BBSs and Community

One of the most popular forms of community networks is the bulletin board system (BBS). BBSs create a virtual public space where individuals can "gather". Founded with the goal of increasing communication between individuals, BBSs are interactive. Members of these "communities" have a variety of communication outlets available to them including messaging, public and private discussion groups, shareware libraries and public domain files, real-time chat, and multiplayer games. (Internet, p.3) Participants' ability to shape and influence the community leads many in the computer industry to declare that BBSs are "the most genuine cyber-communities the Internet has to offer". (Internet, p.4)

As researchers have begun to examine social aspects of computer mediated communication it is evident that the medium supports interpersonal exchanges that can provide emotional support and companionship.. Although information sharing may initially be a primary reason cited for participation in an on-line community, members often find their on-line exchanges with other network members very fulfilling. As one BBS participant explains, "the good feeling from having your opinions read and responded to is addicting. While this is happening a bond between message board "regulars" forms." (Siedman, p.5) It is within this context that computer mediated communication within a network may have "some of the most powerful social implications its potential to support interaction in unbounded, sparsely-knit social networks." (Garton et al, p. 4)



Introduction
CMC and Technology
Social Network Analysis
Sub-cultures and Cross Cultural Communication
Looking Ahead
References