I've been thinking a lot about communities in my research lately. Virtual communities, intentional groups, professional communities of practice, and more.
As a researcher and archivist, something that I'm always thinking about is the ways in which to capture a community. What is the essence of the community, and how can it be preserved? (Can it be captured?) What are the functions of the community, and how might those be described by the denizens of the group, or by outsiders? What are the most important pieces of the community, and how can they best be documented for later and greater understanding?
Anyway, this "Map of Online Communities" by xkcd fascinates me. What are the overlaps? What are the differences in these communities when it comes to intentionality, practices, interactions, customs, and knowledge? As a member of one or more of these communities, what are your feelings about capturing the essence of the community? Does the center of the community differ from what the community means to you? Are your reasons for being a part of the community different from those of other members? What would you tell others about the community and your contributions?
Do you agree with the sizing, the spacing, the relative importance granted to some virtual communities and not others? Does this square with your own experiences? Please share your thoughts!
Note: This is best viewed on the original site: http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/online_communities_2.png
Art by xkcd.com; licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5.