Community Manager musings: Technical stewards – community managers with toolkits!

Community manager musings is a series of occasional posts looking at the roles and skills of community managers – usually within science. 

What’s in a community manager’s toolkit? As technology stewards they may choose, use and support multiple tools.
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/elkokoparrilla/5106301020/

 

As we’ve been exploring on this blog, community managers can exist in different types of communities within science, and their role can have a variety of names, depending on what they’re doing and what kind of organisation they’re working for. In my latest reading I’ve been learning about the role of the technology steward – a term coined by Etienne Wenger, Nancy White and John D.Smith and described in their 2009 book, “Digital Habitats.”

Their description states that a technology steward…

“…adopts a community’s perspective to help a community choose, configure and use technologies to best serve its needs. Tech stewards attend both to what happens spontaneously and what can happen purposefully, by plan and by cultivation of insights into what actually works.”

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Responsive, transformative, contagious – Alan Alda’s three elements of listening

I’m currently taking part in an online science communication book club that’s discussing Alan Alda’s latest book “If I understood you, would I have this look on my face?” As well as being a well-known TV personality, Alda is the founder of the Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. The Center draws upon improv techniques for some of the trainings that it provides to scientists to help them improve their communications skills. In this book Alda outlines three elements of listening that are vital in being able to relate to one another.

Lessons from a M*A*S*H*ter communicator…
Image credit: author’s own

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Considering Community: Communities of practice as vital tools for knowledge management

Social in silico includes a series of occasional posts focused on community management tips and related information. I’m tagging these Considering Community and you can find all the posts in the series here

Previously on this blog, I’ve reflected on the different types of community that I’ve observed within science and specifically in the first cohort of the community engagement fellowship program that I run at AAAS. I identified four initial broad types of scientific communities – from professional associations to communities of practice. I’m currently delving deeper into communities of practice and am enjoying reading “Cultivating communities of practice” by Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott and William M. Snyder.

Communities of practice and coffee – breaking down those silos one latte at a time…
Image credit: author’s own

What’s a community of practice – and what does it have to do with knowledge management?

A community of practice is a group of people who gather to learn more about a topic together and in doing so deepen their knowledge and expertise. The group may not have a specifically defined goal, but rather meet regularly to continually refine what they know about a subject. As such, communities of practice are key to knowledge management.

Wenger et al list 5 ways in which communities of practice are key to how we manage knowledge:

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Using a Facebook group for an online book club – taking part from a community manager’s perspective

This year I’m participating in an asynchronous, online book club in a private Facebook group. In this post I’m going to capture some of the logistics of how it’s working so far and some reflections on what it’s like to participate from the perspective of a community manager who’s not running the group.

One degree of separation – setting up the group

The book club was the idea of a friend who set up a private Facebook group and then posted that she was willing to invite any of her Facebook friends who were interested in taking part. So the members all know her but not necessarily anyone else in the group. We’ve a total of 18 members overall, of which 7 of us participate most months and maybe 7 have not yet joined the conversations.

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5 books that have influenced how I think about community management

In a series of 3 posts, I’m sharing some books that I’ve found useful on the topics of community management, online interactions, and leadership and team culture. In this post, I recommend 5 books that discuss community management and working effectively with groups.

1. “The art of community” by Jono Bacon

This was the book that years ago helped me to realise that I was a community manager. Jono Bacon describes what a community manager does – including the importance of good communication practices, selecting the right tools, and balancing being a member of the community while often negotiating your role as an employee representing an organization. If you’re wondering whether you’re a community manager, or are brand new to the role, this is a good place to start.

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5 books that have influenced how I think about online interactions

In a series of 3 posts, I’m sharing some books that I’ve found useful on the topics of community management, online interactions, and leadership and team culture. In this post, I recommend 5 books that cover various aspects of how we behave online from different types of interactions to how structures influence our activities and more.

 

1. “It’s complicated” by danah boyd

I really enjoyed danah boyd’s dissection of the various beliefs about how teenagers use social networks – indeed, it was probably my favourite book of 2014. But it’s not simply an internet explainer/debunking of scare stories for the worried parent. Yes, each chapter addresses a topic of potential misunderstanding – from online identity, to privacy, to the naive belief that the internet is a great leveller. But, boyd frames many of her arguments in relation to the 4 affordances of online networks – the behaviours that the various online tools make possible.  I enjoyed considering persistence, visibility, searchability and spreadability as key factors in sharing content online – and have started a series of my own musings about these affordances.

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5 books that have influenced how I think about leadership and team culture

In a series of 3 posts, I’m sharing some books that I’ve found useful on the topics of community management, online interactions, and leadership and team culture. In this post, I recommend 5 books that discuss being an effective leader and creating a collaborative, open culture of learning within your organisation.

1. “The first 90 days” by Michael Watkins

This is really a book about change management – how to make a positive impact in the first 90 days in a new management level role. Given that most employees change their role in some way every couple of years – whether that’s acquiring new direct reports, additional projects or moving elsewhere – effectively managing change is key to a successful career.

Managing change: first step – a nice cup of coffee!

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