The Power of On-line Communities

This is my first blog. I have wanted to have one for ages. I am lying in bed with a cold so I thought this would be a good time to start. Its hard to know where to begin, so I thought I would write about some of other internet ventures. I have been involved with lots of “on-line stuff” and some of them have done extremely well. The path towards this kind of activity started with a first step via my first venture – SKUM.

SKUM – the Ski and Snowboard Club of the University of Manchester was an awesome mashup of skiing and snowboarding and hardcore partying. I was the President of the club in 2004 and had built up an army of 450 people. It was around this time that the internet was really getting underway. By this I mean Google was letting us find all the answers we needed to answer our essays. I even had a phone that could go on-line. That same phone also had a 1 megapixel camera. I was The Man!

I used the SKUM website to build a community on-line as well as off-line. I found it gave a voice to people who were not as confident when we were in a big group like on our weekly trips to the snowdomes. Whereas we could use alcohol to bring people out of their shell in the real world, our forum gave people a say on-line. Often I actually found, the roles reveresed and some confident people did not like posting comments. I have noticed this effect time and time again. I therefore think every community needs to have both an on-line and off-line aspect.

I quickly realised that the on-line community was the second major community to the ski club. It was a place that members met like minded people to communicate. The website received 10,000 hits a week and was both great fun and a definite way to promote the club. It was the first place people looked to find out information about the club and could see the strength of the community.

This was my first experience of the power of the internet. My next experiences went far beyond that. But they also made me realise that I was actually way behind the pack.