In appreciation of appreciationOnline communities thrive on low barriers to goodwill

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One of the most powerful things about the social web is how it harnesses two human impulses to each other: the drive to connect to other people, and the drive to express ourselves.

The result is an explosion of content from people who would, a few years ago, have had few outlets of expression. Suddenly you can post your own photos, share videos, offer opinions, publish poetry and do much more.

There are all sorts of incentives - whether it's a creative outlet, a chance to network with like-minded people or the (potentially) more tangible rewards of an AdSense or Revver account. But for many of us, one of the biggest motivations for putting all this stuff online is the simple knowledge that we're reaching people and, somehow, affecting them.

Which makes feedback critical to keeping that outpouring of content flowing. In theory, blogs have comments because bloggers want to engage in conversation... but comments serve a function that's at least as important, and that's to let the blogger know her stuff is actually being read and reacted to.

A little appreciation can go a long way toward keeping a podcaster or blogger plugging away at what is otherwise a pretty lonely task. And the fact that a few people respond with a few kind words is often all it takes to close the virtuous circle of unpaid content creation.

If there's some online content that you've been enjoying, especially unpaid labours of love, it's worth the effort to let the author know. Comments are great. Blog posts and links - because they help expand a content creator's audience and reach - are even better.


And in that vein, I'm going to take a moment to appreciate the appreciators. I've been publishing my cartoon, Noise to Signal, for a few months now, and the response has been fantastic. Heartfelt thanks to these folks for taking the time to let me know they've enjoyed the doodles:

Thanks, everyone; thanks as well to the folks who wrote me privately ... and apologies to everyone I've missed.

Comments

Beth Kanter says

August 24, 2007 - 8:13pm
As I'm packing for my early morning depature for Cambodia, I wonder if this cartoon will translate .. will le tyou know

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