We've been planning to build group functionality into Are.na since the beginning. While groups have existed in a quiet form on the platform for a little while, today we're launching a much improved version that makes them an important part of the experience.
The way we see it, using Are.na is a form of “externalized thinking” that not only represents your ideas but helps you assemble them. Just like writing is more than making marks on a page, creating a channel is much more than organizing digital content. It’s a way of weaving together productive associations between different thoughts and sources. This is what our members are getting at when they describe browsing an Are.na profile as "looking into someone's brain."
But since thinking is almost always collaborative, shouldn’t we be able to do the same with our many collective identities? What would it be like to look into the brain of a book club? Or a sociology class? Or a creative agency? Can shared sandboxes for ideas help us build knowledge in ways that online documents and chat rooms still can’t?
This is Are.na's central promise, and we hope the new groups make it much easier for you to think together on the platform in many different contexts. We hope they offer you another tool for creating your own mindful social spaces online. Most of all, we hope they helps you learn from other people and expand the boundaries of your curiosity.
How do groups work?
Any person can start a group. You can create a new group by clicking the user menu dropdown, then clicking Create group. Add people by typing their name (or email address if they’re not an Are.na member) in the search bar.
Once you own (or belong to) one or more groups, you can create new channels under that group name. You can also give one of your existing channels to that group by editing that channel’s author.
Group profiles are hidden as long as its channels remain private. Once a group member creates a publicly visible (open or closed) channel however, that channel and the group’s profile will be made visible to all of Are.na.
Group admins can also upgrade their members to Premium. Group pricing is $5 per user per month (or $45 per user per year if billed annually).
Those are the basics. You can get started by clicking Create group in the main menu, where all your groups will now appear going forward. For a full rundown of what's new, check out the detailed list of groups FAQs and features in the help center.
What do groups mean for Are.na?
This new version of groups is designed to make the experience of the platform more manageable as our community grows.
If you use Are.na for lots of different projects, groups can help you define contexts for distinct types of content. You can keep your work content in your “work” group, collaborative content in their own groups and personal content on your own profile. This is part of our intention to minimize anxiety and information overload.
We also hope that groups will help the Are.na member base grow without “diluting” the thoughtfulness of the community at large. We want Are.na to remain a place for genuine curiosity even as we make room for broader types of thinking. We think the best way to stay true to our mission is to allow people to scope their interactions more deliberately and focus on topics of mutual interest.
Ultimately, we’re taking the same approach with groups that we’ve always taken while working on Are.na: build a useful framework and allow ideas to emerge ambiently through collaboration.
We have a million ideas about where to go from here, but we’re most interested in seeing how our community uses groups first, and take cues from there. We would love to hear your thoughts on what’s working and what needs improvement! As for us, we’ll be using groups to organize our own team channels.