Scott Gould and Friends: A Whole New World

I’ve been thinking for sometime now about how you make a blog more social. I’ve talked it through a lot with Robin Dickinson, and we think that whilst the “I write and you read” strategy works for well known names like Seth Godin, it does not have the value in richness, application or networking that we believe blogs can have.

On the other side of the ditch, you have community sites where it’s guest post after guest post, and there is a lack of an evolving narrative that guides people over the course of prolonged conversation.

Hence, welcome to what I trust is a middle ground: Scott Gould and Friends.

I’ve rebranded this blog of ours (it’s always been our blog) as Scott Gould and Friends. The name comes from the fact that whilst I write the posts, I do so from the comments that come from the friends who participate here, and thus my role is to guide the conversation that happens here. There’s also conversation that happens on a range of other places – your blogs – where you are the one who guides the conversation.

But to be sure, it’s about the friends.

Not followers, by the way. Friends sums up the fact that we are not only mutually connected with one another, but we’ve entered into friendship with each other, and that is a precious thing.

What Does This Mean?

  1. There’s a beautiful new redesign. It’s not done, but 80% of the way there – we’ll tweak as we go. The idea is to help people find the gold that there is on this blog of ours more easily, hence I’ve arranged things by category menus.
  2. You can introduce yourself on the Friends page – you’re an integral part of the blog!
  3. I’m looking for guest posts from you. You know the content here, and if you have written something that you’d like to contribute here rather than on your own blog (the same way I write posts for elsewhere as they’d fit better elsewhere), then please bring it forward. For the moment, we’ll arrange this through the Contact page.
  4. This is also part of the way I want to introduce a platform to empower people to use the gold that is on our blog.

But other than that, things won’t be too different – still deep and thoughtful pieces, still Sunday videos and ‘Leading Thoughts’ attached to every post – just with more emphasis on our community, because that for me is the real asset.

Your Leading Thoughts

  1. How does this idea sit with you? I haven’t run it by any of you, so now is the time to deliver feedback – ways to do this better, ways this will work well, design comments, etc.
  2. On a futurist note, how do you see the future of blogs with regards to participation? I’ve been trying some things on creating comment driven blog posts, and I’m still of the opinion that a strong sense of guidance is required to make sense of it all.
  3. Finally, how are you? It’s been a while since we spoke last
    :-)

Cheers,
Scott

Archived Comments

  • http://radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

    Well done, Scott. The transformation from one way, information disseminating web-logs to two way, engagement building we-blogs is elegantly demonstrated here by your example.

    Given that the currently available blog templates are designed around the self-centric web-logging, it will be a process of constant evolution to design your blog to deliver we-blogging. I very much look forward to being a part of this evolutionary process with you.

    Thanks for staying fresh and relevant – and having the courage to stand out. Outstanding!

    Best, Robin

    :)

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Robin

    It feels good to write again after a time of reflection.

    You make a very good point that blog templates are indeed made to be self-centric. In fact, “Blogs” comes from “Web Log” which was online journalling and self-centric. But as the internet has moved from information dissemination to engagement building (As you say), blogs need to change too.

    There is more work to be done with the UI. It makes a difference, and needs to be such that pushes community. I’m still working on this. Also there is the issue that it’s still under “scottgould.me”. I’m hesitant to loose the authority the domain has built up, but I think I can guide the conversation well and understand that it’s really just the part of the conversation that happens here.

    Thanks for helping us all to stay fresh!

    Scott

  • http://radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

    You’re very welcome. I’m looking forward to ‘work-shopping’ with you exactly what an engagement-centric blog might look like.Certainly, the management of comments has to vastly improve – shifting from the ‘after-thought’ mentality to one of ‘central focus’. High engagement generates many comments and complex, multi-point builds on discussion topics. The current technology simply stacks them in chronological order, which makes no sense in terms of building intelligent discussion. Typical volume-based approach.Thoughts?

  • / Scott Gould

    Well:

    1. Disqus has the ability to arrange comments in various ways. I picked Chronological a year ago because I find it the easiest way to chart conversation, with the most recent at the top. Other options are:
    – Most popular
    – Best rated

    2. The arrangement of Post then Comments needs to be challenged. In one way, I like it. It is the starting point to the conversation. On the other hand, it means the comments are left as an after thought. I’ve tried to make the Comments appear as part of the post, but they are still separate.

    One way to resolve this would be to have the comments on the right hand side of the post. This would mean, however, the comments would be very tight, and you would loose some sidebar functionality. But perhaps thats a risk worth taking?

    3. On the sidebar, I will be changing the panel that has “Popular” and “Latest” into a comment-centric design, also with a tab that shows all the people who comment here – essential, “The Friends”. There has to therefore be a meet and greet area, much like your sharewords post.

    4. On the home page, I want to use those sliding boxes to highlight the most discussed posts.

    5. The menu bars at the top serve to lead people more easily to the gold and find what they need.

    Your turn,

    S

  • http://radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

    This is a great opportunity for other readers of this blog to step in and contribute to the discussion.

    I would like the engagement-centric blog to have the facility to list the most valuable contributors (in terms of value added to discussions) – determined by the ‘facilitator – based on the blogs core values and vision, with a summary of their ideas and links to their key contributions on the blog, updated and re-ranked as new comments are added. *This* takes the place of the traditional blog-post. I know some blogs list the names of people who wrote the latest/most comments in the side bar, but this idea is different. The traditional posts then become the secondarily important ‘content’ (just like the comments are treated today).

    The key always is ‘quality’ of discussion in the context of the blogs purpose and objectives rather than ‘quantity’ of comments. A single comment that breaks a paradigm and shifts thinking and behaviour is worth more than 1000′s of ‘I agree/great post’-style comments.

    It’s all about sign-posting the gold!

    You?

  • http://richardlittledale.wordpress.com/ Richard Littledale

    Scott

    You have really got me thinking.

    I felt my blog only “came of age” when people started chipping in, commenting, asking questions and disagreeing with me.A good example of this would be the discussion arising out of my post on Mr Preacher: http://bit.ly/b0ej13 After all, if we are not going to do that, then we might as well simply paste a PDF online and be done with it.

    My own blog functions as a ‘forum’ for those involved in preaching, either regularly or occasionally, to ‘chew the fat’. One year on, I am starting to see this – but it has been a slow process.

  • / Scott Gould

    Ok

    1. So as the facilitator you flag what you like, and then this goes to the top. I think disqus can do this based on the “Like” button below each post.

    2. Flagging which contributors you like is something I don’t think disqus does. There is the “Community box” which is a hidden feature showing top contributors and most “liked” contributors.

    3. I certainly see what you’re saying here. My line would be that you’d have to be able to access the content a number of ways – through top contributors, by subject, by most popular conversation, etc.

    And the definition of “content” there would not necessarily be blog post.

    4. HOWEVER, there is a problem here. I naturally put more effort into this blog than other blogs. So then I’d like to see this blog also become an aggregator for those top contributors posts. Then this becomes an “outpost” of their conversations too.

    5. This would mean that if people want to discuss business development, I send them to you. If they want to discuss communication, they come to me – and this flow needs to be thought through.

    S

  • / Scott Gould

    A chip into the conversation, with regards to technology for this:

    Disqus community box: http://blog.disqus.com/post/932890350/from-comments-to-community
    Livefyre: http://livefyre.com/features

  • http://radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

    Excellent builds.

    I would also love to be able to tag my comments! This would help with the aggregation of high value content.

  • / Scott Gould

    I love that. The best comments I take and make further blog posts out of, but that seems just a bit too backwards – there should be a way to tag them I agree.

  • http://www.getinthehotspot.com/ Annabel, Get In The Hot Spot

    Hi Scott, thank you for reorganising the categories. It’s sad that most blogs seem to hide their archives so you can’t find all the hidden gems they’ve written over the years. I’m never sure if this is by design or just bad design but like you I want to make sure that people can find the content they’re looking for on my blog.

    I agree with your whole community thing so thanks for the invitation. Things are a bit crazy at GITHS at the moment but I have a policy which means you can use any of my blog posts here if you so desire and think they’d go down well with your readers. Feel free to go for it if you ever need a blogging break:)

    PS. Tiny typo para 3 should read trust. Just delete this PS after you fix it. I know you’ll do the same for me if you spot any typos on my blog:) Thank you!

  • / Scott Gould

    Richard

    You’re right – if you’re going to just be one way, post a PDF. This works for the famous, like Seth, but it doesn’t work for smaller ppl, and it also doesn’t provide the value that you get from mutual muscle.

    Creating a place where there is deep community involves a lot of work off of the blog, IMO.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Annabel

    (Thanks for the typo head up!)

    Glad the redesign helps. Being someone who gets a lot of comments per post, any advise that you bring is welcome and indeed asked for. Thanks as well for offering up your posts – I’ll take you up on that for sure

    :-)

    So how would you like to see blogs more engineered towards community and commenting?

    Scott

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=762609800 Scott Stafstrom

    Hi Scott. I have enjoyed watching and commenting on your thoughts as shared on this blog over the last year on a variety of subjects. This change is right in line with what you have been saying and the thoughts of others that you have been curating.

    My first thought on the word “friend” was that it can become watered down or lose meaning in a similar way to the word “like”. Then I thought about meeting you on the street or at a conference for the first time and it would be like meeting an old friend. In that light, “friends” works.

    On the Friends page I noticed a place to comment. Is it appropriate to add the ability to more formally introduce each other in a simple profile form with links to comments made or guest posts, etc. Just a thought. It puts the emphasis on comments or contributions to the site versus just someone coming to the site and becoming a “friend”.

    Great changes and grateful to be considered part of Scott Gould and Friends.

  • http://twitter.com/SocialMedia_Art Waqas Ali

    Hello Scott, this is simply WOW!

    I really look forward to be an active part of Scott Gould & Friends. I believe that in future we’ll have more interactions and they will change into actions (what doesn’t happen on most of blog), so be cheerful and start creating the gold, we’ll burn it and it’ll be excellent.

    ;)

    I’m doing very fine, college has started back. You know 5 months back I founded Indo-Pak Peace Media and just launched blog for that too. So things are very exciting with me in Pakistan. My business is also getting the momentum. All is good.

  • Anonymous

    This is nice Scott, congratuations. I find it very welcoming and collaborative.
    Best wishes, Helen

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Scott.

    Thanks for the kind words – it’s been good talking with you over the last year or so.

    What I’m going to do is give each person the ability to create their own profile and become a contributor on this WordPress installation. Then they can post and be a part of curating with me, as well as having profile here.

    Robin’s comments below are very pertinent about the UI of all this. How do you think we can make this work?

    Thanks for being so enthusiastic, Friend

    :-)

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey bro!

    Glad you like this. Are you ready to get writing

    ;-)

    Scott

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks Helen – let me know your feedback as things move more. I’ve been running this blog one way and now transitioning to another will take some real feedback from ya’ll

    :-)

    Scott

  • http://twitter.com/SocialMedia_Art Waqas Ali

    Yes, we shall.

    ;-)
    It’s been an hour & I’m on my new website (ScottGould.me).

  • Anonymous

    Good idea Scott, and maybe to add to that…

    Change the URI to scottgould.us !

    That would embrace your concept even more than the ‘.me’ that you now have

  • / Scott Gould

    Alex – VERY good idea. Trouble is it would mean I’d loose the authority that this site has in Google, etc, which I’m a bit concerned about. Also make people think i’m in the US..?

  • http://www.getinthehotspot.com/ Annabel, Get In The Hot Spot

    Blimey, I think I’d better write a post about that one. There are so many things I’d like to do on my blog and need to make time for. But I’ve discovered you really don’t need a huge community. Small is great if they are engaged and happy so that’s the main thing to aim for. You’re doing well:)

  • Anonymous

    Could you run both in tandem – the .us as a forwarding? I’m sure that people will quickly realise that the .us is “us” as opposed to “US” when they see the content.

    Understand the rankings thing, but maybe it’s a chance to see just how authoritative the site and community is in the digital world? How quickly could the collaboration and digital footfall drive a .us from inception to authoritative meeting place that is widely known.

    I imagine that’s a potentially scary step of faith and might just as likely be business suicide, but theere must be some way round it – gradual migration from .me to a forwarded .us until the .us has the same google etc ranking and presence.

    I dunno how these things work but just threw it in.

    God bless, keep up the excellent work!

  • http://www.rosagarriga.net Rosa Garriga

    Hi Scott!

    So you’re back on track! I really like this new approach, much more appropriate for your goal of building an online community… I also like to new website design, much easier to find the content. Congrats!
    l’m also getting back to work, I’ve got so many exciting projects coming up! Also, I’m writing a new article about crowdsourcing, and would like to include a short interview with you. What do you think? Would you like me to e-mail you a few questions? if so, then tell me your e-mail

    :)

    Cheers

  • http://www.rosagarriga.net Rosa Garriga

    Hi Scott!

    So you’re back on track! I really like this new approach, much more appropriate for your goal of building an online community… I also like to new website design, much easier to find the content. Congrats!
    l’m also getting back to work, I’ve got so many exciting projects coming up! Also, I’m writing a new article about crowdsourcing, and would like to include a short interview with you. What do you think? Would you like me to e-mail you a few questions? if so, then tell me your e-mail

    :)

    Cheers

  • / Scott Gould

    Forwarding won’t transfer the authority unfortunately. I like the idea, and perhaps now would be the time to do it, seeing as this blog isn’t particularly well know

  • / Scott Gould

    Rosa – glad you like it. Have to see how to make this whole thing more social.

    My email is scott [at] scottgould [dot] me

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Scott

Leave a Reply