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TOPIC: AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not

AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 09 Jan 2017 16:09 #105670

shargrol wrote:
One thing that the context of this conversation brings up, in my mind anyway, is the size of the meditation practioner universe. All the functions/capabilities that Tom has described makes perfect sense --- and what I like about it is it scales.

I share Tom's vision for a site of sanghas. I could imagine something very turn-key for people leading practice ground in the world: you have a small group of 10-20 people that regularly meditate together with a senior spiritual friend of sort leading the group. Wouldn't it be nice to have a board where you could review...

Aside: I keep wanting to use "student" and "teacher" -- but those words give me problems these days... mentor and mentee? Is there a better word for mentee? :unsure:

... the meditator's private practice logs, look at open group discussion threads, set up calendars (I really like the scheduling software that ron has on his site), have skype sessions without the trouble/dependency on skype, post notices and pdfs of reading material, etc. If I was an independent group, the security/privacy would probably be my main concern, but I bet there is a good response to those concerns...

So the vision works for me.

Which leads me to the lead-in question. What is the size of the demand? Would enough people actually want something like that?

My morning coffee is hitting me, so my ambitions are momentarily a bit reckless... but I'm thinking that maybe 2017 is a year where I/we would want to help explore that question? Could Tom provide that turn key service? Would people reach out to their local sangha and practice groups and let them know these tools exists (basically cold-calls/emails/word-of-mouth). And would people on this board want to make themselves available to be those mentors/teachers/spiritual-friends to 3-10 people in a private site, in addition to posting here?

Speaking for myself on that last question, I'm always inspired to chime in on people's practice threats who have a regular practice. So for me, if a few people wanted that from me, I would be glad to do it. (Obviously I would want/need to spend some time getting clear on my own motivation and be clear on what I could reasonably offer given all my other responsibilities.) The big question is how many people would want something like that? Do people belong to practice groups that would want something like that? Are the folks that "lurk" -- for lack of a better term-- on this site wanting something like that? Is DHo the tip of the iceberg of dedicated practioners? Is Alan Chapman's Fountainhead over-capacity with people wanting guidance... Or, at the end of the day, are there just not many people who are that dedicated to regular sitting and finding their cutting edge of practice?

I really don't know the answer, not even sure how to find out.

Okay, coffee rush is tapering off, so I'm less jazzed but still curious. :D

Because this seems to be an ongoing discussion, I [em]really[/em] did not to sidetrack Chris' thread any more.

I like that Shargrol is inspired by the original vision, but I also hear Chris' comments about "been there, done that". It is a nice story but for whatever reason, it did not resonate. Maybe it was because small 10-20 person sanghas did not need a place online to communicate. Or maybe it was just bad marketing on my part. DhO failed for a whole other reason. But I am certainly willing to give it another shot if others want to spread the word, before I pull the plug on the social part of the technology and just focus on the forum.

And what about "Read" and "Learn". The wiki ("Learn") I can see as being tough to get going, but I am a little surprised that a few more of you did not have any long-form material you wished to share.

AND, truth be told, I have also had in the back of my head a practitioners email kind of thing. A highly curated newsletter of sorts. But that's another topic.
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 09 Jan 2017 16:31 #105672

So let's brainstorm here.... what kind of info would be included to a cold-sell emails to small sanghas?

who, what, where, when, why, how...
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 09 Jan 2017 16:40 #105673

One thing that comes to my mind is that the private topics are what get posted to here. I created a new topic in a public area yesterday to try to garner some new traffic. We should all do that a little more often. Otherwise, whatever goes on here is hidden and cannot help us draw more participation from the public and/or other practitioners from other places online.
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 09 Jan 2017 16:44 #105674

... what kind of info would be included to a cold-sell emails to small sanghas?

How about starting with the information on our virtual front door - which needs to be edited for e-mail, of course:

Welcome to AwakeNetwork, a community of meditation practitioners from a wide variety of traditions whose goal is simple: to awaken in this lifetime. In this community you will find people from all walks of life, young and old, modern and traditional. The only real tie that binds us is we all "suffer" (however you want to define that term) and we all want to fix that.

In some cases, the people you will interact with at AwakeNetwork will be the same people to meet face-to-face in your real-life sangha. However, in many other cases, you will be interacting with people whom you have never met except virtually, and that is really what this place is about. Because technology has enabled a huge dissemination of dharma knowledge and, as a result, there is an unprecedented mixing of traditions and knowhow resulting in...who knows what?

Whatever this mixing produces, we hope that by creating a place to foster the communication and sharing of practical dharma wisdom, we will all end up in a better place, and leave a legacy to pass on to future generations.

As a quick orientation, this site is divided into several broad sections: a social network (the "Share" menu), a discussion forum ("Discuss"), and a community magazine ("Read"). If you are used to just having a discussion forum, then the social network and magazine will come as a (hopefully) welcome addition. And if you normally just use a social network like Facebook, we hope that this more focused community will help grow your practice.

Please note that joining awakenetwork.org is just the first step. To get the full benefit of discussions, you will need to be a member of one of the groups on the site. So if you see a group that strikes your fancy, contact that group's admin and get yourself signed up
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Last Edit: 09 Jan 2017 16:44 by Chris Marti.
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 09 Jan 2017 18:21 #105677

Tom Otvos wrote:

And what about "Read" and "Learn". The wiki ("Learn") I can see as being tough to get going, but I am a little surprised that a few more of you did not have any long-form material you wished to share..

Shargrol pointed out that lots of people get fired up about writing, then the steam evaporates with not that much content published. I wonder if there is some kind of wiki/social project that cold be tuned to capture that transient desire to share?
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 09 Jan 2017 23:24 #105678

Despite my intentions, or wishes, or whatever you want to call it, I should say (before we go too far down this road) that maybe not everyone here would be happy with this change. What I don't want to do is screw it up for those that loyally have been calling this place home.

Also, lets say for the sake of argument that we suddenly had an influx of 5 small sanghas. Would they *really* want to have private discussions, independent of each other and the discussions already here? And would we want to keep DFRC private topics distinct from theirs? Or would the sangha distinction be totally artificial and unnecessary? Put another way, are we wanting to recruit members, or groups?
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 09 Jan 2017 23:38 #105679

To my way of thinking, I don't quite understand the logic of why we would do this, or make any changes.

It seems we periodically go through a discussion about how things might be done differently - up until now, I don't think these have ever resulted in major changes - and the forum keeps on working the way it works.

Tom, it seems like your feeling is that it has never quite been what your vision for it was, or you see potential for size or for tech functions for content delivery/interaction, and perhaps this is why we keep having these discussions.

The idea of active recruitment sounds a bit evangelical. At the moment my perception is that though we're small we're not dying for lack of members or engagements, and that teaching/mentoring input happens very well through personal threads (or PMs where other arrangements can be made).

I really like having a small, lo-fi and lo-tech forum where a smaller group of people know each other personally over time and have meaningful interpersonal interactions, and trolls/disruptive drop-ins don't tend to be attracted (which may be partially a consequence of the lack of public content). I would hate to lose any of that so my take on the forum is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just my two cents though...

The only thing I wouldn't mind doing is another face-to-face skype/hangout type thing at some point because it's nice to put a face and a voice to a name, but obviously they're a pain to organise.
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 10 Jan 2017 01:47 #105680

Visioning process can be useful here.. a group concentration field holding the koan "what wants to emerge?" in the center. Credit to Vince Horn for that wording. The underlying idea being that a template for the highest manifestation of the AN is already existent beneath the waves...
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 10 Jan 2017 06:17 #105681

Along the lines of Rowan - and me being perhaps a non-representative participant - the reason I come here is to maintain some contact with a small group of people who know from a while back, a few in person, others only online and my main purpose in showing up is just that thread of contact, as I miss my culture and my people. Ironically at this point my practice is not at all pragmatic dharma, perhaps even 180 degrees therefrom, so I tend not to comment on practice related stuff too much.

If this turned into something bigger or broader, that's fine. I would just drop in to check on people I know once in a while as I already do, and perhaps post the occasional cultural commentary about life in Brazil, which I already do.
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 10 Jan 2017 08:59 #105682

The word I would use to describe us here at AN, is "intimate." That level of engagement, that number of participants, that kind of interaction is what makes AN what it is and has been since we started. I'm saying this because maybe if it ain't broke then we don't fix it.

I think we can grow organically - like we always have - and remain intimate. There are usually new members knocking at our door, seemingly just enough to keep things intimate and yet enliven the discussions and generate posting activity and practice mentoring.

JMHO
Last Edit: 10 Jan 2017 09:00 by Chris Marti.
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 10 Jan 2017 10:53 #105685

every3rdthought wrote:
To my way of thinking, I don't quite understand the logic of why we would do this, or make any changes.

It seems we periodically go through a discussion about how things might be done differently - up until now, I don't think these have ever resulted in major changes - and the forum keeps on working the way it works.

Tom, it seems like your feeling is that it has never quite been what your vision for it was, or you see potential for size or for tech functions for content delivery/interaction, and perhaps this is why we keep having these discussions.

The idea of active recruitment sounds a bit evangelical. At the moment my perception is that though we're small we're not dying for lack of members or engagements, and that teaching/mentoring input happens very well through personal threads (or PMs where other arrangements can be made).

I really like having a small, lo-fi and lo-tech forum where a smaller group of people know each other personally over time and have meaningful interpersonal interactions, and trolls/disruptive drop-ins don't tend to be attracted (which may be partially a consequence of the lack of public content). I would hate to lose any of that so my take on the forum is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just my two cents though...

The only thing I wouldn't mind doing is another face-to-face skype/hangout type thing at some point because it's nice to put a face and a voice to a name, but obviously they're a pain to organise.

Not to discount the comments that followed, but I'll use Rowan's comments as a vector for my thoughts.

First, the "why now" is precipitated by two things. First was the UI confusion that led to Chris thinking that a PM was actually being publicly shared. Second, I am continually worried about being hacked, and the site is not as current as it should be in underlying infrastructure. But to update core pieces is a pain and, in terms of the "social" piece, a nominal cost. So whenever I start to look at it, I look at what we need, what we don't need, what works, what is broken. So that is why the discussion periodically comes up.

Add to that what we also know: that the site is not quite panning out to my vision. So I poke people from time to time to help me figure out what to do because, ultimately, the site is here to serve its constituents in the best possible way. If that doesn't match my vision, then I just need glasses.

My takeaway, therefore, is to keep the focus on the forum and phase out the social piece and the wiki. I think there is value in retaining and pursuing other communication modes, in particular PM and IM, to ensure the mentor/mentee can be as flexible as it needs to be for everyone.

I do have one favour to ask, however. When posting new topics, please take a moment to consider what category you are posting to. If you look at the hierarchy, there is a clear public/private division. Obviously, practice logs and other things of a personal nature should be private. But from time to time there are topics that are of more general interest, and those deserve to be public. It helps because those are indexed by Google, and do drive some outside traffic here in the form of new members.
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 10 Jan 2017 10:59 #105686

A couple more thoughts- the mods on Reddit SE post 2 threads a week: 1) How is your practice (week of [ ], [ ], 2017)? 2) General discussion thread/beginner questions (week of [ ], [ ], 2017).

We could post these in the publicly viewable section.
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 10 Jan 2017 17:18 #105689

Tom, thanks for the update and I also meant to say, I very much appreciate all your work and effort keeping this place running! It's quite an extraordinary little community we have here, in my experience.
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AwakeNetwork - Social Network or Not 10 Jan 2017 19:29 #105690

Tom Otvos wrote:
When posting new topics, please take a moment to consider what category you are posting to. If you look at the hierarchy, there is a clear public/private division. Obviously, practice logs and other things of a personal nature should be private. But from time to time there are topics that are of more general interest, and those deserve to be public. It helps because those are indexed by Google, and do drive some outside traffic here in the form of new members.

That's a good point, Tom.
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