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What is a community?

My first thought was that I don’t belong to any online communities. Occasionally I will visit the message boards for companies I invest in but you can never be too sure who is doing the postings on those boards. Some of the time it may be the PR firm trying to create some buzz. We have also seen that with viral marketing. Plant an online seed and create some buzz with a new product. Get some bloggers raving about a product and soon you have a groundswell with media coverage. How do we know if those bloggers are legitimate? What is their intention? Is it to independently share their find or was it to help in the companies' marketing plan?

When I started writing this post I didn't think I belonged in any online community and then it hit me in the head! My online communities are my RHET 3401 and ABUS 4509 classes. That is as close as I’ve been to an online community. We occasionally work in teams and I get to know my online classmates pretty well.

Most of the employees in my office have MySpace pages. They all talk about how they can keep in contact with their “friends? and find all of the concerts and parties they potentially could be missing out on. It has been fire walled at my company because of the disruption it can cause. danah boyd writes in her "Friends, Friendsters, and Top 8" article how Top Friends and Top 8 can impact real friendships. She quotes a user who says “MySpace always seems to cause way too much drama?. She also remarks that most of the users are predominantly young. Her study involved mainly14-30 year olds. Did that skew her findings of is that just the demographics of the user? P10

Older (age and experience) MySpace users tend to be less emotionally involved with all of the drama. They shrug their shoulders and accept it as the limitations of the system. P11 Is that a sign that once the newness wears off they lose interest in the product? Is there more to life than online communities? I think my age is beginning to show because I have trouble understanding why a person would prefer a virtual relationship when they can cultivate a real life relationship. The definition of community has changed over the past 15 years. I think what we now call a community is getting looser and looser. Are MySpace and Friendster considered communities? I think the new definition of a community is any gathering of people with like interests or goals. It doesn't matter if it is online or live.

boyd’s definition of friends on page 3 states, “friends are expected to provide a shoulder to cry on, be a partner in crime and guarantee to bail you out of jail.? How does that work in an online community?

Comments

I agree that online communities can't replace physical communities and friendship is truly defined looser and looser than it used to be. But nonetheless, I can't go to the movies or have dinner with my "online friends" or "online avatars"?

Hi: I can see how My Space would be disruptive at a workplace, esp. if users are acquiring upwards of 500 Friends.

I think the difference between users of different ages has less to do with being old, but having a more complicated life than a 10-20 year old. For children, friendships are the one area in their life with which they can exert some control, and experiment with power and its repercussions. Friendships in middle school and high school can seem very intense to adults, but with our without MySpace, they take up a large chunk of the child's time and emotional energy. I think MySpace just mechanizes the social education process.

I agree that as boundaries of space become less, what did boyd say, a source of tenstion (?) that online communities offer more choices (which can create their own stress, for those of us who are overwhelmed by choices, I guess!) for communication and bonding.

I feel like this class is my only online community as well, and have been seeing some patterns of use.

Hi: I can see how My Space would be disruptive at a workplace, esp. if users are acquiring upwards of 500 Friends.

I think the difference between users of different ages has less to do with being old, but having a more complicated life than a 10-20 year old. For children, friendships are the one area in their life with which they can exert some control, and experiment with power and its repercussions. Friendships in middle school and high school can seem very intense to adults, but with our without MySpace, they take up a large chunk of the child's time and emotional energy. I think MySpace just mechanizes the social education process.

I agree that as boundaries of space become less, what did boyd say, a source of tenstion (?) that online communities offer more choices (which can create their own stress, for those of us who are overwhelmed by choices, I guess!) for communication and bonding.

I feel like this class is my only online community as well, and have been seeing some patterns of use.

I also agree that online communities can not replace physical communities, but isn't it possible for them to enhance physical communities? Personally, I've found that I've been able to actually strengthen friendships through online communities. Good post, it's interesting to think about how age and experience can be a big factor in how you view online communities.

I, too, often feel like blog/forum/chatroom postings are secretly from guerilla marketers. Particularly on Myspace, which is geared toward younger (less critical?) readers, I get the sense that the site is simply a vehicle for advertising and a way for youth marketers to figure out what kids will want to buy next.