We first meet Roy Cohn in Tony Kushner’s ‘Angels in America’ punching his way through clients on a phone switch-board. He pauses just long enough to look over to Joe Pitt and announce, “I wish a was an octopus…eight lovin’ arms” before he dives back into business. I don’t feel that uncomfortable comparing myself to Kushner’s Roy Cohn, complete with the more colorful language that I’ve left out to spare sensitive ears. If ever there was a week to sprout appendages we just went through it.
Not that I’m complaining. On the contrary, I love when things get busy and everything needs to get done all at once. I mentioned in a previous post that we’ve recently begun working with departments to tailor their experience as they come to the Commons. Since the point of this blog is to be somewhat confessional let me tell you – it’s a lot of work. I have a whole new respect for user manuals, not that I read them of course.
The good news is that some of it is work we won’t have to do twice. We spent the better part of the week teamed up with the English department at the College of Staten Island getting everyone settled. Through this project we have been able to create a document that really speaks to what the Commons is both practically and ideologically. Not only does it give people who are not familiar with the Commons a brief yet precise introduction, it also provides instructions for getting started. What we have now is a scalable document so to speak. In its generic form it can be sent out as a booklet with an online version that can be easily adjusted to take into account the unique cultures throughout CUNY. There’s still a little work to be done getting it polished, but very soon we’ll be able to get it to you quickly in document or electronic form.
I’ve talked a lot about how unique the Commons is in terms of academic communities here. Doing something groundbreaking is always exciting but it gets a little lonely when you would normally look to your peers for resources and models and there aren’t many. To that end I often find myself looking at other non-academic online communities to find out what makes them successful and occasionally fail. Point in case this week; the implosion of Digg.
If you aren’t constantly on the internet like me (I know…I know…) you might have missed this story. News aggregation site Digg.com did a little tinkering around with how users push stories to the head of the line (not to mention some cosmetic changes) and basically turned Digg into a outlet store for the usual suspects in Big Media. For the most part, longtime users of that community revolted by seeking asylum over at Reddit.com, a similar site concept with its own unique culture. While the Commons doesn’t have to weigh the same financial prerogatives as commercials site like Digg, taking note of how they respond to feedback from their community is certainly worth watching.
Personally what I’ve learned from the whole torrid affair is that online communities are fragile ecosystems. We work hard to make sure that you have as many tools as possible at your disposal. With the launch of 1.0 we’re eager to hear from you and take note of other features and tools we could create to make your time here more productive. We also take our community seriously: Don’t like something? Tell us why it’s not working for you and we’ll get on it – the Commons team has a little more than eight arms between all of us.