Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

HoL has over 7,000 individual members and many thousands of people view the site every month. I've started to wonder why I see mainly the same people post over and over again (that includes me). The content is very varied, threads seems to be about every topic under the sun but a lot of the debate and discussion is between a relatively small number of people. There is nothing wrong with regulars. I will look at posts sometimes just because of the person who posted as I know what they have something interesting to say.

I was talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago and although she is a HoL member who often views the site, she rarely contributes. One of the reasons she gave me is that she feels that some of the posts seem to attack individuals. I've noticed that there have been occasional posts that have seemed cruel and some posts that seem set out to ridicule others or their views. I'm not immune to this and have caught myself crossing the line.

I would hate it if this site became just a parish noticeboard kind of thing but equally some people seem to be really put off getting involved.

I'd be interested to hear what other have to say, especially those who post less frequently or not at all.

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True Phil, but there still remains the issue of people who feel uncomfortable joining in.

I think its the same for FB group pages too. I know lots of people who don't even use FB even tho they would pick up lots of info as they are involved in stuff. Look at the number of hits on subjects and it shows that many posts are read. Lots of people just are not interested or would prefer not to post....

Maybe we don't have that much to say! Often a discussion will be interesting but I don't feel I have anything to add to it. Or I just don't have time to reply. I only do now because I woke up in the middle of the night!

The quality of the experience is relatively poor - it's so mechanical to type into an ugly machine and get no feedback, or get feedback a random amount of time later, by a group of people many of whom are anonymous, in a 'pedestrian' way (typed text).

What you might want, like me, is a different form of 'relationship' where we can conduct exchanges with local people so as to contribute to local life and enrich ours in the process. This site is too ephemeral for that and people simply aren't persuaded that it's worth it - it's still a valid point that real, quality human interaction can only be done physically. People resist mechanical interventions and have enthusiasms of their own.

This place is what we make it so what we could do is intensify it, whilst maintaining this slow dance.  How about a regular series of HoL 'Ketchup Hangouts'?  Google Hangouts do up to 15 people simultaneously on line by webcam and an unlimited amount watching - all free (Skype charge money). You don't even need a webcam if, like me, you're not as handsome as you used to be :)

We could do short 'Ketchup' sessions where we hangout together and chat about pretty much anything - stay on longer if you want.  We could discuss the 'Friday Ketchup' email as a rough framework. It's a slightly strange medium as it works best if people each take it in turns to say stuff, rather than the free flow of conversation 'live' but it could add a dimension I'd like that might draw a wider range of people in - what do you think?

Actually Chris, a lot of the interacting with others I do at work is electronic.   The days of all being in a meeting room is pretty much over for me.  For example, yesterday more than 60 of us joined in on line while someone with a bit of IT knowhow showed us the potential of a new bit of software we might be interested in getting.  Some were at a desk around the corner, some miles away working from home.   It was all done and dusted in 10 minutes and those who weren't interested in what they were seeing logged out whenever they wanted.   It does take a bit of discipline though as 60 odd people muttering at the same time is deafening.

So, do you think a 'Ketchup Hangout' is worth a try?

I take from the 'experience is relatively poor' comment, Chris, that you're referring to forum type set-ups in general, rather than on HoL in particular. If so, I agree, up to a point. 

Like any form of human interaction, the more you put in and the closer you get, the more you get from it.  Forums, Facebook, Twitter and the like are never going to be a replacement for direct human interaction, be it by voice, video or face-to-face. But, for me HoL was never aimed at providing an alternative to any of those. In my mind it's supplementary. It fills a gap in making local connections and passing on local information; it also supports the local collaborative economy. Above and beyond that it helps to create real world change through its information sharing and collaborative outcomes as well as making real world connections. Don't believe me, read all the research that's now available.

For some people who have busy-busy lives with demanding jobs, kids, etc, bite-sized interaction is all they want. If that's the case, then these type of set-ups allow that as well providing a route for those who want to make closer connections.

I can think of many ways of making HoL better,  in some respects taking it back to how it felt in 2008, but whilst I remain open to suggestions (along with longer-term commitments of time or money to make those suggestions work),  what it is right now is a function of the time Liz and I are able or prepared to invest in it. 

Yes Hugh I meant forums in general, not only this one.  It's a weird form of experience to type into a computer and eventually get a reply - disembodied.

I really like this site and admire what's been achieved here - it's impressive. 

>>the more you put in

I've noticed that people who are really into things find it amazing that others don't 'get' it. I think it's worth trying to nail how it could be better. It seems obvious to me that progress in intercourse should follow the tech - it always has.

As soon as we had bulletin boards (I know I was there!) people started the online neighbourhood movement.  When forum software emerged they dived in with both hands.

We've now got free video chat (although it's not that good because of the turn-and-turn-about regime it imposes) so should use it is all I'm sayin.

Yes, I think like all forms of comms advance video chat has its place, but it's more of a commitment to local engagement than many people want. 

It goes without saying that you or anyone else is as welcome to use HoL to organise a video chat as you are a meeting.

I'm all for picking up on advances as they come along. It's just that right now I have no spare bandwidth!

If you don't have time for it, it's probably not worth doing. 

The 'Google Hangout' stuff isn't really google - it's WebRTC, an open internet standard - needs no plugins.  So it's not an investment in Google - other services will emerge because they're all interoperable in theory.

I thought that the 'unhangout' stuff is interesting - you click on a door and it leads  you to a hangout of like-minded people - be interesting to see, if you had an unconference here, what the door labels would say (same as the categories you use now?) and who went through which doors.  You could also see a Council Official\Cllr or two in some of the rooms - LBH might pay you to provide that facility...

I think it would be a great idea for an innovative council to try. Will you offer odds on how close to home that'll be?



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