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What Would You Like To See In A Low-Carb Support And Advocacy Community Web Site?


Dave Dixon wants the low-carb community to have a gathering place

One of the privileges I have being involved in the low-carb community so actively are some really fantastic contacts. From researchers to doctors to active members of the behind-the-scenes grassroots movement to put low-carb back on the map again–they’re all a part of my network and I’m honored to call on them whenever I have a question or issue that could use their area of expertise.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been in contact with a man named Dave Dixon who has a firm grasp on the message of livin’ la vida low-carb and shares about it in brilliant posts at his “Spark of Reason” blog. Since his profession is in software architecture, Dave recently asked me if I’d like to help him with a new project he’s been envisioning to do. When he described what it was he would like to create, I was thrilled to help him develop this and see it come to fruition.

With a strong passion for nutrition and healthy living, Dave wanted to come up with a way to provide quality low-carb information and interaction all in one place for low-carbers to access and talk to each other on a regular basis.

“It seems like a lot of the low-carb info on the web is spread out,” he wrote to me in an e-mail. “Maybe it’s time for a dedicated low carb site, a sort of community hub/social networking thing? I’m thinking something with a lot of interactivity, very slick, allowing people to find info and connect with others very easily.”

When we spoke about this idea on the telephone, it sounded like Dave wanted to create a social networking kind of community similar to Facebook that would be dedicated solely to the subject of low-carbohydrate diet, fitness, and nutrition.

“I’m thinking we just consolidate all of this in one place, add some social networking and interactivity, and provide incentive to build a membership base. Seems like interest in low-carb is picking up again, maybe a good time to do this,” he said.

Sounds intriguing to me! So I asked Dave if I could blog about this and solicit YOUR input about what you’d like to see. Yes, he wants to hear your suggestions for a low-carb support and advocacy community web site. With all the lives being changed by those who have found out about low-carb living on the Internet in just the past few years, how much more of an impact could be made if all of the low-carb community had a place to gather, exchange ideas, network, and become an even more formidable online force.

“The strength of this community provides a real chance to change the world for the better,” Dave explained.

Some may say something like this is unnecessary because there are plenty of blogs, forums, and such that provide all of these elements and more. But Dave contends most efforts are put into one of two categories: advocacy and support. And he believes the two can be interconnected with a new site which would complement much of the work being done on blogs like mine.

“Advocacy reflects our efforts to get others on board, from our family and friends all the way up to the policy-makers in government and medicine,” Dave contended. “And for those who do make the lifestyle change, we want to provide as much support as possible to help them make it permanent.”

Putting all of this information together on the Internet in one place will promote both of these goals and propel low-carb back into the mainstream of the debate about obesity and health. Sure, we know it is a superior way of eating for a variety of reasons which have been articulated in the medical literature and through anecdotal testimonies from patients placed on a low-carb diet by some very brave physicians. But there’s a whole world of people who still need to hear it for themselves at a virtual hub for all things low-carb.

“It may be a good time to leverage the Internet and our community’s strength to to provide a ‘one-stop’ resource, or at least a nexus which makes it easy for people to find the information and support they need,” Dave revealed. “I believe we’re approaching the ‘tipping point’ with regards to general opinion on the health benefits of low-carb, as evidence both scientific and anecdotal continues to mount. Done right, such an Internet community site may provide a significant push.”

What is Dave proposing we do? Create a low-carb MySpace? How about a low-carb recipe database? What about interactivity within the low-carb community outside of blogging? Here is the question of the moment for you to ponder:

What features would you like to see on a low-carb community web site which would help you and others with support and advocacy?

Dave has a few to share with you, but feel free to tell us what you think would be needed to make this idea work.

Here are Dave Dixon’s proposals for your consideration:

“LowCarbopedia”
One of the major advantages the low-carb movement has is a large pile of supporting evidence (one which continues to grow). This ranges from details of cellular metabolism to anthropological evidence to the experiences of those who have been successful with a low carb lifestyle. It seems like it would be beneficial to be gathering this evidence in one spot. The LowCarbopedia (for lack of a better name) could serve this purpose.

For example, one might have an article describing how insulin affects fat storage. This could be described at the layperson level, maybe with extra details for the more advanced reader, and supported by references to the scientific literature. Perhaps we could get experts to contribute material, or at least act as moderators.

I envision this becoming something like an online version of Good Calories, Bad Calories: comprehensive and encompassing, but benefiting from the ability to access info online, through links etc. and be updated as new evidence becomes available.

Progress Tracker
Lots of nutrition websites have this kind of thing. Is there a benefit to doing it on a dedicated low-carb site? This might be a sort of “diary,” where one can track food eaten, progress photos, and changes in various parameters like weight, bodyfat %, blood parameters, etc. One possible benefit of collecting all of this in one spot would be to report overall community progress, e.g. show graphs of how much total weight has been lost via low-carb for all participants. Not very scientific, but potentially powerful for advocacy.

Recipe Database
Do we need a dedicated low-carb recipe database? Personally, I think most recipes sites could be better. Obviously we could categorize recipes by carbs/serving, further call out other trouble spots like grains, fructose, and PUFA. This could build off of nutrient databases to provide nutrition info for recipes or even full menus.

Again, this capability exists in other places, so what might be additionally needed for support/advocacy of low-carb? Another possibility would be to consolidate recipes, providing links/ratings/comments for existing recipes or books in one spot, I also like the structure diagram method for showing recipes, like done here.

I find this concise and easy to follow, but that might just be a nerd thing.

News Consolidator
New info related to low-carb appears all of the time: scientific articles, news, blogs, etc. Is there a benefit to having a dedicated low-carb consolidator for this info? Again, this capability can be found elsewhere, e.g. Google News. So is there something extra we’d like to see?

That’s about it as far as the dream of this project. But what comes to your mind when you hear about something like this? Has Dave hit everything you’d like to see or is there more he’s forgetting to mention? He will be monitoring the comments to this post regularly, so please share what you think about the idea and anything you’d like to add to the conversation.

This has GREAT potential to reach far beyond anything anyone else has done in the low-carb world and you can be a part of making it happen. Don’t be shy, share what’s on your mind! Special THANKS to Dave Dixon for being willing to take on such a monumental undertaking for the sake of promoting the low-carb lifestyle.

  • http://www.weightoftheevidence.com Regina Wilshire

    Seriously – anyone who really wants to enhance and consolidate the online presence of low-carb should get in touch with the Nutrition & Metabolism Society and offer to help them increase their presence and website offerings. Just an idea to consider since they are a non-profit and are reaching both professionals and consumers.

  • http://sparkofreason.blogspot.com Dave

    Hi Regina. Excellent idea, and I think it dovetails nicely with the “LowCarbopedia” concept, which could serve to make the work of the Nutrition and Metabolism Society more accessible to the general public.

  • Sarah Annmadden

    Excellent Idea!

    I think all the ideas are excellent. I would join this in a second!

  • http://casaneo.net Chef Deora

    I think I need a little help understanding the vision here. Specifically, where would Livinlavidalowcarb fit in to such an undertaking? Would it be a link within the whole? Would the new undertaking replace the discussion board for LLVLC? I do like the idea of people with a like cause joining together for social/political change, as there is power in numbers.

    SUPERB QUESTIONS, Deora! Dave definitely wants my participation in this, but it is his project to create. My role would be to support it, market it, and perhaps be a major contributor or leader within it. It will NOT replace my forum or this blog but rather be a central hub for anything and everything related to low-carb. I’ll have Dave Dixon respond to your questions for greater clarity, though. THANKS!

    –Jimmy

  • DONNA

    I think right now your website is a wonderful hub for all of the low carbers. Since I’ve discovered it not too long ago I’ve bookmarked lots of blogs and sites from the people you’ve interviewed. I’ve also bought a lot of the books you’ve recommended. I have so much reading material now that all of my subscription magazines are piling up! Your website is unbelievable! I feel like I’m taking a college low-carb class and not paying for it. Thanks!

    Donna L.

    THANKS Donna! I appreciate your comments and I discussed this with Dave. He said while my blog and other projects indeed reach a lot of people, perhaps something more like Facebook might attract a younger group of people that needs to hear the message, too. I see a very diverse cross-section of people come through here every single day, so maybe this is the hub already. Thank you for your feedback!

    –Jimmy

  • Paula

    One thing I hope the site will NOT be is a forum for religious and/or political views. As this site is Jimmy’s personal blog, I respect his right to express himself (and know that he will do so, regardless of what his readers think). However, I have sometimes found those views a distraction or irrelevant to discussions of the low carb lifestyle.

    I’ve in the past been part of a low-carb support forum that imploded when some chose to make it a forum for their political and/or religious agendas, and drove people away with their vitriolic posts and personal attacks. There are so many other places on the Internet that people of like-minded religious and political views can gather, that I hope that the only politics under discussion will be that surrounding the promotion of low-carb diets. (We know there’s plenty of that to go around.)

    And I hope that it’s a place that liberal or conservative, religious or atheist all feel equally welcome and can be free from those proselytizing about any particular viewpoint or belief system.

    THANKS Paula and I can appreciate where you’re coming from. Even here at my blog I try very hard to keep my own beliefs about God and politics out of the content for the most part. And if you visit my forum you’ll see I do the same thing there, too. This new site would be about low-carb and whatever the people who visit it share with each other. That’s the vision I think that Dave has for it. Thank you for adding your thoughts to the idea.

    –Jimmy

  • http://sparkofreason.blogspot.com Dave

    I don’t see this project supplanting Livin’ La Vida Low Carb or any other existing sites. Jimmy and the other low-carb advocates do a great job in reaching a broad audience. I don’t think we need another blog or discussion forums – that need is well-filled. But it may be beneficial to have a nexus to these various information sources, especially for those first exploring a low-carb lifestyle. That’s the consolidation idea, e.g. a news aggregator that shows recent posts/comments from the various sites; maybe a subscription service; and/or a dedicated low-carb search engine.

    The idea is that there is tons of information out there, but spread far and wide on the web, books, etc. Let’s figure out how to make it most easily accessible for advocacy and support.

    Paula also makes an excellent point. Any dedicated information on the new site (mainly the “LowCarbopedia” – anyone have a better name?) needs to based on rock-solid scientific reasoning. Again, there are plenty of outlets for people to express their personal views already. If we’re going to change the way the world thinks about nutrition and health, we need to be united in our efforts.

  • Steve L.

    Love the idea of the Lowcarbopedia. So much of the best information out there now is in blogs, but they’re more organized by timeline, rather than subject. And searching is time-consuming.

    I think a resource similar to Jenny Ruhl’s superb http://www.bloodsugar101.com site as part of this would also be hugely helpful to those starting out, who need the executive summary version to acquire the basics quickly (before they get too worn out sifting through details).

    There is superb information out there right now, especially on your site Jimmy, but so much of it is associated with a particular book or a particular product, that it’s difficult to see many of the players uniting behind one site. That’s not a criticism, just reality, as I see it. I have tremendous respect for the uncompensated efforts that it seems the vast majority of the low-carb movers and shakers put into their web sites, forums, interviews, etc. But the Lowcarbopedia would give them another outlet to contribute, while also allowing us common folk to help shape it.

    THANKS for your feedback, Steve! I have no problem with distributing more information in a readily manner if need be and a central site like this one that is being proposed may be just the thing needed.

    –Jimmy

  • http://sparkofreason.blogspot.com Dave

    Thanks Steve. I’ve basically come to the same conclusion, that LowCarbopedia fills the most glaring gap. So I’m going to focus on that in the immediate future. Thanks to everybody for their feedback.