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COMMUNET Home

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COMMUNET  October 1996, Week 4

COMMUNET October 1996, Week 4

Subject:

Re: defining communities

From:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 21 Oct 1996 13:03:38 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (87 lines)

Mark:

        I believe I'm in basic agreement with the perspective you offer
below, but have a couple of questions:

At 12:56 AM 10/20/96 GMT, you wrote:
>>How does one define a community?
>
>In the context of the fascinating dialog about online affairs in Pittsburg,
>I'll take a stab at this imponderable question.  It is impossible to answer,
>but fun to try.
>
>For me, community is a rather simple notion.  It is any group of people that
>are synchronized at one or more levels for a common goal or activity.  
>
>I don't find much value in thinking of the 'virtual community' as something
>new and different.   Every time I pick up the phone and talk to a friend, I'm
>talking to a virtual friend.   
>
>If a virtual community can be defined, it began for the US around 1840 when
>telegraph networks started expanding.  The thing is very well entrenched. 
>Most kids begins training in 'virtual friendships' as soon as they learn to
>talk and handle a phone.   We are simply seeing the population of 'telegraph'
>operators expand from hundreds to millions.  The cost of sending a 1000 bytes
>from New York to London via copper cable in 1860 was an ounce of gold.  It is
>now far less than a penny. We are just talking about changes in scale.  
>
>I find it interesting to consider the blending of our current concept of
>'community of neighbors' and 'community of corporate workers.'  As far as I
>can tell, the main successes in 'community networking' have been the gifts of
>'corporate' style communication technology in non-commercial organizations. 
>Of my organization's initiatives, the thriving communities use the network
>for 'in-house' communications.  The Native American group coordinates its
>newsletter online.  The computer user group coordinates meetings and
>logistics.  The preschool uses Internet email to educate teachers.  The
>community action center processes forms.  These are all traditional
>activities in corporate America.

        These are traditional activities in just about any modern culture,
aren't they?  And they're not particular attributes of *corporate* culture
per se, are they? 
>
>With this in mind, I suspect neighborhoods will increasingly function and
>look like multi-national corporations.  It is an efficient way to utilize
>resources and technology.  From an evolutionary perspective, such
>'neighborhoods' will have a competitive advantage and increase their survival
>rate. The number of 'neighborhood' groups based on corporate organizational
>patterns is probably going to increase.  It is a rather odd way to organize a
>'city' from our current perspective,

        What about it is odd?  I'm not sure I understand the point, here.

  but cities have always been defined by
>their communication systems. 
>
>The biggest difference between a 'community of neighbors' and a 'community of
>co-workers' is the way we join and leave the community.  Hiring and firing is
>not thought to be a 'community' role, but this may change.  The increasingly
>'corporate' style of community management poses a clear problem,

        Maybe so, but I need to hear more on that point from you.

>technology increases regardless of spiritual or altruistic intent.  
>
>As for democracy being fostered by online services, I leave it to you to draw
>your own conclusions about how 'corporate' neighborhoods would handle the
>issue.

        A chilling thought.  Frankly, I don't believe we should rely on
technology or networking to do the work of democracy.  Communities can't be
merely virtual, although automated communication is certainly helpful at
times.  I believe you've got to eventually *meet 'em*.  That is, people must
come together physically and socially for communities to develop and thrive.
That's a pretty basic political viewpoint, but I hope we don't lose sight of
it in all the press to have people come on line.

                                Dave Farley
                                Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>Mark Mills
>Dallas Community Network
>[log in to unmask] 
>
>

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