In Howard Rheingold's reading, "The Virtual Community", Howard describes online communities as able to "change our experience of the real world, as individuals and communities."
reading response 11
I enjoyed Howard Rheingold's "The Virtual Community," as an interesting take on online communities from an individual who has formed deep bonds in one. Rheingold speaks enthusiastically about online communities, and has great visions for it s societal implications. He writes, "I have written this book to help inform a wider population about the potential importance of cyberspace to political liberties and the ways virtual communities are likely to change our experience of the real world, as individuals and communities."
Avaital Ronell argued a couple of points in her eloquent yet hard-to-follow essay "a disappearance of community." It seems to me that her two main arguments are that virtual realities are giving us a sterile impression of a war that is dirty and bloody, and that the virtual reality discourages community. These are good points and make sense, however, I don't fully understand the relationship between them.
The Disappearance of Community
by Avital Ronell
The most interesting concept from this week for me came from Howard Rheingold's "The Virtual Community", because it looks at the earlier stages of the internet and how it has evolved, or in some aspects, devolved. Rheingold talks about the virtual communities that are formed on the internet, how technologies like IRC, BBS and others started forming and connecting people. Rheingold describes the idea of cyberspace as, "a social Petri dish, the Net as the agar medium and the virtual communities-- as colonies of microorganisms that grow in petri dishes.
In his article, The Virtual Community, Harold Rheingold discusses the number of ways in which the interconnections he's established through a virtual community has affected his real life. Rheingold holds the opinion that the interactions that occur virtually have implications no less real than the ones people have regularly in face to face situations. This is because of our emotional and intellectual stock in this world as well as the fact that one could potentially meet someone in person whom they had originally met online.
This weeks reading were all about the formation and existence of online communities and how they affect real life.
Howard Rheingold's essay on "The Virtual Community" claims that cyberspace can change how we experience events in the real world. People are influenced by their interaction with the virtual community. Those who normally do not keep in contact with friends from high school in reality can do so online by simply posting on their Facebook, using Instant Messaging, or sending an e-mail. Computer-mediated communications (CMC) make these forms of communication possible. In fact, virtual communication is no longer limited to written conversations.
Despite the fact that The Strength of Internet Ties was somewhat outdated and did give conclusions that were not surprising, it was interesting and important to actually address the impact of social networking sites and email on how people communicate these days. I would agree with the conclusions that these new digital media outlets have not actually affected how much we keep in contact with cores ties and significant ties. It was interesting to see results when this has been a debate that has gone on through much of my life.
As with all communication breakthroughs, the Internet suddenly allowed people to communicate with many new communities. At first, early users of the Internet created brand new communities that flourished in the realms of MUD's, but the PEW studies have shown that people are not necessarily using the Internet to create new friends. From my experience on the Internet, I have to agree with the PEW studies in the sense that the greater purpose being served by many online communities is to improve communication among already existent communities.