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.





While Talking to Myself in My Attic #51 #cong18


Sometimes I just surround myself with boxes of my old Moleskine journals and talk out loud about old ideas. The A.I. does the rest.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. You shouldn’t hesitate to talk out loud.
  2. Let your voice make your story into text.
  3. Read and listen to influential voices.
  4. Share your ideas through immersive experiences.

About Bernie Goldbach:

Bernie Goldbach is a drone instructor pilot and a creative media lecturer at the Limerick Institute of Technology–for the next 590 days.

Contacting Bernie Goldbach:

You can read Bernie at Inside View or tune into his podcasts at Spreaker. He uses both and for teaching and learning.

By Bernie Goldbach

I’ve been in situations where my gut tells me something feels just right. And over the decades, I’ve broken down what “feels right” by what I hear, how I’m influenced by what I’ve heard, and how easily it is to immerse in the feeling.

Writing about ideas for #cong18 feels right. Moreover, it feels right to talk about my thoughts because my Notes to Self are better formed when I articulate them through my voice.

Over the years, I’ve heard myself talking about good ideas. And through the emergence of clever technology, I’ve been able to share my thoughts through podcasts and through the written word. Surprisingly, my voice feeds my typing.

I’ve started using free voice-to-text services as a method of jump-starting my creative process. I just let myself talk and Artificial Intelligence takes over. It’s so easy to ask your phone to create text as you speak. Google Voice does that on many Android handsets. I’ve taken a few additional steps and educated two other apps to the nuances of my voice and now I’m producing this written copy just by talking about it.

I use the free app and also the machine language app. Once trained and then used in a quiet space, both of the apps produce text content that is better than 90% accurate.

I also talk to myself in my attic while surrounded by several hundred Moleskine journals. Each of those hard cover journals have 190 pages. I normally fill seven Moleskines every year and my collection spans the every year of the 21st century. Occasionally I will go back ten years in my journaling to see what I was thinking about then. And then I start talking to myself while cranks out my thoughts on screen. I feel like a storyteller in my attic during my deep dives into my Moleskine archives.

Throughout my 18 years of teaching third level students, I’ve accumulated hundreds of electronic titles on my Kindles. I don’t simply read on Kindle; I write on Kindle pages. Kindle annotations are another major source of ideas for me. It’s so easy to extract both the original text as well as the notes I’ve made surrounding key parts of books, documents, and newspaper clippings on my Kindles. I’ve created lectures and practical lab sessions emerging as ideas from those Kindle extracts.

I buy most of the content that appears on my Kindle. Those authors I read on Kindle influence me. They add to the ideas germinating in my head as I try to sort out what I really think or what sort of plan I believe should emerge from unformed thoughts.

Sometimes I sketch snippets of thoughts as four frames of a storyboard. Other times I just let my pen flow and create word clouds inside hand-drawn rectangles and spontaneous circles. I can actually feel an idea coming into the light through this tactile kinaesthetic process inside my Moleskine journals.

These ideas have to get out of my attic, be spoken to my favourite A.I., and then shared outside my private space. In my case, that means taking my unformed ideas into casual chats like #cong18.

Every year, I block out a weekend in November to visit Cong. I’ve missed more sessions than I’ve attended but if you looked at my Moleskines through the past five years, you would probably think I was in Cong since the very beginning. This year, I’m talking out loud about sharing ideas and watching those ideas form on screen. If you’re in Cong on 24th November 2018, you can hear me voice my thoughts out loud. I hope to share ideas from friends whose stories I’ve followed.