KCB201 Week 6 Slidecast: Online Communities


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Week 6 Slidecast for KCB201 Virtual Cultures in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology, semester 1/2008.

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  • KCB201 Week 6 Slidecast: Online Communities

    1. 1. Online Communities KCB201 Virtual Cultures Dr Axel Bruns [email_address]
    2. 2. Strength in Numbers <ul><li>Technocultural frameworks: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>prescribe certain roles for their users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>determine (to some extent) what individuals are able to do within them </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The networked environment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>individuals in the network have limited ability to change these frameworks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>they may struggle to cope with information overload, and must do so by managing and evaluating information in order to create meaning from it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but networked people in online communities are able to create their own technocultures! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Virtual communities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>beware the early hype! (until the mid-1990s) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ technology will not in itself fulfill this potential – this latent technical power must be used intelligently and deliberately by an informed population” (Howard Rheingold qtd. in Flew, p. 62) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Online Communities <ul><li>Potential benefits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>new forms of personal and community identity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>independent of physical attributes or geographic location </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>communities of interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>collecting information and developing a shared understanding of the world </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>new forms of collaboration and social organisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>opportunity for active, participatory membership / citizenship </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>active user participation as content creators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>lowering barriers to cultural and social participation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ability to operate in fields of interest neglected by mainstream media, business, politics, research, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>spaces for niche, grassroots, vernacular experimentation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ability to build cooperative networks with other communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>move from participatory culture to collective intelligence </li></ul></ul></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>[…] </li></ul>
    5. 5. Online Communities <ul><li>Potential problems: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>development of new barriers around online communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>utilisation of online community technologies for socially disruptive purposes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>alternative niche cultures undermining established societal consensus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>intense conflicts between individual communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>disconnect between online and offline identities </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Online and Offline Communities <ul><li>Worlds connect (and collide): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>online and offline communities often overlap </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>but are rarely identical </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>online communities may require less commitment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>users drift in and out as time and interest dictate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>online communities may command more commitment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>interest communities can be more intense than geographically based communities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>online communities exist only through members’ content contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>change can happen more rapidly </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>online communities constantly create and change their rules and protocols </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>they are constantly changing and evolving </li></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Community Research <ul><li>Understanding mediated communities (Flew, p. 81): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>how do people use new media technologies as part of their everyday lives? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>who are these people? (sociodemographic structures) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>adopting online identities does not mean a disconnection from the offline world! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ We need to treat Internet media as continuous with and embedded in other social spaces.” (Miller & Slater qtd. in Flew, p. 81) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>See e.g.: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Henry Jenkins – Convergence Culture </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Eric von Hippel – Democratizing Innovation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nancy K. Baym – Tune In, Log On </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>also online RPG communities, local suburban communities… </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Community Power <ul><li>Impact of online communities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>as cultural institutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>fan communities influencing the future development of media franchises (e.g. Lord of the Rings ), </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>or developing them further themselves (e.g. fan fiction) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>as media practitioners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>citizen journalism providing a corrective to mainstream news </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>filesharers setting up alternative distribution frameworks for music and movies </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>as knowledge managers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>social bookmarking participants sifting through and making sense of World Wide Web content </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>wiki contributors collaborating in building and organising knowledge bases </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>as economic factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>viral marketing and user criticism influencing success or failure of new products </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>travel reviews affecting hotels and tour operators, and undermining printed travel guides </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>as political movements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>global coalitions of activist communities organising world-wide protests for poverty reduction or against economic globalisation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>national and local online communities conducting viral political campaigns </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not just collections of individuals operating within the existing technoculture, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>but independent institutions within society, changing the technocultural environment! </li></ul></ul>