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Online Communities Review


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A brief look at a Literature Review I'm working on focused on Online Communities

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Online Communities Review

  1. 1. Online Communities: Virtual or Real? Javier Velasco-Martin
  2. 2. A problem with history • This problem was at the heart of the development of sociology. (Fernback, 2007; Studdert, 2005)
  3. 3. A relative concept • There’s a vast array of uses for the term, it has become common use and is hard to pin academically. (Wellman, 1999; Preece, 2000; Thurlow, Lengel & Tomic, 2004; Studdert, 2005) • “the African-American community” • “the European community” • “the gay community” • “the village community” (Thurlow, Lengel & Tomic, 2004)
  4. 4. Are they territory-defined? • Several definitions involve locality: the ideal case is often seen as a small village. (Thurlow, Lengel & Tomic; Wellman, 1999)
  5. 5. Identity and belonging • Socialization and a sense of identity and belonging is central to community, sometimes described as ‘the third place’. (Hamman, 1997)
  6. 6. Disappearing Communities? • There’s been a sense of community loss for centuries, can be tracked for over 2000 years in the western culture, including some of its most prominent intellectuals. (Tonnies, 1974; Wellman, 1999; Evans, 2004)
  7. 7. Community vs. individual • The individual-society dilemma has been central to the development of western society. • Individualism is an important factor in the weakening of communities. (Willard & Fields, 1991)
  8. 8. They are in flux! • Communities are changing, not disappearing. (Wellman, 1996; 1999)
  9. 9. Defining Community - “I define ‘community’ as networks of interpersonal ties that provide sociability, support, information, a sense of belonging and social identity.” (Wellman, 2001, p. 228)
  10. 10. Online Communities? • Early developers of computer networks foresaw a happy life empowered by online communities based on interest. (Licklider & Taylor, 1968)
  11. 11. Internet alienates • Some people saw internet communication as a threat to socialization. (Kraut et al, 1996; Homenet Group, 1998)
  12. 12. Online helps local • Other people propose that online communities can strengthen local communities. (Blanchard & Horan; Evans, 2004; Hampton, 2007; Xie, 2008)
  13. 13. Support • These can allow people to engage in positive relationships and supportive forms of organization. (Rheingold, 2008)
  14. 14. ...“But because of your guidance, constant companionship and true friendship, I have learned that life is full of choices, life is beautiful that life is all about learning to love what’s there. I’m really thankful to all of you, you brought me reasons to smile, I’ve been seeing myself always smiling, laughing my heart Bernardette San Jose, 2009 out and alive again.”...
  15. 15. Defining Online Community “A Virtual community is a group of people who may or may not meet one another face to face, and who exchange words and ideas through the mediation of computer bulletin boards and networks.” a certain (loose) social contract certain (eclectic) interests usually a geographically local focus often a connection to a much wider domain (Rheingold, 2008, p3.)
  16. 16. Online Social Networks • The most recent form of online community is user-centric shaped. Their focus is the maintenance of previous offline based relationships. (Beer, 2008; Boyd & Ellison, 2008; Stefanone & jang, 2008)
  17. 17. Online social constructs • More than asking wether online communities are true communities, we should focus on studying how people are creating meaningful social constructs online. (Fernback, 2007)
  18. 18. Blending worlds • As the Internet is now embedded in our regular lives, the distinction between online and offline communities dissolves. (Haythonrwaite & Hagaar, 2005; Xie, 2008) • ... “it is when technological changes become pervasive, familiar and boring that they affect societies the most”. (Wellman, 2001, p. 228)
  19. 19. Online Communities: Virtual or Real? Javier Velasco-Martin