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A community built for writers needs a platform strategy

2018-06-21

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg once said that online communities can’t be created. Communities exist both in the real world and online, and all you can do is to provide tools and services that attract community members to your platform. Writing Cooperative is a community for writers, but the story how it was born is quite exciting.
writers with laptops around coffee table, photo by rawpixelPhoto by rawpixel.

Two complete strangers Jessica Jungton and Sand Farina met on the brand-new blogging service The Medium when it was just launched. They realized they both wanted to have something that would help them and everyone else write better. Since Medium provided some rudimentary tools for editing, they started from there.

In 2014, the founders of the Writing Cooperative opened it for business. Writers quickly discovered the community, and the founders asked a few people to help them run the business.

Everything seemed to be going well until Medium changed the features it provided to its users. Since the Writing Cooperative relied completely on Medium, it was a major problem for the business. After some tweaks, things worked until Medium changed its functionality again.

Recently, Medium started charging visitors for reading articles. Accidental visitors can read three articles for free, and after that they have to purchase a monthly subscription. This new policy is bound to have a huge impact on the number of visitors who would like to read the Writing Cooperative every once in a while.

Today, the Writing Cooperative doesn’t rely on Medium alone anymore, but uses messaging service Slack for communication as well.

You can read the story with the founders’ remarks at ProWritingAid.

I am surprised that a fairly large community like the Writing Cooperative has stayed on Medium. The changes the platform does will never end. The community will encounter problems in the future as well. Writing Cooperative admits that they don’t know how their revenue from Medium is made up.

10 years ago, I was one of the founders of a network of small businesses. We needed online presence and tools. We settled on a platform (it doesn’t exist anymore) that was perfect to our needs because it was intended for small businesses. We started building on the platform, but pretty soon, we realized that we couldn’t rely on constant technical and business model changes the platform was having.

We created our own site. Fortunately we had graphic designers, programmers and writers in our network who could share the work. It required more initial work and money, but we were happy after it was done and live on the internet.

The modern libraries of Thionville, France and Seinäjoki, Finland have something in common

2017-02-15

Public libraries all over the world have a new problem to solve: how to provide the best possible services to citizens when the core service of a library – printed book – is transforming to digital format. Ebooks can be checked out from a library at home sofa, at beach chair or at hospital bed. We firmly believe libraries as public spaces are needed in the future as well, but how they will look like and what they might actually do is another thing.

One of the first real life experiments with next generation library is being conducted in Texas, USA. Bexar County has opened an all digital library called Bibliotech. There are no physical books for people to loan, but computers, tablets and ereaders where library card holders can loan and read ebooks (or hang out on the Internet). Library staff is always there to help with books and with technology.
Thionville library in France
The town of Thionville in northern France didn’t go all digital when it opened a new library in 2016. It is a beautiful modern building with plenty of space for activities, like sipping coffee, having a picnic on the roof, or playing instruments in soundproof rooms. The architects explained to Fast Company that the objective was to build spaces for the community. Printed books are available in the library, as well as ebooks and other forms of digital media.

Thionville doesn’t even call its new building a library, but Mediatheque.

Before we continue to Seinäjoki, Finland, take a look at a video introduction to the Mediatheque of Thionville, France. Mediatheque was opened in 2016. It was designed by the Strasbourg-based firm Dominique Coulon and Associates.

Let’s jump from Central Europe to Northern Europe in order to find out what kind of libraries are being built in Scandinavia. One of the most liked and celebrated new libraries in Finland was built in Seinäjoki, in the central region of the country. The Apila (Shamrock) Library, designed by Helsinki-based architects JKMM, opened in 2012.

The primary service in Seinäjoki library is still printed books, but community spaces, activities and digital media have their own nooks, rooms and corners as well. The shadow of Finland’s master architect Alvar Aalto was a factor in the design process because buildings designed by Aalto are located around the new library.

Now, take a look at the following photo gallery of the Seinäjoki Apila Library and compare the pictures with the video images of the Thionville library. There are a number of details and large design solutions that resemble one another in these two libraries, even though the architects are different. Perhaps it is a sign that libraries are finding one common way to serve citizens in the digital future.

Seinäjoki Apila library, Finland
modern library of Seinäjoki in Scandinavia
modern library  architecture in Seinäjoki, Finland, North Europe
community spaces in Seinäjoki library, Finland
reading nook in Seinajoki library, Finland, Scandinavia, Europe

New services help digital nomads to organize life and work in a new destination

2016-02-11

Many, many people dream of traveling and working on the go. It is easy to find thousands of blogs of digital nomads who roam the earth, staying in one place as long as they like (or a project requires) and working as freelancer programmers, designers, writers, or do any other work that can easily be outsourced and doesn’t require physical presence.
aspremont, nice, riviera, france
We have tried the nomad life and work ourselves in Europe, and we can confirm it is a tough, but exciting way of life. The first major obstacles in a new destination are finding a place to stay, securing a reliable 24/7 Internet connection, and figuring out how to move around in the region.

Since the number of digital nomads are rising, and many are heading to same cities where life is convenient and living costs reasonable, new businesses are emerging that are serving this rather unique customer segment. Here are a few new startups that can help nomads.

Nomad List. An interactive online service that lets you search for destinations based on wide range of attributes, like climate, cost of living, nightlife, and outdoors activities.

Surf Office. At the moment, Surf Office operates in Lisbon, Portugal and Gran Canaria, Spain. The concept is to provide workspace and accommodation for nomads in attractive locations. Surf Office has discovered the major headaches every traveler has when moving into a new location, and is trying to cure those headaches. Great idea.

Roam. A new startup business that, at the moment of writing this, only has one location in operation in Ubud, Bali. Preparations for opening spaces in Miami, Buenos Aires, Lisbon, and Kyoto are ongoing. Roam’s concept is to charge a fixed monthly fee ($1600) that gives you a private room to live in and communal workspace. You can book yourself into any location for the same monthly subscription fee.

Nomad House. Nomad life tends to be lonely life in a sense that you don’t meet your friends or relatives. You will meet plenty of people, but developing deep friendships is difficult if you stay for a couple of weeks or months in one place. That’s where Nomad House comes in. It is a place for travelers who want to live and work in a community. Current spaces are in Berlin, Bali, Bangkok, Siem Reap, and Javea (Alicante, Spain).

Via TNW.