Inviting Participation in Web 2.0

The last few weeks, an idea has been slowly forming in my head – one that I’ll call inviting participation. David, what do you mean – inviting participation? Well… let me tell you.

A big chunk of web 2.0 has to do with different forms of participation. You can see this in the large, popular, user-created-content sites like myspace, flickr, or youtube – those sites depend on participation (i.e., content creators freely give away their creations) for their very survival. Even Time Magazine noticed this phenomenon, and named YOU as the person of the year for 2006 – all because you (i.e., we, i.e., me) are crazy content creators! Who knew?

I’ve also heard librarians discussing the same concept in the library community. In library-related articles, blog posts, and presentations I’ve attended and/or read this past year, the presenters/writers have been saying that Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 are all about starting conversations, building community, and telling our stories. But the writer/presenter tends to skip over what I think is the most important partthey never explain how to do it. Instead, they continue on with the next Powerpoint slide or paragraph (and believe me, I’m extremely guilty of this too, so all fingerpointing is aimed at me!).

For the most part, no one has actually explained HOW to start conversations, HOW to build community digitally, and HOW to tell your story in the digital space. In essence, how to invite participation using web 2.0 tools.

Here are two examples that illustrate what I mean by inviting participation. My first example goes back to this past summer when I did that song and video about web 2.0, Are You Blogging This. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that song invited a type of participation – a passive invitation to participate. Though I didn’t ask anyone specifically to do anything, the title of my song, Are You Blogging This?, apparently did – and people responded to the invitation! It’s one of my most popular posts to date, I have received 26 comments on my original blog post so far, and the video has been watched over 4000 times (3000 on YouTube, 1000 on But more importantly, the video was mentioned on other peoples blogs, too – usually with the blogger saying something like “Yes, David, I AM blogging this.”

My second example goes back a week or two when I was having trouble with my blog. I posted to my blog, asking readers to do two things for me: 1. leave a comment saying you saw my post, and 2. tell me what rss reader you’re using. And you guys did! I received 45 comments (and let me tell you, y’all use a WIDE VARIETY of RSS readers – wow!). That post is a great example of what I’ll call an active invitation to participate.

Here’s what I plan to do with my next few blog posts: I will talk about how libraries can invite participation in the digital space – how we can send digital invitations to our customers and invite them to the digital table to share “their stories” with us.

And – most importantly – I want YOU to participate! That’ll make this series of articles that much more fun, and you have some great ideas to share, I’m sure (you DID win that Time Person of the Year Award and all, so you must really know your stuff). Please feel free to chime in – agree, disagree, mention things I didn’t think of, etc – try out this participation stuff.

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