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An Online Community July 19, 2007

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And here it’s laid out in such wonderful terms that I couldn’t say it better myself.

What if you want to hire someone to build an online community? Somebody to create and maintain a virtual world in which all the players in an industry feel like they need to be part of it? Like being the head of a big trade association, but without the bureaucracy and tedium…

It would help if that person understood technology, at least well enough to know what it could do. They would need to be able to write. But they also have to be able to seduce stragglers into joining the group in the first place, so they have to be able to understand a marketplace, do outbound selling and non-electronic communications. They have to be able to balance huge amounts of inbound correspondence without making people feel left out, and they have to be able to walk the fine line between rejecting trolls and alienating the good guys.

This is what’s going on in our lives right now. We all are trying to figure out the best path. We are dealing with old media vs. new media, people wanting us to build an online community in our spare time. This, however, is what we are attempting to do.

And, as we move further into the project, we realize the task at hand is daunting. But it can be done.

Because we believe it is the right thing to do.

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Wow July 12, 2007

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We are watching the graphic design team build the site on-line while we watch.

To say this is groovy is an understatement.

Introducing The Web Development Team July 10, 2007

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Badger Beth and EC Watts (also known in some circles as Killa)  are working with us on the web development team. Be sure to check them out in the coming weeks.

Both of these young women are wickedly smart and have a lot to say. Be sure to check them out.

And, Squirrel Queen, also known as Stephanie, has been invited to contribute about the highs, and lows, of working on this project.

Here is a bit of history on everyone so you sort of know who is who:

EC is the former editor of The Pacer, which is the award-winning newspaper of the University of Tennessee at Martin. She’s smart and knows her way around design.

Badger Beth is a graphic artist who is working on the elements of how our ads should look, what will serve our reader and advertising base.

Squirrel Queen (Steph) has been broadcasting and writing sports for 22 years. She is an award-winning photographer and writer garnering awards for the past several years from the Tennessee Press Association and is well respected in northwest Tennessee by coaches and players alike.

Hopefully, you will see posts here that will give additional perspective to our project.

I cannot express how excited, and a bit overwhelmed, everyone is about our project. Right now, we are waiting on the beta,  we are trying to tie down the pieces and are in an on-going game of hurry up and wait much of the time.

And we really haven’t got started yet.

So, I’ll brag on our web development team today. Freezertroll and I are lucky to have them.

All of us have been working after hours on this project which proves to me everyone’s commitment to do something fresh and new. According to Freezertroll, the beta should be available in the next couple of weeks.

And we are all tired. And, I’m sure, that most of them want to whack me in the head with a stick right now.

Justified behavior, of course.

Moving Forward July 5, 2007

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We have been working with the web designer today and expressed what we want. We’ve also been playing around with the template, seeing if it’s friendly for the staff at all of the newspapers.

We had scheduled a couple of days to do this, but at this point, it’s a bit out of our hands. Freezertroll and I discussed what we needed to do while the designers are doing their thing. Now, we are meeting (second time this week) after hours and tomorrow we have to deal with our “regular” jobs at the paper.

Time management. Yikes.

One thing is, we are juggling is getting people who have worked in newsprint their entire professional lives excited about the website. Kevin Slimp said in a seminar last week entitled “Convergence of Media” that someone has to be the “evangelist” with staff.

Yup. I guess that’s me.

Slimp took the story of the warehouse fire in Knoxville in February through when he first heard of it through an email, and how he followed the story on-line. It started with the Knoxville News Sentinel’s coverage at Knox News, then through blogs in the Knoxville area and comment around the nation.

It was a very effective example in describing what we need to do to our owners, who aren’t always fond of the Internet.

With that said, we realize that the task in front of us is huge. We know we are doing something different and we are hoping that we can hammer the details out.

Feedback, of course is welcome. We should have our beta up soon.

And although I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all, I feel like we are moving forward.

Still Waiting … July 5, 2007

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At this point, Freezertroll and I are waiting on some phone calls. That’s the hardest part of working on a project is the hurry up and wait effect.

Grr.

And The Waiting Is The Hardest Part … July 5, 2007

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I spoke to our software company this morning and we are moving along a little bit quicker than I thought we were.

Mainly, the delays have been on our part as much as anything. Hopefully, we can get some work hammered out in the next couple of days.

Ironically, several people on the development team met on Monday and we discussed time management. It’s one of the things we all need to work on as we are doing basically two jobs at once right now. I tried to get everyone to start a pot of money and that everytime someone said they didn’t have time to work on this or that they were tired, they had to put a dollar in the pot.

No one wanted to do that saying they would be broke within a couple of days. Heh. I’d probably be the first one out.

Oh, well.

Back to grinding and waiting on Freezertroll, who, and don’t tell him I said this, is really too dang busy and most likely tired in reality. But if there is anyone on the development team who is the patient one, it’s him.

Back to the grind.

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Yup, I Remembered July 1, 2007

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Why do I read Seth Grodin?

One of the most difficult transitions that marketing organizations go through is shifting from pushing against resistance to running with acceptance.

The culture at insurgent companies is all about pushing. You get turned down on sales calls, you have tiny market share, people walk away from your trade show booths. You have trouble finding suppliers and a bank loan and even employees.

So you learn to push. In fact, you may discover you start to lean against that resistance, that it becomes part of who you and your team are.

If your work is successful, you break through. You become Apple or the politician who leads in the polls. And then what?

If you’re very good, you start running like crazy. You have the wind at your back and the chance to dramatically increase your impact and market share. But most organizations keep pushing. Because that’s what they know how to do. Instead of running up the scoreboard, they look for something else to push against. I think the fascinating transformation at Apple is worth noting. The iPod gave them the opportunity to start running.

It’s not easy.

Oh, yeah. That’s why.  He gets it.

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Checking In June 30, 2007

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 The same software developer who our papers are using just unleashed this site yesterday.

Nashville City Paper

I’ll have an update on the TPA a bit later. I’m still amazed by the crowd that showed up.

We have to get busy.

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Headed To The Bluff City June 28, 2007

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Headed for the Tennessee Press Association’s Summer Conference. I’m going to be taking classes on Convergence of Media  and Online Media.

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Here’s hoping I learn something new, which is always of the good.

Be sure to check out the new design at The Knoxville News Sentinel’s website which occurred this morning.

I’m starting to think of Jack Lail and crew as the news blogfather of the state.

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Especially journalists June 26, 2007

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Found courtesy of KnoxViews from an article on AlterNet:

I live in a world where corporations care more about the future of paper than the futures of people who have made their living turning paper into a massive network of vital, important communications. This is not how technological change should work. You cannot discard a person the way you discard a market niche. That’s because people revolt. Especially journalists.

Something to think about. Read the whole thing.