What’s a Bailiwik?
Bailiwiks are communities that share a real-world place and a commitment to treating each other in a friendly, neighborly way.
Why are they called Bailiwiks?
Our name is based on the old-fashioned word “bailiwick,” which means area of responsibility. We think of our Bailiwiks as our areas of responsibility. Bailiwik is about taking a little bit of responsibility for the people around you. We dropped the “c” from the word “bailiwick” to communicate the sense that we’re creating it together as a community, like a wiki.
What’s the Point?
Bailiwik is an expression of our belief that everyone should have an opportunity to experience unconditional membership in the human community, and the most simple natural way to do this is to create stronger sense of community at the level of the neighborhood — or other small, shared real-world place.
We think isolation and alienation — and not being seen and accepted as you are, simply for being you — underlies a lot of the other issues challenging society today. Bailiwik is our attempt to address that in away that seems sensible and fun.
Why Places? Why not some other kind of community, like a shared interest?
Shared interests are great and many platforms exist for communities based on shared interests. They are not under-served or neglected on the web.
Place, on the other hand, seems to us both under-served and under-acknowledged as a basis of community. We believe that we are all, in reality, members of communities made up of the people around us in the real world, but that this most basic kind of community is often not seen as clearly as it could be, or supported as well as it might be, to serve the well-being of its members. Bailiwik is an attempt to use tools of social media to support this most basic and unconditional kind of community.
Of course, people can use Bailiwik how they want, within reason, and if people want to create communities that combine a specific interest and a place that’s fine with us. We’re creating this together.
What’s the Story?
Bailiwik was founded by Dan Greaney and Jeff Baron, two old college friends who had pursued different paths that left them both with the feeling that they had more to do personally and professionally. Dan’s background was in TV writing, Jeff’s was in the world of computing and consulting. Dan had been carrying around the idea there should be a smaller, more personal level of local media ever since working for USA Today right out of college. He shared this thought with Jeff and together they developed it into into Bailiwik, a process which lead them to clarify their own underlying motivation: to give people an unconditional sense of membership in human community, a mission which was was deeply motivating to them both and to the many talented people who helped move this vision into reality.
What about Privacy?
Bailiwik is not private. We do try to limit the the visibility of our content by requiring people to join before they can read our users’ posts, but anyone can join, so that’s a speed bump, at most. Our thinking is that we don’t want to give our users a false sense of privacy that might lead them to over-share and, more importantly, that our communities and our mission are better served by an open door. There are lot of platforms for existing groups with clear membership boundaries, but neighborhoods and other shared places don’t work that way. People may know each other’s faces — or each other’s dogs – but not each other’s names. People move in and move out. Boundaries are imprecise. Bailiwik leaves the door open so people can come in on their own and get to know those familiar faces a bit better.
Dan Greaney is the co-founder of Bailiwik. He has worked as writer at The Simpsons and The Office. His first job was as a reporter for a 50-state tour organized by Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, an experience which left him with a lasting interest in journalism and the people around him.
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