Lost Stool
Creative Commons License photo credit: mikecogh

South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive is an emerging technology conference. Since I’ve been going, the internet has been very ingrained in whatever has constituted “emerging technology.” As such, the conference has been very internet centric.

And yet, when I was down in Austin this year, connecting with people and visiting with friends, it reminded me (as it always tends to) that it’s important to keep the internet in context. This is especially true for online community professionals because our work is almost entirely online.

The danger here is that when you work online all day, you tend to get too caught up and place too much importance in your own world. Oh man, this is a big situation. This server is down. That member is angry. Activity dropped this month. Catastrophe! Noise, noise, noise.


It’s all a process, it’s all ebb and flow, it goes against you as much as it goes with you. Sometimes, to understand that it isn’t that big of a deal, you have to step outside your world, get away for while or create some boundaries.

Health is important and it is good and healthy to understand that whatever is going on in your community, it’s all about context. Yes, those things have meaning, yes, they are important in a certain light. And it’s your job to care about them. But try not to get lost in them.

From time to time, be sure to take a step back, refocus and see the greater context. Even at a tech conference. It’ll make you better at what you do.