Blogging at Enspiral
During the original Catalyst experiment, Gina started Enspiral Tales - a Medium collection for blog stories written by Enspiral people.
Rich followed up with the “Fairy Blog Mother”. This is a bucket of money that anyone in the network can contribute to. Rich arbitrarily hands out money to people for writing, editing and illustrating blog posts.
At 01/08/17, there is $2,000 in the bucket - so get writing, get paid :)
The content is diverse. We don’t need to have a strong editorial opinion about what kind of content to publish, as the internet decides what is interesting. Here’s some of the kinds of posts that seem to do well.
Between us we’re learning a lot about decentralised leadership. Alanna Krause writes about it, Jessy Kate Schingler writes about it, Richard D. Bartlett writes about it, and so does Susan Basterfield. These pieces are really valuable to people trying to follow in Enspiral’s footsteps.
Some people do big epic visionary change-the-world pieces like Joshua Vial’s Hacking Capitalism with Capped Returns and Edward West’s piece announcing the Collaborative Technology Alliance. These are the kind of pieces a community can grow around.
Some people share their experience of being in Enspiral, which is really helpful context for new folk. See Pete Jacobsen’s Baffling Journey Into Enspiral or Hailey Cooperider’s reflections from her first Enspiral retreat, Vivien Askey’s interview with Jack Tolley, Chloe Waretini’s reflection on the first Catalyst experiment,
Then again some people share more practical lessons like Mix Irving’s Teaching in the Spiral: Less Lecturing, More Co-creating, Chelsea Robinsons’s Feedback Feast, Theodore Taptiklis’ on Capturing a compelling story and James Kiesel’s piece on remote working and Sam Rye on the essential tools in your Startup Stack. The internet loves practical guides like this!
Reflecting on events
Blogging is a great way to digest events, e.g. Richard D. Bartlett’s epic summary of the Democratic Cities conference in Madrid, Silvia Zuur’s review of Bioneers, Tracey Ambrose’s review of OuiShare Fest, Alina Seigfried’s piece about Michel Bauwens’ visit to Wellington, and Derek Razo’s schemes after POC21 as the event morphed into a community.
Events are easy to write about, and they tend to get a good level of attention because you can share them on the event hashtag. Event participants are often eager to read the reflections of other attendees.
There’s no formal editorial system in place.
Anyone can write a piece on Medium and submit it to the publication for review. Technically, Rich, Alanna, Chloe, Derek, Seb and Gina have “editor” permissions so can approve or edit any submitted post. If you want your name on this list, talk to Rich.
Practically, Rich has the strongest editorial oversight - chat with him if you’re thinking of a post but not sure if it fits, or want any kind of encouragement. If you don’t know where to start, this short story about writing the minimum viable post might help. He’s currently operating on the principle that more contributors is good: let’s all get in the habit of sharing our lessons in public! Right now he's particularly interested in sharing stories about the challenges and tensions of working in this way, but you might be interested in something completely different and that is cool too.
Licensing and syndication
Licensing is up to you. Medium allows you to choose a license, whether you want to reserve all, some, or no rights. This article might help you choose. If you don't actively choose a license, you're effectively giving up all your rights to Medium.
If you choose a license that allows people to share your work, it can get reposted elsewhere. This is great to expand the reach of our stories. E.g. Shareable and P2P Foundation both reposted Rich’s Bossless Organisations piece.
If you want to make it easier on the editors of those publications, it’s helpful to publish a raw Markdown or Html version of your post somewhere. For example, see how Rich did that at the very end of this post.
The results have been great: about 40 people have written stories, growing the publication to 2800 followers, getting about 5-10k hits in a month. Here's a summary of our all-time views:
And our most popular stories to date (updated Jan '19):
- Unsplash: free high resolution photos
Post script from Rich about Medium vs. free software
People will rightly question: hey why are you supporting Medium over free software alternatives? Aren't they just another venture-backed company capturing the value we peer-produce for the common benefit of the internet!?
Yes they are. Boo. I'm a free software advocate. I've been supporting people to write blogs since literally before blogging platforms were invented. I've rolled my own code, and hosted collaborative blogs on Blogger and Wordpress.
In my opinion, Medium has a couple of huge benefits compared to any other tool I've tried. The focus on "writing a post" rather than "starting a blog", the simplicity of the editor interface, the ease of maintaining an individual and a collective identity, the integration with social networks... all of these factors make it really attractive to new writers.
I've found it to be orders of magnitude easier to recruit people to write on Medium than on any other platform. I'm optimising for maximum number of contributors.
- Export your stories from Medium periodically to make sure you own them.
- Use the licenses to make sure you understand who owns the stories and who can reproduce them on what conditions.
- Put your stories elsewhere and just use Medium as a signal-booster. I've started publishing on Gist with public-domain licensing, so it is easy for anyone to repost my work onto Medium, Wordpress, or anywhere else.
- If you know of a free software alternative to Medium that is comparable in terms of accessibility and impact, and you want to host Enspiral's blogging platform there, I will be happy to do what I can to support a migration plan.
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