This post is going to leave me somewhat mortified, but I'm going to stand by my long-ago promise to not censor myself.
Scott posted up (thank you, Scott!) the videos from Sugarcamp. One of the things at Sugarcamp was a session about community. Now if you want to learn how to properly run a community, you should watch the earlier part of the talk featuring Greg DeKoenigsberg; it starts here, and you can follow the sequential links to the videos called "SugarCamp: Community (N of 9)" for N /in /integers, 0 < n < 6. See Greg-1, Greg-2, Greg-3, Greg-4, Greg-5, and the first 2 minutes of Greg-6. They are 10 minutes each. If you want to hear about community-participation blockers, listen directly to the people fighting through them - Elsa and Yifan, Ryan, Adam, and Seth.
And then there's my bit. all of 5 minutes long, from approximately 2:30 to 7:30 in this video.
Transcript (as best as I could type it down):
We're short on time, and you guys know I like short speeches, so... I had the backstory of how I tried and failed to be volunteering for OLPC in 2006; I almost didn't end up doing anything at all for them, because it was so hard.
But I'm going to skip that because there are at least 3 people in this room by my count that can give you a much better picture of why it's hard right now. Sitting in the back there is Elsa and Yifan, who are building Olin College's chapter, and in the back is Ryan, who flew in, and this is his first taste of working with Sugar. And if you want to know what's hard, and what's stopping them, and what blockers need to be removed, there are three people here that you should be asking these questions of!
So that's my first point. [Audience laughter]
Second one, show of hands - how many people here want community around Sugar, OLPC, and all that? [Murmurs around the room as people raise their hands offscreen.] Okay. I think that's pretty much everybody in this room. Seth has a little hand-wavy... okay.
How many people are willing to put in the time to do it? [Long pause; offscreen, a much smaller number of more hesitant hands are now raised.] Do you know how much time it takes?
One of my big complaints before was "Oh my gosh, why aren't they doing more to help develop and foster community? This is very easy! Why..." It's - it is low-hanging fruit, but it still takes time to pick low-hanging fruit.
So I've been doing test community for 3 weeks, almost 4 weeks now. We meet 1 hour per week on IRC. Well, one time it was 1 hour and 1 minute because I was a slacker, but... we meet for one hour per week. It takes me at least 3 hours before the meeting to prepare for that 1-hour meeting, 4 hours after the meeting to clean up after that 1-hour meeting, and twice as much time as the entire total I have described before to ping people in the background saying "how are you doing? Can I get things out of your way?"
It takes a lot of effort, and the things is, right now, this effort is invisible. If you do your job really, really well as a community facilitator, nobody should know you exist. Every... all the spotlight, all the credit needs to go to the people who you want to participate. [Voice in the audience: Hear, hear.] You should not be visible at all. I'm not good at that yet, I still talk too much at meetings, but we're - we're getting there.
And the third one is, it's not a matter of... We're- we're talking about how organizations are... maybe they're "anti-community, and we're the community and we have it right..." It's not a matter of us being right and them being wrong. We are - there are two worlds that see the world in very, very different ways. These are two systems of functioning that are... they're not incompatible with each other, but they take translation.
I felt Greg did a much better job of translating that than I ever will, because I've been in the business world for about 3 months - but where they're coming from is not because they're bad or mean or stupid. They have [and here I mumble and I can't transcribe myself], they have things that they want to do, and I think we also need to give them a little credit before rebelling wholesale against them, and see "okay, where are you coming from," because they're also smart, they're also - we're trying to solve the same problem, right? Why are we fighting each other?
[Audience member says something offscreen; I can't lipread it from the video, but I'm nodding.] So try to walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you say they're being dumb. That's my third point. That's all I have.
Who's next? I've got a camera in my face, I'm going to move off now... [scoots offscreen]
(This is the end of my transcript.)
I'd love comments and feedback on this (mostly in terms of content, but also on
delivery - I know my presentation/speaking skills need work).
Note that this talk was completely improvised. I'd scribbled notes on what I'd planned on talking about
earlier that afternoon with the intent of winging it according to that outline (I hate writing talks down word-for-word beforehand). As Greg led
the earlier part of the presentation and discussion, I began to realize that the things I'd
planned to say were not the things that needed to be said, and also that we were completely out of time. So I scrapped the idea of talking that evening, intending to take the time to reflect and compose an email to the list, an essay, or some other well-thought-out written version of my thoughts after the session. In other words, at that point, I'd expected not to speak at all.
So the pause
between Scott saying I should take the floor and me beginning to speak
is me frantically thinking "OH MAN WHAT DO I SAY?" followed by "I guess I'll say the 3 things I was thinking of writing about after the session," followed by opening my mouth in what I hoped would be a mercifully concise spiel (it was). I don't like talking to people; I like talking with people, which is why I try to keep my monologues as minimal as possible.