The Tulsa Creative Network was a Ning network which, until December 2010, sought to bring together a diverse group of people in Tulsa, Oklahoma, interested in creativity and networking about different kinds of creative work. On December 10, 2010, Starr Hardgrove (founder of the Tulsa Creative Network) posted the following letter, mapped to the domain formerly pointing to the TCN’s Ning Network:

Death of a Social Network - Tulsa Creative Network

The sentences from this letter which really got my attention were the following:

Our goal with Tulsa Creative Network was to unite the creative community, and we were unable to top more than 900 people. In a city of 591,982 people, there are a lot more creatives out there, and our network did a really great job of representing about 900 of you. I think that Tulsa must go forward and represent for the creative people of the area. There needs to be something that promotes respect for other arts and creative collaboration between all networks. Tulsa Creative Network became an idea that was much harder to keep up than the results and that no one supported. To be honest with you, we’re tired. And to step out of the way, Tulsa Creative Network is no more.

I do not know the full back story to this, but I do wonder if there was ever any collaboration or networking between the TCN and Creative Oklahoma? Like many Ning networks, the Tulsa Creative Network was a group I joined but never did much with other than read some of the email blasts which I received.

Building and growing social networks is hard work and “the rules” are often fuzzy. Having just finished listening to Clay Shirky‘s outstanding book, “Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age,” this week, I can offer the following silver lining to the death of the Tulsa Creative Network. Hardly anyone “gets it right” the first time when they try something. Shirky offers the example of Nupedia, which was Jimmy Wales’ first foray into creating an online encyclopedia. It failed, but as the ongoing history of WikiPedia shows, the lessons learned from that experience were and continue to be put to good use.

As I continue with others to grow our Storychasers community through the Celebrate Oklahoma Voices, Celebrate Kansas Voices, and now Celebrate Texas voices oral history and digital storytelling projects, I’m mindful of lessons which can be gleaned from Starr Hardgrove and the Tulsa Creative Network. I also think about these issues a lot in reference to the K-12 Online Conference. If you know more of the backstory to this situation, please share it as comments and links. My best wishes to Starr in future endeavors. The goal of encouraging collaboration and networking among local creatives is not just laudible, it’s critical for our communities to thrive in the 21st century. I’m not sure which “ingredients” of success were missing or mixed in the wrong quantities in the case of the Tulsa Creative Network, but I hope Starr and others are able to apply those lessons learned to future collaborative endeavors and realize greater success thanks to the constructive learning opportunities which failure presents.

Learning Culturephoto © 2009 Cambodia4kids.org Beth Kanter | more info (via: Wylio)

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