Participating in an Online Community, Week 5, Post 1

Disclaimer: This post is part of course requirements following this assignment: Extend your identity in the direction of your career path and participate in a new online community. Interact online using your projected identity for at least six weeks. Think deeply about identity and learning and blog twice a week about your experience. Take time to analyze the meaning, power, and constraints of the community on your learning.

Week 5, Post 1

A great quote I’ve ever heard about writing science fiction is, “A good science fiction writer invents the car. A great science fiction writer comes up with the traffic jam.” A few months ago, I did not know about much about science fiction writers and their books. Now, thanks to the welcome and inclusion offered by the Science Fiction and Fantasy group at Goodreads, I have ridden in great space ships, conveyor belts, seen eerie sights and laughed out loud while reading Vogon poetry.

I like the car and even the traffic jam! I’ve continued to spend time in my Goodreads group. I have finished three books and learned a lot about theme, plot, arc, conflict, and innovation. I caught myself offering a consulting client a far-fetched idea as we brainstormed possible solutions for a shipping problem that would cause even Zaphod Beeblebrox to smile (or, more accurately, to take the credit).

My adopted group responds quickly and energetically. After a week away at face-to-face classes, one email I see informs me: “You have 419 new posts from 43 discussions on Goodreads”   Discussion Topics are very pertinent and rich with titles such as  Fantasy based on nonwestern myths?The Consciousness PlagueMalthusian settings?Give Us Your Themes!What are Your Favorite Anthologies and Short Story Collections” 

Last week there was an interesting discussion in our group about our preference for paper vs. ebooks. Over 70 responders expressed their opinion with a mixture of enthusiasm and respect for the preferences of others. I am noticing that my identity is not as timid and confining as it/I once was. Is “Goodreads ByTheFire” is more confident and expressive than me? Is it easier for me as “Goodreads ByTheFire” to respond to questions? Is it easier to communicate when we are operating behind other identities?
In a discussion of specific features of science fiction, “C”* wrote: “I agree that too much emphasis can be put on the societal commentary aspect of sci-fi, but it is a feature of many classics.” “D”* asserted, “It’s quite a narrow way of looking at a genre and seems to devalue novels that are examples of good storytelling that just happen to be in a sci fi setting.” Another contributor, “E”* adds, “The technology angle also forgets that some of the biggies in the genre are not ‘about’ the technology, but about the tendencies already present in human nature and society as a whole; technology is just an enabler.”
Not your average Jerry Springer smack down! The ease of interplay and virtual dialogue illustrated Clay Shirkey’s claim that in the Publish then Edit neighborhood, the emphasis aims to “Convene but not control.”
he is not a vegan2
I thought about joining many groups before I settled on the Science Fiction and Fantasy group. I lurked in a cooking group and saw the preceding messages. There seems to be a self-regulating system to the internet in general and online communities specifically. Members enforce the official and unofficial rules of their particular system. Admonitions to stick to the subject of the “OP” (original post), to move off-topic posts to appropriate forums, and to avoid spoilers serve as an informal blending of civility and order.
“Don’t try to outweird me, three-eyes.  I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal.” ~Zaphod Beeblebrox in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”


Adams, D. (1995). The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. Del Rey. Link

Shirkey, Clay (2010). How cognitive surplus will change the world | Video on Retrieved from

*=not the actual initials