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Another Collaborative Site: Read Scriptures Together

Aug 27, 2008 • blogging, general, web-design

I recently created a collaborative site called Read Scriptures Together. It probably won't appeal to most readers of my blog, but I thought I'd at least mention it. In case you haven't read my About page, I'm a technical writer for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We're commonly known as the Mormons. I work in the IT department writing help material for software applications the Church creates.

I'm also an active member of the Church, and like most male members, served a mission in Venezuela for two years when I was 19. (I'm now 32.) My wife is a lifetime member, but I joined the Church at 15. Jane and I were married in the Manti temple in Utah after only four months of dating at BYU.

I've had the idea for a collaborative scripture reading site for a while. About 5 months ago I created a Ning group and experimented with a beta version of the site. We had about 20 members (mostly family and friends), with at least a quarter of them participating regularly. The site was taking off. But then I fell behind in my reading, I became frustrated with Ning (the social network software I was using), and the site lost momentum. It went into a state of dormancy for a few months.

A couple of weeks ago at Church I realized I was slipping into a passive, automatic mode – going through the motions, but not really feeling passionate or engaged. I thought about the collaborative scripture reading project I had going a few months back, and decided to resurrect it, only this time using WordPress, following a reading schedule that synced with the Sunday School curriculum, and opening it to the general public.

I'm not sure if this version will be more successful, but I know that it engages me more. I am simply accustomed to the blog format, to reading and commenting and viewing others' comments. I think applying social media to a traditionally print-based, physical format may have some interesting results. Right now, I'm the only one commenting on the site. But maybe it will grow into something larger. Anyone is welcome to participate.

You may belong to another faith, or to another group, such as a book club or a creative writing group. You can apply the same type of collaborative model to any situation. The cool thing about WordPress is its flexibility. You can bend it to serve almost any need. (If you remember, I also used WordPress to create my Writer River site.)

But really the technical part is easy. The community is much harder to create and keep going. Some collaborative blog sites, like Times and Seasons, have a tremendous energy behind them, and it is entirely due to the community of readers and participants. Without community, many authors lose motivation to keep writing.


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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.