A while back, I joined R John Anderson’s Facebook group for Small Developers/Builders. It’s a great group of people looking to make small, incremental changes to the built environment of their communities. Earlier this week, I created a Slack community to enable this wonderful group of developers and builders to expand beyond Facebook’s limits.
Slack is a real-time team messaging application that is great for teams and communities of interest like the Small Developers/Builders group. Over the past two years, Slack has come to dominate internal team communications for many technology companies, completely replacing both internal email and other chat applications like Skype, Google Hangouts, and IRC. It has also found resonance with communities of interest, whether that interest is around a geographic location, an industry, or a product.
Slack enables communities to develop with the feel of a small group of friends. Conversations feel natural, and connections between members are often deep and lasting, in a way that is not true for Facebook groups. Not only does it allow community members to share their big ideas and big questions, but provides a venue to share the little victories and struggles that humanize our work towards improving our cities and towns. Quite simply, Slack lets us make that human connection that’s needed for strong social groups to form, not just the intellectual connection between people doing similar work that Facebook groups engender.
The advantage of Slack over platforms like Facebook is that it works for both real-time and asynchronous communications. Unlike posts on a Facebook page with comments, Slack allows for a natural flowing conversation without the extended wait for a reply. At the same time, members of the community not present during a conversion can read the conversation later, and still add their voices, which often has the effect of reigniting the conversation and extending it.
In addition to its chat features, Slack makes sharing files with the community easy. Instead of sending emails, or figuring out a place to upload a file online, it’s simple to just share it through Slack. For Small Developers/Builders, this provides an easy way to share and comment on project designs, proformas, or anything else.
For this Slack community to be successful, we need small developers and builders to become active participants in the community. The best way to stay active is to download the Slack apps for your computer (Windows, Mac) and phone (iOS, Android, Windows). If you want to join, you can request an invitation which should be automatically sent to you. Come, join us, help build this community and together we can make our cities and towns great again.