It’s March. It’s conference season. It’s time for the annual identity crisis within SAChat. This seems to happen every year to the community and I suppose that’s normal as it continues to grow, adapt, and meet the needs of folks who are made aware of it.
To give you some background, I’ve been aware of the #SAchat since February of ’09. As I write that, I can’t believe it has been three years. Much like the #SAchat has grown, adapted, and met the needs of a variety of folks I to have grown, adapted, and learned over the past three years. The majority of this growth has come from the interactions, connections, and friendships that were born from participating AND engaging in the community.
Which brings me to the the dichotomy within the community that led me to choose the title for this blog, “Podiums and Ball pits.” Let me explain.
First off, as you dig into this post realize I am not discrediting one or the other, both the podium and the ballpit serve their purpose and meet needs. Repeat after me, “One is not better than the other.” Got it? Good. Let’s move on.
– Look what I just accomplished!
– I just read a great article/quote, here it is.
– New opportunity – click here.
– Seeking new ideas for XYZ project.
The podium is necessary, the podium is more or less how the community started. Everyone is a teacher. Someone would share something and conversations would start up. The podium makes you the moderator of the discussion. Keep in mind that the podium did not always mean an audience is included. A tweet at 7 a.m. EST may not get the response of a tweet that is sent at 11 a.m. EST or 6 p.m. CST. The podium is there to provide you a platform to help get your voice heard, recognize, and hopefully acknowledged BUT there are no guarantees. The podium is basically akin to this:
The Ball pit
How do I define the ball pit? Your tweet would be categorized into one these buckets:
– I have a question and hope that a specific group/person responds.
– I have a question and hope that anyone responds.
– I responded to something, what do you think?
– Seeking new ideas for XYZ project.
The ball pit is also necessary, the ballpit is more or less how the community started. Everyone was in the ballpit of higher education, looking for someone to play with. Someone would invite someone to join in the fun of the ballpit and playful discussion would occur. The ball pit makes you the cause of discussion and also the curator of it. You started the ball pit, now you have to invite others to play or leave the door open for them to do so. Like the podium however, no playmates are guaranteed or included. Whether you invite people once, or numerous times – some people won’t have time to play in the ball pit at the time you are in it. The ballpit is there to provide you with a safe space to process ideas, meet new people, and have a spirited discussion. The ball pit is basically akin to this:
Now whether you use #SAchat as a ball pit or a podium is up to you. I dabble in both. What is important to remember is that the #SAchat is like any other community. There will be small groups of friends that form. There will be those who keep to themselves but lurk and learn. There will be members who broadcast information. There will be members who seek information. There will be members who ignite discussion. There will be members who feel left out. There will be those who are put on pedestals. There will be those who really just want to feel like they belong.
In the end, I believe that everyone wants to play in the ball pit and everyone wants their time at the podium. What I’m here to share is that, you can do either or both as much as you like but don’t have the expectation that you’ll always have company in doing so. You have to be ok with that reality.
Now, stand up to the podium and share your thoughts about this then join me in the ballpit. I’ll be waiting.