Affinity spaces, a term coined by James Paul Gee, are environments that facilitate informal learning of a specific subject or topic. My action project (for my UNM honors class) is about open source software, specifically surrounding the Elm community. I have, for the last several weeks, been reading and participating in the Elm slack group, both asking and answering questions. I have been extremely impressed by the level of activity in this purely voluntary group.
It's easy to send a message to Evan Czaplicki, the creator of Elm, and get a real answer.
Having lots of experience trying to find help on the internet for related technologies, I've found the larger a group gets, the less one on one help there is. This is ironic to me, but it makes sense: Gee talks about the idea of Frozen Thought, the idea that institutions take thought and freeze it into processes. In the case of tech communities, larger ones tend to have more documentation, which is a form of frozen thought; however, documentation is notorious for becoming outdated (and therefore useless and even damaging). The more documentation there is, the less people are willing to help one-on-one. The elm community, while there is a good amount of documentation, is still small enough that it's easy to send a message to Evan Czaplicki, the creator of Elm, and get a real answer. Try doing that with larger projects, you'll get nowhere. Therefore, I'm interested in trying to find ways of maintaining both of these benefits. I want a world where gaining community scale means that there is more room for personalized help, and still having quality documentation.