Passionate communities and what I dig about the independent web

July 14, 2006

I'm heavily involved with the local cycling club, acting in the volunteer role of mountain bike director. I coordinate and run all of the events from April to September. All in all, it's a fun way to spend evenings in the summer.

Not being a serious racer anymore, I do my best to give back to the competitive cycling community where possible.

In early February I took on, as a personal project, all of the advertising behind the 24 Hours of Light. I re-designed the website, produced print ads, did radio and newspaper interviews, and finally, headed up search engine marketing for the event. I very much doubt it had everything to do with my efforts, but this year we saw people register from Australia, Ottawa, Toronto, Colorado and many other points south. In previous years we had up to 130 riders. This time around there was 160.

Participant feedback from the event has been a mix of positive and negative, as would be expected, but somehow our very small group of volunteers pulled it off again. Phew.

With one more epic on the schedule, King of the Canyon in September, I've again volunteered to build a promotional website. It's a massive course, nearly 70 kilometres of mountainous singletrack, but the King of the Canyon is a true Yukon adventure that you (and your back, legs, calves and so on) will never forget.

Currently in the web development industry there's endless buzz about user-generated content, social networks and communities. Y'know, virtual spaces where people get together and do stuff. Or at least, talk about doing stuff.

This is the independent web: a grassroots-level, driven-only-by-passion movement that's taking established media and advertising channels by storm. And ruining them.

My passionate community is the local mountain bike scene. I promote it through websites like 24 Hours of Light, King of the Canyon and the tourism-focused Bike Yukon. I'm far from alone.

  • Dennis maintains a dedicated fishing blog, Fish on Yukon that he updates on a near-daily basis
  • In addition to wilderness photography, this summer Andrew S. has been focusing on driving trucks around in the mud
  • Sierra appears to be a wiz when it comes to gardening in the Yukon
  • Scott writes about religion and politics with a fervor that's unequaled 'round these parts
  • Andrew H. single-handedly documents the Yukon's independent music and arts industry through his brilliant photography

All of these folks are extremely passionate about their chosen communities, whether they recognize it or not. The most wonderful aspect about blogs is that the barrier to entry is extremely low. Blogs (and the web, for the matter) give each of them a loudspeaker to have their voices heard.

There was a time not so long ago that many of us feared the Internet was to be dominated by money-hungry corporations. Once again, regular ol' humans have instead risen up and taken back what is rightfully theirs.

As it turns out, the power really is with the people.