A few months ago, I was asked to write an article for WSLT? on any topic I felt passionately about. My mind immediately snapped to “Community”. However, in the months that followed I couldn’t figure out how to properly approach the topic. Everyone’s experiences and expectations of a Cardistry Community varied so vastly. In this article, I’m going to go over a little history, a little personal experience, and a little bit of wishful thinking for the future.
What is a community?
So, you’re a young kid who just watched the latest Zach Muller video and bought yourself a ton of Fontaine merchandise. You’ve filmed your first 15-second Instagram video of you struggling to do Franco Pascali’s Henrik Forberg’s Spencer Clark’s Zach Muller’s Franco Pascali’s Judo Flip and you want to get some recognition for your hard earned effort. But where do you go from here?
There are two very distinct types of communities in the world of Cardistry: online and offline. The online communities were some of the first and most important groups set up. Forums like Handlordz, Cheaters Cheater, Decknique and the dananddave forums allowed for a great transfer of knowledge over vast distances. It has been argued that without the internet, Cardistry and flourishing may have not taken off as fast as it did.
Now, we have communities all over the internet, on places like Instagram, Facebook and reddit.
Offline communities have also started to flourish in recent years, with groups of friends who share the same geographical area (Singapore Cardistry) to friends who fly around the world to hang out with each other (the “Fontaine Fam”).
But how do I do a community?
Creating a new community, whether online or offline, is a whole different problem. It requires a whole different level of dedication and initiative. You must be able to find people to first get engaged in the community and then find ways to keep them engaged.
Getting into an existing community is much simpler. A nice place to start if you don’t know anyone is the r/cardistry subreddit. You could also look up cardists in your area by typing “<insert location name here> Cardistry” into Youtube and looking out for videos from people in those areas. Lastly, a relatively new resource for discovering cardists in your vicinity is the World Map Cardists project, where cardists from all over the world can tag their locations with pertinent contact info.
Gettin’ in with a gang
Way back in 2008, I had just picked up cardistry and was frequently lurking around Decknique. By a random stroke of luck one day, I met Ling Xuan at a magic show. Ling kindly invited me to cardistry jam sessions in the following weeks where I got to meet people like Jaspas, Leon, Claudia, and Ambrose. In the years to follow, the group of cardists from Singapore would fade in and out of prominence as a small circle of friends making random videos.
In 2013, after seeing that the local community had grown but was restricted to small groups of friends, Jaspas decided to create a common ground for everyone to get involved and meet each other with a Facebook group called Singapore Cardistry.
With almost weekly get-togethers, more and more people started coming together to hang out as more than cardists, but also as friends. The community surged and grew in 2 years from a small group of friends to some of the most well-attended meet-ups in the history of cardistry (Cardistry Con notwithstanding).
What was the point of these three paragraphs? That getting involved in a community opens so many doors to creativity and collaboration, which leads me conveniently to my next point:
I am sitting in an Organisational Behaviour lecture typing this, and what do ya know — the slide that we are on is perfect for this.
When you engage in a community, especially something like a random jam, meetup, or even a Tinychat room, you instinctively perform morphological analysis through associative play and engage in a cross-pollination of ideas. Yeah, I just used a ton of big words to say “meeting people with diverse ideas makes you think of cool new ideas.”
I’ll give you an example that some of you may have heard in Jaspas’ CoSEA lecture/the Ripple tutorial (shameless plug):
When we were filming Break Through for WKC, The Virts had just put out Waterwheel. Jaspas and I were engaging in casual banter and he told me, “Bruh, what if… Waterwheel, but upwards?”
I told him to shut up and finish filming Break Through or the crew would die of dehydration, but I went away from that conversation with a seed that eventually led to me playing with a few moves with a “pressured faro” mechanic which eventually led to Ripple.
(Not the actual lecture slide. Also possibly the worst thing I’ve ever made ever. [Editor’s note – I agree.]
In addition to creativity, one of my favourite things about having a community is collaboration. I would never have been able to make some of my most viewed videos without the help of people in the community. The collaborative process is worth a full essay on its own and so I won’t go into it, save to say that collaboration is key in keeping a community together.
CONmunity (this is a pun) (as in Pros and Cons)
There are clearly several problems to developing creativity in a community setting, i.e. non constructive criticism, bullying, or even circle jerking. The biggest detriment to communities, I feel, is Groupthink.
According to Wikipedia, “Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.”
While not necessarily related to decision making, Groupthink also contributes to stifling creativity. We see the same people, we do the same moves, and eventually we hit a rut where everything conforms to a similar style because everyone is following the “norm” of that group.
How do we get out of this trap of Groupthink? I’m sure other articles cover this in greater length, but it is all about:
- Developing your own individual style.
- Trying different things.
- Drawing inspiration from different hobbies.
So where do I see the future of cardistry communities?
There have been so many ideas put forward, from David Pederson’s “Facebook, but for cardistry”, to notions of a decentralised network across social media.
To be honest, what I see as the future is irrelevant. What is important is what YOU see as the future, and how much you are willing to contribute to get us as a community there.