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High Noon on the Electronic Frontier
Peter Ludlow, ed.

Peter Ludlow, editor of "High Noon on the Electronic Frontier" (M.I.T. Press, 1996), has put much of his book's text on-line. While our inclusion of the URL is in no way an attempt to discourage purchase of the book, the on-line resource is wonderful. "High Noon on the Electronic Frontier" pulls together readings from Elizabeth Reid, John Perry Barlow, Howard Rheingold, Amy Bruckman, Mike Godwin, Mitch Kapor and others on the subjects of identity on-line, privacy, censorship, hacking/cracking, and on-line property rights. Section Five, "Self and Community Online," is of particular interest to virtual community students.

The Psychology of Cyberspace
John Suler

The Psychology of Cyberspace is an comprehensive site created by Dr. John Suler, Professor of Psychology at Rider University. Founded at the beginning of 1996, the site aims to create a framework to think about the human psychology in cyberspace in six sections: The Fundamental Psychological Qualities of Cyberspace, The Psychology of the Individual in Cyberspace, The Psychology of Cyberspace Relationships, Group Dynamics in Cyberspace, Research Methods in the Psychology of Cyberspace, and The Palace Study. Combining Rider's analyses and critiques and relevant links to other contributions, the site is a fantastic wealth of information of the impact of cyberspace on the human psyche.

Virtual Communities: Abort, Retry, Failure?
Jan Fernback & Brad Thompson

The conclusion of "Virtual Communities: Abort, Retry, Failure?" is that though it has advantages, virtual community cannot adequately replace community of the physical realm. Though this may be the intuition of most of us who hang out in cyberspace, it is nevertheless interesting to follow Fernback and Thompson's walk through the sociological literature that describes community and social connection to see how they reached their conclusion.

"Virtual Communities: Abort, Retry, Failure" struggles to take on notably large questions (example: "Do communities within cyberspace have the capability of serving as a series of new public spheres in contemporary Western nations?"). But when the authors focus their attention on more discrete matters, like unpacking the traditional definition of community and comparing what seems to be present online, their work here is quite valuable. For those attempting to think rationally and critically about the virtual community phenomenon, this work is definitely worth a perusal.



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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