Template for Reading Group Creation


(Marco V Morelli) #1

@Geoffrey_Edwards, @Douggins, and any other @readers interested in organizing reading groups in the coming year~

I would like to follow through on the idea of creating a more orderly process for initiating and running a group. I am assuming, here, that the idea to read one book or another arises in the course of conversation, making suggestions, and putting out feelers; and that at a certain point (which cannot be pre-determined) somebody makes the decision to organize a group. We can regard this person, and anyone they recruit to co-lead the group, as the organizer(s).

So this template presupposes that there is an organizer (or two) who will be responsible for making the group happen by figuring out scheduling, cultivating conversations, and leading (or determining the conversational praxis for) any meetings. The organizer, or an assistant/volunteer, will also be responsible for creating the invitations and calendar events, and posting any recordings that come out of the events.

I will play the role, at this stage, of facilitating the process as a whole, as best I can, by providing direct support to reading group organizers, and supporting the technology, communications, and planning to make for a successful event.

To that end, here is my first draft of the information I would need to assemble a reading group page. I would love some feedback on this. My goal is to turn it into a kind of step-by-step event creation form, so that by simply providing the required information, any member of the Readers Underground / co-op can start their own group. Please let me know what you think, and any suggestions you may have.

Metapsychosis: Readers Underground / Cosmos Co-op — Reading Group Template

Required Info:

  • Organizer(s) — other contacts (e.g., “coordinator”)
  • Reading group title - e.g., “Journey to Supermind” for our Aurobindino / The Life Divine group, or simply, “Octavia Butler’s Parable Novels”
  • Book title
  • Short description of the reading group — what is the intention of the group, and how will meetings (and/or online dialogue) be conducted?
  • About the book — short description (could be cribbed from publisher)
  • Book image – minimum 300 px wide
  • About the author — also could be cribbed
  • Author image – minimum 300 px wide
  • Feature image – a large banner image for the group, for use on Metapsychosis landing page and event pages, minimum 2000 px wide; provide attribution.
  • Complementary Reading & Additional Media - books, essays, stories, videos, podcasts, and/or other resources to supplement the primary focus of the group
  • Start date
  • End date
  • Individual meeting dates & times – or could be recurring, e.g., “every other Wednesday for 8 sessions.” Include session details, such as pages or chapters to read ahead of time.
  • Video conference link - Zoom ID. (Tech note: there may be a way to auto-generate these links as part of a workflow script.)

What I would like to do with the above info is generate an overview page on Metapsychosis.com (or could be Cosmos.Earth or .coop, depending on the group) which provides all the important info in a nice layout, along with a registration form or button. When someone registers, they will get invited to the forum (if they are not already a member) and their info will get sent to the group admins.

Each individual session will get an entry on the Cosmos Calendar, which is tied to a dedicated topic on the forum, where discussion can commence. After each event, the organizer (or a helper) will upload the video to Vimeo (and/our YouTube, and/or our own video storage via Wordpress), as well as update the event page with the video and audio files. These past events will then appear on an archive page for the group, where all the media is accessible while remaining tied to the forum.

If the organizers agree, I would also like to invite our email list to the group and feature it on our home pages. It would be good to do this at least a month in advance, to allow participants time to obtain the book and update their calendars, etc.

Does this all sound reaonable? Please let me know if you think I’m missing anything, or if there’s some part of the process which could be clearer. I would like to begin creating pages for 2019 groups in early January. Thank you!

Reading Groups for the New Year 2019
Reading Groups for the New Year 2019
(Geoffrey Edwards) #2

Up until now I have proceeded by cribbing off the announcements for earlier reading groups, but having a clearly articulated structure certainly facilitates future efforts. Doug (@douggins) usually includes “Questions for reflection” or something like that in the announcement, which I always found a useful feature. Also, I know I have proposed several reading groups for January - I certainly don’t want to “hog” the available times slots with “my” reading groups - part of the reason to do a “pre-announcement” was to put out some meeting times and see what shakes out. I do think the process of a pre-announcement before the official reading group page goes up is a useful exercise. Indeed, the Sloterdijk group had a long lead-up time as did the Aurobindo group. Some thoughts…

(Marco V Morelli) #3

Hi Geoffrey, we’ll just have to do our best with the timing. If you come up with some tentative start dates, I could make an email announcement later this week; then we create the formal page and individual events in January. Personally, I am really happy that you’re getting these groups going, but certainly if anybody else has ideas for other groups, they should feel free to make a proposal and get the conversation going. I am resolving next year to do a better job of communicating about these events, so that will hopefully lead to some new readers joining us, in which case having more groups to choose from wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I think the questions & related topics, etc., would be good to add to individual sessions. We could add fields for these into the template if so desired. Good idea.

(Douglas Duff) #4


  • Should all proposals be reviewed by you @madrush ? Were you hoping to allow users to self-manage the process as much as possible? Maybe this is a thought for future consideration. Ideally, I would imagine you would like for anyone to be able to do the process. @Geoffrey_Edwards for example, would post his proposal (as he did), manage the pages and set-up based on templates (“required info”) and process the recordings, all on his own (or he will seek out assistance as needed).

additional info:

  • public or private discussion - do we want all RU groups to be open to all? Someone may wish to set-up a one-on-one book discussion yet have the recordings available for others to follow along. Ex: Geoffrey and Marco Masi wish to discuss Quantum Physics book and present the recordings as educational material to the site. If it were to be an open discussion, others may intrude on the process (I suppose this would not be part of a template but may arise at some point).
  • fee or cost of reading material? (this may be trivial)

(Marco V Morelli) #5

No, not necessarily. I mainly want to focus on making it easy to create and run a group. I am planning to invite a group of editors (basically, anyone who has been participating over the past year or so) to create their own groups as desired, without need for my formal approval.

It would be nice if the organizer can put all the pieces together him or herself. Or if a group creation form prompted for the required and optional fields, and then automatically generated the corresponding pages and posts. That’s what I’m going for. But at first there will be some manual steps, which I am anticipating needing to help with, until we get a tigther process in place.

That is a good question and I would like to discuss it. My instinct is to leave it up to the organizer to determine this in advance. On the backend (both on Wordpress and the forum) we could accommodate closed or open groups. However, I would like to work out the concept of it before the technical implementation. (The Plenum reading might also be an example of a non-public group, since the book is not even published).

One option would be to draw the public/private line between the RU and WU, and so if someone wants to do a private group, that happens in the WU. Obviously, this person would be a writer or editor already. I am open to opening that space up slightly more, at least to previous readers and members with writing projects in the works. What do others think?

I think we should provide standard links to Amazon, BN, IndieBooks, local library. (Other options?) These could be built into the template.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #6

Yes, I have been thinking about this. The group will have to be closed to a group “by invitation only”, and only those members of the group will have access to the document. That does not, however, mean that the group needs to be closed against unsolicited interested parties, however, it just means that if someone wants to join the group, they will have to request a formal invitation on my part. I agree there may be other groups with limited participation. Regarding the physics one (e.g. with @MarcoM) , I see that as a “cosmopod” along the lines of what Heather (@hfester) and I did with regard to quantum poetics - that is a one-on-one discussion for a while that may eventually open up to a broader group or a Cafe.

Another feature of the template might be Complementary Material such as other reading materials and/or video clips, etc.

(Mark Jabbour) #7

Errg - hamsters in a wheel or rats in a Skinner box (That’s to you @madrush); write damit! Poems? disintegrated prose. “fumbling towards ecstasy” so sang Sarah McLachlan way back when.
I’ve got your Christmas present wrapped and ready, coffee? or beers?

(Mark Jabbour) #8

Not trivial, and “bless your heart” AI.

(Marco V Morelli) #9

i am doing it! it is accomplished! and i will!

(Marco V Morelli) #10

OK, that is good to build in to the process.

And this too; though it is probably a separate process, which I will have to return to later.

Good suggestion; I will add it above.