A lesson in group formation

A good lesson in group formation — groups can take off in a direction that the original owner didn’t envision. At that point the owner can then try and re-focus the group, or start a new one. I happen to believe that the will of the many takes precedence over the will of the few, or the one.

(Where have I heard that before, she asks rhetorically.)

I bowed out of the Bloggers Unlimited group. Why? Well, I got pissed for one thing. As with so many other groups, this one quickly became dominated by a few, some of whom aren’t the nicest people around. Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not really very much into barbed exchanges and debates that quickly degenerate into name calling and other verbal posturing.

Another reason is the focus of the group went in directions I had hoped it wouldn’t — yet another group talking about weblogging tools and RSS. These are good topics, but there’s already several Yahoo groups associated with them. More than enough groups devoted to these topics.

I have to acknowledge my responsibility in the direction the group took, which is why I left it rather than trying to change the focus. I suppose I could have ‘fought’ for the group, wrestled it out of the hands of the dominant, forced my will on the collective, but I started the thread it took, can’t blame others for following it.

So I started a new group, The Renaissance Web. The description of the group is:


I picked this particular name because the Renaissance was a time of advancement in art, literature, philosophy, society, and science (well, keeping
politics out of the picture). Hopefully this will reflect the interests and backgrounds of the people of the new group.

The sole purpose of this group is to bring together people interested in the next generation of the web, whether you want to call it the Semantic Web or not. However, one rule of the group is that any discussion of technology will be at a level that all members can appreciate it. This means, no lines of code, no unexplained acronyms, and no Geek insider talk.

Yes, we will talk about the semantic web, and the semantic weblog. And we’ll talk about the technology — but again, as a means to an end, not the end itself.

Also, no religious wars about technology. Tech warriors aren’t going to be comfortable in this group (hint hint) as the discussion is just as likely to focus on how difficult it is to search for poems given the allegorical, symbolic, and metaphorical nature of same, as it to discuss smart linking and group formation.

Social software, yes. But this isn’t a dominate topic. We’re already beginnning to see the glimmer of religious zeal attached to this new “way of the future”.

Finally, the group is going to focus on bringing the ‘user’ back into the discussion on the next generation of the web.

As an aside, the new group is going to have a code of conduct. Sorry
but I think that’s the only to keep problems to a minimum. This will
be the first order of business, followed by working on the RDF Poetry
Finder 😉

Of course, no focus on blogging technology and no exultation of the Geek could seriously undermine my membership drive. However, from what I saw of the people who’ve joined so far, it is an interesting mix of folks, all civil, and all with a sense of humor. Good start.

When I bowed out of the old group, and acknowledged my part in the direction it took, I received an email this morning that highlighted why I now feel this was a very good decision. I’m not going to repeat the email here, but one aspect of it, which I found particularly interesting, is how my ‘acknowledgement’ of error was agreed to, and if I understood the message correctly, seen as an example of self-doubt; even, if I can make an inference, a weakness.

I’ve always been raised that admitting one’s errors or involvement in a problem is seen as a sign of strength not weakness. Interesting. I can’t help wondering if this attitude is one reason that old quarrels in existing discussion groups never heal, but continue to simmer long beyond decency, or interest.

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