The word community get’s tossed around a lot these days,
particularly when it comes to the Internet. For example consider
these page counts for various queries at google.
"online community" -- 1.4 million pages "my online community" -- 521 pages "their online community" -- 986 pages
Millions of people are talking about it, but very few (521)
actually will publicly declare that they are members of one. 521 is
.03% of 1.4 million! In fact people are almost twice as likely (986)
to ascribe membership in a community to somebody else.
Amazon will offer to sell you 15 books about online communities.
Only one or two of these are a narrative account (a case study) of an
actual online community.
Something is wrong here. There is something strangely wrong when
there is more material about constructing an online community than there is
about the actual experiences of people inside of them. It is as if
the entanglement a participant has:
- the stories he tells of the community,
- the community rituals he engages in,
- his sense of moral obligation to the community,
- his self identification with the community,
- his skills at identifying other members
are less important than the acts that outsiders might take to engineer that entanglement.