Almost two year ago, I started the cone6pots network, as I started getting back into pottery in a serious way. I could have been satisfied with joining the clayart listserve with its constant interchange of text emails, but working in information technology and having had the experience of running a highly interactive classified ads website gave me the opinion that the clayart listserve technology is hopelessly early 1990s, despite its active membership.
I looked around at the social networking websites with their capabilities for rich media content, and knew that was where a ceramics and pottery network could communicate in a variety of ways beyond just text. Myspace and Facebook both could have served, but they both were conceived to serve individuals best, and their implementations of networking for groups was not so well developed. Then I found the ning network and it was clear right away that the ning software had been built from the ground up to support interest groups or “networks” of people as the primary entity, rather than individuals.
Instead of trying to serve all ceramic artists, I decided to create the network to serve people who are working with clay in ways that are similar to how I work. It was obvious that mid-fire electric potters were way underserved on the Internet, despite the fact that we probably outnumber high fire potters who do gas and wood firing. Not everyone can put in a gas kiln to support their pottery work, which may only be a hobby. That simple fact has resulted in many people over the years turning to electric kilns to be able to continue working with clay, even though they may have gotten their training in gas reduction firing.
Most of our members probably aren't even aware of it, but this network could become the best online ceramics network on earth. You each have all the tools you need, right here on cone6pots to create an extensive and powerful web presence where you can introduce yourself to the world, showcase your work, and meet and exchange ideas with people who are experiencing the same issues in pottery making that you are dealing with. There are methods available to connect your member page to an online arts marketing operation like etsy.com, as well as simply linking to galleries that may be carrying your work.
In order for this network to achieve world domination, two things have to happen.
- You need to develop your own member page, telling us who you are, what you're working on, show us pictures of your work, and other work that excites you, especially if you are just starting out. Tell us how you made the pieces that your proud of, and how you overcame technical problems that held you back.
- Then we must start interacting like invested members of an organization that we want to succeed. That mainly means that we start communicating with each other. The comment, "I love that pot!" may get you a, "Thank you.", but it won't start a meaningful conversation. A better approach is to say exactly what you like about a pot, and even ask if the person who made it will share the techniques that are stopping you from making something similar. In case you haven't noticed, we have some incredibly talented potters among us. They may be holding back, because we are not acting as if we notice their presence, or their talent, and we are not making any attempt at starting an interaction. In a nutshell -- there is no community until we start talking to each other.