Communities In Cyberspace

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Communities In Cyberspace
Peter Kollack and Marc A. Smith

In Communities In Cyberspace authors Peter Kollack and Marc A. Smith provide a summery overview of various online communication mediums and in the latter section of the article, attempt to forecast their impact.

The names of these communications tools are in some instances well known such as email, a tool synonymous for staying in touch with everyone from grandma to one’s boss. Kollack and Smith also note communications methods less recognized today like Usenet, MUDS, Text Chat and BBS. In the case of the latter, bulletin board systems (BBS) are still in use, however the title has shifted, and the technology aged. In many instances BBS’s are now replaced by Blogs, however the newcomer shares many of the communication characteristics of it’s elder.

The authors in Communicaties In Cyberspace note the distinctions between asynchronous web communication mediums, like email and communications systems that broadcast a unified message similar to a bulletin board system.

After outlining the communications methods, Kollack and Smith transition and draw comments from articles discussing the notion of an online community. Authors on the topic explore the unique characteristics of the net and how in some instances anarchic systems self-govern, while other forms of communication like MUDS, encourage totalitarian-like rule. In closing the authors describe a world of hope and a population empowered by the properties of the web.

While this examination was unique in it’s now historical perspective (authored in 2001), I believe that the combined properties of the web are so rare that no definitive answer yet exists to the question of “Are Online communities real communities?”

We can barely define what online really means, how could we possibly overlay it against a physical community?

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