Considering Community: What types of community are there? (Science edition, part one)

In one of my early Considering Community posts I outlined several broad types of community – from communities of interest to communities of circumstance – and I mused on whether the different types might use online tools distinctly.

In reflecting recently on the different communities represented in the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program that I run, I realised that it’s time to dive a little deeper on this topic – considering some of the different configurations of community specifically within science. 

In this first post on the topic, I discuss professional societies for scientists and what I call infrastructure or “halo” organisations. For each, I raise some questions to consider when pondering the role of the community manager to build connections among members.

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URLs of wisdom (January 18th 2015)

URLs of wisdom is a weekly round-up of interesting links about topics at the intersection of people, science and technology.



  • An old fogey’s analysis of a teenager’s view on social media – Danah Boyd responds to everyone who’s been sending her a recent article by teenager, Andrew Watts. “Andrew’s depiction of his peers’ use of social media is a depiction of a segment of the population, notably the segment most like those in the tech industry. In other words, what the tech elite are seeing and sharing is what people like them would’ve been doing with social media X years ago. It resonates. But it is not a full portrait of today’s youth. And its uptake and interpretation by journalists and the tech elite whitewashes teens practices in deeply problematic ways.”

Other news

  • The tactics of collaboration – Steve Wright proposes 4 stages of collaboration, including vulnerability as the third. Compare with the 3 types of working together (contribution, collaboration, co-creation) discussed at the wikimania conference.
  • Your computer knows you better than your friends do “Computers aren’t yet as smart and sultry as the one in Her, but armed with your Facebook data, they can accurately judge your personality in a fraction of a second. Compared with humans predicting their friends’ personalities by filling out the Big Five questionnaire, the computer’s prediction based on Facebook likes was almost 15% more accurate on average.”
  • Promoting the dead on Facebook – “A page remembering someone who died acts doubly as a space for friends and family to publish memories and as one to help each other grieve. But when that content leaves the page and that network, those two uses of Facebook conflict. The page becomes context-free when it moves outside the circles of friends and family…”

Academia online 


  • Another update from Paige Brown about responses from her #MySciBlog interviews – “I guess the other reason, the other approach to my blog that I took with that, because I have this complete freedom, to write about whatever I wanted to write about, I was going to write about subjects that I knew would NEVER get covered in the mainstream media. Because, because the organisms that I was going to write about were just too obscure, they weren’t, you know, fuzzy mammals… And so, I wanted to offer people content that they would never, almost never find anywhere else.”

Social media/networks

  • Creating effective social media networks – why it isn’t all about the numbers. Heather Doran thinks about how we measure social media success: “The problem the belief that people should use a one size-fits-all model. This will not work. Firstly, all social media networks are different so a ‘like’ on facebook doesn’t equal a follower on twitter. Interactions are subtle and hard to measure. You need to be familiar with the platform and how it works to get the most out of it and to understand what is worth measuring.”
  • Scientific societies in the internet age – Sarah Boon outlines some of the benefits of societies getting online “At the simplest level, migration to online platforms and utilization of social media is budget friendly. With science funding in decline across the board, operating costs at scientific societies can also be hard to cover. Sending out e-newsletters instead of printing paper copies, having online membership renewals instead of mailing them, connecting via email instead of in print…all of these activities reduce costs. The other rationale for a bigger online presence is to better connect society members with each other (regardless of age), to recruit new members, and to connect science and scientific societies with the broader public community.”
  • Social media and its impact on medical research – discussion of a recent paper that looked at the effect of a journal promoting half of its papers on Twitter and Facebook via a “social media campaign” of 1 tweet and 1 Facebook post per paper.
  • Frontiers launches Loop – Open Access publishers, Frontiers launched an updated version of the Frontiers Network for scientists which now includes embeddable profiles that can be included on research articles.


  • Scientists as communicators – An interview with AAAS Fellow, Julia Moore: “We are not going to solve the problems of the 21st century unless there is better communication between scientists and the public,” Moore stressed. Unfortunately, this skill is often under-appreciated and misunderstood in the scientific community, she notes: “A lot of people in science want to lecture and not listen. They want people to be where they are, curiosity-driven for the sake of new knowledge—as opposed to where people really are, which is worried about their bills or their children’s health or the world their grandchildren are going to grow up in.”


  • Jono Bacon shares 5 key things to focus on when hiring for a Community Manager – “The word “community” means radically different things to different people. For some a community is a customer-base, for some it is engineering, for some it is a support function, for others it may be social media. When your new community manager joins, your other staff will have their own interpretation of what “community” means. You should help to align the community manger’s focus and goals with the rest of the organization.”

Social media developments