Trust, Inspiration and Tribes

by Goldie on April 12, 2013

in Society and Culture

I was on the #joiito channel when Stephanie Booth pointed to her post about her blogging tribe experiment.  I immediately said I was interested…and then in spite of many idaes they never made it from my brain to my fingertips.  After watching (a second time) Amanda Palmer’s amazing TED talk on the Art of Asking and in looking at the pattern of my blog I realized it was about trust, and its flip side fear.  But the idea of tribe, and joining one itself at least provided fuel for ideas, I just need to post them.

So for this post, I’m thinking on tribes and how they impact creativity.

In looking at my blog posts there were many many posts – many video back in 2007.  At that time Twitter and Seesmic (the video site)  were where I hung out and the discussions we had spurred my ideas and inspired my posts.

Additionally at the time Twitter was pretty small, and certainly the number of people I followed was well below the Dunbar number.  When I shared my thoughts – often sharing the blog link on twitter it was sharing in a community that was exploring and learning itself.  Looking at my posts they were fairly reflective of the discussion going on – and in the community – or tribe – that was forming there was support and a trust that even with criticism it was an exchange of ideas not an attack.   Yes, the posts were searchable by many but it didn’t really matter because my tribe was a system of support.  The tribe was a place I could build trust and also an inspiration.

As much as twitter is what inspired my creating of this blog (and the experiments in “new media” that my twitter friends were performing), Seesmic became a place that I saw the evolution of tribe and trust. When  I reflect on my Seesmic posts I recall how at first it was very daunting to record a video.  I re-recorded many many times before posting.   Gradually as I got to know the community my posting was easier, and more frequent.  I felt that I had a place within the tribe and I could trust them with my thoughts – even if it was sharing my morning cup of coffee.  Although we were a group of diverse people we created space of trust where we could talk and have real discussions on difficult topics, like gun control,  political parties, and whether it is pronounced “Aluminum” or “Aluminium”.   Because of the connection of the tribe we trusted each other enough to disagree and yet still be close.  I still keep up with the people who I met through Seesmic – I feel a special bond with them.

Gradually Seesmic grew and at some point the speed of the timeline or the number of people present shifted the balance and it became no longer a tribe.  I would drop by occasionally but the place had changed, or rather the size had changed the dynamic so it was no longer my tribe, but a place where my tribe and others hung out.  I was very sad when Seemsic finally shut its video service – because the memory of what it was was so strong, but in truth the way it grew was in a way that could no longer support the tribe concept but became a public gathering place.

As I see the rise and fall of my posts – since this blog is mostly just about whatever I’m interested in – I see that in the times I feel part of a community, a tribe as it were, I post more frequently.  I trust that there are friendly eyes reading my post and even more so, if they dislike what I read, that doesn’t leave me alone – just with a difference of opinion on a particular post or idea.  Furthermore the tribe provides a place to share ideas and build ideas.  While one can be inspired on ones own, external input can be pretty helpful for taking a “that’s interesting” to something more extensive that becomes a post.

At the same time tribes require more than just people but there needs to be a connection of some sort, and that connection has some limits such as how many can be a part of it.  Each tribe has its culture as well.  What works in one tribe would be devastating to another. That said tribes are good to find or create.

Creativity thrives in a place where there is a tribe.  Through finding or creating one’s tribe(s) we can find inspiration and support to trust the world with our ideas.


Stephanie Booth April 12, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question of scale, since I started reading Here Comes Everybody — all the more because at least in Switzerland, “community” is the hot term that gets thrown around all over the place, and ends up meaning everything and anything.

What is a community? What is a tribe? A group? What is it that makes us feel like we “belong”, and when does that break down and we cease feeling at home?

Like yours, my blog is a “whatever catches my fancy” kind of place, and it is indeed more stimulating to share things there when I know I am not speaking in a void. In very early days, I’d say my “tribe” was fellow bloggers.

More and more, I’m thinking that certain structures need to be protected from growing (from increasing in size, which brings issues of scale). Some companies actively do that (37signals for example).

I’m rambling, sorry 😉

Look forward to reading you more!

PurpleCar April 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I think the basic element that makes a tribe is simply time spent together (one could add “in a meaningful way” at the end of that sentence).

The time spent together could have been our years on Seesmic or the Breakfast Club’s one school year Saturday in a Chicago suburbs.

I personally am very much enjoying belonging to a tribe and I am thankful you brought me in. I think 20 is a good number but there’s surely room for more if we are all infrequent posters!

Stephanie Booth April 13, 2013 at 5:43 am

Christine, I personally think 20 is already a pretty large number — what counts is the number of individuals and not the amount of information the “tribe” brings us to consume.

I suspect there is an extra ingredient aside from “time spent together”. We usually say “shared purpose” or “shared objective”. In the case of the blogging tribe it could be the tribe itself — the desire to connect with a “human-sized” group of people who value blogging and ideas and discussion around varied points of interest.

Christine Cavalier April 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm

20 is a great number, I agree. I’m enjoying getting to know people.

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