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For many years now I’ve been “at home” on the Internet for an hour on the First Thursday of the month for an hour or so. The idea is that one or more of my friends and contacts will drop in to greet me, and connect with each other as well. On a typical month, when I did it “in real time” I’d get about half a dozen people scattered around in Europe, USA and Africa. Recently I’ve been experimenting with a new format over at Kabissa.

I said I’d try it for six months to see what happened, and we have just arrived at month five, so I’ve been doing some reflecting. I’ve copied below the invitation I’ll be sharing with a few of the First Thursday Group who have been helping me experiment.

When we’ve worked out the best way to do things we’ll invite more of the group to join us again.

What I posted

I’m experimenting with the First Thursday Group at Kabissa Forum.

I’m trying to reflect on the “good, bad and interesting” of the old First Thursdays and seeing if we can develop something better here.

The original first Thursday Group Meetings were held in real time on the First Thursday of the month. Beforehand I’d remind some of my contacts that I’d be online then and I’d give them the link so they could join me. I’d tell them what hour I’d be online. I’d usually check in about half an hour or so earlier to leave a quick greeting (and might find an early arrival so we’d start to chat). The “official chat” lasted an hour, but often went on much longer. These are the key points of the old First Thursday Group approach:

  • The session were held at different “online spaces’ over the years but were always a typed chat.
  • The thing that most people in the group had in common was that they had some connection with me.
  • Some of the people in the group were connected with each other in additional ways as well, some weren’t.
  • Now and again someone brought a guest and introduced them and that was fine.
  • If people arriving at First Thursday did already know each other then it was a catch up session.
  • If they didn’t know each other then I’d do some introductions.
  • We’d discover shared interests and different perspectives.
  • Often people shared links, and contact details, so they could continue their discussion elsewhere.

So First Thursday was a connecting and updating space, and a possible jumping off point for creating continuing conversations elsewhere around newly discovered, shared interests.

There were two main problems, both connected with holding the First Thursday Group meetings in “real time”

  • It wasn’t easy to find a time that suited everyone (given the different time zones that people inhabited and the connectivity problems that some people faced.)
  • Live chats, by their very nature, are full of lively chatter, which makes it hard to see the main points of discussion in the unedited archive (and the task of editing the archive is very time consuming) so it was hard to see ideas and interests developing over time.

So – what of the new approach. I’ve brought a few friends over here in recent months who are happy to experiment. At first we came at the same time, but we do it differently now. Personally I check in on the Thursday and come back later in the month. I don’t try to comment on everyone’s post, but I usually click the like button so they know I’ve read it.

I’ve been checking the archives for our experiment so far and I think I know what I’ll try to do in future, although its too late to try it this month. I probably won’t try to explain. We’ll just slide into it later this month.

For now this is what I’m asking people to do – and I apologise for the very late invitation.

Please drop in here tomorrow (First Thursday – April 2nd) at any time that suits you. Before you write your news – or simply leave a short greeting – please dip into the posts from March First Thursday Group 4 – March 2015 –

If you see something in a March post that is relevant to your interests remember who wrote it (let’s imagine it was Tobias and he was talking about smart phones, or it was John Dada and he was talking about local radio). If your post for April will include something about smart phones then make sure that Tobias knows about it. If it will be relevant to Local Radio then make sure John knows.

When you write your own post and you get to your comment or question about smart phones include @tobiaseigen in your post and then he will get a message, and he will know to check your post. If later you mention the local radio then put @johndada in the text so he will know to check what you have written.

That way it will help to carry the topic over from one month to the next and will help the relevant people to follow it,

Ideally you will put your post up on First Thursday – but if you have to do it later in the month that is okay as well. The important thing is to drop in and catch up with people, even if you only have time to leave a short greeting.

If you are not logged on you will be able to read what is written, but you won’t be able to like any thing or post until you are logged on. Any problems with logging on then contact Tobias or me in whatever way you usually do.