Editors Smith and Kollock have gathered contributors with a variety of viewpoints to examine both the "legitimacy" of community in cyberspace and to question how it operates. While the authors do conclude that communities in cyberspace are real communities, they explore the sometimes surprising ways in which cybercommunities differ from their geographically based counterparts.|
There are four primary issues probed here: the question of online identity in an environment where individuals cannot be seen; the question of social order and control in what is, at least on the surface, a largely anarchic environment; the structure and dynamics of online communities; and the cybercommunity as a foundation for collective action.
There's much here to provoke long discussions both online and off, such as the argument that the screen doesn't eliminate the consideration of racial identity so much as it allows for the development of nonvisual criteria for people to judge (or misjudge) the races of others. This book was compiled to be used in the college classroom, although it's not jargon laden or difficult to read. It will appeal to anyone who is professionally or individually involved with virtual communities.
Source: Elizabeth Lewis, Amazon.com.