[Air-l] Re: Company vs. Community

D. Silver dsilver at u.washington.edu
Mon Dec 17 08:48:48 PST 2001

On Mon, 17 Dec 2001, Andrew Perrin wrote:

> All of these do seem to belong to the "third sector" (non-market,
> non-state), and that does suggest that there's something about community
> that separates it from companies. But then you have to wonder whether
> company towns (e.g., Levittown) can't really be "communities."

Intellectually and politically speaking, I agree wholeheartedly with
Andrew's comment above.  But it seems to me that one of the most common
(and nefarious depending where you stand on the issue) developments in
mainstream cyberculture during, say, 1997 - 2000 has been the
commercialization of online communities.  Is it just me or does it appear
to the rest of you that the folks at Amazon, Yahoo, and
fill-in-the-blank.com have been reading Howard Rheingold?  For a number of
dot.coms (and former dot.coms ... rip), there's a thin line between
commerce and community:  Online communities are set up and nurtured as
portals to e-commerce.

I've seen very little critical work on this angle but a good start is
Chris Werry's "Imagined Electronic Community: Representations of Online
Community in Business Texts" and Janelle Brown's "Three Case Studies,"
both in Online Communities: Commerce, Community Action, and the Virtual
University, edited by Chris Werry and Miranda Mowbray (Hewlett-Packard
Professional Books, 2001).

david silver

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