Monday, March 27, 2006

To bootstrap versus talking about Bootstrap Austin

Recently a discussion came up about Bootstrap Austin on the bootstrap-austin yahoogroup... I have not up to this point blogged on this blog... but I thought that it is important to share not my opinion about the specific issue, but the essense of what I see that we, the members of Bootstrap Austin are creating. In an email that went to the group, a good friend of mine posted the following email (I have clipped it to a short segment of what he posted):
Second, I would like to register that it would be best to find a way for the bootstrap community to set the rules of interaction. To me, traffic on this group is anemic and somewhat unsatisfying because so much is taken off list. The bootstrap organization has been quick to setup sub-lists, but by and large they are quiet.

Alternatively, when you compare this list to the likes of and, it's clear that too much noise is not a good thing.

The email above came, as I mentioned, from a good friend, and also, probably one of my best critics. :-). Hence, I figured that I would like to write back to open a discussion... but to take this off of the main yahoogroup. I think that this discussion is critical for other bootstrap groups around the country and world that are building out their organizations, so I wanted to share it here. To get the essense of my point across in this blog post, I have copied my response back here. Read on, and please comment on this blog as you have thoughts. My email is a little strong, but this is mainly because my friend and I don't typically hold any punches. Given that he does not know that I am taking this discussion to the blogosphere... I am going to hold off on using his name till he agrees with that. Please read on.


Can you ground the assertion that you made that "traffic on this group is anemic ... because so much is taken off list"?

I have been thinking about your statement for a while. Given that you are a friend, I figure that I would actually talk with you about it. I do not see so much stuff taken off list. I do see a lot of people working on a lot of projects that have not been made public on the main list... mainly because it takes so much time to publish everything that is happening (given that we are all volunteers).

What I do not understand, is, if you get the group. Given that you are working in a job (versus bootstrapping 100% of the time) I often wonder if you "get it". I think that you do, but with this email, I call you out on this.

The idea of this group is not to go head to head with either of the two resources that you named... the idea is to build a community of practice versus a website or business (e.g. a "traditional" business like what is happening with or The difference is like comparing Apache to Microsoft IIS (or Linux to Windows). Sure... there is a comparison to be made in functionality... but not in organization... and to compare only functionality is to miss the essence of why the model behind Linux or Apache will dominate the market in the long term (as I believe that the model that we, as bootstrappers are now exploring,... and will emerge as the dominate model in the coming few years).

If you feel that the conversations on the list are anemic... then why are you not asking more questions to facilitate your business?

Do you get that the way that Bijoy and me and others are articulating the bootstrap network is not about having interesting discussions... but is about building businesses? [In the context of building businesses] who cares if the discussions are interesting... it only matters if they are relevant to building my business... and your business... and Bijoy's business... and Chris's business, and Bill's business.

The other thing that is just important is the part that makes Bootstrap Austin just like Fightclub.... We don't talk about Bootstrap Austin... we bootstrap. Bootstrap Austin is/should be a verb, not a noun. To talk about Bootstrap Austin (on the main list) misses this distinction of bootstrapping.... More than any other distinction in this community, and what will make it work, is this distinction to take action and use the community to bootstrap a business. Yes, the community can be more powerful. Yes, there should be discussions about what is happening in the community, and how that we can improve the community... Just not on the main list, for discussions that are not about bootstrapping on the main list dilute the 500+ list members' time... and end up taking away from bootstrapping.

I am open to your comments.

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