thanks @v3d and everyone for weighing in ! i’ve already voiced my thoughts in our discussions when organizing this project, but i will try to add and expand some more here.
first off, regarding diversity / inclusivity. this is something i have thought about, both as an organizer and participant of community run things. many people have noted that these groups tend to be very white & male. this can, in itself, be a deterrent to people outside that narrow slice in the venn diagram from joining or participating. however, this is due to larger problems in society and the gendered and racial codings of interests and roles, and there is only so much we can do in influencing the demographics of people who join - aside from creating a private, dedicated space for people of a marginalized group, which differs from the publicly accessible model of this forum. additionally, the aim to create an inclusive space goes deeper than trying to tick boxes of demographical diversity - as someone who has been invited to participate in things for that exact reason, i want to avoid this kind of tokenism. not saying that has come up here, but just need to be explicit.
that said, there are definitely things we can do to foster positive communication and make people of all backgrounds feel more welcome. this includes being welcoming to people who are new to the areas of technical experimentation and art, openly sharing information to help people who want to get started, and in this way, helping to lower the barrier for entry. the goal would be to have un-welcoming behavior flagged by the community rather than requiring a strong hierarchical enforcement. of course, this is an optimistic perspective, but i also think it’s important to be able to learn as we go and adapt as needed.
i hear your point, vedran, about the difficulty of getting people to participate in social spaces online outside the big ones. there are definitely people who won’t participate in anything outside those, and that’s ok by me if that works for them. however, i imagine there are also other people like me who are there simply because it’s a good way to broadcast information, but don’t much enjoy spending time there, and want a place that feels better for actual communication. perhaps we can use facebook and others as a way of spreading the word eventually, but for now, we are sticking to letting people invite each other on an individual basis, to avoid flooding the channels too quickly as we get things established. even if the community remains small, that would be ok with me - to me, the goal is not to replace other media, but to offer options.
i do think it’s beneficial to look at it from the perspective of, how can being here benefit people. to me, the biggest benefit would be ability to share information in a place that lends itself to more long form posts (like this one i’m writing which is getting very long wow), collaborate, encourage projects and see interesting things, and ask questions. hopefully that’s enough in and of itself. i think there is some intention to create sub-forums for help with projects and devices created by people here (like r_e_c_u_r and video_waaaves), but hopefully those wouldn’t be the only conversations taking place here.
in order to remind people of the site’s existence, it might be nice to organize some sort of monthly live stream by a different person or people each time, or some other kind of event or ritual. this wouldn’t have to be something high pressure, just maybe a twitch stream we embed in the header or something temporarily once a month.
theres always the possibility the space will quickly fade into obscurity, and i don’t think that’s something to fear - if it doesn’t fill a niche, trying to fight to keep it alive is pointless. the graveyard of dead forums on the internet is vast. but that doesn’t mean there’s no point in giving it a shot. i wanted to be a part of this because there is a place for this kind of thing in my life, especially right now, when it’s difficult to feel connected or collaborative. all spaces are temporary, both online and offline, and embracing this is the most powerful way to operate. i have been a part of some projects influenced by the concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone: spaces that exist outside formal structure or control can exist in a liminal space for some amount of time. setting out to create a permanent space it fruitless; trying to extend something outside its spontaneous lifespan means it will succumb to the exact structure you are trying to avoid. the goal is just try to make some cool stuff happen in the meanwhile!