Don’t tell anyone, but I would be willing to pay TEN TIMES my HAPS dues to be a member of the society, because my HAPS membership is THAT valuable to me. Now, I’m certainly glad I don’t have to pay ten times the dues (thank you HAPS!), but it is interesting to explore the reason I value my HAPS membership so greatly, and it doesn’t take me long to figure it out:
Last semester, when I participated in the APS Archive Scholars Program, we spent a week talking about the characteristics of a quality online community. One of my group mates was a fellow HAPSter and both of us cited HAPS as an example of a highly functional and meaningful, mostly-online community. As the week’s conversations progressed, I realize that HAPSters have created an invaluable community because of the deep and meaningful participation from members across a vast range of professional niches.
Just look at the HAPS email listserv. I can post a question to the list and people often begin responding within minutes of my original post. I am always overwhelmed by the generosity and professionalism of the responses and I am a much better teacher because of the amazing community that sustains the listserv. And it makes sense, because if I posted a question, and no one responded, I would be less likely to post another question. The energy required to post just wouldn’t be worth it.
But I think there is more to the HAPS community than just random participation and this is something that is really amazing. There is a diversity of expertise out there in HAPS-land that is just quality. My students get a kick out of the fact that I can ask a question on the list, and have it answered by the women who wrote their textbooks! In December, I asked about how to tell the difference between a uterus and a bladder when dissecting a human cadaver. I was shy about asking the question, because I didn’t want to appear unqualified or uneducated…but previous experiences with the list made me feel like even if the question WAS a little weak, the HAPSters wouldn’t make me FEEL weak about asking it. And true to form, I received a wealth of diverse responses that helped me figure out that my dear cadaver no longer possessed her uterus (though she did have one ovary). It was like having 10 highly experienced and generous mentors providing input at exactly the moment I needed it. What a fantastic resource.
I can see why the APS Archive Scholars Program emphasized this concept. They want to build a meaningful online community with the archive at the center. I was a shy contributor to the archive at first, but after thinking about the value of contributing, I decided to be a little braver in how I participate in non-HAPS online communities.
I admire the vision displayed by the HAPS leadership that creates the community where people feel welcome and safe to contribute. When they encourage folks to “join the HAPS family”, it is just really really true.