Thursday, February 26, 2004

Continuation of my questions and comments:

1. As Marc Smith points out in chapter 8 of Communities in cyberspace, discussion group system in cyberspace may be the tools displaying only chains of messages and responses, not trees and forest. However, don’t you think that is a difference between physical discussion systems and virtual discussion systems? For instance, physical discussion groups generally have a moderator or a discussion leader to manage discussion, but in cyberspace, there is no moderator or discussion leader. Different network interaction media may have different social structural and functions.

2. What kinds of interaction patterns are present in social cyberspaces? How are social cyberspaces transformed? How do virtual communities change our experience of the real world?

3. As Emily found from Rheingold, it also seems to me that Rheingold at least in the part of Introduction and Chapter I overly brings into relief and admires only about the amazing parts of new technology such as CMC and virtual communities such as WELL. Rheingold said “People in virtual communities do just about everything people do in real life, but we leave our bodies behind.” In addition to it, he argues that “there is no such thing as a single, monolithic, online subculture; it’s more like an ecosystem of subcultures.” However, we should not be chaotic between the real world and the virtual world. Two worlds are different, but some or many (I don’t know how many are there) adolescents and adults who are serious and addictive to cyberworld are in a chaotic state, and they don’t distinguish between the real world and the virtual world. It arises social problem. Some students don’t go to school and stay with cyberworld all day in their room, and some adults feel uneasy if they don’t use the Internet or don’t check emails or weblog.

Rheingold argues that the technology has the potential “to bring enormous leverage to ordinary citizens at relatively little cost—intellectual leverage, social leverage, commercial leverage, and most important, political leverage.” It may be true, but we have to think about the digital divide here. Who will get most those enormous leverages?
Moreover, he points out that “big power and big money will find a way to control access to virtual communities.” How do you think about this opinion?

Seung-Hyun Lee

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