Archive Page 2

Open Source Science

Thanks to Matt Rhodes I became aware of the recent hype around social media’s impact on science. The numerous discussions cover topics like scientific blogging, copyright issues, and open source science, often referred to altogether as Science 2.0.

As this subject is very close to my heart – I’m pursuing research via this blog, even though I don’t have a formal affiliation with any of the scientific institutions – I’d like to delve deeper into what I consider as open source science. Continue reading ‘Open Source Science’


Authentic Leadership

Aspiring leaders very often search for instructions or advice on how to master leadership. The article Discovering Your Authentic Leadership in Harvard Business Review claims that the place to discover leadership lies in our own biography. The authors have conducted a massive study to identify ways of developing leadership skills, and they have come up with the concept of authentic leadership.

Authentic leaders behave naturally, in ways that fit their personality. They nurture long-lasting relationships; they have mastered self-discipline and self-awareness. Striving to achieve desired goals, they stick to their values and principles.

According to the study, becoming an authentic leader requires that we first interpret our life story. It is important to consider the people and experiences that shaped our character in the early life stages. By practicing self-awareness, we should understand the real values and principles that guide our decisions, and the factors – both internal and external – that motivate us. An authentic leader can count on a diverse support group, which may consist of a partner, family, and friends. Authentic leaders prove their integrity when facing difficult choices, even if the correct decision may negatively affect their career.

I would risk the statement that in online communities, it is even more important for a leader to be authentic. Such authenticity is a source of referent power, the biggest influencing force that allows a leader to drive the community effort in desired direction. In each place where you show up online, whether it’s in a blog, a social network, or an online forum, you can build trust via integrity or lose trust via acting against community values. And as always, it’s much easier to lose trust than it is to build it.

What do you do to stay authentic on the web? I’d love to see your point of view in the comments!

Source: William W. George, Peter Sims, Andrew N. McLean, David Mayer, and Diana Mayer: Discovering Your Authentic Leadership; Harvard Business Review; February 2007.

Blogging and the Popularity Trap

Do your blog posts – their content, style and format – reflect the purpose of your blog? I’ve recently finished writing my About page, and while I changed the perspective to look at my blog from distance, I observed it was not the case for me.

I had started this blog as a journal to document my personal research, hold me accountable and share my research findings. I wanted to be professional about it, so I looked for professional blogging advice, such as from Problogger or Chris Brogan. I started the habit of checking my stats, and following diverse advice on increasing traffic.

Recently, traffic has become so important to me, that my focus shifted from following my purpose to writing posts that could become popular and increase the readership of my blog. You could say that our objectives may change, but when I deeply thought about it, it still does not matter to me as much as my core objective of pursuing and documenting research.

My plan to get out of this popularity trap is to define principles that should be the foundation for this blog. My blog posts should be clear, concise, and serve the purpose of documenting, sharing and facilitating discussion on my research.

Are you falling in the popularity trap as well? What are your ways to get out of it?

10 Social Psychology Tips for Managing Online Communities

Let’s take a scientific approach to managing online communities. The following tips are based on the science that describes the nature of human interactions – social psychology.

1. Beware the Fundamental Attribution Error

Don’t take for granted that a community would understand the motivation of your actions, especially if they don’t like them. The fundamental attribution error describes the fact that most people will assign you bad will and turn away from you, rather than look for external conditions that shaped your decisions. In order to minimize the effect of this error, you need to put a lot of effort into explaining the situation and your motivation. Continue reading ’10 Social Psychology Tips for Managing Online Communities’

Group Theory and the Online Community

Every online community is a group of people. What can the group theory coming from social psychology teach us about managing online communities?

Social Facilitation. This theory assumes that when we are in company of other people we tend to perform better at simpler or well learned tasks and worse when it comes to complex, difficult or new tasks, as compared to performing the same job without other people present. This tendency in behavior may be linked to an increased level of arousal, as we try harder being observed by other people. Continue reading ‘Group Theory and the Online Community’

Competition, Respect, and Google Chrome

One of the leadership skills is to respond appropriately to competition challenges. Such challenge has recently dawned upon the Mozilla Firefox community with the recent hype about Google Chrome browser. The task was even more difficult, as it required addressing the online community’s fears after being challenged by a giant corporation.

Both Mitchell Baker and John Lilly from Mozilla have responded in their blogs to the Google challenge, and in my opinion they have done a great job. Here are the key elements of their responses that are most important in my opinion.

Respect – both Mozillians show respect towards the competitor. This may be linked to the financial support Mozilla gets from their contract with Google, but I believe that in general talking about your competitor with respect earns you points as a leader. It also helps to overcome fear, and it builds self confidence.

Positivity – both posts are positive in tone. Talking in SWOT terms, they show the opportunities – how the new external conditions can be leveraged by Mozilla, as more healthy competition in the browser world can result in even better Mozilla products. They also focus on strengths – what unique internal properties allow Mozilla to successfully compete in the new situation.

Focus on Core Mission and Values – this is especially visible in Mitchell’s post. She is not talking much about the competitor’s product, instead, she recalls mission, values and goals of Mozilla Foundation. By providing this point of view, the competitive threat is minimized, and motivation is increased. This is very much in line with the first leadership lesson from Mitchell Baker as described here.

Can you think of any other best practices when responding to a competitive threat in an open source, online community environment?

Vacation, Links, Future Outlook and a Quote

I’m sitting in a coffee house and preparing my last post before vacation. The plan for the next three weeks is following: Romania – visiting small villages in the Maramures area, looking at the monasteries and checking out wineries in Bucovina, spending a few days in Transilvania, sightseeing Sigishoara, Sibiu, Brasov, and hiking in the Carpatian mountains. Greece – relax on a beach somewhere on the Chalkidiki coastline, maybe a bit of diving, cycling and hiking.

Here come a few links I found interesting, but couldn’t post about being busy packing my stuff for the travel:

Linux Foundation interviews Mitchell Baker

The Importance of Seeds

How a Business Could Use Friendfeed For Collaboration

Open, philanthropy and a theory of change

My vacation will effectively mean three weeks without the internet and posting to this blog, but I have some good plans following my vacation. This include finally creating my “About” page, continuing the social psychology tips for online community management, catching up with the book reviews (see my Reading List), and many more. I encourage you to come back and visit around mid September – or even better, sign up for the RSS feed!

Finally, the quote – I found it in the comments section under the article “Why Online Communities Fail?”:

No matter how much money you throw at it or how fancy the technology, an online community is only as relevant as the people involved.

Jan (at) famebook dot com

Cheers, Darek