Re: What is cool?

Subject: Re: What is cool?
From: Craig Haiss <craighaiss -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 07:22:24 -0700 (PDT)

Interesting thoughts are cool. Tools are secondary.

If you can seed the community with some engaging, open-ended questions, people will get involved.

Consider what kinds of interesting questions you could ask to get conversation going in a face-to-face meeting. Ask the same questions using the tools, and you'll get involvement. It's more about marketing than technology; read some Robert Bly and write killer headlines to draw people in and generate discussion. Controversy is your friend, because it forces people to respond, defend, argue, clarify, etc.

Take Techwr-l, for example. I've been reading this list for a decade, so the technology obviously isn't cutting edge, right? But there are some incredibly insightful conversations going on. Meanwhile, there are plenty of cutting edge social media apps that have zero participation because the conversation is dull.

Regardless of the tools you choose, starting with a few engaging posts will make or break your community. For example, if I wanted to generate discussion on this list, I'd write something like...

* "10 reasons Word is better than Frame"
* "Why did you become a technical writer instead of a [novelist, programmer, whatever]"
* "What will the future of technical writing look like?"

Also, enlist a few friends to get things rolling. Set the mood (corporate vs. informal, etc.). Use invitations to encourage involvement. Profiles are great, especially if they can express some personality. A wiki or Google Wave (coming soon) might also suit your needs.

And, yes, I second the notion of reading Anne Gentle's new book. It answers many of the questions implied by your post.

Craig Haiss

--- On Wed, 8/26/09, Erika Yanovich <ERIKA_y -at- rad -dot- com> wrote:

> From: Erika Yanovich <ERIKA_y -at- rad -dot- com>
> Subject: What is cool?
> To: "techwr-l List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Date: Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 4:30 AM
> Hi Whirlers,
> I have to make an intranet portlet (based on IBM Quickr)
> cool and fun to use. It is planned to host the innovation
> activity and will feature uploaded files, talkbacks and
> blogs. Our IT will deal with the infrastructure, I *just*
> have to translate 'cool' to requirements for them. The goal
> of the portlet is threefold: hold the files presented at
> meetings, spur a lot of discussion around them and, later
> on, host initiatives based on processes that will be
> established. Piece of cake...right?
> I'm a bit clueless as what is cool these days and what
> would make people participate.
> Any help is greatly appreciated (and shared with the
> list).
> Erika


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What is cool?: From: Erika Yanovich

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