Content Ninja's Weblog

An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

No looking back June 19, 2008

Filed under: community — contentninja @ 4:57 pm
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Sandbags on the Burlington Street Bridge

Image by Heather Lucille via Flickr

Recovering from the Iowa floods of 2008 may be more difficult than the flood itself.

Red Ninja of the East — also known as Mary Nesbitt, whom I dare to call my friend and mentor at Northwestern — spoke with me by phone today about whether the arduous flood recovery ahead of us might hold opportunities for online community-building. We answered our own question with a resounding YES.

Mind you, this isn’t about creating branded products to hang advertising on. It’s about giving distinct communities with distinct concerns (think Time Check, Rompot, Normandy Drive, small business, big business, etc.) a place to meet and share online. It’s not about US telling THEM what they need to know. It’s about giving community members a place to talk among themselves and to help shape the larger discussion.

Red Ninja, er, Mary and I think a good way to start would be to invite each community’s members to contribute their flood stories. Give them a platform for cathartic writing. Help them through this stage of grief. Build a relationship.

Then we invite the participants to keep the conversation going. What does their community need? What should be done next? And what participants have to say in this community space can be used to help shape the reporting our products provide.

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