Editor's note: If you're launching a website or app today, you need to build a community around your content. But how? Some sites explode while other nearly identical sites wither. It seems the best you can do sometimes is put out content and start sacrificing goats. What little we do know about how to build social apps and sites is folklore, anyway. The art and science of community building needs more attention. Kristen Taylor, an instructor at New York University's unique tech graduate program, the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), is trying to provide the theoretical and practical background for that task. Here, she presents her unusually literate and deep syllabus about learning to build online environments that people love.
Read more entries from our Syllabus-as-Essay series.
On the first day of class, we came up with a name.
The students were enrolled in a course titled "Creating Community Environments," which, while descriptive, felt a little pedantic for this graduate class at ITP. And it was too long for a hashtag.
Intentionally occupying the strange crawlspace between ITP's studio lab sessions with lasers and theoretical discussion sections, CommunITP class has become a community of practice around online social tools and spaces in its inaugural run. We have had a dreamy roster of guest speakers from Foursquare and Hunch to Reddit and RockMelt, and we do community fieldwork by using the services and sites we study, tweeting (@communITP) and Tumbling as we go. The following syllabus is a living document and has been tweaked and refined, incorporating feedback, each week. Our class name was Nisma's idea, and you'll meet the other thirteen students below.