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Our Little Online Space Community

Posted by: Rob Goldsmith - Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:43 am
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Our Little Online Space Community 
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Post Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:43 am
Guys

I dont know what you guys think but I have noticed that space forums are a lot less active and welcoming compared to other hobbies I use forums for. I have been trying to work out why this is.

Perhaps it is because there are so many strong views expressed around science and technology? Perhaps it is because we arent talking or comparing our own hobbies, just talking about something we like which has a limit of discussions?

I for one talk on a Coral Marine forum and you get hundreds of replies for every post with about 1/10th the amount of members as on space forums. Maybe again because people are interested in helping one another - Which we cant overly do here? Perhaps it is because those forums involve posting images of your work?

Having said that we have people building spaceships here and they still dont get that many replies. We know the members are on here as people pop out of the woodwork here and there.

This is still my favourite forum and I genuinely think the topic is fricking amazing!!! Is there anything anyone would like to see happen so we could build up stronger relationships or communicate more?

I was wondering about an introduce yourself forum area? Just so new members can get positive messages and comments when they log on instead of saying something and getting their idea pulled apart or shot down? We could maybe use it for old users too, just to say a bit about us and build relationships at first?

Any ideas or comments please reply! Lets try and get a buzzing atmosphere here! We have the people! :)

lol..... no replies to this message will result in me banging my head on the table, I will individually turn up at your houses and make you talk to me haha

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:31 pm
That would be quite expensive considering the airfare...

I've also noticed the disparity in activity between space and other subject forums. It's not just Space Fellowship. Any of the other space boards blogs, and sites I visit receive a tiny fraction of the traffic that other, even obscure, subjects do.

Why? I think has less to do with people being secretive, and more that there really aren't that many interested in sharing. If you are "in" the industry, you either have confidentiality agreements and/or you work with space stuff all day, so don't want to talk about it on your own time. And the numbers "space enthusiasts" willing to take the time to read/post on a forum is actually quite low relative to the population. Some of the "lurkers" might just not have anything useful to say...

How to address that? I don't know. You could try promoting the site more to get more active "fresh blood" in? And lots of pictures of pretty girls in improbably skimpy space suits because everyone knows sex sells. :lol:

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:06 am
You're absolutely right, but it's not even necessary to compare to other subject forums particularly. Take this forum, 4-5 years ago and compare the amount of discussion to the current amount of discussion. It's been very very low for a while. Personally, I think it's because of the distinction between "dreaming" and "doing" with regards to how people react. Commercial space has been getting some very big and important successes recently, but we haven't had an extremely charismatic success since the Lunar Lander Challenge. There are several existing players who are doing very interesting things, and then there's a few new people popping up every now and then, but by and large it's a matter of execution not vision at this point.

Spacefellowship has always been a "vision" community, though it straddles into the technically sophisticated every now and then. The great vision of commercial space is here - it's happening, though obviously many of us wish it were further along. We know what is possible, and we know what isn't possible right now but might be possible. There are meaningful teams working on most of the immediately possible problems that can be worked on, and they are making real progress. Unfortunately for everyone else, this means esoteric engineering work that for obvious reasons has to be kept close to the vest - for publicity at the very least if not for security. There just isn't much to talk about as there used to be, without either getting ridiculously inaccessible or caving to the nutjobs.

I'd love to be proven wrong, fyi. One good way could be to expand to serving more of the space sciences and earth observing community as there is always interesting stuff happening there!

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:13 pm
I think it's also at least partially the inaccessibility of the subject. When Sigma starts talking plasma physics, JamesG seems to be pretty much the only person here who can follow what he's talking about. I certainly can't. And almost anyone can walk into a pet shop, buy a fish tank and some fish, follow the instructions, and set up an aquarium, it's a nice project for a rainy Saturday. (Corals are rather tricky IIUC, so keeping them alive is more difficult, but getting started is easy.) Anything beyond a bottle rocket or a tiny Estes kit takes much more time and effort (and those people are on ARocket, not here), and anything that involves reaching orbit is way out of range of almost anyone. Not to mention the fact that pet shops are everywhere, while I've literally never seen any model rockets for sale here in The Netherlands for example.

So, there aren't that many people doing it, and most of the ones that do are now professional companies that play their cards close to their chests (the economy isn't helping either of course). Copenhagen Suborbitals is pretty much the only fully open programme left, with AA updates reduced to single-sentence tweets by John Carmack and even JP Aerospace doing lots of closed commercial work these days. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that JP and AA and others still exist and are making some money, and JP is going to be doing some cool open stuff with that money it seems, but it does leave us with little to talk about.

One thing that I've wanted to do for a long time, but have never found the time to do, is to create a series of introductory articles on various aspects of space flight. The problem there is time, I'd have to do quite a lot of research to understand things myself first, and I have a PhD thesis to write and running to do. But something in that direction could draw in more people and make things more accessible for everyone.

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:30 pm
Lourens wrote:
I think it's also at least partially the inaccessibility of the subject. When Sigma starts talking plasma physics, JamesG seems to be pretty much the only person here who can follow what he's talking about. I certainly can't.


Thank God it isnt only me! I can manage chats on movies, astronomy or general chit-chat...after that I am out :P haha

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:20 pm
I can only agree with the points brought forward by JamesG, TerraMrs and Lourens. Since the days of the first X-Prize (when I first stumbled across this forum!) and later the Lunar lander Challenge, there has been quite a lack of (actual/real) stuff to talk about. As Lourens said: Copenhagen Suborbitals are pretty much the only ones left who involve the public in all of their endeavours. Heck, these days we get more updates about work in progress from SpaceX (and that is not a lot imho), than we used to get from AA.

On top of that I think there are 2 additional, somewhat related problems:
1) Naysayers
and
2) People who live in some kind of parallel universe with different laws of physics and economics... you all know who I'm talking about ;)

The combined problem here is a really bad "signal to noise" ratio compared to a few years ago.

These days whenever someone wants to talk about new and/or exotic concepts, there seems to be a harsh wind coming from some people who simply state something like "that's nonsense, go work on something more productive". It seems like the only way to avoid this, is to delve deeply into the physics of the concept at hand, but now you have radically reduced the number of people who can still follow you and contribute to the discussion.

On the other hand, there has been a steady amount of new members in "recent" times, that seem to be searching for a new platform to present their "alternative physics" concepts. Some of the older/more active members have tried to enlighten them on how certain aspects of physics actually work in our universe, but it seems that those kind of characters are utterly immune to rational arguments.

I have to admit: personally I've stopped clicking any topics about "exotic" concepts, because either I can't contribute, or I would have to bash my head against the table while reading *cough*motion induction engine*cough*...

So I come here for science news (I read about commercial space activities mostly at parabolic arc these days) and to look if there is something worthwhile going on in the forums. But apart from SpaceX launch polls, there wasn't really happening a lot that got me interested.

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:17 am
I hope I'm not a "Naysayer". I like to think of myself as a "Constructive Critic". :wink:


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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Fri Dec 07, 2012 8:22 am
Maybe we need to stop shooting mental ideas down and instead push them forward, if they work then wicked but even more fun if they blow up! hahaha :twisted:

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:39 am
Honestly, I do see you a bit as a naysayer JamesG. I don't necessarily disagree with your technical assessments, but I don't think that the purpose of these forums is solely to discuss solid and economically viable engineering solutions. It can be very entertaining to speculate about future technology or even new physics, and to see where it takes us. Why would the fact that it's not going to happen any time soon keep us from having some fun dreaming about it, and trying to figure out what it would take? That's also a function of these forums. On the other hand, regular reality checks do improve traffic safety on the information superhighway, and your contributions towards that end are certainly appreciated.

I posted a rather lengthy reply to one of the "alternative physics" things recently, explaining how conventional physics explains the observed phenomenon better than the alternative idea. My intent was not to convince the original poster, but that readers interested in the subject would be reading that thread, and that some of them would appreciate an explanation that made sense. I was kind of hoping for some feedback or further questions in those cases, but didn't really get any. Lurkers, if you read something you like, respond! That way, we might bend the wayward threads into a more productive direction.

(Thanks Marcus btw, next launch is postponed to March unfortunately while they figure out what happened to that engine on the last mission, but I'll do another one then. :D)

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:02 pm
Lourens wrote:
It can be very entertaining to speculate about future technology or even new physics, and to see where it takes us. Why would the fact that it's not going to happen any time soon keep us from having some fun dreaming about it, and trying to figure out what it would take? That's also a function of these forums.


Then we should probably create a topic labeled: "Alternate Reality". :lol:

My take of this forum is that it is for the discussion of contemporary aerospace topics and events. There are plenty of experimental physics and science fiction/fantasy groups out there.


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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:59 pm
For the more out-there things, sure, but your first reaction to the recent Reaction Engines news was "the rest of the engine is missing". It's true of course, and a reminder that it'll take a lot of years and a lot of money still to get to a flying vehicle, but on the other hand the thing that they do have is apparently (I am not an aerothermonautical engineer) also quite the breakthrough, and it's not just a paper study, they have working hardware. You seem to be the glass-half-empty type. I can relate, although I'm a bit more enthusiastic about space things than in general.

Anyway, I suspect that you're simply one of the more knowledgeable people here, and I also find the crackpots annoying to some extent. But at least they generate some activity. I guess we'll just have to make the best of it. And like I said, I do appreciate your down-to-earth-ness, even if that is strange for a space forum :-).

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:44 pm
JamesG wrote:
...
How to address that? I don't know. You could try promoting the site more to get more active "fresh blood" in? And lots of pictures of pretty girls in improbably skimpy space suits because everyone knows sex sells. :lol:
Image


Might not be too far off:

Dava Newman: Aerospace Engineer.
Image
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/secretlife ... va-newman/

For some astronauts, that is,

Image
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/pict ... tures.html

Not for, say, Newt Gingrich visiting a Moon base ...


Bob Clark :D

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:22 am
I personally have not much to say. I lost my steam for now. Still thinking about the crowd-space program and how to get enough common enthusiasts like myself together to try and make a difference in the industry and do something cool, but life made it a bit hard for the past couple of months to make any progress. I think most of the people lurk space news sites waiting for those big news, hoping for the industry to pick up the pace and get more people and hardware into orbit.

There isn't really much to talk about for us on the sideline. Certainly we could have the aimless chatter of space.com, but it would only serve our need to get our voice out there.

Probably if you wanted to liven up the community, you need to give it a purpose to work towards.

Like getting 1 million people together to crowdfund a global space program just for the hell of it. :) ;)

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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:43 pm
And therein lies the root of the problem. Except for the few who are passionate about it, or who happen to work in the aerospace business, "space" is seen (and is) as something of a spectator sport, where the only people who get to do it are the super-rich and a handpicked elite. That isn't going to change until the dynamic changes.

Lourens wrote:
And like I said, I do appreciate your down-to-earth-ness, even if that is strange for a space forum :-).


If we are to ever get anywhere it needs more serious, down to earth people, even on space forums.


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Post Re: Our Little Online Space Community   Posted on: Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:49 pm
I know that I throw a lot of ideas around, if I did not, then none might stick....

I have 3 people at M.I.T. working on my plasma envelope accelerator as there thesis

I have recently began dialog with a P.H.D at mit's material labs for the expression of my latest reactor/sterling thingus.....

I like to dream, because that is the only way to change things, you don't get the wheel from copying someone else's cube...

I Have recently been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder, as well as a genius level IQ.....

I think therefore I am, Alienated....

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