[Air-l] Community and Commerce
wgrobin at duke.edu
Tue Dec 25 22:32:37 PST 2001
Do we not shop in our real-world communities? Are we not appealed to with
advertisements? Where is the disconnect with online communities?
Are virtual communities different today (this may have been partially what
David was initially inquiring about)? Can they still be theorized as
utopian, even other worldly? If so, does that take us back to 1992, rather
than helping us develop theory for post-dot-com 2002?
I'm really asking, partially from a pedagogical standpoint. My experience
is that undergraduates today rarely are aware of a pre-commercial Internet;
they can hardly get their heads around the concept that seems to strike
them as quaint, not part of their experience hence interest. It's history,
and all that that implies.
The world that we're preparing them for is a world in which the Net has
been mainstreamed. As has been often discussed with AoIR and the digital
divide and legal issues, the Net isn't removed from real-world
complexities. Money isn't far behind, if it is behind, race, gender,
sexuality and identity in instigating such complexities.
I'm unconvinced that the skills that students need to make sense of
offline/online today can be understood without taking into account
commercialization (hopefully with equanimity, although it can be difficult)
or doesn't make use of other media theory by inference that also has had to
come to terms with real-world financial concerns (e.g., newspapers, radio,
television, the pamphleteering of nonprofit organizations).
In 2002, what might an online community without commerce have to
offer? What are representative examples? What would such a community feel
like from a participating member's standpoint? How would the community be
economically sustained? Does no commerce or company affiliation mean no
marketing messages? Would such a community necessarily be marginalized or
otherwise insular (e.g., an "Amish" community of the online world)? What
could be learned from such a community?
wgrobin at duke.edu
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