Discuss, in relation to an online community of your choice:
1. How is this a ‘community’ (and what is a community)?
I am a sometimes member of a ‘meetup’ group called the ‘MelbourneLit Writing Group’ (http://www.meetup.com/MelbourneLit/). This is a community of over 500 amateur and professional writers that meet twice a week to discuss topics around writing and publishing. It provides a friendly and casual atmosphere to openly talk about honing skills as a writer, and provides members with the opportunity to read and critique one another’s work. I consider this to be a community, as I define that word as a collection of people who share a common interest, or who can be similar merely by way of being in the same location. In this example, the group share a collective fascination with writing, either for pleasure or a desire to be published… or both.
2. What are the connections and gaps between the world of this community and face to face life?
As discussion between members can occur at the meet-ups that are held twice a week, there is the opportunity for face-to-face interaction. For those members who are highly involved in writing, possible seeking to make a career out of it, or are already working in this field, there is a lot of interaction that occurs via the group’s discussion boards. Photos of meetings are taken and posted, information about writing competitions or work is shared, and published works are shared for members to “brag” about their accomplishments. The group’s web site adds coherence, as if members are enthusiastic about this creative field, they don’t have to wait until the next meeting to share information and discuss their projects with other members of the group. Smaller groups within the membership have also formed, seeking to see each other socially and catch up as friends who share more in common than writing.
3. Who are the ‘powerful’ in this community, and how was this power acquired?
The group’s organiser would be considered to hold the most “power”, as he initiated the creation of the group, manages the group’s web site and can eject a member for offensive conduct. He has the ability to delete posts from members as well. However, in the time I’ve been a member, I have never seen a need for this to occur. I suppose those lower in the pecking order would be the members who take writing more seriously, have been or looking to get published, attend every meeting religiously, and post on the discussion boards the most. This “power” within in the group is acquired over time and derives from a higher level of involvement within the group’s community.
4. Is there a difference between ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ life? What do these terms mean, nowadays?
As I have mentioned in the discussion boards in previous weeks, I think that, as time goes on, it’s getting more difficult to separate the two. Originally, ‘virtual’ differed from ‘real’ merely by one experience taking place online and the other face-to-face. Nowadays, as more and more people are connected to the Internet via their devices and experiences are becoming more seamless and augmented in nature, there may be a need to re-examine those definitions, or even replace them altogether. Gee… I just posted a piece by Hempel (2015) from Wired magazine on my social media outlets this morning! The latest wearable technology from Microsoft, seeking to be used by consumers in many aspects of everyday-life. Now, this is just my opinion, but I think the uptake of these technologies will be truly successful when even experiencing this is seamless – an implant of some kind… something we don’t ev have to “wear” and put on and remove every day. Then, we will either have a debate about what’s real and what’s virtual OR it will be a moot discussion, as many in the Western world will have these implants and not even think twice about having them.
Hempel, J. (2015). Project HoloLens: Our Exclusive Hands-On With Microsoft’s Holographic Goggles. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2015/01/microsoft-hands-on/