Focused online storytelling

We had a good little jag the other day about the impossibility of “building” community. But the alert reader would have noted a contradiction: One subject of our interview with maintainers of single-topic Web sites, Caroline van Oosten de Boer, runs a U2 Weblog, where fans gather to share news.

A gathering is a community, isn’t it?

So how do you entice people to gather online?

A couple of test sites may show the way: and Ticketstubs.

At Croon – yet another creation of the Dutch dynamo, C. van O. de B. – you trade anecdotes of songs and how they moved you. Chez Ticketstubs, you’re meant to upload a scan of a ticketstub and tell us all about what happened to you that night, from picking up your date to watching the show to getting in a fight with your date.

Now, don’t you find both these sites fall into the category of “Why didn’t I think of that?” Sometimes, brilliant ideas seem self-evident once revealed.

The wee complication is that neither Croon nor Ticketstubs is up and running properly yet. A fully-functioning site would do more than merely permit the uploading of disjointed personal narratives. Rather akin to what we find on Hissyfit (NUblog passim), you’d get a lot of “Yeah, that happened to me, too, and here’s what I did about it” cross-chat. Or “Oh, please. That’s nothing,” followed by a story that tops the original.

Smart operators would license these concepts, and the domain names (winners both, at least in English), for music- or concert- or travel- or TV- or movie-related sites. And in a world of online CD retailers with undifferentiable content, an original, exclusive feature like Croon could attract some attention.

Similar ideas? That’s what you come to us for. Run public Weblogs on topics like:

  1. People I Miss: Runs the risk of treacle and maudlinness, but memories of people you no longer know are universal, and who else are you going to tell them to? (Markets: E-cards; directories of addresses and phone numbers, dull as dishwater as-is; seniors; young adults in out-of-town universities.)
  2. Ships Passing: Memories of people who blast into your life and disappear forever. Two variants: Sexual and not. (For examples of the latter, dig up the obscure film A Midnight Clear. Markets: Dating and personals; city portals; nightlife guides.)
  3. My Dinner with André: Memorable conversations at mealtime, including, for Maritimers and the Irish, those held at the kitchen table. (Markets: Food and dining; housewares and appliances, including mainstream department-store powerhouses.)
  4. Second Chances: Life shows you a detour around a seeming dead end. Risk of being overrun by born-again Christians and plane-crash survivors (Cf. Chuck Palahniuk). (Markets: Born-again Christians, an actual market meant sincerely here; plane-crash survivors; dishwater-dull insurance brokers.)
  5. Last Night’s Dream: A dream you manage to remember, and manage to put into words. (Markets: Consumer products; beds and mattresses; spirituality, including the Madonna-with-hennaed-backs-of-hands variety.)

We could go on. But we give away enough million-dollar ideas on this page as it is.

Posted on 2000-11-16