Because Community Reveals #30 #cong19


Colleagues with arched eyebrows ask, “Why Cong?” And I tell them, “Because community.” It’s community extending beyond the small town of Cong and reaching levels deeper than the conversations I enjoy every November.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. I go to Cong because of community.
  2. I’m reverting to Old Skool community watering holes that are text-heavy and require deep reading.
  3. I like listening to community conversations through podcasts.
  4. I’m updating my thoughts. Search “big reveals at congregation”.

About Bernie Goldbach:

Bernie Goldbach, an American educator in Ireland, teaches creative media for business on the Clonmel Business Campus. He is @topgold on all good social networks.

Contacting Bernie Goldbach:

Reach out to @topgold on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram

By Bernie Goldbach

Colleagues with arched eyebrows have asked me, “Why Cong?” And I tell them, “Because community.” It’s community extending beyond the small town of Cong and reaching levels deeper than the conversations. The connections grow new leaves through networks I’ve discovered and thoughts I’ve shared with people I’ve met on the streets of Cong every November. Eistaigh lom.

Humoured by simple mailing lists in the 1990s when I first noticed how full stops between words communicate passive aggression, I was chuffed to sit across from Sean McGrath in a Cong gift shop as we shared our memories of the earliest days of RSS feeds. Sean was one of the key members of an internet engineering community who helped articulate how information would be seamlessly shared across websites during the last century. Now that same elegant technical specification for Really Simple Syndication (RSS) distributes podcasts without any central control.

Unfortunately, my email services today often restrict easy viewing of mailing lists I use for edtech today. Had they been in use in the mid-90s, I might have never spotted the technical community discussions revolving around RSS. And I certainly would have never heard the respected voice of Catherine Cronin, something that seamlessly happens now since audio apps have become mainstream.

Always a prominent voice in huddles around Cong, the ebullient Maryrose Lyons sparked a memorable session of discussion 17 years ago with me and my wife about the protocols of recording public conversations.  I wonder how she would have expressed her alarm as an Instagram story back then. Her concerns take on a greater significance today in our era of surveillance capitalism.

From his grizzled face to his economical expression, Brian Greene is a walking encyclopedia of all things internet. BHG is one of those “Old Internet People” who is distinguished by a high level of computer literacy. He could probably share a story about whо came up with thе acronym “lоl” and if asked via the Facebook Group for Irish Podcast Producers, Brian might spin out an audio story that explains why the meme is оldеr than thе іntеrnеt.

Most of the people I met before the first coming of the Congregation could be classified as “Full Intеrnеt People” and “Semi Intеrnеt People”. Thеy dialled in during thе lаtе 1990ѕ and 2000s, whеn thе іntеrnеt wаѕ becoming accessible аnd mainstream. They wrote blogs like Paul O’Mahony did when he moved from Bath to Cork with Baby Grace. Today, I’m more likely to hear @omaniblog sharing audio snippets using the closed app Limor or the open platform Anchor.

People in the Cong community who I already know also use direct messaging services like Twitter and WhatsApp. I’ve become dependent on archaeologist John Tierney for highly sophisticated technical and legal assistance he offers about Irish heritage sites. John has shared his perspective from the stage of Ashford Castle and he has led groups of my creative students on walkabouts around Georgian buildings and on tours inside walled towns.

The book “Because Internet” offers a perspective on “Semi Internet People” who use “thе internet for work and other funсtіоnаl tаѕkѕ, like rеаdіng the news. Thеу mіght mаіntаіn rеаl-wоrld relationships оnlіnе, but аrе gеnеrаllу mоrе ѕkерtісаl about electronic communication. Thеу’rе often hіghlу ѕkіllеd іn ѕресіfіс рrоgrаmѕ оr tаѕkѕ, lіkе Phоtоѕhор”.  Some of my most proficient digital animation students are like Zanya Dahl and they appear to be cast from this mould. Some analysts would place these GenZ students into the “Post Internet” segment of the community because they were born into families who already had an internet connection. They finished secondary school with Facebook, Twitter, and Messenger. And although they feel comfortable tapping into services like banking and weather forecasts, they are more likely to delete apps on their phones than subscribe to a new service.

I wish #cong19 would attract members of this new cohort into the Community of Cong. From what I can see, the 19 year old students in my academic classrooms often reimagine themselves as new online personas by the time they turn 21. For whatever reason, they ditch their old handles and discard their former avatars for new identities—sometimes three different times throughout the four year Honours Degree programme on the Clonmel Digital Campus where I see them mature into young professionals. And in surprising entries to Media Writing Journals I’ve reviewed, these post-internet teens aren’t having sex as often and they don’t drink as much as previous creative students I’ve watched during my previous 20 years teaching third level arts students. A significant portion of them now use text-based services such as Reddit and Discord to dive deep into topics of interest.

I think it’s worth reading the perspectives of other people about what community means to them. I’ve learned I’m not a boss of any community (if I ever was). As I plan to attend #cong19, I wonder how collegial conversation with these new faces will unfold in the huddles, during meals, and in the pub. I read various blog posts from prospective attendees and I wonder when did they first come online? Were they in Ireland when they first saw the internet? Will I meet people who waited until their phones could browse the web before they jumped into online communities? I’ll share my thoughts about community if you catch up with me during the #cong19 community huddles. And I’ll update my blog post about “Big Reveals at Congregation” as people share what “community” really means.


Easily reach Bernie Goldbach on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Or listen to his “Topgold Audio Clips” on Spreaker.

Bernie Goldbach has snapped and saved images from meetings of the Congregation.

Sean McGrath – “Community—A Disability Perspective” on the Congregation website.

Catherine Cronin – “The essence of the Open Education Community” on Spreaker.

Maryrose Lyons – “Average. Great. Or Extraordinary” on the Congregation website.

Brian Greene is “Radio Connecting Humans” at

Get on-topic advice about podcast production from Irish Podcast Producers and Listeners on Facebook.

Hear Paul O’Mahony on or read him on

John Tierney – “The hardest part of starting” on Congregation website.

Gretchen McCulloch – “Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language”, 2019

Zanya Dahl – “Communities are born out of thin air” on the Congregation website.

See more about #cong19 on Twitter.


Max Hastings – “The Effects Technology Has on People” on the Congregation website.

Ailish Irvine – “You are not the boss of my community” on the Congregation website.





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