The world has shrunk, but it's easy to be lonely. Because we have access to more data than ever before, we believe we can figure things out by ourselves. And in a practical sense, we can. Given enough determination, time, and sometimes a bit of money, the Internet allows us to learn almost anything we want, from programming in C++ to how we can become faster runners.
But the world hasn't been built by individuals. It's been built together with other people. The possibility to learn and find out anything you want on your own has removed the immediate need for something that all humans crave: community. Why go to a place to connect with other people if you can learn it on your own without having to travel? Along with the increased secularization of the world, fewer and fewer people are actively involved in communities. This is a harmful development.
That's why X-Team is so committed to leveraging the power of our community.
After all, while the Internet might have initiated a trend towards fewer communities, it's also a powerful tool to gather people together from all corners of the world and give them a place to hang out. Central entities just have to realize the importance of community and give their crowd a place to hang out where they can learn, chat, and have fun.
We do this through our Slack channels. As referenced in our 2018 Year in Review blog post, 2018 has been an active year for our community. To highlight the importance we place on community, here's how we use Slack channels to create a vibrant community.
Flutter is a mobile app development SDK created by Google. Flutter 1.0, considered the first stable version of the SDK, was released on Dec 4, 2018. But X-Teamers were well ahead of the game, creating a Slack channel to learn Flutter from March 2018 onwards already.
Every week, X-Teamers would go share good resources on Flutter and try to progress towards a full understanding of the SDK. It's a great way to learn something new with other people while staying motivated and while being able to ask a question specific to the topic, that you know you've asked in the right place for a fast and good answer.
Functional programming is a declarative programming paradigm; or a particular style of programming. X-Teamers set out to learn Haskell, a purely functional programming language.
Through exercises and by sharing resources, X-Teamers can learn something very specific and difficult. New X-Teamers looking to learn Haskell can always go back in the history of the Slack channel to find the resources that were shared and read through the difficulties that other X-Teamers encountered in their journey.
The two above channels give you a taste of what our Slack clubs are like, but are only a teeny tiny representation of the wide variety of tech topics we discuss.
Some of our other Slack tech channels include: CSS, Unity, Python, Elm, Java, AI, AWS, Node, Vue, Linux, React, UX, QA, AngularJS, and so on...
In this channel, we share our love of books. It's a great place to find out what book you want to read next, and also to talk about the lessons learned in each book. In Season One, we even had a bounty for reviewing a book in this Slack channel.
Permaculture is the design and maintenance of agricultural ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It's a way of thinking as well, where we work towards living in harmony with nature.
This Slack channel gathers people interested in permaculture and gives them an easy way to share their successes and lessons learned. There's a bounty for the Permaculture club too: grow something you've never grown before in your garden, and you'll be rewarded with one coin that you can spend in the X-Team Vault.
Similar to our tech clubs, we have a huge number of community channels where X-Teamers can talk about their interests and hobbies. I'd almost say that, if you have a hobby, we probably have a Slack channel for it.
Other community channels are: Wellbeing, yoga, cycling, speaking, Heartstone, comics, photography, food, beer, wine, running, movies, and so on...
But That's Only Half the Story.
X-Team has over a hundred active Slack channels. They're fantastic repositories of useful resources, an easy way to get a quick answer to questions, and generally a nice place to chat with like-minded people. That, in itself, is valuable. But it doesn't necessarily lead to a tight community. It's only half of our story. After all, plenty of companies have many Slack channels.
We differentiate ourselves because we tie all those channels into a unified vision, into a purpose that we always work towards: to unleash our full potential.
Our Slack channels aren't just places where people with a similar interest hang out. They're places where people are actively encouraged to play, learn, and become more productive, through a bounty reward system that earns X-Teamers coins for valuable gear.
This bounty system is dynamic as well, to reflect a living community. We organize each year into Seasons. Currently, we're on Season Two: Wired for Adventure. Each Season has its own games, challenges, new bounties, and new gear, to both reflect the new interests of our community and to give another fresh boost of energy to it.
Slack is a valuable communication tool. But don't expect a community to form by itself, even if you have many Slack channels. Encourage the people on your Slack to form a community by understanding the deep reason why you want a community to exist, and how you will support and maintain it.
Only then will you build the community that people deep down crave for.