[Air-l] community and kreplach

david silver dsilver at u.washington.edu
Wed Dec 26 17:56:40 PST 2001


So many great posts, so little time.  (And a related quandary:  so much leftover turkey and kreplach, so little stomach space.)

I've been influenced by and intrigued with Wendy's work for years now and I take her very seriously when she asks: "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?" Following Wendy's post is Mike Gurstein who notes that little if any has been said about community networks, CTCs, etc.  

In my mind, these two posts are somehow linked.  I'm a bigtime fan of community networks but am currently finding it difficult to take them seriously in (almost) 2002.  (This is not a flame, hardly;  I'd like to see some evidence that they are still relevant these days.)  And I wonder -- along with Wendy, and perhaps with Jonathan, too -- whether we're stuck in an outdated paradigm when we focus on community (read: non commercialized online environments).

I know the Net-radio comparison has become a bit of a cliche but I still believe it extremely useful and find myself thumbing through the work of Susan Douglas, Susan Smulyan, and Daniel Czitrom, looking for clues.  Like the Net, radio was ushered in on a red carpet of utopian hype and, also like the Net, was somewhat quickly commercialized.  For the three scholars noted above, the commercialization of radio resulted in profound changes to the content and form of the medium.  Now, if we were to take an informal vote on the last few years' most influential Net developments, I have little doubt that commercialization would top the list.  (Any naysayers?) Which leads me back to Wendy's questions and another one:  Why has the field been so resistant to tackle -- critically -- this development? 

david silver
http://faculty.washington.edu/dsilver





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