Models of Online Community Engagement
One of the things I have found myself thinking about as new Outreach Manager with Public Lab, is how people engage with the Public Lab community. Be it an avid research note poster, an awesome community and events coordinator (cough Cough **Jen Hudon ), or a first time visitor to publiclab.org, we all identify our own roles and niches in Public Lab.
My personal interest is in helping to facilitate positive involvement in the Public Lab community. I want to learn: - How you define Public Lab, - How you engage with Public Lab, and - How you make it your own.
Initally Liz and I were looking at models of engagement from wiki.sugarlabs.org. On this page, Sugar Labs has defined specific roles for people, distinguishing the specific ways in which people could identify themselves in their community and contribute to it.
In contrast, the other day I had a great conversation with Mikey O'Connor, former ICANN volunteer and brainpower behind http://fracsandfrisbee.com, (a great blog that helps people in Buffalo County, Wisconsin share notes and strategies to fight the frac sand mining companies). It turns out, Mikey has grappled with many similar questions about community participation with the ICANN community. He created a model identified on his blog page here. In Mikey's model, he showcases relationships between people: how they see themselves in the ICANN community, and how their roles facilitate involvement of newcomers the community as well.
In this model, the people on the left had column is supported by a counterpart on the right.
Newcomer <-> Recruiter Explorer <-> Guide Student <-> Teacher Researcher <-> Expert Teammate <-> Coach Leader <-> Mentor
I find these models useful and interesting. However, I find myself wondering if Public Lab has a model of engagement that is a little bit more open, dynamic and flexible. While today I'm posting a research note on online community engagement, tomorrow I'll be using public lab technology with community organizations here in New Orleans, or helping to develop it in the Northeast Barnraising next month. To me, it seems Public Lab hosts people who see themselves not as hackers, educators, researchers or activists but people can see themselves as hackers and researchers and educators and activists and more.. But this is just a hunch.