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mentoring for the rest of us

November 29, 2004

Interesting Idea - Feedback Requested - Scott on Feedster
"What I dont think we need is a Message Board, a FAQ chest, Docs collection, or anything similar; we need something for the rest of the world. We need to let people mentor and be mentored." - It's an interesting idea, a community where mentors and mentored meetup. I guess the question I have is what is the target market? If it's non-tech(which it sounds like it is) there are many many more hurdles. Having worked in academia for sometime and worked with literally thousands of non-tech folks I know that simply having the place to go will not be enough.

Remember these are folks who think the internet is the "big E" on their desktop. I don't mean to be disparaging with this remark, it's just an experience I've had many times. When building any web based application that's the mindset you need to take if it is supposed to be used by normal people not us super geeks :-)

My contribution to the thought process would be to go lower scale than most geeks would think. I'd make this community web based but not central. Not a central site like a .com for instance. See the thing is that any system like this will first off need to be found, but moreover there needs to be TRUST. There is no trust for non-tech folks at a giant (seeming) .com.

I would make this an application which is designed to be installed within organizations. The app would then facilitate mentoring among a know group of individuals (though they may not know each other at first) where trust is inherent. For instance, this could be at a college or a business or a church or a community center, etc.

This would have a couple of positive effects. First the trust issue mentioned above is solved since you're already dealing with a group you know. Second, whoever has taken the time to find and install this now instantly becomes a local cheerleader for it's use as well as someone to go to for technical support. Third, the mentors should feel more inclined to mentor well (which is alot of work) because they are working with people "close" to them. Finally if done right it provides the opportunity for a group of external people to form a community around the product/system which would help further it's reach (think team dynamic consultants,etc).

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