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Inhabiting the virtual city: The design of social environments for electronic communities
Judith Stefania Donath

"Inhabiting the virtual city: The design of social environments for electronic communities " is Judith Donath's 1996 MIT doctoral dissertation. Donath's research is based not only on the literature of online and traditional sociology but on her own extensive experience in creating projects such as The Electronic Postcard, Portraits in Cyberspace, Visual Who, and other projects (each of these links leads to Donath's MIT site, and are well worth exploring). " Inhabiting the Virtual City" examines how virtual societies can use technology to indicate social subtleties and how people in virtual space can get a sense of the ebb and flow of their activity, as both of these elements of human interaction are integral to successful socialization when we're not on line.

Donath looks at how online worlds can build the infrastructure necessary to communicate subtle cues and information in ways that allows "a rich environment for the development of a cultural meaning." For anyone interested in creating online worlds that sustain interaction and connection, "Inhabiting the virtual city" is a crucial read.




hduggan said:

One thing about the power divide is that it is created from both sides at once--powerfulness is created by powerlessness is created by powerfulness. You can tear down the divide from either side by simply failing to assume the role. Not fighting it against, but seeing your way around it. Seeing your own power in the larger scheme of things. Seeing this place as a piece of your context, rather then the other way round.

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