Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Hello fellow colleagues:

I guess I will start the show with my three questions. After reading the Communities in Cyberspace chapters, I felt there should have been more to the Virtual Communities chapters, but I could not see any questions coming from it (although the nun story was interesting). Here are my three questions:

Question 1: This is more of a technical question. Can anyone explain what is being described as MU*s better? Several times I had to question whether the things happening were "real" or not. I just cannot see the things described by Anna DuVal Smith as all happening text-based (building a ship, e.g.)... and also she made a huge reference to Trojan War characters - did the author design these pseudonyms or did these people have to choose names from a list, etc? I could not fully understand that chapter due to these misunderstandings.

Question 2: Another one pertaining to Chapter 6. Smith also describes these people as having a Citizen Council, arresting people, exile, etc. This language feels very strong and rooted in the "real" world to me (and not something I would associate with online interactions). I know when I think of online places to socialize I do not think so seriously about it to use the term "arrest," etc (excluding some email listservs for their serious discussions). Is it just me, just her, or have views of the "seriousness" (based on descriptive language used) shifted so there are clearer distinctions between the "real" and virtual?

Question 3: The last chapter in Part 4 deals with online contributions. About a year or two ago, a number of sites began popping up that asked people for donations to either help that person get out of debt or even just to go on a dream vacation (and people did donate!). Now, although the World Wide Web may be considered a virtual community to some degree, donaters were not given any real sort of gain. It may be that they had sympathy having a similar situation and wanting to help a fellow debtee, but how can we explain the donaters to the travelling funds of a student? Those situations, I feel, were not covered in any of the categories suggested. Any suggestions?

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