (with speaker notes) for my presentation on Wednesday.

Abstract

Communities are one of the defining attributes that shape every open source project, and the people within them are what make communities so special, not unlike how characters like Totoro, Kiki, and Ponyo shape every Studio Ghibli film. The friendship between Ponyo and Sōsuke shows how people from different backgrounds can work together, like people in communities work together, to accomplish more than they could have alone. While we don’t get to travel by catbus or Kiki’s broom, many of us have the opportunity to travel the world interacting with community members. Unfortunately, we have to rely on online participation combined with more traditional methods of transportation. This session focuses on community tips told through Studio Ghibli films. While the topic is fun and a little silly, the lessons about communities are real and tangible.

Learn more

You can visit my speaker page for links to many other presentations from past events, including video where available.

Blogging Elsewhere

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily*

MeeGo*

*Disclaimers:

  • GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily: I am a paid blogger for the GigaOM network.
  • MeeGo: I am a full-time employee at Intel and contributing to MeeGo is part of my job.

Newsletters for Your Community

I spend all day working with social web technologies and spend much of my time in an RSS reader and visiting various social websites while email takes a back seat to other forms of gathering information. Plenty of people are just like me, but many others are not. We need to remember that many people, especially those working in corporate environments, spend much of the day in email. We each choose to consume our information in a way that matches our personal work style. No method will be right for everyone, so we need to have options. For any community, you should look at how you can provide updates to people in a variety of formats: RSS, daily / weekly email alerts, and newsletters.

Yes, newsletters are a little old-school, web 1.0, not very sexy, etc., etc. However, don’t underestimate the power of a monthly email newsletter for your community. I’ve had newsletters for most online communities that I’ve managed in the past, and I work with clients to start newsletters for their communities. Newsletters are a great way to get in front of people once a month to update them with new information. They key word in that last sentence is information. If you want people to stay subscribed to your newsletter, you have to provide them with plenty of new and interesting information while keeping the promotional items to a minimum. You’ll know when you’ve swung too far in the direction of sales and marketing because people will not view the newsletter (at best) or will be unsubscribing in droves (more likely).

I have a newsletter for Fast Wonder, which is a blog and consulting practice, not a community, but similar practices apply. I started the newsletter when I began expanding out of just blogging and consulting with some training classes and the launch of my book. I found that many people were having a hard time keeping up with everything that I was doing with Fast Wonder, so I thought that a monthly summary would be a good way for people to consume the best of Fast Wonder. It’s also a great way to remind people that I exist once a month. The reasons for starting a community newsletter are similar.

Why have a newsletter?

  • Deliver important information: Hopefully, you have an active community where people have a hard time keeping up with all of the content. The newsletter is a great way to make sure that your members don’t miss something important.
  • Engagement: People get busy and might drift away from active participation in your community. You want to remind any stragglers that they joined your community for a reason and give them an excuse to return.
  • Recognition: Recognize your community members who have written something particularly interesting or had outstanding participation in some way.
  • Summarize: Use the newsletter to highlight popular discussions or other activity in the community that people might be especially interested in viewing.

This sounds like work. Can I make it easier?

If you spend your month focusing on content, the newsletter can be a breeze to put together. The first one will take a little more time, since you’ll need to come up with a format and theme, but you can make the content really easy.

I generally use a format similar to this one:

  • General Information / Announcements: Anything important enough to put in this section should already be a blog post. Start by thinking about what story or announcement you want to feature. This will be the most important item from the past month and will be your lead story and subject line. Now come up with 2-4 additional items (a total of 3-5 stories in this section). For each one, have a title, a paragraph summary (usually the first paragraph of the blog post), and a link to the rest of the blog post for more information.
  • Popular Content: Use your community analytics package to find the top discussions, blog posts, documents, resources or other activity in your community. This section will have links to the top 5-10 posts.
  • Member Spotlight: This takes a variety of forms depending on your community. This could be one member that you spotlight or a list of the 3 most active community members. Pick something that makes sense for your community.
  • Other Information: Every community is different. You will probably need a section for something specific to your type of community. For developer communities, this section might be recent code releases, bug fixes, or other development status. Some communities have frequent webinars or other special content that you want to feature. In my Fast Wonder newsletter, I use this section for links to articles written by other experts and links to recent research reports.
  • Thank You: Always remember to thank people for reading your newsletter. In this section, I often include links to other ways to get updates (RSS, etc.), and it should always include a way to unsubscribe.

Don’t make your newsletter more complex that it needs to be. Pick a simple template that is unlikely to cause headaches across the million email clients available, and focus on using content that you already created over the past month. Creating great content throughout the month makes it much easier to do a newsletter.

What do you include in your community newsletters?

Big Discount on Yahoo Pipes Class Thursday, May 7

I still have some seats left in my Yahoo Pipes class, so I’m offering them at a big discount ($75 off) rather than letting them sit empty. Register now with the discount code ‘lastminute’ and get into the class for $25 as a freelancer / student or $175 for the corporate types.

The Details:
When: Thursday, May 7, 2009 from 3:00pm – 5:00pm
City: Portland, OR
Location: WebTrends 851 SW 6th Ave., Suite 1600 (no remote attendance)
Learn more: Prerequisites, Course Outline and Information

Fast Wonder Training Classes: Research Phase

I’ve decided to start doing a few training classes in addition to my consulting for companies. Right now these would be in person training sessions in a classroom setting.

I thought it would be a good idea to gather a little data before I start. I created a quick survey with 4 questions about the classes I should offer, pricing, and location (city). I would love to get your feedback on my training programs with this quick survey.

If you want to be notified about future training classes, you can sign up for the Fast Wonder newsletter or subscribe to this blog for announcements.


Take the survey

Demolicious!

Here are a few notes about some cool apps from Portland Web Innovator’s Demolicious tonight.

I Need to Read This

Designed to solve the problem of having too many tabs open in Firefox with links opened to interesting things that you don’t have time to read right now.  It doesn’t make sense as a bookmark and isn’t really a todo list. You get the pages out of tabs and into I Need to Read This to read them later. The site is designed to be simple and straightforward. You save stuff up there with a bookmarklet and then read it later using the read bookmarklet or get it as a feed. Voting is much more complex than it looks at first glance.

MioWorks

The idea is to help small businesses organize among themselves and connect with their customers online. Most consultants and small businesses have a bunch of subscriptions to systems for collaboration, project management, CRM, invoices, etc. MioWorks is a contact management system that went into beta last week, and they are actively looking for feedback to flesh out the rest of the functionality. It starts with contacts, their information, and conversations. They add notes, tasks, files, support / issues, and more along with the contact information. It brings all of this information together all in one place to create accountability and collaboration with clients for small businesses

VoteFair Ranking

The last component is the Negotiation tool. You can create a survey (survey, election, poll) and let people vote on a topic. You can use it for meeting times or any other votes requiring more than 2 choices. Because it allows people to vote for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices, which can provide more accurate results than a single select vote.

Avatari

A new mac application that allows you to upload your avatar to many sites at the same time. Right now it only works for Twitter and FriendFeed, and he’s adding new ones if the API provides this functionality. The app is very simple. You drag an image into the app, and it changes your avatar for any accounts that you select in Avatari. It was just announced and made available tonight during Demolicious.

Black Tonic

This is a better way to present information to a client. You control the pace of the presentation, which doesn’t allow the client to jump ahead and keeps everyone in the same place without skipping around. This is great for creatives who want to tell the story and a narrative with reasoning behind the decisions. Presentation becomes a slide show that people can watch it again along with version tracking. You can upload photos and add notes.

If you want to demo your app in 3 months at the next demolicious, you can contact Adam DuVander.

SXSW 50% Off Sale: Companies and Communities eBook or Kindle Version

Companies and CommunitiesI’m so excited about going to Austin for SXSW that I decided to share the fun by offering my Companies and Communities: Participating without being sleazy eBook for 1/2 off. You can now order it from my website for only $9.99 from now through Tuesday, March 17 using the discount code sxsw09 in the shopping cart on Fast Wonder.

For the kindle lovers in the crowd, you can get a copy of the Companies and Communities eBook for the Kindle also at the low price of $9.99 from the Amazon Kindle Store.

Recent Links

Here are a few interesting things from this week that I wanted to share …

Future of White Boys’ Clubs Redux #fowaspeak | FactoryCity

Conference and hotel registration is now open! – Open Source Bridge

Knowing the Economic Environment of Your Business and Customers at Business of Business – byBarrett

JumpBox Official Blog » Introducing SnapLogic for Data Integration

Baron Landscape’s Broken Hours » Online Community Management Roundtable at the BLNW ‘09 Blog Pavilion, with Dawn Foster and Marshall Kirkpatrick

RSS: Boost Your RSS Efficiency

You can find my links on Delicious.

Recent Links

I’m still figuring out how to deal with the Magnolia aftermath, but there were a few interesting things from this week that I wanted to share …

Find, Follow and Share Comments — BackType

Tags: rss, blog, tracking, comments, feeds

How to Use the New FriendFeed Search for Social Media Intelligence – ReadWriteWeb

Tags: friendfeed, social media, marshallkirkpatrick

Portland Code Camp v4

Tags: codecamp, portland, portlandcodecamp

3 Free, Useful SEO/Analytics Tools You May Not Use

Tags: Analytics, SEO