Happy to share Middlebit with you.

It’s a simple idea.

Middlebit is a link aggregator and community website for those of us working on projects in the no-coast region. It’s a continuation of some of my other community focused work.

A while back I helped stand up a company called Clay & Milk. The whole premise of the the project was to get tech coverage in a place where there wasn’t tech coverage anymore.

Solving that problem has created new opportunities to solve other problems and it got me thinking again about projects that could spawn more awareness about what is going on across startup communities in various cities throughout the no-coast.

Then I realized I have the same problem, I don’t know about what’s going on in other cities anymore than I did previously in my own city. Now I know what’s going in Des Moines but I’m clueless everywhere else. I just took a trip to Minneapolis for the primary purpose of trying to learn who is who there.

We, the no-coast community lack an online gathering place and I’m hopeful middlebit can provide that a bit or at least be an attempt at providing it. I realized that what I was looking for was something more along the lines of Hacker News for the no-coast. Something I could invite people to as I go from town to town and then keep up with their communities news.

There is nothing stopping us from creating our own space. It’s one of the wonderful things about the internet. We can be together because of a shared interest. Many of us care about creating strong communities and connectivity even if we almost never see one another.

While trying to sort out the best way to introduce something like that for our community I came across Lobsters and a few other sites that were mostly WordPress themes. In one form or another they all led back to Lobsters.

The Lobsters codebase self-described as sad but it’s surrounded by really nice people who are willing to lend a hand. For me, that even went as far as giving me feedback because of the SSH issues I was running into.

The software needs some TLC and their community has been quite open about that. It’s not perfect and I kind of dig that. We’re all just trying to build something a little better…

Middlebit is funded by my humble proceeds of my exit of Clay & Milk and inspired by the weekly e-mail “the middlebit” by Clay & Milk, which is a name I’ve always loved. I’m hopeful it enables a transparent dialogue amongst communities in the middle. I told everyone involved with Clay & Milk I’d take anything I earned and put it right back into a community project and I’m glad to say that I have.

The site is dead simple. You sign in, add & upvote content you like, and the best content makes its way to the top.

Early testing to make sure it works…

Middlebit is by invitation only and the user tree is public so you can always see who invited who. The traceability enables the best actors to rise to the occasion and their leadership to be recognized. It also forces the use of Tags to define what/how things should be posted. If there’s no matching tags it’s probably not relevant to the community.

Many of you reading this have seen me make stuff to do many things. Middlebit is just another thing in a long line of things. I’m hopeful it helps some of you and if you’d like an invite please let me know through a Twitter DM.

In the coming days I’ll invite some friends from no-coast communities throughout the US and I’m hopeful the experiment results in some new connectivity. Nonetheless, early feedback has all kinds of interesting nuggets and people from all over the country have started to pop up.