Another cross-post, this time from a moodle discussion on management of virtual communities. The Miguel I mention is Miguel Cornejo, leader of the Macuarium community.
This is more a concern than anything else. I'm sorry about the fragmented writing, but I'm really writing out my ideas as they come.
After the call with Miguel, I was kinda shocked because of his volunteering stories. During the call, I was trying to keep in mind that, in his case, we are talking about not only computer users (passionate geeks), but MAC users (VERY passionate geeks).
So my concern has to do with volunteering and sustainability [of virtual communities]. If there is something I have learned in the public sector, is the fragility of programs and projects. What seems ok today, could be out of place tomorrow. And that, I think, creates a huge challenge for state-dependent communities.
During the call, we looked at each other like saying "That will never work with teachers!". I wonder why we can't picture our teachers volunteering... Maybe is because we have a hard time thinking about ourselves as volunteers? Maybe we are really aware of the crazy schedules and workloads of our teachers?
Or maybe we see volunteering as a foolish way to give away our (money)valuable time?
I've heard once and again a very truthful statement: "That's what our culture is like". Hm. Facing that, I think we have two options: Accept it, and even reinforce that kind of culture, or try and change it (am I too naive?).
The question is, how do we change that? Is it so difficult?
Talking with Isabel today, an interesting idea came up: Either we need to "seduce" people, or at least help them discover what are they really passionate about. A passionate person will be, likely, more open to volunteering some of her time (I think).
Why all this concern about volunteering? I think that might be the only way to guarantee sustainability for so many of the things we are trying to do. But, in order to achieve that, we need to realize that volunteering doesn't mean "do all that you do, but for free". Small one-hour contributions, coming from a lot of different people, can have a huge impact in the world. Maybe the trick is to discover how to distribute responsibility...
Anyway, I'm concerned about sustainability. I think is something worth discussing right now.