Sunday, 20 April 2008

Distributed communities and nodal societies

Phillip H. Gochenour

Gochenour P.H. (2006) "Distributed communities and nodal societies",in New Media & Society Vol8(1):33–51, SAGE Publications

There are a few points within this paper of interest to me. References to MOOs, MUDs, bulletin boards et al in reference to online communities, to me, are so far removed from the formation of everyday experiences of non-nerds who form online communities, that they are unhelpful. This is notwithstanding the fact that if these hadn't existed the online experiences of 'non-nerds' would be very different. We acknowledge the arpanet as the progenitor of the internet, Babbage's counting machine as progenitor to the PC, but we don't have to understand these progenitors to explore their offsprings relevance. That said some points of note were useful:

  • "Rather than turning to the internet to become members of specifically online communities, they were using it as infrastructure to communicate with a geographically distributed network of friends and family."

  • "the typical experience of online community can also be seen in the rise of social networking applications (…)[that] use an overt network structure, in which each individual functions as node, to allow users to stay in touch with known friends, find connections to new ones, and to organize events. (…) these applications, (…) make no pretense as functioning as ‘civil societies’; rather, they provide linking mechanisms for individuals to form networks, which can then be leveraged for social, political, cultural, and economic purposes.”

  • “perhaps we should also begin talking about ‘distributed communities’, which suggests that the internet provides a mechanism for widely-dispersed individuals to interact with one another. And while discussion of online communities has often focused on the nature of the subject within the community (Bruckman, 1993; Donath, 1999; Ito, 1997; Turkle, 1995), discussion of distributed communities may enable us to see how individuals function in a polyvalent way outside of specific spaces.”

  • “community is always about the interaction of individual subjects with one another through some means of communication.”

  • “Flusser’s conception of the Self is one in which different lines are gathered together and contained. This is an idea that has been examined in some depth, especially in relation to online communities, most notably by Rheingold (1994) and Turkle (1995). In Life on the Screen, Turkle devotes considerable attention to the phenomenon of multiple online identities, and invokes such concepts as Lifton’s ‘protean self’ and Bruckman’s ‘identity workshops’ to arrive at the conclusion that online communities provide a space for the expression of multiple identities, and that the self is in fact a fluid identity capable of multiple expressions. As she puts it: ‘Today, people are being helped to develop ideas about identity as multiplicity by a new practice of identity as multiplicity in online life’ (1995: 260).”

  • "so long as humans are engaging in a process of recurrent communication, they are in a community, and it does not matter whether that communication is carried out through speech, telephone, handwritten letters, or typed words on a screen.

  • “There are numerous communities that have arisen as the result of being able to communicate with members who are widely distributed over a geographic area (…) I think it would be fair to say that many communities, defined in this way, exist today that would not have existed prior to the development of the internet”

  • “As we begin to think about distributed communities as communities, we must also begin to think about their rights as communities in a global world, and the rights of individuals to realize themselves within those communities.”

No comments: