[Air-l] Birth of virtual communities

jespert jespert at itu.dk
Fri Nov 4 04:00:09 PST 2005

Dear Emilie,

You could research the Usenet.

Usenet consist of 143 widely distributed hierarchies with tens of 
thousands of different groups, nobody knows exactly how many because of 
the de-centralized allocation of them.

Usenet started as one society with only a few groups and still shows 
signs of that, for example, we can talk about one netiquette. There are 
many common culturally historical developed norms and interpretations 
connected to the distinction Usenet/society. The Usenet people defines 
themselves as a we when talking about non users and when the normal way 
of communication is broken. This indicates that Usenet is one society, 
however, this society itself has differentiated into the hierarchies, 
the groups and their subgroups, subject pointers and threads. The groups 
have their own border of meaning differentiating them out from the 
general norms of Usenet and from the other groups. If the complexity of 
a newsgroup gets too high, e.g. if there are too many relevant topics, a 
new group form through a bifurcation. On the group level the FAQ is the 
guideline for good behaviour. The FAQ tells the history of the group and 
give laws for what to communicate about and how (in what tone). The 
regulation of the communication is, anyhow, much more complex than can 
be explained by laws presented in a FAQ. No individuals can determine 
the structure of the process of communication, only the processes of 
communication that runs through the structure can alter it. This happens 
in the process of acceptance and rejection of meaning proposals.

The name of each newsgroup begins with the relevant main hierarchy, and 
terms of increasing specificity are added to this. A typical newsgroup 
name is alt.music. This could have been one newsgroup and historical 
seen it has been, but now it is just a second-level name in the 
hierarchy with 742 actual sub-groups, for instance, alt.music.blues with 
the three sub-groups: alt.music.blues.delta, 
alt.music.blues.Johnny-Whinter, and alt.music.blues.lexington-blues.

There are about 150 different top-hierarchies each containing a number 
of second-level hierarchies that each potentially contains a number of 

The groups I have studied most are groups that communicate animal rights 
and motorcycles, but they are in Danish. The one about animals has 
separated out four subgroups e.g. about dogs, and the one about 
motorcycles has gone through a bifurcation into one about motorcycles 
and one about mopeds. The members of the first one still communicate in 
the mother group, while there are an antagonistic relation between the 
motorcycle folks and the moped folks.


Emilie MARQUOIS-OGEZ wrote:

>Hello everyone,
>I'm looking for examples of virtual communities that gave bearth to  
>other virtual communities. I mean that the members of one virtual  
>community (a mailing-list for instance) decided to have two virtual  
>communities instead of one. The first one is about a subject and the  
>second one is about another subject (linked to the first one, more  
>specific, for instance).
>Have you ever heard of cases like this?
>Many thanks.
>Emilie Marquois-Ogez
>Emilie Marquois-Ogez
>Doctorante en informatique
>France Telecom R&D
>38-40, rue du Général Leclerc
>92794 Issy-les-Moulineaux
>Cedex France
>Equipes de recherche :
>- TECH/EASY/DIAG (France Telecom R&D)
>- Systèmes à objets coopératifs (IRIT - UT1)
>Tel : +33 (01) 45 29 81 91
>Fax : +33 (01) 45 29 69 26
>Page Web : http://www.univ-tlse1.fr/ceriss/soc/perso/marquois/Emilie% 
>The air-l at listserv.aoir.org mailing list
>is provided by the Association of Internet Researchers http://aoir.org
>Subscribe, change options or unsubscribe at: http://listserv.aoir.org/listinfo.cgi/air-l-aoir.org
>Join the Association of Internet Researchers: 

Jesper Tække - MA. Ph.D.-Student - IT University of Copenhagen - Dept. of Digital Aesthetics & Communication -  Rued Langgaards Vej 7 - DK-2300 Copenhagen S - Phone +45 7218 5000 - Direct +45 7218 5037 - Fax +45 7218 5001 - http://home16.inet.tele.dk/jesper_t/  - e-mail: jespert at itu.dk 

More information about the Air-l mailing list