ESC!Webs Blogitorials

Friday, December 05, 2008

Dear Six Apart...

When Six Apart announced the acquisition of the people and technology of Pownce five days ago, the biggest surprise to me was the seeming lack of interest in the thing that most makes Pownce the vibrant and living entity that it is: it's community of users.

We may be a small community compared to other social networks, but, because we're given more than 140 letters to speak our mind, we're a passionate one. We're active, intelligent, technologically minded, and, yes, outspoken users when it comes to the things we care about the most.

And its these qualities that should make us a valuable community.

Large corporations pay millions of dollars to build targeted groups of users like we are and, yet, though we've been handed over on a silver platter, it appears as if there's no interest in what we have to bring to the table. To say that this perplexes us as a whole would be an understatement.

I can't help but draw comparisons to another ardent group of users I happen to belong to, and that's the Mac-using community.

A little over 10 years ago, Apple looked as if it was on the brink of collapse. Word spread quickly that companies like IBM or Sun might purchase them, and their stock was trading at abysmally low levels. Steve Jobs returned to help turn things around, but even he had to admit privately that the brand he worked so hard to build in his youth had a slim chance of recovery.

But throughout it all, Apple had something other companies in similar situations didn't: and that's a small, but vocal, user base that stood by the company during these hard times and helped to spur on the success it's achieved in recent years. As a result, to this day Apple may still only command a comparatively small portion of the home and business computer market in the eyes of some, but I think anyone would be hard-pressed to say that Apple and the Mac are not successful. And much, if not all, of that success is achieved because Apple understands and embraces its community of devoted users.

I would find it hard to believe that there aren't folks at Six Apart using a Mac. If you are, take a moment to ask yourself "why?" when other brands and platforms exist that can do just about everything you can do on that Mac.

When you discover the answer, you'll understand how we feel about Pownce.

More than "just" a social network, Pownce has spurred on the spirit of innovation in Leah S's Bownce, fandom in Carolyn S's and Kevin B's PownceCast podcast, and has even stoked the flames of love in the lives of folks like Ben B.

Pownce is more to us than a social network, it's our community.

While we're grateful to have been given the opportunity to retrieve our past messages, we'd also like to be given another chance to show we can be a valuable asset to Six Apart. We'd like to share our ideas for integration with and up-selling of Six Apart's other services to the Pownce community. We'd like to be given the chance to grow Pownce into something Six Apart can be proud of. In other words, we'd like to share the same passion and enthusiasm for Pownce's new parent company as we have for Pownce itself.

Give us 12 months, not 12 days ... and when the world sees that Pownce and its users were handed a reprieve by Six Apart, they may just decide to give Six Apart's Pownce another look.

You can't buy that kind of goodwill these days.


Michael Potter