Welcome to a Civ community

What do you call a website which features a community of people writing to each other? A BBS? A Forum? Virtual Community? We’re calling it a Civ. The word to finally run the popular imagination is blog, but, strictly speaking, a blog is just one facet of such a community system. A blog is a personal journal, the emblem of participatory media. I’m aiming for for constructive media, wherein the participants are engaged in building policy and arguments. So I wanted to pick a new name.

(With a growing universe of popular variations on the word “blog”, the word “k-log” has been proposed. Here’s my observations on why k-log is a troubled term).

I’m calling my site CIV. My aim was to develop innovative ways of filtering information on a constructive media website. While The Filter is the name of the Berkman Center’s newsletter, I thought that sieve was better, as it didn’t have an active verb associated with it (would you want your news filtered?) I spelled it CIV to make it easy on people like myself who are still trying to remember i-before-e. Spelled like this, I was able to salvage a logo off the scrap heap of old Romanesque democratic constructs, like Civic and Forum, now that they are being used less and less for basketball arenas as well. And maybe it stands for something grand like Constructing Informative Viewpoints. With a Civ, you’re civil.

My last trick is that I recalled how some of the great Internet brands inserted themselves into the language. You send an evite (“invitation” is too long) to a MeetUp (a “meeting” just takes too long). A weaker example was eGroups, which was further diluted when it was brought under the Yahoo umbrella. The suite of software which YahooGroups offers is now available through community software packages like Scoop and Drupal (which powers this site). But the double-oh association has ultimately been usurped by Google– itself now a noun and a verb.

Back to civs. What gives someone recognition in the academic world is a curriculum vitae, or c.v. (periods optional; pronounced “cee-vee”), a “life’s course”. Someone without the publication history, or even the pretense, to have a c.v. might as well start on a civ. In a civ, they can begin constructing arguments and inviting criticisms. A civ may serve as the future genesis of ideas which could make it into a c.v.; or otherwise just serve as a live, breathing exercise in dialogue.

So here begins my civ.