VIRTUAL
COMMUNITY

VIRTUAL
COMMUNITY



"In virtual communities,
the sense of place requires
an individual imagination."

Howard Rheingold,
The Virtual Community,1993.




In The virtual community, Howard Rheingold describes "virtual community" as a community taking place on the Internet by people who communicate via screen-text and share information with each other. Generally communities are imagined in the sense that a given nation exists by virtue of a common acceptance in the minds of the population that it exists. The same conceptual framework applies to communities on the Internet as well. People in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, find friends, and lose them, play game, flirt, create a little high art and a lot of idle talk. However, in virtual communities, the sense of place requires an individual act of imagination.

"A participant in a scholarly electronic mailing list and a college student induldging in MUDs lives in a different virtual communities," states Rheingold(1993).5 Point of view, along with identity, is one of the great variables in cyberspace. Different people in cyberspace have different perception of their virtual communities.



Netizen


"People in virtual communities do just about everything people do in real life, but we leave our bodies behind."
Howard Rheingold,
The Virtual Community,1993.

Identity

In virtual communities, anonymity is often valued because it creates opportunities to invent alternative version of one's self and to engage in untried forms of interaction. On the other hand, anonymous CMC(Computer Mediated Communication) system give people the chance to name themselves.3 People can make the character behind the alias exactly like them, nothing like them, a combination of both, or even make it vary depending on situation. Anonymous participants can switch genders, appearance, and can also take on multiple identities. These people highly valued their anonymity and protected it carefully. One instance drawn from Cybersociety is an active New Orleans BBS participant, who goes by the name AndromedaX; "I keep my identity secret not because I am afraid of the contact with people I meet but because anonymity is part of the magic."
In systems that are not anonymous, identities are actively and collaboratively created by participants through processes of naming, signing signature, role creation, and self-disclosure. Myers3 states that names are "transformed into trademarks, distinctive individual smells by which their users are recognized as either friends or enemies within otherwise vague and anonymous BBS communication environment."



Netiquette


"All we have on the Net is folklore, like the netiquette that old-timers try to teach the flood of new arrivals and debates about freedom of expression versus nurturance of community."
Howard Rheingold,
The Virtual Community,1993.

Online community's paralleled method of analog for conveying mores, norms and traditions is known as netiquette. It helps to reinforce the standards of behavior that users might miss from the lack of nonverbal cues. Some of these norms are codified into informational postings(FAQ) distributed across the network, including norms aimed at preventing others from having to read useless material, limiting to which one can fictionalize identity, protecting other users' privacy, retaining attribution when following up on ideas, and remaining readable.3 Netiquette also provides the appropriate uses of emoticons, including what kind of messages should be marked and how many smiley faces is too many. The taboo against flaming others is one such norms. The norms that develop in any other group are directly related to the purpose of the group. It is to meet the need of the community that standards of behavior and methods of sanctioning inappropriate behavior develop. Several attempts have been made to summarize the norm of netiquette. The most widely cited is Gene Spafford's series of documents, which he compiled and edited from the suggestions of Usenet users.1








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Last modified: 4/11/98 1998 tassanee