Minciu Sodas is Lithuanian for Orchard of Thoughts. It was created by Andrius Kulikauskas in 1998 and ran until 2010. (Some of the online groups that were part of MIncius Sodas have continued, and many of the friendships that came about through Andrius and Minciu Sodas have endured)
Andrius sought out people who he saw as "independent thinkers", and encouraged them to "think aloud" and explore their ideas and questions in a supportive online environment. Minciu Sodas consisted of a collection of linked yahoo groups, a related wiki and a chat room - all brought together, directed and developed by Andrius. It was an exceptionelly vibrant, information-rich, culturally-diverse, inclusive online commuinity.
Like many online communites, it was made up of inidviduals with many different ideas of why they were there and what the community was for. Of course, in Minciu Sodas, Andrius had purposely collected up "independent thinkers" so there was often lively debate about the nature of the community.
Personallly I saw it as a wonderful and welcoming space to explore ideas. It gave me opportunities for the kind of conversations that I imagined people were able to enjoy at traditional universities. (I had done my first degree at the UK Open Univerisity while living in the depths of the SW rural England so most mof my studies had been done in isolation, with a few one-week summer-schools - so i had an idealised view). I thought of Minciu Sodas as an alternative non-accredited online university.
There was also the amazing Minciu Sodas community response to the post-election violence in Kenya - Pyramid fo Peace - but that is another stoty.
Andrius however saw Minciu Sodas as a "Laboratory" and invested all of his time and personal resources in it. Minciu Sodas was a brave experiment on Andrius' part and many of us benefitted from being part of it. He created a wealth of information, knowledge and social capaital. He was doing it with the idea of running Minciu Sodas as a business (an idea that the community members did not necessariy share). He looked for clients who would tap into the exisitng and potential knowledge of the community, and found some but not enough. He was not able to realise his vision of making his living through Minciu Sodas, and so it ended in 2010.