Old School Online Community Leads to a Dozen Data Geeks and Drinks

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I’ve been a fairly avid follower and contributor to the webanalytics Yahoo! group for several years now. It’s a Yahoo! group that is almost 4,500 members strong and includes active participation by many of the top minds in the web analytics industry. I actually follow the group via e-mail, which seems awfully old school. As a matter of fact, the WAA Community and Social Media committee (which I’m a new…and not very active member of — Marshall Sponder does a great job of running the committee, and I do feel bad that I don’t help out more!) is trying to figure out how to get the group onto a better platform. There’s a bit of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” discussion on the subject, honestly. And unfortunately. The fact is that I doubt that a majority of those 4,500 people are really embracing social media just yet. And this online community is already awfully vibrant and successful on the current platform.

The Yahoo! group was originally formed by Eric Peterson. As that list grew (Eric passed it over to the WAA a few years ago), Eric got the idea to start up a convention of having a “Web Analytics Wednesday” on the second Wednesday of the month. This would be a designated date for web analytics professionals throughout the world to get together for a few drinks, to network, and to share ideas and challenges. Initially, the organization and coordination of these meet-ups happened directly through the Yahoo! group. But, Eric eventually put up a nice little application on his web site to facilitate these, and they’ve continued to grow.

Several months after moving from Austin to Columbus, I caught two posts in rapid succession on the webanalytics group that were clearly from people in Columbus. A couple of e-mails and a lunch meeting later, and we were hosting the inaugural Web Analytics Wednesday in Columbus! We actually held it on a Tuesday, as the venue we found promised to be less crowded then. We had a dozen people show up, it lasted for over 3 hours, and the overwhelming consensus was that it was worth doing again. Now, we just have to figure out how to structure it!

Unfortunately, one of the key organizers — David Culbertson of Lightbulb Interactive — wasn’t able to make it. But, he did manage to get a nice post up on his blog, including the picture that we took with Jonghee Jo’s camera.

I guess I’m getting old enough that I’m still amazed at the power of the internet to pull together a group of people with a very focussed area of interest. And to make the leap from online to in-person interactions so smoothly no less!

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