Curating

As a part of a community, how can we ensure that we avoid becoming a big hegemonious community where we all do more of the same?

From where it stands things are looking good. In our Toronto social media community we have folks of all types:

  • Social change
  • Marketing
  • PR
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Start-ups
  • Students
  • Agencies
  • Developers
  • and more…

Well wait a second, that list looks pretty good, and these are only people from the community mind you. We already have here a diverse group of people. The problem is that when we come together, what are we talking about?

All the same thing usually. Social media this, or social media that. And we’re talking about it as if it’s the first time we’ve ever chatted about social media, using simple metaphors, and failing to dive into real substance.

What would happen if we took the best minds from each category we could come up with, and held different events themed around their industry? Not more events just to chat about mildly interesting social media things that each has experienced, but as an opportunity to teach others some forward thinking, and critical ideas from their industries.

Social media could still be the thread that connects and relates concepts between PR professionals and developers but I see there being so much more we could learn from each others professions, straight from the experts, that in the end could broaden our overall understanding of things like social media. We are not diving deep enough as it is right now, sessions have the risk of becoming repetitive because of it.

Both RedWire and Refresh Events has done a good job with different themed events, trying to touch on different issues at each event. Though I’ll say stop short at saying that they’ve been perfect because more than a couple of the presenters there have did nothing more than pitch their businesses.

To further understand where I think our real strength as a local community lies, re-watch this video by Chris Anderson, curator of TED, where he lays out his vision for what the TED conferences could be. We completely have the same opportunity on our hands.
http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf


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4 Comments

  1. Great post, Malcolm.”What would happen if we took the best minds from each category we could come up with, and held different events themed around their industry?”I really like this idea. We have attempted to do this, but the problem that is starting to arise is how to put a new spin on an old trick. The tried and true model of guest speakers is good but is getting old quickly. The trick will be to figure out how to make it interesting.”Both RedWire and Refresh Events has done a good job with different themed events, trying to touch on different issues at each event. Though I’ll say stop short at saying that they’ve been perfect because more than a couple of the presenters there have did nothing more than pitch their businesses.”We realize that there have been certain orgs/people simply pitching and offering nothing of value. We have changed the rules to prevent this from happening.Ultimately, our community should be about stories and lessons learned, not about pitches and getting business.

  2. Thanks a lot Justin.Heh, aren't you glad that I don't go through the trouble of actually organizing events in Toronto? So that I am *able* to bring you this sort of perspective. I bet it must be a lot more difficult than it sounds.In Chris's video it just like such a good way, and clear method to go about it. Though I must try and sympathize with the difficulties of actually doing it that you have experience with.I realize you already made a public announcement to reduce the pitches at Refresh Events, so I hope I don't give the impression that things are worse than they are (it's all “pretty damned good”) so far.Aside from all that, it's interesting the two qualities you use to describe what the community should be about, stories and lessons. I definitely see that being a great way to reflect and learn as a group. I'm curious though what you might describe as the quality the community should be about when we talk about the future (i.e. “change”, or “growth”). Look forward to hearing your perspective on this.

  3. "I'm curious though what you might describe as the quality the community should be about when we talk about the future (i.e. "change", or "growth"). Look forward to hearing your perspective on this."

    First, sorry for the delay in responding. It's been on my radar, along with a few hundred other things.

    Our community should be about the spreading of ideas, stories and experiences. Similar to TED, our community (not just Refresh, but all communities) needs this in order to understand our industry, gain knowledge and insight and ultimately, learn how we can create better experiences for all.

  4. This is another great post, Malcolm! I am in absolute agreement with the point you make on separating social media from various industries and not tightly coupling them together. Social media as you say remains to be the "thread" which connects, the bridge that allows for messages to be shared/exchanged.

    I also agree with Justin that speakers should not sell their business/services when sharing ideas and use their experience and lessons to enlighten others in the process.

    In my mind that is what social media is all about, stories and lessons learned. But from a diverse group of individuals working in their own respective field/industry. Any social gathering whether it is an event or just a few friends getting together is about exchanging ideas, thoughts, opinions without any preconceived intentions to sell a specific service or a product. The goal should be to help each other be successful based on each others experience, where and when possible point out "where one went wrong", "what can be improved" or "here are a list of things that you may want to keep in mind for what you are trying to do". These experiences are the value that we bring to the table and although they may seem minute, I think there is a great potential in sharing these values and helping each other learn and give something back to the connections that we make.

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