Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's good to be reminded...

Away from the Web, my passion is sailing. I like sailing because it puts you back in contact with two of Nature's basic elements, wind and water. At various times it's peaceful, exciting, relaxing, potentially dangerous and even embarrassing (for example, allowing a boat to come into unplanned contact with the other element, earth).


Te Moana, our catamaran at Pacific Creek Of course I have tried to combine the two passions with various degrees of success. I've enjoyed keeping a weblog of my "adventures" with Te Moana, our sailboat. I've also tried to start a mailing list about my kind of sailing, coastal cruising. It's been a bit of a failure. Why? Because I simply haven't managed to get it to critical mass. In my experience, a list typically needs around 100 members before there are enough regular writers (3 or 4?), as most people are by nature lurkers. And when there is no regular flow of messages, the list doesn't become part of your "life".


So why couldn't I get a enough people to join? Well, I'm part of a minority - those in their late fifties with a intense on-line habit. Most of the people in my age group don't get it, they didn't grow up with computers. And guess what, at the cruising club, I am amongst the younger group of participants. Coastal Cruising is what people do when they get some more time (and money) for themselves. So, for information and interaction, they are firmly wedded to face-to-face meetings (hard to beat a drink at sunset with some friends on the back of a boat somewhere) and Ink-On-Paper publications.


It's good to be reminded before we start a project to make sure the target audience is aligned not only with its aims but also has the capacity or inclination to take advantage of it. Social Software, like weblogs, wikis and yes, mailing lists generally need a two way conversation and many people still see themselves as consumers rather than participants.


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