How A Blog Became A Community by Bryan G. Nance
...in which The Nance waxes philosophic about The Nance Effect.
Happy New Year to everyone! As you may have noticed I’ve been absent from The Nance Effect. As hard as it is to believe, even I needed to take break. As my wife so ably put it, “Back away slowly from your job, and no one will get hurt.” (By “no one,” she meant me.)
For all of you who call the “Nance Effect” a home of sorts, thank you for your continued insight, wisdom, humor, patience and dedication. Much to my surprise this blog seems to really resonate with many in cyberspace. It is hard to believe that I’ve only been at MIT since July of 2005 and this blog has only been active since late August 2005. It is no exaggeration when I say that The Nance Effect has become a true on-line community.
What does that really mean? Everywhere you look you see the word “community” casually bandied about. To me there are few concepts more sacred than that of community. What is more important that community? It’s the place where you commune with family and friends. It’s the safe and supportive place from which you embrace the learning process. It’s the place from which you venture out to spread your wings and go about the often-tumultuous process of learning and growing physically, mentally and emotionally. Most importantly, it does not rely any one individual for its success.
Everyday I see signs that The Nance Effect is great community. I watched as total strangers met at my blog for conversation, fun and intellectual discourse. I saw you joke with each other about your favorite movies and music, and you even weighed in with clever suggested names for my soon-to-be-born son. (YES, WE’RE STILL WAITING FOR HIM & NO; WE AREN’T GOING TO NAME HIM PROMEITHESIS!)
I saw you cheer those who were tubed; and I witnessed many of you struggle to make sense of the pain and disappointment of being deferred or rejected in the Early Action pool. I watched as many of you asked difficult questions of me and of each other, all the while respecting points of view that were counter to your own personal philosophies. In particular, I was very proud of the way the vast majority of you handled yourselves when responding to the “Deferred” and “Welcome MIT Class of 2010” threads. It would have been easy for you to post comments that had a mean or negative tone. Even when baited by comments that were clearly out of bounds, you did not fall for the Jedi mind tricks. In fact, many of you went out of your way to remind us that mutual respect is the community norm and anything other than that would not be tolerated.
Why is finding and forming this kind of community so important? Simple. It’s exactly what you hope to do when choosing where to attend college. The same principles and intrinsic qualities that you find appealing in this community are the same ones you should seek out when deciding which college communities to join. Remember, you are not attending a college simply to study, you will also live in that community for at least four years.
It did not take long for me realize that I was onto something special with this blog. As Paris Hilton would say, “that’s hot!” It is very important to me that this blog be a conduit for useful tips on the admissions process for students of color. But honestly, the posts that I’ve enjoyed the most are the ones in which I get to dispense laughs or in which I get a chance to learn from you. It was great to confirm my suspicions – in addition to being WICKED SMART, you are a witty lot. I am pleased that you continue to ask your friends to join this community. I am constantly amazed that you quote me or reference The Nance Effect on your personal blogs.
I am humbled that you have continued to keep this community alive and vibrant even when I needed to “back away slowly” for a few weeks.
Before we return to the regularly scheduled soapbox, I call for a moment of reflection. Let the community know:
– What worked?
– What did not work?
– What would you like to see in print in the coming year?
– What do you never want to see/discuss ever again?
– Where did I drop the ball?
As we forge ahead into the ’06, I offer this quote from one of my favorite writers: “no man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” -John Donne, Meditation XVII