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Online social communities


Individually created and maintained (blogs, Myspace) Reduced inhibitions concerning expression ... Researching issues, comments online. Most knew people who'd ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Online social communities

Online social communities
  • The interaction between online and offline
  • Fernando Garcia

Presentation outline
  • The Internet as a communication medium
  • Reasons for going online
  • Online communities
  • Definition
  • Purpose
  • Progression from online to offline
  • Reasons for then going offline
  • Examples of how online communities interact with
    real life

The Internet as a communication medium
  • Not a separate world
  • Online world doesnt replace offline world
  • What is the Internet being used for?1
  • Email
  • Reading news
  • Shopping
  • Information about hobbies
  • Online banking
  • Instant messaging
  • Posting original content (pics, blogs, web sites)

The Internet as a communication medium
  • A tool
  • Sociologists have long known that technology by
    itself does not determine anything. Rather,
    people take technology and use it (or discard it)
    in ways that its developers never dreamed. 2
  • for communication
  • Some communications methods heavily replaced
    (snail mail), but mostly supplemental5

The Internet as a communication medium
  • Email and telephone use in important matters2
  • Non-email users 36 phone calls, 83 in-person
  • Email users 41 emails, 58 phone calls, 84
    in-person meetings
  • Face-to-face time has not changed
  • Despite popularity of email, 40 of internet
    users increase/greatly increase contact with
    family/friends (5.1, decrease) 1
  • In other words, the Internet is used to increase
    and supplement communication, rather than replace
    older methods
  • Social/communal isolation not normally an issue
  • Games
  • MUDs, Online games (WoW, Half-Life, etc.)

Online communities
  • Definition of community in reference to
    existing online debated10,11
  • Calhoun (1991)
  • Indirect social relationships in which
    connectivity with others is more imagined, or
    parasocial, than real.
  • Oldenburg (1989)
  • Online communities may fill a need that has been
    all but abandoned in modern societies
  • Rheingold (1993)
  • Intense feelings of camaraderie, empathy and
    support observed among people in the online
    spaces that were studied
  • Maloney-Krichmar, Preece (2005)
  • The people who come together for a particular
    purpose, and who are guided by policies
    (including norms and rules) and supported by
  • Bruckman (2005)
  • Note the similarities and differences of each
    new member and compare them with the
    characteristics of members who are regarded as
    being within the community

Online communities
  • So then whats this presentation about?
  • Common theme common themes
  • Communities tend to share a common trait/interest
  • Persistent and constant conversation on some
    topic between members (multiple topics happening
  • Usually initially gathered for a single purpose
  • Provides purpose for going online
  • Socialization
  • Communities have several or many participants
  • Communities have many discussions

Online communities
  • Why do communities form online?12
  • Achieve goals
  • Practical, explicit (information gathering)
  • How to replace timing belt on 2.2L 93 Honda
  • My GF just dumped me how do I deal with it?
  • Anyone in UCSB want to play racquetball at Rec
  • Benefits inherent to community structure
  • Social support
  • Friendship
  • Sense of belonging (common theme)
  • Recreation (like TV, but two-way)

Online communities
  • Why do communities form online? (cont)
  • Easy way of fulfilling needs unmet by other
  • Provide a centralized space for similar people to
  • Provide an easily-accessible space for similar
    people to congregate
  • Meet new individuals
  • Discover new interests
  • Escape from reality
  • Enable us to enhance aspects of known offline
  • Keep in touch with distant friends/relatives
  • Share thoughts, pictures, music, notes, etc.,

Online communities
  • Examples of currently existing online communities
  • Special-interest bulletin boards
  • Politics
  • Sports
  • Nutrition
  • Dating
  • Multi-purpose boards/sections
  • Most special-interest bulletin boards maintain
    Off-topic section
  • IRC
  • Socialization/information sharing/blogs
  • WELL

Online communities
  • Common trends among online communities3
  • Collection of people with similar interests
  • Centralized creation and participation (such as
    message boards, email lists)
  • Individually created and maintained (blogs,
  • Reduced inhibitions concerning expression
  • Anonymity appears to provide protection
  • Shy people become more outspoken online
  • Discussions generally considered taboo can take
    place due to shared interest and lack of public
  • Strength in numbers
  • Trust/comprehension issues
  • New members
  • Sometimes have no formal introduction
  • Arrive unannounced, on their own

Online communities
  • Trust/comprehension issues (cont)
  • Text does not provide tone, expression, or body
  • Lack of context may lead to misunderstandings
  • You can be very aggressive.
  • IMHO you can be very aggressive LOL! -P
  • Time between messages longer than conversation
  • Information always there (persistent)
  • (Usually) constant flow of information

Online communities
  • When to continue offline?
  • Meeting ones needs/goals offline
  • Political activists may stage rallies/demonstratio
  • Lonely individuals may meet up with people to
    pursue/maintain a friendship/romance
  • Sports enthusiasts organize trips to/meetings at
  • Done if practical/worthwhile/beneficial
  • Traveling 10 miles to play soccer with a friend
  • Traveling 100 miles to engage in a group meeting
  • Traveling 1000 miles to have coffee with a future

  • Whole Earth Lectronic Link8,9
  • One of the first popular virtual communities
  • Socialization
  • In the traditional community, we search through
    our pool of neighbors and professional
    colleagues, of acquaintances and acquaintances of
    acquaintances, in order to find people who share
    our values and interests In a virtual community
    we can go directly to the place where our
    favorite subjects are being discussed...9
  • Instant access to information, people
  • Medical advice at 11PM faster to go online than
    calling pediatrician
  • Parenting conference
  • Section strictly dedicated to parenting
  • Face-to-face meeting
  • Picnic, softball It was a normal American
    community picnic
  • Became annual event

  • Wired Suburb4 of 109 homes
  • 64 homes had broadband Internet access
  • 45 homes went without any Internet access
  • NET-L neighborhood mailing list
  • Love (or at least know) thy neighbor
  • Wired residents recognized 3x, talked with and
    visited 2x more neighbors than non-wired
  • Wired residents regularly talked with 6
    neighbors, non-wired with 3
  • Internet access helps to start relationships
  • Housing developer protest
  • Dissatisfaction with homes, roads, plumbing, etc.
  • Neighborhood-level organization rapid and
  • 50 participation vs. 20 using conventional
  • Information leaks from those uninvolved in

Pro-Immigration Rallies
  • Organization how was it done?
  • Television, radio programs key to propogating
  • Target audience more likely to watch television
    and listen to radio
  • The internet also spread message
  • Was the first time some heard of the marches
  • Growing sense of support and union pushed some to
  • Provided a forum for response and inspiration
  • Not possible with television, limited public
    radio participation
  • Practical, particular details worked out
  • Where to meet? Park? Eat? What to chant?

Pro-Immigration Rallies
  • Organization (cont)
  • Increased communication made possible online
  • Wear white
  • Dont take Mexican flags
  • Dont do anything stupid, pendejos
  • Discussion
  • Should we really not go to school?
  • What message does it really send if we skip out
    of work?
  • Speed of organization greatly increased6
  • Persistence of messages/information better than
  • Constant propogation across thousands of
    websites, email lists, forums, etc.
  • Discussion and size of community motivated others
    to join

Pro-Immigration Rallies
  • Informal, short-but-sweet survey
  • 5 individuals average computer users
  • All heard about marches online 4 of them first
    heard online (1 TV)
  • Common answer to effects of online communication
  • Increased amounts of information increased desire
    to participate
  • Researching issues, comments online
  • Most knew people whod sent messages
  • You only see their messages if
    theyre your friends.
  • Worked out details of how to participate
  • Those who didnt organized with known friends
  • All wary of strangers online
  • Little trust of unknown individuals whod sent
  • Little trust of unknown individuals in general
  • Must get to know them in person to trust them

  • Online world supplements offline world
  • The most social people make online communities
  • Increase communication links to others
  • Can provide specific, directed channels to
    interest groups
  • Online communities a microcosm of real life

  • World Internet Project. The Digital Future Report
    (Year Five) USA. http//www.worldinternetproject
    .net 8 May 2006
  • Wellman, B. Connecting Community On- and Offline
    Univ. of Toronto March 2006
  • Maloney-Krichmar, D. Preece, J. Online
    Communities Focusing on Sociability and
    Usability (draft copy). Social Computing
    Research http//
    es/preece_onlinecommunities.pdf 10 March 2006
  • Hampton, K. Wellman, B. Neighboring in
    Netville How the Internet Supports Community and
    Social Capital in a Wired Suburb City and
    Community 2(4). 277-311 2003.
  • Jones, S. The Internet Goes to College How
    students are living in the future with todays
    technology Pew Internet and American Life
    Project http//
    e_Report.pdf 8 May 2006
  • Harrison, C. Solis, D. Teens Answer the
    Calland E-mail http//
    /news/11742.html Government Innovators Network,
    Harvard University 8 May 2006

  • Chan, A. Social Interaction Design Case Study
    MySpace Gravity7 http//
    case_myspace_v2.pdf 8 May 2006
  • Salon Media Group. WELL http// 9
    May 2006
  • Rheingold, H. The Virtual Community
    Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier
    http// 9
    May 2006
  • Maloney-Krichmar, D. Preece, J. Online
    Communities Design, Theory, and Practice
    Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,
    10(4). 2005 http//
  • Thomsen, S. Straubharr, J. Bolyard, D.
    Ethnomethodology and the study of online
    communities exploring the cyber streets
    Information Research 4(1). 1998
  • Gefen, D. Ridings, C. Virtual Community
    Attraction Why People Hang Out Online JCMC
    10(1). Article 4, November 2004