Shareable’s Community Helps to Shape Its Future

Last Friday, July 27, members of Shareable’s community of readers, writers, commenters, and sharers in the San Francisco Bay Area spent the entire afternoon giving us fantastic feedback about how Shareable can better serve the sharing movement.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

All of us at Shareable extend a huge thank you to the 17 of you who generously donated your Friday afternoons: Alpha Lo, Betsy Morris, Cat Johnson, Caterina Rindi, Doris Tang, Elliot Harmon, Eric Irvine, Jeffrey Lim, Kenn Burrows, Marc Tognotti, Maura Dilley, Monisha Mustapha, Nicole Gaetjens, Raines Cohen, Sean Kolk, Tim West, and Vivian Wang. Finally, Shareable extends a big thank you to Allen Gunn and Aspiration for generously donating facilitation for the event.

Asking the Questions to Help Spread the Sharing Movement

Attendees were a microcosm of the sharing economy. Attendees began by addressing some tough questions. Is Shareable and the sharing movement a bubble? Are we preaching to the choir? After asking the big questions—which are important for Shareable and the larger sharing movement to be cognizant of—they asked how Shareable can play a role in the challenges that the sharing movement faces.

Our community brainstormed what was important to talk about. Here, attendees categorize the dozens of Post It notes they generated.
Our community brainstormed what was important to talk about. Here, attendees categorize the dozens of Post It notes they generated.

The event used a participant-driven agenda in which participants told us what was important to talk about. The overarching theme was how to use Shareable to educate people and get them connected and engaged online and offline. The feedback was focused around three questions that are listed in the next three sections.

Which Content Should Shareable Prioritize?

Participants in the content priorities session had helpful guidance:

  • It’s important to focus on people and how they share, and also to continue covering how entire communities—such as Detroit—are sharing.
  • Nicole Gaetjens pointed out that controversy is good and not something to be feared, as it shows what people are passionate about.
  • Sean Kolk emphasized that Shareable must consider both new users and returning users. Returning users want a lot more meat and substance in articles.
  • Elliot Harmon suggested that it would be cool to have some kind of visibility into which stories and types of stories get the most views and response on Shareable—but to do it in a way that’s more clever or introspective than just a “Most Popular” list.

Want to see more details? Here are the raw notes from the content session.

How Can Shareable Support Offline Community Engagement?

The offline community engagement session had twice as many attendees as the other two sessions, which shows that there is an interest in more offline engagement among Shareable users. The group had many ideas which they distilled into four great suggestions:

  • Vivian Wang recommended having a place on the website where people can post and find event listings in their area.
  • Shareable could facilitate a monthly SHARE day. These could include speakers, gift circles, book club meetups, musicians, and more.
  • Shareable could have more conferences and workshops. Alpha Lo and Kenn Burrows recommended using a train-the-trainer approach so that people can bring it back to their community.
  • Shareable could organize an (Inter)National Share Day. As Cat Johnson suggested, this could include events all over the world, but could also lend itself to individual participation by asking people to look at how they could share more.

As Kenn pointed out, these ideas for community and neighborhood engagement shouldn’t use a top-down model, but would instead come from communities themselves. Alpha added that Shareable’s role would be to facilitate different demographics and people to do whatever they most want, and to help get it all publicized.

Want to read more? These are the raw notes from the offline community session.

How Can Shareable Enable Users to Better Collaborate on the Website?

The online collaboration group said that it’s easy to have people discuss online, but that Shareable should consider other ways for people to engage online. Participants in the session came up with recommendations for how to connect people online, get users to try different types of sharing, and to meet up offline.

  • Doris Tang suggested that Shareable look into making network information visible to users so that they can see who they are connected to and how to find each other.
  • Doris recommended having more calls to action on the site (e.g. try carsharing this month) in order to get people to participate in the sharing economy. Eric Irvine suggested that this could be gamified for individuals and groups (such as schools).
  • Maura Dilley pointed out that mixing together online interaction with offline interaction is the “special sauce” of community. People could connect on Shareable online in order to then be able to connect offline. This could include parties, meetups, or volunteer opportunities, because as Doris pointed out, people don’t join organizations or movements just to be cerebral all the time.

Eric asked how we engage people who aren’t familiar with sharing so that we’re not just preaching to the choir. He mentioned the group’s “Sharing Sherpa” idea for one-on-one online chats with volunteer guides; these would pop up on the website and the guides would help out new users who are getting started with sharing.

Want to dive deeper? Here are raw notes from the online collaboration session.

Everyone shared a final bit of advice in the closing circle.
Everyone shared a final bit of advice in the closing circle.

Next Steps

In an effort to engage you, our community, in shaping the future of Shareable, we'd like to continue to solicit your feedback by hosting online meetings for those of you who couldn't join us in person.

Next week, Shareable will hold two online meetings to discuss the feedback we received at Friday’s San Francisco event and gather additional input from those of you—readers, writers, commenters, and sharers—in other parts of the world. The two meetings will have the same format but are scheduled to better reach people in different time zones. The meetings will last for one hour. We’re finalizing the details, so please keep an eye on this website for more details.

Meeting #1 – Asia Pacific

  • August 7 at 8:00 PM San Francisco (PDT)
  • August 7 at 5:00 PM Honolulu (HAST)
  • August 8 at 08:30 Mumbai (IST)
  • August 8 at 11:00 Beijing (CST)
  • August 8 at 13:00 Sydney (EST)
  • August 8 at 03:00 GMT/UTC

Meeting #2 – Africa, Americas and Europe

  • August 9 at 8:00 AM San Francisco (PDT)
  • August 9 at 11:00 AM New York (EDT)
  • August 9 at 12:00 noon Rio de Janeiro (BRT)
  • August 9 at 16:00 London (BST)
  • August 9 at 17:00 Berlin (CEST)
  • August 9 at 17:00 Johannesburg (SAST)
  • August 9 at 15:00 GMT/UTC

If you’re interested you can also review the full notes from the event.

What Do You Think?

Please share your feedback in the comments. Which ideas make the most sense to you? Do you have other ideas to share?

The event began with this "Spectrogram" exercise.
As requested, our community generated intentionally polarizing statements about sharing for the Spectrograms.
Participants were asked to stand along a blue line to indicate how much they agreed or disagreed with the statement. (Thanks for making this impromptu sign, Raines!)
Then, people were invited to explain their particular position on the Spectrogram statement in question.
People were also encouraged to shift their position on the line if someone else's explanation influenced their thinking.
These were tough questions! For example, is Shareable and the sharing movement a bubble? Are we preaching to the choir?
The Spectrogram statements that our community generated raise important questions for Shareable and the larger sharing movement to be cognizant of.
You can read more of the Spectrogram statements on the notes page.
Participants broke into small groups. Each group brainstormed a list of what they wanted to talk about for the rest of the day on Post It notes.
They were asked to write these as questions (Why isn't Shareable doing more of X?) or assertions (I think Shareable should do Y).
Wow, that's a lot of great Post Its!
Our community then categorized the dozens of Post It notes they generated. These ideas were discussed further in the three breakout sessions.
Everyone shared a final bit of advice in the closing circle.
You can read everyone's advice on the notes page.
Hanging out after the event at a nearby tavern.
Our community doesn't quit! Over drinks, some folks shared even more ideas about how Shareable can better serve the sharing movement.

Thanks to Milicent Johnson and Neal Gorenflo for their notetaking and collaboration on this article.


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