Qirqle is a Web portal for the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont. The mission of Qirqle is to “connect the Valley” – to use the Web to enhance our community rather than distract away from it.
The Valley is full of amazing but mostly hidden jewels including people, organizations, places, opportunities, creations, and events. Qirqle was created to bring all of this into the light by facilitating connections and communication between residents, creators, organizations, businesses and groups.
For visitors, Qirqle provides comprehensive listings of area events, places, businesses and organizations along with access to the creative output of residents (blogs, art, discussions, etc).
For residents, Qirqle is a place for information provided by the community on what’s going on, what’s available, and what’s being said in your neighborhood, your town, and the Valley. It’s a place to express yourself and your creativity, to connect and interact with fellow residents, and to build community.
For creators, Qirqle is a way to share your creations through uploaded images, audio and video, through discussions individually or in groups, by selling them in our creators marketplace, and by posting events.
For local businesses, Qirqle makes you visible and offers an easy way to engage with your customers and clients as well as to interact with other business owners – get ideas, get support, get organized.
For local organizations, Qirqle connects you with the people you serve as well as other organizations and services for collaboration, support and outreach.
Local Membership is limited to residents, along with businesses and organizations who have a presence in the Valley – for security and to “keep it local.” Visitors can sign up for a guest membership for more access.
- View, post and review events, favorite places, classifieds, job listings, images, documents, favorites, and forums (plus businesses and organizations can post their own listings).
- Chat (text, audio, video) with other individuals and groups (both on site and an app for iOS and Android) including send files, work on a shared document, share a whiteboard, share your screen, and send a voice note. And our iOS and Android apps let you take most of this functionality with you.
- Make friends, join and create groups, show off your creations, collaborate on projects, create an online component of whatever’s important in your life that you’d like to share.
Qirqle is your local online community.
Back in 1999, I read an interview with Tim Berners-Lee, the actual inventor of the World Wide Web (sorry, Al Gore) in which he talked about how he wished he had included some form of localization in the Web — so that you’d be able to more easily find websites and resources that are within your area. The idea struck me that a community website (at the time I called it a community guide) could offer something like that.
I also thought it might be a way to use the Web to strengthen local communities – to promote buying locally, interacting with your neighbors, and finding the “hidden gems” of your area, including people, businesses, organizations, places, etc.
So I set out to create an online guide system for the Pioneer Valley as a starting site, following what seemed to be the logical path of seeking venture capital. At the time, the dotcom bubble was in full growth mode and VC firms were eager to get behind the Next Big Thing. I met with a big Boston venture capital firm who seemed very interested and encouraged me to come back to them once I had my proof of concept up and running.
Unfortunately, the dotcom bubble burst shortly after that. I decided to take the software I was developing to manage online guide websites and convert it to manage any website, and Netcera Web Hosting (now Itabix) was born. I saw it as a way to both support local businesses to create and manage their web presence, and ultimately as a way to fund and develop my online guide concept which I kept coming back to and extending as Web technologies improved and expanded.
Fast forward to the spring of 2015 when I was invited to join a collaborative effort for economic growth and quality of life improvement in Hampshire County. Many issues brought up within the collaborative were directly addressed by my then-guide but now community portal concept and I stepped up to work with several other people on a project to create the portal for Hampshire County. The collaborative eventually fell apart and everyone drifted away, but I decided to keep working on it on my own.
Qirqle is the result – a website designed to facilitate communication and collaboration in our community, a place to share and discover the cool people and stuff that’s all around us but that we never get to see.
You’ll notice there’s no advertising on Qirqle. I’m committed to not having advertising for two reasons – I find them both annoying and mostly ineffective, and when you participate in a website funded by advertising you are not the customer, you become part of the product they are selling to their advertisers. The purpose of the website is to make you come back as often, and stay as long, as possible so that they can show you advertising or get you to buy something. That doesn’t always work out well for us.
If you are a member and have a question or problem related to Qirqle, please post it in the Qirqle forum or private message Qirqle.
If you are not a member and would like to get involved with Qirqle or you would like more information, you may contact us using the form below:
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