Finding interesting communities

diego­caleiro said this in Re­search is Polyg­a­mous:

Be­ing in an area where the most awe­some peo­ple are is not ask­ing to “lose the game” it is be­ing in an en­vi­ron­ment that cul­ti­vates great­ness.

It made me think of the re­cent post in Main on How to Build a Com­mu­nity. And re­flect a bit on how, while I’ve lived pretty much ex­clu­sively on­line for the last ten years, the lack of meatspace so­cial con­tact is fi­nally be­gin­ning to an­noy me. So here’s a ques­tion for the group: Not how does one build a com­mu­nity, but where and how does one find ex­ist­ing com­mu­ni­ties that are worth join­ing? And what are some ex­am­ples? Not count­ing LW it­self and its trib­u­taries.

A few things I’ve tried or will try, in no par­tic­u­lar or­der:

Mensa. Didn’t work out ter­ribly well, largely be­cause I seemed to have very lit­tle in com­mon with any­one else there. Ap­par­ently in­tel­li­gence alone is an in­suffi­cient filter.

Geek con­ven­tions. (e.g. Dragoncon) I’m a gi­ant flam­ing un­re­pen­tant geek, so I get the feel­ing of be­ing among my own kind, and se­lect­ing for pas­sion seems to work bet­ter than se­lect­ing for in­tel­li­gence in­so­far as find­ing in­ter­est­ing peo­ple goes. The sheer size of the crowd makes get­ting at the peo­ple who are ac­tu­ally do­ing awe­some things difficult, though.

Mak­erspaces. For those that haven’t heard the term, these are a sort of shared lab for pri­vate in­di­vi­d­u­als. I ac­tu­ally be­came aware of these through item 2. Seems promis­ing and it’s the next thing I in­tend to look into, within the next few weeks. Un­for­tu­nately the near­est es­tab­lished one, like the near­est LW meetup, is down­town through mur­der­traf­fic; a 2-3 hour round trip.

I sus­pect, but have no sig­nifi­cant ev­i­dence, that uni­ver­si­ties con­tain­ing grad­u­ate schools would also be a good bet. But I’m long out of col­lege (I dropped out, for ir­rele­vant rea­sons) and have no wish (or money, or time) to go back. I oc­ca­sion­ally ap­ply for jobs at the clos­est such place to me, but haven’t had a hit yet and I’m un­sure I would want to move down­town any­way. I do get the im­pres­sion that many here are un­der­grads or grad­u­ate stu­dents, so opinions on whether that route may be worth pur­su­ing are wel­come.

Beyond that? I don’t know. There don’t seem to be many com­mu­ni­ties that both se­lect for be­ing awe­some and are ac­cessible to any­one who cares to be awe­some. I’ve found that so­cial re­in­force­ment for do­ing cool stuff helps a lot. I don’t like that fact very much, but I had bet­ter find a way to use it.