What Happens When A Community Crumbles?
In June, I wrote about how I was using the digital collage app Mixel for iPad. Unfortunately, Mixel stopped being available for download in early August. The service has remained available to current users until now, but as of this weekend, Mixel for iPad will be gone. Lascaux has released a new app, Mixel for iPhone, but that app has no appeal to me.
The original Mixel featured simple community building tools. Any user could Like, Love, comment on, or remix another user’s Mixel. Because there were no limits on how many pictures one could like, users handed out Likes generously, which helped the users build a supportive community. Each user could only give out 5 Loves per week, which gave each Love increased value. Some users pushed themselves to improve, tempted by the reward of precious Love hearts under their collages; threads of collages made by different people using the same images demonstrated the unique, creative vision in each user; and many folks pulled apart collages to figure out how the creator had put them together. It was a vibrant, creative world for the people who chose to hang out there.
For many people who have been using this software, the community of Mixellers has been their tribe. Some of the most loyal users have not used their creativity in years and had found a community that celebrated their creative recovery. Several people claimed “artist” as part of their identity because they were treated as artists by the community.
The imminent disappearance of the program has prompted a range of responses.
- Making art that expresses their sense of loss and the need to let go of this community, like the collage above by Ankica Dragicevic.
- Celebrating the world of Mixel that was, like this video, Farewell to Mixel, by Timothy Paul Brown.
- Attempting to recreate the community aspect in other venues: Facebook, a web-based Fan page; deviantART, etc.
- Taking resources available within Mixel and saving them in other locations.
- Exploring other iPad apps to discover what other tools allow similar creative processes.
- Obsessive use of Mixel to eek the most out of it before it is gone.
- Stopping using the software before it shut down, not looking for alternatives, grieving and moving on.
None of these options will replace the complete package of community and tools that were available through Mixel for iPad. Each former user is finding their own path away from this community. Some will stay in touch in other venues. For how long, though? Time will tell.
Communities collapse for many reasons.
Have you been part of a community that collapsed? How have you moved forward?